I just finished reading the 2017 novel Twelve Angry
Librarians by Miranda James (who really is Dean). This book is the eighth in
his series of a dozen Cat in the Stacks mysteries. On page 82 Dr. Gavin Fong, the
keynote speaker at the annual meeting of the Southern Academic Libraries
Association, takes a drink from a poisoned bottle of water, collapses, and dies
right at the lectern.
The problem for both Chief Deputy Kanesha Berry and Athena
College interim library director (and amateur sleuth) Charlie Harris is that
job-hopping Gavin previously made so many enemies that a dozen people have excellent
motives for killing him. After another 177 pages we finally find out who done
On February 28, 2014 I blogged aboutSpeech topics from near
Hayden Homes is working on a housing development with the
Basque name of Baserri south of Lake Hazel Road and west of Cole Road. There were
trenches dug for underground installation of water supply and sewer piping. Early
this week I saw the water company flushing a main via a hydrant, as shown
above. That ‘rooster tail’ is twenty or thirty feet high. Flushing removes
sediment located at the bottom of pipes.
I have previously seen a gigantic “rooster tail” at the Lucky
Peak Dam north of Boise, as shown in an April 16, 2017 IdahoNews article titled
‘Rooster tail’ display to happen next weekend at Lucky Peak.
Not long ago I received an email from an organization I had
never heard of (VDGOOD Professional Association) that informed me I somehow was
going to receive recognition at their 4th International Scientist Awards on
Engineering, Science, and Medicine to be held in Chennai, India in February 2020.
That email is shown above. Of course, I will not be
attending what presumably was an annual event. But when I looked on their Research
Awards web page, I found they had listed four other sets of awards in September
and November of 2019, and both January and April of 2020. They seem to be
handing them out almost as fast as an Indian restaurant can cook up dosas.
I don’t know how they came up with VDGOOD for their organization
name. VD is the older English acronym for a venereal disease. More recently it
is called a sexually transmitted disease or STD, but either an STD or VD is not
good – it is terrible.
About four decades ago I got a letter from a royally-named book publisher
inviting me to apply for inclusion in a hardback book of biographies of notable
people in the region, titled something like You Are Who in the Midwest. I sent them
my bio, and they told me I would be included. Then they sold me a copy of the
book. Later on, at a coffee break where I worked, I asked others if they were
invited too. We deduced the book publisher must have acquired a copy of the
directory for TMS (currently The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society) - and
sent an invitation to every member.
It turned out there were other regional editions of You are
Who for the Northeast, Southeast, Northwest, and Southwest. Then they told me I
could be in a more expensive book titled You Are Who in the United States (which
I did not buy). If I had, I suppose I also would have been told that I could be
in an even more expensive book, You are Who in the World.
An image by Carol Highsmith of Felix de Weldon’s Waving Girl
statue came from the Library of Congress.
As shown above, Maren Morris sings about how There’s A Song
For Everything. I found that song on her second country album, Girl. But I
first heard her crossed over onto Adult Contemporary Radio singing The Bones. She
also belts out the lyrics on the Zedd song The Middle.
Donald Trump just got one of his wishes. He will definitely go
down in history. But it will be as the first U.S. president to have been
impeached in the 21st century. Previously there was just one each in the 19th
(Johnson) and the 20th (Clinton).
On October 12, 2019 I blogged aboutAre we headed for a
parody inversion or a caricature convergence? We have achieved a caricature
convergence – I can no longer tell if headlines about the impeachment are
coming from a satire site like The Onion or real news sites like CNN, Fox News,
or MSNBC. There was an article on October 28, 2019 in the Washington Post
titled ‘It feels like a horror movie’: Republicans feel anxious and adrift in
As Paul Brandus said in a USA Todayarticle on December 19,
2019 Impeachment: President Trump only has himself to blame. We got here via a
long series of his terrible decisions. One of the worst was to turn loose his
private attorney to prematurely dig up dirt on Joe Biden, months before he
could win the primary and actually become Trump’s opponent in the upcoming
election. Then there was that infamous phone call with Ukraine. The context made
clear it was a shakedown (an attempt at bribery, which is impeachable). President
Trump’s description of it as “a perfect call” or even a “totally perfect call”
is laughable – it truly was awful. That call led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to
finally turn the tables and reluctantly unleash an impeachment inquiry. And then
it became a “which hunt” rather than a “witch hunt”– which things go in
Articles of Impeachment.
Trump likely will not be voted against in his trial by the
Republican-controlled Senate, and get to remain in office to run for reelection.
But large questions about his family business finances remain, given his income
tax returns are still hidden. Presumably they could explain his actions.
The country will have to survive this prolonged media circus,
but there will be more colossal distractions and a waste of time and money
before it ends. Meanwhile over in Moscow, Beijing, Damascus, and Teheran they
are laughing at us.
The image of a Frankenstein monster was adapted from a drawing
at Wikimedia Commons.
Interlocks are safety features designed to keep something
dangerous from happening accidentally. As is shown above, they chain together two
or more operations.
For example, if you were busy talking on a cell phone (as
shown above) you might forget to put a foot on the brake pedal before trying to
shift the automatic transmission from park into reverse or drive. Cars made
after 2006 have a mechanism called a Brake-Transmission-Shift-Interlock-(BTSI) which
keeps you from moving the shift lever until you have depressed the brake pedal.
There is an interlock in the natural gas control valve on
our water heater. An adjustable thermostat turns the gas supply for a main
burner on and off to keep the water at a set temperature. There is a standing pilot
light (a small flame) to light the main burner. The pilot light has a safety
interlock that prevents the main gas flame from trying to go on, unless the
pilot has been previously lit.
A thermocouple exposed to the pilot flame holds a solenoid
valve for its gas supply open. As shown above, this results in complicated Lighting
Instructions. Step 8 calls for holding down the gas control knob for a minute
after the pilot is lit (so the thermocouple can heat up).
During servicing or maintenance of equipment it may be
possible to defeat interlocks, and create hazardous conditions. This can be
avoided using safety procedures known as Lock Out Tag Out. Back on February 18,
2011 I blogged aboutMore on mistake-proofing: lock out what you don’t want to
happen. An article by John A. Palmer and David A. Danaher at EC&M on November
1, 2004 titled A series of preventable events leading to a power plant
explosion described a horrible example with $500 million in damages.
Software also need interlocks. An article in Shark Tank at Computerworld
on December 6, 2019 titled Shell Game described debugging of a shell script
which ran a chain of nine programs (as shown above). Each was to have produced
an output file for use as input in the following program. The debugger tried
working backwards, and eventually found all the output files were missing, but
the programs didn’t check before trying to run!
A cartoon of a driver talking on his cell phone was adapted from
one at Wikimedia Commons.
“a raised surface at one end of a meeting room that someone
can stand on when speaking to a group”
Dais actually is a ‘walking dead’ noun – it died before 1600
and then was revived after 1800. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) begins
with two different main definitions 1.a and 2.a, and then it continues with three more:
“1. a.A raised table in a hall, at which distinguished
persons sat at feasts, etc.; the high table. (Often including the platform on
which it was raised: see 2). Obsolete since
1. b. to begin the dais: to take the chief seat, or preside at a feast: see BEGIN. Also to hold the dais in the same sense. Obsolete.
2. a. The raised platform at one end of a hall for the high
table, or for seats of honour, a throne, or the like; often surmounted by a
canopy. Obsolete since 1600, until revived c1800 in historical and subsequently
in current use.
2. b. By extension: The platform of a lecture hall; the raised
floor on which the pulpit and communion table stand in some places of worship.
2.c. In Freemasonry (1866 quote) the platform or raised floor in the East, on which the presiding officer is seated.
3.In some early
examples (chiefly northern) it appears to have the sense ‘seat, bench’; so in
Scottish (a) ‘a long board, seat or bench, erected against a wall’, a settle;
also ‘a seat on the outer side of a country house or cottage’; (b) a seat or
bench, or pew in a church (Jamieson); chamber
2) A raised platform or terrace of any kind; e.g. in the open air.
5. [after modern French – not an English sense.] The canopy
over a throne or chair of state.
Under 2.a. the OED gives an example sentence from Geoffrey
Chaucer’s 1386 The Merchant’s Tale (with
the Middle English spelling):
“And atte fest sittith he and sche With other worthy folk
upon the deys.”
As shown above, the Old Senate Chamber in the U.S. Capitol
had a dais for the Vice President with an ornate canopy.
How should you pronounce the word dais?
The Cambridge Dictionary gives two different pronunciations –
an American one with two syllables (day-iss) and a British one with just one
(dace or deys – pronounced to match how Chaucer once had spelled it).
An article by Nancy Keates in The Wall Street Journal on November
23, 2016 titled You’re saying it wrong: design words that will trip you up
“Dais (a low platform or stage) is pronounced DAY-is, not DIE-is.”
“It is pronounced /dā-əs/
(day-iss) or /ˈdī-əs/ (die-us). Dais is
commonly misspelled as dias. Its plural form is daises and
is pronounced either (day iss iz) or (die us iz). Side note: Daises is
commonly found as a misspelling of daisies (the white flower).”
Presumably a misreading of dais as dias (dyslexic?) gave
rise to some pronouncing it as die-us.
Four other books I found in a search at Google Books discuss
pronunciation. Page 95 in Santo J. Aurelio’s 2004 bookHow to Say It and Write
It Correctly Now: The Ultimate Reference Book says:
“Dais (DAI-is, DY-is)”
Conversely page 124 in Charles Harrington Elster’s 2006 bookThe Big
Book of Beastly Mispronunciations – The Complete Opinionated Guide claims you
should use (DAY-is):
“…never say die.”
But he also begins his entry by noting:
“Burchfield (1996) points out that dais was pronounced in
one syllable (rhyming with lace) until the beginning of the 20 th century but
in two syllables since then.”
Page 45 of Ross and Kathryn Petras’s 2016 bookYou’re Saying It
Wrong: A Pronunciation Guide to the 150 Most Commonly Mispronounced Words – and
Their Tangled Histories of Misuse also says to never say die. But they also note
that in American English dais went from one syllable to two. And page 184 of Elster’s
2018 bookHow to Tell Fate From Destiny: And Other Skillful Word Distinctions
repeats that ‘never say die’ in an entry titled lectern, podium, dais, rostrum.
It seems to have been styled after an article in a 1985 book he quoted in his
2006 one. That nasty article on page 153 of William and Mary Morris’s Harper
Dictionary of Contemporary Usage, 2nd edition (1985) says:
“Dais / podium / lecternThe three terms involve furniture in a meeting hall, lecture hall, or
concert hall, and are frequently confused and misused.
A dais is a raised
platform on which a speaker, along with officers of the club or organization,
sits or stands.
A podium is a
special kind of dais in that it is intended to accommodate only one person, such
as an orchestra conductor. The small stand on which a speaker rests his notes
is a lectern, not a podium. It would be very unusual for a
speaker to ‘grasp the podium’ as one
writer reported. The only speaker likely to ‘grasp the podium’ would be one who has fallen flat on his face. The most
common error, however, is in the pronunciation of dais. It is pronounced just as it is spelled: DAY-iss. An
astonishing number of otherwise educated people say DY-iss, which is incorrect.”
I found it hilarious that they incorrectly claimed a dais
just was furniture. The image I show above has one built into the room and
covered in wall to wall carpet.
There are times when pronouncing dais as (die-us) is appropriate.
Three decades ago in the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit? there was the following
Eddie Valiant: You mean, you could’ve taken your hand out of
that cuff at any time?
Roger Rabbit: No, not at any time, only when it was funny.
A comedian is entitled to say (die-us) when his jokes are
not working, since he is ‘dying’ on that platform.
At the Grammarly blog on April 2, 2019 Kelly Konya posted
aboutHow to congratulate someone in every stage of life. She said to start strong,
be personal, and end with a heartfelt closing.
Recently TIME magazine published their year-end double issue
for December 23 and 30, with a cover just showing their pick for Person of the
Year. They chose the sixteen-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. But starting
on page 74 there was an article titled PORTRAITS OF INFLUENCE – Six leaders who
shaped the world in 2019. They were Xi Jinping, Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi, Narendra
Modi, Jacinda Ardern, and Emmanuel Macron.
President Trump’s reaction to this year’s award was to ungraciously
“So ridiculous. Greta must work on her Anger Management
problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill, Greta,
Media reaction was appropriately caustic. Headlines of
articles at CNN, The Guardian, and Business Insiderwere: We should all be appalled by Donald
Trump’s tweet about Greta Thunberg, Why is the president of the United States cyberbullying
a 16-year-old girl?, and White House says Trump’s attacks on 16-year-old Greta
Thunberg are fair game because she’s an ‘activist,’ while mention of the first
couple’s 13-year-old son should be off-limits.
Apparently Trump felt entitled to a second win. Perhaps he
didn’t get it because he previously had messed with TIME’s brand. On June 27,
2017 there was an article in the Washington Post titled A Time magazine with
Trump on the cover hangs in his golf clubs around the world. It’s fake.
The caricature of Donald Trump was modified from this one by
DonkeyHotey at Wikimedia Commons.
There always is more than one way to present information
- many types of visual aids. On December 8, 2019 I blogged about how Toastmasters
press releases confuse a fear of public speaking with a social phobia. In that
post I quoted the detailed diagnostic criteria for social phobia from the fifth
edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. That quote
is way too detailed for an oral presentation. I could have created a PowerPoint
slide with a list of three bullet points, as shown above. Instead, in the blog
post I began by showing a Venn diagram, as also is shown above.
A flip chart is another unexpected ingredient. On February 28,
2015 I blogged aboutDon’t make things any more complicated than necessary, and
discussed how in his Start with why – how great leaders inspire action TEDx
talk Simon Sinek drew concentric circles, as is shown above. For a larger
audience you could instead build a PowerPoint slide (or even better a set of
three PowerPoint slides), as also is shown above.
Another unexpected ingredient is a simple prop. On March 8,
2009 I blogged about“Show and Tell” with a simple model of a product feature.
As shown above, I used an oatmeal container to represent the water outlet from
a fire sprinkler head - and show two possible types of seals.
This post was inspired by thinking about an appetizer. Hummus
usually is made from garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas) flavored with tahini (sesame
paste), lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, cumin, and salt. Years ago I saw a hummus
recipe from Sunset magazine which got the sesame flavor from a tablespoon of
toasted sesame oil - instead of a quarter or half cup of tahini.
I dislike the word glossophobia as being a pseudo-technical
word for fear of public speaking meant to amaze rather than inform. The venerable,
plain English phrase “speech fright” does a better job. Way back on July 8,
2009 I blogged about how Glossophobia might as well mean the fear of waxing
your car to a high gloss.
But glossophobia can be the starting point for another brand
new fear word. When we back the g up one letter to f, we get flossophobia – the
fear of flossing your teeth.
My father sometimes used the German compound word sitzfleisch.
It literally means sitting flesh, but describes the ability to sit down and
finish a task. At BBC Worklife on September 3, 2018 there was an article by Emily
Schultheis titled Sitzfleisch: the German concept to get more work done.
If we swap the initial s in sitzfleisch with the z, we get
zitsfleisch – a new word which describes the heartbreak of having acne.
At her Maniactive blog on December 2, 2019 Laura Bergells
posted aboutZhooshing up your business language with made-up or unusual words.
She mentioned plussing. Jimmy Larche wrote an article about Walt Disney’s
obsession with excellence: plussing.
On October 15, 2019 Toastmasters International put out a
press release titled Harrison Ford and Julia Roberts Top List of Celebrities
Who Found Success Despite a Fear of Public Speaking. It begins as follows:
“From Abraham Lincoln to Winston Churchill and Mahatma Ghandi
(sic), some of the world's most important historical figures have overcome
their fear of speaking in public to achieve great success. Glossophobia, the
fear of public speaking, is a common social phobia, with an estimated 75
percent of the population experiencing some form of anxiety before giving a
speech. For the last 95 years, millions of people have joined Toastmasters to
help with their fear of public speaking.”
The second sentence previously had appeared as the first in
another October 21, 2015 press release titled Five Public Speaking Myths
Debunked. Regrettably that sentence misuses existing terminology. It confuses a
fear with a phobia, a mental condition which has a well-established meaning for
psychiatrists. That confusion was spread by Henry DeVries in a Forbes article
on October 27, 2019 titled Overcome speaking fear like Harrison Ford, Julia
Roberts and Samuel L. Jackson.
The Venn diagram shown above succinctly describes the
differences between a social fear and a social phobia - a phobia additionally
is intense, persistent and interfering. The -phobia suffix in the word
glossophobia incorrectly suggests a it refers to a phobia rather than a fear,
although the dictionary definition for glossophobia just is of a fear of public
speaking. Public speaking phobia would describe a performance type of social
Back in 1980 the American Psychiatric Association published
the third edition of their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental
Disorders, also known as DSM-III. The chapter on Anxiety Disorders included a new
one, 300.23, called Social Phobia. The 1994 fourth edition (DSM-IV) also says 300.23
Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder), and the 2013 fifth edition (DSM 5) for
300.23 says Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia). On October 11, 2011 I
blogged aboutWhat’s the difference between a fear and a phobia? and quoted
part of the definition from DSM-IV. Also, on December 11, 2013 I blogged aboutSpouting Nonsense: July 2013 Toastmaster magazine article fumbles fears and
There is a web page at the National Library of Medicine with
a detailed table that compares diagnostic criteria for social phobia from the
fourth and fifth editions of DSM. A detailed description of the diagnostic
features for social anxiety disorder (social phobia) starting from page 203 of the
fifth DSM edition is:
“The essential feature of social anxiety disorder is a
marked, or intense, fear or anxiety of social situations in which the
individual may be scrutinized by others. In children, the fear or anxiety must
occur in peer settings and not just during interactions with adults. (Criterion
A). When exposed to such social situations, the individual fears that he or she
will be negatively evaluated. The individual is concerned that he or she will
be judged as anxious, weak, crazy, stupid, boring, intimidating, dirty, or
unlikable. The individual fears that he or she will act or appear in a certain
way or show anxiety symptoms, such as blushing, trembling, sweating, stumbling
over one’s words, or staring, that will be negatively evaluated by others
(Criterion B). Some individuals fear offending others or being rejected as a
result. Fear of offending others – for example, by a gaze or showing anxiety
symptoms – may be the predominant fear in individuals from cultures with strong
collectivistic orientations. An individual with fear of trembling of the hands
may avoid drinking, eating, writing, or pointing in public; an individual with
a fear of sweating may avoid shaking hands or eating spicy foods; and an
individual with fear of blushing may avoid public performance, bright lights,
or discussion about intimate topics. Some individuals avoid urinating in public
restrooms when other individuals are present (i.e., paruresis, or ‘shy bladder
The social situations almost always provoke fear or anxiety
(Criterion C). Thus, an individual who becomes anxious only occasionally in the
social situation(s) would not be diagnosed with social anxiety disorder.
However, the degree and type of fear and anxiety may vary (e.g. anticipatory
anxiety, a panic attack) across different occasions. The anticipatory anxiety
may occur sometimes far in advance of upcoming situations (e.g. worrying every
day for weeks before attending a social event, repeating a speech for days in
advance). In children, the fear or anxiety may be expressed by crying,
tantrums, freezing, clinging, or shrinking in social situations. The individual
will often avoid the feared social situations. Alternatively, the situations
are endured with intense fear or anxiety (Criterion D). Avoidance can be
extensive (e.g., not going to parties, refusing school) or subtle (e.g.,
overpreparing the text of a speech, diverting attention to others, limiting eye
The fear or anxiety is judged to be out of proportion to the
actual risk of being negatively evaluated or to the consequences of such
negative evaluation (Criterion E). Sometimes the anxiety may not be judged to
be excessive, because it is related to an actual danger (e.g., being bullied or
tormented by others). However, individuals with social anxiety disorder often
overestimate the negative consequences of social situations, and thus the
judgment of being out of proportion is made by the clinician. The individual’s
sociocultural context needs to be taken into account when this judgment is
being made. For example, in certain cultures, behavior that might otherwise
appear socially anxious may be considered appropriate in social situations
(e.g., might be seen as a sign of respect).
The duration of the disturbance is typically at least 6
months (Criterion F). This duration threshold helps distinguish the disorder
from transient social fears that are common, particularly among children and in
the community. However, the duration criterion should be used as a general
guide, with allowance for some degree of flexibility. The fear, anxiety, and
avoidance must interfere significantly with the individual’s normal routine,
occupational or academic functioning, or social activities or relationships, or
must cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social,
occupational, or other important areas of functioning (Criterion G). For
example, an individual who is afraid to speak in public would not receive a
diagnosis of social anxiety disorder if this activity is not routinely
encountered on the job or in classroom work, and if the individual is not
significantly distressed about it. However, if the individual avoids, or is
passed over for, the job or education he or she really wants because of social
anxiety symptoms, Criterion G is met.”
The Our Missionweb page at the Toastmasters International
web site says the organization’s Envisioned Future is:
“To be the first-choice provider of dynamic, high-value
experiential communication and leadership skills development.”
In order to accomplish that mission Toastmasters needs to
finally get their terminology about fear of public speaking straight.
On November 26, 2019 I blogged aboutAvoid falling on your
face during a new product demonstration. That post got me thinking about a
great metallurgy lab demonstration I had seen almost five decades ago at Carnegie
Mellon University. We were shown a Charpy impact test machine and how much the
energy to break a V-notched steel specimen varied with temperature. As shown
above, the machine has a weighted pendulum which can be released to hit the 1
cm (0.394”) square specimen opposite the notch and measure absorbed energy via
At a low temperature there just was a quiet click, the sample
broke in two in a brittle fashion, and pieces flew across the room. The
pendulum rose to almost the same height as it had started at (less than 10 J). At
a high temperature the sample instead bent in a ductile manner. It did not even
break completely and it absorbed lots of energy (over 100 J). Examples of
intact and broken specimens are shown above.
Let’s look at an example set of data for a conventional
pressure vessel steel plate in the (L-T) orientation (from the ASM Metals
Handbook Volume 8, Mechanical Testing, Ninth Edition, 1985 - Figure 3 on page
262). At – 78 C (-108 F), using dry ice and ethanol for cooling, it took just 5
J to break. At ice water temperature, 0 C (32 F), it took 97 J. At room
temperature, 20 C (68 F), it took 143 J. At boiling water temperature 100 C
(212F) it took 200 Joules (J). The
S-shaped curve has a transition from ductile behavior and high absorbed energy at
high temperatures to brittle behavior and low absorbed energy at low
temperatures. It is typical for steels.
Back during World War II this transition was not well
understood, and some spectacular brittle failures occurred in welded
structures. As shown above, The T2 tanker SS Schenectady broke almost in two on
a cold January 1943 day while it just was sitting at a dock in Portland,
Oregon. Then in October 1944 a cylindrical tank in Cleveland, Ohio used for
storing liquified natural gas broke and the resulting explosion killed 130
people and destroyed a square mile area.
You can read more about the test in a web page from TWI (The
Welding Institute) titled What is Charpy testing? You also can watch a five-minute
YouTube video from Materials Science 2000.
This blog is about public speaking. The author is Richard I. Garber, ACS, a Toastmaster. From July 2008 to June 2010 he was Vice President-Education for Capitol Club Toastmasters in Boise, Idaho. From July 2017 to June 2019 he was Vice President Public Realtions for Saint Al's Toastmasters. Opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author alone, and are not the official positions of Toastmasters International, etc.
Richard is retired. He has over twenty years of experience as a consultant on failure analysis (figuring out why things busted or rusted) and a Ph.D. in Metallurgical Engineering & Materials Science.
His email is r_i_garber at hotmail.com
We don’t necessarily believe what we write, and neither should you. Information furnished to you is for topical (external) use only. This information actually may not be worth any more than what you paid for it (nothing). The author may not even have been either sane (or sober) when he wrote it down and posted it. Don’t worry, be happy.