Events in 2009

Speeches On Sunday, 2009

January – Internet Security

Speeches on Sunday got off to a good start in January, when Mark Odiorne, CISSP, spoke to us about Internet Security and Identity Theft.


Mark made suggestions on improving personal security, such as requesting a fraud watch every three months with the major credit bureaus. With a fraud watch in place, they should contact you when any request is made for new credit. There are companies who will do this for you, of course – for a price. Or, you can submit the request yourself at no charge.

FrontTableTo help understand the nature and extent of the threat of identity theft, Mark recommended the Identity Theft Resource Center®. This nonprofit organization provides support and education for both the average consumer and the person who has already been victimized by identity theft. Resources include links to all three national credit reporting agencies, as well as links to information specific to your state.

Sometimes you need to know what information you have a right to keep private – or what is already public knowledge. The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse provides information on those issues. In addition to the national credit reporting agencies, there are specialty companies who can report on medical conditions, insurance claims, or employment history. The clearinghouse provides information on some of those companies, how to request disclosure of your file, and what you can reasonably expect.

Both websites also provide lists of known security breaches. What banks or insurance companies have reported the loss of records that could be used for identity theft? How many records were lost?


For the bibliophiles among us, Mark had two recommendations:
Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World, by Bruce Schneier;
Stealing Your Life: The Ultimate Identity Theft Prevention Plan, by Frank W. Abagnale.

And thank you! to Dorine Sharp, who does not appear in these pictures because she was behind the camera. Dorine has been an amateur photographer since age five.

February – An Anthropologist Views Business

AnotherGoodCrowdOur February speaker, Tim Hanson, shared with us some of his experiences in fitting in with the “tribe” of business management. He was a very engaging speaker, and included several interesting stories about times that he “broke the rules” – including the results.

He was also a very good listener. Here Tim listens to a member describe a job situation, so that he can make relevant suggestions. Along with the suggested actions, Tim also included comments on the possible consequences.

Tim also stayed to chat a bit after the presentation. Here he is speaking with Joan Barnes and our Proctor Coordinator Jack Howard.

And thanks again! to Dorine Sharp, who was once more behind the camera. Dorine is helping us build a collection of event photos!

March – Lighter Side of Taxes

One of the signs of a good speaker is that they will still deliver the speech even when the audience is…. smaller than expected. Our March speaker, Bryan Walsh, showed that commitment when we had an unusually small turnout.

Those of us who made it enjoyed a very interesting presentation on the United States tax system. Bryan included some surprising bits of history, such as the first President to impose an income tax and the source of the dollar amount for the dependent credit.

As you can tell from the pictures, Bryan was also the first of our new series of speakers to bring his own presentation equipment. He planned his speech to coordinate with a PowerPoint slide show, so he was also able to share some visual humor.

Our speaker was Mr. Bryan E. Walsh, DTM.

Bryan has worked for the Lash Group for 7 years, his current title is Reimbursement Consultant. (Lash Group is a healthcare consulting firm which provides resources in the area of reimbursement and patient assistances for the pharmaceutical industry.)

Bryan resides in Matthews, NC originally from Massachusetts; he enjoys travel, skiing, and creating new Toastmasters clubs. Bryan considers the world his classroom and he is always eager to learn something new.

In 2002, Bryan joined Toastmasters as a Lash Group Club charter member. Since joining he has served the office of VP of Membership and President. In 2007, Bryan served as Area Governor where he led the area to a Presidents Disguised Area and was awarded the District 37, 2007-2008 Area Governor of the Year. In May, Bryan was elected by the District 37 delegates to serve as the District 37, Division C Governor for this current Toastmaster’s year. He completed all requirements and earned the Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) in November 2008 and was recognized at the District 37 2008 Fall Conference.

April – Homeschooling

HomeSchool2Our speakers for April 26th were Charlotte residents Spencer and Debbie Mason. Doing the presentation as a team, Debbie and Spencer had the ability to present different viewpoints quite effectively – Debbie spoke of the personal benefits, Spencer gave us the statistics on the results. Having twenty-eight years of experience, they were also able to give us a realistic description of how much work is required. Home schooling is definitely not for everyone. While a few people get involved for the wrong reasons, many more simply underestimate the commitment it takes.

Debbie spoke with deep feeling (and obvious enthusiasm) of the effect homeschooling has had on their family. Teacher/student time becomes parent/child time, and that allows the development of a very deep personal bond. Even when she spoke of specific learning opportunities, her descriptions were centered on the relationships between family members. Homeschooling allows a flexibility that the public schools cannot, and challenges can be met in very personalized ways.

HomeSchool1In describing the results, Spencer also showed great commitment. Compared to their public school counterparts, he pointed out that home school students typically require much less time to cover the same academic material. It’s not unusual to cover in two hours what would take a full day in a public setting. Home school students tend to score in the upper percentiles on standard achievement tests – they can study a subject to mastery rather than to the level required for the next test.

And contrary to popular belief, home school students also score in the upper percentiles in tests measuring social skills. There are many opportunities for group activities (such as community choirs or bands), so the home school student normally does have outside social contacts. Parental involvement is also believed to be a contributing factor, as the students are learning social behavior from someone with experience rather than from someone who is still figuring it out for themselves. Spencer pointed out that in almost all adult activities, we interact with people of widely varied ages – yet we expect children to learn appropriate social skills while being segregated by age.

Spencer and Debbie Mason have four children, ages twenty to twenty-eight and have home schooled from the birth of their oldest. Alexa graduated from UNCC (4.0 GPA) and is now married and has two young children. Scott graduated from Grove City College in PA, graduated from Regent School of Law in May 2008, passed the NC Bar in July and is now a lawyer in the Army. Levi graduated from NC State in May 2008 (>4.0 GPA and a valedictorian) and will graduate in May 2009 with his master’s. Mereda is a junior at UNC Chapel Hill. Debbie and Spencer have been board members of NCHE since 1988. Spencer is the current president of NCHE (North Carolinians for Home Education) and a sales engineer for ISSI. Debbie has coordinated the annual conference speakers and workshops since 1990 and has been the editor of the Greenhouse Report since 1995. She was the director of the HINTS (Home Instructors Need Team Support) group in Charlotte for over twenty-two years. Debbie has a B.S. in secondary education, mathematics and a M.Ed. in counseling. She is a consultant for homeschoolers, primarily for those wanting help with teaching high school and applying to college, and has written a five year, grades eight through twelve, curriculum, The Mason Plan, integrating all the humanities.


On May 31, our speaker was Mr. David Birley.

Mr. Birley has been a member of Mensa since 1977, and has served in various offices including Editor, LocSec, and Program Chair. He describes himself as a “long winded talker on genealogy and other boring subjects”.

He demonstrated RootsMagic, which is currently the best selling personal genealogy program in the country. Trial copies were available, along with information on how to get a discount on a purchase.

Here Mr. Birley speaks with Jim Morrison, while packing up his equipment after the speech.

The core of the presentation concerned a new way of looking at genealogy in general. Even though his documentation is important to him, David calls traditional genealogy “digging around in the rotting roots”. What he suggests is that those of us involved in genealogy start by leaving a current record of our lives now. Start by thoroughly documenting what is happening in the current generation, and by recording your own impressions of historical events. Where were you, and what were you doing, when the Berlin Wall came down? Do you remember the circumstances when you first heard about the Challenger explosion, or the 9/11 attack?PersonalDocuments

But still, part of the appeal of the speech was in the collection of personal genealogical documentation that was on display. In too many families, historical records and documentation have been discarded as irrelevant and unimportant. Here we see the Will of one of Mr. Birley’s ancestors.

And you can blame the shortage (and poor quality) of pictures on your webmaster…. who got too involved in the presentation and completely forgot the camera hanging on his chair.


on “Sex and Other Remembrances of Things Past.”

EarlyVisitingOn August 30, our speaker was retired Observer columnist Doug Robarchek. Mr. Robarchek wrote the OutFront column from 1986 until his retirement in 2005. He was voted Charlotte’s best columnist “about a dozen times” by the readers of Creative Loafing, and also was named Best Columnist three times by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, among many other awards.

Mr. Robarchek arrived early, and had an enjoyable informal chat with the early arriving members. Conversation included his recent travels, his years with the Observer, and comments on similarities among small hometowns.

DuringSpeechOnce the presentation started, Mr. Robarchek explained that his choice of topic had been easy…. he had been asked to speak on something he enjoyed. He offered a very humorous perspective on both his own experiences, and on communications (or the lack of) between the sexes.

After the presentation, we also had the opportunity to get autographed copies of Mr. Robarchek’s book, The Best of the World’s Worst Poetry: 20 Very Odd Years of OutFrontery. And, an audience request being graciously granted, we were treated to an author’s reading of one of the poems.

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