This whole season was memorable. The playoffs were even more memorable. The finals were just absolutely, impossibly unforgettably, memorable. All those things add up to help my memorizing numbers and cards systems that much easier to use....and remember, of course.
2 years ago I set out to expand my 2-digit number system to 3-digits. That meant taking my existing 100 images (00-99) that I knew so well and tacking on 900 more of them to make 1000 total images (000-999). I had no clue where to begin. It just seemed too overwhelming. How would I ever be able to learn a system that massive?
The answer dawned on me when Lebron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade on the Miami Heat in the summer of 2010. I knew that I wanted to add all these memorable NBA players to my system somehow because they were all so memorable to me. These were people that I'd basically followed their every move for almost 10 years. At the time, I only had 2 NBA players in my 2-digit number system: 24 was Kobe and Shaq was 34 (because of their jersey numbers).
So I had the ingenious idea of expanding those numbers into categories. All the 24's would become NBA guards and all the 34's would become NBA big men. The preceding digit to the 24 or 34 would use a very loose hybrid between the Dominic and Major phonetic system to help remind me of the image. Basically the following letter-number associations:
1 = t, j, a 2 = b, n 3 = c, m 4 = r, d 5 = e, l, y 6 = s, sh, ch, 7 = g, j, k 8 = h, f, o 9 = n, p, v 0 = (nothing)
I know it looks complicated and random, but I wanted to give myself as much flexibility as possible when coming up with all the images, so I let each digit cover a number of possible letters. I left 024 as the original 2-digit image, i.e. Kobe (034 as Shaq), then started building the nine other 24s (124, 224, 324, etc.) and 34s. Here's what I came up with and the reasons why:
024 = Kobe [original number 24] 124 = Michael Jordan [MJ is the number 1 NBA player in history] 224 = Bosh (Chris) [2 = b = Bosh] 324 = Dwyane Wade [3 is D-wade's number] 424 = UD (Udonis Haslem) [4 = d = uDonis] 524 = Carmello (Anthony) [5 = l = carmeLLo] 624 = Lebron James [6 is Lebron's number] 724 = Jeremy Lin [7 = j = Jeremy] 824 = Tony Parker [8 = o = tOny] 924 = Vince Carter [9 = v = Vince]
034 = Shaquille O' Neil [original number is 34] 134 = Tim Duncan [1 = t = Tim] 234 = Blake Griffin [2 = b = Blake] 334 = Alonzo Mourning [3 = m = Mourning] 434 = Dirk Nowitski [4 = d = Dirk] 534 = Yao Ming [5 = y = Yao] 634 = Stoudamire (Amare) [6 = s = Stoudamire] 734 = Garnett (Kevin) [7 = g = Garnett] 834 = Howard (Dwight) [8 = h = Howard] 934 = Pau Gasol [9 = p = Pau]
Following this idea till the end, I managed to complete all the other 2-digit number categories and come up with all 1000 images. This is the system that led me to set this year's US speed-numbers record of 303 digits in 5 minutes. I am now closing in on 400 digits.
I didn't stop there. I decided to use this idea to expand my card system. For so long I memorized cards individually. Each card was a single image and I would make little 3-card stories to chunk more cards into one image (the PAO system, read more here). After years of practice and training, that system took me to 32 seconds in practice, but no further. I wanted to get faster, and that meant coming up with a more complex card memorizing system. Instead of each card being a single image, I'd have to one-up it by making each pair an image. That's over 2700 images I'd need to create!
Coming up with my 2-card per image system took a monstrous year of hard work to figure out. Basically it works the same way as the numbers. To keep it simple for now (these were the first steps I took when creating the system), I worked with only the number cards (A,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9), no face cards. Each pair of cards would read as the numbers on them. Those would be the 2-digit number (ex. AA = 11, 29 = 29 - it's pretty self-explanatory). The pair of suits would then translate to a digit that I would place before the 2-digit number (just like in the number system) to make the card a 3-digit number. I would basically be taking pairs of cards and turning them into 3-digit numbers - numbers I already had images for because of my numbers system mentioned above. The only problem was that suit pairs have 16 combinations, not 10. So using my 1000 images for all the suit pairs that went up to 10, I came up with the remaining 6 images for each category by coming up with 6 more guards and 6 more big men (for 23 and 34 at least). It also meant coming up with a system for translating suit pairs into a hexadecimal system (that's a number system based on 16 rather than 10, FYI). Here's how it works:
(d = diamond, c = clubs, h = hearts, s = spades)
0 = DD 1 = HH 2 = SS 3 = CC 4 = SD 5 = SH 6 = SC 7 = CD 8 = CH 9 = CS A = DH B = DS C = DC D = HD E = HS F = HC
Why? Because I said so. It's the way I like it (there is SOME rhyme and reason to it, but I'll let you figure that out on your own). Because this Miami Heat season was so memorable, I decided to include everyone from the roster in those additional 6 images for the 24s and 34s. Shane Battier became 2 of Diamonds/4 of Spades (DS suit pair = b = Battier = B24). Mario Chalmers became 2 of Diamonds/4 of Clubs (DC suit pair = c = Chalmers = C24). Mike Miller became 2 of Hearts/4 of Spades (HS suit pair = l = mike miLLer = E24). Joel Anthony became 3 of Diamonds/4 of Hearts (DH suit pair = a = joel Anthony = A34).
Pretty cool, right? Eh.....you're probably thinking this is down-right, impossibly complicated. Well honestly, it is. But once I learned it (and I'm still in the process of fully learning it, mind you) it became second nature. Over time with practice, the cards and numbers become the images themselves and the translation isn't needed anymore. At least remembering the 24s and 34s have just become a lot easier, all thanks to the fact that these guys just became that much more memorable last night.