Sunday Jots

Thunderstorms in November! We were over at a neighbors for a pot luck gathering. I would have loved to have had a camera when the first lightning flashed, and everybody in the room lifted off the floor simultaneously in surprise. We were among the first to leave, and already the sloping pasture had claimed on car sideways of the hill. Thank goodness for Subaru!

I keep running into bee people. Last night, had a conversation with a fellow that keeps 70 hives not far from here. It might be his hives that house those bees I saw on our corn tassels summer before last, though at the time I imagined them to be from a (rare these days) wild hive. Then I learned from another bee keeper last week that a bee will fly five miles to and from a hive, so in that radius, I’m sure there are kept hives I didn’t know about. Anyway, he told about a new hive pest–as if another was needed: the small hive beetle, thank you very much, South Africa.

Having the tools creates the work. Last night (same party) I was glad that yesterday I had ordered a digital recorder (Olympus DS2) to record interviews for an upcoming project. Two unexpected and immediate opportunities fell at my feet, with folks approaching me to tell about their neighbors in late 80s or 90s who had stories too rich to lose. So I’ll maybe field test my new tool soon, and close to home, before wandering wider afield.

I also acquiesced to the inevitable yesterday and ordered DragonDictate Naturally Speaking Preferred (a $40 rebate coupon expired after yesterday’s date.) Keystrokes saved now by this speech-to-text software may allow these uncooperative finger joints to participate at some level for a few more years. I dread the learning curve.

And finally, here’s one I’m hoping to get a beta-invite for: SCRYBE, an online (and offline) PIM that seems a cut above most other calendar – scheduling – reminder programs I’ve seen so far. Watch the video and see if you think it would be useful for you. I’m always looking for ways to shore up the failing intracranial software (and the hand joints, I suppose, would be hardware.) Gotta roll with da punches, eh?

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. That’s all right Mr. First. Some of us were on the job. Of course, I got wet. My camera got wet. My lenses got wet. And now I’m sneezing.

  2. That video would have been better if they had used an American English-speaking person to narrate it. I could not understand some of it.

  3. On Dragon Naturally Speaking–it’s my understanding that the latest version is not too hard to “train.” You train the program to recognize your voice and over time it works well, or so I’m told. I’ve used an earlier version and it wasn’t bad. I think that we’ll all head down that road at some point–speech to text. Good luck and let us know how it goes!