Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Do the Illiterate Get Less Depressed?

This was a poster at the adult spelling bee we went to the other day. I have scant ability to spell out loud so while I enjoy words and even spelling them, spelling bees even with other people spelling words by pronouncing each letter make me nervous. Although the team of pirates who pronounced each R like a pirate relieved the tension somewhat.

Perhaps this entry should be in the Journal of Unintended Consequences because it gave me the kind of pause where I wondered how effective the startling statistic was when buses (in our city anyway) are so notoriously hard to navigate. First I just shot a picture of it because it had numbers. The City Daily Photo theme for May is numbers. I've decided to use a different shot for that. When I carefully read what the poster said, though, it did set me thinking. How well do you have to read to read a bus schedule? Is it harder in Berlin? In Russia? In Dallas? One of the smartest people I know rides the bus in Dallas. Or used to do. I rode the bus exactly twice in Austin (not counting a couple of Armadillo rides) and I used a WEB page to get the schedule. I had to be able to get on the Internet, of course. And read the menu for "Riding Capital Metro" and "Trip Planner" and "Starting Point or Origin" etc. It's not literature but yeah it's reading. Since there is a big dust-up here about parking problems for the Long Center/Auditorium Shores/Palmer Events Center I decided to have it calculate a bus trip from my house to the Long Center. All the trips they suggested left one north of the river and the shortest amount of walking, adding up from the house to the stop and the termination to the Long Center was .9 mile. (In fairness, they would let me minimize walking, but one shudders to think how they would do that and how many transfers would be required.)

So, yeah I guess you need to read pretty well to master a bus schedule. In Austin anyway. But I digress.

It would be depressing to not be able to read, but do the literate, fully able to absorb bad news about credit crises, death and destruction, war and such and drowning in the gibberish that most reading actually is (this sentence included), become more depressed? Particularly when encountering run-on sentences?

I've been a little depressed. So I've been writing in my journal and trying to exorcise the demons. I guess the illiterate can't do that either. Oh, and I calculated the journey to the Long Center by bus from our future home. If you are foolish enough to ask to be taken from just north of the river they will calculate the trip. I guess you'd have to transfer to use these from our current house.

I don't really have much to say today. I'm depressed. About real estate, moving, downsizing, the inevitable decline. (Watched "History Boys." Posner says "Nothing saves anyone's life sir. It just postpones their death." That says it, dun it?) [Ed: You like typing that colloquial dun, trying in vain to imitate some British accent or the other, because the spell checker is happy to accept it as a word. LB: So?]

Perhaps I'm not exercising enough to enhance my mood. (Posner is talking to the gym teacher in that scene. The gym teacher thinks exericse and Jesus Christ will save your life.)

[Ed. We are labeling this and wanted to know whether to include 'moving and downsizing.' LB: Is there anything else?]

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