TechAlum News

February 7, 2005 (Vol. 11, No. 37)

An award-winning weekly electronic newsletter for alumni and friends of Michigan Technological University. Written and distributed by Dean Woodbeck '78, Senior Director of University Communications. For past issues, see our archives.

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

Statue-builders are in damage control mode after six days of above-freezing temperatures laid waste to some of their work. If you've been watching the StatueCam of the TKE statue, for example, you noticed some large figures that are no longer there. The temperatures return to normal today, but the Thursday morning deadline looms.

It has been a strange February, with record high temperatures on three of the first six days. The highs for the last six days, including February 1, were: 34, 40, 37, 45, 47, and 43. As you will see below, we lost more than a foot of snow during the past week.

Mt. Ripley is showing some bare spots and I'm sure the snow guns were cranked up last night as the temperature dropped back into the lower 20s.

The cross-country trails have held up, although skiing at 47 degrees on Saturday was disorienting. You get used to putting on all of these layers, which just aren't needed when you ski in Florida weather. I probably logged an extra 10-km retrieving the various items of clothing I left scattered along the trail.

This is starting to look like the winters of 1999-2000 and 1997-98, when we had below-average snowfalls in December and January, then the Lake Superior snow machine took February off. We had just shy of eight inches and six inches, respectively, in February during those years.

But Carnival is here, with below-freezing temperatures (but no snow) predicted for the week. There will be lots of people out on campus Wednesday night, the special events will go on, and the Zamboni song will play between the second and third periods. It is a great time of year.

Snow Watch '04-'05

As of February 6, 2005
                     This week   Last week   Last year  
    Snowfall to date    120.76"    120.76"      183.5"     On the ground         22"        36"         31"
See our snowfall chart, dating back to 1890, at

Day--by-day snowfall:

ALUMNI BULLETIN BOARD: Remember the alumni bulletin board for you to use for discussions related to this newsletter, Tech sports, or anything else:

At Da Tech

GUAY NAMED CARNIVAL QUEEN: Emily Guay, sponsored by Phi Kappa Tau, was named the 2005 Winter Carnival Queen on Saturday night. Guay is a biological sciences major from Green Bay, Wisconsin. First runner-up was Dany Peavy (Summit House) and the second runner-up was Dana Bowlby (Sigma Phi Epsilon).

PEP BAND NEEDS PANTS: The Huskies Pep Band, the Pride of Michigan Tech, needs new striped bib overalls. The newest of the famous stripes are now 10 years old. Chair of the fine arts department, Milt Olsson, has found a vendor to provide 150 pair of the unique bibs, but he needs alumni to help in the payment department.

Pep band alumni and supporters: your $50 gift will provide one set of bibs (you can, of course, purchase more than one, if you like). Olsson would like to have the bibs in hand for the March 4-5 hockey games against Minnesota, which will be carried in many parts of the country on Fox Sports Net. But he needs your gift by February 15. Go here to make a gift, making sure you specify "pep band bibs:"

TECH SEEKS ALUMNI OPINIONS: The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is revising their course in electrical engineering for non-EE majors. The goal is to better serve students from diverse fields who take the course. A group of faculty from different engineering fields at Michigan Tech has developed a questionnaire, seeking responses nationwide from students, faculty, and industry practitioners. The results from the survey will help develop a core curriculum that will be taken by all students, as well as specialized online modules that will be tailored to meet the needs of the various engineering disciplines.

If you are a non-EE engineering graduate, please assist in the development of this course by taking the time (about 15 minutes) to respond to the survey. Please try to respond on or before February 28, 2005. To fill out the survey, go to

HOBEY CAMPAIGN ON: Last year, Michigan Tech's Chris Conner won the fan balloting portion of the Hobey Baker selection process, resulting in a lot of publicity for Michigan Tech hockey. This year, Colin Murphy is a candidate and you can vote every day at

UNIVERSITY SENATE WILL RETURN: Faculty and staff have approved a constitutional change that will allow the University Senate to continue its work. Ratification removes a clause in the old constitution which excluded union members. The clause was meant to define the senate's professional staff constituency, but caused a dilemma when faculty voted to unionize with the American Association of University Professors this past fall.

NEW DEGREE PROGRAMS ON TAP IN FINE ARTS, CHEMISTRY: The University Senate is considering eight new degree programs, minors and certificates, including four bachelor's degrees from the Department of Fine Arts. The proposals include degrees in Theatre and Entertainment Technology, Audio Production and Technology, Theatre and Entertainment Technology, and Sound Design. The Department of Chemistry is proposing two new degrees, a BS in Cheminformatics and one in Pharmaceutical Chemistry.

Summer Youth Program
Hockey camp

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

Around Town

TEEN CHARGED IN CRASH: The Houghton County prosecutor has filed a petition for charges in probate court against the 16-year-old driver in the Nov. 12 crash that killed two Chassell boys. The girl faces two counts of negligent homicide and one count of reckless driving. According to police, the vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed when the driver lost control, went into the ditch and rolled over several times, snapping a power pole in half before coming to rest.

COUNCIL CONSIDERS NEW FIRE TRUCK: The Hancock City Council has received a preliminary proposal from the city's fire department for a new pumper truck and an aerial apparatus that extends to 100 feet. The department's current pumper was purchased in 1977.

From the E-mailbag

E-mail from Gary Tunstall (garyt(at)

Greetings Dean,

Carnival 2005 is here and I wanted to remind Alumni
and friends that are coming up for the weekend about
Mu Beta Psi's "3rd Annual Evening with Gary
Tunstall" scholarship fundraiser Friday Feb 11th in
the Superior Room of the Northern Lights in the Best
Western Franklin Square Inn. Last year's show provided
two scholarships for students in the fine arts
department and they hope to do at least that well this
year. Thanks, Dean, and keep thinkin' snow.

E-mail from Michael Reblin '68 (Geowiz76(at)

You "Woodbecked" the year under Snow Watch. The
calendar really did roll over from 2004 to 2005 on the
1st of this month. I enjoyed your 'Back to the
Future' column. Keep up the good work.

E-mail from Jeff Lewis (lewjeff(at)

>Get out the "way-back machine."

<Great story chopped>

Did you know the 'way-back machine' was deployed in
the Snow Watch section?

> ******************
> SNOW WATCH '04-'05
> As of January 30, 2004

E-mail from Bob Pawling '70 (pawlingbob(at)


A question from a 1970 graduate. I'd like to see
photos of the Winter Carnival statues under
construction. Are there available on the web or
will you provide links in your upcoming newsletters?

Dean sez: You will find photos and results and all the Winter Carnival info at

E-mail from David Geyer '92 (David.Geyer(at)>)


In taking care of the latest I.S. nastygram to whittle
down the size of my email-box, I tripped over an
unsent draft...just in time for THIS year's Winter
Carnival, which kicks out the 42nd "official"

Regarding the blurb in 4-19-2004 TechAlum, trying to
figure out which year was the first "official"
Carnival Pictorial ('64, '63 or earlier), "Dean sez:
This year's 2004 Pictorial bills itself as the 41st
annual, which would make the first 1963."

Actually, if 2004 was indeed the 41st annual, then
*1964* would be the FIRST. This supports the claim of
an earlier writer, that 1964 was the first official
year of the pictorial. So unless 1963 debuted a "zero-
th" annual, 1964 works out as the first year....count
it backwards or do the math (and mind the boundary
conditions - count the beginning year & the last

Along that theme, there's an interesting book - "Zero,
The Biography of a Dangerous Idea" - that chronicles
the origins and necessity of "zero" and its inverse
twin, infinity. Though we take it for granted, these
concepts weren't as intuitive as you'd think. For
instance, the Romans did not have a zero, which begat
the time bomb for the "millennium year" argument.
Though nobody except the math majors really cared, it
was 2001 and not 2000 that reset the millennium
odometer, because the Roman calendar went straight
from 1-BC to 1-AD. And for all the math that the
Greeks developed, the concepts of zero, infinity, and
irrational numbers were forbidden concepts (to the
point of a death sentence), because it went against
their pinnacle of "rational" thinking.

The book is somewhat of a light read for a Techie, but
doesn't lack for depth either. If that kind of stuff
floats your boat for (coming) summer hammock reading,
here's more info on the book:
- "Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea"
- by Charles Seife
- ISBN# 0 14 02.9647 6 (paperback)
- ISBN# 0-670-88457-X (hardcover)
- a New York Times notable book, and winner of
PEN/Martha Albrand Award (whatever that may be)

Thanks for keeping on with the newsletter, always a
welcome site in the in-box, even with the occasional 2x
Woodbeck virus (maybe it starts counting at 0 instead
of 1 sometimes....)

E-mail from Ken Price '81 (k3tdprice(at)

After years of reading this great newsletter, I am
inspired to add my story from that cold night in Feb.
1979. Dave Huhta's date of Feb 17th rings true, that
is a Saturday and I clearly recall coming out from my
job as the projectionist at the Pic theater in Hancock
at about 2:30 AM one Saturday morning and seeing the
D&N Bank clock reading -39. My old Beetle fired right
up as usual (something about low compression ratio
and only 3 and 1/2 main bearings) but was a bit
reluctant to go into gear as the gear oil in the trans
was like glue. A cold ride back home to Chassell
followed, and the trans oil was still thick by the
time I down shifted off 41 onto Lakeshore Drive.

I remember being somewhat concerned about a number of
Michigan Tech students walking home to Houghton across the
bridge at this temperature. Growing up in Houghton, I
had walked many times the mile to school at -25 in the
dark, but this seemed a little worse. The occasion
for the late night foot traffic was one of the
theater's midnight double feature X-rated movies, and
these were heavily attended by students without cars
even when they were moved to Hancock from the Lode in
Houghton. The risk of thermal exposure may have been
increased by the amount of alcohol that was consumed
before and during the show. We employees were more
worried about smoking than drinking since the theater
was mostly wood, and the customers seemed to enjoy the
low grade movies more with a bit of liquid
encouragement. Besides, it also seemed to make them
more forgiving to equipment failures, and since I was
also the janitor, my income was supplemented by
picking up the hundreds of empties the next day.

Ah, life when the challenges were so simple...

E-mail from weridehds(at)

And one more story about the 78-79 winter -

I was in da Tech when the school closed for only its
second and third times. White out conditions for
extended periods closed it in 1979 and a bunch of us
high tailed it to Jims for beer, which was nearly sold
out. We attempted a football game in the courtyard of
Wadsworth Hall but could not see our own hands in the
white-out. In 1981 school closed on a Sunday. I was
living in Beta Mu Phi and again the Bogue Boys trekked
over to the mad house that was Jim's in search of
libations. In both cases the storms were memory

After graduation in 1983 I started work in Ohio, close
to Lake Erie. But first a storm made going over the
bridge the most treacherous in all my years at da
Tech. At the toll-booth I was made to wait for a semi
to follow on the center lane not to go over 25mph with
my Gran Torino pulling a U-Haul. A fitting send off
from my life as a yooper to begin my life as a troll.

A similar storm pattern to 1978-79 settled in northern
Ohio in 1984. People were stranded at the
manufacturing plant I worked at for 3 days. One guy
was lost as he tried to walk the railroad tracks from
the rail-siding at the plant to his house of 25 years
which was at an intersection of the railroad tracks
and a street only five blocks away. Truckers stranded
on I-80 were at risk with the local Nat. Guard having
to rescue many of them. This storm would not have
closed da Tech though, and walking the streets of
small-town Clyde, Ohio that weekend was about as close
to living in Houghton as I have had since.

E-mail from Tom Joynt '67 (OHBEJOYFILL(at)
(in sunny California)

Dean: I always enjoy your tales of up north and your
dilemma of being snowblower challenged?! As for
getting a new machine, I must pass on what a fellow
engineer used as his bench mark of a good snowblower.
His conclusion was that you can tell how good a snow
blower is by how far it can throw a brick! The
assumption here is that you have inadvertently left a
brick somewhere where your clearing operation will go.
He did successfully complete this engineering
evaluation and his snowblower survived to go on to
many happy hours of cutting a swath through the white
stuff. I concluded that one must be careful if you're
throwing snow over (?) parked cars or near your
neighbor's picture window!

E-mail from Eric Norppa (eric.m.norppa(at)


I can't believe that you haven't mentioned the
extraordinary snow conditions in the Keweenaw this
year. Check out the snow depth map:

That's why I only trust data from your official site!

Dean sez: For those not inclined to look, the map shows no snow on the Keweenaw. There is a disclaimer further in the site that says there is an "underreporting" problem in the western UP.

E-mail form Kerry Irons '72 (irons54vortex(at)


Just in case you haven't heard from other sources, Ski
Magazine just did a 5 page article on Mt. Bohemia
(February issue). They mentioned Michigan Tech in a few
contexts, including the following curious statement:
"Students at Michigan Tech and Finlandia College . . .
are known to wear ski goggles when walking their
campuses." In the "facts & figures" section, their
Don't Miss item is Winter Carnival (plus the Keweenaw
Brewing Company) and they mention the Library, the
Ambassador, Ginos, The Michigan House, pasties, the
Downtowner, Bleachers Sports Bar, and the Four Seasons
in Lac LaBelle. It's also the only time I've ever
seen anyone refer to Mont Ripley as a "bail out" for
novices and intermediates :) The Porkies gets a
mention as well.

Dean sez: Kerry and I agree that we've never seen anyone walking on campus with ski goggle on, unless they are also wearing skis.

E-mail from Pete Rankin '59 (prankin(at)

Hi Dean

If any of you alumni or recent grads are longing for
the snows of your undergraduate days, come to
Syracuse, NY to work. We typically get 150-190 inches
a year - the most snow for any city our size and
larger in the country. Buffalo gets all the publicity
but we always have more snow than they do. But if
that's not enough for you snowmobilers and other
outdoor types, you can travel just an hour north of
here and experience 300-360 inches a year.

In addition, we have a dozen good ski hills within a
half hour or so of the city and in Old Forge, NY
(just inside of two hours northeast of here), there
are 60 miles of groomed snowmobile trails to play on
along with a few more ski resorts.

In the summer time, the Adirondacks are the place to
be with six million acres containing hundreds of lakes
to swim in and mountains to climb and true wilderness
to hike around.

Lockheed Martin and Syracuse Research and others are
hiring engineers so look into upstate New York for
your next home.

E-mail from Lloyd Kaufman '93 (lmkaufman(at)

Just thought it was an appropriate time to email again
about the "Yooper Scoopers", that compete with the
snowblowers for snow removal purposes.

The original Yooper Scooper is still being
manufactured at Kaufman Sheet Metal in Ironwood,
Michigan. I promised a couple of years ago to send
information when these units are available online…well
they are available at My
brother and I have finally moved my uncle and father
into the e-commerce age.

The Kaufman units are the best yooper scoopers made
bar none. There is a similar product being made
elsewhere, but the Kaufman's still have them beat.
These units will ship all over the world with shipping
pricing included in the checkout process. Shipping
pricing has increased since they first started
offering these mail order, but it is still reasonable
considering the size of the package. In addition, the
Kaufman roof rakes are also available at the same

I have (actually my wife has) the ladies size Kaufman
snow scoop and we can still clear a 12 inch snow fall
from the driveway faster than my brother with his 6HP
24" Yard Machines. You won't be disappointed with any
Kaufman product.

TechAlum Subscriber Stats

We're at 7,129 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.

1956 Clifford Nelson cndaisynel(at)

1969 Charles Jack cjack(at)

1970 Brian Devries BDeVriesBuffDiv(at)
1975 James Walker jswalker01(at)
1978 James Reese jreese(at)
1978 Michael Ekkens fekkens(at)

1980 Steven Schrems zeetops(at)
1984 Wade Spurlin wspurlin(at)

1990 James Shupe rattlebones(at)
1991 Rebecca Rick rebeccarick(at)

1994 Mark Stracka mark(at)
1994 Roy DeFauw rd21(at)
1995 Suan Kua kuasuantien(at)
1999 Linde Jury lindejury(at)
1999 Michelle O'Neill (Dominowski) mroneill(at)

2000 Jesse Gwidt michael.gwidt(at)
2002 Melissa Powers mpowers(at)
2004 Eve Deitsch (Eschenbacher) edeitsch(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.


9-13 Winter Carnival

18 Alumni night with the Fury (Muskegon). See

26 Michigan Tech at Alaska-Anchorage hockey and alumni event.

Job Opportunities This Week

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

  • Head of Reference, Instruction and Government Information Services--J. R. Van Pelt Library

OFF CAMPUS: For off-campus positions, visit the alumni section of the career center's web site (

See you next week