Sunday, January 21, 2018

Post 3641 - Did You Miss Me?

I missed you!

Sorry I haven't written in the last few days. Wednesday I had a job interview, which plum tuckered me out. That evening I was at the Archives for a few hours and found... nearly nothing toward the case I am researching. Thursday night and then again Friday night, my body shut down early, so I turned in early.

Saturday afternoon, I drove to the Valley to check out the house down there. I dried some towels in the dryer because my dryer in the city is on the fritz. Made sure the place was okay. Watched some telebision.

This morning I got up and found something to eat and drank some of the coffee  I keep down there. The six dollar coffee maker I purchased last Summer has been a wonderful addition to the decor, as the one it replaced was spitting and spewing hot water on the counter, netting me maybe three cups of coffee out of five.

After lunch, I loaded up the Soul and headed over to Steam Mill, to the Elm Grove Cemetery, where my parents are buried.

I don't visit them enough. I think about them a lot. I wonder how vexed they would be with me over my position regarding my sisters. Sometimes I think they would be on my side. Other times, I think Mom and Dad would, as they did with me many times, just beg me to find a way to get along with them.

I returned to the city mid-afternoon. I brought home a piece of pumpkin pie, reduced from that amazing grocery store in Wolfville that marks down items willy nilly.

We watched a few episodes of season one of Fargo. I think Patricia has bailed on the show. I am intrigued enough to continue to watch it. Netflix has the first two seasons, so I may may my way through them.

I will close by telling you that I hope very much to write on a regular basis going forward. I have sometimes been negligent, and I regret that. It is a muscle I need to exercise on a regular basis, and since I have this cool model m keyboard that makes typing such a breeze, I really should be using it.

I hope you all have a wonderful evening. I will bark at ya tomorrow.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Post 3640 - Today

Been nervous today, because tomorrow is a bit special. I cannot tell you about it just yet. But soon, I promise.

Today was a typical day at work. For dinner we had some leftovers from last evening. Then we watched the telly for a spell. "Jeopardy!". "Lethal Weapon". And the first few minutes of "Black Lightning". The latter show features characters created by Tony Isabella, with assistance from Trevor von Eeden. Long time readers will recall that Bevboy's Blog owes its existence to the time I quit Tony's message board because he accused me of exulting in the death of someone, who died of the same thing that nearly killed my father in 2000. That accusation hurt, and I no longer felt welcome there, so I left, and eventually started this silly little blog, with its 4.7 readers.

I have moved on, and forgiven Tony for this, and I am happy that at this stage in his life he is finally getting some recognition for his work. I don't want to be his friend or anything, but I can at least recall some of the good exchanges I had with him and others on his message board. And I think I can enjoy the "Black Lightning" tv series as being what it is, and not associate it with someone who caused me a great deal of pain some 11 years ago.

The show is being recorded on my PVR as I type these humble words. I will watch it in the coming days and see how much of it jibes with my recollections of the "Black Lightning" comics I read years and years ago.

I think I should turn in. An important day awaits me.

See you tomorrow.


Monday, January 15, 2018

Post 3639 - Radio News

The radio gods giveth. And they taketh away.

Brad Dryden is the incoming morning man at Mix 96.5 in Halifax. He takes over on February 5th. He takes over from Frankie Hollywood, who , uh, left the station around the end of November.

This sounds like a really neat match up. He will do the show with Natalie Fournier, going up against his former station, C100. Radio 965/The Mix has struggled for market share and even identity since that frequency stopped being KOOL FM in 2013. If Brad's addition to the station doesn't draw people to it, then nothing will. Depends on how much Newcap wants to spend on the format, I guess.

And now the "taketh away" part. Courtney Amirault, late of Live 105, was shown the door at Rock 88.9 today. This sucks mightily for her, but like more than one philosophical jock has told me, things happen for a reason.

People have asked me repeatedly why I never went into radio, given my interest in it. Setting aside my nearly-profound lack of talent for nearly anything in this world for just a moment, I would hate to be in any profession where the turn over rate in staff is so severe, sudden, and dramatic. You can be here today, and gone later today. You can be the best jock who has ever jocked a jock. You can have a really good ratings book. Listeners can love you. Managers can love you. But the moment these same managers perceive they need to make a change, and implement one, you're very likely not coming with. Why would I put myself through that? And why do these jocks do it? It is a mystery for the ages.

If you have any pearls of wisdom, go ahead and leave 'em here.

See you tomorrow.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Post 3638 - A Day Spent Doing Nothing.

Slept in, really late. Got up and cooked hot cereal. I was supposed to interview someone in relation to an unsolved murder case I'm looking into, but she wasn't home, so I left a message. A bit disappointing. It freed up the rest of my day, though.

I cooked dinner tonight. There will be enough leftovers to incorporate into breakfast in the morning. And we watched stuff on the pvr.

Another action-packed weekend is behind us. It is back to reality in the morning. Why do weekends go by so bloody quickly, anyway?

Newbie is beckoning. Wants me scratch him behind the ears. So I will accommodate him.

See you tomorrow.


Saturday, January 13, 2018

Post 3637 - More On Toastmasters

A couple of things.

It was nice of the person who wrote me privately and offered to send us some money so she could be a member-in-absentia of our Toastmasters club. Very nice, actually. But the club is toast. We have accepted that.

We took the club as far as it could go, and likely kept it going longer than it should have. Nothing lasts forever.

And another point. In any volunteer organization, be it Toastmasters, Lion's Club, Oddfellows, whatever, 20% of the people will do 80% of the work. Most of the 80% will go along with what the 20% are doing. Then there is the tiny minority of the 80% who stand back and complain about what the 20% are doing. They don't roll up their sleeves and pitch in. They just complain.

My goodness, I saw a lot of that. Over my many years in TM, again and again we would be doing our best to keep the club going and be healthy. And there would always be at least one member who would point out what we were doing "wrong". The person would leave and be replaced by another person, who would pipe in with a different series of complaints. The person/complainer would never think of joining the executive and help out. Not even once.

Being an arm chair quarterback has its place. It is fine to point out areas for improvement. But when you spend your time just finding fault with the folks who out there day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, it is dispiriting at best.

One member would, every time I did a speech, write me a detailed critique of it. She would not tell me this to my face, which is how evaluations are supposed to work. She would just write these long screeds pointing out every flaw she perceived in the presentation. I guess she expected me to thank her for that. I won't miss that.

I also won't miss the people who would sign up for roles on a meeting and just... not show up, making us scramble to fill the role on the agenda. Many years ago, as we came back from a Christmas break, a member called and told me he couldn't do Table Topics that night. I told him that would be fine, that he could just fax or email the stuff to me, and I would present it. "Well, I was kinda hoping you would do that", he said sheepishly. I threw something together that night. He called me that evening apologized, but I was so damned mad at him for putting me in that position. I won't miss that crap, either.

I won't miss the hard work, unpaid, the disappointment, the lack of organization that some members presented with. I could go on. And on. And on. But you get my point.

I will miss the members who gave a damn. Who showed up at every meeting and gave it their best. Watching them grow and improve was what made all that effort worthwhile. I will miss them, and wish them all well.

I have attended many hundreds of Toastmasters meetings. Very close to 1000, actually. For the first many years, and you can confirm this with Patricia, I would spend some nights and weekends also working on club-related stuff. Probably a few thousand hours of unpaid work to make the club "better". Other members would put in similar amounts of time.

I am weary from all this effort. I need a break. Those few of us who were in the club all need a break. We have earned it.

I cannot speak for the others.  I can just tell you that in my own case that I may return to Toastmasters down the road, but that is a fairly long road, and I plan to take my time walking down it.

The club is gone. Accept it. Move on. I have.

See you tomorrow.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Post 3636 - The End Of An Era

Well, the email came out a few minutes ago, so I am free to discuss it here.

Barring some kind of miracle along the lines of Moses parting the Red Sea, my Toastmasters club is folding in the next couple of months.

My club was originally two clubs. Both founded by the phone company in 1968. The club I joined in 1991 was called Telstar; the competing club was called Telco. One was composed of phone company managers; the other, staff. I am not sure which was which.

I did not come along until the club was 23 years of age. Back then, both clubs still met at the Maritime Center on Barrington Street, in the phone company's employee lounge, which was a huge and expansive room on the fifth floor. My club met on Thursday nights; the other, on Tuesdays. There was a gentle rivalry between the two clubs. We shared equipment such as the lectern, timing device, the trophies we handed out each week.

Over the years, the downtown location, once an asset, became a liability. By 1998, both clubs were suffering, so we joined forces to become the Downtown Speakers Club, retaining the same club number as Telstar, and continuing the number of the meetings. I think those were both mistakes.

By 2004, there was a strike at the phone company and we were considered a security risk, so we could not meet at that space any more.  We managed to find a space in the South End. After the strike was over, we could not return to Maritime Center, so we spent the next two years in Scotia Square, until the phone company decided that they did not want us meeting there any more, so they booted us out. A club member arranged for us to meet at the (nor former) World Trade Centre, which is the last place we met.

I had a lot of fun over the years at Toastmasters. I met... my god, I met a lot of people. So many folks came to us, wanting to learn how to improve their public speaking.  People who would surprise you, checked us out. Stephen McNeil, our current Premier, came to some meetings while he was a lowly backbench MLA!

Some people to a few meetings and stayed. Some came to a few meetings, and left. Some came to one meeting, and we never saw them again. A couple of women left at the recess one night, and we never saw them again, either. Yes. That's right. They attended half a meeting.

I got along very well with about 98% of the people who were members over the years. When we didn't get along, it was often the result of misunderstandings that frankly are embarrassing for me to reflect upon, as they cast me in an unflattering light. Once or twice, though, there were personality conflicts. One woman would stand up every meeting and insist on giving an overly detailed Grammarian's report, including any guests who were there in her harsh criticism. This should not have been done. Guests are to be treated with reverence and respect. I would roll my eyes, hold my head, do anything other than tell her to sit down and shut up, something I dearly wanted to do. I was happy when she left the club, and dismayed when she briefly returned. One of the most annoying people I have ever met in my entire life. She will remain nameless, but she may read this and gnash her teeth and stamp her overly-elaborate shoes on the floor at my temerity.

Overall, it was a lot of fun, but a lot of work, too. People had little idea how much time volunteering for TM, particularly at the executive level, could take. Folks would ask us why we didn't do this, or didn't do that. Oftentimes we had not thought of it. Other times, we didn't have the time or inclination to do it.

A malaise began to set in... I guess about ten years ago. The club membership began to dwindle. Fewer members coming each week meant each of us took on more roles on the agenda, which made going to the meetings more and more of a chore. Eventually, we moved to bi-weekly meetings, which seldom lasted more than 90 minutes, and often, barely 60.

People at the executive level, beyond the club, began to complain about us. We were no longer participating at area-level contests. We were not attending the semi annual training sessions that always took place on a Saturday. We were not completing the very goals laid out for us by Toastmasters International.

By October of 2017, the club, gasping and wheezing, entered its 50th year. We returned seven members to the club, one below the number that Toastmasters International would accept, so we were on very thin ice. If we sent in our dues in April of 2018 with that number of members, or fewer, we would be shut down.

Then, on December 5th, our treasurer informed us that the meeting area she had been able to secure for us since 2007 would no longer be available. We would be homeless come January of 2018. We made some half-hearted enquiries here and there, but could not find a meeting place that was free, or nearly so. The very few of us left just realized, and admitted to ourselves, that we could no longer continue this club, as the club was unsustainable.

This is a little sad. I'm a little sad. But only a little. I got out of TM what I wanted to, a long time ago. It doesn't owe me anything. I don't owe it anything. And I'm tired of the horse hockey that a few people subject us to. I joined TM all those years ago to improve my public speaking and confidence. The other, extraneous stuff, has always meant little to me.

There are plenty of other clubs out there. Maybe in a year or so, I will join one and attend the meetings just for fun. Or maybe I won't. Depends.

The Downtown Speakers 3217 Toastmasters Club ceases to exist on March 31, 2018. But there will be no more meetings, so that date is meaningless.

I have not cried one little bit while typing this post, so I know we made the right decision. At least, I sincerely hope we did.

See you tomorrow.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Post 3635 - A Tip

So, how are you this evening?

As is now my habit, I went to the Archives after work, there to investigate another unsolved murder for an upcoming issue of Frank. But I wasn't sure what one to look at. I was considering a few different cases, until my editor emailed me today and told me that a subscriber had re-upped and asked if I wanted to consider a particular unsolved murder going back quite a few years. I was somewhat familiar with the case, had heard of it and everything. But I had not begun a formal look into it.

This person supplied a phone number. I will call this person in the next day or two, as the person attended school with the murder victim and may have some insight into the case.

So, that's the case I looked at this evening. I found the person's obituary. With that, I found names of next of kin, very helpful indeed when it comes to tracking down family members who might agree to speak to me.

There are plenty of unsolved murders and missing persons cases in the province, far more than you might realize until you start thinking about it. I keep discovering ones that are nearly forgotten today. Sad that some cases continue to get coverage, while others don't.

Anyway, it has been a long day. I think I will turn in.

See you tomorrow, my lovelies.