More Memory Observations

When people find out that I’m memorizing cards, there are two common responses.  The first is an assumption that I’m learning how to count cards to be a gambling card shark and the second response (the one Tim gave me), is “Why?”

Well, I’m not trying to beat Vegas and the answer to Why is simple.  First, I wanted to see if I could; Second, I wanted to see what I could learn along the way; Third, I thought I’d document the process in case any of you were interested in following along.

It’s been a week since I mastered being able to memorize 20 cards in under 4 minutes.  I didn’t want to stop there, though.  I wanted to see if I could do the whole deck, so I created images for all the cards and additional locations to place the images.

Then I tried to remember the entire deck.  And failed miserably.

So I revisited my images and replaced those that I had a hard time seeing clearly or imagining doing the various activities in my list.  For example, the King of Clubs was originally Martin Luther King.  I had a hard time imagining him in strange situations.  I replaced him by a different kind of king of clubs – Tiger Woods.  Suddenly my brain became like a writer for a late-night comedy show and I had no trouble at all imagining Tiger in strange situations doing bizarre things!

I also had about a half dozen actions that were too similar when trying to remember a long list – people laughing or saying things all blended together and I could see the person but couldn’t figure out what was coming out of their mouth.  So I changed the actions for everyone unless the saying was also accompanied by an action or feeling, such as Marge Simpson’s growling as she gets mad or Snagglepuss saying (and doing) “Exit, Stage Right!”

There were things that I consistently got mixed up when trying to remember.  For some reason I kept confusing people crying and drooling (don’t worry, I know the difference in real life!).  So Homer Simpson’s action changed from drooling to belching and suddenly became much easier to remember.  Also, although I’m a huge Beatles fan and can tell you who sings lead on most of their songs, I found that I couldn’t keep them straight when remembering images.  So, I replaced them with Peanuts characters – not too much danger confusing Charlie Brown with Snoopy!

Lastly, I realized that just like a runner can’t expect to run a marathon after only training in 3 mile jogs, I was also asking too much to go from remembering 20 cards at a time to an entire deck.  So I changed my tactics and split the deck into 3 parts so I could memorize and recite each part of the deck separately with a small break between each session.  I’m still making a couple of mistakes and it’s taking about 15 minutes to get through the entire deck, but I hope that with a little more practice I’ll be able to increase my speed and increase the number of cards I can memorize in each session.

Probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that you can’t cram information or rush the process and expect to remember.

I think I’ll spend 5-15 minutes a day for a little while longer and see what kind of improvement I can make.  I’ll keep you posted 😉