March 5, 2018


Volume 12, Issue 9–March 5, 2018


Rest in Peace

This hasn’t been a good time for my family in the past year and a half.  Just as I was typing this issue of the BLAB, I got a text from my sister Drorit that my Uncle Reuven had passed away at 10:15 this morning, Israel time.  Reuven was my mother’s older brother, born December 17, 1931 in Bucharest, Romania.  He was a chemist like me, attending the Scoala Medie Technica de Chimia Synthesasi Materii Plastice (Secondary Technical School of Chemical Synthesis and Plastics—my mother went there too) in Bucharest, obtaining a degree in Chemistry.

After World War II when the communist government of Romania allowed Jews to emigrate, my mother’s side of the family moved to Israel on the ship ‘Transylvania’, arriving in July 1950.  Reuven changed his birth-name (Rudolf Dulzer) to a more Hebrew name of Reuven Avihai then, and lived on Kibbutz Beth Alpha in the lower Galilee at the foot of Mt. Gilboa for six months.  He then joined Kibbutz Magen, a brand-new settlement established by Romanian immigrants, in the northwestern part of the Negev desert.  Reuven later attended the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where he studied Chemistry, and then worked for many years as a chemist.  He was married twice, first to Bianca (with whom he had a daughter, Ronit) and then to Eva.  In his later years, he lived in an apartment in Tel Aviv.  Reuven was highly cultured, speaking fluent French as well as several other languages, and enjoyed discussing literature, music, and theater.


Wedding photo: the bride and groom (center row) are my Aunt Shula and Uncle Yoske.  In the back row, the person farthest to the left is my mother Simona, with my father Daniel next to her.  The tallest person in that row is my Uncle Reuven.  The third woman to his right is my grandmother Chaya, and the person with the hat on the right is my grandfather, Bela.

Earlier this year, on January 21, my Uncle Yoske passed away.  He was born in Poland with birth-name Iosef Kleinman, near the village where my father was from.  After the Holocaust, he was in the same displaced persons camp as my father and they came to Israel in the same group of immigrants.  When he came to Israel, my uncle changed his name to Yosef Ronen.  They both initially lived at Kibbutz Kiryat Anavim, near Jerusalem and were close friends.  My father married my mother in 1953, and Yoske married my mother’s younger sister Shula in 1955.  Yoske and Shula had three sons: Aviram, Boaz, and Asaf, all of whom are married and have children of their own.

Yoske was a fun-loving person, always telling stories and jokes and seeing the positive side of life.  He never seemed to get older either until the very end—he had a full head of jet black hair, and always had a smile on his face.  They lived near where we lived in Israel and our families would get together all the time.

Adults L-R: Uncle Yoske, my father Daniel, Aunt Shula, my mother Simona.  Babies L-R: my cousin Aviram, me, my sister Drorit (standing)

He worked for many years for a refrigerator manufacturer as a mechanic.  Family was the most important thing to Yoske (nearly all of his family was murdered during the Holocaust), and nothing made him happier than being with his children and grandchildren as they grew up.  Because of his sunny personality, it was always nice to spend time with him as I was growing up and when I visited Israel.

Rest in peace, Reuven and Yoske.


Goodbye February

February may be the shortest month of the year, but I’m still glad that it’s gone.  We’ve had a little snow to welcome March in, though nothing like what they’ve had on the eastern seaboard.  We’re far away enough from that and from the great lakes so that the recent “bomb cyclone” only gave us about half an inch of snow which no one paid any attention to.  Another coastal storm is supposed to hit on Wednesday or Thursday, which will hopefully leave us unaffected as well.  I do feel bad for the folks downstate—they got more than a foot of snow in many places and some people lost power for a while.


Women’s Ice Hockey

On February 24, I had the pleasure of attending the quarterfinal playoff game in the Colonial Hockey Conference, where our women’s ice hockey team played Becker College.  It was an excellent game, with the Roos dominating heavily in the first period, outshooting Becker by a 14-0 margin.  Unfortunately, Becker’s goalie, Julia Johnson, was up to the challenge, turning away multiple shots, and the period ended 0-0.  While Becker played somewhat better in the second period, Canton’s Whitney Bernier scored at 16:20, making it 1-0.  The third period was hard-fought and Becker ultimately pulled their goalie to add another offense player, but it was to no avail, as the Roos’ Tess Adams slipped a shot into the empty goal, making the final score 2-0.

The semifinal round didn’t go as well this past weekend, with the Roos losing 4-0 to Endicott.  Congratulations ladies on your excellent season—We’re all proud of you!



On March 1, SUNY Canton’s League of Legends e-Sports team competed in the inaugural Eastern College Athletic Association (ECAC) tournament, held at the Albany Capital Center during the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Basketball Championship Fan Fest.  It was a very cool event, with lots of people (tens of thousands of viewers) watching online.  We livestreamed it on campus and had the pleasure of seeing the Roos beat Canisius College in the consolation round, giving us 3rd place.  Not bad at all for a team that has only been around for a few months.  Congratulations to our six athletes (shown below,  l-r standing: Thomas Nagle, Jaden Batista, and Juan-Arturo Nunez.  Seated: Ryan Lee, Joe Canton, and Devon Balasubramaniam) and to our coach, Robert Snow!

e-Sports also give SUNY Canton a chance to play against some teams we would not normally encounter, including the University of Utah and Texas A&M.  We’ve been able to hold our own against these much larger schools (many of which also give athletic scholarships to e-athletes), so this bodes very well for the future.  The new e-Sports lab in Neveldine Hall will be opening soon—the equipment has all been ordered, and we’re just waiting for the new furniture to arrive.

At the tournament in Albany


Engineers Week

On February 27, SUNY Canton held its 4th Annual Engineers Week Open House.  In the afternoon, I attended the Career Fair down in Neveldine Hall, and had a chance to talk to the various companies there.  In all cases, they were excited to be at SUNY Canton, and were very pleased by the number and the quality of the students that had stopped at their tables.

That evening, more than 200 students from all over the North Country came by to check out the many different exhibits and hands-on activities at the Open House.

Virtual Reality demonstration

As always, the evening’s highlight was a student competition, this time to build a maglev sailboat.

The maglev race is on!

The winning team in the 9th-12th grade category won a $1200 scholarship for both members, with 2nd place getting a $500 scholarship and 3rd place winning $100 gift cards.  A big thank you to everyone who helped with Engineers Week!


Margaret D. Sovie School of Nursing Dedication

On March 1, I had the pleasure of attending the dedication ceremony for the Margaret D. Sovie School of Nursing.  Margaret Sovie was an internationally recognized scholar, researcher, educator, and nursing administrator.  Her research and publications impacted clinical practice and nursing protocols throughout the US and the world.  Margaret was a resident of Ogdensburg and a graduate from the St. Lawrence State Hospital School of Nursing, going on to earn her BSN, MSc and Ph.D. from Syracuse University.  She was also awarded the D.Sc. from SUNY, and two MSN degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.  She worked as an educator and administrator at SUNY Upstate Medical Center and at the University of Pennsylvania’s Strong Memorial Hospital.  After her passing away on August 16, 2002, her husband Al Sovie established a scholarship endowment at SUNY Canton, which helps nursing students here to this day.

As Al neared the end of his own life in 2016, he wanted to leave a lasting and visible recognition of his wife in the North Country, and so left money in his will to establish the Margaret D. Sovie School of Nursing at SUNY Canton.

L-R:  Debbie Polniak, Peggy Sue Levato, Margaret Sovie’s brother William Doe, and me.  The new plaque is behind us.

The ceremony was very nice, recognizing Margaret for her many accomplishments, and unveiling a plaque in her honor.  Several friends and family members of the Sovies were able to attend the ceremony, as did many students and faculty, past and present, from the nursing program.  We are deeply grateful to the Sovies for their generosity, and to Debbie Polniak, Al’s longtime friend, who made this dedication possible.


Student Research Symposium

On Saturday, I attended the 9th Annual Student Research Symposium of the Northern New York local chapter of the American Chemical Society.  I had been invited to give the keynote speech there about my career in chemistry and higher education, which I was happy to do.  About 80 faculty and students were in attendance.  The student talks that I heard were quite good.  It was very nice to have a chance to talk some chemistry, both at lunch with the faculty there and after my talk with a few people who came up to me to ask some questions.


One of the things that struck me is how much things have changed since I was doing my research in grad school and at my first college.  A lot of my work involved computer simulation of chemical systems and in those days, a big computer program (one that would have to run overnight on the state’s mainframe) was one over 8K in size.  No, that’s not a typo.  I still remember buying a 20 MB Jasmine external hard drive and thinking “I’ll never need to worry about memory again.”  The techniques I used to characterize the compounds I had prepared were at the edge of what was possible at the time and required homemade probes and networks, since commercial ones didn’t exist.  Today, they can be done routinely and quickly on commercial instruments (which are very expensive, but you can’t have everything).  That’s the way it is in science—time marches on, and things that were cutting-edge rapidly become commonplace.  Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.



Last Time’s Trivia Contest

Last time’s contest had to do with plays on words.  Our only contestant was Alan Gabrielli, former Dean of Arts and Sciences at Southern Polytechnic.  Alan, you’ll have to mail me your current address if you want your prize.

Here are the correct answers:

  1. When the forest ranger Googled “how to start a wildfire”, he got 48,500 matches.
  2. When the doctor was asked about the prognosis for the man who was found to have swallowed eight plastic horses that were found in his stomach, she replied: “His condition is stable.
  3. Two TV antennas got married last Sunday. The wedding was terrible, but the reception was excellent.  (The answer has three words).
  4. When the guy stood up his girlfriend at the gym, the romance was over. Why?                  It didn’t work out.  (The answer has two words).
  5. For his grand finale, the Spanish magician said “Now, I’m going to make myself disappear, at the count of three. Uno… Dos…” and poof, he disappeared.  What happened to him?  He disappeared without a tres.  (The answer has five words).


This Time’s Trivia Challenge

This issue’s challenge, in honor of the season, has to do with words starting with the letters “spr”. The first five entries with the most correct answers win a duplicate CD from the vast Szafran repository, as well as the admiration of their peers. No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them.

  1. If you turn your ankle, you’re likely to get one of these.
  2. In the nursery rhyme, the last name of Jack, who could eat no fat (his wife could eat no lean)?
  3. You can get this done at a salon in Canton or Potsdam in the dead of winter, to make it look like you’ve been in Florida.
  4. Microsoft Excel is the best known one.
  5. It means lively, agile, and energetic. It’s also the brand name of a dental defense system, and of a vegetable shortening almost as popular as Crisco.


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