Monthly Archives: April 2014

I Got 21 Happy Dollars

 

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Linda, Carly, and Yours Truly at the Piazzale Michelangelo overlooking Florence.

Happy Dollars is a Rotary Institution that adds a lot of fun to Rotary meetings.  In this particular ritual Rotarians offer a dollar to celebrate whatever has happened in their personal and professional lives that makes them….well…..happy.  It is a great way for everyone in the club to be kept up to date on the latest and greatest going on with their members, and it’s a great way to raise money for charity.  Clubs typically set aside Happy Dollar proceeds for a specific goal or community chest and the dollars can add up in a hurry.

The actual implementation of Happy Dollars varies from club to club.  The Sergeant at Arms experts at the Columbia Patuxent Rotary Club (which I humbly maintain are the best in the business – shout out here to Dean of Sgt.’s Roy Felipe and Dave Bittner) are adamant that Happy Dollars are best collected at the end of the meeting, if for no other reason that the level of pandemonium that typically ensues makes it difficult to settle everyone back down to listen to the speaker, and because you raise a lot of money because members give Happy Dollars for “The Program.”  On the other hand, in my club visits around District 7620 I have seen several clubs do Happy Dollars at the beginning of the meeting.  They claim it gets everyone “loosened up” and ready to have a good time for the rest of the meeting.  Either way, you can learn a lot about a club by the number of Happy Dollars, and the volume of the Happy Dollar proceedings.  Raucous laughter is preferred.

So with that in mind, I got twenty-one Happy Dollars for my recent trip to Italy with Linda:

Here’s one dollar for Italians.  There seemed to be a lot of them in Italy.  And the ones we met were all very kind to us.

Here’s a buck for gelato.  Especially lemon gelato.  Awesome.

Here’s a buck for Apollo and Daphne by Bernini.  I can die now.

I got another buck for high speed trains.  They are REALLY cool.  (That is when the train employees are not on strike, which I found out at 11PM one evening.)

Here’s a dollar for….dollars.  Euros are too expensive.

Oh, here’s a buck for a long-dead relative of Orioles owner, Peter Angelos.  This guy, Michael Angelos, did a lot of the statues and paintings back in the day.

A buck for the full moon we had in Praiano on the Amalfi Coast.  Spectacular.

I gotta sad dollar for all of the life changing art we saw that I wasn’t allowed to take a picture of.  What a shame.

Here’s a dollar for Easter in Florence.  You had to be there.

And here’s a buck for calling pizza “pizza” and not Margheritas.  I like Margheritas frozen with no salt.

Oh…a dollar for the symphony concert we lucked into inside the Cathedral at Orvieto.  I don’t much care for classical music, but hearing Beethoven in that wondrous setting made me cry.

I’ve got a dollar for the best twenty euros spent during our two week trip….getting our laundry done while we stayed in Praiano.

And finally, I’m throwing in another ten for catching up with my daughter, Carly, who is studying abroad in a town called, Viturbo, just north of Rome.  She is doing great and Linda and I were thrilled to see her.

Hey …I’m in for $21 bucks, the Club President at Columbia Patuxent rings our club bell for that!  RING.  And now we have a few fines…..

 

 

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Rotary International really is ….International

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Today’s WordPress stats on Top Ten Countries of origin for the visitors to RFA. Hello to all our non-US Rotary readers!

Today a few words about the Ready, Fire, Aim blog.  This project is a study in trying to build an audience in our Rotary District by systematically posting interesting content.  Truth be told, writing about Rotary is nothing but a lot of fun.  And in the case of Ready Fire Aim, I get to tell the stories of Rotarians I meet on my journey to being DG in 2015-2016, AND I get to screw around by sharing video clips, teasing my fellow Rotarians and the District Leadership, and generally try my best to make sure we are not taking ourselves too seriously.

While writing the posts is a hoot, it is promoting the blog itself that is part of a strategic plan in our District to better communicate about Rotary to our clubs and individual Rotarians.  The blog is just one part of a puzzle that will include more Rotarians connecting to the District FB page, a new District blog, a new District LinkedIn Group, and updating the District database so we can communicate directly with Club Membership Chairs, PR Chairs, and Foundation Chairs.  It’s a lot to put together from a standing start, and Dawn Wittfelt, our new District PR and Marketing Chair, has her work cut out for her.  Special kudos to DG Peter Kyle and DGE Bill Fine for having the vision to infuse energy into this effort.

Part of my post-writing ritual is sharing the post on my Facebook Page, asking others to share the post as Administrators on other FB pages, writing emails to Rotarians who are featured in the day’s post, and tweeting the post out on Twitter.  The readership of RFA is gradually building and I’m proud to say that this week we will see our 5,000th visit to these pages.  Very Very Cool.

But the most amazing thing to me is that, do to the magic of whatever analytics package Rotarian Darren Easton downloaded for the RFA site, you can see what country the readers come from.  Unbelievably…they seem to be reading the blog all over the world!  Today’s image is cut and pasted from today’s statistics report from WordPress showing the total readership by country.  Truly amazing, and another reminder that Rotary International is, well, International!  So thank you to everyone and anyone from these far away places where Rotary is doing great work for checking out RFA.  I’m sure you heard about the post because of the Twitter miracle called #Rotary.  Please retweet if you find yourself entertained by any particular post.

If you are visiting from outside the US, and if you have a minute or two, please feel free  to leave a comment or two the next time you visit.  All of us here in the States we would love to hear from you.  And yes, my US Rotarian readers, we all want to hear from you, too!

They tell me that “Visitors” are the number of people who read RFA.  Visits is the number of time the visitors came back to read more articles.  Who knew?

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Rooottttaarrryyy Training, Sir!

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What kind of training?  Rotary training sir!!!  Fans of Bill Murray will instantly recognize  this hilarious scene from the movie, Stripes.  In this scene, a bunch of screwed up Army recruits have to train themselves in one night or  they will have to repeat basic training.  Don’t remember the scene?  Here it is:

Well…at last weekend’s District Assembly our club leadership teams got some “Rotary training, Sir!”  Rest assured they didn’t have to train themselves.  Instead, all concerned had a great time working with great trainers and facilitators.  If you missed it, or if your club officers missed it, get in touch with your club’s Area Governor and find out how to take the remedial class.

I’m often asked “just what does the Rotary District do?”  As DGE Bill Fine said at the Training, the District is here to serve our Rotary clubs.  And one of the ways we do it is to provide club leaders with some of the best training in the business….er…….Rotary.  “AND THAT’S A FACT, JACK!

Thanks to Paul Frey for years of great training programs in District 7620.  This weekend was his swan song, and to say the least, he went out with a great program.

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Here’s REALLY why you should go to the District Conference

 

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You must have heard by now.  No?  Here’s the question…..should you go to the District Conference?

How about going to hear fantastic speakers about all kinds of subjects?  Not just Rotary subjects, either.  Although I’m guessing we are all interested in how Rotary International is going to be branding us with a professional PR program for years to come.  I’m talking FOR  REAL interesting speakers.

Or maybe you would like to go because of the Hospitality Rooms.  Do you even know what they are?  Individual clubs and clubs in certain areas of the District basically hold a party in hotel suites and everyone is invited.  You get to drink and carry on for the price of just being a Rotarian who wants to hang out and catch up with some old…and new friends.  We are talking some seriously good food and drinks here.  If you want to find me I will be in whatever suite is serving the fresh oysters.

How about my new slogan for all District Conferences.  Here it is:

THE DISTRICT CONFERENCE IS BETTER THAN YOU THINK IT IS…..IT HAS TO BE.

Do you like block parties in Downtown Baltimore right on Utah Street outside of Camden Yards?  Or maybe you want to hear what is, by all accounts, the hottest dance band in Baltimore?  A ten piece horn band you say?  I’m there.

Have you ever heard the actual final round of the Four-Way Test speech contest?  It is guaranteed to blow you away.  We should all have the enthusiasm and passion of these young contestants.  I’ll bet you’ve never heard even one speech about the Four-Way test.  These young men and women are the best of the best.  You might like it.

But if you really want to know why you should attend the District Conference, I suggest you study the following video, cause this is how you are going to feel if you take a chance and actually spend the night in Baltimore spending time with your fellow Rotarians at the District Conference.  Hopefully I’ll see you there.

NOTE: You only need to watch about one minute of this video to feel good.  Watch the whole thing if you want to feel REALLY good….just like I’m going to feel after visiting two or three Hospitality suites.

 

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It’s Different here in La Plata

 

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From L – R, Melissa Tyner, Byx Bullock, Daniel Smyser, President Charlie Burch, Jim Cook, PE Jamie Reidy

If you listen to La Plata Rotarians tell the tale, somewhere on journey south on Route 5 / Branch Avenue, as you head past Clinton and Waldorf on Crain Highway, something happens.  I’m not entirely certain what it is, but Rotarian Byx Bullock jokes that the “laws of physics are actually suspended down here in Charles County.”  I suspect that they are referring to their perception that La Plata is a small town where everyone knows each other and “it’s impossible to get lost,” and so the laws of the  “Big City” universe are somehow suspended in their community.

I can’t speak for the town, but I am pleased to report that the laws of successful Rotary Clubs are certainly NOT suspended in the Charles County La Plata Rotary Club.  Here is a loud, rambunctious group of 40 members who clearly enjoy each other’s company.  They pass my favorite “healthy Rotary club” test, which is lots of laughter can be heard at the Green Turtle on Wednesday mornings.  I was pleased to do my dog and pony show about the Rotary Foundation yesterday for them, and also pleased to meet with their Board, as well as Rotarians Andy Colevas and Steve Cumberland from the Upper Marlboro Rotary Club, the night before.  THANK YOU to AG Jimmie Gorski who did a superb job organizing the event at the Olive Garden Restaurant.  (Sorry foodies, but you just can’t get too much better than the family style salads at Olive Garden.  Heck…what do I know….I’m always grateful when I go to a restaurant and the salad has something in it that I recognize.)

Here are a few other things I noticed about the La Plata club.  They have a great mix of younger and older Rotarians, and both groups respect each other immensely.  Rotarian’s Greg Cockerham and Jim Di Misa caught me after the meeting to let me know they are sticking around the club “just to keep the youngsters on track.”   Club President, Charlie Burch, and President Elect, Jamie Reidy, are doing just that.  Here’s just a few things on their list after our Foundation discussion Tuesday evening: 1) Make sure that they do a fireside chat with new members that eliminates any confusion about the Club’s Foundation and the Rotary Foundation (sound familiar?), 2) consider adding suggested TRF contributions to the dues invoices, and 3) get more involved with process for obtaining District Grants.

Here’s what I think.  The Rotary Club of Charles County La Plata is positioned to suck the air right out of their community in terms of being a MAJOR positive force for good.  This is a small town where everyone already knows Rotary because of the club’s signature fundraiser, the Lobster Fest, which raised more than $60,000 last year!  (According to Club President Burch, “They come for the beer…not the lobster.)  All that’s left is for this club to launch into aggressive membership mode where they target 50 – 60 members as a start and then take aim at Lexington Park…the big boy even further South.

If you are headed south on Crain Highway on a Wednesday morning, and you notice that the laws of physics are becoming distorted, I highly recommend you find your way to the Green Turtle for a make up.

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