Jumat, 29 November 2013

Martian Comet Update

Martian Comet Update - Part 1 of 4 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! BlogSpot

Sun shining over cloud bank
The commencement of the Hurl,
glinting in the early morning over the
team's home village of Marsingley
Readers of the Martian Chronicle will be delighted to hear that the famous Comet Hurling Team (Northern Hemisphere) are once again on course to score very well in the National Comet Hurling Contest. For those not familiar with this event, the rules are that the comet must swing round the sun, remaining intact as it approaches the halfway point, and then all or part of it must be seen to emerge from the other side of the sun. Fragments and vapour earn fewer points than a complete unbroken comet. Our scientists are beginning to suspect that it may have broken up, but there is still hope that something identifiable will survive for the return journey.

Martian Comet Update - Part 2 of 4 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! BlogSpot

Four vapour trails in blue sky
Kick-off at last year's pole-to-pole
school Comet Fling race
The Martian Space Agency do keep a supply of large comets for our planet’s water requirements, especially ones with a high ice content and low rock content. Once they have mined most of the ice out of it, the remains are donated to local Hurling Teams for their games. When a spent comet becomes available, the teams are called together from all over the hemisphere and submit their plans for propelling it towards the sun, in the correct direction and at the correct speed. The team whose plans are chosen by our top scientists will then be awarded points if the Hurl is successful. Any team gaining maximum points then goes on to become Comet Consultants in future games. The points can be exchanged for Martian Government Tokens which can then be used by the team on science facilities and equipment for their chosen Technical College*, and so enable future generations of school children to learn elementary astrophysics.

*Omission phrase that leaves out the repeated KL = "techni-college"

Martian Comet Update - Part 3 of 4 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! BlogSpot

Orange vapour trails at sunset
Our municipal orbiting water-supply comets
provide great sunset photo opportunities

One of our technicians has reported that Earth scientists are also taking a great interest in the progress of the comet, and like us they are hoping that it survives its journey round the sun, although probably for different reasons than we do. We are very close to finding out if the Team have gained the maximum score possible, and if we see an intact rocky nucleus emerging, then there will be celebrations taking place everywhere on planet Mars, and probably on planet Earth as well. Obviously they are equally interested in teaching their youngsters all about our wonderful solar system, and the beautiful and useful treasures that it contains. For further news, we suggest you log in* to the Public Information Database of the Martian Space Agency, or one of Earth’s many astronomy websites, all of which are being updated regularly on this comet’s progress.

*For "log on" you could use the N Hook

Martian Comet Update - Part 4 of 4 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! BlogSpot

Latest news: We have to report that the Comet appears to have broken up, but we are nevertheless awarding a Consolation Prize to the Marsingley Village Preschool where the children have imaginatively renamed it the Mince Pie Comet - just when you think it has been entirely demolished, you keep finding lots of crumbs floating around. (475 words)

Kamis, 28 November 2013


Sneaky - Part 1 of 3 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! BlogSpot

Motorway slip road approach sign
Sneaking up the slip road until you
have achieved the same speed
After all the long words in the other blogs, I think a simple piece is overdue, with no special outlines to learn. The advantage of a passage with common words is that you are giving yourself a greater chance of success at writing it really fast, because you already know most of the outlines. I like to call this “sneaking up” on the higher speeds. I prefer regular small successes than a big one now and then, as it enables me to see ahead and know that I will definitely reach my goal, if I continue to work at the same rate. I do not like successes to be hit and miss, and any method that makes it easier and quicker is worth considering. If you can sneak up on your quarry to catch it, that has to be better than an occasional mad dash on difficult matter that has a low chance of success and a high chance of failure that will harm your progress and drain away your energy to continue.

Sneaky - Part 2 of 3 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! BlogSpot

Birthday milestone wrapping paper
Always chasing the next number -
birthday milestones sneaking up
Once you have gone from 60 words a minute to 70, you not only quite rightly feel you are improving, but the new figure becomes the "new you". Yesterday, 60 was a huge improvement over the previous 50, but now it has to be considered beneath your best. If you have a class teacher, you will probably know by now that he or she will never let you go back to that old figure. Some lazy little part of you is saying a sad goodbye to the comfort of 60, but the stronger and better part of you welcomes the 70 – and of course 80 is the next in line. All the other higher figures start looking closer and you can now say to them, "You're next!"

Sneaky - Part 3 of 3 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! BlogSpot

Collared doves on lawn
Flighty collared doves on my lawn -
camera sneaked up behind
the kitchen curtains
Perhaps this method would be useful for those who feel they are on a “speed plateau”. I do not like this term at all, as labels tend to stick hard once they are applied and in themselves hold back progress. You will always have a whole range of speeds that you can do, depending on the difficulty of the passage. A victory on an easy passage is a reliable way of loosening an unhelpful label. Once you have achieved a speed goal on simple matter, then that number starts to seem normal for you, and it is only a matter of time (with regular practising) before you can achieve it on the harder passages. I hope the Sneak Method will be a useful tool for you to consider. (428 words)

Rabu, 27 November 2013

Comet Ison

Comet Ison - Part 1 of 6 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! BlogSpot

Municipal Christmas tree decoration
My local municipal Christmas tree -
or is there an astronomer
on the team?

Comet Ison is presently passing through the earth’s orbit and will slingshot round the sun on 28 November 2013*, much to the delight of astronomers and stargazers, both professional and amateur, in observatories all over the world. Its name is an acronym of International Scientific Optical Network and was discovered on 12 September 2012* by two Russian astronomers using that establishment’s telescope, Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok. Information from Nasa’s Swift satellite has enabled scientists to estimate its size as 3 miles in diameter, calculated by measuring the amount of ice and dust emitted from its surface. Nasa’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) is monitoring the event, with images and video beamed from its spacecraft’s Heliospheric* Imager showing the comet’s progress towards the sun.

*Long slash representing current century, see www.long-live-pitmans-shorthand.org.uk/vocabulary-numbers.htm#long-slash

*heliosphere – the sun’s magnetic field, the extent of the solar wind, from “helios”, this outline is based on the dictionary outline for "helispheric" which has a different meaning = spiral shaped, from “helix”

Comet Ison - Part 2 of 6 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! BlogSpot

"Comet" dry cleaner's shop
No dirty comets here

Comets are composed of ice, rock and metal, in fact all the materials left over from the formation of the planets of the solar system, and have been humorously described as “dirty snowballs”. It appears that Comet Ison is only passing through our solar system, and is not in an elliptical orbit that would bring it back this way again in the future. During the month of October the comet has brightened to magnitude 10*, and it may be possible to see it using ordinary binoculars. However, as it travels towards and behind the sun, the glare will obscure it and followers are advised to cease trying to observe it with the naked eye. Advances in telescopes and imaging technology will allow scientists to analyse the behaviour and composition of the comet, and spectrometry will provide information on the water signature of its ices.

*Always insert vowel in outline for "ten" to distinguish it from "eighteen"

Comet Ison - Part 3 of 6 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! BlogSpot

Snowball-shaped Christmas decoration
Cometary disruption in the
Christmas decorations department

Its speed has increased from 95,000* mph at the beginning of November to 845,000 mph when it catapults around the Sun at perihelion (the point closest to the sun). It will pass within 730,000 miles of the sun on 28 November, and on its return journey will pass within approximately 40 million* miles of the northern hemisphere of earth on 26 December, and travel back roughly the way it came. It is possible that* it will be visible to the naked eye between the middle of November and the middle of January. This comet is a “sungrazer” and there is the possibility that its close fiery encounter with the sun will break it up, the intense sunlight heating its surface to a temperature approaching 5,000 degrees Centigrade, speeding up the vaporisation of its exterior ice and the gravitational pull of the sun deforming its shape and pulling it apart – termed cometary disruption and spontaneous disintegration.

*Ith and Em alone would mean "thousand million"

* "it is possible that" - ensure the first circle S is clear. If it resembles a hook, that would mean "it appears that"

Comet Ison - Part 4 of 6 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! BlogSpot

This local business vaporised
last year under the intense heat
of the economic conditions

There is also the chance that the whole comet may vaporise, which will be somewhat of a disappointment to the many observers who will be waiting expectantly for it to reappear from behind the sun. However, astronomers are agreed that any fragments would continue to follow the same trajectory and so pose no threat to planet earth. As Ison emerges from the glare of the sun’s corona, assuming that it survives the encounter, the 8 million mile long tail will become visible first, as it always follows the direction of the solar wind, followed by the gossamer green atmosphere (coma*) of the nucleus. The best time to view it will be in the morning before sunrise on the eastern horizon. By Christmas it will have climbed higher in the sky and so remain visible throughout the night.

*Insert the first vowel, so it does not get misread as "comet"

Comet Ison - Part 5 of 6 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! BlogSpot

Snowflake decoration stickers on shop window
Unimaginable cold of deep space has
arrived at the shopping centre

This Comet of the Century, as it is being called by the press, originates from the Oort Cloud, a belt of trillions of ice and rock fragments – possible future comets – at a distance of one light year* from the sun, on the edge of the solar system. After 4.5 billion years in that deep freeze, it is now hurtling towards a near miss with the furnace of the sun, and in the process providing a wonderful opportunity for astronomers and amateurs to practise their observational and predictive skills, as well as a hoped-for spectacular light show. You as a shorthand writer have also been given a great opportunity, as the many scientific news articles offer quite a collection of words whose outlines use the initial stroke Ess. Here is your “ought” cloud, which you may consider* you ought to practise, all spread out for you in a long line just like the comet’s watery tail, trailing into space in glorious and luminous magnificence:

  • Ison, ice, icy, isotropic, astronomy, astronomic, astronomical, astronomer, astrometry, astronaut, astrophysics
  • asteroid, aster, easterly, east, eastern, eastwards, ascend/ascent, ascertain, assortment, science, scientist, scientific, scientifically

* "light year" - you could also use Yay and Ray joined to "light", which would be quicker to write - similar to the outline for "lawyer"

* "you may consider" - if you join on the "consider " part, it would look like "you must consider". If you had already written it all as one outline, then you would need to put the vowel after the Em to prevent misreading.

Comet Ison - Part 6 of 6 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! BlogSpot

Fizzers sweets packet
Disintegrates nicely on the tongue
I know you will be writing all these examples millions if not billions and trillions of times, and your shorthand pen will be travelling across the page at an astronomically high rate, close to the speed of light, and may even start to glow in the dark, perhaps rivalling our rare and honoured heavenly visitor in scintillating brilliance and luminosity. Everyone wants a dazzling display from Comet Ison, although I suspect* it will fade rapidly from the news by next month. However, unlike the ephemeral enthusiasm of the news media, you and your expanded shorthand knowledge will definitely not* fizzle out, diminish, break up under pressure, evaporate under the intense heat of the moment, or disappear once again into the obscurity and inky-black darkness of deep space. On the contrary, you will have improved your shorthand ability and attained a reputation of radiant splendour, allowing your skills to shine brightly, through both the day and night-time, for many years to come. (910 words)

* "suspect" - the contraction is used only for the verb. The noun is a full outline.

* Hook N and halving used to represent "not"

Get all the facts and updates at:


Christmas reindeer models in shop window
No need to worry about Comet, every child will tell you
that he is perfectly capable of circling the sun harmlessly,
as long as he gets his breakfast of reindeer moss

Senin, 25 November 2013

Raw Beginners

The text is addressed to those with no knowledge of shorthand, the JPGs are there to keep everyone else gainfully occupied ...

Raw Beginners - Part 1 of 12 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot
Road Narrows sign
Narrow your focus
If you are a raw beginner about to learn shorthand, I think it is very likely that you will be learning at home from a book, without the luxury of having a shorthand teacher to direct your studies. I did learn in a classroom situation, over the course of one college year, and so I would like to pass on to you what I learned from my excellent teacher. When you have mastered something and have many years of it behind you, it is easy to think that all the methods are obvious, but learning shorthand is not at all like normal academic school subjects. It is more like learning a language, a musical instrument, sports or dancing, where theory and rules introduce you to the general scheme of things, but after that you must actually do it as much as possible in order to be able to perform it with increasing ease, speed and confidence, and without thought or hesitation. There are three items of kit that you will need to make a start. You must have an instruction book, a notepad and a pen or pencil and I give* the links to my website if you wish to read further on each of these.

* "I go" would need a vowel inserted

Raw Beginners - Part 2 of 12 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

4 different instruction books
Take your pick,
same shorthand within
BOOK – Each chapter or unit of the instruction book introduces a point of theory, broken into several single steps with example outlines, and the chapter ends with example sentences and, later on, passages all in shorthand. Sometimes a key book is available, giving transcriptions of the shorthand passages. While not essential, this could be helpful if you wish to easily record your own dictations or get someone to read them to you. Drill books and workbooks are like notepads, printed with lines of shorthand, each followed by three blank lines for you to copy onto. These I feel are not necessary to buy, as it is the easiest thing in the world to copy lines from the instruction book into a blank notepad. If you buy a drill book, the cost is a disincentive to use it up quickly, and the serious student should be filling piles of them as quickly as possible.

Raw Beginners - Part 3 of 12 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

3 x notepads
Good pads for dictation, work
& exams, cheap brick-sized
for practice and drilling
NOTEPAD – This should ideally be top spiral bound, so that you can flick the page over rapidly. If you must use lined A4* paper through necessity at times, then rule or cut it vertically in half, so the line lengths are similar to the average notepad. Narrow vertical spacing of the printed lines is not helpful, as your shorthand will get cramped. You will do yourself a favour if you can be choosy about the quality of the paper and you should test it with your chosen pen or pencil before buying in quantity – for ease of writing, and also for bleed-through if you are using ink. Bleeding doubles the cost as you can only use one side, and sometimes marks also go through to the next page, something definitely to be avoided. Please see my Print Your Own Notepad, where you can produce exactly the right size and spacing of lines on printer paper of a quality of your own choosing, and this may work out cheaper for practising purposes. For real life shorthand work and exams, though, you will need a proper* top spiral notepad.

*A4 in longhand would probably be just as quick to write

* "Insert vowel in "proper" and the diphone in "appropriate" to help distinguish between these two

Raw Beginners - Part 4 of 12 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Noodlers Flex Pen and pencil
Pen is best for speed, pencil is
more convenient for practising in public
(This is Noodler's Konrad Flex)
PEN OR PENCIL - An HB or B pencil will serve well, and if any harder than these it will not produce the thick strokes without serious digging of the paper which slows you down. Softer leads will wear down far too quickly. The best implement is a fountain pen with a flexible nib, and using ink will make a big difference to speed of writing and ease of reading your notes. There is no time during dictation to sharpen a pencil, advance a worn-down or snapped lead, or change a cartridge. However, a manually filled fountain pen can see you  through many hours of continuous writing.

Raw Beginners - Part 5 of 12 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Large and pocket dictionariesDICTIONARY - Although the three items above will get you started, you are at some point going to need a shorthand dictionary. You could finish the instruction book just using all the outlines they give, but even before that you might want to remind yourself of an outline already met with, without having to flip through the chapter pages to find where it occurred. The largest dictionary will accompany you through an entire lifetime of shorthand writing, but the small pocket dictionary may serve you better to begin* with, as it is more portable and quicker to consult. There is the temptation to want to use new words not specifically given in the instruction book before all the theory has been covered, and having a dictionary will avoid incorrect guesses. I would say that this is an inefficient way of going about learning. Giving priority to completing theory, using only the outlines given, is more important and a better use of your time until the book is finished.

* "to begin" written through the line, based on the phrase "to be"

Raw Beginners - Part 6 of 12 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Take A Break sign
Little and often
gives best results
There are also three other things that are needed as well to ensure success – invisible inside your mind, but necessary – and these are Decision, Determination and Timetable. The decision is a dividing line between thinking about it and actually committing yourself. Determination will provide the energy to carry out the decision. A timetable keeps you on track, with the satisfaction of getting you ever nearer to your desired goal at an even rate. It can be as flexible as you like, but without it you might drift off and let other things crowd out your good intentions. Short study or practise sessions at frequent intervals are best, as they keep the momentum going and prevent you from having to spend too much time recapping when you should be moving forward. Lengthy sessions with long periods of nothing in between can be rather daunting and can attract excuses why you should not start it just yet – a bit like clearing out the garage!

Raw Beginners - Part 7 of 12 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Man Digging road sign
Get stuck in
You are now sitting at your desk with the book, a pad and a pen. Each chapter consists of several related pieces of theory. Read the first piece and then write the outlines presented, at least three times each, saying them out loud to yourself as you write. You need to hear and associate all the spoken sounds with their outlines. Keep the pressure light and do not stop at the angles between strokes – you are writing, not drawing. Read the practise sentences several times until you have gained familiarity with the outlines. Then write them out, and read back from your own notes. As soon as you can, write the matter from the spoken word. An alternative* is to remember one sentence, look away from the book page, and then say it out loud as you write the shorthand.

* "alternative" can also be written as an intersection, using T + V Hook

Raw Beginners - Part 8 of 12 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

New Lines Added shop signYou do not have to perfect your knowledge of each chapter before moving on to the next. The theory and vocabulary in the next section will automatically include what you have just learned, and I can assure you that whilst you are working on the next chunk, the previous one will start to seem rather obvious and get more so as you progress. A few lessons down the line, the first chapter will seem really simple and basic, yet at the beginning you were working hard to master it. Every time you sit down to a session, it is helpful to first skim over the previous section and write out a few of the outlines and read some of the sentences, as your warm-up exercise.

Raw Beginners - Part 9 of 12 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Drill pad pages
Prepare in advance: single outlines in margin,
or sentences with blank lines underneath
At the end of each session, you might find it useful to create a few pages of drills, so that you have something to work on in odd moments before your next session. Write some sentences copied from the book neatly down the page, leaving three blank lines underneath each one. To drill you just copy the sentences onto the blank lines. It might be helpful to use a different colour pencil or ink or run a highlighter marker over the sample lines, so that your eye can pick them out easily. The drills are best kept in a separate notepad, firstly so that you can carry it around with you throughout the day and secondly so that you can reuse the sentences for further practice and revision. If you start this habit early on, you will certainly speed up your arrival at the ultimate goal of writing as fast as people speak.

Raw Beginners - Part 10 of 12 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Slow road sign
The longhand route
At college we learned all the theory in the first term, and this is a good pace to set yourself. We were expected to read our notes fully at home, as well as do plenty of practise each evening. The rate at which you progress is determined by the time and effort you put into it. It is worth pressing through in the early stages, so that familiarity comes quickly and you can have the satisfaction of using it for real things as soon as possible. As soon as theory knowledge permits you might consider using my Perpetual Calendar which has been created to encourage learners to use their shorthand every day for telephone calls, memos, engagements and diary entries.

Raw Beginners - Part 11 of 12 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Crawler Lane road sign
Never again
Everything you achieve in shorthand is a reflection of how much you enjoy the subject, as well as the amount of time spent applying yourself to its study. Shorthand theory can sometimes seem to go on forever, even though you know perfectly well that the book has a finite number of pages! But when you finish that, there is a great sense of freedom that you can now write anything without worrying whether there is some yet-to-be-discovered piece of theory that affects it. Your next task is to increase your vocabulary of outlines and that is done by reading as much correct shorthand as possible - the very purpose of these blogs. Reading is the most efficient way of increasing your skill, as you can assimilate new outlines in large quantities, avoiding the slow process of dictionary leafing and the risky habit of making wild guesses that will have to be corrected later on. Once the theory is all covered, you will want to avail yourself of any other shorthand books that you can get, such as those covering review and phrasing. As usual Ebay UK is the place where these abound.

Raw Beginners - Part 12 of 12 - Long Live Pitman's Shorthand! Blogspot

Don't Sit On It, Use It sign
Your smarts, good
sense, nimble fingers and
unwavering determination
Obviously this particular blog is addressed to those who cannot yet read a single word of the shorthand JPGs above. I want to assure you that you can certainly be reading them with ease in three months, if you apply yourself consistently and purposefully. You will be able to take your student or reporter notes with ease, missing nothing, or write that report or book as fast as you can think of the ideas and compose the sentences. You will be able to record speech totally free of reliance on expensive technology and finger-cramping longhand, and yet still have access to these, but at your choice and discretion, and not through necessity. Once you learn something useful, it is almost impossible to imagine not knowing it, and I am confident that your shorthand will be the same, and that writing it will become an easy, pleasant, useful and normal part of your daily life. (1867 words)