Month: March 2014

Jay Dirnberger’s Presentation: Introduction to Unmanned Vehicles

Speaker — April 16, 2014
William B. Barnett on Myanmar: Unlike Any Land You Know About

PSA-CoverMyanmar, formally called Burma, is a country in southeast Asia bordered by Bangladesh and India to the west, by China to the north, and by Laos and Thailand to the east. The country has been under military control since a coup in 1962, but is starting to implement democratic changes and emerge from isolation. It was visited by President Obama in November of 2012 in recognition of the changes that have taken place. Because it was cut off from the rest of the world for many decades the country has been able to preserve its culture better than many other countries.

Burmese-BuddhaDuring this trip Bill visited Yangon (formerly Rangoon), Mandalay, Began, and the region around Inle Lake. The program is divided into three sections: an introduction; a presentation on Buddhism, practiced by an estimated 89% of the population; and a section on the people of Myanmar who were friendly and very accepting of tourists. This multimedia, storytelling program contains about 250 still images and video clips. These are blended with music, live narration, and locally recorded sounds to bring a visit to this wonderful country to life.

Bill-BennettBill is well qualified to present lectures and programs on photography. He is a retired PhD analytical chemist and spectroscopist who worked for 34 years helping to design spectroscopic instrumentation for the chemical laboratory. His work included the design of the software user interfaces for a number of products. At the same time he pursued photography as a serious hobby. This combination of experience in science, spectroscopy, computers, and photography allows Bill to understand the technical aspects of photographic equipment plus the associated computer software, and relate them to the needs of the photographer.

Bill’s interest in photography began in high school, but really started to develop after he finished graduate school, moved to Connecticut, and joined his first camera club in 1969. He first joined PSA in 1970 and began entering exhibitions soon after. He now has 5 stars in four divisions of PSA (Projected Image, Photo Travel, Photojournalism, and Nature). He also has ten galaxies in the Color Class of the Projected Image Division and three galaxies in the Photo Travel Division. He has also earned numerous awards in local competitions. He has received the distinction of Master from PSA (MPSA); the distinction of Artiste from the Federation Internationale de L’art Photographique (AFIAP); and has been awarded the honor of Master Member by the New England Camera Club Council (MNEC). He has also received four Bronze Stars for contributions to the PSA Journal.

Bill is a member of the Photographic Society of America, the New Haven Camera Club, and the Connecticut Association of Photographers. He is on the Executive Board of the New England Camera Club Council. He is a frequent lecturer for camera clubs and other organizations on travel and photography, and is a frequent judge.

Bill shifted his picture taking from film to digital following a trip to Kenya in 2000 where he shot his last photographs on film. In the last few years he has been pursuing a hybrid approach to his photography where stills, video clips, and sound files are combined to create essays and travel presentations with more production values than is possible using only still photographs. Bill likes to combine photography with travel to interesting places.

Arranged by Andre Gilbert

Remembering Harry Berkowitz

Harry BerkowitzHarry Berkowitz brought graciousness wherever he went. Those around him found themselves engaged with someone inquisitive and insightful, with genuine interest in their life. His passion for life and consideration for others was remarkable. Harry, 81, died Saturday, March 15, 2014 while recovering from surgery in New York City.

His career as a retail executive at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sakowitz, and the Zale Corporation spanned 30 years and moved he and his family throughout the southeast United States before returning east to Norwalk, Connecticut in 1986. He served as President of the Yale Co-op for seven years until he retired in 1998. After he retired, he continued to consult, sharing his experience with retailers in need for several years.
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Speaker — April 9, 2014
Hanifa Washington, Executive Director of Amistad America

Hanifa Washington studied Communication Theory, and Russian and Soviet Studies at Beloit College in Wisconsin. Her studies pushed her to be critical of mass media, to examine the motives of human communication on varying platforms, as well as exuberantly explore the evolution of anthropologic linguistics in varying human societies.

She is steeped in digital media creation and studied Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed at length- a form of popular theatre that empowers communities to problem solve constructively. Hanifa studied Russian for 7 years and traveled to Moscow and St. Petersburg in 1996. She graduated with her BA in 2001 and went on to work heavily as a youth development specialist in the experiential learning sector. She was a co-founder the first worker owned cooperative in Portland, Maine and has a reverence for sustainable, organic food sovereignty.

Hanifa served as the cook and educator on the Amistad throughout a ten-month tour of the Caribbean. She was part of the Amistad’s historic arrival in Cuba and completed the schooner’s homecoming to Mystic, Connecticut. During this high-profile public diplomacy initiative with the direct involvement of the United Nations, US State Department, and the Cuban government, Hanifa fulfilled her professional work duties with efficiency and skill, but she did so while bolstering crew morale at critical moments, and she did so while always reminding the crew of the greater purpose of the voyage they had undertaken.

Even during the most difficult moments – and there were many — she never lost her spirit of optimism, and she embraced with wonderment the extraordinary events unfolding — from conducting the Haitian student sail programs (after the devastating earthquake) to participating in formal receptions with the leaders of Cuba and the US diplomatic core. And every so often, she’d agree to perform music for the crew, for the students and a few times at public events.

She went on to sail over 250 days at sea, also working with the South Carolina Maritime Foundation and Ocean Classroom Foundation. Hanifa returned to Amistad in a coordinating role January 2011, and helped to create the vision and curriculum for the Amistad’s DR based programming, and new Connecticut based summer programming. This past winter she coordinated Amistad’s first winter programs from the Amistad Center of Santo Domingo.

Arranged by Bob Smith.

Update from Terrie Wood

Terrie WoodAs I mentioned in my talk with you all, the next Mental Health First Aid Course will be offered in Darien in Thursdays April 3 and 10. This is the Nationally certified course that was one of the initiatives of the Gun Violence bill the legislature did in response to the Sandy Hook School massacre. We essentially hope that everyone in the state will take this course. Just like the Red Cross First Aid course so many of us took when our kids were younger.




Thursdays April 3 and 10. 9 AM to 3.30 PM

Post 53 Training Room 0 Ledge Rd. Darien

Fee $100 includes book, handouts and lunch.

Instructor is Dawn Roy nationally certified MHFA instructor

MHFA Flyer Darien April 310 2014-2

Speaker — April 2, 2014
J. Michael Lennon, official biographer of Norman Mailer

J. Michael Lennon, the official biographer of Norman Mailer, knew Mailer for thirty-five years, and in writing this biography, he has had the cooperation of Mailer’s late widow, Norris Church, his ex-wives, and all of his children, as well as his sister, Barbara. He also had access to Mailer’s vast, unpublished correspondence and papers, and he interviewed dozens of people who knew Mailer. Norman Mailer: A Double Life gives us the man in full, a remarkable and unique figure in the context of his times.

Norman Mailer was one of the giants of American letters and one of the most celebrated public figures of his time. He was a novelist, journalist, biographer, and filmmaker; a provocateur and passionate observer of his times; and a husband, father, and serial philanderer.

Perhaps nothing characterized Mailer more than his unbounded ambition. He wanted not merely to be the greatest writer of his generation, but a writer great enough to be compared to Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. As Michael Lennon describes, he even had presidential ambitions, although he settled for running for mayor of New York City. He championed personal freedom and civil liberties, calling himself a “left conservative,” and yet he was Enemy #1 of the Women’s Movement. He was as pugnacious in real life as in print, engaging in famous feuds and fights. Although he considered himself first and foremost a novelist, his greatest literary contribution may have been in journalism, where he used his novelistic gifts in tandem with self-revelation to explore the American psyche. In that regard, the subtitle of his Pulitzer Prize– and National Book Award–winning Armies of the Night is telling: “History as a Novel, the Novel as History.” He would return to certain subjects obsessively: John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, sex, technology, and the intricate relationship of fame and identity. Michael Lennon’s definitive biography captures Mailer in all his sharp complexities and shows us how he self-consciously invented and reinvented himself throughout his lifetime.

Arranged by Alex Garnett.

U.S. Coast Guard Academy and Sub Base, Groton CT
Thursday April 17, 2014


  • Tour – USCG Academy
  • Lunch – Navy and USCGA Officers Club


USS Nautilus

USS Nautilus

  • Visit – USS Nautilus and Museum


10 guests may tour aboard an active duty sub at 3:00 PM
Cost: $ 55.00  per person
Note: photo ID required
Dress for sub tour: flats and pants
Board bus at DCA  8:15 AM          Return to DCA 7:00 PM
Contact  John Zerbst      203.357.0034

Speaker — March 26, 2014
Jay Dirnberger on “Drones”

JayDirnbergerJay Dirnberger. member of the Westport Y’s Men. will speak about “Drones” and how these precision guided, remote controlled pilotless aircraft have taken out some of the U.S.’s worst enemies.

Arranged by Bob Smith.