Two of the NorCal board members managed, over the course of 10 years, to help change the national group into an organization run by former PC volunteers and staff, which is a Good Thing. But the national group continues to waste the dues money on an expensive but poorly produced magazine which wants to rival National Geographic, but looks like something which was printed in a third world country. They pretty much ignore their main mission - to connect Peace Corps alumni, and be a strong lobby in DC for PC funding. What annoys me most about them is their first thought when they need to raise money is to send begging letters to the members.
I had decided to give them a try when I returned to the Bay Area in 2000, and bought a 3-year membership which also included NorCal. But I did not renew. Last month NorCal announced they were dropping the National requirement, so I sent in a check.
NorCal, unlike National, does a good job of keeping PCVs connected, they have regular get-togethers in the south bay, north bay, east bay, SF and Santa Cruz/Monterey areas. The board meets every other month, rotating between areas, they have a newsletter which is published both electronically and on paper, and in addition to the annual meeting, there is also a picnic each year.
This year's meeting was held in the Bernal Heights community center, which was not big enough. Parking was a bitch, too. But as usual, the food was great, the company even better, and it was more than worth the trip. I was disappointed that the woman who runs Friends of Thailand was a no-show, I'd made some DVDs for her. But that was made up for by meeting Peta, who had served in Thailand 10 years before me, was a fellow trumpet player, and when I was on vacation in Thailand, he was there as a tsunami relief worker with Peace Corps's Crisis Corps. He was helping with a database project. Peta also has a girlfriend and a house in Bangkok, and plans to retire there in a few years. And he's friends with David Rubin, the RPCV who took me to dinner in Phuket and pointed me at the batik project.
The entertainment was somewhat bizarre. An underpowered boom box came out, playing Carnival music, and three scantily clad dancers in Mardi Gras feathers and headgear danced for about 15 minutes. The lead dancer was a very black Brazilian-looking woman with the most perfect ass I have ever seen. The other two dancers were a white woman who I am pretty sure is an RPCV, and a tall Oriental woman. All three looked very good in thongs and fishnets. It would have been nice if there had been more room for them to dance, and if the music had been loud enough to hear.
One good thing about an organization which constantly adds new members is the eye candy gets better every year. There were some babes in my Peace Corps group, but I'm impressed with how good looking the latest crop are.
Something which bothered me was the number of babies and strollers at the meeting. Look people, it's Saturday night, there is nothing for an infant here, get a clue and find a baby sitter. I have to say the babies were all well-behaved and there were only occasional cries, but there was just not enough room for the strollers, and I felt sorry for these kids who did not need to be dragged out into the cold for this.
The pager gods smiled on me, and I did not get called.
Early this morning while I was having a Low Blood Sugar Moment, I watched some of the Olympics. First was a TiVo of a couple of days ago. I watched a lovely Canadian Redhead win a surprise gold medal, and it is smiles like that which make the whole thing worth watching. After seeing the US get crushed in the 4-man bobsleds, and FF-ing past some slaloms, I hit the "Whoa" button to watch this perky little teenager doing the most entertaining medal winner exhibition routine to Don't Rain on My Parade, made even more appropriate by her having won silver thanks to a couple of falls in her early competitive skates. Sasha Cohen. Nice Jewish Girl from LA? If she had skated in competition the way she did on the exhibition, she would have won gold. It was a beautiful thing to watch - instead of skating for points, she danced to the music.
Speaking of bobsleds, I am pissed at whoever it was on the US Olympic committee who decided that our color for this year would be black. I think it sucks, makes us look like the Death Star entry. Black sleds, black speed skating outfits, etc. There are so many beautiful things which could be done with the American Eagle or the stars and stripes, there is no excuse for choosing to look like the Bad Guys. That's Bush league.
Speaking of the stars and stripes, during the second round of my glucose adventure, while I was eating banana walnut honey surprise, I turned on the TV to the live coverage, and there was Apolo Anton Ohno in close-up, and the star sprinkled banana was starting to play. so I guess he won a gold. And an amazing and touching thing happened. His lips start to move, he's starting to sing along. Little by little he goes from just lip syncing to actually singing along, and I hear some of the crowd joining in. By the end of the anthem, most of the Americans in the crowd must have chimed in, and Ohno was singing out loud. It brought tears to my eyes. And reminded me that when you're in a foreign country, representing the US, there's something very special about seeing the stars and stripes and hearing the star spangled banner, an nobody's burning the flag, and nobody's yelling "Yankee Go Home".