Surf Beat: April 25th, 2017

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April 25th, 2017


Welcome & Introductions: President Ken King opened the meeting with a quote from his grandfather, “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. Gracious acceptance is an art – an art which most never bother to cultivate. We think that we have to learn how to give, but we forget about accepting things, which can be much harder than giving….Accepting another person’s gift is allowing him to express his or her feelings for you.


Invocation: Pat Stouffer, also touting the thoughtful skills of President Ken’s grandfather, shared some pearls of wisdom: Just because you can does not mean you should.


Pledge:  Kevin Quinn


Song:  Bob Teaff, with hopes of a Padres winning season, led the club in Take Me Out to the Ballgame.


Rotary Welcomed

  • Christina Curtin, from Coronado Rotary and Director of Development at Fresh Start Surgical Gifts
  • Shari Brasher, speaker and CEO/Executive Director of Fresh Start
  • Rotarian Tom Cohen, from Club 33 is originally from Kansas City and currently living in La Jolla
  • Charles Heberle, Rotarian and President of the US Russia Intercountry Committee, which leads youth exchanges and unique travel experiences to Russia
  • Rick Scholss, guest of Charles Hartford has been in the PR and marketing industry for nearly 40 years, specializing in business and sports. Charles credits Rick with getting him on KUSI.
  • Rich Velasquez, guest of Laurnie Durisoe, is with Banner Bank and looking forward to becoming a member of La Jolla Rotary Club and thanked the club for welcoming him each week.
  • Don Carlson, guest of John Trifiletti, is a past member on the Board of Directors at Bishop’s School and now with Fresh Start.
  • Ken Landgren, guest of Sally Fuller


  • No birthdays
  • Happy Anniversary to Sook Hansen, who could not attend due to illness. The club wishes her and her husband a Happy Anniversary.

Club/Committee/Event Announcements:


  • Cocktails with Ken, May 21st, at the Pantai Inn, 1003 Coast Blvd, La Jolla. First 10 drinks will be on Ken. Owner Laurnie Durisoe promises to provide large drinks, therefore, Ken recommends everyone Uber over!
  • Bob Pecora spoke about STRIVE, which was founded by Burton Housman as a great educational program for students at-risk for not graduating on time. STRIVE at Garfield High School encourages these students to go to college and gives them the opportunity to most often be the first person in their family to go on to post-secondary education. The students usually receive $500 scholarships and he is hoping for $800 this year. Bob asked for Rotary volunteers for the interview process to select the next STRIVE students, at Garfield High School, May 5th, 8:30am.
  • Wade Aschbrenner announced the Rotary and Riford Scholarship program interview process will also be held Saturday, May 6th, at 8am, at Craig Schniepp’s real estate office, Berkshire Hathaway, 1299 Prospect Street, La Jolla and asked for volunteers to please join him for this important program.
  • Judy Nelson announced 15 Rotarians and their families volunteered to help at the water station for the La Jolla Half Marathon.


  • Will Creekmur shared that he again ran the La Jolla Half Marathon in board shorts, white t-shirt and flip flops and beat his time from last year by 30 seconds. He also proudly announced that La Jolla Rotary will get to keep the trophy in our duel with the Kiwanis, because the Kiwanis runner was a no-show!

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  • Gifts from Ken: Ken gave Sally Fuller a Rotary car mug, a black Rotary hat to John Trifiletti, and Ted Rutter offered $20 for an unopened, surprise gift which was a black coffee mug.



Happy Bucks:

  • Mark Leinenweber, introduced his daughter Tina and offered $20 for his absence from club meetings during the tax season.
  • Susan Stevens announced she and Dave Weston will be departing for Spain to walk a seven-week pilgrimage along the historic Camino de Santiago.


  • Bob Pecora enjoyed his highly scenic travels to Mexico reporting a great trip.
  • David Weston reported on Rotarian David Goodell who had a stroke but who is improving. Caroline says he enjoys visitors.
  • Penny Shurtleff shared that her son turned 39 again, as did she, and they celebrated at Disneyland Club 33 and had fun on 18 rides and thoroughly enjoyed he special day together.
  • President Ken announced he told Carlos Malamud, an honorary Rotary Club member who lives in Florida, that he should donate $500 instead of the $100 Carlos had offered. Carlos heeded Ken’s advice and donated $500 and received a diamond Rotary pin.



President-elect John Trifiletti introduced Shari Brasher, CEO/Executive Director and Christina Curtin, Director of Development of Fresh Start Surgical Gifts, Inc.  It is a  non-profit, which for more than 24-years, has been dedicated to providing reconstructive surgery and related healthcare services to disadvantaged children with physical deformities. Fresh Start shared a 16 minute moving and impactful video demonstrating their dedicated and transformational work of many of the children they operated on over the years.

As CEO and Executive Director since 2004, Brasher has expanded Fresh Start to help more than 8,000 children with more than 35-million-dollars in reconstructive plastic surgery and related medical care. She was also the driving force in opening the Fresh Start Clinic at Rady Children’s Hospital in 2009 and the partnership with the University of Chicago Medicine’s Comer Children’s Hospital in 2014. Fresh Start is a highly inspirational organization that transforms the lives of children impacted by deformities and the ability to function in society. These children often feel less intelligent, stigmatized, cursed, cast aside, ostracized in society, turn to substance abuse, and become victims of violence. Fresh Start gives opportunity by providing plastic and reconstructive surgery giving the children self-confidence, which in turn changes attitudes of others towards them. After surgery and recovery, the children experience a transformed life impacting their confidence and self-esteem forever. Their families are deeply grateful for the gift Fresh Start provides for their children and their future.

Fresh Start brings children from around the world to Rady’s Children’s Hospital for a weekend, one of eight weekends annually, to be operated on and cared for by a staff of 100 volunteers including doctors, nurses, host parents, drivers, etc, providing world-class care. Some of their operations have included cleft palate, reconstruction for missing body parts including an ear, eye and a jawbone, as well as facial reconstruction. Lucio, one of the children with a cleft palate received 18 surgeries over 22 years. The reward for the Fresh Start team is to see the outcomes of the lives of the children they treat, many of whom go on to college, and even medical school. That’s where Lucio is now completing his third year, and looking forward to helping others in the same way Fresh Start has transformed his life. He even looks forward to having children who he hopes will become surgeons as well.

Fresh Start now has established a collaborative with University of Chicago and working toward a partnership in Texas as well. La Jolla Rotary Club members asked many questions and thanked Shari and Christina for sharing their inspirational and heart-warming story about the great work they are doing right here in San Diego, for children around the world. They welcomed Rotarians to join their team of compassionate volunteers.


President, Ken closed the meeting with a quote by his grandmother, “Every sunrise is an invitation for us to arise and brighten someone’s day. Service is a smile. It is an acknowledging wave, a reaching handshake a friendly wink, and a warm hug. It’s these simple acts that matter most, because the greatest service to a human soul has always been the kindness of recognition.  It is the apathetic person that sees the cause while the charitable person sees the need.”

The meeting was adjourned

Where in the World is Mark Christopher? 

Nancy Gardner was the first one to guess right! Mark Christopher is on a Cruise Ship Overseas. Where Exactly? Cartagena, Spain!
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  Photos by David Shaw, Judy Nelson, and Deb Plotkin.  Reported by Deb Plotkin. Edited by Susan Farrell. 

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Language: Long Short Story

A month ago my daughter Josie, who is 10 going on 27, asked me if she could send a text message to her uncle Dave. She wanted to thank him for sending us a crepe pan, which I have used – at Josie’s direction – nearly every morning since its arrival.

So I gave her my phone, and off she went to her room. Fifteen minutes later, I found her still there, hunched over the device, thumbs a-blazin’

“Are you and Uncle Dave texting back and forth? ” I asked.

“Nope. I’m just finishing up!” She tapped a few more keys, sent the message off with a soft whoop, and handed me the phone.

I assumed she had written a rather lengthy note, at least by text standards. In fact, her message consisted of five words and one piece of punctuation (Thanks for the crepe pan!) followed by no fewer than 217 emojis.

Emojis, if you don’t know – and I didn’t, until a couple of years ago – are those little pictographic symbols you can send by text, such as a yellow smiley face or a red heart.

I myself have sent a few emojis to my wife, usually the little yellow kissing face that’s on the main menu of my phone. But Josie had somehow accessed an entire library of emojis, a dizzying array of images.

I could decipher the meaning of some. For instance, the burrito, which looked sort of like a crepe. She had included 67 chili peppers, which made sense, because Dave’s nickname is Uncle Chili Peppers, owing to a childhood prank in which he fooled me into eating a hot pepper. I also sort of understood why she had included images of popcorn, pizza, chocolate, and cookies – her favorite foods.

But some of the emojis were simply baffling. Why the 37 little red cars?

“Those are for Cousin Daniel,” Josie explained cheerfully. “He’s learning to drive, right?”

“What about these things?” I said.

“Those are chicks hatching from eggs,” she explained. “They have chickens at their house. I’m just asking if the chickens have had any chicks yet.”

“What about the monkeys?”

“Oh, I just like those. They’re funny.” Josie looked at me with an expression poised somewhere between contempt and pity. “Why do you have to take everything so literally, Papa?”

Yes, why indeed? As someone who has devoted his life to writing, I couldn’t help but see Josie’s odd epistle as emblematic of our historical moment. How, exactly, did we get to the point where the very use of letters and words feels outdated? And what should those of us dedicated to the antique pleasures of word-based communication make of it?

To get to the bottom of all this, it’s probably best to go back to the beginning.

In the beginning, there was the word.

Actually, scratch that. It’s not quite right. In the beginning, so far as we know, there weren’t actually any words. There were grunts and gestures and probably a good bit of yelling. At some point, our ancestors began scratching symbols into the dirt and painting pictures on the walls of caves.

Around the time primitive people started using tools – which occupied our hands – we developed a set of common sounds that allowed us to understand each other. Then we created abstract symbols (letters) that could be combined to represent these sounds. This led to the written word.

Of course, various cultures used pictorial images rather than letters – the ancient Egyptians, the Sumerians, the Maya.

But the basic trend when it comes to language has been pretty steady: We’ve developed ever more sophisticated linguistic habits to help us explain – and communicate with one another in – an increasingly complex world.

That is, until about a decade ago. That’s when emojis entered the cultural lexicon, and the acceleration of their use has been breathtaking. The percentage of Americans who use emojis already stood at 74 percent four years ago. There are emoji-only social networks in development, along with a feature film. And some poor soul has translated the entirety of Moby-Dick into emoji.

The question now is: Does the rampant proliferation of emojis represent a return to an image-based language? And if so, are we regressing when it comes to literacy?

Before I try to answer those big, scary questions, it’s important to understand how human beings talk to one another in the digital age: mostly through screens. In 2010, a Pew Research Center study revealed that teenagers use text messages more than any other form of conversation. Face-to-face interactions ranked third.

But this isn’t a generational phenomenon. Think about your own life: How many interactions do you conduct per day on social media sites or via email or instant messages or text? How many in person?

So the real issue here is the radical shift in how we communicate. The problem we’re up against is one that psychologist Albert Mehrabian identified way back in the 1960s: It turns out that very little of our meaning is bound up in the words we speak. (Mehrabian put the figure at 7 percent.) Far more important than what we say is how we say it – tone, body language, facial expressions, and gestures.

Because so much of this nonverbal information is lost when we communicate using devices, emojis have become a default system for conveying affect in the internet age.

When I asked the college students I teach about emojis, they talked about how much quicker and easier it is to send someone an emoji of two hands clapping than to tap out a cluster of words.

This struck me as absurd. How long would it really take to type, “I’m so proud of you. Congrats”? But that was me thinking like a 50-year-old, not a 20-year-old who has grown up using the telegraphic shorthand of text messages.

And truth be told, my own use of emojis stems from the same impulse. I send my wife that image of a kissing face because it’s a single image that conveys the message that I miss her, I’m crazy about her, and I can’t wait to kiss her when I get home.

So why not just type those words? Or call her? Mostly because I’m on my way into class. Or I have a student waiting to see me. Or sometimes (I admit) I’m at a red light.

My undergraduates also talk a lot about how emojis feel like a “safe” way to relate. They mean this in two ways. The first has to do with the distinct nature of internet communication. When we don’t talk face-to-face, there’s a lot more room for misunderstanding and even hostility. Emojis – bright, playful, and almost invariably upbeat – are a way to counteract that negative energy.

But emojis are also safe in another way: They allow people to communicate emotions without having to be too explicit. It’s this facet of emoji use, frankly, that I find troubling.

One student recently told me about an exchange she had with a romantic prospect who attended another college. He sent her a text one Saturday night asking if she wanted to hang out (he included a wine bottle emoji) and mentioned that he might need a place to crash.

She replied with a yes and a smiley face, but felt this might be sending the wrong signal. So she closed her text by typing, “Don’t worry, I’ve got a comfy …” then used the couch emoji. He sent back a frowning face, then a winking face.

She had no idea what to make of that. And the guy never showed up.

We can probably agree that she was better off without this particular suitor. But the larger point is that these two had used pictographs to avoid an awkward but necessary conversation about what his visit would mean.

To me, this episode reveals two conflicting truths.

The first is that human thoughts and feelings remain too complex, too abstract, and too nuanced to be captured by images alone. We need words to make ourselves understood. So I’m not one of those techno-fatalists who believe emojis are going to replace writing.

But the second truth is that our addiction to the convenience of screen-based communication often keeps us from revealing our true selves.

It’s easier, and safer, to tap a button and generate a friendly glyph than it is to confess more precisely how we’re feeling. The writer in me is pretty sure that pattern is only going to make us feel more isolated in the end.

Rest assured, I’ll still be sending my wife an occasional emoji. But not as a substitute for sentiments that should be said to her directly. There’s no shortcut to the human heart.

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Club Meetings Unless otherwise noted, all club meetings are Tuesday, 12:00 noon – 1:30 p.m. at La Valencia Hotel, 1132 Prospect St., La Jolla (Map)  Check out the Upcoming Guest Speakers on the Club Calendar


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