The Flywheel

This Week's Program: MAY 29, 2009

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The State of our District Schools

Now that the May Special Election is behind us, our own Bruce Harter, Superintendent of the WCCUSD, will discuss the financial status of the district, the revised revenue forecast and likely outcomes.

Last week's MEETING: May 22nd, 2009

Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

Soon-to-be President Glenn Daggs rang the bell and called the meeting to order for absent-but-still-President Mark Howe. The pledge of allegiance was led by Rafael Madrigal. Perhaps signaling a coming Presidency of few but high-impact words, Glenn offered this thought for the day: “Life changes everything.”

Visiting Rotarians

Beth Rosener joined us from the Mill Valley Rotary Club.

Rotarians with Guests

  • Rhonda Harris introduced her guest, Fred Clement, an architect serving in the position of Building Official for the City of Richmond.
  • Judy Kafka brought two guests: Betsy Raymond, a photographer and artist, and Nancy Nichol, a professor at San Francisco State University.


  • Rafael Madrigal announced this year’s Richmond Rotary Oakland A’s Game event on Saturday, August 22. Game time against the Detroit Tigers is 6:00pm at the Oakland Coliseum. Come enjoy fireworks and all-you-can-eat stadium food (including admission) for $30 per person. Sign up with Rafael.
  • Rhonda Harris announced the successful completion of this year’s Teen Moms project. Forty-eight baskets of diapers, wipes, and other useful items (including hand-made quilts presented to the Club a few weeks ago) were packed by Richmond Rotarians and delivered to young student mom recipients at West County schools.

Who Am I?

Alan Blavins, a recent new-member inductee, did his “Who Am I?” He was born as a breached twin under the kitchen table at home in London during a bombing raid near the end of World War Two. When things calmed down and he grew older, his parents discovered he had drawing talent and sent him to art school to become a painter.

After graduation and some time with other starving artists, Alan decided he needed to earn a living and joined an advertising agency. During a protracted industry strike, he sold everything he owned in nine days and moved from London to Hong Kong, a decision helped along by complications arising from an affair with a woman whose husband was a rugged, religious rugby player. Alan could see it coming: the betrayed husband would brutally beat the daylights out of him and then quickly ask for divine forgiveness. So he figured it was good to get out of town.

In Hong Kong, Alan joined another ad agency and won the Hennessy Cognac account, which led to some fun years of making advertising commercials and jet-setting between London, France, and Hong Kong. He later moved to Australia and then to New Zealand (which Alan describes as one of the most spectacularly beautiful places on earth!).

Alan eventually moved to San Francisco, where he spent a few more years working for another ad agency before co-founding his own, which he ran for about 20 years. He sold his interest in the business last year and now enjoys painting portraits (still good at drawing) and fishing with his son. Being age 65, he said he’s been married to his third wife for 20 years and looking forward to 20 more. Alan, we’re glad to have you with us!


  • Ralph Hill announced that his 86th birthday is coming up next Monday and that he and his wife may once again celebrate in a lovely rented bungalow on the Straits of Carquinez (or maybe at home).
  • Nabil Wahbeh had a happy birthday on Wednesday (but he forgot to share the numerical value).
  • Rafael Madrigal was (finally) presented with his Blue Badge.

Happy and Sad Dollars

  • Herb Cole had happy dollars because Werner Schwarz is now able to drive himself to Rotary again and also because Judy Kafka is back.     
  • George Egan made his annual generous happy-dollars contribution in celebration of his “born again” experience 41 years ago. He was in a major car accident on May 26, 1968. His heart stopped, he went into a coma, and he woke up over two months later in August. Now that’s something to be very happy about!
  • Judy Kafka was happy to be back to Rotary after having eye surgery, one of the results being she couldn’t drive for a while.
  • Rhonda Harris offered happy dollars for her decision to enter the election next year for a seat on the Richmond City Council. She felt comforted by David Brown having characterized the idea as being only insane instead of crazy.
  • David quickly followed up with happy dollars to celebrate Rhonda’s decision and then said, without meaning anything personal against incumbents, that her victory would at least double the IQ of the Richmond City Council.
  • Erle Brown provided happy dollars for Monday’s honoring of Don Hardison at Richmond’s Historical Preservation Awards Ceremony (the recognition being not just that Don himself is well preserved, which he is, but that he and his architectural firm have made so many contributions over the years to places and buildings all around the City of Richmond). Erle was also happy to have received Paul Harris dollars from a couple of members who will be recognized at a future meeting.
  • Jim Young was happy that his son and wife are safely back from their honeymoon trip and that his son will be attending San Jose State for a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Raffle Results

Rich Alexander drew a white ball.

Norm’s Nonsense

This joke goes back to when Grant Calhoun was President of Richmond Rotary and was told at one of his Board meetings in 1982.

- This fellow wasn't feeling so good so he checked into a hospital for a complete exam. After a couple of days the doctor came into his room wearing a face mask, rubber gloves and smock, and announced: "Well Mr. Jones, after extensive tests you have been diagnosed as having Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Herpes and Aids. So you are going to have to stay here awhile, and your diet will consist strictly of pancakes and filet of sole."

Patient: "This is terrible news, but why am I restricted to pancakes and filet of sole?"

Doctor: "Because that's all we can slide under the door."


The Joy of Romance

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Before introducing the speaker, Jim Young quickly dispelled untrue rumors that had started to spread (not with any malicious intent on Herb Cole’s part) about today’s program containing descriptions and/or distribution of vibrator devices.

Joy Nordenstrom, a multiple-degree graduate of Mills College in Oakland, is the founder and principal of San Francisco-based Joy of Romance, Inc. ( Her firm is dedicated to helping people in various situations (single, dating, engaged, newlyweds, honeymooners, starting a family, or together for years) create passionate and thriving relationships.

Her service offerings continue to expand and include coaching, counseling, profile assessments, matchmaking, date and event arrangements, and other action planning. Believing that males more often don’t “get it”, Joy is particularly interested in her business practice to connect with and be of help to men.

With frequent references to chemistry, neuroscience, and psychology, Joy reminded us of the importance of the brain and working with the natural patterns of romantic relationship development (from the attraction phase to the attachment and companion-making phase).

By recognizing that relationships are a “dance” between yin and yang, the masculine and the feminine, we can then be alert to discover insights that help us better understand how we give and receive love and thereby be more successful.

For example, do we properly react to our partner’s primary “love language”? This concept arises out of how someone responds to the following statement: “I feel most loved and appreciated by someone when they provide me gifts, physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation, or quality time.” Hmm, what to do if the response is “all of the above”?! For a free, no-obligations copy of the full Love Languages quiz, send Joy an email at

So what is the primary difference between thriving couples and troubled couples? As is often the case, common sense is not always common practice. A successful relationship involves desire, mutual benefits, and commitment. Relationship maintenance should include doses of the fun, simple, and creative things while avoiding “stuck on sameness”.

During Q&A, Joy talked a little about aphrodisiacs. Setting and mood are important (lighting, background music, pleasant food aromas). An initial small amount of alcohol for women can be good. Food with protein is best while carbohydrates are bad (sleepiness). Watermelon (especially with part of the rind) is the new oyster. Olive oil, avocados, and dark greens are also good. Joy has more research (and a book?) coming out on this subject so watch her website.

Joy also suggested these books for further reading: “Sex Recharge: A Rejuvenation Plan for Couples and Singles” (Ian Kerner), “Project Everlasting: Two Bachelors Discover the Secrets of America’s Greatest Marriages” (Matthew Boggs & Jason Miller), and “The 8 Essential Traits of Couples Who Thrive” (Susan Page).

- Rotating Scribe, Tom Waller