Left Handers Club Newsletter May 2007

In this issue...
1. Left Handed Gardening
2. Left-handed mouse and using special cursors
3. Do left-handed women die younger? (here we go again!)

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1. Left Handed Gardening

With the fine weather here at last (in the UK at least!), our thoughts turn to work in the garden - a place where left-handers can face some challenges and meet a lot of equipment and machinery that is designed to work against them! Here are a few of the things that we have come across ourselves:

  • Bypass secateurs / pruners have a cutting action similar to scissors, which means they also have a leading right-hand blade. For a left-handed user, this means you are pushing the blades apart rather than together as you cut, making it hard to get a clean straight cut. Not only does this damage the plant, but jagged edges to pruned stems leave the plant open to infection. Using left-handed secateurs not only eradicate this problem, but also allow you to cut closer to the joint and see exactly where you are cutting as the leading left blade is now on top.

  • Electric lawnmowers have the on/off handle and speed control positioned to the right of the handle, leaving your stronger hand with the subordinate role of holding the flex – particularly awkward if you prefer to cut your lawn from right-to-left as you are always turning into the trailing flex.

  • Chainsaws have the controls and safety mechanisms on the right so they are extremely dangerous to use left-handed

  • left handed lawn edging shearsLawn edging shears. Left-handers often prefer to work from right to left along the lawn edge, but quickly discover that turning round a traditional edging shear does not work efficiently in this direction, as the leading top blade is no longer closest to the edge. Moving the left hand to create the cutting action, whilst leaving the right hand still close to the hip to steady the shears also means that you are moving the top blade up and down rather than the bottom blade. With this action, you have no guiding blade visible to ensure a straight edge as it is always moving up and down. As with scissors, left-handed lawn edging shears have the blades reversed, so the leading edge is on top when you move from right to left across your lawn.

  • Sickles and scythes. If you need to cut a swathe through jungle or just tame a wild corner of your garden, using a standard scythe or the left handed sicklesmaller version, a sickle can be extremely awkward for a left-hander. The top edge of the arched blade is sharpened, and is designed to use in a steady, rhythmic sideways action across the front of the body, leading with the right hand. This action requires quite a bit of strength and stamina, so you obviously need to use your dominant hand. For a left-hander, the sickle blade needs to be sharpened on the reverse side of the blade, allowing you to chop the vegetation with your stronger left hand.

You can see our left-handed versions of some of these items here

Let us know about any problems you have had with gardening tasks or other machinery and equipment that is difficult or dangerous for left-handers to use.

We have a special member offer on our Left-handed pruning shears by Darlac (code 103). Specially designed for left-handed use with the blade and counter-blade reversed to cope with the opposite pressures created by left-handed users and the locking mechanism on the right of the body for operation with the left thumb. Darlac left handed pruner

The Teflon coated blade is manufactured from high-carbon tool steel and can easily be sharpened and the counter blade is notched to help grip more difficult branches. The tensioning nut can be easily adjusted using a coin and automatically locks to prevent loosening while in action. Fully guaranteed, replacement parts available. Normally £14.95 (USD 29.15) we have persuaded the manufacturer to give is a 35% discount on 100 units so they are only £9.75 (USD 18.95) while that stock lasts

We will also add a free left-handed 12 inch/30cm ruler and pair of safety scissors to every Darlac order at the special price

left handed ruler We have some of these rulers with a slight imperfection in the printing of our logo so we are giving them away! (normally £1.95, USD 3.80)
left handed safety scissors We have replaced this model of safety / nurse's scissors with a better quality item for medical use, but these are perfectly good for home use. (normally £4.25, USD 8.30)

Use this link to order your Darlac pruner and get the free ruler and scissors as well - if you can still see the special price you will definitely get the three items.

2. Left-handed mouse and cursors

Which hand do use to control your computer mouse? Most computers are set up by default to have the mouse on the right. This can be useful for left-handers if you are taking notes or writing while you are also using the mouse as you can do so with your left hand.

On the other hand (!) most left-handers have better fine control with their left hand so would prefer to have the mouse on the left. Some lefties just put the mouse on the left and leave the buttons set at their default, with the main "clicking" button still being the left one and using it with their middle finger (this does not apply to Apple Macs which do not have 2 mouse buttons).

It is more common to actually switch the mouse buttons over so the left index finger is still doing the main clicking and this can easily be done in Windows...
Start / Settings / Control Panel / Mouse /
and on the Buttons Tab tick the box for "Switch primary and secondary buttons"

This can cause problems if you share the computer with a right-hander. Mauricio Tejada in Japan has produced a clever utility that allows you to instantly swap the mouse buttons for right- or left-handers by just pressing Ctrl-F12 instead of going through the Windows Control Panel.

Left handed mouse pointers

It also changes the mouse pointer and hand icons to left-handed versions at the same time (shown on the left of this image).

You can also configure the "hot-key" settings to your own choice and set whether the pointers should automatically change or not. This clever programme is completely free and you can download it (only 461K) here

Many thanks to Mauricio for making this available to us.

Click this link to see a list of sites with more left-handed cursors
(note that this links to information on other sites outside our control)

A lot of the better quality mouses (mice?) are now being made in ergonomic designs to make them more comfortable and also with more function buttons available. As always, very few manufacturers bother to think about left-handers when designing their products so congratulations to Logitec, who have made a great left-handed ergonomic mouse.

This cordless USB mouse is jam packed with features including advanced laser tracking, side to side scrolling on the roller button plus zoom, forward, back and volume controls and lots more. It links to a small plug that goes in a USB socket and it can co-exist with your right-handed mouse so both can be connected at the same time and whichever one you use will take over the cursor movement.

Logist left-handed laser mouse
Click here to see more details or order this mouse

3. Do left-handed women die younger?

Members have been contacting us regarding a study that has just been published in the journal Epidemiology, suggesting that women who are left-handed have a higher risk of dying from cancer or circulatory diseases. The findings of what is very much an initial study by a team from University Medical Centre Utrecht have been picked up and widely reported in the press, despite a great deal of scepticism among academics.

left handed ladyThough this study was of only 252 deaths in total (right and left-handed) over a 13 year period and would seem far too small to elicit any sound evidence, the team have reported that when left-handed women were compared with the other women and the data were “adjusted for a number of potentially confounding factors” which are neither detailed nor explained in the reporting, lefties had a 40% higher risk of dying from any cause, a 70% higher risk of dying from cancer and a 30% higher risk of dying from diseases of the circulatory system.

Left-handed women, it is claimed in the study, also had a 2-fold increased risk of dying from br east cancer, close to a 5-fold risk of dying from colorectal cancer and more than a 3-fold higher risk of cerebrovascular mortality.

Working on a such a small sample, it would surely seem difficult to conclude anything more than chance findings of a trend relating to these various causes of death, and the evidence is far from conclusive. The one hypothesis for a possible connection between handedness and the cause of these illnesses that has been put forward by the researchers is “intrauterine influences, such as exposure to sex hormones” referring to one theory that left-handed babies are exposed to higher levels of testosterone in the womb. It fails to take into account other possible reasons for left-handedness such as genetics and birth stress.

However, widespread media reporting and sensational headlines are in danger of creating, not for the first time, the sort of hype and hysteria that can turn conjecture into fact, and create urban myths quoted and revisited for years to come. Academics who have studied the research are, not surprisingly, highly dubious. One such, Dr Olga Basso who is left-handed, has written a commentary on this study, in which she voices her frustration with this and other recent studies that have related disease and death with handedness. She states “I am not alone in thinking that the literature on handedness suffers from a number of ills, regardless of the putative illnesses seen in those who are left-handed. Having successfully dodged a number of disorders” adds Basso, “I doubt that my left hand is prematurely pulling me towards my grave.”

There is also a response to the study from haematology specialist Adrian J Bloor who suggests the authors should consider whether their results "...indicate that the apparent association is nothing more than a spurious correlation".

Having seen many such studies receive widespread media attention, only to be disproved by later studies, the LHC would be inclined to agree with Dr Basso, and remain more concerned about the content and quality of the research than its results.
Use this link to view details of the study

Follow this link to read Dr Basso’s commentary on the research
(this is quite a major piece with lots of references to other left-handed research papers)


That's it for this month - we will be in touch again soon

Best wishes

Keith & Lauren Milsom 
and all at the Left Handers Club

Tel: +44 (0)20 8770 3722
Fax: +44 (0)20 8715 1220

P.S. If you like what we are doing at the Left- Handers Club, please tell your family and friends about us so they can benefit as well

Click here to visit the Anything Left-Handed website