The end of June means changes in Toastmasters.

The Toastmasters year ends June 30th.

Yesterday, our club held its second End of Year Celebration where we induct our new Club Officers.

I have handed over the reins of Club Presidency to a most able successor and have taken on the role of Immediate Past President.

In this role, I will serve as a mentor and adviser to the club and will be responsible for chairing the Nominating Committee for the officers for the year after next.

In addition to my role as Immediate Past President, on July 1st, I will begin my term as Area Governor (as I’ve mentioned before).

As Area Governor, I will be responsible for working with the four clubs in my area to help them achieve their goals.

Additionally, I will be working to help the area as a whole achieve the goals required to become a Distinguished Area.  To that end, I will be tracking those goals on my Distinguished Area Status Page in a similar way to how I’ve been tracking  my club’s progress in the Distinguished Club Program.

I will also be responsible for conducting two Area Governor Visits per club and organizing the Area Speech Contests.

Since all the clubs in my Area are corporate club, where facility access is strictly controlled, I have started coordinating another place to hold the contests.

Things are changing and it looks like it will be a challenging, but fun year ahead.  Stay tuned as I will surely have much to share in this space.


Word of the Week Wednesday: avoirdupois

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

This word refers to a system of weights used here in the U.S. (and in very few other countries).  Avoirdupois units include pounds, ounces, tons (but not tonnes).

The word comes from the Old French phrase avoir de pois  meaning “goods of weight”.  In this phrase, the verb avoir “to have” is used as a noun to mean “things that are possessed”, therefore goods.

While all that is interesting (to me at least), the reason this word resonates with me is that it reminds me of the charts of weights and measures found on the old marble notebooks we used to use.  Therefore, it reminds me of my days in Elementary School and tickles my sense of nostalgia.

Back then, having picked up a few bits and pieces of French, I saw the word and tried to figure out its etymology.  What I came up with was something like “having of pounds” with the implication that what defined this system from others (specifically the metric system) was that it had pounds and they didn’t.

Obviously, I was wrong, but looking at the real etymology, I was surprisingly not too far off.

Summer Leadership Institute Tomorrow!

District 66 Toastmasters will hold its Summer Leadership Institute tomorrow!

This will be the first of two rounds of training offered by the District for incoming club officers, although all District 66 Toastmasters are invited and encouraged to attend.   The second round will be held on July 23.

For the first time, the training will be conducted simultaneously at three different Virginia locations: Salem, Glen Allen and  Virginia Beach.

The sessions will begin with a brief plenary session where all three locations will be connected via video conference.

After the plenary session, we will break out into separate training sessions.  These will include the standard officer training session plus new material.  This will be especially useful for members who may have already attended officer training in the past and would like to learn something new.

The offerings include:

  • Always Bring you’re A-Game – Part I (the Mechanics of a Great Meeting)
  • Always Bring you’re A-Game – Part II (planning and preparation are the key)
  • Evaluate to Motivate
  • Finding New Members for Your Club
  • Going Beyond Your Club (opportunities for Leadership growth)
  • Promoting Your Club with Websites and Social Media
  • Strategies for Coaching Clubs
  • The Distinguished Club Program
  • The Toastmasters Educational Program
  • When You Are the Secretary
  • When You Are the Sergeant at Arms
  • When You Are the Treasurer
  • When You Are the Vice-President Membership
  • When You Are the Vice-President Public Relations

As usual, each club which sends at least four of its new officers to this training will earn credit towards the Distinguished Club Program, but it’s really worthwhile for any Toastmaster to attend and participate.

As an incoming Area Governor, this will be an opportunity to meet the officers for the clubs in my Area in person, as well as to network with other Toastmasters.  Plus, I’ll be helping to supply the refreshments.

If you’re a Toastmaster in the area, I hope to see you there!

Table Topics Thursday: Topic 14

This Thursday’s Table Topics Question is: Would you rather live by the beach or in the mountains?

I realize that this is similar to a previous topic (or at least lends itself to a similar answer).

Last time, I had a hard time choosing between and, given that I enjoy where I live now (closer to beach than mountain), I would choose beach.

I’m going to pull the old “nice place to visit…” cliché now.  I’ve visited the mountains before and enjoyed it.  However, I do enjoy living in a beach town.  Never mind that I almost never actually visit the beach.

Maybe it’s just the idea of the beach.  I enjoy the salt smell of the sea.  I like the sound of gulls.

So, to live, I would choose the sea.

So, what about you: Would you rather live by the beach or in the mountains?

Word of the Week Wednesday: brouhaha

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

Brouhaha refers to any public excitement or confusing: an ado, uproar or hullabaloo.

I find this word inherently funny, perhaps because it has a laugh in it.

Oddly enough, for such a whimsical sounding word, it has a somewhat diabolical origin.

The word comes to us from French, used in medieval theater as the “cry of the Devil disguised as clergy”.  Apparently, it is a corruption of the Hebrew, barukh habba‘  meaning “blessed be the one who comes”

Word of the Week Wednesday: falderal

This Wednesday’s Word of the Week is: falderal

Falderal (also foderol or folderal) means useless nonsense, a worthless trinket or a waste of time.

This is another old-timey word that I particularly like.  It also sounds quite whimsical to my ear like something bright and shiny but ultimately worthless.

It began as a nonsense word in the refrain of a song, akin to “tra la la” or “obla di obla dah“.  It also reminds me of the Happy Wanderer song.

My knapsack on my back.





Area Governor Training Recap

I just completed training for my new position as Area Governor in Toastmasters District 66.  I start my year of service July 1.

Beyond learning about some of the workings of the District, my up-coming responsibilities and a ton of other useful things, I also had the chance to meet and network with folks from around the District.

My responsibilities as an Area Governor are as follows:

  • Act as a liaison between the four clubs in my area and the District
  • Visit each club at least twice a year, giving help and guidance towards achieving their Distinguished Club goals
  • Install new club officers if invited to do so
  • Plan and conduct Area-level speech contests
  • Ensure club officers attend District-sponsored training
  • Achieve at least Distinguished Area status for the year.
  • Participate in the District Executive Committee (DEC)
  • Form and chair the Area Council to meet at least twice a year

In addition to the responsibilities listed above, the District is asking each Area Governor to provide at least one new club prospect and to encourage each club to add at least one new member a month.

I will continue to track the Distinguished Club Program status of my home club.  But I will also be tracking my area’s progress towards Distinguished Area.

As with the Distinguished Club Program, there are three levels of Distinguished Area: Distinguished, Select Distinguished and President’s Distinguished.

The criteria for Distinguished Area are based in the number of paid clubs in the Area as of June 30th.  This is known as the CLUB BASE.  The CLUB BASE  for my area (barring unforeseen circumstances) will be 4.

The goals for the Distinguished Area program are:

Distinguished: Achieve 4 of the following 5:

  1. CLUB BASE X 0.75 (rounded down) October renewals submitted on time: 3 needed
  2. CLUB BASE X 0.75 (rounded down) April renewals submitted on time: 3 needed
  3. CLUB BASE X 1.75 (rounded down) Competent Communicator Awards: 7 needed
  4. CLUB BASE X 0.5 (rounded down) Advanced Communicator Awards: 2 needed
  5. CLUB BASE X 0.6 (rounded down) Clubs achieving at least Distinguished Club: 2 needed

Select Distinguished: Achieve all 5 goals above PLUS all three of the following:

  • CLUB BASE X 0.8 (rounded down) first Club Visit reports submitted on time: 3 needed
  • CLUB BASE X 0.8 (rounded down) second Club Visit reports submitted on time: 3 needed
  • CLUB BASE X 0.6 (rounded down) clubs with 20 or more members: 2 needed

President’s Distinguished: Achieve all 8 goals above plus a net gain of one club to the area.

There’s a lot involved in being an Area Governor, but I can tell I’m going to enjoy it.



Table Topics Thursday Topic 13

This Thursday’s Table Topics question is: What’s your favorite book and movie?

The question is book and movie, so it calls for two answers (unless it’s a book and the movie made of it, maybe).

I’m not sure I really have a current favorite of either.  I’ve seen a lot of movies that I really loved and many books that I’ve enjoyed immensely.

I’ll start with movies.  For a very long time my favorite movie was Heathers.

It was definitely a period piece with Winona Ryder and Christian Slater.  It was an 80s dark comedy about teenage angst, popularity and rebellion, simultaneously making fun of all these things.

Like many of my favorite things, it is also eminently quotable:

[writing in diary] Betty Finn was a true friend and I sold her out for a bunch of Swatch dogs and Diet Coke heads.

– Winona Ryder’s Character “Veronica Sawyer”

As for books, I don’t have one favorite, but my taste tend to run towards horror fiction or fantasy.  I’m a big fan of Clive Barker and Stephen King and have even dabbled in some Dean Koontz.  Right now, I’m reading The Colour of Magic from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.  I went through my classics phase, reading Dracula and Frankenstein; and my Eldritch Horror phase reading the works of H.P. Lovecraft and related authors.  I’ve also started reading through the Wizard of Oz books.

I read before bed every night, so I’ve always got something keyed up on the Kindle app on my Android phone.

So, what about you: What’s your favorite book and movie?

Word of the Week: brilliant

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

Brilliant means shining, sparkling or lustrous.  It also means distinguished or illustrious (itself a word derived from light).  Or it can be used to mean very intelligent or bright.

This is not an uncommon word, but it’s one I’m fond of.

What I find interesting is that this word and its synonyms can all be tied back to the concept of light.  It seems like an embedded metaphor for great intelligence or achievement bringing light into the world, shining through the darkness of ignorance and mediocrity.

This is carried through by the visual metaphor of a light bulb indicating the inspiration of a good idea.


Song Lyric Spotlight: Where Your Eyes Don’t Go

It’s time again for Song Lyric Spotlight, where I discuss a song whose lyrics strike me as clever or poignant.  A song which uses clever turns of phrase or inventive uses of metaphor.

I mention it, because it’s been a while since the last spotlight and I wanted to give a refresher for any new readers.

Enough preamble, let’s get on with the spotlight.

Today’s I’m spotlighting “Where Your Eyes Don’t Go” (full lyrics) by They Might Be Giants.  This song was released on their 1988 album, Lincoln.

Where Your Eye’s Don’t Go is a tribute to the subconscious mind (with a somewhat nightmarish bent).

It’s a fast-paced song with the lyrics coming rapid-fire talking about the part of our minds that we’re not aware of and what mischief it might be getting up to while we’re not looking.

My favorite part of the lyrics would have to be:

Every jumbled pile of person has a thinking part that wonders
What the part that isn’t thinking isn’t thinking of
Should you worry when the skullhead is in front of you
Or is it worse because it’s always waiting where your eyes don’t go?

The reflexiveness (or is it recursiveness) of the first two lines is what sells it for me and captures the mystery inherent in each of our own personal subtexts.

Enjoy the video:

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