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Rube Goldberg takes a soda break

Posted on Apr 29, 2005

The Rube Goldberg contest

Is the glass half empty or half full? For middle and high school students coming to Union College's Rube Goldberg Machine Contest Saturday, April 30, this question of optimism versus pessimism won't matter as much as just getting the liquid in the glass.

This year's task in the annual invention contest will be to build a machine that will remove the top from a 20-ounce bottle of soda and fill a 16-ounce cup, preferably without spilling.

Set-up will start at 8:30 a.m. and competition will follow at 9:30 a.m. in Memorial Fieldhouse.

This is the fifth year Union is hosting the event. Previous competitions' tasks included opening a bag of M&Ms, toasting a slice of bread, sticking a stamp on a letter, and making a baloney sandwich. Last year, teams developed contraptions that took a pie out of a box, put it on a plate then added a dollop of whipped cream. A team from Niskayuna's Van Antwerp Middle School took top prize in 2004. This year 21 teams from 11 local school districts and BOCES will compete.

The competition is named for the late Rube Goldberg, an engineer and Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist. His cartoons appeared in thousands of daily newspapers from 1914 to 1964. The “inventions,” he said, symbolized “man's capacity for exerting maximum effort to accomplish minimal results.” His name has become eponymous for anything that is unnecessarily complex, cumbersome, or convoluted.

Contest machines must use at least 20 steps to complete the task and must be no larger than 5 feet in length, depth and height. Each entering team receives an honorarium of $100 for supplies to build their machine. Contest director is James Hedrick, professor of engineering at Union.

The competition is sponsored by Union's Engineering program and Admission's Office, Knolls Atomic Power Lab, and the GE Elfun Society. Members of the GE Elfun Society will judge the contest, choosing winners based on effectiveness, complexity, creativity and presentation.

For more information, visit http://engineering.union.edu/me_dept/rube/rube.html.


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Try-Math-Lon a test of muscles and math

Posted on Apr 29, 2005

Thirty girls in grades 4 through 6 will put their muscles and their math skills to the test in 'Try-Math-Lon' on Saturday, April 30.

The girls will swim, bike, run and solve mathematical problems during the annual Try-Math-Lon, a series of events at Alumni Gymnasium, pool and Frank Bailey Field track..

Girls Inc. and General Electric are sponsors of the event, which runs from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., beginning at the College's Kenney Community Center, 257 Park Place. Union students are to assist the girls.

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‘Mama Maria’ to retire from Dining Services

Posted on Apr 29, 2005

Friends of Maria Iuliano are giving a retirement tribute to the woman known by many simply as “Mama Maria” on Friday, April 29, from 2 to 4 p.m. on the Reamer Campus Center patio.

Retiring after more than 16 years with Dining Services, Maria has been a visible and popular server and cook in Dutch Hollow.

Maria recalled at the recent Employee Recognition Luncheon that she got her nickname – “Mama Maria” – from player and coaches who said she treated them like family.

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Author of English Patient to speak on Tuesday

Posted on Apr 29, 2005

Michael Ondaatje

Michael Ondaatje, best known for his landmark novel, The English Patient, will speak and read from his work on Tuesday, May 3, at 7:30 p.m. in the Nott Memorial.

The talk, part of Union's Perspectives at the Nott lecture series, is free and open to the public.

The English Patient won the 1992 Booker Prize and then became an Academy Award-winning movie. The author of five novels, Ondaatje also writes memoirs, film scripts and poetry.

Born in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), he lives in Toronto and teaches at York University. Along with top Canadian writers Leonard Cohen and Margaret Atwood, he is one of the most interesting and important living contemporary writers.

He began publishing lyric poems in the late 1960's. His work quickly morphed into a unique and complex mesh of poetry and prose, historical fact, photos, interviews, and (often avant- garde, even hallucinatory) images and fiction. He has written books set in places as diverse as the 19th-century Australian Outback, Billy the Kid's American West, the turn-of-the-20th-century jazz world of New Orleans, immigrant workers' communities in Toronto ca. 1930s, World War II Europe and North Africa, contemporary rural Ontario, and contemporary Sri Lanka.

Using his own mesh of genre and approach, he has imagined the 20th century, its roots and trajectories, in a unique, multi-cultural way. He has made three films of his own and recently published a book-length interview with famed Hollywood film editor Edward Murch.

Ondaatje also will visit Prof. Ed Pavlic's seminar, “Pictures Fly Without Target”: the Prose-Poetics of Michael Ondaatje's Writing. His visit marks the third consecutive year an internationally-acclaimed author has visited with English / Africana Studies classes. Previous visitors have included Yusef Komunyakaa and Adrienne Rich.

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Prof. Wineapple publishes essay on Sebald

Posted on Apr 29, 2005

Brenda Wineapple, Doris Zemurray Professor of Modern Literary and Historical Studies, has published a retrospective essay on the writing of W.G. Sebald in Parnassus.  Though she focuses on his recently published On the Natural History of Destruction and the poetic triptych, After Nature, she also discusses such acclaimed and unclassifiable books as The Emigrants, The Rings of Saturn, and Austerlitz.

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