Less Than Perfect
Minutes of the Meeting
Less Than Perfect (7 January
If you have been reading my Pitman's Snippets blogspot, you will have
had some practice in reading shorthand just as it comes from the pen,
with all its less-than-perfect* hooks and circles, and strokes that lean
a little from the dictionary outline. Every shorthand book, whether
instruction or reading matter, will present perfect outlines that are
the ideal for the student to aim at, in the same way as a writing book
gives letters of the alphabet and examples of handwriting* for children
to copy as best they can. Once you start cursive or quick longhand
writing, the formation of your letters will very quickly depart from
that perfection, but as long as each letter does not stray into the
“territory” of another letter or number, then you can still read it very
* "less than" Downward L in order to join the phrase
* "handwriting" It helps to make a small angle between the Nd and the
Ray, for clarity
Longhand letters have a lot of redundancy in the lines that form them,
so if they are badly formed they are still quite readable, up to a
point. They can be deformed and altered quite a large amount in order to
produce the abundance of fonts, most of which give us no trouble at all
in reading. Shorthand is not so much like that, as the lines required
for each word are kept to the bare minimum. Once you know all the
strokes, then you get to know how far you can stray before one stroke
begins to change into another merely through varying its length or
Last year when I started the Snippets many of them were scribbled
captions on top of photographs. This year I will be doing more as
hastily written letters and notes, on notepad paper, which will be
scanned and posted as they are, without being perfected. Some of the
hooks, circles and angles may be somewhat wayward, but I believe this
will be helpful, as that is just what normal real handwritten* shorthand
looks like. Obviously the slower you are writing, the more
textbook-like* your shorthand will be, but I think that most of the time
you will be writing at a speed that will produce flowing cursive
* "handwritten" See note on "handwriting" in previous paragraph
* "textbook" Omits the lightly-sounded middle T
The Snippets are meant to be a “halfway house” between the book outlines
and your own shorthand notes. They will give you an opportunity to
sharpen your reading and recognition skills on lifelike shorthand,
without having to worry whether any of the outlines are wrong or
missing. However, unlike your own notes, you will not have heard the
matter before, so in that respect it is just a little more like very
“cold” notes where you may have entirely forgotten what was in them. I
think the effort of reading them will help you to cultivate an attitude
of persistence and determination to get all of it, and not be content
with just the easy bits.
Even more importantly, the learner needs to get used to the idea that
real-life shorthand will have no longhand to consult, if the shorthand
notes cannot be read. In a classroom situation this is sometimes true if
the teacher gives a dictation that is not in the book. If you were
taking notes of a meeting, you might have a report, an agenda or some
paperwork from which to get names or technical terms, and any such
information should be made the most of, but that is never going to make
up for incomplete or illegible shorthand. Even one gap or unreadable
outline is quite chastening and sends you back, with palms sweating and
brow furrowed, to the dictionary and study books to make sure that it
never happens again.
The first thing I learned to do was make a note of what needed to be
looked up or improved, so that I did not get caught out again. I found
that taking the dictionary route was far more comfortable and far less
embarrassing than the temptation of the “muddling through” route. You
care about the accuracy of your shorthand, as does your teacher if you
have one, but I found that an employer is only thinking about the
finished result and you will be judged by that. I hope that you find the
increased amount of actual shorthand in the Snippets notes useful in
avoiding and preventing any unpleasant shocks and embarrassments
occurring in your future shorthand endeavours. (715 words)
Maybe the ink was better off staying in the bottle -
a brave/reckless attempt at taking down a rapid talk from
an MP3 - not only less than perfect, but perfectly illegible
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Chocolate (13 January 2014)
I am not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. The most common one must
be to lose weight after the Christmas excesses. I think the desire
probably starts before December, but cannot be acted upon without
suffering deprivation all the way from the pre-Christmas dinners through
to finishing off the treats remaining in the larder after New Year. I
have found that a health regime is more likely to succeed if eating
habits are taken in hand when the weather starts to get colder, around
about October here in the UK. I know that with colder weather I will be
tempted to do less exercise and probably eat more. If I just maintain my
normal eating and exercise habits, then I find that winter does not
result in weight gain. I cannot claim to have been one hundred percent
perfect in this every year, but I was glad this New Year that my clothes
all still fit exactly the same as at the end of summer, and I still have
the energy to walk to my destination (and not always taking the shortest
route), even when I could ride there if I wanted.
Any food treat that contains sugar is going to be addictive in some
degree and it is amusing how their over-consumption can be justified, at
least for the duration of the eating. I once read how someone resorted
to spraying the thrown-out cakes* with furniture polish to prevent
herself retrieving them from the bin, where they had been consigned in a
desperate effort to remove the temptation from her kitchen. One can’t
help wondering how long her resolve would survive without a much
stronger incentive to control eating impulses. I rather enjoy all the
humorous chocolate quotes, mainly as I have personal experience*
these types of excuse, and I have listed some of my favourites*
They are a window into the state of the mind when dealing with something
seen as an indulgence, how the favoured* item occupies a central*
position, and how its pursuit will be rationalised over and above all
the other considerations. Maybe the other factors will surface
afterwards, when the chocolate box is empty, but for the time being they
are swept aside and count for nothing.
* "cakes" Insert vowel, to distinguish it from "cookies"
* Omission phrase “personal (ek)sperience”
* "favoured" Note that
"favourite" has a reversed Vr
* "central" Uses doubling for convenience, even though there is no vowel
between the T and R sounds
I’d give up chocolate but I’m no quitter.
Save the Earth – it’s the only planet with chocolate.
There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with
Exercise is a dirty word – every time I hear it, I wash my mouth out
You are never alone with a bar of chocolate.
There’s more to life than chocolate, but not right now.
There is no chocoholics anonymous because no one wants to quit.
Eating chocolate makes my clothes shrink.
I am not overweight. I am chocolate enriched.
There are four basic food groups - milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white
chocolate, and chocolate truffles.
Chocolate is the Answer. Who cares what the Question is?
In the cookies*
of life, friends are the chocolate chips.
* "cookies" and “cakes” Always insert the vowels, to differentiate
Blink and it's gone ...
I have saved the following two quotes till last. The first one has a
very useful and real shorthand significance. Once you gain fluency in
writing shorthand, you will increasingly find that you can hear a word,
your hand will instantly write it in shorthand, and your mind will not
be involved much at all, except as “supervisor” watching what is going
on. This process obviously involves your memory, but only that automatic
part that comes up with the required information, in the same way as
words and correct grammar come to mind when you wish to say something,
or legs start moving in the correct direction when you wish to go from
point A to point B. The second quote is how you get from being slow
learner to confident fast writer – constant practice, little and often,
made possible by never being very far from your pen and paper.
Your hand and your mouth agreed many years ago that, as far as chocolate
is concerned, there is no need to involve your brain. – Dave Barry
The 12-step chocoholics program: Never be more than 12 steps away from
chocolate! – Terry Moore (for chocolate read shorthand pad).
I hope that you are still enjoying your shorthand. To the true
enthusiast, every new outline is like a wonderful soft-centred
chocolate-coated confection, and every compact and ingenious phrase is a
melt-in-the-mouth dainty morsel. A completed shorthand task, with every
word captured and read back, is like a pleasant celebratory meal,
leaving nothing further to be desired – except, of course, to do it all
again when the opportunity arises. Unlike the sweets and feasts, though,
shorthand can be indulged in continuously, without any adverse
side-effects*, and resulting only in steady improvement and
ever-increasing skill in execution. (811 words)
* "side-effects" Does not use the advanced phrasing method of the F
hook, as it would look too similar to "defects", see
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Minutes Of The Meeting (25
The paragraphs below give some of the wordings relating to discussions
and meetings. They are for vocabulary only and are not a connected
narrative. They are quite heavy on the jargon, and it would be better to
write single sentences or part sentences, as facility drills repeated
down the page, aiming for accuracy and neatness rather than great speed.
You could also rewrite the sentences to pad them out with more common
ordinary words. A new or difficult outline is always easier to absorb
when it is surrounded by really easy and well known ones, and the
plainer diluted sentences will be more even and flowing to write. New
vocabulary should be learned by writing at a comfortable rate at first*,
and as you assimilate all the new outlines your writing of them will
naturally speed up of its own accord. I suspect* that the notion is
lurking somewhere that forcing yourself to write the barely-known new
outlines at speed will somehow get them learned. My experience is that
you can only* write something correctly and fast (when it occurs in a
dictation) if you know it well, and that this process never works in
* Omission phrase "at (fir)st"
* "suspect" This contraction is only used for the verb. The noun is a full
* "only" in phrases can use the large L hook where convenient
Notes that are going to be condensed into a report or minutes do not
have to be taken down verbatim, or even in whole grammatical sentences,
unless that is what has been asked for, and you will have to find out
beforehand*, or decide, how much information will be required. It is
better to write down a little more than what you think you will need and
then reduce, rearrange, summarise and consolidate the information for
your final typed-up version. When a decision or course of action has
been proposed or agreed, then that is probably the best time* to make a
verbatim note of what was agreed on, so that there is no question about
exactly what was meant.
* "beforehand" Optional contraction
* Omission phrase "bes(t) time"
A copy of a previous report or minutes will provide the accepted page
layout for your finished* report, as well as the general terminology
that you are likely to meet. Having your own copy of the current agenda
with you during the meeting will enable you to insert the headings into
your notes as you go along. Getting the names of people in advance, and
working out their initials, so that none clash, will enable you to put
each speaker’s identity in the margin of your pad. Everything said in
the meeting must remain totally confidential and you should treat your
notes and report the same, not leaving them lying around unattended or
where they can be accessed or read on-screen.
* "finished" Ensure the halved Ish is curved well upwards so it does not
look the contraction "financial"
Apologies for absence were received from Mr Brown and Mrs Green. The
minutes of the previous meeting were taken as read, discussed
extensively, approved and agreed. Matters arising: several committee
members disagreed over the details contained within the financial
report. There was a disagreement over the exact figures and whether the
amounts* given in the accounts* section reflected the present state of
affairs of the company. Further discussion took place on this subject
and it was agreed that an amendment be made in order to correct any
uncertainty over this matter. Some members thought that the amended
section could be added to the existing report, but others felt that the
accountants should make a detailed study of the changes and additions
needed and then redraft and resubmit the report. It was agreed that this
latter solution would be much more* satisfactory. The redrafted figures
would be circulated as soon as they were available, so that the
committee members could record* their approval or otherwise at the next
* "amounts" "accounts" Ensure "amounts" has a goodly humped curve, as
these two can easily look like each other when written at speed
* Omission phrase "much mo(re)"
* "record" Insert the dash vowel so that it does not look
Some discussion ensued* on who was responsible for checking for errors
and omissions, and whether extra staff were required in the accounts
department* to cover this. Various suggestions were offered in the
ensuing* discussions and Mr Black suggested that a list of possible
solutions to the problem be submitted for consideration* . It was also
proposed that more time should be allowed for draft reports to be
created* and that they should be checked thoroughly and corrected* ,
before being presented at board meetings. The lengthy process of
compiling the necessary facts and figures* was seen as an essential part
of the running and ongoing improvement of the organisation’s operations.
It was felt that this task should receive higher priority than has been
the case in recent years. A copy of the annual report* and the monthly
reports for the past year were presented to the directors. The annual
report and accounts will be made available to the board of directors* within the next week. The report and accounts* have been sent to all the
* “ensued” “ensuing” Note that "ensue" and "ensuing" use stroke S
* "accounts department" Intersections can often be written close up, if
it is not possible to write through
* Omission phrase "for (con)sideration" “rep(ort and) accounts” “b(oa)rd
* “more time” Halving to represent the T of “time”
* “created” Insert the diphone, so it does not look like "corrected"
* "facts and figures" could be phrased if you omit the T = "fac(t)s-figures"
The progress of the new building work currently being carried out* to
the factory and offices was reviewed, and it was unanimously agreed that
the decisions taken at last month’s planning committee meeting should be
approved and implemented immediately. It was agreed that the
recommendations set out* at that time should be carried out without
delay and that a meeting with the general manager of the building
department be set up for no later than the end of next month. This would
be an opportunity for building staff to present any concerns or problems
that they might encounter and for all the issues to be resolved before
any work is commenced. Problems encountered in the past had been solved
at a local level but it was becoming necessary to take measures to
prevent them being repeated and causing unnecessary delays and costs.
* “carried out” “set out” Halving for the T of "out"
The results and outcomes of that meeting are to be circulated to the
committee members, for information only. It would also be necessary to
inform the appropriate departments of the proper action that they should
take, as well as the timescale and targets that they are expected to
work to. It was agreed that a memorandum should be sent to the heads of
department without delay. This will enable the departmental managers to
organise their time, staff and resources, in order to incorporate* these
additional new projects into their plans for this year’s activities.
Discussions were held on the profit and loss account* , the hedge fund,
stocks and shares*, and our financial liabilities.
* "incorporate" Full outline, the contraction is only used for
* Omission phrases "profit (and) loss account" "stocks (and) shares"
The chairman of the committee was of the opinion that when formal
motions are tabled, moved, proposed, seconded, voted on and passed, this
should be fully recorded in the minutes. A strategy meeting with senior
management must be held as soon as practicable, to carry out the
proposals. This should be followed immediately by the creation and
drafting of a comprehensive plan of action. The job of the creation* of
the plans and their subsequent correction* was allocated to several of
the senior staff in the personnel department. It was necessary to
determine which workers and operatives should be involved at the
planning stage, in order that they are able to make informed* decisions
in good time. It is hoped that our vision can now go forward without any
set-backs or hindrances. The immediate commencement and implementation
of such a policy would give the managers insufficient time to consult
the appropriate panels of advisers and consultants. This policy document
will result* in everyone being in possession of information that is
relevant and up-to-date. They can then investigate all the options open
to them in order to make the most efficient and advantageous decisions
for the furtherance of our business.
* “creation” Insert the diphone, so it does not look like "correction"
* "informed" Optional short dash through the last stroke of a contraction to
signify past tense, necessary here as the outline could read as “enough”
* Omission phrase "will (re)sult"
Mrs White suggested that the firm could also request contributions of
ideas and possible new initiatives from the shop-floor workers and
possibly interview the more experienced employees who have first-hand
knowledge of the processes involved. They would be able to maintain the
status quo, whilst at the same time draw up plans for the requisite* improvements to achieve and even surpass the production targets. It was
agreed that Miss Gray would approach the general managers of each
department for their views, opinions and recommendations on this new
project and subsequently compile a report into the advisability and
feasibility of such a scheme.
* “requisite” Insert the middle vowel and keep the T long, so that it
does not look like "requested"
The meeting was adjourned at noon, and reconvened at 1 pm. It was noted
that the Finance* Secretary did not attend the afternoon session.
Financial matters had been satisfactorily dealt with during the morning
session. The Treasurer was satisfied with the accuracy of the published* review dealing with the business’s overall financial situation during
the past year. The Secretary requested that certain aspects of the legal
issues should be mentioned at the Annual General Meeting* . It was not
thought necessary to seek the approval of the delegates and reps* in the
field for these minor changes to the schedule of events. Approval was
sought to set up a standing committee for the purpose of governing the
activities of the elected representatives of the workforce. It was felt
that a senior body should be created by general consent, representatives
should be elected or appointed, and a set of rules of conduct drawn up.
In the event of opposition to this proposal, a secret ballot would be
offered, in order to obtain a consensus on how the company and its
subsidiaries should proceed in this matter.
* "finance" Dictionary outline. Tends to be pronounced “fye-” when the
emphasis is on the first syllable, and “finn-” when on the 2nd syllable.
Better written through the line, as above the line could look similar to
“findings”. "Financial" is a contraction written in 2nd position on the
* "published" Optional short dash through last stroke of
contraction to indicate past tense, necessary here as this outline would also make sense as
"public". If in doubt, abandon the contraction and write a full outline.
* Omission phrase "Ann(ual) Ge(neral) Meet(ing)"
* "reps" Always insert the vowel, so it cannot be read as
“representatives" which would look similar if its V Hook was not
The matter of the remuneration of volunteers’ expenses was shelved,
pending an enquiry into the legal and financial regulations on this
subject. It is intended to carry out an in-depth study of the rules and
regulations* that presently govern these particular conditions. Advice
would be sought and if necessary an extraordinary* meeting convened to
discuss this at length with those directly involved. It was hoped that
this would bring about a satisfactory resolution to the questions that
had been raised. It was anticipated that most attendees would vote in
favour of the motion, although there were a small number of interested
parties who would be voting by proxy. It was estimated that the postal
vote would account for approximately ten per cent* , and that time should
be allowed for these to come in and be counted.
* Omission phrase "rules (and re) g(u)lations"
* "extraordinary" Optional contraction
* "ten per cent" Always vocalise outlines for "ten" and "eighteen". Use stroke P for
"per cent" only after actual numerals, use the full outline otherwise,
In reviewing his time as chairman of the company, Mr Smith said that his
primary function had been to oversee the ongoing growth, stability and
prosperity of the company. He had witnessed significant changes to the
fortunes of the business through the various ups and downs of the market
conditions and the unstable economic climate. He referred back to his
days serving on the many advisory committees, as well as his honorary
post of Secretary many years ago. He described his times leading groups
of enthusiastic staff and delegations to the many functions,
conventions* and exhibitions around the country. Those attending the
conference were unanimous in their praise for the reporters who had
consistently and successfully met all their deadlines. Everyone had
successfully completed the tasks and assignments within the timescale
required. It was decided that future tasks will be assigned on the basis
of experience and past performance. This revised policy will result* in
a significant improvement in the company’s track record. It is hoped
that these new teleconferencing, online conferencing and seminar
facilities will significantly improve communication within the company.
* "functions" "conventions" are very similar outlines, so insert their
vowels to prevent misreading
* Omission phrase "will (re)sult"
Under the heading of Any Other Business* , there was a brief* discussion
on the merits of merging the two sub-committees. The general consensus
was that this would be to our advantage, but that it would require the
complete agreement of all their members. It was decided that this topic
would be brought up at the next Annual General Meeting, after which it
could* be referred back to local committees for further revision and
eventual implementation. The date of the next meeting was left
undecided, due to the members’ existing heavy diary commitments, and so
this will be advised in due course.
* Omission phrase "any oth(er) biz(ness)"
* "brief" Always insert the vowel, as it could be misread as "number of"
* "could" Best not phrased, as when it is out of position it
could be misread as "can"
Finally, the committee discussed the very important question of the
materials and resources available for sustaining the continued energy
levels and growth of its attendees, and there was complete agreement
that the usual refreshments of water, dry biscuits and stale cookies* should be discontinued in favour of the more relevant tea, coffee, fruit
juice and jam sponge cake* . After a show of hands, with no abstentions
or opposition, this very welcome proposal was unanimously agreed and
acted upon without delay, to the complete satisfaction of all present.
* "cookie" "cake" need their vowels inserted to differentiate them
Sneaky way to bring a meeting to an end - reveal the cake
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Success Quotes (30 January 2014)
All these quotes can be applied to shorthand learning, just as much as
they can to any other endeavour:
The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones –
The elevator to success is out of order. You’ll have to use the stairs .
. . one step at a time – Joe Girard
It is never too late to be what you might have been – George Eliot
Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere – Chinese
Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do – John
Many of life’s failures are experienced by people who did not realize
how close they were to success when they gave up – Thomas Edison
Under promise, over deliver – Tom Peters (Practise faster than the speed
you will need)
Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of
satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that
demanded our best – Theodore Isaac Rubin
Whenever an individual or a business decides that success has been
attained, progress stops – Thomas J. Watson
Whenever I hear, 'It can't be done,' I know I'm close to success –
A man is what he thinks about all day long – Ralph Waldo Emerson (Think
outlines all day long)
One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem
before it becomes an emergency – Arnold H. Glasgow (Practise awkward
outlines before they occur for real)
The swiftest horse cannot overtake a word once spoken – Chinese proverb
(unless you are a shorthand writer)
Touch black paint, have black fingers – Chinese proverb (Keep the
fountain pen clean!) (289 words)
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