Recalibrating your senses

Every now and then, I find it necessary to recalibrate my senses. Technology has a way of deluding them so that I forget about how things used to feel or work.

My current recalibration is with my handwriting. Twelve years ago, my typing-to-handwriting ratio was probably about 50:50. I was in college, and took notes in class by hand while typing mainly was relegated to sending out Electronic Mail TM. Today, it’s likely about 99:1. And, I’m rounding here.
When I type, I’m usually not spelling words correctly (it snot worth cleaning up yuor mispellings on IM), nor am i typing out whole words anymore (thank you, Intellisense). And, in rare instances when I do spell correctly and type out whole words (this blog post being an example), spellcheck is doing the work for me and backspace is used practically every other word.
It’s also too damn easy to make great looking type. I can type in perfect Georgia, Courier, Arial, Times New Roman, or Verdana whenever I please. And if I want to make it bold or italic, I can. It’s a joke. It’s a complete non-effort to do something that, for most of mankind’s history was hard, precise work.

All this has taken a toll on my handwriting. Here I present you some notes I took in a Chemistry class in 1999 (why do I still have these notes? Because I knew they’d be blog worthy years later.).

Handwriting, as I knew it, in 1999.

It’s a relatively beautiful, uniform style of handwriting that looks like it was done with care. And here are some errand notes I wrote a few months back. It’s abbreviated, scribbled, and a downright mess.

Handwriting, as I attempt it, in 2010.

The toll is quite alarming. I have no patience for writing on paper anymore. If I make a concerted effort to slow my writing down, my fingers get jittery and I feel like I might start Hulking it out.

To begin my recalibration, I’ve picked up an old hobby of mine, calligraphy. As a child, I used to calligraph alot. I was a bit obsessive-compulsive about it. Like most things I enjoy, I liked it because it’s artistic, yet precise. There’s a clear right way and a clear wrong way to do things, with enough leeway in between to play around.
Calligraphy is completely unlike regular handwriting. Each letter has a cadence. Some letters take 5 or 6 strokes. Strokes vary in speed. Some start fast and end slow, some start slow and end fast. Some are completely steady throughout. Angles matter. Everything matters.

That little scripting above took a bit of effort, whereas this no longer does:

Ka Wai Cheung

And so, let my recalibration begin. And for you? Garden, cook, walk, carry music on discs. It’s a good way to recalibrate your senses, and make you appreciate both the way things are and the way things used to be.