Bloglet, the gentleman's mock turtle soup --
Moss made it sweeter than myrrh ash and dhoup

My dad, sporting the Chap-O:

My parents are visiting. I'm very happy. _
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11:11:38 AM, Friday 24 November 2006

There is, I just discovered, a celebrity named Gustav Mauler, and he's neither a professional wrestler nor a supervillian-- he's a chef in Las Vegas, and it's his actual real name. Well, that's frightfully disappointing. _
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01:59:49 PM, Wednesday 22 November 2006

There's nothing on the top but a bucket and a mop and an illustrated book about birds... _
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07:07:18 PM, Monday 20 November 2006

I love my girl. I love our home. _
10:35:19 PM, Saturday 18 November 2006

NYCI stock dictionary entry count: 31,997
Current personal dictionary entry count: 40,059

Not bad, but not there yet. _
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05:15:47 PM, Friday 17 November 2006

A void ant. _
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08:04:44 PM, Wednesday 15 November 2006

SF meme.

[ETA: via Elynne] _
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07:05:13 PM, Wednesday 15 November 2006

Dictionary building is fiddly. Putting it together, entry by entry, over these last couple of months has reminded me strangely of deck-building, back when I used to play Magic in high school. There are all sorts of variables to balance, some directly at odds with each other. You want to be able to stroke out all the words you hear with total accuracy, but you're limited both by the impossibility of anticipating every possible word or phrase that might be said in any given situation and by the speeds at which they're spoken, the imperfect dexterity of the human fingers, and the even more imperfect memory of the human mind. You have to be able to predict what your fingers will do at high speeds and you have to be able to predict what sorts of word combinations are probable and what sorts aren't. It's trickier than it sounds.

For example:

sack ramen tow

This one's easy. You know there's no way the phrase "sack ramen tow" will ever appear in a sentence, so you can feel free to define it as "Sacramento" with nary a care. Three and four stroke phrases are often this way, which makes them tempting to use, but they can be a hell of a thing to stroke out when the speed goes up.

very near

This one, again, is easy, because you know there's a conflict you have to resolve; "very near" is too common to change, and "veneer" has come up a lot in the home improvement shows I do, so I know to change "veneer" from "VE/NAOER" to "VEN/NAOER" (steno spellings semi-phonetically transliterated)

rattle snake

This one's slightly trickier. On the one hand, it's hard to make up a sentence (like "He saw the beaded rattle snake through the shaman's fingers") that makes any sense at all; on the other hand, I had "lima or kidney beans" come up "lima orchid knee beans" the other day, so you can never predict every possibility. I wound up defining "rattlesnake" as one word; if I get a sentence where it's supposed to be two, I can force a space on the fly.

lawn mother

If I wanted to do "lawnmower" syllabically, no problem: "LAUN/MOE/*ER". But if I slide the two together to save a stroke, I get "lawn mother". You try making up a sentence: "On the lawn Mother capered with the wood nymphs". Yeah, improbable. I defined the two-stroker. But you have to do this every time, and you don't always guess right.


I've got this one defined as "KOF/FI", "KOF/YAE", "KOF/AOE", "KOF/YI", AND "KOF/FAOE", 'cause my brain can never seem to make up its mind which to stroke in the heat of the moment. It doesn't seem to cause any conflicts, though ("There's a $20 turn your head and cough fee?" Uh, no.), and even though "KOF/YAE" is the only one that's correct according to my theory, I'm keeping the other ones; they save lots of time in trying to retrain a fickle and obstinate muscle memory.

high potential

"HAOI/POE/TENGS"-- Another example of a defined misstroke the way I did with coffee, but one that wound up biting me. Certain words like delicious and potential I find it easier to write as if they were delition and potention; they're very common, and the GS ending is easier to stroke than the RBL ending. It all worked out fine until I came up with "high potential", which translated-- quite properly, according to theory-- as "hypotension". What should I do? I could make up a "hypo" prefix and shunt "hypotension" into that, or I could decide that "hypotension" is too uncommon to care about compared to "high potential" and differentiate it with an asterisk. Or I could retrain myself to write "high potential" properly and leave "hypotension" the way it is. I haven't quite decided on this one yet.

So it's complicated. You can't have a perfect system; some of it has to come down to memory. But you want to have to remember as few specifics as possible, and you always want to be weaving yourself safety nets in case your memory fails-- but each time you do, there's a possibility you might trap yourself with some unforeseen boundary error.

Sorry for the recent monomania of this blog; when I'm doing this stuff ten hours a day it's hard to think about anything else, and I just can't seem to shut up about it. To spare my poor long-suffering girlfriend I've posted it all here, but I think it's out of my system for a while. _
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05:03:05 PM, Friday 10 November 2006

This clinches it. I'm not going to go for my Associate's Degree in Court Reporting at NYCI. It doesn't make any sense. I only need Courtroom Procedures, Psychology, Notary Public certification and a 50-hour internship in the courts, but that's at least two more semesters' worth, and my TAP funding runs out in January. I'll have a six month grace period on my loans, and once that expires, with any luck, I'll be quick enough at work to be able to ask for a raise. I just have no interest in the legal side of this profession. As soon as I pass the rest of my 180s, I'm calling my CART contact at NYU (who also works at local theaters, which would be kickass) to see what she she advises. But I think $300 spent to further my understanding of hearing loss would be valuable both on its own merits and in terms of getting a job. A couple thousand bucks thrown at two-bit academic courses teaching me things I couldn't care less about and ain't ever gonna use would be wasted. So far I've had a good time in my academic courses because they were butt-easy, deferred my loans, and allowed me to get state funding. Everyone told me to keep an open mind about what kind of job I wanted, and the other day the administrator of the school practically begged me to get my degree. That's because they only graduate about 20% of all students enrolled, and it doesn't look too good on 'em; but that's not my problem. I've kept an open mind, and my initial opinions have been confirmed. I do not want to do depositions. I do not want to work in the courts. I'm pretty sure I don't want to keep watching TV all day either, though it's pleasant enough material to train with. I wanna work in schools and theaters and maybe pick up some miscellaneous stuff like webcasts and therapy sessions and museum lectures as they come. Compared to that, the legal stuff is just drudgery, and I want no part of it. Fortunately there's no shortage of demand for CART work (on the contrary-- non-realtime reporting is under direct (if misguided) competition from electronic recording, but realtime is without peer until very good voice recognition or true speech recognition is developed, which may never happen) so I can do just as I like.

So I'll keep up with the steno classes, but if all goes well, I'll be interning next semester instead of taking another class. I might also register for the CCP in January (to take in May) if I've made significant progress by then, but I could also wait 'til next November to take it if I had to. _
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03:10:47 PM, Friday 10 November 2006

First show transcribed with no untranslates! Took long enough, but it feels good. _
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11:22:44 AM, Friday 10 November 2006

A selection of words I've added to my dictionary over the last few days, bringing it to 38,720 entries.

plique a jour
Zambezi _
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05:38:57 PM, Thursday 9 November 2006

Cheap shots at captioners! Yay, another reason to glower at Lileks! Lord knows that's the least of it. I basically only check the site to see if he's still spewing xenophobic party-line vitriol or if he's starting to wrenchingly come to his senses. I want to read the moment of truth. I wonder if it'll ever happen.

I used to sort of like the guy. He was witty and snarky and loved midcentury pop culture and had a cute kid. Then 9/11 happened, all balance and reason left his brain, and he turned into a right prat. Berube and Shumate 4evar-- also with the cute kids and pop culture, but with a dose of sense and independent (liberal- and moderate-inflected, respectively) thought. _
11:59:59 AM, Wednesday 8 November 2006

Why is Deer Lodge the bluest county? There's nothing in Deer Lodge but the prison. Weird. _
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09:09:22 AM, Wednesday 8 November 2006

Passed my 180 Jury Charge, boogied into the very last class. I'll miss my old teacher; he was great. But the new one looks to be a good egg. My arch rival's coming with me, and it's good to have the company. Now I gotta pass:

three 180 Lits
one 190 Q&A
one 200 Q&A
three 200 Jury Charges
and three 225 Q&As

and I'm out of school. That's eleven tests though, freaking hell. It'll be a while. Still, I'm happy. Pretty much doing steno full time at work now (on my KICKASS new machine which lets me work from tape, though I still prefer the foot pedal), and am aaalmost as fast as I am on qwerty. Hoping to gain the rest of the ground I need and start overtaking it any #&*$ time now. It seems to be coming along. I really dig doing this stuff. _
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07:15:51 PM, Monday 6 November 2006

All-male Twelfth Night in Russian! _
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02:36:50 PM, Saturday 4 November 2006

Current earworm: What Makes a Man a Man by Charles Aznavour, via QMH. Some part of me feels like I should make excuses for this song, but I'm not going to. _
11:11:50 PM, Thursday 2 November 2006

I just had to transcribe Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, not realizing what it was. (Don't ask. If you've seen the movie, you'll know. If you haven't, I probably oughtn't tell you, but gawd help us.) I knew about the town, of course, but didn't recognize it by sound, since it was used as a password in an extremely un-Welsh context, and the rest of the movie was full of nonsense babble anyway; I just figured it was more of the same. I only realized what it was supposed to have been after checking the IMDB's trivia page for the movie. Anyway, this is what I got down for it:


So, um, not quite. But I'd like to see you do better. Anyway, its pronunciation has been entered both in my brain-lexicon and my steno dictionary, so I ain't getting caught out again. _
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11:54:45 AM, Thursday 2 November 2006

Got a new steno machine on Thursday. _
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03:59:27 PM, Sunday 29 October 2006

Yesterday K. and I went out to buy her a bowler hat, brolly, and necktie (and both of us nice new white shirts), and then I saw glorious Martin and met his charming sister and saw his father's play, which was really quite something. Far too short a time to talk or anything, but acres better than not seeing the grand young man at all. I gave him a bit of fractured Pocky, he gave me a lychee gummy, we gulped and shook our heads at the play, and I went back home to steno to the audiobook Book of Three. _
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03:35:40 PM, Sunday 29 October 2006

Cheese is mold, Highness. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something. Probably cheese. _
03:59:05 PM, Thursday 26 October 2006

Mirabai Knight

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