Monday, January 28, 2019

The German Connection.

Some Speakeasy Toastmasters meetings take on a life of their own. Others seem to find a common theme - some by design, others by a quirk of coincidence. And last week's meeting had a predominantly German feel about it. All that was lacking wassomeone to quote President John F. Kennedy's " Ich bin ein Berliner".

We were privileged to welcome two German exchange students,Theo Mortsiefer and Mats Maas, who are presently studying in Nagle Rice College,Doneraile. Cologne native,Theo Mortsiefer entertained us with his views on "Planned Obsolescence". We are all weary from observing that "they don't make things like they used to".A simple question " Have you purchased a new washing machine in the past three years"? elicited a huge response. It seems we are living in a "throwaway society" when so called quality brands like Miele and Bosch are made to break. Theo reminded us of the exploitation of child labour involved in extracting precious metals from mines to feed this deplorable consumerism. Indeed, a recent report of a growing scarcity of a rare element " Indium" which is used in Smartphones.Theo exhorted his audience to demand a re-introduction of quality to conserve the Earth's resources.

Mats Maas spoke about an extremely popular German pursuit - "Slope style Mountain Biking". This is no ordinary mountain biking exercise but an extremely challenging pursuit. Small lightweight bikes are raced on dirt tracks with jumps built in. Various tricks like back flips are performed while in mid-air. A great sense of community prevails within biker groups who spend a lot of time repairing and building obstacles and jumps for their bike tracks.

Charles Hannon of West Limerick Toastmasters brought history to life with "Shop,Shop,Shop". He painted a picture of a widow, Anna Albrecht selling bread from a wooden barrow in the streets of Essen before she had enough savings to open her own bakery shop. Her two sons, Karl and Theo returned home from the Second World War to find the city of Essen levelled to the ground by the Allied Bombing Campaign. Amidst the ruins, their mother's shop remained standing. From this humble beginning, the two brothers built up a shopping empire. In 1954, they opened their first self-service store - Albrecht Discount. Eventually, this name was changed to a more eye catching title - Aldi. Ultimately, they built up an empire of three hundred stores in West Germany. However,the brothers disagreed over the selling of alcohol and decided to split their empire, each taking a different side of the River Rhine. In 1973, a rival store - Lidl - opened in Germany.And ever since then, both stores have behaved in a "Laurel and Hardy" fashion, one following the other in it's type of promotions and multi-national expansion. Ultimately, from the rubble of Essen, Aldi has grown in turnover to 20 Billion Euros Annually in 20 Countries.

Speakeasy Toastmasters welcomed back Kay Quirke of Glanworth who introduced us to "Goldie". In a humorous presentation, she introduced herself as a retriever/red setter cross. It seems that her parents weren't prejudiced. She recalled her previous owners who disagreed all the time about walking her before abandoning her at a bus stop. And there was lucky to meet Mary who had soft touch written on her forehead! And Mary treated her like a VID - very important dog! She enthused about her trips to Sharon's Shaggy Dog Saloon for nail manicures and hair perms which turned her into "a right poodle". She spoke of how a dog keeps one half of their owners fit and the other half sane.

Ann Nyhan presented a well researched presentation - "Are you taking care of your health - your entire health"? She spoke of the importance of treating your physical health like a car and have regular NCTs. It's not about diets. It's about moderation. She spoke of the advice of a doctor who told her - " if you want to reach old age, you have to walk there".In today's fast paced world, we face stressful challenges and an undermining by Social Media. Mental health is becoming more important. Slow down, relax, meditate and remember that a healthy body means a healthy mind
Kay Quirke, Charles Hannon, Theo Mortsiefer, Mats Maas & Ann Nyhan. 

As part of the Toastmasters programme, each speaker is assigned an evaluator. The role of the evaluator is to provide meaningful and helpful feedback to the speaker, pointing out the speakers strengths and highlighting areas where improvements can be made. In Speakeasy we have a motto that an evaluator should "commend, recommend and commend".Each of the speakers at last week's meeting was evaluated by the assigned evaluators, Rachel Liston, Vincent Harris, Michael Cronin, Marie Lynes and Pat Sexton. At the meeting's conclusion, General Evaluator, Noel O'Connor awarded the Best Speaker ribbon to Ann Nyhan and Best Evaluation to Pat Sexton.

In other news, Speakeasy Toastmasters members will participate in the opening of the 2019 Kanturk Arts Festival which takes place on the 6th February in Kanturk rugby Club at 8.00 PM. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.

The next meeting of Speakeasy Toastmasters Toastmasters Club takes place in the Hibernian Hotel Mallow on Thursday,7th February at 8.00PM. Unlike conventional adult education courses, anytime is a good time to commence in Toastmasters. If you wish to improve your communication skills or are curious about what happens at our meetings, why not pay us a visit. Guests are always welcome and are never coerced into speaking unless they wish to do so. We look forward to seeing you on the 7th February.
For more information please check out our website or on Facebook.

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