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Showing posts from March, 2007

The Art of the Toast

The Art of the Toast
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2007

I'm one of those weirdos who enjoys public speaking. I've given countless speeches and presentations over the years, and am just as comfortable speaking to a room full of people as I am to one person. I even come from a lo-o-o-ong line of orators (Okay, it's really just my dad, the psychology professor, but he's been teaching for a lo-o-o-ong time, so I figure that counts.)

Public speaking is one of those important skills that I think everyone needs to know how to do to some degree. So is changing a flat tire, whistling, and skipping stones. Even if you're only giving a toast at a wedding, you should be able to say something without stammering and uhhh-ing your way through the thing.

Case in point: I knew a man, Max, who was a big proponent of public speaking, and a strong supporter of his local Toastmaster's Club. He was also a believer of the "everyone should know how to speak in public&…

The Thrill of History, the Agony of Math

The Thrill of History, the Agony of Math
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2007

Narrator: It's a test of desire and learning, grit and knowledge, as each participant lives his or her lifelong dream. Each one has endured countless hours of grueling pain to reach this point. But for all their dreams and efforts, only one will be crowned champion. Only one can win the coveted gold medal at the 14th Annual Eastern Iowa Academic Olympics!

Jim: I'm Jim Lehrer of PBS' "Newshour with Jim Lehrer." It's a beautiful sunny day here at Stephen Hawking stadium in Cedar Falls, Iowa, as we get ready for the Academic Olympics. It's been a long journey for these academic athletes, who have studied, trained, and prepared for their moment in the spotlight, and their chance at Academic Olympic gold. I'm joined by my colleague and fellow sportscaster, Gwen Ifill of "Washington Week in Review," and Terrell Owens, wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys. How …

Kids Say the Scariest Things

Kids Say the Scariest Things
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2007

Erik is out of the office this week, so we are reprinting one of his favorite columns. By favorite, we mean "stories of the times his kids nearly killed him."

My kids and I have a special relationship. They are free to bring up certain topics of discussion. I am free to make nasty faces and freak out at near-hysterical levels. They know which buttons to push, and will push them just to watch me have an apoplectic fit at the things they say. But most of the time, they do it without knowing they're pushing any buttons.

A few days ago, my youngest daughter -- nearly four -- and I were sitting alone at the table. She was telling me about one of her favorite shows on the Disney Channel, the Koala Brothers.

"Daddy, I don't like sex," she said.

My chest tightened, my left arm went numb, and I couldn't breathe.

"What did you say?" I managed to gasp, before collapsing in a heap on…