# Dealing with 'wrong' associations in systems and training duration of systems per day vs. 'normal' studying

Hi all,

I’ve been dragging a PAO system (major 00-99 and one 000-999) and some palaces along with me over a reasonable amount of time - yet I keep having ‘wrong’ associations constantly.
So instead of the actual number and correct PAO, I keep mixing them up with new associations.

Does anyone have this problem? How do you prevent it?

And probably a little bit off topic, but still I wonder: how long do you train your systems per day (vs. just studying ‘normally’)?

Thank you for your ideas and involvement!

Can you give an example of a wrong association?

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Well e.g. I’m trying to remember the PAO I have for 12 (d/t/w and n) and instead of Thomas Nelson I come up with Thomas Newman or -worse- Thomas Newcombe (which is actually half of my 02, “Stewart Newcombe”).

What happens most of the time, is, that I make completely new combinations I’ve never even thought of. So instead of making a system run better and faster, I kind of make it broader, slower and more detailed.

If I know work with this and my palaces, this gets even worse, because in them is even more potential for ‘wrong’ associations.

So my problem is not creativity, but more the opposite - actually remembering a certain cue for something that sticks.

So when you are supposed to visualize Thomas Nelson but see Thomas Newcombe, what are you seeing?

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I see neither, that’s what I mean. I go from the number and come up with all sorts of people or other associations, that could be 12/TN

If I do have ‘Thomas Newcombe’ or ‘Thomas Nelson’ (Or Thomas Newman, or Terry Neuer, Or Tim Nagel, or (…) before my inner eyes, I have to make the transition to 12 by relation (TN)

Hi, blablaqdra!

I’m not sure how to adress your exact problem. However, regarding the training part, have you tried using Anki? I have used it successfully to memorize my 00-99 PAO system, making one card per number-person association. The big advantage is that you can determine precisely what associations are harder to stick and focus your training on them. I did the deck three times, first making sure I could come up with the association even with great effort and time. The second time (I rescheduled all the cards after that first step) I would only hit “good” if I could remember them in less than 10 seconds, and the third time (again, after rescheduling), only if I could remember almost instantly. Some numbers/cards stuck easily, other needed a lot of repetitions. Each time would take me a few days (only two sessions of maybe half an hour each every day), but eventually they all stuck fin.

Hope it helps. Let me know if you need further explaining. Good luck!

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Hi DanteGaxiola!

What iteration of anki are you using?
I made excel charts and hand-drawn cards in various variants. I try to imagine the connections as vividly and intensive as possible.

So I will exercise just 10 to 20 numbers for several hours, because I restart every time I make a mistake. It is also really exhausting, but perhaps I’m doing it wrong.

I will try just ‘rushing’ through them and see how this goes, thanks!

You’re very welcome. I’m using Anki 2.1, but I 'm not sure that makes any difference for this situation.

What do you draw in those hand-drawn cards?

So I will exercise just 10 to 20 numbers for several hours, because I restart every time I make a mistake. It is also really exhausting, but perhaps I’m doing it wrong.

No, no, that sounds super exhausting, hahahaha. And I don’t see any benefit to knowing them in order. What I did was to make mental grids with ten spaces (imagine the face of a rubik cube, with an extra square on top), of different colors (I have one color associated to every one single digit), and placed them mentally on my room (literally in the room I used to practice). Nothing physical, just the imagination of them, that would help me locate where they were. I know believe that maybe something like the Macunx would have help me greatly to memorize them initially. But, the point is, however you memorize them, you should spend more time working in the ones that are more difficult. The technique I explained, doing various “passes” through them, each time putting the bar for “good” higher (from recollection independent of time and effort, to 7, 4 and immediate retrieval, or anything like that that works for you) was definitely very useful after the initial encoding. Also, the maintenance of the system is very smooth, Anki deals with the programming for me. Right now, I see one of those 100 cards every other day or even less, and that is enough. If I don’t recall the person, action and object almost immediately, I just hit the “again” button and the algorithm works everything else for me.

One more thing, you don’t need to rush, your mind will recall the images or it won’t, don’t fight it, just trust in the process, if it didn’t came “fast enough” (for your own expectations in that moment), just hit “again” and let Anki do the rest. In the beginning I added about 20-40 new cards each day, so it took very few days (maybe four) for the initial pass (remembering, no matter how slow). Never tried a 000-999 system (and I’m not quite interested, since my 00-99 Dominic PAO system is working good enough for me, since competitions are not my goal, but remembering dates and facts), so I can’t help you there, however, I’m pretty confident that if you give Anki a try you would be amazed. Let me know if I can help you in any way

I wish you good memorizing, friend!

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Oh, just one clarification. If you didn’t remember the image at all after a lot of effort, it’s totally ok to see the card and hit again. However, if you can remember the image but want faster recall, it’s better to do your maximum effort to recall it before looking at the answer. Hit again. Next time you will remember it faster

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Yeah thanks - I’ve known about the algorithm for a long time, but I could not achieve a ‘real-life’ implementation of it. Since I usually work with tons of paper (and pdfs), it is kind of hard to at first make a collection of cards ‘just to have done that’.

But with the PAO it probably makes a lot of sense to try it purely electronically, since I have everything already typed out anyway.

Thanks for the ideas!
I like your rubik-cube idea very much, also! I’m just a little ‘colorblind’ in my mind - I usually refrain from using them and if I do, it’s just very basic colours like neon green, bloody red, cloudy blue and banana yellow and also only in very clear and redundant places (like a whole room coloured in green, because it is the second instance of something similar, but not the same) If I go further, I again have association ‘problems’.

I can do this with sounds and feelings though - my 04 is a particular composer playing a particular piece on a particular type of instrument in a particular place for instance (I try to include redundancy in case I forget a part of theconnection - so I will try to associate more than just the original PAO in an attempt to prevent my described problem from happening). These - sounds and feelings - stick very well - especially, if I’ve played a piece myself. This is why I stuck to this type of pao (and not use something like your cube or similar) for now, although I’m really bad with people (-name association) in general.

I have also still issues with ‘borders’ in palaces. I guess it’s the same effect - I just keep adding constantly.

But perhaps it gets solved, once I use the anki algorithm with a particular base!

If I may ask - how do you create your palaces? I keep lining out actual places and then drawing maps of them. This is really time-consuming though as well. For one palace I will have around 2-4 hours, depending on detail. And at that point I have not even started recalling it.

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Thanks again! Will immediately implement this. I really need that system ready to go now, because I’ve been doing this for months and getting nowhere.

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I really hope it helps you! Honestly I’ve been wondering how effective would have been if I started with mnemonics without SRS, and if I would have stuck with them. No way to know, but I’m very happy with the way I use them together.

Since I usually work with tons of paper (and pdfs), it is kind of hard to at first make a collection of cards ‘just to have done that’.

I definitely think that you can use them together for PDFs and papers, books and whatnot, since I’ve used them successfully, although only started this year (I have memorized around 80 articles/sections/chapters/books -each having around twelve Zettelkasten notes).

I like your rubik-cube idea very much, also! I’m just a little ‘colorblind’ in my mind - I usually refrain from using them

I totally understand, my brother is totally aphantasic (visualy) so that has made become aware of the enormous difference between people’s memory processing. I think you just need to try a lot of things and see what works for you. I personally rely a lot in visual memory, so colors are super important for me (I have memorized a colorized alphabet that use regularly in tandem with other techniques to remember abstract concepts, since I was doing a philosophy major). By the way, how is your spatial memory? I used the grid/rubik technique even without color with acceptable results in memorizing song lyrics, so maybe give it a try.

If I may ask - how do you create your palaces? I keep lining out actual places and then drawing maps of them. This is really time-consuming though as well. For one palace I will have around 2-4 hours, depending on detail. And at that point I have not even started recalling it.

I use a technique that I’ve developed myself with inspiration of a number of other techniques like using art and people as memory palaces, which I call “Guardians technique”, I’m planning on doing an extensive post on it but, super succinctly, I use illustrations of characters I find in Artstation (mainly) and make them a minimemory palace, generally with 12 stations. I don’t dedicate any time to create them, just from time to time search for adequate images and add them to a Pinterest board (I alreade have hundreds of them waiting to be used), and when I want to codify something I pick a new one, I do the memorization of the guardian with its loci and the mnemonic images at the same time, so it very time effective fore me. Then I review with the Anki algorithm and that’s it.

I will explain all of this in detail in the Guardians post, but if you have any question, please ask

Hope that helps! I hope this doesn’t bother you, but are you a guy, a girl, something else? Hahahaha, just curious. Good luck!

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Hi DanteGaxiola,

I really hope it helps you! Honestly I’ve been wondering how effective would have been if I started with mnemonics without SRS, and if I would have stuck with them. No way to know, but I’m very happy with the way I use them together.

Well - I found out (thanks to now using srs), that I simply don’t know the faces of more than half of my names. I do remember them - but now visually. It’s more of a feeling. So I will just connect the words with the system, but never actually imagine anyone. I’m implementing pictures now.
I don’t know, if it is a good idea to incorporate additional complexity, but I’m really fed up with not remembering even the system.

I definitely think that you can use them together for PDFs and papers, books and whatnot, since I’ve used them successfully, although only started this year (I have memorized around 80 articles/sections/chapters/books -each having around twelve Zettelkasten notes).

Well it’s simply too much. But if the system finally works and I can use palaces, I might not even need it.
Your feat looks very enticing though. I usually don’t remember anything and start from scratch - and above mentioned ‘feelings’. Sometimes I feel like a disabled person. If I leave out repetition for even days, I’m starting completely anew. For factual knowledge, that is. I have a very good understanding of my surroundings and what I am supposed to do or not based on - well, feelings.

It’s of no use in the current context though and I cannot allow myself anymore to ‘cheat’ around.
I’m also not lazy - I work more than most others I know. Things just never stick.

I totally understand, my brother is totally aphantasic (visualy) so that has made become aware of the enormous difference between people’s memory processing. I think you just need to try a lot of things and see what works for you. I personally rely a lot in visual memory, so colors are super important for me (I have memorized a colorized alphabet that use regularly in tandem with other techniques to remember abstract concepts, since I was doing a philosophy major). By the way, how is your spatial memory? I used the grid/rubik technique even without color with acceptable results in memorizing song lyrics, so maybe give it a try.

I have a good imagination - I’m bad at repetition and studying by heart though. If is is about imagining things, ideas, conversations, traits, you name it - I am good at creating completely new things from scratch. I’m also good at understanding complex ideas. I’m very bad at reproducing concrete objects or precise wording though.

I usually use force to somehow pain it into me, but the mass (and time pressure) has gotten so big, that I cannot control it anymore. I feel really stupid most of the time, and this is unbearable.

My spatial memory works a little bit better, but also not in a very usable manner.
I still rely on just hammering things away, because it is faster and more reliable.

I use a technique that I’ve developed myself with inspiration of a number of other techniques like using art and people as memory palaces, which I call “Guardians technique”, I’m planning on doing an extensive post on it but, super succinctly, I use illustrations of characters I find in Artstation (mainly) and make them a minimemory palace, generally with 12 stations. I don’t dedicate any time to create them, just from time to time search for adequate images and add them to a Pinterest board (I alreade have hundreds of them waiting to be used), and when I want to codify something I pick a new one, I do the memorization of the guardian with its loci and the mnemonic images at the same time, so it very time effective fore me. Then I review with the Anki algorithm and that’s it.

Wow, you’re memory seems to be really good! As I said above - I don’t even remember faces I don’t regularly see. I do remember knowing people, but if I had to draw them, I’d be at loss.
I will try minipalaces once more though, thanks!

I look forward to your guardians post, it sounds really interesting.

Well why would you care to know? As far as I understand, there is no biological difference in the brain to be seen!

Thanks very much!

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Hey, blablaqdra!

Oh, thank you, I’m really enjoying the conversation. It’s also a good opportunity to work on my English writing skills, since I don’t have a lot of chances to do it, so…

Well why would you care to know? As far as I understand, there is no biological difference in the brain to be seen!

I don’t think either that there is any difference in the brain regarding sex, gender or whatever, and really hope I didn’t bother you with the question. As I said, is just curiosity, I really like to know the people I’m “talking” to, hahaha, even your face and voice would be lovely to know, but that’s just who I am. I’m totally comfortable addressing you as blablaqdra, though, no worries.

Well - I found out (thanks to now using srs), that I simply don’t know the faces of more than half of my names. I do remember them - but now visually. It’s more of a feeling. So I will just connect the words with the system, but never actually imagine anyone. I’m implementing pictures now.
I don’t know, if it is a good idea to incorporate additional complexity, but I’m really fed up with not remembering even the system.

You know, I had the same problem, at least to a degree. For example, my 65 is the Great Sphinx, and even though I have a reasonable memory of the “building”, it costed me a lot to visualize it more concretely, so I found a “cartoon” of the sphinx and added it to a new card, just to fixate it in my mind, and worked perfectly. The same happened with a lot of other numbers. I find that having a concrete, colorful image to refer to helps me immensely (I had to find a Martin Luther King color photo too, for example), so I made various cars for the Ps I didn’t had a strong visual memory of. Definitely suggest you try that (those are different cards, by the way, I make them “Basic and reversed” and put them in a different deck, called Visual Dictionary, where I also store characters for abstract concepts to use in my memory palaces/guardians).

Well it’s simply too much. But if the system finally works and I can use palaces, I might not even need it.

I think there is no better way to actively review the information than with SRS, it doesn’t matter if it is memorized by rote or with mnemonics/memory palaces. Of course it has a cost so you need to evaluate if it’s worth it for you. For me it’s been a game-changer.

Sometimes I feel like a disabled person. If I leave out repetition for even days, I’m starting completely anew. For factual knowledge, that is.

I totally understand, it happened to my too with the books I’d read, sometimes I could barely recall if I had already read some book (when enough time had passed, say years, obviously). That’s where the magic of the algorithm comes so handy, it tells you when you need to recall the information so you don’t loose the access to it.

I usually use force to somehow pain it into me, but the mass (and time pressure) has gotten so big, that I cannot control it anymore. I feel really stupid most of the time, and this is unbearable.

I’m seeing you are tired of not getting the outcomes you desire, even while putting so much effort into it, and I’m guessing you would like it to be easier. I can totally relate, and I’m sorry you are having a hard time with it.

It pains me to read that you are maybe afraid of being stupid or disabled (whatever that means), and I would love for you to know that you are immensely capable, as we all are. It does seem that you work really hard! It’s totally normal to find obstacles in the way, but with your dedication and your willingness to find new paths I feel a lot of confidence that you will get so much better!

Wow, you’re memory seems to be really good! As I said above - I don’t even remember faces I don’t regularly see. I do remember knowing people, but if I had to draw them, I’d be at loss.
I will try minipalaces once more though, thanks!
I look forward to your guardians post, it sounds really interesting.

Honestly I don’t think my memory is exceptional at any extent! I spent so many years thinking my memory was absolute trash, hahahaha. A lot like you, I’ve always leaned to the “understanding” side of learning, but felt very frustrated on the more factual remembering, not to speak of the everyday memory (birthdays, commitments, things people told me…).

I think I’ve been very lucky in finding inspiration and resources, and finding the time and the willingness in me to try things out. I have tried a lot of techniques and I’ve found a few that works really good for me, but I do believe I’m just in the beginning of my memory journey. So, that’s it, I hope it somehow helps. Wish you the very best of journeys, and please let me know how it goes!

P.S. And thanks for the encouragement for the Guardians post, it really helps. I will tag you when it’s out to read your thoughts, hopefully

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Oh, thank you, I’m really enjoying the conversation. It’s also a good opportunity to work on my English writing skills, since I don’t have a lot of chances to do it, so…

Same here, though I should be doing plenty of other things

I don’t think either that there is any difference in the brain regarding sex, gender or whatever, and really hope I didn’t bother you with the question. As I said, is just curiosity, I really like to know the people I’m “talking” to, hahaha, even your face and voice would be lovely to know, but that’s just who I am. I’m totally comfortable addressing you as blablaqdra, though, no worries.

No it’s fine - I on the other hand hate sharing personal details or being ‘identified’ in any other way than is absolutely necessary. This has nothing to do with the internet - I’m also like that among my usual surroundings. There might be a connection with my issues of actually remembering people/actors and not just names/abstract concepts.
It has funny implications though, because sometimes, I remember (it feels like coincidence) strange things or make connections, others don’t really arrive at in the way I do. Sometimes I feel clever about this, but mostly stupid, because I know, that I did not arrive there ‘how you should have’. That actually describes most of my life up to now. Together with my (next to futile) attempts, to change that and become an ‘orderly’ person who does things the way they are ‘supposed’ to be done.
So now you know who you are talking to
Who am I talking to?

You know, I had the same problem, at least to a degree. For example, my 65 is the Great Sphinx, and even though I have a reasonable memory of the “building”, it costed me a lot to visualize it more concretely, so I found a “cartoon” of the sphinx and added it to a new card, just to fixate it in my mind, and worked perfectly. The same happened with a lot of other numbers. I find that having a concrete, colorful image to refer to helps me immensely (I had to find a Martin Luther King color photo too, for example), so I made various cars for the Ps I didn’t had a strong visual memory of. Definitely suggest you try that (those are different cards, by the way, I make them “Basic and reversed” and put them in a different deck, called Visual Dictionary, where I also store characters for abstract concepts to use in my memory palaces/guardians).

To give you an idea, of how extreme my difficulties really are, I thought I look at the statistics from anki I started some days ago (after you told me). Bear in mind: I made the PAO months ago and had phases where I kept reviewing it daily, for whole days. I put hundreds of hours in there. So, after all this work, the most interesting number I find is this: 36% of the time, I could not answer the pao correctly and 38% of the time, I somehow did it partly and very slowly. So from all my efforts, just around 26% of the PAO stuck. And we are talking about 110 figures, that consist of people, actions and objects I chose deliberately, because they somehow resonate with me.

Now if I move this idea to the rest I’m supposed to be learning (and which is a work-load you can imagine as consisting of around 12000 (or whatever crazy number, it’s a rough estimate of the amount of bags I stuffed with paper) pages I need to ‘know’ and of around 400 pages I need to be able to reproduce right away and 100% correctly), it might become apparent, why I still dabble around with just ‘studying’ instead of moving everything into srs. The act of ‘learning things by heart’ is not what I should actually be doing, but a mere part - so every minute, I invest into building additional databases (of which I have an incredible amount of in paper an electronically) is lost time on actually progressing, that might never pay off.

The main reason I restarted this PAO in all earnesty, is, because I wanted to really try it out one last time, before deciding, that I simply am not made for this type of learning (or any type of learning by heart) and that I need to quit activities that require it.

I implemented this picture approach (which again required 1 or 2 days) and it helped. It was not magic and there are still people I barely remember or not at all (even after the 50th time I see them), but it is a little better.

Thanks for the idea with ‘reversed’. If I find another day or two, I will implement that as well. But I really should start working on my actual material, or I will be in hell’s kitchen again.

I think there is no better way to actively review the information than with SRS, it doesn’t matter if it is memorized by rote or with mnemonics/memory palaces. Of course it has a cost so you need to evaluate if it’s worth it for you. For me it’s been a game-changer.

Don’t think I would not see the value of srs - I simply refrain from using it outside from core-concept, because I don’t have the time to copy everything I need to a database. Knowing concepts is only around 10% of the actual work. If you don’t know them, you can pack your bags though.

I totally understand, it happened to my too with the books I’d read, sometimes I could barely recall if I had already read some book (when enough time had passed, say years, obviously). That’s where the magic of the algorithm comes so handy, it tells you when you need to recall the information so you don’t loose the access to it.

Well - are you typing up whole books into anki? I do keep notes of books, but I usually never review them. I started around 30 books, some of them with more notes, some of them with less. Some in word, some in pages, some in other note programs, some written into directly. I will place the books that I find really important though in a place I can see them - which makes me recall certain information. I also keep journals about important things I (re-)arrive at, so that there is a minimum of concepts constantly being kept ‘afloat’ in my mind. Of course this is rather a hapharzard way of doing things, but it’s probably better than doing nothing. For more, I simply don’t have the time (or energy). There are periods of unforseen difficulties, where I cannot just keep to my original schedule. So most of my things are organised around the concept of ‘simple’ but ‘works every time’. This comes at great costs of quality and precision (and time), but -again- it is probably better doing something badly, than not at all.

I’m seeing you are tired of not getting the outcomes you desire, even while putting so much effort into it, and I’m guessing you would like it to be easier. I can totally relate, and I’m sorry you are having a hard time with it.
It pains me to read that you are maybe afraid of being stupid or disabled (whatever that means), and I would love for you to know that you are immensely capable, as we all are. It does seem that you work really hard! It’s totally normal to find obstacles in the way, but with your dedication and your willingness to find new paths I feel a lot of confidence that you will get so much better!

No, I’m not at all getting what I want out of my efforts, quite on the contrary. But I also know, that it is of no use beating myself up over it. So I try to continue improving, retrying things (like that PAO and palaces in general) and keeping my life organised as well as possible - even if it remains a rather big and not understandable chaos to outsiders.
Thanks for being so nice and putting in effort! In my usual environment, it is next to impossible to find collaboration. Especially, when it comes to output. People will put in hours just to seem to be doing something completely else of what they actually are doing. The talk is always very casual, but the unspoken devaluation of everyone not on par is a reality.
Well I don’t know if it’s worth it - but I’ve been trying to accomplish something since I can remember and every time I’m fed up and wish I’d never done anything to even try, I arrive at the conclusion, that I don’t care how futile it must look to my environment. I’m happy to say, that I found some solace in the thought of having only one life to accomplish whatever one finds important and that it is absolutely nobody elses’ business to meddle around in it. I cannot hide from reality and time though and it is getting hard to be taken seriously. It always is, if you’re not doing, what everybody else is doing (even if you wanted to do so, but somehow just could not).

Honestly I don’t think my memory is exceptional at any extent! I spent so many years thinking my memory was absolute trash, hahahaha. A lot like you, I’ve always leaned to the “understanding” side of learning, but felt very frustrated on the more factual remembering, not to speak of the everyday memory (birthdays, commitments, things people told me…).

I think I’ve been very lucky in finding inspiration and resources, and finding the time and the willingness in me to try things out. I have tried a lot of techniques and I’ve found a few that works really good for me, but I do believe I’m just in the beginning of my memory journey. So, that’s it, I hope it somehow helps. Wish you the very best of journeys, and please let me know how it goes!

P.S. And thanks for the encouragement for the Guardians post, it really helps. I will tag you when it’s out to read your thoughts, hopefully

Yes. So much. And I bet you randomly remember things you did not even know you still knew.
It’s funny - it’s exactly, what I see in this whole PAO thing on a small scale. I try to recall 72, and nothing will come, but K and N, which are the two constants (imagine, how I hate not remembering my PAO with numbers like 6 or 1 - those are the ones really nagging me, because they could be several things). I will though absolutely remember 73, even, if I don’t need it at all and even though I made absolutely sure not to have any connection in between the various PAO I use for the Numbers. I might also remember 27 (N K), but absolutely not 72. I will also have new ideas for K and N, which I never arrived at before - but that I already described.

And this is supposed to be the simple part. That is why I feel disabled and stupid. After years of investments in learning and studying, I still have not figured out how I can achieve true success and I am about to definitely sink a ship I should be sailing on as a ‘surefire’ thing. Not sinking a ‘chance’ ship. But a ship, that should be ‘no problem’. Because of my bad memory and organizational skills I probably did more for than most if not all of my peers (and which is one of the reasons, why I am getting older than most and can allow even less space for failure).

So this kind of got out of my hands. I wanted to properly answer, not blow this out of proportion! But that is how I do things. You might understand now.

Please tag me in! I’m always interested in broadening my horizon. Perhaps one day, I might find a way I can use to my own contentment and which does not involve wasting years of work nobody understands, let alone credits.

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This sounds so like Feinaigle - the use of 10 boxes per wall revolutionised my grid linking system. I would love to hear more about your uses. Fascinating you should also connect it to the idea of a Rubik’s cube.

Hey, @blablaqdra! Hope you started your year just fine. I just wanted to say I’m sorry for waiting so long to answer but I had some other needs that demanded my attention. I hope you are doing progress. I know you are doing the best you can and wish you the best of lucks. I hope you can be really patient with yourself and find more and more your way, I certainly know it can be very difficult. Cheers, dude, and keep on going