This Week in Toastmasters: Chickens in Tulsa! Old Bald Cheaters! And the Meaning of Time and Existence

The New Year’s Eve celebrations are over and done with. Pull yourself out of that ditch, call your favorite cousin (the one with the crazy hair and the lazy eye) and ask him three very important questions:

  1. How did I end up in Tulsa?
  2. Why am I dressed like the San Diego Chicken?
  3. Why did you let me drink so much tequila on New Year’s Eve?

It’s …


Back when I was a younger man (with hair … and the mistaken belief that I knew everything … and did I mention the hair?), New Year’s Eve was my favorite holiday. Christmas was mostly fun, and it certainly ranked. The Fourth of July was also fun but too hot for my taste. Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day were basically the same thing as New Year’s Eve: an excuse to dress like an idiot and drink enough to justify the bad decisions I already planned to make.

You might think they’d blend together, but New Year’s Eve was different. It had the big countdown and the dropping ball in Times Square. Plus, if there was enough mistletoe leftover from Christmas, there was always the chance I might get to kiss someone at midnight, provided they were like me and had consumed enough alcohol to justify bad decision making (this was well before I was married. And the person I was always trying to kiss is now my wife, proving once and for all that persistence trumps good looks and personal accomplishments nine out of ten times).

We don’t go out on New Year’s Eve anymore. It’s hard to do when you have kids (and the “it’s hard to do when you have kids” line works well when your friends ask why you’re staying in and you don’t feel like saying you’ve grown fond of a 10:00 bed time and anything more than a glass or two of wine gives you a nasty headache the following morning). This year, we had a couple friends over to play board games. We stayed up to watch the ball drop and comment about the strangeness of “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” now that Dick Clark has passed away.

As the clock on the screen counted down to zero, I got to thinking about time and how much things changed in 2012. Time moves almost imperceptibly, so slow we don’t often notice. The face you see in the mirror might look the same to you every morning, but go back to photos from five, ten, or twenty years and that face might look different.

“I used to think parachute pants were cool?” you might say, laughing at yourself.

Or maybe … “I was still in high school back then. I was so close with everyone in that picture, but now I can’t even remember their names.”

Or maybe even … “That was before the divorce. Back when mom was still alive, and we lived in that house on the cul-de-sac with the big tree in the backyard, and my kids still smiled a lot and laughed at all my jokes.”

Time moves so slow we don’t often notice. But it still moves. And when it finally piles up on you – in pictures, in videos, in moments next to the television wondering what happened to Dick Clark – it can make you laugh, it can warm your heart, it can shock you, and it can even make you cry. Time is an old, bald cheater in the Game of Life, as Ben Johnson once said, and he does his best work when we’re not looking.

But not at New Year’s. Time can’t touch us then.

There’s an abundance of hope at New Year’s. That’s what I like about it. It’s infectious.  All the mistakes you made last year are wiped clean. You get a do-over, a new slate full of hope for what’s to come; a kind of semi-Jubilee. I think we could use more of that in our lives. Stuff piles up from time to time and it’s nice to set it down occasionally, and walk away. If we could occasionally wipe the slate clean for ourselves and each other, we might be a bit better off. I’m an optimistic person, more or less, so I like that.

Here’s hoping 2012 treated you well. And, if it didn’t, here’s hoping 2013 is better. Here’s hoping you got your Jubilee or at least a chance to change your perspective and find something great for yourself, your friends, your family and everyone in your life.

Now, as Casey Kasem used to say, on with the countdown…


I’m sure you got the last minute “We’re not meeting this week” meeting notice I sent out yesterday. If not and if you showed up to the room, wondering where everyone was, sorry about that. My brain is still in a holiday fog. Feel free to e-mail everyone and tell us how awesome it was.

We’ll start up again next Thursday at 11:30. I’m the Toastmaster this week, and we have some special stuff planned. Go to the website ( and sign up for something.


We’re in the process of filling some officer positions for the second half of the Toastmasters year (now through June). If you’re interested in helping out with any position on our officer slate, please let me (Joe) know. Training starts soon, so don’t delay.


We have two contests this month:

  • The Evaluation Contest is January 17 in 1P2359 from 11:30 – 12:30.
  • The International Speech contest is January 31 in 1P2359 from 11:30 – 12:30.

Go sign up for something!

This seems like enough for now. It’s still early. We’re still getting into the swing of things.

Have a great weekend, everyone. Don’t break anything!

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