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Monday, March 20, 2000

  • UW team wins Putnam; second in ACM
  • Depression comes with spring
  • Also happening this busy week
  • Authors to be honoured May 10
  • The talk of the campus

UW team wins Putnam; second in ACM

[Four guys]
Before the contest: ACM team members Jeff Shute, Ondrej Lhotak and Donny Cheung, with coach Gordon Cormack
A Waterloo team has come first in the international William Lowell Putnam mathematical contest, it was announced Friday. Next day, UW's team came second in the world championships of the Association for Computing Machinery programming contest, held in Orlando and watched internationally by webcam.

The UW programming team emerged as North American champions, beaten only by a team from Russia's St. Petersburg State University. A German team was third, and the top ten also included teams from Australia, China and Japan, as well as the University of Alberta. The top American team was Caltech, tied for 11th place with a team from Bangladesh.

St. Petersburg State and Waterloo were the only two teams to solve seven of the eight problems posed during Saturday's contest -- programming challenges dealing with such things as efficient gift wrapping, mazes, and Internet bandwidth. UW had fewer penalty minutes than St. Petersburg State and so came second. Four teams, headed by the Albert Einstein University of Ulm, solved six of the eight problems within the 5 hour and 30 minute time limit.

In the Putnam, meanwhile, UW math students came in ahead of Harvard, Duke, Michigan and Chicago. The contest is written in December each year to challenge students at North American universities with mathematical problems.

Full information isn't available yet, but Alan George, UW's dean of mathematics, said Friday that two of the six "Putnam fellows" -- the top-scoring individuals in the contest -- were from Waterloo. There were two more UW students within the top 24 students in this year's Putnam. And, to put the icing on the cake, a UW student has won the special award for the highest-scoring female student in the contest.

Depression comes with spring

Spring is officially here -- it rolled in at 2:35 this morning, Eastern time, astronomers say -- and I'm sure it's just coincidence that the first day of spring brings talk of depression. But that's the way it is, and men and the non-men who love them might want to plan for Wednesday's noon-hour accordingly.

That day will bring a talk on "issues of depression and intimacy experienced by men", to be given by a pair of psychologists formerly on the St. Jerome's University faculty and now in private practice, John Theis and Peter Naus. Their visit (Davis Centre room 1302, Wednesday at 12 noon) is sponsored by the UW Employee Assistance Program.

Internship student Jodi Lynn Morris, who's working with the EAP and other UW agencies this term, has more to say about the noon-hour talk:

This follows a similar discussion on February 16 by Dr. T. Ruttan, who spoke about the issue of depression in more general terms.

Depression is caused by a biochemical imbalance and it is no one's fault. This is a common and treatable disorder. It is not a sign of weakness nor is it something to be ashamed of; with proper treatment and help -- individuals suffering from depression live normal lives. When daily living becomes overwhelming, one can become "down in the dumps." Depression is frequently linked to difficult times or stressful events in an individual's life.

Depression has numerous symptoms that can include feeling sad, tired, worthless and helpless. Other symptoms are low energy levels, sleep difficulties, loss of appetite, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, irritability, and having thoughts of death, suicide or hurting oneself.

If you or someone you know has had some of these symptoms which have been present for two or more weeks, you may wish to consider receiving professional help.

The elderly are at a higher risk of depression due to the decline in health, loss of friends and family and even loss of employment. However, if you have a family member who is depressed, then you are twice more likely to also suffer from depression then the average individual. Women can suffer from depression for a number of reasons but a main factor is the hormonal changes during menstrual periods, pregnancy and childbirth.

Men also suffer from depression. However, men do not show the same overt symptoms; rather, they manifest their feelings through behaviours: becoming socially withdrawn, increase their consumption of alcohol and substance abuse.

Teens are not excluded; in fact, teen depression is also common. During the adolescence years, hormonal changes are occurring as well as the need to be independent and autonomous from the family of origin. Adolescent signs might include difficulty with academics and an inability to recover from disappointment. University students are also at risk for depression.

There's hope, there's effective treatment and there's help.

Morris points staff, faculty and students to UW's health services (phone ext. 2424) or counselling services (ext. 2655) for help or for answers to questions -- and points out that there's also good information available on the web at such sites as Depression.com and PsychCanada. "Both are comprehensive and easy to read and have self tests if you are still unsure."

Also happening this busy week

The week begins with a morning-long meeting of the pension and benefits committee that started at 8:30 in Needles Hall room 3004. On the agenda: pension contribution levels, the investments of the pension fund, and other familiar topics.

The physics department presents a seminar today by David Tees of the University of Pennsylvania. He'll speak (2:30 p.m., Physics room 308) on "Probing the Biophysics of Individual Cell Adhesion Bonds Using Applied Forces".

Staff who are on the casual earnings payroll should drop by the Student Life Centre (multipurpose room) this afternoon between 2:00 and 4:00 to do the necessary paperwork so that their pay can be deposited directly to bank accounts, starting with the April 14 payroll. Bring your Social Insurance Number and a void cheque or other bank account information, says the human resources department. Anyone who can't come to today's signup session should make a visit to the human resources department soon to do the paperwork; forms and instructions are also available on the web.

The elevator in Environmental Studies I will be out of commission starting tomorrow morning at 7:00; the plant operations department says the shutdown, for major repairs, will last through April 4.

The senate finance committee will meet tomorrow, as I may have mentioned, to start work on UW's budget for 2000-01. The meeting will start at 9:30 in Needles Hall room 3001.

Tomorrow brings Cultural Caravan to the Student Life Centre, running from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. "All students, staff and faculty are invited to attend," writes Chris Harold, vice-president (internal) of the Federation of Students. "There will be demonstrations by the Swing and Social Dance Club, Filipino Students' Association, Caribbean Students' Association Native Students' Association (Spirit Nation Drummers/Singers), UW Break Dance and Hip Hop Crew, UW Drum Circle and the UW DJs. Food will be served (five portions for $5 -- incredible deal) by Filipino Students' Association, Jewish Students' Association, Tamil Students' Association, Hellenic Students' Association, Chinese Students' Association, Caribbean Students' Association, and Taiwanese Students' Association. A selection of Indian food will be served as well."

The Waterloo Public Interest Research Group will hold its annual general meeting Tuesday at 5 p.m. in the multi-purpose room of the Student Life Centre.

March is featuring a series of events under the banner of "Focus on Web Design '00". Events include a three-part discussion series consisting of Designing Successful Virtual Communities (last Wednesday), Information Interaction Design (this Wednesday), and Navigation Systems and Website Usability (Thursday, March 30). The discussion series will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in Davis Centre room 1302. The events are sponsored by the Learning & Teaching Through Technology Lab (LT3) and WatCHI.

"Government of Ontario legislation requires," says a memo from UW's safety office, "that all employees of the University be made aware of current Health & Safety legislation and the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System program. To facilitate this, the Safety Office is presenting a WHMIS and safety program describing WHMIS legislation and requirements of the Occupational Health & Safety Act. The session, including a video and brief quiz, runs for approximately 1 hour." WHMIS training will happen at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 22, and 2 p.m. on Thursday, March 30, in Davis Centre room 1304.

A wine and cheese party for women in engineering is scheduled for Wednesday from 4:30 to 6:30 in the Davis Centre lounge. "Admission is free and all are welcome," writes Emily Thorn, director of the women in engineering group; she can provide more information (e-mail ejrthorn@engmail).

The Federation of Students annual general meeting will be held Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. in the great hall of the Student Life Centre. The agenda -- published in full in Friday's Imprint -- consists mostly of formalities, including appointment of the board of directors for the coming year and some amendments to by-laws.

St. Paul's United College winds up its Canadian studies lecture series for this year with a Kerr-Saltsman Lecture on Thursday evening (Humanities Theatre, 7:30 p.m.). The speaker is Dalton Camp, political columnist and former president of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. Title of his lecture: "Neo-Conservatism: How to Wreck a Country Without a Hammer".

Authors to be honoured May 10

The annual Authors Event hosted by the Friends of the Library is scheduled for Wednesday, May 10, the library office said last week as it issued its annual request to hear from UW-based authors and other creators.

"As part of the event," said a memo from Mary Stanley, the library's communications officer, "the Friends will honour those members of the university community who, in 1999, authored books, composed musical works, were recognised for their photography or design work, or mounted art shows. "

She asked departments heads for "information about anyone in your department whose achievements should be included in our celebration. Please send this information to my attention in the Dana Porter Library Office or email mstanley@library. Once information is received, we will then contact the individuals and invite them to participate."

The name of the May 10 speaker hasn't been announced yet. Last year's Friends speaker was Leonard Enns of Conrad Grebel College.

The talk of the campus

A two-seater airplane took off yesterday morning from a field on UW's north campus, where it made an emergency landing Friday afternoon. The pilot was taking a female friend, an overseas visitor, on a sightseeing trip when he ran into engine trouble and glided to a landing in a field, flat and empty at this time of year, just south of Bearinger Road. No one was hurt; the plane needed a new battery and minor repair, and a flight instructor from Skyways, based at Waterloo Regional Airport, came yesterday to handle the takeoff. Regional and UW police and Waterloo firefighters were called when the plane went down. Transport Canada is investigating the incident.

In answer to complaints that the computer network in UW's residences ("Resnet") was running really, really slowly last week, Roger Watt of the information systems and technology department confirmed that steps had been taken to reduce the bandwidth because of abuse by a few users. "Those few people," he wrote in the newsgroup uw.network, "seem not to appreciate the meaning and intent of 'showing reasonable restraint in the consumption of shared resources'." Watt said total traffic to and from the residences has been running more than 40 gigabytes a day in the past month, "with about 50% of that being caused by about 10% of the residents". And he's estimating that a similar amount of UW's off-campus traffic is really destined for the residences, though it's being routed through other computers on campus. "The experiment was started," Watt wrote, "so that we can find a set of parameters that result in lower-priority attention to the bandwidth demands of those who are causing most of the bandwidth consumption. If we can achieve that, then we can consider doing away with the whole system of per-resident limits; otherwise, we'll have to close the holes in it." If the tests continue to inconvenience everybody, they'll be brought to an end, he promised.

A notice has gone out to members of the staff association: it's time to file nominations for executive committee positions for the coming year. Walter McCutchan of the information systems and technology department takes over June 1 as president of the association, so between now and then, members will be electing his successor (president-elect for 2000-01 and president for 2001-02) as well as a vice-president, a secretary, a treasurer and two directors. "There's a variety of interesting work and involvement associated with any of the positions," says the yellow sheet announcing the election. Nominations are due by April 14.

Also from the staff association comes word of a new member representing staff on UW's traffic and parking appeal board. Judy Reidt of the dean of mathematics office takes that role, replacing Chris Henderson of purchasing, a member of the board since 1997.

This year's Waterloo Region telephone directory is out, and a massive pile of them has arrived at the receiving dock. Books will be delivered to offices across campus this week, says John Jaray of central stores. Yes, the old books are recyclable, both on campus and at home.

Faculty members -- whose salary concerns received some attention in this Bulletin the other day -- aren't the only group of UW employees unhappy about their pay. "The salaries of UW librarians have also deteriorated," two of them, Amos Lakos and Anne Fullerton, write in the latest issue of the faculty association's Forum newsletter. (Librarians are in the staff group, but the faculty association has been calling for a change, seeking to represent librarians as well as professors, as faculty associations at many universities already do.) According to statistics from the Canadian Association of Research Libraries, Lakos and Fullerton write, UW librarians' salaries rank 21st out of 27 institutions in Canada. "The average UW salary is $3,400 below the national average . . . $6,080 below the Ontario provincial average." Perhaps most galling, they say, UW pay is well below those at Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Guelph, with which UW librarians work closely. Data have been submitted to the management, they write, and "it is possible" that librarians' jobs will be reclassified upwards as a group -- but "the discrepancies will still exist without a fundamental change to the salary grid."


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca | (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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