Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Oddities of the "How well do you know me" test

So I created this Facebook quiz the other day that seems to be a popular meme right now. The premise is simply a multiple choice test that asks your friends questions about you... what was your first dog's name, what's your favorite video game, whatever. In homage to Spinal Tap, I created a test with 11 questions, and tried hard to make reasonable sounding alternatives to the correct answers. For example, my first question:

Where does "Medicine for the sky" come from?
a) Sci-fi short story by Asimov
b) Engrish.com pic of Japanese storefront window
c) Hillbilly slang for bitter coffee
d) Theoretical huge machine to repair ozone layer
e) Comment my kid made about a sunset

I must tell this story a lot, because everyone who has taken the test so far has correctly identified the last answer as the correct one. Either that, or some other psychological thing is going on - it sounds cooler than the others, maybe I wouldn't mention my kid if that wasn't the answer, something like that. For those who haven't actually heard the story, it's over on my CQ blog: Here

What I found most interesting in combing through everyone's answers was *how* they got certain questions wrong. For example, most everyone incorrectly assumed my high-school nickname was Stretch. Predictable, but boring. One person, however, guessed the worst possible answer from my list, "Klepto". Why, I ask, would someone think that? Was it a blind guess? Was it them being funny? Or did they assume I had a reputation as a shoplifter when I was younger? I did, mind you, but it wasn't notable enough to be nickname worthy.

My nickname was Stork, from one particular kick of a soccer ball during an after-school pickup game. I chipped it with my arms extended, and the effect was very stork-like. The following year a fellow classmate, Terry Cook, also tall and occasionally odd-looking when kicking a soccer ball, acquired the nickname "Emu", sort of a derivative of mine.

I don't tell that story a lot, but I have this other blog about how I lost a lot of weight, called Operation Inner Stork, where I recount trying to get fit enough to play soccer like a teenager again. I guess fatblogs aren't really good reading, but I'm still glad I did it. The idea of publicly announcing my changing weight was a fantastic motivator to take it seriously. I didn't want to have to write "Well, I didn't lose any weight again, because I'm lazy and incompetent." (By the way, weight this morning, 168.2, making my BMI 20.47 - I always keep track, a side effect of blogging about it for a year)

But whence "Klepto"? Moving on...

Anyone who knew me before 2004 has probably heard me blab on at length about "auterytech.com", the domain I owned between 2001 and 2006-ish. It was where I experimented with Linux, perl, and Apache. And SSH tunneling to update the site from work. And JavaScript, that I used to write cmath and the Connect-4 bot. And Java, that I used to write the paint app with Disney coloring book pages built in. Coding on that site is how I got my current job. It's how I changed my brain from being good at intuitive guesswork, useful in tech support, to it's current Children of the Damned state where I can do things like make people stick their hands in boiling water just by thinking hard enough. It's why I'm not a clown with action figures and movie posters littering my desk bitching about how unfair things turned out. The website was pretty much all I talked about for a couple years, and if anyone happened to visit the site, displayed prominently on each page was a footer image of Stacey, 3, jumping on my bed, and the subtitle "Powered by Action-Stace".

There was a question on the Facebook test that asked what Stacey's nickname as a preschooler was. Everyone who knew me when I was administering auterytech.com got the question right. Everyone who had never heard of the site got it wrong. This tells me that I don't go on at length about Stacey's unbearable cuteness as a preschooler any more, which probably suits Stacey just fine right now (she'll be turning 13 in a few months).

What's interesting about this? The wrong answers people chose were interesting. Most chose "pumpkin", generic and boring, the nickname of millions of kids world-wide, and not something my 20-something pompous self would have called my daughter. Too pedestrian. Not cool enough. Etc. Some of my pompous has ablated over time, but I'm still working on it, as I've obviously still got it in spades.

One person chose "bean", my gag answer. Again, why? Stacey was a huge preschooler, as she is a middle-schooler now (5'8" so far), so "bean" would be the last thing anyone would call her, unless they were being a smartass. But it's something I would do. In fact, I often call her "shorty" these days. So was the "bean" answer a wild guess, the person insightfully thinking I'd have a backwards nickname for her, or were they trying to be funny? Dunno, but it's interesting to speculate.

Fun stuff. This is how people get sucked into the field of cognitive research, or, if you're more like me, yet another method of overanalysis to apply to everything.

In other news, Stacey has pneumonia and an inhaler with which to combat it. She will recover fully and quickly because she's the healthiest 12 year old on the planet. But an inhaler for a 12 year old - spooky.

Lastly, I was stunned this morning at the sheer stealth of the trash-pickers. I was throwing out old keyboards and some miscellaneous items this morning in a small plastic trashcan (Tuesday + Westerville = trash day), and a brown paper Trader-Joe's bag filled with aluminum cans and glass bottles to be recycled. After taking my trash out and going back inside to get my laptop and lunch, I came back out and saw that the trashcan with the keyboards and the Trader Joe's bag were both gone. Damned trash ninjas.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm....never underestimate the power of the random guess. I did choose 'Klepto' as a possible nickname, because as you mentioned, Stretch was too obvious and generic, and I seem to remember either reading or you telling me about a suppressed shoplifting streak.
    I looked long and hard at the 'my kid said this about the sunset' answer, but something about the Asimov thing just rang a bell in my head. You had some deceptively good wrong answers, almost as good as Dominique's. I believe that her wrong answers told almost more about her than her correct ones did.
    In the end, this is just another '25 things about me'. I have determined that this is far to difficult to really expect anyone to do well on, and it is really just another fun and pleasant means for people to yammer on about themselves. Harmless, but entertaining (depending on who wrote it).