FOWC with Fandango: Pencil


Who needs a pencil today? We have all sorts of writing instruments and most of it is done on the computer. There was a time when a pencil was very important. How would Mr. Pitman have managed to invent his stenography system, shorthand, without a pencil? In those days pencils were the main writing tool, or perhaps a pot of ink to dip your pen into. I remember my first days at school, after the chalk and blackboard beginnings, we had pencils and progressed to pen and ink.

However, to go back to Mr. Pitman the man that invented the British shorthand. I did a years training as a secretary and learning stenography was the main part, and you did it with a pencil.  In the english system you write what you hear using the various steno signs and the signs and not how you spell the word. It depended on how much pressure was used on the pencil. A “p” and a “t” sound were used with normal pressure, but a “b” and “d” you have to press a little more  to get the effect. Only consonants had signs, the vowels were done with dots and dashes.

As you progressed you could forget the dots and dashes as the position of the word written on the paper depended on the vowel being used: though the line on the paper, on the line, or above gave you the sounds of the various vowels. I eventually passed a few exams measuring how many words per minute I could write. I got up to 120 wpm, but as you were writing you were always behind what the dictator was saying and had to keep the words in your mind.

That was the idea in a nutshell and what I learned in stenography I can still do today. When I found the print as above on Internet, I was happy to still be able to read it, at least most of it. It all had to be done in pencil to get the proper depth of the signs, although with time and experience you got used to the sign language and could do it with a biro if necessary. Today this system is no longer necessary. We are now the computer generation and as the only Brit in the company where I worked, the boss never bothered to dictate, but just tell me what he wanted in the letter. Secretaries are also now a dead race, no longer needed to write letters. Fax and computer with the e-mails have taken over. I still use my shorthand today if I have to write something quickly. Mr. Swiss can also write it, but the Swiss had their own system, as the Americans also had with their Gregg.

And I could also write French and German in steno. Of course the main thing is could you read your own shorthand. The main thing was to do it with a pencil.

FOWC with Fandango: Pencil

RDP Saturday: Squat

Grinding on Berufsschulhaus building site

I took this photo four years ago in town when they had begun to build a new trade school. The school has now been finished and the students attend the courses regularly. I was in town and had a look and saw this guy squatting to do his work. He seemed to be grinding the concrete surface from the clouds surrounding him. With his mask and white hands he really resembled a ghostly apparition.

And what shall I say about squat
It is something that I cannot
If I squat, I am down below
I cannot stand up, what a show
My joints would lock and refuse to move
And my back would ache, it would not be smooth
I prefer to sit and take it easy
It is certain that squatting would make me queasy
Golden Oldies should always live it alone
Our limbs would fix, and we would moan

RDP Saturday: Squat

Good Morning


The big news of the day is that my white amaryllis has now broken into flowers.


Whether anything more exciting will happen today I do not know. It is raining, again and so I will be a bit home bound. As I am now driving again and going places on wheels I will proably be visiting the supermarket this afternoon if the rain persists. I forgot a couple of things yesterday. I could wheel into town in my chair and get stuff there, but only if it stops raining.

Gulls 05.12 (2)

I was in town this week visiting the christmas market, but also wandered around the river and noticed that The Birds were gathering. I looked for Alfred Hitchcock, but he was not around, so I decided there was no real danger of being pecked. Although these gulls seem to be an organised pack. They had settled on the wall next to the river and were planning something.

Gulls 05.12 (14)

And suddenly they all took flight together.

Gulls 05.12 (8)

There was a noisy flapping of wings and gull cries to complete the scene and I was snapping away with my camera. I chose the better photos. This was really more luck than anything else as flying gulls can get a bit blurred.

I really wanted to take a wheelie yesterday afternoon. The sun was shining and there were real clouds in the sky and not just a grey cover, but time does not always allow. After my shopping marathon yesterday morning for the weekend I only got home just past midday and had to cook lunch. By the time I was finished with eating and clearing away the dishes into the washer, I really collapsed into my bed for my midday sleep and it was already past 3.00 when I awoke.

I then moved on to the computer with a few challenges and had no more longing to go anywhere. My No. 1 son was off to a concert in town of some heavy metal groups. Today he is off to Zürich to see a Jethro Tull concert. There is a coach company here that organises these things and he usually goes with them. It is quite good. He could go on his own with the train but coming home would be a problem as the trains do not run so late and he is autistic. He manages very well to find his way around and the coach is always waiting to bring their passengers back to Solothurn after the concert, so he is in safe hands and I do not have to worry.

Swans 06.12 (8)

The gulls are not the only birds we have at the moment. The baby swans from last Spring are no longer babies and now float up and down on the river. I notice that the ducks, swans and gulls never seem to have problems. If they find food, of which there is plenty because everyone feeds them, they eat it. Perhaps the gulls have problems amongst themselves, from the noise they make, but otherwise it seems to be one big happy bird family.

Ducks 06.12 (1)

And now I have to create one big happy human family. Thank goodness I can stay at home this morning without any shopping excursions.

Have a good week-end everyone, see you around.