Monthly Archives: April 2013

Toastmasters – April 22nd, 2013

The room was bustling with small talk before Ann called the meeting to order with the smack of her gavel. She led us in the invocation and we all said the Pledge of Allegiance. This was all pretty standard from what I’ve seen during my time in Toastmasters. The rest of the evening, however, was not so standard.

On this particular evening, new members were formally inducted. Hyacinthe led this portion of the meeting. He read from the official Toastmasters New Member Induction Ceremony document, which can be found here. All of the new members, myself included, lined-up along the front of the room as Hyacinthe read the document. Once he was finished, we each received a pin from Susan that we are to wear to each meeting. The new inductees grouped together for a few photographs, and the ceremony was finished.

Since this was a special evening, there were no speakers. Ann led a 30 minute session of Table Topics. This was no ordinary Table Topics session though. Ann would ask a single question, and there would be two responses from randomly chosen participants. One person would take a positive stance to the question, and the other would take a negative stance. This led to some interesting responses.

Statement 1: If you could fix dinner for a special person, who would it be and what would you make?

Brian: I said I would fix dinner for my girlfriend, Tiffany. She lives in Washington D.C., and I don’t get to see her often. I would prepare a meal of Dungeness Crab, kale, zucchini, and tea.

Nam: Nam said he would cook for his wife. He said he wasn’t the greatest cook, but “I can fry up some eggs.” For dessert, he and his wife would enjoy ice cream that he would have picked up from Braum’s.

His response wasn’t the negative of mine, but I will say that he had the trickiest question of the night to take the negative of. I probably would have done the same.

Statement 2: Dogs are definitely smarter than cats.

Lu: He felt dogs are definitely smarter than cats because they protect your family. Cats stay out of sight and keep their distance. Dr. Lu did a great impression of the sound a dog makes when you pet it, but I don’t think I can fully express that through writing. You just had to be there to fully appreciate it!

Martin: He felt that cats are much smarter than dogs, specifically large cats. He mentioned cheetahs and how intelligent they are when they hunt.

Statement 3: Everyone should own a gun and the world would be a safer place.

There were a couple of memorable quotes dished out in this epic dual.

David: “Peace is the way, and let me tell yah, I’ve got a piece.” “Everyone should carry nuclear bombs.” I may have to slightly disagree with David on how everyone having nukes would affect world peace…just slightly.

Stan: Stan felt that the path to world peace is not paved with all of humanity owning guns. According to Stan, world peace could be achieved if everyone carried a knife. Stan pointed out that Susan could stand to carry two knives. You would think everyone carrying knives would have in impact on fashion, but not according to Stan. A knife could be wielded fashionably by using a, “leather sheath.” Stan ended his razor-sharp response with a fist bang on the podium followed by the word, “knives.”

Statement 4: Technology has greatly improved our life in so many ways.

Mark: He felt technology has certainly improved our lives. 100 years ago we didn’t have central heat and air. Technological advances in medicine have improved our lives. Mark brought up the printing press and how revolutionary it was. The thought of Stephen King penning his own books shows how much technology has impacted society.

Mike: Taking the negative view, Mike talked about how technology has ruined everyone. There is no more privacy. Information can now travel the world instantly, which is both a blessing and a curse. For the person that doesn’t want to hear about all of the evils in the world, technology brings about harm.

Statement 5: What is your favorite comic strip?

Henry: Henry had a tough time coming up with a favorite comic strip. He would have been a solid choice for the negative version of this question, but I thought the way he ended his speech was perfect. After a minute or two, he just simply said, “uhhh, I hate comics.”

April: Taking the opposite view, April didn’t have a favorite comic strip because of the lack of comic strips she has been exposed to in her life. She was right when she said they aren’t as prevalent nowadays. I think I would have gone with Spider-Man or the X-Men and just hoped that counted.

Statement 6: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

Tammy: I think Tammy has thought about this question before because she had numerous locations she would go. She would travel to Paris, this time without the company of her teenage daughter. She would like to go to Germany and see King Ludwig’s Castle. Looking at the picture I can see why she would want to do that.

Nam: Nam got a second chance to take the negative point on a question. Instead of traveling to Paris or Germany, Nam would rather sit on the couch and watch Thunder basketball. He wouldn’t have to deal with the hassles and headaches of traveling. Everything he needs is right here in central Oklahoma!

That concluded the Table Topics portion of the meeting. The Toastmaster, Susan, called on the reports from the helpers for the night’s meeting. Mark was the only speaker who didn’t utter an “ah.” April, the grammarian, informed me that it is incorrect to conclude a speech with, “and…yeah.” I clearly can see that’s not the thing to do, but when I’m up giving an impromptu speech, that’s about as good of an ending as I’m capable of producing right now. That’s the reason I’m in Toastmasters thought. Gradually, I will become more comfortable with the impromptu speeches.

We had a couple of guests for the evening on this night. Charles had nothing but nice things to say about his experience with the group. I was happy to see Bonnie back again. The meeting ended with Susan making remarks as the president of the group. Susan encouraged us to strive to see the yellow card when speaking. Many of us, myself included, bail out as soon as that precious green card is lifted. Assignments were made for next week, and the meeting adjourned. I believe we are going to have three speakers on Monday, so that will be an action packed meeting!

Toastmasters – April 8th, 2013

As usual, Ann started the meeting on time. Ann called on Mark to lead us in the invocation for the evening. Mark chose to recite the Lord’s Prayer, and was joined by other members of the group. Ann lead us in the saying of the Pledge of Allegiance. Susan was called to the podium to welcome our guests for the evening, which if my memory serves me right, we had two guests. The club business mentioned by Susan mostly revolved around how awesome some of our members have performed in the area contests.

The Toastmaster for the evening was Stan. As we all know, there are many moving pieces to a Toastmasters’ meeting. There are several roles that must be filled in order for the evening to go smoothly. Stan introduced each of the helpers and invited each to give a brief description of the job he or she would be performing for the evening.

David, in addition to giving his Ice Breaker, volunteered to bring a bit of humor to the group. David’s story involved a child in a small swimming pool. The child’s father was watching the strange behavior of the child, as the child stomped around the wading pool. Eventually, the child became fed up with the water in the pool and he began to scoop out the water. The curious father eventually approached the child and asked why he was scooping out the water. The child, apparently having recently heard the tale of Jesus walking on water, was upset because, “the water wasn’t working correctly.”

The word of the evening was chosen by Mark. Mark chose “faze” as the word that each of us should try to incorporate into our speeches for the evening. Ann filled in as the Grammarian and Ah-Counter. I played the role of the Timer/Ballot Counter, and our General Evaluator was Ann. Big evening for Ann, she wore many hats at this meeting!

Our first speaker was April. April was giving her third speech, which according to the Competent Communication manual centers around, “getting to the point.” April chose to speak about Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. I have read this book, myself, and I must say it was an excellent choice for a speech. April chose several themes from the book that spoke to her most. April learned how to be interesting to other people, which ironically, is to become interesting in the other person. She was able to apply this principle during a recent business meeting, in which a single question filled an hour’s worth of time. April learned how to see the best in other people. Accepting that not every argument can be won was another life-principle April picked up from Mr. Carnegie’s book. The final principle April learned, is very important. There is no greater sound to a person’s ears than the sound of their own name. April learned to use people’s names when speaking with them; this makes them feel important.

Following April’s speech, was Dr. Lu, who gave us a glimpse into his life by giving his first speech: Ice Breaker. It was very evident from Dr. Lu’s speech that he is a very dynamic person. He seems to have many different interests. He told us about the proper pronunciation of his name. It is difficult to get his name legally changed to better represent the proper pronunciation, so he has stuck with his current name. Dr. Lu was born in China, and came to the U.S. for medical research. This choice of profession did not sit well with his wife and parents, and eventually he became a research psychiatrist. Dr. Lu has been married for 16 years. Dr. Lu has aspirations of being a better follower of Christ. He has many hobbies including stamp and coin collection. He concluded his speech with a singular phrase he feels best describes him, “a man without a focus.”

Our final speaker of the evening was David. David was also giving his ice breaker speech. The first thing I noticed about David was how positive he was. He joined the Michigan and Indiana National Guard. He told the recruiter to send him south, so that’s how he came to be a “nut from Ohio,” living in Oklahoma. David attended college in Chickasha, Oklahoma. He was invited to a Kenyan wedding, where he met Susan and his future wife, who rendered him, “speechless.” It seemed David’s main reason for joining Toastmasters was the become a better communicator. He felt this would not only help him in his marriage, but also in his business. David served as a medic during his time in the military, so he has a passion for helping others. He ended his speech by telling us about an event taking place at the Cox Convention Center this Saturday and public speakers are needed.

Christie led the Table Topics portion of the meeting. She had recently returned from a trip to the always water-logged Seattle. Knowing this information, it is no shock that her questions centered around the theme of water. Michael was asked to share his favorite setting involving water. Michael loves wake boarding, and has desires to go surfing some day. Hunter shared his favorite water activity. He likes to go kneeboarding, but told Michael he has yet to try wake boarding. Hunter loves to go swimming, and likes to try to touch the bottom, as long as the pressure in his ears allow. I have, “dolphin with lasers,” written down in my notes. I can’t recall the context in which this was used, but I know I got a chuckle out of it. The final speaker for Table Topics was a guest. Neen was asked if she has ever been successful in planting a garden. She felt she was a, “pretty lousy gardner.” She went on to say the, “majority of the plants in her house die.” I applaud her honesty; if I were asked the same question, my responses would have been very similar.

The detail of my notes trailed off at this point because I had to focus on counting the ballots, so I don’t have much information about the three evaluations.

The best speaker of the night was April. Hunter was voted the best Table Topics speaker. I was happy to see Michael win Most Improved Table Topics speakers; even in just the few meetings he has been coming, I can see him becoming more comfortable. Alexis was considered to be the best evaluator of the evening.

I don’t have much in the way of notes on Ann’s thoughts on the flow of the meeting. I’ll try to jot a few more things down during the General Evaluator’s portion of the meeting next time. Roles were set up for next meeting, and the meeting adjourned. I look forward to seeing you all next week. I need to start working on my speech!

First Hunting Experience

For the previous 27 years of my life, I was averse to the idea of hunting. Hunting was very big in my family, especially on my father’s side. I tried to get into once, but I just couldn’t find an interest in it. I shot a bird and a frog with a pellet gun when I was little. All that left me with was a sense of regret. From that point, I was not interested in the idea of hunting. I thought it was inhumane and cruel. Today, I went turkey hunting with my uncle and my father, and I must say, I had a pretty good time.

I went to my parent’s house last night, so I wouldn’t have to get up really early to make the drive from Oklahoma City to Chandler before sunrise. My dad woke me up at 5am; we had to be ready to go once my uncle got to the house at 6am. The three of us arrived at the designated hunting spot still under the cover of darkness. My dad and uncle knew the area pretty well, and they suspected some turkeys would come strolling through the area once the sun came up.

My dad and I setup just to the west of a pond dam, and my uncle was just to the east of us along a fence. My dad had a decoy of a female turkey that he placed in the clearing just about 40 yards in front of our hunting spot. Within minutes of us getting settled in, we heard several gobbles in the not-so-far-off distance. I’m new to the world of hunting, but I thought this was pretty impressive. These two men clearly know their stuff! My uncle started using his turkey call, but couldn’t seem to woo the sought-after male turkey towards neither him nor us.

The next 30 to 45 minutes were relatively quiet. It wasn’t long after this that we started to year a couple gobbles off in the distance. Before too long, two hens came into our field of vision. They came into the clearing just off to our south and came charging towards the decoy. These two ladies didn’t seem pleased there was this sexy new lady on their turf. They checked out the decoy for a little bit; they didn’t seem too impressed with what they saw out of the inflatable plastic hen. The two gals started to make their way off to the west.

Just as the two ladies were exiting our field of vision, a male turkey came strutting in. This guy was all puffed up, but was treading lightly. He didn’t come charging in on the decoy like the two hens did. He kept his distance, and eventually made his way behind a cedar tree just to our south. He must have caught eyes with the two ladies because he kept moving to the west after them.

I thought this was the only chance we were going to have on this hunting trip, but I was wrong. A little bit later we started to hear gobbles off to the north. From where my dad and I were setup, we couldn’t see very far to the north because of all the timber. There was no way for either of us to shift positions. Not only were our legs asleep from sitting so long, but it sounded like the turkey was too close for us to start making any sudden movements. My dad and I sat very still, and this thing had to have been within 10 feet of us. We could hear it stepping through the leaves just at our back. I figured he was going to lock eyes with our decoy and go check her out, but this guy was far too savvy for that. This turkey has been around the block a few times because he took off to the north, out of our field of vision.

We had another opportunity on the same land, but it was spoiled by the owner-of-the-land’s dog. The dog was just over the hill from us chasing any animal that entered “his domain.” We packed our things and discussed the events of the morning. From the way my uncle talked, the turkey that was nearly in our back pocket, was a beast. He seemed agitated by the fact my dad and myself didn’t get a shot on the bird, but he seemed very enthusiastic about the morning’s events.

My dad and uncle had permission to hunt on a different person’s land, so we headed there. Right as we pulled up, there was a hen walking north across the dirt road onto the land we were about to hunt on. We quickly got our gear and headed onto the land because we knew there would have to be a male chasing her. My uncle stayed near the top of a hill. My dad and I went farther down a hill to the north. My dad instructed me to lean up against a tree he had picked out. We weren’t there more than 5 minutes before a female came within view. A few minutes after she came in view, two males came rushing after her. This was the best opportunity for me to shoot, but the way I was setup next to the tree kept me from comfortably taking a shot. I am right handed with everything in life, except shooting a gun. The tree I was leaning against kept me from rotating the way I needed to to take the shot. I probably could have shot right-handed, but hindsight is always 20/20. There were a couple other encounters with the same pair of males, but nothing ever developed quite like the previous encounters.

When I expressed interest in going hunting with my dad, he said one of the things he enjoys about it is the adrenaline rush he feels. I didn’t know what he was talking about until today. There were two occurrences when it seemed like an adrenaline-filled bomb went off inside my body. It was pretty cool to experience what my dad was talking about.

So after 27 years of being against hunting, why did I decide to go? Hunting has played a big role in many members of my family’s lives. I wanted to experience what they have experienced. During my time as a child, I enjoyed spending time outdoors. I spend so much time hovering over a keyboard, watching TV, and doing other things indoors, I felt I was losing touch with nature. I wanted to reconnect with the Great Outdoors. Most importantly, I wanted to spend time with members of my family. I had a great time, and I’m actually going back tonight so we can go again in the morning.

Favorite Podcasts – Part 2

Building on my last post on the subject of podcasts, I’m going to briefly discuss my favorite podcasts that deal with programming, fitness, and positivity.

Programming

I’ve been trying to immerse myself in the world of programming since I have started working as a software developer. My work requires that I write code in Ruby. Keeping this in mind, I did some searching online and came across a couple Ruby-centric podcasts. The Ruby Rogues is one, and The Ruby Show is the other.

The Ruby Rogues is a weekly show where a panel of guests sit down and talk about a specific topic involving Ruby. There have been some amazing guests on the show, and I have learned a lot and been inspired by them. One of my favorite guests on the show was Sandi Metz. After hearing her, I went to Amazon and purchased her latest book. I am still working through it, but it has been an amazing read so far. I have been trying to apply what I have learned through the book at my work.

The Ruby Show is a weekly podcast where latest news in the Ruby community is discussed. It is significantly shorter than The Ruby Rogues, but I always find out about a new gem or way of learning online that is interesting.

Fitness

Robb Wolf’s podcast about fitness and eating paleo has become one of the podcasts I look forward to most on a weekly basis. Robb and his cohost answer health and fitness questions submitted by listeners. I have learned a great deal about fitness and nutrition through this podcast. Listening to it has given me ideas of new types of exercises to try, and new types of foods to try in the kitchen. For anyone interested in health and fitness, regardless if you are “doing paleo”, I highly recommend this podcast.

Positivity

I have been making strides to be a more positive person, and some of the podcasts in this playlist help me on my daily journey to be happier and more positive. There are two that are at the top: Zencast and AudioDharma. Regardless of your religious affiliation, I feel you can learn from the messages presented in these podcasts. The various speakers stress the importance of living in the moment and paying attention to the feelings you are having. There is something very powerful about being angry and having the ability to ask yourself, “why am I feeling upset?” These podcasts offer a weekly reminder to keep this mindset. I don’t always succeed in implementing the tactics discussed in these podcasts, but I feel I am becoming a better person, and hopefully my friends and family would agree.