Some Things That Start With S

Speech to Text Update:
I’ve been training Dragon naturally speaking for couple of months now, and it’s finally starting to get a little smarter. I’m using it for almost all my e-mail, which saves me thousands of keystrokes everyday. (I’m using it to dictate this post, and that process of speaking text is coming more easily. It is improving my diction, and possibly will make it possible someday for me to speak with the intelligence of a six-year-old when leaving a voice message on an answering machine. One can always hope!) I still can’t trust it completely, and have to carefully proofread everything — especially at work with patient evaluations and related medical paperwork. I understand that the medical transcriptionists at the hospital across from the clinic are using the program extensively in medical dictation. It may not be perfect, but my wrists and plums are thankful for the technology.(Note the unintended fruit in the previous uncorrected sentence).

Speaking of Ergonomics:
If I read or used a laptop in bed, I would be more interested in this product called LapDawg. It’s a little pricey, but considering the cost of wrist, shoulder or neck problems that are made worse while reading or using a laptop keyboard, it’s really pretty good deal. I’ll be able to recommend it to my patients, many of whom read in bed and to whom I offer the advice: put the bend in the book take it out of your neck. Simply propping a book on a pillow in your lap is one step in this direction. But this little stand is way better.

Summer Writers Workshop:
I just got the brochure from Hindman Settlement School regarding their summer writers workshop. I came home from this workshop in 2005 profoundly changed by five days among top tier Appalachian authors. I’m seriously considering going back this year to hang out among the likes of Lee Smith, Robert Morgan, Sharyn McCrumb, Joyce Dyer, Silas House, Meredith Sue Willis, Jack Higgs, Kathyrn Stripling Byer, Lisa Alther, George Ella Lyon, Gurney Norman and others. I’m in Kentucky is not one of those places you would pick out to go with the end of the hottest month of the year, but the suffering should be far outweighed by the inspiration, motivation, and encouragement but hopefully become from the investment of the week on Troublesome Creek.

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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. Jack Higgs is a hoot! Love to hear him. Even more, I love to watch him laugh. (Why does bowl full of jello come to mind?) If you do the workshop, tell George Ella ‘m one of your fans. 🙂