Tags: rotary

Me 2

Thoughts on a Monday

Various thoughts on a Monday.

Thought #1

I was with my Rotary club working both the National Night Out event and a festival in Darien. I was struck by some of the outfits people wore to the various events.

Thought #2

Via my LinkedIn feed, I found this site: Google Project Sunroof. It allows you to put in your street address and get an estimate of whether or not solar power panels on your roof would save you money or not. For my address, the savings were substantial. I don't know how they were calculated so I don't know how accurate they were. I pass the link on for entertainment value.

Thought #3

Last week, ICE raided seven plants in Mississippi to arrest ~700 illegal immigrants. None of the managers were arrested. It is clear to me that ICE is being used to do what American businesses have done since the Revolution, namely keep wages low by bringing in new immigrants whenever the old immigrants start demanding a fair deal. The swamp is not being drained.

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Me 2

The Calm Before The Storm

My Rotary club's annual fundraiser, A Taste of Route 66, is tonight at 6 PM. (You can still buy tickets and attend or donate / purchase items online at the link.)

Setup for the event starts in little more than an hour. I'm helping at the event, and I've finished everything I can do in advance for that event. On the day job front, I deliberately kept my calendar clean, so there's not much I need to do. Basically, right now I'm just hanging out.

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Bringing Food to Those Who Need It

Yesterday afternoon, several of my fellow Rotarians and I helped feed people right here in DuPage County. Specifically, we worked with the West Suburban Food Pantry to help staff their community mobile pantry. This is a custom-built truck that goes out to various places in the service area, sets up and delivers free groceries to people who need it.

The specific vehicle we used was owned by the Northern Illinois Food Bank, and apparently is scheduled out to this pantry for three Mondays a month. Northern Illinois Food Bank does "food rescue" which is getting food from grocery stores and distributors which is safe and edible but not salable. For example, at the event I saw a lot of frozen boxed meals where the box had a bit of wear or tear on it. We had a skid full of oranges in bags. We had bags of very small onions. Again, it was edible but most of us wouldn't buy it in a store.

Our event was held locally, at the Hinsdale Lake Terrace Apartments. Despite the ritzy name, it's a sprawling lower-income complex in unincorporated DuPage County. There's no grocery store nearby - in fact there's very little retail of any kind nearby. Most residents have cars because they have to, but getting to a store or a pantry could be an issue.

In any event, the truck rolled in at 3:30, we set up tables and food, and residents started getting stuff at 4. The West Suburban Pantry has a go-shopping program in which clients are allowed to select what they want and need from what's available. We had a rush right at 4, then it died down enough we cut some volunteers loose at 5:15. Finally we closed up shop at 6, having fed 40+ people. It was a good event.

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As mentioned, I flew to Honduras for the long weekend. The purpose of my visit was to meet fellow Rotarians in support of a project to build a school in a rural area of Quimistan, a municipality in the Santa Barbara Department. (Here's a link to my Facebook photo album of the trip.)

First off, in Honduras, a municipality is more like a US county than a city. It covers both what we would consider a town as well as the surrounding rural areas. Quimistan (link to Spanish-language edition of Wikipedia - the English entry is a stub) is the second-largest municipality and reportedly has a population of just under 30,000. There's a lot of empty land, most of it mountainous and only suitable for goats. It's a mere 50 miles or so from San Pedro Sula, the second-largest city in Honduras, but those miles are over a two-lane road shared with every barely-mobile beat-up jalopy imaginable. It's a slow drive.

Still, we left San Pedro Sula early on a Sunday morning, and so had no traffic to speak of. The school we're replacing is up in a rural part of Quimistan. Due to rains, the road was impassible. Based on an experience I had later that day, when a Honduran says a road is impassible, they are not kidding. In any event, a group of people from the local community walked to where vehicles could be gotten and were carpooled into town.

Everybody met at a fairly nice roofed-over sports facility. No walls, but not needed in that climate. We chatted for a bit, then had a ceremony where we signed an agreement to build the school. It was a big deal for all involved.

After a nice home-cooked lunch (we ate in air conditioning, even!) then, at the mayor's request, we went to visit another school which we were promised was accessible. The mayor wants that school to be the next on the list.

We drove on the main road in the direction of San Pedro Sula for a while, then turned off the paved road onto a crappy dirt track. After a few miles of that, we stopped and transferred into the personal four-wheel-drive vehicles of the Honduran Rotarians. Then we pressed on, hitting roads that I would haven't attempted to drive on under any circumstance.

After another few miles of that, the road ended at a town called Urraco Camalote. Literally at the end of the road was a school. Well, a shack with faded delusions of grandeur that they called a school. It was dark, damp, falling apart and had a pile of junk about 4 feet high in one corner. Oh, and it had one teacher and only went to 6th grade.

We chatted with the locals (I noted no men of working age were present), took some pictures and piled back into the trucks.

I've seen poverty before. This was real poverty. It was a stark reminder of how lucky I have been, and how much of that luck was due to an accident of birth.

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As readers of my other forums know, I am officially the Champion of the Darien Dancing with the Starz contest. The Darien Chamber of Commerce holds a gala fundraiser in which the entertainment is "celebrities" dancing a la the TV show. I won, dancing a bolero to Heart's "How Do I Get You Alone." As you can see from the linked video, the song is full-on 1980s hair metal with cheese. (So sue me - I grew up back then!)

It was a lot of work, both physical in terms of lessons and practice, as well as fundraising efforts. (This was a fundraiser, so cash was part of the deal.) In any event, I'm quite chuffed at myself.

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Me 2

Orville and Weekend Updates

On Saturday, I had a dinner party. It was one I had sold in a Rotary auction as a fundraising item. One of my fellow Rotarians, Joan Wayman, brought the dessert and I cooked the ribeyes. The event went over well.

On Sunday, I did a bit of writing and then watched this week's episode of The Orville. The show is still trying to find itself. I like a lot of Seth McFarlane's worldbuilding in this series. So far, humans don't have transporters and there are two enemy races, one of which is so much more powerful that the Planetary Union is willing to write off a ship's captain and XO rather than attempt a rescue. I also find a lot of the crew interactions more entertaining then typical. There's a "we're real people" feel to them, if a bit less military-like then one would expect from a fleet. Lastly, the ending of this episode really saved it.

Having said that, I still struggled with much of the plot. The green Lieutenant was too green, the ex-married couple fell back into the old ways too easily and were too passive. In short, this episode again felt more like a live-action cartoon than a live show.

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Me 2

The Magic of Rotary and Other Good News

The Magic of Rotary

I have been spending the afternoons here at the Rotary Convention in Atlanta doing tourist-y stuff. Today’s outing was to the Georgia Aquarium. The trip is worth it, although I was a bit distracted because my iPhone decided to completely die. It had plenty of power but just locked up. As this would be highly inconvenient to say the least, I decided to find an Apple Store and get it fixed.

When I exited the Aquarium, I asked a cab driver to take me to one. $25 later, we pull up to a mall well outside of walking distance to my hotel. This was a tactical error on my part – I should have gone to the hotel and had them at least check for a closer store. But here’s where the magic of Rotary came into being. While I’m in line waiting for a tech to look at the phone, I see a guy wearing a Rotary hat. I say hi, and I discover he’s from Nigeria. I also discover that he’s been taking MARTA (Atlanta’s version of the EL) to the con, and there’s a MARTA station at the mall. Money saved!

Even nicer, when I get to the MARTA station, I’m approached by a couple wearing Rotary gear and, in German-accented English, they ask me where the mall was. (It was behind an office building, and not immediately visible.) So I helped them out. That’s what Rotarians do.

Other Good News

In other good news, it appears that I will be on programming at Worldcon. They’ve sent me a draft schedule which they’ve asked us not to share so I won’t, but that does suggest I’ll get something. Go me!

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Me 2

Productive Weekend

Over the weekend, I reviewed my European travel plans. After checking with the travel people that any flight out of Hamburg after 2 PM on the day the cruise ship arrives should be safe, I found a 5 PM Lufthansa flight to Lithuania. I still don't get to Lithuania until nearly midnight, but that's better than my previous arrival time of 4:30 Sunday afternoon. Since I have to fly into Kaunas, as Vilnius airport will be closed, I went ahead and booked myself for 2 nights in Kaunas. That gives me 2 days to do other explorations.

My next stop is the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture for some research. Hopefully I can get some clue as to where the old Gerrib stomping grounds are. Right now I'm flying to Finland on Wednesday, although if I get some useful information I may make that Thursday instead. The preliminary business meeting at Worldcon will have to do without me. Frankly, other than being a minor member of the Best Series committee, I really don't have any business for the Business Meeting.

Also over the weekend, on Sunday my Rotary club volunteered for the Darien Dash, our annual 5K and 10K run. The weather forecast said mostly cloudy, so I left my hat in the car, then the skies turned blue for a good two hours, so I'm red-faced today. Oh well.

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Me 2

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

With apologies to the very good movie of the same name.

The Good

My Rotary club's annual fundraiser is in the bag bank. It appears like we made significantly more money than last year. I hesitate to say more as we're still waiting for final numbers.

The Bad

On CNN in the lobby this morning, I see that Trump had the entire US Senate over to the White House for a briefing on North Korea. One presumes they were told that the Norks were This Close to building atomic bombs. Interested parties should read this well-written piece on that other budding nuclear power, Iraq: Operation Desert Snipe Hunt.

The Ugly

Also on CNN and various other sources, the GOP is taking another stab at repealing Obamacare. Notable is that they exempt themselves from some of the deleterious side effects.

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Me 2

More Flying Cars, and Fundraising Ahead

I've written before of flying cars. Over at File 770, they have a nice little roundup of various current attempts to crack the problem. It's beginning to look like the mechanical problems are solvable. The issues of turbulence and traffic are lagging behind.

In other news, my Rotary club's annual fundraiser is tomorrow. You can go here to participate from anywhere in the world.

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