Dear Uncle Tony: Season 1, Episode 01

Hey there! Welcome to the very first episode of Dear Uncle Tony, the literary, arts, and storytelling podcast of the Xi chapter of St. Anthony Hall. Our goal with this podcast is to bring Xi brethren closer together by collecting and spreading our work to St. A’s all over the world. We’re going to have a little bit of everything: original music, poetry, and essays; Hall stories both new and old; and interviews with Xi alumni. Also, this is a podcast for adults, so be prepared for some saucy, salacious, or irreverent language.

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SAANC Solstice Cookout

Bro. Dave Wright was incredibly generous and hosted the SAANC Summer Solstice Party at his house gorgeous house this year.  A number of St. A’s trekked out to the wilds west of Carrboro and partook of burgers and dogs – both foodstuff and four-legged – and chilled.  Sis. Rosenthal told us about her recent time in Israel; Sis. Jacobson gave me the straight dirt on a favorite old campfire story, that of the boa constrictor that may or may not have lived in the walls of the Annex; I got to see a number of St. A’s I haven’t seen in way too long and next year can’t come soon enough.

The point of all this is, of course, that I took some photos when I wasn’t gums-deep in a burger.  Lovely mental image, I know, but in comparison my photos will look great and that’s the point.  Even better:  some photos I took in June of flowers in the Hall’s front yard gardens.

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Toast to Uncle Tony 2010

Lots and lots of Xi’s (and a couple of other chapters?) rolled up on Top of the Hill at the corner of Colombia and Franklin Streets in Chapel Hill this year.  There were many drinks and dinners and a lot of great conversation.  Who would have guessed that the undergrads are into Steeplechase races?  Not me, and I had a fascinating conversation about them with Sis. Joy Jennings, the current Alumni Correspondent for Xi chapter.

I did my best to document the occasion but the toasting part made it awfully difficult to hold the camera still for long periods of time.  Still, I thought you’d like to see the photos I took, even if one of them involves a particularly pronounced motion blur.

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Archives: 1978 Letter to Alumni

In a letter dated October 24, 1978, Bro. Bill Bamberger describes a number of new initiatives – as well as old ones rekindled – the undergraduate chapter was undertaking at the time.  This is something I grabbed completely at random from amongst the unsorted material in the chapter archives and it turned out to describe the infancy or rebirth of probably a dozen different traditions still in place at the Hall:  pledge tests, the Tattler, guest speakers, maintaining the general registry, inviting alumni to meet at the Hall around Homecoming, Parents Dinner, and on and on.  I found the frankness of this letter – and its fond praise of Bro. Skip Awalt, so recently deceased – surprising and refreshing, a candid account of a time when the Hall’s long-term health and sense of self sounds especially tenuous.  I was also struck by how many of the names he mentions are readily familiar to anyone involved in the last three decades of Hall life.

In the course of the first page of the letter, Bro. Bamberger used a term we do not allow to be recorded and I obscured it through application of a removable “sticky” tab and some magic marker applied in turn to that tab.  The texts and materials of course remain whole in the document itself and I take special pleasure in the anonymous circle someone later penciled around that word to mark the taboo.  The letter’s second page includes the full text excerpted above regarding thirty one bids.  I was active the semester we handed out twenty one and had always assumed that was the record, but no, not even close.  The third scan from this letter includes a carbon-copy list that reads like a Who’s Who of Xi:  Hop Swift, Skip Awalt, Herb Bodman and many others.

There are a lot of documents like this waiting to be preserved.  The work of the siblings has been magnificent when it comes to preserving this ourselves and I say that with absolute sincerity.  There are decades of history inviting us to peruse them, sitting in the vault – much of it already sorted and organized! – and it’s my hope to be able to make all of that available to you as best I can.  Many, many snaps to Bro. Peter Pendergrass, Sis. Courtney Rosenthal, Sis. Fiona Matthews, Sis. Kelly Garner and countless others who have sorted and organized and scanned and otherwise made the vault a significantly less scary place than it could be.  We are truly lucky, as an organization, to have these materials available and it is incumbent upon us to figure out the best way to preserve them so that future generations of Xi can look back and realize abruptly that this or that innocuous document may be the only portrait of whatever features loom large in the chapter’s future life.

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Graduation & Roller Derby Pictures!

On Sunday 9 May, some of the families of some of our graduating Xi’s gathered at the Hall to celebrate our newest alums’ achievements with a post-commencement barbecue.  Photos have been posted on photos.stanthonync.org and I can report that the Texas Pete was a welcome touch.

The following weekend many Xi’s young and old turned out to watch Kait, Toe and the rest of the Cape Fear Roller Girls clean the collective clock of the Carolina Rollergirls at Dorton Arena in Raleigh, NC.  There are, of course, photos of that as well, including one of Toe mugging for the camera from the track and Kait autographing programs for some of the kids in attendance.  Kait is currently in her second term as president of the Cape Fear Roller Girls Roller Derby League and Toe is its treasurer for 2010.  Kait exhorts others to attend bouts in Wilmington, saying:

Everyone is ALWAYS welcome down here for CFRG home bouts, or even just a visit.  I mean, we do live 20 minutes from the beach!

We’ve been really busy these past 2 years and are currently in the process of applying for non-profit status for the league.  We also started a policy last year of giving 20% of our door proceeds from every home bout to a local non-profit/charitable organization.  On this year’s docket are Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity, the New Hanover County Rape Crisis Center, Adopt-an-Angel (a local animal rescue group), the Cape Fear River Watch and the Surf Rider Foundation, an organization that aims at the maintenance and preservation of beaches and coastal preserves.

The appeal of a modern derby bout is hard to describe to someone who thinks it’s all cheesy faux sport from the ’70s.  The women who skate today are dedicated athletes and the bouts are as real as it gets when they hit the track.  It’s fun, it’s exciting and it’s also about charity.  How can you do better than that?  Hint:  you can’t.

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Xi Wins Fulbright

Hearty congratulations and many enthusiastic snaps to Bro. Kurt Davies on receiving a Fulbright scholarship to study overseas for 2010-2011!  I asked Kurt to summarize the award for me and he wrote:

I will be in Kyrgyzstan from roughly Sep ’10-Jun ’11 on a Fulbright Scholarship. My research proposal is to study the government’s language policy and its implications on the country’s education system. I will also be studying the Russian and Kyrgyz languages while I am there.

Fulbright grants, scholarships and fellowships are highly sought-after, extremely prestigious awards that promote education and scholarship in 155 countries.  The program is administered by the Institute of International Education and the U.S. Department of State.  To date, forty winners of Nobel prizes have also been Fulbright recipients and over 300,000 people have participated in Fulbright programs since their inception in 1946.

Bro. Davies also sent along his full research proposal to provide a more detailed explanation; click below to read it.

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2010 Proposed Budget

As the BoD works to streamline and professionalize our operations as much as possible, we’ve taken up the task of actually considering and approving a budget for 2010, the first time I’ve seen this done in my time at the Hall.  There are both highly summarized and highly detailed versions of the proposed budget up on the Board of Directors wiki, but in the meantime here are the highlights:

  • SAANC’s known, fixed income for 2010 will be $39,500.  This is the rent paid by the undergraduate chapter.
  • The proposed budget assumes $6,000 in donations during 2010, an increase of around $2,500 from last year.
  • 2010 expected expenses total $43,974.34, meaning we must bring in at least $4,474.34 in donations to meet the minimal obligations of good stewardship of the property and financial solvency.
  • The proposed budget includes $4,800.00 for maintenance, about 1/4 of which has already been spent as part of rebuilding the back deck.
  • The reappraisal of our property and application for reconsideration of our tax value by the county, which will lower our tax bill for at least four years, has already saved us about 75% of its total cost.  In the course of those four years it will reduce our property tax obligation by a minimum of 300% of its total cost: over $8,000 in savings.

In other, less flashy news, I am spending my last few weeks in office weeding out the old Treasury records.  There are a number of very old records which I need to archive if interesting or destroy if simply outdated in order to stay in line with commonly accepted document handling procedures.  The rest will be organized into a file that contains anything from the previous seven years which we have on hand, plus information on general corporate financial identity (EIN, etc.) so that there are paper backups of much of that data.

If anyone is just desperate to spend time sitting by a shredder with me, please let me know.  ;)

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Summer Financials

Just a quick note to list expenditures since 1 June of this year.  I know, I should be posting this for y’all on a monthly basis, but I am slack.  I do, however, provide this information (in a different format that doesn’t easily translate into a blog post) every month to the SAANC Audit Committee, as per our new and vastly improved by-laws.

June 2009

  • $1,370.90 – Wachovia loan payment

July 2009

  • $1,370.90 – Wachovia loan payment
  • $600.00 – Safeway Sprinkler (invoice 0509352)
  • $325.00 – United Fire & Safety (invoice 05434)
  • $1,350.00 – Analytical Consultants for the deposit on our property appraisal
  • $136.14 – United Fire & Safety (invoice 45494)
  • $781.55 – Stewart Howe Alumni Services for database maintenance

August 2009

  • $1,370.90 – Wachovia loan payment
  • $1,815.00 – New Growth Landscapes for regrading/reseeding of the Annex Spot and former back-back yard

I want to note that the last check is actually not a real expenditure for the Hall, as donations have been made and/or pledged to cover the entirety of the cost of this work.  I simply paid it with a Hall check to keep things tidy; donations had already been made to SAANC for part of this work and I doubt the guy would have wanted me to hand him a wad of small checks made out to something other than his business.

We have received in the neighborhood of $3,000 in donations over the course of the summer but that includes everything received since SwingOut, including SwingOut weekend itself so a good portion of that is probably SwingOut-inspired.

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Big-Time Spring

A few years ago, rose bushes were planted along the front of the yard at the Hall.  Bro. Dave Ghiradelli and Sis. Garner planted them so that they would use as a trellis the wooden fence donated by Bro. Hop Swift in the 1990’s.  Every year the rose bushes are a little bigger but this year they are really outstanding:  covered in heavy, pink blooms with many more on the way.

This weekend was Commencement 2009 and I thought the rose bushes’ really remarkable display of blossoms made a particularly fitting tribute to our graduating seniors at the Hall given the pink rose’s association with statements of friendship and admiration.

In a couple of weeks I’m going to be mailing out a short thank-you postcard to everyone who donated or served on the Board last year or is serving this year.  The image below is one of the pictures I took on Saturday morning and will be the front of the postcard.

New Dawn roses at 207 Pittsboro Street, May 2009
New Dawn roses at 207 Pittsboro Street, May 2009

The rest of the pictures I took in the process of getting this one can be seen in the photo gallery I keep on my personal site.

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The Loan Refinance

The major, major financial news of December and early January is that we have refinanced the renovation loan, as it was due on 5 January.  Many, many thanks to Bro. Michael Glover for all his research, work and time expended to make this happen, including educating the rest of us on our options.  On the 7th of January he, Bro. Adam Daland and I signed off on the new loan.  In the most bare-bones practical terms, the new loan means a slightly lower monthly payment.  This is a tremendously good thing because it means we may have slightly more money to spend on needed maintenance and repairs.*

In terms of the financial plumbing of SAANC, all the lenders who would put in a bid required we become their “major institution of deposit,” so the Annex Fund has been transferred to a high-yield money market account at Wachovia (now owned by Wells Fargo).  In many ways this makes my life easier, personally, as anyone who has attended a Board of Directors meeting in the last three years has heard me cuss Wachovia’s repeated inability to cash our loan checks in a timely manner.  As a matter of fact, for the last six months or so I’ve been going into a Wachovia branch near my office and making the loan payment in person so that I could get a receipt in case they tried to charge us a late fee or make the refinancing difficult.  Now the loan will be paid via auto-draft, which means that whole concern is gone.  Every month I’ll go in and deposit into our account there the value of that month’s loan payment so that my reports still make sense and we still pay the loan out of the appropriate account, but I won’t have to worry about Wachovia losing the check for three weeks.  Another, perhaps morbid but very realistic upside to this arrangement is that if I get hit by a bus the loan will not go into default while the executive committee finds the checkbook.  Heh.

In several years we will have to refinance the loan again but for much less at that point and ultimately I think it’s worth noting that we, as an organization, are actually in pretty good shape if we’re able to get any loan at all in the current credit market – and actually we had, if I correctly recall, four loan offers to choose from.

* This is not an invitation to be flooded with receipts.

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