Armen Chakmakjian

I didn’t know you were lefty? I’m not…

In Random on December 11, 2014 at 3:01 pm

So this article was posted on LinkedIn about the earnings potential of left handed people.  It was decidedly negative, contradicting all kinds of leftiness-advantage articles I’ve read over the years.

I thought the message of the article kinda strange since I knew at least several lefties that were very smart and wildly successful, and you found out after the success that they were lefty.  I wasn’t sure if I could attribute their success to the left handedness.  I know my mother is a lefty who was converted to writing righty in school in the old country, she sew’s lefty though..  My older son is a lefty, although he bats and throws righty.  Several of my very successful friends from high school and college are lefties, exceeding any successes I’ve had by several leaps and bounds.   Then of course the 4 of the last 6 elected presidents have been lefty.

In my own case, I’m hard-righty.  However, about 30 years ago, working in the hardware labs at MLO5 at Digital, I took advantage of a feature of DECWindows.  I did this because I’m so right-handed, that everything ended up on the right side of my keyboard.  Stickies, pen, coffee cup, the last thing I was reading, lunch, or my gloves if I just came in from outside.  Everything. This was particularly difficult in a lab since there was a lot of equipment on the benches, on the right side also. So I decided that the mouse was the best thing to move to the other side as it was the least intrusive thing, and since i play the guitar and saxophone normal righty, I was used to using my left hand fingers do things.

Just to confuse matters, as I flipped my mouse to the left side of the keyboard, I also flipped around the mouse buttons to mirror the righty logic.  To the engineer in me this was the logical thing to do.  Why wouldn’t I flip the buttons…even though the mice at that point were ergonomically designed for righties.  Point with your pointer finger made sense to me.

This would always cause consternation in the other engineers who would show up at any of the ubiquitous workstations we had around: “Dammit! Armen was here”.   It was bad enough for the righty’s in general, but the few lefties in the crowd who ventured to move the mouse to the other side would get confused too, because of my reversal of the mouse buttons.

When touchpads became ubiquitous on laptops, I’d change the mouse buttons too.  This was usually worse than the mouse because now people couldn’t figure out what to do.  Eventually with the apple touchpad, the pull-right gesture was absorbed into a two-finger tap which could be done regardless of handedness.  However, over the last few years, people would come into my work area and wanted to use my machine, or saw me using my lefty touchpad setup, the invariable comment would be:

“I didn’t know you were a lefty!”

“I’m not, I’m extremely right handed.”

“So…why are you using your computer lefty?”

and I proceed with the explanation I already gave above.  This usually elicited a puzzled look, usually eyes squinting as if it was and oddity in a Ripley’s museum; one you couldn’t categorize easily into your list of patterns of known human behaviors.

Anyway, I’m not sure I believe that lefties are more prone to creativity or success or as this article points out less.  The only thing that I could agree with in the article was the lefties (and those who are ambidextrous) have an advantage over normal people in one area, and that is in hand to hand combat.   The movie “The Princess Bride” has an amusing scene making fun of this.

Just another of the random thoughts going through my brain.


In Random on November 16, 2014 at 5:29 am

Ok, so I’m not a great guitarist, and my voice cracks with certain renditions of the favorite songs of the 70s, but I figured I’d try to compile the list of songs I know how to play on guitar and sing (aka I know all the chords and lyrics). I got to 100. I got to 98 and then had to admit I knew one by Bread (everything I own) and then I was stuck for a few minutes. 99…with BREAD.

I was devastated. 99!

Then it came to me. Probably one of the earliest songs I learned: Spinning Wheel by Blood Sweat and Tears. I played it just to make sure I actually remembered it.  Then I knew I was done. Of course, I’m not claiming technical perfection with these songs. But these were the ones that if there was a bonfire, and somebody said “Play a song by X” I’d start working my way through. Even with a few of these, I’d have to practice a couple of chord progressions and humming to remember.

There are a lot of songs by the same these artists, that if I had the words in front of me, and a general idea of the chord progression I’d stumble my way through.  It helps when others know the songs; I can usually figure out how to keep up if they are willing to sing :-)

Of course there are a couple of Ozzie Ozbourne riffs like Crazy Train that I have a hard time admitting I know, even though I proved to myself I could still play, and I can futz my way through Granada (but It sounds like: Granada Canola Granola La da da, da da dee da da  )  :-)

I was going through my iTunes library while doing this, and had a fun night entertaining myself with my 6 string next to me and picking out a few of these to listen to while I tried to remember the others.  (and yes I’m pretty much stuck in the 70s)

Here they are (in alphabetical order by band):

.38 Special Hold On Loosely
.38 Special Teacher Teacher
.38 Special Caught Up In You
.38 Special If I had been the one
Allman Brothers Ramblin Man
America Sister Golden Hair
America Lonely People
America Tin Man
America  A Horse with No Name
Beatles I feel Fine
Beatles Help
Beatles Let It Be
Beatles Eleanor Rigby
Beatles Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
Beatles The Night Before
Beatles You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away
Beatles Hard Days Night
Beatles A Day In the Life
Billy Joel Piano Man
Blood Sweat and Tears Spinning Wheel
Bob Dylan Blowin’ in the wind
Bob Welch Sentimental Lady
Boston More than a feeling
Boston Peace of Mind
Boston Long Time
Bread Everything I Own
Carly Simon Your So Vain
Cars Just what I needed
Chicago Feeling Stronger Every Day
Chicago 25 or 6 to 4
Creedence Clearwater Revival Bad Moon Risin’
Creedence Clearwater Revival Lookin out my back door
Creedence Clearwater Revival Who’ll Stop the Rain
CSN Suite: Judy Blue Eyes
CSN Teach Your Children
Doobie Brothers China Grove
Doobie Brothers Long Train Running
Doobie Brothers Takin’ it to the Streets
Doobie Brothers It Keeps You Runnin’
Doobie Brothers Black Water
Doobie Brothers Take me in your arms (Rock Me)
Doobie Brothers Minute By Minute
Doobie Brothers What a Fool Believes
Doobie Brothers Listen to the Music
Doobie Brothers South City Midnight Lady
Doobie Brothers Steamer Lane Breakdown
Doobie Brothers Clear as the driven Snow
Eagles Peaceful Easy Feeling
Eagles Take It Easy
Eagles Hotel California
Eagles Already Gone
Eagles Life’s Been Good
Eagles Seven Bridges Road
England Dan and John Ford Coley Nights Are Forever
Eric Clapton Lay Down Sally
Fleetwood Mac Go Your Own Way
Fleetwood Mac Don’t Stop Thinking about Tomorrow
Gordon Lightfoot Sundown
Gordon Lightfoot Carefree Highway
Green Day Good Riddance
Heart Magic Man
Heart Crazy on You
Heart Barracuda
Hollies Bus Stop
James Taylor Fire and Rain
Jefferson Airplane White Rabbit
Jefferson Starship Jane
Jim Croce Bad Bad Leroy Brown
Jim Croce Time in a Bottle
Jim Croce I Got A Name
Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville
John Denver Rocky Mountain High
John Denver Eagle and the Hawk
John Denver Annie’s Song
Kansas Carry On My Wayward Son
Kansas Dust in the Wind
Kiss Beth
Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven
Lynryrd Skynyrd Free Bird
Lynryrd Skynyrd Simple Man
Lynryrd Skynyrd Sweet Home Alabama
Lynryrd Skynyrd Comin’ Home
Lynryrd Skynyrd Gimme Three Steps
Lynryrd Skynyrd What’s Your Name?
Monkees Last Train to Clarksville
Monkees What am I doing hangin’ round
Moody Blues Nights in White Satin
Neil Young Heart of Gold
Orleans Still the One
Orleans Dance With Me
Peter Gabriel Solsbury Hill
Pure Prairie League Falling in and out of Love/Amie
R.E.M. Driver 8
Seals and Croft Summer Breeze
Simon and Garfunkel The Boxer
Steely Dan Rikki Don’t Lose that Number
Stevie Nicks Leather and Lace
Styx Come Sail Away
The Who Pinball Wizard

Very smooth…

In bourbon, Random, wine and whiskey on September 21, 2014 at 2:16 am

So I was at BJ’s tonight and there was a special on Jameson Irish Whiskey. If you bought the bottle of Black Barrel Jameson you got a free glass that was also black. I mulled it over for a second, walked around the wines and liquors, and back to the front and picked up the bottle again.

As I was standing there pondering this once again, the clerk at the counter calls to me and says, “If you’d like to try some we have a bottle here.” I was a little shocked, and said, “Sure!” He pulled a bottle out of a small fridge behind the counter and poured a tiny amount into a plastic cup. He explained to me that they do have small amounts of beers, wines and other spirits for tastings they offer from time to time, and pointed to a contraption that had 6 beer taps. I was suitably impressed, and then took a swig.

Wow, it was good. It starts off with the taste of a really smooth peatless single malt scotch and finishes like a bourbon. Honestly, it is better than most of the bourbon I’ve tried, and better than the Tullamore Dew that’s in the back of the picture that I’ve included here. I was sold. I proceeded to purchase a bottle and got my free glass. Nothing like a good buy and a gift!


Anyway, I consider these updates a public service 😄.



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