'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
FAMILY SLIDE SHOW: NO LITERACY REQUIRED
A few months ago I discussed in this column a memorial service I attended. At that service, excerpts were read from the deceased man’s personal journal, which offered a delightful look at his mischievous college years over half a century ago. I concluded the column by suggesting that everyone should write down a journal of personal stories, which “just may be the most cherished gift we leave behind for our family and friends.”
After that column appeared in the newspaper I received some feedback from readers pointing out that my suggestion was good, but it wasn’t realistic because in this day and age no one knows how to write anymore. Specifically, one email message said, “in this day & age, no 1 noes how 2 rite no mor.”
OK, that’s a good point. We do live in a significantly less literate society today. The average American these days only reads two things: the TV Guide and Instant Messenger notes on a computer screen. And although most people spend many hours each day clicking away on keyboards, which in theory should mean people are typing out thoughts using actual words and sentences—the basic definition of literacy—the content of what is being typed by the average American sadly demonstrates that “no 1 noes how 2 rite no mor.”
So I have a new idea for our technologically-advancing, literacy-declining world. Instead of writing a journal, do what I recently did for my parents-in-law’s 50th wedding anniversary: make a slide show. All you need are two things, your computer and a scanner. (Scanners are fairly cheap, by the way. My multi-function inkjet printer, retail price about $100, is capable of scanning.)
Actually, you will need three things. You have to ask your relatives and friends to dig out old snapshots and let you borrow them. Once you gather a big pile of snapshots, you’ll need a fourth thing: a whole lot of free time. It takes a while to sort through the snapshots (the most time-consuming aspect is laughing hysterically at the clothing and hairstyles of the 1970s-era photos—especially when you see yourself), then scan them into digital files, and save the files to a directory in your computer.
When you’re finally done, you’ll have a nostalgic and poignant slide show, a permanent record of the most important people in your life (permanent, that is, if you remember to back up the files to a CD before your computer’s hard drive crashes).
If you would like to share your slide show with your relatives at a large gathering, such as a wedding or a funeral or in my case, at a 50th anniversary party, you’ll need fifth and sixth things: a laptop computer and a projector. Most people either own a laptop or know someone who has one.
The projector is a little trickier. Unlike scanners, they’re still rather expensive, but luckily nowadays everyone who works in sales has access to a company-owned projector, because it’s now a federal law that all salesmen must bore their prospective customers to tears with tedious PowerPoint presentations. Ask a friend in sales if it’s OK to borrow his or her projector—but be warned that in return you might have to sit through a tedious presentation titled “The Joys of Life Insurance.”
Trust me, all the time and effort will be worth it. The slide show will be a cherished gift you can pass on to your family and friends. And best of all: no literacy required.
I just hope no one sends me a note claiming that “no 1 noes how 2 scan no mor.”
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