My word recognition program refuses to recognize me. I keep telling it my name is Whit but always it calls me ‘with.’ Sure it boasts a big bag of words but it scatters their phonetic sounds like Johnny Appleseed on a broadcasting mission. It even knows the word ‘grammar’ but has no idea of its meaning, let alone its context. It joins words with unscrupulous abandon. It pledges allegiance to no one or no concept. For example take the pledge of allegiance.


Pledge allegiance to the flagging United States of America into the puppets for which stands one nation ignited flirting justice for all.


For me this poses a dilemma. I use my word recognition program because I have Parkinson’s and I am losing my ability to type. But what I say is not what shows up on the screen. Am I responsible for this? What if Homeland Security gets hold of my hard drive?

Nothing is sacred. It even annihilates the Ten Commandments rendering ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’ into ‘Michelle recommended only.’ But then refuses to give me her phone number.

And poetry? William Wordsmith’s “Daffodils” become Data Bills while Tennyson's “Light Brigade” charges “Happily happily happily onward.” And not even a sadistic bonsai artist could twist Joyce Kilmer's “Trees” in such an unseen manner:


I think that I shall never see

Up one lovely as a tree

A tree is hungry mouth is pressed

Against your sweet flowering breast

A tree that lets it go all day

And left her leafy arms to pray

The tree that may in summer where

Vannesa Robbins in her hair

Bond is blossoming snow inflamed

Linda Bentley lives with rain

Paul Miller made fools like me

But only God can make a tree


I haven’t a clue who Vannesa Robbins, Linda Bentley or Paul Miller might be other than prodigy of computer codes breeding unchecked in some programmer’s basement. It’s certainly not Julie Andrews who although perfectly enunciates, would only have her words slaughtered through this technological advancement. So what chance do people with foreign accents and speech impediments have? Imagine a retreaded My Fair Lady? Eliza Doolittle would have smoke streaming from the computer’s portals, hurricanes would blow Spain’s rain from here to breakfast until Professor Higgins would at last address the screen with a cricket bat shortly before losing it altogether going on a random killing spree.

            Yet some days the program promises hope. Just last week it almost dictated a letter perfectly... until the end. I signed off, ‘Sincerely, Whit.’

Only it didn't call me Whit. As usual, it called me “with”.

So I said, ‘I said Whit!”

And it displayed, “I said With.”

I yelled: “I said, Whit, dammit!”

“I said with dammit,” it replied.

“Whit Whit Whit!” I screamed.

“With with with,” read the screen.

Words, I thought hyperventilating. They are only words. I needed to relax. Calm down. Go read. I picked up Alice in Wonderland.