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University of Waterloo -- Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
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Tuesday, July 15, 1997

A great sense of humid

Laurel Creek is running wide, fast and brown this morning after last night's heavy storm, the climax of a heavy weather day. The daytime temperature didn't quite hit the predicted high of 32, but the moisture was sure out there, with a late afternoon Humidex reading of 39.6. Then came the three-hour thunder and lightning storm, with rain described by Environment Canada as "torrential". Says the weather office this morning: "The hardest hit area was between Stratford and Kitchener where unofficial rainfall amounts of up to 200 millimeters were reported in the Tavistock and Shakespeare areas."

Wind took down one tree near Ron Eydt Village, but otherwise there was no significant damage on campus, says Brian Bradley of the UW police this morning. He says the electrical power to campus suffered "at least three major surges", knocking out computers and alarm systems. Kim Spenceley of information systems and technology reports that power flickers knocked out the central computing systems twice between 10 p.m. and midnight, once for about 40 minutes and once for half an hour.

Lightning affecting the power supply is the biggest worry for Rick Zalagenas, who's in charge of the cool air department as manager of the utilities, power house and mechanical sections of plant operations. "With even a flicker in the power, everything shuts down," he says, "and we have to very carefully restart the system" to avoid overloading any areas.

In this week's heat wave, the UW air conditioning equipment is labouring "at or above capacity", says Zalagenas. Since the cooling systems employ rooftop towers to evaporate water from air conditioning units, days with high humidity in which the air is already saturated with water make the job more difficult, he explained. "These are the few extreme days we try to plan for all season long," he added.

Overall, it's not been a bad summer for plant operations, he says, with cooling starting later than usual. "We had a real break because June was so cold."

In today's forecast the "high Humidex advisory" and "air quality advisory" posted yesterday have ended, but it's still expected to be humid, with a high of 29.

About the admissions figures

Last Thursday's Bulletin had a few paragraphs about the number of first-year students who are expected last fall, and yesterday -- not until yesterday! -- I became aware of a strange error in what I wrote:
Engineering currently has 854 acceptances for 745 first-year places. But that's normal: a fair number of students drop out of engineering every September. Science has 725 acceptances (as of July 4) for 600 places, and math has 939 acceptances for 830 places. Environmental studies isn't far behind, with 854 acceptances for 745 places.
The numbers for engineering, science and math are right, but the numbers for environmental studies are, obviously, wrong; I must have copied the engineering line all over again. In fact, ES has 308 acceptances, at last report, for 281 places.

Workplace changes are 'unnerving'

"Canadians have to come to grips with the many rapid changes we are seeing as we go about our daily work", said the federal labour minister, Lawrence MacAulay, in announcing the release last week of a big report from something called the Advisory Committee on the Changing Workplace.

Collective Reflection on the Changing Workplace is the work of six people who were appointed to the advisory committee last August to examine "the issues involved in the changing nature of work itself, and the changing nature of the places in which work is accomplished". Such issues include new technologies, which "are changing relationships between workers and their employers", plus globalization, computerization and changing labour market institutions.

"This is a report which deserves to be widely read," said the labour minister, "and I believe it will provoke a good deal of thoughtful reaction across our country. After we have all had a chance to look carefully at these workplace issues and the suggestions for addressing them, I hope to be able to make some progress in this important area in the fall."

The report, which is available on the Web, says many Canadian young people are "in a sort of limbo, unable to find a clear adult role for themselves in society", for lack of permanent jobs of a kind that existed in previous generations.

"Canada's workplaces are changing with unnerving rapidity," says another section of the report.

It has seven main recommendations:

  1. The labour regulation framework (i.e. labour standards, occupational health and safety, labour relations, etc.) does not have to be the same in all sectors, but it does have to set a common base and deliver the same basic human rights to all workers including those in contingent and precarious employment.
  2. Investing in people is key to Canada's future unions, firms and governments have to work together to ensure that all workers have access to training opportunities.
  3. Public policy should not create artificial incentives for a longer work week or for creating part-time jobs at the expense of full-time ones.
  4. There should be new provisions for diverse modes of representation in labour relations legislation for workers in the new economy.
  5. New models to improve access to, and portability of, social benefits (e.g. supplementary medical plans, dental plans, vision plans, pension plans, etc.) that are traditionally associated with employment need to be considered.
  6. Government should exercise leadership and provide support for efforts to use the social economy and the voluntary sector to provide training opportunities and work skills development.
  7. Governments should actively promote and facilitate institution building for a wider continuing dialogue on issues related to the changing workplace.

The news for St. Swithin's Day

The exam schedule for this term is now available on the Web (look on UWinfo under "Calendars, courses, exams"). Spring term exams run August 5 through 16. . . .

All graphic services outlets will be closed this afternoon for a customer service The outlets close at 2:15 p.m. and only those with evening service will re-open at 4:45 p.m. Main graphics, phone ext. 3452, is available for assistance calls. . . .

A brown-bag session on stress in the workplace runs from 12 to 1:00 today in Math and Computer room 4020. It's sponsored by the Employee Assistance Program (the session is their doing, I mean, not the stress). At last report, there were still a few seats not reserved. . . .

The career services division of the co-op and career department continues to offer its series of seminars this week. Today at 9:30 it's "networking", and at 10:30 "job work and search". Tomorrow, which is Wednesday, there's a 9:30 "interview skills session" in Needles Hall room 1020, followed by "Interview Skills II" at 11:00 for those who want to practice what they've learned. "Walk-ins are welcome," says Kathy Grant in a note from Needles. . . .

The teaching resource office sends a reminder of its seminar for teaching assistants this Friday at noontime. Topic: "Research Seminars at the Academic Job Interview". Information and registration: trace@watserv1. . . .

Waterloo Web site of the day


Here's a web site with a very simple origin: "It's the most interesting if not the best essay I wrote," explains Dave Switzer, formerly a computer science and English student, and now a staff member in CS:

I wrote the essay a couple of years ago for the UW course Anthropology 261, Primate Behaviour. I've received some email from students working on essays with similar topics -- most of them assume that I'm an expert on the subject. Which I'm not -- that was the only anthropology course I took. But I've done quite a bit of reading on apes communicating with sign language.
In addition to a formal bibliography, the page offers links to several other web pages about primate language, including a transcript of a "Nova" program titled "Can Chimps Talk?"


July 15, 1968: A branch of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce opens in the Campus Centre.

Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@watserv1.uwaterloo.ca -- (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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