This edition is Part 4 of 4 parts. It touches on some of the same subjects that I discussed in a previous issue of The Steno Life, but takes things to the next level and adds more. Kind of like an extended dance remix. Everyone likes those, right?! It's the NCRA seminar that will never happen (since I submitted to be a speaker, but wasn't accepted). And there are other goodies as well! As always, please don't email me about spelling or punctuation errors. I appreciate it, but I'm writing this for content, not an English class.
Articles in this issue -
1 - "New Steno Contest - Great Prize!"
New Steno Contest! (back to top)
Our first contest was to see who was funny. Our second contest was to see who could Google best. Now it's time to get personal. In today's edition of The Steno Life I talk a bit about health - it's not just about your fingers. You'll see what I'm talking about later. Basically, for me, the Magic Bullet has become a health ritual. And I'd like it to become yours as well! So for this contest, I want you to write me why - in 200 words or less - you need and WILL USE the Magic Bullet to get healthier. Email me at Marc@StenoLife.com with "Bring Me The Bullet!" in the subject line. The winner will get a brand new Magic Bullet from me : )
The NCRA Presentation You'll Never See - Part 3! (back to top)
(Please understand that much of what you will read below
is written for comedic effect (if you laugh). If you don’t laugh…it’s
meant to be serious)
1 – Better Steno By Association - Myth! – I have a confession to make. I was once...a gutter jockey! I highly doubt that that's the technical name for the job, but that's what I called myself. I was the guy at the bowling alley who would wipe down the lanes, retrieve your ball when it got stuck (which was 90% of the time) and stick small weights into the finger holes of some balls in order to make your toss never go where you wanted : ) Oops! Forget that last one - it's a trade secret! I was about 17 at the time and got the job because I loved bowling, and figured that being on the lanes more would make me better. I mean, I wouldn't get to play a lot of games or anything, but I would be testing the lanes for proper slickness and seeing how things work. That would make me better, right? Ummm...
I know this one will rankle some readers, but I think it's worth saying. Just "being" in a position that uses your steno machine, does not help - and in fact, it may hurt your writing. There are several reasons for that.
Time - Once you get in the working loop - proofing, scoping, CART, transcription - that tends to become your priority, which means schooling and actually working on getting better takes a back seat. And I have NOTHING against proofing, scoping, CART or whatever - they are fine professions to have without going any further, if that's what you want. But if you're a student who wants to become a reporter or captioner, having the proper amount of practice time available is one of the biggest factors. Those other jobs can be consuming and steal that time away. You can say that about any job, but with other jobs you don't go in with the misconception that they're going to help your writing.
It's Steno Practice! - Umm....no...it's not. Just writing on your steno machine does not constitute steno practice. In fact, most CART writers I know tell me that writing at work (for students) hurts their writing overall. Why? Because they are not writing verbatim much of they time. They are phrasing - adding and deleting - skipping unneeded words. So when they get back into a steno classroom setting, they have to turn that verbatim switch back on. Not easy. And you can say, well, why don't they just write verbatim in their CART work? Easy - because they're students and not supposed to be able to do that yet. And the job, for the most part doesn't require it.
When it comes to transcription work, it can be even LESS like writing for practice. You're starting and stopping the recordings - writing - proofing - mixing things up - not the same at all. I know I'm bound to make some enemies with this one, but that's not my goal. I just want students to know that simply getting a job where you get to use your steno machine does not mean you're getting paid to practice. You're getting paid to do a job. And that job most likely won't help your overall writing, and may in fact hurt it.
2 – Finger Fitness...and More! – I wouldn't fool myself into thinking that I'm relatively skinny because of some amazing workout/diet routine I've set up. It's in the genes, baby! I was blessed with a fast metabolism. That said, there's a big difference between being at the right weight and being healthy. They don't always land on the same page. Let me put it this way, there was a time not long ago that if I didn't show up at McDonalds at lunchtime, they'd call my house, concerned. Yes, I was blessed with a fast metabolism, but I was also blessed with the need for junk food. I got both from my dad. I can hear him ordering in my sleep - "Double cheeseburger, mustard only."
Still, I've never been a couch potato. I play tennis 3 times a week. I've run a mini-marathon. I rode my bike from Rosarita to Ensenada (50 miles). I'm no blob. But I still found myself being tired much of the time. My activity was done in spite of the fact that I could have just as easily been in bed, sleeping like a baby. And this was the story up to about 2 years ago - when I hit 38. I just thought, "This is not the way to go through life - tired all the time." I was downing a Red Bull a day to finish work. My cholesterol was about 240 at the time - under 200 is considered a safe area.
It wasn't like my health status was some mystery - "Why do I feel like this?!" Fast food - sugary drinks - no fruit - few veggies. You mean that will make you lethargic??! So I decided to take control...sort of : ) My first concern was my cholesterol. Apparently my wife wanted me NOT to die of a heart attack. Go figure. So I added 2 things - oatmeal in the morning - almonds in the afternoon. Then I sprinkled in some soy beans, humus and other kinds of nuts every now and then. Yes, I fell off the wagon a few times, but I always got back on. And last month I tested out at 197 - a drop of over 40 points! I have little doubt that it will get above 200 at some point again, but it won't get out of control, and I'll knock it right back down.
Another key attack on fighting my cholesterol - cutting down the fast food. Some people eat fast food out of habit. I eat it because I REALLY like it! An In-N-Out burger with grilled onions and...sorry...I digress. But eating fast food 5-7 times a week just doesn't work for the body. It sucks the energy right out of you and contributes to the cholesterol. I can picture this war going on in my body - soy beans against a Big Mac. So I decided to limit my fast food to Tuesdays and Thursdays - and some on weekends. Because there's a line between living healthy and enjoying life. I want to enjoy life as well, even if by doing so I knock a year or two off the end. I think there's a balance.
So by cutting out that fast food, I was forced to eat at home. Okay, forced is kind of harsh. Turkey sandwiches and soups and salads and whatever else isn't really suffering. And it doesn't have to be "healthy food" to work. ANYTHING is better than fast food, basically. But I do find that I'm squeezing in some actual healthy food as a replacement for that fast food as well.
The last step in the diet transformation came about 4 months ago. As I said earlier, I drank about one Red Bull a day. That's a lot of caffeine and a lot of sugar. Add onto that the soda I drank with the fast food, and the Diet Coke I drank at home...a LOT of sugar and caffeine. And here comes the twist in the story... We bought a piano! Make sense? No? Okay - I'll clear it up. I've always enjoyed composing on the piano, so we finally got one. And my wife has always talked about taking lessons. So I told her that I would cut out caffeine for a month if she would start taking lessons. I know, kind of a one-sided deal. But I really wanted her to start...and I really wanted me to stop. So we shook on it - she started - I stopped.
It didn't take long to notice a difference. I've dropped about 10 pounds - I'm at my optimum weight. I'm sleeping better. I'm more awake during the day. All my hair grew back. Okay....the last one isn't true. But the rest is right on the money! All that sugar was keeping me down. I STILL drink the occasional soda or Red Bull, but nowhere near where I did before. I even order water at McDonald's.
And that's where the Magic Bullet comes in! Best Valentine's Day present ever! My wife got it for me and I've been drinking a fruit smoothie basically every day since. Frozen banana, blueberries and strawberries - cranberry juice - ice - heaven in a glass! This has added a lot of fruit to my diet, but I don't just do it because it's good for me. I do it because I LOVE them! The Magic Bullet has become one of the biggest factors of my health success. And now I want to make it part of yours! It's perfect because it's simple to use, cleans up in 2 seconds and makes 1 glass of whatever want. I had my doubts about it before getting it. TRUST ME on this one - it works great.
An added bonus - the almonds and smoothie I drink during the day mean I'm less hungry at dinner. I'm eating much less - I've learned to push my plate away when I'm full. Still eat sweets - I'm only human! And they make life worth living - at least for me : ) The best thing is that these things I've added and changed in my life have now become a part of my routine. I can't say that I love oatmeal and almonds. But they don't offend and they do the trick. Like I said, I DO love the smoothies.
So what does any of this have to do with steno? It has to do with life. It has to do with your potential. It has to do with allowing your body to perform up to the level it's capable. If you think it's just about your fingers, you're very mistaken. It's about your fingers...your brain...your body...your state of mind. And if you feel good, you'll write better.
Please don't mistake this for a "Hooray for Marc" speech. I'm using myself as the example because I was SOOOOO set in my ways. I just had to find the right combination of things to change. Now send me those emails on why you want, and will use, the Magic Bullet! I'll make a decision in the next few weeks.
PART 4 - THE FINAL PART - COMING IN A FEW WEEKS
StenoTracker - Test Tracking Program! (back to top)
Here's another program I'm putting out there...with reservation. I actually developed this program over a year ago, but have held onto it - and I'll tell you why in a moment. The StenoTracker tracks your test results, giving you a graph of your progress. Just select your speed, add your test percentage to the calendar, and a graph is made of your results. And each speed has its own graph! You just move the folder to your desktop and use it from there - there's nothing to install.
Now here's the disclaimer... Testing results may not always be an accurate reflection of the progress you make. Some dictations are hard. Some are easy. There are outside influences. Tests are just a moment in time - not an exact science. So be aware of that if you choose to use the StenoTracker.
The program is $15 HERE ONLY - it comes through email only - not CD. Once I put it on my websites, it will cost more. All updates are free once you buy it. You can see images of the program below and use the PayPal button below them to order.
SimplySteno Open Enrollment Special! (back to top)
Yep - enrollment for www.Simplysteno.com is open once more! The first starting date will be May 12th - that's the soonest a student can start. But you CAN join before then. And if you join with a buddy BEFORE the 12th of May, you get a $200 discount between the 2 of you - $100 off each! And if there are more than 3 joining, $125 off each!
The RPR and CSR exams are coming up soon, and we expect many of our SimplySteno students to pass them. So once they start working, we'll have plenty of space for you : )
Quick Comment About Learning Steno Online (back to top)
When I started SimplySteno, about 3-4 years ago, plenty of campus schools took shots at me. And not just me - other online/at home programs as well. I have a file of every shot taken - emails - advertising - live chats. They ain't pretty. Campus schools were throwing out comments to students left and right - "You can't get a good education with an online program." "You won't get any personal attention." "No one has ever graduated from an online program." "Online programs don't work."
And here we are...a few years later...and it works just fine : ) I have the graduates to prove it. I have the track record to prove it. I have the testimonials to prove it. And perhaps the most telling proof, many campus program are now offering online programs as well! And several of them are the very ones that were bashing me not long ago. Yes...I'm smiling a bit.
Don't let anyone tell you an online program doesn't work. That's fear talking. I'll put my graduation rate up against any campus school. I'll put my student satisfaction rate up against any campus school. And there are several other online/at home programs out there that do a fine job - good people who work hard for you. Find out the details and make educated decisions.
Place any 12-week dictation order (1-voice, 2-voice or medical) and you'll get 2 additional weeks FREE! Same goes for the animation 4-voice. Get 2 additional weeks when you place an 8-week order! This special offer will run till the end of May, so place your order by then. SpeedBuilders.com is the place to go for all your steno practice needs!