Holding a pen correctly

An alarming number of literate people have no idea how to hold their favorite writing instrument. This is partly due to parents and teachers being more concerned with getting the script on paper vs. actually teaching proper holding technique. Sadly, a large number of teachers are also unaware of how to hold a pen.

How to hold your pen/pencil correctly

Your thumb, index finger and middle finger create a sort of open triangle. The index finger and thumb don’t need to be closed, however the middle finger does need to cross over toward the thumb a little bit to form a “shelf”. The pencil really rests on the tip of the middle finger while the index finger and thumb prevent the pen from sliding about on this “shelf”.

Note how little effort is needed to hold the pen.

Note how little effort is now needed to hold the pen.

The "open triangle". Note the index and middle finger really does the writing, while the middle finger just sort of rides along.

The “open triangle”. Note the index finger and thumb really do the writing, while the middle finger just sort of rides along below holding up the “shelf”.

While the middle finger creates the "shelf" to hold the pen, the ring finger, little finger and the base of the thumb create the "pad" the hand rests on.

While the middle finger creates the “shelf” to hold the pen, the ring finger, little finger and the base of the thumb create the “pad” the hand rests on.

It’s your thumb and index finger that actually do the writing by moving in unison while the middle finger sort of tags along under both of them holding the pen up towards them.

When the index finger has this slight curve, you’re not putting too much pressure on the pen. Remember you’ve got fingers; not a pair of vise-grips so don’t treat them as such.

Your ring finger, little finger and the lower part of your thumb create the pad that lets you glide about the paper.

What’s the big deal?

This arrangement gives the greatest amount of dexterity when it comes to writing while requiring the least amount of effort. Also, I’ve had juvenile arthritis since the age of 12 so you can bet I’ll look for the least awkward and least painful way to write as long as possible if I can help it.

The longer you write, the more tired and strained your fingers will feel if you don’t hold your pen correctly. If you’ve felt tired or your fingers hurt after writing what seems like a short period of time, chances are you’re holding your pen awkwardly.

No, but really, what’s the big deal?

Everyone types these days. It’s come to a point where handwriting, when it comes to communication, is at about the same level as walking when it comes to transport. People don’t do it because they need to; they do it unless other forms are not available, not applicable or inappropriate.

This is a shame, really.

Humans are not unique when it comes to complex speech. Plenty of other creatures in this world have far more complex speech patterns in a greater range of frequencies that humans can’t even perceive let alone articulate. We aren’t unique in our concept of culture either. Dolphins are routinely known to hunt with different characteristics depending on the area of their range, even though they may be the same species. Likewise, wolves also exhibit uniqueness from pack to pack. Same species, different behavior depending on community and location. We call that “culture”.

The only real difference between us and most other animals is a writing system that lets us pass knowledge from generation to generation. Whereas other creatures are pretty much reduced to chemical secretions when they want to leave a message. In fact, it’s our writing that has allowed us to advance this far and, of course, opposable thumbs helped. Our civilization really owes its existence to writing, not just speech.

Now that you have these wonderful tools at your disposal, wouldn’t you want to know how to use them correctly?

A little background

I’m left-handed, though I usually write with my right hand (unless I’m holding a cup of coffee with my right, or in this case, my phone to take the above pictures).

It became really obvious that I’m left-handed when a few years ago I suffered almost complete numbness in my left hand due to the side-effects of a heart medication I was taking at the time. A lot of things suddenly became far more awkward than I expected because… oh right, I used to use my left hand for that.

I also recently started learning the guitar and I fear my lack of progress with the right-handed instrument may also be due to me being left-handed in addition to the shortage of free time.

When I was in kindergarten, I had an awesome teacher; probably the best I’ve ever had. In many ways she’s the reason I am who I am today and was really responsible for cultivating my curiosity and a tenacity when it comes to satiating it. That aspect has stayed with me to this day, but unfortunately, she had a not so awesome assistant.

Despite me being left-handed, the assistant, in a not so delicate way, made sure I used the right hand when writing, although my repeated switch to the left should have been a hint. The mere concept of a left-handed writer seemed to have been alien to her and, since I was 2-3 at the time, I couldn’t really mount an effective protest. As a result, I now write mostly with my right hand. This is far more common than a lot of people realise.

But she did at least show me how to hold my pencil correctly so I guess I’m grateful for that.

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So, where was I?

Although I didn’t have much trouble, a whole bunch of people in New York, New Jersey and Staten Island are still without power… which also means no heat. So if you’re able and feel like helping these people out, please do. You also can try browsing Twitter for leads on aid.

Now back to your regularly scheduled spiel.

A quick recap first…

Things were moving pretty fast in Sri Lanka, my sunglasses broke, CERN is still awesome, flowers were pretty, but people are still somewhat rude.

I got back from Sri Lanka and discovered that even though I consider myself Sinhalese, almost everyone else there didn’t. And for more than a year, I’ve been planning on building a cabin. Nothing too exiting happened afterwards, but I did manage to survive the Sandy unscathed.

Super.

I’m going back to school

This wasn’t a decision I reached lightly since I already have two jobs and very little free time to begin with, but I think it’s about time I put off finishing it.

It is a bit awkward to see a class full of people (and sunlight for that matter) 10 years or younger than I am; this was the opposite of how it was when I first went to class at night when I was 10 – 30 years younger than almost everyone else.

I don’t really want to go with Computer Science, but since that’s what I started in, I may as well finish it. From my chats with the family, practically everyone wants me to pursue that or Engineering. This is like a cultural thing in Sri Lanka. You’re either an Engineer or a Doctor and sometimes, being Accountant is also acceptable, but Carpentry, what I’d really rather be doing is a no-no unless it’s the family business.

It’s like a status thing.

Another possible field would be Psychology. The lessons I’ve taken so far were very interesting so that may be something to look into. And I like listening to people.

Not sure if I’d go that route, though I’ve been interested in Architecture as well, but I’ve been told that it takes years to get a foothold in the field and even then, it’s pretty hard unless you’re really, really lucky. We’ll see.

What love life?

My ex and I are both programmers and I felt maybe dating outside the sphere would be good since I thought there is such a thing as having too much in common. This turned out not to be the issue.

It’s been 3 months since I last went on a date and I wasn’t too into it at the time. She was very sweet and I’ve known her for a year now, but I didn’t feel like it was going anywhere. And I was looking for a girlfriend at the time since have enough girl-friends, yet somehow I didn’t want to pursue and I think I know why.

I’m reasonably sure I’d rather be single at the moment and somehow that doesn’t bother me as much as it did ten years ago. I know this timeframe with certainty since I met my ex a year before that. A bit of a hard pill to swallow to admit that you haven’t been happy (on and off) with someone for more than a decade, but I guess the truth shall set you free.

Though I don’t really use Facebook except to keep touch with high school friends and stuff, I just changed my status to single. In the years I’ve had the account, this is the first time I’m actually setting the status; a small hint on how on the fence I was about it.

Masks

Speaking of lying to yourself, I finally got to unpack some of the things I brought back from Sri Lanka (yes, it’s been months!) and got to unwrap the masks. These are Raksha (demon) masks representative of the traditional crafts of the country. The full-sized versions are worn during Kolam, a performance carried out entirely in costume. These are much smaller than those, naturally, since they needed to fit in my luggage.

Is “Rest in Peace” appropriate for Buddhists?

Yes.

That is all.

No, seriously, that’s it.

You don’t need more explaining.

OK, Fine!

RIP is just an expression wishing the dearly departed an unperturbed existence in the afterlife. Sure, it comes from Christian theology, but then so is Goodbye — short for God Be With You. Pretty much everyone in all other religions have said Goodbye if they’re fluent in English, so why not RIP? The technicalities don’t matter; what does is the sentiment.

We use countless words and terms that are grounded in past religions and beliefs including many that have been lost to history.

I’m a Buddhist/quasi-Atheist and that hasn’t stopped me from saying Merry Christmas either or Godspeed if I’m wishing a safe journey. Many in the scientific world use Godspeed, especially toward astronauts or those about to conduct high altitude research and quite a bunch of them are non-religious as well.

But I would get my panties in a bunch if the phrase became mandatory, which last I checked, it wasn’t. Shall we stop walking on eggshells already?

This is a bit of an odd post, but I was prompted to write it because I saw that question in the stats as one of the search terms linking to this blog. I guess it’s been a while since I wrote anything about culture (also, I’ve seen this question asked elsewhere) so might as well put it to rest here.

It’s coming… better fill the stash

I can’t go more than a week before someone I know tries to convince me the world is coming to an end. Usually it’s the result of poorly informed speculation on the orbit of the asteroid Apophis and its impact hazard, imaginary planets by people who know nothing of orbital mechanics or someone misreading (and miscalculating) dates in holy texts.

The other day, I think I finally came face to face with the evidence of doomsday it and I can’t ignore it any longer.

WTF, Merriam-Webster?!

I can understand parkour being in there, since the phenomenon has been around in one incarnation or another for a very long time. I can also accept “tweet” since these little excepts of our psyche have influenced world events, but “fist bump”? Boomerang child? Helicopter parent?!

You know, the Goths — the term originally defined lack of sophistication, culture and an abundance of vulgarity — attacked Rome (after being invaded first) and it’s said that with this begin the of the fall of the Roman Empire. Well, here’s the proof as I came across it at Walmart. I was convinced this chain will be at least partly responsible for the apocalypse somehow.

But that’s not what I wanted to write about…

Soap, even in Walmart, is starting to get pricey like everywhere else and I didn’t feel like spending $8+ on a bottle of laundry detergent even though I use very little of it. Which got me thinking… can I make my own laundry detergent? Turns out, other people have asked the same question years ago, and lo and behold, they’ve been doing something about it for just as long.

P.S.

You may notice the Anger Management Ring has switched hands in the pic above. Since it was on the right index finger, it was becoming a problem when I open doorknobs and such.

Drug PSAs mostly fall on deaf ears

So instead, I’ll leave you with this as a small insight of what may come out as a result of being high. Especially on marijuana.

Disclaimer:

I realize that I may inadvertantly turn people on to drugs. In which case, just tell the cops you’ve never been to this blog… if you remember it at all.

Drugs are bad m’kay?