Wednesday, January 7, 2009

  • Look! up in the sky! and on stage!
  • Waterloo: hot spots in a cool city
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Against a clear blue sky]Look! up in the sky! and on stage!

I looked out my office window yesterday morning, and lo, there were two mighty cranes in place at the construction site for the Quantum-Nano Centre in the middle of the main campus. The "tower crane" that's been on the job for some weeks now is being joined by a second of its kind, which was rising yesterday at the tip of a temporary (and more spindly) crane brought in for the purpose. Byron Murdock of UW's plant operations department, who's deeply involved in turning the construction site into a multi-million-dollar research and teaching building, says the height of cranes is customarily measured from their base, well below ground level, so it's hard to come up with a useful number to describe just how tall either machine is. But I'd judge that both are dramatically taller than the campus's usual high point, the machine room atop the Dana Porter Library, at 140 feet (43 metres) above the ground. The photo at left was taken Tuesday morning by Daniel Parent, director of design and construction in the plant ops department.

FASS season is here, and unless you’re new to the campus, you know what that means: bad jokes and lots of music. New or experienced, you’re welcome to get involved — after all, FASS stands for Faculty, Alumni, Staff and Students. Auditions run tonight through Friday from 6 to 10 p.m. in room 373 of the Humanities building. “We are looking,” says a memo from producer Nadia Ursacki on behalf of the FASS Theatre Company, “for actors, stage technicians, and production staff (publicity, and general production). The cast has a wide range of ages and acting abilities. Prepared audition pieces are not required. Come in comfortable clothes and be prepared to also provide a singing and dancing audition. Technicians come and talk with the technical director.” FASS is “a 47-year old theatre group at the University of Waterloo that puts on a musical comedy show every February. We are an amateur theatre group with a strong focus on community and having fun. Cast size usually ranges from 70 to 100-plus. Rehearsals begin the second week in January. Everyone who auditions for a part gets a part, and everyone in the show is invited to our special FASS events — we have some sort of party every week, and after every show.” Not seeking to perform this year? You might want to set the date aside and watch for ticket sales. “Live FASS, Die Tomorrow” (hey, guess what movie genre that’s making fun of!) hits the Humanities Theatre stage February 5-7.

As promised, Sandra Hurlburt of UW's human resources department has the details on changes to government payroll deductions that will affect the bottom line on just about everybody's take-home pay as of January 1. She writes: "Employment Insurance premiums will remain at 1.73 per cent of earnings with the maximum insurable earnings for EI increasing from $41,100 to $42,300. The rate for the Canada Pension Plan remains at 4.95 per cent, but it will now be payable on income up to $46,300, rising from the 2008 maximum of $44,900." HR wants to remind employees, she says, that "if they earned more than the maximum insurable earnings in 2008, deductions for these two government benefits will begin again with their January 2009 pay. For more detailed information, employees can check online. Income tax rates are unchanged for January 1, 2009, but the January 27 federal budget may introduce some tax changes." And there's more: "If employees have a change in personal circumstances (e.g., birth of a child, dependent spouse, revised tuition or education amount, etc.) please complete new TD1 forms (federal and provincial) and forward the completed and signed copies to Human Resources so that your total claim amount can be adjusted as of January 1, 2009. Hard-copy forms are available in the Human Resources office in the General Services Complex."

A memo is out from the university secretariat, following up the December announcement that UW provost Amit Chakma is leaving to become president of the University of Western Ontario, so that steps are beginning for finding the next provost. "As required by Policy 48," it says, "we are preparing to constitute the nominating committee to identify his successor. Nominations are requested for the following seats on the nominating committee (at least three nominators are required in each case): a senator of professorial rank from each Faculty, elected by a vote within that Faculty; two regular faculty members, elected from and by the faculty-at-large of the University; two staff members, elected by and from the regular staff of the University. Completed nomination forms are to be sent to the Chief Returning Officer, Secretariat, NH 3060, no later than 3:00 p.m., Friday, January 16, 2009. Elections will follow if necessary."

And a reminder from the library: books that were borrowed on term loan before the beginning of December are due today, and should be returned or else renewed online.

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[Bass and drums in the darkness]
Waterloo: hot spots in a cool city

Waterloo has turned into a “cool” city thanks to its high-tech and information technology businesses, says a feature article in the new issue of the UW Magazine, distributed to some 115,000 alumni in December.

The kind of people who work in those businesses, many of them UW spinoffs, have high expectations if they’re going to “play and stay” in what was once a pretty staid little community, says freelance writer Andrew Coppolino in his article. He quotes a 2000 graduate who’s now working for Research In Motion: “A lot of people in my demographic tend to have a tether around the CN Tower. They don't want to get too far from that!”

His article touches on restaurants, galleries, architecture, bars and wi-fi. Some excerpts:

“Part of the growing trend in adaptive reuse of brownfield sites, the Seagram Lofts are cool additions to urban residency in Waterloo's downtown core. Residents enjoy high ceilings, large windows, and a brick and barrel-wood warehouse feeling only a block from the central business district.

“The lofts, which opened in 2001, are part of warehousing that once stored 17,000 barrels of whisky. Originally built in 1857 as a distillery, the lofts now are home to residents who share the 5,000-square-foot rooftop garden, with its wonderful vistas of the city.

“Only a few blocks away, the historic Bauer Industries site will be transformed from a venerable building more than 100 years old to chic, open-concept, industrial-style loft residences. With this urban maturation at the corner of King and Allen streets will come on-site upscale treats such as a new Vincenzo's fine foods market. . . .

“Nearby in Waterloo, the Perimeter Institute building is likely the funkiest space around. An independent and world-renowned organization, the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics specializes in grappling with ideas on the very edge of conceptual thinking, such as string theory and quantum gravity.

“The building housing such abstract thinking is at the edge, as well. Completed in 2004 and built on reclaimed land, the $24-million building is the inspiration of Montreal-based Saucier + Perrotte architects.

“Black and grey shades are background for irregular, mirror-framed fenestration creating a "warped" prism of concrete and glass that boldly establishes Waterloo has entered a new era of architectural design. In fact, the Perimeter Institute is one of three buildings — all facing the same intersection in Waterloo — that have won the prestigious Governor General's Award for Design Excellence (along with the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery and the Centre for International Governance Innovation in the former Seagram Museum).”

The article quotes Tim Jackson, who heads the investment firm Tech Capital Partners, has served on UW’s board of governors, and recently received Waterloo Region’s first “barn-raiser award” for community service. “If you think about a high-tech employee," says Jackson, "they tend to be younger, well educated, and they tend to be transient. So the community has to offer things like the Perimeter Institute and its lectures."

Says the article: “The institute's community science lectures have become must-go events in Waterloo, and its classical music series regularly sells out. But coolest of all is the ‘aren't we in New York?’ feel of the Black Hole Bistro, on the fourth floor of the institute building, with views of twinkling city lights beyond.

“With intimate tables and bar seating, the Black Hole Bistro blended food with Perry White's blazing hot tenor saxophone as he played with Ted's Warren Commission one chilly winter evening earlier this year. Menus appeared on a wall of blackboard, meshing with the whole academic think-tank approach. The bistro was designed for the institute's members, but the public is invited to attend specially ticketed events, such as these popular jazz evenings.” (The photo above, by Simon Wilson, shows the bistro on another hot evening.)

"Everything leverages. If you want to attract certain types of researchers to the Perimeter Institute, you have to develop a cosmopolitan experience for them," says Jackson.

The main text is accompanied by sidebar information about Kitchener-Waterloo must-see establishments, from Janet Lynn’s Bistro to the Centre in the Square, Princess Cinema and Yukiko’s — even the venerable Huether Hotel. The full article appears on the alumni affairs web site along with a link to a list of addresses, phone numbers and websites for the many establishments mentioned.


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Link of the day

Orthodox Christmas

When and where

Bookstore, UW Shop and TechWorx, South Campus Hall, open for winter term rush Monday-Thursday, January 5-8, 9:00 to 7:00.

Return-to-campus interviews for co-op students Wednesday-Friday, Tatham Centre.

Chamber Choir auditions Wednesday-Thursday, 1:00 to 5:00. Details.

Paul Snyder, information systems and technology, retirement party 3:30 to 5:30, Laurel Room, South Campus Hall, RSVP CHIP in Math and Computer building will close at 3:30 p.m. to allow staff to attend.

Services Fair aimed at new students 4:00 to 7:00, Student Life Centre lower atrium. Details.

Canada Foundation for Innovation celebration honouring six recipients of Leaders Opportunity Fund research funding, Thursday 11:00 a.m., Matthews Hall room 2401, by invitation.

Surplus sale of UW furnishings and equipment, Thursday 12:30 to 2:00 p.m., East Campus Hall.

White Coat Ceremony for new pharmacy students, Thursday 5:00, Humanities Theatre.

Render (UW art gallery) opening reception for two exhibits, “dogswalkme” by Susan Detweiler and “Twilight of an Empire” by Crystal Mowry, Thursday 5:00 to 8:00, East Campus Hall.

Warriors Band first practice of 2009, all welcome, Thursday 5:30, Physical Activities Complex room 2012.

Waterloo Public Interest Research Group introductory meeting ("how you can get involved") Thursday 5:30 p.m., Environment I courtyard.

‘Language as a Complex Dynamic System’ at Renison University College, Thursday 7:00 p.m.; guest speaker Diane Larsen-Freeman, University of Michigan; details e-mail jpwillia@

Orchestra@UWaterloo first rehearsal Thursday 7:00, Ron Eydt Village great hall. Details.

Federal minister of state for science and technology and MP for Cambridge, Gary Goodyear, speaking on his portfolio and the political situation in Ottawa, presented by UW Conservatives, Thursday 5 p.m., Rod Coutts Hall room 307.

Knowledge Integration seminar series: Lt. Col. Jim Kile, “Building Trust: A Story of Canada’s Field Hospital in Afghanistan” Friday 2:30, Clarica Auditorium, Lyle Hallman Institute.

Philosophy colloquium: Patti Tamara Lenard, Harvard University, “Culture, Freedom of Movement and Open Borders”, Friday 3:30, Humanities room 373.

Social Innovation Generation project presents “Studio Earth”, with remarks by environmentalist Severn Suzuki, sessions on social finance, social technology, political advocacy, Sunday 12:30 to 5:00, Kitchener City Hall, registration $10, call ext. 38680.

Club representatives meeting Monday 4:00, Student Life Centre multipurpose room.

Work reports from fall work term, to be marked by CECS coordinators, due Monday at 4 p.m.

International student orientation Tuesday, January 13, 12:30 to 3:10 p.m., Needles Hall room 1116. Details.

Application deadline for September 2009 undergraduate admission is January 14 for Ontario secondary school students. General deadline, March 31. Exceptions include pharmacy (for January 2010) January 30; accounting and architecture, February 13; engineering and software March 2. Details.

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council president Chad Gaffield holds a town hall meeting, all welcome, Wednesday, January 14, 2:30 to 4:00 p.m., Theatre of the Arts.

Clubs, Services and Society Days with tables and displays in the Student Life Centre great hall, January 15 and 16, 10:00 to 3:00.

Blood donor clinic January 19 and 20, 10:00 to 4:00, Student Life Centre, book appointments at turnkey desk or call 1-888-236-6283.

United Arab Emirates campus information session with director Magdy Salama, scheduled for January 19, postponed, date to be announced.

Parents of Grade 10 students invited to an information session about planning for university application, organized by marketing and undergraduate recruitment office, Wednesday, January 21, 6:00 p.m., Theatre of the Arts. Details.

The Three Cantors benefit concert celebrating 10th anniversary of the School of Social Work, Renison University College, Tuesday, February 3, 7:30 p.m., St. John the Evangelist church, Kitchener, tickets $25 (students $20), information ext. 28644.

Distinguished Teacher Awards nomination deadline for 2009 is Friday, February 6. Details.

Winter term reading week February 16-20.

Family Day holiday Monday, February 16: UW offices and most services will be closed.

Texas Hold’em poker tournament Thursday, February 26, 6:30 p.m., atrium of TechTown, 340 Hagey Boulevard, tickets $60, proceeds to Food Bank, information 519-746-7416.

Positions available

On this week's list from the human resources department:

• Department assistant, Waterloo International, USG 5/6
• Administrative manager, combinatorics and optimization, USG 7
• Manager, Federation Hall, campus bar operations, USG 7
• International education advisor/ program coordinator, Waterloo International, USG 6

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