By:  Hermann Welm
Our Past President, Kathy Gailey, opened the meeting by reminding us that the R.I. President is Mark Daniel Maloney, of Decatur, Alabama, and his theme for the year is “Rotary Connects the World!”  She noted that President Colette “Lady Grizzly” Lay was not feeling well.   Our Greeter, Melanie Emig, led us in the Salute to the Flag and her Thought for the Day by that great philosopher, Olaf, of “Frozen” fame: “Love is putting someone else’s needs before yours.”
Mike Thelen was called upon to lead the group in the singing of the Patriotic Song.  He once again chose “God Bless America!”  (He doesn’t know the words to any others and is refusing to learn any because he’s retired, don’t you know!)
Visiting Rotarians:  None.
Other Visitors:  Rotary spouses attending this Valentine’s Day luncheon were Ann Patterson, Judy Thomas, Cindy Toby and Barbara Komas.  Also attending were Carol Prell, Mike Conklin’s assistant at The Sentinels of Freedom, Celeste Paananen and Danielle Lee, Interactors at California High School, and Ren Pola, a member of Cal High’s Choir.  Carolyn Degnan brought her very “special (and famous) bull-riding friend,” Cowboy Cody.  She noted that their relationship is flourishing because he is “shallow and easy to control!”
Suzanne Eikel reported back, for those attending Rotary Foundation Day, that they learned a lot about other clubs’ projects and about the grant writing protocol for the District.
PP Gary Sloan noted that the February 8th Rise Against Hunger event, where several clubs as well as Interactors participated, assembled 30,000 meals!  NOT a typo; it was an extraordinary number!
He also stated that he’ll need drivers for Interactors participating in the forthcoming Rock City (Mount Diablo) Clean Up project.
Lastly, Gary noted that we have received twenty applications from Cal High students for the Rotary Scholarships we award each Spring.  The selection committee, Lourdes Ylagan, Don Jones, Mike Thelen and Patti Hennigan are having a tough time evaluating the requests and deciding on the several winners!
Vera Packard reminded all that Shadow Day will be held on April 2nd; she spoke to two classes at Cal High and found fifty  --  yes, fifty  --  students expressing interest in the program.  She will need LOTS of hosts to show these students the ins and outs of careers that morning!
PP Kathy Gailey has been asked by “Lady Grizzly” to solicit ideas for some Members Night Out activities.  Ideas coming from the floor included Boomer (whatever that is), Escape Room and some Walnut Creek pub that features axe-throwing?!  (Beer and axe-throwing Rotarians!  A VERY scary idea!)
PE Chris Gallagher will be soon be attending the PETs Training again.  He did so poorly the last time he attended as President-Elect  some years ago that Rotary’s Chicago Headquarters insisted that he go through it again with the hope that he might do better!
Recognitions:  Mike Thelen for his 70th birthday; he celebrated it with thirty or so good friends and family.  Suzanne Eikel is having a birthday on the 15th ; she being a CPA will be way to busy now to do any significant celebrating!  PP Gary Sloan and Barbara Komas have been married for 30 years; he told the story of his proposing to Barbara while she was at the UCLA Med School.  Mike Conklin was proud to announce that one of his sons was promoted to Major in the U.S. Army!  Congratulations to all!
PP/PE Chris Gallagher then took center stage and read a totally weird series of write-ups for Valentine’s Day.  In fairness to him, he didn’t make these up, however he DID select them to be relayed to us!  There is no way this Scribe will torture you with all of the nonsensical nonsense he read, but he will give you a few samples so  their inane inanity can be fully comprehensively comprehended by our readers!
From  “Waffle House on Valentine’s Day: How the chain established itself as a romantic roadside destination.”
From  “Spotify launches playlist for dogs left home alone.  Spotify has made playlists and a podcast for dogs to listen to in their owners’ absence . . .”
As well as “Yamaha warns musicians not to climb into their instrument cases after . . .  former Nissan Motor boss Carlos Ghosn fled Japan concealed inside of one.”
Plus:  “British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wants to lose weight in 2020, but will not do ‘Veganuary’   --  the practice of becoming a vegan in January  --  as it would . . . .mean giving up cheese.”
All very interesting, if not inspiring, but one has to wonder how PE Gallagher came up with these!  It certainly can’t have been Renee’s idea; she’s got too much class!   Oh well!  We’re in for an “interesting” 2020/21 Rotary Year!
After several hours of this  --  or so it seemed  --  PE Gallagher finally left center stage and thankfully turned the program over to Ren Pola, a senior at Cal High.  She serenaded us, in a lovely mezzo-soprano voice, with five love songs.  Very nicely done; it rescued the luncheon!
Raffle:   The Greeter’s Gift of $20 was won by Gobind Anand;  the chance of drawing the gold marble was won by  PP John Milich.  Unfortunately, he pulled out a blue one and had to settle for $10.00 in cash!  Next week’s prize will be $260!!!!
Next Week’s Program:   Director Debora Allen will give us an update on BART.   The Greeter will be Julie Fiedler.