I Have a Dragon On My Head

This past May when the weather turned fine and wonderful I went about my normal spring duty of cleaning the windows in our home. Since we live near the water our house consists of three floors that are almost all Windows. The second floor alone has a total of 19 Windows all of which are large, new and very energy efficient. Those qualifications alone make them a chore to clean. Upon finishing the last day's cleaning I discovered that my left shoulder was pretty sore. I figured that over the summer the soreness would fade-but instead it got worse. By early October I had decided that it was time to visit the doctor.

If it wasn't for the welds on the tank dome gores of the Saturn S-IVB stage and the need to inspect them for microcracks back in 1964, we probably would not have the amazing technology known as the MRI. Thus I found myself sprawled beneath one of these machines as it clacked away while hovering over my sore shoulder. A few days later surgeon took those films, slapped them on a light table, looked at me matter of factly and said, "This is very straightforward- you have torn rotator cuff. You'll need surgery ASAP." Then without batting an eye he added that my left arm would have to be immobilized after the surgery for no less than seven weeks and I would there after have to be in the sling for no less than four months. When he asked what I did for work I told him I was a writer. He said that was my good luck because the fingers on my left hand could still punch the keyboard.

After hearing testimonials from other folks who have had the same procedure I realized that there would be a lot of "discomfort" in that seven weeks and the odds were good that I sure as hell wouldn't want to be pecking at the keyboard with that left-hand. It was then that I saw an advertisement on the TV for some new voice recognition software called "Dragon." Although voice recognition software of 10 or 15 years ago had been a nightmare I had the feeling that it may have come a long way since then. Considering that price software was reasonable and that for me, as a writer, it was also tax-deductible I decided to buy it.

Now here I sit with my swollen fingers, my immobilized left arm, talking into a headset that came with the software that I learned how to use in just one evening and writing this blog. I have a Dragon on my head… Of course, that may just be a hallucination generated by the pain medication that they gave me after the surgery.

The biggest problem I found so far with Dragon is trying to put the damned headset on with just one hand.

While discussing the details of my surgery with the doctor who would perform the task we sat in his office and he carefully and professionally showed me the finer points of the procedures. As we began to talk about my rehabilitation, I mentioned that I had purchased some voice activation software to aid me in my writing while I was on the mend. The doctor stopped talking, his eyes widened, suddenly everything about my surgery had been put aside-"Did you get Dragon?" he asked excitedly. "Yeah." I replied.
Soon we were chatting about the voice activation software that he currently used in his own office and how the company that sold that software was no longer supporting it-he was going to have to select a new package. It turned into one of those scenes where I shortly became aware that my surgeon had done thousands of surgeries just like mine and so what really sparked his interest was the new software. Frankly, I found the situation highly reassuring-I was in the hands of a true expert. It was sort of like jumpseating on airliner and in the middle of the whole flight you happen to mention that your dad was a railroad engineer and thereby you suddenly discover that the guys flying the aircraft are train buffs. Suddenly the whole task of flying goes out the window while you sit there and chat about trains all the way to Baltimore.

Anyhow, for the next five months I'll be writing this blog by talking to my computer. The best part of that is-I really haven't bought anything that allows the computer to talk back… Yet.


Tales from the Blue Book; SHAVINGS


School wasn't something that was hard for a guy like Marvin. Elementary was no problem, Junior High wasn’t much of a challenge and High School just sort of went by. Art was his best subject, but he really didn't have an interest in anything else… and so he went on to College.

College wasn't hard… well at least not first three weeks of it. You see, his college was noted for its distinguished humanities department. When he arrived he knew that somehow he just would not fit in… and so he didn't.

It was Tuesday afternoon in HU-101, basic writing, and the homework was being handed back. He got his paper filled with red marks- so many, in fact, that it was hard to read what he had written there himself. Quickly he flipped the page over facedown on his desk- in the hope that the person sitting behind him hadn't seen it. English had never been his best subject- in fact his writing had frustrated English teachers as far back as he could recall. This was especially true of his spelling. “YOUR SPELLING IS ATROCIOUS” was the normal comment made by teachers who graded his spelling, yet never took any constructive actions to correct the problem. They simply passed him with a “D” for Don’t ever have to have you in my class again. One of his English teachers went so far as to have a stamp custom made that said “Marvin, YOUR SPELLING IS ATROCIOUS” so she would not have to write it out. Marvin was impressed that she’d actually invested in a stamp with his name on it. That is… until the day he graduated. As he walked proudly across the stage in his cap and gown, passing the administrators and faculty, his English teacher reached out and stamped him on the forehead… then she gave him the stamp and told him to keep it, because he was gonna need it.

Marvin had always found it rather amusing that a guy like him could so effectively annoy someone like English teachers with a college degree. And all they could do about it was to keep reading and get more aggravated. Besides, he figured anyone who is dull enough to major in English deserves to be frustrated. Marvin could always picture them sitting up late at night, grading papers with a red pen size of a baseball bat, shaking their heads and making a "clicsh clicsh" sound with their tongues and being frustrated beyond end when they got to his paper.

"We will go over the homework in a moment," Marvin’ English teacher, Mrs. Wilson said as she moved back toward her desk, "but first…" Her voice muffled as she bent down behind her desk.

Standing and spinning at the same time she produced a Homelite chain saw, and started it with a single quick pull.


She lurched toward Marvin rev’ing the saw.

"Holy shit!" he leaped backwards from his seat as if ejected.

ZANGO! With one swipe she took off the seat back and the heel his left sneaker.

The door was out of the question he reasoned as he crawled over his classmates and their desktops, the sounds of the saw at his butt.


Mrs. Wilson rev’ed the saw, its exhaust blowing papers onto the floor as she charged toward Marvin looking to draw and quarter him. He leaped through the open window.

ZANGO! Another swipe.

Out the window he went plummeting from the second floor and hitting the ground like a sack of sand. Marvin rolled a bit and then sprang to his feet as half of the window shade flopped at his left. Looking up he could see that up on the second floor Mrs. Wilson now had her skirt hopelessly caught in the saw.

"What the hell was that all about?" he mumbled brushing the grass from his chest.

For a second Marvin contemplated the half-severed heel of his sneaker, then decided it was best to get out of there. Flopping into the library he sat down attempted to repair his shoe, it was no use.

"Shit." he exclaimed.

A moment later he realized the word was echoing across the stillness of the library. He looked toward the librarian’s desk expecting a stern “shush.” Instead she produced a Homelite chainsaw, and started it with a single pull.


She leapt atop her desk kicking the books aside with her orthopedic shoes! She rev’ed the saw.


"Aw nuts!" Marvin bolted for the door only to be stopped by the chewing blade as the librarian headed him off at 629 of the Dewey decimal system. Marvin dodged as she took a swipe at him.

ZANGO! A bust of Ben Franklin decapitated.

ZANGO! Half a globe.

ZANGO! A Thesaurus because just a Thesau.

Marvin ducked, spun, kicked her in the rear. Stumbling forward the librarian slammed into a large book rack. The texts rained down on her as the book rack collapsed. The entire section of books turned into a giant pile as a grinding chewing noise came from under the books and ground slowly to an end.

Marvin made for the door.

"I must be losing my mind," he reasoned. Trotting across campus in a near panic his mind raced. There must be some safe place somewhere on the campus- and he had to find it. Two buildings later he found himself in the counselor's office. If he were actually losing his mind, this was the place to go.

There was no waiting, so he got to go right in. Marvin sat down next to the counselor's desk. A sweet mousy little lady, the guidance counselor came in with a delicate cup of tea and sat at her desk.

"Hello," she said sweetly, "what's going on today?"

"Sometimes I wash my socks and my underwear with a red shirt," he told her preparing to regurgitate all of his problems in this single visit "and they all come out frigging pink. I go through girlfriends like most people go through bulk packages of toilet paper. The last one told me that she was leaving me for everyone else. My roommate ate the last of my peanut butter and people are trying to kill me all over campus… am I going nuts, or what?"

She raised her eyebrows a bit and then softly said "Oh, I don't think so. You may need a little shock treatment, but other than that…" She shrugged.

Standing up Marvin decided to go out and give life one more try. Who knows maybe a few chainsaw attacks in one day was just a coincidence. Closing the counselor's door behind him he gave another thought to the flopping heel his sneaker.


The blade of a Homelite chainsaw burst through the counselor's door from the inside! Sticking in the door it stalled inches from the back of his neck.

"Oh… Heck." The counselor’s voice squeaked softly from behind the door.

That was it, the last straw. If Marvin was gonna stay alive he had to not only get off campus, he had to get out of town. Making the familiar hike down to the bus depot, he bought a one-way ticket home, hopped aboard and kept a close eye out for chain saws. 36 hours later he dragged into his parents front door and collapsed in one of their living room chairs.

"Mom, dad… It's been a nightmare." he whimpered to his parents with his face buried in his hands.

"Don't worry son," his folks said in unison, "you're home now, just relax, it's going to be okay…"


If you like Wes' writing check out his books HERE