Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Dec. 5th and I'm back on the subject of motivation

(This is a speed-post...)

All quiet on the eastern Ontario/western Quebec front.

I lie like a cheap rug. It's anything but quiet, with papers and exams bearing down on the school. It's a time to crunch down and get things done. It's a time of putting self-doubt aside and get things done. It's a time to get motivated to get things... well, you get the picture.

I'm still not sure what motivation is, nor how to spark it. As it is, I'm too wasted from 3 months of breakneck-speed learning to really come to grips with anything useful. I'm about to crash and I know it. I'm powering through as I used to do in the "olden days."

I am, thankfully, a far cry from those days now. I'm not depressed nearly as often and seem to have found a purpose in life. Doesn't make it any easier to get motivated. Neverheless, there is hope. Perhaps this time the cost to my psyche isn't going to be quite as high. Maybe it won't be followed by a depressive episode of epic proportions - as it was in years past.

Speaking of depression, I had a bit of a chat with a friend of mine yesterday on the subject. She was tired of this one guy, a neighbour, foisting his depressive state of affairs and decided to "call his bluff". She took out a kitchen knife and slammed it on the table and said: "you want to off yourself, just do it now! I won't stop you."

I tried to stay stoic. I really did. I simply asked her: "do you have any idea what depression actually is?" She replied, of course, that she did. I found this suspect since she'd not been depressed a single day in her life, but hey, she's a nurse of several decades experience, so she knows better, right?

Perhaps she did know this neighbour rather well. Perhaps she knew it was time to call his bluff as it were - a choc therapy of somesort. Me? Hell, I was just glad she got lucky. The neighbour didn't pick up the knife - clearly he wasn't at the bottom end of a depressive episode.

First I thought it was her wisdom taking action in wanting to choc him "out of it", then I thought it was her being fed up with him, then I just settled on arrogance. My current program of study is teaching me to remain humble in my interactions with my clients. I inherently understood the well-founded of this approach, but yesterday I was shown in no uncertain terms that humility is, in fact, the proper way to go.

I knew a young man, a little while back, who eviscerated himself with a kitchen knife, right in front of his wife. I was about to describe this situation to my friend when I reconsidered. Would there have been a point? Honestly, I feared that her answer might have been that he was "meant" to kill himself - and good riddance. If such is the case, I really don't want to know. I really, really don't.

I decided instead to take that knowledge and realize that there are well-meaning forces out there that can kill you in a blink of an eye...

This simply re-established my resolve to use my powers for good.

Oh wait... maybe that's what motivation is about?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine Hell

Tonight on the weekend-eve of Saint Valentine’s, I want to discuss love and hate, and indeed the very definition of hell on earth.

This is a story involving kids; they are just so mean aren’t they? This is not a condemnation, but think about this, dear parents, these are your kids who are mean, and for other parents who've had to console your child, you will know of what I speak.

Someone I love dearly recounted a story to me, you know, the kind of story you wish you’d never heard. If you don’t want to be moved or revolted, stop reading now.

I’m warning you. Stop now, and have a nice life.


For those of you who stayed on, here’s the story (and another warning).

Think back to grade 5, maybe 6. There’s a girl in class, a little bit round, but nothing over the top mind you. A little bit of a shy squirt she’s happy go lucky but remains insecure deep down.

On Valentine’s Day there’s a big to-do at school and a contest. Oh joy of joys. The prize is a big velvet Valentine’s Heart box with a mess of chocolates inside.

Guess who wins? It’s just so awesome, our little girl had never won a thing in her short life, was never paid much attention, well, other than the occasional ribbing.

She is overjoyed, jumping right up in class, skipping to the front her eyes wide in overwhelming anticipation! The box is so very beautiful, bright red and soft with a bright shiny bow. Her heart is filled to bursting with joy!

The teacher says: “you must share with the class.”

Her little heart skips a beat, but that’s ok, it’s a fairly big box. She’s been taught to share. Her heart is still pounding with wonderment, unabated.

She passes her winnings to the first “friend”, and the box goes around the room dutifully.

It finally comes back to her.

(You know what’s coming don’t you? You can still stop reading.)

Her heart sinks. But the box is not quite empty, there may something left.

A dash of hope?

There’s a half-eaten piece, with a fair amount of spit on it.

There’s also snot spread around on the box and boogers inside.

And nothing else.

Well, there is something else: there is pain, pure, unadulterated, blinding, life-altering pain.

The little girl cries.

She cries every tear in her tiny infant soul.

She cries every tear in her tiny crushed heart.

And that, my friends, is the definition of hell.

Even some 35 years later, the pain returns every year at around the same date, just as intensely as that day.

Ah, but our adult mind will say: “children can be so cruel,” and dismiss it as a fact of life, “bah, she’ll get over it”, “she’ll learn to live with it”, “she’ll forget.”

But for that little girl whom I love so dearly, it’s not a “fact of life”, she will never get over it, and it will never be forgotten. She doesn’t cry any more, but tears do well up. She doesn’t hold ill-will towards her classmates, but the wound on her heart still smarts. It cannot be dismissed, although she may have it forgiven long ago.

For my own part, every year I try my level best not to succumb to a murderous rage.

This year I decided to write about it.

Oh, yeah… and a Happy Saint Valentine’s Day to all.

May we all share the love.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Road Between Rocks - A Spiritual Autobiography Essay

*** WARNING: This post has religious and spritual content. It's actually nothing BUT religious and spiritual content. You have been warned, so deal with it. ***

“What’s this brown wood cross above your bed?” Such were the first utterances of a curious child making his first foray into learning about religion. Many more words and thoughts like it would follow.

This is recounting of those events that are significant in a spiritual sense, to me. My childhood was formative, as is often the case, I will portray a questioning kid but mostly devoid of debate. I will say a few words about my teenage years and to my defining event away from religion. Adulthood brought rejection of things religious, if not outright at least in function. I will list a few events that made an impact. Finally I will draw a picture of a man on a new quest, indeed along an arduous path of self improvement.

“It’s Jesus on the cross,” my mother said. And so I discovered about a man, a demi-god, a mythical figure with the strange letters INRI above his head. I immediately recognized that this person must be of some importance since I’d seen such a cross in Charleton Heston’s (RIP) movie Ben-Hur. I knew nothing of religion, or so I thought, at the time.

My parents were Roman Catholic therefore so was I. I was to learn from my father that this was the most beautiful of religions in the world. I took this at face value and went along for the ride, not understanding much, if anything, but also not questioning it. If my dad said it was beautiful then it must be true.

Grade school brought along added information. Realistically other than these bizarre rituals, like mass every Sunday and the exciting time of Christmas and Midnight Mass, of which I was disappointingly excluded, I didn’t feel as though any of it applied to me. I was a good Christian and tried my level best not sin, what else was there?

In March of 1972 my father was transferred to Manchester, England. This was a shock of course as I was still a young lad of seven years. Here was a foreign country, with foreign traditions, and a foreign language. Everything was foreign until we visited a Church of England.

“This looks exactly the same as ours!” My father smiled a knowing smile. “But it’s not supposed to be, we Catholics are supposed to have the only Jesus!” I was amazed and a little offended that these Anglicans had stolen my Jesus. To add insult to injury the holy water was conspicuously missing. Thus I learned of world religions, well actually only the Christian ones, very quickly. There was us, the Roman Catholics and then there was all of them, the Protestants. My questions were relentless, but furthermore I was in awe that all these people had a Jesus too! Obviously I was right and he really was important.

Upon our return from England I met Father Paul, our school priest. He was a down to earth and jolly fellow who rounded out my religious education. I remember in confession lying to Father Paul in order to have something to confess the next time around. I was still trying to be a good Christian after all.

Given the trip to England, there were some timing issues surrounding my first communion, but more importantly my subsequent confirmation. It was well into my teenage years that I was finally confirmed and it was Father Paul whom I sought out as my confirmation godfather of my own volition. This was the first time that I was actively espousing my religion.

As an adolescent I was allowed to attend Midnight Mass, which I resented not being able to do as a small child since it seemed mystical and even magical, as opposed to regular Sunday mass which was boring. I sang in the Church Christmas choir. This required many Sundays of practice and so I had made a pact with God that I would skip Sunday mass in favour of doing my deed in the choir instead. It must have worked on some level as I was in the choir for over twelve years. Following this I never went back to Sunday mass except on rare occasions.

It was around this time too that I got into serious arguments with my religion teachers in school. One teacher, specifically, maintained that all religions were fundamentally different whereas I held, and unfortunately defended, the position that religions were actually quite similar in that they all had appeal to a higher deity, beyond ourselves and it was the celebration that was different. These episodes garnered bad school marks and thereby just reinforced my typical rebellion against authority. In this particular case this crooked my path away from religion in general since this so-called representative, he was a brother if I remember correctly, and clearly didn’t want to understand reason. I forsook religion altogether for over a decade thereafter.

This suited my purpose as an adult since I had much more important things to do. I had university homework and later a new job which required 7day-24hours a day on-call work so God had little or no place in my mind, or my heart for that matter. But my girlfriend, a very devout Catholic, insisted we get married in her childhood Church.

Wanting to assuage my wife’s desires, we went to Engage-Encounter as a preparation to our marriage. This didn’t work out very well as it just reinforced my now deep hatred of things religious. Then to exacerbate the point, the priest who ran my wife’s parish wouldn’t allow us the use of “his” church unless we went to his own preparatory class. I was livid.

My saving grace is that I found Father Paul again. It was lucky for me that after years of mission work he was back in country, and agreed to marry us. This planted a brand new seed, or perhaps watered an old one.

Five years later my wife became pregnant for the first time. The elation soon ebbed, for after a 15-week pregnancy our son died in her womb. In excruciating pain, my wife gave the stillborn birth and haemorrhaged severely afterwards. She lapsed into a coma. As people often do in these times of duress, ashamed though I was over years of rejection, I still prayed for all I was worth. She recovered by day’s end.

Two years after that, one of my best friends fell gravely ill. He had a stroke. I was at his bedside the entire time, even taking time off work to be with him. It was with a heavy heart that I prayed again.

These two events didn’t bring me back into good stead with the Lord, as I was still full of rage especially at the death of our son, but it did switch a light on in my head: when things are beyond me, I run back to the Lord every time.

I suffered a burnout at Nortel and was in therapy throughout. My psychotherapist, Bill, is a deeply spiritual person and leads by example rather well. Non denominational per se he still remains an Irish Catholic at heart, although disillusioned with the Roman Catholic Church, his belief in the Lord is strictly unwavering. I have found a strange energy in this over the years.

Bill and I keep talking of my calling, even today, and of what I want. It was last November that I finally came to the conclusion that what I want is to learn more about this “spirituality thingy” as I kept referring to it. It seemed such a cornerstone of my recovery from my burnout and one I had put off for far too long. So I started making my way towards this program he knew about: Pastoral Counselling at St. Paul, now known as Counselling and Spirituality.

Then horror struck again. My father-in-law was diagnosed with leukemia in January of this year. Being a tough old bird, he hung on for 5 months. I promised my mother in law that I would do a novena for him, several in fact. For the first time, I wasn’t praying out of duress. I was praying because it was right. He expired while my mother-in-law, my wife and I were in the room with him.

It was quick.

I thanked God, and I meant it.

I think it a typical path that a child would have questions, also typical that a youth would rebel and eventually reject authority. Events in my life forced me to seek help, but when things are beyond anyone’s help, it is significant to me that I have turned back to God and done so consistently and unwaveringly. I am at a loss to explain why, but then this is precisely why I have chosen this path now to spiritual discovery. Maybe I’ve come full circle with the wonderment I had as a child?

[Essay assignement, presented to the professor of Introduction to Theology, Saint Paul University, Fall 2010]

Monday, November 30, 2009

On Shorts and Things

No, not skivvies, I’m talking short stories.

A few weeks ago, I proposed a get together with one of my great friends, that is to pop over and commit acts of writing. In this instance, have a go at some short stories.

We have both been interested in writing for the longest time. In fact we both have blogs, and have both tried our hand at producing works of fiction. My friend and I are so completely different on so many levels, yet we found common ground on our most basic human qualities. Nevertheless, we are both fighting the same demon it seems: motivation.

I’ve stated quite a few times in this very blog that motivation is what escapes me most as a writer. I seem to have plenty of ideas, some of them even creative in nature. I’ve been observing my friend’s process, and his creative process never ceases to amaze me. He is nothing short of a genius at it. As a point of reference to back up my claim, he is actually terrific at improvisation, and I’ve seen him in action.

I can produce text at a rather incredible pace, but he can produce ideas much faster than I can compile. When we are together we encourage each other, we play off each other so very well, we get some mojo going and we are eager to write. We do make a good creative pair.

For weeks now I’ve been looking forward to seeing him for both as a friend and as a primer. We’ve been working at this short story concept since last night. I’ve been my usual resistive self, but the enthusiasm we’ve managed to generate is, low and behold, impressive to me. I knew it was a good idea to invite him over.

This morning we started on a short story about a typical day in a poor schlep’s workaday life. Boy did that bring back memories. My buddy has been typing away furiously all the while we’re debating and distilling this “crap”. The onus is to write a 2000 words short of creative realism with no regard for quality, hence the crap. The mission is to finish this one story as an exercise, or more probably exorcism.

I am marvelling at how this is developing, which is a good indication to me on how I do love writing and the creative process such as it is.

So it seems by working together we’ve easily vanquished the original motivation demon. It’s not all rosy mind you, as after a couple hours of intense work, we’ve come to a bump in the road, a wall of sorts. This is where the going gets tough.

I’ve noticed this phenomenon on many occasions, throughout many disciplines actually, not just writing. Athletes talk of a second wind, which is a valid analogy. Others speak of stamina or having “go getter”. Regardless of the term used, it seems clear to me that there are two stages, at least, to producing something non trivial.

Many times I’ve heard, “the blank page is the writer’s worst enemy.” This may be true in a sense, but oddly enough, the blank page has never been an issue for me.

Back in grade school we were directed to write short stories, or projects, or some form of research. This was maybe a bi-weekly assignment so getting stuck on a blank page was quickly overcome as a matter of course. Hell I can fill a blank page with nonsense faster than anyone I know.

So no, the blank page isn’t my issue, and never has been. Continued creation is. When I ask myself the question, “where will this go?” I falter. “Where am I going with this?” is a death knell. Maybe the solution isn’t to ask, although that has proven time and again to lead to unfinished stories.

No, indeed that second wind has to be something of an effort, but what kind? By god this one is continually elusive, even to the most positive people. How many positiveniks have stopped just short of finishing something because of loss of interest? It’s no longer fun, or “what’s the point”, or moved on to other things. Endgame motivation? Oh great, now I’ve stumbled upon another phase of the work. Say third wind?

I’ve never run a marathon, so I’ve never subjected myself to the 2 or 3 or more hours of gruelling physical and mental challenge this brings. But I do know intimately the sense of loneliness and isolation that occurs just before catching that second wind, just before getting into “the zone”, where training, or habit, or force majeure, or determination, or pigheadedness plays a major role. I know intimately too the sense of having to keep going “just because”. In that blind spot, you lose track of time, sense of self even. Basically, you’re high. Runners know exactly what I’m talking about. Those adept at Tai-Chi as well. Believe it or not, writing is the same.

You can get into a zone where words pour out of your mind into a computer, or pen and paper, or Dictaphone, and you look up to take a breath and you’re already clocking over 873 somehow. You’ve made it through those first hurdles and you pat yourself on the back. But there are still 1127 words to go from when you last counted and then you become a little depressed knowing you aren’t even half way.

What’s the point? you ask yourself and all your little foibles come haunting.

The first is so obvious as to often be overlooked. “What if it’s crap?” This one we were wise enough to disarm before we got started, thank goodness, because it’ll stop you dead in your tracks if you let it. Oh sure you can convince yourself that it isn’t crap, that it may be worthy to read down the road, but you’ve already mined yourself.

We are taught to do our best, always. “What if my best isn’t good enough?” True talent takes a kick in the teeth with this one. On the other hand the truly talented and the truly talentless seem to have a knack for never asking themselves this one question. Funny how that seems to work out.

“What if no one likes it?” For a writer of any genre, that’s a death sentence right there. If no one likes the novel, it won’t get sold, if no one likes the poem it won’t be inspiring, if no one likes the short story it won’t get published, if no one likes the blog it… well… anyway.

“What ifs” are the domain of fear. Fear of inadequacies long instilled in us since childhood and beyond. Fear of real life failures that we’ve had difficulty in overcoming. Fear of punishment real or imagine, either by ourselves or others: rejection!

Psshaaw! No fear but fear itself! Yeah, but not quite.

Creative writing is much like having a child, but with the small caveat of external approval. It never enters a mother’s thought that her child could be rejected by the world at large. Not for a single moment! Yet for a writer this is a very real possibility, the fear is genuine and totally justified. A novel, for instance, is a labour of love. It can take years to develop and edit, and with a single bland note, can be rejected off hand!

The writer has poured heart and soul into creating this work of art, it is very much like a baby. Push comes to shove a mom can always say, “I don’t care, this is my child and I love him/her.” The reality for a writer is somewhat different. The endgame in that act of creation is to get published. Yeah, you can always publish yourself, but that doesn’t count for much, in fact it is frowned upon by publishers and does not count as any kind of writing credit and doesn’t count at all in trying to get a job as a writer in any publication. I other words, someone else has to give you approval. Always. Argh!

If as in this instance we are writing for the sheer hell of it, producing crap as an exercise, then the rejection is somewhat diminished since the goal doesn’t lend itself to the subject of rejection. It is, thankfully, a clear defence mechanism used to sidestep and get some words down. Kudos to for empowering ourselves!

So we keep writing. But then comes time for that third wind. The end is in sight, but much to far away tom contemplate. Say at 1441 words, the next 559 prove to be difficult, more so than seems possible a moment ago when you were still in “the zone”. At this point, you’ve expended all your ideas, you energy is waning, but still you must keep going. You don’t actually know why, except that was the goal you set out.

But, but, but, I’m not a goal oriented person! Fundamentally I hate goals. I actually despise the whole concept or having to set goals. It entails the stigma of failure if it isn’t reached. In my not so humble opinion, the premise of the goal was invented to sate the appetite of people like my sister and brother in law, who are ultimately competitive by their very nature. Indeed many of these people cannot fathom those who aren’t! The solution to everything is “you start by setting a goal…”

Yeah, NO! I just hate that. I understand it all too well being a former technical manager was the mainstay of my diet for too many years. On the other hand, I don’t have a good alternative, and find this to be arguably even more frustrating than setting a goal in the first place.

Then there’s that truly worthless exercise that we learn in corporate surroundings, that when you get to an impass, declare victory and move on. Seriously, how the hell can you just “declare victory”? There definition of victory is: achievement of mastery, blah blah… see that word “achievement” there? If there ain’t achievement, then there ain’t victory is there? No victory, no goal… boneheaded mutherf… !

And thus, as one can easily tell from the above, I get to my fallback device for completing a task. Anger. I’ve talked about this in previous blogs, a potent device if there ever was one, but which comes at a serious emotional cost, no matter how reigned in you think it is. But I don’t have an easy, or hard, alternative. Motivation is such a fleeting bitch.

I’m at 1774 now and that previous chunk of anger is already expended. I could fire up some more, but unfortunately, it is logarithmic in nature. That is to say its effectiveness is cut in half every time it is used. It might be enough to just finish something like a short story, but would leave one frustrated because, of course, I’ve now failed to motivate myself in a clean and wholesome manner, haven’t I?

So anger isn’t the ultimate answer either. At this point I’m pushing myself, as I have done for so many years, just to see it all through, just because. (See how that last bit of anger wells up again but isn’t quite as effective?)

Deciding to write a blog about this process, the emotions and what really goes on throughout such a seemingly simple task as a short story seemed like the thing to do. I’m not quite sure why I did that. Maybe it’s comeuppance, or maybe it was just to make myself feel good about the exercise? I don’t know. Not that I haven’t looked for an answer, have I ever though! Foibles, fears and all questing for a holy grail of motivation. Maybe like the holy grail it is the work of a lifetime.

And then maybe, just then, you have to take a beating and say "ah fuck it.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Been too long and Haunting

Holy crap, I've not posted anything since June, already!

Oddly enough my last two posts have generated more traffic than all my other blog entries combined since the beginning!

Just goes to show I guess. Techies unite!

That's all okay now since I've taken a shine to my iPhone since I've mostly resolved the issues I had. A sad chapter indeed.

On a more positive note, I must confess that I am just as exasperated with the world-at-large as always, but not quite so angry of late. I'm guessing this is a good thing, although the "very stupid" (tm) still need slapping upside the head they don't read my blog anyway, and if they did, they wouldn't get it.

Today I am compelled to write after this long hiatus if only for sign of life. Befitting, I think, since last week I went through a bit of a rough patch. All is well now, at least as well as can be expected.

Fellow bloggers were each stating abandonment issue with their respective blogs recently. Something about a two-year mark in one case. To me this hypothesis holds water, in fact, methinks a summer full of rain doesn't help the creative juices either, as it were.

I read over a few of my older blogs, and this led me to think about, about staying power. For example my blogs about the iPhone will see their relevancy expire eventually, in effect this knowledge has a past-due date.

In a roundabout way and on a much grander scale this got me to the subject of historical staying power.

This weekend friends and I were discussing historical events that mark us and our daily lives. Don't ask how we got onto that subject.

The subject eventually turned towards big brother watching us. I've talked a little of this before.

In this instance the analysis went towards what historical events molded my generation's thoughts on big-brother inherently being a "bad thing"™. Today's youngsters have no qualms about sharing the very core of their lives on facebook or twitter and what not.

I don't actually remember McCarthy's red menace shenanigans, I wasn't born yet. Nevertheless, it was an influencing factor in my childhood that one should be careful whom one associates with. This is good advice anyway, but the point is made that something so simple as having coffee with a co-workers speaking their minds can have adverse effect on your very livelihood should the gubmint or special interest group decide take exception.

No one in the current generation of youngsters even knows about McCarthyism, nor cares, not even as lessons of the past, because obviously this could never happen again.

Of cooooooooourse not!

How quickly we forget, regardless of the fact that it happens time and again throughout history. Wonder where the term: "witch hunt" comes from? Doh!

Yeah, but that was all really just local phenomenon was it not?

Ok, so how about on a truly grand scale, just offhand: Jews and Jewish sympathizers leading up to and throughout WW2.

And thus we moved on to the subject of the Second World War, which is still relevant to us, especially given that there are people alive today who remember it directly.

As I mentioned previously, I asked my nieces once, now 25 & 27, if they knew about this thing called the WW2, all I got was blank stares. Then one of them chimed in, "waitaminit, the second?"

My hopes were dashed but lifted at the same time. At least she'd realized there were two of them, although knew nothing about either.

Hmmm, staying power indeed.

I was talking about the Apollo missions with others of a younger generation, again blank stares. Just shook my head. One saving grace at least they didn't say, "it never happened."

So I made a statement at the breakfast table that 9/11 was going to be the defining moment of this generation of young people today. I also submitted that their kids will know a little about it, but this will also fade in time, as much as we may hate to admit it.

But the kids born 10 to 20 years from now will give us blank stares upon mention of 9/11 when they reach the age of reasoning. That'll be about 50 years after the event, which is roughly the same timeframe as WW2 and my nieces, give or take a decade.

But really who cares about an old chunk of history? It doesn't affect me here and now does it? So why should I care? I remember those exact words coming out of my own mouth when I didn't want to study history in high-school.

What the teachers failed to drill home was the ramifications of these events in our everyday lives. Cause and effect were never clearly laid out. Maybe that wasn't part of the curriculum as this could lead to some serious discussion, probably heated at that, actually more than likely outright belligerence as everybody's interpretation of historical cause and effect is different, and indeed usually much more complicated than not.

Yeah, we just can't be having that kind of debate in schools. This simply would not do at all. It would skew way too much unilateral dogma.

Now, to get back to those kids that will be born in 2020: where privacy will no longer be relevant in their minds and indeed contrary to the public good. Will they have the hindsight to know why they are growing up in a policed state?

I submit that they will accept and indeed cherish their civil liberties being curtailed to a point past any relevant definition of the word freedom. They will welcome being observed 24-7 as to them it would be unconscionable not to be watched, under this new dogma of security that we are, even now, in the process of refining.

Hell kids today not only don't miss having any privacy, it is wholly irrelevant to them. Privacy is something they neither understand nor care about really. I will likely debate this again in another blog entry.

The point I'm trying to make, is that they will have absolutely no idea that the concept of liberty, privacy, and freedom, came to a crux because of a terrorist attack on a date represented by a couple of numbers that will mean nothing to them.

Major events in history fade, but the ramifications on the other hand do have staying power.

I know this is a repetition of some things I have touched on before, but for some reason it seems to haunt me.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Voice Dial options for iPhone 3G

*** NEW LATE BREAKING NEWS - Proper Procedure for BlueAnt V1 @ v5.3 and iPhone G @ OS 3.0 ***

BlueAnt Tech support supplied me with a procedure, so I am paraphrasing below the procedure which has worked for me! (Kyle has described another method in the comments section below the post)

1) Put on the V1 then:

2) Ensure the V1 is in Idle mode - switched ON but not connected to any phone,

3) then click BAB - multi function button - and say “settings menu” then, “reset the V1”.

4) Then turn off the V1. (Good luck with this, I couldn't turn it off, but anyway...)

5) On the IPhone: remove the profile for the V1 on the IPhone by selecting “unpair”.

6) Then remove all numbers in favorites list and turn the IPhone Off and On (I did a hard-power off, that is top/sleep button and menu button at the same time, then slide to turn off)

7) Then pair the V1 with the IPhone and...

8) repopulate the favorites list.

...and Bob is your uncle.

So my original post below stands.

=> original post:

We all know this now, that the iPhone 3G does NOT do voice dial directly from the operating system, even with the new OS 3.0. This is a feature reserved only for the 3GS.

A quick key-word search will make this painfully clear, extremely painful in fact if you didn't have the foresight to check BEFORE you bought your iPhone 3G, which probably lead you here.

Despair not, there are some possibilities:

If it is illegal in your region to handle your phone while driving, like it is for me, I have found the following workaround, while incomplete, does the basics of what I need.

The BlueAnt V1 Voice Controlled Headset. It's not a cheap date though.

When pressing the BlueAnt button on the V1 it accesses the favourites list in the iPhone in the order they're laid out for its speed-dialling feature. Sort your 9 favourites in the proper order and Bob's your uncle. Like I said, this is enough for most of my calls, but there's no navigating through all your contacts.

Speed Dial slot #5, on the V1, is reserved for GOOG-411. So your favourite #5 becomes speed-dial slot #6. No biggy, just have to keep that in mind when putting the list in order.

Downloadable apps from iTunes (as of June 18th, 2009):

Keep in mind that all the apps suggested below require handling of the phone in order to dial, so no Bluetooth access. Personally I can't and won't use any of them while driving. Your own mileage may vary, so check your local laws, and sort out for yourself how dangerous you want to be when driving.

Fonix iSpeak - This one was recommended to me when I squeezed Rogers Wireless for a workaround to what I consider the no-voice dialling design flaw of the 3G.

There are also: Say Who LITE, Vlingo, Voice This from HRL, AdelaVoice Voice Dialer. There may be others.

I honestly had never even thought to check the iPhone for voice dialing capability; it just seemed so obvious a feature to have, but that is completely my bad. So I write this in the hope that I can help some of you out there who are frustrated with this, and maybe with themselves for not checking either.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

iPhone 3G does NOT Voice Dial

=> Click here for voice dial options for the 3G <=)

I bought an iPhone 3G a month ago – actually, one month and one day precisely.

I was looking to replace a really old Palm Pilot V and a p.o.s. Samsung mobile with a single device, and if there were games and videos on it, all the better.

I really wanted a Blackberry, but Bell wouldn't budge on the data-plan that I had to have with it. That is I had to fork over $70 a month. I don't want or need a data plan, and am not prepared to spend the extra 1000$ for the privilege. So I went with Rogers and got the iPhone instead at 40$/mo for three years.

To be honest, I'm a little excited about getting an iPod-like Apple device, as I've heard really glowing reviews about these things.

I quickly discover, however, that the iPhone has one major drawback – it doesn't do voice dial!

This is really a requirement in Quebec where provincial law states that you aren't allowed to mess with your phone while driving. You can talk as long as you aren't holding anything in your hand.

Given that it's really a high-end mobile device, I figured haplessly and without checking that it would obviously have voice dial. To my great chagrin I find it doesn't. Not a big deal, Apple is supposed to have a software update that fixes this particular problem. I wait patiently.

On the eve of 30-day expiration, while I am having supper with friends, the news comes out that the software fix for voice-dialling will not apply to the older 3G phones, making my brand new month-old phone an obsolete boat anchor in the process.

The iPhone 3G will never have voice dial because the software update, the OS 3.0, which has the voice dial feature does not apply to the 3G. The new one, the iPhone 3GS coming out in a week, does have the voice dial feature activated.

Now I'm stuck for 3 years with a major feature design flaw, which feature that I really, really wanted and that was in fact a deal breaker, if I had known.

It is entirely my fault for not checking. I have no one to blame but myself. Nevertheless I am still livid.

I call Future Shop where I am told to fuck off, in no uncertain terms. 30 days is 30 days, but maybe I can call Rogers to plead my case.

Rogers tells me to fuck off in no uncertain terms.

The worst part is that a little voice in my brain was telling me not to buy it right away. But I dismissed it as a long-ago grudge against Apple products.

I had major difficulties with activating the account, I had to visit Future Shop 2 days in a row, and then some issues with acquiring some of the accessories.

For some obscure reason I dismissed all this karma and was hell bent on buying the thing for some utterly stupid use: I just wanted a little entertainment for myself while working at the motocross track this summer.

To make matters worse still, a little over a week ago, someone broke into my truck and stole the car-adaptors for it.

And this week, my beloved iPhone has transmission issues where the party with whom I am trying to speak hear nothing but static. I can hear them just fine.

I shake my head.

For the longest time in my career as a system administrator I would refuse to support Macintoshes, another delightful Apple product, because they were by and large unsupportable in the traditional sense. And now I get bit in the ass by Apple and for the very same reason I refused to support their gear in the past.

I guess they got me in the end, didn't they?

That'll teach me to be magnanimous, in trying to be open minded and give-the-guy-a-chance.