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Thursday, February 12, 2009
A pop quiz for my quizzical readers

PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS ASKING ME, "What do you do?"  Well, people, I'm not paid to take your pop quizzes.

One good thing about being a Local Voices writer is that I can give quizzes, and if you, dear readers, wish to remain my dear readers, have to take them.  (You must admit, I am more decent about this than the Educational Testing Service, at least I don't charge you to be tested.  In that way, my quizzes are less like the Graduate Record Exam and more like the STD tests at the Free Clinic.)

First, let me note that people, in general, say that they hate quizzes, tests and exams and such.  For example, don't ever expect your teenager to get up one Saturday morning saying, "Oh boy!  Today I get to take the College Boards!"  If she does, please call 911 immediately.  She has probably overdosed on something.

And if you are a teacher don’t expect unexpected testing will be without consequences – to you.  In my experience, nothing will lower your students' teacher-evaluation scores of you faster (including being a really, really bad teacher) than giving regular "pop quizzes."

But, as previously noted, you don't get to evaluate me.  So, here's my pop quiz for you.  Take it or leave it.

1)  Speaking of pop (that is, music of general appeal to teenagers; a bland watered-down version of rock 'n' roll with more rhythm and harmony and an greater emphasis on romantic love), since Alanis Morissette’s hit song "Ironic," which is supposedly about how ironic life is, gives examples of irony which aren't ironic, would that make the song:  a) Ironic b) Un-ironic c) Moronic d) One of my favorite songs.

2)  Define "pop out," as in the statement, "When the shirtless UNC student saw Ashley Judd standing in the Smith Center bleachers next to him, his eyes popped out."  a) Protrude b) Bulge out c) Bug out d) Come out e) All of the above.

3)  Where you grew up, what did they call sweetened, carbonated drinks?  a) Soda b) Coke c) Pop d) Dope. Your answer tells where you are from. If you said Coke, the South; if you said pop, the Northcentral; and if you said soda, the Northeast, or California or, oddly, the greater St. Louis area.  If you said you called them dopes, you are from a southern town such as Danville, Virginia, where dope wagons traveled through the textile mill bringing snacks and drinks -- pronounced "dranks."  (Click on the map at for a more spatial view of the pop versus soda world.)

4)  What is the problem with the following logical proposition?  "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?"  a) The premise b) The inference  c) The conclusion  d) The absence of a fixed time frame e) The woodchuck.

According to New York State wildlife expert Richard Thomas (in an article in the prestigious Wall Street Journal), a woodchuck, also known as a groundhog, could chuck around 35 cubic feet of dirt in the course of digging a burrow.  Thomas reasoned that if a woodchuck could chuck wood, that is, toss it, he would chuck an amount equal to 700 pounds – in the period in which a woodchuck can dig a burrow.

5)  While we're on the topic of groundhogs, in the bluegrass classic "Groundhog," groundhogs are also referred to as whistle-pigs.  Why?

Answer -- according to the Animal Diversity Web, an online database of animal natural history, distribution, classification, and conservation biology at the University of Michigan -- "woodchucks (Marmota monax) are very vocal mammals, hence the name whistle-pig.  When alarmed, a woodchuck gives a loud, shrill whistle.  Teeth grinding and chattering are common when woodchucks are cornered.  Woodchucks have also been heard to bark, squeal, and whistle when fighting with other woodchucks."

6)  Next a sub-quiz quiz, The Official Roy Williams Sports Quiz, in which you mix and match occupations with the appropriate sportsman's name.  Occupation: I) Safety for the Dallas Cowboys II) Wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys III) Men's basketball coach for UNC.  Name: a) Roy Williams  b) Roy Williams c) Roy Williams.  (Answer key, I-c, II-b, III-a)

7)  Finally, if this is a rhetorical question, do you have to answer it?  a) Yes, but then it wouldn't be rhetorical so I guess the answer would be:  b) No, but then it would be rhetorical so I guess the answer is a) Yes, I guess.

Gary D. Gaddy actually got very good scores, by some methods of accounting, on his SATs and GREs, and passed this pop quiz with flying colors.

A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald Thursday February 12, 2009.

Copyright   2009  Gary D. Gaddy

Authored by Gary G. Gaddy at 5:21 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, February 12, 2009 5:29 PM EST
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