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Volume 02 Issue 26

Dear Fellow Rotarians,

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL!

I can hardly believe it’s already 2002. Some of you will have noticed that there were no issues of The Sampan over the Christmas and New Year period, but we’re back with plenty of news and exciting new ventures to catch up on, so please do read on.

The Christmas Dinner on Thursday 20th December was rather short of members, although we had plenty of guests joining us and a good time was had by all (see the pictures on the website). Katherine Ma was our guest speaker that evening and gave us an interesting presentation on phsychic reading.

28th December saw our Annual General Meeting at which PE David announced the results of the nominations for the 2002/2003 Board of Directors. The new team is listed under Club News below and on the website.


David announces the 2002-2003 Board of Directors

We were joined at that meeting by Rtn Laura Chang from RC of Crescent City, Northern California. It was a second visit for Rtn Laura who may be moving with her husband here to HK later this year. We did our best to persuade Laura that RCKN will be the Club to join and look forward to seeing her back.


Rtn Laura Chang exchanges banners with Pres Ramesh

The first meeting this year was held on Friday 4th January, when we were joined by Rtn Toby Doeringer – newly inducted to the RC of HK South. Toby was introduced to Rotary by SAA Frank although the RC of HK South is more convenient for him. He told us a little about his Club’s monthly fund-raising raffle for charities – Club 888. Tickets cost HK$888 per year and there are plenty of prizes to be won every month, from airline tickets to meal vouchers. The funds raised are used to support two of RC HK South’s main service projects – support of lepers in China and an anti-drug programme here in Hong Kong. Anyone interested in purchasing tickets can either visit the website direct athttp://www.rotary3450.org/hongkong-south/index.html to download an application form, or speak to SAA Frank.

President Ramesh presented three members with belated birthday gifts last week: Rtn Raj Mirpuri, who was with us on one of his regular visits from London and whose birthday fell on 25th November; IPP Bill, whose birthday fell on 15th December whilst he was away for the Christmas holidays; and Hon. Treasurer Albert, whose birthday was on 30th December.

Intl Service Director Brian left the meeting early this week as he was giving up his weekend to travel to Guangxi in order to make a speech on the Club’s behalf at the ground-breaking ceremony of the New School’s Project. A translated copy of his speech is included under Club News and a report from his visit will be included on the website shortly. The project, which includes building a Jnr High School and dormitory as well as in-filling a local pond for the sake of good hygiene, commenced on 7th January and is expected to be completed in July 2002, when another major visit will be planned.

Till next week…

Yours in Rotary,
Nicole Burt


SPEAKERS

Last Week (4th January) we were very pleased to welcome back Feng Shui Master, Raymond Lo – better known as “Feng Shui Lo”. He is a Feng Shui Lecturer in the School of Professional and Continual Education of the University of Hong Kong and also offers numerous talks and seminars and crash courses on feng shui and destiny analysis for non-Chinese students, some of whom have become prominent feng shui consultants and authors of famous books on the subject, in their own rights.

Raymond explained that Feng Shui, which literally means wind and water, is knowledge about how the environment affects human well-being. The Chinese believe that there are different kinds of energies. Feng Shui enables us to identify and avoid the bad forces existing in our environment, and exploit the beneficial energy from the environment to enhance our well-being. The technique is commonly used in the selection of residences and offices, and in the interior design for the allocation of functions within the house or office and the placement of furniture and decorative objects to enhance harmony and prosperity. Feng Shui therefore, may also be called the Art of Placement.

He also explained Destiny Analysis which is fortune telling. In ancient Chinese cosmology, the Universe and everything within it is composed of five basic elements – Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth. The Chinese believe that these elements are the basic components of all matters in the Universe, including our lives and our destiny. These elements are not chaotic, they are constantly interacting with one another according to a Cycle of Birth and a Cycle of Destruction – e.g. Metal gives birth to Water, Water to Wood, Wood to Fire, Fire to Earth and Earth to Metal. Conversely Metal destroys Wood, Wood destroys Earth, Earth stops Water, Water puts out Fire, etc. These principals are regarded as the Order of the Universe through which it is possible to forecast the future.

The Chinese calendar is based on animals with last year being the Year of the Snake, which is represented by the elements of metal over fire, resulting in conflict. He told us that the elemental cycles repeat every 60 years and cited the example that 60 years ago – 1941 – saw the bombing of Pearl Harbour.

The elements representing the Year of the Horse (which will commence in February 2002) are water on fire, resulting in even worse conflict. Raymond told us that December and January (which has seen tragedy in Peru; instability in Argentina; bush fires in Australia; building tensions in India and Pakistan; and violence in the Middle East) reflect what will happen during the next year. However, all the news is not bad and we should remember that conflict can also bring opportunity (as has happened in Afghanistan).

The main predictions then for the Year of the Horse are:

1. International conflict
2. Fire & water disaster
3. Accident involving energy / power plant
4. Recovery of the Asian economy
5. Sex scandals / sex crime
6. Sickness involving the heart & blood
7. Air pollution
8. Improvement of the property market
9. An innovative year for the hi-tech industry
10. Industries doing well will be those governed by the elements of wood, earth and water
11. Industries not doing well will be those governed by the elements of fire and metal.

Finally, in answer to our questions, he told us he predicted that Osama bin Laden would not be captured alive. He would be safe throughout January, but very unsafe during the three month period thereafter. Let’s wait and see!

Anyone wanting more information, or to book a personal consultation, can contact Master Lo through his website: www.raymond-lo.com

This Week (Friday 11th January) Valerie Conibear from The Home of Loving Faithfulness – a home for children & adults with physical and mental disabilities – will be our guest speaker.

Friday 18th January: PP Joop Litmaath – Membership Development in Rotary
Friday 25th January: David Williams, HK Police – Money Laundering


WELCOMING COMMITTEES

Friday 11th January: Peter Daswani & Harish Budhrani


NEWS – NEWS – NEWS

DISTRICT NEWS

42nd District Conference – 16th & 17th March 2002.

The District Conference is an annual occasion to further the programme for Rotary through fellowship, inspirational addresses and discussion of matters relating to the affairs of clubs in the District and RI generally.

The Conference will be held at the Shangri-la Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui East on 16th & 17th March 2002. The official Conference opening will begin at 2.00 pm on Saturday 16th and the registration fees for participants will be paid for by the Club (as has been past practice).

There will be a pre-conference Golf fellowship tournament for Conference participants, hosted by Rotary Club of Hong Kong Island West at the Hong Kong Golf Club, Fanling, N.T. on Friday, March 8, 2002, and a pre-conference Cruise on Sunday 10th March 2002.

One of the highlights in the Governor’s Banquet on 16th March 2002 will be the special Awards Presentations. Winners of various Awards will be announced and presented by invited celebrities at the ceremony. The procedures for nominating candidates for these awards have already been e-mailed to you by President Ramesh.


CLUB NEWS

Directors for 2002-2003

President – David Lindsay
President Elect – Nic Robinson
Vice President – Brian Wong
Hon. Secretary – Nicole Burt
Hon. Treasurer – Albert Lam
Sergeant at Arms – Chris Richardson
Club Service – Nic Robinson
Community Service – Howard Davies
Vocational Service – Susan Young
Fellowship – PP Bruce Stinson & PP Gilbert Collins
International Service – PP Bill Benter
Attendance – PP Gary Harilela
Membership/Class – PP Michael Harilela
Ex Officio – IPP Ramesh Chugani
Advisor – PDG Joseph Lee
Household Maintenance Service for the Elderly

International Service Director Brian is arranging a visit to St James Settlement at 10.00 am on Sunday 27th January, to inspect the decoration/maintenance sites of flats for the elderly. This Rotary year, our Club has contributed HK$50,000 to St. James Settlement for use on their household maintenance service for the elderly who are living alone and this visit will show us how their volunteers decorate and maintain the flats.

Anyone interested should please respond to Rtn Brian by e-mail. Further details will be announced as soon as possible.
Visit to Children’s Orphanage in Nanchang

Volunteers are sought for the trip to Nanchang in Jiangxi Province, China to visit orphans and foster children from the local orphanage during the weekend of 1st – 3rd February, which is being organised by Les Whittle of Holt China Children’s Services and Rtn Nicole. There are 120 foster children and a similar number in the orphanage and we need as many volunteers as possible, as each of us will be carrying 2 suitcases of toys and other much needed provisions which are being donated by Crossroads International. We will also be taking with us, some of the cleft palate bottles which the Club has provided.

The expected expenses and a rough itinerary for the trip are as follows:
Friday 1st: Depart HK – MU5018 11.25 am (arrive 12.40 pm). Afternoon free for sightseeing.
Saturday 2nd: Visit orphanage/foster families.
Sunday 3rd: Depart Nanchang – MU5019 08.55 am (arrive 10.15 am)

2 nights in Lakeview Hotel @ US$87.
Return flight HK-NC-HK. US$325.

Nanchang is a historical cultural city with plenty to see, so it would be an ideal trip for bringing your partners with you. Please e-mail me at nicoleb@omipost.omigroup.com as soon as possible as we need to give Crossroads plenty of advance notice of how many suitcases we can take with us. Even if you can’t commit until the last week, get yourselves a visa now.


New Schools Project – Guangxi (translation of speech delivered by Rtn Brian)

Honorable Du’An County Governor, Officials, School Headmasters, Teachers, Guests, Fellow Rotarians and Students. It is my great honor to be here today representing Rotary Club of Kowloon North to attend this ceremony.

I remember that the first time when I came to Du’An half a year ago, I was very impressed by what I saw. The resource for creating a good study environment here was very limited, nevertheless, the students studied very hard and the academic performance was very outstanding. Also I could feel that the government officials and the school authority tried their very best to re-allocate all available resources on the education. Meantime they put much effort to source other funding resources for developing the education. Here, I would like to express the deepest thanks on behalf of Du’An students to the school and government officials for all their efforts.

And – Rotary Club of Macau – their members have visited Du’An more than 5 – 6 times. They donate money, contribute their efforts and their precious time. Their unselfish behavior is a good model for us to learn. I would like to express my sincere thanks to Rotary Club of Macau for what they have done and recommendation of this project to us.

Actually, Rotary is an international family, like our two clubs, members of which are coming from Hong Kong, Macau, Portugal, India, United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, and so on. With different background, we don’t talk about politics but just one common goal, that is to unite business and professional leaders worldwide so as to provide humanitarian service and help build goodwill and peace in the world, and make the world a better place for all people regardless of what country they live in. And this school project is one of the projects in our International Service.

Once again I would like to thank the local government for the considerable time you have spent in showing us the situation and the most needs here. You have thus helped us, Rotary Clubs, to contribute in some small way in creating a better learning environment for Du’An students and thus raising the people’s quality, and at the same time, promoting international understanding and good will between people of all countries – All these are Rotary objectives.

Mankind is Our Business.
Thank You.


RCKN Betting Syndicate

At the suggestion of PP M.S., a Rotary Club of Kowloon North horse betting syndicate is being formed. The syndicate’s betting will be directed by IPP Bill and the rules are as follows:

1) Duration Jan 5, 2002 to June 16, 2002 (46 race meetings)
2) Unit Size $HK 5,000
3) Minimum subscription = 1 Unit
4) Maximum subscription = 2 Units
5) 10% of net profit will be donated to the Club’s charity fund
6) 10% of any net loss will be donated by IPP Bill to the Club’s charity fund.
7) Each participant will receive back his original investment plus a share of any profits (minus the 10% donation to the Club) at the regular meeting on 21st June 2002.
8) Participants may withdraw at any time and receive back the value of their units at that time (minus 10% of any profit)
9) Participants may not increase their units after 11th January (to simplify book-keeping).
10) Offer limited to members in good standing of the Rotary Club of Kowloon North.
11) Subscription period will close on Jan. 11th 2002

Betting will be conservative with a maximum one meeting loss of around 25%. For those who stay in for the duration, the chance of having a net loss is estimated to be less than 5% (however, it should be remembered that a significant loss is a possibility). The expected result for the full duration is a profit of 50% to 150%.

Treasurer Albert will be the custodian of the funds and participants should make cheques payable to the Rotary Club of Kowloon North and send them to Albert. The current value of each unit will be regularly reported in “The Sampan”.


THIS WEEK IN HISTORY …

Sunday 6th January
1412 – Joan of Arc was born
1540 – King Henry VIII of England was married to Anne of Cleves, his fourth wife.
1942 – The first commercial around-the-world airline flight took place. Pan American Airlines was the company that made history with the feat.

Monday 7th January
1558 – Calais, the last English possession on mainland France, was recaptured by the French.
1610 – Galileo Galilei sighted four of Jupiter’s moons. He named them Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.
1990 – The Leaning Tower of Pisa was closed to the public. The accelerated rate of “leaning” raised fears for the safety of its visitors.

Tuesday 8th January
1877 – Crazy Horse (Tashunca-uitco) and his warriors fought their final battle against the US Cavalry in Montana.
1992 – US President George Bush “collapsed” and threw up on Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa’s lap during a state dinner in Tokyo. White House officials said Bush was suffering from stomach flu.
1998 – Scientists announced that they had discovered that galaxies were accelerating and moving apart and at faster speeds.

Wednesday 9th January
1799 – British prime minister William Pitt the Younger introduced income tax, at two shillings (10p) in the pound, to raise funds for the Napoleonic Wars.
1905 – In Russia, the civil disturbances known as the Revolution of 1905 forced Czar Nicholas II to grant some civil rights.
1972 – The ocean liner Queen Elizabeth was destroyed by fire in Hong Kong harbor.

Thursday 10th January
1840 – The penny post, whereby mail was delivered at a standard charge rather than paid for by the recipient, began in Britain.
1863 – Prime Minister Gladstone opened the first section of the London Underground Railway system, from Paddington to Farringdon Street.
1949 – Vinyl records were introduced by RCA (45 rpm) and Columbia (33.3 rpm).

Friday 11th January
1569 – England’s first state lottery was held.
1770 – The first shipment of rhubarb was sent to the United States from London
1922 – At Toronto General Hospital, Leonard Thompson became the first person to be successfully treated with insulin.

Saturday 12th January
49 BC – Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon River signaling a war between Rome and Gaul.
1875 – Kwang-su was made emperor of China.
1896 – H.L. Smith took the first x-ray photograph. It was the hand of a corpse with a bullet in it.


DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

Sunday 13th January: The District Sports Day will be held at the Wanchai Sports Ground from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.

Friday 1st – Sunday 3rd February: Visit to orphans in Nanchang, China with Holt China Children’s Services, to deliver Chinese New Year gifts and other needed provisions. Departing HK at 11.25 am on 1st Feb and returning at 10.15 am on 3rd Feb

Saturday 23rd February: Rotary World Understanding and Peace Day.

Sunday 3rd March: The District Badminton Tournament 2001-2002 is being organised by the RC of Peninsula South, at Western Park Indoor Games Hall. The tournament will start at 9.00 am and is expected to finish by 4.00 pm. The fees are HK$250 per person per event, with water and a sandwich lunch included. The events will be Men’s Doubles, Men’s Singles, Ladies’ Doubles, Ladies’ Singles and Mixed Doubles. For enquiries contact P.F. Tsui at Tel : 93054112, Email : pftsui@hotmail.com.

Saturday 16th March: District Conference to be held at the Kowloon Shangri-La Hotel.

Sunday 21st April: District Tree Planting Day


FROM THE BREADBASKET

Angels, Once in a While
(Author Unknown – Submitted by Rtn Ron Kemp)

In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket. Their father was gone. The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two.

Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared. Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their beds. He did manage to leave 15 dollars to buy groceries.

Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either. If there was a welfare system in effect in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it.

I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress. I loaded them into the rusty old ’51 Chevy and drove off to find a job. The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town. No luck. The kids stayed crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince whomever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have a job. Still no luck. The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop. It was called the Big Wheel. An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids. She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven in the morning.

She paid 65 cents an hour and I could start that night.

I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people. I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep. This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal. That night when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job.

And so I started at the Big Wheel. When I got home in the mornings, I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money – fully half of what I averaged every night. As the weeks went by, heating bills added another strain to my meager wage. The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home. One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat. New tires! There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires. Had angels taken up residence in Indiana? I wondered.

I made a deal with the owner of the local service station. In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office. I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires. I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn’t enough. Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids. I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys. Then I hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning. Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boys pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair.

On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. These were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe. A few musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine. The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up.

When it was time for me to go home at seven o’clock on Christmas morning I hurried to the car. I was hoping the kids wouldn’t wake up before I managed to get home and get the presents from the basement and place them under the tree. (We had cut down a small cedar tree by the side of the road down by the dump.) It was still dark and I couldn’t see much, but there appeared to be some dark shadows in the car or was that just a trick of the night? Something certainly looked different, but it was hard to tell what.

When I reached the car I peered warily into one of the side windows. Then my jaw dropped in amazement. My old battered Chivvy was full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes. I quickly opened the driver’s side door, scrambled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat. Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was a whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10! I looked inside another box. It was full of shirts to go with the jeans. Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes. There were candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was a whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items. And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll. As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude. And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning. Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long ago December. And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop.

I BELIEVE IN ANGELS! They live next door, around the corner, work in your office, patrol your neighborhood, call you at midnight to hear you laugh and listen to you cry, teach your children, and you see them everyday without even knowing it!


AND FINALLY ….

The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That is an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used? Because that is the way they built them in England, and English expatriates built the US railroads. Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre railroad tramways, and that is the gauge they used. Why did “they” use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used the same wheel spacing.

Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that’s the spacing of the wheel ruts.

So who built those old rutted roads? Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (and England) for their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts in the roads? Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for (or by) Imperial Rome, they all had the same wheel spacing. The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot.

Specifications and bureaucracies live forever. So the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horses’ behind came up with it, you may be exactly right. This is because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war-horses.

Now, the twist to the story…
There is an interesting extension to the story about railroad gauges and horses’ behinds. When we see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs.

Thiokol makes the SRBs at their factory at Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track is about as wide as two horses’ behinds. So, a major design feature of what is arguably the world’s most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horses behind!