Do I Owe You Money?

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Satori Dog | Friday 05 August 2016

Over the past few years, a lot of my friends have said to me,

“Greg, you're so goshdarn funny! Why don't you write a blog with longform pieces, like that one guy does, instead of all those little Facebook notes you're always posting?”

Well, actually... maybe it's an exaggeration to say a lot of my friends have asked me that. Perhaps, if I really stop to think about it... maybe not even one person has ever said that to me. In fact, it's probably more probable that what a lot of my friends have actually asked me was something more like, “Hey man, do you have that twenty [or fifty] [or one hundred] bucks I lent you way back when?”

Now, I have to be perfectly honest with you. When I borrowed that money, I sincerely thought, in my heart of hearts, that: a) you would completely forget about it with the passing of time; b) I would never see you again; or c) you would be too embarrassed to ask me to pay you back.

You can have it all

So, anyway, I guess this is a pretty good example of what this blog is going to be about, thematically speaking: Honesty. Creativity. Friendship. And, Giving Me Money Without Thought of Repayment.

Hopefully I'll get a big laugh out of you on occasion. Maybe I'll write something that will make you stop and think about some important thing about life. But one thing's for sure, there's one thing you can count on from me: you're never seeing that money again. And that's a promise, from my heart to yours.

You live in a dream. You are waiting to begin to live. — Simone Weil

Dictation Mode

Before I decided to start the actual process of blog writing, it seemed like it was going to be a lot of work. And I'm not a big fan of giving myself more work to do these days. My life is pretty full-up as it is.

But then, one day—it was early Summer, warm and sunny, a soft, gentle breeze blowing through the pampas grass— I thought, “Eh. What the hell. Why not.” So then I just started doing it. True story.

And so far, I have to admit, it seems rather easy. Here's one reason...

I've been using a handheld recorder to take notes for years. Quite frankly, I get tired of sitting down at the computer all day and typing. My skinny ass gets way too dimpled. And recently, I started using Dragon speech recognition transcription software as part of my handheld recorder note-taking process for story and other writing notes, and also for this blog stuff.

This allows me to download the audio notes from my handheld recorder to my computer, join them all together into one audio file using WavePad Sound Editor (a great tool, and it's free), and then use Dragon to transcribe it. It takes some time to crunch the file, maybe 20 minutes for 60 minutes worth of notes, but the transcription gets it in the ballpark. Then all I have to do is some minor copyediting and voilà the notes are ready.

Some of the transcription results are pretty funny—"it is universally admitted to mainly have Murray the screwdriver" (way off)... or, "she likes a Borgesian smörgåsborgian filibuster" (it actually got that one right)—but where it used to take me several days to transcribe a month's worth of notes, it now takes less than an hour. #winning

Success is a few simple disciplines practiced every day

Another way you can use Dragon is to talk right into the program on your computer via a headset. You just start speaking and the words appear on the screen—how great is that. This allows me to sit on my couch and have the software do all the work, while I sip my White Monkey tea, stare out at the Trincomali Channel, and watch the eagles and bunnies frolic (although never together) while I dictate my feckless meanderings. Dragon also "learns" as it goes along, improving its accuracy based on the corrections you make. I'm seriously thinking about writing an entire novel this way sometime in the future.

And, best part: because I'm plugged into my computer with a mic headset, I can simultaneously do my call center job (complete with spot-on Hyderabad accent: "Hello, this is Anderson. How may I provide you with the most excellent of services this day?") and still get paid while I'm creatively writing.

(Sometimes it happens that I'll get a great idea in the middle of a call, and I have to put the customer on hold for five or ten while I go "check the account" so I can record my thoughts. They've usually hung up by the time I click back on, which is pretty cool. And because I gave myself system admin privileges on the call center software my company uses, I can hack my customer satisfaction numbers so I am always Employee of The Quarter. Eat my tandoori dust, Garg.)

To go places and do things that have never been done before — that's what living is all about

You gotta figure, when the machines take over, they're not going to be sitting behind keyboards sweating it out. Thought-to-screen is a big part of our AI overlord future, everyone knows that, and Dragon is good middleware in the meantime, at least until eXistenZ-style neural ports become fashionable. (Let's hope when the machines start executing their KILL subroutines, we're allowed gentle, in-our-sleep endings as opposed to squishy, eyeball-popping-out denouements à la Dr. Eldon Tyrell.)

Living in 2D

I recently [officially] started up a collage project that's been living in the back of my head for awhile now—sanding, measuring, prepping, testing, getting down to business. I'll be submitting this [yet untitled] work for ArtSpring's SURFACING: EXPLORATIONS IN TWO DIMENSIONS show here on Salt Spring Island this fall.

Opening night is Friday October 28, runs through November 7. Be there if you can (and you always can).

Always for love, never for money

Beneath the bebop moon, I'm howling like a loon, for you a-oo. Jump on the Facebook bandwagon, sign up for my mailing list—prizes and sandwiches await. Love, Greg