Benchmarking your Steno Progress

My score on Angry Zombie Bird Farm is always above 1,250,000 on Level One.

My weight has been 165 since high school.

Graph going up

I’m going up, up, up.

My checking account low-balance alarm goes off if the balance drops below $500.

As long as my weight doesn’t rise above 165, my score doesn’t drop below 1.25 million and my checking account remains above $500, I am doing fine.

Those three things are examples of benchmarks.  We can adapt and use them effectively in our stenographic journey to court reporting success.

How?  Well, brown cow, I’ll show you how — now.

Take any drill.  Do it.  Count the errors.  Do it again.

Did your score improve?  If not, why not.  There will rarely be a dramatic increase, but there should be an improvement.

Try something different with the drill.  Do it slower.  Do it faster.  Create a list of terms from the drill and practice them.  Do a different drill to regain clarity, speed, etc.

Then do the first drill once again.  Did your score improve?  Hooray, if it did.  If it did not, then you still have adjustments to make.

Your drills should be helping you.  If you aren’t seeing improvement, then you should adjust the way you practice.

In coming posts, I’ll present different ways to benchmark or assess your progress.

Steve Shastay

The Steno Rebel

 

Words that end in LK

I called her Ms. Klim.  She was a transfer student from another court reporting school.  Instead of doing two strokes for the word “milk,” she would stroke the outline backwards in one stroke.  Her outline of KLIM solved a small, but irritating, problem.  I have no idea where she got this outline.   I admire whoever came up with this unique solution.

I imagine that all reporters chafe at using two strokes for any one syllable word, such as “Gwen,” “golf,” and the aforementioned “milk.”

“Milk” doesn’t show up very much.  In fact, there are comparatively few words that end in LK in the English language.   A few of them are very popular; so we definitely need easy solutions for them.  Many of the others can be briefed the same way as the popular ones.  The few remaining words are unpopular and probably should be stroked out to avoid any ambiguity as to whether the speaker really used such an unpopular word.

Let’s break it down.

There are only three really popular words:  “walk,” “talk,” and “folk.”  Luckily, these words can be easily one-stroked with WAUK, TAUK, and FOEK.  If you use different strokes, that’s fine, but your strokes should be extremely easy.

Here is the entire list of one-syllable words that end in LK:  baulk, caulk, chalk, sculk, skulk, stalk, whelk, balk, bilk, bulk, calk, folk, holk, hulk, milk, silk, sulk, talk, walk, yelk, yolk.  Many of these words are variant spellings or are very unpopular words.

Many of the one-syllable words can be briefed by using the same patterns that are used to brief “walk,” “talk,” and “folk.”  Of the ones that are left,  I would like a brief form for “milk,” “silk,” “sulk,” and “bilk.”  If I can find an easy outline (easy to remember, easy to write), then I will adopt it.  If not, then I will use a Job Brief if such terms are popular in a particular job, and otherwise, I’ll use my two-stroke outlines for the occasional occurrence.

Remember Ms. Klim?  She could write all of these words with her backward pattern:  Milk KLIM; silk KLIS, sulk KLUS and bilk KLIB.  That pattern does not work for me.  It is easy to stroke, but it is not easy to remember.  She has her solution; I have mine.

All two-syllable words that end in LK are built off of the one-syllable words.  The only two-syllable word that is popular is “sidewalk.”  That word can be easily briefed by taking your “walk” outline and putting an S in front of it.  My outline is SWAUK.

Here is the list of two-syllable words: beanstalk, boardwalk, cornstalk, crosstalk, footstalk, leafstalk, rootstalk, sleepwalk, spacewalk, townsfolk, womenfolk, cakewalk, duckwalk, eyestalk, foremilk, kinsfolk, moonwalk, overmilk, overtalk, racewalk, ropewalk, shoptalk, sidewalk, townfolk, workfolk, menfolk, catwalk, jaywalk, kinfolk, outbulk, outsulk, outtalk, outwalk, skywalk, bytalk, uptalk.

Some of these words are very rare and may not be in a normal dictionary.  An eyestalk is the part of the stalk that contains the actual eye for certain sea critters.  Foremilk is the first milk taken.  A rootstalk is a type of plant.  A duckwalk is when you, well, walk like a duck.

Learn easy outlines for “walk,” “talk,” and “folk.”  Use similar outlines for some of the less popular words.  Learn a good basic pattern to write the rest when they occasionally show up.  Learn to use a job brief when they are popular in a particular case.

And then fuggedaboutit.

Combat Stenography — Sacrificing a Pawn

Situation:  You are in danger of dropping a ton of words.  You are behind, and you must catch up Toot!immediately.  The next words spoken are “At that exact time, I didn’t really have a lot of options.”

Solution:  Drop “exact,” “really,” and “options.”  This leaves you with the three easy phrases “at that time,” “I didn’t have” and “a lot of.”

Result:  You lose three points instead of a large amount.  You gain nine points with three easy strokes.  You are no longer behind.

It would be wonderful if these exact circumstances showed up each time we fall behind.  Sadly, they won’t.  But if we keep our eyes open, we can minimize the damage caused by falling behind.

 

Ten Paper Clip Method

I'm a pretty pretty paper clip

I’m a pretty pretty paper clip

For an effective and efficient review of anything you have already learned, I highly recommend my Ten Paper Clip Method.  Let’s see how it works with the ol’ Theory book.

Find ten paper clips.

Take out your Theory book.  (Try the hall closet)

Leaf through it.  As you come upon pages that need review, put a paper clip on the appropriate page.

The idea of the paper clips is for you to identify the ten biggest stroking problems that you have.  Don’t worry about initial placement.  I encourage you to move those paper clips around every day, but always look for the ten biggest problems.

After you have placed your ten paper clips, get out your machine and spend one minute on each page with a paper clip.

That’s it.  One minute per page. 

Do it one time, and the effect is minimal.  It will be a small, but soon forgotten, review.

Do it one time per day, and the results are astounding.  You will be training your brain and your fingers to focus on and solve your hardest steno problems. 

What more can you ask of ten minutes per day?

Brief Families: Words that End in “flict” or “flect”

There's Magic in your Fingers

There’s Magic in your Fingers

Words that end in “flict”:  Afflict, inflict, conflict.  That’s it.  Three words unless you want to count crap from illiterate plagiarists like Shakespeare or those mumbly guys from the ’60s.

Words that end in “flect”:  deflect, inflect, reflect, genuflect.  Four words.

All told there are only seven words in the family.  As small as that family is, it has rained its share of pain on steno students.

Two strokes can put you in the hole unless you are quick, and the second stroke isn’t an easy one.  If you are quick to stroke, you are apt to mis-stroke the rascal.

A good brief is easy to remember and easy to stroke.  Any hesitation, brain or fingers, costs time, and time is the only reason to brief things.

For the most part, use an initial consonant and a final FLT for each word.  That works for everything except “afflict,” “inflict,” and “inflect.”

If AFLT, IFLT, and EFLT are available to you, I would do them for “afflict,” “inflict” and “inflect.”  AFLT is available for me, but the other two are “felt” phrases.

No problem.  For “afflict,” there is still AEFLT, AIFLT, or any of the variations with an asterisk.  You could also simply use -FLT or F-FLT.

Variations for “inflict” and “inflect” include NFLT, NEFLT, N*FLT, N*EFLT, NIFLT, N*IFLT.

Here is the list with suggested outlines, but the true ones are up to you and what conflicts you may find in your personal dictionary.

Afflict  AEFLT

Inflict NIFLT

Conflict KFLT

Deflect DFLT

Inflect NEFLT

Reflect RFLT

Genuflect GFLT

There’s not a hard stroke in the lot.

Steve Shastay

Tripping the Steno Fantastic

It’s Uncopyrightable and That’s That

Huh?One of our staff writers mentioned to me the other day that she had run across the longest word in the English language that has no duplicate letters.

We have a strict policy of publishing only new material; so I asked her if it was copyrightable.

She said it was just the opposite.  It was uncopyrightable.  Then she started laughing and laughing.

Now, what did she mean by that?

Brief Families: Words that end in “spect”

Learn a good steno brief such as RPT for “respect,” and you have done well.  You have conquered a common two-stroker with a very easy brief.

But you only learned one word.A good dictionary is a friend indeed.

Learn a good family of briefs such as “words that end in ‘spect'” and you learn a good handful of very popular words with virtually the same amount of memorization.

If you know RPT is “respect,” then you should also know the outlines for “inspect,” “prospect,” “suspect,” and “disrespect.”  Those are the popular ones that can easily be briefed with an initial consonant or two and a final PT.

A bonus to families is that you may learn some of the less popular outlines that don’t deserve attention all by themselves.  So if you want, you could also come up with outlines for words like “circumspect,” “aspect,” and a couple more.

It’s a relatively small and very popular family.  Here are the only ten words that end in “spect” that you are likely to run across:

Respect, suspect, inspect, prospect — brief these very popular terms

Disrespect — brief it if you find DRPT or SDRPT to be easy strokes

Aspect, retrospect, introspect, circumspect, reinspect — brief them if you can find easy strokes and if they don’t take much time to memorize.

Don’t get fooled into thinking that you have to brief everything.  That’s foolish, and it can be quite hurtful.

The court reporting game requires that we learn to write efficiently and accurately.  If you can two-stroke something as quickly as you can brief it, then the brief isn’t giving you any speed benefit, plus it will be harder to read when you misstroke it.

You should know how to stroke all ten of these words with no trouble and you should have very quick outlines for most of them.  If that describes you, then you don’t need more work on words that end in “spect.”  There are plenty more brief families that you can work on.

Steve Shastay

Steno Rebel

Inspiration for your Perspiration (and New Year’s Resolutions)

The Desiderata

flowerpower-mdGo placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all rainbow-heart-mdaridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, 1927

Inspiration for your Perspiration (and New Year’s Resolutions)

The Man in the Arena

Theodore Roosevelt was visiting Paris in 1910 when he gave his “Citizenship in a Republic” speech

Teddy bears were named after Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy bears were named after Teddy Roosevelt

at the Sorbonne.

A short excerpt from that speech became famous as “The Man in the Arena.”  It speaks of man’s struggle to succeed.  You will recognize your personal steno school trials and tribulations.

We can’t win every battle.  Until we finally pass our tests, we will fail time and again.  But victory will be ours eventually.

……

The Man in the Arena

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;

who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;

but who does actually strive to do the deeds;

who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,

and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,

so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.