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TOP 10 Ways to Improve Elections

With the Canadian provincial and municipal elections earlier this year and recently, plus a major biennial election south of the border earlier this month, one cannot help wondering what can be done to make the process, impact, etc. more interesting

  • Play outtakes of candidate speeches over polling station loudspeakers to entertain those voting
  • Have each candidate post a board with their top five campaign promises, with percentages of likely fulfillment, outside polling stations
  • Provide free bags of topsoil and grass seed for voters willing to have campaign signs on their lawns
  • Increase the speed of results by allowing scrutineers to start counting immediately as ballots fall through chutes on their side of the boxes
  • Instead of listing candidates alphabetically, list them on the basis of the value of their letter scores in Scrabble
  • Leave trails of snacks and beverages outside polling stations to entice voters to go in and vote
  • Demonstrate how to ‘balance the books’, by placing them on the heads of the campaign workers with the most hair
  • Increase overall commitments to being ‘green’, by freely offering huge batches of mixed yellow and blue paints with paintbrushes
  • On election night, have cameras or Skype type connections in all locations showing candidates sweating out the election returns
  • Have candidates put their guess on the exact number of votes they get, in an envelope the night before the vote, and give ‘The Guess is Right’ trophies to those who predict closest without exceeding their final tally

What’s in a Name?

One of the rotating features of many clubs is a theme for the meeting.

A few years ago, our Toastmasters club evolved from periodically featuring a meeting theme to making this a regular part of the weekly agenda.  It should be noted it serves as a backdrop influencing some components, such as the Toast or Table Topics, but core roles such as formal speaking or evaluating follow their own course and may or may not intersect with the theme.

While we typically are topical for holidays and other annual celebrations, there are numerous opportunities to explore other subjects or concepts.

For example, we have held meetings this year with themes such as forgiveness, continuing education, strange music, independence, the great outdoors, ancestors, people skills, world heritage, pets, and maple syrup.  The fact that seemingly every day of the year has one or more localized or international recognitions for large scale or niche celebration means ideas for topics of the day are multitudinous.

Advantages to including meeting themes include providing a subject to build on for those with roles requiring preparation, plus the capacity to engage and encourage symbiotic fun with those attending.  This also helps address the idea of freshening the ongoing challenge of personal development and creativity.

Some topics are easier to work with than others.  They may be selected, by those deciding, based on personal likes not endeared by all.  A recent TM meeting of ours with the theme of ‘Talk Like a Pirate’ comes to mind.  Obviously, the more universal the appeal of a selected theme, the more participants can easily relate.

But, in this age of increasingly niche oriented interests, suppose this concept becomes ratcheted to a wider, esoteric pool.

Such as examples for ‘Name Your Own Day (NYOD)’ – versions of which are probably being celebrated sometime, somewhere…

  • ‘No One Can Criticize Me on Social Media’ day
  • ‘Yes, I Do Own the Road’ day
  • ‘I Want an Orange Juice Maker on My Desk’ day
  • ‘If I Cry Over Spilt Milk, It’s O.K.’ day
  • ‘My Words Are Like Gold’ day
  • ‘All Hands on Deck for Me’ day
  • ‘I Won’t Wait for the Ink to Dry’ day
  • ‘Give Me the $64,000 Question’ day
  • ‘It’s My Way or the Highway’ day
  • ‘Laughing Last’ day
  • ‘I’m Off and Running’ day
  • ‘Let’s See Which Way the Wind Blows’ day

What this all implies is that any day really can be our day, but subject to conditions.

A Modern Halloween Life

If there’s a message underlying many escapades in The Simpsons’ annual Halloween “Treehouse of Horror” episodes, it’s that simply twisting the slant of everyday routines can be sufficient to make reality a black humour version of unnerving, or worse.  This emerges most overtly when the backdrop is parody, shaped by the tone of this venerable take on animated life.

The most memorable moments stem from great writing, about altered states.  These stand out, like in life itself, the dust settling in varying layers of destiny.

For instance, in an early T. of H. segment called ‘Nightmare Cafeteria’, the oh-too-familiar stereotype of the school cafeteria is buffeted into a horror far beyond the real experience.  Acknowledging that cafeteria experience may have comprised its own tier of compromises inspires some of the foundation of the twisted version.  Healthy eating and the vulnerabilities of trust and greed are a couple of the relatable issues given the bad dream treatment.  

Yet, the seemingly ever-increasing public interest in the subject of Halloween, witnessed in retail sales as well as in cinema releases, suggests that adapting the spirit of this season throughout the year might give our lives another spin…

  • Use various coloured lights in pumpkin faces to encourage diversity in all things
  • Invite the living dead of your acquaintance to your house for an interpretive version of ‘trick or treat’
  • Make a costume which is part fluorescent and part phosphorescent
  • Hold auditions for best ghost in an authentic haunted house
  • Hold a body snatchers party and neglect to keep track of the number of participants
  • Open a spare parts shop which does not discriminate against any category suppliers term ‘parts’
  • If a vigilante comes to your door, don’t be afraid to negotiate
  • If you see a zombie not wearing black, or an alien which isn’t green, be suspicious
  • Have your android device not only create a spooky mood instrumentally, but also whisper danger subliminally
  • Resolve to find a way to rhyme with orange

Canadian Cannabis Slogans

While cannabis is now officially legal in Canada, there are limitations for any versions of advertising or outright promotion (and there are some understandable reasons why).

So here’s a Top 10 list of laid-back slogans various and sundry parties may wish to use, perhaps to raise a leaf to for a little inspiration… (more…)

Making Words Come Alive

Stories have a better chance to come to life when we construct and deliver descriptions which the listener’s mind’s eye can see.

Stories may be the essence of the message being presented.  Stories might also be part of the construction, such as in support of the theme of a speech.  The latter example is part of the formula discussed in an article in the October issue of Toastmaster magazine. (more…)

Thanksgiving: Viewed from the Plate

This coming weekend is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, with the day itself keeping the tradition of second Monday in October.  Considered one of those occasions to bond with family, as with the U.S. version later in November, it hasn’t dovetailed into the latter’s four-day event also celebrating the shopping madness of ‘Black Friday’.

While these are longstanding festivities in both countries, with historical origins involving early explorers and settlers, this is looking at things only from the side of the consumer, i.e. the one enjoying the repast. (more…)

The Eyes Have It

A famous expression states “the eyes are windows to the soul”.  Since there are some among us with limited, or sadly no, eyesight, presumably there needs to be flexibility in taking such an insight, as worded, literally.  We could also consider hearing as listening to the soul, or touch as feeling for the soul.

We seem increasingly to live in a time in which reading is considered by too many as more of a chore than an enjoyable activity.  (more…)