Table Topics Thursday: Topic 10

This Thursday’s Table Topics Question is: What do you complain about more than anything else?

Let me preface my answer by saying that I really don’t see myself as much of a complainer.

That being said, I have my moments.

I’m not sure that there’s any one thing that I tend to complain about more than anything else.

I suppose I have the usual complaints from time to time: traffic, the weather, work.

I think recently, what I’ve been complaining about the most would be my new cubicle at work.

There’s been a reorganization at work recently and, as part of it, I was moved to a new cubicle.

The problem is, the cubicle is about half the size of my old one and, even though it’s only about 15 to 20 feet away from my old cube, it’s also about 15 to 20 degrees warmer.

I don’t know what it is, but it’s like I’ve moved to a different climactic zone.

It’s gotten to the point that I’ve had to request a power strip just so I can get myself a little fan to keep me cool.

So now it’s your turn: What do you complain about more than anything else?


Educational Update

Today, as planned, I presented my 10th speech from the Competent Communicator Manual.  The purpose was: “Inspire Your Audience” and I will go into the speech details in a later post.

For my Advanced Communicator Bronze, I have chosen to pursue the Special Occasion Speeches and Humorously Speaking manuals.

The important thing is that this completes the manual and I am now officially a Competent Communicator!  This is the first of four goals in the Communication Track of the Toastmasters Educational Program.

As a result, I have also attained Advanced Leader Bronze, having completed each of the other requirements, which is the second of three goals in the Leadership Track!

Completing all goals on each track achieves Distinguished Toastmaster, the highest honor in Toastmasters.

As an additional benefit, this is the second Competent Communicator award earned in my club this year which earns us one more point in the Distinguished Club Program.

This gives us a total of seven DCP points, which makes us a Select Distinguished Club!  Our goal is President’s Distinguished and now we only need two more points.

Word of the Week Wednesday: Maudlin

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: maudlin.

Maudlin is an adjective which means excessively emotional or sentimental to the extent of being weepy.

Being a fan of bands like the Smiths and the Cure, I find this appealing.

Morrissey has a song named: Late Night Maudlin Street and the liner notes of the Cure album, Wish include a quote from Shelley’s To a Skylark:

We look before and after,
And pine for what is not:
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.

The word itself is a variation on Mary Magdalene, who is often portrayed as weeping.

CL Project 10: Team Building

I plan to complete my Competent Communicator Manual this coming Wednesday.  It’s the final requirement for achieving my Advanced Leader Bronze.

That being the case, there’s no better time than now to wrap up the retrospective of my journey through the Competent Leadership by presenting the tenth project of the Competent Leadership Manual: Team Building.

The purpose of this project, as the last one in the manual, is to use all the leadership skills practiced in the previous projects to put together a well-functioning team.

To complete this project, you need to either serve as Toastmaster and General Evaluator (in two separate meeting) or serve as one of the following:

  • Club Membership Campaign or Contest Chairman
  • Club Public Relations Campaign Chairman
  • Club Speech Contest Chairman
  • Club Special Event Chairman
  • Club Newsletter Editor or Webmaster

I chose to do Toastmaster and General Evaluator.

For Toastmaster, I emceed the special meeting we held for our Talk-Up Toastmasters! event.  I coordinated every part of the meeting to fit the theme of: “What Toastmasters has done for me.”.  This entailed coordinating the speeches, Word of the Day and Table Topics to match the theme.

For General Evaluator, I worked with the evaluation team, including the Speech Evaluators, the Grammarian and the Timer to makes sure everyone understood their jobs and worked together as a team.

So, this wraps up my Competent Leadership Manual series of posts.  My Competent Communicator Manual series will also be coming to a close soon.  I then start sharing my journey towards Advanced Leader Bronze.

Word of the Week Wednesday: portmanteau

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: portmanteau.

A portmanteau is a blended or compound word made up of two different words mashed together to combine the meanings of the constituent parts.

Examples are: smog, a mixture of smoke and fog; chortle, a combination of a snort and a chuckle; motel, composed of motor and hotel.

The word is named after a type of suitcase that opens into two parts which comes from the french words porter, to carry and manteau, a cloak.

It was coined, in the sense of a blended word, by Lewis Carroll.  He uses it in Through the Looking Glass where Humpty Dumpty defines the word to explain the language used in Jabberwocky, such as slithy being a combination of lithe and slimy or mimsy being a combination of flimsy and miserable.

Being a fan of the English language, and its inventive use, I can’t help but be a huge fan of Lewis Carroll, so my choice of this word shouldn’t be at all surprising.

Besides the fact that my first exposure to this word is steeped in memories of the delightful nonsense of Wonderland, I love the concept of melding two disparate words into a gestalt and creating something new.

Song Lyric Spotlight Twofer: Another Satellite/Jupiter Crash

Today we’ll be looking at two different songs. Another Satellite (full lyrics) by XTC and Jupiter Crash (full lyrics) by The Cure.

Both songs use astronomical metaphors, in very different ways, to explore romantic relationships.  They use themes of attraction and insignificance inherent in planetary movements to show the same romantic themes. As Above, So Below.

Another Satellite is from the album, Skylarking.  Like many of my favorite XTC songs, it is dense with metaphor.  Some lyrics:

Abort your mission let’s just say you tried
Before you glimpse I have a darker darker side
I say why in Heaven’s name do you come on these trips
Only to freeze in a total eclipse
Don’t need another satellite

The theme in this song describes unwanted and unrequited attraction as an annoyance in the form of the above-named superfluous satellite.

Jupiter Crash from Wild Mood Swings, on the other hands, presents the singer, not the object, as the one with unwanted attraction.

The song starts out hopefully enough.  The singer brings the object of his affection out to see the spectacle of comets hitting Jupiter.  This is presented as a symbol of their attraction.  Sadly the symbolism was poorly chosen as, after the show, the object of his attraction is singularly unimpressed.  Like many songs by The Cure, this song explores the concepts of futility and isolation.  This is particularly poignant because of the failed attempt to show attraction and inevitability.

The closing lyrics:

Yeah that was it
That was the jupiter crash
Drawn too close and gone in a flash
Just a few bruises in the region of the splash…

She left to the sound of the sea
She just drifted away from me
Yeah,So much for gravity…

CL Project 9: Mentoring

The Ninth Project in the Competent Leadership Manual is: Mentoring.

To complete this project, you have to do one of the following:

The purpose (at least for the first two) is to practice your one-on-one leadership skills.

The Successful Club Series Presentation, Mentoring describes the process and benefits of mentoring in Toastmasters.

For this project, I mentored an existing member as she worked her way through the Competent Leadership Manual.

Working from my own experience and knowledge of the CL Manual, I laid out a plan for how to work through the manual by tracking her progress.  As a result, she became our club’s second Competent Leader.

Table Topics Thursday Topic 9

This Thursday’s Topic is: If you could have any view from your back porch, what would it be?

I’m finding this one especially difficult for some reason.

I think the reason is that each of my immediate responses feel clichéd.

Whether it’s a beach view…

or a view of the woods…

or the mountains…

It all seems kind of trite.

That’s not to say that I would mind any of these views, but none of them really speak to me as especially wondrous and I’m sure there are more meaningful answers that wouldn’t feel so overused, but I can’t think of any at the moment.

If I had to choose, I would probably opt for the beach view.  I wouldn’t choose the mountains because I’m not particularly fond of heights and I would avoid the woods because I’ve been in cabins in the woods and the bugs were horrible.

I love the sights and smells of the beach and I’d love to be near it, as long as I didn’t need to walk on the sand too much.

So…maybe you’ve got a better answer.  Let me know: If you could have any view from your back porch, what would it be?

Word of the Week Wednesday: inkhorn

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: inkhorn.

Literally, an inkhorn is just what it sounds like: a container made of horn used to hold ink.  But by now you should know that I always prefer the expanded, figurative meaning.

Figuratively, it means pretentiously academic in the use of language, especially by the overuse of Latin or Greek loan-words.

It got this meaning because the ink horn was a tool used by academics and thus became associated with them, particularly their tendency to be annoyingly pedantic.

I chose this word as a self-referential dig.  It gives me the opportunity to remind myself of the dangers of becoming too pedantic inherent in writing a blog on language.

It’s all well and good to have a healthy love of language and share that love with others, but I want to remain ever-vigilant, lest I become sesquipedalian.


The Lovely Runner-Up Strikes Again!

Today was the First Club Meeting Contest that I’ve been talking so much about recently.

We took Second Place!

This actually came as a surprise to me as my club is just two years old and we were competing against much more experienced clubs, one of which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year!

I found out today that there were six clubs across the district (Eastern Virginia) competing, the best three competing on stage today.  We originally came in fourth as so were not going to compete, but one of the original top three could not make it, so we were asked to compete.

We spent a very hectic week scrounging to fill all the necessary roles.

Competing was a lot of fun and the other two clubs were very impressive.  As an added bonus, we picked up a few practices that we might be including to improve our own meetings.  Particularly gratifying was that members of the other clubs mentioned aspects of our meeting that they plan to use!

Also, I don’t think I’ve mentioned before that the entire contest was taped to be used to market Toastmasters to prospective members!  We’ll be famous! 🙂

My friend, Jen, came to the contest to support me.  I’m very grateful for the support and she’s even now expressed interest in possibly joining a Toastmasters club after having seen a meeting.  (See, the marketing is already working!)

In closing, I want to thank the club members who participated and helped bring this honor  to our club.

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