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Stuff I just can’t remember

January 28, 2015 in Thoughts

pulling-your-hair-outFor the first few years of this site’s existence its modus operandi was to be a repository (for me, mostly) of questions I had gotten wrong at quizzes.  If I went to the bother of writing them down, not only would it give me content for a website but it should also reinforce the correct answers, hammering them into my brain for future use.

Almost all the time, it worked.  Then again, that could be down to the way my brain works anyway.

However, within this grouping (let’s call them “John’s wrong answers”) there are several repeat offenders.  Of course, it’s not the question/answer that’s commiting the offence, it’s me, but let’s not be too pedantic.

Why is it that certain facts will not stick?  I presume everyone has some of these and they will vary from brain to brain but here are a few of mine*:

  • Alfred Wegener, the man who proposed the theory of continental drift in 1912.  This man should be as prominent as Charles Darwin but, invariably, I end up searching around with “he’s got a German name, I think” being the best thing I can come up with.
  • Talc is is the softest known mineral and listed as 1 on the Mohs hardness scale.  This actually came up on the Hot 100 recently.  Could I remember it? No, I could not.
  • The headquarters of OPEC is situated in Vienna.  Whilst I know it’s (rather counterintuitively) in Europe, I always seem to plump for Paris or any one of several Swiss cities.
  • Sucre, the real capital of Bolivia (as opposed to La Paz, the seat of government).
  • Dexter and sinister.  I can always remember sinister means left.  Never the ‘right’ answer though…
  • Catherine Howard, then Catherine Parr.  Not the other way round.
  • The various subgroupings within the periodic table.  One of these days…
  • Anything to do with horseracing. That probably isn’t going to change.
  • Finally, Martin Cooper, the inventor of the mobile phone and someone I’ve actually met!  Oh dear.

However, all is not lost.  I know of one or two cases where I have turned it around.  This one is quite stupid but for years, whenever I was asked about what animal is referred to by the word ovine, I would confidently put down pig.  However, ovine refers to sheep.  I eventually kicked this habit but reminding myself that the word porcine exists and that definitely (consider pork, Porky Pig etc.) refers to pigs.  Once I remember that, I know that ovine mustn’t refer to pigs and, my haste to answer paused, I then arrive at sheep.  Hurray!  One point for me.

Feel free to let me know if you have any such ‘blind spots’.

* Obviously, the hope is that writing this article will cure me.

Todo sobre mi madre

August 4, 2014 in Thoughts

Three unwritten poems which explain my year

Readers of the blog will know that this is my first post since April.  You may not know why though.  In this post, I will try to explain my life in 2014, via the medium of yet-to-be-created poems.  Hopefully, that’ll make sense by the end of the post.

Mum-youngMy mother, Mary, became sick, quite suddenly in late January.  She was returning from Galway, where she had just spent the night accompanying an old friend who was herself very sick.  Sick enough that she needed constant company.  Mum’s friend was keen on her husband getting at least one night a week off, so she sent the word around her circle of friends seeking volunteers to spend the night with her in Galway.  A rota was compiled, with my mother putting herself down for one night each month.

On the street in Ballyhaunis, just as she was about to get into my aunt’s car, she got sick.  10 days of varying degrees of pain, sickness and uncertainty followed before she was finally sent to hospital.  It turned out she was admitted just in time, as the cause was found to be a tumour in her bowel.  It had grown to such a size that it basically blocked and caused her intestine to become ‘perforated’. I’ll let you figure out the implications of that.

She was rushed in to emergency surgery and the tumour was removed. Telling us about it the next day, the surgeon who operated on her expressed the opinion that she wouldn’t have lived another 24 hours if she hadn’t been admitted to hospital.  Things were touch-and-go for the next 48 hours while she was kept in an induced coma.  All I wanted to do at that point was simply talk to her again. Read the rest of this entry →

Look behind you

January 5, 2012 in EQC, Quizzes, Thoughts

Happy new year one and all! Let’s hope 2012 holds as much quizzing fun as 2011 did.  For a final moment though, let’s look back at the highlight of 2011, our trip to the European Quizzing Championships, one last time.  Mike and myself have already had our say.  Now it’s David’s turn.

And so, late to the party I arrive and whether I’ve brought the finest wine or the cheapest bottle of generic vodka will be in the eye of the beholder. The entrées have been provided by John and an intriguing little number supplied by Mike but enough of tortured party metaphors and let us talk of Bruges.

Looking back after this length of time, it is even more obvious to me that there are fundamental failing within Irish quizzing that mean that Ireland as a nation is a long way from ever appearing in the finals of the EQC. John and Mike have made most of the salient points on this issue but there are a couple more I’d like to throw into the mix

I think Mike nailed it on the head by challenging quiz setters to no longer pander to their audience. Something I’ve been accused of more than once is setting table quizzes that are far too hard and I did write half the questions for the supposed quiz from hell (see Don’t work… too hard; however, the shocking round was written by the silent-but-deadly Michelle) but I honestly believe that a) it wasn’t that hard a quiz and b) that making it a quiz where the scores are higher, the central premise of it being a GK quiz, i.e. the display of more general knowledge than your opponents, would have been lost. This is not the Special Olympics, not everyone “can be a winner” so why not accept that and reward ostentatious outbursts of intellectualism?

Read the rest of this entry →

Is the iPhone ‘killing’ table quizzes?

March 29, 2010 in Culture, Thoughts

I don’t really go in for passing on other people’s content on this blog.  However, here’s an article that caught my eye in this week’s Sunday Independent.

iPhone ‘killing’ pub table quiz

Is the iPhone ruining the traditional pub table quiz? The gadget, which can acquire answers to general knowledge questions in an instant, is frustrating organisers and table quiz enthusiasts.

Cheating at table quizzes used to be very difficult. It would involve conspicuously hauling in 26 encyclopaedias on a two-wheel trolley or cunningly looking into your neighbour’s answer book. Now all you have to do is keep the iPhone underneath your table and search for the answer. Teams are getting full marks in every round.

Read the rest of this entry →