Writing and Technology

We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works.
                 Original image by me.

It happens to me far too often. I’ll have an idea, head to a keyboard – there are a few around my place – and something will interrupt my flow of writing itself. Last week, I logged into my Chromebook only to find out that Google had decided that they weren’t supporting it anymore and that they would nag me forever if I used ChromeOS. This was easily beaten sinceI had Linux Mint on it already from years ago, but to remember the login information… update the Linux apps… what was I writing about again?

I shopped around for a replacement to carry around should I be out and about when there was something I needed to do. I can do most everything with Linux, but there is a convenience with ChromeOS for some things I do while out and about, so new equipment was needed, but not too much. I wanted a simple process for, as an example, writing posts like these.

Back in the days before the Internet, younglings, there were standalone word processors that allowed one to simply write. Before that, typewriters – Stephen King wrote about balancing a typewriter on his knees in the laundry room of a trailer when he wrote ‘Carrie’.1 Before that, there was pen and paper, and so on, and so on.

Things somehow still got written.

I ended up with a Samsung Tablet, a simple A7, with a bluetooth keyboard this time around, and was using it to write this –  only to find out that the WordPress.com app does weird things with my keyboard (no other app seems to), which sent me down the rabbit hole on that. And, I’m sorry, I hate the WordPress.com app as much as I have the whole block thing. I just want to be able to write, not do a bunch of blocks of content.

This is why I often do drafts by hand, still, surrounded by all this technology, a somewhat former software engineer that writes. I’d mentioned that to someone yesterday, about my process of writing starting by hand. They looked at me funny, offering tech solutions to a problem I have wrestled with for years.

I shook my head and smiled. I just want to write, not fiddle with tech.

1 Stephen King, “On Writing: A Memoir of The Craft (2002).

Vaccination? Think It Through.

2102121338_e3e031aeff_oYou might have heard something about this Covid-19 pandemic. It’s been a thing for a while. It’s causes all sorts of people to say all sorts of things behind masks, in front of masks, or without masks.

And everyone, of course, is an expert except, apparently, actual experts who disagree with one’s point of view. Covid-19 had nothing to do with that, it’s a common human problem which oddly has not been as self-limiting as some would wish it to be.

Covid-19 is relatively new to us, and it’s been demonstrating all sorts of weaknesses in human societies, from medical infrastructures to economies. We’ve been wearing masks and washing our hands, and hopefully the rest of our bodies, pretty well at this point. From a collective perspective, we’ve done pretty well. The argument against masks – remember, there’s still that – is that they don’t block everything. Of course not. But they block some, and the whole point of that was to ‘flatten the curve’ – a trendy way of saying, “we just want to slow things down so our medical infrastructure can handle things”.

There are still people posting on social media against masks. There are still questions about it’s efficacy. Yet in the grand scheme of things, masks aren’t as much trouble to wear. People complained about wearing condoms when HIV first came out when there were a multitude of other reasons to wear condoms (STDs and unplanned children), but some people were still pretty strongly against condoms.

So, in response to this pandemic, very well educated and experienced people who don’t post much on social media because they have stuff to do have created vaccines.

There’s different brands of vaccines, different countries that produce them, and different marketing. We’ll get back to this

Governments have varying levels of access to different vaccines, and they’re trying to vaccinate as many as they can because that’s what we expect governments to do: To at least try to do things.

And of course, we expect vaccinations will help.

Generally, I’ve found both the arguments for and against vaccination somewhat dumb. I’ll explain why.

Bear in mind I’m no expert, bear in mind I am not pretending to be, but bear with me.

(1) The Covid-19 vaccinations are largely untested at the level that other vaccines have been tested. This is no surprise. They were pushed out fast. And yes, they didn’t go through the rigorous testing. Let’s face facts, we are indeed the experiment, and yes, the data is messy because we’re in the middle of the experiment. So that argument really doesn’t go to either side.

(2) The Covid-19 vaccinations may not work against new strains. Well, we sort of knew that going in. That’s how vaccinations work. Influenza vaccines get updated frequently for this reason, perhaps too often, and are a multi-billion dollar industry. In 2020, the market was 5.86 billion US dollars. And there’s 290 000-650 000 influenza-related respiratory deaths worldwide, annually.

Compare that to over 4 million deaths in a year from Covid-19. So, if you’ve been getting your influenza shots, you have no business arguing the Covid-19 vaccinations from this standpoint when deaths are roughly around
800% to 900% more per year. If you haven’t been getting influenza shots, the same argument applies. Vaccines win here.
And the marketing? The different vaccines? The different articles? Works in progress. We’re in the middle of the experiment and there are no good answers.

(3) Vaccinations may have side effects. Sure. And this is why you talk to your doctor and why you should listen to what your doctor has to say about your particular case when it comes to Covid-19 vaccination instead of someone on social media. The lethal side effects of the vaccinations have been so small as to be considered negligible. In the case of Moderna, 339 million doses went out, 2 cases of TTS (Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome) happened in the United States.  That’s 0.000000571%. Side effects: Not a good argument against vaccinations.

Yes, there may be side effects we don’t know about yet, but the odds are likely lower than the ones we do know about, and if not, we’re sort of screwed anyway, aren’t we? So vaccines win here.


OK, you win, I can’t tell you what to do, nobody should tell you what to do. I agree with the principle. You’re all grown up. But if this is your argument, I’m thinking you spent more time deciding what to get in the fast food line at lunch than you did about the vaccinations. If you’re truly going to act in your own best interests, perhaps you should research just a little bit more. And listen to Doctors. After all, while they may not have your social media connections, they did study medicine for, in the case of young doctors, roughly 1/3rd of their lives.

So, all in all… while there are good arguments against vaccination, they’re not quite good enough. This is the what I did before I got my own vaccination, because I have comorbidities, I recently had surgery, and I’m not going to screw around with this stuff.

No, I don’t think it should be legislated, I think that people should have the right to refuse it. I do. It’s a civil issue. But if we’re going to have that civil issue, we need people to actually think about their decisions – and even then, I know it’s complicated and it’s likely to get legislated because people aren’t thinking through their decisions. A misfortune, really, because by not thinking through one’s decisions…. in cases like this… eventually, decisions are made for individuals.

Refining a Soundtrack Of Whispers

Whisper Fiercely
Original image by Henry Woods, 1894, via OldBookIllustrations.com.

I’ve been delinquent a while as I have pretended to live, going through the motions as I waited for inspiration to strike. It’s a rut that many people live in, doing the same things over and over, a life of repetition that some enjoy. I have found that I am passable at being normal. As a writer, I have procrastinated more than written. I tried using my other experience to help others, and I I’m not sure that I have failed as much as they have – there is a wisdom in that to contemplate.

In doing all of this, I have shot tendrils of myself out into things I haven’t done before, or haven’t done well, or could do better. One of these things relates to one of my passions, music – but probably not the music you might enjoy, those who find themselves neatly in a category. I am at home listening to The Hu, Marillion, and Passenger, to name some. The top 40 is a curse of radio in the world of social media.

My former music teachers in will tell you that I was a dismal failure, that I did not apply myself, etc. My former art teachers would say the same.A few weeks ago, it struck me that my math teacher would have said the same, and I am not deficient in Math. My former Physics teacher actually kicked me out of class in high school only to find out later that I was studying Nuclear Propulsion in the Navy. Why did I listen to some and not others? Perhaps who I was at the time, and who I was at the time is not who I am now.

At Karaoke, with enough alcohol in me a few that I know and many that I fortunately don’t have heard my violent and bloody attempts to sing, and some were drunk enough to appreciate them. Perhaps I’m not that bad, but the point is that I’m not that good and I’m quite certain of it. Still, I have a love of music – it has been my opiate when things are bad, it has been my pedestal upon from which I dove into enjoying accomplishments that few could understand much less appreciate.

As someone who read poetry under the unwavering tutelage of Tom Reese at the old Beaux Arts in St. Petersburg, Florida, a way of connecting with my mother who also wrote and read her own poetry, I found I had some oratory ability and with his patience and sometimes complete lack of it (those who knew Tom Reese will know well what I mean), but the expressiveness of voice was something I appreciated more than I practiced. I’m sorry, Tom, and ‘Mad’ Anthony Wayne Waite, my bill collectors made me choose the pragmatic path. Plus, I am an introvert, after all. 

Thus, I found myself enjoying The Charismatic Voice channel on YouTube. A whole new world opened up for me. I began to understand how different singers could evoke different emotions and effect. It’s an amazing world. I shopped around for different ‘reaction’ sort of YouTube videos and ended up sticking with The Charismatic Voice, through subjective good and subjective bad. It’s actually a pretty interesting business model in that every video becomes it’s own ‘channel’ that attracts some more than others. Some hop. I finally did find one song being analyzed – one artist – that I was completely blech about, but as with writing, reading bad writing or styles one doesn’t agree with often gives us tools we don’t use the same way, or to different effect.

I found, as with most things like this that happen in life, that it made me revisit my own life soundtrack, a soundtrack of what I consider my personal whispers in a world that continuously shouts and screams. As we grow older, it becomes more and more difficult to do this – I can’t tell you how many times over the last decade that I have read new books on old topics and had to re-evaluate for days, how decisions need to be weighed differently, how I need to look at things differently, and now, how I need to listen to things differently.

This, I suppose, is what the elite call refinement.