On & Off the Ave

A Lighter Look at Life On and Off Campus

By Jon Marmor

The envelope please...

There are plenty of awards that celebrate breakthroughs in modern science. Then there's the Ignobel Prize, which the UW Department of Biochemistry presents every December "to honor the biggest boo-boo of the year," says Ken Walsh, department chair and a two-time winner of the ugly trophy. "It is nice sometimes to put the wonderful scientific achievements in context."

The award started in the 1960s, was discontinued, then revived about 15 years ago.

Some of the winning stories have been doozies:

*The faculty member who, while carrying a new refrigerator, damaged the ceiling and sheared off overhead sprinklers, starting a flood.

*The graduate student who spilled 400 gallons of bovine blood (for a coagulation study) off the back of his pickup truck on Pacific Avenue NE, causing a major traffic jam.

*The administrative assistant who lost a chicken sandwich in her desk, and forgot about it. Two months later, the stench was so bad that maintenance workers demolished a wall, thinking there was a dead animal trapped inside.

*The faculty member who wrapped an ether-soaked rat in a towel, placed it in a refrigerator, and went home. The resulting explosion the next morning took out 26 windows in the D-Wing.

"When you make a goof like that, you cringe and hope you won't get nominated," says Lynett Kimmel, the department's graduate program assistant who won last year for sending a grad school application to a prison inmate.

"Sometimes too much attention is made to advances in science," Walsh says. "We just like to honor those who have moved science in the other direction."

Booking it

The many libraries at the University of Washington do a boffo business. Doors open as early as 7:30 a.m. and close at midnight. Usually the libraries are open seven days a week. UW Alumni Association members have use of the library, too, including its 5+ million print volumes, not to mention...

5,308,397 microfiche/microcards
266,771 maps/aerial photographs
332,491 photos/positive
256,031 photo negatives
25,168 audiotapes/audiocassettes

On average, every day:

24,468 people enter
8,804 books are checked out
6,017 books are used in the libraries
27,738 photocopies are made
1,799 reference questions are answered in person
417 questions are answered over the phone
195 new volumes are added

Checking out

8,804 books are checked out every day
60,951 books are checked out every week
264,120 books are checked out every month
3,169,445 books are checked out every year

Source: UW Libraries

The end

Kyle Kallander, '80, '82, is going down with his ship. On June 7, he became the last commissioner of the Southwest Conference, and his job will perish next July, when the Dallas-based college sports conference becomes history. He won't be out of work for long, however, as he becomes the new commissioner of the new Big 12 Conference. One thing can be said for Kallander as he shuts down the Southwest Conference: No one will follow in his footsteps.


"Who would have thought three years ago little boys would be asking a professional woman baseball player for an autograph?"

--Angie Marzetta, former Husky All-American softball player who is now a member of the Colorado Silver Bullets baseball team.

Send a letter to the editor at griffin@u.washington.edu.

Return to December 1995 Table of Contents.