That's how many entries are in my steno dictionary. I hadn't bothered to look at that number in years. You know, you get good translation, you don't think about it. The issue was brought to the fore because I needed to transfer the dictionary from one laptop to another for yesterday's job. The necessity to transfer it in this case had to do with output to the attorneys' computers. It is something that is very rarely requested in Vermont (nobody wants to pay our "exorbitant" fees for it), so every time someone comes in from Washington or New York or Chicago and requests realtime, I have to call tech support to remind me how to do it. The newer laptop doesn't have a serial port, which is required for the output, blah blah blah. The whole thing is a carousel ride of pains in my ass. "If it's not one thing, it's another" is the general rule of these things.
But back to that number. When I was trained by the NCI (at the expense of the BBC) to write captions for television, I remember they told me that, though it seems counterintuitive, the smaller dictionary is the better one. It's all about consistent and efficient writing, using prefixes, suffixes, and root words. And while at the BBC, I became a bigger and bigger fan of the one-stroke memorized brief form. This requires more memorization, but each extra stroke that is necessary to write for a word increases the chances of a misstroke, so one is far better than four, in my mind. Not to mention that writing a half or a fourth of the number of strokes, by the end of the day, leads to a lot less stress and tension.
The two-week intensive training involved a military-style stripping down of me and my old methods, reducing me to a quivering pile of goo. I went there with 80,000 entries in my dictionary, and they made me remove almost all of them, and leave only the "good" ones. I believe when I arrived on British soil, I had about 9,000 entries.
On my first day at the BBC, my dear friend Andrew sat at my elbow, watching me write what I was listening to on a videotape. Each time I would fall back into my old habits, he'd shout, "STOP! Now go back and write it RIGHT!" I broke down and cried. I said, "This was a mistake. I am not good enough for this. I will never be able to do this! You should send me back."
Six weeks later, to the day, I was on the air writing Wimbledon -- with the infamous "knockers/mockers" mistake, but still, I was there. A month after that, I was doing all the news and current events programs they could throw at me. So anyone out there who thinks, "I can't do this," you can. You who are learning today have the advantage of learning it the right way from the beginning, not having to literally unlearn everything you had had ingrained in you for 15 years or so.
But...back to that number again. When the tech support person said to me, "Let's see if your transfer was successful. Tell me the number of entries in the dictionary of the old laptop versus the new," and when I said the number, he expressed concern. "That's nothing compared to a lot of people! Most people have well over 100,000."
And we know what the moral of that story is, don't we?