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November 2014




Simple 1


Comet Landing


Winter Quotes

Fireworks (10 November 2014)




As I am writing this on a dark rainy evening, I can hear lots of fireworks going off. The official day for them was the fifth of November, four days ago, but they began to be let off several days before that, as that weekend was dry and not too cold. Gone are the days when single small fireworks were the norm, although I am sure there are still some providing a good display in people's back gardens. But when I am sitting at the computer by the window, it is only the giant loud ones that are noticeable. I think their attraction, apart from the sheer size and noise of the effects, must be that they give a good continuous display without any further action being required. As I can see houses on the lower ground further away, I always have the camera handy so that I can easily get some video of the starbursts, whizzes, pops and bangs. Although I like the colourful seed-head shaped bursts, I find the most amusing* ones are the screamers that go off in spirals in all directions, whining loudly as they go, and they are definitely better viewed from a distance and I am not sure I would like to be standing directly underneath.

* “amazing” “amusing” Always insert the vowel

We have had some very heavy rain in the last month, but in between the showers the weather has been quite reasonable for the time of year, although it is becoming damper and chillier all the time* . I can't* imagine that anyone could have had a bonfire with everything so wet, but then that particular tradition seems to have* died away over the years, to be replaced by the huge one-size-fits-all mega-firework. After it is finished, there is no need to stay outside poking a dying bonfire or tidying up the charred remains of small fireworks, and so everyone can get back indoors for their party nibbles and treats.

* Omission phrases "all (the) time" "seems (to) have"

* "can't" Always insert the vowel in apostrophied phrases



Yesterday I found a spent rocket stick and cardboard casing in my garden, a reminder of past times when the little fireworks were all that there were available for the normal householder. It was always rather gloomy on the morning after Bonfire Night, as it was called then, to find the blackened remains of our and other people's fireworks in the garden and streets. It was rather like the morning after a party, with the scattering of sweet wrappers and popped balloons throughout the house, and empty ice cream cartons piled up in the kitchen.




Whenever we hear the explosions going on, we often shudder at the cost, knowing that it has all "gone up in smoke" but I do make the effort to remind myself that this is no different from any other type of entertainment. Party food is gone in a flash, other sorts of entertainment are soon over, and a day out runs its course more rapidly than we would like, as we arrive back home from the seaside or park visit as the sun goes down. The fuel in the car has been burned just the same as the fireworks, and we have gained benefit and enjoyment from it* for a short duration. All the more reason to take plenty of photos and movies of the action so that it can all be enjoyed over and over again later on.

* “from it” Halving to represent "it"


Where I live New Year is always seen in with a flurry of fireworks, and at that time it seems to me* to be more meaningful, as it is marking a real event, the turning of the year. Once all the November fireworks are spent, I can look forward to another display but that one will happen all at once, and last probably only twenty minutes at most. I will have everything visible from my window recorded on camera and by half past midnight I will be more than happy to close the window on the cold air and slip into the warm bed. (659 words)

* "to me" In phrases, the short forms "me" and "him" sometimes need a vowel for clarity

The screamers, erratic and indecisive, obviously they thought they knew the shorthand and didn't feel the need to practise

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Simple 1 (15 November 2014)


1. New Skills - If you keep on reading the book and doing the things it says, you will soon have the ability to keep up with what is going on in any office in the city. I am going to assume you have read it all by now and I think we can admire your skills in this area. Basically you are going to succeed and arrive at your goal because you were always busy at the academy listening to the lessons and reading your books. It is obvious you are doing things right and would never fall asleep on the job! You may wish to go to the agency today to get some advice and ask if they have any jobs for you. Do you think you can cope with a desk job at the council* office or a web design firm or maybe you would like to be dealing with customers in a shop or cafe? My advice is to discuss all these things at length with your careers adviser tomorrow and think of a job which would allow you to escape your low-paid job and do something with a higher monthly salary. (195 words)

* "council" Note the vowel against the L is in third place. For "counsel" it would be in second place.

2. Seaside Visit - In July I had a desire to see the seaside. So on Monday I put my lunch box and a large map into my bag. I had to check the car was full of fuel, as it was a long way to go. I had to leave the house at six. It was a lovely day and I was happy to be on my way to the sea. Along the route, I saw many farms full of sheep and cows, and meadows of hay ready for the autumn mowing and making into bales. It was my aim to arrive at eight* so I had all day to enjoy myself. When I came to the seaside I saw the beach was wide and long, and the tide was right out and full of many small cool rock pools with tiny animals. It was sunny all day and it was really nice to lounge* on the beach with nothing to spoil my visit in any way. I had my meal of rolls with cheese and tomatoes and a ripe juicy peach, and took some photos of the sky and sea, to show my family. On the way back I had the time to look in the village museum with the history of the area, and saw the sailing boats on the big lake by Bell Farm, which is off New Road. I am happy to say my day out was a real joy and I will be going back soon. (251 words)

* “eight” Best written as a numeral when it is alone, as the outline could look like a figure one.

* “lounge” Insert the diphthong, so it does not look like "lunch" which would also make sense here


3. Safety Notice - Jack Smith said he would like to see for himself the memo which was going to be given to all those who were on the payroll at the factory. He said he was going to make some small changes to the notice which we have to put on all the fire doors. Because of the new safety rules he had to make various changes to the spacing of the office desks and move many of the filing cabinets to the side of the room. He feels this would make it safe when the cabinets are in use and also make some space for those using the photocopier to put the copies, files and belongings on the long desk by the window. I am going to type up all this right now and I will give him a copy of it for the purpose of checking the facts. Forty* copies of the new memo and four* of the door notice should be given to those in the office and factory. I hope they will read it all and realise they have to follow the new safety rules right away. (191 words)

* "forty" and "four" Note the different vowels

4. Names - Hi, my name is Jenny and my surname is Dixon. I was in Adelaide earlier this year and I have a house in Sydney, but nowadays I live in New York America. I would like to visit Paris and the Alps in the south, and if I have time also Delhi in India. If I had a higher salary or got a really big bonus, I would like to visit Alaska for the snow and Canada for the skiing, followed by Hawaii or the Bahamas for the palms, sea and sun. China and Hong Kong have some awesome views, as do the big Japanese cities. I am going to visit Niagara Falls with my family in July. My firm has an office in Moscow in Russia and in Venice in Italy. My boss Russell Thomson is going on a visit to Chicago with Harry Dawes and Pamela Murray to take photos of the big factories and do the new designs for the showroom facilities. It is likely I will be making a visit to a small business in Tennessee on Monday and Wednesday, which is much less appealing. But I do get to go back to my own house and family on the Saturday or maybe Sunday if I am delayed by the snow and ice on the roads and the foggy patches in the valleys. But I think I will be back in time for Samuel's party. (240 words)

5. Rose Bushes - Yesterday I was enjoying tea and cakes, and reading a magazine in a coffee house. I looked out of the window and saw a passer-by taking photos of something in the park. It was a puzzle what the item was and so I took myself out of the room and into the park. By the hedge I saw a long wide path with red and yellow rose bushes and in the hazy autumn sun the rose area had become full of a heady perfume. I jokingly said to the lady with the camera it was a pity this rose smell was never going to show up in the snaps, and she said, "Yes, you are right." She said it was to look it up in a book and also get the name of the rose on the tag, so she can buy the same bush, and she and the family can enjoy the lovely perfume. So now I knew what the reason was. Like the lady, I also wish to have these rose bushes, now I know what the perfume is like. The shops may cease selling them as the fall season gives way to the snow and ice. It would be a shame to miss out on having them because I was too lazy to go. It would be ideal if I bought some of them tomorrow in my lunchtime and they can go in the soil when I get back to the house. I think any rose bush would be superior to the loads of big weeds which I have now and I will be happy when the bushes are safely in. (277 words) (Total words 1154)

1. going on, you have, to succeed, and would

2. history of the

3. side of the, this would, copy of, for the purpose

4. I would like, it is likely, small business, to my own

5. coffee house, out of the, lunchtime

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Comet Landing (19 November 2014)


I have been watching some reports about the probe that successfully landed on Comet 67P recently. As I listened to all the technical jargon* , I was wondering how some of them* would be written in shorthand. Although a lot of the terms are lengthy, they do provide a great opportunity for time saving, when you see just how brief they are to write in shorthand. Once you know the outline, you can write it almost before the person has finished saying it. Even the scientists themselves prefer to use acronyms (the first letter of each word), as they are talking about these things all the time and need their own verbal shorthand, and of course it is helpful for everyone else as well, from journalists to the lay person following the article. For example, everyone says NASA and one very rarely hears its full name. If you practise all the science vocabulary here, I think you might be pleasantly surprised if you try taking notes from the next television report of the mission* .

* Omission phrases "tech(nical) jargon" "some (of) them"

* "mission" Dot vowels are written inside a shun hook


The name of the mission type is comet lander and it is being operated by the European Space Agency (ESA). The spacecraft is Rosetta and the robotic lander is Philae* , named after the Egyptian bilingual stone and the obelisk monument which, in the nineteenth century, between them provided enough information to begin* the deciphering of hieroglyphs. The crafts were launched by an Ariane rocket in French Guiana on 2 March 2004. Philae achieved its controlled touchdown on the comet on 12 November 2014, after a journey of ten and a half* years. The small lander is also being called a probot, a combination of the words probe and robot. The following paragraphs list all the autonomous system instruments on board. Note that Ptolemy is not an acronym but refers to the first name deciphered on the Egyptian stones.

* "Philae" This is being pronounced many different ways

* "to begin" Based on the short form phrase "to be", likewise "to become"

* "ten and a half" See www.long-live-pitmans-shorthand.org.uk/vocabulary-numbers.htm for more ways to write fractions

APXS* : Alpha particle X-ray spectrometer - this detects alpha particles and X-rays, which provide information on the elemental composition of the comet's surface.

ÇIVA* : Comet nucleus infrared and visible analyser - this is a group of seven identical cameras used to take panoramic pictures of the surface plus a visible-light microscope and an infrared spectrometer. These latter two are mounted on the base of the lander, and are used to analyse the composition, texture and albedo (reflectivity) of samples collected from the surface.

CONSERT: Comet nucleus sounding experiment by Radiowave Transmission - this will use electromagnetic* wave propagation to determine the comet's internal structure.

* "APXS" This is an initialism, rather than acronym, as it cannot be spoken as word. Letters are generally better in such cases, although if it occurs frequently, you might prefer to make up a convenient outline to cover it.

* "ÇIVA" Note the cedilla under the letter C, making it an S sound

* "electromagnetic" Not using the short form "mag(netic)"


COSAC: Cometary sampling and composition - this performs an analysis of soil samples and determines the content of volatile components.

MUPUS: Multi-purpose* sensors for surface and subsurface science, which is a soil penetrator which will measure the density, thermal and mechanical properties of the comet's surface.

PTOLEMY: gas chromatograph and medium resolution mass spectrometer - this measures stable isotope ratios of key volatiles on the comet's nucleus.

ROLIS: Rosetta lander imaging system - this is a camera that will obtain high-resolution images during descent and stereo panoramic images of areas sampled by other instruments.

* Most "multi-" outlines have a halved L, but full strokes are used when necessary to make a clear join with the next stroke

ROMAP: Rosetta lander magnetometer and plasma monitor - this takes measurements of the magnetosphere and studies the nucleus' magnetic field and its interactions with the solar wind.

SD2: Sample and distribution device - this obtains soil samples from the comet and distributes them to the other devices and systems for analysis, consisting of drill, carousel, ovens and volume checker.

SESAME: Surface electric sounding and acoustic monitoring experiments - this uses three instruments to measure properties of the comet's outer layers, the way in which sound travels through the surface, its electrical characteristics and a dust impact monitor (DIM) measures the dust falling back to the surface.

Philae is a very integrated project at system, science and management levels, provided by an international consortium of the following countries* : Austria, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands* , Poland* , Spain, Switzerland and the UK. The mission is tracked and operated from the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt in Germany. It has provided the first in situ analysis of a comet surface, and the data will be used to determine the composition of its surface. A previous probe had been sent to a comet to impact the surface, but Philae is not an impactor and was designed to make a soft landing and attach itself to the ground with ice screws. The lander will be using the Rosetta Orbiter as a communication relay to Earth, in order to conserve its own electrical power.

* "countries" With a long list of proper nouns, it is not really necessary to insert all the caps marks underneath

* "Netherlands" Insert the vowel, as this outline is very similar to "England"

* Insert vowel in "Poland" if context might also suggest "upland

Telemetry is the highly automated communications process by which measurements are made and other data collected at remote or inaccessible points and transmitted to receiving equipment for monitoring. The mission's experiments will focus on "elemental, isotopic, molecular and mineralogical composition of the cometary* material, the characterization* of physical properties of the surface and subsurface material, the large-scale structure and the magnetic and plasma environment of the nucleus. In particular, surface and subsurface samples will be acquired and sequentially analyzed by a suite of instruments."

* “cometary” Insert first vowel, as the outline is similar to "camera"

* “characterization” Optional contraction


Before detachment from Rosetta, a final test showed that the lander's cold-gas thruster (located on top, to prevent bouncing after landing) was not working correctly, but the landing was undertaken anyway, as it could not be repaired. A confirmed landing signal was received at Earth communication stations, five hundred million kilometres, 28 light minutes away. The landing was successful, softer than expected but the craft bounced twice. The first bounce lasted about two hours and was one kilometre high, because of the very low gravity. The harpoons had not deployed upon landing, and the thruster had not fired. It was confirmed that the lander is now in a location about one kilometre from the planned landing site and sitting on two of the three legs.

As Philae is now located in the lee of a rock formation, in partial shadow, it is unable to recharge its batteries from its solar panels. Its initial battery charge could not power the instruments for more than about 60 hours, but during that time it was able to obtain data for about 80% of the planned initial science observations. Finally the lander was rotated 35 degrees in an attempt to position the solar panels more favourably, for future recharging, and it is now in standby mode. The orbiting satellite Rosetta will be continuing with its own scientific observations, and periodically checking to see if the lander has managed to recharge and resume its mission. Contact with the lander was lost on 15 November but it is possible that around August 2015 the comet's movement will increase the illumination of the solar panels enough for the lander to wake up. Transmission of information from an Earth terminal to a satellite is called an uplink connection, and from satellite to Earth is a downlink (both noun and verb).

In the months to come, I am sure scientists will be waiting impatiently* for Philae to receive some welcome rays of light onto its solar panels, and will be delighted when the lander eventually emerges from its enforced hibernation. Meanwhile, I was gratified to discover, whilst getting together all the facts about this mission, that the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK had constructed, amongst other things, the blankets that keep the lander warm throughout its mission. I am certain I will sleep much better on cold winter nights, under my acrylic fur blanket, knowing that little Philae is also cosily tucked up and snoozing under its own British-made blanket, until that part of the comet turns towards the sun and brings light, warmth and energy, so that the lander can continue its mission of investigation and discovery. (1275 words)

* "impatiently" See www.long-live-pitmans-shorthand.org.uk/distinguishing-outlines-list3.htm "impassioned impatient"

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Winter Quotes (30 November 2014)


Last year in the UK we seemed to have no winter at all. We had excessive rainfall and flooding across the country, but the really cold weather, ice and snow were mostly missing. Now that autumn is receding fast, I am wondering whether we shall see a real winter this time, and it certainly has not arrived yet here in Kent. With the Christmas season marching towards us, snow scenes are appearing everywhere, from shop windows to Christmas cards and packets of artificial flakes, but snow is more likely to occur in January and February.


People hanker for snow but do not spend their time wishing for freezing* conditions, frozen* burst pipes or slippery ice on the paths and roads. They just want soft white user-friendly snow so that we can live in a real Christmas card for a while. I am not wishing for any of this just yet, as I still have a few tulip bulbs, bought late in the garden centre sale, to put in a pot somewhere, in the hopes that they can catch up with those I planted in the garden in October. Freezing is also not on my list as that means I will have to remove the ice on the fishpond early every morning* , so that the water can absorb oxygen from the air and keep the water fresh.

* “freezing” and “frozen” Always insert the vowel

* "morning" You can also intersect stroke M for this word


Inconvenience captured

Our weather in the UK is very mild compared with the severe conditions that others have to endure, but with our weather being so changeable most of the time, it seems that we like to keep ourselves in practice for a fight with it, in case it suddenly turns against us. A bit of ice, a nippy cold east wind, or a few inches of snow gives us the excuse we are looking for to engage in the battle and then claim our victory over the wintry conditions that intrude upon our comfort and schedules. We have been trained to always expect a change in the weather, and never leave our coat at home. I quite* enjoy the winter months, with the low sun lighting up the scenery, the stark shapes of the trees, the long shadows and the illuminated shops in the fading light of the afternoon. The only proviso is that I am wrapped up against the cold, and can choose when I shall and shall not go out in it, and it seems to me* that the author of the first quote below has really been "reading my mail"!

* "quite" (above the line) and "could" (on the line) should both not be phrased, so that neither is misread as "can". You could insert the diphthong sign in "quite" for clarity, although not dictionary.

* "it seems to me" Insert the vowel after "me", and in the similar phrase "it is most important" insert the vowel in "most"

Note the Gregg emblem on the greenhouse, obviously where the lady sits to practise the exercises


Many human beings say that they enjoy the winter, but what they really enjoy is feeling proof against it. - Richard* Adams

Winter is the season in which people try to keep the house as warm as it was in the summer, when they complained about the heat. - Unknown

People don't notice whether it's winter or summer when they're* happy. - Anton* Chekhov

June suns, you cannot store them to warm the winter’s cold. - A E Housman

Don't knock the weather. Nine-tenths of the people couldn't start a conversation if it didn't change once in a while. - Kin Hubbard

* "Richard" The full strokes J and Rd for this name, and hooked Jr for "Roger" to keep these two different


* "they're" Apostrophied versions use full outlines, and always have the vowel sign

* "Anton" written like this lets you know there is no final vowel, unlike the dictionary outline for "Anthony" or "Antonia" which is halved N+full N


Blow, blow, thou winter wind, thou art not so unkind as man's ingratitude. - William Shakespeare

At Christmas, I no more desire a rose, than wish a snow in May's newfangled mirth; but like each thing that in season grows. - William Shakespeare

One kind word can warm three* winter months. - Japanese Proverb

Getting an inch of snow is like winning 10 cents in the lottery. - Bill Watterson

Always choose the adventure ... unless it's chilly outside and there's* a cup of warm coffee resting near a book** and comfy sofa. - Barbara* Brooke (616 words)

* "three" Insert the vowel, as "through" would also make sense here

* "there's" See note on "they're" in paragraph 4

* The short spelling "Barbra" would be written B+Ray+hooked Br, to provide a distinction, although the pronunciations are generally identical

** She must mean a shorthand book, surely, for a cosy indoor adventure



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