The Flywheel

Next Meeting: Friday, March 11

Rotary Means Business


Rotary started out as a social and networking club for businessmen that then did community service. It is now a service and social club for people in business and community leadership. The Santa Rosa Rotary and District 5130 are re-emphasizing Rotary’s traditional role in business networking. Mark Burchill of the Santa Rosa Club will discuss this ‘new’ old idea and the social networking that is being set up to support it.


Meeting of Friday, March 4th

Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

Prez Alan Baer began the meeting ringing the bell and asking Tom Waller to lead the Club in the Pledge of Allegiance. Stony Stonework lead us in a moment of silence for Justice, Freedom and Peace around the world. Henry Kelman again said, “Bye-bye Gadhafi”.

Rotarians with Guests

Jim Young introduced his lovely wife Linda.


  • Josh Surowitz is ill today so Prez. Alan reminded the members that after Rotary the club will be participating in the Perez Read Aloud Program and will then pass out the Rotary Dictionaries. Noting the light turnout for today’s meeting Prez Alan reminded the members that ‘many hands make light work’ and hoped that he and Jon Lawlis would not be the only ones passing out dictionaries.
  • Sign-up for Poker Night at Alan Bear’s home on March 11th. Besides the camaraderie and chance to slim down your wallet, the evening will feature ‘Santa’s ribs’ as a dinner treat. All are invited to dinner. Proceeds from the $50 participation toll will go to Warner’s Fund for Rotary Scholarships.
  • Tickets for the 2nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day corn beef and cabbage dinner at Hs Lordship’s, hosted by the Berkeley Club are now available at $40 each. St. Pat’s Day & dinner is March 17th . Prez Alan says the Berkeley Club assures everyone that there will be ‘two bars upstairs’ this year.
  • Jim Young announced that next week’s program has been changed. Liliane Koziol presentation about International House at Cal is moving to May 20th . Next week Mark Bruchill of Santa Rosa Rotary will present and ‘new’ old idea, ‘Rotary Means Business’, which is an effort using traditional and new electronic networking technology to build (rebuild?) as part of modern Rotary life.

Recognitions & Happy and Sad Dollars

Today we had spontaneous Happy & Sad Dollars which were started by:

  • Leslie Levy who had Happy $$ because she was really glad that the Feds were on PG&E’s case for the San Bruno pipeline explosion disaster. Leslie went on to tell the story of a gas line in Hiller Highlands that was uncapped and unattended for the longest time after the big fire there. Leslie’s efforts to get PG&E, the city, county, whomever to do something fell on deaf ears until a rebuilding project on the same street got PG&E crews there who saw the pipe and capped it while reviewing the new construction project. Sometimes you do get lucky.
  • Jon Lawlis had Happy $$ for the several weeks he was with the (Erle) Brown’s in Mexico. Jon was also happy he is pout to leave on a Rotary Wheel Chair Donation expedition to South Africa.
  • George Egan was Happy for Tom Butt who is a new member of CCC LAFCO, the county Local Agency Formation Commission which George characterized as a big deal.

Norm's Nonsense

Norm's thoughts have been tending toward big things lately. Really big things.

Bill and Phil were walking down Main Street one evening when they came to a restaurant that had a sign in the window: "We will make you any kind of sandwich you want!" Phil said: "Ha! I'll show these fools, let's go in."

They sat down at a table and the waiter came to take their order. Bill ordered a regular ham and cheese sandwich, but Phil said, "I want an elephant steak sandwich." The waiter said he would check with the cook and be right back.

He came back shortly and said to Phil, "I'm sorry sir but we cannot make you an elephant steak sandwich." Phil said, "I knew it. You tell the owner that I said he is guilty of false advertising." Waiter: "Well you see sir, it's ten minutes before closing and the cook doesn't want to cut up a new elephant."

PROGRAM of February 11

Honorable Asianto Sinambela, Consul General of Indonesia

Indonesian voting
Photograph used under Creative Commons license.

The Honorable Liliane Koziol, Deputy Honorary Consul of the Republic of Madagascar and a Richmond Rotarian introduced the Honorable Asianto Sinambela, Consul General of the Republic of Indonesia in San Francisco.

Consul General Sinambela has had a 23 year career in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia serving as Director for the Global Environmental Conventions in 1997 - 2000, Deputy Director for Trade in Goods and Services Negotiation in 2004 – 2005 and Director for Trade, Industry, Investment and Intellectual Property Right Affairs in 2005 – 2010. His Foreign Service assignments include, Second Secretary for Economic and Political Affairs at the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Nairobi, Kenya in 1993 - 1997; Counselor for International Trade Negotiations at the Permanent Missions of the Republic of Indonesia to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva, Switzerland in 2000 – 2004. CG Sinambela received his Master of Laws from the American University in Washington DC in 1993. He was born in Medan, Indonesia on the Island of Sumatra and is married to Theresia Agustina Sinambela and has three sons.

CG Sinambela provided the club with a brief geography lesson about Indonesia including its equatorial, tropical location segregating the Indian from the Pacific Oceans. Indonesia it is composed of 17,500 islands with six main islands: Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan (Borneo), Sulawesi (Celebes), Western New Guinea, and Timor; 2/3rds of the surface area is ocean. It is a non-Arabic majority Muslim population of 240,000,000, making it the 4th largest country in the world (just behind the U.S.). Eighty-five percent of the population is Muslim, 15% other but including Hindus, Christians Buddhists and animists.

Indonesia is changing from an agrarian, primary resource exporter to a manufacturing and service economy with one of the highest annual GNP growth rates in the world, currently 6.1% per annum. CG Sinambela said that the current rate of growth with the government’s commitment to infrastructure development could make Indonesia the next letter in BRIC, Brazil, Russia, India, China & Indonesia, all of which are emerging 21st Century mixed economies.

As a member of ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Indonesia is committed to stability, democracy and economic development of its rich natural and cultural recourses. As examples CG Sinambela noted that after the end of the autocratic Suharto era Indonesian elections have been monitored by the UN and certified as fair, and, the government has gone on an anti-corruption campaign that has jailed 600+ prominent politicians and ‘leaders’. The process has promoted, “…an atmosphere of discussion, moderation and economic growth…”.

The members asked several questions of CG Sinambela:

Q - Did the Bali bombing have a bad effect on the country?

A - Yes, very big and very bad. Tourism which is important to Indonesian and critical to Bali dropped 70% and is only now beginning to recover.

Q - Is Sharia Law practiced in Indonesia?

A - CG Sinambela answered that Indonesians may be 85% Muslim, but Indonesia is not an Islamic country. He pointed out that the Island of Bali is 95% Hindu and that the 350 ethnic groups in the country make it very different from the Islamic Arab countries.

Q - How do women fair in Indonesia, women’s rights and opportunities on a scale of 1 to 10?

A - CG Sinambela gave Indonesia, “…a 9 or a 10.” Based on the fact that 30% of the National Cabinet are women and the Foreign Service Office requires 35% of its staff be women. The CG said that Indonesia is considerate of the practical needs of women workers and allows three days off a month for periods.

Asked if women are allowed to take off 6 months for maternity leave the CG said, “No, two months.”

Q - How has Indonesia changed over your life time?

A - One of the biggest changes is the introduction of and knowledge about family planning practices. CG Sinambela said he has seven brothers and sisters, but he and his wife have only three sons. It used to be all families had five or more children. Now most families have three children or less. Also everyone has a TV and I mean everyone. Also the people in general are industrious (entrepreneurial). Modern Indonesia does not make it hard to open a business in your home and the reason the economy is growing so quickly is because of home and neighborhood based industry and a lot of much appreciated foreign investment.

As the sun slowly sets on CG Sinambela’s very interesting program about the island Republic of Indonesia, we realized we did not get to see most of the really cool looking PowerPoint presentation about the very exotic landscapes, geography and peoples of Indonesia. I guess we will just have to invite him back for another presentation.

Thank you CG Sinambela for introducing Richmond Rotary to Indonesia.

- Rotating Editor, Jim Young