Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Look who's talkin'

I just got an extension on my Luddite credentials.

For 10 speechless months, I've been carrying a note pad and pen wherever I go, and using them as my communicating crutch. As long as my tongue and my brain are not on speaking terms, these tools help me get by whenever I need to communicate with my co-workers, friends, the lady at the dry-cleaners and representatives of the Beverly Hills Police Department.

With all of the paper that my scribbles have consumed since last fall, I probably am responsible for stripping a forest the size of Duarte of trees.

Now I learn that if I were only more technologically savvy, I not only could have reduced the depth of my carbon footprint, but I could have made things a lot easier for the innocents who strain to read my handwriting.

A report in Tuesday's New York Times tells how speech-impaired people use the iPhone 3G loaded with text-to-speech software as a means of talking —or they would if they could get Medicare to cover the expense of the gadgets. (Your tax dollars at work, folks: Medicare won't pay for devices like iPhones, which have capabilities beyond speech-generating software, preferring to cover far more costly devices that only provide speech assistance.)

I don't expect to be on Medicare anytime soon, so I should start saving for an iPhone now. Heck, if the Times had published its report one week ago, I could have applied all of the dough I've been spending on the new crop of remastered Beatles CDs and had a good head start on my iPhone fund.

Instead, I'm exactly halfway through my third round of collecting the Beatles' complete works, which is pretty impressive/crazy —take your pick— considering this generation of Beatles CDs has been out less than one week.

When I finally scrape together enough scratch for an iPhone and the tools to facilitate speech, maybe I'll find software that will make me sound like a Liverpudlian, tacking a "bloody" before every noun and a "luv" at the end of every sentence.

When that happens, our planet will be far better off, my friends will dread conversations with me much less, and I'll feel positively fab.

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