Saturday, March 01, 2014

The Charger

This week I fulfilled the 7th speech of 10 towards my Advanced Communicator Bronze certification at Toastmasters.  The speech topic I chose was Moral of the Story from the Storyteller's manual.  After a lot of thought (and I mean a lot - I went back and forth on this one for 8 months) and research into different moral tales, I decided to do a modern take on a particular Aesop's fable, one called "The Ass and the Charger".

The original goes as following:

The Ass and the Charger
An Ass congratulated a Horse on being so ungrudgingly and carefully provided for, while he himself had scarcely enough to eat, nor even that without hard work. But when war broke out, the heavy armed soldier mounted the Horse, and rushed into the very midst of the enemy, and the Horse, being wounded, fell dead on the battle-field. Then the Ass, seeing all these things, changed his mind, and commiserated the Horse, saying: "How much more fortunate am I than a charger. I can remain at home in safety while he is exposed to all the perils of war." 

Moral of Aesops Fable:  Be not hasty to envy the condition of others.

Here is my version; one that I decided to call The Charger in honour of the original fable.  The speech had to only be 4-6 minutes in length so I've had to leave some details with rather loose hanging threads, but it's one that I may adapt for a longer version later on.  After I finish writing my next speech (Wreckers), we will see.


Sunday, December 02, 2012

Walk

I posted on Facebook yesterday that Google maps showed that I had walked 9km last night.  Now, not that it matters that much but in all efforts to be transparent with my new exercise regime I must admit that Google appears to have led me astray.

I wore my Nike+ gear for my walk tonight and even after adding a new path on my tour my iPod touch showed that I only did 7.7km over 1.5 hours.  This included walking up and down all the streets in the Belle-Aire Beach area, and looping back to the darkened streets of Belle Ewart.

I'm taking advantage of the weather we've had to try to get myself back into a slightly better shape.  With the winter coming, I know there will soon be days ahead where I won't want to do as much outdoors exercise as I've been doing lately so might as well enjoy it when I can.   

I do find walking to be very therapeutic, and not only physically.  I remember the early days of moving out on my own.  I was living in a completely trashy location and had very little money to invest on indoor entertainment so I would spend hours walking up and down the streets of the town I was in.  I was a little depressed then about my situation so being able to just focus on the geography of the streets while pumping great travelling music through my walkman would cheer me up.

I am in a much better place these days mentally, but the stagnation of just ending my evenings in my office working away sometimes gets to me.  Sure, I still ended up here but at least I know I'm rewarding myself for doing something fulfilling.  I also get ideas for the multitide of projects I have on my plate, whether that be writing, Toastmasters and even my day job at DAC.

As to that...I'm going to spend a few minutes on some of that.  Here's hoping the weather holds up for tomorrow!

Podcast of the day: Tech Stuff

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Contests and more

I took a couple weeks off to concentrate on some other projects.  This includes helping my wife with a fundraising effort for my kids school that involved some letter writing projects, so I'll include those as my own writing.  I didn't break the chain, as many of the podcasting writers I look up to, such as Mur Lafferty say not to do...so that feels good.

Let me start tonight by filling you in on the details of the Division Humorous Speech Contest I competed in earlier in the month.  I have to say, this was probably the most relaxed I've ever been while delivering a speech.  I had spent the week or so prior looking over the structure of "Vivid"; trying to find spots where I can draw out some extra humour and create some choreography in my staging so I can time out the spots I anticipated laughs or to create some extra physical gestures.

Then I reached a point about two days prior to the contest where I just said screw it.  I realized I didn't care that much anymore about actually winning this particular contest, I just wanted to have fun and do as much justice to my source material as possible.  With that I showed up and found I that I could socialize with my fellow Toastmasters from both my own and other clubs and prepare to laugh and hope to gain some laughs myself.

I felt really good during the speech.  I was relaxed, made lots of natural eye contact and got a lot of great laughs.  It felt good and seemed the perfect length.  The other competitors, all six of them also delivered great speeches, and I knew that the judges would have a tough time choosing the winner.

Then the table topics contest began.  There were eight of us this time, and I drew the first lot so I got to watch all of the other competitors.  The topic given was "Surprise!", and the first though that popped into my head as I reached the stage to shake the Chairpersons hand was to base it on deciding not to find out beforehand whether Melanie and I were having a boy or girl during pregancy.  It felt good, I got my opening, body and conclusion out solidly, and I saw the heads bobbing in the audience so I knew they liked my speech.  I wrapped it up about 20 seconds after seeing the green light come on. 

This is where I'm glad I was able to watch the rest compete.  I noticed something some of them did that I neglected to do.  They fit in more material and pushed the time they had right up until they reached the red light (30 seconds after red is a disqualification).  I'm going to work on that for next time. 

I did not place at all for Table Topics.  The winner for that was Eric Solowka from the Bolton Banter Toastmasters group.  He made it

For the speech contest...I took third place, which I'm quite happy with.  The winner was Mireille McNeil from Midland Toastmasters, who delivered a hilarious speech about a womans monthly cycle.

I had no qualms with the judging, and it was a very friendly, well organized contest.  I now have some extra techniques that I will use for the next time...because oh yes, there will be a next time; and now I just have to enjoy the next couple of months before the International Speech Contest cranks up in February.  I already have my idea, and I just need to start writing it.

I have seven, yes that's right, seven writing projects on the go right now...so I may not blog as consistantly as I would like...but the writing is progressing, and that's what really matters in the end.

See you next time....

Music Playing While I Wrote: John Lennon - Acoustic

Podcast of the day: The Pod F. Tompkast

Friday, November 09, 2012

Poetry Friday: Dizzy

Dizzy

Running through the leaves

Photo by christiane wilke
Arms akimboA delicate display
Of Red, Yellow and Orange
Falling back we stare up
At the brilliant blues
The world spins around us
With glee we jump up
And create our own spin
Blurring reality
All the colours meshing together
We feel dizzy
On this special autumn day
Laughing and tumbling down
We rise again shakily
Uncertain yet uncaring
Of our balance

November 9, 2012

Music Playing While I Wrote This: Angel Julian -  Paris CafĂ©

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Thursday Distraction: Small

Photo by Daniel Cheong
Small

The wheels of the giant train squealed, bringing him out of his wondering thoughts.  With giddy glee he looked up at the map and saw that the next station was the one they were getting off at.  The pressure he exerted on his mothers hand tightened.  She turned to look down, wondering if anything was wrong, but at seeing the joy on his face she just smiled gently and said nothing.

They were almost there.

The train soon enough began to slow and the station came into view.  Everything suddenly seemed to be a blur of sounds and lights  The packed subway car, filled with more people than he had ever seen in one place seemingly rose together as if on command and began shuffling towards the door.  His mother squeezed his hand and then stood, guiding him towards the opening door and out into the new world beyond.

They followed the massive rush of people down a long tunnel towards the turnstile exit, stopping only to watch the train head off towards its next destination.  It was loud, almost too loud, but he didn't care.  It was just so cool to watch this snakelike thing driving away into the tunnel beyond and then to see the hole it exited into darkening as the red lights of the rear of the train disappearing into the distance.  He wanted to look longer but his mother guided him to the station exit and what lay beyond.  He suddenly remembered again why they were here and all thoughts of the train popped out of his head.

There was an escalator, but he asked if they could take the stairs so he could count them.  He lost count at fifty.  There were a lot of them, and he was almost out of breath when they reached the top.  Down one last corridor they walked, coming to a set of doors than shone brightly with the sunlit sky beyond.  He pushed hard on the door so that he could hold it open for his mother and a couple others who had braved the stairs behind them, as his father told him he should always do. An older lady, about his grandma's age patted him on the head and called him a proper young gentleman.  He smiled up at her and thanked her.

Soon enough they were standing on the sidewalk beyond the door, his mother and him.  There were all kinds of people around but he didn't notice a single one of them otherwise.  His breath caught and his eyes opened wide in astonishment at the sight around them.  Most particularly above them.  He stared upwards to the tops of giant buildings that seemingly were hanging out in the clouds a million miles away. They made him feel so small. 

'No, not small', his stubborn little mind reminded him.  'You're big and getting bigger all the time.  Grandma says so.  One day you're going to be on top of those buildings, hanging out in the sky with those clouds.'  The thought made him smile and he stretched his arms upwards, tracing the tops of the buildings with his fingers as if that would bring them to him.

His mothers touch brought him out of his thoughts.  She gently took his hand and steered them down the street to all new adventure. 

"Best day ever", he announced to everyone who could hear.  Today, he was on top of the world.


Music Playing While Writing This: Ultravox - Brilliant
Podcast of the day: The Moth

Friday, November 02, 2012

Poetry Friday: Denied

Denied

Entrenched in our expectations
We anticipate a result
Positive to our want
Anything less is defied

The world can have other plans
An outcome unmatched
Shock and terror tear us
When we are denied

Broken of our hubris
We must go with the flow
Not allow a challenge to rout us
Our fate is ours to decide

November 2, 2012

Podcast of the day: Stuff You Missed In History Class




Thursday, November 01, 2012

Thursday Distraction: Swing

I was thinking of taking the night off as my brain is pretty much focused on my speech this weekend, but then a random search of my pics came across something that fired me up.

Swing

We all can fly.

It takes only a small plank of wood, or a plastic strap, suspended by chains to a pole.  Pushing off with your feet, you lift off.  You stretch outwards and sail forward, awaiting the feel of the backwords drift.  You tense the muscles in your small legs and pump them in and back out again to break your rudimentary grasp of gravity.

The wind asails your small face.  Gasping with the pleasure of the sudden coolness you laugh at this amazing superhuman ability you have developed.  Your eyes squeeze shut and you throw your head back, feeling the hair on your head spinning outwards.  The sun flits across your eyelids, the vivid colours of blue, yellow and orange rainbowing across your vision.

Higher and higher you reach, a dance across the heavens.  The thought of reaching the very top of the sky excites you; the clouds seem within your reach.  Seemingly for hours you drift back and forth, the squeak of the chains and the joyous giggle within your only companions.

Soon enough though, you hear the sound of your mother calling you, it's time to land.  Descending to a safe altitude, you brace yourself and at the best possible time you let go of the chains and push outwards, welcoming gravity to bring you back home again.

Walking back towards your home you take one last look back at the solitary device that brought you so much triumph and you tell yourself that you will be back.  It'll soon be time to brave the skies one more time.

11:13pm

Music playing while I wrote: Cake - Fashion Nugget
Podcast of the day: Stuff You Should Know