Spell Checkers, Speech-to-Text, Digital Assistants, and Other Things I Hate #socs

I hate spell check. Really. Especially the wiggly red lines that appear under words that it claims aren’t spelled right. They annoy me no end. They usually end up under all the proper names, because the damn spell check doesn’t realize they are proper names. And, if I ever meet the clown that came up with autocorrect, I’m going to beat him over the head with The Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary, the ginormous one that’s about ten inches thick.

See, I went to Catholic school, where, as I think I mentioned, the nuns taught us that misspelled words are nails in the Hands of Jesus. If we learned one thing, it was how to spell. They also stressed the importance of spelling people’s names correctly as a sign of respect. If that’s so, I get disrespected all the time, because I can stand there with a clerk and spell it out “H-O-L-T-O-N” and have them spell it “Horton,” or “Holten,” or something. See, the problem with my name is, the final “o” is pronounced as a schwa, which I guess means it could be anything. That doesn’t explain “Horton,” but… whatever.

Anyway, whenever I get a new computer, or a new word processing program, when I start seeing words underlined in red, it’s my signal to figure out how to turn off spell check. And autocorrect has to go; I would rather send something out with a misspelling than have it turned into something that conveys a meaning I didn’t intend.

Joey had a post a week ago yesterday about talk-to-text and how much she hates it. I could sympathize: I tried working with MacSpeech and Naturally Speaking, thinking that would make things less of a hassle to write, given that I type with one hand. I almost had another stroke trying to use them, and finally said “f*ck this noise” and went back to typing with one hand.

Joey was talking specifically about Siri, Apple’s “digital assistant” that they’ve been installing on all iPhones and iPads for a couple of years. When I installed Sierra (the latest version of Mac OS, which anyone who uses it realizes is just Unix under the pretty interface), Apple was very proud of the fact that Siri was now available for Mac OS and was now installed, along with their speech-to-text word processing software. Well, just because it’s installed doesn’t mean I have to use it, so I figured I’d just take the icon off the dock and ignore it. Easy-peasy, right? Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Anyway, I’m working on my desktop a couple of weeks ago, and the thing starts going slower than whale dung, and I’m like “what the f*ck is going on?” I bring up the activity monitor and I see that the Apple dictation software is taking about ten percent of the CPU cycles. “I’m not using the dictation software!” I exclaimed, and tried to kill the task, only to have it come back. I go and look at what’s eating up memory, and I see that roughly a quarter of the physical memory is being taken up by Siri and speech-to-text. I DuckDuckGo “turn off dictation mac sierra” and found that there were some options I had to turn off in my System Preferences to get rid of them. Problem solved.

Dear Apple, next time you decide to do me a favor, do me a favor: don’t do me a favor. TYVM.

I never had to mess with Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant, since I got rid of Windows 10, which never worked anyway. That was really nosy, anyway, reporting everything I did to the mothership in Redmond, Washington. The best decision I made was to install Linux Mint on my laptop.

Anyway, I get up a couple of mornings ago, and there’s a message on my Kindle Fire that Alexa was now installed on it after the upgrade. You know what I did first, right? Found out how to disable it and did so, along with removing the Home icon to a group called “Sh*t I never use and can’t uninstall.” Which brings up another issue: what’s the deal with software that gets installed on my computer or other device that I can’t remove? Really, if I’m not going to use iTunes on my iPhone, why can’t I ditch it? It’s my phone or computer or whatever; if the stuff is in my way and taking up memory I want to reclaim, why can’t I?

Now, to bring things back to the original prompt, “spell,” here’s Screamin’ Jay Hawkins with “I Put A Spell On You.”


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Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. Now a word from Milton Bradley’s Scrabble, America’s good-time game!

More “Moo” #socs

Gee, and I did Keith Moon as my M entry for the A to Z Challenge. Would have been perfect for this… but OK.

Remember Moo Juice? It was another entry into the powdered drink market in the Sixties. It came from Pillsbury, who at the time also had the Funny Face drinks. Both were created by a man named Hal Silverman. The big thing with Moo Juice was you had the powder that mixed with milk and you had a shaker to mix them together. The product spokesman was an animated cow voiced by Frank Fontaine, who played Crazy Guggenheim on the Jackie Gleason Show. I couldn’t find a commercial on YouTube for it (meaning I put “moo juice” into the YouTube search engine and didn’t find any in the first several pages, so I said “screw it”), but here’s Frank as Crazy doing a commercial for Malt-O-Meal, a popular hot cereal of yore.

Seeing this commercial made me think about other cereals from those days, specifically Maypo. I wondered if they were made by the same company, and the answer is no, they weren’t. Malt-O-Meal was made by Malt-O-Meal Brands, now owned by Post Cereals; they also made Coco Wheats. Maypo was made by a company called Maltex, and the spokesman for Maypo was an animated character named Marky Maypo. Observe.

I guess they still make Malt-O-Meal, but not Maypo. Whatever. We never had them.

Did you have any of the culinary delights that I mentioned here?


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Stream of Consciousness Saturday i brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. I won’t hit you with another commercial, I promise…

Give Me = Gimme #socs

The prompt is “give/given/giving,” and all I could think was “give me” reduces to “gimme,” then all these songs popped into my head, these five in particular. So here we go.

The Rolling Stones, “Gimme Shelter” First track on the 1969 album Let It Bleed, it reflected what was going on in the world at that time. Keith Richards started with the guitar riff at the beginning, and he and Mick Jagger wrote the lyrics.

Abba, “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” This was recorded in 1979 and released as a single with “The King Has Lost His Crown” on the B side. It didn’t chart in the US, but reached #3 in the UK and #1 in Belgium, Switzerland, and Finland. Warning: It’s Disco.

Spencer Davis Group, “Gimme Some Lovin'” Some classic Steve Winwood with the Spencer Davis Group. It reached #2 in the UK and #7 in the US in 1966.

Brenton Wood, “Gimme Little Sign” Brenton’s followup to “The Oogum Boogum Song,” it reached #9 on the Hot 100 and #19 on the R&B chart in 1967.

Crazy Elephant, “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'” Wikipedia calls Crazy Elephant a bubblegum pop band, but this is a pretty good song nonetheless. It reached #12 in the US, the Elephant’s only Top 40 single, in 1969.

“Gimme” seems to be a popular word in rap and hip-hop songs, but you know I don’t do that.


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Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. Now a word from The Gap. The Gap’s Got It!

Wanted: More Time #socs

Any time I have for the next month, outside of time taken to deal with biological requirements, will most likely be eaten up by the A to Z Challenge. I might just need to put everything else on hold. I could really use that hour we lost a couple of weeks ago. But yes, I’m having a great time and I hope all of you that are participating are having a good time, too.

Oh yes, there’s also going to Mass on Saturday afternoon. I’m going to cut this short because that’ll be about five minutes from now. See you soon!


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Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you by Linda Hill and this station. Now a word from Coty Musk. Use it before you stalk!

It’s My Birthday And I’ll Cry If I Want To #socs

But I don’t want to. It’s my birthday! And Mary and I are going out to lunch, and I get free pie!

We have an O’Charley’s near us, and they were bought out a few years ago by the same company that owns Baker’s Square, so the pie is from Baker’s Square, which bills itself as having “The Best Pie In America.”

Remember the movie Pee Wee’s Big Adventure? Toward the beginning there’s this exchange between Pee Wee and his archnemesis, Francis:

Francis: Today’s my birthday and my father says I can have anything I want.
Pee-wee: Good for you and your father.
Francis: So guess what I want.
Pee-wee: A new brain?

Francis was played by Mark Holton, who’s no relation but he looks like he might be one. You see Mark from time to time; he’s a pretty busy actor. Most notably, he played John Wayne Gacy, a notorious serial killer from the Chicago area.

Anyway, today’s March 25, which in the Catholic Church is The Feast of The Annunciation of the Lord. The feast commemorates the appearance of the Archangel Gabriel to Mary to announce that she has found favor with God, who wants her to have his baby. And Mary says “okay!” and nine months later gives birth to Baby Jesus. Okay, that’s a silly (and borderline sacrilegious) telling of the story. The more accurate telling is in the Gospel of St. Luke, chapter 1, verses 26-38. The Angelus, a prayer that tells the story, is based on that Gospel reading. When you hear church bells ring from a Catholic church at 6 AM, noon, 6 PM, and 9 PM, those are the bells that prompt Catholics to say the Angelus. It’s three sets of three bell tolls, followed by nine bell tolls. So, now that you know that, I can tell this Hal Roach joke:

A priest is hearing a man’s confession, and at the end he assigns him the penance of saying three Our Fathers. “I don’t know the Our Father,” the man says. “All right, say three Hail Marys.” The man says “I don’t know the Hail Mary, either.” The priest, exasperated, says, “well, what prayer do you know?” “The Angelus.” “Well then, say the Angelus.” “BONG, BONG, BONG!”

I learned recently that the Church Fathers, when setting dates for various celebrations, were more interested in determining the date of the Annunciation than they were in the date of Christmas. So, the Annunciation isn’t on March 25 because Christmas is on December 25, it’s the other way around.

Anyone born from March 22 through April 22 has a better than average chance of having their birthday fall during Holy Week. I was born on Palm Sunday 1956, Mary was born on Holy Saturday the next year, and Mom was born on Holy Saturday in 1932. Mom’s birthday was on Easter at least twice that I can remember, Mary’s birthday was on Easter at least once, but mine has never been on Easter in my lifetime. In fact, it’s only been after Easter once during my life that I can recall.

Holy Saturday 1932 was March 26, so Mom’s birthday was the day after mine. We used to celebrate them together. In 1994, she was turning 62 and I was turning 38, which meant we were celebrating our joint 100th birthday. Mary and I went to Chicago to celebrate with her. Mom would be 85 tomorrow. Happy birthday, Mom.

Anyway, Mary and I are going to lunch before we go to Mass. They’ll be celebrating the Mass of the Fourth Sunday of Lent, which as you might recall is Laetare Sunday, one of the two days the priest wears pink vestments. I have my pink shirt ready…


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Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. Now a word from Zenith, where the quality goes in before the name goes on.