Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Nerds of Nerdville

A few months ago, Handsome and I went to meet up with Penata and her boyfriend, The World's Greatest Carolina Fan (TWGCF) at a local bar. In the midst of drinks and merriment, I spilled a little (oops!) and reached for the nearest napkin, a decision that happened to change my life for the subsequent future. You're dying to know why, aren't you. Well. It changed my life because scribbled on that napkin were the names of 17 African countries.

"What's this?" I inquired, holding the napkin scrap up.
"Oh, just a game," said Penata. "We were testing each other to see who could name the most African countries in 60 seconds."

Instantly (and completely predictably), I was hooked. How many could I name? Seventeen seemed a paltry number, surely I could best it by a wide margin! No. It turns out I could not. I got 18, and one of them I only remembered because I had just seen it written on the napkin 45 seconds earlier. I was humiliated. What kind of educated person am I? I'm supposed to be earning a doctorate here, and I can't name even half of the African nations? That's just downright embarrassing.

So there you have it - thus began my latest obsession. Within a month we had a world map shower curtain, and another world map hanging in our bedroom. I have been steadily studying these maps a bit at a time, and I think I'm ready. Eventually my goal is to name all 47 in geographic order, but for now, my goal is to get most. Not all, just most. I think that's as much as I'm ready to commit to.

Before I begin, I would like to invite you to challenge yourself before reading the following. Close your laptop, grab a spare sheet of paper, and see what you can do from memory. Unless you don't think deliberate exercises in self-humiliation have a positive effect in your life, in which case, go ahead and study up first.

Now. Ready? I am on the couch, not a map in sight. I haven't looked at the map since yesterday, so this is as close to my natural state as I get. I have a timer, and I'm holding myself strictly to the honor code.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a test. This is only a test.

Western Sahara (occupied Morocco)
Burkina Faso
Cote d'Ivoire
Guinea Bissau
Democratic Republic of Congo
Central African Republic
South Africa
Sierra Leone


Shit. I don't think that was even close to 47. Hang on, let me count. OK, 39. Unless I accidentally repeated some, and I know I got out of geographic order a couple times in there. What the heck did I forget. Dang.

Oh, well. There is always room and time for improvement. Let me know how you all do, if you take the test!


Frank Irwin said...

Africa isn't a country?

You forgot Togo.

So many African countries have gone through changes (Togo, maybe?) since I learned them as a kid.

Back then, it was all Pangea, anyhows.

Cheasty said...

Frank, I most certainly did not forget Togo - look again, my friend! I did, however, forget Somalia, Tanzania, Burundi, and Botswana, just to name a few. Sheesh. I cracked under the time pressure.

Frank Irwin said...

Ah, so you did. I don't read so good, either.

My best friend met his now-wife in Botswana, where there were both in the Peace Corps. I forgot that one, too.

Penata said...

Man, I haven't even heard of some of those. I need a map-y shower curtain.
Step 1: Live somewhere for more than a month.
Step 2: Purchase shower curtain.

Cheasty said...

Penata, join the club. You know what you could do is buy a small Rand world atlas and keep in the car. Then while you and TWGCF are driving from place to place you can quiz and study on world geography. nice!

Jenna said...

Ack! I only got 14! As soon as I looked at a map I wanted a do-over! This one is cool: I wasted about 30 min on this game! You're right, this IS an addictive obsession. I'm testing myself again tomorrow. :)

Cheasty said...

off to try the website now - good luck, jenna!

Kevin said...

Tunisia! You got my favorite, Djibouti.

It's good to hear that Penata knows how to have a good time at a bar.

Penata said...

Yeah man! I'm one of the founding nerds of Nerdville!

libélula azul said...

And to think that in the 7th grade not only did I know all the countries in Africa but I knew where they were located too.

And now, memory of this subject matter appears to have vanished. Perhaps a shower curtain map of the world is in store for me too.

Cheasty said...

Penata and I are the godmothers of Nerdville.

LA, I know just what you mean. I used to know the capitals, too. the mind boggles.

Anonymous said...

Mmm... Zaire is the former name of the D.R. of Congo, you know?

Cheasty said...

oops! make it 38.

Brown said...

I did surprisingly better than I thought. I suppose South America is