Author Archives: jaynecoster

The Power of Resilience in America

–submitted by Dave Nelson; photo by John Bonsett-Veal

Nancy Young 11 15 17

Club President Donna Hurd with guest speaker Nancy Young

When there is a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey, volunteer organizations like the Red Cross, alerted by weather reports of a potential crisis, have already made preparations for the event. Food, water and medical supplies are packed and ready to be moved quickly to the disaster area by a corps of volunteers across the country who have also made their preparations in advance, and are therefore able to arrive on the scene within 24 hours.  Volunteers share space in whatever housing is available; often sharing rooms with other volunteers. One effect of shared housing is it builds “esprit de corps” among the volunteers.

Red Cross volunteers of all types arrive, including those trained in disaster mental health counseling, ready with psychological first aid for those traumatized by the loss of homes, the separation from their families, temporary housing in a Red Cross shelter, and in many cases, risks to their very lives. Volunteers commit to staying in the disaster area for two weeks, and as they are organizing the disaster relief in shelters, they are already planning for the closing of shelters.  In disasters, personal resilience is one of the most valuable assets, and the people providing disaster relief help to foster resilience by discouraging long-term dependence on volunteer services and volunteers.

In contrast to natural disasters that can often be predicted, mass murders like the recent one in Las Vegas, catch everyone by surprise and pose an even greater challenge to psychological counselors than events like hurricanes. In such events, there are often examples of great personal bravery by both victims and volunteers–strangers help to convey victims to hospitals; separated family members are cared for; and many donate blood.

What is the most important need of the Red Cross in disasters?  “Faith, hope and love” said speaker Nancy Young, an experienced Red Cross volunteer. And from the audience: “blood, money, and yourselves as volunteers.”

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

Wisconsin in World War I

–submitted by Moses Altsech; photo by Dennis Cooley

Richard Pifer 11 8 17When the US entered World War 1 in 1917, the war came to dominate the daily life of citizens in Wisconsin. There were initially concerns about our state since 38% of the population had been born in Germany or had a parent born in Germany. Riots were expected on the first day of the draft, yet they did not materialize. Instead 218,000 people (106% of the estimated eligible number) registered, and 5% of the state’s population served in the military. Families were urged to conserve food, grow a garden and avoid eating wheat, sugar, meat, and fat, all of which were critical to the war effort. There was not just social pressure, but aggressive action to ensure that people bought war bonds, and volunteers told those who bought fewer than their means allowed that they would be reported to the County Council on Defense. Dozens were indicted under the Espionage Act for criticizing the war, insulting the flag, opposing war bonds, and other “unpatriotic” remarks. Vigilante groups like the Knights of Liberty took the law into their own hands against “disloyal” citizens, and German language school books were burned.

As Governor Emmanuel Philipp pointed out, however, “self-asserted patriots” were the real threat. We can relate a lot of what our speaker, Richard Pifer, author of “The Great War Comes to Wisconsin,” said, to the challenges we face today: Patriotism can be noble or it can be a tool to marginalize, demonize, and even persecute those we disagree with by questioning their loyalty and forcing them to live in fear. Hopefully 100 years later we can learn from the lessons of the past.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

The Impossible Presidency

–submitted by Rich Leffler; photo by Dennis Cooley

Suri Jeremi 11 1 2017

Rotarian Janet Piraino with Guest Speaker Jeremi Suri

Jeremi Suri, professor of history at the University of Texas-Austin, and formerly (lamentably) at the UW-Madison, gave a boffo performance today as our speaker. He used history to demonstrate that the modern presidency has gotten too complicated for any person to do the job effectively.

There have been several “models” of the presidency. George Washington created the office: he conceived of his job as uniting the people into one nation, not as policy-making or leading a political party.

Lincoln changed the office, believing his chief purpose was to develop the country economically, to use the office to push economic development through the Homestead Act, the Morrill Land Grant Act, which created the land-grant universities in the Midwest, including the UW, to educate farmers and to promote the liberal arts (yes!), and by providing federal subsidies to the railroads, which led to the phenomenal growth of the American economy in the last third of the 19th century.

A third model was created by FDR. He was born to wealth, but he developed polio, which gave him an empathy with those who suffer. He viewed the president as a healer, someone to help those who did not thrive in the capitalist system, which inevitably has winners and losers. The president, FDR believed, had to make these people feel connected, to bring people together to find solutions to problems. FDR has been imitated and viewed as a model by modern leaders, especially by every American president since.

But since the Second World War, the expectations of the people and the responsibilities of the office have grown too large for anyone. So the office has become ill-suited to the world today.

Professor Suri’s solutions: (1) Our method of choosing leaders is defective; young people are not encouraged to get into the arena or even to vote, and the money in politics is overwhelming. (2) The electorate is not well informed; there are facts that people should know, but education has been under-funded. (3) There needs to be a conversation about the values of the nation, and these values have to inform our political life and our leaders. Our best people are not in politics or in leadership positions.

Professor Suri’s talk was very well received. President Donna commented that it was the best talk she has heard since she has been in Rotary. (If you missed the talk, check out the video.) Which raises a nice question: Why is Professor Suri, a man of ideas and a great speaker, not in the arena? Or is he more valuable as a public intellectual?

Wine Fellowship Event October 24

–submitted by Mike Wilson

Wine 10 24 17 4

Our club’s Wine Fellowship met at Mike and Patty Wilson’s on Tuesday the 24th October – Polio Plus Day for Rotary International.  This was a “BYO bottle and snack to share” event with a charitable donation of $50 per person to go to Polio Plus.  A total of $1000 was raised with the entrance fees and a separate donation. Our club has a strong history of donating to Polio Plus with two major fundraisers in 1987 and 15 years later in 2002, raising a total of ~$280,000.  This Polio Plus Day in 2017 is 15 and 30 years after the original Polio Plus Day Campaign mentioned.  Now Rotary International and the Gates Foundation, with many other donor groups, believe they are finally approaching the time of eradication of Polio from the earth.  I remember as a kid having to stay on the porch at home and not leave the property or play with others – such was the curse of poliomyelitis.

We tried 7 wines and 3 “Ports”.  All the wines were excellent and the accompanying snacks too. We had two whites. a Riesling and a Condrieu (Viognier).  Next we tried a Meiomi Pinot Noir, a Vin Nobile di Montepulciano (recently carried back from Italy by Ellie and Paul Schatz), and  an Opolo Forte Zinfandel and all were excellent.  We then tried a Very Dry Red (labeled VDR) Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah blend and a Walla Walla Winery Cabernet Franc, again excellent drinking.  Most of these wines sold in the 20-35 dollar price range, and added ideas for our own collections. The snacks were as impressive as the wines.

Photo 1: Paul & Ellie Schatz; Photo 2: Becky Steinhoff & Steve Steinhoff; Photo 3: Juli & Keith Baumgartner

We finished with three “ports” and W & J Smith 20 year Tawny, a CharDotto Cabernet Franc version with Dell Dotto providing the red wine and Chateau Charbay (Napa) the brandy, and a Glunz version of Tawny Port. Ports have a higher alcohol content than red wines (~20%) which is added to the wine once it reaches the desired sweetness, and this stops the fermentation process and ups the alcohol content as about 30% of Port is brandy (usually purchased from South Africa in Port from Portugal). With this we had blue cheeses and chocolate coated strawberries – chocolate and blue cheese being excellent accompaniments of Port.

A good time was had by all, and Polio Plus benefitted on Polio Plus Day.

“It’s Game Over”

–submitted by Larry Larrabee; photo by Mike Engelberger

Robert Stauss 10 25 17Our October 25, 2017, program presenter was Robert Stauss, one of the world’s leading experts on technical social engineering.  He has written and lectured on the practice and the mitigation of social engineering-based cyber attacks.  Mr. Stauss is the principal of Burtelson Security Labs, a company that tests private and corporate security measures as well as advising on how to correct the deficiencies he finds.

The presentation began with Mr. Stauss demonstrating the ease with which he could gain entry codes for buildings and offices from entry cards and ID badges that carry entry information using a $400 device disguised in a computer case and standing within inches of an employee.  Once gaining access to an office, it is relatively easy to unlock computers and steal the information including user names and passcodes.

To show how easily information can be found on the web, he used a volunteer from the membership and was able to determine the Rotarian’s date of birth and Social Security number in 12 seconds by simply entering the name of the Rotarian in his laptop.

Mr. Stauss also explained how easily laptop cameras and microphones can be hijacked and used as listening and recording devices for the purposes of spying on unsuspecting users.

The presentation concluded with an invitation for questions, most of which related to how individuals and organizations could protect themselves from the likes of Robert Stauss, a good, white hat, hacker.  In keeping with Halloween next Tuesday, his presentation was really very scary.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

Wisconsin Harvest Dinner A Success!

–submitted by Mary Borland; photos by Jason Beren & Rebecca Prochaska


Our club’s Culinary Arts Fellowship group members and their guests gathered at The Madison Club Monday night, Oct. 23.  After some initial socializing and enjoyment of hors d’oeuvres, they were treated to a cooking demonstration in the kitchen by Chef Stuebing.

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He demonstrated how to prepare the Heritage slow roasted pork loin we’d be enjoying during the meal. In addition to the pork loin, members and guests enjoyed a wonderful pumpkin crab bisque (you don’t see this on the menu very often!) and a wonderful autumn pear tart with honey ice cream.

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Everyone had a good time and shared good fellowship. A bonus was being able to share the evening with two guests–Rotarians from the Netherlands, a physician and an interior decorator, Harmen and Jolanthe Krepel, whose daughter is attending UW-Madison. They had lots of questions for us about our culture and politics and we learned a lot from them, including a bit of trivia about the tulip bulb crash of 1637!

Harvest Dinner Photo1  Selfe

Photo 1: from left: Jolanthe Krepel, Sharon Hoffmanm, Mary & Bob Borland, & Paul Hoffmann; Photo 2: “Selfie” in the kitchen with Chef Stuebing!

Our thanks to Valerie Kazamias for organizing this event for our club!

Ten-Year Journey of the Wisconsin Union

–submitted by Andrea Kaminski; photo by Pete Christianson

Mark Guthier 10 18 2017

Rotarian Eric Salisbury with Mark Guthier (center) and Rotarian Mary Ellen O’Brien

Mark Guthier, Director of the Wisconsin Union at UW-Madison, filled Rotarians in on the 10-year journey of reflection and growth that has resulted in restored, renovated and enhanced facilities for Memorial Union and Union South. He emphasized that the project was “our journey” because there were so many people, including students and many Rotarians, involved in its completion.

The Master Plan for the project was completed in 2004 and announced at the Memorial Union’s 75th Anniversary. Two years later a student referendum approved a student fee of $96 per student per semester in support of the project, and a capital campaign was launched in 2007. Operating revenues will cover the remainder of the $220 million budget.

In 2012 the Wisconsin Union Theater, Hoofers and Craft Shop facilities were closed. The “saddest period in the Union’s history” was when the Terrace was closed for several months, Guthier said. But now all of these facilities – and more – are open and operating and serving the University community. The crowning event was the recent opening of Alumni Park.

There were three goals for the project: infrastructure improvements to update deteriorating or obsolete facilities and meet new student expectations; increased space for student programming, meeting rooms, food service and production storage; and mission enhancements to serve the entire campus better and re-energize the Union’s status as a membership organization.

The project had a new Design Committee appointed annually, including nine students, two alumni, two faculty and two staff members. The Committee was always led by a student and Guthier himself had just one vote. In addition there were multiple advisory groups to ensure that the new facilities would meet the needs of the community.

The Committee abided by design principles that ensured the buildings will be “people magnets,” will advance student programming, and will be timeless and enduring. They strived for green construction and sustainability. Their goal was to achieve LEED Silver status for both buildings, and the prospects look good. Union South has received LEED Gold status, and they are still awaiting the rating for Memorial Union. In addition, the project aimed at making the buildings complementary of each other and welcoming of all University community members. Finally, they wanted the buildings to tell the story of the Union, student leadership on campus, and the state of Wisconsin.

Goals for ongoing operations are to “make every day an event,” operate according to sustainable principles and build community for the entire campus. The Unions must have a customer-first perspective because they rely on program revenue for their existence.

Guthier closed his presentation with a slide show of the renovated facilities and the many celebrations that marked the Union’s 10-year journey. He invited Rotarians to attend two upcoming events: a November 10 celebration of the Memorial Union being on the National Register of Historic Places and the November 11 re-dedication of the Gold Star Honor Roll.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.