The Jotter – 4th and 18th Oct 2022

4th of October 2022 meeting by David Whyte

We were 11 in all with 2 guests, Melissa and Sandra.

The theme for the meeting was: “The sun always shines above the clouds”. This inspired the word for the evening, “atmosphere”, (thanks to Wordmaster Ernie) and the Warm Up topic, “How has the weather affected you?” (thanks Mike). Warm Up contributions included the joy (!) of icy rain and sleet in wintry upstate New York, and the murderous humidity of Grafton for a girl from Wagga Wagga.

There were two great speeches.

In her speech Fran explained synchronous rotation a.k.a. lunar locking. This was something I’m sure none of us had ever heard of let alone felt a need to understand, but having heard and seen Fran’s explanation it is now impossible to forget. Fran first introduced the puzzle: Why is it that although the moon rotates on its axis, we never see it’s “hidden backside”?. She then revealed the answer in clear and simple stages with the help of a desktop globe, a model moon, and a certain amount of walking in circles. Listening to Fran felt like walking into a dark room, step by careful step, with each step being lit by a guide with a torch. The answer to the initial puzzle, by the way, is 28 … twice! (All clear? Good!). I hope to be in the audience when Fran explains the Theory of Relativity in 5 to 7 minutes.

In the second speech of the evening Claire gave her Icebreaker, which is a new member’s first major speech and is typically a real test of nerves. Claire was no exception but at the same time she exemplified Hemingway’s dictum that “courage is grace under pressure”. She stood straight, spoke steadily and clearly, and kept a smile on her face and in her voice. All of this plus the careful preparation and touches of humour, and quite apart from her actual words, said a lot about the kind of person Claire is.

In his General Evaluation Mark reminded us once again of the need to observe the formalities and protocols of public speaking such as introducing a speaker, introducing ourselves, explaining our role, handing back to the Toastmaster and so on.

Coming up. There are 4 more meetings before the Christmas/ New Year break, and in that time we  expect to find 4 speakers, either through Club contests or by nomination, to contest in 4 categories at Area level. Winners proceed from Area to contests at Division (north coast) and thence to District (NSW north of the Harbour).

18th of October meeting by David Whyte

We had about 15 present including 5 guests.

Chatting with guests reminded me of the depth and breadth of life experience in the club, which is
revealed in speeches. You probably have your own list of memorable speeches, but some that I
remember are: “Forest bathing”; a visit by Air Force cadets to the Canberra war memorial; a
cruise on the Yangtze; the hidden cost of electric cars; feral deer on the mid north coast; a near
disastrous yacht trip in the Pacific; the obligations of lawyers to court vs client; and the story of
the “Buster” on Woopie beach.
There were 3 major speeches last Tuesday. Barbara began hers with the notion that “we are our
memories”, and then described scenes from childhood so vividly that I could smell the horses and
feel the rain on my face. Claire in her second speech, and only 2 weeks after her Icebreaker, told
stories both hilarious and horrifying of what can go wrong when house sitting with pets. Then
Gerry, also giving her second speech, explained how fasting for 15 hours a day gives our bodies
a chance to clean and repair cells and so improve health. That inspired me to fast (sort of) during
the next 2 days, and would you believe I could actually feel the autophagia working? (Thanks for
the new word, Gerry).
“Courage” was the theme of the evening and also of DavidM’s Table Topics. Almost of our guests
took part. Guest Doug was declared winner with his account of his 100 year old grandfather who
has led a life of courage. Guest Maddie had an interesting insight that it takes courage to shed
our habitual “mask” when the occasion demands.
Speaking of occasions demanding, Elaine as General Evaluator observed that gaps in the agenda
(due to late apologies) were readily filled by members stepping up. She remarked that this
willingness and ability to step up at little or no notice are part of being a confident public speaker.
(Welcome back Elaine. You were missed.)
Coming up are Area contests on Saturday 13 November, on Zoom. Winners go on to Division
and District contests next year and the culminating International contest. The benefit of Contests
is that they put you on your mettle: you can’t help but try even harder. Respect to Claire who is
competing even though relatively new and after only 2 speeches. Respect also to Glenn our Area
Director for working so hard to make this contest happen.