TechAlum News

February 23, 2004 (Vol. 10, No. 38)

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An award-winning weekly electronic newsletter for alumni and friends of Michigan Technological University. Written and distributed by Dean Woodbeck '78, Director of News and Information Services.

In this issue:

  • Husky Tales
  • At da Tech
  • Around Town
  • From the E-mailbag
  • E-mail Updates/Welcome to new subscribers
  • Alumni Chapter Events
  • Job Opportunities
  • Electronic Services for Alumni

Husqi Tales

Some random thoughts after skiing (or is it touring? trudging? at least it wasn't crawling) the 2004 American Birkebeiner, the 51-km event from Cable to Hayward, Wisconsin:

DING-A-LINGS: This was a five-and-a-half hour event for me. For the winners it was 2:10. For some, it stretched more than eight hours. Despite which group you are in, why would you have a little bell dangling from your water bottle holder ringing with ... every ... incessant ... stride? Since this wasn't a biathlon, the only strategies at my disposal were to drop back out of hearing distance, or use what little energy was left to dash ahead and, hopefully, stay there. I tried the latter and it worked, mostly.

CHEERING AND JEERING CROWDS: Veteran spectators have found two steep downhill S-curves in the first half of the course. Large and boisterous crowds gather, cheering those who fall and those who, with various techniques and off-balance heroics, make it to the bottom. But he crowd gives good-natured ribbing to people like me who snowplow, ensuring a safe descent. I drew catcalls and shouts of "NO SNOWPLOW." Hey, folks, I'm skiing my age and ability here.

GUT CHECK: Nutrition is not much of an issue here. We're talking maximum possible caloric intake. Unfortunately, given that 6,000 skiers and family members descend on these small communities, you have to allow plenty of time to get to the start. This means breakfast at 6:30 and a start time of 9:30 and no drive-through windows along the trail. There are, however, feed stations with bananas and oranges, the occasional cookie and plenty of water and energy drink.

After three such stations, though, mushy bananas and electrolyte-laden flavored water just don't cut it. After four or five hours of trudging up and down hills, you're hungry, despite those frozen PowerBars you brought along. Jimmy Buffet's song, "Cheeseburger in Paradise" kept repeating on my mental circuits. At about 40-km, a skier in my vicinity voiced his feelings, "so, anybody else hungry?" He was shouted down by his fellow skiers--or were those our stomachs growling?

THE FINAL FRONTIER: The race ends in downtown Hayward, with several inches of snow covering Main Street. Crowds cheer, even hours after the real racers have traded their Lycra for blue jeans and headed for the Minneapolis airport. It is time to bask in the glory of accomplishment. Or, at least in my case, keeping your eyes on the finish line ahead and hoping you don't face-plant on the uneven terrain in the final 100 meters.

At the end, a volunteer removes your timing chip, your family takes pictures and you trade your fleece for a dry sweatshirt. As the car heads west and the adrenaline slows, you shift your focus to that restaurant in Ironwood, where you can't wait to sink your teeth into a great, big cheeseburger.

Snow Watch '03-'04

As of February 21, 2004 

This week Last week Last year
Snowfall to date 201.5" 197.5 184.5"
On the ground 32" 34" 26"

See our snowfall chart, dating back to 1890, and day--by-day snowfall for this season.

At Da Tech

FOR MORE INFORMATION from Tech, see the weekly newsletter
Tech Topics:

Around Town

MDOT DIRECTOR PLOWS AHEAD: Gloria Jeff, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation, came to L'Anse last week to deliver a $275,000 check to the Baraga County Road Commission, a no-interest loan for flood assistance. She also rode along with a plow driver and praised the work of MDOT drivers in Houghton County. This fall, MDOT took over maintenance of state highways in the county from the county road commission after the two sides couldn't agree on a contract.

POLICE RECOVER ROBBERY MONEY: Police have recovered some of the money stolen during last week's armed robbery in Calumet. The Calumet Village Police have found large amounts of cash in two locations. Two men have been arrested and charged with armed robbery after holding up a gas station employee making a night deposit at a local bank. The two are currently lodged in Houghton County Jail with bail set at $500,000.

EQUIPMENT HEADING TO MEXICO: A van full of equipment from the old Portage Health System hospital in Hancock is on its way to Reynosa, Mexico. Joanne MacInnes spearheaded the effort as director of Finlandia University's Business Incubation Center, which is located in the old hospital building. Area Rotary Club members loaded the equipment, which included 40 hospital beds, 60 night stands, 30 commodes, 15 patient lounge chairs, oxygen flow meters, walkers and crutches. Finlandia acquired the old hospital building in 1999. The outdated equipment was left behind when the hospital relocated.

DEVELOPER LOOKING AT HANCOCK LANDMARK: A real estate developer is interested in buying the former Hotel Scott building in downtown Hancock. The building has housed Hancock Hardware and a fitness center. The developer wants the building, provided the Keweenaw Co-op relocates to its second floor, which is at street level in the back of the building. The first floor would remain retail.

Sports Results

Hockey (7-20-5 Overall, 5-16-3 WCHA)
2/20 -- at Michigan Tech 1, #10 Denver 1 OT
2/21 -- #10 Denver 3, at Michigan Tech 0

Men's Basketball (19-4 Overall, 13-3 GLIAC)
2/16 -- #13 Michigan Tech 58, at Northern Michigan 56
2/19 -- at #18 Michigan Tech 92, Lake Superior State 76
2/21 -- at #18 Michigan Tech 91, Saginaw Valley State 68

Women's Basketball (14-10 Overall, 9-7 GLIAC)
2/16 -- at Northern Michigan 68, Michigan Tech 60
2/19 -- #22 Lake Superior State 71, at Michigan Tech 67
2/21 -- at Michigan Tech 92, Saginaw Valley State 55

Men's Tennis (1-4 Overall, 0-0 GLIAC)
2/20 -- at St. John's 9, Michigan Tech 0
2/21 -- at St. Cloud State 9, Michigan Tech 0

From the E-mailbag

EDITOR'S NOTE: Last week for tire chains/driving stories. We're putting them on ice until next winter.

E-mail from Kerry Irons '72 (KAIrons at


Here's one for the newsletter. I happened to be in
Houghton over the weekend, and was skiing at Ripley on
Saturday afternoon (February 14!). At one point, I'm
waiting in line and the T-bar stops. It looks like one
of the maintenance guys is checking out the cables to
the start/stop controller - he's on his knees in the
snow. Then, he spins around (still on his knees in the
snow), pulls a ring box out of his pocket, and
proposes to the lift operator. By all appearances
(lots of hugs and kisses) she accepted! She apologizes
to those of us standing in line for making us wait,
fires up the T-bar, and off we go. They both finished
their shifts, and I hope had a celebratory Valentines
dinner. I guess I can't say "only in the Copper
Country" but it's heartwarming, nonetheless.
Congratulations Heather and Kevin (I hope I have their
names right)!

E-mail from Lisa (Vezzetti) O'Grady '85 (logrady at

Over the weekend I heard BTO's "Taking Care of
Business" on the radio and Techies still
"gator" to it? I attended Tech in the mid-'80's when
the full mop-the-floor-with-your-body gator was
popular...especially at the end of night to help with
lean-up! Aww, the fond memories of rolling on a beer
drenched floor...what was I thinking?! As I recall,
"Down-state" partygoers performed a modified, less
enthusiastic, version that didn't include rolling on
stomach, sides, and back so I am curious to see if the
Tech version has lived on.

Also, while helping my teenaged daughters in college
selection I came across "interesting" quotes
concerning Michigan Tech on the Princeton Review site. This was
under "What students say about"..."student body"

The Tech student body is predominantly male, white,
and both socially and politically conservative. Did we
forget anything? Oh, yes . . . as one student
succinctly puts it, "this is a very nerdy school. If
you aren't a nerd and you come here, this school will
turn you into one." Writes another, "Students seem too
caught up in their technical selves. Students here who
avoid eye contact are plentiful. I think this is
mainly because they have too much technical attachment
to attach their minds to anything but school." Agrees
one engineer, "Students are either really gregarious,
or lock themselves in their rooms. Very little in
between." The relatively scarce female population get
to "date frequently," but as for the men . . . well,
as one student reports, "since Michigan Tech is all guys, all we
think about is women. For fun, we talk about women,
drink a lot and fantasize about women, and try to hit
on women. It's tough being a guy in the UP!"

Needless to say, this was not written by any Michigan Tech
marketing team! However, it does somehow correlate
with my above question...obviously, female student
that I was, I had a great time at 'da Tech! And yes, I
am TERRIFIED over my "little girls" going away to
college soon! Been there, done that and all!

E-mail from Tom Maringer '76 (maringer at


I recently subscribed to the newsletter and it's been
great to get the news!

It occurred to me to mention that a few years ago I
wrote a novel that takes place in the year 2017 mostly
in the copper country. It's titled A SUPERIOR STATE OF
AFFAIRS and is a sci-fi/adventure sort of thing. A few
of my old alumni buddies have read it and liked it. I
have posted the entire novel as ascii text on my
website so that people can download for free and read
it if they like. The URL for the story is:
The first 500 or so words are the dustjacket blurb.

E-mail from Chris Gosling (CDGOSLING at

Dean -

Re: Tire Chains;

I had a set of chains for my pickup when I was in
Houghton in the mid-70's but never put them on. My
grandfather from Ishpeming drove a grocery delivery
and used chains on it to get around in the 40's and
50's. I suspect this was back before a lot of UP back
roads were plowed regularly! Four-wheel drive has
made these obsolete now.

E-mail from Jabailey34 at

The winter driving stories inspire me to respond. Only
us old guys, and a very few old Tech women, will
remember the "Copper Country turn signal."

When I arrived at Tech in '52, very few cars had
"blinkers" for turn signals. Every good driver used
hand signals out the window in summer. The windows
stayed closed in winter. But if you were behind an old
car and the driver opened and closed the left door,
you knew he intended to turn. Left or right, you
didn't know.

Re: tires and cars for deep snow. I liked the Goodyear
surburbanite snow tires on my '41 DeSoto with its
sluggish fluid drive transmission. You could floor the
accelerator and the fluid drive would not spin the
rear wheels. One opening day of deer season, with a
foot or so of overnight snow, we were heading for the
Misery River country and had to drive around several
vehicles "spun out" going west up the hill on what is
now Memorial Drive. The DeSoto and a Volkswagen beetle
were the only cars to make it while we were there.

Bridge Street is still a steep climb and I never went
up it in winter. Coming down the hill, Bridge Street
crossed College Ave. at a stoplight and led straight
(past Tony's Bar on the corner) out onto the old
turntable bridge to Hancock. I used to visit a certain
young lady a few blocks up the Bridge Street hill
fairly often. To get there, I went west on Memorial
Drive, up the more gradual hill and then turned back
on the level (perhaps Edwards Street?).

But coming home was different. I'd sit about 4 blocks
up Bridge Street and time the stoplight. Then I would
launch down the hill, hitting the green light as
planned (I could not have stopped on the snow and
ice.), shot across the bridge, did a U-turn in Hancock
and returned to Houghton where I made a left through
town on my way to the old KD house at 1110 College
Ave. I never thought it was faster than returning via
Memorial Drive, but, heck, it was such a challenge and
I thought I was immortal then.

E-mail from Jim Pytleski (pytleskijl at


I second Sandy's comments last week on ballast. In the
late sixties/early seventies I noticed most of the
locals had chains and the toots either bought them,
did without, or ballasted the trunk with dead weight.

As a second year engineering student I realized that
it made the most sense (for forward tractive effort on
rear drive) to maximize the ballast density and move
the mass as far back in the trunk as possible. The end
result, after a quick trip to Silversteins Surplus in
Detroit was a Plymouth Duster with 20 tubes of lead
shot placed rearward of the axle riding on Firestone
snow tires. Air shocks helped keep it level so it
looked "normal" from the outside. But it must have
weighed over two tons and amazed all in what it could
go through. Another side benefit was how easy it was
to steer as I had manual steering. On the negative
side, the handling was terrible and the car felt
unsafe to drive over 40 mph so I wouldn't recommend it
to anybody.

TechAlum Subscriber Stats

We're at 6,969 subscribers.

Here are the new e-mail addresses from the past week. Please note, we are
using the word "at" instead of the at sign to guard against spambots.

1983 Philip Mangiaracina phil_mangiaracina at
1984 Marc Zahner zmail at
1986 Robert Wieber rfwieber at
1989 Angela Maraldo amaraldo at
1992 Jason Becker jaybecker at
1992 Richard Schnell nicksdadandmom2 at
1993 Shaundel Elowski selowski at
1994 John Ryynanen jeryynan at
1995 Jacquelin Koch davejacq at
1996 Sarah Aittama sjaittama at
1997 Robert Abar robertabar at
1997 Brian Ezyk ezyk at
2000 Charles Ernst jacobernst at
2001 Joseph Napieralski joseph.r.napieralski at
2001 Laura Kowalczyk lalaski at

You can update your information at:

Alumni Association Programs

CHAPTER EVENTS: For more information on alumni chapter events,
e-mail mtu_alumni at or see the alumni chapter site on the web.


26 -- West Michigan Chapter--Michigan Tech vs. Grand Valley in
basketball. See the form on the web or contact Pat
Hughes (616-698-0273).

25 -- Chicago Alumni Event


5 -- Washington DC Presidential reception
19 -- Dallas Presidential Reception
20 -- Austin Presidential Reception
21 -- San Antonio Presidential Reception
22 -- Houston Presidential Reception

Job Opportunities This Week

ON CAMPUS: Complete job descriptions for these positions are available by e-mailing jobs at

  • Assistant Director for Greek Life, Leadership and Service--Office of Student Affairs/Student Activities
  • Assistant Professor--Electrical and Computer Engineering

OFF CAMPUS: For complete descriptions, jump to our jobs web site.

  • Asst./Assoc. Prof in Habitat Conservation
  • Asst. Nursery Mgr./Reforestation Spec.
  • Sr. Structure Analysis Eng.
  • Sales Engineer (ME)
  • Sr. Hydraulic System Eng.
  • Sr. Cab Design Eng.
  • Sr. Structure Design Eng.
  • Engineering opportunities

See you next week

TechAlum is a weekly electronic newsletter published by the Michigan Tech Alumni Association. For more information, contact Dean Woodbeck at techalum at