I went for a bike ride this morning — an amazing thing in itself, considering it’s the end of November and the temperature was in the upper 50s (our high tomorrow will be 20 degrees lower than that) — and I got in the usual stream-of-consciousness zone that makes cycling the same route over and over again not only bearable but pleasurable.

One of the zoned-out thoughts that occurred to me is that the art of operating a 10-key “adding machine” by touch is probably a dying one. I can do it; I’ll bet Gwynne can, as well. But I’m not sure that the presence of the numeric pad on most computer keyboards is sufficient to ensure that skill gets passed along to the next generation.

I then started considering how I used an adding machine; one thing led to another, and you’re stuck with the following, which may be used by some to argue against Intelligent Design and by others as proof that God has a sense of humor:

  • I tally the checkbook with the adding machine using my right hand…
  • …but I pencil the total into the check register using my left hand.
  • I throw a baseball left-handed…
  • …but I bat right-handed.
  • I hold and shoot a pistol with my left hand…
  • …but I sight through my right eye (another way of saying that that’s my dominant eye).
  • I use a mouse with my left hand (OK, I’m actually ambidextrous, mousily-speaking, but prefer the left side)…
  • …but I use the touchpad on my laptop with my right hand*.
  • And for a seasonal flourish, when I wrap a gift, I use left-handed scissors……
  • …but I pull tape from the dispenser and apply it with my right hand.

I think this gets us back on track with our minimum daily requirement of Content Freeยฎ posts. I’ve also put this in the category of Memes, so feel free to regale us with your own limbic proclivities.

*My theory is that it has something to do with the electrical current generated by my body. The cursor skips crazily when I use my left hand, but it’s much better behaved when controlled by the right. I’ve posted about this before. You do remember, don’t you?


  1. Mine’s pretty easy…I do just about everything with my right hand. I’m so amazingly un-ambidexterous that it’s laughable. The only thing that even smacks of ambidexterity is the fact that I can (and actually prefer) to eat like a European. Talent, I tell you. ๐Ÿ™‚
    But I can use the keypad properly.

  2. Beth, most of the things I mentioned don’t have anything to do with ambidexterity, despite the oh-so-cute post title. For instance, I can’t throw a baseball with my right hand, nor can I work a ten-key with my left. It’s just strange (to me) the way my brain is wired to do certain specific activities.
    I don’t know how Europeans eat. Don’t they use their mouths? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. I laughed out loud as I read your post, thinking of all of the people I’ve met who are arguments against Intelligent Design.
    And against evolution, for that matter.
    Me, I’m hopelessly right-sided. I shoot pool left-handed, but very badly, and I have a mean two-handed backhand in tennis, but that’s about it.
    With which ear do you listen to the phone? Putting the phone to my left ear is incredibly discombobulating; I become deaf as well as my usual dumb.

  4. With which ear do you listen to the phone?
    Oooh…good one. I completely forgot about that. I’m definitely a left-eared guy. Not sure if it’s related to the fact that I sliced off my right ear and sent it as a gift…oh, wait…that needs to be another post. Never mind.

  5. It came naturally. I never felt like I needed to play left. Though I’ll never know what would have happened if I had a choice at the time between a left and right handed guitar.
    You play left handed… was that a natural thing?

  6. You play left handed… was that a natural thing?
    OK, first of all, “play” needs to be in quotes, as a way of explaining that when I “play” the guitar, I don’t really.
    But if I did, then, yes, “playing” left-handed comes naturally. I’m a natural leftie, despite the weird activity-specific variations.
    However, I see no reason why I couldn’t learn to “play” right-handed. I played (no quotes needed here) the clarinet for years, which requires both hands to be equally and independently adept. (However…now that I think about it…with a clarinet, or any woodwind for that matter, the left hand is always engaged. Some notes can be played with only the left hand, but none can be played — properly — with only the right hand. [I’m ready for someone to point out the exception(s).])

  7. Didn’t you know, Eric, the Europeans just absorb food.
    No the whole fork flipped over in the other hand with the knife as a…shovel? to help push food onto it thing. Not a good description, but it’s the best I can do. Sorry!
    I can listen to the phone with either ear though – so that’s good, right?

  8. …to help push food onto it thing.
    OK, I know exactly what you’re talking about. Rachel employed that technique when she visited us from New Zealand in September, so it’s not exclusively a European thing. (Rach, I hope you don’t mind that I shared your eating habits with the world! ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I can listen to the phone with either ear though – so that’s good, right?
    That’s very, very good. I’m sure only a select handful of people in the world are ambiaural. (Funny. Firefox spell check doesn’t recognize that word. Inconceivable.)

  9. I’m hopelessly right-handed. I think my left hand only serves to as a balance because it’s pretty useless. I can operate my mouse with my right hand while drinking a coke with my left hand, however, so that’s something. And it did type half this comment, so there’s that.

  10. And it (my left hand) did type half this comment, so there’s that.
    Actually, 43% (116 characters out of 271) of it, assuming you hit the spacebar with your right thumb as we were all taught in typing class back in sixth grade.
    But who’s counting? Yes, it’s possible that I’m putting off a couple of unexciting tasks…

  11. No kidding. Nothing could match the excitement of tallying each letter in her comment (plus spaces between words…and punctuation), determining their relative frequency, mapping them to the keyboard, then computing the % of keyboard hits by the left hand vs. the right.
    That is what you did, right?

  12. Pretty close. Now that I’ve sneakily completed one of my tasks, I can virtuously describe my methodology. You’ll probably want to take notes (60% left hand, that):
    1) Copy the relevant section of text into your favorite word processor, or the one IT makes you use, whichever comes first.
    2) Using its word and character count feature, tally up the characters in the text snippet. If your word processor doesn’t provide this capability, well, you know how to count, don’t you? And don’t forget the spaces.
    3) Cursor through the snippet, deleting every character that is typed by one hand or the other. I recommend deleting the left-handed keys, because you’ll forget the spaces and punctuation sometimes if you go with the right, plus you’ll wind up with one humongous chunk of text that will definitely fail your spell checker. Deleting the left hand characters gives you something that looks like the script for a Monty Python sketch.
    3a) Challenging requirement for the truly obsessive: as you parse the text, highlight any characters that require the use of a shift key — you’ll need to give BOTH hands credit for those. (Don’t delete them.) When you’ve completed the initial run of textual parsing, add the number of shift key characters to your original total.
    4) Reapply the character count feature of your word processor to the text remnant, counting up the remaining (right-handed, if you follow my recommendation) characters.
    5) Do the math.
    (This comment 55% courtesy of my right hand.)

  13. Oh, my! The past two days I’ve been mostly out of pocket and look what I’ve missed! Thank you, Bret, for that. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    And yes, I can and do use a 10-key regularly. In fact, I am the office champion on the 10-key, as documented in our office record books somewhere. ๐Ÿ™‚ This is about the only thing I can do left handed (though I normally use my right, unless my desk configuration doesn’t allow for that).
    That, and typing, and holding a phone are pretty much all that my left hand is required to do. And my left foot is very good at operating a clutch (more on that in my latest post, yet to be written) but useless in games of kickball or other athletic endeavors (well, okay, I do use it for walking, running, swimming, as Denise says, to balance things out, but I wouldn’t give it 50% of the credit).
    I also eat the “European” way, with my fork held in my left hand upside down and using my knife like a palette knife to put food on the back of the fork. This really makes more sense than constantly switching hands to cut your meat and then switch the fork to your other hand to eat it. I did a time-motion study on this and concluded it is 54% more efficient to eat this way. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. During my days as an office temp, back in the Pleistocene era, they used to grade us on how many keystrokes per hour we could do on a 10-key. The best of us could do over 10,000 (that’s 167 every minute). I clocked 11k once.
    Weirdly, I can do almost 5,000 with my left hand, but I am otherwise not even close to ambidextrous.

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