George V. Reilly

Toastmasters' Evaluations

Toast­mas­ters teaches three skillsets. By far the best known is public speaking, but evaluation and leadership are also valuable. Learning to evaluate a speech teaches you to listen carefully and to give useful feedback. The Toast­mas­ters’ Sandwich is the best-known approach: point out several things the speaker did well, suggest some areas of im­prove­ment, and conclude with more praise.

The evaluator benefits too from the evaluation, as they hone their listening and critical skills and as they learn to give helpful feedback. The audience also benefits, as they hear both the speech and a measured response to the speech.

Outside of Toast­mas­ters, feedback is often negative and critical ("Here’s how you’re fucking up"), which leads to de­mo­ti­va­tion ("I’m just continue.

Review: Wildtrack

Title: Wildtrack
Author: Bernard Cornwell
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Claremont Publishers
Copyright: 1988
Pages: 330
Keywords: thriller
Reading period: 21 May, 2016

Nick Sandman earned a Victoria Cross in the Falklands and spent a year relearning how to walk. Now all he wants to do is to restore Sycorax, his beloved old boat. But to afford that, he has to work for TV star Tony Bannister. Bannister wants to win the St Pier­re–Hal­i­fax race with Sandman’s help and he wants to make a doc­u­men­tary about Sandman, neither of which Sandman wants. Bannister’s wife died sailing the previous year and her wealthy father holds Bannister re­spon­si­ble.

Another of Cornwell’s con­tem­po­rary sailing thrillers, which also holds up well continue.

Review: Scoundrel

Title: Scoundrel
Author: Bernard Cornwell
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright: 1992
Pages: 311
Keywords: thriller
Reading period: 19–21 May, 2016

It’s late 1990 and Saddam Hussein has just invaded Kuwait. Paul Shanahan is an exiled Irish-American yacht delivery skipper. He used to be a gunrunner for the IRA, but rumors that he was a CIA agent have kept them at arms’ length. Now the IRA have engaged him to sail $5,000,000 in Libyan-supplied gold coins across the Atlantic to buy 53 Stinger missiles. It stinks but he can’t say no. And maybe he is the CIA agent that he’s rumored to be.

Cornwell is best known as a writer of historical action novels, but continue.

Review: Avengers: Age of Ultron

Title: Avengers: Age of Ultron
Writer–Di­rec­tor: Joss Whedon
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Released: 2015
Keywords: Marvel, superhero
Watched: 20 May, 2016

In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Tony Stark’s hubris leads to the creation of a lethal robot with daddy issues. Ultron, who is supposed to be the ultimate planetary line of defense, im­me­di­ate­ly goes rogue upon achieving sentience. He vows to destroy humanity to save the planet, and in particular to destroy his maker and the other Avengers. His ally Wanda Maximoff (the Scarlet Witch) uses her powers to sow dissension in their ranks, which nearly tears them apart. They defeat Ultron only after enormous de­struc­tion of life and property, with con­se­quences that are continue.

Review: Ship Breaker

Title: Ship Breaker
Author: Paolo Bacigalupi
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Little Brown
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 352
Keywords: young adult, dystopian
Reading period: 16–18 May, 2016

The Age of Affluence ended when the coastal cities drowned as the icecaps melted. Many now eke out a living digging through the detritus of the past. Nailer is a scrawny teenaged scavenger who finds a broken clipper ship after a storm. There’s only one survivor, Nita, a swank girl who fled in­ternecine feuding in her trading clan. To protect her from his psychotic father and others who would sell her to her enemies, they go on the run to Orleans, with the aid of a “half-man”.

Bacigalupi’s drowned continue.

Review: The Point of Death

Title: The Point of Death
Author: Peter Tonkin
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Endeavour Press
Copyright: 2001
Pages: 416
Keywords: historical mystery
Reading period: 8–18 May, 2016

Tom Mus­grave—­Mas­ter of Defence and Master of Logic, friend to Will Shake­speare—is present at the very first per­for­mance of Romeo and Juliet when the actor playing Mercutio is somehow fatally stabbed with an envenomed rapier during an on-stage duel. He uncovers perfidy and poisonings which stretches back for years and rises into the highest halls of the land.

Tonkin has not only created a brilliant and dangerous pro­tag­o­nist, he has metic­u­lous­ly recreated Eliz­a­bethan London, a city that is a stew of ambition, peril, and intrigue.

First Musgrave book; precedes A Midwinter continue.

Subtracting Compound Objects

Quick! How many days between 2014-11-29 and 2016-05-17? What’s the angle between the hour hand and the minute hand on an analog clock when the time reads 11:37?

The hard way to compute the difference between the two dates is to start counting back months and days until you reach the earlier date, or equiv­a­lent­ly to count forward from the beginning. (Don’t forget that Feb 2016 has 29 days but Feb 2015 has 28.) Similarly with the angle between the hands.

The easier way is to compute the number of units between the first point and some reference (or base) point, to do the same for the second point, and to subtract the two numbers.

Say continue.

Toastmasters Transitions

Two tran­si­tions at Freely Speaking Toast­mas­ters tonight: Kim gave her last speech before moving to California and Shasti gave her tenth speech, which earned her her Competent Com­mu­ni­ca­tor award.

It’s always exciting to see people proceed through a series of speeches and achieve milestones like the CC. You see them get better with each speech. The awkward fumbling hesitation of the early speeches is supplanted by growing fluidity and confidence, as the practice and the eval­u­a­tions help them improve.

Review: The Woman Who Knew Too Much

Title: The Woman Who Knew Too Much
Author: B. Reece Johnson
Rating: ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Cleis Press
Copyright: 1998
Pages: 252
Keywords: mystery
Reading period: 5–14 May, 2016

Jet Butler lives on an isolated mesa in New Mexico. One of her few friends is a suspect in a murder. Cordelia Morgan, an outsider, who turns out to be far more than she seems, is also interested in the murder, which seems to be somehow tied up in the sale of water rights.

This never quite gelled for me. Despite the author’s flair for de­scrip­tion, I found the plot confusing and I was not engaged with the two pro­tag­o­nists.

Review: Sing Street

Title: Sing Street
Writer-Director: John Carney
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Released: 2016
Keywords: musical comedy-drama, teen, coming of age, period, Irish
Watched: 14 May, 2016

Conor Lalor’s family life is falling apart. His parents are breaking up and they’re broke, there not being much work in Dublin in 1985. To economize, they take the 15-year-old out of his fee-paying Jesuit school and send him to the Christian Brothers’ school in Synge Street. Conor wants to impress the beautiful girl who lives across the street and he offers to put her in his music video. Raphina accepts and then he has to pull together a band with his school mates, which they call continue.

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