Google, the internet search engine, is named after the googol which is 10100 or ten duotrigintillion on the short scale, ten thousand sexdecillion on the long scale, or ten sexdecilliard on the Peletier long scale or 10,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. Amazing the things one learns at Toastmasters!

Oh! By the way, Google calls their corporate headquarters the Googleplex. Guess what …. also names after a mathematical term – googolplex. A googolplex is 10 raised to the power of a googol - 10(10100). Carl Sagan estimated that writing a googolplex would be physically impossible, since doing so would require more space than the known universe provides and it would take longer than the time since the creation of the universe.

Our meeting on Monday, 9th November was themed Google. Our toastmaster for the evening, Keith Bowen, kept us thoroughly entertained with information on this theme and was awarded best contribution for the evening for his efforts. Our appointed Wordmaster failed to make the meeting and Mary Byrne, Sergeant-at-arms, added this task to that of Timekeeper for the evening. She gave us the word “correspond” to use as often as possible. Such a common word and it only received three utterances during the entire evening.

Second-time guest, Jim Powell, toasted “all those who would make South Africa a better place” in the toast of the evening reminding us of everyone who goes the extra mile to make other people’s lives better.

Back to Google for a moment: Since ‘1984’ by George Orwell was published we have all been on the alert for Big Brother. Google, with 24 server farms and 450 000 servers (round numbers I guess), had created a wonderful thing called the Google Cloud where we can store information, we use GMail, Google Chat and Google Voice for communication. Soon all email and social networking application will become obsolete with Google Wave. We store our contacts on Google and keep up with our appointments, which, by the way, we can share with the world, on Google Calendar. Our lives are stored with ONE corporation – friendly, non-threatening, helpful – and all-knowing!

The Table Topics for the evening were inspired by Google and six people had the opportunity to speak on one of the Google application: Pedometer, Voice, Translate, Earth, Chat and Maps. Although most speakers tried to provide more information on the Google application Rod Taylor, speaking about Earth spoke eloquently about our planet and the soil with till that gives us life. Ruth Taylor speaking about Chat also chose to steer well clear of Google and spoke about conversations. Notwithstanding their valiant defiance of Google the award for best Impromptu Speaker was shared by Ryan Ebedes and John-Peter Gernaat.

Two prepared speeches formed the core of the evenings proceedings. Ruth Taylor’s speech entitled “The Power of the Tongue” fulfilled the requirements of the sixth project for a Competent Communicator and required the use of vocal variety. She spoke about the damage that our words can do to others and exhorted her audience to use the power of our words to build people up and raise their self-esteem. She ended with a wonderful quote that she spoke in the most delightful way: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).

Rod Taylor fulfilled the requirements of the Interpersonal Advanced manual and Asserted Himself. He explained the steps of being assertive and then enacted a role play with Cheryl-Lynn Langley in which she was the animal hospital supervisor and he was bringing in his pet dog to be spayed but had misunderstood the timing and arrived 2 hours late. As a result of his assertive approach he may have been successful in having his pet spayed on the day. We did not find out…..

We were a small and intimate group for this meeting and look forward to seeing many more people at our last meeting for the year on 14th December 2009.