Handy Man
Quick instructions on how to assemble graphic in Excel that include standard deviations and trendlines (i.e., regression lines).

There's no such thing as being left-handed.  This is like living in a world in which there's no such thing as "gay," only "straight" or "bi-sexual."  See, on a genetic/developmental level, there is apparently nothing that assigns left-handedness the way there is for righties.  The majority of the world (i.e., 89% or so) uses their right hand to the exclusion of most else.  By contrast, "lefties" aren't lefties at all; they use whichever hand happens to work best.

This is not to be confused with ambidexterity.  The word "ambidextrous" has a muddled meaning.  It is usually taken to mean that someone can use either hand for the same task.  However, this ability is rare since few devote the time to practicing a given task such as, say, writing with either hand.  On the other hand (if you'll pardon the pun), "left-handed" individuals are a walking collection of right- and left-handed tendencies, some exhibiting more of a preference one way than the other.  This is usually referred to as mixed-handedness or (less often) cross-dominance.

In my own case, I'm very much a mix of both handednesses.  I compiled the following lists of various handed activities to see how they fell out, and they were about even.  However, this isn't completely bias-free nor are all things equal, at least from several other reasonable perspectives we might consider.  Specifically:

Time vs. task.  These lists do not reflect proportions of time employing either hand in a given activity.  For example, I have spent many hours of my life writing and eating.  The sum proportion of my life engaged in these mundane activities probably dwarfs almost every other activity on the list.  By this measure, I am perhaps overwhelmingly left-handed, but if you took at each item as a singular decision regarding which hand to use, you can see that preference is more evenly divided.

Forced handedness.  Many tasks are inherently right-handed, as dictated by the ergonomics of the devices required to perform them.  For example, golf-clubs are right-handed unless one goes out of his/her way to obtain a left-handed set.  Similarly, many power tools (e.g., chainsaws, circular saws) are all but impossible to operate except in the invariably right-handed configuration in which they're designed.  My ever-present camera places the grip on the right side, but when I am not actively taking shots, I default to my left hand and hold it by the base/lens.

Switch hitting.  For many activities where handedness is independent of the implements involved, a lot of the time I switch as needed, for example due to fatigue or simply because the angle may be more appropriate (e.g., hammering something near an obstruction or close to a corner).  However, since it is almost impossible to go 50/50 on any of these, I filed activities by their preferred hand, but those where I "switch" easily, I marked with an asterisk.

Okay, so the lists?

Pour a drink
Brush my teeth
Pee (right hand gets the clothes out the way)
Sign (I can finger spell and only a little else)
Talk on the phone (usually)
Carry a camera (usually by the bottom of the body rather than by the right-handed grip)
Shoot a pistol (usually; this doesn't quite get an asterisk)
Throw a paper airplane
Carry Alphasmart
iPod (controls)
Computer/Atari joystick
Jig saw
Violin (tendency; I actually use it right-handed because that's the way almost all are made/strung)
Trumpet (tendency; I can't actually play)
Tennis racket (again, not that I play)
Throw a Frisbee*
Bowling (though I initially tried --unsuccessfully-- right-handed)
Floss (both hands are required, but the right leads)
Taking my contacts out (but put them in ambidextrously; left for left eye, etc.)
Using keys/opening doors
Opening jars
Hand saw/tree saw
Wearing a watch

Shoot a rifle or shotgun
Swing a bat
Throw a (foot/base)ball (overhand; underhand, less so)
Computer mouse
Dial phone (held with left, push buttons with right)
Shoot a camera (note: dictated by the ergonomics)
Golf (again, not that I actually play)

Some items are surprising (and not just that I included masturbation; I'm trying to be scientific), such as that I usually shoot a pistol with my left hand while using my right for long-guns, even those that do not feature preferentially-handed loading mechanisms such as bolt-action.  In effect, I am performing essentially the same task requiring similar components of coordination, but I change hands due to the medium employed in that activity, not the end it achieves.  Similarly, I use a joystick with my left hand and yet the mouse is always in my right (which could conceivably be incredibly advantageous if I were a gamer).  Also, as mentioned above, I put in my contacts with my left hand, but take them out with either (i.e., left eye w/ left hand).  I use a screwdriver right-handed, but tend to use a drill left-handed when I have a screwdriver bit in it.  In all cases: Same end, different means.

I had a hard time categorizing some of the more complex tasks like using my wallet.  It's in my left pocket, but I dig through it with my right hand.  I'm not sure which is the preferred approach in this case.  And who can tell which hand you need to tie shoe laces?  I need both, and I'm not sure either is the dominant one since it's the shoes that are getting tied up, not the fingers (Bondage joke; try to keep up).

Further reading
See Stanley Coren's The Left-Hander Syndrome: The Causes and Consequences of Left-Handedness, one of the most exhaustive (but thoroughly readable) books on the subject.

Copyright 2008 Alexplorer.
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