Friday, 13 November 2015

Diary Words

Diary Words - Part 1 of 13 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

This article practises words that you might wish to use in your diary, as listed in the Shorthand Perpetual Calendar, so that you can make brief entries on each month’s printed page. At least, that is the plan, whether it is an extensive description of your day, or just jottings to remind you of items and events coming up. When I was learning shorthand, as soon as we had finished the theory book, I did my best to use it for taking notes in all the other commercial lessons. This meant that I was consolidating what I had learned as quickly as possible* after learning it. One day we had a lesson on the different types of organisations and the word oligarchy came up. I made my best effort and the word made its way accurately into my longhand course notes. And of course I looked it up so that next time* I would get it right. I don’t think it ever came up again but all the other shorthand that I was writing certainly did pay off when I came to sit the various speed exams.

* Omission phrases "as quickly as poss(ible)"   "ne(k)s(t) time"

Diary Words - Part 2 of 13 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Shorthand learning is best done in manageable amounts every day, more on some days and perhaps less on others, depending* on your other activities and time available. It is like exercising, gaining weight, losing* weight, filling up a bath, using up the fuel in a tank, waiting for the bread to rise, the cake* to cook, the glue to set or the paint to dry, watching ice melt or a kettle boil, waiting for Christmas morning to come, or the Christmas snow to settle thickly enough to make a snowman. The minutes and hours pass, the days slip by and before you know it, “crunch time” is here, the speed exam, the job interview requiring a shorthand certificate, or the long-awaited opportunity to use the shorthand to make life easier or more efficient. Or it might just be the end of an opportunity and spare time* for serious study, which some are glad they did and others wishing they had applied themselves to in a more focussed* manner. Of course, you are the former, as you are reading this blog shorthand, ever watchful for new outlines and phrases.

* "depending" Keep the Ing its correct length, so it does not look like a halved N = "dependent/dependant"

* "losing" The outline for "lose" has upward L

* Insert vowels to differentiate "cake" "cookie"

* Halving used for the T "sparet-ime"

* Insert first vowel to help differentiate "focussed" "fixed"

Diary Words - Part 3 of 13 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Practice sentences are written, passages read from your comfortable armchair, short bursts of almost impossible dictation are attempted from the newsreader. Diary entries are made and read back correctly later on, telephone messages are scribbled on the pad, and shopping lists compiled and read back in the shop without the slightest qualm. The shorthand has established itself in your mind simply by being used for the real necessities of life, and eventually flows out of the pen or pencil on command, just like your longhand already does. Like the birds eating the crumbs from the lawn, shorthand prefers to get on with its job undisturbed, while you are busy thinking about something else*. Even if you are annoyed with yourself at apparent slow progress, this does mean that you are still with the game and have not given up. The following paragraphs are fictional and use all the diary words in the Perpetual Calendar list.

* "else " on its own is written upwards

Diary Words - Part 4 of 13 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

This is a schedule for a typical 7-day period. On Monday morning I go to the office to get my assignments for the rest of the week. On Tuesday I am generally with clients all day and working out at the gym in the evening. Every Wednesday I meet our suppliers and other contacts to discuss and make all the arrangements. Thursdays I travel to head office which is a long journey on the motorway. On Friday I return to the office to catch up on the paperwork. Saturday is spent shopping and taking the children to their clubs and activities. Sundays are full of activities as well, starting with a dawn exercise run, followed by music practice, then a church service, and a special Sunday lunch with grandmother and grandfather, or other relatives. On Sunday afternoon* we often visit the sports club and during Sunday evening* I check over my diary for the coming week and write in all the reminders that I shall need.

* Omission phrases "Sunday af(ter)noon"  "Sunday eve(en)ing" both using the hook for the F/V instead of stroke. Ensure the final N hook is very clear, otherwise the two would be similar.

Diary Words - Part 5 of 13 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Last year was quite an interesting one for us. In January we enjoyed the sales, and escaped the cold by going on a short winter holiday break somewhere warmer. February was when the pipes burst and we had to have the plumber in. In March we bought a new car and in April we spent Easter down on the coast enjoying some unusually* warm spring weather. During May we had a wedding to attend and in June we had to go to a funeral. During the hot summer weather of July we spent two weeks* on vacation on the West Coast. In August we celebrated the college exam passes of our son and daughter. In September we had a late autumn or fall holiday, before our youngest child started pre-school. October brought the good news of promotion* at work. November was quite eventful with various important meetings and conferences around the country. In December we enjoyed an extended break over the Christmas period and finally saw in the New Year with our family in the Highlands.

Cap signs are not necessary for days of the week or months, but may be helpful with November, as that contraction is the same as "never". Vowel in "May" helps with reading back.

* "unusually" The -ly is included in the basic short form, but writing the stroke L is essential here, as both "unusual" and "unusually" could make sense. You could join the L stroke, but this makes a less readable outline (similar to "casually")

* Omission phrase "two wee(k)s"

* Helpful to write in the vowel, as "permission" looks the same

Diary Words - Part 6 of 13 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Monday: Today has been quite busy. I drove to the airport to pick up my mother and father after their night-time flight and take them to their apartment. Then I had an appointment at the dentist for a routine dental check-up and on the way I bought a card for my aunt and uncle’s wedding anniversary. I made arrangements for the florist to deliver a bouquet of spring flowers to their house and I arranged to meet my nephew and niece at three in the afternoon at the restaurant, where we had organised a surprise celebration for them. Approximately ten* of us attended and Auntie Mary and Uncle Jo were very pleased with the surprise party and their special cards and present.

* Always insert vowel signs in "ten/th" and "eighteen/th"

Diary Words - Part 7 of 13 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Tuesday: First thing I booked an appointment at the hairdresser and then went to the bank to obtain a statement of my account. I drove to the doctor’s surgery to pick up my grandmother and then to the post office* to pick up a parcel for my grandfather. After her examination by the duty nurse, Grandma was happy to get back home in time for a visit by her brother. Grandad was delighted with the item that had been posted to him by his sister. I took my car to the garage for its annual service. I ordered a taxi so that the whole family could go shopping downtown at the mall. My cousin telephoned me but I missed the call and so she had to text me the message. She said she had texted me yesterday but I did not receive it.

* "post office" omits the lightly sounded T

Diary Words - Part 8 of 13 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Wednesday: My sister arrived with her new baby, after their hospital appointment and visit to the nursery. She has had many visitors now that she is a new mum and her husband is a new dad. I had ordered a special gift online and the driver had emailed me with confirmation of today’s delivery time. I had made the payment and my order was on its way. During the morning there was an urgent knock at the door, and the package was handed over. After that, we telephoned for a table at the restaurant and we drove there through the heavy traffic that evening. They had made our reservation and had remembered* to put out the special flowers on our table. We sat down at our reserved table and reminded ourselves of the last time* we were here, looking forward* to this celebration. We paid for our meal, and on the way home stopped off to post some letters. Then I remembered* I should have posted the enquiry form so I made a note on my phone in order to* remind myself to do it tomorrow.

* Short dash through the last stroke of a contraction to indicate past tense

* Omission phrases "las(t) time"   "looking fo(r)ward"   "in ord(er to)"

Diary Words - Part 9 of 13 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Thursday: I spent most of the day in the office. In the morning I checked all the new enquiries and other mail, and in the afternoon I interviewed some new staff. One applicant had phoned in to say he could not attend his interview, and another rang to say she would be late due to her journey on the trains being delayed. After that I sent lots of emails* and fortunately met the deadline for finishing my report. The phone seemed to ring constantly. On the way home I stopped at the service station to fill up the car and get some groceries, and then picked up the kids from school. Thursday evening* I helped the children organise their notes for their* homework which they had to hand in to their teacher* tomorrow. We had soon finished the homework, which the tutors* said had to be ready by the deadline of early Friday afternoon*.

* Always insert the first vowel in "email/ed" to differentiate from "mail/ed"

* "Thurdsay evening"  "Friday afternoon" see para 4

* "for their" uses both outlines, "if there" can use doubling

* Always insert the diphthong in "tutors" as it is similar to "teachers". The singular "tutor" is doubled, with the U diphthong joined on.

Diary Words - Part 10 of 13 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Friday: As soon as I arrived, I received a message asking me to meet Mr Black in reception in order to* finish our discussions on the forthcoming trip, and to confirm all the details for the flights and transport. The manager’s car had been serviced and someone had to collect it from the garage by the church, return it to our premises and leave it in the reserved parking space. I decided to send out the new employee Miss Brown and she collected it, paid the bill on the company visa card and soon returned. Later on I had to organise a home visit to meet a client called Mrs White. I soon found the house and she was happy to hear all the details of the trip we had organised and booked. I asked her to confirm her details and send them to us in a letter so that we could* check them against our records. I requested that she pay the amount due as soon as possible*, as we have to book the flights well in advance.

* Omission phrases "in ord(er to)"  "as soon as poss(ible)"

* Avoid phrasing "could, might, note" to prevent misreading as "can, may, know"

Diary Words - Part 11 of 13 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Saturday: Today is my birthday and I have booked some places at this evening’s concert. I confirmed the booking by email* and they emailed* me back with the ticket codes. I prefer to buy tickets online so that I can request a particular seat. I spent some hours catching up on writing letters to friends. Some of them* wrote weeks ago and it has taken some time* to finish my replies and get them mailed. In the afternoon I delivered some clothes to the dry cleaners and heard about Mr Green who is going to celebrate his eightieth* birthday next week*. We are going to arrange to have some flowers and chocolates delivered to him and see if we can manage to visit him one day in the week. Later on I made a start on sorting my home office paperwork. By the time I had it sorted, the daylight was almost gone and daytime became night all too soon.

* Always insert the first vowel in "email/ed"

* Omission phrase "some (of) them"  The phrase "some other" doubles the M

* Halving to represent the  T "sumt-time"

* "eightieth" Diphone sign essential, as otherwise it would look like "eighth"

* Omission phrase "ne(k)s (w)eek"

Diary Words - Part 12 of 13 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Sunday: Today has been a very fine day and after all the usual Sunday morning activities, we were ready to start on some of the easier repairs around the house. We fetched the tools and expected* to be finished quite soon. Neither of us was an expert at  Do It Yourself but we had taken some advice, after enquiring online about it, and so there was no delay to the start of the work. We met few difficulties, got on with it and were done in next to no time. It had taken only about an hour. After that, we visited some friends and went for a walk in the park*. We walked about two miles and were soon looking forward* to getting back indoors. I wanted to ask my friends home for a meal but we found the buses were cancelled. I did not want to cancel our dinner, so we walked to the town centre to find a taxi to take us home. Very soon we were back home enjoying a lovely meal.

* Short dash through the last stroke of a contraction to indicate past tense

* "looking forward" If there is space, phrase this as in para 8

Diary Words - Part 13 of 13 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

By bedtime I was ready to fill in my diary for the day. If I hadn’t learned shorthand, I am sure I would not have been able to record all the details so quickly and noted all the things I needed reminding of. It was all done very rapidly, with nothing left out, and so I turned off the light and slid down under the blankets for a good night’s rest. (2062 words)

Friday, 6 November 2015

Weather Words

Weather Words - Part 1 of 11 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Dewy spider websI like to know what the weather is going to do each day, so every morning I check the UK Met Office website. The map is covered in weather icons of white or grey clouds, raindrops or shining suns dotted about. There is no icon for fog but, being a short word, it does duty as an icon itself. It is small, compact and can be repeated all over the map, just like a shorthand outline. The weather for my area of the UK generally arrives from the south or the west. For the last few days we have had very thick fog in the mornings, clearing slowly and with a few sunny* or brighter patches in between. In the park all the shrubs were covered in cobwebs, looking like tiny white trampolines or hammocks strung between the tips of the twigs and drooping with the weight of water clinging to them. The grass was sodden but ideal for cleaning the mud off the soles of my shoes with virtually no effort!

* Always put the vowels in sun/snow, sunny/snowy

Weather Words - Part 1 of 11 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Brilliant sunYou may have seen the shorthand perpetual calendar which I produced some years ago, which has two pages of additional vocabulary, for diary items and weather terms, as a way of encouraging learners to use and practise shorthand every day. This blog uses all the weather words in one place, so you can get them practised* and learned. You will then be able to take down the weather forecast, as they tend to speak more slowly than other news items, but you need to know the specialised* vocabulary first otherwise it will seem faster, not slower. The weather presenters have taken to guarding their* predictions with words like possibility*, probability*, likelihood, or a fifty per cent chance of a particular condition occurring, and similar phrases that let you know that weather prediction cannot be as precise as viewers sometimes expect it to be.

* Short dash can be struck through the last stroke of a contraction to indicate past tense

* "specialised" Insert the diphthong, to differentiate from "specialist"

* "guarding their" uses doubling for "their"

* Optional contraction "possibility"

* "probability" needs to be written in full, as it is being presented as an example word. If you used the contraction, there would be no way of knowing whether it was "probable" "probably" or "probability"

Weather Words - Part 3 of 11 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Colourful dawn skyThe weather at dawn is often entirely different from mid-morning and midday, changing again in the afternoon, getting cooler in the evening, with mist returning by dusk. There will be further changes at night, with a drop in the overnight temperature. Last week* may have been fine, this week* will be changeable and next week* we are likely to see further changes in the weather patterns, leading to entirely different conditions for the following week and on into the period under review. The forecast for the next month* has to take into account* the movements in the atmosphere and the fluctuations in atmospheric pressure, including the high pressure* and low pressure* systems coming in from the ocean and moving over the country.

* Omission phrases "last week"   "this week"   "next week"
"ne(k)st (mon)th"  Similarly "this (mon)th"
"take (into) account"   "high (pre)ssure"   "low (pre)ssure" 

Weather Words - Part 4 of 11 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Blue sky white cloudsIn summer we can expect dry, warm and hot weather, getting much warmer towards midday. When the weather is at its hottest or warmest, we say it is a heatwave or sweltering, especially if the great heat persists for some days and is hotter than we would normally expect. If the temperature remains high but the humidity is also high, the conditions are muggy  and sticky. The body is unable to lose heat as rapidly as needed, as there is little evaporation taking place to cool the person down. This type of weather feels oppressively hot and uncomfortable, with excessive temperatures making us feel drowsy and lethargic. As soon as the air becomes cooler and fresher, we can enjoy the sunshine and warmth without the discomfort of humid conditions. If the air continues to cool and freshen, then the pleasantly* moderate weather may come to an end. The sky will become hazy and overcast. The haze will turn to patchy cloud and eventually the cloud cover will cause a lowering of the temperature.

* Advisable to insert the first vowel in "pleasant/ly" and "pleasing/ly" to ensure they are not misread

Weather Words - Part 5 of 11 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Stormy skyLow cloud can bring either bright or somewhat overcast days or more often much gloomier conditions, with grey rainclouds. There will be the possibility* of a short sharp shower, intermittent or scattered showers, heavy rain or possibly outbreaks of thunderstorms in some areas. Before a storm arrives, the temperature will drop rapidly, with the wind becoming stronger and colder. Light levels decrease as the whole sky darkens and gusts increase in strength. The rumbles of thunder will be heard over long distances and the lightning may affect unprotected buildings, tall structures and trees. I remember a night when it thundered and lightened all night, the thunderclaps were deafening and the sudden bursts of lightning went on until the early hours, when the sky finally cleared. Precipitation may fall from the thundercloud as hail, with hailstones as big as marbles, or soft and slushy as it turns to sleet and melts on the ground. Hailstorms can flatten a crop in the field. Weather is called foul when it is cold, wet and windy all at the same time.

* Optional contraction "possibility"

Weather Words - Part 6 of 11 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Snow on tree branchesIn winter the conditions are often cold and wet. Frost may cover the grass, called hoarfrost, as the heavy dew becomes frozen* overnight. Ice that cannot be seen is called black ice, a thin glaze on the road or path, and these icy and slippery conditions make the route* very dangerous to travel on. Once the snow arrives, it will be bitterly cold, and in the UK we sometimes experience a bitter east wind bringing prolonged periods of freezing* weather. Heavy snowfall combined with wind is called a blizzard, and the snow may collect in deep drifts. After severe snowstorms, the snowploughs will be needed to clear the roads and gritter trucks will be sent out to help break up the ice and slush. Householders will be out shovelling the drifted soft snow from their paths, sometimes while it is still snowing, with the snowflakes settling faster than they can be swept away. Next morning they may find it has snowed again overnight and any melted snow has turned to treacherous* smooth ice.

* Advisable to insert the first vowel in "frozen" "freezing" to ensure they are not misread for each other

* "route" Vowel advisable, although "road" is a more common word so could be left unvocalised

* "treacherous" Ensure the hook on the T is clear, so it does not look like "dangerous"

Weather Words - Part 7 of 11 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Foggy roadWhen the temperature increases, the frosty weather is gone and a thaw will set in. The icicles begin to drip and the thawing snow turns to sleety showers and muddy slush. The slushy puddles that thawed yesterday afternoon* may freeze overnight and become hard, crunchy and slippery, causing people to prefer to walk in the soft snow nearby, which gives a firmer* footing. A slight rise in temperature will cause the weather to turn misty, foggy and damp with grey skies. The fog settles in the valleys and the mists cover the trees and low buildings. The sun appears hazy and dim, with a weak watery light. When fog combines with smoke, the result is called smog, which is a 20th century portmanteau of these two words, although nowadays it also means fog combined with vehicular* and industrial emissions. Mist may gradually turn to drizzle which is fine rain, and the in between stage is mizzle, another portmanteau word.

* Omission phrase "yesterday af(ter)noon" Keep the final hook clear, so it does not look like "yesterday ev(en)ing" - see this range of phrases on

* "firmer" See Distinguishing Outlines List 2 farmer & former/firmer

* "vehicular" If you prefer to indicate the H sound, use the thick 3rd place dot vowel with Dot Hay over it, instead of the diphone

Weather Words - Part 8 of 11 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Cumulus cloudsThese gentle if uncomfortable conditions are in stark contrast to the more severe weather conditions that can occur. Stormy weather and tornadoes, also known as twisters, are a regular feature at certain times of the year in some areas. The monsoon is a period of reversal of the atmospheric circulation, bringing persistent rain, heavy torrential downpours and flooding, after a dry phase of heat and drought. A cyclone is a rapidly rotating storm system, with a low pressure centre, producing thunderstorms and gusty high-speed gale-force winds. It is also called a hurricane, typhoon, tropical storm, tropical depression or cyclonic storm. They can cause extensive storm damage and flash floods. Coastal areas may experience a storm surge due to high water and higher waves than normal. Once a cyclone makes landfall, it weakens and dissipates.

Weather Words - Part 9 of 11 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Coots in puddlesAt this time of the year there is a strong likelihood of damper air and more dewy mornings. Sometimes this is followed by further wintry weather arriving. This would result in worsening conditions on the roads, and things could deteriorate quickly as the thermometer plunges to below zero centigrade. An easterly or northerly wind would significantly increase the likelihood of widespread unsafe driving conditions and dangerously slippery roads. The forecasters will keep us up to date with the developing features and approaching weather systems, with warnings of unusual or less typical features that we need to know about and whether the outlook is getting better or worse for those who have to travel through it.

Weather Words - Part 10 of 11 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Sunny countryside viewThe least interesting weather is mild and moderate with temperatures near normal for the time of year or slightly above average, with no significant change in the usual normal daytime or night-time temperatures. We are then mildly interested and moderately pleased with the improved* outlook and settled conditions, and relieved that no prolonged periods of rain or unsettled conditions will delay our journeys. The milder the better, with maybe a pleasantly* sunny afternoon to brighten things up, good visibility and a warm southerly or westerly breeze improving the air quality over the cities. We prefer it to be drier with blue skies, pleasantly breezy but not blowy, with no risk of showery interludes. We don’t want it becoming wetter or raining with a violent stormy gale and chilly blustery north winds blowing. At least we will be forewarned, with our friendly weathermen and women* telling us what will be happening in the northern, southern, eastern and western areas of our particular part of the world.

* Short dash can be struck through the last stroke of a contraction to indicate past tense

* Advisable to insert the first vowel in "pleasant/ly" and "pleasing/ly" to ensure they are not misread

* Omission phrase "weathermen (and) women"

Weather Words - Part 11 of 11 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Rainbow over roofsThere is one last batch of vocabulary that our weather presenters like to amuse* us with. At the beginning of the* slot, we are reminded that it might be shirt sleeves and sandals weather at last, advised to store away the winter coat, put on the sun block cream, stock up on the hay fever treatments, get out the umbrella (or brolly as they like to call it), don’t forget to take a raincoat, hold on to your hat during the gales, or wrap up warm for a chilly start to the week. The tennis may be washed out, the football held up by snow, gardening can start with the glorious spring sunshine, plant the daffodil bulbs before the frost comes, or hurry up and finish the Christmas shopping before the blizzards arrive. The only thing they never tell me to do is get out the knitting needles to make some more mittens, or settle down with the shorthand books to occupy my time as I sit out the stormy* blasts of winter with my feet on the hot water bottle. (1714 words)

* Omission phrase "at the (be)ginn(ing) of the"

* "stormy" needs the final dot vowel, as "storm blasts" could also make sense

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Fraser's Phrases

Fraser's Phrases - Part 1 of 7 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Hello readers, my name is Fraser and I have been asked to tell you all about my journey from ignorance to excellence in my work life. After a particularly frustrating week in the office, stuffing envelopes and making tea, I felt that this was more than just a bad hair day and I decided my career needed a shot in the arm. The acid test would be whether I would stick with it or whether all my efforts would go down the tubes. It had to be something that would not cost an arm and a leg, and not be a flash in the pan. It was clear that an all-singing all-dancing commercial course would really be a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Having read their literature, I realised I would be barking up the wrong tree and it was back to the drawing board once again*.

* Omission phrase "wu(n)s again"

Fraser's Phrases - Part 2 of 7 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

I was about to throw out the leaflet when I noticed something on the back, a briefintroductory course in shorthand. They made it sound as easy as pie, as long as you get down to brass tacks with the homework. At last* it was not all doom and gloom, and I would be able to get my foot in the door for a new career. I set about reading the syllabus for a heads up on what is required, made my application and was accepted straight away. Once I started the course, I wanted to share the good news with my friends at work but somehow I was between a rock and a hard place - in other words, a Catch 22 situation. I thought I was the bee’s knees but my friends might think I had lost my marbles or had bats in the belfry. They might tell me to hold my horses, keep my hair on and just keep to the middle of the road. My boss might think I was a loose cannon and that my new ambitions were pie in the sky. He might even go on the warpath, have a hissy fit and say good riddance to bad rubbish.

* Always put the vowel in "brief" to differentiate it from "number of"

* Always put the vowel in "at last" and "at least" to differentiate

Fraser's Phrases - Part 3 of 7 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Blackheath, South London
I was determined to keep my chin up and go the whole hog. I was as happy as a clam as I continued with my studies. My teacher really knew her onions and had zero tolerance for time wasters. Although we students were all raw beginners starting on a level playing field, we were all gung-ho about it and had jumped on the bandwagon of self-improvement. This was no pipe dream and when I got down to the nitty-gritty of learning, I realised I could not* pass the buck when I made mistakes. Sometimes my shorthand went haywire, with wild and woolly outlines, and I was up a gum tree with the transcription. I always made a bee-line for the dictionary which kept the ball rolling. Even when I was hit with a double whammy of difficult words and big gaps, I always faced the music and avoided getting the heebie-jeebies.

* "could" is not joined in phrases, except this one where it cannot be mistaken for "can"

Fraser's Phrases - Part 4 of 7 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Trinity House cocked hat in
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
At last* I sat my 100 words a minute* exam. As it started at 9 am, I had to rise and shine really early. This was make or break and I could not* pull the wool over the eyes of any examiner, or resort to smoke and mirrors with my transcription. Off the record* I can say it really turned out to be a piece of cake. I did not peg out and eventually I received my pass slip. This was really a red letter day for me. Shorthand had gone from being a blast from the past to being* flavour of the month. I was no longer limited to a run of the mill job, and so I started looking around. I was now a big fish in a small pond and with my improved* skills I knew I could knock all the other applicants into a cocked hat. With a new career I could paddle my own canoe and paint the town red. I could blaze a trail for shorthand writers and get a top notch job.

* Always put the vowel in "at last" and "at least" to differentiate

* Omission phrase "words (a) minute"

* "could not " see note in para above

* Always put the vowel in "off the record" to differentiate it from "for the record" - opposite meanings with dire consequences if muddled!

* "to being" through the line, based on "to be"

* Short dash through the last consonant of a contraction to signify past tense

Fraser's Phrases - Part 5 of 7 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

I took to dressing smart casual as befitted my new-found confidence. I felt like the new kid on the block rather than a back seat driver. I was not well heeled or becoming a fashion victim, but I did not want to look like a fuddy-duddy. I was not aiming to get Brownie points or be thought of as fancy pants, but, to coin a phrase, what you see is what you get. I knew that with my new skills any employer would be getting a bigger bang for their buck and I wanted more than just my fifteen minutes of fame.

Fraser's Phrases - Part 6 of 7 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Not piranha but my friendly goldfish
One day, whilst stuffing the envelopes as usual, I received a crisp white envelope marked confidential. Was this the end of my service here? As I opened it, I felt I was going through cold turkey. Would there be a feeding frenzy for my job when I was gone? The letter was from head office, offering me the chance to apply for a job as assistant to the managing director, undertaking confidential work and taking minutes of meetings. I duly applied, enclosing a copy of my shorthand certificate. I played the interview by ear and this was certainly not jobs for the boys. They warned me that customers can fly off the handle, get your goat and often have an axe to grind, but I would have to remember the customer is always right - in other words, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Well, eventually I was accepted and I have to say I was on cloud nine.

Fraser's Phrases - Part 7 of 7 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

With the job in the bag, I decided to bury the hatchet with my boss, who would often get my dander up and behaved like a real Hooray Henry at times. But before I could say anything, he jumped the gun and wished* me good luck and break a leg. He said he had persuaded them to consider* me in the first place* when the job came up for grabs. He was retiring to a cottage out in the sticks, where he could enjoy an Indian summer of retirement years while he still had good health. He knew I would never spill the beans with confidential information, especially as I had seen a lot of it whilst stuffing envelopes. This really was a turn-up for the books and I thought it really took the biscuit - in the nicest possible way. Well, that’s my story in a nutshell and I hope you will persevere with your own shorthand studies - what’s not to like? Yours sincerely, Fraser. (1111words)

* "wished" With the mention of "gun" before, this might be misread as "shoot/shot" so to clarify you could insert a semicircle W in 3rd place, or even write it in full W + halved Ish.

* Omission phrases "to (con)sider"   "first p(l)ace" similarly "second p(l)ace, third p(l)ace"

I think the resourceful Fraser learned how to write so colourfully from this very useful and informative website

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Daylight Saving

Daylight Saving - Part 1 of 7 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

The Shepherd clock at Greenwich Royal Observatory
Greenwich Royal Observatory clock - No BST here
Tonight is the night that the clocks go back. In earlier years it had never occurred to me that there might be a history behind it. I just assumed that “they” decided it would be a good idea if we children had lighter mornings on our journey to school. At that young age I would not have* minded dark mornings at all, and would have much preferred to come home earlier with the thought that more minutes of it were left for playing. I did not like the thought that school hours were using up all the best of the daylight available.

* “I would not have”  The have is not part of the phrase, because that might look like “never”

Daylight Saving - Part 2 of 7 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

The Daylight Saving Time scheme was first suggested by New Zealander George Hudson and his proposal was eventually trialled by his government in 1927. However, the person responsible for bringing about the permanent adoption of this idea in Britain was William Willett. He was born in 1858 and for most of his life was a resident of Chislehurst in Kent. He entered his father’s building business, Willett Building Services, which built quality homes in London.

Daylight Saving - Part 3 of 7 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Willett liked to go out horse riding at an early hour and although it was full daylight he noticed that the houses mostly had their curtains and blinds drawn. It occurred to him that they were wasting the daylight hours and therefore spending money and resources on artificial lighting at the end of the day, a good proportion of which could be avoided. In 1909 he began and personally funded a campaign to have daylight saving measures adopted by the Government and published* his own leaflet called “The Waste of Daylight”. He proposed that the changes should occur in 20-minute increments over four Sundays in April, and likewise reversed in September.

* Short dash struck through last consonant of a contraction to signify past tense

Daylight Saving - Part 4 of 7 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

There was much opposition, mainly from farmers*, but with the advent of the First World War it became a priority to save on coal and fuel costs. Daylight Saving Time (also known as British Summer Time) became law on 17 May 1916 but unfortunately Willett died of influenza in 1915 so he did not live to see this happen. As we know, the change was not in increments but just one whole hour forward in March and one hour back in October. This idea subsequently spread to many other parts of the world*.

* See Distinguishing Outlines List2 for "farmer, framer, former"

* Omission phrase "to many oth(er) parts (of the) world"

Daylight Saving - Part 5 of 7 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

The Daylight Inn sign, Petts Wood, KentWilliam Willett is honoured by a granite obelisk sundial in Petts Wood woodland (owned by the National Trust) marking British Summer Time. Many sundials have the Latin inscription “I only count the bright hours”* but Willett’s sundial reads “I only count the summer hours”** referring to the Roman numerals on which the gnomon shadow falls, with the central lower numeral being a one instead of a twelve. In Petts Wood village centre is a pub called The Daylight Inn, and nearby is Willett Recreation Ground and a road called Willett Way.

*   “Horas non numero nisi serenas”
*“Horas non numero nisi aestivas”

Daylight Saving - Part 6 of 7 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Greenwich Royal Observatory clock workshop
Greenwich Royal Observatory clock workshop
As a former* resident of Greenwich, I always felt an understandable fondness for Greenwich Mean Time, as shown on the clock outside the Royal Observatory in Greenwich Park. Whenever I visited it, I would stand and ponder on the work that went into time measurement and the creation of the magnificent timepieces on display in the museum, all those centuries back when life was so different and knowledge more hard won. Consequently I would always spend half of every year (or at least the first several weeks* after changing the clock in the spring) trying to remember what the “real” time was, and with a sigh of relief when the clocks went back to the “correct” time. This did not take into account* the fact that* I had changed my location by walking home about a mile away, and so the time at my house was slightly ahead of the clock in the park, as I lived a few streets east of the Meridian line.

* See Distinguishing Outlines List2 for variations on "former"

* Omission phrases "several wee(k)s"  "take (into) account". The phrase for "taken (into) account" joins the two outlines.

* Omission phrase "fac(t) that"

Daylight Saving - Part 7 of 7 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Greenwich Meridian Line
Meridian Line at Greenwich -
Standing at the beginning
and end of time
In winter I feel I am wasting daylight if there is any of it coming through the curtains when I wake up. Even if I start my day at dawn, the day will be short and the evening dark. If the weather is sunny, it has to be made the most of, because gloomier days are coming. On the grey days, the main source of light is the white glow from my computer* screen, illuminating my desk and surroundings. Maybe that itself is a saver of energy, as it is more comfortable to use when all the other room lights are off. However, unlike the sun going down, the screen will never go off on its own and so I have to resist the temptation to carry on past a sensible bed time. After all, if I stay up late, then I am likely to wake up late and see sunlight streaming in from behind the curtain and that would not do at all, especially living so close to Mr Willett’s home ground. (811 words)

* In order to differentiate, “if there is” can be doubled, and “for there is” uses normal outlines.

* "computer" is doubled because the diphthong can join. In the plural it cannot join, so two strokes are used: K + T with R Hook + circle S

Royal Museums Greenwich booklet download: