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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

  • Planning the Canada Day party
  • UW physicist leads search for water
  • Remembering a dean; other notes
Chris Redmond

On Victoria's birthday, a local castle

[Drummer surrounded by kids]

Canada Day 2003 in the north campus sunshine.

Planning the Canada Day party

Volunteers are wanted, scores of them, as planning moves ahead for the annual Canada Day celebrations on UW's north campus.

The national holiday is a Friday this year, and will see the usual range of activities, from music and kids' games to the evening fireworks, says Ahinsa Mansukhani, who's working as administrative coordinator for Canada Day in the office of communications and public affairs. The Canada Day party each year is jointly sponsored by UW and the Federation of Students. It's UW's biggest event of the year, typically drawing more than 50,000 people to the north campus by fireworks time.

"We have a steering committee of about thirty staff and students who all volunteer so much of their time," says Mansukhani. "They are awesome. Enam Rabbani is the Event Manager."

As for volunteers, "We need hundreds," she says, "to help out with every aspect of the day: Security, Stage Crew, Children's Activities, Face Painting, Information Tent, Operations, Candle/Glow Stick Sales, Food Tent." There's more information on the Canada Day web site, or those interested (anyone over 16 is welcome) can e-mail canadaday@uwaterloo.ca for more information.

Two special volunteers are also wanted, says Becky Wroe, past president of the Federation of Students and a member of the steering committee. There are openings for an "activity world coordinator" and an "arts and crafts fair coordinator". E-mail to canadaday@uwaterloo.ca is the way to express interest.

More about the July 1 party from Mansukhani: "As usual, The Record and CHYM FM are sponsoring us. . . . The day starts at 2:00 and finishes around 10:00, at which point the fireworks start. There are many fun-filled activities for kids including face painting, a water slide, dunk tank, plays, bands and singers, great food and arts-and-crafts vendors." For more information, she can be reached at ext. 3981.

[Shackles on wrists and ankles]

It was magic: That's Travis Ratnam, a UW electrical engineering student, in bondage to his co-op job at Ontario Power Generation. He was one of a group of students in OPG's Trading and Portfolio Management Department who moved away from their desks last fall to organize a pre-Christmas magic show for OPG staff and their children. Ratnam was among students who actually took the stage, performing with doves and rabbits appearing out of thin air, credit cards seemingly destroyed, dramatic music, and lots of audience participation. OPG training manager Ian Daly calls it "without doubt, one of the best shows we have ever had at OPG." The event raised $1,500 for the Salvation Army, as well as food donations for Toronto's Daily Bread Food Bank. (Photo and story from the UW Recruiter newsletter for co-op employers.)

UW physicist leads search for water -- from the UW media relations office

A team of Canadian astronomers, led by UW physics professor Michel Fich, will participate in the most sensitive search ever undertaken for water in the universe.

"Searching for water in the universe is particularly exciting because water is the basis of life as we know it," said Fich. Projects to be undertaken with a new device -- the Heterodyne Instrument for the Far-Infrared (HIFI) -- include a search for water in extremely young solar systems, in dense interstellar clouds where stars begin to form and in other galaxies.

HIFI, a high-resolution spectrometer, will also be used to study many other simple molecules in the first detailed astrochemistry mission in space, Fich added. The instrument will be funded, in part, by the Canadian Space Agency and is one of three devices on the Herschel Space Observatory that will be launched by the European Space Agency in 2007.

The Canadian team's contribution is the Local Oscillator Source Unit, a very efficient low-noise stable frequency standard, that is the essential "heart" of the extremely sensitive HIFI instrument.

Fich leads the team, made up of more than 30 Canadian astronomers from institutions across the country. Many Canadian astronomers are involved in plans to create Herschel (formerly called FIRST), a space observatory for far-infrared and submillimetre wavelengths. Herschel is a cornerstone mission of the European Space Agency and Canadian participation in the mission is managed through the Canadian Space Agency.

Canadians are also working on a second of the three instruments for Herschel: SPIRE, a bolometer "camera". The other instrument will be PACS, a Photoconductor Array Camera.

Remembering a dean; other notes

Friends will gather today to remember W. B. (Bill) Pearson, a long-time faculty member in chemistry and physics at UW and dean of science 1969-1977. Pearson died in February. A sugar maple tree is being planted in his memory in the science courtyard, with a dedication ceremony starting today at 2:15. Then participants will move to the University Club (3 to 5 p.m.) to talk about the jovial and scholarly researcher. Says colleague Peter Chung Chieh of UW's chemistry department: "Bill Pearson will be remembered as a scientist who inspired ideas, a dean who dislikes administration, a professor who asked thousands of students to write a short essay describing a needle, and a gentleman farmer who supplied fresh eggs, dressed ducks, exotic pheasants at costs. Worldwide crystallographers remember him for his contributions to the series of Structure Reports and many books and handbooks on metals."

Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System training session 10 a.m., repeated May 31 at 2 p.m., Davis Centre room 1304.

Employee safety orientation Wednesday 10 a.m., repeated June 2 at 2 p.m., Davis Centre room 1304, information ext. 5613.

Smarter Health seminar: Michael Connolly and Brendan Seaton, Smart Systems for Health Agency, "Managing Risk in Health Information Systems", Wednesday 3:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Art Gallery of Ontario: trip to see the "Massive Change" exhibition, organized by Engineers Without Borders, Thursday, leaving campus 2:30, tickets $10 on sale noontime today in Carl Pollock Hall foyer.

Teaching workshop: "Implementing Active Learning Activities", Thursday 12 noon, Math and Computer room 5158, information and registration online.

Warrior Weekend Friday and Saturday evenings, Student Life Centre, activities and movies organized by student life office volunteers.

More than 230 students got money from UW's bursary funds this term without having to ask for it, says registrar Ken Lavigne. He told the university senate last week that this spring is "the first term where we're bringing into effect our financial aid guarantee," as approved by the senate last fall. It's a promise "to guarantee to meet the provincial unmet need, as calculated by the Ontario Student Assistance Program, of all qualified University of Waterloo undergraduate students". Said Lavigne: "We've identified 230 undergraduate full-time students who, based on our information related to their OSAP file," wouldn't have had adequate financing. "They didn't have to ask or tell us anything," said the registrar, but were notified by e-mail that bursaries would be available. Total funding: $274,000. He added that students who weren't caught by that process, but are still in need, can fill out a bursary application in Needles Hall.

Readers of the staff association newsletter will have noticed a new service there: "Ask Aunt Ag O'Nee". The installment in the current issue deals with appropriate attire for the workplace: "If you work in an area where public impressions are important," she writes, "it might be best to leave your combat boots and camouflage mini-skirt in the closet. If meeting you could be the first impression someone gets of what UW is about -- think about the statement your appearance is making. If you are in an area where first-sightings aren't likely, the key elements are clean, unwrinkled, in good repair, and non-offensive."

The spam should subside tomorrow for many of UW's e-mail users, say the folks in information systems and technology. A tactic called greylisting, already in use in the library and in IST itself, will be extended campus-wide, except for individuals who opt out by notifying IST. As Paul Snyder of IST explains: "Greylisting challenges off-campus e-mail servers by enforcing a slight delay in e-mail delivery. Spammers like to blast hundreds of thousands of messages at a time, and very few are able to cope with the response, 'I won't accept your e-mail now, you'll have to wait for 5 minutes.'" By the time a message is delayed, sent back to the source and received again, the average delay is expected to be about 30 minutes.

The UW Recreation Committee is organizing an outing to (I am not making this up!) the St. Jacobs Wearable Art Fashion Show on Thursday. . . . A three-day course on "Project Management Applied Tools and Techniques" starts today in the seminar room at the continuing education office on Gage Avenue. . . . Undergraduate students' winter term marks become official today on Quest. . . .

And . . . an upgrade to the campus voicemail system is scheduled for tonight, says Bruce Uttley of information systems and technology. "Voicemail will be unavailable after 6 p.m. for the evening," he warns. "All stored messages, greetings and passwords will be retained on the new system."


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