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December 30, 2000

Today was a productive day. Peggy shamed me into it. Her list of Things To Do to prepare for the arrival of her houseguests from Melbourne tomorrow made me feel like a sloth for not getting more done (my god, the woman washes ceilings! to prepare for guests...around here you’re lucky if you get clean sheets.). So I put my nose to the grindstone and my fingers to the keyboard and began cranking out the reports, long sitting in my “in box.”

You know, it’s really quite remarkable. Peggy has been back in Australia for two months now, and yet thanks to IM chats once or twice a day, digital photos to show each other what we’re doing (lovely new paint job in her bedroom), and a phone call now and then, it’s almost like she’s still here. There is a 16 hour time difference between here and Perth, so I’ve become quite good at adding 16 hours to the time here, and she’s very good at subtracting 16 hours from where she is. When I’m getting up, she’s going to sleep and when she’s getting up, I’m at the computer working, thinking about what I’m going to cook for dinner. Even with 9,127 miles between us (or so Ask Jeeves tells me) she is still nudging me and pushing me to do stuff.

Today she reminded me that I haven’t been out on a walk in a few weeks, so I suppose I’m going to have to get back on my walking program or I’ll never hear the end of it. But today it was work-work. While I’ve been busy fretting over Christmas preparations (and doing them or not doing them, depending on the state of the “fret”), the tapes kept rolling in. Peggy asked me how many I had backed up. I hadn’t dared exactly count and so was appalled to discover there were a dozen of them. That’s a lot of work, considering that on a normal day I usually do one tape, or occasionally 2. So today I decided to Get Serious.

By 9 a.m., I had finished two tapes and was going full steam ahead. There are two problems with the reports I type. The psychiatrist has the more interesting stuff. He’s more likely to be talking about people I know, or people in serious crisis. You get the suicide risks, the sexual dysfunction, the infidelity, and spousal abuse, an occasional murder or attempted murder--not exactly pretty stories, but at least something that keeps your attention. The problem is that his voice drones on and on. When I was working in the ob/gyn office, we sometimes sent patients to him for medication management. Many of them would see him a couple of times and then refuse to go back. Why? Not because of a personality conflict, but because he sometimes dozed off while they were talking. I swear he sometimes does that while he’s dictating too. He dictates clearly, but he has this hypnotic voice that no amount of caffeine can overcome.

The psychologist has a bit more interesting voice, but he doesn’t do psychological evaluations. He does psychological testing. A big difference. His reports are full of standard scores, percentiles, scaled scores, charts, and that sort of thing. Very, very, very boring. And every report sounds just like the one before it. His reports don’t put me to sleep (because you have to pay more attention to get all the numbers right), but I’m more likely to throw up my hands and go off to do something, anything just to take a break from it all. The money is good, though, so I shouldn’t complain.

I also have become quite enamored of WordPerfect’s Quick Correct function. Especially for the psychologist’s report, I can type a whole report in abbreviations. Standard score becomes sts while percentile is pct and scaled score is scs. If it’s a good report, I can type most of the thing in code, which cuts the actual transcription in half, though I still get paid for the full report. Not bad!

In the middle of working, though, I had another wonderful “Internet moment.” I got an email birth announcement from a friend of Steve’s and managed to find Steve on line, so we chatted a bit. He had just finished a musical arrangement of one of his songs, so he emailed it to me, and we both listened to it together so we could comment on various parts of it. Then I decided I wanted Jeri to hear it, since her expertise these days is becoming music arranging. So I put the original song, with vocal and piano accompaniment, and the new arrangement on a CD to send to her.

It still boggles my mind that technology has progressed to the point where I can do that sort of thing. I’m still in the “awww gee whiz” part of computers and the Internet. I suppose I’ll always have that wonder about it all. I’m still amazed at faxes, ferinstance. The paper equivalent of Star Trek’s transporter. Stick a piece of paper in a machine in California and it gets copied on a piece of paper in Japan. Now tell me that’s not just plain “magic.”

Walt also asked me this evening if I’m ever going to get our Christmas letter out. Oops. Tomorrow’s the last day to send for 33 cents, so I guess I know what I’m going to be doing tonight! I guess once I posted it on the web, I just kinda forgot about the fact that not everyone has read it on line! Something else I’m behind on.

(Just don’t ask me if I ever finished the web site I was designing, OK? Thanks.)


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