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!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Journey's End and Regeneration

Coming out of the regeneration, you know, it wasn't massively painful. It was just very exciting. I thought, well, I think going into it probably is a bit more painful. Yeah."
Matt Smith (the Eleventh Doctor)

 photo 172117-i-regret-nothing.gif

Yes, if you're not into Doctor Who, I realize that quote probably won't make much sense. But I had to use it because it encompassed my feelings about August 8.

I thank you all for following me through this adventure. It was wonderful to meet everyone, and your support meant a lot.  I mean a LOT.

"Journey's End." I didn't pass, but I did turn in a 370 wpm take.  I wanted to at least turn something in if not pass, and I did! Although it wasn't remotely close to passing.  But there were little stretches where I had it.  And there actually was a 390 take that almost...seemed...gettable.  Hopefully we'll have another Guinness attempt in the future, and I'm definitely on board -- IF we have a decent amount of transcription time. This arbitrary 10-minute limit was ridiculous. Mark Kislingbury would have gotten it, I believe, if we'd only had a decent amount of time.  By my math, we should have had 18 minutes.  I didn't even have time to proof or spell check, much less untangle problem areas.

"Regeneration."  I need to figure out what my next goal is. This may take a while.  I'll let you know when I do. :)  Until then, 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!
 photo 2013-08-04-peter-capaldi_official_doctor_who-533x710_zpscb5404b1.jpg
Besides, the state speed contest is coming up in a month.

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

(In keeping with my Doctor Who theme of illustrations for these past several entries, here's the upcoming Doctor. I'm looking forward to what he brings to the role!  And I promise I won't be quite as Who-centric in future posts.  Unless a reeeeallly cool picture surfaces that fits the post perfectly.)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Four Days to Go

graphic from
Well, this is it.  Here we go.  I've upped the practice speed to 575-600 words per minute.  Hopefully that'll give me one last edge.  I haven't tested myself in a few weeks, nor have I had a "slow day" that I've referenced in a previous blog.  I honestly don't know if I'll make the speed or not.  There's been times where I've gotten stuff at the target speed.  There's been times where I've blown a slow-down at the end of a Magnum Steno video and it was SLOWER than the target speed.

Thursday after the attempt some of us are heading to the hotel bar -- WHICH bar is yet to be determined -- to celebrate.  Join us!

I'll try to remember to post something after the attempt (and before I get to celebrating the finale) with the results.   Next week will be the debriefing, autopsy, recap, whatever you want to call it.

But a preview of one of the lessons learned from this past year and a half:  Practice faster material than you're doing now. However fast you're practicing, it's not fast enough.

And regardless of this week's outcome, I'm definitely going for the NEXT Guinness attempt. You betcha.

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

Sunday, July 28, 2013

One (full) Week to Go

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

 photo Doctor1.jpg
This is not him. It's the First Doctor.
About a week and a half to go.

I'm still really burnt out on talking about the attempt.  Seriously, if it weren't for the love and support of Mr. Stenoray, I'd greatly slack on practicing because OMG WHO CARES it's so close in time and it's not like i'll gain any more speed this close and aslkdfja;sldkfj.  Not to mention without his encouragement, I wouldn't be in this race to begin with.  Love you, Babe.

Will I have the speed? I don't know. I'm really hoping to at least turn in a 370. On a good day I can get some stuff, and the tests will be only 60 seconds apiece, so we'll see what happens.

I'm looking forward to celebrating Thursday evening after it's over. :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Two Weeks to Go

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

 photo Second_doctor.jpg
I must admit... I'm sick of hearing about the world record attempt.  I don't want to talk about it.  I'm so glad it's getting closer so it can be OVER with. I mentioned the Oatmeal's Blerg last week, and I've got a combination of the Blerg with Grumpy Cat instilled in my brain.  I'm still practicing. I'm just not excited about it, and I DON'T want to talk about it.

But of course that's no excuse to slack on practice.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Four Weeks to Go

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

 photo DoctorWhoPeanuts.jpg August 8 is getting closer.  I'm getting closer as well to the target speed, but only slightly closer.  O, had I only six more months! I had a particular thought a while back that no matter how much I'd practice, when it came time, I'd wish I'd practiced more.  Well, I guess I feel that to an extent, but I also don't feel that I've slacked off. Even during busy times.

What I'm really feeling, which I feel after EVERY SINGLE speed and/or realtime contest, is "I must shorten my writing even more."

Did I use the Fast & Furious movies analogy before?  Finger speed is like the can of nitrous that Vin Diesel or Paul Whatshisname (Walker?) uses in the races.  It's good for short bursts, but you don't wanna be using that stuff all the time or it'll harm your system. (I think. IANACM.)

Short writing is the engine.  You want it strong and powerful, and it'll sustain you over long periods of time.

"Briefs make me hesitate!" Then you haven't LEARNED the brief.  Me, I tend to hesitate more over multistroke words than with one-stroke words. Briefs and a shorter theory makes each job easier for me.  I'm always on the lookout for multistroke words to reduce to one stroke, and I review briefs with my flashcard app.

"I don't have TIIIIIIIIIIIME to learn briefs!"  Yes, you do. You just haven't found/won't find it. If you have ten seconds to write out a few briefs on a sticky note and pop that sucker on your steno machine, you have time.  If you're watching American Idle (see what I did there) or any television at all (which you're not captioning), you have time.  If you're working on supper and you have to let the food simmer for 20 minutes, there's a bit of time.  Post a few briefs by the frickin' TOILET ferkryinoutloud!!!  If you want your job to be easier, your scoping faster, and your realtime better, you'll find the time to improve your skill. That's what professionals do.

Okay, I just went all Larry Winget on y'all. Sorry about that (kinda). I can't help but feel so strongly about this though, because this past year and a half of speed practice and shortening my writing has made SUCH a difference in work!  I have long, exhausting days, sure.  However, my feed just gets better and better, the easy jobs are more frequent, and the killer jobs are farther between.  That's been my experience.

I sat down to begin this post not really knowing what to write, and this is what happens :)

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Five Weeks to Go

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

 photo 5THDoctor.jpg As I write this, it's five weeks and four days to go until the Guinness attempt, 4:30 pm, August 8, 2013. It's open to the public. Come a bit early to the NCRA convention and have a watch.

I blogged later than normal last week (and forgot to click "publish" until just now), so I don't have much to share except my thoughts.  I believe I'm fast enough right now to not completely blow 370, but not fast enough that I'm confident in it.  I've been doing speed practice at approximately 500 wpm -- not at all getting it -- but after about a year and a half of training, I know what I must do at this point!  I must increase the speed. I'm thinking 530-550.

The problem with making the speed so high is that as I speed up audio, even with the newfangled technology that makes the dictation not sound like Alvin, Simon, and Theodore, the words aren't quite as clear.  But you gotta do what you gotta do!

Six Weeks to Go

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

Yikes! I almost forgot a blog post this week.  I had a busy busy BUSY weekend, with a partial sick day plus an out-of-town trip.  I'm getting caught up on work and stuff, but it also means I'm behind on practice.  I've had a few jobs this last weekend where I wrote for several hours, so when my hands are exhausted, I do not practice, or I practice very little.  Not much value in breaking any world record if it means my hands get stress injured.

So we fall off the horse; we get back on again.  It won't be long now.

August 8, 4:30.  Not long now.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Seven Weeks to Go

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

 photo Doctor7.jpg What's really to update? Not a whole lot. I am getting closer and closer to the minimum speed of 370.

There's going to be a total of eight takes of one minute apiece. Two at 400, two at 390, two at 380, and two at 370.  After dictation, we'll scope 'em up and see what we got.

I practiced "slow" on Saturday, and 370 is quite sloppy and mostly indecipherable, but I got something for everything. I didn't look at it too hard to see if I could make sense out of the slop since we had stuff going on, but it's starting -- STARTING -- to feel attainable. Oh, if I only had a couple more months.  (I think I'd feel this way no matter how long I had to practice.)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Guide for a Convention Newbie, Part Deux: When You Aren't That Much of a People Person

from fandom base dot com photo fandombasedaenerys.jpg
Just be glad, y'know, it's Bond
and not Game of Thrones.
(from Fandom Base at
Prologue:  2013 NCRA convention brochure, page 9: "Come dressed as James Bond or your favorite Bond character. Formal attire is encouraged but not required." Good thing it's not required, because I am totally GEEKING OUT over the opportunity to cosplay at an NCRA convention!!!  *geeky flail* Wait till ya see it. :-D 

I've written a bit on your first time at an NCRA convention before, but I didn't really address the social issue as much as I will do so now.  This post, might I say, is NOT for the person who has no problems in new social situations. If you're naturally gregarious, extroverted, chatty, what have you, this post will seem like a big ol' DUH!! However, for some of us (many more than you'd think), the social aspect of conventions is the most intimidating or exhausting.  If you have some tips, let us know in the comments! Here's some things that have helped me:

*When you think, "I don't KNOW anybody!":  Let me fill you in on a secret: Nor does anyone else.  It SEEMS like everyone's in a little conversation group but you. It SEEMS like everyone's mingling and having a good time, but I guarantee you most of those people have just met.  Yes, there are some of us who have gone to every conference event since Benjamin Franklin discovered serial ports (citation needed), but those aren't the majority.  Give yourself permission to stand to the side during the Thursday evening reception or the Saturday night party and just observe.  Look for loosely-knit groups of two or three--groups where they're not gathered in a tight circle but have a circle that's slightly "open," according to their body language -- and introduce yourself.  Heck, just say it. "I'm new to these things, and I don't know anyone.  I'm -state your name- and I'm a -profession- from -your town-. What do you do?"  That line works with individuals just as well. Lather, rinse, repeat.

*Where do I sit?:  Lunch time, and you don't have someone to sit with. I like to play Table Roulette.  Sit at an EMPTY table that's in the middle of things and see who sits with you.  Better yet: join the board and you get a reserved table. Therefore, you don't have to worry.  And by the way, if anyone asks you if you want to join them for dinner, you say YES!

*When crowds aren't your thing:  I agree. They're not my thing either.  Don't room with anyone. I RARELY room with anyone to whom I'm not married. (Good advice.)  Not because I don't LIKE my colleagues; I just gotta have some quiet every day and in large doses.  Do attend the receptions, but let yourself skip out when it feels time.

*When you think, "I'm such a newbie.":  We all were students and new reporters at one time.  I wish I could've come to all these conventions when I was a new reporter -- and I wish I read this blog post at that time.  But since I don't have a TARDIS, I'll tell it to you students/newbies.  Observe and see who seems to be in charge, who seems to have their $h!+ together (looks can be deceiving), who embodies LOVE for this profession.  Introduce yourself to them in the manner I described a few paragraphs above.  If you're feeling pretty bold, ask them to introduce you around. These are the people who want this profession to succeed and, by extension, want YOU to succeed.

*DON'T hang around anyone who spends more than 50% of their time complaining.  If you have to get up and switch seats, do so. I'm serious.  Yes, they are loved by God and they are human beings deserving of dignity and compassion, but they are TOXIC.  You're here to be pulled up, not dragged down.  Needless to say, don't be a complainer yourself.  THANK the people in charge of putting the convention or conference together. If you've never been involved in the planning of one of these things, YOU HAVE NO IDEA of the challenges therein.  Really.  Lift others up, and you find yourself lifted up as well.  This is not being a Pollyanna pie-in-the-sky; it's fact.  If you have serious problems about something, speak to someone who can do something about it and/or volunteer to do something about it yourself.  Sound like I'm on a soapbox? I am.

In conclusion, if you're feeling a bit of social anxiety, it's not just you.  Or at least I hope it's not just me. :) See you soon!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Eight Weeks to Go

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

 photo EighthDoctor.jpgNot much to report on this week, but I'm still making slow work towards the goal. I'm not getting something for everything at 400, but 370 is looking better and better.

August 8, 4:30 pm. Two months to go.  I'll be glad when it's over, but I'm certainly glad I signed up for this.  I've shortened my writing far more than I would have done if I hadn't had this goal, and I've done more speed practice than ever before.

The Guinness record attempt is open to all, even if you're not registered for the convention. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Nine Weeks to Go

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

 photo createcardninedocphp.jpg Not a good past few days for practicing -- had a visit from my wonderful sis-in-law in which we went out for drinks, a tornado warning happened, and we ended up sheltering in the basement of my favorite brewpub. (Six Row Brewing Company. Their beer is YUM.)

And as a result of the storm, our power was out for a few days, so I only got a few sessions of practice here & there from a few downloaded files I had, but not the high-speed practice from the Magnum Steno Club since, well, I couldn't get online. Phooey.

And then yesterday I had some busted molars taken out of my face, which meant I felt like poop all day and did NOT practice.  I'm better today, but my jaw still feels like I went a round with Tyler Durden.

Back in the saddle again with some practice today. A few days off the practice grid does NOT mean you say "t'heck with it" and give up. Continue on.  Several months back I figured that no matter how much I practiced, after the attempt was over, I would probably wish I'd practiced more.  So a few days down is no excuse for stopping.

Now, it is also OFFICIAL that the Guinness attempt will take place at 4:30 Thursday afternoon, August 8, at Nashville.  Not the optimum time to get plenty of people to watch, but there you are.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Ten Weeks to Go

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

 photo doctor_tardis1.jpg
Looks like the Guinness record attempt will be on Thursday, August 8, as far as I know.

I'm still plugging along and making small bits of progress. The past several weeks I've been doing a "slow day" where I practice a take at 330-350 so I can practice GETTING IT.

You remember when you were a student (or perhaps you're still a student) when you're on the cusp of passing a test. You're cruising along when suddenly you realize, "OMG! I'M GETTING IT! I get to move on to the next class, or I get to graduate, or I get to be certified and work!!"  Aaaaaand then you stumble and drop.

Silencing those thoughts is a skill that takes practice, just as writing steno takes practice, so that's why I've had a once-a-week "slow day."

Welp, that's about all I got for this week.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

11 Weeks to Go: Eleven :) No spoilers.

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

 photo S07E14_zpsf7d3fd42.jpgI'm going to the WWE Extreme Rules show tonight, and I also need to get groceries, and practice, but I just want to talk about Doctor Who!!!

Non-Whovians, what is wrong with you it's all right. I won't go into it. Whovians who haven't watched it, no spoilers except to say TEH FEELZ!!! MOFFAT!!!!!

Progress is indeed happening. I did a 350 (supposedly) take and kept up with it quite a bit.  It feels good to finally get some movement after these last few months.

And while I was in my customary pre-Doctor Who spoiler-avoidance offline seclusion this happened. Thanks to Marc Greenberg, who put it out there.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

14/13/12 Weeks to Go: Catching Up on Life

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

It's been busy lately.  But now the semester is over and my schedule has cleared way up.  It's time to get back in the swing of things.  I've had a couple of days of good practice now, and I can feel the speed coming back.

So I'm going to register for the National Court Reporters Association annual conference and book my room--once I find out what day we're doing this Guinness attempt.  No more excuses. Time to make it happen.

Much love to Tami and Clay Frazier and their family.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

16/15 Weeks to Go: Time's Flying

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

 photo RDJsleep-1.gif I'm tired and not trusting the calendar in my brain.  I've taken to looking at my Google Calendar app on my phone every couple of hours to remind me what day it is and where I need to be next.

I had a good time at the Ohio Court Reporters Association's annual convention last weekend, even though it was my first time being a vendor.  My hat is off to you who are vendors.  I THOUGHT I knew the LightSpeed and Stenovations inside and out, but by golly, I know more now!

So with regards to The Impossible Goal, progress has stalled the last few weeks, probably because I've been running around the country, and won't stop until at least mid-May.  This Friday I'll be presenting a seminar on CART for the Illinois Emergency Services Management Association, and the weekend after that I'll be representing Stenovations again at the Tennessee Court Reporters Association's annual convention in my old stomping grounds, Knoxville, TN, where I went to Johnson Bible College (now Johnson University) before my court reporting days.

How many links and tags can I get on one blog entry?

In a few weeks, my major life whirlwind will hopefully settle down a bit, the semester will be over, and I can ramp up my practice to many more times a day than I have been getting.  On a good day, I can get four practice sessions in, and five on weekends that I'm not running all over creation.  I am REALLY looking forward to that.  I've not made progress, but I've also not slipped, so that's good.

And I'm REALLY looking forward for the challenge to be over.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

17 Weeks to Go: Still Plateauing

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

I'm still treading water, it feels; not much progress when I test myself each week.  I wonder if I should up the speed again.  Seems like when I feel I'm in a plateau, bumping up the practice speed helps -- even if I'm not getting the practice speed as is.  500 wpm is really fast, and I'm not getting it by any stretch, but I'm starting to HEAR that fast.  My fingers of course aren't going that fast, except when a few good phrases pop up.  So I'll push it up to approximately 525 this week and see how it goes.

I'm probably not going to get to a blog post next week, since I'll be coming home from Columbus, OH, where I'm going to represent Stenovations as a vendor at the Ohio Court Reporters Association's state convention.  Maybe I'll see you there!

Friday, March 29, 2013

19/18 Weeks to Go: Snow and then Easter

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

I didn't blog yesterday, because I was running the dang Central Illinois Iditarod.  Last Saturday I was in Oak Brook, IL, for ILCRA's Marathon seminar.  Named so because you can get all your Illinois CEUs in one fell swoop. I taught about Facebook and hopefully didn't bore everyone to tears.
This was my view for most of the day.

But then I had to drive HOME on Sunday.  Through Winter Storm Virgil.  Why we gotta give it a name, I don't know.  Maybe it feels better to have a target for our cussing.

Thankfully all of us on the freeway became very patient, and nobody tailgated me, and we all were in this together. I took a break at a McDonalds in the middle of nowhere.  A young child was lingering before the soda (pop) fountain, and his caretaker said, "Now, hurry up and let the lady have her turn." I told her, "Don't worry. I have ceased to be in a hurry today."

I did make it home just fine, albeit much later than I thought.  But that also means I'm out a couple of days of practice, but I've picked it right back up.  Sometimes I wonder if a complete day off (or two) might be helpful.  Don't wanna have too many of those, though.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

20 Weeks to Go: Back to Work

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

As I analyze my notes, or at least as much as I can before I get bored and want to do something else, I do notice that while they can get sloppy and there's not much pattern to the slop, they ARE getting closer to correct.  As long as I can Let Go And Write.

Busy week this week.  A full week of CART, and then I'm off to Oak Brook to help with ILCRA's annual Marathon Seminar.  I'll be helping with some of the CART seminars as well as teaching a seminar about Facebook.  Maybe I'll see you there!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

21 Weeks to Go: "Spring" Break

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

I'll be catching up on practice and briefs review this coming week, as well as work on the various presentations I've got to make in the next couple of months, as well as do laundry, etc.  Because it's SPRING BREAAAAAK!!!

 photo b99a87.gif
You probably didn't expect this picture.
Sundays is my Test Day.  While normally I practice 500-ish WPM during the week (with brief slowdown periods after practice at approximately 400 wpm), on Sundays I take a couple of minutes and test myself at speeds approximating 325-350 wpm.  And I'll be increasing these speeds as we get closer to the Big Attempt.  Of course, I do a bit of 500 WPM practice before I test myself like this.

After I do a test, I'm looking through it and trying to see if there are any patterns to my misstrokes.  Surely I'm not the only one out there with "finger freeze;" you know, where you write the warm-up material freakin' realtime perfect, but once the ACTUAL TEST begins, the digits stiffen up and hit any key except the ones they're supposed to.  I'd like to figure out if there's a rhyme or reason to my misstrokes.  Do I tend to ADD keys? Do I tend to MISS keys? Do I tend to hit the key(s) NEXT to the correct ones?  Am I messing up initial consonants, vowels, or ending consonants more, and how so? I'm not sure there is any pattern yet, at least not by this week's testing.  But if I DO find a pattern, that'll help me in figuring out more slop after the test is done.

I do feel a bit of improvement over last week.  Having faith all these small improvements will add up when it's time.  And when Spring Break is over, I won't have lost any speed or accuracy when school starts back up again :)  Maybe next week, if nothing else comes to mind, I'll blog a bit more about the practical, everyday benefits this journey has brought me.

Have a good week. Don't get into too much trouble.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

22 Weeks to Go: Shorter

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

I've been talking a lot about speed, but I haven't talked much about shortening my writing, which is a key part of this journey as well.  If you're practicing at 6 words a second or faster, the more briefs and phrases, the better.

So I've been learning more phrases and briefs, but not as aggressively as I did in the summer. I've got a pretty full work load this semester, so I've been learning phrases as I hear them, such as "one of those things," "some of these things," etc. which is a stack of the Magnum Steno "these/those" and "thing" phrase endings. (see the book if you want to know how that works)  I'm starting to use *FRB as my "her" phrase ender (with her, to her) because it's the flip side of my "him" phrase ender, *FRP. Hopefully it'll work out.

As I pull up my dictionary to order steno by number of translations or use, my top 10 phrases are:
of the, in the, to the, this is, to be, I think, kind of, on the, at the, it was

Then I look to see what two-stroke entries are the most used, again sorting my dictionary in order of translation count, and I need to work on practicing those as one stroke. My top 10 most used two-strokers:
*going to: TKPWOGT/TO is in place 179 on frequency of entry usage, and it is actually a misstroke entry.  I put it in so it doesn't come up "going to to." Just stick with the TKPWOGT.
*I'll:  EUL/AE, in 274th place.  Should be AO*EUL.
*We'll: doesn't appear until 559th place. Should be WAO*EL, not WEL/AE.
*the colon with two spaces after it (not the colon with no spaces before or after, like in time or Bible verses) is in 794th place.  -FPLT/-FPLT.
*Exactly: (838) Should be KPABLGT, not KPABGT/HRAOE.  Listen in on regular conversations and see how frickin' often people use this instead of "uh-huh" or "I agree."
*Supposed: SPOES/D, should be SPOED or SPOESD, shifting the ring to cover the S and the pinkie to cover the D.
*command to insert the disclaimer at the beginning and end of each CART rough draft -- KHRAEUPL/KHRAEUPL.  Not super necessary to have it as a brief since it's not used during speech, but since it's in the top six two-strokers, I'll make one for it anyway :)
*testing, T*ES/G. Should be T*EFG. (1417)
*you're UR/AE (1437) should be KWR*UR which I do use more often, but still, gotta use it more.
*earlier ERL/ER (1445) should be ______ which I do use more often.

So maybe in a few months I'll pull this entry back up and see if some of these have fallen off the list and which ones I need to work on next.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

23 Weeks to Go: Movement

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

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Have I used this one yet?
I just tested myself at 350 wpm and .... it didn't suck.

I didn't PASS, but I DID get a lot more than I thought I did.  I got something for everything, even with "finger freeze."  And I could decipher more of my slop than I thought I could.  There were errors that were errors in WORD, but not errors in meaning.  Maybe that's due to the fact that I'm full-time CART now.

This could happen, folks.  This may not be as impossible as I thought.  I just may make speed.  Holy crap.

Always transcribe your tests, kids.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

24 Weeks to Go: Court Reporting and Captioning Week

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

Not much to update this week WRARDZ to progress.  Hangin' in there, doing what practice I can get done.

Now.  Here's a link to NCRA's press release about Court Reporting and Captioning week.

Hopefully your steno friends on Facebook will be posting this week about our profession and how we love it.  Hopefully you will too!  Here's a link to some ideas for your posts this week.

In other news, I have my first CAPTIONING assignment this week!  We're going to webcast the aforementioned SLCC court reporting event and I get to CAPTION some of it! So I'm looking forward to feeling like an absolute newbie again.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

25 Weeks to Go: Spinnin' Tires

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

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Yes, I've used this .GIF before. I like it.
Not much of an update this week. I haven't upped practice speeds to 500, but I'm thinking I should, because I just tested myself at 330 wpm and haven't had any change for the past three weeks.  At 330 I'm getting something for everything, and there's stretches where I'm getting it, but there's more stretches where it's gibberish.  I think part of it is my work schedule, but I don't want to use that as an excuse.  Only 25 weeks to go!

In other news, on February 20 I'll be at St. Louis Community College-Meramec for their Court Reporting/Captioning Information session.  Click here for more info.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

26 Weeks to Go: Finding Time

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

 photo thisisntmyboat.gif It's been a heavy week of work. Some days I haven't been able to meet my daily practice goal, and I had one day where I only practiced once because I got home later than usual and my hands were beyond tired. That, plus my schedule for the next four months has filled up with work, extra work, weekend trips of either representing Stenovations or giving seminars (one on Facebook/Twitter for ILCRA, and one for the Illinois Emergency Services Management Association on CART), and I need to check my calendar on my phone to see whether I'm coming or going, whether it's a burro or a burrow. (One is an ass, and one is a hole in the ground.)

So I'm doing my best to practice when I can.  At the start of the day, I get the Magnum Steno Video of the Day up on my CARTing computer, and in between classes I can find a chair somewhere, plug in headphones, and do a quick take. Usually I can get in my pre-supper and pre-bedtime practice, so that's at least two.  Of course I do as much briefs practice as I can.

Tested myself at 330, and while I'm plodding along, not much progress from last week.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

27 Weeks to Go: Push the Pace

If you're wondering what The Impossible Goal is, you can read about it here. for all your funny celeb meme needs.
My motto is "Push the Pace."  A few months ago (maybe several, don't quite know) WWE's Monday Night RAW filmed their 1,000th episode in St. Louis.  I was happy to attend, as all--ALL--my major WWE crushes were there :oD

I knew I was going to need a new Testing Shirt for the Guinness attempt, so I'd been keeping my eyes peeled for the Perfect Shirt.  And then the Rock enters the arena, and he's wearing this shirt (click through to

I hope this link works. If not, go to and search under "Superstar," "Rock," and look at the T-shirt that has "Push the Pace" on the back.

I could see something on the back of the T-shirt, and once my eyes focused in on the text thereon, I went, "THAT'S THE ONE!!!!!" And my husband said, "WHAAAT?" because there were, like, a bazillion people cheering for the Rock and stuff.  I ordered that sonofagun the next day.

So that's my mantra, motto, catchphrase, etc.

Weekly update: My CART schedule increased with a vengeance this week, plus I had to cover for someone in addition to my newly increased hours, so I actually did not get much practice in this week. Mind you, I'm NOT complaining. :o)

But this weekend I DID get all my 475 wpm practice sessions in, and I haven't felt much difference between practicing at 450 and practicing at 475. So it's time to -- what? -- Push the Pace.  I'll kick it up to 500 wpm here in a couple of weeks and see what happens.

And lastly, I just tested myself at 330, and it was MUCH improved from last week. Progress!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

28 Weeks to Go: Positive/Negative

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

No reason. I just like Grumpy Cat.
Little inside voices like to suggest sometimes that it can't be done, you're not good enough, what's the use, only the Epic people should be going for it, why try if you ARE going to fail, etc. etc.  I'm doing my best to brush them off.  Thankfully I haven't ran into anybody who has been negative to me about my goal--but I've ran into plenty who have been positive to ME but negative to THEMSELVES. "Wonderful! Boy, I sure couldn't do that!"  (You're certainly NOT going to do that if you keep telling yourself you can't.) (Heck, I can't do that NOW. That's why I'm practicing. I ain't gonna get there by accident.*)

I tried a 330 wpm just now, and while I got it in places and did NOT drop, it was mostly pretty messy.  And that's quite a bit slower than 370.  Doesn't look good for me at first blush.

But it's been five months since the NCRA speed contest where I got 280 wpm, and now I'm possibly around 320 (allowing for the messiness of that last 330). That's an increase of 40 wpm. That means if I maintain the progress, in five months--June--I should be at 360, and then that's within spitting distance, right???

*I've run into several Muggles--non-steno folk--who have expressed amazement when I mention that I have to excuse myself to practice, or that I train every day.  "You mean you PRACTICE??"  Pete's sake, it's the WORLD RECORD. Just because you've taken a few violin lessons doesn't mean you can immediately rip into the Devil Went Down to Georgia.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

29 Weeks Left

Adjusting practice routine accordingly.

I'm up to five practice sessions a day minimum -- doing a Q&A take sped up to approximately 450 wpm, three during the day, once before dinner, and once at around 9 pm.  School starts this week, but I've got a light schedule this semester, so that shouldn't cut into practice too much.

And believe it or not, there's starting to be short stretches -- and I do mean SHORT stretches -- where I'm not dropping quite as much, so probably here in a week or two I'm going to bump up the speed again.  I haven't tested myself yet to see where I'm at due to the whirlwind of the last month, but I'm feeling some progress.

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

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Week 34: Excuses

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

I'm too tired.
The fingernail on my final L finger ripped off below the quick, so it aches when I write.
I drank too much.
We had a busy day.
There was a death in the family.
When I put a pizza in the oven, I accidentally touched the heating element, and now I've got a blister on my initial P fingertip.
Doctor Who is on tonight.
I already shut down my computer.
I wrote on the job for 6 hours today.
I just took the dogs out to potty, and they took their own sweet time finding JUST THE PERFECT SPOT, so now my fingers are frozen (even with gloves) and can't hardly move.
I don't like the subject material on the Magnum Steno video of the day, and since our ISP has data caps, I can't watch a different one.
I've got plenty of time before the Guinness attempt.

ETA: I have a cat on my lap.