August 19, 2015

Track workout today, I was thinking about daily copy.

I have alluded to Jimmy’s daily schedule in the past. Running, working, going to church among many other activities. When I was old enough to work and live in Chicago, I did just that. In between really terrible jobs, I was able to work with my dad. One thing that I really enjoyed about working with my dad at the Federal Building was lunchtime. Jimmy would take me to Berghoff’s stand-up bar for a fried halibut sandwich on rye, a pickle and a root beer. Not a great deal of calories in that lunch but, wow, was it good. The job itself involved running cassette tapes from the court reporters to the typists at the Dirksen Federal Building in downtown Chicago. The world was inexorably moving toward digitization and computers but this was truly old-school. The actual job involved a choreographed work process. Jimmy would be one of a few court reporters taking the dictation in the courtroom. He took this dictation on a Stenograph machine. This machine is a cross between a typewriter (remember those) and an enigma code machine. It would spit out an endless strip of paper about 3 inches wide and many miles long. The shorthand recorded on the paper was indecipherable to the uninitiated. When we were young, we thought my father was a spy and he was recording all of our activities and secretly reporting the activities of 9 and 10 year old boys to the government. Sort of like what the NSA does to all of us today. After taking about a half hour of dictation in the courtroom he would cede his position just below the judge’s bench to another court reporter. After a seamless transition with the other reporter with the court proceedings continuing uninterrupted, he would take the Stenograph back to his office and immediately remove the strip of paper and begin to read the shorthand into a cassette recorder. That is when I would jump into action. I would take the cassette which contained about 5-7 minutes of court proceedings to a typist who would type my father’s spoken word to a page. When the well-oiled machine was rolling along, there would be typed pages next to the typewriter that would go back to Jimmy. He would proofread the pages and make the necessary changes. Once the corrections were made, I would take the pages and make 5-10 copies. This delicate dance would continue all-day until court was adjourned. When the workday was done, we would have the “daily copy” of every word that was spoken in court that day, usually about 300 pages, within 30 minutes of adjournment. I thought this was so cool and I was part of the wheels of justice. I would then deliver the full daily transcript to the opposing law firms and call it a day. With the advancement of voice recognition software, I doubt the same process is in place today. Lots of fun working with dad and I wouldn’t trade those experiences for the world, not even a fried halibut sandwich on rye.

The path to the marathon. Favorite song today: Busted performed by Ray Charles.

The road to infinity.

The road to infinity.

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