Archives for posts with tag: weekend

I participated in a “Speakathon” over the weekend in aid of the local Marymount Hospice.

Toastmasters clubs around Cork each got an hour long slot, and each member got a few minutes to speak on any topic they wished to discuss. Because I am president of two Toastmasters clubs, that meant I needed to come up quickly with two speeches.

In the evening session on Friday night, I spoke about how I had entered into a DNA study that will help determine the origins of Irish people. All my great-grandparents come from the same part of Ireland, so I would be an ideal candidate for such a study.

In the morning session the following day, I spoke about how you can improve your presentation skills by applying some very simple techniques. I hate traditional Powerpoint “bullet point” templates. By adding some images and animation you can bring any presentation to life, making it interesting for the audience.

In the evening I hosted a Cork Skeptics meeting in Blackrock Castle. We had two talks. Síle Lane, from Sense About Science spoke first, and talked about what her organisation was doing to address misinformation in the media. The efforts here have been admirable. Sense About Science have recently kicked off a campaign called “Ask For Evidence” which seeks to encourage ordinary people to request peer reviewed evidence from companies when presented with extraordinary claims.

The second speaker was Brian Hughes from NUI Galway. He is a lecturer in psychology and a prominent sceptical blogger. He spoke about how normal people are particularly bad at statistical reasoning, and how we tend to consistently overestimate our abilities and ignore data that contradicts our world-views. He discussed some interesting studies that indicate that depressed people can often be more realistic in their estimation of themselves, and suggests that fantasy and misconception might be an evolutionarily necessary condition for humans. Quite fascinating stuff.

So, a busy and thoroughly enjoyable weekend. A lot of time spent on my feet, talking and thinking about things that interest me.

My charity walk begins this weekend. We will be starting in Caherdaniel at 8.30 tomorrow morning, ending up in Killarney around 3 in the afternoon on Sunday. This means I have to leave home at 5am tomorrow. I thought I was ready until I met up with a friend last night to go through last minute preparations. 

Tonight. I need to organise a map, a flask, bottled water, two sets of walking trousers, socks, two pairs of boots, suntan lotion (factor 40), sandwiches in sandwich boxes, crisps, chocolate, fruit, vaseline, blister cream, plasters, bandages, paracetamol, a cap, lip-balm, insect repellent, sunglasses, rain gear, underwear, tee-shirts, 4 sets of stockings, a jumper, my wallet, gloves, a laundry bag, pyjamas, a toilet bag, towels, a mobile phone and a phone charger, a camera and its charger, a walking stick, a book and my new iPod. 

Whew.

And just now I’ve sent an out of office message to almost everybody I have contacted for every mail they have sent me in the past two months. That’s good. That’s real good.

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