Branch 8

Make Friends for Life

Branch History 2010

 

Sons in Retirement-Mt. Diablo Branch 8-2010 History

Big SIR Jim Sowell Report

Branch 8 began 2010 with 282 members and a keen awareness that active recruitment of younger members was a high priority and would usually provide a steady growth of membership. We began the year under the stewardship of Jim Sowell, Big Sir; Derek Southern, Little Sir; Erland Perrson, Secretary; Leo Barrella, Treasurer; Bill Peterson, Attendance Secretary; Bill Barnard, Membership Secretary; and Glenn Cheetham, Wally Freeman, Fred Nelson, Gary Plisco, Walter Schick, and Bon Wadors, Directors. Following guidelines of SIR Incorporated’s President, Buck Kendrick, we set a goal of recruiting 10% or 28 new members and hit it right on the nose. After the usual experience of members leaving and going inactive we ended the year with 290. Branch 8 added a net of two activities to reach 34 and over 84% of our members participated in at least one activity in addition to the monthly luncheons. A key element of our success as a branch is the high level of volunteers who take care of over 240 tasks that have to be done every month.

A few of our major events were the June and December Ladies Day Luncheons, held at the Contra Costa Country Club and the Round Hill Country Club respectively, a Day at the Races, and a Branch BarBQue. Travel included a Rhine River Cruise (also Oberammergau) of four countries and two local trips. One of the noteworthy things I gathered from gleaning the Hotlines is the high level of variety in the activities we do. The golfers go to many courses and have tournaments throughout the year, Explore and Eat takes participants to many different regional attractions, the dining groups cover almost any conceivable cuisine. Walkers and hikers cover different trails, and most activities pursue different venues and formats. Branch 8 is never boring! The level of writing is highly competent, with good humor, and mentions the participant and accomplishments of the attendees.

In retrospect, the Branch has always been an active one. It was first sponsored by the East Bay Branch 2 in 1964, and then chartered and incorporated in 1965. Meetings were held at the Boundary Oak Restaurant until 1979 when they moved to the Walnut Creek Elks Lodge. The Elks Lodge was Branch 8’s home through the year 2010. Over the years Branch 8 has helped SIR growth by sponsoring John Muir Branch 19 (1967), Tri-Valley Branch 34 (1970), Rossmoor Branch 81 (1979) and Las Trampas Branch 116 (1981). Perhaps the most important aspect of 2010 for Branch 8 was the work of the Member Relations and Venue Search Committees (MRC/VSC). The 2010 Work Plan for the MRC generated survey results that suggested that Branch members were becoming aware of a noisy and crowded situation at the Walnut Creek Elks Lodge along with related inadequate parking. The Branch leadership concluded that our normal growth would soon cause our monthly attendance to exceed both the parking and seating capacity of the Elks Lodge. Accordingly, the Big Sir appointed a VSC which evaluated a dozen potential meeting places, and in September recommended three locations that met the search criteria. At this point the Branch Executive Committee took what turned out to be premature action and approved moving to the Hilton Concord Hotel, before the general membership was informed of the proposal and its rationale. A group of members opposed the move and suggested that recruiting be slowed or discouraged and that membership levels be managed to allow the Branch to stay at the Elks Lodge, and requested a vote from the general membership. Our Branch leadership devoted the balance of September, October and November luncheons to providing the members extensive information on the reasons for moving, and hearing their concerns and alternatives. At the November lunch meeting the members indicated by nearly two to one that Branch 8 should move to the Hilton, and that move will be effective with the January 10, 2011 lunch meeting.

In any event, we expect the new facility to provide the space and ambiance to support the rich and vibrant social life we enjoy in Branch 8, and to allow us to continue our normal pattern of recruitment and growth.

Jim Sowell, Big Sir 2010

Special Events-Ladies Day Luncheons-Roger Miller, Committee Chairman Reporting

Ladies Day Luncheons (LDL) were held in June and December. These were organized by the LDL Committee consisting of Roger Miller-Chairman, assisted by Tom Click, Lloyd Gunderson, Paul Laderer, Bernie Rosner, Jack Waddell. The June event was held at the Contra Costa Country Club. Cost was $32.50 with 175 members and guests attending. Entertainment was provided by banjoist, Jack Convery. The December LDL was held at the Round Hill Country Club. Cost was $37.50 with 241attending. Entertainment was provided by the San Ramon Valley High School Jazz Combo. Many door prizes from various businesses were handed out to attendees at both events along with See’s Candy and floral centerpiece from each table. Officers and Directors were installed for 2011..

 

Activities-Gary Plisco, Activity Coordinator Reporting:

The Activity Coordinator and Assistant Coordinator remained the same for 2010-Gary Plisco and Don Blubaugh. In mid-year, Don resigned from Branch 8 and the year was completed without an Assistant Coordinator. A monthly report of activities was made to the BEC and this is documented in the notes of the meetings.

There were 32 activities to begin 2010 and 34 at years end. Five (Bowling, Computers/Technology, Fishing, Pool, Sums in Retirement) of these are Area 2 activities. Sixteen activities were open to spouses as full time participants or as invited (Bowling, SIRS in the Kitchen). Five new activities were added-Basic Bridge (for beginners), Couples Bridge, Lets Dine In II, SACHE (SIRS, Artisans, Craftsmen, Hobbyists, etc-wares displayed at luncheons) and Yoga. There were also 8 poker groups (only recorded as 1 activity) each with its own coordinator. Three activities were dropped. Lets Dine In-II did not get off the ground so was dropped. Sing-a-Long SIRS and Theatre Fest were also dropped. The most attended activity continued to be Golf with half the membership playing 18 and 9 hole Golf followed by the Book Exchange, Explore & Eat, Poker and Travel. Bridge, Lets Dine Out, SIRS in the Kitchen, the 2 Wine Activities, Finders and Tasters, were also popular as were most of the other activities.

As in previous years, a breakfast was held (December 4) for the Activity Chairman but this year it was held at the Concord Hilton. Most Chairman attended. Area 2 Governor (and Director elect) Dean Steichen attended and complimented the Chairman for a great job of operating the activities which lead to a strong and active branch. Big Sir Jim Sowell, Little SIR Derek Southern and Area 2 Governor-elect Ron Smith were traveling. However they all had comments read which also complimented the Chairman for their effort. Other presenters were State Publicity and Membership Tools Chairman, Walter Schick, Hotline Editor, Pump Pumphrey and Branch Historian, Gary Plisco (also coordinated the meeting).

The most active Branch SIR (SIR attending the most number of different activities) was Larry Lange. He was followed closely by George Schlutz and Derek Southern. He was awarded a special certificate and a free lunch.

The Activity Chairman prepared the following descriptions of their activities for 2010. Those marked with an * are open to SIR spouses.

ASTRONOMY*

– Chairman Larry Lange, Assistant Derek Lofquist. There were 49 different SIR who attended at least one of the meetings downstairs in the Elks Club after the monthly luncheons. Normally about 20-25 members attended. DVD’s on 10 topics (such as Corpses of Massive Stars, Grand Tour of Cosmos, Black Holes, Journey to Palomar, Moon) were shown and briefly discussed. Professor Alex Filippenko (UC-Berkeley-possible future luncheon speaker) was the lecture on each DVD. The group visited the Chabot Observatory for a docent tour.

BARBECUE*

-Co-Chairman Ed Benson, Walter Schick. The event was held June 23 at Castle Rock Park in the foothills of Mt. Diablo. Attendees were bused from the parking lot to the Park. 41 SIR plus spouses and guests attended. Guests were greeted with chips, dips, veggies and a selection of wine, beer, soft drinks and bottled water. Grills were fired up and SIRS in the Kitchen Chefs Bon, Ken, Gene, Tom, Walt and Ed prepared BBQ ball tip, potato & green salad, four been salad, chili with beans and garlic bread. Chef Dan handled dessert duties and ably handed out famous Amos chocolate chip cookies. The picnic area also included facilities and equipment to play many sports; only a few SIR participated in a lively game of horseshoes. All this for a cost of $20 per person. There was also a clean-up crew (greatly assisted by the Park Rangers).

BOCCEE BALL* –

Chairman Bob Barnes, Assistant Larry Mersmann. They organized non-league play competition at Newhall Park BB Courts in Concord. There were 29 different participants during the dry season (April to September). This weekly activity on Friday 9-11a.m. usually attracted 10-12 players playing 3 games. The best won/lost totals for the season were Erland Persson-74%, Larry Lange-71%, Kevin Roberts-63% (secret to winning is having a good partner). A 10 player team (Bob Barnes*, Larry Mersmann*, Larry Lange, Bill Douglas*, Mike Hegeler, Gary Plisco* plus 4 spouses-*) played in the Martinez BB League. Next year the BB league play will become a new activity.

BOOK EXCHANGE

– CO-Chairman , Ed Benson, Derek Southern and Rob Laaback. They were ably assisted by Ken Main (who lugs and stores some boxes). The concept remains for SIR to bring books and electronic media to the monthly luncheons that they wish to donate and exchange for same other SIR have contributed. The Co-Chairman supplied boxes, brought books to the luncheon meeting, set them up on tables, encouraged participation, answered questions, publicized the service and brought the reading material to their respective homes for storage at the luncheons conclusion. At years end there were about 320 books available for exchange. During the year, the Co-Chairs donated about 12 boxes of duplicate, non-popular and hard cover books to the Contra Costa Library. The crowd of SIR around the exchange tables speak to the popularity of this service.

BOOK GROUP –

Chairman Steve Tiller, Assistant Bill Hunter. There are 7 active members and a few others on an infrequent basis. They met monthly mostly at the Chairman’s home to discuss a book selected for reading at a previous meeting. The books read and discussed are posted on the Branch’s website for member information.

BOWLING* (Area 2) –

Chairman Dan Weller. Besides the Chairman there were only 3 Branch 8 participants (Tom Baker, Bill Earl, Joe Maurino) in the 48-person Area 2 Bowling League. Dan, Tom and Joe also participated in some of the State-wide bowling tournaments. The team that Dan Weller and Tom Baker were on won the league championship, winning more games than the other 11 teams. A highlight of the year was a 2-day SIR tournament at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno. Over 190 SIR and guests participated in the tournament. The Chairman hopes to expand Branch 8 participation in both league and SIR tournament bowling in 2011..

BRIDGE BASIC*

– Co-Chairman Rod Spicer, Harry Hubinger. This is a new activity for 2010. It’s just as the name implies-BASIC. It’s a co-ed group for beginning players. They also had a separate group for players somewhat experienced but needing practice. Players asked questions and received comments from the instructors-Co-Chairs on their play in a non-competitive environment. They accommodated up to 6 tables-24 players.

BRIDGE-COUPLES*

– Chairman Rod Hughes, Assistant John Mosher. This new activity for 2010 met the 3rd Monday of each month from 1-4PM at Carl;s Jr. in Walnut Creek. Currently have 5 tables-20 players with a sub list but can accommodate 6 tables. Players showed up early for lunch, played 5 hands of couples rubber bridge and then changed tables. Usually played just 3 rounds. No entry fee-just for fun.

BRIDGE DUPLICATE I –

Chairman Tom Baker, Assistant Dick Long. There were 16 regular players and 10 subs for the year. They met the 2nd Friday of each month at a members home. Play lasted about 3-4 hours with light snacks and coffee provided. Each player hosts the event once every 16 months. There have been few changes in this group in the last 7-8 years which lead to the formation of Dup II.

BRIDGE DUPLICATE II –

Chairman Gene Bingham, Assistant Walter Schick. This is the 5th year of this group (maybe time for a Dup III) who met the 4th Friday each month at Carl’s Jr in Walnut Creek. There were 24 regular players with 19 different subs from Branch 8 and 12 more from other branches. They played 24 hands of bridge for about 4 hours with a lunch break in the middle. They collected an entry fee which was paid to the top 3 winning partners. Players ranged from intermediate to experienced. New interested members to Branch 8 were added to the sub list.

BRIDGE-RUBBER –

Chairman Rob Spicer, Assistant Ray Veronte. As in 2010, the group met the 1st Thursday of each month at Carl’s Jr. in Walnut Creek. They had a pool of 35 players but limited play to the first 24 (6 tables) to sign up each month. They collected an entry fee payable to the winning teams.

COMPUTERS & TECHNOLOGY (AREA 2)

– Co-Chairman Phil Goff (Branch 16)and Derek Southern(Branch 8). Branch 8 representatives are Bill Phelon and Hans Pable. Monthly meetings continued to be held at the Elks Lodge in Walnut Creek. Guest speakers informed attendees of the latest developments in technology, computers, software and consumer electronics. Some of the subjects covered included reviews of smart phones, social networking sites and buying a new computer. An average turnout of 40-60 Area 2 SIR attend each session. About 42 Branch 8 SIR attended at least one CAT meeting.

CRIBBAGE* –

Chairman Herb Hellsten, Assistant Bill Douglas. The players met twice monthly on the 1st Wednesday and 3rd Tuesday at Carl’s Jr. in Walnut Creek. 29 different Branch 8 members and spouses participated. A total of 328 games were played over the 22 sessions with an average attendance of 17 players on Wednesday and 13 on Tuesdays. 5 of the members attended SIRS in the Kitchen; thus the lower turnout on Tuesday. 9 of the 29 members participated in over 75% of the games played. Year end results found Herb Hellsten (again of course-the Activity Chairman) leading the average score in per games played with 31.6 points per game followed by Stan Johnson with 28.2, Greg Ryan with 26.7 and Steve Gretak with 26.1. The high score for a game during 2010 went to Ron Draper/Herb Hellsten-141 points followed by Jerry Milano/George Schlutz and Ron Draper/Steve Strobel- 131 points. High scorers Herb Hellsten-404 points, Stan Johnson-376, Frank Begert-348 and Ron Draper-347.

DIGITAL PHOTO CLUB

– Chairman Pump Pumphrey, Assistant Bill Phelon. The group of 17 met the 3rd Friday of each month at a members home. They talked about individual insights and experiences with cameras, lenses, techniques, photo software, new developments and of course the photos they took. They also shared personal experiences. The group also served as the photographers for Branch 8 events.

DOMINOS

– Chairman Deiter Lauterbach, Assistant Ekk Keller. This group of 14 participants (at least 3 times) played on the 4thWednesday of the month (except November/December) for about 4 hours at a members home. Met at 9:30AM for coffee/donuts and played at 10AM. They had lunch (brought their own) and competed playing 6 dominos for the prize money from the $5 donation by each player.

EXPLORE & EAT* –

Chairman Richard Schally, Assistant Dan Franklin. They met at various points of interest in Northern CA/Bay Area, usually on the 3rd Friday of the month. Most tours were led by a docent and were followed by lunch at a local restaurant. This year 50 SIR plus spouses participated in at least one exploration. Visits were to the following locations:

Day at the Races

-In memory of Big SIR Bill Hooy who always arranged this event. The Memorial Race for

Bill at Golden Gate Fields was the big event of the day. 50 SIR and spouses attended.

Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum

(Niles District of Fremont) -docent led tour of the museum. Watched 2 classic Charlie Chaplin movies. Lunch at a local Italian restaurant. 36 SIR and spouses attended.

Walt Disney Family Museum

(Presido SF) -Self-guided tour of the fabulous new Disney Museum. Lunch at a local pub. 66 SIR and spouses attended.

Military Vehicle Museum

(Portola Valley) -docent led tour of this Jacques Littlefield collection of over 200 tanks and army vehicles from World War I thru current day. Lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. 12 SIR attended.

Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum

(San Jose) -Docent led tour by the curator of the museum which includes one of the largest private collection of mummies and Egyptian artifacts in the US. Lunch followed aat a nearby Italian restaurant. 30 Sir and spouses attended.

SF War Memorial Opera House

(SF) -Guided tour of the backstage and bowels of the Opera House included dressing rooms, laundry room, wig room, stage sets and more. Limited to 30 people so had 2 tours, June and September. Lunch at nearby restaurant. Total 60 SIR and spouses attended.

Delta Cruise on the Island Seranade

-A 2 hour cruise that included narrative by the Captain. Booked entire ship for Branch 8. Included a box lunch. 66 SIR and spouses attended.

Playland Not at the Beach

(El Cerrito) -This is the Museum of Fun. Guided tour by a docent who lived and worked as a youth at the original Playland in SF. Great artifacts, 25 free pin ball machines and other games to play. Lunch at a local coffee shop. 29 SIR and spouses attended.

Ruth Bancroft Gardens

(Walnut Creek) -docent led tour thru the garden started in 1971. Opened to public in 1990. Protected by a conservation easement. A true treasure in our own backyard. Lunch at a local pizza parlor. 32 SIR and spouses attended. A total of 381 attendees for all trips. A popular activity.

Fishing (Area 2)

– Branch 8 Big Fish Carl Moyer. Another year of adjustment for the Fishing group. There was a brief salmon season; the wind was relentless all year, and the lack of anchovies in the bay and ocean created many challenges. But for all that, the fisherman managed to catch many fish, make new friends, deepen old friendships, and have a lot of fun. A January trip to the Sacramento Fishing Expo equipped the fishermen with new gear and knowledge. Local forays produced trout from Shadow Cliff’s reservoir finishing with a hot shore lunch. Also caught some stripers and sturgeon from the Bays and delta. As winter turned to spring the fisherman caught halibut trolling in the bay, more sturgeon, and a few stripers. Spring produced great success for trout at Lake Davis (Tahoe National Forest). An adventure to the south Cape in Mexico filled the freezers of the group. Had several successful mackinaw trips to Lake Tahoe. Jointly held a delightful backyard fish fry with the SIR in the Kitchen activity. Fall brought a return to Lake Davis and ceaseless wind at home. Good fishing on the Klamath River for salmon and steelhead. A season ending Christmas party was sold out.

GOLF-9HOLES

– Chairman Stan Johnson, Assistants Doug Raaka, Bob Sherman, Bill Cooke, Erland Persson and Marechal Duncan as monthly marshals. 51SIR played during the year. The highest weekly participation was 20 players in a given week. Branch 8 played 596 rounds of 9-hole golf. Usually played at Diablo Hills Golf Course in Walnut Creek, but also played monthly at Pine Meadows in Martinez, Buchanan Field in Concord, or Grayson Woods in Pleasant Hill. Chairman Johnson played the most rounds with 45 weeks. In second place were Erland Persson and Bill Cooke with 37 weeks. A large percentage of golfers stayed after playing for a libation and good stories. Great comraderie and fellowship during and after the golfing.

 

GOLF-18 HOLES

– Chairman Mike Long. Assisted by Gordon Batesole (Memebership), Hal Samson (Treasurer), Jim Andrews (Asst. Treasurer), John Hayes (Marshals), Wally Freeman (Tournaments), Glen Cheetham (Communications) and Bill Hunter (Technology). There were 132 members for this weekly activity and 70 played at least 3 times. Boundary Oak was the home course with 2 events per month. Away matches were played at courses within an hour’s drive. Also, played 9 special tournaments.

HEADS UP WALKERS* –

Chairman Lynn Jones, Assistant Enrique Arvizu. The activity had 16 SIR plus many spouses, family and friends. The one-hour walks averaged about 2.5 miles and included spouses, family and friends. A list of 36 trails in Diablo Valley were used to plan the walks. Met about 9:30AM at a trail head every Thursday morning announced each month by the Chairman. Hiked for 30 minutes then returned to the trail head. Afterward hikers went to a nearby café for coffee and sweets. This year the Chairman found 7/8 new walks. Walks mostly in Contra Costa County with a few in Alameda County. Participants moved at their own pace.

HIKERS*

– Chairman Ray Tenzer, Assistant Enrique Arvizu. Met last Tuesday of each month to hike about 3-5 miles on a Regional Park trail. Usually hiked 2 or 3 paved trails during the winter to avoid the mud. Rest of the year hiking was on Regional Park unpaved trails that included redwood forest, oak studded hills, and open grass lands. Sometimes saw interesting wildlife and beautiful spring wild flowers. Often experienced outstanding views of scenic topography and views of the Bay from hilltops which most individuals never get to see. Each hike was chosen and lead by one of the members providing fresh trails and variety. Hikes included Sunol, Diablo, Briones Tilden Regional Parks, Briones Reservoir, Clayton-Regency Gate-Mt. Diablo State Park, Shelby Wildcat gorge, Iron Horse and Inspiration Point. There were 19 active members with 3 to 12 hikers on any given hike. After the hikes some hikers had lunch at a near-by restaurant.

LETS DINE IN* –

Chairman Ron Cassano. Assistant Dan Franklin. There were 7 couples participating. Met at a member’s home every other month. Host provided the main course, others wine, appetizer, salad etc.

LETS DINE OUT*

– Chairman Don Wesdorf, Assistant Don Allen. The group enjoyed a fine year of fun and friendship with 48 different SIR and their ladies attending the eleven monthly dine outs at a different restaurant. Total attendees were 321. A different Host and Hostess selected the restaurant for the month (Don Allen-Stanford, Walt Schick-LeCheval, Ralph Bagdonas-Ha’s Chinese, Dave Perkins-El Torito, Frank Begert-Mary’s Pizza Shack, Don Wesdorf-Ristorante Forli and Black Angus, Mike brown-La Finestra, Ken Main-Brass Door, Rod Hughes-Massimo, Rod Spicer-Dragon 2000). Average attendance was 12-14 couples.

POKER

– Chairman Walter Schick, Assistant Dan Franklin. There were 8 poker groups-7 players in each. There were 51 different players with 6 alternates. Each group had its own “coordinator” or sub-chairman and met monthly on a scheduled day and time at a member’s home. The activity was open to all other Area 2 branches even though it’s a Branch 8 activity. A popular activity.

POOL (Area 2)*

– Jerry White (Branch 8), Chairman. Branches participating were 8, 19, 116 and 146. Only 4 players from Branch 8 (Jerry White, Jerry Foott, John O’Brien and Brian Wolf) participated. Group played twice a month at Masses Billiards in W.C. About 12 SIR regularly attended, mostly from other Branches. More participants from Branch 8 are needed!

SACHE (SIR Artisan, Craftsman, Hobbyists, Etc.)

– Chairman Don Atwater. SACHE was introduced about mid year. The activity was designed to exhibit member’s talents at monthly luncheons. Thanks to Dan Weller for being the first exhibitor and to the subsequent exhibitors. 2010 exhibitors were Dan Weller, woodworker, Roger Sperling, painter, Bob Solari, woodcarver, Volney Peter, model airplane collector.

SINGLE SIR DINE OUT

– Chairman Don Atwater, Assistant Bon Wadors. The group increased in size to about 20 different attendees with the largest turnout 11. Dinner was on the first Tuesday of the month at 12 different restaurants. Each member had the opportunity to be “host” for a month and selected a restaurant and making reservations (Ed Young-Pasta Primavera, Bob Cramer-Outback Steakhouse, Gene McManus-Black Bear Diner, Enrique Arvizu-Sargam, Don Atwater-Stanford’s, Steve Tiller-Petar’s, Elroy Condeff-Kensington Place, Bon Wadors-Greenery, Marv Kreitz-Black Angus, Jack Stack-Peking-Tokyo, Steve Tiller-Buttercup Bar & Grill, Ed Young-Spaghetti Factory).

SIR IN THE KITCHEN*

– Chairman-Executive Chef Ed Benson, Assistant Jim Sowell. This popular group of 29 met the 3rd Tuesday of each month at Chef Benson’s home to cook and eat lunch, drink wine, tell lies and engage in fellowship. Twice a year they included spouses, usually at the Branch 8 BBQ and at a Christmas Gala Dinner. In addition to the 29, 8 SIR fisherman attended the annual joint fish fry and an additional 7 attended an olive oil and wine tasting event in July. Average attendance was 14-18 participants. Cooking skills are not a prerequisite as participants learn by watching and there is always the clean-up duty for those not cooking.

SUMS IN RETIREMENT

(Area 2) – Chairman George Schultz. The group met for breakfast monthly at the Legends Grill at Diablo Creek Golf Clubhouse and usually had a featured speaker on investments. There were 20 Branch 9 members attending most meetings.

TRAVEL*

– Chairman Bob Hagler, Assistant Jim Lunn. There were 3 trips in 2010.

Obermmergau & Rhine Rriver Valley

– The Passion Play at Oaberammergau plus an 8-day Rhine River cruise of 4 countries from Basel to Amsterdam. The play is performed every 10 years. Countries visited were Germany, Switzerland, France, Netherlands. Shore excursions included the Black Forest, European Parliament in Strasbourg, Germany’s oldest university in Heidelberg, UNESSCO world Heritage Site which is part of the Middle Rhine River Valley, a tour of the ingenious network windmills in Kinderdijk Holland.

Funny Girl

-Story of Fanny Brice, a goofy singer, who rises from ugly duckling to a Ziegfeld headlliner. Musical comedy with extravagant production numbers and show-stopping songs including “People” and “Don’t Rain On My Parade.” Performance at the Wells Fargo Pavilion in Sacramento. Dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory.

Le Grande Cirque

-A 2-day trip including casino stops at the Silver Legacy and Boomtown. Le grande Cirque was a jaw-dropping visual feast of breathtaking group acrobatics and white-knuckle stunts. The international company of champion acrobats and performers have been handpicked from around the world for their death-defying abilities and precision skill. It was a fast paced, heart pounding astounding spectacle. Included was an overnight stay at the El Dorado Casino/Hotel in Reno.

WINE FINDERS*

– Chairman Ed Benson, Assistant Bob Price. This informal wine tasting group focused on the blind tasting of wines of value under $15, consuming hors d’oeuvres brought by the tasters and much comraderie. It celebrated its two year anniversary in February. It has 12 SIR members, 4 associate members and 1 on the waiting list. There were usually 15 invitees and their spouses so all members wanting to attend were accommodated. The bimonthly blind tasting of a pre-selected varietal was held on the 2nd Thursday at a participants home. Each couple or single brought a bottle of wine, hors d’oeuvre, and one wine glass per person. The December tasting included a joint dinner with the SIRS in the Kitchen. During the year, several varietals were tasted. WF’s motto is “everyone has a great time, its good fun, food, wine and company, and we’ve always been able to include any member who wants to attend…more attendees, more wine to taste…even come up with some good inexpensive wines.”

WINE TASTING* – Chairman Gary Plisco, Assistand Bill Barnard. There were 23 SIR members on the e-mail list for this group. Unfortunately space was limited to 12-20 tasters, depending upon the hosts available space. The sit down blind tasting and rating of a single varietal required each participant to bring one wine glass for each wine – normally 7. They were held on a Friday evening about every other month as announced in e-mails to its members. The hosts provided all the wines (cost split among the tasters – no limit on cost but averaged per person $12-20) and the tasters brought an hor d’oeuvre to share with the others during the aftertaste socializing. In March, the Plisco’s hosted a special tasting by the Hendry Winery of Napa Valley. The winery’s representatives presented 13 wines in a side by side tasting (i.e. 2 chards in 2 separate glasses, same for 2 zins, 2 cabs etc.). Reps explained the particulars of each wine. The wines were offered to tasters at a discount. There were 21 tasters, wine sales were high..

WRITING YOUR LIFE STORIES

– Chairman, Roger Sperling, Assistant Richard Schally. The group was off and running for its 5th year with 3 new members (15 total). This is a very special group because my (Sperling) teacher and mentor reminds me, “Men don’t regularly do this!” With a typical attendance of 8-10, means that we appreciate the value of writing about our lives for the enjoyment of ourselves and families. We wrote and shared our short stories based on personal experiences from childhood through family and career to retirement. We thought of it as writing our autobiographies one story at a time.” It was far easier with group support than trying to start writing our memoirs in private. The meetings took place at the Vintage Kensington Place on Geary Rd near North Main in Walnut Creek.

Yoga

-Chairman Mysore Gopal. New for 2010 was the Yoga sessions. The instructor was Mysore’s wife Prabha. She is a professional instructor so the members get a very good workout. The session started with a bang with about a dozen participants. Its been up and down since then but most recognize the mental and physical well-being derived from the sessions. They meetings took place on the 1st Wednesday of each month between 10-11AM at the Sports Basement Sports store in Walnut Creek.