Cold day outside but warm bodies inside.  We were lucky enough to have an induction today as well as impersonations done by two members, that taught us a lot about their lives!


Friday January 20th

Cold day outside but warm bodies inside.  We were lucky enough to have an induction today as well as impersonations done by two members, that taught us a lot about their lives!

We started off with a Barb leading us in Oh Canada, then off to the delicious Westin Breakfast Buffet!  Louisa modeled the new breakfast option made available to us by Glen and the great staff at the Westin: bagels, muffins and croissants at the bar, delish!

News for the week from Bob - Hilary just had a birthday and Tripta as well, though she is in India celebrating and visiting with family and friends, congratulations to her on her return.

Barb congratulated Paul for all his hard work for Wednesday night’s “Mingle with Rotary’s” success!

Clark had thrown out a challenge to Bonnie that he would arrive early and save a seat at the today’s meeting for her but Bonnie beat him by at least 5 minutes!  Clark had less make-up to put on and thought he was headed for a win, but alas Bonnie swooped in and was one of our first arrivals.

Louisa shared that today would be a quick business meeting finishing with impersonation speeches.  Also a bottle of wine to give away at the end of the meeting, a good bottle of wine mind you, which Paul recommended, we taste to ensure this was true.

T-shirts are in, so if you ordered one, Louisa has them.

Wednesday night’s membership event was a wonderful occasion, and partnering with a local networking group was very great idea.  Paul shared that we want to follow-up with everyone, so we’ll split up the business cards and touch base with attendees, 120 attendees that is. Our goal to reach 40 members is not far off, sitting currently at 38 members, and counting its thanks to the wonderful people in the room. In regards to appropriate numbers for clubs, in studies, 50 active members has been found to be a good efficient and productive number.  So that is our goal for the club.

While mingling on Tuesday, Louisa heard lots of myths being dispelled about perceptions of Rotary. At least more people know who we are and have a new idea about Rotary in our community.  

Paul thought of a great idea for future-networking events, that we partner with other local Rotary clubs in the HRM to reach a larger community base.

Bonnie reviewed last week’s assembly for anyone that missed it.  We discussed what were critical criteria for our signature project and discussed possible ideas offered by members.  All the ideas were very similar so Bonnie is currently working on creating a draft to incorporate all project ideas into one.  We want to focus on mentoring youth, especially females from disadvantaged background, to offer support and guidance that in turn they can later mentor youth that were in their same position.  We want our project to be self sustaining after a few years and partner with local businesses to help with manpower.  Also a strong focus on mentoring we believe will impact and help reduce bullying, a serious and fast growing issue.  Also partnering with local businesses will help with awareness of Rotary, bringing like-minded people together to do even greater things for our community!

Kudos to Hilary for getting the clubs website back in play, updated and fresh.

Evelina is back in Dubai, doing well and joining a club over there.  Gerry and Paulette have been gone a week now, volunteering in Dominican Republic, all is going well!

Ian updated us on a teacher in Sierra Leone that we are supporting to receive government education.  For those who don’t know the back storey; In Sierra Leone, teacher in rural villages usually do not have any formal training or education themselves and are only paid what the village can provide them with, usually room and meals.  So the government provides education and training during holiday periods for teachers if they can get themselves to the cities and cover the cost.  So we have given $2500 that will cover the next three years.  Updates from her are that things are going well and she is more than appreciative!

Interact Club - New Generations is back at it after the holiday break.  They are interested in doing some hands on work, maybe with a soup kitchen.  If anyone has a connection let me know, and we can get in there.

Fellowship Event last weekend was Ukrainian New Year at Valerie’s.  She put on a delicious meal, great music and friendship was shared.

Dates coming up are the Dinner with a star, Barb and Louisa are going and would love others to join them!

Wednesday January 25th RAH (Rotary After Hours), also happens to be Robbie Burns Night!  (Thank you to our true Scotsman Murray!)

Sackville‘s charter night is tomorrow with 100 people planned for attendance!

Now for the show; Impersonators are ready to go!

Age before beauty – Murray and Erin take the floor!

Murray dressed in a graduation cap, and doctors jacket begins speaking about Erin’s life;

After finishing high school in 2004 I participated in a Rotary International Student Exchange to Goiania, Brazil, a city of 1.1 million people. Coming from a city of barely 25,000 people, this was quite a change. Adapting to the language and culture was not easy, and the dynamics of my host club and family were at times more challenging than the language and culture put together, but by the end of the year I managed to explore the Northeast Coast and the Amazonas of Brazil, make several life-long friends, and gain a great deal of independence and resourcefulness.

In 2005, I moved to Antigonish to start my bachelor’s degree at St. Francis Xavier University. I majored in Chemistry, and I balanced the barrage of math, physics, biology and chemistry with electives in English Literature, Latin and French. I put myself through university by working for Macdonald & Company Barristors & Solicitors and as a waitress during the summers, and at the Antigonish Sobey’s during the school year. In my first year I lived on campus and did what every frosh does – partied too much, ate terribly, and made some of the best friends and memories of my life. In my second year I worked as a Residence Assistant in Lane Hall, where I met my partner, Thom. In third year I lived off-campus with 7 friends, buckled down in school, and made the most of not having to eat at meal-hall anymore; I had more Sunday brunches with waffles and bacon in that year than I have the rest of my life put together! In my final year I got involved in research, and while I was finishing my degree I was applying for research grants for the summer and for graduate school at Dalhousie.

My area of expertise is in Theoretical Computational Chemistry. This particular field is a bit of a mystery to those outside of it; chemists think we should be considered physicists, and physicists think we should be considered, well, chemists. The truth is that it is somewhere between Chemistry, Physics and Computer Science. For my first research project I investigated the behaviour of certain amino acids in the gas phase. The point of this on-going project is to understand how these molecules break apart in a mass-spectrometer, so that we can better understand the results seen when a full protein is put through the mass-spec. This would allow us to develop more, and more accurate, screening tests for biomarkers of cancer and other diseases.

This project led me into my graduate research at Dalhousie University, with Dr. Donald Weaver. I was drawn to Dr. Weaver as a supervisor because of his qualifications. He first attended medical school, then went back for a PhD in Chemistry, and focuses the majority of his research on designing drugs to treat Alzheimer’s and epilepsy. For my Master’s research I studied the behaviour of water molecules along the lipid membranes of nerves, in the synapse, and around certain neurotransmitters. My research, which is being continued by a post-doctoral fellow in Dr. Weaver’s lab, is the beginning of a new approach to the theory of nerve conduction. I finished my Master’s in July of this past year, and quickly changed gears to prepare for medical school in August.

Since then I have been asked many times what medical school is really like. It seems like it’s a big mystery, that somehow medical school is different from other types of school. In some cases this is true: the classes are set-up differently, the academic expectations are somehow different, and people instantly give you trust, call you “doctor” and look to you for answers. Parents are particularly curious, and I find myself telling them that simply by going through the adventures of parenthood they already know far more about medicine than I do. Since I have very little in the way of a career to talk about, I thought I might tell you a bit more about what it is like to be a medical student at Dalhousie University.

Each week I have 6 hours of lecture, 6 hours of group-based learning. During this time we learn our core materials (anatomy, pharmacology, epidemiology, diagnostics, ethics, health systems, etc.), and work through examples of patient cases – from the presentation at the doctor’s office or Emergency Department, through the differential diagnosis, lab tests and diagnostic tests, to treatment, follow-up and the big picture of how any particular illness affects patients and the community at large. We also spend 4 hours a week practicing history taking and the physical exam, and 4 hours in the hospital. Last semester I worked with a Radiation Oncologist, getting a feel for the mechanics of the hospital setting, testing out my history taking and exam skills, learning some of the basics of oncology, and figuring out if that specialty might be the right one for me. This semester I am working in General Internal Medicine. My time will be divided between consultations, out-patient clinics, in-patient wards at the Halifax Infirmary (with Caitlin!), the IMCU, and the ER. Every student creates her/his own elective, and the variety of opportunities is impressive. This variety and exposure to practical medicine is just one reason that DalMed stands out from other programs, and I count myself lucky every day that I am here!

Erin dressed in a reflective vest, hard hat and sunglasses broke into Murray's speech!

I graduated from the University of Edinburgh Scotland, with an honour Science degree, majoring in Civil engineering, back in 1954 Civil comes from the old Latin Word “Civis” meaning of or for the people, i.e. engineering for the people – nowadays that’s called infrastructure development. It is the third oldest profession in history.

After graduation I moved south to the big City of London, England to seek my fortune However I didn’t get that but did acquire a significant experience in my field. – From the design of thermal power stations to underground road tunnels.

After a wonderful 2 years in London I moved out into the field of construction, moving back to Scotland to work on the first Nuclear power station there At that time technology was not at the stage it is today – we didn’t have computers – we relied on a slide rule to do our calculations, survey work was all hard labour , cutting lines through trees , over hills and through the glens. Romantic eh!! Nowadays we have satellite imagery and hi-tech survey instruments and computer aided preparation of drawings.

Over the ensuing 15yrs I moved up and down the United Kingdom from Aberdeen in the North to Sheffield in the Midlands on many projects. Many were the redevelopment of steel works to produce higher grade steel , but sadly now many of these are abandoned or demolished – a victim of cheap overseas labour in the Far East. The most interesting thing about civil engineering in infrastructure development is that no two jobs are the same

Late in 1966 the ‘bug’ of seeking my fortune arose again, and early in 1967 Canada and Australia put on a huge PR promotion for immigrants to come their respective countries. I took the ‘bait’ Canada offered , as it was a lot closer to home than Australia, if things didn’t work out.

In the summer of 1967 I arrived in the magnificent Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and lasted there for the next 6 yrs. That was a cultural shock I must say, but Newfies are the friendliest people in the world and I and the Family settled in there nicely but it did take some time, especially that first winter. – Cultural shock you say, I had never seen snow in May month – those icebergs are ‘some ‘ size. I had the privilege of working in many of the out port communities from St Anthony in the North to Port Aux Basques in the South West, Harbour Breton , Conception Bay, and of course St Johns. There I experience the joys of Bush plane flying to/from some of these communities – they didn’t tell me till afterwards bush planes with skis in winter do not have brakes upon landing. I left my mark in these communities in infrastructure development of water and sanitation, plus being a part of rebuilding the Burin Peninsula Highway and the Harbour Breton Highway as links to the Trans-Canada Highway.

In 1973 I got ‘itchy feet’ once again and In the Fall moved to Halifax to continue my career in engineering. During 73-’76 I had the opportunity to assist in development works overseas through project financing from CIDA in the developing world and from the World Bank We had a regular project in the Caribbean almost every winter during those years with the opportunity to work in the beautiful Islands of Dominica, Antigua, and St Lucia – by working there we had a closer contact with the local people than you would as a tourist. Our work was in marine infrastructure development , particularly marine terminals for the cruise ship industry. However Dominica is not on the tourist agenda as they only have one beach but it is a land of beautiful rain forest with bananas as their major industrial export. Bananas have a regrowth cycle of about 9 months harvest frequency. They needed improved facilities for export.

Yes I miss those “paid’ trips to the Caribbean

I also had the opportunity to work in the Middle East , particularly in the country of South Yemen ( now amalgamated with the North Yemen to form Yemen). We were in the coastal town of Moukalla, 200miles east of Aden where we supervised the building of a small artisanal fish plant. The Red Sea is alive with bountiful quantities of fish and this helped the creation of wealth in the export market. There I learned to be patient - - an old Arab saying “ Tomorrow God willing!!!” En-route to/from Aden, I always stopped over in what was the beautiful city of Beirut – the crossroads of the Middle East – sadly I was there at the outbreak of civil war in 1976 and had to get out in a hurry !!

On the local provincial scene in 1976 I formed a consulting partnership with my old friend John Beasy to form Beasy Nicoll Engineering. We worked on many infrastructure projects around the province – Water street redevelopment in Yarmouth, new sewage collection and treatment system there, road projects in several counties, Bedford Highway upgrading through Sunnyside under the main-street renewal program, Halifax’s first sewer upgrade with a tunnel under the Bedford highway and around the North end. This was incorporated into the new sewage collection and treatment system in the last decade. Also first waste management system for Metro Halifax and for Pictou County While much of my work is hidden underground, projects of which I was proud of due to its visibility was the Halifax- Dartmouth Ferry system which opened in the late seventies, Water St in Yarmouth, and the Sunnyside street upgrading.

In 1998 we sold the company through amalgamation with another with complimentary skills in the electrical filed and soon after both John and I retired from active work life. Since then I have done part time consulting but even that is diminishing now Keeping up with changing technology is now better left to the younger generation – I never did have a ‘crackberry’ but relied on personal contact. Sadly that is a thing of the past now – the world is a whole different world from when I was a boy. 

After those amazing and interesting talks (always the best part is learning the background of fellow members, amazing people!) we were fortunate for more excitement!  Louisa inducted another new member, Donna Trafford!

Since it is Rotary Awareness Month, Louisa handed out a little quiz to fill out and bring back next week.  There will be a prize, a bottle of wine, so be sure to fill out the answers and bring it back. 

Murray did the draw for the 50/50 and pulled his own number!  Unfortunately he did not pull the Ace but did get to take home a nice bottle of wine!