Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Poll: Audio Recording

As many of you know, for a while I've been bringing a recording device with me to each meeting I attend. I do this for the blog, to make sure my summaries for each speaker, evaluation, table topic, or what-have-you, is accurate. I’m one of those guys who can describe in vivid detail events that happened several years ago, yet can forget things that have happened only ten minutes ago. So the recording device has been instrumental in my ability to write the blog’s “Weekly Recaps.”

But my point isn't to share my short term memory issues. Thus far I've promptly deleted the audio files after the respective “Weekly Recap” has been posted. However, recently I've been thinking that there may be an opportunity to benefit the meeting’s speakers, so I thought I’d run my idea by everyone.

So what do people think about a given speaker being sent a personal sound bite of their respective role? I want to make it clear that I would only be sending audio clips of the requesting speaker’s respective speech/evaluation/table topic/etc..

What do you stand to benefit from this?

Listening to yourself speaking allows you to analyze your public speaking in an otherwise unavailable manner. For example, one thing I've learned from listening to the recordings relates to my own perception of time. Every time I've stood up to speak I remember all the thoughts that ran through my head, racing to string ideas together.

Going back and listening to the recorder, I've noticed something: time seems to pass by faster when you aren't speaking. I remember how long it felt that time passed while I spoke in front of people. Listening as an outsider to myself, I now realize that during those moments when it felt like my thoughts were spanning over several seconds, in actuality passed in less than a second in real time.

I should've known better. As I've mentioned in the past, I've long had an interest in quantum physics, and one of its primary focuses is on the subjective and malleable nature of time. Our brains are wired to sense time at certain intervals. Our perception of time can be experienced like a turn of a dial based on various circumstances, an extreme example being of how time can seem to slow in a desperate life-or-death scenario.

Enough with the lecture, the point is that I learned that when I speak, my perception of time seems to slow. Knowing this, in the future I can speak more confidently at a somewhat slower pace to bridge my thoughts, which makes it easier to avoid the perilous “ahs” and “ums” all too commonly used to fill the gaps between thoughts. I’m not saying that this revelation made an instantaneous impact for me, but I feel that it has begun to help somewhat.

In any case, that is one example why you might find it worth listening to an audio recording of your public speaking at a given meeting. So I’d like to get your input. Does this sound like a viable idea? I would only be sending them by request, and only the audio of the respective requester. The reason I’m polling this is because if it’s a go, it requires additional effort on my part. I won’t bore you with the details, but basically my recorder’s formatting is not ‘user-friendly’ outside of the device itself. So if few to nobody is interested, I won’t bother.

If you are interested, post a comment saying so. If you’re particularly disinclined, post a comment saying so as well. If you feel like you need to share the highlights of your afternoon or reminisce about the days of old—that’s cool too, I guess. Whatever bastes your turkey!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Weekly Recap: "Organizing"

Craig served as this week’s Toastmaster, and as always did a great job facilitating the meeting. Anna gave us the thought of the day, though was mistakenly informed that the week’s theme was “Thriller,” which is in fact next week’s theme. With that in mind, this was her Thought of the Day:

“Imagine a hundred zombies all dressed—some in lace, some in elegant costumes, but all covered in blood and white, and suddenly they begin to dance. A few minutes later you hear Michael Jackson. This is the annual Portland Thriller Dance. I don’t know if any of you have had the pleasure to of seeing it but every year hundreds of people practice the Thriller dance around the city and all come together on Halloween and at a certain time spontaneously begin to dance all in unison. It happened in Pioneer Square about two years ago and up in north Portland last year. It makes me think ‘why do this?’ It’s simply a random act of fun. We all hear of random acts of kindness but this is an opportunity to get together and join with your fellow Portlanders and do something that you can only see in Portland Oregon.”

ANNOUNCEMENTS: Mike shared with us some of what was discussed in the “Officer’s Meet.” Once a month they discuss ideas to improve or solve any problems involving the club. One of the decisions they came to was to start the meetings on time, at the stroke of 12pm (so don't be late!). Another policy change is that the week’s Toastmaster will print handouts containing the agenda of both the current week and as well as the next week’s itinerary. For the holiday weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas, instead of the regular meetings, we will have a lunch meeting, which will just be a social event. The ET leadership is also looking at special meetings to emphasize different techniques, as well as having a microphone day, where they hope to grab an auditorium where the whole meeting will be a Table Topics session. Lastly, the Annual District 7 Toastmasters Conference is coming up November 3rd. Visit the Toastmasters District 7 and Register nowWe also have a new member, welcome Erik Sundstrom to the Electric Toasters club!

SPEAKER 1:  Kayla – “Tax Compression 101"

As luck would have it, the speech Kayla gave had objectives focused on organization in her CC Manual. Titled “Tax Compression 101,” she put forth a noble effort to educate us of something. Admittedly, when it comes to talk of tax in the technical, my eyes immediately begin to glaze over. Fortunately, that’s why I bring my recorder! Otherwise my attempt to summarize the following info she provided would likely end with members being audited by the IRS. For those who’re as lame as I am or didn’t make it to the meet, read further and learn what statistically only fifty people in all of Oregon know:
The three components of tax compression that will give you the base level understanding you need as an informed voter:
  1. Limits: In 1990 measure 5 was passed in Oregon by a 52% vote, which capped the annual property tax at $10 for every $1,000 of real market value, plus an additional $5 dedicating to school funding. Measure 50 passed in 1997, which limited the adjustments in assessment value growth. The immediate impact was $51.4 million reduce in tax revenue within the first few years. 
  2. The type of tax levy matters: Some tax levies are compressed more than others. Permanent districts are compressed less than temporary districts. On any given property, you could have a city taxing district, county, sewer, water, port, community colleges, or an infinite amount of special districts. In the event that they’re all permanent, they all then compete for a certain amount of the real market value. Whatever remains is left for the temporary levies.
  3. Every property is impacted in a unique way: This relates to the limits and the inequities of how assess value is calculated and the different taxing districts that cover a given property. Depending on the relationship between the assess value and the taxing district of a property is categorized under, a property might not be compressed at all, or compressed to the limit.

Congratulations, if you’ve read this through (or listened to Kayla’s speech at the meeting), you’ve just become one of Oregon’s intellectual elites (on tax compression, anyway). So when considering how you vote in the upcoming election and all thereafter, keep in mind the information you now know thanks to Kayla’s great speech!

 “Organizing” TABLE TOPICS:

The meeting’s Table Topics Master was Ryan this week. Being that there was only one speaker for the day, he was stretched into providing quite a few more topics than usual. Personally, I always appreciate it when a Table Topics Master initiates each topic with a bit about himself that relates to the following question. It gives the mind a hint as to where he or she is taking the conversation. At this meeting Ryan did an excellent job of doing just that.

The first topic was volunteered by David, who does three things to stay organized at both home, and at worked. Those include a checklist of tasks, and utilizing different organizational technological mediums. Lastly, his wife helps to keep him in line.

Second was Susannah, who has friends who have hired workers who help clean up and organize their houses, who seem to hoard the possessions they pick up throughout their life. Susannah on the other hand, tends to move every couple of years, so she tends to have fewer possessions.

Erik was a member of the boy scouts and eagle scouts. He told us about the history of the organization, originating in England. In addition to skill and leadership training, Erik taught us that the scouts were all about organizing hikes, meets, camping trips, and other events.

Asked about a historical figure that interested me, were my brain better organized I might’ve talked about Thomas Jefferson. Being that I was struck with “stage stupor” (as I often am), I instead shared that I can be both messy and OCD about different things, an example being that I used to separate my Legos in Ziploc bags when I was a kid.

Next Pechara was asked about a good leader or a team that has been well organized. Unfortunately, her voice was so soft-spoken I couldn’t hear much of what she said. To anyone who was able to hear her, please email me so I can update this section.

Lisa has recently Google’d a lot about the Adobe Premier software, to get answers to her questions, since she is learning to use the program. One specific inquiry she searched was “how to import footage,” which was the first thing she needed to do.

Eric says he goes through cycles in his personal organizational levels. He loves to be organized, but if he gets too much on his plate he can sometimes let things at home get sloppy, though he’s good with information organization, such as with his business. For Eric, it just depends on what the subject is.

Mike was called upon to answer the question I sidestepped, who talked about Earl Nightingale. Mike thought this historical figure was interesting because of “The Strangest Secret,” a message he wrote that in summary was about how “we become what we think about, and our mind controls a lot of our lives.” Since that time he came up with a number of programs that have been influential to Mike in his life.

Kayla, our sole speaker for the day, was asked to be our final Table Topics speaker (as Ryan was running out of people to call upon). Kayla listens to a podcast that she describes as a morning radio show, which play this game called “You Auto-Complete Me,” every week. She’s played the game herself a few times, and said it was a lot of fun, and recommended the rest of us try it sometime.


This week’s evaluator for Kayla’s speech was Neal. He told her how he appreciated the information she provided about tax compression, and felt that she was very brave to have tackled such a topic. He offered to Kayla an alternative intro she might’ve used to hook the audience’s attention. Neal also stated that her hand gesturing helped him to follow along with her.

I don’t usually refer to the “Ah Counter’s” report, simply because I don’t believe there is anything constructive that comes out of posting online how many ‘ahs’ and ‘ums’ each person says in each meeting. However, I make an exception only to recognize the “Ah Counter” David himself, who gave about the most thorough report I think I have ever heard. Way to go David!

Lisa, the General Evaluator for the week, praised Neal for his energy right off the bat in evaluating Kayla’s speech. She also appreciated his acknowledgement and gratitude to Kayla for the knowledge she shared, which Lisa felt was important. She also felt that in summary his reiteration was well organized, and suggested that Neal introduce what he concluded with at the beginning of his evaluation.

  • Best Speaker Awarded to Kayla Mullis.
  • Best Evaluator Awarded to Lisa Cicala.
  • Best TableTopics Awarded to Susannah & David.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Update: Where it's at & Where it's Going...

This blog post is just a heads up addressing the recent activityor rather lack-thereofconcerning the blog itself.

During the entire month of September I’ve basically fallen off the map, blog-wise. You can now see the post for the Humorous Speech Contest, which is dated on the 16th, but it’s a lie! Even though the post-date says it, I actually finally wrote and posted it about twenty minutes ago (By the way I wrote 'twenty minutes ago' about five days prior to post). Blogger lets me be deceitful that way. Now I know quite a few of you have shed some tears over this, but now’s the time to finally dry your eyes.

But seriously, I apologize to all members, especially the winners and runner-ups of the two contests. That blog deserved to have been posted much sooner so they could bask in their well-earned glory. I don’t have much in the way of excuses. In the end, it comes down to self-discipline, something I am improving on but at times is still a struggle. 

I decided to hunker down and pound out a few in advance (which I've begun to do), and hopefully just keep throwing more onto the pile. Otherwise this November would be especially challenging, since I will be participating in a month-long contest called “NaNoWriMo,” which is a smooshy-word for “National Novel Writing Month.” It means exactly as it sounds: writing a novel within the month. If I end up coming to the meetings throughout November, I will really try to keep up with my “Weekly Recap” posts. 

Well anyway, I’ve come up with an idea or two about how I want to move forward. I really don’t want to turn my posts into an advice column; frankly I’m in no position to be telling people how to deliver a better speech. In fact, I’ve been a member for the better part of a year now, and most if not all the guests who’ve done table topics have shown stronger public speaking skills than I do. Instead, one thing I’ve been considering is to post content that analyzes video speeches/debates outside of Toastmasters, and narrow in on something specific thing that a given speaker did that was strong in his/her speech, as well as what was done poorly or could’ve been executed stronger, analyzing why.

When I joined as a contributor Craig suggested I write an introductory blog for new members, which sounded like a good idea. Turns out the execution’s more of a challenge than originally anticipated. Getting contact info from a new member and then sending interview questions and getting their reply to then write a post on—by the time all that’s done the new member isn’t exactly ‘new’ anymore. So instead I’ve been thinking about posting entries that provide some basic info (background, interests, random facts, etc.) I might put together a form and send it out to each member, and they can put down whatever they want to share (if anything).

So that’s where my head’s at. As always, if you have any questions, comments, requests, or suggestions related to this blog, post a comment below, or you can contact me directly if the subject is outside the scope of the respective entry.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Weekly Recap: “Discovering New Places”

I’m just going to start off by making note that this week’s recap is going to come up a little short. For whatever reason my recorder quit on me less than twenty minutes through the meeting. My memory is already a little foggy about some of that meet, and I’d sooner cut the parts I’m unsure about over rambling on with inaccuracies. 

Before handing it off to Toastmaster Kat, ET President Mike welcomed for us a new guest Yunuen. She was brought here by Kerry. Gerard and Eric were returning guests this week. Scott volunteered to give us an impromptu thought of the day, though he was twice interrupted by the LAN phone in the room, oddly enough: 

“I’ve had the opportunity to discover a new place a couple weeks ago. It was wonderful to have a break. It was wonderful to see new and exciting things to explore. So I encourage everybody at every opportunity to explore new places.”

October 10th’s ‘Word of the Day,’ imperative, was given to us by Grammarian Ryan. Imperative is defined as something absolutely necessary or required; unavoidable. Jeff found himself having quite a lot of fun with this word. I believe in his grammarian report Ryan chalked Jeff’s usage to four counts (to me it felt closer to twenty).  

SPEAKER 1: Angela – “A Team Meeting”

The speech Angela shared with us had been composed for her team at work. She had prepared a PowerPoint presentation to go with it, but for last minute reasons she had to share a printout of the slides instead. Evidently Angela recently posted her resignation from her current management role. To allude to how she felt about her team and the oncoming challenges they face, she drew parallels from a thoroughly thought out metaphor about the Iditarod. 

Like sled dogs, her team members exhibit similar qualities, those being their stamina, speed, thick coats, endurance, and a love of work. “If you ask them to do something, they will give it 110% simply because you asked them to,” Angela said, quoting an Iditarod musher. In her slide she mentions the lack of snow in some of the pictures. The pups who’ve never ran an Iditarod aren’t aware of what they’re training for until they get there. She compares this to the next few weeks of uncertainty during the transition of her leaving. 

Angela then went into a story about a rookie Iditarod musher whose lead dog got a sore wrist, and had no choice but to leave it behind at a checkpoint. The same thing happened to her next two lead dogs. She tried twelve of her remaining thirteen dogs hoping to find a new lead. None of them worked out. She was left with the thirteenth dog ‘Gopher,’ a follower who in Angela’s words “never had an original thought in his life.” To her surprise Gopher took them all the way to Nome, because leadership can emerge in sometimes unexpected ways. 

SPEAKER 2: Craig – “A Vacation to Remember”

Craig put together a speech for us minutes before presenting, which he called “A Vacation to Remember.” After moving “from heaven… into Detroit” for a two year stay, he decided to take him and his family on two vacations. One of which was in Kitty Hawk, famous for the Wright brothers of Dayton, Ohio. Heading through the Smokey Mountains, he described them as ‘totally unimpressive mountains,’ well compared to the Saw Tooth Mountains in Canada and here in Oregon.  

After that they went on a camping trip, only to find out that they had arrived just in time to be hailed on by an oncoming hurricane. Craig said he’d gone through tornadoes, earthquakes, and thunderstorms, but it was his first experience being stuck in a hurricane. Though perhaps a little wetter than he’d hoped, he nonetheless was grateful for the experience and challenged us to seek similar adventure in our own lives. 


The week’s Table Topics was provided by Topicsmaster Jean Pirkl, who gave us some great questions. Evaluations were then delivered by Kerry who evaluated Angela, and Jeff who evaluated Craig’s speech. Gail Worden served as General Evaluator. Mike delivered to us his Timer’s Report, and Sue did the same as our Ah-Counter.
  •  Best Speaker Awarded to Angela Mahoney.
  • Best Evaluator Awarded to Jeff Brooks.
  • Best Table Topics Awarded to Gerard (Guest).

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Weekly Recap: “Humorous Speech Contest”

This week’s meeting was a little more formal than our regulars. In fact, this meeting was different for a few reasons, and by a few reasons I mean just one fundamental reason. September 26th was our Electric Toaster’s Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contests. It was yet another week full of impromptu role volunteering, and as always our attending members stepped to the plate.

There was no Thought of the Day, so instead I stole a quote from our Toastmaster Craig: “Truthfully that is the best way to get the most out of Toastmasters—to just jump right in and go for the gusto.”

I think it’s worth taking a moment to acknowledge that Craig really walks his talk on the subject. For as long as I’ve been attending our Toastmasters chapter he’s been consistently stepping up to fill roles on the fly, often some of the more difficult ones on the spot. So my hat’s off to you.

ANNOUNCEMENT: We have an official new member: Greg Bingham. Welcome to ET!


The Skinny: Firstly, the content of each speech had to be original to qualify in the contest. Each of the three contestants required a timing of 5 – 7 minutes. Contestants whose speeches were less than 4 ½ minutes or longer than 7 ½ minutes would be disqualified. Appointed judges would mark up points based off of the criteria rubric they’d been handed. The appointed counter, Jean, would then tally up the scores to determine the winners. The order of each speech’s deliver was selected at random. 

Contestant 1: Karen Groth – Outhouses, Mice, and Other Critters

Karen volunteered to do this speech about a minute or two before she delivered it. She told us about growing up in her parents’ farmhouse. They had an outhouse out there, and her experience in it caused her to live in mortal terror of spiders, which I assume must’ve been crawling all over her. She had a high point with mice, albeit short-lived. It was when a mother mouse that ran past her with three baby mice trailing behind. Apparently, since then mice have organized an association dedicated to harassing her. 

She told us about her place at the beach. They love to eat her kitchen towels, her cleaning clothes, and her sofas. Evidently they don’t like Kleenex for some peculiar reason. My guess is out of reverence to the Great Green Arkleseizure, who sneezed out the universe (See Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). One day a chipmunk came running into Karen’s house (looking for Dale, no doubt). She and her husband had quite a difficult time shooing it out. 

They’ve also had trouble with baby squirrels nesting in the roof. Her husband barricaded the hole, and then the mother squirrel began screaming bloody murder. They figured it must’ve meant there were still baby squirrels in there so they unblocked it to let them out. Then they put the barricade back up. Mama squirrel started screaming again. This cycle went on until finally all the babies left. 

Karen wraps up her speech by informing us that she doesn’t like Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, or any of their children. Clearly, Karen is no fan of rodents, but they all seem quite fond of her. Well... of her house, anyway.

Contestant 2: Craig Jones – Twenty Pounds of Trouble
Over the course of their marriage, Craig and his wife have had several dogs. They were always big dogs, and they were always outside dogs. Finally they decided one day to adopt a small dog: a beshon-shitzu mix weighing about twenty pounds. Her name was Lucy Lu. As soon as they brought her home they immediately realized that a name like that didn’t appropriately fit the character of their new dog. The more fitting name they came up with is [drum roll]… Night Terror! No, I’m lying; they renamed her to Sassy. 

She was their first dog ever to be allowed in the house, being that she is hypoallergenic. Sassy likes to tease the cat by running up to its face and fall back before it can land a swipe at her. One of Craig’s favorites things about Sassy is that every day when he gets home, she’s staring out the window looking out for his car, and when she sees him, she knows it’s time to play. Sassy will grab a small chew-bone, and he’ll chase her across the hardwood floor, which causes her to slip and slide all over the place until she finally reaches a patch of carpet. 

Another is the classic fake-out. Holding the bone, he throws his arm but keeps it in his hand, and Sassy bolts down the hall after it. By the time he tosses it for real she realizes she’s too far away. So she turns back to run towards it, but her momentum over the frictionless surface causes her body to continue that direction as she runs backwards (Jackson’s got nothing on her). 

Sassy loves Craig’s son’s dog, PD (short for ‘Pug Dog’). When they drive to visit his son she knows from two blocks away and goes wild. As soon as the door opens she’s bursting through the hall and chasing after him around the house. For a few minutes anyway, until her little body is depleted and she crashes for a while. And the she goes wild again.

Contestant 3: Mike Fajen – Swap Meet Mania
Growing up, Mike’s parents were devout churchgoers, but sometimes they would take a Sunday off and go to the Swap Meet at the Drive-In Theatre. He described the experience to be, “as colorful and diverse as the Star Wars bar scene.” One time there was a “potential gold mine” of a booth in particular that caught his eye: booth 122. Loaded with bikes, stereos, ham radio equipment, and CBs, he joyously began rummaging to look for a price tag. Then he heard a voice [insert grouchy voice], “get your hands off the goods!” His brother, who was examining a skateboard for sale, was similarly treated. Mike explained that all he wanted was just to know the prices. The grump didn’t care; he rudely stated it was too expensive for them and to pike off. The two were shocked at this man’s crudeness, but later they hatched a mischievous plan to teach him a lesson. 

One of the features of the swap meet was the announcements that came on the radio, usually mundane and repetitive. So they went into the snack shack to inquire about how expensive it would be to air an announcement. “Three repeats for twenty-five cents.” So they paid the quarter and wrote out an announcement. Several announcements came and went, but they never heard the one they wrote. Mike thought maybe they’d checked to verify it first. Then they finally heard it:

“Attention bargain hunters, everything in booth 122 is free. The man wants to go home. Please help yourself, so that he may pack up and leave.”

People from all over the swap meet came running for that booth. He was shouting and cursing and grabbing his stuff back from people. Each time the announcement was repeated the chaos grew as more and more people coagulated around his booth, driving the man insane. He yelled and argued with people, and tried putting a box over his booth number, which was taken off. Not too long after the last repeat he and his brother decided to get out while the gettin’ was good. 


Four of us volunteered to participate in the Table Topics Contest. The order was decided by each of us chooses a number between 1 and 20. Greg was selected to go first, the other three of us ushered outside the room to wait until we were called upon. One by one we came in and delivered our best topic speech based off the question. Again, there was a timing limit of 1 – 2 minutes, and going over meant disqualification.

The contest question delivered by Jeff Brookes: “Close your eyes and think of the outdoors, when thinking of beauty, size, or something that greatly impacted you, what do you see. Why did it impact you?”

Contestant 1: Greg – Told us about working controls at Mt. Bachelor, working night and day shifts until the job was done. In mid-summer, he was standing on the mountain, overlooking the horizon as the sun was setting/rising (he couldn’t remember which). He also remembers that experience because of an accident that next day that he called “one of [his] almost greatest failures.”

Contestant 2: Ben
– Trying to think of something better, what kept surfacing was a summer day I spent in John Day. At age ten I went bicycling with family up a small mountain. Taking a break, we took a picture next to a huge boulder, and headed back. Going downhill, my speeding bike got trapped in a tractor track until I crashed into a rock that sent me flying off. The bike had horns on the ends of the handles and one snagged my pants in the groin. I avalanched down the hill, pulling my bike down with me.

Contestant 3: Myron
– Originally from Seattle, when asked the question, two things come to mind for Myron. They are Mt. Rainier and Mt. Hood. As time continues to pass he feels that the effect of those two mountains has only increased. Both he and his father have climbed Mt. Rainier, and has climbed Mt. Hood a couple of times as well. “Somehow it just astounds me that there’s this big gigantic mass of ice and rock… not so far from a relatively major metropolitan area.”

Contestant 4: Shannon
– Shannon grew up at her grandma’s in rural Ohio. She’s always loved the outdoors and would often be found playing by the creek in the woods behind the house. As an adult she often feels like she never has a moment’s peace to herself. To relax from the stresses of daily life she loves to retreat into the wild. In fact, she was happy to share that later that afternoon she would be escaping to Sauvies Island. One of the reasons she enjoys it so much there is because it reminds her of the area she grew up in. 


After all the speeches and table topics contest speeches were made, it took a few minutes for all the points to be tallied up and the contest winners announced. Fortunately, I came in prepared with some Chuck Norris jokes in the event that we needed time to burn. So while the winners were being determined I told this joke: “Chuck Norris’s calendar goes from March 31st to April 2nd, because nobody fools Chuck Norris.”


The winners of today’s two contests, Mike Fajen for the Humorous Speech, and Myron Peto for the Table Topics, will be representing the Electric Toasters chapter as they move on to the next stage of the contest. Second place winners Craig and Shannon will be on standby to replace them if need be, should they for some reason can’t make it. Congratulations!

1st - Mike Fajen
2nd - Craig Jones
3rd - Karen Groth

1st - Myron
2nd - Shannon
3rd - Ben

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Westport's Masterpiece by Karen Groth

By now you may have heard that our chapter has its very own published author. A few months ago Karen Groth stood up in front of us and told us about her book, Westport’s Masterpiece: Building the Grays Harbor Lighthouse, 1897 – 1898. It is my pleasure to present her work here on her behalf!

Westport’s Masterpiece is a 164 page nonfiction account following Carl W. Leick, an exceptional architect responsible for the construction of several lighthouses in the northwest. The Grays Harbor Lighthouse is considered to have been his masterpiece, and so the book follows its construction.

Karen drew her inspiration from the journal she discovered at the National Archives in Seattle. She then unearthed several letters in Washington DC, and copies of the original plans at the Coast Guard’s archives in California. She even obtained family photographs. Clearly Karen had done her homework with a resourceful tenacity akin of an investigative journalist.

Karen provides us with a brief synopsis:

In 1897, the Yukon gold rush rages as a superb tower is constructed on Washington's coast.  Outstanding Portland lighthouse architect, Carl W. Leick, records his arguments with Seattle contractor, Charles J. Erickson, in a daily journal kept during the construction at Westport, Washington.

     Westport’s Masterpiece describes how nineteenth century masonry lighthouses were built using horses and hand tools.  Interviews with stonecutters, tinners, horseshoers and others explain building terms and procedures that are no longer used.

     The local papers gleefully report every misstep from the huge stone that fell onto the dock, to the plaster that fell off the newly cemented tower.  Nor is there a lack of colorful personalities, from the judge who who a pony express rider to the French clockmaker who moved into a palace.  

Excerpt: Aberdeen Herald of December 9, 1897

The peace and quietness of this burgh has been disturbed by a 'little unpleasantness' between the lighthouse superintending architect and Contractor Erickson. The trouble has been brewing for sometime. Those two skilled workmen didn't see all things with one eye, and the misunderstanding culminated last week in the superintendent, who is a large and powerful German-American with a quick temper, squeezing the windpipe of the contractor, who is an undersized Swedish-American, and a peacerful man. Result; a case before His Honor T. F. Thompson, and a fine of $3 and costs; rather a high priced temper for these hard times. . .
Westport’s Masterpiece: Building the Grays Harbor Lighthouse, 1897-1898 by Karen Groth can be purchased online at Powell’s Bookstore and AbeBooks, and is being sold at prices ranging from $12.50 - $24.95.