Lisa has noticed herself getting better at public speaking and communicating since she's joined Toastmasters.
Lisa has noticed herself getting better at public speaking and communicating since she's joined Toastmasters.

A toast to Toastmasters

Glossophobia – the fear of public speaking. I’m admittedly not overly familiar with all the "phobias" of the world, but thanks to a recent commercial for the Nexus 7, I know that one.

I wouldn’t say that I have glossophobia, but public speaking has never much appealed to me. I’ve always considered myself more of the "man behind the curtain." When I began my current job last April, however, I was approached by two co-workers about joining a local Toastmasters club. I ended up attending a meeting, and I was hooked.

Toastmasters – a nonprofit educational organization created in 1924 to help people improve their communication abilities – starts you off with the option of completing two tracks: a communications track and a leadership track. You can complete both tracks simultaneously or focus on one.

The competent communicator track walks you through ten speeches, each speech focusing on a different aspect of public speaking, helping you to improve and build upon your skills. I recently completed my fifth speech, and the progress is noticeable.

As I filled out my Part 1 evaluation, I realized just how much I had improved. I’ve cut down on filler words, become better at impromptu speaking and even boosted my confidence in front of an audience. By actually evaluating myself, I was able to see how far I’ve come.

After every speech, you are provided feedback from the club, but for me, it was hard to believe it was anything more than supportive and encouraging words. Now I can say I think I’m on my way to becoming a better speaker, a speaker like some of my club members that I admire.

On the leadership track, there are also ten projects required for completion. Each project involves fulfilling some sort of role within the club while focusing on leadership traits, like listening, giving feedback, facilitation and team building. I’m currently a bit over halfway finished with the leadership track. I’ve also noticed an improvement in my ability to tak…

A vendor hopes to snag a sale at Hover Craft 2013, hosted by Turner Hall.
A vendor hopes to snag a sale at Hover Craft 2013, hosted by Turner Hall. (Photo: Lisa Simonson)
The view of Hover Craft 2013.
The view of Hover Craft 2013. (Photo: Lisa Simonson)

Hover Craft 2013 supplies a bounty worth braving the cold

Like many other brave souls in our winterized city, I decided some events are completely worth journeying out into the snow. Last Sunday was one of those events.

My excursion to Turner Hall for Hover Craft 2013 took me about 45 minutes (on a non-snow covered day, it only takes me about 20). This was my first year attending Hover Craft, a shop local event that supports emerging creative artists and the Milwaukee community. I was more than impressed by the amount of vendors, as well as the quality and diversity of work.

Hover Craft was started in 2010 by Alyssa Schulte, Cortney Heimerl, Ashley Chapman, and Vanessa Andrew. Hover Craft is carefully curated in an effort to provide a comprehensive mix of crafts from diverse backgrounds. Both new and seasoned crafters are given the same opportunity to participate in the event.

I had the opportunity to speak with a number of people working the tables throughout the event. Some have been a part of Hover Craft for the last few years, while for many others this was their very first debut. One vendor in even mentioned he had never sold any of his woodwork anywhere besides on his Etsy shop. This was his first showcase as an event vendor.

Etsy seemed to be the web platform of choice for most vendors. I expressed interest in purchasing from several crafters after the holiday season, and most directed me to their Etsy shop. If you attended Hover Craft and missed out on grabbing business cards, or if you’re interested in learning more about the artists and crafters, check out the list of 2013 vendors.

I can’t disclose all the scores I picked up (many are holiday gifts), but I did purchase a few things for myself including: a wood light piece from Centers for Design Control, a vintage necklace from Cival, a ring from Ann Kat Jewelry Designs and marshmallows from Honeypie. 

Lisa's birthday gift to herself? A trip to the Dells to run her first full marathon.
Lisa's birthday gift to herself? A trip to the Dells to run her first full marathon.
The post-marathon celebration.
The post-marathon celebration.

26.2 miles for my 26th birthday

Admittedly, it’s been several years since I’ve made a trip to Wisconsin Dells. Although it’s close and there are plenty of activities to do there, I honestly can’t remember the last time I spent any time in the Dells.

I made my first trip back to the Dells this past weekend for a fairly special occasion – my first full marathon. I wrote about my first half marathon experience last year and felt it was only appropriate to share my first marathon experience.

My decision to run a full marathon came somewhat out of irritation and spite. I’m turning 26 and wanted to do something special. I wasn’t looking for an average birthday celebration. I wanted to go out of town, maybe get crazy in Las Vegas, something new and exciting. However, it proved to be a bit difficult to coordinate my group of friends and get everyone on board for a vacation. Instead, I thought why not run 26 miles for my 26th birthday?

My superior negotiation skills allowed me to enlist the partnership of my running buddy. After all, she’d convinced me to run my first half and has run every race since with me, so she just had to run this marathon with me.

I scoured the internet to find a marathon that was close to my birthday and found the Honky Tonk Marathon located in picturesque Wisconsin Dells. I’m about the least country-loving person, but this was one of the only marathons I could find the weekend I wanted to run.

With the marathon starting on Sunday, we arrived in the Dells Saturday afternoon. We spent our first night at a motel in an effort to be cost effective. We stayed right on the main strip if you will at a little place called Fitzgerald’s Motel. The price was right for the size room we had. No frills, but at least there was heat which is more than I can say about my own apartment.

Upon check in, we learned that it was Autumn Harvest Fest. We took a walk down the street to check out the festivities and stumbled upon an event called Dells on Tap, which featured Wiscon…

Population Control rocks out.
Population Control rocks out.

Q&A with Population Control

I’d like to start off by mentioning that I don’t think I’ve ever been to a metal show. When a friend of mine asked if I’d like to check out a few metal bands at Frank’s Power Plant, I committed to it without really giving it another thought. I checked out the bands online, listened to a few songs and figured I could get down to this show.

Upon arriving at Frank’s, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. Five bucks got you in the door to see four different bands: Midwives, Galactic Cannibal, Rad Payoff and Population Control. The show started at 10 p.m., but I arrived early, which resulted in my being able to sit down with the closing band, Population Control, to talk making music, old people candy, alcohol and, of course, metal.

This is the remnants of that conversation. Who knew you could have such a good time at Frank’s, watching a metal show, surrounded by a sea of incredibly smelly people? How did Population Control first get started?

Mike Gamm: Jesse and I pretty much started jamming once, basically because we were bored and hungover. Ricky was drunk once and we were trying out singers. He was in the Hide House with some of our friends and just hopped on the mic. I play with John (our bassist) in Architects of the Aftermath. So it was an easy option to ask him. To be consistent with the theme, he was probably drunk too.

OMC: It sounds like there’s a strong alcohol correlation; do you guys ever play sober?

Jesse Zuniga: Always, except for right now I’m having a beer.

Rick Ramirez: I usually need like 9 shots to calm me down.

OMC: How did you come up with the name Population Control?

MG: My old band Hammered had a song called "Population Control," and it felt right, I guess. We didn’t spend too much time on it. All the other suggested band names were bad, they were really bad.

OMC: What was the first song you guys ever played together? Was it your own music or covers?

JZ: We pretty much started jammi…