Wednesday, March 29, 2006


For the life of me, I couldn't think of the fellow's name. The entire ride home from work, I tried to come up with it. Nothing but that vague "right on the tip of your tongue" insistence that your brain feels somehow obligated to torture you with until you do come up with whatever answer you're searching for. Couldn't think of any reasonable way to look up the answer (no internet at home) so cogitated and ruminated and aggravated myself with my un-ability to recover that single piece of information until I fell asleep, still trying to recall it. Woke up, had coffee and a cigarette, took a shower, dressed, was out the door this morning and on the road for ten minutes when it finally filtered it's way through whatever tangled morass of half-fried synapses it had been circuitously riding about in.


I got that one wrong.

Oh, yeah, I'm talking about the Jeopardy qualifier test that I took last night. If you don't know what in the hell I'm yammering about, go here.

It was the same type of test as the one I had taken a couple of years back, the major difference being that I took this one sitting at my computer here at work, while I had been sitting in a room full of other nervous contestants, in downtown Boston, the previous time. Just about the same results, too, I think.

Whereas on the in-person test I had actual pen and paper, so could go back and change an answer if inspiration hit me later, on this version I had a 15-second time limit in which to type an answer to a question. Then that question (and my answer) disappeared into the ether, never to be seen again. It was a bit nerve-wracking when I hit upon a question such as the one requiring "Dreyfus" as the answer. I knew that I knew the information they requested, but I just couldn't get it to the forefront of my brain within the time limit. Otherwise, the test wasn't so bad.

As the on-screen clock counted down the seconds to the start of the test, I was very nervous. I had no idea what the questions would look like; whether or not I would have to use my mouse, to click into a space provided for typing an answer, every time I had to type; how quickly 15 seconds might pass when required to type an answer, rather than verbalize it; if this set of questions would be easier, about the same, or tougher than those I was given on the in-person test; and whether having been at work for 12 hours straight would make it impossible for me to react quickly enough to have a realistic shot at passing the test.

Much of the worrying was unneeded, as much of the worrying about anything is. The questions were clearly presented and easily visible. I did not have to re-click the mouse each time to cue up within a typing space. 15 seconds was plenty of time, if I knew the answer; barely enough to type the right answer in full, if I had to think about it for a few seconds; and impossible, if I didn't know the answer (Duh!). The questions were on a par with those from the previous test. And having been at work for 12 hours in a row didn't help matters, but I don't think it could have cost me more than one answer.


I know for a fact that, of the 50 questions, I answered the first 11 or 12 correctly. As I got through the first 10 without missing one, I was rushing - that is to say, feeling very good about things, although I was also "rushing" by hitting the "submit" button with 6 or 7 seconds left on the clock, every time. I hoped that the speed with which someone answered the questions might be a consideration. I also thought that there might be a total time aspect to the test, and that seconds saved on the earlier questions might be used later. Wrong. It was 15 seconds for each and if you went to the next question before using the full 15 seconds, all you did was start the next 15 second clock. So, I hope speed counts when they grade the results, but that's probably not the case.

As I hit the 12th or 13th question, my reverie was broken. It was a question that I had to think about. It may have actually concerned synapses, for that matter. I believe I got it right, but from then on there were only a handful of answers that popped from my mind to my fingertips to the screen, and on into the ether, without at least a moment of sweat and thought. I think a conservative estimate would be 2 right for every 3 during this remainder of the test. Given that, the final tally would be 37 or 38 right.

Now, I may be underestimating my performance. I hope I am. However, 37 or 38 would put me, again, right on the very edge of passing the test and thus earning an invite to another in-person testing. I wish to hell they'd give me my score, instead of making me wait to hear from them.

Yep, that's the only way I find out for sure whether I passed. They call me. If I failed, they don't call me. Even if I did pass, it's possible they won't call me. There was a disclaimer saying that, in the event of more people passing the test than there are available seats for the next phase, a random draw from among the passing contestants will be held. In that case, I could very well have done myself proud, and redeemed myself from the previous experience, but never have the satisfaction of knowing it.

No, that's not true. I passed. Even if they don't call.

Especially if they don't call :-)

(If and when I receive definite word, I'll report it here. Thanks for your prayers and well wishes.)



Anonymous said...

OK Trivia time...... Who wrote the newspaper article leading to his eventual acquittal and in what newspaper and what was the headline? (You may hum the Jeopardy tune if you wish).

Suldog said...

Shoot. I know the bare particulars about the man, but not a lot of detail. I know that Twain was a great champion of his cause. So, perhaps Twain? In The New York Sun? Wouldn't seem that something in The New York Sun would get the job done in France, though, so probably not.

Suldog said...

OK, I was told it was Emile Zola, J'ACCUSE!