The Flywheel

Meeting of May 21st

Commerce, Creativity and Constant Change

Claudia Russell and Bruce KaplanBruce Kaplan and Claudia Russell are nationally known musicians, serial entrepreneurs and creative spirits living in Pt. Richmond.

Kaplan has run several businesses, including computer graphics training and retail photography. Claudia has operated a gift business. But throughout their careers and 20-year marriage, Russell and Kaplan have always performed music, currently as the Folk Unlimited Orchestra.

The couple will share a song or two, along with their insights into the ever-changing nature of running a small business


Last Meeting: May 14th

Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

President Glenn Daggs rang the bell and called the meeting to order. Mark Howe led the pledge of allegiance after which Stoney called for a moment of silent prayer for freedom, peace, and justice on earth. Although he didn’t elaborate, Henry Kelman said his thought for the day was rather dark and gloomy like the weather outside.

Visiting Rotarians

Jack Freethy joined us from El Cerrito Rotary.

Rotarians with Guests

Bob Dabney introduced Joan Davis from the Richmond Community Foundation.
Yvonne Nair introduced Jim Dickerson from the Allied Vocational Training Center in Pt. Richmond.

Sunshine Report

John Nicol reported that Ralph Hill is doing better and Joe Kelman is doing fine. John also noted that longtime Richmond Rotarian, Dr. Don Miller, died last week.


  • Allen Baer reminded everyone there’s still one week left to sign up for the Rotary Family Foundation Fun Day on Saturday, May 22, at the Yin Ranch in Vacaville. He said some people are having trouble registering at the District web site so contact Pam Jones or Allen to get signed up. Jon Lawlis added some comments about what a great place the Yin Ranch is (beautiful setting, kids friendly, etc.). Everyone’s encouraged to attend and enjoy the gathering!
  • Treasurer David Brown made the announcement that the weekly Rotary Raffle will be no more. It’s dead. Done. Over. Finished. David has discovered that a “Raffle Report” must be filed with the State for each raffle occurrence and apparently he’s just not up for filing 50 or so such reports each year. While David’s somewhat wimpy response to all this is questionable, it’s good to know that our state government is on top of things and striving to stamp out raffle crime once and for all.
  • Visting Rotarian Jack Freethy announced that El Cerrito Rotary will be celebrating its 60th birthday next Thursday noon, May 20, here at the Mira Vista Country Club and all Richmond Rotarians are invited. Jack mentioned that Marvin Collins, someone who several in the room remember, will be “coming home” for the celebration. Putting on his Mira Vista Country Club Board hat, Jack also asked everyone who’s not already a member of Mira Vista to consider joining as a “social member”, which entitles you to purchase lunch in the Club’s scenic dining room and also use the upstairs gym. The monthly charge for social membership is now only $125 after a one-time initiation fee of $250.

Special Events

Erle Brown announced that over $4000 has been contributed to the Rotary Foundation in the names of Werner Schwarz and Elof Granberg.


Joe Bagley handled (with aplomb) recognitions and happy/sad dollars.

  • Michael Gill celebrated his not-quite-50 birthday on May 1 with a father-son dinner out and a home movie rental. With his son soon to be 13, Michael pushed the envelope a bit and confessed to renting an R-rated movie, “The Blues Brothers”.
  • Mark Howe had a mid-May birthday and, with all that still-youthful vigor on his side, celebrated it by sailing in a race to and from the Farallon Islands.
  • Alan Blavins celebrated his first anniversary in Richmond Rotary and Tom Waller his fourth.
  • Henry Kelman was recognized for his 33 years in Richmond Rotary. Promising he’d look for photos, Henry remembers the raucous demotion party in his first year (1977) for the outgoing Club President, whose bikini-clad wife was featured riding a skateboard during the festivity. Ahh, the good ole days! 

Happy and Sad Dollars

  • George Egan had lots of happy dollars because some patents he applied for within the last five years may finally be successfully issued soon.
  • Herb Cole had a sad dollar for his losses in the most recent poker group gathering and a happy, collegial dollar for Stoney as winner.
  • Jim Young offered some sad dollars for the passing of his father-in-law and would like his dollars designated for Rotary’s Polio-Plus program in honor of his mother-in-law, who is a polio survivor.
  • Michael Gill had happy dollars for the refilling of the Plunge in Pt. Richmond and a couple of what he called “terrified” dollars for the startling, large-as-life image of “David-Brown-as-a-Mechanic” plastered on the side of a transit bus seen recently broken down on the side of the road in Moraga.
  • Don Lau offered sad dollars in memory of Dr. Don Miller as a wonderful physician who made helpful diagnoses for his family.
  • Having worked with him on some workman’s compensation matters at Harbor Plastics, Jon Lawlis also fondly remembered Don Miller with some sad dollars. While he had the floor, John noted that Ralph Hill would welcome calls from fellow Rotarians (use the cell phone number listed in the online Roster). Lastly, Jon added some happy dollars for his “Sky Jump” experience, a pay-money-for-it controlled free fall from the 108th floor that he and his son recently survived at the Stratosphere Casino in Las Vegas.

Norm's Nonsense

-The lifeguard at a large public swimming pool reprimanded a guy for urinating in the pool. The guy replied, "Aw c'mon, everybody does it."

The lifeguard replied,"Yes, but not from the diving board!"


Nuclear Power in a Warming WorldNuclear power plant

Jim Young introduced Karen Street, a local citizen advocate for the large-scale production of electricity from nuclear fission as a solution to what is called anthropogenic (man-caused) climate change (ACC).

Karen has a graduate degree in electrical engineering from UC Berkeley and worked as an electrical engineer for a number of years before becoming a teacher of high school math and physics until 1994 when, after losing much of her hearing, she left teaching.

On her way to becoming a science writer, she researched the differences between coal and nuclear energy and became aware of what she and others call serious threats from ACC.

In this line of thinking, continued use of fossil fuels leads to increasing accumulation in the earth’s atmosphere of greenhouse gases (GHGs, primarily carbon dioxide), which in turn warms the planet and portends catastrophic changes to life as we know it. The call to action is that solutions must be put in place now.

In recent years, Karen has worked to raise awareness and sound alarms about ACC through teaching, speaking and writing. Her blog, entitled “A Musing Environment”, focuses on ACC impacts and major solutions, in particular nuclear power and behavior change, and evaluating sources of information we use.

Karen shared a lot of interesting information.

  • France decided to go nuclear in the 1970’s in order to save money and reduce pollution. Over the span of 15 years, France installed over 50 nuclear reactors which today account for about 80% of electricity generation in that country. While electrical demand in France has more than quadrupled since the 1970’s, use of fossil fuels has been reduced by half.
  • Including all lifecycle emissions (mining, refining, waste, transmission infrastructure, etc.), nuclear power has the lowest GHG emissions compared to all other large-scale electric-supply technologies, although wind is about the same. Even solar is slightly higher (possibly mostly due to long-distance transmission infrastructure). Natural gas fueled plants produce about half the GHG emissions as coal fired plants but more than 20 times that of nuclear power.
  • Safety concerns associated with nuclear power plant operations are minimal and fully manageable. The Chernobyl nuclear plant accident in Russia was caused by a combination of poor design, construction, and operating procedures. Huge lessons were also learned and implemented after the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania.
  • There are unfounded fears associated with the handling and storage of nuclear waste. France reprocesses most of its nuclear waste.
  • Radiation levels near nuclear power plants are increased by a miniscule average of 0.009 mrem/year (mrem = a measure of radiation exposure). Average natural background radiation is about 300 mrem/year. Smoking 1.5 packs of cigarettes per day increases annual exposure by about 8000 mrem.
  • While some may argue that more nuclear power plants would increase the likelihood of nuclear proliferation and terrorist activities, Karen quoted sources that said the answer is to “get rid of bombs and bomb materials all over the world and strengthen and better fund the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).”

Initial capital costs are high but nuclear power is a reliable and highly scalable source of electricity generation which drastically reduces GHGs even on cloudy days when the wind doesn’t blow.

Karen encouraged everyone to have a sense of urgency, possibility, and agency about this matter (that is, to take actions to continually inform ourselves and others while improving our own carbon footprint to reduce GHGs).

- Rotating Scribe: Tom Waller