Monday, December 31, 2012

Week 33: Catching Up

If you're wondering what The Impossible Goal is, you can read about it here. 

Since the week previous to this was a bust practice-wise, I did my best to do some catching up.  I can DEFINITELY feel the loss in speed.  I believe I've blogged on this phenomenon before: The better I get, the more I need to practice.  My minimum practice goal is no longer three five-minute sessions a day, but four.  And in a month or so I'm going to do my best to make it five sessions, depending on how my spring semester CART schedule works out.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Week 32: Grandma

If you're wondering what The Impossible Goal is, you can read about it here. 

Grandma, 1922-2012
Saturday we laid our wonderful Grandma, Ruth Evelyn Reel Thomas, to rest beside Grandpa.  She was 90 and left 5 children, 15 grandchildren, and as of the writing of her obituary, 39 great-grandchildren and 8 great-great grandchildren.

We knew the time was nigh, so it's been difficult to concentrate on practice for these past two weeks as I wondered when I would get The Call.

But as Grandma lived her life, I'm going to do my best to not complain and just get the task done.

We all love her and will miss her very much, and we are glad she's no longer suffering but is in a better place, having Christmas with Grandpa in Heaven.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Week 31

Not blogging this week. Family situation. I'll definitely tell you about it later.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Week 30: Christmas Break

I forgot to blog yesterday!  Oops.

There's about a month before the next semester starts, which means I've got plenty of time now to (a) beef up my dictionary, (b) shovel briefs and phrases in my dictionary and flash card app, and (c) do lots and LOTS of speed practice.

I've also got "declutter a bit" on my to-do list, but we'll see how much THAT gets done.

With regards to my own progress, I think I'm at the gateway of 330 -- managing to get a stroke for everything, but still not quite legible -- but it's hard to look at the calendar and NOT think how much farther I've got to go.

I hope the room where we do the attempt will be warm.  If it's in a big ballroom like the last one, those places are usually so freezing even the sweater I always bring doesn't cut it.  It'd suck to have to bring a space heater to Nashville in August, but you do what you have to do.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Week 29: When you're NOT motivated

If you're wondering what The Impossible Goal is, you can read about it here. 

 Sometimes when you're (and by "you're" I mean me) in the midst of struggling through a plateau, it's hard to find motivation to practice.

This post is a bit of a nod to the great motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, and I highly recommend his books and material, especially anything he's written that has to do with goals.

When you're in a plateau, or you're exhausted from working so much, or you've got family stuff that's happening, or you're just over it, how do you get the drive, the fire, the excitement that you had before?  How do you get enthused about practice?

Now let me ask you this:  So what?

Sometimes you will NOT feel like practicing.  Feelings are irrelevant sometimes.  Sometimes I don't want to drag my butt out of bed at 5:15 am so I can be out the door to get to my job on time.  But I do it anyway.

If you aren't feeling the drive, fire, or desire to practice, do it anyway.

Grab yourself by the scruff of your neck, drag yourself to your practice area, plop your butt down on your chair, and DO IT.  (I know that of which I speak.  My husband's seen me do just that when my cell phone alarm goes off in the evening at practice time.)

I guess this is the bottom line, in my opinion: Feelings and emotions are useful.  I've been inspired to practice more after a job that kicked my butt. :) I've been inspired to practice more and learn more briefs after a job that I kicked ITS butt. But feelings do shift and cycle like a river's current, and emotion alone won't get you to 225 or 260 or 280 or 370+.  Consistent elbow grease WILL.  Eventually.

(Maybe this was less of a nod to Zig Ziglar and more of a nod to Larry Winget.)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Week 28: Clarification

If you're wondering what The Impossible Goal is, you can read about it here. 

*So you're talented too, and ... wait ...
What was I talking about?*
The purpose of this blog is to show that if I can do it, YOU can do it.  I am no more talented than any other steno writer.  I was NOT a steno prodigy at school.  It took me seven attempts to pass the RPR, three attempts to pass the RMR, NINE attempts to pass the CRR, and the fourth time I took the National speed contest I finally passed the Q&A. I have never placed overall in ANY speed contest, state or national.  I'm busy with work and don't have a lot of time, just like you.  I am NOT a member of the X-Men.

If I can click the bar to speed up the dictation to 450 wpm, SO CAN YOU.  If I can review briefs and phrases for a couple minutes a day (not a lot of time at all), SO CAN YOU.

You can do it!! PRACTICING at 450 wpm by no means equals GETTING 450 wpm.  You try it, and you try your darndest, and you drop and slop and lose focus.  But hang in there, eventually it'll pay off in getting you closer to your target speed.

It ain't talent but PRACTICE.  My goal of this blog, again, is to inspire YOU to (a) practice, period; and (b) practice at much faster speeds than you are currently; and (c) shorten your writing so you don't have to stroke so dang much.  You're every bit as (OR MORE) talented as I am.

YOU are in charge.  Click that button and speed it up.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Week 25: Progress is Progress

If you're wondering what The Impossible Goal is, you can read about it here. 

I first heard the phrase "progress is progress" when I did powerlifting back in the day. Yep, I used to do powerlifting.  Once we get a few more debts paid down and more room between our income and expenses, I'll get back into the gym and lift again, hopefully sooner rather than later.  But I digress.

This is me as the Eleventh Doctor for Halloween. No reason.
If your maximum bench press has been stuck at 100 pounds for one year, and you finally complete one rep at 101 pounds, that is progress! And it should be celebrated.  Even if you are stuck at 101 pounds for another year.

Again I say:  Completing school or attaining the next-level certification is NOT a race.  You don't get extra points or a gold star on your CSR because you passed it before Sally,* who passed every stinkin' class before you.  And attorneys and CART consumers don't give two schnikeys how many times it took you to pass the RPR or CRR.

My 315 wpm is officially Not Shabby.  Progress.

*No offense to anyone named Sally. I just needed a name.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Week 23: Achivement Unlocked

If you're wondering what The Impossible Goal is, you can read about it here. 

I have bumped up the speed practice to 450 wpm, even though I'm nowhere close to getting 425.  And, yes, got used to moving my fingers quicker.  Tested myself on Sunday on 330 wpm, and only had one substantial drop, which is an improvement.  My notes were pretty sloppy, but they ARE starting to match the dictation a little better.

Hmm.  Upgrades.
In other news, I passed the RDR on Saturday. NBD.


It's very encouraging to see people posting on Facebook and elsewhere when they've passed a new test and/or received new letters behind their name.  With each and every certification I attain, I gain that much more confidence that I have a bit more of a clue what I'm doing.  Once I passed the RMR, I wrote faster than ever.  I had never written so cleanly as when I thought I passed the CRR in 2010. (I missed it by one, but eventually did pass it later.)  And once I passed the realtime literary contest, again my writing improved.

Of course I'm only speaking from my own experience, but you see how I wrote better -- AFTER passing?  I proved something to MYSELF.  When I KNOW by objective measurement--not a subjective "I feel faster" or a wpm counter that may or may not be accurate--that I write faster and more accurate than I used to, my rough transcripts are cleaner, which makes for quicker scoping and proofreading, and my CART output is cleaner and more verbatim.

Some people may think they don't need the letters for their confidence, but I've seen great benefit.  And as I've said before and will say again, if I can do it, others can as well.  It took me seven attempts before I passed the RPR (the final pass being the FIRST one where we could take speed tests in individual legs rather than pass all at once), three times for the RMR, and NINE times for the CRR.  I'm no steno prodigy.  Got 'em done by looking at my failures, making corrections, and then practicing my tail off.  If I did it, you can too.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Week 22: Plateau

If you're wondering what The Impossible Goal is, you can read about it here. 

I've been testing myself at 330 wpm on Sundays, and while there's stretches where I'm getting it, there's longer stretches where I'm not.  Ugh.

I've been at 425 wpm for speed practice for a while now, and it feels like I'm not making any progress either.

Time to up the speed!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Week 21: One of THOSE Weeks

If you're wondering what The Impossible Goal is, you can read about it here.   

Darn near everything this week took two hours or so longer than expected, so not much progress made this week. Pity too, because I felt like I was on the verge of another speed increase. But we keep a-going, regardless of cars breaking down, cars being bought, traffic going to poop. I did miss several practice sessions this week, but it seems life has settled down a bit.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Week 20: Break

Blog break, because I had parents and a niece this weekend.  Enjoy every moment with your loved ones, and do not apologize for taking the time to do so.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


If you're wondering what The Impossible Goal is, you can read about it here. 

I'm practicing regularly at 425, and my fingers aren't flailing quite so much anymore.  Again, I'm not GETTING very much, but I'm also not dropping as much, and here and there the fingers are starting to hit more keys correctly. Soon It's going to be time to bump up the speed again.  I'm thinking next week I'll start practicing at 450.

A bit of clarity appeared last week:  If you're a member of the Magnum Steno Club, you've heard the advice several times to "fight for every word."  But I say, you don't FIGHT for every word.  YOU ATTACK.  GRAB as best you can each word as it's said and GO GET IT!! RAWR!!!!

On Sundays the past couple of weeks or so I've been testing myself at 350 wpm or a tad faster.  I haven't passed any takes yet, but there's good stretches where I'm getting it.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Week 18: Hello

If you're wondering what The Impossible Goal is, you can read about it here. 

Not much to report on this week.  Busy busy busy.  Practicing at high speeds, fighting for every word, blah blah blah, you know the drill.

I did keep up pretty well with a 350 this Sunday though, so that's cool.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Week 17: Yikes and Away

If you're wondering what The Impossible Goal is, you can read about it here. 

At left: me taking the national and state speed and realtime contests this season.

How apt that the Magnum Steno Club on Monday referenced the need for self-compassion.  (I think. I was practicing writing it, so I'm not sure all what was said.)

I'm doing my best not to be discouraged by the fact that all I qualified on was the ILCRA realtime literary.

And I know what I SHOULD have done: after the realtime contest (on a Thursday evening) I SHOULD have hauled butt back to my hotel room and practiced speed until Friday morning, when the speed contest took place.

But Friday, even though I practiced some high speed before the speed contest, I still was in realtime mode and wrote trash.

It's hard to not think, "Who am I to even think about attempting a world record when I can't pass a 220 literary?"  But that WON'T HELP ME.  (but I still think it)

Our Saturday seminars were led by Mark Kislingbury, and even though I do a lot of that stuff already, I still walked out with a slight drink-from-the-firehose feeling, as well as some more motivation and practice ideas.

So we learn from our mistakes, bump up the practice, and continue on.  I'm going to do my best to get more than at least 30 minutes total speed practice a day, and my focus is almost entirely on Q&A at this point, since I plan not to take the national speed and realtime contests next year.

Because as Mark said in his closing session, "Champions overcome this."

And this. *thud* And this. *slam* And this. *whomp*

Monday, September 3, 2012

Week 16: BSOD

If you're wondering what The Impossible Goal is, you can read about it here. 

The bad: main realtime laptop bluescreening on the first class of the first day of the semester.  (Actually more like grayscreening, but you know what I mean)
The good: I have a netbook loaded w/CAT software as backup for just this scenario.
The awesome: Every paycheck, I normally put a couple bucks in the piggy bank for equipment upgrades and purchase, so I got a brand new laptop!!!

So with that bumpy start to the semester, this week's update:  I'm estimating my consistent Q&A speed is somewhere around 300-320 right now, although I've had a couple spurts where I've nearly hit 350, and once the state contests are done with I'm going to concentrate fully on Q&A practice until the record attempt.

I hope to see some of you at the Illinois Court Reporters Association's annual convention this weekend in Springfield, IL.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Week 15: Preparing for a new semester

If you're wondering what The Impossible Goal is, you can read about it here. 

Not much happening this week; still practicing testimony at 425, but bumped literary down to 275 -- 25% over target speed, which is 220 for the Illinois state literary speed contest.  Shoveling briefs into my flashcard app.  425 testimony is definitely understandable now.

Almost time for the new semester to start, so we'll see how I need to adjust my practice schedule with my CART schedule.  I'll probably have a new practice routine developed by next week.

So kinda boring right now.  But that's fine.

ETA: Just tested myself on a Magnum Steno 200-word slowdown, which I'd sped up to 351 wpm, and by my calculations I got 80%! It's not passing, but it's definite progress!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Week 15: Bumping it up

If you're wondering what The Impossible Goal is, you can read about it here. 

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson had a good tweet this morning:  "Remember, there's great value in achieving the goal. But the greater value is in the struggle & hard work it took to achieve it."

The Illinois realtime and speed contests are coming up in a few weeks.  After they're done, I'm going to focus almost totally on testimony practice until the Guinness attempt.  I'm still going to practice literary once a day since I CART and literary is what I do, but since the Guinness attempt will be testimony material, that's where my focus will be.

Going to increase the testimony speed to 425 this week.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Week 14: Convention Postgame

If you're wondering what The Impossible Goal is, you can read about it here. 

"I gotta shorten my writing even more." 
       -- Me, immediately after the realtime contest.

Dance with the one that brung ya, which applies to the contests but NOT the Saturday night President's party.  When I wrote short, I wrote gold.  When I started needing to write stuff out, bleah.  That having been said, I got 95% on the speed testimony and the realtime literary, which were the two legs I most wanted to pass.

Shorten it up more, and I need to practice the trance.  Where I can zone out and not think about anything, but just let the words flow from my ears to my fingers.

But anyway.

Convention thoughts:  Plan what you're wanting to attend, but be flexible for the golden unplanned moments -- you run into someone in the lobby and have a nice long conversation.  Meet someone new in the hallway and you end up going to dinner with them and several other friends you just met. Chitchat with your CAT tech support guy, and the LIGHT COMES ON when you learn a new software trick that will save you so much time.  Learn something new.  See people you've only known through Facebook.  Have a great conversation with someone you've always admired.  Dance so hard Saturday night your legs and knees ache the next day.

The annual convention only comes once a year (hence the name "annual"), so enjoy it to the fullest.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Week 13: Preconvention

If you're wondering what The Impossible Goal is, you can read about it here. 

In a few days, you'll find me at the 2012 NCRA National Convention in Philadelphia.  Look me up!  So my next blog will probably be a convention recap, sometime later than next Monday.  I'm doing both Speed and Realtime contests, so results for those will be posted online sometime Saturday.  The announce the results during lunch on Saturday, so I'll TRY to tweet them in real-time at depending on my phone reception.  I've noticed hotel convention centers tend to not be cellphone-signal-friendly.  Don't know about this one in particular.

Also follow the Twitter hashtag #NCRA12 for ongoing conventionizing happenings from other attendees.

I made a blog entry a while back for convention and networking strategies, and it's here if you want to have a quick look.  Especially if you're a first-time convention-goer.

Other results this week:  Fingers still flailing, but not nearly as much as last week.  Getting a little more here 'n' there.  325 literary is starting to feel not crazy.  And.... WATER fell out of the SKY this week!  It's been so long!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Week 12: Flailing

If you're wondering what The Impossible Goal is, you can read about it here. 

Struggle of the Week: Plopping my butt in the chair and MAKING myself practice when I'm really tired and I just want to go to bed.

This is good for me.

This is good for me.

This is good for me.

Maybe if I say it three times like Beetlejuice, it'll manifest.

400 Q&A, 325 Lit is my practice speeds.  My fingers are flailing like Shawn Michaels after a vertical suplex, but the slowdowns -- usually somewhere around 325-350 Q&A -- I'm kinda getting.

Stay positive!

PS:  I couldn't find a .gif of Shawn Michaels flailing (heck, I thought there would be tons of 'em out there) so here's one of Shawn giving the Undertaker huggles.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Week 11: Bring It.

If you're wondering what The Impossible Goal is, you can read about it here.

Time to bump it up.  Am I successfully taking 350 Q&A/300 Lit? NO. But I feel like I'm stalling in progress.  As of today I'm bumping it up to 400 Q and 325 lit.

Well, sort of as of today. See, I'm writing this as if it were Monday (it's really Friday), and in case you didn't know, WWE's Monday Night RAW's 1000th episode is filming tonight LIVE, and I brought my signs:

My Shawn sign. My Miz sign wouldn't upload for some reason.
And I'm going to rush home from work (hopefully no bad rush hour traffic accidents), grab my husband, put on my The Miz shirt <3 <3 and rush to the arena to get there in time. And then I won't be home until late because OMG EVERY ONE OF MY FAVORITE WRESTLERS WILL BE THERE IN-cluding the Rock, IN-cluding Shawn Michaels, IN-cluding the Miz!!!

So Monday I won't be practicing much (because it's hard to practice when you're in Crazed Fangurl Mode, but we're back in business as of Tuesday.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Week 10 -- Speed Bump

If you're wondering what The Impossible Goal is, you can read about it here. 

Monday and Tuesday my CART job lasted all day, and while I write pretty darn short, my hands were done at quitting time.  I did not practice those days, and boy, Wednesday I could tell.  I'm glad I DIDN'T practice, mind you, because we got to take care of our hands.  But yes, I slid back a bit on speed.  Now back to my regular practice schedule.  Ten minutes during the day, ten minutes before supper, and ten minutes before bed -- AT LEAST.  Maintaining estimated practice speeds of 350 testimony (which is feeling fast, but not crazy fast) and 300 literary (which is feeling crazy fast).

Don't know if I already posted this or not, but phrases ending in "thing" like "kinds of things," "this thing," etc. are popping up in my writing.

Received the BackJoy (see previous post's comments--thanks, adm) on Friday and am sitting on it as we speak.  I can indeed tell an improvement in sitting comfort.

Other'n that, not much else to report.  National and State speed contests are coming soon.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Week 9: Training Pays Off on the Job

If you're wondering what The Impossible Goal is, you can read about it here.

Feeling it in my back and shoulders today.  Had an all-day job yesterday while using a hotel conference room chair.  Kids, if you haven't already learned to appreciate a good chair, begin to do so now.  My job tomorrow has good chairs, thankfully.

Yesterday's was quite a good job, quick medical-ly material, but I can DEFINITELY tell short writing and speed practice is totally paying off.  Yes, for medical, you do need your prefixes, roots, and suffixes defined, but anything you're likely to hear often, brief those puppies and drill yourself on 'em.
For projected CART, I like to print out my job dictionary and lay it across my laptop while I'm working to help me keep track of names, speaker IDs, job-specific briefs, etc.  And I project from a netbook running Bridge, so I can use the Briefs Suggest window and enter things into my job dictionary when I can.

There was something else I was going to say, but I forgot.

But yeah, there's something to be said for training for these contest things.  Our consumers deserve the best, and it's wonderful to feel good about your product at the end of the day.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Week 8

If you're wondering what The Impossible Goal is, you can read about it here. 

It's amazing how quickly 360-400 wpm went from sounding like gibberish to merely sounding too fast. Why didn't I practice at these super-high speeds before?? As in ten years ago? Well, all I had then were cassette tapes, I guess, but if I reeeaaalllly wanted to do it, I would have.  Speed and realtime contest winners don't just show up one day and win over and over again.  What are you willing to sacrifice to get that good?

Here's a link to the Simple Dollar blog that talks about the price of training.  Are you willing to pay the price of change?

I've been adding briefs to my dictionary and my flashcard app pretty much systematically, as in going through the Magnum Steno book and adding a column of regular-word briefs, then a column of proper nouns, and then a column of phrases, going page by page. Not every day, but every day I'm working at home I try to add a column. However, these past two weeks I've started hearing a lot of "there" phrases -- "in there," "around there," "were there," etc. So I'm skipping ahead and entering them in my dictionary.

Nashville's less than 13 months away!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Week 7: Concentration

This week's featured Goal is about Spencer West, who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro (put that in your dictionary) without having legs.  Please don't tell me you can't use the number bar. Read more here.  

This week's lesson is recapping one I touched on a while back, what finally helped me get the CRR:  concentration.  The entry is here.

Due to a Flash upgrade (I think) the speedy-up-slowy-down function of the Magnum Steno practice videos wasn't working for several days this week and last, so I went ahead and practiced to the slower speeds and practiced CONCENTRATION. The downside of normally practicing at insane speeds is that piddly 280 wpm sounds SLOW, so my brain starts going, "Meh. I can get this," and I lose concentration. The last dang thing I want to do is get to the Attempt and choke.

Concentration is a skill!  And just like steno or drawing or riding a bicycle, it gets better with practice.  Really.

Have a good week!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Week 6 -- and SHORTER

vin diesel rock Pictures, Images and Photos
Because Vin Diesel AND the Rock.
If phrases are nitrous oxide tanks, I am Vin Diesel.  (Except I can act.)

I actually didn't practice Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday because I was CARTing all day.  We have to train, yes, but also make sure we don't get injured.  Don't worry; I had my speed practice.  The teacher kept up a rat-a-tat-tat cadence all day -- BUT she spoke in phrases.

"Give me some of those kinds of things."  All those words are written in THREE strokes total now. Give me/some of those/kinds of things.  See your Magnum Steno book for details how.

I wrote all day and I wasn't near as tired had I written everything out. My feed was clean.  My consumer was served well.

PHRASES.  BRIEFS.  During the job, keep track of any words you're writing in more than one stroke, and check to see if you can't brief 'em.  By the end of the three-day seminar, I had just about EVERY word down to one stroke.  THAT MAKES YOUR JOB EASIER.

Back to my Fast & Furious metaphor: When the going gets fast, the phrases start to pop up, and when you're behind you hit a few phrases and you CATCH UP very QUICKLY.  VRRRRROOOOOOMMM.  Granted, if WE'RE writing super fast, our CART consumer has to READ really fast, which can be a problem, depending on the individual and if there's enough lines on the screen to catch up when there's a pause in the discucssion.  For you Magnum Steno members, Mark reads a literary take about fast captions in the 6/12/12 video.

But, man, it feels good to write short and fast.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Week 5 -- Writing Shorter and Shorter

May I reiterate that WRITING SHORTER MAKES YOUR JOB EASIER.  I took a few depos this week, and one last week -- the first depos I've taken since January.  I've been full-time CART during the semester, and doing depos only during school breaks.  And when I did these depos, I could tell a VAST difference between January and June, since I've hardcore worked at shortening my writing in between.  When you write shorter, you write cleaner.  When you write cleaner, your rough drafts are cleaner.  When your rough drafts are cleaner, your editing goes quicker.  When your editing goes quicker, you get the job done quicker.  When you turn in a job quicker, the invoice gets submitted to the attorneys quicker, and HOPEFULLY they pay quicker, but, well, sometimes they don't :o)  Regardless, you can then take on more work without feeling as overwhelmed, or you'll have more time in the day to relax or play video games or drink or whatever it is you fancy.

Write shorter, folks.

Oh yeah -- what I've done this week.  Starting to keep up more on the 300ish Q&A.  Literary's increased a bit.  So progress is slight, but slight progress is progress.

(posting this on Sunday since I'm at an all-day job tomorrow)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Week 4 Progress

Week 4 progress

At the time I write this, it's Thursday night at a resort at the Lake of the Ozarks.   I'm providing CART for a conference. I can't say I've noticed much progress this week in PRACTICE...  but... I sure do notice it at work!

This is a combination of things.  Yes, I've been practicing literary at speeds at or above 300 words per minute, so that definitely made things seem slower than it would have, had I not been practicing this.  But in addition to that, I've been writing more and more words in fewer and fewer strokes.  Words that I used to write in two or three strokes I write in only one.  And I'm still learning more phrases.  If I can write two, three, or even four words in one stroke, I want that!

Plus I've been using DigitalCAT's briefs suggest window.  For my nonsteno friends, if you're writing something in two or more strokes, but your steno database has an entry for the same word that is one stroke, it'll tell you in a little window.  I don't use this for one-on-one CART, because I don't want the window to cover up any screen space nor do I want it distracting my consumer.

But I use it when I'm projecting CART, because I send the feed to a netbook, and hook the netbook to the projector.  That way I can add dictionary entries at the last minute, use the briefs suggest window, and I can adjust the projection display independent of my own viewing preferences.  (I don't normally use this two-notebook system with students, because I've found there's usually not enough time or space to set that up.)

So I have the ability to shorten my writing as I go, which is the key for me, I believe.  I've long suspected that my fingers have hit the ceiling when it comes to finger speed -- something I've discovered is wrong, as my fingers have gotten faster -- and therefore, shorter writing is how I'll attain more speed.  Shorter writing definitely was the order of the day here.

My flashcard app has over 3000 briefs and phrases, and it's paying off.  I'm adding more almost every day.  Well, almost every day.  Depending on when the depo is done.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Week 3 Progress

Week 3 progress

Getting more and more used to 350.  Fingers are getting faster, and I expect accuracy will improve as I sit at 350 for a bit.  I'll bump it up to 375 maybe the end of June.

I didn't practice Thursday, though, as I had an all-day depo -- first depo since January, in fact -- and it was in a quiet room.  Which is normally good, but the witness and her counsel were soft talkers, and I felt like I had to lipread the entire time.  Yes, I asked them to speak up.  Many times.  And that day the knot in my neck that my chiropractor JUST got out returned with a vengeance.

And I'm registered for the speed and realtime contests at the NCRA annual convention this year, and if you haven't registered for the contest or convention yet, you can do so at this link.   I think the early bird discount may still apply, so use the discount code EBCV12 at the checkout.

Illinoisans and nearby people and people who would love to attend:  September 7-9 is the Illinois Court Reporters Association annual convention, this time in Springfield, Illinois, and we have none other than the lovely and talented Mark Kislingbury teaching at it!  There's also speed and realtime contests, so save the date!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Week 2 Progress

350 testimony is understandable, and I'm starting to get it in short bursts.  I'm considering upping the speed again, but I'm going to stay here for a few more weeks.

I'm maintaining my practice schedule of at least ten minutes during the day, ten minutes before supper, and ten minutes before bedtime.  If I don't have a class or depo, I get another ten minutes' lap done during the day.  That's only 30-40 minutes of daily practice (not counting the 15 minutes or so of daily briefs practice and review), but it feels right, and it's challenging while not overwhelming.

Here's a link on Lifehacker to check out.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Week 1 Progress

"The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark." Michelangelo

Brief/phrase progress so far: I've been working my way through the Magnum Steno book, shoveling briefs and phrases into my AnkiDroid flashcard app, and reviewing them daily.  On the job, the phrase enders "these," "those," and "them" are finally starting to come out of my fingers.  (e.g. "for these" = TPORPG, "could those" = KAOFBL)  Saved me a TON of strokes on my last job, an all-day class with a very speedy instructor.  I used a LOT of two-word phrases, which helped me keep up nicely.  And about halfway through the day I realized her voice sounded just like Betty White, and then that's all I could hear.

Speed progress -- actually has been pleasantly surprising.  I've been speeding up the takes to approximately 300 on literary and 350 on testimony, and I'm getting more used to the SOUND of such speedy language.  In fact, there's been a few times where I wondered if I'd forgotten to speed up the dictation, and I did in fact do so.

I'm not GETTING the 300/350 by any means.   HOWEVER, the last part of the daily Magnum Steno video usually includes a 200-word slowdown, where Mark K dictates 200 words a bit slower, times it, and gives you the EXACT speed of the slowdown.  One such testimony slowdown I took did not suck.  Were it an actual test, I didn't "pass" it, but I would have at least turned it in for grading.

I had already sped up the slowdown.  Did the math.  Therefore, the slowdown was 340 wpm.

Holy crap.

It's surprising how much has happened in a single week of ramping up the speed.  Remember, I'm NOT a serial speed contest winner.  I'm NOT amazingly gifted.  I'm a regular Jo Steno foot soldier, and if I can make progress this quickly by just practicing high speeds in bursts of at least three 10-minute sessions a day,* YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE :o)

Will I probably plateau soon?  Maybe. Probably. We'll see.  If I do, I do.  If I don't, COOL!

*I did not practice Saturday because we had a graduation to go to in the early morning and a wedding reception in the evening with a 3.5 hour drive in between.  I also didn't practice this last Friday because I wrote all day, plus we discovered a pipe broken in our plumbing and $2K+ to fix it and AAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHH.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Impossible Goal

The current world record for stenographic court reporting is 360 words per minute of question-and-answer material.

Mark Kislingbury's going to attempt to break his own record within the next year or so.

I've stepped forward to try to break it as well.

Right now I've passed a 270 Q&A at the State contest level, and I've passed the Literary and Legal Opinion portions of the National contest.  I am nowhere NEAR the speed I'd need to be at.  It is utterly absurd to think that I could gain the speed needed in less than a year and a half.  Ridiculous.  The next morning after I put my name in for it, I woke up thinking "OMG WHAT HAVE I DONE????"

But I want to see if it's possible.  I want to see how far I can get.   And if I can gain an insane amount of speed in that short time, others can as well.  Trust me.

Plus I plain need a shot in the arm or a kick in the pants or both.

My regimen so far is at LEAST three times through a Magnum Steno video per day, once in the morning, once before dinner, and once before bed, with hopefully a few more goes throughout normal working hours -- at 300 wpm literary and 350 Q&A.  After the speed contest this year, I'll speed them up past 400.

I'm also shortening the dickens out of my already-short writing.  I'm going through my Magnum Steno book and shoveling entries into my Anki Droid flash card app -- a neat app, mind you -- so I can easily review briefs/phrases every day.  It's amazing how that's worked to get the briefs/phrases into my head so they eventually come out my fingers.  My experience is, the less strokes I take to write something, the less tired I am and the more accurate I write.  Plus it's more fun to do my job when my fingers aren't on fire.

I'm going to blog through my progress as we journey, so stay tuned!

And think on this -- if I can make it happen, so can you.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Why are you in this business?

Since my last entry in November I've been crazy busy, which is good. I did another presentation at TechCon, still focusing on social media, but this time the topic was your general online presence. I believe it went well. Got a few good gigs coming, but here's what I'm thinking about:

Why did you decide to go into this business?

And when I say “this business” I mean whatever business YOU are in, but here I'm focused on the general machine steno profession.

Are you in this business because you want to make money? Are you in this business because you heard it had flexible hours? Are you in this business because you heard that training only took two years to complete and you'd be making six figures? Are you in this business because you heard you'd work with amazing people and hear interesting stories?

Why are you in this business?

Do you love the English language? Do you love converting it to text in the most efficient, accurate way possible? Do you love the record? Do you love knowing that the transcript is an excellent product that accurately represents the proceedings? Do you love hearing your Deaf consumer laugh as he reads your realtime feed of his coworkers BS'ing each other? Do you love knowing that there are dozens of Deaf/HOH persons in the audience who have complete access to the session because you have put in hours of practice and dictionary building?

Or are you just doing this for the paycheck?