Updated date:

The Writer's Mailbag: Installment #327

The Smoke Is Gone, Thank You Very Much

Well that was an annoying ten days of forest fire smoke. Thanks to all who asked about us, and cared about our well-being. All is well now. The winds shifted, blew the smoke out of here, and for the first time in ten days we can go outside and take a deep breath. It is very strange to look up and see no sky, or see a sun cloaked in a strange, new color.

There’s always controversy, you know? President #45 had to open his mouth and pass blame onto the states. Citizens weighed in, blaming anyone and everyone. Other politicians were finger-pointing. Meanwhile, people were losing their homes, dying, suffering, their lives completely uprooted and destroyed. I would have loved to see a bit more empathy and a bit less blame, but evidently that’s not the way many Americans are wired. There just seems to be something fundamentally wrong with taking a catastrophe and making it a political talking point, a way to score points with your followers, you know? And it was going on with both ends of the political spectrum, so this isn’t a referendum against Republicans.

I will stop there before I really get into the pontificating. Hopefully, in November, there will be a change for the better, no matter who wins.

Let’s see what questions we have today.

The Mail Room!

The Mail Room!

Speech to Text Software

From Rinita Sen: “Oh, and I do have a question. Do you know of any good software (preferably free) that converts words written on paper to a Microsoft word doc? I googled some but not sure if any of them are good. Many times I feel like writing something and I'm not in front of a computer at that moment. I may have a pen and paper handy, but then I don't use them because I'd have to retype everything on the computer later. And if I don't write at that moment I don't seem to remember what I was going to write when I go back to the computer. If you've used any such software please let me know. Thanks.”

Rinita, I have never used a “speech to text” application/software, so anything I say is tempered with that knowledge. I did go read a couple reviews about them, and evidently there are two programs by Dragon which are highly recommended. There is also the one I have heard about, Watson, and Amazon and Google both make similar software. I wish I could recommend one over the other for you, but, like I said, I have no experience.

I do, however, have some great followers, and I’m willing to bet, if you read the comments, someone will have firsthand experience to share with you.

Character Portrayal

From Liz: “I read your comment about characters with interest. Do you think your character portrayal has improved with experience and practice?”

Oh my, yes, Liz! Most definitely! This is one of the reasons why I love writing a series like my Shadow series. It gives me the opportunity to delve deeply into the main characters, over time, and in doing so I grow as a writer.

I look at my first novel, written what, eight years ago, and although I love the characters in that book, I could have done so much better.

But that’s what practice is all about, right? None of us are perfect writers, but hopefully we do improve over time.

Wherever you look, you'll find moral dilemmas.

Wherever you look, you'll find moral dilemmas.

Moral Dilemmas

From Liz again: “Your favourite topic intrigued me. Do you consciously weave moral dilemmas into your fiction?”

Yes, I do, Liz, every single time! I am an unashamed “five and dime” philosopher and moral “snake oil salesman.” The novels I most enjoyed over the years were ones which delved into the deep marrow of mankind. Simple stories are simple stories until depth is added, me thinks, so I set out to add that depth to every story and novel I write.

None of us are all-good. We all have our warts. We all have our moments when we fly with the greater angels, and we all have our moments when we scrape our bellies on the lowest substrata of our natures.

And that’s what makes us fascinating!

Evil and Intent

From Zulma: “The examples you've listed leads me to another question. In these cultures, what we consider evil deeds are looked upon as normal. These people believe these acts are acceptable. If we use intent as the sole criterion, can these perpetrators be classed as evil since, to their way of thinking, there is no malice intended?

“An outsider may view these acts as evil because they have been taught they are evil. But within the given culture, they are perfectly acceptable. If we use intent and cultural expectations as critera, again, can these people be classed as evil?”

See, Zulma, you really get me! Your questions reveal something about you which few realize: you have a mind like mine, and I’m so very sorry about that! LOL

I love questions like this one. I actually think about this stuff when I’m out walking the dogs, observing my neighbors. I’ll see a woman out mowing her lawn and wonder what deep secrets she is hiding? I’ll watch a story on the news and think about your question and the nature of what we call “evil.” It’s all very cool, so thanks for the question.

I actually think about this specific question – a lot! There are some things going on in the Middle East which appear quite evil to me. There are things happening in Africa which appear to be sketchy to me and, hell, there are things happening in the backwoods of Kentucky and Mississippi which people in Manhattan might consider questionable at best.

But if the perpetrator of the actions does not consider them to be evil, and the society that person lives in does not consider the actions evil, how can they be evil?

But what about the Golden Rule, which is my personal guiding star? If I don’t want something to happen to me, I shouldn’t do the same thing to someone else. Unfortunately, not everyone on the planet has heard of the Golden Rule, so that is a definite fly in that particular ointment.

Bottom line: I don’t have a definitive answer to your question, but I love tossing it around. Thanks, Zulma!

Blue skies and no fires to be seen in the Olympia area

Blue skies and no fires to be seen in the Olympia area

Back to the Fires and Society in General

My wife and I had a long discussion last night about racism. She was asking me about my perspective, since I’m older than she is, and do I see advances in Civil Rights. It was an interesting conversation about systemic racism, and I think we both had our eyes opened a bit by having the discussion. It was the kind of conversation you can only have with a loved one or a very good friend, a conversation free of blame or finger-pointing or name-calling, the kind of conversation you definitely cannot have on social media.

I wish there were more conversations like that one. We really can learn from each other if we are willing.

Anyway, all is well in our little corner of the country. Fires continue in the west, so let’s hope they are controlled soon without any further loss of life.

Have a fabulous week, my friends, and when you get a spare minute, spread a little love around. As a society, we can use all the love we can get.

And rest in peace, RBG! Thank you for your service to our country.

2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Comments

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 26, 2020:

Denise, I'm very happy the evacuation warnings have lifted. Let's hope that's the end of it for this year. My goodness, what a scare for you all.

As for evil, I don't have the answer, but I find the concept fascinating. It's amazing to me how many people refuse to believe in the existence of an Evil entity, but they believe in an All Good entity, their god. If one is possible, why not the other? But I'm just musing, as I often do. I guess we'll all find out shortly after our last breath, eh?

Blessings to you always

bill

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on September 25, 2020:

We still have the Creek Fire burning in the hills but all the evacuation notices have been lifted so that's something. They don't expect to have it fully contained until mid-October. Still, the skies are clearing here too so I'm pretty grateful for the air to breathe and the firefighter's hard work. My husband and I have been having some serious race discussion as well. We still see lots of room for improvement in this country but we also have lived long enough to see a few important steps forward. Most of them due to the tireless efforts of RBG. As for literary questions, I think the Golden Rule does sum it up nicely. If we would all live by that it would be a very nice world indeed. Also, I always hesitate to use the word "evil" when describing people or their actions. I always thought "evil" is for the ultimate wrongs and when people are doing something acceptable to their culture, it surely can't be the devil himself. Although that man in Brazil who lit his wife on fire for looking at another man had me questioning that theory for a while. Even if it is acceptable in Brazil he wasn't living by the Golden Rule, now was he?

Blessings,

Denise

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 24, 2020:

About three days of constant rain and I'll be complaining about that. It's just the way I'm wired, I'm afraid. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 24, 2020:

Thank you Ann!

bill

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on September 24, 2020:

You're welcome, Bill.

Glad to hear your weather's back to normal. Enjoy.

Ann Carr from SW England on September 23, 2020:

Interesting! Amazing what can be done these days. Looking forward to reading about it, bill.

Ann

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 23, 2020:

Sweet...thanks, Zulma!

It's a rainy Wednesday. Feels good, but I also know it may not stop until April. lol

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 23, 2020:

Thanks for your thoughts, Ann. It turns out, after much research, that there is software which converts printed words to a Word Doc...I'll write about it next Monday.

The sky has been washed clean with heavy rains. Now it feels more like the Pacific Northwest, damp and nippy.

All is well in our little world. Just taking care of our daily business and trying to stay healthy.

Sending best wishes to you, my friend, on this rainy Wednesday.

bill

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 23, 2020:

If that is the case, Devika, then I have done my job with the Mailbag. Thank you, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 23, 2020:

Thanks so much, Dora! I hope this finds you well and healthy and happy.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 23, 2020:

No dilemma at all, Shannon!

The air quality here in Olympia was 292 for two days...200 is dangerous...In Oregon it topped 300 for several days. It was the worst I've been in, for sure, and I don't want to experience it again, like I have any say in it at all, right?

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on September 23, 2020:

Hi Bill.

This may help with your research. iskysoft may be just the thing your looking for.

Enjoy your day.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 23, 2020:

Bill with each mailbag, I have learned new ideas and answers to all questions. You bring knowledge to Hubpages!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 22, 2020:

We keep on learning and growing, in writing skills and life skills, with each mailbag installment. Thank you for creating this classroom.

Ann Carr from SW England on September 22, 2020:

I know from experience that 'Dragon' software for speech to text is excellent. I used it years ago, when it was in its infancy, for my dyslexic students. As you can imagine, it was a huge bonus to them, not having to write laboriously, try to spell and try to keep their ideas in their heads whilst they did so. There was a short, necessary, briefing of the system to recognise the person's voice and then we were away! I can't remember the precise name of the programme but it will have advanced considerably by now so is probably called something different. I would recommend looking up 'Dragon Software' and finding the most modern system. I thought it was great so I hope it's even better now.

You're right about conversations around burning issues (sorry, wasn't supposed to be a reference to your fires!). The more honest and detailed we can be without being confrontational, is valuable to both parties, I think. It's amazing what you can learn about your own thoughts and attitudes by debating.

As for politicians not caring or showing empathy, I think that's happening all round the world. People, it seems, are becoming less and less compassionate and more selfish. It's a me, me, me society. The sooner we stop that (which I fear is difficult), the sooner we can avoid becoming a world of total confrontation and wars. Fortunately, I think a large part of our young world citizens are better able to see the evil and find the good. I hope I'm right!

Enjoyed the mailbag today, bill; always do!

Am having a week or so off child-caring so I can read and write a little more I hope. Still haven't finished your last challenge - black mark!

Glad your smoky air has cleared. Refreshing rain is so good for the soul, and the lungs. Have a great week, bill!

Ann

PS Having just read Shauna's comment, I agree with her (and I obviously misread the intention too!) that it would be a difficult thing to convert words on a page to a Word doc. Maybe brief notes as reminders and then write it up after - that's what I do.

Shannon Henry from Texas on September 22, 2020:

Glad you all can breathe again! An old friend of mine had posted a picture from her car, heading into San Francisco. I guess it it didn't look quite that bad up your way, but everything was a strange orange hue. Very apoctalptic looking. My friend in Seattle said the sky there was a strange color whose closest cousin was the color the sky turns where we grew up in the Midwest before a bad storm or tornado hits, which is a greenish or yellowish color. Also, it's great the you and your wife can have such open and honest discussions with each other.

Great mailbag. Seems you might be discussing moral delimmas for some time. No delimma there, right? LOL

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 22, 2020:

Thank you, Mary, and it is my pleasure to help you if I can. As for discussing certain topics, I have some family members I won't even talk politics with. It's just not worth it for my blood pressure. lol

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 22, 2020:

Hi Sha! I misinterpreted the question, I now realize. Now I'll have to research the original question but, like you, I can't imagine how that would work.

I was watching "Blacklist" last night. Now there's a show that stretches that good vs evil question to its limit.

Get back to counting beans; I have a trip to the dump planned for this afternoon. Sounds like we'll both have loads of fun.

Be well, my friend!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 22, 2020:

Seems simple enough, Bill, but it's amazing how many people ignore it.

Fall is my favorite season as well, but I am not fond of the season which follows it. :) Happy Tuesday, Bill!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 22, 2020:

Thank you Chitrangada Sharan. Things are better for most of us now, although California is still have problems with fires. I hope this finds you well, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 22, 2020:

I don't understand it either, Zulma. I never really thought racism disappeared. I just thought it was no longer PC, so it slithered into the shadows where we couldn't see it so readily.

We need you back in the States to vote in the November election. Every vote counts this time around; the stakes are too large.

Happy Tuesday to you, my friend. Take care!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 22, 2020:

Thank you Venkatachari M. I hope you are well. I haven't seen an article from you in quite some time.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 22, 2020:

That made me laugh, Flourish. Finding my navel is becoming pretty tough these days. Now with winter coming, my exercise program will diminish. My navel may be a thing of the past for me. :) As for your last statement, you are so correct, and what a waste that is of the gifts we've been given.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 22, 2020:

MizB, perhaps we all need to watch black and white television for the rest of our lives? It might give us the perspective we need in this country. Or maybe it won't? I'm not much of an optimist these days.

Happy Fall, my friend. Let's hope Winter is not too brutal.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 22, 2020:

I have no doubt you follow that simple rule, Linda. Thanks so much for always being here.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 22, 2020:

I try to follow your lead, Alyssa, and stay away from those topics. I'm not always successful! lol

Have a great week, my friend, and Happy Fall to you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 22, 2020:

She truly was amazing, Meg! People like that don't come along very often on the national stage. She will be sorely missed in this country.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 22, 2020:

I know, Peggy; I had never heard of that word. Leave it to Eric to come up with something truly unique.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 22, 2020:

I'm glad things are back to normal for us with regards to the weather, Becky. Hopefully we will get a break with winter coming on. Take care and good luck with those plants.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 22, 2020:

Thanks for the suggestion, James. I am clueless on this matter, but your solution sounds feasible. I will have to do some more research on this one.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 22, 2020:

Thank you Mary! You hit on an interesting point right at the end...what we have been conditioned to believe as true. Now there's a topic for some serious conversations. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 22, 2020:

I'm sorry, Rinita Sen, I misunderstood for sure. I'll dig a little deeper and see what I can come up with.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on September 22, 2020:

Hi Bill. I am glad you are well and not affected by the fire. I think rewiring is needed, and, like you, I have close friends with whom I can share freely, and it is always an experience to be able to do so. I have to admit that I have close friends with whom I skirt around topics. I just flow with it all as there are other things I value in the friendship.

Thanks for the encouragement to keep practicing to become a better writer.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 22, 2020:

Bill, I'm so happy the air has finally cleared in your neck of the woods and you can once again breathe.

This, as always, is an interesting mailbag.

I don't know if I misinterpreted Rinita's question to you or if you did. I interpreted her question to ask if there is any software that converts words written on paper to a Word doc. You understood her to be asking for voice to text software.

If there is software to convert jotted notes to a Word doc, how would that work? It seems there would be some scanning involved. Then the software would have to interpret your words (and hopefully the intent, emotion, etc.) and assemble them into a Word doc. That seems kinda far out to me. But stranger things have been known, right?

And yes, The Golden Rule all the way. But in keeping with the discussion, The Golden Rule can mean different things to different cultures. As long as you're doing unto others as you'd have others do unto you, within your region and beliefs, where is the line between good and evil?

Heavy stuff, my friend. Time for this little girl to get back to counting beans. Much less taxing on the psyche! :-)

Have a great week, my friend.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on September 22, 2020:

Nice Mailbag this week, Bill. I firmly believe in the Golden Rule, don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you. Seems pretty simple. Glad the weather has cleared the smoke. We are heading into my favorite time of year here. Have a great week.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on September 22, 2020:

Hello Bill!

Thank you for sharing another wonderful and engaging question and answer session. I always gain by reading these installments.

Thank God, the forest fire and smoke has ended. We were constantly following the News and praying for everyone’s safety.

Thank you and good day.

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on September 22, 2020:

Hello, Bill.

Sadly the Golden Rule, like most rules, is open to interpretation. Your take on it is the most common one. However, you can also read it as 'if I don't want to be stoned to death, I shouldn't break the law or do anything that would incur that punishment'. In this instance, the rule is more about self-preservation rather than compassion. The person is focused on themselves rather than others.

I remember the upheaval in the 60s with racism and civil rights taking centre stage. Then it seemed to die out and everyone went back to their lives believing bigotry was a relic of that age. Now it's back in the forefront and I can't believe history is repeating itself during my lifetime. It's fascinating and a little sad. Maybe this is one of those things that goes in cycles. The current furore will pass, we go back to our lives and a generation later it rears its ugly head again.

I don't understand the world.

Have a lovely Tuesday, Bill.

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on September 22, 2020:

This one is another interesting mailbag with good questions that make you ponder upon it.

The Good and Evil dilemma was/is always there since the creation of this world. And, the perception of it depends upon one's culture and brought up.

Glad to know that you have got rid of that devastating smoke monster.

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 21, 2020:

Thanks to Eric I’m going to go do some navel gazing while I can still find it. If this pandemic lasts too much longer, all bets are off. RBG was such a hero. My husband and I recently discussed trajectories of lives and how some people accomplish so much while others piddle away their talent bit by bit or just never rise to accomplish what they can because of external forces.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on September 21, 2020:

Loved your questions and the answers again this week, Bill. I'm so glad Rinita brought up her question about speech to text softwear because I had the very same thought last week for the very same reason. The only thing I know is that a blind friend of mine used Dragon very successfully. (He passed away a few years ago, so Dragon has been around quite awhile.

Your conversation with Bev reminded me of something I realized as I watched TV a few days ago. Chris Cuomo (white) and Dr. Sanja Gupta (man of color) were discussing medicine and Covid when the picture lost color. As I watched these two men in black and white, it dawned on me that they were the same "color" in B&W.

I can't believe that autumn and cooler temps are already here. Glad your smoke is gone. Enjoy the weather, my friend.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 21, 2020:

I think that following the Golden Rule is an excellent guideline for life. There were some interesting questions in this week's mailbag.

Alyssa from Ohio on September 21, 2020:

Glad to hear you can finally go back outside again without having to worry about smoke! Empathy would be lovely, but it never makes for a popular headline does it? The best conversations are meaningful, thoughtful, and considerate.. I mostly stay away from discussing certain hot button topics online. It's for the best. Another excellent mailbag edition! I hope you have a wonderful week! :)

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on September 21, 2020:

I was sorry to read that Ruth Bader Ginsberg had died. She was amazing!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 21, 2020:

So happy for you that your air is now clear. We can only pray that it clears everywhere else soon so that firefighters can go home and rest, and no more loss of life and possessions occurs.

Okay, I had to look up the word "omphaloskepsis, and according to Merriam Webster, it is the following: "contemplation of one's navel as an aid to meditation." Now we all know, thanks to Eric Dierker using that word in his comment.

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on September 21, 2020:

I am on the far side of AZ from CA, and we had our area cloaked in so much smoke from the wildfires there, that us asthmatics needed to stay inside. I am happy that the winds shifted it further away. I was having to trust my daughter to water my plants, and she is not good at that. I know you are glad to be rid of it.

James C Moore from The Great Midwest on September 21, 2020:

Re: written word to word document

Here goes. I don't know of anything that takes cursive writing on paper and translate it to Microsoft word and/or Google docs. However, typing into a word processor i.e. an Alpha Smart (which are portable) and saving content onto a flash drive may be the solution. That's what I intend to do. But, I haven't yet purchased a word processor. I will soon then I'll definitely know and let others know.

Mary Wickison from Brazil on September 21, 2020:

I'm glad to hear your air is healthier now. Let's hope for cooler weather and rain for the west coast.

It seems everything is now being used as a political topic.

Evil vs. intent is such an interesting topic. It's woven in to everyday life but masked a cultural norm. Just as your conversation with Bev about racism, it needs to be discussed more.

I think it just comes down to listening with an open mind and questioning what we have been conditioned to believe as true.

Rinita Sen on September 21, 2020:

Hi Bill. Thanks for the response, but I guess I wasn't clear about my question. I wasn't looking for a speech to text software. Rather I was looking for software that converts words written on paper with a pen into a Microsoft word document. If you or anyone else knows anything, would be helpful. Thanks again and glad that the sky is looking better.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 21, 2020:

Way too much work, Eric, but thanks for filling in that gap in my education. I feel quite fulfilled now.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 21, 2020:

Hi Pamela! Thanks for your opinion on Dragon. As for setting fires intentionally, I will never understand that kind of willful destruction. I can't wrap my brain around that kind of sickness.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 21, 2020:

Naval gazing Bill. As you can imagine I get out there sometimes and my my belly button tethers me -- Oh you could do the whole Chakra deal. Too much work.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 21, 2020:

Thanks Mel! I hope all is well down south in San Diego, and you are still enjoying perfect San Diego weather. Take care, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 21, 2020:

Heidi, Happy Monday to you. Look at us both: you commented on Monday and I responded on Monday. Do you think we can do that two weeks in a row? Not likely! lol

Thanks for the information on the applications and programs. I knew you would come through for us. That question was right up your alley.

Happy Monday my friend!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 21, 2020:

I love the old-timer in you, John! I love that you have notebooks in storage with your written words. Bravo to you, and Long Live the Old-Timers!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 21, 2020:

As always, Li-Jen, I thank you for taking the time to comment. I hope you are doing well during our strange new reality. Stay safe!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 21, 2020:

I will Rosina, and you have a spectacular Monday as well.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 21, 2020:

Eric, I'm not even going to pretend to know what omphaloskepsis is. Maybe you'll write an article on it one day. Until then, it sounds painful, so I'll pass, thank you very much. lol

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 21, 2020:

Happy Monday, Bill! I am glad you air is clearing. The destruction and loss of life is heartbreaking. Politicizing this and everything else in this election season is getting so old. Then, I saw a young man arresting for setting one of the larger fires in Oregon. What makes anyone do that?

I did use one of the Dragon programs a while back, and it worked pretty well. I would maybe like to buy a more recent one due to arthritis in my hands. LOL This article had some interesting questions, which you answered brilliantly, of course. :) Have a good week!

Mel Carriere from San Diego California on September 21, 2020:

I am glad the smoke has cleared in the skies where you live, but I am equally glad you are still on fire with your responses to your mailbag questions. Great stuff!

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on September 21, 2020:

Happy Mailbag Monday Morning! And it's Monday! I'm starting the week off right.

Re: Speech-to-Text. The latest version of MS Word (365) has voice dictation built in. So no need for another program. However, if you're using old Word versions, Dragon is good. My husband used it for years because the "Heidi types while hubby speaks" program had been discontinued.

Also, recently I have been using Temi.com for transcription of my podcasts and videos. You just upload an MP3 file of your audio and they transcribe it to text using their AI-powered system. It's pretty accurate, but you have to read through to proof it. It's $0.25/minute of audio/video, but so worth it. Has saved me countless hours of work. Temi also has a mobile app where you can record and order your transcripts.

I tell authors to do a voice memo on their phones of their ideas so they don't lose them. You can use the voice memo utility on iPhone to record voice memos, then convert them to MP3 on the Mac.

There are more options to do this than there's ever been. Yay!

Glad the smoke has cleared somewhat where you are. Happy First Week of Fall!

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on September 21, 2020:

Glad to hear the smoke has gone and you can venture outside and take a deep breath of fresh air. The coloured haze around the sun will probably linger awhile. Very interesting questions this week. I know nothing about speech to text software either. I am still old school and use a notebook to write everything down first and then transfer it to the computer. I never throw a notebook away either so there will always be physical evidence of what I have written over the years. A good mailbag as always, Bill.

Li-Jen Hew on September 21, 2020:

Hi Bill, I think it's good of you to add the moral dilemma in your fiction and thoughtful of you to reflect about intent or evilness during your walks as it's something more than the Golden Rule. I agree that there should be more conversations about racism as the absence of the topic does not guarantee absence of racism. Thank you for sharing!

Rosina S Khan on September 21, 2020:

Great questions and great answers. Today's mailbag was really good. I enjoyed it. Thank you, Bill for sharing. Have a beautiful Monday.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 21, 2020:

Ok I admit it, I was sitting around practicing omphaloskepsis waiting for this to arrive. The note on politicizing everything is truly a political thing with no sides innocent.

Moral stuff. I love these Q&As. As a philosophical snake oil salesman I was not offended.

This reminds me of the boy with a starving family, stealing a loaf of bread. Hardly moral but fully understandable.