The Conners Chronicle
Issue #3
July 28, 1999

Dear Family & Friends,

Well, it has been close to a year since the last official installment
of the Conners Chronicle, so I figured itís time to churn out another
one.  Thereís all sorts of stuff that has kept me busy since returning
to school from IBM last fall.  You may even find some of it interesting,
so here goes...


Well, as most if not all of you know, I am a big Badger fan.  After not
being able to go to any games last year (because I was in Charlotte,
North Carolina), I was looking forward to this season.  As we know, the
Badgers did not disappoint, finishing the year as 11-1 Rose Bowl

In addition to several home games, I managed to attend some road games
for the first time since the infamous 1993 loss at Minnesota.  My dad
and I went to games at Indiana and Michigan, and my friend Bets and I
went to a game at Iowa (and got on TV, briefly).  As most of you already
know from my Rose Bowl Photo Album, I also made it out to Pasadena for
the big win over UCLA.

I also got to meet a few Wisconsin football personalities over the
course of the year.  Last October, I ran into Barry Alvarez and had a
brief conversation.  I told him I thought he was doing a good job.
After I mentioned that I was beginning my seventh year at UW, he laughed
and compared me to his son (presumably Chad Alvarez, who has been in the
news a bit of late).  That was about as interesting as the conversation
got, although it was nice to meet the man face-to-face and talk with him
for a minute or two.

I also entered a few football picking contests on the internet last fall.
I didnít do too well in the National College Football picking contest I
entered, but I did very well in the two Big Ten contests I entered.  None
of the contests cost anything to enter, or had any rewards for winning,
other than internet bragging rights.  In the "Big Ten 3Sickem Contest,"
the most popular of the Big Ten contests, I managed to finish in a four-
way tie for fourth place, out of 127 entrants.  In that contest, you pick
the winners of all the scheduled games involving Big Ten teams before the
start of the season, and get points for correct guesses.  As my high
finish would imply, I was right most of the time, but I underestimated
Purdue a bit, and overestimated Northwestern a bit.  The first place score
was 150.  My final score was 147.

I also managed to win $5 in a football bet with my dad.  I claimed that
an untouched kickoff canít be recovered by the kicking team in their
opponentís end zone.  My dad thought it could be recovered by the kicking
team for a touchdown.  Well, my dad and I went to the UW spring football
game, and asked an official at halftime who was correct.  The official
confirmed that I had the rule correct.

Music Degree Problems

In October 1998, I received an e-mail from composition professor Joel
Naumann, stating:  "Please see me or give me a call.  There appears to
be a problem with L & S allowing you to take a BM in Music along with a
BS in your other principal major."

Joelís e-mail didnít go into further detail, but after calling him, I
discovered that the aforementioned problem was a rather severe one.  To
make a very long story short, I was eventually able to get the necessary
approvals to obtain both my degrees.  For those interested in how the
situation was resolved, here is a letter I sent to Engineering Dean Mike
Corradini February 24:

"Dear Dean Corradini:

Please forgive the length of this e-mail.  I feel it is necessitated by
the complexity of the situation.

I am writing to request a letter from you to Dean Lee of the L&S
Department stating that it is ok with the ECE Department that I
receive a BM Music Composition degree in addition to my BS Electrical
Engineering degree.  Please bear with me and read the following text,
which provides an overview of my situation:

I will be completing work towards a BS Electrical Engineering (126
credits) and a BM Music Composition (120 credits) this May.  I was not
aware until October 23, 1998 that there would be any problem with this,
despite having previously discussed it with my music and engineering

On October 23, 1998 I received a message from School of Music
Associate Professor Joel Naumann, who told me that there "appears to
be a problem with L & S allowing you to take a BM in Music along with
a BS in your other principal major."  This was the first time I heard
of a potential problem.

I contacted School of Music Associate Advisor Patricia Atwood, and she
explained to me the policy which prevents students from earning two
degrees simultaneously.  In light of the fact that I had already
completed all but 6 credits of the 120-credit Music Major (which I am
taking this spring), it was agreed that we would seek an exception.
The following message was sent to L&S Dean Christopher Lee by Patricia
Atwood on December 22, 1998:

>Please allow Ryan Conners to complete a Bachelor of Music: Performance
degree in addition to his engineering degree.  Although students are
usually allowed to complete only one degree, I believe that the
circumstances in Ryan's case warrant an exception.  

>Ryan auditioned as a prospective freshman in February 1992 and was
accepted as a piano major.  On 5/29/92, Professor Stowe (then
associate director of the School of Music) wrote to both Ryan and Don
Woolston in Engineering to notify them which music courses Ryan was
authorized to take in the fall and to request permission for Ryan to
complete the 40-credit major in music.  The focus of the letter was on
course registration; only one sentence mentioned the 40-credit major.
In fall 1992 and spring 1993, Ryan completed the standard first-year
sequence of music courses, which is the same regardless of the
intended degree program.  In fall of 1993, he began the sequence of
courses for the composition area, which is a Bachelor of Music degree.
On 11/19/96, Ryan completed a major declaration form for the Bachelor
of Music: Performance degree in composition; Professor Burmeister
signed this form.  On 11/25/96, an L&S dean took an academic action
allowing Ryan to complete a music major concurrently with his
engineering degree program.  As Ryan told me he never met with an L&S
dean, I can only surmise that this action was taken upon receipt of
the dean's copy of the major declaration form.

>I came across Ryan's file this fall, noticed the dual degree situation,
and e-mailed Ryan on 10/26/98 to tell him that he could earn only one
degree.  This came as a complete shock to him, and I see no evidence
in his file that anyone advised him that he could complete only a 40-
credit music major at any time since May 1992, which was prior to his
matriculation as a new freshman.  It appears that neither Professor
Burmeister, nor the L&S dean who took the academic action, nor Ryan's
advisor in Engineering ever identified the dual degree as a potential
problem.  Because Ryan's academic record was reviewed by several
people in different areas over an extended period of time, I believe
the University had numerous opportunities to advise him of any degree

>As of the end of the fall 1998 semester, Ryan needs only three more
credits of music electives (specific course to be determined in
conjunction with Professor Naumann of the composition area) and 3
credits of humanities to complete the Bachelor of Music degree
requirements.  Ryan is an excellent student with a cumulative GPA of
3.597.  Had he already completed his engineering degree and applied to
L&S as a prospective second degree candidate, he would meet the L&S
criteria for consideration for a second degree and, if accepted, would
be required to complete the Bachelor of Music requirements rather than
the 40-credit music major.  I do not see that any useful purpose would
be served by denying Ryan the BM degree he is so close to earning, nor
do I think that allowing him to earn both degrees will set any
precedent that would undermine existing policy.  Professor Joel
Naumann of our composition area has met with me and fully supports
this request.

>Thank you for your consideration.  I feel strongly that allowing Ryan
to earn both degrees is equitable under the circumstances, and I hope
you agree.

I subsequently met with Dean Lee, who is not able to simply approve my
BM Music Composition degree due to the unusual nature of the situation.
He has suggested we submit the following to a committee:  A letter from
me, describing my situation, a letter from the School of Music
confirming the fulfillment of their requirements as of May 1999, a
letter from the ECE Department confirming the fulfillment of their
requirements as of May 1999, and a letter from the ECE Department
stating that it is ok with them that I receive a BM Music Composition
degree.  I have already sent the first three letters to Dean Lee, and
need only the fourth, which is why I am writing to you.

Thank you very much for your attention.

-Ryan Conners"

Still with me?  Well, the situation dragged on for so long (Degree
Audit and a Faculty Appeals Committee had to sign off on everything)
that it wasnít until April 28 (only about two weeks before
Commencement) that everything had been finalized.

According to Dean Lee, Iím the only person in UW-Madison history to
have earned simultaneous degrees in Electrical Engineering and Music
Composition.  And if everyone has their way, it will stay that way.
As a final note, I graduated with the classification "ECMC," which
stands for Electrical / Computer Engineering / Music Composition, as
near as I can tell.  They invented that classification just for liíl
olí me.

R&R update

In January, R&R (for the uninitiated, thatís my band) returned to the
studio for what will be approximately their fifth album (not counting
various R&R nightmares such as An R&R Christmas).  Tentatively titled
The Life, Death, and Rebirth of R&R, it will probably be a double-CD
featuring about 40 songs.

The album grew out of two separate ideas:  A "tribute" album in which
we would get other people to perform our songs, and the more
conventional type of R&R album.  After initially thinking of these
ideas as two separate projects, we decided to combine them.  So the
new album will contain performances by both R&R and several guest

According to current plan, in addition to the full-blown two-CD
version, a one-CD version containing the best tracks will be marketed
and sold through  We may make the two-CD version available to
our fan club members only.  Everything is still fairly up-in-the-air
at this point.

A release date has not yet been set for either version of The Life,
Death, and Rebirth of R&R, but expect to see it sometime in early 2000.

Incidentally, R&R did not place in the Unheard? contest.

R&R lyric #3

From the forthcoming album:

"R&R stands for Rock and Roll"

Composition news

Well, I managed to arrange several performances of my compositions
over the fall and spring.  Among the compositions performed were the
new works Eight Pieces for Clarinet and Piano and Whitmanís Sampler
(for voice and piano).  I also managed to hustle a performance of my
String Quartet #3, and the gargantuan All-University String Orchestra
played the string orchestra version of this quartet, Symphony for
Strings, spread over two concerts.

Title pending

Well, with minimal work, I have expanded my "autobiography" to three
volumes, several hundred pages in all.  It mostly consists of old
school assignments and letters from my friends, so I have to think of
a better title for it.  Drop by and read it sometime.

Crazylegs Run

I participated in Madisonís Crazylegs Run for the first time ever this
spring.  After about two months of not-very-intense (or frequent)
training, I managed to finish the race in about 50 minutes.  Although
my lack of conditioning made me slow to a walk after about three miles,
I was fairly proud of my accomplishment.  I hope to do better next
year though.

My Mom participated in the Crazylegs Walk with her friend Jean, and
enjoyed herself as well.  For the record, she has stated her intent to
participate in the Run next year.

Gainfully employed

After failing to find a job during the spring semester, I continued
the search this summer.  Interviews with Underwriter Laboratories and
a few other companies in the Chicago area didnít pan out, but I
received and accepted an offer from The Trane Company in La Crosse at
the end of June.  I am now in my second week of working for Trane as a
Laboratory Engineer.  I havenít done much actual engineering yet, but
in the future I will be working on the design of production testers
for the Macon, Georgia and Rushville, Indiana Business Units.  Some
travel to these locations will be involved.

Joke #3

Well, I havenít been able to think up any good jokes in the past year
(or if I did, Iíve forgotten them).  Obviously, I havenít let that
stop me from posting lousy jokes in this space on previous occasions,
but Iíll have pity on you this time.  Rather than a joke, Iíll post a
sentence from a pamphlet put out by one of the companies I interviewed
with this spring, which may be considered a joke in its own special

"But, first the "light" is: the creation of a totally independent
channel - from clients to those Manufacturers(Mfers) of products/
components which need to be utilized to accomplish intelligent machine
automation(ima), then returning to the client who becomes a customer
of the Mfers - an independent channel which has sufficient critical-
mass to withstand the vicissitudes of the imminent consolidation which
occurs in every industry as it matures!"

From there it gets less comprehensible.

Web site

My website has been updated many times since I last wrote everybody,
so pop on over to and
check it out.  Among the new bits, I have added several family
pictures from a get-together at Conners Cove, and a guestbook that
hasnít been used very much yet (so use it!).

How to contact me

Please note my new e-mail address (my students account will expire

Write to me, for cryiní out loud!