Underneath my yellow skin

Magic? No, Dvorak!

Today is normally the day I talk about politics, but I’m worn out beyond belief. I can’t take the daily indignation of having the overweening, narcissistic, ignorant, stupid, vain, soulless two-year old as president, and every time I think he can’t get any lower, he does. This thing with the military widow…it doesn’t surprise me, but it disgusts me to my core. I don’t expect better from him, but it’s hard to grasp that even he is this cowardly and venal. He sucks. His people suck. And, irrationally, I LOATHE the Huckabees more than any of this sorry lot. I saw Mike tweet about being in Hawaii and looking for Obama’s birth certificate, and goddamn, I wanted to punch him in the throat. He’s not objectively worse than all the other clowns in this circus, but ever since he ran for president, he’s really gotten on my last nerve. And, his daughter? I hate her. A lot.

Anyhoo, I don’t want to talk about that today or anything serious, so I’m going to write about something that not many people know about me. Many moons ago, my brother was telling me about a typing system that he’d heard of because…well, I don’t remember why, but I was probably complaining about how stupid the QWERTY system was. It’s so unintuitive, and the layout doesn’t make sense. My belief is that it was made that way for the typewriter so that hitting the more common letters (such as t-h-e) in rapid succession wouldn’t get the keys stuck. I just Googled it, and it’s apparently true. Anyway, my brother told me about Dvorak, which endeavors to make typing more natural by putting letters you use in groups closer to each other and by putting the most common letters (such as all the vowels) on the home row. The theory is that this would cut down on typing time, and I decided to give it a try.

It was hell at first, let me tell you. Within a week of learning Dvorak, I had forgotten QWERTY–the latter was that unintuitive to me. And yet, I hadn’t gotten good at Dvorak yet and was hovering around 30 wpm. With QWERTY, I probably typed around 80 wpm, which isn’t bad, but it’s certainly not great. I remember taking typing tests in high school and only doing well because I memorized the sentences and looked at the keyboard. There were certain letters that I never could get a hang of, such as z, x, and q. Once I tried Dvorak, it was like coming home. It immediately felt good. Vowels are on the left-hand home row, and t-h are next to each other on the home row on the right-hand side. the period and the comma are on the top row, left side, which makes much more sense to me.

I probably type around 100 wpm now, maybe more. There are mixed results as to whether Dvorak actually allows people to type faster than does QWERTY, but it’s much more intuitive. I don’t have a Dvorak keyboard, but touch-typing has never felt so good. It took about three months before it became completely natural, and now, I don’t think I could go back to QWERTY even if I wanted to (which I don’t). It makes it difficult for me to use other people’s keyboards, though. Whenever I help my mom on her computer, I have to use hunt-and-peck, which isn’t much fun at all.

I remember telling someone online that I used Dvorak, and he nearly lost his shit. He was so impressed (and a little bit turned on, I think), it was funny. He was a geek, so it really hit him in his sweet spot. It’s funny because I think it’s a superior typing system to QWERTY, but I rarely talk about it because, really, who cares? It’s just another way in which I’m a bit weirder than the normal person.

A total switch in subjects: I like breaking grammatical rules when I think they’re stupid. For example, not ending a sentence with a preposition. This is generally a good rule, but there are times when going through the contortions not to end a sentence with a preposition isn’t worth it. For example: “Who are you going to the store with?” is better than “With whom are you going to the store?” Not that the latter is that much more difficult to say, but it just sounds so stilted. Yes, I know it should be “Whom are you going to the store with”, but that also sounds stuffy. I also differentiate between formal writing/speaking and casual writing/speaking. The ‘not end a sentence with a preposition’ rule is loosening, which is a good thing.

Even in my writing, I tend to go for smoothness and flow rather than strict grammatical correctness. My writing is very conversational, and I’m not going to win any awards for literary excellence. I’ve been vaguely ashamed all my life because I like reading mysteries. Twenty years ago, mysteries were very much a niche genre and looked down upon in the literary world. If you wrote cozy mysteries (where the murders take place offstage, mostly female-written and read by women), you were deemed the unwanted stepchild of the mystery family. Now, they’re very popular, and there is ample crossover into what is considered literature. I used to feel lowbrow reading mysteries, and now, well, I still feel lowbrow, but at least I’m in good company.

I spend many hours a day at my computer, and I type at least 3,000 words a day, and usually closer to 4,000 – 5,000. I’m glad I learned the Dvorak system. Even if it didn’t help me type faster (which I think it did), it’s much more intuitive and feels better as I type. Side note: Before I started using email, I vowed that I would never forgo writing letters. Oh, how silly and naive I was! I haven’t written an actual letter in a decade, I think, and I’m tethered to my computer. In addition, I have atrocious handwriting, so typing is definitely better for me. I’ve simplified my signature to the point where it’s basically two lines. Many years ago, my niece said in concern that someone could easily forge my signature.

I will say that the convenience of typing on a computer has a few negative side effects. One, I have the tendency to be a slug and just sit on the computer for large chunks of time. That leads to carpal tunnel syndrome and a sore back and ass. Side note: I really am loving my new ass. I know I wrote about it before, but I’m pleased after decades of being flat back there. I’m also glad to have a better lung capacity and falling in a better way. What I mean by the latter is that I’m still as clumsy as I’ve ever been, but I hurt myself less when I fall.

Anyway, back to Dvorak. I’ve joked with my brother sometimes that I wish I had never learned it because it’s so rare. It’s the reason he never learned it because he does tech work on the side, and most people use QWERTY. Any time I try to use someone else’s computer, I’m at a disadvantage, but that doesn’t happen often. In addition, it’s really easy to install Dvorak these days, so it’s not as much a detriment as it used to be. I’m happy using Dvorak. I would suggest it to other people who find QWERTY to be awkward and unintuitive. I wouldn’t push it on anyone, however, as it’s strictly a preference thing. I can’t imagine going back to QWERTY, and I’m glad it’s out of my life for good.

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