Saturday, January 26, 2013

Scribble Nation

By Julie Rahm

I totally missed the date. January 23rd was National Handwriting Day. In 1977, the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association created National Handwriting Day. According to the group’s website, the holiday offers “a chance for all of us to re-explore the purity and power of handwriting.” National Handwriting Day in the United States is a time for acknowledging the history and influence of penmanship. It is celebrated on the birthday of John Hancock. The American founding father is most remembered for his iconic signature on the Declaration of Independence. John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence large enough so the King of England, with poor eyesight, could read his signature. I think John Hancock would have been the first one hung should the revolution had failed.
Anyway, computers have displaced penmanship. As a result, schools have eliminated penmanship classes.  Since the 1980s, U.S. children receive little formal training. This was not the case in many European countries, where students are given rigorous handwriting instruction. While penmanship studies haven’t completely disappeared from the American curriculum, school children today spend more time mastering computer skills than the neat, standardized cursive of their parents and grandparents. As early as 1955, the Saturday Evening Post had dubbed the United States a “nation of scrawlers.” Studies show that handwriting abilities have largely declined since then. Perhaps we have lost our appreciation for the common pencil.
A typical pencil can draw a line 35 miles long or write about 45,000 words. And, most ball-point pens will draw a line 4,000 to 7,500 feet long. Did you know that plant-growers mark their plant labels with pencil because it is one marking that won’t fade in sunlight? Do you dream about pencils? Seeing a pencil in your dream indicates that you are making a temporary impact in a situation. It may also suggest that a relationship may not last long. Dreaming that you are sharpening a pencil, suggests that you need to be more flexible in your way of thinking. And, pencils have been painted yellow ever since the 1800s. During the 1800s, the best graphite in the world came from China. American pencil makers wanted a special way to tell people that their pencils contained Chinese graphite. In China, the color yellow is associated with royalty and respect. American pencil manufacturers began painting their pencils bright yellow to communicate this "regal" feeling and association with China. Today, 75% of the pencils sold in the United States are painted yellow! Even more, left-handed pencils do exist. It's all about the text printed on the pencil. On a right-handed pencil the text runs from the tip to the eraser so right-handed users can read it when held. Left-handed pencils have the text printed eraser to tip so left-handed users can read it easily! Now you know.
So, if you want to improve a relationship with someone, pick up a pencil or pen and write them a handwritten note. Your effort will be well rewarded. Then, visit my website at 

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