In honor of our country’s upcoming birthday, Chris Nolte, the Toastmaster of the day chose the theme “Americana.”  Throughout the meeting he told us several interesting facts about the United States.  For instance, did you know that we have more than 600 national parks?  Just when you thought there was no new place to visit,  you find at least 600 vacation choices.

Our first speaker, Lina Draney, asked us, “Have you ever looked at something familiar, but suddenly saw it as if you had never seen it before?”  She described 2 such incidents which took place in her own back yard.  While standing in her garden, she heard an unusual sound and looked to see from where it was coming.  Some blooming flowers had attracted quite a number of bees.  Her immediate alarm dissipated when she realized the bees were not interested in her at all — they were just gathering nectar for honey.  She spied 1 bee sitting atop a flower and realized it was grooming itself.  It actually took an antenna and appeared to be washing its face.   On another occasion, she was watching spiders.  She suddenly noticed that different spiders weave different types of webs.  Some are triangular, others rectangular, yet others combine various shapes.  All are intricate and incredibly strong.  She brought in a plant she’d grown and said until recently she hadn’t noticed it had tiny flowers.  We all took the opportunity to look at the small plant and find it’s delicate little flowers.  Lina maintained, “It’s amazing what we don’t see as we walk through our day.”

Tu Duong asked us, “How many of you have cell phones?”  That brought a 100% affirmative response — everyone did.  His next question, “Do you use it the way you did 10 years ago?”  Another 100% response — NOBODY DID.  So much is different and Tu suggests in the next 10 years we will see even greater change.  Tu believes the Smart Phone will become our health monitoring center.  It will be capable of detecting heart rate, blood pressure, heart valve problems, diabetes. The information can be transmitted directly to your doctor and if you need assistance, your GPS will lead paramedics to your location.  OMG!  Of less importance, but certainly adding ease to the day, your Smart Phone will change the way you shop.  Your wallet and credit cards will no longer be necessary.  Your phone can take a picture of what you want and billing can be completed in the time it takes to click.  In the Virtual Shopping world, imagine seeing s suit you like and then pressing a button to see how it would look on YOU.  What would it look like in a different color?  Just click away.  Hmmm, is the Smart Phone becoming smarter than us?

Andres Del Corral presided over Table Topics.  What interesting Americana questions, and what remarkable responses.  All were splendid, but in voting for the best, our 3rd place runner-up was Maria Larrazabal, 2nd place was Sharon Patish and our WINNER was, our guest, a former Toastmaster, Virginia Jimenez.

Our Master Evaluator Sharon Patish and her team, Jim Hartnett and Luisa Herran gave us some pointers to think about when we next speak.  Here are some examples:

As beginning speakers, we are nervous and our anxiety often gives way to speaking too fast.  Take a deep breath and slow down.

Also pauses aid in showing emphasis.

Use visuals when possible.

Finally, our Grammarian, Ghislaine Demombynes, noted that in the past our first speaker had many “ums and ahs,” but during this speech there were none.  So listen as the Grammarian points these things out — then listen to yourself.

A big welcome to our guests:  Virginia Jimenez, Jason Raskin, Carlo Camargo, Melissa Blundell Osorio and Sylvia do Pico.  We look forward to seeing you again.

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