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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Toastmasters Strike 3.

My 3rd Toastmaster Speech.....I was a bit nervous, so my speech control was very challenging, but effective nonetheless. Enjoy

                                   Confuzing Words

Mr Toastmaster  

In my project at work I used a USB Host Controller IC implemented with a 8051 Microcontroller to gain full access to the FAT File System of a USB Mass Storage Device.

I just studied your reaction from what I just said. I see reactions of confusion, nervous smiles, and frowns. I didn’t see one acknowledgment or signs of further interested, which would have been maybe nodding of the head or tilting of the head sideways or pucking of the lips with rubbing of the chin. The reason for the reaction that I got from and didn’t get from you is because of one concept.

I used words that you don’t have a definite understand off, or that you have no reality with. Tonight I want to inform you about the importance of understanding words, and the importance of using words that other people will understand. 

Have you ever found that, when you read something, especially a subject that you are not to familiar with. That you come to the end of page and you realize that you can’t remember what you just read. You have lost your focus and concentration somewhere in the middle and now you have to re-read everything. The reason for that is that you have read a word that you don’t understand. If you read a word that you don’t understand and go past it, you get confused. Any other info that you read after you have read the misunderstood word you may find difficult to grasp. It is therefore important that if you want to understand a certain subject or topic, and especially while studying, that you have a clear definition of every word used in the subject. I believe that the difference between a smart person, and a not so smart person, is the amount of words that he/or she understands. And even normal words that you don’t understand in the correct context, may make feel you stupid.

So, here is a suggestion that I want to give you. This may make you smarter. Use a dictionary.

When you read something, or even listen to something and you feel that suddenly you lose focus, you get confused and may even be feeling bored. Stop. Go back to part before you got confused, the part of the text that you can clearly remember. Scan through the words until you find the word that you don’t fully understand. Get a good dictionary, one that does not have too many confusing or big words in the explanations, and look up the word.  There may be different definitions for that word. Get the definition that applies in that specific context. Read the explanation and make sure that you understand all the words in the explanation.  Then make sentences with that word until you are sure that you understand the word in that context. It make take about ten sentences to do it. Don’t be lazy or afraid to do it, nobody is judging you, and it will be well worth in the end.  

After that clear the other definitions of that word in making sure that you understand them. Make sure you know the different meaning of the same word.

Another interesting thing to do is to read the derivation of the word. Maybe it is from a French or latin origin. Also a good way to impress someone around the dinner table. Also try to get some idioms of that word.  

After you have cleared the misunderstood word, read the sentence again where that word occurred, and make sure you understand. You will most probably understand and you can keep on reading, your focus and comprehension of the data after that word will probably be clear now.  

It is very important to use this concept while talking to, or teaching children, and adults . Make sure that they understand the words that you use. Read their body language, yawning, frowning, looking away, looking sad, staring intensely, not tilting of the head.

If you see any of these signs, ask them to repeat what you have said, ask them if they understand the meaning of the word. Unfortunately if you ask this question to most adults, especially the educated ones they might think that you are questioning their intelligence. So make sure you do this sincerely and not in a mocking or sarcastic tone of voice. Saying something like, "you like it when you understand the words that people are using, and get irritated when you don’t understand words that people are using, and you don’t want them to feel the same way" can be a nice approach. By using words that other people understand and you yourself understand, communication will be much more effective.

It will be a good idea to invest in a good dictionary and thesaurus. The first thing I did was to look up the word dictionary and thesaurus. This secret of misunderstood words I unfortunately found out only after my years at varsity. Now I try to have a dictionary close at hand whenever I read something. I find that I remember it better, understand it better, and enjoy it more. Most people, including me, have a weird fear not to understand, I can’t quite explain that yet, but I remember I once asked a very smart guy in my first year at varsity, the guy who had the top calculus mark, “What is your secret ? ”  He told me that “I am not afraid to understand”.   It can’t really hurt if you try to understand, actually, it feels quite good. 

Mister Toastmaster.

Of course there is a ying and yang to everything. If you want to end a conversation  with someone, just use a few difficult words in sequence, and you’ll find them saying "that's interesting", and they probably won’t ask any further questions. Also if you want to put people to sleep, like many of my lectures used to do, use smart words. But that’s a bit nasty, I would never to that. Ever wondered why they use sometimes use latin words in documents that are very important ? ponder that thought. 
Posted by Hein van der Merwe at 18:46:46

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Hansie slim, berg wil klim, in die wye wêreld in !

Here is my itinerary so far.....

11 May - Bloemfontein SA -> 17May - Palmerston North NZ ->  24 May Melbourne Aus

22 June Brisbane Aus -> 26 June London UK -> 28 June Dundee UK-South

Things are a bit rough right now, still have to sell my car! Watch this space for my next toastmaster speech!

Posted by Hein van der Merwe at 20:34:40 |

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


The good thing about time, it goes on. - Paul Davies

I've developed a prototype clicker which is to be used by myself and other McGuire Grads to count the number of people that they speak to during a contact session. It is a small black plastic enclosure with 3 electronic digits. Thus the clicker can count up to 999. The memory is stored while the digits are not displayed and can be reset or switched off completely by means of a slide switch also mounted on the side. The clicker uses 2xAA battery's.

This clicker can of course be used to count sheep, drinks of beer, cricket scores or anything else worth counting. Anybody interested in buying one can contact me via e-mail. This will help me fund my tour.


Posted by Hein van der Merwe at 19:50:45

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Why the Belt?

One of my many talents is mind reading, I've had many hits of thoughts coming through from 
brave people who glanced at my photo of my first McGuire farewell speech thinking ...............
Why the hell is he wearing a belt around his chest !?
Let me answer that........Why the belt.
The Idea is that you need to develop the habit of speaking from the costal diaphragm 
rather than the crural diaphragm. This means learning to inhale by using your ribs 
rather than your abdomen. Feeling the belt tighten on your ribs let’s you know that 
you are indeed using your ribs to inhale.It also gets your attention down in your 
chest where your voice is resonating rather than up In the vocal cords and articulators 
where a stutter is most like to develop.This method of breathing is the core of the 
McGuire Program. It is the first direction that needs to be followed for getting control 
over your stutter. During the intensive courses we always wear our belts,
Meanings of words I didn’t know:
Diaphragm: a dome-shaped muscle that plays a major role in breathing.
When it contracts it lets air into the lungs, and pushes air out when it expands.
Costal: The muscles between your ribs usually used very little in breathing.
Crural: The Muscles attached to your spine, responsible for 89% of your breathing.
Articulators: Your tongue, lips and mouth area where you speak from 


Travel News: I’ve acquired my 
UK working holiday visa and bought my plane ticket,
next move is to get my Tourist visa for Australia, I’m applying tomorrow.

PS. Don’t be afraid, I can’t really read minds, just my own, sometimes 
Posted by Hein van der Merwe at 10:11:55 |