Annual Business Meeting

Saturday, May 16, 2009

1:30 p.m.

Room 111-A Chancellor’s Complex, UCSD Campus

Some work (reports, election),

Some play (social)

The May meeting will combine the best of SDIS:  work and fellowship.

v We’ll hear about Jean Renshaw’s work using a grant from the Helen Hawkins Fund.  

v Donna Boyle, SDIS’s president, will report on our activities during 2008-2009.

v The study groups will describe what their members have done over the year.

v Members will elect a new board for 2009-2010. You will receive the ballot in your email soon. Please vote promptly!

v We’ll also enjoy some good fellowship with a special social on the outdoor patio — in true SDIS style!

See you on May 16!


“When you wanted to fly, you flew.” That’s how Al Christman prefaced his talk about his barnstorming father, Jim Christman, an aviation pioneer in the 1920s and 1930s. No flight plans, no check lists, just hop in the plane, rev it up and take off. If you’ve stood in a security line or sat on the ground in a long line of planes waiting to take off, you dream of such easy travel.

Al gave us a three-part flight plan for his talk, though, which included a slide show and readings from his new book on Pilot Jim, as his father was immortalized in a poem. Pilots like Jim — barnstormers — began their adventures after World War I in war surplus planes, which were curiosities. They flew from town to town, pasture to pasture, introducing flying to every corner of the world. Lindbergh’s flight to Paris ignited revolutionary progress in flying and throughout the Depression, aviation changed from an entertainment to a major industry. The 1930s saw open cockpit planes transformed into racing planes, the development of multi-engine airliners flying across the continent, a national network of airports and true instrumentation. Al’s slide show took us into this history through the life of his father, who saw his first barnstormers in 1922, in New Mexico. He eventually got his first plane in Oklahoma, pulled it back to New Mexico on a trailer and began barnstorming to supplement whatever he earned as an oil driller.

Within a year after Lindberg’s solo, Jim was a full-time barnstormer. He became a leading stunt pilot and formed a flying circus. With posters that had messages like “Cheating Death Every Second,” the circus drew weekend crowds of up to 10,000.  Jim eventually moved the family out of New Mexico to Allentown, PA and an airport home. Carrying the family to Allentown, the plane achieved a speed of 100 mph and cruised at around 2,000 feet, although sometimes skimming the trees tops at 50 feet or soaring to 6,000.  “You could see the country then,” Al said. The Allentown experience was exciting, especially on weekends. Not only was the stunt flying a success but also famous pilots visited Allentown. His sister Norma soloed at age 16 and became one of the youngest female pilots in the U.S. Tragically, his brother Lloyd was killed while teaching a novice how to fly. Jim became a representative for United Airlines, the first modern airliner, and helped transform Allentown into a modern facility. When Allentown wanted him to stop the stunt flying so that the airport could concentrate on travel, Jim moved to Iowa in 1937. That same year, his plane crashed during a show.  — Cathy Robbins




Willard Wells’ book, Apocalypse When? Calculating How Long the Human Race Will Survive, will be available this summer, but you can buy it now on Amazon with a pre-publication discount. You can order The Best Team Ever, a novel that Doc Noel has co-written with Alan Alop about the 1907 Chicago Cubs, from the book’s web site, at Judith Strupp Green will give a lecture titled “Chocolate: Sacred Drink to Comfort Food: An Anthropological Take on Cacao in Mesoamerica,” for the Cal Tech Alumni Assn. of San Diego on May 14.

Pat Terry and Cathy Blecki will give lectures at the Continuing Education Center, Rancho Bernardo (CECRB).  They invite interested SDIS members to come.  Pat will speak on the book she co-authored with Samuel N. Rosenberg, Lancelot and the Lord of the Distant Isles, on Wednesday, May 6, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.  Cathy Blecki’s topic on May 19 at 10 a.m. will be “Shakespeare's Richard III.” The CECRB is located off Acena Drive/Rancho Bernardo Drive at the Remington Club Phase II, 16916 Hierba Drive, Rancho Bernardo. For more complete directions, call Pat or Cathy or the Center at (858) 487-0464, or use a Google map.



Works in Progress

WIP will be discussing Pat Terry's translation of a long and difficult French poem. The group meets at the home of Alice Marquis 8963 Caminito Fresco (La Jolla), on Saturday, May 2 at 1:30 p.m. If you need directions, please call Alice at 858-453-1878. All SDIS members are welcome, and projects for discussion at a future meeting are also welcome. The only requisite is that presenters must attend at least one WIP meeting before offering a project for discussion.


Colloquy Café

Sam Gusman will host the next meeting on Wednesday, May 27, at 1 p.m., at his home, 8515 Costa Verde Blvd., Apt. 1808. The subject of the meeting is Ambition. Sam reports that the group has grown and he is running out of room. So be sure to contact Sam before heading off to the meeting:



The next meeting will be on Monday, June 1, at 10:30 am, at the home of Marla and John Jensen, 1615 Bittern Court, Carlsbad, 10:30 a.m. Ariss Treat will lead a discussion of Helen Waddell's historical novel Peter Abelard.   Contact:



The group, now in its ninth year, will meet on Friday, May 22, at 3 p.m., at the home of Bea Rose, 8515 Costa Verde Blvd., #1909,  They will discuss Chapters three through six of Stephen Hawking’s A Briefer History of Time. Visitors welcome. Contact Bea at 858.458.9263.


Living Systems

Would you like to explore ideas that apply systems principles to the human experience? This new study group will do just that. The systems approach is standard practice in physical and biological sciences, but seldom mentioned in the social or human sciences.  Such an investigation could begin with James Grier Miller’s Living Systems, or with one of Pulitzer Prize winner Jared Diamond’s books.  If this topic intrigues you, contact Elaine Parent (858.558.0122), Sam Gusman (858.202.1877), or Donna Boyle (619.296.4055).  Elaine will host a meeting to consider how we can approach this study, and what texts and resources are available.



From the President


Summer is coming and the geese are getting fat – no, that’s not right.  The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye – wrong.  Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high – oh, that’s not it at all.  Oh, well, I’ll have to make up my own lyrics.  Summer is coming and we’re going to a Garden Party. 

Summer also provides time to relax and to review.  Last month I mentioned a new task force and suggested that we have room to grow.  Already a couple of ideas for new study groups have emerged.  In that spirit of self assessment, the Board has authorized the Development Task Force to continue for a time.  Their first report encourages exploration of a few issues:  What does SDIS offer its members?  How do we capitalize on and support our own strengths?  How can we improve the SDIS experience? 

Although a half dozen people are concentrating on these issues, everyone’s input is important.  Call a Board member.  This may not be Congress, but the same principle applies.

Next time we gather is May 16 for our annual business meeting: vote for officers and board members, and hear what we’ve all been up to since September, especially our Helen Hawkins Grant recipient.  And socialize at our special reception.  See you there. — Donna Boyle


Coming Up this summer!

SDIS will repeat last summer’s successful Garden Party and Book Exchange. Gerry Horwitz will host again in July. Watch for your invitation.


About SDIS

San Diego Independent Scholars (SDIS) supports unaffiliated writers and researchers and welcomes everyone who appreciates creative and intellectual activities in the humanities, science, and the arts.  SDIS is a non-profit organization and an affiliate of the National Coalition of Independent Scholars.

Donna Boyle,


Scholar’s Notebook is the newsletter of SDIS. Please send your news for the Notebook to Cathy Robbins, the Notebook editor: or 3720 First Ave., San Diego, CA 92103. The deadline for submissions is the 25th of the month prior to publication date.

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