My Two Cents: Making Sense Out of Cents

I’m rolling out a new semi-regular* feature:  My two cents.  Essentially, it will be a way for me to quickly give my opinion or take on a topic currently in the public discussion – or anything else I feel like chiming in on – but without doing a lot of set up or bothering to tie things up in a nice bow.

*Semi-regular = whenever I feel like it; until I get bored with the concept and stop doing it.

two cents pennies


First up:  The cents sign.

My initial thought was to title this as “My 2 (cents)” using the common symbol for cents – a lowercase “c” with a vertical line through it.  But I have absolutely no idea how to type that.  My keyboard has 115 keys, containing a combination of 83 different letters, numbers, and symbols.  But nowhere do I see the cents symbol.  I know that I can type it, (probably using some obscure combination of Shift with maybe an Alt or Ctrl), but without consulting Google, I have no idea what it takes.

Sure, there are ways around it.  You often see people refer to an opinion as their “$0.02” or “.02” but that just isn’t as easy for my simple brain to decipher.  What are you trying to say?  Two dollars?  Two hundredths?  Wouldn’t it be much easier if there was a commonly known symbol to represent cents?  Oh yeah, there is.

Or maybe the cents symbol isn’t so common after all.

So what happened to the cents sign?  Has inflation gotten so bad that almost nothing costs less than a dollar?  Who decided that the cents sign would not have a spot on computer keyboards?  How lowly do you have to be to get edged out by the caret (^) and the vertical line (|)?  It’s sad.  It makes no sense*.

*C’mon, did you think I could get through this without using a cents/sense pun?  Please.

Do they even bother teaching the cents symbol to kids anymore?  Or would a teenager be more likely to read Egyptian hieroglyphics than understand what a c with a slash through it means?

Add the cent sign to the growing list of things that make me feel old.

In case you were curious, you can type a cents symbol by simply(?) typing 0162 on the number pad while holding down the Alt key.  Like such: ¢

Assuming that publishing that symbol doesn’t blow up the internet, I’ll change the title going forward.

Should I Quit (hand) Writing?

I’ve never had good handwriting.

In elementary school, the worst grades I received were in handwriting.  I never mastered the proper pencil grip – even with those rubber triangle wedge thingys – so I hold a pen like it’s trying to run away.

I ditched cursive sometime in high school.  In college, I switched to an all caps style of penmanship.  Not the cool-looking architect writing that my sister and brother-in-law have mastered, something far less beautiful.  The main reason for the switch was that I couldn’t read the notes I was taking in class.  And in the years since college, my handwriting has not improved.  It is actually regressing.

This really hit home for me as I was writing out a personal note on a birthday card to my lovely wife (Happy birthday, sweetie!).  It looked like a drunken seven-year old wrote it out.  With a vibrating pen.  While riding in a car.  On a bumpy country road.  At night.  Poor Mrs. FeitCanWrite is probably going to need a translator just to get through it – assuming there is anybody alive who can read my handwriting.  I’m like a doctor, but without the nice white coat and fat paycheck.

How did I get here?

The semi-ironic part is that for somebody who goes by FeitCanWrite, I do very little pen on paper writing:  random notes here and there, a grocery list or quick to-do checklist.  My 8 – 5 jobs have been largely computer-centric, so I type much, much more than I hand write.  I’ve almost completely switched over from taking notes with pen and paper to using OneNote* on my work laptop or smart phone.  I type emails, compose drafts of documentation, and do all of my Feit Can Write writing electronically.

*OneNote is a wonderful program for chronic list makers, note takers, and those who are prone to saying “I need to write that down or I’ll never remember” and “Now what was that thing so-and-so mentioned?”.  I’ve been using the program for a little over six months, and it is becoming indispensable in my professional life.  Meeting notes, to-do lists, cheat sheets of user accounts, URLs, and other things I need when I’m out and about.  Plus, many blog posts start as an idea while I’m driving and get jotted down in OneNote (from a parking lot) before I forget.  Okay…enough with the commercial.  Back to regular programming.

And let’s face it:  typing is a complete no-brainer for me.  It is legible, spellcheck makes sure that I spell legible correctly (I didn’t the first time around), cut and paste allows me to move sentences and paragraphs around to where they fit better, I can easily delete a part that sucks, and so much more.  Typing is just a tremendous time saver for me – and my intended audience can actually read it, which is fairly important in written communication.

So why should I ever hand write anything again?  About the only thing that is important enough for me to hand write are the little notes I put inside cards to my wife, but other than that?  I can’t think of much other than “milk, bread, eggs, cereal, fruit…”

This is where I should bemoan the pending loss of the (hand) written word, but when your handwriting looks like mine, it’s pretty low in the grand scheme of things – somewhere between the loss of landline telephones and driving to a store to rent a VHS movie – quaint things folks did in the 20th century that seem so ridiculous now.  Or am I wrong?

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