slide showing Puerto Vallarta

What Did I Miss: 1/14/2021

We “assuaged” the crowd’s tension to “Bridge the Divide” last night as Area 23 Director, Matt Corrales was our Toastmaster. His theme was “Bridge the Divide” and his word of the week was “assuage” (now go back and read that very first sentence and you’ll find that I’m very clever (and that I like recycling joke setups)).

Chris Hammell, gave a stirring Pledge & Inspiration as he forgot the pledge and focused on Bridging the Divide…which left the crowd divided into the laughing and not laughing (FYI, when you don’t laugh, I die a little inside…).

For Table Topics, Vice President of Membership, Sureal Sparx led his session by asking questions surrounding the freedom of expression.

Are there any topics we shouldn’t talk about? – Best Table Topics Speaker winner, Dave Zarella said a lot of people he’s seen on social media are misinformed. It’s very difficult to have an intelligent conversation with a stranger when politicians can’t even agree on anything.

What would a society with no freedom of expression look like? – Antonio Garcia explained that expressing ourselves helps keep us sane. We need to be sane to even build that society. It’s difficult to be human and we need a way to creatively express our frustration and disappointment.

Argue for freedom of expression. – Guest Andrew said, as a military person, you can’t tell the public how you feel about politics but you can discuss it with your fellow military personnel.

Argue against freedom of expression. – Carla Ruiz-Velasco explained that she’s against it when it incites violence. It’s a slippery slope though because anyone’s words can be blamed for violence.

In the manual speech section, Budd Barmeyer gave us a researched speech on Puerto Vallarta and the many reasons it’s now a top three destination. He punctuated his research with engaging photos of white, sandy beaches and described the delicious, plentiful, and inexpensive restaurants.

Best Speaker winner and Area 14 Director, Corinna Koehler, tackled the judgement she feels when she tells people she doesn’t want kids. She likes her body, she doesn’t want the responsibility, and she’s already a helicopter parent to her friends. If think you can convince her otherwise…you can’t – she’s happy with her life.

Club Secretary, Kris Manske, taught us about the vagus nerve and it’s involvement in her insomnia. She showed us a chart of what it does then used her dog, Banana, as an example before moving to her more complicated reaction to it. She even shared some ways she’s combating insomnia through mindful acceptance.

The General Evaluator and Club President, Jon Berman, presided over the evaluation session. Best Evaluator winner, Kalina Cardoso who evaluated Corinna’s speech, said that she was passionate with good vocal variety. She also liked that Corinna delivered the speech standing up so it was more dynamic. She pointed that she was forceful and passionate during most of the speech so Kalina suggested bringing the energy down in places to provide a bit of vocal variety.

During his General Evaluation, Jon Berman pointed out that despite our small crowd (about 15 folks including 1 guest (Andrew), 1 club alumni (Bob Dietrich, DTM), 1 member without a role (Dave Zarella), and 1 guest speech evaluation from Matt’s mother, Terry Corrales (who evaluated Kris Manske)), we were participatory and energetic.

You should have been there. There’s always next week, right? You’re darn right you’re right and it’s your right to do the right thing and click right on the meeting link.

I hope you’re all doing well, Chris Hammell, DTM

Toastmaster of the Evening Jon Berman

What Did I Miss: 12/10/2020

We “resolved” to show “True Grit” last night as Club President, Jon Berman was our Toastmaster. His theme was “True Grit” and his word of the week was “resolve” (now go back and read that very first sentence and you’ll find that I’m very clever).

Vice President of Membership, Sureal Sparx, gave a stirring Pledge & Inspiration as he spoke about his mother and signing up for a blood drive to donate in her honor (it’s December 23rd and there are spots remaining if you want to join him – CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE!

Club President, Jon Berman, donned a cowboy hat and kept it on throughout the meeting to introduce us to his theme. He spoke about a paper in which pointed out that grit was a better predictor of success than academic achievement.

Special shout out to our own Area 9 Director, Elaine Dusetzina for serving as our timer and making the green, yellow, and red very creative. She used holiday themed backgrounds. Christmas trees stood in for green, a yellow snowman (and a warning against eating yellow snow) for yellow, and a field of candy canes for red. It was both joyful and triumphant (Jim Carrey’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is streaming now on Netflix and Hulu).

For Table Topics, Chris Hammell led and used the word of the week in each of his questions. Inspired by Jon’s cowboy hat and cowboy puns, Chris adopted a cowboy drawl that was both hilarious and inconsistent simultaneously (how do I do it?). Here are the questions I asked and the summary of the answers.

Looking back over this past year, what things did you resolve to do that you were able to accomplish? – Club  Secretary, Kris Manske, said she was very happy with her Toastmaster accomplishments and that the lack of other things to do meant that she was able to tackle the curriculum more quickly. Kris shared the Best Table Topics Speaker of the Evening with Tomo for her answer.

We’re close to a new year, what do resolve to do to make life better for yourself next year? – Second-time guest, Gail, said she just moved from Thousand Oaks to San Diego so she was going to join Toastmasters to get back on track and develop the instant community that Toastmasters provides.

This has been a tough year, is there anything you resolved to do this year that you couldn’t because of the circumstances? – Lane Seidman pulled off the ultimate trick in 2020 by safely getting married in August (take THAT 2020). At the beginning of the year, he was training to run half and full marathons and didn’t get the opportunity to do it other than virtually so he’d like to accomplish that…and he’d probably like to go on a honeymoon too (he didn’t say that, but it was a rough year for travel).

If you could use resolve to accomplish only one goal in the next year, what would it be? – Guest Andy said he’d really enjoy finally getting good enough on a surfboard to do aerials. I hope he does because I can’t tell you how exhilarating it is (I didn’t do it in real-life but in an old 32-bit game that felt like real-life).

When you’re losing your resolve, how do you refocus on your goal? – Vice President of Public Relations, Tomo Osako said that most of the time when we lose focus on our goals, the solution is to take a nap. When she’s feeling stressed or irritable, she finds a nap helps her reboot and come back at the goal refreshed. Tomo shared the Best Table Topics Speaker of the Evening with Kris for her answer.

Carla Ruiz-Velasco started the manual speech section by delivering an Icebreaker speech. The Icebreaker is great for the member but it’s also the club’s first opportunity to get to know the member and we found out a lot about her. From preschool to 4th grade, her mother drove her from San Diego to a school in Tijuana so she could become bilingual and enjoy the same education that she did. It was there that she discovered a love of public speaking. After college she taught English and Spanish in Brazil. She even teased using public speaking in her volunteer work.

Area 14 Director, Corinna Koehler, talked about passive aggressiveness as conflict resolution technique. She went over the two types of conflict: as a mediator and handling a direct conflict.

Area 23 Director, Matt Corrales, took home Best Manual Speaker when he talked about the life-saving gift of a near-fatal car accident and the prison sentence that followed in his sobriety. Because of his record, he’s had no choice but to be honest about who he is and what he’s done. With his demons in the past, it’s time to decide for himself what path is best for him to take.

General Evaluator and Vice President of Education, Christoph Kubitza, led a fantastic evaluation team including first-time speech evaluator, Budd Barmeyer, who did a great job of giving specific and supportive feedback.

Lynette Benitez took the award for Best Evaluator of the meeting with her evaluation of Carla’s Icebreaker. She connected with Carla by sharing that she was also talkative and outgoing. She suggested Carla plant herself whether it is in a chair in front of the camera or standing so she isn’t shifting around. She also said she liked Carla’s speech because she could feel her vibe and authenticity.

Next week we’re having club elections and they announced tentative plans on 12/19 for a Virtual Holiday Party.

CLUB 7 CALENDAR

12/17: Club 7 Officer Elections

12/19: Virtual Holiday Party (more information coming)

12/24: Christmas Eve – no meeting

12/31: New Year’s Eve – no meeting

I hope you’re all doing well, Chris Hammell, DTM

Meeting Agenda

What Did I Miss: 12/3/2020

We had our “Spin the Role” meeting last night. There were plenty of Toastmasters signed up to take part and our Vice President of Education, Christoph Kubitza, played master of ceremonies, using wheelofnames.com to pair Club 7 member with roles.

When a name was selected, Christoph would ask if that member was present. If they weren’t, he would spin again to ensure that a member could get assigned a role and immediately start preparing themselves for it. With that in mind, he chose a presiding officer and manual speakers first followed by a Toastmaster, Table Topics Master, General Evaluator, then the rest of the functionaries. The remaining members not chosen were placed in the pool for Table Topics. Christoph then generated an agenda 5 minutes before gavel drop (which I’m using at the accompanying picture with this blog).

All choices were random and this is how the agenda looked last night:

Presiding Officer: Tomo Osako Pledge & Inspiration: Manny Thosy Toastmaster: Ben Nitti Grammarian: Matt Corrales Ah Counter: Bob Dietrich Timer: Dave Zarella Vote Counter: Ruben Figueroa Table Topics Master: Kris Manske Table Topics participants: Kalina Cardoso, Lynette Benitez, Ray Samson, Carla Ruiz-Velasco, and Joyce Persichilli Speaker 1: Chris Hammell Speaker 2: Christoph Kubitza Speaker 3: Budd Barmeyer General Evaluator: Sureal Sparx Evaluator 1: Antonio Garcia Evaluator 2: Lane Seidman Evaluator 3: Jon Berman

Vice President of Public Relations, Tomo Osako started the meeting on time and had some of the guests introduce themselves. There were a lot of lucky guests present to watch us pull off a meeting that was one hundred percent entertaining.

Manny Thosy came up with a terrific Pledge & Inspiration on the spot based on Ben’s impromptu theme, “To Live is to Travel.” Manny reminded us that while we can’t travel like we want to, San Diego is a county with many opportunities to get out of the house and hike places like Cowles’ Mountain. Manny likes to hike and try to live in the present moment and encouraged us to do that as well.

Ben Nitti, a newer member, did a great job as a first-time Toastmaster considering that he only had 15 minutes to prepare. His word of the week was “euphoria” and despite the fact that no one had any warning ahead of time, most managed to work the word in.

In Ben’s opening remarks to the club, he reminded us that the Spin-the-Role meeting was about learning and growing and not about being perfect. For never being a toastmaster, he set a great tone for the meeting.

Then, Club Secretary, Kris Manske ran the Table Topics portion of the meeting. Her approach was to ask two questions about etiquette that were on her mind first then ask questions based on the theme, “To Live is to Travel.”

Kris asked Kalina Cardoso what she does when she’s talking to someone and they start scrolling on their phone. Kalina explained that her time is valuable and she’s intentionally present while meeting with someone. If they look down at their phone she stops talking and waits for them to re-engage even if they tell her to go ahead. If she needs to check her phone, she excuses herself, checks it quickly, then re-engages in her conversation. Kalina shared the Best Table Topics Speaker of the Evening with Ray for her answer.

Lynette Benitez was asked if she texts people back right away and whether it was rude or not to make people wait. In Lynette’s opinion, it depends on the audience. It’s normal for her and her circle of friends in business to not return a call or text for a week. But with a friend, she tries to text or call back right away but isn’t constantly on her phone so she’s not always aware there’s something to respond to right away.

With those etiquette questions answered, Kris asked Ray Samson to tell her about the last time he experienced euphoria. He talked about a trip he took to Cabo San Lucas with his girlfriend that he was nervous to take (he has friends on Border Patrol and they’ve told him stories). But he had a great time, so many tacos, parasailed even though he couldn’t swim, and experienced total euphoria. Ray shared the Best Table Topics Speaker of the Evening with Kalina for his answer.

Carla Ruiz-Velasco was asked to tell us about the best or worst travel adventure she’s had. All travel is euphoric and you get to look at beautiful things and meeting great people but an adventure that stands out is when Carla and a friend of hers from Romania when to Tequila, Mexico. They had a great time singing drunk songs and ate like queens.

Club Treasurer and District 5 Club Growth Director, Joyce Persichilli was asked about something she’s learned from traveling. Joyce has learned to never let her husband be in charge of anything. The last time they went to the Grand Canyon, she planned it out and they had such a great time with a guide who showed them the sites and served them lunch on fine china.

For the impromptu speeches, Chris Hammell told a fictitious story about visiting a Toastmasters Club in Los Angeles where celebrities are members. It was a fun speech that allowed Chris to use bad impressions of celebrities.

Vice President of Education, Christoph Kubitza talked about his anal communications style and how it was formed from his overly analytical mind and how he has tempered that through the years. He talked about using a lighter tone and his analytical mind when he researched Toastmasters’ mentorship program and pitched District 5 on mentorship as a way of helping clubs retain members and be more engaged. He ended the speech by encouraging members to get involved in club leadership and pointed out that we needed new recruits to help run the club for the next 6 months. Christoph did all of this while also doing something he said he has also worked hard to learn: ending his speeches on time.

Best Speaker of the Evening, Budd Barmeyer, answered some frequently asked questions about his roosters. Do they eat chicken? No, Budd isn’t raising any cannibals. Do they lay eggs? Well…they’re boys…so… Where do they sleep? Inside a box…in a closet…Harry Potter-style. There were also funny anecdotes like taking them to the park where they would stay on the blanket unless they had to open a can of whoop ass on a homeless person or child who got too close to them.

Vice President of Membership, Sureal Sparx, led an all-star team of evaluators.

Best Evaluator of the Evening, Jon Berman, gave a great evaluation of Budd’s speech where he complimented his use of intonation and pace. He encouraged Budd to give more detail to his speech to really bring it to life before letting him know that his humor made the speech really enjoyable.

Special mention for Bob Dietrich who, as Ah Counter, gave a loooong and hilarious report where he joked that , “Tomo spoke for 15 seconds and had 37 ‘ah’s” and “I got Antonio for a few ‘ah’s and a heavy accent.”

Speaking of Antonio, when evaluating my speech, he remembered the first time I delivered it. I wrote the speech for the club’s Tall Tales Contest (which I won…I probably didn’t need to add that) which was a 3.5 to 5 minute time limit. I wrote new material for that speech and took out some older material that didn’t age well. I had a great time repurposing that speech and had a lot of fun delivering it and I appreciate that Antonio remembers that first version. Okay, back to the blog:

Despite everything, Tomo kept a keen eye on the time and managed to end the meeting very on-time. This was not a meeting to be missed and for those of you who were there, it was a great time.

Next week we’ll be back to a normal meeting but I can’t wait for another one of these event meetings next year.

CLUB 7 CALENDAR

12/24: Christmas Eve – no meeting

12/31: New Year’s Eve – no meeting

I hope you’re all doing well,

Chris Hammell, DTM

Toastmasters Meme

What Did I Miss: 11/19/2020

While this humble author’s laptop rebooted twice at the beginning of the meeting and was heartbroken to miss almost everything until the end of Table Topics, it was still a great meeting.

The Magnificent Manny Thosy led the meeting with his theme, “memes” and his word of the week, “laughter.” Fortunately, Manny had plenty of memes to show that evoked laughter.

The Ah Counter, Area 23 Director Matt Corrales, got an assist on his duties from his mother who was appropriately ruthless with the bell. She legitimately caught my ‘so’…so…well done. She should be armed with the bell at every meeting.

The Table Topics Master was Jacob Hilt and while I missed the question, I did get to see why the group chose to award Guest Mark Wang’s answer about his love of Dad jokes, the Best Table Topics Speaker ribbon.

After a break last week for an all Table Topics extravaganza, we had 3 great speeches.

Budd Barmeyer introduced us to his partner and their 3 silky chickens (which look like Muppets). He gave us some facts about chickens (they’ve been great fighting anxiety and depression), talked about their preferences (televised thrillers and crime drama), and plugged one of their social media accounts (https://www.facebook.com/Tannerthechicken not to be confused with Tanner’s Chicken Restaurant in Cumming, GA (https://www.opentable.com/r/tanners-chicken-cumming).

In a speech titled, “The Alternate,” Dave Zarella spoke talked about how disappointed he was with his performance in the Area 9 Humorous Speech Contest. What went wrong? He skipped his morning workout, had a cappuccino, couldn’t see the audience reactions, or maybe it was just a different crowd. Whatever it was, it was still a good enough performance to earn him 2nd place which makes him the alternate who will go to the Division contest if the winner cannot. He received a video of his speech but couldn’t watch it all the way through but he remembers a shaky start that culminated in crutch words and xeroxed lines.

Club Secretary Kris Manske earned the Best Speaker Ribbon with the story of a bike trip with her friend from Madison, WI to New Orleans, LA by following the Mississippi River. She illustrates how we should support each other and have each other’s backs when a man drives the pair 50 miles away to a campground when it is pouring rain and the road is narrow. There was also mention of a police escort through an area but she’s saving that for popular demand (so start emailing her now).

First time General Evaluator, Kalina Cardoso, led a well-prepared team into the evaluation section of the meeting. Chris Hammell won the Best Evaluator ribbon with his masterful (That’s right, I called myself masterful. If you want to call yourself masterful, you write this excellent blog) evaluation of Kris Manske’s speech.

With their assignments last night, both Kalina Cardoso and Chris Hammell have completed the first level of their paths. Kalina has also held all meeting roles.

And last, but certainly not least, we voted in a new member, Raymond Samson.

CLUB 7 CALENDAR

11/26: Thanksgiving – no meeting

12/3: On December 3rd, we are having a “Spin the Role” meeting where all roles will be decided at the meeting. Will you be a speaker, a grammarian, Toastmaster? Instead of a grab bag, we’ll be using the magic of random computer magic to choose the roles.

12/24: Christmas Eve – no meeting

12/31: New Year’s Eve – no meeting

I hope you’re all doing well,

Chris Hammell, DTM

Club 7 Members at DiMilles

What Did I Miss: 11/12/2020

Last night we gathered at DiMille’s and had an in-person meeting for the first time in 7 months. We had pizza, table topics, and fun talking to each other in person. Over Zoom (the meeting was broadcast live) we even had a guest hang out throughout the meeting and even participated in table topics.

Vice President of Membership Sureal Sparx led the meeting and his word of the week was “Glory.” Club Alumni, Monica Feliz and Lynette Benitez were in attendance. Lynette even rejoined the club (welcome back!).

Sureal gave everyone two table topics questions and the first one, for everyone was, “How are you feeling and where are you feeling it.” Answers ranged from “normal everywhere” to “a lot of love in my heart.” From there, he employed a wheel of names which he would spin and then you would choose even or odd and a random number generator selected your question from a list of 364.

When Should you reveal a secret you promised not to reveal? Yesica Vazquez answered that you should reveal it if it compromises your integrity or may compromise you in the future.

What is the best decision you ever made? According to Area 14 Director Corinna Koehler, starting her bachelor’s degree because she met amazing people and it was f#$%ing fun.

What could society do without? Eric Linder showed his dark side by revealing that society could do with less….oxygen! Too many people are breathing and he feels like there are a lot of people who shouldn’t be breathing his precious oxygen.

Who is your mentor and what have you learned from them? Vice President of Public Relations Tomo Osako revealed that she was drunk as she sang Christoph and Eric’s praises as her mentors. Eric even had her to his house once and…he was a perfect gentleman.

As Tomo answered, a car honked its horn and Corinna admonished it with: “shhhhhhhh!” Did it work? The car stopped honking so you tell me.

How much money per month is enough to live comfortably? Kalina Cardoso took us through her thought process because she’s comfortable in a one studio apartment. But to live in her dream house on oceanfront property, send daughter to school, and ski more, 20K per month is the magic number.

Who is the strongest person you know? Chris Hammell (ahem…that’s the author of this blog) told us about his father’s struggle with trigeminal neuralgia and heart attack.

If life is so short, why do we do things we don’t like and like things we don’t do? (say that 8 times fast) Vice President of Education Christoph Kubitza explained that he had pressure from society and his parents who told Christoph what to study in college. He crossed the Atlantic so he could break away and do what felt good. His advice: Do what you love (Unless you like depriving people of oxygen, Eric Linder!).

In one year from today, how will your life be different? Lynette Benitez is excited. She’s going to places like Puerto Rico, Florida, and Washington DC to have adventures all over the world. But at this moment she is working on her physical and mental health and trying to live in the moment.

What has life taught you recently? Club Secretary Kris Manske talked about Essentialism which is a book she’s reading that teaches you to tear down what you don’t need. A company went from 5 day, 40 hour work week then stripped out things like meetings and found they could work 4 days, 32 hours a week and accomplish the same amount of work.

What makes you smile? For Bob Dietrich: Foot rubs. He doesn’t have a foot fetish (the gentleman doth protest too much methinks). Massages make him smile. Foot rubs can be sensual and not sensual but can they be both at the same time? Bob puzzled his way through these questions which will haunt and give me the giggles for some time.

What is the best part of being you? Monica Feliz is a lifelong learner who loves learning every day and having experiences with new people. She’s also happy being an optimist.

Where do you spend most of your time while you’re away? Dave Zarella described a work environment before computers then moving to a tiny amber screen on a word processor. Now his computer is so powerful he can do anything with it. He spends most of his time tied to a computer.

What things in life should always be free? Club President Jon Berman as socialist leanings now. It used to be, when we wanted to eat, we could hunt and when we needed shelter, we could find it or build it. Today, if you have no money, you don’t have access to food or shelter. Luxuries are the only things that shouldn’t be free (Oxygen isn’t a luxury, Eric!).

If you could do it all over again, would you change anything? Sergeant-at-Arms Jeremy Johnson wouldn’t change a thing. Everything he’s done and everything he’s been through has made him the man he is. He tries not to make the same mistakes but otherwise, those mistakes have brought him to DiMille’s to answer that question.

What are the primary components of a happy life? For Immediate Past President Alberto Alvarado, finding your closest five friends is important. Hopefully one of them will be your soulmate. And if you find a job you enjoy, you will never work a day in your life. His advice: live with child-like enthusiasm (He said as I wondered if my Star Wars Stormtrooper action figures (not dolls) would be waiting in my mailbox when I got home so I could pose them (they were)).

Who would you like to forgive? Club Treasurer and District 5 Club Growth Director Joyce Persichilli told us about her ex-husband. They married when they were young but he was [redacted in case Joyce wants to run for office one day]. Joyce took home the prize for Best Table Topics Speaker but it would not be the only award she left with (that expert level foreshadowing).  

Then we received a Grammarian’s report from Lynette, an Ah Counter report from Christoph, and a Timer’s report from Tomo.

Sureal closed the meeting by telling us to believe in the system and believe in each other. Then Jon opened for Club Business and there were a number of exciting and stirring bits of business.

Alberto started by presenting Club Treasurer and District 5 Club Growth Director Joyce Persichilli with flowers and the Grab the Gavel award for being a great mentor while he served in the district and always helping to guide him as our Club President. It moved her to tears and was a great way to start Club Business (in my own opinion).

Not to be outdone, current Club President Jon Berman popped up and answered the challenge by awarding a trophy to Alberto for serving two consecutive terms as Club President while shattering the record for educational awards.

Christoph reminded us that Officer elections are coming up and encouraged us all to think about helping the club stay on track and offering support to incoming club officers as well as training from the members who are currently serving in those roles.

Sureal announced that Bob won the Area 13 Humorous Speech contest and will compete at the division level in March next year. Chris Hammell competed also and secured last place. He’s not bitter but if the winner and runner up are…say…deprived of oxygen (this is a hint for Eric Linder) then Chris would have no choice but to go (oh no, did I just join the dark side?).

Christoph announced that we lead the district in 8 DCP goals and we are third highest in educational awards (15). Eric first emailed us about this impressive accomplishment last Monday.

Yesica acknowledged and thanked her division from last year, including Jon and Sureal, for all of their hard work.

CLUB 7 CALENDAR

11/14: On November 14 at 8:30am, Area 23 Director, Matt Corrales, has organized a speech contest so feel free to log in and watch as amazing speakers deliver great speeches and support Matt: https://d5tm.org/event/northern-division-online-area-contests-area-18-23/

11/26: Thanksgiving – no meeting

12/3: On December 3rd, we are having a “Spin the Role” meeting where all roles will be decided at the meeting. Will you be a speaker, a grammarian, Toastmaster? Instead of a grab bag, we’ll be using the magic of random computer magic to choose the roles.

I hope you’re all doing well,

Chris Hammell, DTM