Sunday, November 1, 2015

Still Falling Off the Wagon

Yep, it's been hard to keep up with practice.  Busy work schedule, plus my Buddy, Mr. Puppy, the Good Boy named Rutabaga went to Doggy Heaven last week.  He was 13 years old.

This week is filled up workwise for me too with full days, but I'll try.  That's about all I can guarantee, right?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

What Happens to You While You're Busy Making Other Plans

If you want to know about the Fairly Reasonable Goal, click here.

Planned practice has taken a solid hit these past couple of weeks, due to -- well, lots of things.  Last weekend I was at the Illinois Court Reporters Association and completed the speed contest, but I had to leave due to a family emergency, which took up a lot of practice energy (and emotional energy) the past several days.  And I've had a few more classes added to my academic CART captioning schedule since last we met.

BUT if you fall off the horse, you gotta get back on, so I am reporting that I am doing so.

(ILCRA speed contest results:  I got the Legal Opinion, but didn't get the Q&A [93.5%] or the literary [93.7%]. But both were graded to the end, so that's a small victory, I guess!)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

First Week of School

If you want to know about the Fairly Reasonable Goal, click here.

First, a bit of accountability.  This week has been the first week of the semester, and I do academic CART captioning onsite. So oftentimes this is a very hectic time for me until the schedule settles down, students are done adding and dropping classes, etc., and I can get into a routine.  Monday and Tuesday I did NOT do any practice, but I found some time the rest of the week to get it done.

  I did state that I don't have to practice if I'm writing 5+ hours in a day due to my arms wearing out, but you know what?  I've got a few of those in my schedule this semester, so I'll have to try to get in at least one short practice session to keep things up.  Real-world writing and test-taking writing are two different things for me.  Real world isn't a steady speed, isn't measured for syllabic density, and isn't scored and graded.

  But as to my weekly progress: Three takes a day probably doesn't sound like a lot, but over the past two weeks I've felt my speed and accuracy starting to -- solidify?  Steno people, do you know what I mean? It's nice to pass a particular test once in a while, but it's better to pass them consistently.  Because then you KNOW you've got it!

The first week of class is done, and I've had some additions to my schedule starting next week, so hopefully I'll be able to maintain the parameters I've set for myself!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Parameters of the Fairly Reasonable Goal

Greetings, greetings!  This is my official post whereby I state my clear objective:  passing each and every leg of the NCRA speed and realtime contests in 2016 in one go.  I've passed each leg except the realtime testimony -- now it's time to pass them all together.  This is what I refer to as the Fairly Reasonable Goal (in homage to the Impossible Goal, what I named my 2013 Guinness record quest -- see entries tagged The Impossible Goal).

So here are my parameters, for those of you playing at home.  I need parameters or I won't get it done.  The parameters for my training will be much like those used during The Impossible Goal, which were developed by pulling them out of my butt as the situation merited.

The minimum amount of practice is three takes a day, preferably of different categories.  A "take" is usually five minutes, but if I speed up/slow down a Magnum Steno take, the time will vary and that's okay because I said it's okay.  A Magnum Steno take practiced twice counts as two times, but if I repeat it again it still only counts as two times.  One legal opinion take a day is optimal, but I'll probably get sick of the few dictations I have, but then again, I'll get ninja awesome at those and probably reinflate my legal brief arsenal, won't I?

The final practice take will be done at 9 pm, and I've set an alarm on my phone for that time.  This final practice may be skipped if:
  • I'm physically at an event like a movie, work, or a friend's house. 
  • I'm sick where I can't practice effectively.  If it's just a cold, too bad.
  • I just finished a late job where my arms are killing me.

After Christmas (or a few days after Christmas because it's Christmastime), the minimum amount will increase to four takes a day, the last two being at 5 pm and 9 pm.

After the spring semester is done, the minimum will increase to five takes a day.

Practice may be skipped entirely if I have a job where I write 5+ hours in one day.  I've already got some nerve thing happening in my arm -- don't want to wear out the organic equipment.  (My schedule this fall does have two days of five-plus work hours, but I should still be able to get in two practice sessions.)

Once a week, probably Saturday or Sunday, depending on stuff, I'll test myself on a leg and post the APPROXIMATE results here.  This will be a BALLPARK result, because I like my weekends.  But I will go through my test and give me a rough pass/fail.  I'm not going to test EVERY leg each week because, jeez, that's five five-minute takes to go over; three to fully transcribe and grade and two to grade. I'm not doing that every week because I don't want to.

Ready?  Begin!

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Fairly Reasonable Goal

Greetings, everyone!  It's been a while, yes, and last time I wrote a blog post it's been a while.  I'm going to do another blogging adventure through this coming year, because my goal this time is NOT to achieve 370 wpm, but rather to pass all NCRA contest legs in one sitting.  All the speed, all the realtime.  I've passed all the legs (except for the testimony realtime) of the contests before -- just not all in one sitting. Fairly reasonable, right?

I'll do much like I did for the Guinness attempt, blogging once a week with my progress.  Starting tomorrow, my goal will be to have three practice sessions of five minutes each, with my final practice at 9 pm.  I'm going to set an alarm in the evening, like I did for the Guinness attempt.

Addendum:  This is what I look like on the first day of the NCRA annual convention:
Cersei Lannister, all regal and dressed up and hot.
I assure you that my husband and I are in no way related.
And this is what I look like on the last day of the convention:
Jeff Bridges as the Dude, bathrobed and boxered in the grocery store with a hangover-hiding pair of sunglasses.
I'm not even kidding.

So stay tuned!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Catching Up

Boy, it's been a while, hasn't it?

...I'll still blog on a generally weekly schedule, I believe. I've gotten into the habit of blogging regularly, and I kind of like it!  
--Me, August 12, 2013

Yeah, that didn't happen so much, huh?

Couple of reasons.  

A) I haven't had much to say.  And one of my Life Rules (which I try to live by but often fail) is:  "If you don't have anything to say, don't say it."  I don't have a source for that quote.  Maybe I made it up.

B) I've been busy!  Since Nashville my CART schedule has filled up more than it's ever been!  Add to that my ILCRA board activities, and the occasional representing Stenovations as a vendor at the occasional state convention -- plus I attended NCRA's Legislative Boot Camp this year.  I wrote about it in ILCRA's Ad Infinitum newsletter.  Maybe I should post it here as well.  I wonder if I can do that or if our newsletter is copyrighted.  I don't know.  Anyway...

I received word that one of my blog posts made it to this month's Journal of Court Reporting, so I figured I probably should update this blog in case any of you are new visitors!  I thought the article was going to be the entry below entitled "Affording the Convention," but I think they printed a different entry instead.

But finally I'm getting a few ideas for blog posts, so I'll have more to say in the following weeks.  Really. :)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Affording the Convention

Question: When should one start to save for the NCRA annual convention?

Answer: NOW!

If you've got an incredible income, sure, go ahead and pay for it at the last minute.  Or if you like to keep credit card debt open, have a go.  This entry is not for you.

The bill for travel to the NCRA annual convention can get pretty steep, and the price can be daunting to come up with, even if you've had a pretty good year.  This is my strategy.

I alluded to this a while back when I did a blog post on what my dad taught me about business.  We were able to afford a good family vacation because Dad would put a small amount of money away every month.  Every month, faithfully, all year round.

So I apply this principle to my budgeting as well. Every check I get from anybody, I take a percentage out for taxes (you'll have to figure your percentage out on your own), a percentage out for charitable giving, and a percentage for the NCRA and Illinois annual conventions.  Off the top.  Every time, no matter what.

 photo Shut-up-and-take-my-money_zps8b89688e.jpg What am I saving for?
  • Travel expenses to and from the hotel. Last year this particular expense wasn't much at all -- just two tanks of gas.  But next year, since it's in San Francisco, I'll need airfare (for two) plus transportation to and from the airport.  And cab fare if we decide to go a few days early and explore the city.  If I need parking, I budget that under Lodging.
  • Lodging.  I've always found it worthwhile to stay at the hotel in which the conference takes place, even though the nightly rate may be more than at another hotel.  It's great to be able to run up to your room to pick up something, or drop off the bag of swag you scavenged from the vendor hall, or simply sleep in a bit later than you would had you stayed across town.  When you receive your estimated hotel bill as you make your reservation, be sure to add in a few hundred for resort fees, parking, or taxes not included.  Yes, I said a few hundred.  ($15 dollar resort fee + $20 daily parking fee)5 days = $175, and that's not counting taxes.
  • Convention registration fees.  Including any contests you sign up for, any software classes, AND some money to participate in fundraising activities like silent auctions or raffles.  Include a guest ticket for the Saturday President's Party and/or the awards lunch if you're bringing a Muggle spouse.
  • FOOD.  This.  I get nerdy with this one and count up ALL the meals I will have to pay for.  Breakfast, Lunch, and Supper.  Since I usually go all-inclusive with my registration, Saturday I don't have to count lunch or supper (awards lunch and President's Party), so I don't need to budget for that. I count all meals on departure day and return-home day, since I ain't cooking as soon as I get home.  Count every meal up, add up the estimated cost, and multiply that by 2.  Meals are ALWAYS expensive in resort areas.
  • Fun money!  If you decide to tour the city or go to a Carrie Underwood concert with friends at the last minute, have some cash for that.  If your spouse is coming with you, he/she will need SOMETHING to do while you're in sessions.  Include this too.
  • Equipment/professional enrichment money.  Convention is the BEST time to get merchandise, since a lot of vendors run convention specials.  Now is the best time to try out that new writer *cough*LIGHTSPEED*cough* and meet the author of that book you've been wanting.  And have her sign it!  NCRA usually has neat reporting tchotchkes and T-shirts for sale at their booth too.
  • Expenses related to your home.  Like pet boarding and whatnot.
That's a lot!  But it IS doable.  I'm not rolling in the dough, but I can say that going to both state and national conventions has definitely helped to advance my career, and therefore, my income.  The connections and the knowledge and the fellowship I've gained are worth every penny.

Start NOW!