Monthly Archives: March 2013

Toastmasters – 3/25/13

Our Sergeant at Arms, Ann, started the meeting on time. After April led us in the Invocation and Pledge, the club’s president, Susan was called to the podium. As part of Susan’s run through club business, she mentioned Stan and Ann received recognition at the Area 02 contest that took place over the weekend. Stan presented the best Table Topics speech at the contest, and Ann gave the best speech. Congratulations to the both of them for their accomplishments.

Ann started off her duties as Toastmaster, by introducing the various contributors for the evening. Tammy was the Poet/Humorist, and she read a poem about Easter, which I believe was chosen by Ann. I played the part of the Word Master and Grammarian/Ah Counter. Nam was in charge of monitoring the time everyone spoke, and Hyacinthe was the general evaluator.

There was only one speaker for this particular meeting. Mark was giving his first speech, the Ice Breaker. Mark did a great job taking us on a journey through his life. I can’t speak for everyone, but he did a great job of instilling emotion in me with his speech. From an emotional standpoint, his speech had its highs and its lows. I personally enjoyed how Mark ended his speech. All of the different experiences Mark has encountered in his life has brought him a singular calling: make crosses and give them to people. He has been doing this for 7 years and estimates he has given away one-thousand of his hand-made crosses. His reason for joining Toastmasters was not because he wants to be a better public speaker. He spends many nights at the church doing Bible study and Knights of Columbus. He simply loves the church.

Toby was the Table Topics Master, and brought a very fun twist to the Table Topics portion of the meeting. Instead of just asking a series of questions, Toby decided to mimic the game Balderdash. Toby would go from person to person and ask them to give the definition of a specific phobia. The twist was if the person did not know the definition of the word, they would have to make one up on the spot. Since we only had one speaker, we had more time for Table Topics, and I must say it was pretty fun.

Bud was the first person to face Toby’s gauntlet of phobias. Bud was given the word, glossophobia, which is the fear of public speaking. Bud, from my memory, did not give a definition of the word glossophobia, but he was entertaining none the less. Bud gave his entire response with his daughter draped around his neck. He made mentions of how he was starting to get involved in politics, mostly to benefit his two young children, and how Toastmasters has helped him along the way.

Kyle was the next person Toby picked out of the crowd. Kyle was given the word, nomophobia, which is the fear of being out of contact with a mobile phone. Kyle did not know this definition, so he launched into a talk about how nomophobia was the fear of all things relating to water. I felt he was bluffing because at one meeting Kyle spoke about how much he enjoyed wake boarding.

Fresh off his victory in Table Topics at the Area 02 contest, Stan was given the challenge of providing a definition for oikophobia. Oikophobia is the fear of home surroundings, but Stan cleverly said that “oik” was Latin for “pig.” Therefore, Stan confidently concluded, oikophobia was simply the fear of pigs. Oikophobia, according to Stan, is closely related to similar phobias, cat-aphobia and canine-aphobia. One way to over come oikophobia is to be gradually exposed to bacon. I can see why he is a champion; I was convinced he knew what he was talking about.

Some of our newer members and guests got in on the fun. Martin was asked for the definition of achluophobia, which is the fear of darkness. Martin tried convincing us that this phobia describes an irrational fear of the letter “A.” He said that people suffering from this phobia would not give their children a name starting with the letter A. They certainly wouldn’t be the owner of a vehicle manufactured by Acura. People suffering from this phobia wouldn’t even want to breathe AIR! The only reason they are able to survive is because they can breathe oxygen! According to Martin, this is a very serious phobia indeed.

Michael, a visiting guest, was required to give the definition of hylephobia. Hylephobia is the fear of wood and wooded areas. Michael told us that “high-lephobia” was a fear of heights. He told us that a person with this phobia would avoid places that are high up. I personally enjoyed Michael’s speech because of the attention paid to the Timer, Nam. Once Nam held up the green piece of paper indicating his time was up, Michael let out a sigh of relief and simply said, “Thank you.”

Tetraphobia is the fear of the number 4. Christian was given the final task of giving us the definition of this tricky phobia. Christian cleverly said that “tetra” relates to earth, so this is a fear of all things relating to the earth. This person could only seek refuge by living on a boat.

After the fun of Table Topics with Toby, the general evaluator game to podium. Hyacinthe called up Susan who was the evaluator of Mark’s speech. Susan particularly enjoyed Mark’s voice and how he inspired emotion in the audience. She felt he was well prepared and should learn to use pauses instead of apologizing.

Once Susan was finished with her evaluation, Hyacinthe called for the reports from the Timer, Word Master, and Grammarian/Ah Counter. The meeting adjourned after positions were filled for next week. I don’t have all the details of this in my notes, but I do know there will be 3 speakers, so that will be exciting!

Favorite Podcasts – Part 1

Over the past year I have become a big fan of listening to podcasts. I have gone from subscribing to a handful to being borderline obsessed with podcasts. I have been using Downcast as my preferred means of listening. I have tried other apps in the past, but Downcast has stood head and shoulders above the rest. I tried Apple’s podcast app, but found it to not be very well done. I was pretty disappointed in it, but I can save that rant for another day. If you are looking for a solid podcasting app for iOS, I highly recommend checking out Downcast. It is worth the money.

Downcast gives you the ability to add podcasts to playlist. I currently have the 33 podcasts split over the following 9 playlists:

  • Sports
  • News
  • Programming
  • Education
  • Fitness
  • Positivity
  • Rogan and Friends
  • Science
  • Tech

I’m going to go through each of these playlists and mention the podcasts that I find to be the most important and influential.


My favorite podcasts in this playlist would be The Dan Patrick Show, Pardon the Interruption, and Around the Horn. There are others in this playlist, but I find these three give me the best snapshot of what is happening in the world of sports on a daily basis.

I love the DPShow because it reminds me of how my friends and I sit around and talk about sports. There is a friendly atmosphere associated with the show. I love the interaction between the “Dan-ettes.” I really enjoy Fritzy’s mock headlines, especially when they are on the perverted-side (as they often are with him). I enjoy McLovin’s daily antics and how Dan and the other Dan-ettes react. He had one installment of his Against the Grain segment involving Fritzy’s miniature football helmets that was a complete disaster in the studio, but it was an amazing listen. Seton and Paulie also bring a lot to the show, but I’ve always been more of a fan of boys in the Back Row.

I’ve been watching PTI and ATH for years now, and don’t always have the time to sit down at 4:00 to watch both the shows on ESPN. Having the ability to listen to them via podcast is a welcomed treat.


I only have a single podcast in this playlist: NPR 7am News Summary. This podcast is only 5 minutes, but it gives me a good idea of what is going on across the world. I normally listen to this as I’m making breakfast in the morning, so I have a handle on what is happening in the world of news. Unfortunately the majority of what I hear involves violence and death, but that’s not NPR’s fault. That’s more a problem of human nature.

Toastmasters – 3rd Meeting

Susan started the meeting promptly on time. Ann led us in the Invocation and Pledge. We had a number of guests at this meeting, which is exciting to see. I hope they enjoyed themselves and will consider coming back next monday. After welcoming the guests, Susan went on to call up Mark, who was the evening’s provider of humor.

I found Mark’s joke to be rather funny. The story centered around Mark as he was receiving from the previous night’s St. Patrick’s Day “festivities.” In the story, Mark found himself at a gas station filling his car up with a little bit of gas. While he was at the pump, he noticed another man was filling his car up. This other man caught Mark’s eye because he was smoking a cigarette while he filled his vehicle with the flammable fluid. Just about the time that Mark had this thought, the man’s arm was engulfed in flames. Mark came to the man’s aid and managed to help him put the fire out. Mark went into the gas station and was looking to buy some burn creme for the man, when a police office came pulling up outside. The police office began to arrest the burn victim. Mark went to the police officer and politely asked, “why are you arresting this man?” The officer replied, “because he has an illegal fire arm.”

After Mark’s joke, Susan went on to introduce who was playing the different roles for the evening. Tammy Lowe played the role of the Word Master/Grammarian/ and Ah-Counter. Tammy’s word for the evening was, “obsess.” Mark played the role of Timer, filling in for Weixin Lu. Susan was the General Evaluator. After the introductions were done, Susan welcomed the Toastmaster, Toby Pugh.

Toby enthusiastically approached the podium and called up the only speaker for the evening, myself. My speech covered my journey through college and how I came to join Toastmasters. The transcript of my speech can be found here.

After my speech, Hyancithe led the Table Topics portion of the meeting. Hyancithe’s questions centered around the theme of St. Patrick’s Day. His first question was, “Have you ever attended a St. Patrick’s Day Parade? If so, how did you like it?” Ann was called on to answer this question. Ann stood up and took the podium and gave a wonderful answer. She talked about attending a parade and took her poodle, Talula. She mentioned attending a parade in Ireland…I imagine that was a blast!

The next question in Hyancithe’s arsenal of questions was asked of Nam. The question was, “if your birthday was on March 17th, how would you celebrate?” Nam mentioned that he had never celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, but he may consider it next year. He steered the question towards talking about how much he enjoys fishing. It was nice to hear a person speak about a hobby in which they enjoy so much.

Toby was asked how he felt about the environmental impacts of dying bodies of water green in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Toby’s feelings were that if the water can be colored in a way that isn’t harmful to the environment, then “party on!”

Hyancithe asked Tammy about her favorite season. Tammy doesn’t care too much for the “extreme” weather seasons of winter and summer. Of spring and fall, Tammy prefers spring because of the renewal seen in nature. She mentioned she had bought a new house and is looking forward to seeing what springs up in her yard/garden.

One of the guests was asked the fifth and final question of Table Topics. Martin was asked about his favorite tune. Martin told the group that he really enjoys Christian music. This brought Table Topics to a close. Susan took the podium and called for the evening’s only evaluator, Ann.

Ann delivered a scathing review of my speech…I’m just kidding. Ann had good things to say about Brian’s speech. She seemed to enjoy the changing tones of the speech, saying it was, “mysterious,” and “funny.”

Once Ann was done, the Timer and Ah Counters gave their account for the evening. I can’t recall specifics of the times given, but all of them were within the specified time limits. Tammy was a very good listener, as she found numerous examples of “ahhs” tucked away in people’s speeches. I think Toby was one of the few that went unscathed by “ahhs.”

Wearing her president’s hat, Susan did make a comment that the podium should never be left empty at a Toastmasters meeting. The person calling another to the podium should remain behind the podium until the other gets there. There should be a seamless transition of power.

The meeting was adjourned on time. Roles were assigned for next week. I don’t recall all of the roles, but I do know that I will be playing the role of the Word Master/Grammarian/ Ah Counter, and Mark will be giving his Ice Breaker.

Toastmasters – 2nd Meeting

I attended my second Toastmasters meeting last night. While I wasn’t completely comfortable, I was certainly more at ease with the experience. As was the same as last week, there were two main speakers. The two speakers were April and Paul.

Speech #1

April was working on her second speech of the Competent Communication curriculum. Her speech centered around the idea of health and nutrition, and how both of those are within our power to control. I consider myself to be conscious of nutrition and my health (probably too much so if you ask my friends), so I found her speech to be interesting. She mentioned a number of diets:

  • Dr. Oz’s Diet
  • Paleo
  • Popcorn Diet
  • Southbeach Diet

I had never heard of the Popcorn Diet, so that was interesting. I’m not sure how one can do meal replacement with nothing but popcorn, but whatever. Everyone is different and somethings work different for others. I personally could not imagine doing that. As it stands right now, if I don’t take in greater than 3000 calories, I wilt away into nothing.

The main objective of her speech was to provide the listeners with a speech where there was a clear outline. I felt, as did her evaluator, that she accomplished this goal.

Speech #2

Paul was looking to inspire us as he set out to accomplish his tenth speech of the Competent Communication curriculum. I’ve only met Paul twice, but on both occasions he exudes a great sense of humor. From what I’ve gathered, if Paul is speaking there will be some humor injected at some point. The speech he delivered certainly fit with this concept.

His speech was fashioned after Jeff Foxworthy’s bit, “You might be a redneck…,” only Paul’s leadoff line was, “You might be a Toastmaster…” I found Paul’s speech to be entertaining; I didn’t feel a sense of inspiration until towards the end. Paul said, “…and if your friends, coworkers, and family suddenly say to you, ‘you have a lot more confidence,’ then you might be a Toastmaster.” That really spoke to me and confirmed that I am in the right place. I’m not the most confident public speaker, especially when I have to speak off the cuff, but it is comforting knowing that the others in the room feel the same and are doing something about it.

Table Topics – Favorite Hobby

Kyle led the Table Topics portion of the meeting. I was called on to share my favorite hobby. I stood up and rattled off a handful of my favorite hobbies; I spoke too little last time so I had to make up for it this week. I mentioned basketball as my favorite hobby, which is no question to me. When I go periods of time without either shooting a basketball or playing a pickup game, I will start to have dreams about playing basketball. The game of basketball courses through my veins. I also mentioned a couple of my newfound hobbies: yoga and biking. I’ve already talked about yoga on this blog, so I won’t elaborate. The weather has been too cold and windy for me to go biking, but when it warms up, I’ll be taking weekly trips to Lake Hefner to cruise around.

I closed out the meeting by agreeing to give my Ice Breaker speech at the next meeting. I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully I can give the others in the group a good idea of who I am as a person, and what I want to accomplish from Toastmasters.