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!!!

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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.