My Transformation

I write this with hope that it helps all of you.

My world changed when I started to read a little bit about human psychology. We are very hardwired to form beliefs and defend those beliefs vigorously. Things like confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance inform my opinion there. We also work subconsciously towards our own expectations, as discovered by Robert Rosenthal in 1968. We also can draw profound power from hope, as told by Richter’s rats. Human psychology appears to be recursive and amplifying — we get better at what we do, form habits, and habits are hard to break.

Now here’s the hope: Your psychology is malleable. I know that because I am, more or less, an average human, and if I am able to do something, chances are good all of us can. I pulled off some major changes in my thinking. What are some bad habits I had?

Overeating. I was 290 pounds at one time, and it was physically painful for me if I did not engage in daily overeating. I forced myself to stop the behavior, and over time that physical pain went away. I’m now about 223 pounds and it’s physically painful when I overeat. The problem wasn’t me, it was the way I thought about eating. By analyzing my daily calorie intake and bringing it below what I needed to sustain my body weight, I was able to reduce my body weight by over 23%. But I had to do that against my brain throwing me headaches and temperature fluctuations to try to keep the high calorie count coming. The subconscious mind tries very hard to assert dominance over the conscious mind when a habit is being undone. Keep this in mind when you’re reading about habits of fear below.

Arachnophobia. I was terrified of spiders, even small ones. Now I capture them so I can use them in TikTok videos about court reporting. A fear I could barely live with has become a joke to me. How did I get there? I changed my thinking about spiders. I studied them. I learned that they do not perceive us in the way we perceive them. Once I understood that spiders could not “understand” me, it was easy to not be afraid anymore. They are comparably dumb and will skitter in whatever direction they think safety is in. Who could be afraid of that? They’re much more likely to feel vibrations from your movement or breath than ever realize you are a living being. For an arachnophobe, there’s no greater release than to realize that if you stay still and calm, the chances of a spider noticing you go down to basically zero. I had to change my thinking to improve my quality of life.

Alcoholism. I could function well enough, but I had trained my body to take on so much alcohol that it would kill Mr. Snuffleupagus. Alcohol was a habit I was able to break by thinking about all the things I would lose if I didn’t get it under control. Life, liberty, and happiness were all on the line, and slowly trading away alcohol so that I could keep those things was an almost spiritual experience for me. The consequences of not working on my habit were too great to ignore.

Anxiety and low self-confidence. Here’s where Robert Rosenthal’s work came in. In order to be a voice for people, I had to expect to be that voice. If we go back to 2020, I trembled at the idea of doing any kind of presentation, content, or public conclusion beyond my very comfortable habit of blogging on Stenonymous. Now I’m accusing corporations that make millions in revenue of fraud on every channel and medium I can. I had to tell myself I could do it before I did it. There were social barriers that made me very afraid to do it. Paralyzed by an endless stream of what ifs, I rarely considered the consequence of not doing what I knew was right.

Once I did what I knew was right, a large contingent of our field came out in support. It turned out that I was not the first one to have a bad experience in court reporting. It turned out I was not alone. So many have now written privately and publicly in support. I learned we had been conditioned for so many years to believe that nothing would ever change that we did not expect it to change, and so we did not fight for positive change. Abuse thrives on silence, and we were a field so resigned to silence that when the Chief Strategy Officer of US Legal, Peter Giammanco, wrote in an email, “does it really matter if it’s legal or ethical…” on NCRA’s listserv, even our own NCRA, this organization that we fund to the tune of millions of dollars a year, was silent. It felt powerless. It felt afraid. It did nothing. If our flagship was afraid to sail, what hope would there be for any one of us? If I had not published those listserv emails, we would still be in the same position, being silently abused and resigned to our fate, overblown shortage claims killing our student pipeline. The habit of doing nothing would kill an entire industry, and to the detriment of our replacements and society as a whole.

Like all my other habits, anxiety was broken by thought. I decided that if NCRA retaliated against me for releasing the emails, the organization would be effectively killing itself. Who is going to support a nonprofit that attacks its own member for exposing corporate misconduct? If US Legal or Giammanco did anything, they’d be calling infinitely more attention to my work. Sure, there are now some people in the field that don’t like me. But they do not like me because I am helping others or because they do not yet understand me. That is a flaw in their thinking, not mine. As I said in a related video, I see two futures. One where I am wholly correct in my assertion that the shortage has been exaggerated and exacerbated by these big companies or one where there really is nothing we can do and shortage will defeat us. All the available data points to the former, and the latter is basically a guarantee that our profession will not exist in ten years. The morons at the top of the USL totem pole made this an easy choice for me. Thanks, Rick.

So much of what we do and who we are is habit. Our minds will seek ways to justify our habits so that we do not suffer from an identity crisis. After all, if one embraces this idea of psychological malleability, does it not open the door to the idea that core beliefs, such as sexual preference or religion, may also be changed without consequence? I bypass this identity crisis by deciding to change what I need to change in order to accomplish my goals, learn more, be a better person, and nothing more. Again, look to Richter’s rats and the power of hope. If you use God to tap into hope, then God makes you powerful. In my case, there is a loyalty to altruism that survived my religious days. I was able to tap into that, see that I could not help anyone in my previous state of being, laden with fear and exhausted from my own bad habits, and began taking actions that would help the largest number of people possible. The idea that I can help people gives me hope. What does hope make me? Now I get to share: Anyone can do this. Anyone can be powerful.

There are still plenty of bad habits I will have to work through. But the main idea is that humans are problem-solving machines, so when we really sit and analyze the root of a problem, we find solutions. Look at me. Problems that I had for 10 or 15 years evaporated largely over the course of six months as if they had never existed because I willed it to be so. Now that I know that such a thing is possible, how could I not share it with the world? How could I leave my fellow court reporters in fear? I’m not the only one to come to such a realization. Steno Imperium just released an article about fear. Max Curry’s 2020 presentation at Stenopalooza was all about letting go of fear. We know we are afraid.

The message has not reached everyone in the industry yet. Love and support each other to the extent practicable to overcome this fear. Support systems generate hope, and hope is a huge booster to survival. For those who insist on living in fear or perpetuating it, such as Stenograph’s Anir Dutta, so convinced that we are his Kodak that he’d kill Stenograph to support his habit of fear, we have only one message: Step back, reassess, and see that what we are saying has a far stronger basis in reality than your fear. I promise to do the same always. Together, we will get the industry wherever it’s going.

Alternatively, proponents of fear can stand in my way. But just remember that there are enough court reporters in the business to give NCRA something like $3 million a year. Standing against them means running the risk they’ll start funding me and then I’ll have to kick ass all day every day instead of just doing so when my full-time job permits. I’ve already got a proven track record of defending them with the donations that have come through and my own cash. “Here’s a guy so committed he put a thousand dollars of his own money down just to help stenographers find their voice.” It’s going to be an easy choice for them. The only way to stop that kind of outcome is to accept that stenography is here to stay and get serious about funding it and recruiting for it instead of cuddling up with the disgraceful and opportunistic digital reporting propaganda outfit, STTI.


We know that speech recognition is not as good as claimed. 25 to 80% accuracy depending on who’s speaking. We’ve also got information that says 40% of AI startups show no AI in their products and tech startups that say they are AI can expect 50% more funding. This isn’t the future, this is an ill-advised attempted to garner funding for something that has over an 80% chance of failure.

Stenograph is now trying to sell garbage to a customer base that is increasingly aware of that fact and there’s a guy on the playing field with a moral conviction to explain it to them in simple terms. Stenograph is relying on a retirement cliff that has been fraudulently exaggerated by STTI, US Legal, Veritext, and possibly others. The perpetrators of the fraud don’t actually care if Stenograph fails. They’d use it to bolster the fraud — “oh look, the leading manufacturer went under.” Not a desirable position for the company, but also not one that I put it in. So when the cards fall in exactly the way I am predicting, it’s not my problem. And if I’m wrong? Even better.

Think about it. Stenograph’s in the same boat I was. Lots of habits and a choice to make.

We Defeated The Stenographer Shortage Twice Before I Was Born and Will Again

From the Protect Your Record TikTok I was alerted to the existence of a December 1986 Caligrams publication from the CCRA. California, at least, was experiencing shortage. We can see that their President at the time seemed to feel that speaking negatively of the profession and failing to promote it were big problems.

Perhaps we can survive and thrive in the same way our predecessors did.
Cooperation and attorney scheduling preferences. The discussion never ended, did it?

Interestingly enough, the shortage of 1986 wasn’t the only one. There was something going on in 1970, as revealed to me by another reader.

1970. NSRA was NCRA, by the way.
Committees promoting the profession. They knew they had to and they did it.
They did this. We can do this.
Our great profession.

Perhaps what has changed is not the viability of our field or the importance of our work, but how we think about it. When we thought of the shortage as a thing to be solved, this profession survived. What happens when we think of our work as something to be improved? What happens when my East Coast friends are not making less than 1991 rates adjusted for inflation? What happens when my West Coast friends are not carrying gigantic accounts receivable and being kept on the work treadmill of survival and collection? This field’s problems would solve themselves in short order because everyone would be talking about it. Become a court reporter! Field would probably double its numbers inside five years. This field gave me so much and I want to make it better for the people entering it today. When you see me write about that stuff, it’s about making sure we’re not training students to be chewed out by companies that don’t have an interest in their professional growth or development.

The only thing that changed in me over time was my willingness to do what needed to be done and say what needed to be said. Some might look at this and say I’m acting against the advice of history here. “You’re not being very cooperative when you use your blog to attack XYZ firm.” No, but it was a different time with different challenges. We did not have a small league of corporations using every ounce of their effort to push the narrative towards “there just aren’t enough stenographers, honest.” Even if we solved the shortage tomorrow, I very much doubt they would stop promoting their alternative version of reality. They haven’t stopped promoting digital despite clear evidence it’s a losing horse.

To expound some, US Legal has made a LinkedIn recruitment blast for digital reporters each day since my last article about the company. They can’t do one for stenographers? They can’t acknowledge that digital is a harmful modality for consumers and workers? Of course they can, they just aren’t. How privileged I am to be the person that gets to raise the alarm. I’ve shown you all how weak the big companies actually are. I come out swinging with words like “fraud” and “attack on minority speakers,” and US Legal can’t be bothered to do anything. Not a cease and desist email, not a phone call, nothing. Maybe they’re afraid I’ll draw on it and blog about that too.

Maybe they should be afraid. It’s not every day someone says to a group of 27,000 “hey, you know this recognizable name in our industry? There’s a good chance they’re lying about your future.” Until I did it, it wasn’t something that was done. Now that that’s done it’s not going to be long before court reporters realize the weakness and silence on the side of digital reporting proponents and everybody starts taking shots. That’s 27,000 people that can say damn near anything supported by the evidence I published over the last month. I become a magnifier and shield for those 27,000. “Chris Day published evidence of fraud.” Why not? US Legal’s already shown its cards. It’s not touching me. When it was your job on the line, “nothing else we can do.” When all the things they can do were dragged in front of them and their hypocrisy was exposed, things got real quiet and they just kept on pushing to recruit digital. That’s called an agenda, a mission, or a deception, and all evidence points to the fact that the agenda has no intention of bowing to reality.

Ducker told us that over the next 12 years a large percentage of this field will likely retire. The next few years, we get to repeat the history of 1970 and 1986. We decide whether to survive or die as a profession. Things are looking good since we come from a long history of “survive.” The corporate line of “simply not enough stenographers” turned out to be an exaggeration or lie. I’ll be doing what I can to recruit and educate. I hope you’ll all join me. We don’t need to wait for the big companies to promote us. We will promote us and watch this field grow over the next decade in opposition to the forecasted decline.

Fun History: License Plates

Have you ever seen a stenographic license plate? It’s a funny truth that while there are not so many people who can survive a stenographic education, just about anyone can read stenography if they care to, and we can even be called out on some of what we do.

In 1993 a decision was made (reaffirmed) that in California to be deemed an offensive word unsuitable for a license plate, a word need not be understood in that manner by every addressee. This happened when Anita Kahn appealed the decision by the DMV to revoke her stenographic license plate which had the phrase “if you can” on it. For our non-court reporting audience, this can also be translated as the F word. The court determined that some 50,000 to 60,000 people in the state could understand it, that there was therefore a large enough audience to find the word offensive, and that DMV could revoke the plates.

It’s not too often I get to write about fun or interesting things, so it’s my pleasure to get to write about Kahn v Department of Motor Vehicles (1993) (No. B064070. Second Dist., Div. One. May 3, 1993). Originally brought to my attention via a Facebook post. Indeed, it’s a good reminder that wherever we are and whatever we do, there’ll always be someone to rat us out. Kidding!

Fall of Constantinople

Today’s a decent day for a quick discussion about a couple of contributing factors to the fall of Constantinople as it relates to our modern lives. I’m no history expert, but I sat and read the bare basics, and this is what I’ve come up with. The Byzantine Empire had stood for basically a thousand years. The Ottoman Empire was maybe 150 years old at the time. The Byzantine state had been in decline for a while. It had lost lands and support, and its last stand and secure refuge was Constantinople, which later became what we call Istanbul today.

A master founder, Urban (Orban), tried to sell his services as a cannon maker to the Byzantines, but the empire had been in such decline that they could not afford to pay him, nor did they have the materials to build the large cannon he planned to build. Urban was subsequently hired by the Ottoman Empire. The friends and allies that the Byzantines may have had to the west wouldn’t come because they had allowed the relationships to sour. The state of the Byzantine Empire’s decline was so extensive that they likely would’ve fallen even if they had defeated the Ottoman Empire!

So how I see this applicable to modern life: Look at your Constantinople, whether it’s your career; your country, your kids, anything. Maybe in your life there are multiple Constantinoples. Is that “state” in decline? Can it be saved? Are you contributing to its financial strength so that it can afford to hire the “cannon maker”? Are you willing to make changes to reverse the decline?

To really understand, we need some examples. Imagine your Constantinoples are your children or even yourself. There are many ways to protect yourself. Business and financial courses can get you up to speed on how to save, invest, and plan for college, illness, retirement. Negotiating the best possible salary, rates, or wages gives you the extra income you might need to “hire the cannon maker” and participate in those courses. Networking with others and knowing the best rates so that you can ask for them is another valuable part of protecting your Constantinople.

Now imagine Constantinople is your career/profession as a whole. If you are reading this page, presumably, it’s stenography. The largest representations of stenography are undoubtedly the NCRA and the many state associations. Are they in decline in your opinion? Are you contributing? Could your contributions and voice change the course of the decline and save Constantinople? The surest way to not know is to not try.

There is some dispute as to whether Emperor Constantine hanged himself or charged the Ottomans with his men in a final defense of the city, but one thing is clear: Had his predecessors set him up to succeed, he would’ve succeeded. We all come from different walks of life, and started off in this world with different circumstances. We must set ourselves and our successors up to succeed. That takes a deep introspection and a whole lot of strategy that each and every reader here can achieve, but only if they try.

So try today. Try to get out there and identify the issues. Come up with solutions. Share your solutions. Build bridges where possible. Few people are natural leaders, but this is a world that favors those willing to take the reins.