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.

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


This poem acquired its name when it was included in a book of poems.  Before that time, it was Victory is mineuntitled.  Even when the author published it in a book of his poems, it remained unchristened.  In the table of contents, the first line of the poem was used in place of a name.

Editor Arthur Quiller-Couch put a stop to that foolishness when he republished the poem.  He named it “Invictus,” which is perfect.  It means “unconquered,” and it describes the poem to a T.  The author thanks the gods for the pure will to succeed.

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley 1875

A little bit of that kind of determination will go a long way in your stenography classes.  Not everything about court reporting will be easy to learn.  There will be times when you need that extra push.

You can do it.  You are the master of your fate.  You are the captain of your soul.

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


Rudyard Kipling penned this poem and then used it as fatherly advice for his son on how to be a Man and Sonman.

It’s easy to handle the good things — promotions, passed tests, graduation.

It can be quite harder to keep a good outlook when your drills and tests seem to be a bit more than you can handle.

If you maintain your standards and stay true to yourself,  the world is yours.


Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;

If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling

War Pigs

ElephantBy The Dogs of Words

Imagine that you are a mighty War Elephant.

Don’t take it personal.  Thick ankles run in our family too.

You are leading an army. In front of you lies a village protected by a huge wooden wall.  The inhabitants are showering you with arrows.  They bounce harmlessly off your heavy iron mail.  You continue to move forward.  As you near the walls, the defenders direct their weapons towards you and you alone.  The rain of arrows is intense.  When you are in range, heavy spears begin hurtling towards you.  Nothing slows your advance.  You are a War Elephant.

You reach the walls.  You put your head down and push.  The walls are made of thick tree trunks.  They give, but just a little.  You have done this before.  The walls will fall.  They always do.

Now the citizens are dropping heavy rocks from the parapets.  They hurt, but they can’t stop you.  You push.  The walls creak.  You push.  They begin to crack.  You push.  You push.  You push.

Suddenly, the most horrible sight appears in front of you.  It makes a terrifying sound.  Fear racks your body.  You have forgotten about the wall.

The defenders have lowered a War Pig.Pig

It is directly in front of your eyes.  Nothing is more terrible.  You are in total panic.  You must flee.  You must.  As you do, you trample and scatter your own men.  The entire assault dissolves into chaos.  The battle is over.  You have lost, and you have lost miserably.

This story actually played out in Edessa around 540 AD.  The attackers had one War Elephant.  The defenders successfully defended their town with one War Pig.

A War Elephant is a well-trained, heavily armored, living, breathing battering ram.  You can stop one, but most likely, you won’t.  They are too big and too strong.   Your walls will lie in ruins long before you do enough damage to stop a War Elephant.

A War Pig has no training and no armor.  A War Pig is nothing more than a frightened squealing pig.  The only advantage of a War Pig is that War Elephants are deathly afraid of them.

You thought they feared mice, didn’t you?  According to written records, War Pigs were used in more than just this one battle.  In 266 BC, the siege of Megara was broken when the War Elephants bolted at the sight of flaming War Pigs running their way.  The Romans used War Pigs (and War Rams) in 275 BC against Pyrrhus.  There are other instances.

What in all that is holy does this have to do with stenography?

You are a steno War Elephant.  You are well trained.  You are heavily-armored with techniques to keep you writing strong and clear.  The walls of your steno class cannot hold you.  You will push until they fall.  Victory will be yours.  Nothing can stop you.  Nothing.

Except a steno War Pig.

What is a steno War Pig?  It is the same thing as a real War Pig.  It is nothing.  It cannot influence your battle.  It is weak.  It is insignificant.  It has no power.

Unless you fear it.

Why do you let your test nerves control you?  You know they detract from your abilities.  You know they keep you from achieving your best score.  You know that your scores would rise without them.

Chill out, steno babies.  You’re doing it to yourselves.