I just got my new computer a couple of days ago, the Dell XPS 8950. I posted about this some time ago. Of course, It came with Windows 11 installed. I’m still trying to get used to it. It has a voice recognition feature that puzzles me. I can dictate in Word and probably other Microsoft applications. However, it seemed to work whether I used a microphone or not. That was puzzling until I relearned by trial and error that my webcam audio connects when my desk stand USB microphone is not plugged in.
I dictated this entire post on the Microsoft Word application containing the dictation feature. I write all my posts in Word before copying and pasting it into my blog, So, this was just an extra step. However, it made the work of creating the post a lot harder.
I’m pretty sure this feature was on my last computer and the Word application that came with it. I just can’t recall it. I know I never used it.
However, it still works the same way as another voice recognition system I have used before-and that’s, of course, Dragon Naturally Speaking. I left a few examples of how this usually works in this blog post just for fun. I have italicized them, but that was probably unnecessary.
I use dragon a lot. When I was working as a. The guy in the dental hospital.
I left that last sentence just exactly the way it was when I finished dictating it, just to make a point.
The point is obvious. You can get a lot of comical errors from using voice recognition software. And I noticed a lot of times that I could type a lot faster than I could dictate.
I used to use a disclaimer, like a lot of other doctors did, after I finished my dictations, similar to the one below:
“This note was created by speech recognition. Minor errors in transcription may be present. Please call if questions.”
This won’t provide immunity to malpractice. But mistakes were so. Problem. In voice recognition software that it seemed necessary to make apologetic–sounding excuse for them.
The voice recognition Feature in the. Microsoft Word app. Has the same problem. You’d better not hesitate more than a microsecond in between words. It’ll put periods everywhere you do that. It will also create capital letters for words that don’t require that. Who are?
That last quotation mark? Who are? Was supposed to be.
OK, OK, it was supposed to give me a new line because I said, “new line,” but it’s a lot faster to just type than to dictate. Notice that the italicized portions of this post are becoming more prevalent. Move on. I said “new line” please:
I don’t think these hiccups are specific to Windows 11 or Microsoft or the Dell XPS 8950.
In fact, I’m pretty happy with my new computer. It does weigh 30 pounds (I did not say 40 pounds, but for some reason the dictation dragon asked me if I said that).
But it’s a lot quieter, except when it’s breathing fire.
Here is The University of Iowa video of the presentations from the February 8, 2022 Uncovering Hawkeye History series (2nd in the series), celebrating the 175th anniversary of the University of Iowa beginnings in 1847. The audio is fine on this one.
The final presentation of the series night before last, Uncovering Hawkeye History in honor of the 175th anniversary of the University of Iowa was a fascinating review of the changes in architecture of the campus, how local and national politics influenced the university and vice versa, as well as the expansion of the role of philanthropy to support its mission over the years. A YouTube video of the recorded presentation will be posted here at a later date.
There was not enough time to do much more than briefly mention the new trails being blazed by three leading programs. However, you can read more about them in Iowa Magazine.
Craig Kletzing is the principal investigator for NASA’s TRACERS mission. He’s a UI physics and astronomy professor who secured the largest research grant in the history of The University of Iowa in 2019 to study the interactions of the magnetic fields of the sun and the Earth.
Christopher Merrill is the director of the International Writing Program and professor of English. Merrill has made cultural diplomacy mission to over 50 countries. He once served on the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO and the National Council on the Humanities.
Dr. Patricia Winokur, the executive dean of the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, physician and professor of internal medicine—infectious diseases, and leader of Iowa’s Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials. Dr. Winokur is a nationally recognized leader in the field of infectious diseases. She created the UI Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit, one of the top vaccine research programs in the country and one of only nine nationwide funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
At the end of the presentations, university archivist David McCartney announced that he will be retiring as soon as next week. He wished everyone well and the presenters I’m sure all wish him well.
He has held the archivist position since 2001. He has led a very interesting and varied life. A story posted in The Academic Archivist on November 12, 2020 by Katie Nash, MLIS, CA reveals he got his undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received his MA in history and MLS (master’s degree in library and information studies) in 1998, both from the University of Maryland at College Park.
He also was a reporter for radio stations in Alaska and the Midwest. I’ll bet that was interesting. He was between warehouse jobs in the summer of 1992 when he drove around the Midwest, researching Carrie Chapman Catt, the woman suffrage leader and founder of the League of Women Voters. It turns out Catt grew up near David’s hometown. That work led to publishing a collection of Catt’s papers in a catalog.
David has done a great many things. He believes that his profession’s worth and legitimacy are being challenged, and that the value of the work he and others do is often unrecognized. He firmly believes that institutions and corporations have to understand their responsibility to maintain a strong archives and records management program. He’s very motivated to advocate for his profession.
I probably would not have looked for any further information about David McCartney had he not announced his retirement at the close of the final presentation of this series. He made his point simply and humbly, saying the challenges of keeping up with the technology demands of his job were part of the reason for his retirement.
He even said he hoped he would see the presenters in the Ped Mall (officially named City Plaza), a pedestrian mall in downtown Iowa City near the UI campus, built in 1979 as the centerpiece of the city’s urban renewal project. It’s a popular gathering place for students and locals. There are concerts, jazz festivals, and art shows.
As a relatively recent retiree myself in June 2020 (19 months or 86 weeks or 606 days ago but who’s counting?), I can relate to David on this issue. Many of those I worked with were sad to see me go. I think many will be sad to see David go.
I wrote most of this post while waiting for our internet service to reconnect, which it finally did. I’m pretty sure the wintry mix ice caused the outage night before last.
Despite the icy conditions yesterday, our Iowa State map cribbage board was delivered. One of the first things Sena said about it was, “I thought it would be bigger.”
This triggered a couple of memories. When we were on one of the tours around New York City in 2017, someone remarked on the size of the Ball in Times Square that drops on New Year’s Eve, saying it was smaller than she thought it would be. Apparently, this was the tour guide’s cue to deliver a few well-rehearsed jokes about size that all related to a man’s penis size—which I am not in the least sensitive about at all in any way, shape, form or size. Can we talk about the weather, please?
The other memory is the Men in Black II scene in which Agents K and J are grilling Frank the talking alien Pug about the whereabouts of The Galaxy (which is the best source of subatomic energy in the universe), which was small enough to fit inside a thumbnail-size jewel attached to the collar of a cat. While shaking Frank vigorously, Agent K demands that Frank tell him where The Galaxy is.
Anyway, the Iowa map cribbage board is smaller than our Jumbo board, but it’s a little bigger than the 29 board.
It’s made by D&D Custom Laser Designs. The name is lasered on a little cover which fits over the storage hole for the 4 wooden cribbage pegs. Below the name is “Custom Made & Designed in Randall MN, USA; In Loving Memory of Kevin Deick, Creator and Co-founder.”
I saw one review of the board on the web in which the reviewer expressed doubt that the maker knew anything about cribbage because the description indicates that it includes a pre-installed hanger so it can be used as a wall hanging. The hanger doesn’t interfere with it being used to play cribbage and the board even has small rounded feet in all four corners so you can set it on a table. And it does include pegs.
You can see the names of major and even small cities, the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, and major highways. It reminds me of places we’ve been and what we did in those places. We haven’t played a game on it yet, but we plan to make a video of that in the near future and post it on YouTube.
The Iowa cribbage board came wrapped in something we usually don’t see. It was a crumpled-up issue of a local newspaper in Minnesota. The board itself is made in Randall, Minnesota. The newspaper is the January 30, 2022 issue of the Morrison County Record.
I haven’t read a regular newspaper in a long time. The Morrison County Record has a lot of the features I remember from several newspapers like the Des Moines Register and the Globe Gazette (Mason City). I noticed a large column in a section titled “Religion.” I can’t remember the last time I saw a newspaper column like that. The title of the column was “In times like these we turn with trust to God,” with the caption Inspirational Message with a small drawing of a church and the byline was Tim Sumner, evidently the pastor of River of Hope Ministries, Little Falls. So, this newspaper was published in a place called Little Falls in Minnesota.
Little Falls is about 10 miles southeast of Randall.
Anyway, Pastor Sumner (I don’t know if that’s his title, but I’m hoping it’s safe to assume that) wrote what could be given as a Sunday sermon. Because this issue of the Morrison County Record was used as wrapping paper, I had to hold the ripped pieces of it together to read it. The link to the whole sermon on the web is here.
One quote from Sumner:
Today, we regularly face situations that bring us to a place of not knowing how we will get through, how we can survive. The future can look very bleak when we try to predict what will happen and we try to manipulate people and things to do what we think is best. And without trusting in the faithfulness of God to bring us through these situations, the future is bleak.
I have not thought about God in a very long time, but when I was a child, I read the Bible a lot. And I remember the pastor of our church, Reverend Glen Bandel, who was my family’s hero when he took care of mother when she was very sick, and welcomed us in their home when times were bad. Mason City’s local newspaper, the Globe Gazette ran a brief story about his life and ministry when he turned 90 years old a few years ago. You can read it once before the web site requires you to subscribe. It won’t tell you even a tenth of what I and most people feel about his kindness, courage, and wisdom. He has a heart the size of a galaxy.
The population of Randall, Minnesota is 625, and the population of Little Falls is 8,664 (as of 2019). Just because they’re small doesn’t mean they’re not important.
I got up at around 3:30 AM this morning, unable to get back to sleep. It was mainly because of the current crisis in Ukraine. Russia has invaded Ukraine. I wonder if many of us will remember where we were and what we were doing when we found out that Russia invaded Ukraine? For us, it was sometime around 9:30 last night. I was listening to the light classical music channel on TV in our living room when Sena came up from downstairs where she had been watching the news and told me about it.
I switched to the TV news and saw two reporters, one based in the U.S. connected as part of the broadcast with another in Kyiv reporting on the shelling of the city. The reporter in Ukraine kept looking back over her shoulder at the city. She seemed distracted and distressed. The other reporter, based in the U.S., asked irritably, “What do the bombs sound like?” as though he were unhappy with her account of what was going on. She replied, just as irritably, “They’re loud!” I think she wanted to also say (as I did in my mind), “They sound like bombs and they’re scary; what do you think bombs sound like?”
I listend to various reporters talk about the attack. One of them commented that President Biden had said there would be no American soldiers actively engaging in combat in Ukraine. If they did, it would be “World War III.”
I thought of the other post I’d written for today. It’s just about a cribbage board in the shape of the state of Iowa that we got from Minnesota the day before yesterday. It came wrapped in a newspaper, probably the whole issue published about a month ago by the Morrison County Record in a town called Little Falls.
We just thought it was unusual that the cribbage board was shipped wrapped in newspaper; usually it’s those Styrofoam packing peanuts or bubble wrap. But this was like getting something from a friend or a family member who used the only thing handy to pack a gift.
I didn’t just toss the newspaper wrapping in the garbage, mainly because I enjoy reading actual printed material including books and newspapers. I was curious about it and so I found the article “In times like these” which I also described in the other post today, which is partly about a cribbage board in the shape of the state of Iowa. The article is a sermon, written by a local clergyman, Tim Sumner.
In it he talks about how difficult things are nowadays, that people are more divisive than he has ever seen. He mentioned the pandemic as a major contributor, but it’s easy to see how it could be applied more broadly now that major world powers seem to be moving toward war to feed what seems to be a hunger for empire-building.
Sumner, in accordance with his role as a clergyman, counsels us to turn to God. In view of the talk of World War III, it’s hard to disagree. Sumner asks, “Can things get worse?” It looks like it can.
I could find a lot of cribbage boards in the shape of single states in America. I could even find one of Middle Earth, believe it or not. But I couldn’t find one in the shape of the whole United States of America. Why?
It is “our understanding” that gets in the way. The way we see things is from our perspective. We want things our way. We don’t want to have to go through difficult times. We want life to be easy.
Maybe that’s true. He says trusting God is the way to respond to this. We could do that. And while we’re waiting for God to respond to us, what else could we do?
I am thrilled to post this episode of the Uncovering Hawkeye History series out of order. It’s because Sena and I missed Part 1 but noticed that the YouTube video recording of it was posted. The volume is pretty soft, so crank it like you mean it. I plan to post something tomorrow about Part 3, The Next Chapter: Blazing New Trails.
The presenters gave stunning presentations and I’m delighted to let them tell their stories in the video below.
Sara Sanders, PhD, Dean of College of Arts and Sciences. She is all about making the most out of combining both the classical and the practical aspects of a college education.
Liz Crooks, Director of the Pentacrest Museum of Natural History. She loves museums, and told a great history about a character at the museum named Rusty the Giant Sloth (no relation to the third presenter, Dr. Rusty Barcelo). Rusty is made of Styrofoam and other materials. He is a giant sloth and the web page gives you a great idea about who he is. Remember, he’s made of artificial materials, so don’t expect too much. According to her LinkedIn profile, she is:
Experienced administrator with a demonstrated history of working in museums and higher education. Skilled in Nonprofit Organizations, Archival Research, Program Evaluation, Museum Education, and Historical Research. Strong professional skills with a Master’s Degree focused in Museum Studies from Western Illinois University.
Dr. Rusty Barceló held various positions at the University of Iowa from 1975 to 1996 including Assistant Provost and Assistant Dean with the Office of the Provost. Rusty has made a ton of other achievements in many other places in the country. Rusty is named for a scholarship to assist disadvantaged students at the University of Minnesota. Rusty was once the only Chicana student at The University of Iowa, and now is one of America’s most highly respected authorities on diversity and equity in higher education.
A couple of nights ago Sena was looking at some old X-Files episodes on the web. It was on the Dailymotion site. For some reason, we could see them without login registration. I think it’s usually required. We watched the full length, The Unnatural episode two nights in a row without ads. It was an inconsistent experience. We saw it in both HD and non-HD modes and got slammed by ads at times and other times couldn’t access the show at all unless you logged in.
The weird thing was that all the subtitles and captions, and even the scenes were shown in mirror image. It turns out this mirror issue is not uncommon. I googled it and others have noticed it on YouTube as well as Dailymotion. You can flip the video out of mirror mode—often for the price of software being peddled for that purpose. The most common reason I saw given for the videos being mirrored was to avoid copyright strikes.
OK, so other than that, a lot of the old X-Files shows were available and Sena watched a little of the brutal episode “Home.” Sena can do a hilarious mimic of part of Mrs. Peacock snarling “I can tell you don’t have no children. Maybe one day you’ll learn… the pride… the love… when you know your boy will do anything for his mother.” Sena always ad libbed “the joy” to the “the pride, the love” phrase.
We used to watch the X-Files regularly, making popcorn downstairs in the kitchen and getting upstairs to watch it in bed just in time.
Anyway, we could watch the mirror version of “The Unnatural,” comfortably despite the backwards captions. This is one of our favorite episodes. There are many obvious references to racism and identity. I looked all over for a simplified plot summary, but found a lot of them have glaring mistakes, are too long, and wouldn’t fit with my simple-minded geezer interpretation. So, I’m going to cobble together something from reading a number of them. I’m not saying it’ll be straightforward.
I have to call it a Monster-of-The-Week (MOTW) episode because that’s what a lot of writers do. It refers to X-Files episodes that usually feature some paranormal creature or a criminal with a supernatural ability.
Here’s a tangent I can’t resist because we just watched Mountain Monsters Sunday night for the first time, and I think it was the first episode of the new season of this show which has been on for 8 seasons. It is surely a parody of several shows of the Bigfoot adventure type. It’s basically an ongoing MOTW series featuring a cast of characters who survive on sasquatch snacks and cryptid colas and stage uproarious, slapstick comedy searches for legendary creatures (some of which are apparently part of genuine local folklore) like Spear Finger, the Smoke Wolf, the Cherokee Death Cat, and a dozen others, some of which are unfortunately prone to violent attacks of diarrhea, which Wild Bill (arguably one of the funnies members of the cast) did a side-splitting impression of by hanging on to a couple of trees and sticking his butt way too far out in a stunningly hysterical pantomime of projectile Hershey squirts, all the while getting more and more bug-eyed, cursing a blue streak and brandishing a gun which looked like a kid’s toy you could find at Walmart. The camera angles are all too perfect. We laughed until we cried.
Anyway, getting back to The Unnatural, the show is basically the reminiscence of an ex-cop named Arthur Dales who was assigned to protect a black baseball player named Josh Exley from being killed by the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Actually, Josh is an alien who shape-shifted into a black man because he loves the game of baseball. He can also sing the old Negro Spiritual “Come and Go with Me to That Land” on the team bus so well that it was recorded on YouTube and one commenter said he’d pay $100 for a full version of it.
The episode starts with Fox Mulder finding an old newspaper clipping about a baseball game in 1947 in Roswell, New Mexico, the site of so many UFO crashes that the local landfill could not keep up with all the debris local ranchers were trucking in from the fields. He finds a story which shows a picture of an Alien Bounty Hunter in it. This is an executioner who also shape shifts and knocks off other aliens who misbehave by threatening to expose the alien colonization project going on at the time.
The KKK is threatening the team of black players and the head of the gang is the Alien Bounty Hunter. He’s after Exley because he threatens to expose the project simply because he loves to smack home runs and, even though Exley thinks the game of baseball is meaningless, it’s perfect because you can chew tobacco and get knocked out by wild pitches—which leads to him getting beaned and bleeding green blood on the catcher’s mitt. He wakes up speaking alien but because he remembers he’s from Macon, Georgia, everybody thinks he’s OK. The catcher’s mitt is sent to the lab guy for analysis.
Officer Dales finds out Exley is an alien after he breaks into his room and sees him in his alien form. After Dales wakes up from fainting a half dozen times, Exley tells him that he’s an alien; he’s forbidden from intermingling with humans, and he masquerades as a black baseball player because he loves the game and to escape notice. The way Exley puts it, “They don’t like for us to mingle with your people. The philosophy is we stick to ourselves; you stick to yourselves—everybody’s happy.”
Where have you heard this before? It sounds like Jim Crow to me.
The Bounty Hunter, masquerading as Exley, kills the lab guy and Exley is now fingered as the murderer. Exley and Dales have a short talk while playing catch in the ball park in which Exley says it’s time for him to face the music and go back to his family. When Dales basically asks him why the human race can’t be his family, Exley takes either a surprisingly Green Supremacist attitude or just states the facts saying, “We may be able to look like y’all—but we ain’t y’all.”
In the end, the Alien Bounty Hunter executes Exley. But just before he kills Exley, he tells him to show his “true face” so he can die with dignity. Exley says simply, “This is my true face.”
And while he dies in Dales’ arms, despite Exley telling him to get away because his green blood is poison to humans, Dales sees that it’s red and says “It’s just blood.”
I don’t know exactly what this means and some have called it ambiguous. I speculate that this might have been the culmination of a transformative process and it reminds me of Atticus Finch telling Scout (in To Kill a Mockingbird), “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
The next and final presentation in The University of Iowa Hawkeye History series is entitled The Next Chapter: Blazing New Trails (1998-2047). I believe you can still register here.
It will be a Zoom presentation from 4:30-6:00 PM tomorrow, February 22, 2022. As in the previous presentations, the guide will be university archivist, David McCartney and will feature the following presenters:
Rod Lehnertz (02MBA), senior vice president for finance and operations