Sunday, May 30, 2010

WHAT?

A BRIDGE TO SOMEWHERE

The Brooklyn Bridge, seen from Manhattan, New ...Image via Wikipedia
The Brooklyn Bridge officially opened on May 24, 1883. At the time, it was the largest suspension bridge in the world. That feat has since been surpassed. But the bridge still accommodates more than 140,000 vehicles per day.
Most people don't think much about bridges. You just drive or walk over them. Rarely do you stop to look at them.
But bridges are actually pretty amazing feats of engineering.  You can learn exactly how bridges work.
Discover the challenges that are overcome to build them. See examples of famous bridges from all around the world. You can even help a city choose the right bridge to build. LINK HERE
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PEOPLE BEING PEOPLE

Lawyer Regina Quick, defending two clients from charges that they were photographed running red lights, subpoenaed five traffic cameras at the West Broad Street-Alps Road intersection to testify that her clients did indeed barge through on red.
"I didn't observe them as they came in, so I don't believe they'll be appearing," Quick said.
Jim Davis, the assistant county attorney who prosecuted the cases, said Quick should have subpoenaed county officials to produce the cameras if she needed them to make her case.
"It's not proper to serve an inanimate object, such as a camera," Davis said.

NPS SAYS "COME ON DOWN", FOR FREE

Photo of National Park Service signImage via Wikipedia
While the U.S. celebrates a long, three-day weekend this week, the National Park Service is giving us all something to look forward to next weekend as well. The NPS has announced that it is continuing its very popular free admissions program, and on June 5 and 6, more than 100 parks will throw open their gates and waive the entrance fee to all guests.

The complete list of parks that will be free next weekend can be found by clicking here, and there are certainly some great places to visit on the list, no matter what part of the country you are in. For example, if you're in California, Yosemite is always a great place to explore, although the crowds might be a bit smaller in Death Valley. Similarly, Yellowstone is an amazing place to visit as well, but it is one of the most popular parks in the system. If you're in that area, you might find Big Horn Canyon offers more seclusion.

So, while we're enjoying the Memorial Day holiday this weekend, which generally marks the unofficial start of the summer, it is never too early to start making plans for next weekend as well. With the entry fees waived, there are no excuses to not go outside and play in one of these great parks.
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TODAY IN HISTORY

Tomb of the Unknown of Civil War, Arlington Na...Image via Wikipedia
MAY 30
1989:Students protesting in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square construct a 33-foot statue they name the Goddess of Democracy.

1868: The first celebration to memorialize the Civil War dead is held at Arlington National Cemetery by order of Maj. Gen. John Logan.

1904: The Chicago Cubs’ Frank Chance is plunked by a pitch five times during a double-header, setting an MLB record.
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PAUL AND GRACE

Rotary founder Paul P. Harris had a little-known romance before he met his future wife, Jean .
Grace Irene Mann was from a prominent family in Florida, USA. Harris met her in 1905 on a visit to see his friend and former employer George C. Clark in Jacksonville.
Harris and Mann exchanged letters in which they shared affection, gossiped, and discussed their families, theology, and philosophy. He told her about searching for a meeting place for the Rotary Club of Chicago and offered details of the club's constitution.
Mann replied to his tales of Rotary with enthusiasm:
I take great interest in the Constitution and By laws of your Rotary Club because you have written them. … I think you have covered everything in a concise and compact form. … The By-laws are especially good.
According to the letters, the idea of marriage was broached in the fall of 1906, though Mann's family ultimately discouraged her from settling down with Harris.
Their correspondence ended in May 1907. In his final letter to Mann, Harris wrote:
I certainly am interested in your future and I desire you to make a great girl of yourself and I am sure you will. … You will be happy. Give my best to your Dalton friends. Yours very truly, Paul P. Harris
Harris returned the letters he received from her, as was the custom. When Mann married John Murrell Bell in June 1910, she stored the correspondence in the attic of her sister May Mann Jennings. The letters remained there until the home was demolished in 1963, at which time they were given to Mann's eldest daughter, Elizabeth.
In 1997, Mann's daughter Grace Bell Rogers donated the letters to Rotary International.
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DO YOU REMEMBER?

On May 26  the world lost a legendary voice of television and radio, with the passing of Art Linkletter. He is perhaps best remembered as the longtime host of Art Linkletter’s House Party, which was first broadcast on CBS radio in 1944, before moving to television a decade later, and running until 1969. He also hosted the NBC show, People Are Funny, for 19 years, starting in 1943. Along the way, he coined the phrase most closely associated with him, “Kids do the darndest things.” Linkletter was 97.
Here is a clip of Art’s infectious personality on House Party:


Of course, you may best remember Linkletter for his face, which appeared on the box, and on the $100,000 bill, in the original version of the Milton Bradley board game, The Game of Life. He was also a close friend of Walt Disney, which resulted in him hosting the 1955 Opening Day ceremonies at Disneyland (with help from Ronald Reagan and Bob Cummings).
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FISH FOLLOWED BY "THREE LAYER" ANGEL FOOD WITH FRESH STRAWBERRIES. THAT'S LIVIN'!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

WHAT?

YOUR THOUGHTS?

TODAY IN HISTORY

MAY 29
1953:Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay are the first people to reach Mount Everest’s peak—29,035 feet above sea level.

1932: The Bonus Army, comprising World War I veterans, flocks to the capital to demand immediate bonuses the government is scheduled to pay in 13 years.

1969: Crosby, Stills and Nash debut their self-titled album, featuring “Helplessly Hoping” and “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.”
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AND I QUOTE

"Success is relative. It is what we can make of the mess we have made of things." – T. S. Eliot

MATCHING GRANT MONIES INCREASED

At their April meeting, The Rotary Foundation Trustees approved a Matching Grants World Fund budget of US$21.5 million for 2010-11. This amount represents an 82 percent increase over the previous year’s budget of $11.8 million and, because funds for the 100 Future Vision pilot districts were budgeted separately, one of the largest World Fund budgets in Matching Grants history. The Trustees approved a Rotary Foundation Global Grants World Fund budget of $8 million for Future Vision pilot districts starting with the 2010-11 program year.  
Although the 2010-11 Foundation programs budget is pending final approval by the RI Board of Directors in June, we want to reassure Rotarians that we do not anticipate the Matching Grant budget being fully committed early in the Rotary year. The Trustees plan to review Competitive Matching Grant applications at their October 2010 and April 2011 meetings; the Foundation will notify districts if this business cycle changes.  
The Trustees were able to restore World Fund budget for Matching Grants largely because Rotarians and other friends of Rotary donated a record amount of almost $115 million to the Annual Programs Fund in 2007-08 (World Fund allocations are based on Annual Programs Fund donations three years prior). Additionally, because investment income stabilized, the Trustees did not need to use a significant amount of World Fund to supplement the Foundation’s programs operations budget for the coming year. 
If you have questions about Matching Grants and the 2010-11 program year budget, please e-mail them to contact.center@rotary.org.
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RECOGNIZING OUR SCHOLARSHIP STUDENTS DURING THE PAST 14 YEARS

Friday, May 28, 2010

LET THE FRIED FISH FEEDING FRENZY BEGIN

WHAT?

TUNE IN TONIGHT

STALAG 17
TCM, 8 p.m. ET
Turner Classic Movies is presenting a three-day mega-marathon of war movies in honor of Memorial Day, beginning in prime time tonight with this 1953 WWII film starring William Holden. Sit down and strap in, because there are plenty of terrific movies to come – including, tonight, the next two in this opening triple feature.

THE GREAT ESCAPE
TCM, 10:15 p.m. ET
The enjoyment of this 1963 movie is heightened with the knowledge that it’s based on a true story, of Nazis deciding to isolate all their most persistent POW escapees into one maximum-security facility, from which the Allied prisoners vow to escape. The ending, though, would be a lot less somber were this more of a fantasy. In any case, what a story, and what a cast: Steve McQueen, James Garner, Charles Bronson, James Coburn – and that’s just for starters.

THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI
TCM, 1:15 a.m. ET
Here’s William Holden again, this time with Alec Guinness in this 1957 movie about WWII prisoners – this time of the Japanese – forced to work in captivity, building a bridge across the River Kwai. Tense movie, fabulous character study… and unforgettable musical theme.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES-MAY 19, 2005

PEOPLE BEING PEOPLE

Tim Henman playing at Wimbledon, 2005Image via Wikipedia
Briton Robert Dee, feeling humiliated at being called the "world's worst tennis pro" by London's Daily Telegraph (and other news organizations) sued the newspaper for libel last year. After taking testimony in February 2010, the judge tossed out the lawsuit in April, persuaded by Dee's having lost 54 consecutive international tour matches (all in straight sets). Fearful of an opposite result, 30 other news organizations had already apologized to Dee for disparaging him, and some even paid him money in repentance, but the Telegraph had stood its ground (and was, of course, humble in victory, titling its story on the outcome, "'World's Worst' Tennis Player Loses Again").
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RI'S FINANCES IMPORVING

I'm pleased to report that since my last letter on 15 February, the financial picture has continued to improve for both Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation. While the financial markets remain volatile, for the first nine months of this fiscal year, RI's investments earned US$17.0 million, which more than recovered 2009 losses of $12.1 million. With investment returns of $92 million, the Foundation recouped more than half of its 2009 losses; its operating reserve is now positive at $3 million, up from negative $41 million at the end of June 2009. Operating expenses across the organization are well controlled and remain below budget. 
During the past several months, the Foundation's Investment Advisory Committee, Rotary's investment consultants, and staff have comprehensively reviewed the investment policies for the Annual Programs Fund, the Permanent Fund, and RI's General Fund. New policies will be recommended to the Trustees and the Board of Directors at their June meetings. These recommendations include reducing the equity risk in the portfolios and adding assets that will help protect the portfolios from inflation risk. In April, the Trustees approved a new operating reserve policy. Beginning this fiscal year, they will establish a funded operating reserve that will be 100 percent invested in fixed income securities. Although fully funding the reserve may take some time, this more conservative investment approach should enhance the Foundation's ability to finance its operations when financial markets decline.  
The improved financial situation has allowed the Trustees to approve a 2010-11 budget in which the World Fund will support Matching Grants at the previous high 2007-08 district levels and fund Future Vision global grants.  
The Foundation’s sound financial management and stewardship practices have been recognized in the world of philanthropy. Independent evaluator Charity Navigator ranks The Rotary Foundation as No. 4 on its list "10 Best Charities Everyone’s Heard Of," saying: "These 10 charities … became household names in part because of their exceptional financial management, no easy feat considering the scope and size of their operations. Charitable givers should feel confident that these national institutions put their donations to good use." 
Fortunately, a great many Rotarians agree with this assessment. Excluding funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant, overall contributions are up by $5 million compared with last year. Rotary’s US$200 Million Challenge has reached $124 million, well ahead of schedule toward its goal.  
While we are all happy to see positive investment returns, increasing contribution levels, and stable membership figures, the senior leaders and staff remain vigilant in safeguarding Rotary's assets. RI's Finance Committee and the Foundation's Investment Advisory Committee are working with the staff to reduce risk while maximizing investment income, fully restore the Foundation's operating reserve, and keep operating expenses at or under budget.  
The recent financial crisis generated a surge of interest in Rotary's investment policies and budgeting process. We have worked to become increasingly responsive to the many questions we’ve received from you. The financials section on Rotary.org has enhanced our transparency, and I have communicated regularly about the organization’s financial status. Given Rotary's improved financial position, I don't anticipate the need to continue these regular communications. We will, however, post updates on the financials section on the RI website when appropriate. We are also planning a finance update to be held on Monday, 21 June, at the RI Convention in MontrĂ©al, where Rotary senior leaders and RI staff will present information and answer your questions. I encourage interested convention goers to attend this informative session. 
Sincerely,
Ed Futa
General Secretary
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WANT TO GET AWAY THIS WEEKEND? HERE'S HELP

Image representing KAYAK as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase
A neat new online tool from travel firm Kayak tells you where you can fly, based upon your available budget. Simply pop your departure airport into Kayak Explore, tell it how much you can spend, and when you want to fly - and the service will deliver a map of the world with little pins showing how much it'll cost to fly there.

The site gathers its data from the millions of airfare combinations Kayak monitors, and allows you to find real bargains. Of course, with a tool like this, you can also find ways to maximize your mileage account, finding the furthest destination with the lowest price. Search filters even allow you to pick activities, spoken languages, and the average daily temperature.

The one thing the tool won't do is tell you exactly when that fare can be found - the fare displayed is merely the lowest within a general time frame. Once you've found a cheap destination, you can enter your dates and head to the main Kayak search pages. You'll find Kayak Explore at kayak.com/explore. Happy fare hunting!
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Thursday, May 27, 2010

MEETING PROGRAM MAY 27, 2010

President Kevin spent a few minutes sharing his reflections on the scholarship program sponsored by the East Alton Rotary club, which just completed it’s 14th year. Listen below.

       

                       
   
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TOP 10 AIRLINES

Spoiler alert: U.S. based airlines apparently all lame. At least, if you believe the results of the Skytrax 2010 World Airline Awards. The top ten airlines in the world are mostly from Asia. The only upside for U.S. based airlines is that no European airlines made it to the list either.

American airlines are only represented in the "best North American Airlines" results - and even there, Air Canada takes the top spot.

The results are hardly surprising.  Still, it is a bit of a disgrace that none of the U.S. based airlines managed to make any of the winning categories. The top ten airlines of the world are:

  1. Asiana Airlines
  2. Singapore Airlines
  3. Qatar Airways
  4. Cathay Pacific
  5. Air New Zealand
  6. Etihad Airways
  7. Qantas Airways
  8. Emirates
  9. Thai Airways
  10. Malaysia Airlines
Still, it isn't all doom and gloom - in recent weeks, the AOL "spy in the sky" flew all major U.S. carriers and found that there are still some friendly and helpful airlines out there.
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WHAT?

PATRIOTIC TIES ARE ALWAYS IN GOOD TASTE, ESPECIALLY WITH MEMORIAL DAY IN A FEW DAYS

AND I QUOTE

"Know how to ask. There is nothing more difficult for some people, nor for others, easier." – Baltasar Gracian

140,000 MILE ADVENTURE

Last summer, a young Rotarian from Michigan, USA, set out to drive a 2001 Chevy Metro with 140,000 miles on it from England to Mongolia.
The Mongol Rally -- equal parts charity fundraiser and lunatic odyssey -- was dreamed up by two bored Englishmen and held for the first time in 2004 with six cars. In 2009, more than 400 teams took part. Ralliers can choose their own route to the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar, but their cars must have an engine no larger than 1.2 liters -- and no GPS. Getting lost is more or less the point, although those cars that make it to Mongolia are donated to charity.
“You are supposed to be on an adventure, not in a nursery class, so if the sky does fall on your head, prop it up with a windscreen wiper and carry on,” the rally website reads. “If you’re worried, stay at home.”
It was a siren call that Scott Brills couldn’t resist. Brills, a member of the Rotary Club of West Bloomfield, and his friend Collin Otto, took the team name Hardly Working and raised $1,650 for Mercy Corps Mongolia, one of the rally’s official charities. Brills, then 26, and Otto, 25, then collected an additional $7,000 to help build and outfit a kindergarten in Mongolia, a joint project of Brills’s club and the Rotary Club of Bayanzurkh 100 in Ulaanbaatar.
"We decided to drive to Mongolia in search of adventure, and adventure is most definitely what we got," says Brills. "Starting off with a half-year fundraising campaign for a seemingly ludicrous attempt to drive across a third of the earth's surface to deliver funds to assist in building and outfitting a kindergarten in a country many people had never even heard of, we had our work cut out for us.
"Throughout the 10,000-mile trip, we were accosted by border guards, held captive by corrupt police, stranded in no man's land between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and even had our vehicle die on a 10,000-foot plateau in the middle of Tajikistan -- just to name a few of our hilarious mishaps.
"But all of the challenges we faced over the nine-week journey are minor compared to the many positive experiences we had, the people we met, the scenery we witnessed, and the lives we helped change."
Read the complete story in the May issue of  The Rotarian. 
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TODAY IN HISTORY

MAY 27
1937:More than 200,000 people pay 25 cents each to walk across San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge as it opens to the public for the first time.

1963: Bob Dylan releases the song “Blowin’ in the Wind” on the album
The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.

1995: Christopher Reeve is thrown from his horse and paralyzed. He continues to act and direct until his death in 2004.
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