Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Moot Court Again!

Tonight I served again as a judge on a Moot Court for the UW Law School - see This is a nice part of being part of the community - I meet some up-and-coming young people at the beginning of their careers and help a little with their success.
The Moot Courts need enough persons to fill seats and although I am not a trial lawyer, I can fulfill the role for purposes of the competition.
For purposes of oral evaluations, the training at Toastmasters has been very helpful. I can offer positive and useful feedback on what may be persuasive to a jury. I leave the heavy trial-lawyer commentary to the trial lawyers but it has been interesting to see that their views in general accord with mine; they just have a deeper foundation to their explanations.
I use the traditional "sandwich" technique - a slice of positive, a suggestion for improvement, then another slice of positive. You can really see how this increases acceptance and comprehension.
I have come to realize that this is something that I want to do better at - not just to show up and do my best at the moment, but actually study the subject so I can produce a better result. I have about a year until the next round so I'll put this on my list of projects.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Floppy Memories

I spent my free time this week uploading data from my old floppy disks. Putting it into the cloud (thanks Carbonite!) means I'll always have access, and can move these disks along to their final destination. In the process I came across a whole lot of photos which I am gradually sharing. Before I went to Russia, I bought a camera that recorded to floppy disks, on the theory that disks were cheap so I'd never run out. I never did run out but the technology moved on.
An early selfie!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Christine Places At Fall #Toastmasters Conference

Congratulations to my Toastmasters friend Christine for placing 2nd in the Table Topics finals held November 11, 2017 at the Western Washington Toastmasters Fall Conference at the Lynnwood Convention Center. The competition was fierce, representing the efforts of hundreds of competitors from all over Western Washington, and at the end Christine stood at the victory podium.
The morning of the Conference featured several very educational presentations by top Toastmasters. Surely we will see the results at upcoming meetings!
Between sessions and at lunch more than a dozen Club 832 members socialized with each other and with friends from other Chapters. Semi-Annual Conventions are a great opportunity to stretch out and touch persons from all over, learn new things and have a great time!

Thursday, November 02, 2017

To Test or Not To Test

Madame Toastmaster, Fellow Toastmasters, Honored Guests:

I have a serious story to tell, a problem to describe, and a decision for you to make later.
Jim and my sister Sharon were married and in love for more than 20 years. If you had to compress those decades into a single word, it would be “happy”. 
Jim loved his children, two girls; you can see it in every picture of them together on Facebook, and there were a lot.
Jim loved his toys. He and Sharon would go out on their boat and “scare the fish”, not often catching much but enjoying the water together. He towed the boat with his big red pickup that he named “Clifford”.
Jim loved the Seahawks. He was a season ticketholder for decades. The only time he ever got in trouble that I heard of, he was thrown out of Seahawks Stadium for making too much noise cheering. Think about that.
Jim could afford all this because he was really good at his job. When he got out of the Army, he started as a file clerk in title search office and worked his way up to managing the whole place. He was smart and affable, learned everything about the business and trained up the next group of clerks. Even as he got sicker, he came into the office and worked as hard as he could as long as he could.
Jim lived his life well, and loved his family, friends and work.
He didn’t know about the assassin inside him.

Jim had prostate cancer that metastasized when he was only in his 50s.  It sent out colonists to invade other organs and start cancers there. He fought the good fight and did not complain about the unfairness. His last posting on Facebook was “Quick reminder gentlemen, get that PSA test to check your cancer levels. It's critical. My love to you all.”
Then he left.

PSA stands for “Prostate-specific antigen”.  The prostate is a walnut-sized gland essential to male urinary and reproductive activities but with a tendency to go cancerous.
Two disclaimers:
This is a gendered speech. Every man here has a prostate, and none of the women. I ask the indulgence of the ladies on the basis that most of you know some male about whom you care.
I am not a doctor or a scientist. All the medical information is from google, mostly from the National Institute of Health or American Cancer Society. Don’t rely on this without doing your own research and talking with your own doctor.
That said:
About 1 in 39 men in the United States die from prostate cancer.
Of men over the age of 60 who die from other causes, 30%-70% had prostate cancer that hadn’t gotten to the stage where they noticed.
If caught early, treatment yields a high survival rate: a 96% 15 year relative survival rate.
Detecting prostate cancer: the PSA test, just a blood draw, generally accompanied by a DRE – which is undignified but brief. Men, don’t complaining about DRE to lady friend, she might start talking about what a gyno involves, so my advice is hush.
Jim told me he’d never heard of the PSA test. By the time his cancer was detected, it was too late. His process of dying took about two years and whenever he got a public voice – such as once he was interviewed over a Seahawks game – he made sure to recommend the test.
It would seem to be a no-brainer. It’s not a huge expense and while the DRE is a pain you know where, so is cancer so what the heck.

BUT there is a controversy.
Studies do not indicate that early detection of prostate cancer changes overall life outcome looking at the whole population. How can this be? It is so counterintuitive. 
1.      Part of the issue it the problem of false positives. Screening is not magic. With a false positive, you think you have the cancer when you don’t, you would undergo the risk of seriously negative urinary or reproductive issues for nothing.

2.      If you get a positive test, you have to decide whether to treat. Remember that 30-70%? You may be in a place in life where something else is going to kill you before prostate cancer, so why do the treatment – why even take the test?
As for me, I am only in my sixties and in good enough health that I need to plan for another 30 years of life. There is time for PC to kill me, so I went looking for it; I got the test. 
You have different age and other factors, therefore your analysis may differ from mine.
You have to live with the consequences, so you have to make the informed choice.
I can not ask you to get the test.
I will not ask you not to get the test.
I am asking you, today, to calendar a talk with your doctor about the PSA test.
That sounds like it’s take some time. I’ll get to it later” that’s what I would say if I were sitting in your chair. Life is busy, I have a job and a family and I’ll get to it later. 

Gentlemen: For Jim, later came before he knew about it.
The reasons for waiting - family, friends – are the reasons to go now, after this meeting, calendar a time to talk to your doctor.
Put your plan on your calendar right as soon as we're done here.
Jim didn't have the opportunity to put this on his calendar because he didn't know about the test, but thanks to him, we know.
He left so much behind – family, friends, work, a big red truck named Clifford.
Let’s not do the same.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tennis Tips for Timely Toastmasters


Visual Aids SPEECH

Bag of tricks including pie chart on clipboard (set on table next to lectern), coat of pockets full of balls, cellphone running Toastmaster timer


Once upon a time my friend Mary

A Venus around whom I had orbited for years without hope of a touchdown,

said, you should learn to play tennis!

I thought, oh yeah, she wants me .... to play tennis.

On a hot, sweaty asphalt court, I faced her perfection across the net, gave the ball a little toss, and smashed it with all the hormone-laden power of million years of male evolution.

It rocketed across the court, slammed against the far wall, and rolled back to the net.

I preened.

She said “Long”.


“Randy, it doesn’t matter how hard you hit it. If it goes too long, no score.”

No score. Not then, not later.

Speaking opportunities are like that. You have 5 minutes on a busy agenda, 2 minutes in a public comment period,15 seconds in the elevator with the CEO.  It doesn’t matter how hard you hit, if you miss the timeframe: no score.

Have confidence that you can get your idea across in a short time. Abraham Lincoln was preceded at Gettysburg by the most famous orator of his time, who gave a two-hour speech and is, today, a trivia question. Lincoln’s Address was ten sentences. Toastmasters helps us be like more Abe, speaking not just with force but economy.

I thought of this when I analyzed the times of  40 speeches given recently in this Club
– BLOCK PIECHART FRONT OF LECTERN - 1 in 3 ran long – including two of mine! I asked myself, how can I keep from going long again.

I found three ways
1.    Write Short

If I wrote 7 minutes of material for this 5-7 minute speech, I can’t afford for you to laugh. So don’t! If I wrote a five minute speech, I could let you react, or have time for ad lib callback to a previous speech, or even BLOCK PAUSE a pause to emphasize a particular point that just seems right.

When I write, ideas appear BLOCK PULL OUT BALLS on the bus, in a store, in the bathroom. Clever phrases, little jokes, all good. Pretty soon your arm is full of balls. You can’t play tennis with a handful of balls, you must put most of them back in the bag.

It’s the same with this speech. I had to put most of the ideas back in the bag. There’s nothing wrong with them, but you can only serve one at a time. Those clever ideas are still there for the next speech.

2.    How do you know the length of your speech? Practice with a timer
Tennis courts often have a line on the back wall at the height of the net. Players turn around and hit the ball over and over, just clearing that line so they know they targeting is on. Over and over and over. It’s not just practice, it’s a fun little mini-game in itself.

Speeches move in time, not space, so in place of a line on the wall we need BLOCK SHOW TIMER APP the Toastmasters timer app on your smartphone. Fire up the app once a day, and give your 5-7 minute speech, every day for a week or two. How long will that take you? 5-7 minutes. While you’re drinking your morning coffee. Don’t fret, this is not drudgery – it is a fun little mini-game. Your first tries will be off but the act of practice with feedback will make you hit your line.

3.    How do you end? Practice your killshot. That’s your conclusion.
It is fun to volley, I say something to you, you send back a laugh or a frown, we go back and forth. But at some point I have to hit it in with perfectly practiced conclusion. If you can practice only 2 minutes a day, practice your one minute conclusion twice – because that is your killshot.
Here is a little secret: if you forget half your speech because your mind gets fuzzy (and that happens to all of us) or if you run out of time BLOCK SHOW TIMER you can just jump right to your conclusion with total conviction, half of the audience will jump along with you. The audience does not know that they are missing if you go right to your conclusion like I am now. 

I have not seen Mary for 30 years, but what she taught in that short tennis lesson sticks.

1.    Write short. Leave a few balls in the bag. BLOCK: PUT BALLS IN BAG. There will be other games and other speeches

2.    Practice getting your shot and your speech the right length, using training tools. BLOCK: PUT TIMER IN BAG


You will score – on the court  and at the lectern.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Toastmasters Contest

I competed in the Humorous Speech contact in Kent and placed third. This was a disappointment, but I am proud of the speech I gave and would not have wanted to have given the one that scored the highest. At the program itself, and at all Toastmasters events, I feel it is important to give a professional demeanor, but at other times I will confess that I don't like the "humorous speech" that consists of a single joke: "I was so drunk" or "I was so afraid of flying". It's a good short joke but not enough to sustain an actual five minute speech, and there is nothing to be learned from it, except possibly not to drink.
There was an interesting speech by a person who had too many physical maladies but maintained a positive outlook anyway. I would have liked more about how she managed that outlook but otherwise thought it was the best speech other than mine. She came in 2nd.
My friend Christine won by a total knockout the Table Topics competition. Many of the competitors answered the question ("If a cluttered desk means a cluttered mind, what does an empty desk show?") reasonably and with humor, but she went farther and related it to larger themes about the usefulness of pauses - empty space in conversation or in thought. I don't know how she does it!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Christine Wins Division 2 Table Topics

My Toastmasters buddy Christine won the Division 2 Table Topics Contest, held October 19th, 2017 in Kent. Congratulations to her! I  placed 3rd in the Humourous Speech competition with my "Companions for the Road" speech about friends at St. Ed's.
Christine advances to the final round November 11, 2017 at the Western Washington Toastmasters Fall Conference at the Lynnwood Convention Center, 3711 196th St SW, Lynnwood, WA 98036. The morning of the Conference will be packed with educational programs starting at 8pm; the competition will be in the afternoon. Let’s all go, support Christine, and have a great time!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Moot Court Judging

Law schools recruit local legal professionals to judge moot courts. This is an important part of the education process but it seems there's often a shortage of judge volunteers. I have advertised openings on since there's free CLE involved, but haven't participated myself (except for once decades ago at WNEC), until today. UW had sent out an additional request for volunteers and I decided to give it a try.
The only negative was actually getting there, because the campus is not well built for driving; I would have been better off doing the bus perhaps. Once in the Law Center the whole thing was well organized and interesting. My panel included three others, all with trial experience, so we agreed unanimously that one of them would serve as Chief Judge, asking questions and ruling on motions; the rest of us observed, voted, and made comments at the end.
As the least experienced panel member, my comments came first. I could speak to the rhetorical technique, more than the law technique, and I feel my experience as a Toastmasters evaluator helped. My casual reference to my appellate work lead to some interesting after-program chat with one of the contestants who was a JAG in training.
I would recommend this program to any lawyer looking to give back to the community. It is an intense experience evaluating the demonstrated skill of each participant but you just don't know how much good you are doing for them, so long as you are honest about the areas in which I lack experience.