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

Cassini




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.