big update, random news

LiveScribe Pen and Paper

I had to take my website down for a bit overnight. The Akismet plugin was having some trouble, which dumped vast amounts of spam comments into my moderation cue and disabled my WordPress dashboard. Yeah, it was loads of fun.

So if you happened to leave a “real” comment for me recently, please resubmit! I don’t want to miss it.

I’m flying to Alabama this week for an appointment at the Mitral Valve Prolapse Center in Birmingham. There will be medical tests?echo, stress, tilt table, probably some blood work, etc.?and consultations with specialists. I’m hoping to come away from this with a better understanding of my condition and a personalized management plan for getting my life back, or at least for just doing the best I can.

My diagnosis of mitral valve prolapse syndrome/dysautonomia has been somewhat anecdotal up to this point?a consistent “best guess” made by GPs and not by specialists. My worst fear in this is being told, “No, you don’t have this condition; we don’t know what’s wrong with you. Now go away.”

However, another positive of this medical appointment is the opportunity to try out my new Livescribe Sky pen in an interview setting. (See how I’m always looking for the positive?) Mike gave me one of these for Valentine’s Day, though it was also Freelance Writers Appreciation Week.?

It’s no secret that I work too hard. For interviews, I’m taking notes (which are nearly indecipherable) while largely relying on audio recordings. And then I go back and transcribe every minute of those recordings myself. It’s a huge time suck. Every minute of audio requires about 3-4 minutes of transcribing time?at least, that’s how it works out when I’m doing it. But I want to be sure I don’t miss anything.

This pen could be a game-changer. It records both audio and handwriting, and then links the two together for easy cueing. So if I’m interviewing someone and he tells me a cute story about a puppy from when he was a boy, I can just write “puppy story” with my fancy pen. Then when I want to go back and listen to that particular section of audio, I just tap on the words “puppy story” and the pen plays back that audio for me. I can go immediately to the sections of the interview I want to use for my article?versus transcribing every minute of the audio and waiting for the good bits to come around.

Even cooler, the full audio and the notes are synced automatically to my Evernote account via WiFi.

I’ll take the Livescribe with me into my medical consultations, which I’d wanted to record anyway. If the pen lives up to its promise, I might find myself with significantly more time (and energy) for more writing, and less transcription.

Also, I’ll be stay with a dear family member while I’m traveling. What’s more, she’s told me that she’s come across a treasure trove of family letters dating back to the Civil War. I’m looking forward to going over these with her and figuring out what we might want to do with them. And I’ll give an author reading at indie bookstore The Gnu’s Room?on Wednesday night. So it’s bound to be a big week!

Creative Commons photo by whiteafrican.

Posted in thoughts from the spiral, writing & publishing.


  1. Hope the tests give y’all some useful information to work with!
    A nice way to test that new pen/corder (sounds like something from Star Trek), too.
    Do keep us posted on the Civil War letters – what an amazing find!


    • Thanks, Katy. The medical testing has been a long time coming. And I am excited about the Livescribe. Within the first couple of hours of testing it (Thursday and Friday), I realized I was expecting it to do a couple of things that it couldn’t–and that I really didn’t need that functionality anyway. I’m also quite looking forward to reading over some of those letters; my cousin and I are talking about a possible book project around the find.

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