Sunday, 24 September 2017

Intersections 1

An intersection is a single stroke, either plain or with a hook or circle, written through an outline, to represent a whole word. This article practises the most common ones which all learners would benefit from. The theory website gives a more complete list and many of those are only useful if you are in a particular line of work, so it is not necessary to learn them all.  The outlines should be written in the order spoken. If the intersected word comes first, it should go through the first stroke, and if last, then through the last stroke, for example government official, official government, party rules, garden party, major operations, operations manager. If the main outline has only one stroke, you can distinguish the order by the positioning of the intersection, e.g. company building, building company, major general, general manager, or alongside as in major general, general manager, the latter being more reliable and legible at high speed.

Extra care needs to be taken with the intersections for council, company and government, as they are similar and they could all make sense in any* one context. A good method is to write, for example, the word “council” in full on its first occurrence, then further mentions of it can safely use the intersection. If the same passage then mentions “company”, it would be prudent to write that in full. Intersections really come into their own once you are in a specific field of employment, and then all the technical terms*, phrases and jargon will rapidly become familiar and you can make decisions on consistent and unambiguous abbreviations, based on the material you are encountering. You may find it preferable to use the common ones for something else that occurs more often.

"in any" Insert the final vowel in "any" whenever it would be helpful

* Omission phrase "tech(nical) terms"

Last Monday John went to his friend’s birthday party. He likes children’s parties but he was not so keen on our grownups garden party last weekend*. After the opening ceremony party, we went indoors to listen to the political party broadcast. // Professor Jackson is a professor of economics at Newtown University. He is a good friend of Professor Black who is a professor of music* at the academy.  // Your application for a grant to cover this new scheme has been received. They must make application to the appropriate member of staff. I am pleased to say that this application has been passed* by the panel. I have made many applications to the building firm for this work to be completed.

* Omission phrases "las(t w)eekend" "professor (of) music"

* "passed" and "opposed" Always insert the first vowel in these, as they are identical when unvocalised, and have opposite meanings in some contexts e.g. plans, proposals, laws

The minister talked about the Finance* Bill and the Education Bill which are under discussion at the moment*. Parliament has now passed this important bill without any problem. // I went to the City Bank in the high street, to find out about the current bank rates. I have paid in the cheque to the North Street branch of my local bank. My bank manager* advised me to transfer these funds to a different account. // It is very difficult in this business to make a big profit very quickly. I will make it my business to find out what is happening. I think it is your business to see to these problems as a matter of urgency. Mr Johnson is a successful businessman in the city. I have been writing business letters all day. He has a degree in business studies, commerce and book keeping and will do well in the business world.

* "Finance" Often pronounced "fye-" but best written through the line, so as not to look like "findings"
* Omission phrase "at (the) moment"

* "bank manager" This could also be written with "bank" in full plus intersected M stroke

You need to pay very careful attention to what I am saying. My attention has been called to some urgent matters in the office. We must give this our immediate attention in order to put things right. Please give all this your special attention as soon as possible. I note that your attention was called to the problem last week*. // The staff in the customer services department will be having a meeting this afternoon. Everyone in the department has worked very well under the difficult circumstances. We have written to the government department responsible for these buildings. The department heads will be meeting tomorrow. The departmental* heads will be at a meeting all morning.

* Omission phrase "las(t w)eek"

* "departmental" In full, as the intersection does not cover this

All these charges on the customer’s invoice  are correct and have been paid in full. You will have to cover the charges for the use of the vehicle over the weekend. I regret to say that* it was not supplied to us free of charge*. The customer is disputing our charge for the goods delivered yesterday.  The electrical charge on this device could cause a serious accident in the factory. I have subscribed to the Office Workers’ Journal to get more information on my career prospects. The Bankers’ Journal described how the banks have changed over the years. I have cancelled my subscription to the Golfing Journal and started a new one for the Tennis Players’ Journal.

* Omission phrases "I regret (to) s(ay) that" "free (of) charge"

I have worked for this company for many years. The company directors have decided to tender the work out to three other companies in this area. The company offices are located in the city centre. The owner of the company has contacted us regarding the building plans. // The report covers all the questions relating to council property in this town. I have received a letter from the council regarding my complaint about the traffic. The members of this council have agreed to sell off some of the council buildings. The borough council has agreed to this course of action. // Government officials say that there is nothing that they can do at present. I have written to the local government offices several times. The actions of this government have not been thought through properly. I suggest that the government take the advice of the committee immediately. I wrote to them at the beginning of February. We are now at the beginning of the holidays without a reply and we are beginning to get impatient. In the beginning we were enthusiastic but now we are not so keen. (981 words)

Friday, 15 September 2017


On Friday 15th September the spacecraft Cassini ended its mission by being sent* into the atmosphere of the planet Saturn, when it was burned up and destroyed. It was launched in October 1997, and in 2010 it set out* on a 7-year mission extension* to explore Saturn and its moons. It has run out of rocket fuel and one writer said it is just about running on fumes. Its deliberate destruction has the purpose of disposing of it rather than risk the possibility* of it colliding with one of the moons and thus contaminating it for future exploration. Cassini’s impact course has taken five months, in a series of 22 orbits that pass between the planet and the rings. As it made its final descent, it continued sending information until it could no longer function. It then burned up like a meteor.

* "sent" Special outline, above the line so that it is not misread as "send"

* "set out" Halving for the T of "out"

* "extension" Keep the T clearly vertical, so it does not look like "expansion" which has a similar meaning

* "possibility" Optional contraction

Everyone knows that scientists like to approach everything with a dispassionate*, level-headed and rational attitude. It needs a cool, detached and thoroughly objective turn of mind to plan and carry out these space missions that will add to our fund* of knowledge of the workings of the universe. Nothing but logical and analytical* plans, methods, investigations and discussions will do, with everyone’s theories, models, notions, and conjectures* given equal consideration. This way of dealing with scientific missions has brought us to the place where we can gain a huge amount of information on distant planets and heavenly bodies in the unending blackness of outer space. They don’t get upset by the cessation of mere mechanical devices and expendable* hardware - surely not?

* "dispassionate" Normally the shun hook would go in the opposite direction to an initial hook or circle, to balance the outline, but that is not possible with this word

* "fund" Insert the vowel, as "fount" could also make sense here

* "analytical" Compare with the root word "analysing" in para 5

* "conjectures" Doubling is used for "-ture" for convenience here, as there is no other word that it could be, similarly "picture" "structure"

* "expendable" This is similar to "expandable" which should have its vowel inserted for clarity, well up over the circle S so it is clear it is a first place dot

The write-ups on this end of mission event are somewhat different though. Cassini did not descend, it plunged into the depths. Its travels through the rings of Saturn were in fact daring dives and at one point it leapt over the rings. The exploration is more than merely interesting, it is positively thrilling, and its 20-year journey is remarkable rather than merely informative. All regions of space ought to be equal but for some reason this one is described as unique. Its mysteries are, most unscientifically, irksome until they are solved, a tiresome state of affairs that promises to be never-ending in the study of the universe! But there are many pictures that are not only helpful but utterly* and truly* amazing*. These end of mission events are entitled the Grand Finale, which rather lets the cat out of the bag as to why we have all these emotional adjectives. Cassini, and other similar spacecraft, are going where no-one has gone before, on our behalf, and we are all invited to watch the entertainment*, the performance and the show as the drama unfolds, and, in this case, the final curtain.

* "utterly" "truly" Always insert the first vowel in these, as the are similar in outline and could be read for each other in many contexts

* "amazing" and "amusing" Always insert the middle vowel

* "entertainment" Omits the middle N to gain a convenient outline

If you are learning shorthand in order to be* a reporter, it will be your job to write such articles, and decide on the type of approach that is necessary, or expected by your employers, for each story. Disasters, crime and violence need no help to be more compelling. Science, as above, may need an injection of excitement, if it is written to those outside the scientific readership. Harmless and trivial space fillers of amusing* stories are about the only ones that require all the punning and descriptive skills that can be mustered.

* "in order to be" The word "to" is included in the first phrase, so the "be" does not have to go through the line for "to be"

* "amazing" and "amusing" Always insert the middle vowel

Fortunately Nasa* and others discussing this mission are delighted to share with us their enthusiasm and emotional attachment to the faithful, fearless but fated Cassini. They are giving us every detail of its doings, comings and goings, from its beginning to its final dramatic death plunge, pulling our heartstrings with it, as it enters its fireball ending, its glorious and spectacular demise and terminal blaze of glory. It went out with a bang as it smashed into the atmosphere, got torn apart, became a streak of ash, melted and vaporised. The end has come for the intrepid probe, and we have had the final bittersweet kiss goodbye. Descriptions of its end are a requiem for a machine, there will be grieving, flowing tears and emotional tributes.

* "Nasa" This acronym is written as sounded, just like any other word, but it is helpful to insert the vowels, at least on the first occurrence of it in a dictation

Someone said that the sadness was really for themselves, not knowing what mission may replace it in their careers, although they will be poring* over and analysing* the voluminous amount of information for many years. For some it is their last mission and their sense of loss is a reality check as they are approaching retirement, albeit a more comfortable one than Cassini was granted. This affection for a tiny mechanical device, meeting its end all alone miles from home, reminds me of the last lines of a poem I learned in school, "For whatever we lose (like a you or a me*) it’s always ourselves that we find in the sea."* In fact I found a plaintive description just like this, accompanying a photo from Cassini showing a pinpoint of light that was planet Earth, small and alone in the vastness* of space.

* "poring" To pore is to study intently, to "pour" means tip out a liquid

* "analysing" The basic outline for this word, but compare "analytical" in para 2

* "me" Vowel added for clarity, as in a poem the context is often insufficient, as words are used in unusual ways

* Poem entitled "Maggie and Milly and Molly and May" by e e cummings

* "vastness" Omits the lightly sounded T. Also the V must be clearly thick, so it is not misread as "fastness" (a fortified place or stronghold)

Although the mourners knew this was coming, we ordinary folk are all truly* shocked, saddened and bereft as it went to its fiery end, which will have occurred 83 minutes before we received its final signal. How will we cope now it is gone, never to return? Then, a few minutes after seeing the programme or reading the article, all that is forgotten as we give in to the gravitational pull of the kitchen, the kettle and the biscuit tin or cookie* jar, and wonder whether tomorrow’s journey to the office will be sunny or rainy. As the cliché goes - End of Story*.  (919 words)

* "truly" Always insert the vowel in this and in "utterly" as they are similar in outline and could be read for each other in many contexts

* "cookie" and "cake" Always insert the vowel, as they could both make sense in most contexts

* "End of Story" This is often shortened to "End of" for extra emphasis on the speaker's attitude about the matter

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Autumn Weather

As we approach the end of summer, all the little reminders have been badgering us with subtle changes that lessen the impact of having to admit that it is truly over. We have had the ominous sprinkling of brown leaves on the grass and paths, days that promise hours of sunshine but which turn less pleasant by mid-morning, and the realisation at the end of August that chilly October is only a few weeks* away. This last one brings the inevitable question*, will September side with August and be kind and warm, or cruelly take sides with October against our hopes and wishes? Officially* autumn (or fall) begins on the 21st of September, but as far as I am concerned* it is all about the weather, and what it allows us to do comfortably (or not) and with what clothing or precautions.

* Omission phrases "few wee(k)s"  "I am (con)cerned"

* "question" Optional contraction

* "Officially" Ensure the Shel stroke is clearly upwards, so that this does not look like "finally" which would also make sense. Advisable to always insert the last vowel in "officially" and "finally".

This summer in the UK has had several hot spells but also a few periods of heavy stormy* rain, so there has not been a time when the fine weather has continued long enough for us to entirely forget that we are living in chilly Britain. I welcome the rain as it makes for a green and healthy garden, cleans the paths and the greenhouse glass of accumulated debris, and swells the apples and pears on my trees. Summer rain here is not particularly cold unless it is also windy. The fish in the pond love it, as they find flies washed into the water, or at least* they get the entertainment* of patrolling the pond, as the rain pelts down on it, looking for these goodies sent from above, much as we go round hunting for unexpected bargains in the shops and markets.

* "stormy" Helpful to insert the final vowel, as nouns can also be used as adjectives e.g. "storm rain"

* "at least" and "at last" Always insert the second vowel

* "entertainment" Omits the middle N for convenience of outline

The first day of cooler breezes is always noticeable, as I find myself out and about miles from home without a jumper, and the prospect of waiting for the bus or train wishing that I had brought one. That is the first reminder that the weather gives us a limited number of* carefree months to play with, and that they are nearly used up. I spent* my early years determined to be always prepared for the cold and generally went about encumbered with mostly* unnecessary coats and jumpers “just in case”. As I now travel round the city and suburbs more than I did in the past, I have taken the opposite point of view*, and become determined not to be carrying more stuff than I need. The answer to this is the “Kag In A Bag” a kagoule* (thin nylon rain jacket) that rolls up to fit into a small drawstring bag.

* "number of " Note that "brief", which looks similar, should always have its vowel written in

* "spent" The outlines for "spent" and "spend" are identical, so context is require to read back

* "mostly" Omits the lightly sounded T

* Omission phrase "point (of) view"

* "kagoule" Also spelled "cagoule"

It is easy to concentrate too much on these minute details of home life and comfort, but as I write we are seeing the devastation and destruction* caused* by two hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, in quick succession, sweeping over the islands of the Caribbean and onto mainland Florida. Our television screens are bringing us images of the damage caused and overflowing rivers cascading violently through city streets. It is easy for city dwellers to be more distanced from natural forces and, in the busy-ness of daily life, to forget that they are not far away and can wipe out our creations in a short space of time*. In our favour we have extensive* monitoring and forecasting capabilities, and the ability to travel large distances rapidly, although evacuation* may not be available to those living in the islands or in poor areas.

* "destruction" Omits the K sound

* "caused" Special outline, to differentiate it from "cost"

* Omission phrase "short space (of) time"

* "extensive" Ensure the T is clearly vertical, so it does not look like "expansive" which has a similar meaning

* "evacuation" Not using the Shun hook, as there is a triphone before it. This is a general rule for this combination of sounds and helps with differentiation when vowel signs are omitted e.g. evacuation/eviction, graduation/gradation, situation/station

During these events we definitely do not want to see a reporter broadcasting their piece live from the sea front or riverside, with the storm surge piling up behind them. Northern Britain has more storms than we do in the south but nothing remotely on that scale. The last big and widespread* storm we have had in southern England was in October 1987, which stripped the leaves from the trees and we went from the green of autumn to bare winter overnight. Being in full leaf, many trees fell, which would not have happened if the branches had been bare. The constant howling of the wind, without variation or gusts, was quite strange and unforgettable, especially as the electricity was also out, and is something that we hope we will not hear again. (713 words)

* "widespread" The circle goes upwards a little further, in order to show the hook on the P stroke. "Spread" on its own has a D stroke.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017


I think it is* time for a change from the usual sets of short letters that I have been doing, which are intended to give short practice paragraphs with easy matter, that you can rehearse* intensively and so bring up your speed without the stress of a long passage. In other words*, if you fall behind, each passage soon comes to an end, giving you an opportunity to catch up. This time we have some postcards*, which suits the holiday season of August, although obviously no-one is going to need a shorthand writer* to help them produce such missives. You could* however write one in shorthand if you have a friend who can read it, and thus reinstate that perennial frustration for the postal* worker, namely the postcard that looks interesting but is not possible to read, unless they are nearing retirement and started working life in an office when shorthand was still common. The other point is that you can get so much more information on a postcard in shorthand, but you will need a sharp pencil to write the tiny outlines, and avoid ink, as it may be delivered in the rain. I find that biros can do thicks and thins, if you are not* having to go very fast and can be careful* with the tip control and pressure.

* "I think it is" Halving to represent "it"

* "rehearse" A long ascending outline, needs to be written shallowly, similarly "rehearsal" which is even longer

* "in other wo(rd)s" An alternative way to write "words" when it joins better in a phrase

* "postcards" "postal" Omit the lightly sounded T

* Omission phrase "short(hand) writer"

* "you could" Written separately, so it does not look like "you can"

* "you are not" This is always written with full strokes, in order to make a clear contrast with "you will not" which uses halving and N hook for the "not"

* "careful" Optional contraction

Dear Pam and family, We arrived safely Saturday night. It is just wonderful here, our hotel is simply fabulous and the view is out of this world, what with sunsets over the bay and the mountains. Tomorrow we are taking a boat trip and going to the sea life centre. The kids went wild with excitement when they saw some dolphins in the bay. Jack has found a great golf course, so the girls and I can go shopping one or two* days. I wish you could* see the malls here, they are amazing*. See you in two weeks*, we have some great photos and vids to show you. Maggie

* Omission phrases "one (or) two"  "two wee(k)s"

* "you could" Written separately, so it does not look like "you can"

* "amazing" "amusing" Always insert the second vowel

Hi Tom, Just a line to let you know we are doing well here in the north. We are having a family break from work over August. We got a great deal on the hotel package, so there is money left in the pot for excursions etc. The food is very good and they have a wide range. You know how Johnnie loves his restaurant meals from time to time*. We are just sitting on the terrace with our wine and relaxing after seeing the sights in town. Hope all goes well with you next week*. Best regards, Jackie

* Omission phrase "from time (to) time" with halving used for both T's

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

Dear Mum, flight was good, and hotel is great. So glad we booked this one, the facilities are brilliant. We spent the whole of yesterday in the swimming pool and today we went up the hills to a vineyard*. Bought some local wine for you, you will love it, very sweet and fruity. The food is interesting and, yes, we are eating the healthy options, after having lost all that weight to get into our swimwear! Lots of love and see you next Friday. Betty and Co

* "vineya(r)d" An alternative to the short form for "yard" where it joins better

Dear Janet and John, Here we are in sunny Sandy Bay again. We love coming back here, it is so peaceful and quiet, especially where we are staying* a little way out of town away from the amusement parks. Our holiday house is very comfortable and has a lovely garden to sit in. The weather has been glorious, but we had rain for the whole of Monday, so we went into town and saw the museums. Hope all goes well with your meeting next week* and we can chat about it all very soon. Will phone you to get a date. Love from Mary and family

* "staying" No diphone, as the I sound is included in the Dot Ing

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

Dear Auntie Flo, I thought you would like to see this view of the city of Bath, as you have spent so much time here yourself when you were living in that old house. I am so glad I took your advice to come here for a holiday and I am having a wonderful time seeing all the places you mentioned. Do you think you will ever visit here again? It is just as you described, but the transport is much better nowadays. You would feel right at home. Give my regards to Uncle Henry. Love from Edward*

* "Edward" Using the suffix -wa(r)d, similarly "backward, forward, onward"

Hi James, How is it all going at the office? Yes, I am thinking of you all while I am lying here on a hot beach with my pineapple fruit cocktail, listening to the waves and seagulls. Never mind, you will be off on your cruise before long and I shall be thinking of you again but this time from my office desk. Going water-skiing tomorrow, then paragliding, then hot air ballooning, such a lot of hard work for me to do over the next week, but I am sure I will manage! I will post some photos* and videos* online for you quite soon, if I get the time with all these important things I have to do. Regards, Charlie

* "photos, videos" These are similar, so insert the diphone in "videos"

Dear Mother, I missed my train so when I did arrive here they took ages to open and let me in. I am in a rather small guest house room, reasonable and clean but would be better if they smartened it up. The food is OK but I prefer my usual home cooking. The view is OK I suppose, but it is lost in mist and rain at the moment*. It is too cold to go to the beach, too windy to go up the cliff walk and too boring to sit indoors doing nothing until the weather clears. I am going to go into town and get a shorthand pad and pencil so I can practise from the news on the radio. My exam is the week after next so I think it will be a doddle if the weather stays like this all week. At least* I don’t have to answer any phone calls or emails* from customers for seven* whole days. See you soon, love from your bedraggled son, William (1016 words)

* Omission phrase "at (the) moment"

* "at least" "at last" Always insert the second vowel

* "emails" Always insert the first vowel, as "email" and "mail" are similar

* "seven" Keep the N hook clear, as it is similar to the short form "several"

Saturday, 26 August 2017

River Walk

Thames at Richmond

We recently went on a day’s visit to see the river at Richmond. This town is the opposite end of London to where we live, and the river is younger, narrower and more pleasant than in the city and the Thames estuary. The day was sunny and mild but the forecast was rain by the beginning of the* afternoon. So we set out* reasonably early to make the most of the dry morning. The train goes from Waterloo Station on a circuit to Richmond and the other stations, ending up once again* at Waterloo. So it was quite novel to be sitting on a train leaving Waterloo, with the announcer’s voice telling us that we were on a train to that same station. At least we did know the reason, but it might have been a tad confusing for a visitor or tourist. On arrival we took a bus to the river bridge, so that we did not waste any of the few sunny hours walking down the long high street.

* "beginning of the" Stroke Gn for "beginning" can be intersected or written underneath, whichever is clearer

* "set out" Halving for "out"

* Omission phrase "wu(n)s again"

Richmond Bridge

We took a short walk down the shady* side of the river, then back again and over the bridge towards the main town. We wanted to be on the sunny side of the river and going towards a small park, where we planned to eat our sandwiches on a warm seat watching the peaceful sparkling river flowing gently by. As we approached the park there were* spots of rain. By the time we got there, the rain was heavier and so we had to find a seat under a big tree. The drops and splats of water had no trouble finding a few openings between the branches and soon we were sitting in a row under several umbrellas, despite our hope that the tree would be our protective canopy. The rain collecting from the nearby paths began trickling over the muddy grass in a growing rivulet flowing down to the river’s edge. The surface of the Thames was now pitted and mottled with a covering of ripples from the raindrops. We saw several canal boats going along the river, some owners unconcerned by the rain and others sheltered from it*, as they were safely under cover in their cabins.

* "shady" Insert the last vowel, so it is not misread as "shaded"

* Omission phrase "there (w)ere"

* "from it" Halving for "it"

In the distance the sky was bright in patches, between the dark rainclouds. Quite quickly the weather cleared and we made our way back to the bridge in the dry, with warm breezes and even a bit more sun. We took a walk in the other direction as far as Richmond Lock. We ascended the lock stairs and crossed the river on high, looking down on the giant metal lock gates which are held aloft and which are tilted and lowered when required. This lock is used to control the water levels up river, to provide a stable environment by reducing the effect of the rise and fall of the tides in order to maintain a navigable depth of water at all times.

Richmond Lock

We crossed Richmond Bridge again, wandered into the busy town with its noisy traffic and made our way to the station. Once more* we got on a train coming from and going to Waterloo Station. We were soon settled in our comfortable seats, watching the downpour cascading off the train roof and seeing some flashes of lightning and cracks of thunder.  The hurrying crowds and busy atmosphere on the main concourse were quite a contrast to the quiet river, and the green and pleasant surroundings of Richmond. The weather was clear again when we arrived at our station and we were once again in green and quiet surroundings. Once home, the last job of the day was to download all the photos, retracing all our steps and wanderings. Another successful jaunt to be relived via the photos, when the dark and cold of winter make going out and about less appealing. The river scene would be quite a picture in winter, with snow and ice, so perhaps that is one for the bucket list, but avoiding the slippery waterside edges, and including some time in the shops to warm up. (683 words)

* Omission phrase "wu(n)s more"