Wednesday, May 30, 2007

So you think you can speak eh?

Today will go down in History... at least my personal history.

Public Speaking has been the jewel of my classes thus far as I love the professor and I love the art itself. In that class, not to long ago, great things were set in motion and now they are near fruition.

First I was nominated by my peers to participate in the Department of Communication's Annual Speaking Competition. I was thankful for this opportunity but fairly surprised by the nomination. Regardless, of 500 some students that took the class, a mere 23 were nominated. I felt pretty good.

Then came the competition itself. It was today starting at 4:00. There was to be a preliminary round, a semi-final round, and a final round. The preliminaries would be split into 6 groups of 4 (even though we had a mere 23) and the winner from each group would move on.

I listened to two great speeches in my section, I thought for sure that I wouldn't be moving forward, especially because I had COMPLETELY left out one of my Main points. That point was fairly crucial to my argument. So after our group had gone we went back to a common room where the names were read aloud.

I had been last to go in my section, and my section was the last of the sections, so of course the anticipation built. However, seeing as I had misstepped so badly in my speech, I figured that I for sure wouldn't be moving on therefore I wasn't too worried about it!

Then Professor Matt McGarrity read my name.

I was stunned. But only momentarily. I can only surmise that my presentation had pulled me through. Regardless, congratulations were said and everyone but the judges and semi-finalists were left in the room.

One by one we gave our speeches. I saw some really great speeches and again thought, I wont be moving on. I, of course, was last again. Finally my time came and I gave my speech. I have to say it was the best delivery of my speech to date. I was happy with it, but not at all expectant of anything.

We shuffled out of the room and then back in 10 minutes later. There, on the whiteboard, were the names of 3 finalists. The last name on the list read "Zach Simonson-Bond" and again I was shocked.

I made it to the finals! Not only was this a great experience, not only can I put this on my resume, but I can now say that I was a finalist in the Annual Department of Communication's Speaking Competition. And what's more, the top three speakers win prizes, 3rd being 200, 2nd being 300, and 1st being 400 dollars! I'm so grateful for this opportunity and it's been a blast. No matter the result from here on, I'm so happy just to have been apart of it! I hope I can continue my public speaking skills in the future!


Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I was reading Siddhartha last night and I came across a passage I liked.

"Anyone can work magic, anyone can reach his goals if he can think, if he can wait, if he can fast."

I think that the first two parts are pretty self explanatory, and even the third part in the book is pretty clear. If one can be intelligent, if one has patience, then that works in their favor towards pursuing their goals. But the fasting part is what held me up at first.

See, in the book he goes on to talk about how if he learns to conquer hunger then he will not be forced into a situation of submittal due to his pain; He wont have to give in but may rather wait for an opportunity to present itself. While I don't think that fasting is a terribly effective tool in our modern time, I do believe that this passage still contains great meaning.

With his tools, thinking, waiting, and fasting, he may be like "a stone cast into water, it takes the swiftest way to the bottom." Thinking, waiting, and fasting are still applicable today, though my interpretation of fasting is now different.

If you seek a goal and you pursue it directly, then you may have to give up the distractions that stand in your way; things that would tempt you from your path, things that you may use in daily regularity. If these things hinder you from your goal they must be given up for a time so that you may reach your goal. Sacrifice is a strong word, but if you really strive for something, then you will sacrifice those things keeping you from your goal; at least until your journey is complete, then perhaps, your goal and your sacrifices may work together.

Think, Wait, Fast.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Long Time Coming...

I've been meaning to write in this thing for about a week now so I guess now is the time! I'll start out by saying that people are amazing! (for the most part)

Last week I was doing some laundry. I had put my clothes in the washer before class but the machines only run for a half hour. When I got back to put my wet clothes in the dryer I was surprised, but delighted, to find my clothes had already been put in the dryer!! It completely made my day.

So COM 220: Public Speaking...
I love that class and public speaking seems to be my forte. I'm bragging a little bit but only because I'm proud of myself, and this is why:

I was recently asked to be apart of the Communication Departments Annual Public Speaking Competition 2007. I was one of 14 people that were nominated though I have no idea how many will actually be there. The competition is next week so I'll be preparing for it over the 3 day weekend (and hopefully spending plenty of time with my new interest). The speech I'll be delivering will be a persuasive speech; my target audience are those who disagree with me but not staunchly disagree. I'm just supposed to sow the seeds of consideration into their minds. That will be Wednesday and if I make it to the finals, Thursday as well.

Not only that, last Friday another awesome thing happened. In quiz section our class got together to practice their advocacy speeches (basically a speech trying to rally those who already support you into action). I listened to four separate speeches. After the first speech I gave feedback, it was critical but constructive. I like to point out the good, then really break down the bad, but give suggestions or even examples of how I would do it personally. After my first critic the TA, Vanessa, told me that I gave that student great feedback. That made me smile.

On to student number two. I listened to his intro and that's pretty much where he lost my attention first. He was talking about Universal health care and how it would be horrible if the US adopted it. He started out his speech with "Canadians are DYING!" and went off about how other countries are in a state of disrepair because of their universal health care. While I recognized the effectiveness of this parallel argument, it wasn't appropriate to start with. So my feedback went like this, "You started out with your examples of Canadians, and though this may sound harsh, my first thought was 'Why should I care about Canadians? I'm an American and I'm your audience, so the topic should effect me." But, I went on to tell him that he can tweak it. I then gave him the full example of how I would say it. Big boy voice and all I said, "People are dying! And why? Because of Universal Health care! And guess what? The United States is considering adopting universal health care! You need look no further than Canada to see that this program does not work! This could be devastating for our country... etc etc" During my blurb the class had grown silent listening to my rant and let loose a roar of approval after I was finished. I felt accomplished and I smiled again.

Then we had a speaker rotation and one gal that was originally criticing with me was now delivering her speech. She asked me specifically to stay and critic her. She struggled through it, even stopped to try and explain herself. I told her to go on to the end and we'll work on it then. She finished and the overhaul began. I stood up and started to draft a completely new speech for her on the blackboard. I went through problem, cause, solution, and call to action; the basic format for an advocacy speech.

As I was writing one student playfully mocked me saying "Look at Zach, thinking he can teach the class" to which my TA promptly replied "He does a good job so let him do it." Sweet. I smiled again.

After the class was dismissed I stayed after with Vanessa and the 3rd gal. Together we worked on her speech until she had a pretty good idea of what to do. As I was leaving Vanessa asked me if I ever considered Tutoring for the Public Speaking class. I was taken aback! She said I give such good feedback, that have a lot of passion for it, and that I'd be a great tutor. I told her I would love to but I'm studying abroad. That was thrilling and a little disappointing. However, she put me on the list and I may be able to do that when I get back from Bristol!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Weather vs. Coverings; may only the strongest survive

Today a epic battle was waged between the forces of nature and my body coverings.

First it was cold. I put on pants and a T-shirt. By the time my first class had finished the tides had turned.

I lashed back with a bold statement... khaki shorts. Alas! When I took my leave from McCarty Hall I was accosted by the wind and left robbed of my heat by the clouds looming over head.

I would not be outdone I vowed. So after another class I returned to McCarty where I got my sweatshirt. I insisted on sitting outside, though, it was in the shade on the deck behind Ian's. I didn't mind.

Time passed seemingly peacefully, perhaps the weather and I had found some mutual ground. But that mischievous orb in the sky had other plans.

I grew hot and my sweatshirt soon draped over the chair. Curse you weather! Make up your mind. It eventually became so nice, and by now my shade spot had been overrun by a brilliant golden light, that I retreated to the safety of my room. There I dawned my one final option hoping that soon the war would be over and both sides the victor.

Tank Top.

In the end, I spent hours enjoying the sunlight today. I played guitar, sat in the Quad, enjoyed the company of friends, watched multitudes of people stroll by. Seemingly by Gods own will the UW women were out in force today. Something about the sun makes them dress their finest. My eyes were opened, I must double my efforts to interact with such superb women. There is only a month remaining and in that month I'll have to shine.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

The Kite Runner etc...

I would liked to have started this post with a quote; something to give a glimpse of how amazing The Kite Runner was. I just finished it tonight. On the cover it boasts "Powerful... Haunting". I didn't understand what that meant until I turned the final page. I surmise that you won't either until you read it yourself. The book will live in my mind for years to come, often I find my mind drifting back to it.

In the last two weeks I've finished two books. Not a record pace by any means, but I feel accomplished as I have plenty of other commitments. The thing is, I don't want to stop! I remember when I was just a boy and my parents had canceled the cable. I took to reading to quell the boredom and a new world was opened to me! I feels like I read so many books, pouring over all forms of literature. Now I feel like I could get back on that track as I almost never watch the television. Something about this atmosphere; I have an lack of desire to watch cable. I'd much rather watch a movie if I wanted visual entertainment, and I get my news from the paper.

The book I finished before The Kite Runner was J.R.R. Tolkien's newest release Children of Hurin. A mere 250 pages, this book flies by; especially after you get past the first few chapters of back story and lineage. I'm not going to say much about it, but know that Tolkien (the senior) created so many stories, lineages, notes, etc. that his son could (and did) spend the last 30 years pouring over the history of middle earth. One final book is the result of Christopher Tolkien's efforts. It is just as good as any other Tolkien literature and worth the whole day it would take to read it.

I think the next book I may attempt is Siddhartha. I have it staring at me right now, and I'm tempted by it, though I don't know what it's about. I've just heard from many others that it is worth the time. I guess I'll get on that!

Changing topics really quickly, I wanted to briefly touch on discrimination. I was sitting at a cafe on the Ave the other day. I hadn't bought anything because I was waiting for a friend. I was there for a good hour taking up a table, reading the Kite Runner. There were some men sitting behind me, 2 playing chess, 2 others talking and playing guitar. I was in awe of their agile fingers and soulful melodies. It was then, as I watch in a blissful surrender to their music, that I witnessed a fairly blatant discriminatory act.

One of the shops workers, possibly the owner (I've seen him there a lot), walks to the table of men. The worker is a tiny man, not even 5'5" and most likely the weight of a small child. But despite his size, he confronted the 4 men and told them that if they wanted to stay in the coffee shop they would have to buy something. The two men playing chess had bought something already, but the tiny repeated his statement and told them if they did not buy something they would have to leave.

In a deep and commanding voice, the words "But of course, but of course" bounded from the man playing guitar, prematurely ending the small man's stammering commands. The guitar player set down his instrument and made his way to purchase something.

I sat there in discomfort and disbelief. They had been there only as long as I had, and, though I frequent that coffee shop a great deal, perhaps so do they. I felt so terribly that I immediately got in line behind the guitar playing man and bought myself something, regardless of my lack of hunger.

Maybe things were different then how I saw them, maybe there were factors I didn't understand, but the moral of this tale is that privilege exists and being aware of it is important.

I'm going to bed now, it's almost 1:00.

P.S.The Decemberists are amazing.

P.S.S. Being the RA on Duty stinks... I have to go to the other tower right now to tell somebody to turn down their bass.