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Letter to America: Ambisinistrous On:2022-10-02 02:46:30

My Dear Americans,
    I have read in many places that it is advantageous to perform tasks with ones non-dominant hand. As I get older, and my dominant hand gets a bit shakier and its arm a bit achier, I thought it prudent to, as they say "'Ave a go!" 1

It's proving incredibly hard to move towards ambidextrousness for the obvious reasons and for some very subtle ones. But before I get to that I have to deal with an even more intractable topic, you see (as I've rehearsed elsewhere2) I ... I am left handed3.
Saying that I almost feel as though I'm in one of those meetings, you know THOSE meetings:
"Hello, my name is Richard and I'm a lefthandoholic"
Thus for me being ambidextrous would be to downgrade my dominant hand. I need to be ambisinistrous, which unfortunately already has the derogatory meaning 'clumsy. having two left feet' and so forth.
Ah the burdens we must bear to be ourselves!
Anyway, to return to the more tractable territory, I duly moved my mouse and its pad and my tea to the 'wrong' side of my desk (which, in this case is also the right side)

and started working4. I say "working" but I’ve spent a good deal of the first week screaming at my right hand to buckle up and grow up and get on the programme, which didn't seem to help much. Nor did slapping it.
An immediate and major problem was that the combination of my bad eyesight and lack of sinisterity5 meant I almost constantly lost sight of my cursor (with of course concomitant cursing) made worse by the fact that, as a self-respecting nerd6, I do have two monitors, and the only reason I don't have more is a concession to retirement.
A more subtle problem with non-dominant mousing was gradually revealed as I got a bit better at controlling the damn thing because I didn't switch the soft buttons my mouse to right-hand use. So I still had it set so that the boring button is on the left and the more interesting (or secondary) one is on the right. Partly I did this as an experiment, but mostly because I didn't think of doing it.
It probably reveals something profound about the mind-body interface that my most enduring error was that I kept doing secondary-button things when I meant to do primary button things and vice versa. This surely MUST mean that while in my mind I have a clear idea of 'left' and 'right', in my hands I have 'not stretchy finger' and 'stretchy finger', or perhaps it's 'less effort' and 'more effort'.
Whichever it is, it still takes a lot of concentration to get it right, and if I lose that focus, if but for a moment, I get a really annoying popup or whatever. In fact I just got one of the damn things whilst writing the previous paragraph.
Still I am getting better, slowly but in the right direction. And Georgia tells me that it does good things to the brain, so I suppose it is all worth it.
I'm trying to do other things that I normally (take heed of this Mr Brain) and unconsciously do left-handed, why only this morning I ate two pieces of toast and honey with my right and managed to aim successfully at my mouth (well mostly successfully) AND I washed up the plate, knife and spoon dextrously.
And now I'm looking for other brain-improving non-dominant things to do.
And, now that I've said "looking", it occurs to me that my right eye is pretty much useless, it just won't focus7 , in fact I like to joke that I "have my seeng eye and my
not-frightening-little-children-or-getting-mistaken-for-Polyphemus-and-getting-a-poke-in-the,-with-a-burnt-stick eye"8 . So I wonder how I'd do if I put a patch over my seeing' eye for a week or so? I'll ask G and see what she says.

Anyway even if she thinks that's a bad idea and vetos it I can't wait till my right hand is as cunning as my left, and I have saved a resurgent 'ambisinistrous' from its cruel linguistic dungeon of despair. Of course by then Dexter (sorry, didn't I tell you his name?) Dexter will be just as shaky and his arm just as achy as his other half.

You win some, you lose some...

Kindest regards,
Richard Howland-Bolton
and, of course,
Cheerio for now
from the quasi-monocular me!


1 Have a go! A memory from my youth, a BBC Radio (sort of) quiz show that ran from 1946 to 1967 (I missed the first year, not having been born). Hosted by Wilfred Pickles (a comic with a strong Northern accent) it featured catchphrases such as "How do, how are yer?", "Are yer courting?" and "Give him the money, Mabel"

2  I have dealt with this sort of evil and envious calumny elsewhere see:  Correct not Right, and  Right On, Left Out, and  The Right Sort of Envy


4 Started working? I know I'm retired, but I still do much the same stuff as I did. This time purely for fun, or maybe not as you'll see as you read further.

5 Sinisterity: Left-handed people coin words, so there! *

6 Self-respecting nerd? Now THERE'S an oxymoron if ever I saw one

7 Ahh! First loves!---And no, I’m not waxing sentimental about Mandy Erlenbach, or that girl that time in Barcelona near the Sagrada Familia, nor Bettina Wirtz on student exchange from Hannover or was it Hamburg: no ... no ... you see the other day I saw an article on a news site about some teenager or other who was arrested for making explosives; and it immediately reminded me of my first love...
Indeed my main claim to fame at school, centred on making things that went, if not bump in the night, then bang at preferably the most unexpected of times.
Now-a-days no doubt I would be arrested as a potential terrorist or worse, but even back in those less paranoid times, of course, things still came to a head---quite literally, and indeed to mine! When working on some solid rocket fuel and wearing a safety mask like a wimp I raised the grubby thing for a moment for a clearer view of my work at the exact moment that the mix chose to demonstrate how unstable both it and my fate could be. I ended up in a lot of pain and hospital, with eyes like frosted glass and a face like a jack-o-lantern long after halloween. Finally: I suppose if they HAD been a bit more strict in those days both my eyes would now work as Nature and the makers of Jaws-3D (not to mention those horrible red and green lensed glasses) intended, but what can you do... See my: Busts or Booms.

8 This should really be done in a very bad cowboy accent "Muh seen' eye an' muh not-frightnin'-little-chillen-or-gettin'-muhstaken-for-Polyphemus-an'-gettin'-a-poke-in-the-with-a-burnt-stick eye" but I couldn't do it convincingly.

* Damn! It was already in the dictionary.

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