Monday, 13 November 2017

Stay Sharp



I like to listen to talks on my Ipod*, in the comfort of the bed, as a way to relax before going to sleep. I can pay attention without being distracted by other activities. Quite often, the person will say something that immediately strikes me as relevant to the task of shorthand learning and writing. Fortunately, being conversant with that wonderful system, I can scribble it down and continue listening without interruption. The speaker was talking about staying alert and acting on what one knows to do. “Stay sharp” he said and continued with his theme. That seemed to me* to be the epitome of efficient behaviour for both the student and the shorthand writer. Pay attention in the lessons, to the book, stay sharp and focussed* when listening to matter being dictated, stay sharp when reading back to avoid transcription mistakes, and stay sharp when producing the final text or report.

*"Ipod" and "Ipad" Always insert the second vowel

* "to me" and "of him" Helpful to always insert the vowel when "me" or "him" is out of position in a phrase

* "focussed" and "fixed" Always insert the first vowel as they are similar in outline and meaning

London Shard


That’s not the end of it, as “stay sharp” most definitely refers to the point of your pencil. I have found the ideal is the normal HB* office pencil. On the graphite scale, the letter H stands for Hard, and the B stands for Black, as it is midway between those two. A pencil designated B is too soft and will blunt really quickly. A pencil designated H or F (for Fine) will be difficult to get thicks and thins out of. A hard or blunt pencil will have you digging into the paper to get the line variations, and this will* seriously slow you down. The tight grip necessary for digging will prevent fine control of the shapes produced, as well as fatigue. Lastly* it will waste the reverse side of the paper as it, and possibly also the next sheet, will be full of indentations, thus doubling the cost of your stationery. The back of the paper should be as smooth as silk. A sharp point takes less pressure to write with and a pile of sharp pencils, ready to swap to, is a shorthand writer’s* best friend. A rubber or eraser is a shorthand no-no, so that can be sawn off and the second end sharpened as well. Paper for use with pencil can afford to be slightly rougher than when using pen and ink, in order to* get the pencil to more readily lay down its graphite.

* "HB" Alphabet letters are general written in lower case, but here it seems more legible to use capitals

* "this will " Downward L in order to join the phrase

* "lastly" Omits the lightly-sounded T

* Omission phrases "short(hand) writer's"  "in ord(er to)"


I like the dictionary definition of sharp: quick, intelligent, incisive, astute, clever, quick-witted, on the ball. This is so much better than running the risk of earning that other epithet “Not the sharpest tool in the box*.” You may or may not be a sharp dresser, you might meet someone who is a sharp operator (not the best character trait*) or you may find you have said some sharp words. All these are detracting from the real meaning of the word that we shorthanders* know it should have: the attitude of someone whose mind is constantly on their shorthand improvement, seeing outlines every time they hear words, and producing fast and correct shorthand in an exam to get the certificate, at a job interview to get the position, and on the job to earn the wages. (529 words)

* "box" "bags" "packs" "pockets" Helpful to insert the vowels in these

* "trait" Also pronounced "tray"

* "shorthanders" No need to thicken the N as the D is part of the doubling, and in any case a doubled thick N stroke stands for "ing-ger/ing-ker"




Any more volunteers to put their head in there?