Friday 2 February 2018

Donkeys & Typing & Elephants, Oh My!

Sometimes - too often, in fact - my posts tend to be on the long side. There's a perfectly good reason for that, and you're about to read the long version of it. (There's another reason, too, and it has to do with poor editing skills, but that's another post.)

When I was a senior high school student, our school offered a few night courses, one of which was touch typing (typing without needing to look at the keys). My mother suggested I take typing; I don't know why, because computer keyboards were still a long way in the future. Maybe she was just trying to give me a marketable skill, although she never said so. I didn't know what I wanted to do after high school; all I knew was that I didn't want to be a nurse (too much blood and vomit!) or a teacher (too many children and too much noise!). So I took the typing course, and enjoyed it. It was a bit like playing the piano, and it was fun to be able to just type along and produce rows and rows of neat sentences, a huge contrast to my childish and awkward handwriting.

When I finished high school, my mother expected me to go to university to further my education*, and not having a strong leaning toward any particular major, I decided to take secretarial administration, which was a little bit further up the pay scale than a high school secretarial course would have been. All was well for the first few weeks. Then I got bored. And maybe worried. Because I couldn't see myself being outgoing enough to do some parts of the job for which we were being trained - the part where you have to deal with people a lot.

* (Let me just be honest here and say that I was pretty much lacking in ambition and get-up-and-go. I did very well academically but I was a dreamer and a reader and younger than my peers, and all I ever really wanted to do was have babies, and raise 'em up. This concept WILL come up again later. I realize also how fortunate I was to have a mother who kept pushing me, even though it was like trying to push a piece of string in a straight line . . . very, very hard and frustrating. I love and admire my mother for doing that, as I was too stupid to do it for myself.)

I'm an introvert. A bit of a social introvert, but still an introvert. Being an introvert wasn't going to make me a very good administrative assistant, what with all the greeting visitors and answering the telephone and arranging meetings and appointments and travel arrangements for my future boss and so on. I decided to try an accounting course on the side, and, if it went well, to switch to business the following year. I kept my typing and business English courses because it seemed like they'd be handy no matter what, and also because by this time I was past the no-penalty withdrawal date and I would've gotten a Fail in them and that was just ridiculous because I was finding them easy and helpful and even dare I say fun.

Fast forward a few years and I had discovered that bookkeeping was the kind of job I felt most comfortable doing, and at that time bookkeeping was done with typewriters (to create invoices and cheques and to type financial statements) and big old ledgers that were filled in using a pen and your own little hand, old timey style.

And then I dropped out of the workforce to have babies* (see preceding bit). My husband and I had agreed early on that one of us should be at home to raise our children, and that one was me. Remember, it was my dream job. But eventually the kids got older, as kids do, and it was getting to the point where I wasn't needed as much at home. As it happened, with impeccable timing I must say, I got a call from an acquaintance asking if I was interested in casual work with his accounting office.

But YIKES while I was busy at home for twenty years, bookkeeping had moved into the computer age. Instead of a ledger and a pen, I had a keyboard and software.

How lucky that I had typing skills, too. Typing is like riding a bike; you never forget. And I've come to like doing bookkeeping and a whole lot of other things on a computer. Especially as my handwriting gets worse and worse the older I get.

So now I type and type and type at work, and then I type and type and type when I come home. I keep in touch with people by email, I type everything longer than a grocery list, because it's easier. I write (for myself and my blog). I can't keep up with my thoughts with paper and pen; I NEED a keyboard.

But the downside is the tendency to be long-winded, because typing is so easy.  There is no cost to me, none of the searching for letters on the nonsensical qwerty layout, no hunt-and-peck that makes many people think twice before typing a sentence.

My question for you today is: How do you type? Are you a searcher, a hunt-and-peck person? Have you learned to use two fingers nearly as fast as someone who uses all ten of them? Or do you touch type, with the words falling from your fingers at 120 wpm? Do you think your method affects your writing? Your thinking process? Your editing process? And do you have any editing hints? Have you ever used a non-qwerty keyboard layout? Do you wish I would stop asking so many dang questions??? That's a fair point :)

Hope you have a good weekend, my people :) Here is an elephant joke to maybe make you smile:

Q. What do you get when you cross an elephant with a rhino?
A. Elephino!

(Hint: Say the answer out loud. If you're still having trouble, check below the picture, way down.)

What my mom probably felt like she had to do to get me educated . . .


(Elephino = "Hell if I know" ) 


River said...

Typing? Hah! I never did get the hang of it. I use two fingers, fairly quickly, but look at the keyboard as I'm typing, then check the screen when I'm done. Now and again I'll try looking at the screen instead, but it usually doesn't work out well.
I think I'm pretty good with editing, I look for things that say what I've already said, but in a different way and delete on of them, I look for too many words that are the same, for instance I have a habit of using 'maybe' a lot, so I'll change that and if someone is "gazing at the heavens above", let him/her do it just once per story, not once per chapter. Stuff like that. I've seen several blogs where I'd love to get in with a red pencil and edit the heck out of them.
Like you, I'm an introvert, good in school, but younger than the rest of the class, had no ambition, but there the similarity ends. I didn't finish high school, didn't go to Uni. I did have the babies though and did a book keeping course once.

LL Cool Joe said...

I type with one finger. :D Sometimes two, on a good day. The only time that was an issue was when I was doing graphic design and a customer would say "Could you just type and print these "Terms and conditions" on the back of the form"? "Only if you don't mind waiting a month to get them" I used to reply. :D No I didn't because I didn't want to lose the job, I just farmed it out to my mother-in-law who could type!

Terry said...

Hi Jenny, I always do my typing with the same finger that I use to pick my nose with which is probably why I’m able to eat while I work.
I won’t deny that using one finger is slower than if I used more but i’ve never been taught how to. It allows me to read what i’ve written and cuts down on the number of mistakes I make. Rather than be a speed freak i’m happy just to be a tortoise.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

I never had any instruction about typing. I am a two fingered typist but it seems to work out fine for me. I am quite speedy though I suspect that if I ever watched you typing I would be awestruck by your superior velocity and glowing self-confidence.

Sandi said...

Writing is good for soul, typing is good for the brain...maybe, I think, possibly. Not sure.

I can type, but now I use an iPad and it has made me type with one finger while holding coffee.

Marie Smith said...

Lol. Enjoyed this post. I did typing on Saturdays when I was in first year university. It has helped me so much over the years. Now I use an Ipad and don’t need the skill as much but any time I’m at our main computer...

only slightly confused said... had to tell me....I didn't get it on my own.
How do I type...I am a touch typist but I am losing my touch....around 60 wpm I guess and thank God for backspacing and spell check. I too have my mom to thank as she suggested her less than brilliant daughter take the secretarial high school track. It has served me well.

Joanne Noragon said...

My accounting career bridged ledgers and computers. When the work was churned out on printers, we still called it ledgers. For comfort, I suppose.
I love to type; fingers are the conduit to the brain, I believe, and make the information stick. I still type well, though I cannot form a decent letter with a pen. Or a pencil.
I edit ruthlessly. I decide how many words I'll use for a story, and edit to stay there. I'll read a paragraph, decide no one will give a damn about that and, whoosh, it's gone. Easy peasy.

Red said...

I'm a four finger typer. Three on the left and one on the right. I'm not a hunt and pecker but I watch the keyboard rather than the screen. Pathetic I know, but I'd much rather type than write!

Steve Reed said...

I don't think your posts run long! I say kudos to your mom for pushing you to learn marketable skills. I took typing in high school, too -- and it's so funny now to think that there were once classes in typing. (Maybe there still are, but not at the school where I teach. I think now it's just assumed students will learn by doing.) I can pretty much touch-type these days, but I don't use "home row" and the finer skills taught in typing classes -- my fingers just somehow know where the letters are.

jenny_o said...

Those are helpful tips for editing, River - thank you. I'll be using them.

jenny_o said...

Oh, my - I don't think I could even SEE the small print to type it! (I'm assuming small print)

I'm always surprised how fast people can type with just one or two fingers!

jenny_o said...

Stop, Terry - you're making me gag!!

Tortoise speed is fine; it's accuracy that counts in the end!

jenny_o said...

I'm amazed by how fast people can type with two fingers. When I look at the keyboard to type I am much slower than they are. So much for velocity and self-confidence :)

jenny_o said...

Yes, touch typing doesn't translate well to smaller screens or touch screens, does it? Hmm . . . that's making me re-think my leaning toward getting an iPad. Never thought of it before! I'm glad you mentioned it.

jenny_o said...

Yes - see Sandi's comment and my reply above. I hadn't considered that aspect of an iPad. I'm thinking it might be frustrating to use hunt-and-peck after using touch typing all these years.

jenny_o said...

60 wpm is very respectable, Delores. I was exaggerating with the 120 wpm mention!! Moms are often looking further ahead than their kids, eh? :)

jenny_o said...

I've been trying to use the "give-a-damn" test, too! With mixed results :)

Good tip about limiting the number of words. Mostly I don't give myself enough time to edit well, but with practice it might get easier/faster.

jenny_o said...

Not at all pathetic; in fact most of the people I work with use the same method, and they are very fast. And I'm with you, I'd rather type than write.

jenny_o said...

When our kids went through high school in the late 90's, early 00's, typing was still being offered but it was called keyboarding ;)

Sounds like you do just fine without home row. Sometimes I get off center and it's hilarious to see the jibberish that comes out :)

dinthebeast said...

I never learned to type properly, and I have to look at the keyboard, but I type fairly quickly, considering.
My mother worked as a legal secretary for most of her career, and she typed fast. Once, a client came into the office, and after hearing her type, told her that she sounded like a machine gun.
She wondered to herself how that comment would reflect on the client's chances at trial...
I started doing my homework on a typewriter when I was in high school, and learned to spend the extra money for erasable typing paper in order not to frustrate myself into fits of rage.
I'm pretty good at proofreading, but only so-so at editing. My comments run long normally, and there have been a couple of times when I was commenting on gun violence and went past the 4,096 character limit on Blogger comments and was at a loss as to what to delete to make them fit.
I am sort of accidentally teaching myself to type without seeing the letters, though, as I type so much that the letter has worn off of the e,r,t,a, and s keys on my laptop, and I have to remember which is which to type anything.
For a while I was hoping that all of the practice I did using my fingers to play the guitar would make it easy to learn to type properly, but as of yet that hasn't been the case.

-Doug in Oakland

Martha said...

I took a typing course in night school in my late teens. Not sure why. It seemed like a good idea at the time. And boy am I glad I did! My fingers fly across the keyboard as I stare at the screen. Freaks my husband out a little how fast I can type without looking. LOL Typing has come in really handy over the years. It was especially useful when I did computer programming.

This was such a fun post to read! Keep on putting together these posts; I will read them all. Your writing style is captivating. Have a nice weekend!

jenny_o said...

Regarding your mom's typing skill - that would be on a typewriter, I'm assuming, and they are so much louder than a keyboard! (And yes, just how did that client know what to compare her typing to? ...)

I remember the erasable paper. And typewriter erasers that tore holes in the paper. And white-out. And carbon paper to make three to six copies of a document! It's so much easier to produce a flawless document now.

I think piano helped me with typing, so I'm thinking fingering on the guitar would have a similar effect on the brain. You'd probably pick up touch typing quickly, but what you're doing now sounds like you've got it covered anyway.

jenny_o said...

Thank you for the encouraging words, Martha! I'm glad you're enjoying reading. I worry that I'm the only one getting enjoyment from my drivel, which isn't really very fair to loyal readers.

It seems like quite a few of us took typing in high school, outside of class time. That surprises me in one way, because there was so little interest by students in the one I took, but in another way it makes sense - here we all are, using typing to get across our thoughts . . .

Mr. Shife said...

I have learned to type with two hands but I definitely will not set any speed records with my skills. Now when it comes to text messaging, I am hunting and pecking. Thanks for the elephant joke. I liked it. Have a great weekend.

jenny_o said...

Texting is a recent skill for me and I do it on a flip phone so I think you can guess how incredibly fast I am :) Glad you liked the joke and have a great weekend yourself, Mr. S!

Jimmy said...

I never did learn to touch type and I have always used the qwerty keyboard setup, sometimes use one finger on my tablet but on the keyboard of my computer I use both hands like I should. I reread my posts several times before publishing and find more mistakes when I read them out loud.

Chicken said...

My mother also suggested I take typing and I'm thankful. It has served me well. I have started journaling daily, though, with a pen in a little notebook. That activity has used up time I used to have for blogging. I am trying it because I read that the activity of writing longhand on a daily basis releases creativity. So far, I'm not convinced. It's been about a month. I'll give it a couple more weeks. I think blogging regularly releases more creativity. You were very self aware to realize at such a young age that you would be better off pursuing a career more inline with your introverted nature. I should have done that, too. Instead I went into sales. Go figure.

jenny_o said...

Reading out loud is a good tip, Jimmy. I always find a lot of my mistakes when I look at the "preview" version of my post, as opposed to the original version. I don't know why that is.

jenny_o said...

Regarding creativity, I think it depends on the person. I can't write anything with pen and paper now. The creativity seems to come out when I don't have to think about the physical act of writing. Of course, that might be because my hand goes numb after a few minutes from carpal tunnel, but still . . . I believe there are no universal rules around creativity. Just as we are all different, our methods of creating are different.

You've given me an idea for a blog post: all the careers I thought of but didn't follow up because of me being me - lol. Thank you for your very kind interpretation of my discomfort avoidance behavior :)

Anonymous said...

I learnt to touch type at school, then when I left school went to a Technical College on Day Release from my job. It was to expand my typing skills and also learn shorthand, which I was useless at as I could never remember which position the vowel sounds went on the outline. I can still remember a lot of it though and still have my books.

I was quite fast at typing but not so much these days as I only use my right hand with my left being affected with the 'slight' stroke I had.

Don't you find that notebook/laptop keyboards aren't the same as a typewriter. For instance a keyboard is flat whereas a typewriter slopes up and the symbols aren't on the same number keys.

I've just taken a break to have dinner and watched Eggheads, a quiz show and a question came up with 'hunt-and-peck' being one of three possible answers to a question about typing. I'd never heard this expression before your post today, but was able to give the correct answer, so thank you for expanding my knowledge a little bit further.

Have a good week.

Joan (Devon)

rhymeswithplague said...

Hello, jenny, first-time commenter I think. I will tell you about my typing, but first, I came over to read your blog because of the comment you left at Yorkshire Pudding’s place about never seein the word “tarry” is xcept in a hymnal. I immediately thought of “Softly and Tenderly, Jesus Is Calling” and you can read all the lyrics by going to and pressing S.

About the typing, I learned touch typing during my junior year of high school back in 1956-57. In our school a person took Typing I for two semesters and Typing II for two semesters. You had to be able to type 30 words per minute to pass Typing I and 60 wpm to pass Typing II. My fingers were very limber because I was a pianist, so I was typing 60 wpm by December and managed to do 112 wpm on an old manual Royal before the end of Typing I do I never took Typing II. I know I can go faster on a computer keyboard but have never officially measured it. Probably around 130 at least. Not bad for somebody about to be 77 years old!

I agree about composing at the keyboard. Your fingers on a keyboard stand a much better chance of keeping up with your thoughts than if they are pushing a pencil, and it’s all about capturing the thoughts as they fly by.

Very entertaining post!

klahanie said...

Hi human, Jenny,

I thoroughly skimmed your very long pawst. Oops, I thoroughly read your very long pawst.

My human dad is very adept at typing. He was the only guy in his high school typing class. He's told me he couldn't get enough of typing class.

As for me, my delightful human friend, typing using paws is not easy. Kind of like you typing with mittens on.

Pawsitive wishes,

Penny πŸΆπŸ˜€

baili said...

i used first keyboard in 2009 when my eldest son made me blog and asked to write my thoughts down

it was tough and lots of mistakes due to no practice at all but now i feel happy when i came to type
it gives me sense of achievement as computer is something which came in my knowledge very lte and surprised me with it's benefits and interests

i think your mom was an ideal mom who pushed you to identify and chase your dreams as mine did difference between both of us that you had chance and no cruel brother and his selfish wife who were trying to pull you down constantly
i had to get married ,it was risk but God turned it in miracle for me and now i am not only raising my kids and supporting my family but receiving lots and lots of love and appreciation from them which keeps me relived
lots of love!

Terry said...

Hi Jenny
I only have one hand that works so i’m a bit limited in the typing department. I make do though.

Onevikinggirl said...

I decided in school never to learn how to type so I never could become a secretary. Then I became a lawyer and once when I got a new computer I struggled through the three weeks it takes to learn to type without looking. Later I could type as fast as I thought - still can, but both slower.

jenny_o said...

Serendipity! I love when a piece of information I've just learned happens to come up again right away! Glad to help make that happen :)

Yes, the keys on a typewriter and a keyboard are fairly dissimilar. I do like a keyboard better because it takes much less pressure to hit the keys, and because of the backspacing and delete keys! Those are luxuries we didn't have with typewriters.

I wish now that I had had the chance to learn shorthand. It seems it could be quite useful.

jenny_o said...

Thank you for dropping in and commenting, Mr. Brague! 112 wpm on a manual typewriter is MARVELLOUS! And as you said, one can go faster on a computer keyboard. There are online typing tests, did you know? They are fun to do :)

jenny_o said...

For a pup, your typing is pawsitively amazing, Penny - I don't know how you do it. When I wear mittens to type, it comes out like this: thehdnandngngbbna. It does not help keep the lines of communication open AT ALL. Well done, you :)

Tell your dad he must have popular with the ladies, being the only guy in high school typing class. *wink*

jenny_o said...

I am SO glad you married a good and kind man and that family life has been a source of happiness and fulfillment for you, my friend. I know it's not always that way for women, especially in some parts of the world. Your mom has always sounded like a woman who was strong and smart and kind, and I'm glad she was in your corner.

jenny_o said...

That can limit a person, but I bet you are getting better and better at it. I admire your perseverance because having the use of just one hand must make it much harder to do a lot of things, not just typing. I was always amazed at how my dad figured out how to do things with one hand that used to take two. When I tried to do what he did, I couldn't! But he worked at it and succeeded.

jenny_o said...

Aha - there's a story with a twist! Typing has become a valuable skill since computers became so common.

River said...

Blogger has a character limit??

Diane Henders said...

I completely understand your love for typing - I'm the same. Typing is easy and fast, and after all these years of doing it I don't even have to think about typing - the words form in my brain and come out through my fingers. I can type almost as fast as I can talk, and FAR faster (and far more legibly) than I can write with a pen. My keyboard is my friend!

jenny_o said...

Yes, you got it! :)