The Flywheel

Next meeting: December 23rd

The Origins of Christmas

The elusive Father Nick Rena from Salesian HS visits our pre-Christmas meeting to describe the historic origins of many Christmas traditions.


Meeting of Friday, December 16th

Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

Prez. EJ was minding the store so PP Alan Baer rang the bell. That ring was more than a little late given our 12:15 start but no one seemed to mind as everyone was chattering, introducing their several guests and celebrating the Season. Pam Jones led the Pledge and Stony Stonework asked for a moment of silence for Peace, Freedom and Justice around the world. I am paraphrasing Henry Kelman’s Thought for the Day to wit. Now we know how much it costs to get the Republicans in Washington to get the government moving again, one oil pipeline from Canada to Texas.

Visiting Rotarians

No visiting Rotarians, Well actually ADG Elect Fred Collingnon showed up after Santa Claus made his exit.

Rotarians with Guests

This is going to be tough as the chaos and conviviality around the large pile of donated toys made it difficult to get all visitors names, apologies in advance:
Josh Surowitz brought his cousin David Keystone who is considering joining the club. Say hello to him next time you see him. Joan Davis brought Barbara McCullough from Brighter Beginnings.  Pam Jones brought Neville BarnsEnos Johnson brought John Rowe and Rob Woods. Don Lau brought Lynn Martin from the Early Childhood Mental Health Program. Darlene Alameda, technical still Josh Surowitz’ guest brought her guest Emma, her first grandchild.

Sunshine Report

Tom Waller visited Don and Betty Hardison on his way to the meeting. They are doing OK, Betty recovering from her recent fall.  David A Brown visited John Nicol at work and encouraged him to come to Rotary but John said he doesn’t have enough energy to do both work and Rotary.


  • Sid Chauvin announced the upcoming Reno Train Trip being sponsored by the Orinda club. He said ,“It won’t be the same” but it is the same train trip, ending at Johnnie Ascuaga’s Nugget in Sparks. Call Sid for details or come to the next meeting. But first, download the information sheet and ticket purchase form, which includes everything Sid will tell you—but in black and white.
  • Time to get your year-end Rotary Foundation donations in so you can recognize them on your 2011 tax returns.
  • Mark your calendars for the Annual Crab Feed at Salesian HS January 28th. This is the famous Richmond Rotary ‘we don’t run out of crab’ Crab Feed so get your tickets and tables early at an expected $40 a pop. Final price to be set by the market.


Speaking of Sid ‘CA’ Chauvin, Don Lau started extemporaneous recognitions, asking him, ‘What’s happening?’ Sid said he had his 73rd birthday on December 2nd and his 34th wedding anniversary to Zelpha on the 11th but that it really should be 41st anniversary counting time served.
Don then asked Josh Genser if that was really him in a ‘discussion’ with Andres Soto on Fox News?  Josh said it was, and in order to drama-it-up it took two hours to shoot 2 minutes of TV time. Josh didn’t or wouldn’t say what the ‘discussion’ was about.

Happy and Sad Dollars

Dandy Don then launched Happy & Sad $$.
David A. Brown had very Happy $$ because his sister Suzy was released from the hospital following successful cancer treatment and has already gone on two, two mile walks. Thanks be to God.
Josh Surowitz had Happy $$ for another great Rotary Happy Hour at the Hotel Mac. Bring your friends and Rotary interested colleagues to the next one on the 2nd Wednesday of January.
Michelle Itagaki had Happy $$ for the birth of her first grandson Julian at 5 lbs 3 oz. Fantastic!
Josh Genser had Sad/Happy $$ for his Mom. Sad she had a heart attack but Happy he brought her home after recovering at Kaiser SF. Josh also had a very funny story about having to get panties for his mom, but, ‘You had to have been there…”
Joan Davis had Happy $$ that her seven siblings are all at her home for the Holidays proving that they CAN do it, traveling from the far corners of the Earth.
Jim Young had Happy $$ to be back in California after being a month in Wilmington DE helping his daughter’s family prepare for the move to Singapore (successfully completed). Since he was there long enough to register to vote, he will now be voting Democratic on the Right Coast as well as the Left Coast.
Herb Cole had Happy $$ as he will soon be completing his four year old Holiday Auction commitment  taking  Josh G. fishing in the Delta.

Norm's Nonsense

-If there had been three wise women who went to Bethlehem, they would have asked for directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a meal, and brought some practical gifts.

Q: Why was Jesus born in a manger?
A: Because Mary belonged to an HMO.


The program was a Santa ‘flyby’ as well as bringing a very large pile of new toys for the Richmond & El Cerrito Police and Firefighters Toy Drive. We did not get an actual toy count but they were loaded on the fire truck in several large bags. Like last year the fire truck had to be quickly loaded as ‘duty called’.

Rob Woods explained that the two city effort serves local kids through the good offices of our own Don Lau at the Coronado YMCA (gifting to take place on Thursday December 22nd). The effort serves over 2,000 families around the Bay and besides the toys includes the delivery of needed Holiday food. Officer Woods said deliveries are made to Marin (yes Marin), Oakland, Millbrae, Hayward, etc., anyplace they are needed as long as they have toys. He also thanked Rotary for its annual contribution.

The program ended a little early with many comments that it was one of the best ‘non-programs’ we’ve had in a long time and that talking and greeting fellow Rotarians is one of the best things you can do at a meeting.

Jim Young in his capacity as Program Chair reminded everyone that ‘it ain’t over yet’ as the club is meeting on the 23rd—Father Nick and the Origins of Xmas Traditions; and the 30th— Open Mic (gulp).

-Rotating Editor, Jim Young