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Thursday, April 22, 2004

  • Exams today, grades tomorrow
  • Earth Week glance at 19th century writers
  • Readers play tonight to aid literacy
  • Wellness fair begins Monday
Chris Redmond

Summer comes to Iceland


Chemistry open house marks Earth Day

An open house today at the "environmental safety facility" in the chemistry department is among the special events marking Earth Day and Earth Week.

The facility handles recycling and reuse of chemicals for the campus, as well as spill protection, collection and waste reduction efforts. Staff will be on hand from noon to 2:00 today to show off the facility and answer questions.

The environmental safety facility is in room 150 of the Earth Sciences and Chemistry building, around the corner from chemistry stores.

Also today, Earth Week displays in the Davis Centre continue. And it's the last day for the Campus Environment Quiz on the waste management office web site.

Exams today, grades tomorrow

With the last winter term exams being written today, undergraduate students can start to see their marks online tomorrow. Unofficial marks will be posted to Quest as they become available, the registrar's office says.

"Grades become official on May 24," a memo says, "at which point the official and complete term grades will appear along with academic standings. Inquiries about grades should be made after May 24. Requests for official transcripts will be processed after this date."

There's also a notice directed to instructors -- a reminder of rules about posting final grades. The rule is in UW's Policy 19 on privacy:

"Provided the identity of individual students is protected, an instructor may convey information about student academic performance (e.g., grades on assignments, mid-terms or final examinations) by posting results in a public place such as an office door, bulletin board or course website. Final examination and final course grades shall not be posted before the final examination period ends."

It ends tonight, when the last student is finished with exams in such courses as Biology 444, Computer Science 330, and Music 100. In some cases the students who walk out of those exam rooms will have finished their UW careers forever, and all that's left is convocation.

If that's you, see you back on campus in mid-June for the ceremonies. If not, you may be due back in September (first day of classes is Monday the 13th) or even in May (spring term begins Monday, May 3).

Earth Week glance at 19th century writers

UW English professor Andrew McMurry finds sharp relevance to today's environmental issues in the writings of "two noted Americans who lived 150 years ago", says a feature story recently released by UW's media relations office.

The writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau show they were much concerned with things that seem to be worrying many of today's out-front environmental or ecological scholars, McMurry says.

From the news release: "McMurry's academic interests are in 19th century American literature and also in rhetoric and professional writing. He has written a book on the subject, Emerson, Thoreau and the Systems of Nature, which was published last November. His intention is to show how human societies make waste of their environments and are seemingly unable to do otherwise."

Says McMurry: "Why are we constitutionally incapable of not destroying our natural surroundings? Sustainability, conservation, renewability, cleanup -- these words might prompt one to suppose that a renaissance of environmental health actually exists or is on the horizon. But nothing is truly being sustained, conserved, renewed or cleaned up. We are rapidly outstripping the planet's capacity to support us."

He refers to the literary apprehensions of Thoreau and Emerson about the precariousness of the natural world and its uncertain future over the last century and a half. They often dealt in their writings with the natural world in their part of New England (including the disappearance of the forested areas around Concord, Massachusetts). It was a region that was clearly beginning to feel the impact of growing ruralization and urbanization in the period from 1800 to 1850 and beyond.

Thoreau is renowned for having spent the winters of 1845 and 1846 living in a hut he built at Walden Pond. This experience resulted in his book Walden. Emerson also had a deep love of nature. After a brief period as a minister in Boston, he withdrew and thereafter travelled widely as a lecturer, itinerant preacher and essayist -- the "Sage of Concord." He seemed to feel that things were never as bad as we might expect them to be but not as good as we might wish them to be. His writings, after a number of European tours, continued to deal not only with the Parthenon, the Sphinx and Vesuvius, but also with the pickerel weed in bloom, wild geese honking in the sky, Monadnock and Katahdin, Wall Street, cotton mills and Quincy granite.

"There is today an increasing awareness and concern over the natural environment and the ecosystem, and more and more of us are wondering about the future of mankind, society, the whole human system," McMurry says. "We realize that our way of life presents a danger to our children's and grandchildren's futures. We are aware that environmental degradation is occurring, and that it may have already reached a point that will overwhelm civilization as we know it. There is a new skepticism emerging that questions what science can do to help with the problem."

He adds: "Some of the problems of the past we no longer have to face, of course. For instance, there was a time when, here in North America, vast forests were denuded to help keep pioneers warm in winter and to clear the land for crops -- but today we can see many of those formerly deforested areas have indeed returned to a more natural woodland state. The trees are back. Yet on the other hand, we have new worries about the disappearance of the ozone layer, climate change, the greenhouse effect, the melting of polar ice caps -- problems which Thoreau and Emerson never had to even consider."

The full news release, written by Bob Whitton, is available on the media relations web site.

Readers play tonight to aid literacy -- from the UW media relations office

What was the first grown-up book you read? What writer's work have you devoured from first to last? Do keen readers make bad housekeepers? Those are some of the questions host Michael Higgins, the ebullient and well-read president of St. Jerome's University, might put to his panel of readers at Readers@Play, the fourth annual Canada Book Day celebration of books and reading. The event takes place at 7 p.m. tonight at the Kitchener Public Library main branch.

Four avid readers -- a storyteller, a book store owner, a librarian, and a magazine consultant -- will share passages from their favourite books. This is a chance to recover the pleasure you took in being read to as a child and to extend that pleasure to others, as proceeds from the evening will go to support the work of the Literacy Group of Waterloo Region.

Pension and benefits committee, 8:30 to 2:30, Needles Hall room 3004.

Statistics seminar, Bruce Jones, University of Western Ontario, 3:30, Math and Computer room 5158.

Artworks by Pat Kalyn, retired staff member, meet-the-artist reception, 4 to 6 p.m., University Club.

'Celebrate Mother Earth', Basil Johnston, Cape Croker First Nation, speaking 7 p.m. at Aboriginal Resource Centre, U of Guelph, co-sponsored by UW Aboriginal Student Association.

Waterloo Potters' Workshop spring sale, Friday 1:00 to 9:30, Saturday 10 to 5, Sunday noon to 4, Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex.

Guelph-Waterloo Centre for Graduate Work in Chemistry and Biochemistry, annual meeting and awards Friday afternoon; seminar by Brian Henry, U of Guelph, "Some Vibrations Are Just Not Normal", open to the public, 3:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

NSERC reception to honour 87 UW researchers who have 25 years of funding from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Friday 4 to 6, South Campus Hall.

The event is sponsored by the Waterloo Regional Arts Council, KPL, and The New Quarterly, the literary magazine published out of St. Jerome's University. TNQ editor Rae Crossman will kick off the evening with the now traditional ode to April. Higgins, who has written extensively on books and the media, will introduce the evening and invite the audience to join in some lively book talk after the readings. Margaret O'Shea Bonner, one of last year's readers, will share anecdotes about the innovative work the literacy group is engaged in.

The readers are Mary-Eileen McClear, a professional storyteller; David Scott, journalist and editor; Paul Wilson, proprietor of the recently opened Waterloo bookstore The Mysterious Affair; and Ann Wood, acting chief executive officer of Kitchener Public Library.

Other highlights tonight include Mark Spielmacher on guitar, a draw for a variety of book prizes donated by area bookstores, and an informal reception. Tickets for the evening are $10, available at the door or by calling TNQ at 884-8111, ext. 290.

Wellness fair begins Monday

A wellness fair sponsored by the UW Employee Assistance Program next week will feature a speaker series, with talks on relationships, stress, depression, meditation and exercise.

The purpose of the fair is to encourage employees to take a proactive approach to their health, and to introduce some alternative and complementary therapies. A number of vendors, from massage therapists to nutritionists and herbalists to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, will staff information booths in the Davis Centre lounge on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Scheduled talks:

  • One Man's Journey through Depression, by Ron Ellis, former Toronto Maple Leaf, and author of the recently published book Over the Boards: The Ron Ellis Story; Monday noon in Davis Centre room 1350.

  • Let's Get Physical, by Lori Kraemer, fitness and lifestyle consultant and advanced personal trainer, with exercise guidelines and information on overcoming barriers to exercise; Tuesday noon, Davis Centre room 1302.

  • Mindfulness Meditation, by Theresa Casteels-Reis, with ways of developing a different relationship to both positive and negative thoughts and feelings; Tuesday 1:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

  • Staying connected in Your Relationships, by Robert Doering, with information on the essential ingredients in a healthy relationship, and how to make the connections that will withstand periods of stress and conflict (open to family members); Tuesday 7:00 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

  • Go Beyond Stress to Balance and Wellbeing, by Eli Bay, founder and president of the Relaxation Response Institute in Toronto, with strategies to unwind and recuperate from the strains and stresses of modern life, and to build resistance to pressure; Wednesday 1 p.m., CEIT room 1015.

    The event is strongly endorsed by UW's administration, says Catharine Scott, associate provost (human resources and student services): "The university is very happy that the fair will hopefully help staff and faculty with some of the stresses of work and everyday life, and we hope that staff and faculty will attend sessions that interest them. If they are during work hours, where possible, managers should be supportive about their attendance at sessions."


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