Trying to Dictate (a little bit of a finished story)

This is not much of a post, but I was actually almost hard at work earlier, attempting to defy the continual and continuing issues created by Mountain Lion and the app that forced me last October to “upgrade” my system, Dragon Dictate (version 3). After I experienced one crash/forced hard restart mid-morning, I tried some dictation about 11:00 AM…

advertising image

advertising image

Test. I started to dictate “Taking the Plunge” about a half an hour ago. I got the first two or three sentences done, but when I proceeded to orate into the Dictate window the remainder of the first paragraph, suddenly we were in spinning beach ball territory! Endlessly. I finally forced the computer to shut down and restarted.

Naturally, this time Spotlight began to run even before everything in the Menubar had loaded. (I just checked, and it is still grinding away. As always. Endlessly.) QuicKeys at first would not finish not loading so I force-quit it, and on the second try the (essential, for me) program did eventually load. So I moved on to try Dictate.

At first, as it did before the computer restart, Nuanceʼs program jumped straight to the Dictate text window (I am not sure if I feel altogether happy that it did retain the sentences I had uttered before the beach ball and forced quit), but this time it also tried to open the Load Profile window (which is supposed to be the first step when the program launches), and when I clicked on the JRB profile, we just got beach ball. Again? However, this time around, I was able to get Force Quit to force quit Dictate (the previous problem had been that intervention did not work, and so I had to physically forcibly shutdown the computer). I tried again. And after some stalling and closing the still-remembered Dictate window from before the crash, here we are with me successfully dictating (directly into MacJournal). Hurrah!

“Taking the Plunge” is a Tourist story, the second one completed. The first (and a segment from that story is one of the oldest posts on the blog) was set in London. “Plunge” takes place in San Francisco, written in the fall of 2009 in the first flush of freedom and getting “Underground” completed and typed (and unsuccessfully off for publication). Hereʼs how it starts:

Taking the Plunge

from Wikipedia — I could only find sunny days (but that fits the narratorʼs fourth day on the bay)

from Wikipedia — I could only find sunny days (but that fits the narratorʼs fourth day on the bay)

San Francisco sunlight, a surreal gift of certain bliss after days of fog and rain. The sun came out my fourth day in the city, my vacation having reinvigorated the old Mark Twain observation, “The coldest winter I ever endured was one summer in San Francisco.” My early experience this trip had been wet, cold and dismal.

The worst day had been Sunday, my second, when I had determined to take a ferry across to Sausalito, an excursion Marsha Kay and I had only contemplated when we were on the bay many years ago. Weʼd gone on a local tour (Dolphin Tours) to the wine country and Muir Woods, and the van in which we and five other couples were loaded had dumped us all on the highway through Sausalito to fend for ourselves for lunch. That had been one sunsparkled, bay-brilliant day — so thoroughly unlike my chillingly dismal return — and we both had discussed the pure California loveliness over lunch in a fish house on the water whose name fled from me in the hectic years since.

But I treasured the sensual bliss of my memories — yellowbright, windscoured and catarchingly warm — through the too-many midwestern winters we shared and then I suffered in weary lonesomeness since. Shoveling through eight inches of heartbreaking snow for myself alone in bitter predawn dark just to be able to get a car to struggle, swerve and skate over icy, scarcely cleared roads to work — among others only those fragments of solarkissed bliss on a July afternoon in Sausalito.

But the bleak reality of this return chilled me more thoroughly than any black midwestern morning, that well layered for the subzero darkness, I had endured in patient expectation of renewing the California sun. So I had suffered disillusionment those first days — dark, cold, drizzling — unimaginably worse weather than back at home, until that fourth morning frothed with solar effervescence in my uncurtained hotel windows, alluring me before 7:00 to awakened alertness, anticipating at last the day to come.

Showering I relived the bay crossing less than forty-eight hours previous. Icy drizzle from the moment I awoke — not quite so early on Sunday, not as early as I had intended, either — about 9:30. The boats I had explored started running at 8:45, and I had intended to cross the bay as early as possible and really explore Sausalito for most of the day. But the grey rain had soothed my mind, evidently, and the touch of frost in the air made me unconsciously snuggle deeper into bed as this most unsummerly summer day had dawned.

Noises in the hall, a family departing for the day, whining brats complaining loudly about the dank weather, stirred my consciousness again well after 9:00. I felt groggy — aware I was late to my schedule, but too dull to care much. And what did it matter? I only had myself to amuse.

So I lazily showered, shaving, dressed and prepared to leave the room for the maidʼs casual attentions in my absence, closing the door about 10:20 and heading off uphill to cross down to the ferry building, at least a twenty-minute hike. I figured Iʼd be in Sausalito for lunch by 12:30.

The ferries didn’t keep to my schedule, however. And the sea-spray, rainy crossing — me on deck, almost alone, drenched and shivering (at least, after the icy hike to the waterfront, Iʼd decided to purchase a fleece at one of the businesses in the ferry building — overpriced but warm enough, though by the time we docked it was much more than damp), brought us across the bay about 1:30. In my misery, I had even missed Alcatraz in the dreary damp. Late for the lunch I had come for, I elected with rare wisdom to forgo the nostalgic waterside deck and eat indoors, too utterly iced through already for more freezing drizzle so soon.

I got busy with other stuff after that. But apparently dictating works again (although with at least a dozen quite strange errors I had to catch while posting), and I have plenty of digitzing talking ahead of me when I donʼt choose to really write (fresh material).

Come on, computer, keep with it: do your job, finally.

What do you know? No footnotes. Almost a first in the past year or more.

©2013 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Not Getting Creative

Boy is it hot. It is also, as I will reiterate toward the end, very humid. (I am writing yesterday, although I hear that even with a cold front moving through to create thunderstorms, today isnʼt going to feel much drier until evening, maybe.) Thus I have an excuse for a picture in what would be otherwise a pretty verbal post not lending itself well to illustration. I hope my Rightist fans (if any) in particular especially enjoy the humidity image my googling discovered (as usual, click the pic for the original source).

I am still being very busy dealing with lots of Census work as we try to conclude the operation by/on Friday. I spent forty-five minutes yesterday attempting to get a grasp on what we have completed already and what we still have to accomplish. (At least I had been working on that task since Monday and came up with a new, shorter version of the “still-must-finish” pages.) We are well over halfway through, which is excellent because we are well over halfway through (the first was number of questionnaires to complete, the second was allotted time). If I counted and added correctly, we have about 250 EQs to go, out of an original 800. Counting today, we have two days to get that work done (and I hope that while I was playing Questionnaire Accountant, the crew was out there in the world asking questions, so there are already a good portion of that 250 finished by this morning, and which I will diligently correct to send on to Cedar Rapids).

But work is boring, and I am ready to dismiss it from my reality (I hope immediately after meeting my boss on Saturday). Although the money has been nice, helping us afford to fix our driveway (about which the concrete guy, who said he would start in three weeks more than three weeks ago, has yet to get in touch), I am ready to go back to pretending I am trying to be a professional writer. I have lots of work to do (real work, not just inventing, writing, annotating and posting for the blog), including two old — already rejected once or twice — stories and three plays to send to publishers and three stories nearly finished to complete (“Mantorville” and “Mistakes by Moonlight” among that trio, the third being a San Francisco adventure for the Tourist). The old stories are “Underground” and “Details, Details.” For one of those, writing the blog was an excellent stimulus for me.

“Mantorville” occurs through creation at the keyboard for my writing process (as is my unpostably vulgar multiple-universe story and another tale that started as a time travel story but may have evolved into a planetary romance in the old Burroughsian vein  — neither of which has seen much action from me in months). That last Quetzal County post I presented was a single draft more or less. Any good?

“Mistakes by Moonlight” is getting drafted in the big red notebook, as I have told you before, and still needs to get dictated to the computer (yes, no progress on doing real work yet this month). And the Tourist story, like its elder sibling “Underground,” is also working its way into existence longhand, also in the little red Harrods notebook, which is where some jerks and gasps of the Villon novel are also arriving on a page. I find that both typing and writing (literally on the latter) work pretty well for me. Doing the blog has shown me that maybe I write faster at the keyboard. But I feel more reflective and thoughtfully articulate with pen in hand, and a notebook can get used anywhere at all (even, I have found, in fairly dark surroundings). Maybe itʼs the notion of finishing the Sepharad story in one form fully that has kept me from using what little time I have had to put it into digital form.

I still havenʼt gotten comfortable just dictating to the machine without typing, mostly because the software just isnʼt all that accurate. I found another mistake in yesterdayʼs poem to fix when I checked the post about 4:30 PM, for example. The computer “heard” the word yet when I said it. RSS and e-mail readers of the blog have the aurally damaged version (unless RSS,which I donʼt use really, updates you every time I make a repair or edit once the post has gone up). However, I hope by fall to be attempting more successful dictation. My few experiments for the blog have gone together pretty quickly, if I donʼt bother proofreading as I go (but also requiring that I carefully review what the machine has heard afterward).

And as it is now about 5:30 yesterday afternoon (what an incredibly hot and humid day; I said before I for one did not miss at all the cool summer we enjoyed a year ago), with me drenched in and oozing sweat onto the keyboard and the arms of my desk chair (as I earlier soaked the paper of the EQs and my tabulations of who had gotten what work done when), and time to cease effort at the computer of any kind and make supper for The Lovely One as well as preparing her lunch for tomorrow at work, I wonʼt be getting creative again today…

This is not quite a thousand words (again), but I think we all feel that Iʼve droned on long enough.

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.