The Flywheel

Meeting of September 7

Meet the Summer Brenner, author of
Richmond Tales, Lost Secrets of the Iron Triangle

Summer Brenner will discuss her life as writer, focusing on her unusual niche—writing about modern youth in tough circumstances. Her subjects manifest life styles once described as 'the other side of the tracks'.

In addition to Richmond Tales, Summer will talk about her new book, Ivy, Homeless in San Francisco.



Meeting of Friday, August 31st

Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

President Jim Young reprised his  “R” word recitation. “Rapidly Rising, Relatively Rambunctious, Rarely Reticent, Richmond Rotary Club.” Remarkable Pres. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Ralph Hill. George Egan invoked lofty thoughts, and descending only slightly from the rhetorical heights, Henry reported that the Giants were still on top.


  • Erle Brown was very happy with his recent back surgery. He spent one night in hospital, which he hated more than he hated the food.
  • EJ Shalby informed us of RotaCare Hospitality room meeting on September 4th.
  • Joan Davis stated that The RotaCare Clinic was moving right along. It is our turn in October to provide meals for the RotaCare volunteers. 7 members have so far have agreed. A few more would be good
  • Stoney needs help with our Xmas party.
  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Rotary Conference

    Nov. 2-4, 2012

    Meritage Resort Hotel
    Napa Valley
    Learn more.

  • Jim Young said there is a sign-up sheet for the joint club booth at the Solano Stroll on September 9th . He noted that there are only 3 club members who are interested in telling the 300,000 plus strollers that Rotary is a vital part of the East Bay and Richmond. There is also a sign-up sheet for the sit-down Xmas party. Jim wished he had brought them both with him.
  • Connie Tritt was awarded her Blue Badge (at last)
  • The suggestion made last Friday To have a speaker series with local political candidates. After consulting with the BoD, the decision was made to not host political candidates as speakers during the election season.
  • The San Pablo Club is having their “Ragin’ Cajan Crawfish, Music & Fun Fest” Saturday, September 22nd. Adults only, $28.00 per person.
  • Jim Young asked us to check out The District  Conference in Napa. November 2nd-4th. Besides the Toga Party an “A” list of speakers will be addressing the conference. Here are some of them. They include
    RI Director John Blout.
     Sunni McPeak President & CEO, California Emerging Technology Fund. Passed CC County Supervisor.
    James Denham-General Manager, The Wine Steward, Pleasanton CA & Wine Expert
    Charlie Bamforth, Professor, Department of Food Science & Technology at UC Davis & Beer expert, and
    the legendary Cliff Dochterman.


Kudos to:

  • Joe Bagley for making (and installing?) the Rotary Sign at the Richmond Country Club. (well done, Joe!)
  • Erle & Phyllis Brown for celebrating their 53rd anniversary
  • Lynn Martin, for a birthday (no number was forthcoming). She moved us on to Happy and Sad Dollars, so maybe we missed a few recognitions. Sorry. Maybe next week.

Happy and Sad Dollars

  • Lynn Martin had Happy Dollars for climbing Mount Whitney. She did it the hard way, up “the mountaineer’s route.”
  • Josh Genser had Happy Dollars for taking 30 kids to the Stanford Game. He also had Sad dollars for the demise of his truck.
  • David Brown had some very Happy Dollars for his first solo flight. Congrats, David!
  • Bill Koziol was happy to find his daughters cat that had been missing for a week.
  • Jim Young was happy with Josh Surowitz-led “hill hike” that turned out to be real easy. (Not the “mountaineer’s route,” we presume.)

Norm's Nonsense

A woman went to a new dentist and when she was seated in his chair she realized that they had gone to high school together. Her first thought was how much he had aged that she hardly recognized him. She decided to bite the bullet and asked him if he remembered her from their days at Woodrow Wilson High School.

He gave her a puzzled look, then asked, "What did you teach?"


Impression of the Rotary International Convention, by Jim Young

It was Jim’s first visit to Asia. After the convention in Bangkok, he went to Singapore  to visit his daughter, then to Japan to visit an aunt.
Jim’s first impression of Bangkok was that it was a night city: too hot to stay out in sun all day. The average all year round temperature of 80 degrees. Bangkok has 16 million people, 50% of whom are from other countries. He found the locals very friendly. The Thai and Japanese were in a competition to see who could provide the best service to their customers. They were tied for first. (Americans are not on the field.)
Jim found time to buy a tailored suit, which when finish, included two suitsfor him, a suit for his wife, and numerous shirts and ties. Said it was the most fun he’d ever had spending dollars. Jim took the “Kong” (canal) tour, this was the best way to see the real Bangkok. [I agree, I’ve done it twice. - Alan B.]

By accident Jim discovered Jim Thompson’s house, a museum in Bangkok. It is a complex of various old Thai structures that the American businessman Jim Thompson collected in from all parts of Thailand in the 1950s and 60s. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Thailand. As Thompson was building his silk company, he also became a major collector of Southeast Asian art, which at the time was not well known internationally. He built a large collection of Buddhist and secular art not only from Thailand but from Burma, Cambodia and Laos, frequently traveling to those countries on buying trips.) He would like to return to Bangkok.

Now about the Rotary International Convention. Rotary is very big deal in southeast Asia and the sub-continent. There were 35,000 delegates, who had to be transported to the center by 650 buses. And there were not enough buses.

India had the biggest country presence by far and is actively seeking international partners for projects everywhere (and anywhere). Rotary is ‘rebranding’ itself for the 21st century., They and we hired the same firm used by the YMCA. (See Don Lau’s shirt.) The Indians are going to “compete in the marketplace of ideas”, along with, of course, the Peoples' Republic of China, present at a Rotary International Convention for the first time. (Maybe Burma will also make an appearance next year.)

Jim was pleased to see the Mobile Eye & Minor Surgery Clinic, which we sponsored with the Rotary Club of Rio Vista some years ago.  (Note the Richmond Rotary credit on the van's side panel in the picture on the right.) Dr Muhammad Yunus, banker, economist and Nobel Peace Prize Recipient spoke on India’s international venture “Shoes for a Dollar”. These are made completely of plastic. The shoe is designed for Africa to prevent a certain parasite that enters through the feet. Kalyan Banerjee, the International President, spoke and one sentence had real meaning for Jim: “ When we decided to follow the path of peace we became incredibly wealthy.”

Jim’s last observation: Did “Rotary” mean overweight & unattractive in Esparto? The thought occurred to him as he looked around at the slim delegates, in their national attire.

Jim concluded his remarks with a brief presentation of images.

-Alan Blavins, Apprentice Scribe