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.”


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!

Rumpus #atozchallenge


Cover of Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (source: Wikipedia, Fair Use)

I was seven when this book came out. I remember someone brought it for my brothers, who were four and five at the time. One line from the book stands out above all the others.

We have a cat named Max, and he enjoys causing trouble for the rest of the gang. We end up yelling at him and throwing things at him (paperbacks, mostly) which makes it stop, at least temporarily. It’s been worse since we lost Milton a few weeks ago. I think he’s lonely; he and Milton were best buddies. Anyway, when he gets started, we say the line from Where The Wild Things Are.

Max (center) about twelve years ago, with his sister Minnie (right, curled up beside him) and his buddy Milton (left)

He can be a little wild, but he’s also quite affectionate. He’s the only one who lets us scratch his belly.

Remember when people had “rumpus rooms”? I guess they’re called “family rooms” today, but they were basically a room (more often than not in the basement) where you would send the kids when they were getting a little wild, so they wouldn’t break anything. I tried to find pictures of rumpus rooms and instead found a restaurant in Milwaukee called The Rumpus Room. Looks like a nice place, but too many things would get broken if you treated it like an actual rumpus room. They’d probably ask you to leave.

Did you have a rumpus room when you were a kid? How about now? Have you ever read Where The Wild Things Are? What did you think?

The Friday Five: Your “Lady” Songs

So, last week I asked for songs with “lady” in the title, and you came back with fourteen of them. Here they are, in no particular order, along with credit where it’s due.

  1. The Commodores, “Lady” Janet suggested this, as did Maryann. From their 1981 album In The Pocket, it reached #8 on the Hot 100, #13 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and #5 on the R&B chart.
  2. Kenny Rogers, “Lady” Janet, Jeanne, and Mamasick suggested this. Written by Lionel Ritchie, it went to #1 on the Hot 100, Adult Contemporary, and Country charts in 1980.
  3. Aerosmith, “Dude Looks Like A Lady” Kip came up with this, as did Jeanne. From the album Permanent Vacation, it reached #14 on the Hot 100 and #4 on the Rock chart in 1987.
  4. LaBelle, “Lady Marmalade” Kip added this. This has been covered a number of times, but the original and probably best of them was LaBelle’s. It went to #1 on the Hot 100, #1 on the Hot R&B chart, and #7 on the Dance chart in 1974-75.
  5. Beyoncé, “Single Ladies” I’m not sure if this is the one Kip was talking about, but it’s the one I found. From her 2008 I Am Sasha Fierce album, The song reached #1 in the US.
  6. Jim Croce, “Mississippi Lady” Ed Thierbach thought of this. This was Jim’s last single, from 1976, though it didn’t make an album until 1980’s Down The Highway. It got as high as #110.
  7. Tom Jones, “She’s A Lady” Calen thought of this one. The title track from his 1971 album, it was a #2 in the US and #1 in Canada.
  8. Chris DeBurgh, “Lady In Red” Maryann made a few suggestions here, including this. This was DeBurgh’s breakout single and went to #3 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart. It’s also considered one of the most annoying songs of all time.
  9. Bob Dylan, “Lay Lady Lay” Another from Maryann, as well as Jeanne. From 1969’s Nashville Skyline, it peaked at #7 on the Hot 100 that year. It was originally written for the movie Midnight Cowboy, but it wasn’t finished in time.
  10. Lionel Ritchie, “Three Times A Lady” Technically another Commodores song, but it’s mostly Lionel. Maryann and Mary B thought of this. It was released in 1978 and ended up being the only Top Ten song on the Hot 100 that year. It’s from their album Natural High.
  11. Ella Fitzgerald, “The Lady Is A Tramp” Maryann and Dan came up with this. From the Rodgers and Hart musical Babes In Arms, it appeared on her 1956 The Rodgers and Hart Songbook album.
  12. Frank Sinatra, “Luck Be A Lady” Dan, Pat, and Mary B gave us this one. From the 1950 musical Guys and Dolls, with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, based on a couple of short stories by Damon Runyon, one of my stepfather’s favorite authors.
  13. Sugarloaf, “Green-Eyed Lady” Jeanne thought of this one, too. Mark (lecycliste in the comments) and I used to play this one a lot, and it’s a great song. It peaked at #3 on the Hot 100 in 1970.
  14. Joe Cocker, “Delta Lady” Mary B suggested this. I actually remembered this one and posted the Leon Russell version in the comments of the original list, so I’m featuring this one here. This is from Joe’s 1970 album Mad Dogs And Englishmen, a live album taken from the tour of that name.

Thanks to all who contributed. That’s The Friday Five for April 21, 2017.

Quaver #atozchallenge

We ended yesterday with music, today is all about music, and a little bit of math.


Quavers (eighth notes) and quaver rest. By DoktorMandrake (Eighth_notes_and_rest.png) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

When I started playing guitar, my teacher made an attempt at teaching me to read music. One of the first thing I had to learn was the notes and what each shape signified. I learned that a whole note was equivalent to two half notes, a half note was equivalent to two quarter notes, a quarter note was equivalent to two eighth notes, and an eighth note was equivalent to two sixteenth notes.

It wasn’t long before I realized that it was just as easy to listen to the song on the record and pick it up from there, which would have been easy, except Mel Bay’s Modern Method for Guitar (books 1 through 6) didn’t come with records, at least not in 1967, so I was basically shooting in the dark as far as reading “Etude #1” and “The Volga Boatman.” I knew what the notes were, I knew what tones they represented on the staff, blah blah blah, but I had no idea how to make them sound like they were supposed to. Finally I said “screw this noise” and taught myself by ear.

Logan’s Tutor (source: Amazon.com)

Ten years later, I decided to take up the bagpipes, and got a copy of Logan’s Tutor, edited at the time by Pipe Major John MacLellan, at the time the principal of the Army School of Piping. This came with a tape of PM MacLellan reading through the material and demonstrating it on the practice chanter. All fantastic, except both the book and MacLellan used English terminology for the note values. I was now told that a semi-breve was the equivalent of two minims, a minim was the equivalent of two crotchets, a crotchet was the equivalent of two quavers, a quaver was the equivalent of two semiquavers, and a semiquaver was the equivalent of two demisemiquavers. Now, I was smart enough to know that it was the same whole note-half note stuff I already knew, but whenever MacLellan used the English names, I had to flip back to the page that explained each one.

Anyway, a quaver is an eighth note, then it gets cool: a semiquaver is a 16th note, a demisemiquaver is a 32nd note, a hemidemisemiquaver is a 64th note, then you tack on a “hemi,” “demi,” and “semi” for each successive power of 2 (e.g. semihemidemisemiquaver, demisemihemidemisemiquaver, etc.). In pipe music, grace notes and patterns (e.g. taorluaths, leumluaths, and crunluaths) are written as 32nd notes. In practical terms, people don’t generally use anything shorter than a sixteenth (or semiquaver), and if they do, they deserve all the grief they get for it.

Back in my piping days, I met a guy who had been a piper in one of the Scottish regiments, and he told this story. One day, Gordon (probably not his name) was helping the person who was trying very hard to teach a large group of slow-footed young Highland laddies how to do the Highland fling for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. After a while, he started playing the decidedly non-Scottish “Pop Goes The Weasel” for them to dance to. PM MacLellan heard this, and had Gordon thrown in the stockade for it. He got out when his commanding officer said, “hey, MacLellan isn’t your boss” and had him released. I don’t think he went back to playing “Pop Goes The Weasel,” though.

I hope you’ve had as much fun reading this as I had writing it.

Writer’s Workshop: A New Career?

Today, Mama Kat asks the musical question, “If you had to choose a new career for yourself, what would you choose?”

I’ve talked about this before, specifically last September, when the prompt was “Something you wanted to be when you grew up.”

Understand now, I retired on disability about four years ago. My career days are over. But if I had it to do over…

When I was in high school, I wanted to be a musician and spend my life playing the guitar. Problem was, I didn’t know where to begin. I could play the guitar, and was pretty good at it, but never felt comfortable playing in front of people, even my family. I don’t sing well, and I don’t like to sing, so I thought that relegated me to the background, accompanying people who could sing. I was lost on my own; I knew a lot of songs, but none that I could play on my own, so when people would ask me to play something, I was like a deer in the headlights.

Besides, I was led to believe that being a musician wasn’t a “real career.” You know, where you make lots of money and gain lots of prestige working for someone else. I was sold on the idea that having a “real career” was the key to happiness. And maybe it is, for some. I came to believe that being a musician was a good avocation, something to do in one’s spare time, but it was hardly something one could make a living at. Better to focus on getting your degree and making yourself employable, be tops in your field, advance through the ranks.

I’m not going to say that doing all that brought nothing but unhappiness and desolation. It didn’t. But, if I had it to do over again, knowing what I know now, I’d sink a lot more time into the guitar.