Ann Arbor Rotary Harpoon


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Harpoon for the Week of August 16, 2017

Wednesday's Luncheon Meeting will be in the
Michigan Union's Anderson Room

GTO Volunteers Please Sign Up 11 am Aug 16
DOGS to Build Beds
August 30 Meeting to be at Weber's

Larry Collins:
A Vision for the Ann Arbor Fire Department

The mission of the Ann Arbor Fire Department is “to efficiently and professionally protect the residents and visitors of the City of Ann Arbor from adverse effects of fires, sudden medical emergencies or exposure to dangerous conditions created by man or nature that may threaten their lives or property. We strive to do so using a wide variety of programs varying from prevention to response in a safe and courteous manner.“  The man leading this effort is Larry Collins, the Ann Arbor Fire Chief since late 2014.  Larry came to Ann Arbor after serving for five years as fire chief for Brevard County Fire-Rescue in Brevard County, FL.  Prior to that, Larry spent 30 years of service with the Dayton Fire Department, from which he retired as director and fire chief in 2008.  Please join us to hear one of  our own Rotarians, Larry Collins, talk about the state of the Ann Arbor fire department and the focus of the department for the future. 

Song Leader:  Dave Keosaian
Accompanist:  Deanna Relyea
Inspirational Speaker: Pam Smith

Greeters:  Peter Brown, Jeannine Buchanan 

Attendance:  Bob Buchanan, Ian Bund


Upcoming Meetings and Events

  • August 16, 7:30 am: Board Meeting, United Way, 2305 Platt Rd, Ann Arbor, MI, John Ackenhusen
  • August 16, 11:00 am: G&TO Committee Open Meeting, John Simpkins
  • August 24 (Thurs): Rollin' on the Detroit River Social Event (
  • Sept 8 (Fri): LAST G&TO Executive Committee, 9:00 a.m., Bank of Ann Arbor, Plymouth Road
  • Sept 11 (Mon):  Golf & Tennis Outing, Travis Pointe Country Club  
  • Sept 17 (Sun): Playscape Grand Opening, Chuck Blackmer
  • Sept 23 (Sat): One Rotary Summit (details later at
  • Oct 11 (Wed): New member induction and orientation
  • March 15-17 (Thurs-Sat): District Conference at Eagle Crest
  • June 23-27 (Sun-Wed): Rotary International Convention in Toronto

If you would like  your meeting to appear here, email
Details on monthly meetings may be found on the club's website.


Notes of Interest

Golf and Tennis Outing signing up volunteers at 8/16 meeting
The Golf and Tennis Outing is almost here, and the GTO Committee still needs your support. They will be signing up volunteers before Wednesday's meeting. If you can spare some time on Monday, September 11, please let them know this week! Click here to sign up by email. A special email message with information on how to sign up on-line to participate as a diner, golfer, tennis player or sponsor will be coming out soon.
DOGS to build beds
The Doers of Good Service, or DOGS for short, in conjunction with the Community Allocations Committee, will be assembling bunk beds for needy families with the local non-profit, Friends In Deed, on Saturday, August 25th. Greg Stejskal, Brian McLaughlin and Phil Weiss will be assembling the beds, which were purchased with an AA Rotary Club Grant of $5,000.  Volunteers are needed for future bed assembly dates.  Please contact,  if you'd like to volunteer.   
August 30th meeting to be at Weber's
In order to avoid the chaos on campus during move-in week and to try out the venue we will have starting next May, we will be holding our August 30 meeting at Weber's Inn. Details will be coming later but what you can expect is a slightly higher cost for lunch offset by free parking.
Don't these guys look happy? These are the Rotarians that attended the latest Happy Hour at Casa Dominick's. Jake McLouth (right) says to watch the schedule for the next one, which should take place near the end of September.

Notes from the Meeting

To begin the meeting, everyone in the Anderson Room rose to belt out “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Past President Jim Irwin then came to the podium and illuminated for the audience the true meaning of his song, “R-O-T-A-R-Y”: Relaxing with friends; Opportunity - to interact with others who share the same high values; Teamwork – we work together; Action - Rotarians are "People of Action"; Remembering our heritage and past members; Youthful vigor [of our younger members] – “grasp it!”
Past President Ingrid Sheldon then led us in wonderful renditions of “Daisy Bell,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” and “In My Merry Oldsmobile,” all in honor of our distinguished speaker. Just the tunes to make you want to don your old motoring dusters. Great choices, Ingrid!
DOGS Update
DOGS Chair Phil Weiss was asked by John to update the assembly on current and future DOGS projects. “We were able to donate $5,000 to the organization, Friends-In-Deed. Our grant enabled us to buy 14 beds…We’ll need help on some weekends in August and September to put the beds together.” If you would like to help Phil and the DOGS, please let him know. Exact dates will be provided later.
Golf & Tennis Outing
GTO Chair John Simpkins then informed the assembly that players, volunteers, and auction items are still needed for the G&TO on Monday, September 11, at Travis Pointe Country Club. “I’m taking checks TODAY!” John asserted several times, “It’s an opportunity for fun and relaxation.” Please consider participating in what John rightly describes as “our biggest annual fund raiser.”
President John reiterated the message and then pointed out, “We have another BIG thing coming up: the Universal Access Playground, right after the G&TO.”        
Next, members and guests were treated to an event unseen for a year or so; a special performance by our multitalented president – both musical and physical; in short, a rap. Titled “Freed To Play: Spirit of Liberty,” John stated his song “is based on a march…written before Louis Elbel’s ‘The Victors.’” What followed was a delicious admixture of Vaudeville, the Apollo Theater, and personal testimony. Finally “Hamilton” has a challenger with teeth. Some excerpts:
“I want to go away/To the playground and play/But the curb is too high/Blocks my wheelchair’s way.
“But her mother had found/A new playground/Accessible to all/Even wheelchair bound.
“Trees shade the route/Where kids will scoot/A toadstool, lily pads/Slicky slides and a chute.
“But why is it here?/This playground we cheer/How did it come to be/For our kids far and near?
“Ann Arbor Rotary/Anniversary --/ One hundred years of service/We want all to see.
“It was Rotary/And the DNC/And the City of Ann Arbor/Served as project emcee.
“So come one, come all/Folks large and small/Mobility-challenged/Or walking tall.”
Following his performance, John again highlighted our Club’s new service – Rotary Welcomer: “It is for people who would like to talk with someone about Rotary.” He urged members interested in helping as a welcomer to contact chair Sally Hart Petersen. After John’s rap, Sally was no doubt swamped.
Lutz shines a light on the future of the auto industry
Very soon our joint salaries would be enough for us to buy a car. It seemed a waste to spend your money furnishing a flat rather than getting the means of transport. I would learn to drive, I decided, and then think what glorious freedom would be ours when we went on our travels! – Simone de Beauvoir, 1938
Peter Brown, retired publisher of Automotive News, introduced our speaker, iconic automotive executive Bob Lutz. “A former Marine pilot, he is an astute student of human nature and has built cars that people actually wanted to buy,” Peter began, “As a writer at Automotive News I sometimes ‘heard back’ from Bob Lutz [subtle audience laughter as Peter looked over to Mr. Lutz].”
Peter went on to describe Mr. Lutz’s rise through the automotive ranks, first with General Motors’ European division, then as Executive VP of Sales with BMW (he is, after all, Swiss-American, and can speak five languages). After stellar service with Ford Motor Company (Executive VP and member of its Board of Directors) and Chrysler Corporation, where he served under Lee Iacocca as head of Global Product Development, Lutz became Vice Chairman of General Motors.
Hearty applause greeted our speaker, who immediately launched into a Rotary reminiscence: “I was a member when I was Executive Vice President in Europe. Maybe it’s a European-American difference, but I don’t remember song and dance numbers.”
After receiving another ovation he told a joke about a monk who, once every five years, was granted a two-word reprieve from his vow of silence. His 20-year list of ‘communications’ was comprised of the following: “’floor cold…food bad…bed hard…I quit!’” To which the abbot replies “’That’s fine, since you’ve done nothing but complain since you got here.’”
He then went right to the subject of his speech: “I’m going to speak on the future of transportation. Most of us have lived through the Golden Age of private ownership of the automobile – for work, travel, pleasure, freedom. [Those have been] the prime movers.” Now the straight dope – “It has about 20 years left to live.” Lutz painted a verbal picture of the days of predominance of the horse, “for thousands of years. I want you to think about that horse analogy; [cars] will not be on the roads. They’ll be on racetracks for private enjoyment…Autonomous vehicles are coming whether we like them or not.”
Mr. Lutz then outlined the coming four stages of change:
  1. Experimental: “A car [autonomous] senses another [human driven] and falls back. Your car keeps falling back.”
  2. “Stage Two is more or less what Tesla is doing now…Elon Musk has the right idea, he’s just going in the wrong direction, with tunnels underground.”
  3. Road Digitization: “Certainly every road in the developed world will be digitized to within four inches…sensors in a car will [read] mapped roads.” Remarking on GM’s seeming delay in entering the new reality, Lutz admitted, “They [GM management] knew they couldn’t rely on vehicle sensors alone, so they entered Stage 2 bordering on Stage 3 [road digitization and mapping].”
  4. “A completely autonomous car…electric ‘modules’. You will be blended into the vehicle flow.” Then, removing the results of road-rage in one swoop, he posited, “There will be no domination of lesser vehicles [and drivers] on the highway.” This somewhat gray Orwellian sameness is relieved, says Lutz, “by the car becoming a play space for anything you want to do in it.” In reaction to the inevitable giggles, Lutz observed, “What a bunch of dirty-minded people….”
“The public will accept it whether they think so today or not,” declared Lutz. In any case, the initiative will not be with the masses: “It will be the big fleets that will lead it – Uber, FedEx, etc – not the public. When the autonomous fleets grow to about 30% [of total road traffic], the governments will [mandate].” Lutz asserted the day of change is closer than the insiders think – “The auto companies are projecting 40 years, but I think it’s actually closer to 20.”
Indeed, he believes the majors’ plans for future product design is largely “’whistling past the graveyard’…Auto companies are saying, ‘We’ll make better modules.’” Forget it. “The value will be with the large purveyors of transportation, the fleets,” he emphasized, “you won’t own the car; you’ll call the purveyor and they’ll have a module at your door in 15 minutes.” (Shades of the traffic scene in Tom Cruise’s “Oblivion,” with plexi pods moving like blood corpuscles?)
Lutz underscored his forecast, a situation similar to the revenue erosion of newspapers twenty years ago (and the argument for ‘content irrelevance’), by professing starkly: “When you lose control of your brand, everything goes.
The smart people in the auto industry realize the value will be captured by [service]…Cars will become commodities.” So, after 130 years of automobiles, it seems to this reporter, the Gillette business model wins.
Coming to the conclusion of his riveting speech, Mr. Lutz asked, “Is there a car dealer here? Every Rotary club has a dealer in it.” A galaxy of fingers pointed to Howard Cooper, the room ringing with good-natured laughter. “Retired,” Howard stressed. “Good!” Lutz replied. The implication, of course, is that the auto dealing industry is approaching Judgment Day. “I say all this with quite a bit of sadness, as a life-long car guy,” he admitted. “I rushed to drive my father’s car, to get my license.”
Then, citing the constant flow of accident news, tales of road-rage, and the omnipresent traffic jams in cities like Chicago and L.A., Lutz offered that the changes “will be a boon to humanity – in safety and comfort.” Referring again to the time question, he observed, “Our ability to change things is happening faster and faster. These things don’t take 50 years anymore because of [synergies between] technologies. The Feds will say, ‘Okay, in five years human driven cars will be taken off the road. Some people will still drive, but they’ll be doing it on private tracks.” Members and guests gave Mr. Lutz a standing ovation.
Normally, for reasons of space, individual questions are not highlighted. They were so germane in this case, however, that they appear here:
Eric Lipson asked about the threat to the common programming systems of autonomous vehicles from “terrorists, hackers, and other evil-doers.” Lutz acknowledged the threat, but maintained that offenses perpetrated by the one side would be effectively countered by governments and industry. “They will be dealt with,” Lutz insisted.
Carolyn Grawi made the case for people with disabilities, that accessibility could be made difficult by module design. “It’s good news,” he countered. “People with any disability will be able to move around the country like anyone else.”
Jim Irwin asked about the implications for law enforcement if vehicles are uniform as to design and speed, to which Lutz prophesied, “Cops will drop their donuts and jump into autonomous helicopters.”
Later your reporter asked about the frontiers of the future, where regular people can pit their brains and bodies; that his forecast sounded like the ending to an H.P. Lovecraft story. “Yes,” he said, smiling, “I read a lot of science fiction. People will become so advanced, they will be like gods. And they’ll be a lot flabbier.”
John thanked Mr. Lutz warmly then rang the Rotary bell. “Remember what JET stands for,” he urged. “Join leaders; Engage leaders; Take action.”
If there was a red chip in the pot, this reporter will eat his catalytic converter.
“Be The difference that makes a difference.” – Nagaraja Rao
Notes by Ed Hoffman, Photos by Steve SchramFred Beutler


Meeting Statistics
A total of 100 Rotarians were engaged by the presentation of Bob Lutz. We also had two visiting Rotarians (D.J. Boyd of Northville and ADG Anne Nauts of Chelsea) and 14 guests. Before lunch, three members of the Peace Conference Committee in a wrap-up session. On August 8, four Rotarians gathered to discuss our public image. On August 11, eight members of the G&TO committee met. Two Rotarians joined with our our outgoing Exchange Students on August 12.
Note to committee chairs about offsite meetings and activities: Please send your lists of attendees to John White. He will ensure your attendance is properly credited. Look for confirmation in a subsequent Harpoon.
Makeup Cards for Roving Rotarians:
Loren Rullman (Cape Town, South Africa on July 26)
Upcoming RI Presidents Identified:
Barry Rassin, of the Rotary Club of East Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas, is the selection of the Nominating Committee for President of Rotary International for 2018-19, and will be declared president-elect on September 1 if no challenging candidates have been suggested. Rassin’s nomination follows Sam F. Owori’s death in July, just two weeks into his term as president-elect. Mark Daniel Maloney, of the Rotary Club of Decatur, Alabama, is the selection of the Nominating Committee for RI President in 2019-20. With these announcements, it appears we will need to wait a while for RI's first female President. Jennifer Jones of the nearby Windsor, Ontario club is an RI VP and is probably in line for the top job. 
Two major Rotary events for your 2018 calendars
The District Conference will be held to close to home in 2018. It will be at the Marriott Eagle Crest from May 3-6. The Rotary International Convention next year will also be closer than in many years. It will be in Toronto from June 23-27.
  • 8/16 - Todd Kephart
  • 8/18 - Harv Grotrian
  • 8/19 - Mal Lowther, Rick Snyder

Websites of interest to Rotarians

Rotary International: The RI home page has links to About Rotary, The Rotary Foundation, Club Locator and Member Access. Our Club is in Zone 29. The zone has 17 districts and covers portions of Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ontario.

District 6380Our district's website includes 51 clubs in the counties of Washtenaw, Livingston, Oakland and Macomb in Michigan and Kent in Ontario. The district’s monthly newsletter and articles of district-wide interest are posted there.

Rotary Club of Ann Arbor: Our Club’s website provides background material and information including the current Annual Report, Active Framework (aka Strategic Plan), New Member Nomination Form, Committee Descriptions, Club and Golf Outing brochures, synopses of upcoming programs and an archive of Harpoons. Find us on Facebook.

Submit news, committee meetings, and announcements to the Harpoonthe newsletter of the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor. Contact the Club to subscribe by email.

Our Club also sponsors the following Rotaract and Interact Clubs:

 U-M Rotaract Club

Huron High Interact Club

Pioneer High Interact Club

"Rotary Serving Humanity"