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Claudio

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I perform memdeck work quite a bit and therefore my stack knowledge is quite vivid in my mind. However, there’s always the possibility that I would be faced with a sudden and frightening blank. I learnt my stack by brute force & rote memory and therefore I have no built-in safety net if this were to happen.

What backup strategies, if any, do you use while performing?

Here a few I thought of:

You could, in extreme cases, have the stack tattooed on the inside of your wrist for example [biggrin], or more simply written on the back of the case. Many subtle methods exist. One which takes a leaf out of Bob Cassidy's book, would be to have the stack order embedded in the design of a book back cover.

My own is to have the stack on the periphery of the back of my deck case.

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luigimar

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If you own a Phoenix Deck, you know it contains a secret and useful weapon... I cannot say more so that is all I will say...  [wink]  [cool]
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Claudio

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Reply with quote  #3 
No I don't have a Phoenix deck, but its features are well publicised among magicians. I take it you're a Mnemonica practitioner? I use my own stack, so it's not going to help. Furthermore there are cases where you either don't have the deck in your hands (Histed Heisted for example) or it won't help you at all (Asi Wind's ACAAN).
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Stevie Ray Christian

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Reply with quote  #4 
"I learnt my stack by brute force & rote memory and therefore I have no built-in safety net"

Claudio, Why not supplement that hard won accomplishment by linking suit, value and position with a phonetic/mnemonics picture story. I believe Harry Lorayne teaches this procedure in "The Memory Book." Steven Youell devotes a chapter on applying this technique to Stebbins order in "Weapons of Mass Destruction." The book is not easy to find. You might want to message Steven to purchase a copy. 
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Claudio

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Reply with quote  #5 
Thanks for your recommendations Stevie and I will consider them.

But I was thinking more about external, as physical, backup strategies and ways to access them unseen.
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Bulla

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Reply with quote  #6 
Wouldn't having a backup strategy completely negate memorizing the stack?
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Claudio

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Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bulla
Wouldn't having a backup strategy completely negate memorizing the stack?


No, it would not. If you have to consult an external memory aid (crib) every time you perform a memdeck effect, it's bound to be slow and clumsy and difficult to keep hidden. However, if you have a crib you know you can rely on (a one off during a performance say) if you really face a blank, then you might feel more confident about performing memdeck routines.

It happens to me a couple of times when I first started performing memdeck effects because I was rather nervous about it, and I was real glad I had it.

If you constantly practice and perform memdeck effects, it's not required of course, but one never knows.
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Rudy Tinoco

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Reply with quote  #8 
I'm impressed by those folks who've been able to memorize a stack by brute force. That's incredible to me.

Like Steve suggested, I used Harry's system to memorize the Tamariz stack by using a phonetic/mnemonics picture story that is so embedded in my memory that you almost have to try to forget it.

Everyday numbers start becoming pictures! [smile]

I know that even Tamariz suggested a crib sheet on the back of a card box, so I understand why you'd be looking for other ways to do that. I think that for those of us who used a mnemonic system to memorize the deck, it becomes a non issue.

What if you took a picture of your crib sheet and made it the screen saver on your phone. All you do is make some excuse to pick of your phone. For example, you could "check the time" as you really catch a glimpse at your crib sheet.

Just an idea.

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Harry Lorayne

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Reply with quote  #9 
          I've written this often enough so forgive the redundancy - taking notes usually DOES NOT HELP YOUR MEMORY. Because the information goes from source to paper - IT BYPASSES YOUR MIND. Sure; if you use notes as a BACK-UP to your memory, fine. That, however, is not usually the case. 

         (One of the "things" I did all those decades ago when I was running memory classes and seminars, is I'd have some school students try this: Next time they were at a student lecture DO NOT TAKE NOTES, just listen and try to remember; apply my systems, etc. They ALWAYS told me that they came away with much, much, more from that lecture than ever before. (One of the reasons - often when writing a note re: one piece of information you miss a perhaps more important piece of information 'cause you're writing, not listening at that moment.)

       Anyway; I love Juan but disagree with his suggestion of a crib sheet. Why? Read my paragraph above.

        And I've also written this before:   I don't do memdeck stuff; I don't find it necessary, and if I did - I would do it with a borrowed deck in use. Decades ago; when I wanted to do a memdeck thing (because I didn't know the much stronger impromptu stuff that I learned as time went by) I'd excuse myself, go to the bathroom, casually taking the deck with me. And I'd memorize its shuffled/mixed order in a COUPLE OF MINUTES. I've written a few books that teach how to do that!!

       I've also written (a number of times) how a card memory routine I did for actor Victor Jory when I was doing table magic at Billy Reed's Little Club in NYC changed my life. If anyone can find it - you have my permission (although not needed!) to post it here. Good luck finding it. (Hint: BEFORE I FORGET.)

        So, just wanted to state my opinion - if you're going to do memdeck work - learning the stack by "brute force and rote memory" is both unnecessary and WRONG. That's the opinion of one who has written about 17 books on the subject of memory training (I'm gonna' keep doing it 'til I get it right!!). Should attention be paid? Your call.


       
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Magic-Aly

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Reply with quote  #10 
When Harry talks memory (or magic), I listen!  Memdeck can be wonderful - very powerful for those who have a presentation(s) that gets great reactions.  For myself, given the environments in which I normally perform, I find myself gravitating more and more toward impromptu card tricks, especially those effects that can be done from a shuffled (particularly spectator-shuffled) deck. I have found that when they shuffle before the commencement of a trick and/or after a selection of a card has been made, the conviction is greatly heightened, and so too is the impact. As Harry Lorayne has suggested, there are so many strong impromptu tricks.  

Also, I saw that Steven Youell is coming out with a renewed work that includes getting a peek from the get-go, which is an excellent thing to do, both from the standpoint of never getting into a bind by losing control of the card, and also in being able to let them shuffle to their hearts' content.

In truth, I can not imagine not doing Magician versus Gambler, or my poker deal routines, or Cutting 10 (and some others which require at least a bit of a set up), but I think there is a lot to be learned from Harry as to how to set-up right in front of them. Obviously, not everyone has his gift of gab, but through good planning of patter, having a plausible "reason" for why you are going through the cards,  and/or interacting with the spectators, it can probably be effectively achieved by anyone.  And, of course, in many (not all) cases, one can have a full-deck set-up prior to the opening routine, and do multiple effects with same..

I am thinking that, going forward, for stage and platform work, I am going to ask the host ahead of time to have a brand new unopened deck of Bicycles, which he/she can testify they procured for the show, and which they can ceremoniously open before any card effects are done.

But for those enjoying success with Memdeck, and enjoying using it, well, all the more power to you!
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Harry Lorayne

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Reply with quote  #11 
    Again, I've written this many times - so again, forgive the redundancy. When I was doing table magic at The Little Club in NYC (I was about 19 years old) I would occasionally be booked by one of the "customers" to appear at a birthday party, bar mitzvah, meeting, whatever.

      After arranging the price I always had one stipulation - have two decks, one red-backed, one blue-backed, at the venue. When you introduce me you must mention that the decks in use are those that you personally purchased, etc. I would never, under any circumstances, come with and use my own deck. Do that - and you lose anywhere up to 25% of the effectiveness of your routines.
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luigimar

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Claudio
No I don't have a Phoenix deck, but its features are well publicised among magicians. I take it you're a Mnemonica practitioner? I use my own stack, so it's not going to help...


You could take one of those extra cards that come with every deck and stick a piece of paper with your stack printed on it. When you take out your deck, separate the extra cards and leave them on the table (with your stack facing down). In case you need it, your stack is right there. Just take the cards and toy with them or "move them to the side" while you look down on the card and check your stack. Then continue with your effect...

I mentioned the Phoenix deck because you could leave the special card on the table with the stack you are using facing up and just have a quick look at it would help you. Nobody would suspect a thing. If people saw the card with a piece of paper stuck to it, they would be suspicious. Or you could have some cards printed on blank stock with your personal memdeck order and the card could look similar to the Phoenix one, but pretending to be something else...

Just some thoughts...

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Harry Lorayne

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Reply with quote  #13 
    See? There's always a great way!!
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pnielan

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Reply with quote  #14 
Part 1: Knowing your stack cold

Having an unlikely to be discovered physical crib seems like a good precaution to me, but unlikely necessary AFTER your first 20 performances with a memdeck.

A good mnemonic approach is an insurance mental crib during performance AND a good way to learn your stack initially---so dual use.

But, in my opinion, if you know your stack well enough to perform the subtler memdeck routines (those that going beyond just knowing the card following a glimpsed card), then you don't rely on the system you used to LEARN your stack.  You know your stack cold. 

A test: shuffle the deck and see how fast you can put it your stack's order. If it's more than 2 minutes, then you don't know the stack cold and your thinking will show in many routines.  (The target time you are shooting for is the time it takes you to take a randomly shuffled deck and then put in new deck order.)

Part 2: The Lorayne/Jory/Little Club effect

Relatedly here is Mr. Lorayne's written description of the Jory effect:  "He shuffled, then I had him call off the cards pretty rapidly. Then, he gave me a number from 1 to 52 and I'd tell him the card at that position. He'd name any card, and I'd tell him where it lie in the deck. I did that 5 or 7 times, and then asked for his favorite poker hand. He said "Royal Flush." I asked which suit. He said "Spades." I said, "Look at the cards at positions 14, 23, 32, 38 and 44." He did, and found the five high spades! 

Now, that "pivot point" I mentioned: Mr. Jory stood up and exclaimed, "Harry, the sleight of hand stuff you've done for me over the past weeks were great (etc) but, what you just did..." And he went on to really RAVE about the above-described memory piece. That changed my life, because I realized the strength of the memory work. Just thought I'd relate this, although it has nothing to do with "pseudo"

Part 3: Comments

That routine of memorizing a deck in random order on the fly is amazing and impressive. More impressive than most memdeck tricks in my opinion.

But also a different kind of demonstration. Most great memdeck tricks and practitioners do every thing they can to keep the idea of "known order" from the spectator's mind (read Eric Mead for example) so as to better fool them.  It matters what you want to achieve.

Anyways---just my opinion---great discussion.  I do appreciate the point about the advantage of using a borrowed deck. I've tried a few times to devise two parallel card routines with the same (roughly) effects and very similar patter: one completely impromptu and one where I am loaded up and prepared. That's work in progress. Always though it would be insurance;  if I lose the deck order some way, I move into the impromptu version of next routines and all is good.

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synapse

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Reply with quote  #15 
Well the biggest backup strategy to mem deck work is a marked deck or get The Code by Andy Nynam which has something special if you use mnemonica. When it comes to writing the stack on a crib sheet that seems to void the effort spent learning the stack.
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Reply with quote  #16 
An actual backup strategy to me would be using mnemonics such as the method in Harry's Super Powered Memory Book that I've used to memorise mnemonica. Another would be using a marked deck.

What about ideas for backup strategies for when the deck has an unplanned mix up from either a false shuffle gone wrong or if the spec somehow disorders part of the stack?
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Harry Lorayne

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Reply with quote  #17 
    Easy, Synapse: Read my books and learn some very strong impromptu card stuff! Then you don't have to worry about remembering anything (except how to do my stuff!) and you don't even have to carry your own deck with you. (To repeat: Using your own deck loses at least 10 to 20 percent of the effectiveness of the routine you're doing.)
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Reply with quote  #18 
My only issue to not using my own deck is none of my friends are into cards or magic - even when we play poker it's my deck or no game! It's gotten to the stage though now that when the cards come out they stop to watch and don't heckle anywhere near as much so I don't really have that backup issue with them. There is still the issue of a clumsy spectator that might drop a mem/stacked deck onto the ground when they are say dealing to card X at position Y and screw everything up so having a backup trick to flow into is always handy.
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Harry Lorayne

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Reply with quote  #19 
   Just tell 'em to have a couple of decks there when you come to play poker!
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Harry Lorayne

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Reply with quote  #20 
          Your friends are obviously a bit "into cards" if they play poker with you. Surprising, because - when I play poker with friends they always say - "You touch that deck we'll kill you!!"
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Reply with quote  #21 
They actually let me shuffle because "I shuffle properly" and that's after doing a gambling demonstration!
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Magic-Aly

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Reply with quote  #22 
Quote:
Originally Posted by synapse
They actually let me shuffle because "I shuffle properly" and that's after doing a gambling demonstration!


LOL! [biggrin] Since you have gained your friends' trust, it's the perfect time to take advantage of them.  I mean, what are friends for?  Fleece them for everything at the next game and then skip town...
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Magic-Aly

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Reply with quote  #23 
Harry Lorayne Wrote:

"After arranging the price I always had one stipulation - have two decks, one red-backed, one blue-backed, at the venue. When you introduce me you must mention that the decks in use are those that you personally purchased, etc. I would never, under any circumstances, come with and use my own deck. Do that - and you lose anywhere up to 25% of the effectiveness of your routines."

Harry, that is very resourceful and it's amazing to think most magicians do not have that same stipulation or request.  I am definitely going to "Do As You Do" and ask for two decks - blue and red.
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Claudio

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Reply with quote  #24 

Hey guys don’t shoot the poor memdeck worker! I am sure there’s room for good impromptu and memdeck work in card magic.

I don’t believe that I went the wrong way about learning my stack. There are situations where knowing something “cold”, i.e. a direct link between the question and the answer is required. For example, we all have learnt our multiplication tables by heart as it’s the more efficient way to tackle arithmetic problems, simple or complex ones. There are memdeck effects that require one to recite aloud the whole deck with no more than 1 second between cards (Aronson’s Histed Heisted is a prime example) and knowing your stack by heart is the way to go. Any hesitation would be disastrous.

In any case it was not that a big effort to learn my stack by heart. I have developed a free Android app MemdeckPro that allowed me to do that in a very efficient way.

@Luigimar, I am not sure I understood what you meant. Is it not the same as using the card case as a crib (that I do currently)?

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andymakar

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Reply with quote  #25 
If you're forgotten your card in the middle of the memdeck presentation, then you're already in a "trick blown" situation.
No crib sheet is going to look good in the rhythm and pacing of the trick.

This is where "Outs, Precautions and Challenges" sure comes in handy.

I've "blown my stack" and acting puzzled, asking for the name of the card, realizing the "card isn't event in the deck", a cull, a palm and a discovery in the pocket, card case, etc at least saves a trick vs. the sheepish alternative to admit I screwed up.




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Claudio

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Reply with quote  #26 
Quote:
Originally Posted by andymakar
If you're forgotten your card in the middle of the memdeck presentation, then you're already in a "trick blown" situation.
No crib sheet is going to look good in the rhythm and pacing of the trick


It would seem that way, but it does not have to be if you design your effects in such a way that external backup is lying in plain sight and fully accessible without suspicious/spurious action.

I have designed a book cover so that the back cover has the stack printed all along its border. This is based on a Bob Cassidy idea.. The book is about numerology and card meanings and this is completely in accordance with the book title. The back cover is always visible so as to provide invisible access to the stack order.

Now there's an effect where I identify 3 cards "thought of" by 3 spectators. If for only reason I were not able to recall a specific card, all I have to do is to pretend to concentrate a bit harder and read the information on the book cover, lying untouched on the table. It has served my well at the very beginning (3 years ago). Nowadays, I'm very unlikely to have a temporary memory loss.
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andymakar

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Reply with quote  #27 
Do you have a sample pic of the book cover?
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Ferry Gerats

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Reply with quote  #28 
Starting with a memorized deck 38 years ago, I also wanted a backup in case memory would fail me at a certain moment.  So with my first memorized stack I added numbers to a Si Stebbins stack and I worked with it for about 33 years. So if memory would fail me I could very easily ascertain which card it should be by just going one stack-number lower or higher and determine the identity of the card I needed to know. In the beginning there have been times that I had to fall back on this precaution. Knowing there is a safetynet gave me a comfortable feeling.

5 years ago I learned another stack because of effects I wanted do. Designing the stack I made sure there were patterns in it that would enable me as with Si Stebbins to quickly determine the identity of a card in case of a memory lapse.

Btw I wouldn't recommend anyone to change stacks as it took me a long time to get the old stack out of my system.

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Reply with quote  #29 
Not that I am saying you have to learn more than one stack or you cannot change stack etc but the technique of memorising the deck using mnemonics allows you to know however many stacks you want if say you use Harry's peg words in his book and then for a second stack you assign every card a person of a celebrity. I haven't personally learnt a second stack but I know this method has been done before by other memdeck workers.
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Blathermist

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Reply with quote  #30 

I feel that "natural" long time/forever learning/remembering is a process of absorption; osmosis.

The multiplication tables example is one I was going to mention. Or "times-tables" as we always called them; I still do.

We "learned them by rote," a system frowned upon by many of today’s "educators" who’ve never really tried to balance it with other methods. Notwithstanding this, I am of the firm opinion that the reason they stayed with the folks of my generation is that they have proved forever useful. So forgetting is not an option.

A comparison here is the poetry and some of the Shakespeare speeches we learned by brute force. A few of the kids can still recite the whole poems we "learned". Whenever they start, everybody else leaves the room. Most us never really learned the poems so we never actually forget them. But some bits were absorbed.

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Claudio

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Reply with quote  #31 

From what you’re saying, it looks like we belong to the same generation, though I did not have to learn Shakespeare’s pieces by heart but rather French & Italian classics: Montaigne, Racine, Molière, Umberto Saba, Giacomo Leopardi etc.

The only Shakespearean piece I had to learn (in English) was Hamlet's Soliloquy: To be or not to be, zat is ze question. My pronunciation was atrocious – still is – and I hated the Bard.

Anyway, I agree with what you’re saying, I think.

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Blathermist

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Reply with quote  #32 

Claudio:

If we're from the same generation, you must be very old. I certainly am.  [smile]

Apart from the brief brute force thing I referred to I've never particularly tried to retain any Shakespeare stuff; but the first few lines of the "To Be..." soliloquy have stayed with me. However, after "and by opposing, end them," I generally find myself drifting into "All the world's a stage" for a couple of lines and then sliding into "We are such stuff as dreams are made on" from The Tempest. The final line is from somewhere else (no clues) "The rest is silence."

If you run them together, nobody but Shakespeare buffs know the difference.


Meanwhile, "To agree or not to agree, that is the question....I think, therefore..."

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Claudio

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Reply with quote  #33 

Old, yes, very?  Where I come from they say “You have the age of your arteries.” As I have low blood pressure, I’d say I am not [smile]

“The rest is silence.” are they not the last words said by Hamlet in the play of the same name? The only Shakespeare's play I ever read. If I am right, you ended where you started from in your recitation.

As far as memory is concerned, I have a pretty good 'semantic' memory. I can easily enough memorise list of facts. My 'episodic' recall, on the other hand is pretty poor. When my better half asks me things like "Do you remember the time we had dinner is that lovely restaurant in Marseilles where they served the most delicious bouillabaisse?" I usually draw a blank, whereas she's able to recall the tiniest details in the most most vivid and multi-sensorial fashion. I wish I had her gift as she seems to relive and enjoy the experience all over again, if only for a couple of minutes.

P.S.
Last time I (voluntarily) tried to read Descartes, I fell asleep [rolleyes]



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