I’m Putting My Faith in Technology

Remember how I hinted that I wanted a snowblower for Christmas last month? My parents did, because they generously got us one. We picked it up on an appropriately snowy Saturday a few weeks ago.

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Naturally, it hasn’t snowed since.

What it has done, in fact, has been warm. It was 56º on Tuesday. Fifty-six! In January!! In South Dakota!!! And then yesterday, it actually rained a little. Rain! In January!! In South Dakota!!!

I’d keep going, but I don’t want to wear out the ! key.

Meanwhile, in Florida, frozen iguanas are falling out of trees. What a topsy-turvy world in which we live.

Our rain wasn’t anything to write home about. More like a light drizzle that was barely enough to make a decent puddle. The highlight of the day occurred about 4:45 p.m. There I was, focused on work, when I happened to glance out the window…and spotted an amazing sky. The setting sun was lighting up some rather ominous-looking mammatus clouds. So I did what anybody would do in that situation; quit writing mid-sentence, leapt from my chair, and raced outdoors. I didn’t even bother grabbing a coat; I just wanted to get a picture, and when the sky is on fire like that, it only lasts a few minutes.

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Mission accomplished.

And can I just state for the record, once again, that the sunsets in South Dakota are unlike any I’ve seen elsewhere. They take my breath away, again and again.

Our weather forecast looks pretty uneventful over the next 10 days, so for now, the snowblower is sitting in the garage. But considering we had snow up until mid-May last year, I’m sure at some point we’ll have a chance to use it.

I’ve got a busy day today with interviews in Deadwood and Rapid City. Speaking of, I’ve finally gotten smart and started recording them on my phone. It only took eight months! I am paranoid about technology failing me or the sound quality being poor or operator error (accidentally hitting DELETE instead of PLAY and losing everything) so it took me awhile to come around. Up until this week I’d been lugging my laptop everywhere, but I found that to be impersonal. I’d ask questions and furiously type away while also trying to maintain eye contact so as not to be rude. Inevitably, I’d miss things and end up piecing together quotes. Well, the voice recorder app on my phone solves all those problems. All I have to do is go back and transcribe everything afterward. This is great because it allows me to catch everything and I can take my time writing. I tried this for the first time while interviewing a family in Hill City on Monday and it went off without a hitch. It’s a great interviewing hack!

My aunt, however, shared a scary story about her days as a reporter. She said this in a Facebook comment:

Worst experience ever in journalism. Was sent to the Tampa airport in 1983 in the middle of the night to interview medical students returning from Grenada after the US invasion. I used a tape recorder. I started to listen to it in the car on the way back to the office (photographer was driving) and there was nothing on it. I madly scribbled down what I could remember and managed to write a story.

I can only imagine the sense of dread she felt when she hit PLAY and nothing happened.  I don’t even know what I would do in that situation. Curse, cry, both. Just in case, I am bringing along a notebook, but I also feel that defeats the purpose of recording in the first place.

Guess I’ll just put my faith in technology and my ability to distinguish between the different keys on my phone.

27 Comments on “I’m Putting My Faith in Technology

  1. Mark, how thoughtful of your parents! And hey…that’s a great-looking snowblower!

    Hasn’t this winter (all over the US) been crazy? It’s funny because it seems that when you’re having freezing temps and snow, we’re having 70 degree days. And when you’re having warm weather, we’re getting freezing temps and snow? For the past 5 days it’s been so cold, which of course I’m loving, but everyone else is bitching and moaning. I mean, it’s January…is should be cold and snowing, ya’ know?

    That photo of the sky is STUNNING! WOW! Bravo on that capture!!!

    Glad to hear the voice recorder app is helping you. I didn’t even know that was possible? Years ago, I used to use one of those small tape recorders with a tiny inside.

    Hope you’re having a fab week, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha…yes, you’re right, Ron. Our weather usually is opposite. I’m just glad to hear you’re finally getting the goods, even if you have to put up with other people whining about winter. Like you said: it’s January. This is how it SHOULD be!

      My week is going well. It’s absolutely flying by, in fact. Hope you’re having a good one, too!

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  2. We had an annoying amount of lake effect snow earlier this week. I tried to start the blower manually and then with the electric start and neither worked for me. When spouse got home, we went over it again and determined I’m too much of a weakling to pull the cord fast enough (despite all that rowing) and I didn’t hold down the electric start button long enough. Frustrating.

    Back in the day, I was a secretary on a board and had to take minutes. I developed my own form of shorthand. Glad the phone method works!

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    • I haven’t even put gas in it yet, let alone tried to start it. I guess I should probably read the instruction manual now instead of waiting for the next snowstorm to blow in. Closest I’ve ever had to a snowblower has been a shovel!

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  3. Buy a digital recorder. They’re faster and easier to use than your phone, and they interface with Dragon so you don’t have to type everything up. (Though you do have to double-check for inaccurate transcription). If you have both the recorder and the phone going, the redundancy will give you piece of mind. I use this one: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JVLPFNG/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Also, Dragon used to suck, but the later versions work much better and don’t have to be “trained.”

    Seriously, use these tools. I take notes this way for my books while on my walks, and it is SO much easier than trying to transcribe by hand afterward.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was interested until I saw the price, lol.

      I actually have a digital recorder, but it’s many years old and doesn’t sync with anything. I may look into other (cheaper) options and see how those go. Probably a good investment given the frequency of my interviews.

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      • It was only $44 when I bought it last year. Just browse Amazon for a while and look for one that’s Dragon compatible and has decent reviews. That’s how I found this one. It used to be that some were much more accurate than others when interfacing with Dragon, but I think smart phone technology prompted the Dragon people to get off their lazy butts and improve their voice recognition. I know the newer Dragon is much simpler than the old one, and it seems to be more accurate.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Iguana story was intriguing. Thanks for that. I would totally take notes as a back up to the recording, just to be safe. How kind of your parents!! I was about to get one for you too, but since they beat me to it… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

      • Just tried to get Pearl Jam tickets. Got on the sight ten minutes early (Ten, get it?) and was told there were 2,000+ in line ahead of me. My co-conspirators ran in to the same thing. 😦 First time in 7 years they’re coming to San Diego. Who knows if/when I’ll get another chance. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      • I just heard their brand new song “Dance of the Clairvoyants” this morning. Pretty different from anything else they’ve put out, but I like it. Keep trying!

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  5. Awesome on the snow blower, Mark! We used to live in the Yukon (not too much snow, just cold) and then Prince George where it snowed a lot! The kind of snow where you had to shovel the roof off a few times each Winter. We kept putting off buying a snow blower because we thought this would be our last Winter in the North. Note to self. We should have bought a snow blower. Your setting sun photo is spectacular! And, yes, breathtaking, especially when you are there to witness all. Wow, on the voice recorder app. I will investigate. I saw Lisa’s comment on the digital recorder. Also interesting. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Erica/Erika! I can’t imagine living in either the Yukon or Prince George and not having a snowblower. You’re braver than I am (or have better upper arm strength with all the shoveling).

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Of course you got a snow-blower and it hasn’t snowed. If you want it to rain, just wash your car. lol. That sunset is amazing – I didn’t know that about South Dakota. I live in Colorado and just played 9 holes of golf. crazy winter. good thing there is snow in the mountains.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Groovy snowblower 🙂
    I cannot imagine. Although I can relate. I taped lectures in college, and still took notes. I find writing things makes me remember better than auditory data.

    Liked by 1 person

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