Nick's Page

Nick's Page

This page, I have dedicated to my brilliant and talented son, Nicholas Pinansky.  He joined his local chapter of the Toastmasters organization and has composed some very clever and humorous speeches for their meetings. I have featured transcripts of a few of them here.

April 2, 2012
Leadership in Florida

Fellow Toastmasters and honored guests, I've come here to discuss leadership in our great state of Florida. I love living in Florida, like Dave Barry and Elmore Leonard, I’ve always been fascinated by the colorful characters and situations you can only find here. So in keeping with tonight's theme, I decided I wanted to deliver a speech about how Florida is leading the nation. However, I couldn't come up with anything specific at which we excelled. So, I set about doing some research, and frankly, I was surprised, amused, and in some cases disturbed by what I found.

If you've lived here any reasonable length of time you may not be surprised to find out we lead the nation in running people over with our cars. In a survey of areas with the most pedestrian deaths, Florida holds the top three spots, with Orlando-metro area taking the gold. Floridians aren't content with just menacing the roadways, but the seas as well. Florida reported more boating accidents last year then anywhere else in the US. The silver lining is that number was down from the previous year.

We don't stop at leading the nation in real car wrecks; were also number one in fake accidents. A nonprofit group made up of businesses and law enforcement agencies determined that the number of accidents in Florida has remained constant, but the number of insurance claims keeps climbing every year, making Florida the number one state for auto insurance fraud. Florida also leads the nation in healthcare fraud. This includes false claims against not just health insurance, but federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid.  The numbers for healthcare fraud are up all over the country, but one in every nine cases prosecuted is right here in the Sunshine State.

Speaking of fraud, we’re also the number one place to have your identity stolen. In fact, our fraudsters are so industrious that even prison can stop them. I found this particularly interesting: more fraudulent tax returns are filed by Florida prisoners than any other state. In what the article dubbed an “H & R Cellblock” operation, Florida prison inmates were able to swindle about $295 million from the IRS in 2001 by filing false returns. Maybe, it's because they get to rub elbows with the political elite.  From 1997 to 2007, Florida led the nation in the number of crooked elected officials. Almost 800 elected officials were charged with crimes during that time.

Florida also leads the nation in illegal marijuana production. In 2011, more clandestine pot-growing operations were busted in Florida than anywhere else, including California. Although with this statistic alone, it is difficult to determine whether we actually grow more marijuana in our state or just lead the nation in criminals dumb enough to get caught at it.

While we may have our share of dumb drivers and dumb criminals, we do have a lot of smart kids. A study by the investigative journalism website, ProPublica, reported that Florida has the highest percentage of high school students enrolled in high-level math and advanced placement classes. Unlike many other states where the percentage is skewed due to high enrollment in the wealthy communities, in Florida this was found to be true across all income segments of the population. I suppose this makes sense in light of a study which was just released that ranked Florida as leading the nation for a second consecutive year in teacher quality. We also have the distinction of having the greatest number of low income children enrolled in private schools through our School Choice Program. Additionally, we are the state that has made the biggest strides to increase the number of kids who have health insurance. A report released last year showed that Florida's percentage of uninsured children decreased by 4%, compared to the national average decrease of 1%.

Unfortunately, the future is uncertain for these kids, because Florida leads the nation in home foreclosures. Last year, one in four mortgages was delinquent or in foreclosure. Things may be looking up though. A study last year by Wells Fargo ranked Florida as the state which will have the most job growth after the recession. Their study found that we have 22 industries where we are the most competitive. These are not just the area everyone knows we lead in, like agriculture, but we also ranked at the top of the list in medical research, insurance, and finance.

So there you have it, our state’s greatest strengths and weaknesses are as varied and strange as the people who live here. Whether you're a teacher, a crook, a bad driver, or a good student, just remember, as a Floridian, you're number one!

March 5, 2012
The Felt Hat Speech

Author's Note:  We had to bring a hat with us and give a short impromptu talk about what the hat tells people about us. I brought my felt hat. At Toastmasters, you are scored, among many other criteria, for number of laughs given by the audience.  I only scored one laugh for this speech.  The speech was 2 minutes in duration. The one laugh lasted for 1 minute-58 seconds. Here is what I said about my hat.

“Fellow Toastmasters and honored guests, I wore this hat because it kind of reminds me of a detective in an old movie or pulp fiction book. That’s how I see my job as a software programmer. There is an element of
investigation to it, tracking down mysterious problems and finding
clues others have missed. Let me give you an example of how I see it... .”

The intercom buzzed, "You're 9 o'clock is here," the secretary said. I crushed out my cigarette and stuffed the half finished bottle of hooch into my desk drawer. The office door flung open and a beautiful blonde entered. My eyes spun around in my skull like lemons in a slot machine.

"What can I do for you ma'am?" I asked her.

"You can start by remembering my eyes are up here," she said. "I'm
here to hire you for a job."

"Philandering husband? Missing jewelry?" I said.

"My website is slow," she told me.

"A website case," I mused. "Have you already contacted the police?"

"I have; they told me they don't fix websites."

The case stunk like a plate of day-old microwaved fish, but something in my gut made me think twice. Maybe it was the look of desperation in her eyes, maybe it was the stack of unpaid bills piled high on my desk, or maybe it was the fact I'd been drinking since 7 am... .

"I'll take your case," I told her. "I get $200 a day plus expenses; my
secretary will fill you in on the paperwork."

That’s the end of my hat story. “Thank you very much.”

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