9 dec 1999         

- look ma, no hands -

'tis a far far better thing I do now...

I bought a voice recognition software program the other day, so there may be a major shift in the nature of my writing process.  It's a remarkable device, almost magical, and I think I'm falling in love -- not with the software, but with the sound of my own voice.  I don't think I've ever concentrated so much on the details and qualities of my speech, but boy howdy, my mouth cleans up real purdy.

Hmm.  Maybe I should go into radio.

When I was a kid, a famous disc jockey moved in next door to me.  One day a bunch of us were out in the street playing three flies up when this Pontiac loaded with chrome came cruising up the street.  Our jaws dropped when we saw the license plate -- IMADJ, and we nearly plotzed when he told us he was our new neighbor.  We were pretty jazzed to have the guy around and we always kept an ear out to catch him saying stuff like "When's trash day?" or "Can I borrow your rake?" with that dj voice we knew from the radio.  But he didn't do that.  He had a regular voice just like the rest of us.  A softer one.  More nasal.  Dull.

Just like me before I had this keeno software.

There is a lot to be said for the power of speaking clearly, and the attention required to do it well.  It has a way of ordering the mind with some of the same disciplines found in writing, but in a way which makes you more aware of your physical presence and of the way others may perceive you.  And once I gain mastery over the tone of my voice, its volume, its timbre, and its rhythm, well then, come wees me to ze casbah, for I'm certain I'll be irresistibly persuasive.

Not that the software requires slower speech or odd enunciation.  It doesn't.  All I need to do is quit speaking in that slurry grunting mantalk way I have and simply show a little respect for the spoken word.

For a long time now I've been considering going over to my local chapter of Toastmasters, not because I wanted to learn how to speak in public but because I wanted to learn to think on a more even keel.  Now I don't have to do that.  I don't have to stand up in front of all those people who count the uhhs and the umms.  We can just sit here in this room, me and my mellifluous tones, and bathe in autovocalism.  It's a love fest.

At first, I had some reservations about getting this program.  I knew the danger of looking like a geek, sitting all alone in a room and babbling, particularly if someone spotted me through my office window.  On the other hand, that could work to my advantage, giving me the appearance of someone important who makes all his phone calls using a headset while pacing around the room, like Ovitz back when he was Emperor.  

Another nice thing about the software -- it's going to do wonders for my back.  My days of hunching over are over.  And it's a way of making up for those years of regret over not having learned to touch-type in high school.  And screw Mavis Beacon.

I understand that speech and writing use different parts of the brain, and that's certainly evident as I dictate this.  In the olden days - okay, last week - there were squillions of synapses firing off for the express purpose of finding the right place for my fingers to go.  Not anymore.  While it's not exactly "write, rip, and send" yet - I still have some calibration to do as it learns my voice - I have the newfound freedom of being able to look around the room as I write.  I don't have to look at the keyboard.  I don't have to look at the screen.  I can do this with my eyes closed.  And if I can do something well with my eyes closed, I'm just that much closer to achieving a longtime goal of mine which is to be productive while sleeping.

You laugh, but self-administered sleep studies have proven to me that I need at least a solid 9 hours of sleep per day, and while that may not seem unusual, it turns out that I also need exactly that same amount at night.

So I think I've taken a step in the right direction.


  today's music:

"I Wanna Be Loved By You" -- Jane Horrocks -- LITTLE VOICE: MUSIC FROM THE MOTION PICTURE


today's wisdom:

"Self-love seems so often unrequited."

- Anthony Powell