Dictating Blog Posts, Take Two, Also a Maybe Book Review

So the new app I downloaded was more effective than the last, but still not quite what I was looking for.

On the plus side, it definitely got more words correct than the other one. And it didn’t spontaneously rearrange my paragraphs. So, yay!

On the negative side, the app was designed more for making notes than for long-form dictation. Every time I so much as took a breath, the app would stop taking dictation and I’d need to press the microphone button. And, furthermore, if there’s any way to get those notes off of my phone and onto my computer, I haven’t figured it out.

So, the search continues.

I’m not getting very far on that book on Belle Gunness so I was going to talk a bit about the book I read before that, The Authenticity Project (the easiest Gratuitous Amazon Link ever, maybe because this time it’s not really that gratuitous) by Clare Pooley. Our protagonist is woman named Monica (what’s Monica’s last name? Do we find out? Crap. Now I’m going to have to reread and see what it is*) who runs a cafe in London.

One day at work Monica finds a notebook with the words “The Authenticity Project” written on it. Inside the book are the words of an artist named Julian Jessop who was once fantastically successful but who disappeared from public life 15 years ago. He writes that he feels that people are too busy trying to project this image of perfection and he hopes that people who find this book will use it to tell their truths and maybe that truth will, as the saying goes “set them free.” He tells his future readers that his wife died and afterwards he lost the desire to make art. His friends have died one by one and now he’s elderly and alone.

Monica writes her truth (that despite her financial success at her previous career and her lovely cafe, she longs to find a husband and start a family) in the book, leaves the book in a wine bar, and sets out to improve Julian’s life.

Over the course of the book, we accumulate six POV characters and an assortment of supporting characters and, one by one, we find that maybe their lives aren’t as wonderful as they appear on the outside. But together, they do make something terrific.

The characters were engaging and I loved watching them come together from so many individuals experiencing various forms of loneliness to form a group of friends.

One of the subplots is about how people’s lives always look more perfect online than they are in real life. I don’t know what kind of online friends Pooley has, because my online friends, well, if they’re making their lives look better online, I pity them. One friend, for example, had been struggling to make her marriage work and just as she decided that, as much as she loved him, it wasn’t ever going to work, he died. For real. I’m no longer close enough to her to feel comfortable asking how he died. I think it might have been an accident.

As much as I loved this book, I don’t think it’s one of those that I’d need on a desert island, so I gave it four stars, and I really wish they had a ten-point system, because this may even deserve four and a half.

*I skimmed about 1/3 of the book with no sign of a last name for Monica. I have the idea that it’s Charles. But don’t quote me on that.

Today I Attempted to Dictate a Blog Post

It came out . . . unusual. Let’s see if I can edit it into something more coherent.

So I’m taking a long walk right now, and I’m making my threatened attempt to show how the writing process goes. The last time I tried this software, it took down everything I said twice. I don’t know why. I may have to edit this a lot before I actually make a blog post. (Spoiler: I basically ended up turning this into an entirely different post on similar topics and downloaded a new speech to text converter program to try during my late evening/early nighttime walk tomorrow).

I’m thinking that I’m going to maybe start doing book reviews here too because right now with COVID-19 going on I’m reading a lot more than I’m traveling. I hoped to take Alex to New Mexico last year but I’m thinking this year might be the year. It’s already June but we could do New Mexico in a long weekend. Basically, you know, we could take Friday through Monday off, you know, or any other four days. We could take Monday through Thursday off. So we do the 7 hour drive — that’s the length of the drive to Carlsbad Caverns — we could leave Sunday night at 10 p.m. Arrive in Carlsbad and what would that be 4, 5, or 6 in the morning leave our luggage at the hotel go to the national park for a few hours, come back to the hotel and collapse. Then in the morning do another few hours at Carlsbad and then drive to Capulin, which is an extinct volcano. It’s an even-numbered year, so we need a volcano. We could do the volcano on Wednesday then spend Thursday driving back and that would be get us back to — at that point it’s like a 10 hour drive — so if we get to leave at like 10 in the morning on Thursday we’d arrive back in San Antonio at like 7. This would give us a good night’s sleep before having to be back at work on Friday. Any 4-day stretch like that.

As you know what you know I lost Phobos on May 1. The crematorium that my usual vet uses has a service where they scatter the ashes in the Hill Country. But with the self quarantine and everything I couldn’t get Phobos over there so I have his ashes in a box in my living room. I’m hoping in July or maybe sometime in the fall once it’s cooler (it’s insanely hot right here right now) to find a county that will let me just, you know, scatter his ashes in a pretty spot. Maybe out by Fredericksburg or something. That’s pretty much my travel plans for this year.

I do still need to go back through my travel history. I was in what 1989 (nb I think I’m still in 1988). Then we have our first honeymoon to Indianapolis in 1991 and then our second honeymoon to Florida in 1992. I don’t know what the next time we traveled anywhere would have been. We went to Seattle for a job interview for Thomas in 1995, or was that 1996? And then Los Angeles for the first time in 1996, or was that 1995? In 1999 we went to California but didn’t do too much traveling other than that, since I was pregnant. In 2000, we went California, Chicago, and Florida with Alex. In 2003 we went back to Florida and while we were in Florida we went to Key West and that’s the most recent time I’ve been to Disney World. We also went to went to Toronto for WorldCon. Oh wait. 2002 was England and Paris and Scotland and Wales.

After those 2002 and 2003, I was like if we can’t pay cash for it we cannot go because we put stuff on the credit card and then would have hard time paying it off. Because of that we didn’t really go anywhere. We visited my parents in Florida a couple times and went to my mom’s funeral in 2006.

After the divorce Alex and I started traveling again. 2010 we went to DC. No. 2011 was DC. 2010 was Chicago, 2011 was DC, 2012 was Hawaii, 2013 was North Carolina, 2014 was Italy, 2015 was New York City, 2016 was Yellowstone and Salt Lake City, 2017 was California, 2018 was Arkansas, and 2019 was Stonewall Texas. I really want to get out of the state this year if COVID-19 cooperates. And then I’ll make it to Seattle for 2021 I’ve got the money saved up to do that. I have to write up all those. Actually not all of them because I started this blog in 2015, so I don’t have to do 2015, 2016, 2017, or 2018 so 1988 through 2014.

But I won’t have any new content really in terms of like new places I’ve gone for a while, but I’ve been reading books — oh my God — so I think I’m going to start book blogging here because I’ve tried a couple times to make a comprehensive list of all of the books I’ve read in my life, which is kind of fun because I’ve read so many books. My mom was a youth services librarian and had to read all of the books she bought so I’ve been reading kidlit for years, way before Harry Potter made it cool to do this.

And I can’t remember the titles or authors of so many of these books. One book somebody actually dug up the title for me and then the website that we were posting on crashed. The owners were, like, we’re trying to restore it and apparently I think they gave up on restoring it and it’s gone. I’ve even tried looking it up on the Wayback Machine and had no luck at all. The woman who gave me the name loved that book too. But I can’t remember what it was is called.

My most recent attempt to make a comprehensive list is on Goodreads. I have something like 250 books on my Read shelf.

I’ll be honest with you here. I’ve been reading a lot of book reviews recently. Since I’ve joined a book club, I’ve gotten a lot of ads for books on Facebook. A lot of them are for thrillers and I don’t think I’ve read a lot of thrillers, so I’ll have to check that out and see if they’re right. Anyhow a lot of these reviews mentioned something called Netgalley and it turns out that if you’re a book reviewer you can get free Advanced Reader Copies ebooks and I’m like this would be awesome (because the hundreds of unread books I have aren’t enough) So I go to sign up and it asked where you’re reviewing books, like on Amazon or Goodreads or your own blog and I’m like, I don’t write reviews for books on Amazon, though, I kind of just go here are four stars unless it’s bad, in which case it gets three or it’s really bad, in which case it gets two, or it was so bad I couldn’t finish, in which case I give it one. I don’t really give out five star reviews unless it’s a book i would want to take to a desert island with me.

At this point in my dictation, I realized two things: 1. I somehow had missed a street in my walk, and 2. that this software really, really wasn’t working. I decided to keep dictating, though, because of the thing about how if you can talk you’re not overexerting yourself.

Well right now I’m reading . . . What am I reading right now? I’m reading a book about Belle Gunness who died in a fire and who turned out to be a serial killer. I guess we’re going to start the fire and work forward or do a flashback. I don’t know. I’m only, like, 2% of the way into the book.

So, I guess next up is more of 1988, followed by maybe my opinion on the Belle Gunness book?

Oh, and another store needs a pharmacy tech and will pay overtime, so I’m only getting one day off next week. I hope I don’t end up regretting that.

Two Months Later . . . (COVID-19, part . . . I don’t know, five?)

Wow. Time really got away from me.

The most pressing thing is that they’ve opened the city back up and we’re still getting gobs of positive COVID-19 tests. The number for June 6, 2020? 147. Why are we opening up? No good will come of this.

I met with Evelyn for a while today, afraid that there’d be lots of people all spreading COVID. It was 12 million degrees out, so there was basically no one out there to get COVID from. And even if there had been lots of people on the greenways, it’s very hard to get an infectious dose of COVID-19 outdoors anyhow.

And, since it was 12 million degrees, and Evelyn had just come off an 8-day workweek, *and* since one of my warning lights was on and I was afraid that I might be looking at multiple thousands of dollars to repair my car (spoiler alert: I don’t know for sure, but the computer at AutoZone thinks I’m going to get off fairly cheaply), we didn’t stay out long enough to catch anything from anybody, I don’t think.

Speaking of COVID-19, Alex and I had to self-quarantine for almost a week at the beginning of May.

Well, let’s start at the beginning. On April 21, I came home to find one of my two remaining cats was acting like he’d had a stroke. We took him to the emergency vet, who transferred him to their critical care team, one of whom said that it was probably time.

I brought him home for a week, and we gave him antibiotics and nausea medication, and subcutaneous fluids, and I needed to take him back for more bloodwork, so I planned to do that on May 2.

On May 1, Alex woke up with a fever and we scheduled COVID-19 tests for ourselves. While I was getting ready to self-quarantine for a few days, the cat began to have seizures. My own vet and the other critical care vet all agreed that it was time.

And so, I had to watch my baby be put down on Skype rather than being there with him at the end. Damn virus.

It took five days to get my results back. Five. Days. Alex and I were both clear, of course. Otherwise this story would’ve started saying that Alex and I had to quarantine for at least two weeks when we had the virus.

And now we’re opening the city back up.

June 6th’s 147 positive tests would’ve been administered on or around June 2. And those 147 people would’ve gotten it somewhere between May 19 and May 26. May 26 was Memorial Day, and lots of people have parties, so maybe this is an isolated event just because of Memorial Day.

I really do think it’s too early to open up. I’m afraid that things are going to get sharply worse and we’ll be seeing numbers much higher than 147 in the next two weeks. And then the cases from people being crowded together at the protests will start rolling in.

We’ve had over 3,000 cases in San Antonio so far, but I’m scared that soon we’ll be finding out just how lucky we’ve been.