Tuesday, February 16, 2010

You don't know shift...

This is my first attempt at using my new voice-recognition software, “Dragon Naturally Speaking.”  It comes with a dandy little headset and boom microphone.  The program really acts more intelligent than I thought it would.  In fact, I suspect it is more intelligent than I am.  On balance, however, that is not too difficult to achieve.

I hope, over time, to be able to use this voice recognition software to write a book, or continue my musings, or just to send dirty little notes to quite a number of grandmothers throughout the country.

Well, well, well...  I can see that this would be very handy once one learns how to dictate carefully.  So far, I have "typed" this entire document without touching the keyboard. Everything you see written here has been put there by my little “Dragon Naturally Speaking” program!  Likewise, I have created this entire document without once using more than four brain cells.  The whole process seems like an exercise in symbiosis.  (Wow!  This damn program, even knows “symbiosis.”)  Maybe if I get good enough at this, the program will actually write this drivel without my involvement at all.  Then I can just sit in the family room, scratching various parts of my body.

The real downside of all of this is that it could get very, very, very long and tedious, owing to the fact that it is much easier to exhibit verbal diarrhea than it is to expend the actual energy required to type all of this.  Hell, I don't even have to check punctuation!

Well, I'm back from doing a little computer training. So far, I have been unable to trick this Dragon speaking program; I can change that now.

“Holy ????”?
There, I told you it would throw it into confusion.  However, no program worth its salt would be unable to recognize a healthy "Shit."  (You see, I just had to train the computer to recognize that word.  I had to spell the word, pronounce the word, define the word, show the computer a dog doing it, and generally be very solicitous of its syntax.)
 That is, I was training the computer to recognize certain required words: shit shit shit.  That worked!  So now I can say shipped and it will…wait a minute.  I said shift, no shipped, no…

I also tried to train this stupid program to recognize "bullshit" which it did with amazing facility.  So why will it not recognize shipped?  No, that's shift.  Know, that's, she at...  Hold on, I am going back in!

Okay, let's give it another try: shift.  God damn it.  This talking thing will not get shift.  What I mean to say is, "this thing will not get shift" shit.  I think I need to change my pronunciation of this absolutely requisite word.  Be right back...

Okay, my friends.  Here is where the rubber meets the road.

She at.  Heavy sigh...  I will not let this program defeat me in my attempt to bring “shit” forward as an absolutely necessary part of virtually any document I compose.  I have just gone back and tried to train it again.  I can barely wait to see the results this time...

Shift shift shit, Ott it finally got it checked jet shit shit shipped shipped.  Why is she at so hard to understand?  This is a huge challenge.  I suppose I could just say "crap Ola" but it just doesn't have the same impact.

Maybe this whole thing needs a different approach.  The program itself does not seem prudish, so I suspect it does not have an aversion to scatology.  So perhaps the program itself is possessed of an anal-retentive personality disorder.  In that case, of course, the program would neither keep nor give a shift shit.  There it to a shift, but it got this the shipped.  Finally.  Past me off.  All in all, now it won't do past or shift.  That is, "piss" and "shit."

Excuse me while I go train my computer to poor pests out of a boot.  Okay, back again.  Now let's see if it has learned to poor pests out of a boot.  No, no, no: piss.  If I cannot figure out how to get swear words into the dictionary, this will significantly slow down my creative process.  Let me try this in another language.  Be right back...

Shit.  It works!  I just told it to spell shipped, but pronounced it in German: you know, shit.  Oops, that is actually spelled Scheisse.  But as we all know, shit by any other name is still Scheisse.  Hey, what's happening here?  I said Scheisse and got Scheisse, but not shift (which still comes across as shift).  Now, the goddam program speaks German better than I do as well.
Anyway, these ramblings are worth exactly what you're paying for them, assuming that you are me, because no one else is reading this Scheisse, I mean shut.  Heavy sigh!


Friday, February 5, 2010

The All-day headache...

Ever have one of those all-day headaches?  The ones that just sap all your energy, make you just want to couch-up, cover your head, hide your eyes?

 Happy Birthday H. R. Giger


Tomorrow: "Prayer Flags..."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Inadvertent Novelist...

Like I said, I am not really a writer.  

Not, at least, in the sense that someone like Asimov was a writer.  Wait, I’m not comparing myself to Isaac Asimov, God Forbid, but he was what I think of a writer as…or something like that with the preposition in the right spot.  He was driven to write.  He said so in his Opus.  He couldn’t stop.  He seemed to be bubbling over with ideas.  He wrote and wrote…maybe a thousand books?  I’ll check later on Google.  But he really poured out the goods. 

He had ideas.  Aha! I thought so: ideas are required to be a writer.  So the next question forms in my mind: Does the birth of an idea prompt the writing?  Or does the act of writing…sitting at the goddam keyboard like I am now, straining my brain, does that eventually, e-v-e-n-t-u-a-l-l-y cause an idea to erupt?

I’ll tentatively vote for the latter concept, mostly because if the former is true, then I am well and truly screwed.  I got no ideas!  So if the mere act of writing is parent to the birth of ideas worth writing about (and that in itself is a whole 'nother kettle of fish) it stands to reason (my reason at least) that if I write, write, write, I will write something having to do with an, uh, idea.

I read a really well-crafted thriller a month or so ago.  It was a full-size, novel-like, complete book written by a first-timer!  Now I suppose he wasn’t just a first-time writer, but I like the idea that he was, so in my mind, he just had an idea one day while sitting on the can or somewhere, and immediately ran to his computer and started whacking keys until he had a whole story written.  “Holy Shit!” he must have said, “All I have to do is put in Chapter numbers and think up a cool title and I AM A FIRST TIME NOVELIST!”  So he did and he did and he is.  His book is right behind me on the shelf: Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. 

I do think he should have spent a few more minutes thinking up a better name for himself, a nom deplume you know, something waaaay more racy than “Tom Rob Smith”, but what the hell, his parents are probably pretty proud.

Bastard had an idea and then he wrote it out. Just like that.   Did a book.  Pisses me off.

My friend Ning says I should do a “witty and urbane book on some interesting but obscure moment in history...doing the research...writing the book.”

I actually had that idea once, about an obscure moment in history, but not as a witty or urbane thing.  The question: Why did Hitler stop his advance in 1940 and allow the British army to escape from Dunkirk?  It was such a turning point in the nascent world war.  Could have changed all of history.  Why, why, why?  I could have researched all the writings of the time, viewed the situation from the lofty viewpoint of time’s passage, and wormed my way into the Fuhrer’s dark mind, drawing conclusions that would rock the historians to their shinbones and create a tidal wave of criticism and controversy the only upshot of which would be that I, in order to quell the furor – or Fuhrer’s furor – would be obliged to pen a sequel.

Or maybe a movie.

But now, I don’t care anymore.  So, back in the, um, mental file drawer.  Heavy sigh.

Oh well.   Hey, I'm a little behind in my staring-into-space-while-imagining-what-it-must-be-like-to-be-a-real-writer, so if you'll excuse me...


Tomorrow, prayer flags…

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

An Unexamined Life...

“The unexamined life is not worth living”, said Socrates, the most influential thinker of the fifth century BC, whose dedication to careful reasoning changed all of philosophical thinking.  He sought genuine knowledge.  His willingness to examine everything minutely and his determination to accept nothing less than a reasoned account of the nature of things make him the father of critical philosophy.  I bet the neighbors thought he was a real pain in the ass.

Somebody did, because they put him on trial, for his LIFE.  At his trial in 399BC, Socrates declared before the citizens of Athens that from his incessant questioning, he found that average citizens -- the average Joe, or in Greek, the average Ἰωσήφ -- spends his life pursuing various goals -- money, ambition, pleasure, and physical security -- without asking himself if these were important.  And unless they raised such questions and seriously sought the answers -- through careful reflection, alert observation and critical arguments -- they would not know if they were doing the right thing, living the correct life.

They might be wasting their energy, time and money in useless or even dangerous pursuits.  No shit, Sherlock...ur, Socrates!.

Socrates never paid a cable bill.  Or cooked a gyro, or ironed his toga-thingie.  Or took the kids to soccer practice, or hailed a cab in the pouring rain.  Can't imagine why he looked...uh..."dead tired".  Oh yeah, the hemlock deal.  Well anyway...

Does our existence today allow for an examined life? 

Religion does not encourage its adherents to examine their lives, at least not in the Socratic sense of questioning everything.  Rather, we are remonstrated to examine our actions, to bring them into line with the religion's teachings, to follow some form of golden rule -- every religion has some form of it – and to live without lust and greed and all the other gritty faults that we actually exhibit – at least on every day but “the Sabbath”, whichever day we  keep holy  (if any).  We are not, as a society, or as adherents of a particular belief system, enjoined to examine our beliefs.  Many...most religions do not encourage questioning.
So if our religion does not require it, why not just do it because we should?  Challenge our own intellect and examine our beliefs?

We are just too damned busy.

Well, here's the kicker.  Now, now that I am in the throes of a life change, purportedly a change that will allow rest and reflection, the long slow stroll into the golden years if you will, can I, will I, do I even want to examine all that? 

I read a paragraph on a blog (www.Bystander.homestead.com) by a Francis Chin.  He said, “I would like to pause, linger and take a look at life's autumn foliage, before I move on..." (whatever that means, I sure don't like the sound of that "moving-on" crap).

It sounds romantic, in a non-sensual way. To sit in dappled sunshine, examining the color bursting from nature’s palette.  To be like the Eloi in H. G. Well’s Time Machine: living an idyllic life of freedom from want, enjoying love and sharing joyful, if somewhat hippie-like, interactions…until the Morlocks below needed some more raw meat.

Do I really want to linger in the shade of the withering foliage, to examine and re-evaluate my own belief system? Is it even possible?  Sure, there are those who experience the apotheosis of reinvigorated spirituality, who find themselves drawn into the frenetic tarantella of  renewed vigor, fired by a new belief, a new intellectual hobby – for God’s sake – literally for God’s sake – often in hope of “making it right” on the way out the celestial door.

In our teens, we don’t have the wisdom.  In our twenties, we don’t have the perspective. The thirties are out, because we don’t have the time. Our Forties are out because the consuming needs of a career keep us occupied, fifties because accumulation of wealth – the nest egg -- is the focus.  So that leaves the sixties – of which I am smack in the middle  -- but we’re all so damned tired of running, jumping, thinking, plotting, planning, kowtowing, and all, that it just doesn’t seem worth the effort.

I think I'll just examine a double martini with lunch, that’s what.


Tomorrow: "Prayer Flags..."

Monday, February 1, 2010

Beginning near the beginning...

It has to start somewhere. Like a crash at a busy intersection, it is inevitable. It’s just about when. And how much damage it will do. And how much it will hurt.

See, I have this push-pull thing about writing. Sometimes I think I am lazy. Other times, I just know I’m a bad storyteller. An OK writer, sure, but that’s like an OK singer without a song.

But if I don’t start to put something, anything, down on paper NOW – even digital “paper” though it might be – I will never start. And if I never start, I will know what a fraud I have been all along. Being creative, even in one’s own mind, springs from the creation itself, not just thinking creatively. So, doofuss, create. It ain’t creative if it ain’t created.

But what?

Hmmmmmm. Nothing to write. OK then, they always say write about what you do or did.  So, what about my day?

List of Shit I did today.
• Made the bed
• Cleaned shirts out of my closet
• Did Dishes
• Some laundry
• Went to two banks for deposits
• Renewed my library card
• Went to Best Buy looking for printers and speaker stands
• Ate a low-carb Thickburger
• Went to Sam’s Club for water and fruit
• Went to Krogers
• Went to Marshall’s and bought a slick chrome wastebasket for the condo
• Went to the cleaners
• Did email
• Read a little
• Started a blog
• Stared into space

There, that takes me up to five o’clock!

How to turn all this potential energy into kinetic energy…that’s just what I’m trying to figure out. Maybe I am trying too hard. I have this, um, constipation of creativity and I am trying to shit out all of the words and phrases and alliterations and parables and homonyms and antonyms and prodigious prose ALL AT ONCE.

So, as a wise woman once said to me at some family gathering, where I, impatient as usual and with intent to get those people just doing something besides jawing about whatever it was, with a certain amount of malice in her voice as she gave me the eyeball-roll, “Will you just go with the flow for God’s sake?”

It is soooo hard to back off sometimes.

Tomorrow: "Prayer Flags..."

Friday, January 29, 2010

An homage to Billy Boy

Ah, Billy we hardly knew ye. Billy Mays, him of stentorian tones, stilted pointers, close-cropped beardlet, was -- and maybe still is -- THE huckster extrordinaire. It is he, and his ilk, that inspire my blog title: "But wait, there's more..."

So we put down the phone, fingers poised to finish dialing (we can't call just yet, even though OPERATORS ARE STANDING BY! Right now!) and...uh...we wait. Breathlessly. Because there's more.



Free, the most powerful word in the English language.

"We ain't done yet, folks! Yes, there's more!"

Thank you Billy. We'll wait, because there is more.

Tomorrow: "Prayer Flags..."
Image courtesy of http://rickyhamilton.blogspot.com/2009/07/billy-mays.html...a great caricaturist