E-Portfolio: Coms 102, assignment 1

What are 2-3 objectives you want to accomplish in the next ten weeks of public speaking class?  

  • Goal 1:  Gain self- confidence.

I know, I know.  I seem like such a self- confident person.  But I get butterflies when I walk up to the public speaking podium.  Having had the benefit of taking a public speaking class before this one, I know nerves are the greatest obstacle to delivery of a good speech.  They can make a credible source sound shaky and unsure, even if the speech giver has valuable information.  When I was in middle school I would pretty much step in front of the class and talk with absolute abandon, not caring what the students thought, what grade I got, or what the teacher thought.  I always got pretty good grades.  I care more now, and my grades have slipped.  What’s up with that?

To aid me in this goal, I plan on rehearsing my speeches several times, out loud, in front of a mirror when a physical audience is not available.  I would prefer a “test” audience, since the fear of public speaking only comes about when I’m actually in public.  But confidence in my material will hopefully translate to confidence in my classroom presence.  I hope practicing will lead to such familiarity.

Here’s a link from the Disney Institute debunking public speaking fears:

People are constantly making improvements to their homes, adding new furniture or remodeling. They don’t love their home any less for what it may lack, they love it for what it is becoming, and what it could be. Have faith in yourself and that others will appreciate you in spite of your imperfection.

How about that!

  • Goal 2: Master organization.

My speeches from Spring quarter consistently lacked obvious organization.  They had introductions, bodies, and conclusions, but oftentimes the audience (or at least the professor) couldn’t tell what they were.  They made sense as essays, but for some reason floundered as speeches.  I plan to make this quarter’s speeches more explicitly organized. For example, for my thesis, I’ll say something like “During this speech, I would like to make the following main points”.  For transitions, say something like “going back to point one, which was _________”.  I would even go so far as to preface my thesis with “My Thesis is this” and begin my conclusion with the words “in conclusion”.  I know, I know, those are like the training wheels you take off once you learn how to be a good writer.  But, as I am learning, writing and speechwriting are not the same thing, and I hope to master the rules of speech writing as I have mastered essays.  The more obvious, the better!

Six Minutes is a speaking and presentation skills site that has a whole section devoted to organizing and writing effective speeches. For example, here’s an article on how to craft a shocking opening.

You can’t give the speech of your life until you first give life to your speeches.

They also have an article about what chiasmus can do for you.

the goal:  write speeches a President would be proud of.

The goal: write speeches a President would be proud of.

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A delicious snack.

1 slice focaccia bread or other rustic Italian

Olive Oil

Fresh garlic cloves, minced or whole

Tomato slices



In that order.



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Ag Coms Blog Post 9: America

Did you ever notice how America kind of looks like a cow?


A cow

The West Coast is the bodacious rump, the udder is Texas, the front legs are Florida and the head is New England!

Okay, maybe you don’t see it, but I do.

I was doing some thinking about America’s national identity and decided that it’s way too complicated for any one person to figure out.  One of the things that spurred this thought was how employers are coming to Cal Poly, and they’re complaining that we aren’t “diverse” enough.  There have been strong initiatives to “diversify” the campus, and everyone is always talking about this overwhelming “lack of diversity”.

Pardon my French, but that’s bullshit.

Diversity is more than the color of someone’s skin or their ethnic background.  Diversity means more than a statistics or tokenism.  Diversity is not a tax writeoff.  Diversity is not something you need to complain about.  We’re diverse.  Cal Poly is diverse.  You just aren’t looking hard enough.

Yea, sure, most of our students are white.  Guess what?  Most of the people in AMERICA are “white”.  73% according to the U.S. census, to be exact.  Minority groups are growing, but they’re still not the majority.  And just because we’re “white” doesn’t mean we whiteys are not diverse.

In Ag Coms, there was kind of an unspoken tension between the journalism students and the Ag students.  They’re two different sets of people with two different ideas about things:  and yes, most of each are white.  I feel like the upper echelons of the Ag industry are extremely white, and they like to think they stand for what “America” really is.

On the other side of the fence, there are journalists, reporters, and media managers who feel like they’re the fourth branch of government, checking and balancing everyone else.  Newsrooms were most diverse in the early 90’s; minorities left because they felt like they couldn’t make a change.  So guess what?  Now, newsrooms are mostly… white.

I’m not saying we should quite trying to recruit more minorities into Cal Poly, or try to make newsrooms more “colorful”.  I just think that putting someone in a college based on the color of their skin is just as racist as denying admission to someone for the same reason.  We are all DIFFERENT, no matter what color we are.  And will all contribute something to America, that cow- shaped country that a lot of people think is the greatest in the world.

One more thing, my last 10 points are hanging out on Katie’s blog:




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Ag Coms Blog Post 8: Blog Fail.

On Alexis Negranti’s Web site, she calls a derth of blogging a blog fail.

I have failed this blog. Kind of.

The truth is, I’ve been so entrapped with Ag Coms projects that I haven’t exactly had time to get to the blog.  Between the poster and the movie project, I have been up to my ears in Ag Coms.  Never mind that I spent way more time on that video project than I should have. At the last minute I was introduced to The Mormon Channel’s video documentaries and decided that my video project needed to be WAY more Mormon (if you haven’t seen them, check them out here.  They’re exemplary).

But I will be better.

I’m going to do 10 posts because I know you are not going to go scouring the internet for two comments and I do no trust the email system in this class and I do want an A.

This is one of the few classes I’ve actually wanted to try for.  The lack of pressure just makes me want to do exemplary work.  Maybe because I know by default I can do better than everyone else that doesn’t try.  I’m kind of competitive that way.

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Ag Coms Blog Post 7: Private Policy

In class on Wednesday I gave everyone an opportunity to hate me again, by mouthing off on what I thought of the farm subsidy program.

For someone who knows a good deal about very little, I sure have a lot of opinions.  Other things I’ve gone in over my head with this quarter include:

-Freedom of the Press in America

-Water filtration systems and aquifers

– Animal cruelty

-Whether or not candidates should have to rattle off all the countries in the world during presidential debates

-Racial stereotyping in the media

The farm subsidy system got me fired up basically because I think it’s stupid.  I think the economy is stupid and I think policy is stupid and I think politics are stupid, and no one is really any good at controlling the world anyways.  I think FDR had a good idea when he passed the law.  I think it probably saved a lot of land and it was *supposed to save a lot of farmers.  But once the war ended, and we started to see more problems with the program than plusses, it should have stopped.

But heck, I’m not any better than anyone else is knowing how things should be.

Also, every time I hear that the U.S. government is spending gozillions of dollars on something like the farm subsidy program, I think, “Well heck!  It’s no wonder we’re in debt!”  Let me put it this way:  American citizens didn’t put the United States in debt.  The federal government put the United States in debt.

And now we citizens have to shoulder it?  By raising taxes and losing jobs?

In class we also discussed intended and unintended consequences.

Intended and unintended consequences are why I don’t vote.  I think maybe I’m going through the anarchy phase of my life, because I tend to think that all laws we vote on are stupid and not well thought out and so full of unintended consequences that we cannot possibly pass any law that makes anything any better for anyone.

I am a good person.  You might not think so from reading this blog, but I think, if given few or no rules, I would not kill anyone, not wreck havoc on society, put no person in serious danger, and pose no threat to national security.  This is not true of everyone.  So I understand why we have laws, to sanction the complete nimrods that don’t think about other people and can’t think for themselves.

I’m just glad revising the Farm Subsidy Act isn’t my job, because I would hate to be responsible for so much waste.


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Ag Coms Blog Post 6: Negranti Dairy

Last Wednesday my groupmate Amy and I went to the Negranti Dairy in Templeton to film footage for our video project.  It was just what the doctor ordered.

I’d had a terrible week.  I was struggling to meet the technology demands my curriculum was throwing at me, and just wanted a day to spend completely without a computer screen.

Enter the picturesque dairy of Alexis Negranti, nestled high in the rolling hills and vineyards north of San Luis Obispo, where you can’t even get cell reception.

Alexis and her husband, Wade, produce artisan sheep milk ice cream from the 11 ewes on their farm. They milk twice a day, at 5 AM and 5 PM, and manage absolutely everything themselves.  They take care of the sheep, distribute their product, make their ice cream, manage all their own public relations, and manage the farm 100%.  Wade also works at a rock quarry in Cayucos, leaving Alexis to do most of the work herself.

Alexis is beautiful.  She looks like a prairie fairy princess.  She comes from an ag background, but knew nothing about milking sheep before she bought her starter flock a little over a year ago.  Now, she is up to her elbows in baby lambs and bleeting ewes, ice cream mix and fresh herbs.

When we asked what common misconceptions people had about her sheep dairy, Alexis answered, “People tell me all the time, ‘This is a fairy tale’.  And it is, and I wouldn’t change any of it.  But it’s also a lot of hard work.  I barely have enough time to do laundry and clean the house.”

Alexis’ dairy gave me a good opportunity to glimpse into a real, rustic, down- home farm, as opposed to the huge commercial farms that documentary filmmakers usually search out for their documentaries about farm animal abuse.  Alexis names all her sheep and knows their personalities.  They are all free- range and the harshest technologyAlexis uses is probably an electric fence.

And the ice cream?  Delicious.  We sampled strawberry basil, but she also makes lavender lemon, vanilla bean, black coffee and organic honey.  Alexis said something about squash ice cream for fall.

Most importantly, Alexis says she makes the ice cream “with love”.

“We love our animals, we love our farm and we hope you love our product,” she said.




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Ag Coms Blog Post 5: Growing Grounds

Today, I volunteered at wholesale nursery Growing Grounds.  Growing Grounds cultivates and sells Mediterranean climate flowers, trees, grasses, herbs, succulents, fruits and vegetables.  They have three main clients:  Landscapers, local nurseries and land conservancies. Growing Grounds is part of Transitions Mental Health Association.  The nursery serves as a stepping stone for people with mental illnesses seeking to re- enter the workplace, said Wayne, the organization’s supervisor.

Most people have a lot of preconceived notions about mental illness, said Wayne.  In many patients, mental illness is so acute it can barely be noticed.  It may be marked by brief spells of hysteria or mental breakdowns, but most of the time, you can’t tell a patient even has a problem, said Wayne.  My group and I worked with Greg, one of the employees.  He knew way more about plants and horticulture than we did.  He was really upbeat, and great teacher.  I didn’t think it polite to ask about his “condition”, but I did wonder about it.  He seemed pretty normal, even nicer than the average person.

I wish I knew more about the work that goes into horticulutre and farming.  From high school English classes, I know a bit about the history of farm workers in America.  In California, it seems, first there were Indians.  Then there were Okies.  And then there were Mexicans.  In my two short hours at Growing Grounds, I got outside, got fresh air, and accomplished a lot more than I do at most normal jobs.  I don’t know if local nurseries rely primarily on immigrant labor or not, but it seems like a job I’d be happy to do for minimum wage in the summer.  It’s a heck of a lot more interesting than some of the other jobs I’ve been paid minimum wage for.

Wayne talked about how hiring people at the bottom of their game seemed like a backwards business model.  He said that by working at the nursery, people get leadership experience, teamwork skills, and communication skills:  things that are valued in the modern workplace.  If most of the employees have to instruct city- slicker college students, like the ones in my group, I can definitely see where they would get leadership experience, communication and teamwork skills.  But it made me wonder:  What about working at a nursery makes it not a “real” job?  Why is only acceptable for Mexicans and mental patients to do farm work, when without them, our whole country would starve? When did we decide agriculture was worth so little?

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