November 15, 2005

Speech #7: One in a Million

November 15, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

Today I gave my Toastmasters speech #7 (Research Your Topic): “One in
a Million.” I talked about what made Olympic athletes and prima
ballerinas and chess champions one in a million: luck, work, and love.
Luck—being in the right place at the right time, having the right
opportunities and the right teachers—is something, but it’s not
everything. I shared the results of research that show it takes around
10 years to become an expert in something: 10,000 hours of work, which
is just three hours a day. That’s the work part. And love—love is
what gets you through that. Love is what makes you push yourself past
the comfort zone. Love is what makes those three hours a day just fly
by. So if you want to be exceptional, just remember: 10 years, 10,000
hours, is just 3 hours a day—and your ten years can start today.

Throughout the explanation of luck, work, and love, I wove in stories
about my childhood: gymnastics lessons, piano practice, chess… and
computers, of course. =) (They laughed when I told them my only
souvenirs from gymnastics were posture, poise, and a flat head from
falling on the floor too many times.)

I wanted to talk about my parents, but even after I dropped a lot of
material from the speech, I still clocked in at nine minutes—well
over the 5-7 minute goal. Then again, even our timer didn’t realize
how much time had already passed. <grin> I guess it was a good
speech, then.

The audience liked how I used simple statistics, research, and
personal experience to support a story. =) I got plenty of wonderful
feedback from the Toastmasters! It’s always fun to perform in front of
such a supportive and helpful audience.

Not bad for a speech I’d _just_ finished sketching in class that
afternoon… I had most of it in my speech ideas notebook, but I
hadn’t settled on the specific examples until today.

Much fun. I’m looking forward to doing speech #8, which will help me
get comfortable with visual aids. I’ve already got something planned
for that one! I don’t think I’ll be able to finish my CTM by the end
of the year—not with the end of term coming up!—but it should be
pretty smooth sailing, thanks to my well-stocked idea book.


Flash fiction: Damsel in Distress

November 15, 2005 - Categories: -Uncategorized

– In response to flashxer prompt: “He was a real cliche. Top of the
heap. Strong as steel, a go getter who let no grass grow under his
feet, an overachiever who kept his nose to the grindstone and never
looked a gift horse in the mouth.”


He fought his way past the thorny briars and slew the ferocious
dragon—all without getting a spot on his gleaming armor. He climbed
to the highest room in the highest tower, took off his helmet, and
woke the sleeping princess with a gentle (but manly) kiss.

She snapped awake. “ARRRRRRRRRRRGH! Can’t anyone get any rest around

“But… but… Weren’t you a damsel in distress?”

“A damsel in _STRESS._ Which is why I was resting, until you very
rudely came along and woke me up.”

“I’m sorry! It’s just that I saw a dragon, and dragons usually guard
beautiful princesses and…”

“What did you do to my dragon?!” She ran to the window and saw the
bloody carcass. “Pookie! You killed Pookie! Don’t you know how hard it
is to raise dragons? Every time I manage to train one to sit and beg,
some dumb oaf comes along and kills it!”

“I’m sorry—I really am—forgive my—”

“And you chopped down my rose garden!”

“I’m really sorry about that, but I had to rescue—”

“I have HAD it with people who ASSUME that princesses need RESCUING
more than they need their BEAUTY SLEEP! OUT!” She bashed him with a
pillow. “OUT! I don’t want to see you ever again!”

“Okay! I’m sorry!” He backed down the flight of stairs, cowering
behind his shield as the princess pillow-whacked him all the way to
the ground floor.

“AND STAY OUT!” she yelled as he galloped off into the sunset. She
bolted the door, trudged upstairs, and started writing a letter.

Dear Dragons-R-Us…

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