March 24, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 15

The Fifth Season

Please, no music from Frozen...
Please, no music from Frozen...

When I was finishing up my time as an undergrad, bleary-eyed some hours before twilight one late-semester morning, I remember a documentary about Australia. It was some National Geographic-esque thing, but without the polish.

The film was on Kakadu National Park, a protected area in the Northern Territory of Australia. They did a unique job with structure, with the pattern revolving around a unique feature of Kakadu: it has six seasons.

For all of us, our four seasons are drummed into our brains along with our names and addresses and phone numbers as we’re growing up. Decorated bulletin boards in primary school hallways reinforce it.

And they’re all wrong. For the Keweenaw, at least.

We have five seasons in the Keweenaw, and we’re now in the midst of the least-loved one. Summers are this glorious time when days are impossibly long, the blue of the sky and of the water broken by that ribbon of rock and tree. Fall is lovely, amazing skies and stunning colors. Winter is both ferocious and gentle, as anyone who has driven through a blizzard and skied through empty trails knows. Spring brings us new life, new flowers, and new host of possibilities.

Today isn’t any of those. Today is a prime day in my least-favorite season. Let’s call it Melt.

Melt is that season from mid-March through early-May, snow looking like piles of sickly coal, sand kicking up everywhere. The morning and evenings are usually cold, the water from the day’s melt icing up again. More than anything, we can see what the warmer days are going to be. But they aren’t coming quite yet. Now we have to wait. It can be interminable.

This is from last June, near Madeline Island—which I drove out to on the ice last month. It also highlights the critical importance of foosball. Photo courtesy Captain Bob's Marina and Boat Club.

This is from last June, near Madeline Island—which I drove out to on the ice last month. It also highlights the critical importance of foosball. Photo courtesy Captain Bob’s Marina and Boat Club.

My disc golf bag is ready for the season—no bright green or yellow discs to start, since they get lost in all of the blooming. My scooter’s battery is charged. My skis have been banished to the basement. But I have to wait. Because it’s Melt.

There’s plenty of work while we wait. I have a fair number of projects going at any given time, so I’m around campus quite a bit this point of the term. I get to see a lot of those hidden little nooks and study spots, and I have some favorite places to go to wait it out.

Probably my favorite is the stairway in Dow, the one at the north end of the building. The windows in that stairwell are massive, and it almost feels like you’re hovering over the Keweenaw Waterway. It seems wider at that point, whether it’s lost in a kind of fog when frozen over, or little wavelets retreating all the way to Dollar Bay in summer. I never tire of that view.

I really like the ground floor of Wadsworth Hall. Back when I was finishing grad school, the Campus Cafe was open during the afternoons—fairly empty, too, so I understand why they went to evening hours. But I like the spots in the hallway heading to WMTU even more. There’s a pool table with this mellow lighting setup, a few couches, too. There are others, too. Places to pause, and they’re all massively comfortable. It might be the closest feeling I’ve gotten here to the hallway by the Brown Line at Chicago’s Merchandise Mart.

Rekhi Hall has some amazing lounges, too, but you’d expect that from such an architecturally cool structure. The suspended track in the ROTC Building gym is a throwback. And waiting for meetings with staff in the School of Business and Economics means I get to check out the highly detailed ceilings. The MUB’s stairway to nowhere is a classic, a remnant from a prior renovation. And maybe the best view on campus is from the commons facing the water in the second floor of the GLRC.

And that’s just indoors. For outside, the Walker Lawn is my go-to. Rockhenge in front of Fisher is quite nice. The practice fields by the SDC are a frequent destination.

We have a lot of cool places to wait, plenty to choose from while Melt takes its time going away. Places to sit and wait and work and know that Melt never lasts forever. Even if you just stepped in an icy puddle.

Where did you while away some free time here in Houghton? Where do you go now? Let us know at the usual address.

In Other News

Check out the sports story below on Tanner Kero. The Hancock native is a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, a massive honor in collegiate hockey. Fan voting is now open, and Tanner is running second. To a player from the University of Michigan. You know what to do.

A hearty congratulations goes out to Margot Hutchins of Sandia National Laboratories. Margot earned her doctorate from Tech and was named one of the 2015 SME Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineers. Great work, Margot!

And finally, thank you for the massive response to the question of when TOOTs was/was not in use. If we printed them all, they would be the entire newsletter this time around, so if we didn’t include yours, please know it was definitely appreciated. Each issue is an education for me.

There is, of course, much more below. Always feel free to let me know what I can do better. And thanks for reading.

At Tech


Birds Flying High Over the Great Lakes Have a New Strategic Plan

The Great Lakes are named for their size. And for migrating forest birds, navigating their long shores and big, open waters is an annual obstacle course that makes the Iron Man triathlon look easy.

Every year, many bird researchers catch warblers, finches, thrushes and other feathered travelers to better understand their routes and migration patterns. A . . . [ Full Story ]


Michigan Tech Celebrates World Water Day

Water is a natural resource none of us can live without. Every year, in recognition of this vital resource and the challenges it presents to people all over the world, Michigan Tech celebrates World Water Day. This year a week of activities are scheduled from March 19-24, in observance of World Water Day on March . . . [ Full Story ]

Alumni Around the World


Pickled Eggs

Alumni and friends from the West Michigan Chapter held a Pickled Egg Tasting at Schmohz Brewery on Thursday, March 12, 2015. They had twelve egg entries and over 50 people tasted and voted for their favorites. 1st place went to Lauren and Cory LaLende and 2nd place went to Bruce Rossman ’81.

Thanks Brian Fojtik . . . [ Full Story ]


Marquette Chapter + Hockey

While the Michigan Tech Huskies and Northern Michigan Wildcats were getting ready to battle it out on the ice, Husky & Wildcat fans came together to ramp up for an epic rivalry game. Alumni, family and friends gathered at the Vandament Arena for food, games and prizes.

Many thanks to all of our volunteers, with . . . [ Full Story ]

AAW Superior Ideas PHOTO

Superior Ideas: Climate Change and Rain Forests

Tropical Rain Forests exchange more carbon with the atmosphere than any other biome. The poor understanding of how tropical forests will respond to projected increased temperatures puts a constraint on global predictions. This project aims to better understand how tropical forests will react to climate change.

h4h 2015

Spring Break: Habitat for Humanity

Over spring break, the Michigan Tech chapter of Habitat for Humanity traveled to Taos, NM to work on a service project. Amy Clarke ’00 and her husband, Kester, met up with the group for dinner and made quite a lasting impression on the students. Thank you Amy and Kester!

Alumni Profile

Dr. John S. Gierke ’84, ’86, ’90


Steep slopes, seasons of persistent and intense rainfall, and unmanaged anthropogenic changes in the landscape all contribute to the potential for landslides. Superimpose limited financial and technical resources on the propensity for natural disasters and the situation becomes a recurring series of catastrophes, where the victims are often unable to completely recover from one before . . . [ Full Story ]

Tech Sports


No. 8 Huskies Upset by Ashland in Regional Semifinal

HOUGHTON, Mich. — In a one-and-done tournament format, you don’t want to run into a hot team. That’s exactly what happened to the Michigan Tech tonight in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Midwest Region Semifinal. Ashland grabbed a 49-19 halftime lead and held off the Huskies in the second half for a 70-51 final at the . . . [ Full Story ]


Tech Selected to NCAA Tournament; Play St. Cloud Friday in Fargo

HOUGHTON, Mich. – Michigan Tech was selected as an at-large bid to the 2015 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament on Sunday (March 21). The Huskies are a No. 2 seed in the West Region and will play the St. Cloud State Huskies on Friday (March 27) at 4:30 p.m. Eastern at Scheels Arena in Fargo, N.D.

. . . [ Full Story ]

Phillips Named Finalist for Mike Richter Award

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. – Michigan Tech junior goaltender Jamie Phillips was named one of the five finalists for the 2015 Mike Richter Award presented by Let’s Play Hockey and the Herb Brooks Foundation on Wednesday (March 18). Mike Richter will present the second annual award at the 2015 NCAA Frozen Four in Boston.

Phillips backstopped the fourth-ranked Huskies to . . . [ Full Story ]

Fill in the Blanks


Gone to the Garden

I’m getting my little greenhouse ready on my back porch, just about time to get the seeds started. I look at the growing seasons, and I see March, March/April, April… and then June for us.

Yet, the snow will still be evaporating away when the flowers in front of my house start pushing through. They . . . [ Full Story ]


Snow Pirates

This is the time of year when we start finding buried treasure under the remains of winter. I know I’m looking for most of a keyring. They’re quite annoyed with me at the grocery store since I can’t find my little rewards thingy. A colleague lost an iPhone a year or two ago in a . . . [ Full Story ]

From the Email Bag

I typed in TOOTs at the library's archive page and this is what I got—the 1957 pajama parade. And photos of shipwrecks. *shrug*

TOOTing our Horn

Note: Thank you to everyone for the phenomenal responses to our TOOTs question. There were a number of different reasonings, and I’ve included as many here as possible. It’s never too late to add your own! -Kevin

TOOTS = Tech out of towners

Bill Doman ‘85
Kevin,  I attended Tech in the late 60’s . . . [ Full Story ]

You know you're in mining country when you type the word Melt into the search box and everything has to do with smelting.

We’re Melting!

One (among many) memories of spring was a bike ride to Lake Linden and back. Weather was warm, the sun was out, and the water was pouring across M-26 in Ripley – an inch deep if memory serves. Had to put my feet up to avoid the spray off the wheels. Mont Ripley was melting fast!

Kerry Irons . . . [ Full Story ]

Copper Country Limited

The Copper Country Limited

The first time I rode on, or even heard of, “The Copper Country Limited” was the trip to Milwaukee, although I had several more trips on this train to and from Milwaukee or Chicago. Before attending Tech in the early 1960′s I boarded The Copper Country Limited in Iron Mountain, MI bound for Milwaukee for . . . [ Full Story ]
From the NWS in Marquette yesterday. Plenty of open water coming, but I guess I could have kept walking west from McLain, further than the few hundred yards I hiked.

Who’s the Snowiest of Them All?

A friend from Marquette said the weather service designated Marquette as the nation’s snowiest place. Did Marquette really get more snow than the Copper Country or Munising?

This is an interesting one, as snowfall is always tricky to measure. The KRC’s totals, for example, do note that wind blows snow off of their boards. They . . . [ Full Story ]

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Around the Keweenaw

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