As a writer, I frequently interview people. My methods have evolved over the years, but my goal remains simple: transferring their words as efficiently as possible into a story/article/press release/whatever.
For a couple of years, I dragged along a laptop. I’d ask questions and feverishly type away as they answered. This was great, as it allowed me to enter their words onto a Word document immediately. But I couldn’t maintain eye contact, which felt impersonal, and they often spoke so fast, I missed key pieces of information and/or mangled quotes because my fingers couldn’t keep up with their mouths.
Telling interview subjects to “slow the hell down already” wasn’t a feasible solution, so I decided to try a digital audio recorder instead. This allowed me to give each person my complete and undivided attention, and assured I’d never miss a word. All I had to do was transcribe the interview later, at my convenience.
Unfortunately, that meant I had to transcribe the interview later, at my convenience.
First off, unless you’re Keith Morrison—with that warm, velvety-smooth baritone that makes you feel like you’ve just immersed yourself in a warm bubble bath surrounded by the scent of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven—listening to your own voice is cringeworthy. Nobody thinks they sound like they really do! I’m embarrassed by everything from the questions I’ve asked to the inflection in my voice and my own corny jokes countless times when listening to recorded interviews.
Even worse, it’s a time-consuming pain in the ass to transcribe an interview. You have to hit play, listen to a sentence or two, pause the recording, type the words, and hit play again. Over and over.
A few weeks ago, I was commiserating with my boss over this, and we decided to look for a solution. It turns out that Word has a built-in transcriber that can be used by anybody with a Microsoft 365 account.
Guys, this has been a game-changer. I just plug my audio recorder into a USB port, upload the audio file, and less than 90 seconds later, I have a full transcript of the entire interview. I never even have to listen to a single word!
Granted, it’s not a perfect system. You know how closed-captioning on your TV doesn’t always get the words right? It’s the same deal with Word. Case in point: I uploaded my Minuteman Missile Silo interview, and at one point, a coworker asked, “Was it the Bay of Pigs?”
What Word heard (and transcribed) was, “What’s the benefit of pigs?”
I laughed out loud when I read that. I’m sure there are fancier transcription apps or software with better accuracy, but I’m pretty good at deciphering the gobbledygook. And if I absolutely can’t, I can always pull up the original audio. This is such a better solution for me, I’ll never go back to my old ways.
The answer, by the way, is bacon.
Tuesday was hot. Ridiculously so. 107° in Rapid City. And the sky was hazy from the wildfire smoke that has been drifting in from the west for weeks now. The one benefit? We’ve been enjoying spectacular red sunrises and sunsets, like this one I captured during yesterday’s early morning walk.
The photo doesn’t even really do it justice, but you get the point. I’m just glad I got out the door when it was a reasonable 70° versus the triple-digit heat we had a few hours later.
It also happened to be Tara’s birthday. Because it was too damn hot to go anywhere, we picked up sandwiches from Paulie’s, parked ourselves in the basement for the evening, and watched a movie. It was 11 degrees cooler downstairs than up, and in fact, Tara reached for a blanket at one point.
All in all, it was a pretty chill (literally) evening. Not a bad way to spend a birthday.
It’s hot again today, but “only” 97°. Luckily, it’s going to cool off tomorrow, ’cause we’ve got a Summer Nights concert to attend, and then a weekend trip to Freeman for the Chislic Festival. Plus a side trip to Sioux Falls and an overnight stay in Hartford, where some form of debauchery is likely to occur. We may no longer be spring chickens, but that doesn’t mean we can’t cut loose and have fun. That is something we’ve got dialed in after 10 years and many trips together.