July 30, 2009


Close, but no cigar (yet!).
How was my 160 Testimony test, you ask? (See my previous post, "Today Was a Good Steno Day!") Well, I did what I said I would: I went over my test 1x, 2x, and 3x... and then... dun-dun-dun... I printed it up and graded it. Gulp! I counted 25 errors, and the limit is 17. Maybe there were errors in there that aren't actual errors and are more style preferences. If so, my teacher wouldn't mark them as incorrect. Fingers crossed! But I'm not holding my breath either. I KNOW I got almost all of the words down pat. It's just the transcribing part that messed me up. Like -- - I didn't put quotes around "that" when the attorney said, "So you mean by that as A-1?" - I put too many commas where there shouldn't have been (I guess!). - I misheard little words. I wrote "can" instead of "could" and "yes, yes," instead of "Yes. Yes." These stupid, little errors are what tripped me up... and are what got me so frustrated! When I graded another failed test (so many in the court reporting program before you finally get a PASS at 98% and above accuracy), I called my boyfriend and told him I just wanted a DRINK! Get a little tipsy before going to work, right? Not so smart! :P I was just REALLY BUMMED because I really thought I HAD IT! :( My boyfriend knocked some good sense into me. First, however, he let me vent, which was what I needed... and then he reminded me that it would be better to stay in a speed for a while to KNOW FOR SURE I've mastered that speed and then move on... as opposed to only staying in a speed for two weeks just to have "bragging rights" and to have passed one day because I get "lucky." He's right. I agree. He said that if I'm truly writing at 160 wpm, then when I come back to school in September, I WILL STILL be able to "get it" and be able to pass that last 160 wpm Testimony test in no time! He brought me back to the bigger picture: I'm still progressing very well, and I should be glad for that already. I am... but I'm ALWAYS striving for more, more, more... or in this case, to be faster (on my steno machine) and accurate (on my transcripts). Also, today my classmate told me that all the working reporters she knows, whether they're official or freelance reporters, shared with her that the hardest part about stenography is GETTING THROUGH SCHOOL... not the actual career afterward! She said that the reporters told her that most people don't talk past 225 wpm... and if they do talk too fast, get out of hand by talking over each other, or talk too softly or mumble, you as the court reporter can and should speak up. You as the court reporter must ask the speakers to repeat themselves, speak clearer or louder or whatever... do whatever it takes to get the record! This was comforting news to hear... that supposedly school is harder than the real world for us court reporting students. (If you're a working reporter, would you please share your thoughts. Is this really true, in your opinion?) Anyway...
My five-day forecast (hehehe): - Thursday: School. Work. Laundry. - Friday: Work. Spend time with my boyfriend. - Saturday: Work. Dinner with my family. - Sunday: Church. Study. Spend time with my boyfriend. - Monday: Sit-in with my first court reporter all the way in the Santa Ana court. Bowling at night with friends. Have a great summer, Everyone! Thanks for reading my venting sessions. :) It'll get better, I'm sure! Still, still optimistic! :) (And I seriously love stenography BECAUSE it's so difficult and challenging... it's a hard thing to master!) I'll report right away on how the observation hours go! I'm excited for those! Please stay posted!

July 29, 2009


Today was definitely a good steno day... totally making up for my really bad steno day just yesterday! HOORAY! :) Here's the recap: - I woke up at 6:00 a.m. - I went to the gym and did some cardio. - I went to class and sat in on the lower speeds -- Jury Charge at 120 all the way down to 80 wpm. - I went to Yogurtland (my favorite!) and wrote down several of my briefs just so I can see them in front of me. - I went home for a break. I needed a change in scenery. I took a nap. - I went back to class tonight all refreshed and ready! I sat in on a push speed -- Testimony at 200 wpm... and then I sat in for my actual class -- Literary and Testimony at 160 wpm. And now the best news of this good steno day...
I hope so! I KNOW I got every word down, so now the final hurdle is transcribing it! I started the first half of the test tonight and will finish it off tomorrow morning. I'm going to go over this test very, very carefully... 1x, 2x, even 3x! I'll use every minute of the allotted time. I'll even show up to work a little late if it means giving more consideration to my test. And I really have to! Tomorrow is the last day of school before Summer Vacation. If I pass this 160 Testimony test, then I'll officially be at 180 wpm... and that would also mean that I went through my 160 wpm speed in TWO WEEKS!!! That's crazy! I've never, ever gone through any speed that fast. I honestly would average 3-4 months before I passed out of a speed... but that was before when I wasn't too serious about school (as you read in my previous post, "A Breakdown Moment"). Now I'm in an ALL OR NOTHING kind of mindset... and I'm going to get the "ALL" result because I'm putting in the "ALL" effort into it! You know, though... even if I don't pass this test, I know for sure I'm so close to it... it's literally within my reach! And that truly is enough encouragement already! To pass this test, though, ('cause I won't lie!) would be SUPER SWEET!!! :)

July 28, 2009


I think I had a little breakdown moment today. :( First, I woke up late. I intended to wake up at 6:00 a.m., but instead I woke up at 8:15 a.m. My first class is at 8:30 a.m., and it takes me at least 30 minutes to drive to school, apart from showering and getting ready for the day. I completely missed my class, and this week is the last week before our Summer Vacation. Needless to say, I was very, very bummed and very, very mad at myself! :( Instead of going to school, I went to my local Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf intending to study. But before I could get out my steno machine, I checked Facebook quickly to see what my friends were up to. I haven't been on Facebook for several weeks now. I just don't have the time to keep up with everyone there! Anyway, when I browsed through all the status updates, photo uploads, and what have you, I got so sad all of a sudden! I realized that I miss my friends... terribly! I miss the days when I would literally be going out at least 3x a week with different groups of friends to meet up for dinner, coffee, birthday parties, or any kind of get-togethers. I was one of the people who initiated the movie dates, the girls nights, the luncheons on Sundays after church. Hmm... but this was when I placed school and responsibilities way, way back in my list of priorities. :P Well, that was about 3 years ago. Now, I'm 28-years-old, and I can't be fooling around any longer. It's no longer "cute." All that socializing without prioritizing on school has definitely caught up with me today, and I'm for sure paying the price. I wish I were already done with school, but my choices of yesterday has brought me to where I am now -- - Part-time work at a law office, including a full day every Saturday! - Full-time school at Tri-Community, plus studying every chance I can get! If I had the chance to do it all over again, I would have buckled down early with school to get it out of the way, so today I would have my career, no debt whatsoever, and planning more tangibly my future with my boyfriend. But I can't change the past. I am grateful, however, that I've learned my lesson. You really reap what you sow. So now I'm diligently sowing into my future, so I can reap the rewards when I'm finally licensed: - I'll finally have a career I love, not just a job to pay the bills! - I'll finally have money, so no more debt! No more living paycheck to paycheck! - I'll finally have a flexible schedule! (I want to freelance, do closed captioning, or CART reporting.) I get to go on vacations or visit family/friends or just take a little breather whenever I want to. Sorry if this post was a bit discouraging. That wasn't really my intent. The purpose for this post is to give tough love to myself (and I needed to vent)... and to you, if you need it. If you're a court reporting student who is just starting or who needs a bolt of encouragement, please heed these words (and I'm definitely talking to myself, too): Let's pay the price of going through school now! Let's work our butts off! Let's be the best shorthand reporters we can possibly be! Let's continue to put in our 150% effort day in and day out! For we WILL reap the rewards if we don't give up! NEVER GIVE UP!

July 27, 2009


Practice, Practice, and More Practice
By Carolee Freer

Practice makes perfect - or so they say. After teaching court reporting for over 20 years, I have again returned to the genesis of all court reporting programs: theory. Believe me when I say it was not an easy decision to go back once again to the very beginning and resume instruction in court reporting theory. But all of my dreams and expectations for this crop of theory students are materializing. They are bright, quick, and eager to learn. Although I teach other classes, my focus on ensuring success for my group overshadows many of my thoughts during waking hours. After having taught high-speed classes for many years, I was reminded by my theory students that those same perplexing questions about practice are on their minds, too: What should I practice? How long should I practice? When should I practice? That's when I decided to go back up the ladder of success to my high-speed students and ask them what had worked best for them in their practice regimen so that I could share this invaluable information with the theory students. Their answers to my question "What is your best practice tip?" follow: 1. Practice at least one hour every day. 2. Transcribe your notes at least three times a week. This helps you to know and understand what you are really writing and what you are not writing. 3. Read back your notes and circle problem areas. 4. Write problem words on 3x5 cards and practice repeatedly until you have mastered the word. 5. Practice in a comfortable environment with tapes, reference material, books, and a dictionary at your fingertips. 6. Review theory outlines. 7. Analyze your typed transcripts for drops, fingering errors, and mistranslates. 8. Warm up before every class and be prepared. 9. Practice slower material for control and accuracy. 10. Type up your tests as frequently as possible. 11. Practice a speed tape until you can write it smoothly with control and accuracy. 12. Use brief forms and phrases only if you feel comfortable using them. 13. Practice to your favorite television show if it is within your speed range. 14. Use hard copy to build your dictionary and to write unusual words and phrases. 15. Practice for short spurts on football and basketball games. This provides excellent practice for numbers and fingering dexterity. 16. Practice with a metronome on hard copy sentence drills. 17. Practice to court TV programs for multivoice experience. 18. Practice briefs and phrases and try to write without hesitation. 19. Practice multivoice videos and tapes. 20. In a notebook, write down the words that cause problems and review them daily. 21. Go to a trail speed class to clean up your notes. 22. Go to class every day. 23. Read everything to increase your vocabulary. Improved vocabulary helps on the machine when you are taking difficult material. 24. Set up a practice schedule with a wide variety of material and stick to it. 25. Don't make excuses. 26. Practice consonant compounds and difficult fingering. 27. Practice finger drills and finger strengthening exercises. 28. Focus your energies on attainable practice goals. 29. Relax and write. 30. Practice little words. 31. Keep track of your progress. To tell you the truth, I could not have said it better. Thanks a lot, Cypress College students. Your success is well deserved! Carolee Freer,CRI, is from Cypress,California, and editor of CASElines.

Click here to read "Practice Hints on How to Be a Successful Reporting Student" -- compiled by Kay Smith, taken from CASElines, Issue 2, 2006.

July 26, 2009


It's official! Today marks 316 subscribers (readers) of Steno Nerd! Wow! You guys are awesome! Thank you, thank you, thank you! :) This blog is truly a joy for me to put together for you! I started Steno Nerd because I love to blog/write, I want to be of help to other court reporting students (I hope I have been so far!), and I want to chronicle my own journey of transitioning from a court reporting student into a certified shorthand reporter. Are you having as much fun as I am? Hope so! I started Steno Nerd on June 18, 2009, so it's been up and running for about a month and one week now. I'm really humbled by the outpouring of readers, and your readership loyalty really makes me want to always bring you quality content, honest opinions, and a fun online steno community where we can interact. So thanks again, Everyone! Cheers! Here's to many more blog posts and new subscribers to come! :)


This coming week will be the last week of the Summer Session at Tri-Community Adult Education Center. Friday, July 31, 2009 will mark the official first day of Summer Vacation! We go back to school on Tuesday, September 8, 2009. I'll still be working my regular hours at the law office, though, which is 26 hours a week. (I'm a part-time Legal Assistant and full-time Steno Nerd!) I won't stay idle during my Summer Vacation, though... HARDLY! :p
- SIT OUT WITH OFFICIAL COURT REPORTERS! Our school requires that we complete five hours of observation or shadow work of official court reporters. However, on suggestion by a classmate (thanks, Lynne!) and a court reporter (thanks, Annette!), I'm going to take this opportunity and really make the most of it! Lynne suggested that I sit out with as many and as varied court reporters as I possibly can. She said that she'll be doing the same. The reason is we want to get a feel of the different types of work each legal department has to offer... because there's just so many to choose from! There's criminal court, family law, civil, small claims court, workers' compensation, personal injury, intellectual property... and the list keeps going! We want to see what's out there, how it's all really done, and what niche we think we would like to work in one day. Annette (a court reporter I briefly knew when I worked at the court reporting agency she freelanced with; I found her again through CSR Nation!) also suggested that I sit out with as many court reporters, but for another reason. She wants me (and all court reporting students!) to go to my required observation hours and pretend as if I were actually already on the job -- to write on my steno machine and then go home to transcribe it. This will give me a great feel of how much work it truly is to be a court reporter. TAKE AWAY TIP: The cleaner you write, the less time you need to spend polishing up your transcript! So we gotta write fast and clean! Annette really emphasized briefs -- the more you know, the better off you are! So far I've booked three court reporters (and they're all over the place! Murrieta, Santa Ana, and Monterey Park) to sit out with in August... and they all work at different departments! Yay! I'm trying to schedule more sit-in time with other official court reporters because this is the best time I can do it -- Summer Vacation. (BTW, if you're an official court reporter, and you wouldn't mind me sitting out with you, please email me at StenoNerd@gmail.com. I'm in the Los Angeles area. Thank you!) I'll definitely share with you about the experiences! Look out for those in the near future!
I do NOT want this to happen! LOL!
- STUDY! STUDY! STUDY! I'm not going to take it easy during my month-and-a-few-days off school. I'm going to lock myself in libraries, cafes, bookstores, and my own home office to study, study, study! I'm going to continue to pretend as if I had the same school + work schedule because I really do NOT want to lose any speed that I've gained. I want to actually INCREASE my speed during my Summer Vacation, so come September I can pass the last 160 WPM Testimony test I need in order to officially be at 180 WPM! I'm not taking school lightly anymore! Been there, done that. I want this done and over with... and with a PASSION! I want to start my career already! I'm going to be studying in 20 minute increments the following: - Fast speed - Goal speed - Trail speed - Brief words and phrases - Finger drills - Numbers - Symbols - Theory refresher - Hard copy - Anything else...? Hmm... if I missed something you think I need to work on during my Summer Vacation, please let me know by commenting below! Thanks for reading! :)

July 25, 2009


Things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down by court reporters

Q: What is your date of birth? A: July fifteenth. Q: What year? A: Every year.

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Q: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact? A: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.

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Q: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all? A: Yes. Q: And in what ways does it affect your memory? A: I forget. Q: You forget. Can you give us an example of something that you've forgotten?

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Q: How old is your son, the one living with you? A: Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can't remember which. Q: How long has he lived with you? A: Forty-five years.

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Q: What was the first thing your husband said to you when he woke that morning? A: He said, "Where am I, Cathy?" Q: And why did that upset you? A: My name is Susan.

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Q: And where was the location of the accident? A: Approximately milepost 499. Q: And where is milepost 499? A: Probably between milepost 498 and 500.

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Q: Sir, what is your IQ? A: Well, I can see pretty well, I think.

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Q: Did you blow your horn or anything? A: After the accident? Q: Before the accident. A: Sure, I played for ten years. I even went to school for it.

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Q: Do you know if your daughter has ever been involved in voodoo or the occult? A: We both do. Q: Voodoo? A: We do. Q: You do? A: Yes, voodoo.

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Q: Trooper, when you stopped the defendant, were your red and blue lights flashing? A: Yes. Q: Did the defendant say anything when she got out of her car? A: Yes, sir. Q: What did she say? A: What disco am I at?

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Q: Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning?

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Q: The youngest son, the twenty-year old, how old is he?

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Q: Were you present when your picture was taken?

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Q: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August eighth? A: Yes. Q: And what were you doing at that time?

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Q: She had three children, right? A: Yes. Q: How many were boys? A: None. Q: Were there any girls?

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Q: You say the stairs went down to the basement? A: Yes. Q: And these stairs, did they go up also?

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Q: How was your first marriage terminated? A: By death. Q: And by whose death was it terminated?

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Q: Can you describe the individual? A: He was about medium height and had a beard. Q: Was this a male, or a female?

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Q: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney? A: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.

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Q: Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people? A: All my autopsies are performed on dead people.

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Q: All your responses must be oral, OK? What school did you go to? A: Oral.

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Q: Do you recall the time that you examined the body? A: The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m. Q: And Mr. Dennington was dead at the time? A: No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy.

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Q: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?

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Q: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse? A: No. Q: Did you check for blood pressure? A: No. Q: Did you check for breathing? A: No. Q: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy? A: No. Q: How can you be so sure, Doctor? A: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar. Q: But could the patient have still been alive nevertheless? A: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law somewhere.

Q&A taken from Avolites Online: Jokes, Cartoons & Funny Stories

Cartoons taken from Stu's Views: Law & Lawyer Cartoons

July 23, 2009


I'm happily implementing the 20/20/20 minutes increments rule that Trevor from CSR Nation shared in "How to Study When You Don't Have Time." To read that article (if you missed it), click here. This "formula" is a great way to get A LOT of practicing done under ONE HOUR. Here is the 20/20/20 "formula" in a nutshell:
  • Writing at a faster speed: 20 minutes
  • Writing at your goal speed: 20 minutes
  • Learning new briefs: 20 minutes
I found a great free tool online that we court reporting students can use to countdown our 20 minutes sessions. The website is Online-Stopwatch.com. They have different kinds of stopwatches with different designs and different functions -- ALL FOR FREE! Click here for their varied list of stopwatches to download them today! I personally like their classic "Countdown Timer" myself, which is the 2nd item on their list of downloadable gadgets. I use this both on my desktop and laptop when I'm studying on my machine. But this online stopwatch is an awesome tool to not track just your studying sessions, but ANYTHING really! It's a great way to keep you in check if you want to time yourself -- 20 minutes on CSR Nation, 20 minutes on Steno Nerd, 20 minutes on NCRA, etc. Hope this helps! If you have any other time-saving tips for studying efficiently for your fellow court reporting students, please don't hesitate to share in the comments section below! We'd all love to hear from you! And as always, THANK YOU for reading Steno Nerd! ;)

July 22, 2009


It's true! Thank GOD! I also passed my 160 WPM Jury Charge Test! The limit is 12, and I got 9 wrong. This means I need to only pass my Testimony (Q&A) Test at 160 WPM to officially be writing at 180 WPM on my handy-dandy-grandy steno machine! Hehehe! So giddy! So happy! :) It really, really pays to be on CSR Nation! (If you haven't joined yet, you really, really oughta!) Through this awesome networking site for court reporters, I asked some of my online friends if they would share their best Testimony briefs with me. Keith Rowan, II, who is the author of the fabulous "How to Brief -- Philosophy & Practice," kindly shared his 47 pages of 4-voice Testimony brief words and brief phrases with me!
Here are just a few of the first new briefs I'm going to commit to memory to help me write shorter and therefore become faster on my steno machine: to my knowledge TOIJ to my memory TOIRM to the best of my knowledge TBIRJ to the best of your ability TURBLT to the best of your memory TBURM to the best of your recollection TBURX to your attention TURNGS to your knowledge TURJ do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? DAOUFRT call to the stand KAUND call your first witness KAUFS call your next witness KAUNS any further questions NIFRGS any more questions NIMGS or NIRGS no further NOFR or NOFRT no more questions NOMS off the record OFRK or OFRKD on the record OERKD strike that STRAT please raise your right hand PLAURND or PLAIRND raise your right hand RAURND are you employed RUMD* are you married RUMD did you live DUL do you live DAOUL what is your age WAURJ what is your job WAUB what is your occupation WAURPGS what is your address WAURS what is your WAUR what is your date of birth WAIRT*
where did you live WRUL*
where do you reside WRAOURD
where do you work WRAOURK

July 20, 2009


I just found out that I passed my 160 WPM Literary test!!! :D
The error limit is 12, I marked 10 wrong, but my teacher found only 10! WOO HOO!!!
I asked my teacher about my 160 WPM Jury Charge test. She didn't have that one in front of her, but she believes that that was a pass as well! I'll know for sure tomorrow morning! Fingers crossed... If I did pass my Jury Charge, that means I'm 2 for 3, and I only now need to pass my 160 WPM Testimony test. Too bad that Testimony is the HARDEST test to pass for me and is always my last passed test. I hesitate with the symbol changes that differentiates speakers, and Testimony just always seems so much faster than straight talk like in Literary or Jury Charge tests. Therefore, I am on a mission to learn as many practical Testimony briefs as I can! Do you know of any? If so, please share! If I pass my Testimony test before Thursday next week, July 30, the last day of school before our Summer Break, then that means I'm done with my 160s and I'm officially at 180! That also means that I will have gotten through the 160 WPM speed in about ONE MONTH! And I never do that! It usually takes me 3-4 months to pass out of a speed group. But I guess I'm much more focused and committed this time around! YAY! And so it's just a matter of time... After 160 is 180... after 180 is 200... after 200 is 225... after 225 is Qualifiers... after Qualifiers is the State Test... after I pass the State Test, I''ll officially be a CERTIFIED SHORTHAND REPORTER!!! It's getting closer and closer... I can actually see the light at the end of this tunnel! I'm shooting for next year, and I think I can do it! With GOD's help and my total commitment, I can do this! ;D

July 19, 2009


It's very important that we court reporting students (or licensed shorthand reporters -- you too, of course!) have a designated place where we can practice for hours on our steno machine, learn new briefs, scope our transcripts... and to do all this (for the most part!) uninterrupted. What do you call this place, you ask? It's called your very own home office!!! :) Do you have one???
I admit, I didn't carve my own little nook of a home office until only last year when I went back to school full-time. My put-together work station is in the garage because that was the quietest place indoor that I could find for it besides my bedroom (couldn't do it in my bedroom 'cause then I'd just sleep!). It's a great spot! Not only is it quiet, but I can do laundry while I study, too! Hehehe. My handy uncle installed custom-made shelves for me. I keep tons of my reference books here (plus all my fiction stuff, too -- high school days!). I used my quaint wooden kitchen table as my desk... then plop on top of that table/desk my pretty pink laptop, scoot in a chair, and voila! My home office! Home offices aren't just great for the student or working reporter -- they're great for anyone and everyone! From kids who can work on their arts and crafts here to parents who can balance the family budget here. If you don't have a quiet home office yet where you can go to be productive in, I heartily recommend that you get started on making one ASAP! You don't have to have an acre of space to create a home office. All you need is a quiet spot to call your own... period. For some ideas on how to create the space for your home office, click here. It's from Real Simple's website (which I love!), and the title is "21 Ideas for Organizing Your Home Office." It's a great click-through with awesome pictures to inspire you to have the home office of your dreams that is both beautiful and functional! :)

July 16, 2009


Yesterday I overheard one of our court reporting instructors from Tri-Community tell a student that the reason she wasn't progressing as quickly with her speed is because she was thinking too much. The instructor told my fellow future-CSR-holder that intelligent people tend to over-think and over-analyze things, which is fine... but NOT when it comes to court reporting. In court reporting, you MUST clear your mind, so you can focus all your attention on making sure you hear everything, write it all verbatim on your steno machine, and do this nearly perfectly ALL THE TIME! Therefore, you CANNOT be thinking any such thoughts like...
  • what happened earlier in your day.
  • what you're going to do later in the day.
  • what that unknown word that the expert witness just spouted means.
  • why that attorney is being so cocky.
  • and on and on and on...
I remember a scene in the movie "The Last Samurai" where Tom Cruise's character, Nathan Algren, is learning how to sword fight the Samurai way. He keeps getting whooped over and over again! Finally, one of his Japanese instructors tells Algren that he has to have "no mind." Cruise's character had too much going on in his head! And it's the same with court reporting. We need to literally "check out" or "zone off" in order to fight the daily fight of writing nearly perfectly each and every time! Our job requires our full concentration -- 100%! What I do to help me focus is I stare at an inanimate object somewhere right in front of me. Therefore, I usually stare at a small part on the back of a chair. Other students like to look at the speakers. Still other students like to look at all sorts of things going on around them; they'll literally move their head every which way because that just works for them. However you concentrate, just make sure you do... and have "NO MIND" when you're listening intently to the speakers. Because we're the GUARDIANS OF THE RECORD, so we MUST do our utmost best to get every word down verbatim. And to do that, we must have the discipline of a Samurai warrior. Yeah, it's intense all right! But isn't that same challenge one of the great reasons why we love stenography? ;)

July 15, 2009



How does one effectively and efficiently study stenography when you simply do not have enough time? I've been trying to answer this very question myself for a while now, and I think I've finally come upon the best formula. It certainly works for me, so maybe it will hopefully work with you, too! I can't take credit at all, though, for this "formula." I give that to Trevor, a member of CSR Nation and a fellow court reporting student. (By the way, if you haven't joined CSR Nation yet, you're really missing out on SO MUCH! I liken CSR Nation as THE authoritative social networking site for court reporters, scopists, proofreaders, etc. See my previous blog post about CSR Nation being the Facebook for court reporters by clicking here. Click here to join today! It's FREE!) Trevor is in his final stretch of the court reporting program, and he is to be CONGRATULATED!!! ... which I did (congratulate him, that is)
... and then I asked him if he would share with me his tips for court reporting students, like myself (and maybe you, too), who just don't have as much time as other students who are able to go to school full-time, who have longer class sessions, who are not working, or whatever the case may be. In court reporting school, we're told to eat, sleep, and steno... period!
He said that if we court reporting students would practice on our machines at least 1 hour a day, every day, it would help tremendously! (This is the bear minimum actually, but if you're pressed for time, try to stay on your machine for at least 1 hour.) This is how he broke down the minutes:
  • Writing at a faster speed: 20 minutes
  • Writing at your goal speed: 20 minutes
  • Learning new briefs: 20 minutes
I tried out this same formula today, and I found such an improvement with my writing! It also helped me mentally to break down a full hour into 20 minute increments. I didn't feel overwhelmed when I thought of a full hour (I have a short attention span!). I was able to stay focused at the task at hand -- doing my best for each 20 minute drill -- instead of getting fidgety and bored because I "had to" finish a full hour. 20 minutes a take is so doable, and I loved the transitioning from one steno discipline to the next-- from writing at a faster speed, writing at your goal speed, and learning new briefs. I need a little variety to keep me interested and focused, especially in practicing, which is the foundation of how you build up to 225 WPM!
It doesn't matter how long you practice, but what does matter is the INTENSITY of that practice! So make it count! Do your very best as if you were already a CSR, who is always a true professional and gets down every word. Concentrate your hardest on each 20 minute interval till you reach your 1 hour... then 2nd hour... then 3rd hour! But don't forget to take your breaks, too! Steno nerds need to have fun as well! :) How about you? How do you breakdown your practicing sessions? Would love to know your thoughts!

July 14, 2009


I just graded my Jury Charge (AKA Jury Instruction) test at 160 WPM. I marked 9 wrong. The error limit to pass is 12. Hopefully, my teacher doesn't catch any more mistakes, and this is a real, legitimate pass! If so, I would then be 1 of 3. Thus, my next two tests to kill would be Testimony (AKA Q&A) and Literary (AKA Straight Matter). Keep your fingers crossed for me!!! :D I've been consistently transcribing my tests, even though I know the majority of them couldn't possibly be passes. It doesn't matter. I faithfully type my steno notes onto my Dell laptop, so I can see my errors firsthand: I see where I shadow, I see where I overlap, I see how I stroke words, etc. It's very useful!!! From what I know, court reporting teachers always encourage their students to transcribe. They say, though, that the ratio between writing on your steno machine and transcribing (which is also working on your dictionary), looks something like this:
  • Steno Machine - 80%
  • Transcribing (Dictionary Building) - 20%
Some days I get really close to passing, like I'll only be 3 or 2 errors shy of the error limit. This gives me great hope because I see that I'm close! And then there are other days, because I'll drop whole phrases, or misidentify speakers, or mess up on little words, or because I rush through my test, that I'll grade a test at 100 errors! I know, sounds sooo horrible, right?! BUT I try to not let that three-digit error limit depress me. Instead I try to remind myself that I AM getting better, I'm learning from my mistakes, and I just gotta keep going, going, going! One day I'll pass ALL my tests... all the way right up to 225 WPM! I just can't give up! EVER!!! How about you? How do you keep yourself from getting discouraged every time you get a "failed" test? Would love to know your thoughts on stick-to-it-ive-ness... In court reporting school, we definitely have to get used to "rejection" before we get a pass! (And all the court reporting students say, "So true!!!") The court reporting program is sooo different from traditional schools where you have a mid-term, a final, pop quizzes, homework, and everything else that's "normal." Not in court reporting! To do stenography, you have to be NEAR PERFECT... ALL THE TIME!!! So school really kicks your butt because they're preparing you for the real world. That's why there's a huge dropout rate in court reporting schools no matter which school you go to! Not many can stick with it...
BUT for those who CAN STICK TO IT because they CHOOSE TO STICK TO IT, we will reap the rewards of one day becoming professional, licensed SHORTHAND REPORTERS!!! (And all the court reporting students say, "So true!!!")

By: VintageVerses of Etsy.com