Monday, November 28, 2005

Still Pecking

For the past week, my husband and daughter and I have been in Florida, visiting "Grandma and Grandpa" -- snowbirds who flew south early this year. I, of course, brought work along. I have more of the No Editing Allowed transcription to do, and figured "What better place to work on the project than in a little bit of paradise?" It seemed like a good idea, especially when a winter storm hit our home shortly after we left.

Ah -- another paving block on the road to hell.

There is something wrong with the dictation DVD that the studio sent me. The disc itself is compromised. No PC will even recognize it to play it. At least my Mac tries.

(One more reason that I love my PowerBook with an emotion that goes far beyond that normally bestowed upon a mere machine. Even after my well-meaning, but unthinking husband inadvertently dumped it from our bed onto our hardwood floor -- an act that would have decimated a lesser notebook -- it continues to work perfectly, with only a small ding in its brushed aluminum casing to guilt him with...)

I've spent nearly as much time working to get access to the dictation files as I have typing them when a portion comes through. I've got three to choose from: .aif, .wav, and .mp3. The .mp3 is the only one that my machine can get sound out of. It should be a little over 5 hours long. But when I try to download it, it either sends my computer into a wild goose chase of an infinite loop, or it just crashes the player program (and I've now tried several).

Still, every so often, an attempt to load the thing will work -- to a point -- and I'll get a little more of the file to work with. It happens often enough that I keep thinking, "This time, it will work. It could work. It might work. It didn't work... Ok: THIS time..."

I feel a bit like the chicken in the experiment on tenacity.

The experiment utilized three groups of chickens. For some, every time they pecked at a particular spot, they received a grain of food. This went on like clockwork: peck, seed, peck, seed, peck, seed. Then, the rules changed and the seeds stopped coming. It didn't take long for the chickens to stop pecking. Even when doing so would have brought them a seed again, they didn't know, so they didn't try.

The chickens in the second group received a seed after a certain number of pecks. Sometimes their pecking wouldn't result in a seed, but the number of pecks it took to get the seed remained constant: peck, peck, peck, seed. Peck, peck, peck, seed. When the rules changed and the seeds stopped coming, it didn't take this group long to stop pecking either. When their requisite number of pecks didn't result in a seed, they also gave up.

The third group of chickens, however, was different. They would receive a seed after a random, constantly changing number of pecks. Sometimes they would receive a seed after one peck. Sometimes it would come after two, three, four or more. When the seeds stopped coming, this group never stopped pecking!

It just goes to show how the randomness of life can make optimists of all us chickens.

And now, I'm off to try to load that blasted thing one more time.