If you’re a member of a military unit or a secret society or a fan of an obscure stream of fanfic, it seems to me that wherever you go in the world you’ll have a friend to call out. Someone who knows the way around, whose computer you can use, whose succour you can count on in times of accommodatory difficulties or diplomatic incidents.
So it is with steno. We can go to just about any country and meet one of our own with a little internet reconnaissancery. I know from experience the flush of relief at finding someone who not only understands the repercussions of a disastrous homophonic conflict on a realtime job, but actually wants to talk about it.
This week I had the bizarre pleasure of meeting Depoman, one of the most well-known stenos in the world because of the wildly successful forum he created/moderates. He is also a proponent of artful swearing and this is a cause I myself have advocated
like a fuck-knuckle with tenacity over the years.
I say “bizarre” because I hadn’t heard of Depoman until we moved to Hong Kong and I started interacting with more American stenos. The Australian shorthand industry is so small and so – dare I say it? I dare! – middle-aged and anti-computer that the very idea of an internet forum prompts lamentations of the extinction of the quill, and how young people are so busy on their iTelephones they don’t know how to interact face-to-face. I remember going to an Australian steno conference in 2006 and watching a demonstration of a new steno machine, at that time at the cutting edge of product development (finally joining the 21st century with flash memory). You could hear many tongues clicking as the wholly unreceptive audience whispered loudly about how they could never trust a machine without a floppy disk.
I know America has a huge contingent of stenos like this also, but just by virtue of having a much larger industry, there’s also statistically bound to be a younger (and more technologically switched-on) set. And who rely, entirely and outrageously, on memory cards. And a lot of them are on Depoman.
So, through interacting with American stenos here and finding out where they hang out, I recently found out about Depoman and have spent many hours enjoying threads about, for example, how to stay awake while editing (whiskey every 10 pages). Someone linked my other blog on there, and Depoman read it, and mentioned that he was coming to Hong Kong this week for the first time for some deps, and we arranged to meet up. In the end his deps both cancelled the minute he landed, so he had plenty of time to kill. This happens to me also about 30% of the time I travel overseas for work. My travel is always in the region though, whereas I believe Depoman had flown approximately 280 hours to get here, so in that sense it wasn’t so much a bonus junket than a complete piss-off.
Joel and I took him to Wan Chai for tea in one of the ubiquitous local eateries. This one actually had English translations on the menu, which slightly tarnished the authenticity. (Cultural credibility was restored when I was delivered a plate of fried garlic choy instead of the wontons I ordered.)
Afterwards, with another friend from the court reporting circle, we took Depoman to an Irish pub. If Depoman’s wife is reading this, I regret that it was in the middle of the red-light district, and Filipina strippers were pushed forward by elderly Chinese madams at every turn. It was probably the least “Hong Kong” thing I’ve done since we’ve been here. Despite that, we had what must be considered massive craic.
So, “slainte” to you, Depoman, “yambui”, and cheers. See you in Reykjavik sometime.