Thursday, January 27, 2011

Please slow down or i will kick you. What? I said "please."

Click here to see all the items available with this fun court reporting image on it!

If you're not getting it down because it's too fast, stop the proceedings immediately!
How many times have you court reporters out there had days like this? I know I have! Why is it that people talk so quickly? What's the rush? Normal range of speed for someone that is talking is 180 to 200 words per minute. The Court Reporters Board of California gives a ten-minute exam at 200 words per minute with four speakers reading from a transcript. But even though 180 to 200 words per minute is the average for an average ordinary person, some people can go as quickly as 250 to almost 300 words per minute. Now, if you think about it, we have to register everything that the person speaking is saying. It has to go from our ears to our brain and then gets output to our fingers. Eventually it becomes an automatic reaction. But when someone is speaking at a faster rate than you can write down what they're saying, a natural reaction is to drop words, sometimes sentences. It is very important to always have your audio recording during the deposition and/or trial as backup and for clarification when later editing and scoping the transcript at home or in your office. But don't only have that to rely on, people! Make sure you open your mouth and stop them. Who cares if you're interrupting the proceedings? Okay, maybe the attorneys there will be annoyed because you're continuously interrupting them, but just think of how annoyed they'll be when they get a transcript with half of what they said that day and have to pay highway prices for it.

Attorneys, judges, listen up. We are here taking down testimony the best we can. We're only human. If you ask a question and then pause and still hear our fingers pounding away, there's a good chance you're speaking too quickly. If we are right on top of your words, there's a good chance our fingers stop moving about a split second or two after you say something. This means that you can continue when our fingers have rested for that split second.

Have concern for your reporters. Our job is not one that is easy. Maybe make a signal with your court reporter. Let's say you're talking too quickly and the reporter puts her pen on the left side of her laptop that means you're going way too quickly. And if she or he moves it back to the right side it might mean you're talking at a good rate of speed. Think about something that will work for you both.

Court Reporting

Court reporting is an interesting career. I've been a deposition reporter now for just over ten years, running around with all of my equipment, taking down testimony of so many different defendants, plaintiffs, experts in fields I've never heard of before. Before I got my license to practice in California, I was a realtime captioner for deaf- and hard-of-hearing students for the National Center on Deafness, located at CSUN, California State University of Northridge, located in sunny California. Here's some fun court reporting humor that I'm hoping you'll get a kick out of.

Reporters have to get down everything, from who's speaking to adding punctuation on the fly!
After graduating from El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills, California, I decided that I wanted to become a court reporter. Yes, I'm one of those girls that sits with that funny looking machine between my legs that has like two keys on it and takes down testimony at a million words a minute, while at the same time getting down punctuation and objections, all the while trying to keep my cool and keep my leg from voluntarily kicking people under the table that are talking too quickly or using really big multisyllabic words just because it's in their vocabulary. I especially love it when the witness is an expert in some field I've never even heard of or if the witness's fifth language is English and looks at me like I'm crazy for not understanding him/her when I ask for a repetition. After the third time of not understanding, I just move right along in hopes I can make sense of their unintelligible attempt of being understood. A motto I live by: When in doubt, leave it out! Joking, of course. I figure out all of nonsense out later on in the comfort of my home by doing lots of research. And If I can't figure it out I'll put a "phonetic" after it. I work on a machine, but I'm only human. I'm pretty much what I'd like to call a glorified typist that puts up with deadline after deadline and transcript after transcript.

If I could rewind time, I most definitely would have picked differently for a career. But as the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. And if I knew then what I know now, I'd have not dated most of the guys I have over the years, but that's besides the point. To make a long story short -- too late -- it takes a lot to actually become a licensed court reporter. The dropout rate is much higher than the success rate of passing the California state exam. The test that I took and passed on my first attempt had only an 18-percent pass rate.

It's a love-hate relationship I've had with being a reporter. I'm a fly on the wall and get to hear it all without being the one interrogating or being interrogated. I will say that it's not the easiest job in the world. But on that same note, it's definitely not the hardest either. If you're one of those people that are curious about this little steno machine and want to know how it works, click here for a quick lesson on the theory behind our hooked-on-phonics machine-shorthand language.

Before becoming a licensed CSR, certified shorthand reporter, I worked as a realtime captioner at Cal State Northridge University for the the National Center on Deafness. I would have a set schedule of classes that I would go to whereby I'd set up shop, my steno machine and laptop, and take down the class lecture in realtime for a deaf- and/or hard-of-hearing students that were enrolled in the class. It was definitely the most rewarding job I've ever had. I even got pretty good at sign language after taking one class of it at Glendale Community College. I did the captioning after my court reporting school went bankrupt: Merit College of Court Reporting.

Court reporting school was so much fun! It's the working part that sucks. And I'm speaking for myself only. In school we would have our readers that would read real transcripts to us all day long at various speeds. They were usually actors/actresses or comedians that were working as readers until their other gigs took off. Some of the coolest people ever!

Although I'm in the middle of changing careers now, I'll have to admit that I've heard and learned tons from being a court reporter. I will always keep my license but am hoping I'll soon be able to not have to rely on it to keep a roof over my head.

You never know what you're going to hear when you're out in the field.

I'll never forget the one day I was at work and the witness got asked the standard question every deponent gets asked:
Q. Have you ever been convicted of a felony?
A. Yes.
Q. What kind of felony were you convicted of?
A. For carrying unprescribed medication.
Q. What kind of unprescribed medication were you carrying?
We all looked at each other around the table, trying really hard not to laugh, thinking to ourselves "Is this guy for real?"

Seriously, I have heard it all. Some days it goes in one ear and out the other, but other days I learn lots from my job.

The one good thing about being a freelance deposition reporter is that you're not tied down the whole day. This has its pros and cons. No work = no money. The pro is that you can take on as much work as you want or as little as you want. So this has definitely given me the ability to take time and pursue all of my artistic endeavors. And trust me, there have been a lot. I change hobbies like people change dollars for quarters at the laundromat to do laundry.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I make coffee hot.

I make COFFEE hot.  I mean -- I make everything hot!  
Check out this cute vintage style retro image on coffee mugs.  Mix and match!  It's fun.  What's your favorite coffee?  I'm on my second cup of coffee.  Sitting here taking a break from court reporting and working on my cafepress store.  While I work on my digital art, I watch tv...and what's on now is this Judge Pirro.  Not sure how much I like her or these judge shows.  I used to really like Judge Judy and the People's Court...but I am kind of getting tired of it all.  More into the Bachelor and Millionaire Matchmaker, Californication, The Big C, and a lot of other shows.   I'm kind of new to this blog writing, but it's starting to remind me of the sixth grade.  I remember when I was in sixth grade and Mr. Powers was my English teacher.  He had everyone write for five minutes a day into a journal.  I kind of wish I never stopped.  So from this day forward, I'm going to check in at night and spend five minutes going over my day.  It's kind of like a good therapy, don't you think?  Cheaper than therapy but you are still able to air out your laundry on the line with whoever wants to read it.  Okay.  Time to click publish.


Coffee is what keeps me from killing you!

Coffee is what keeps me from killing you.  I can't get started without my cup of coffee.  In fact, if you start talking to me before I had my cup of mud, I don't think you'll get much of a response.  On the weekends you'll find me hanging out at my local Starbucks sipping on a vanilla skinny latte!  Yes, it's sugar free, and oh, so yummy!

Coffee addict?


ARE YOU A COFFEE ADDICT?  Do you drink at least three cups a day of coffee?  I do on some days.  My favorite coffee right now is Elite instant coffee.  It's an Israeli coffee.  I remember visiting Israel when I was just a little girl and my aunt would give us this coffee.  And I'm now 37 and still am hooked!  It's the best coffee out there.   How you prepare this type of coffee?   You put one heaping teaspoon in your mug.  Start your kettle to boil the water and when it's at a boil, you fill up about 35 percent of your cup with the already heated water.   Now all you need is milk.  You can use any kind you prefer, from low fat to nonfat to whole milk, fill up the remainder of the glass, add some sugar to your liking, and drink up!  You'll be wanting another cup soon after.  This coffee is so addicting.  I'm hooked.  Didn't take more than one time for me to fall in love with this Israeli brand of coffee.  Elite coffee is hot, hot, hot!  And I believe it's kosher too.    You can usually find it at any glat market, which means kosher market.  And if you don't have one near you, I suggest doing a search online for "elite instant coffee" and I'm sure you'll come up with many places that sell it.  The going rate for this coffee at my local grocer is about $6.00.  So shop around and comparison shop for the best price in town.  I think Starbucks and the Coffee Bean should look into serving an instant type of coffee.  Granted, I love all coffee and won't turn a cup down, I tend to really enjoy the instant brews.  How about you?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Kiss kiss -- it's going to cost you!

Kisses don't come cheap anymore!
VALENTINE'S DAY IS ALMOST HERE!  February 14th, 2011.  And trust me when I say this, Kisses Don't Come Cheap Anymore!    That goes for both the guys and girls.  This year I'm single and will probably be spending my Valentine's Day with my dog while watching the Bachelor on TV and wondering why people are still so gullible and mushy over love and finding it.  But then I sit and think about the last time I was in love, which was all the way back in 2003, and I know how easy it is to be swept off your feet and the truly amazing feeling that comes with being with someone that you are so head over heels for you can't even think straight.    That feeling is so far away from my heart at this point in my life, but I sure do remember how amazing it was to have that feeling of being in love.  To all you lovebirds out there, please remember that Valentine's Day comes only once a year and, sure, it's cute and sweet and all to buy your loved one something special or take them out for a nice dinner and movie to show them you love them, but don't forget that there are 364 more days in year to show them that you care by treating them with love and respect.  This is dedicated to Ian.  I'll never forget you and the love you gave me. You were one in a million and probably the only person to have cared as much about me as you did.   And I'm sorry that you're no longer in my life.  I'll always love you.

I recycle boys!

I love this one. 
Now that we are becoming environmentally aware of keeping green, this little girl has taken it to a whole new extreme.  She recycles boys.  Yeah, at that age, I guess I did too.  Not to say that at age 37 I don't do the same thing right now.  Dating isn't the easiest thing in the world.  I'm 37, cute, and single.  I guess I need to invest in stronger rope, 'cause so far I haven't been able to tie any guy down, not for long at least. He loves me.  He loves me not.  You never know what you have until it's gone.  It's a lesson I've learned over the years from being in love.  And trust me, single guys and girls out there in the world, the grass isn't greener on the other side.  If you think it is, then you're definitely jaded.