Testing, Testing

Last night, I took the on-line contestant test for “Jeopardy!”. My grandmother always said I should try; we used to play together a lot, making penny bets against each other. If there were questions on nursery rhymes or gardening, I knew I was screwed! And if it had anything to do with music or Bible trivia, she just handed me the little coppery pile before we even started.

Anyway, the test was fifty questions, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t pass (I don’t know enough about TV, films, Italian classic literature, Shakespeare, and any number of other subjects). But the whole adventure of the thing was fun, and I said from the outset that, whatever happened, fun was my main criteria. It’s a game; you’re supposed to have fun, right?

I decided to take the test at my mom’s (she has faster Internet than we do with dial-up). If I used my own computer, with the software that speaks each question in synthetic speech, I’d still be listening to it talk by the time the fifteen seconds for answering had passed.

So, we practiced for two weeks. I played by listening to the show on TV at my house and typing my answers. We dug out old high school chemistry tests and she read questions while I typed answers (that’s another subject I’m not so good in). We tried Trivial Pursuit cards, although I made her promise to only use the original version (not the Anniversary or Junior ones, which really made me look stupid!).

I memorized state capitals and U.S. Presidents (I know them all, but don’t ask me to recite them backward!) I started in on Nobel Prize winners and was going to work on the periodic table (chemistry again) and countries and their capitals, but I decided I’d rather know what I’d learned thoroughly than have a lot of stuff half-absorbed.

Anyway, I arrived at my mom’s to learn that her computer had been attacked by viruses. She couldn’t even get on-line! While she was fuming at the screen and swearing, I tried to pretend I wasn’t nervous and went out to the barn to visit a new goat she’d gotten about a week earlier.

Oh, man, what a sweet goat! She’s white with a pink nose, and no sooner did she hear my footsteps on the barn steps and she was bleating for me.

Everywhere I touched on her, she liked. Most goats don’t really like to be touched on their back legs or have their feet picked up. I checked this doe over everywhere, and she never moved a muscle. She spent the whole time with her nose buried in my hair, kissing me. When I petted her side, she craned her neck around to nuzzle my hand. She leaned into me like I was the best thing that had come into her stall all day. Needless to say, we were both in heaven, and I couldn’t have asked for a better stress reliever.

With no progress on my mom’s machine, we decided to go to the library and use a computer there. I spent the short drive wondering if they’d have the proper software installed for taking the test, whether my password would work, even whether there would be a machine available.

I should have tried to be more relaxed and practice what I tell all my piano students before recitals: just go play your best, and try to have fun.

I did play my best, and it was fun. I’d do it again and hope to next year. I’m not even bothered by the fact I failed. I don’t know this for sure, since they don’t send you grades or anything, but I counted at least sixteen questions that I missed just by going over the exam later in my mind, and I’m sure that’s too many misses to pass.

Who cares! I always want to say, “I’m glad I did” instead of, “I wish I had”. Now, at least for the “Jeopardy!” test, I can.

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2 Comments on “Testing, Testing”

  1. ombudsben Says:

    This is the kind of thing I do all right on while watching TV but would be tongue-tied on a stage.

    I sometimes enjoy Will Short’s word puzzles on Sunday morning NPR. I’d be terrible if I called in. If someone else called and I could listen in I might do okay, writing down notes fo them to look at and take a stab at answers.

    Kudos to you for taking the test!

    (and the goat part of the story was very cute.)

  2. halfnotes Says:


    Well, the goat is cute! I’d hope that, if I ever get to the real “Jeopardy,” my piano recital nerve-busting will pay off. If I can get up in front of a few hundred people and play for over an hour from memory, how hard can 30 minutes of answering trivia be, right? (Well, that’s my strategic theory, anyway!)

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