Topics diverse for year’s first quiz


I am a teacher, so as these days of summer wane, my thoughts once again turn toward what instructors do best: ask questions. And, since I do not teach math, most of mine do not have clear answers. Good luck with your first quiz of the new school year.

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1. At what point can we officially declare an end to the lengthy drought?

(a) When Goessel’s Mosquito Creek becomes large enough to float barges.

(b) When the gates open at Marion Reservoir.

(c) When my neighbor’s car floats into the Adobe House pond.

(d) When the U.S. Drought Monitor says so.

Answer: I guess it’s over whenever we feel like it’s over. The USDM is updated each week, and despite Hillsboro and parts of Marion County receiving more than 10.25 inches of precipitation in July, we are still listed as facing “moderate drought” to “abnormally dry” conditions as of July 30. All I know is I recently had a couple of inches of “moderate drought” in my basement.

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2. Why do starlings and blackbirds select my trees as their roosting places of choice?

(a) From the top of my elm, they can see home to mother Eng­land.

(b) They enjoy watching the crazy human try to scare them away by slapping two pieces of wood together each dusk.

(c) They get a good deal on travelocity.com.

(d) The neighborhood cats are lazy.

Answer: All of the above.

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3. When will the new camping sites open at Cottonwood Point?

(a) When hell freezes over (because nobody will want to camp then).

(b) When all the administrative problems that have plagued the project are solved (see also “a”).

(c) When all the grass has been given a chance to establish itself, including in the middle of the parking spots.

(d) When the Marion Reser­voir water levels rise so much that picnic tables are submerged.

Answer: None of the above. I have been out there running a few times. It is a cool area. But, I am not sure it will open in my lifetime.

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4. Why do many millions of Americans go to bed hungry each night when the United States is the largest food producer and the richest country in the world?

(a) Sharing the abundance sounds a bit too much like socialism.

(b) Politicians would rather fight each other than feed the people.

(c) Assistance programs just encourage people to be lazy.

(d) Millions of Ameri­cans are overweight; it all balances out.

Answer: There is no answer. As evidenced by the recent inability of those governing our country to pass a comprehensive farm bill, elected officials believe in holding the single mothers, the disabled and the unemployed hostage so they can make a political point about social welfare programs.

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5. When it comes to hail, what exactly is the difference in size between ping-pong balls and golf balls?

(a) A golf ball is bigger than a ping-pong ball.

(b) a ping-pong ball is bigger than a golf ball.

(c) About 5 millimeters.

(d) It’s a trick question; ping pong is actually called table tennis.

Answer: It doesn’t matter. Hail stones that size are always going to beat the living daylights out of your car and your roof. For the record, the official diameter of a ping-pong ball is 40 millimeters, and a golf ball must be at least 42.67 millimeters in diameter. So, “a” is correct, though if we are talking about weight, I would much rather get hit in the head with a ping pong ball.

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6. Precisely what is that ambiguous Charles Koch Foundation TV commercial asking us to do to ensure economic freedom?

(a) Vote only for Republicans.

(b) Vote only for those candidates whom the Koch brothers support.

(c) Ask our representatives to get rid of all laws that regulate business and industry in Kansas, the United States, the world and the universe.

(d) Send all your money to Charles Koch so he can keep buying stuff.

Answer: I think it’s all of the above, but I am not sure. The ad is upbeat and threatening at the same time. I feel like I should do something before America slips even lower beneath all those other countries. But, I am not exactly sure what.

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7. What’s with TV stations and weather websites misspelling the word “area” as “areal” lately, specifically when referring to flood watches and warnings?

(a) One person messed up, and everybody else just cut and pasted.

(b) The intent was to say a “real” flood warning was in effect, as opposed to a “fake” flood warning.

(c) Forecasters type as well as they predict the weather.

(d) Definition: any high water flow, overflow or inundation in a defined area such as a group of counties or an area along a river or stream which threatens lives and property that is not covered by a river flood or flash flooding. The main difference between flash floods and areal floods is that areal flooding applies to longer duration precipitation (greater than six hours), causing slow rises on rivers and streams.

Answer: Hmm. I’ll go with “d.” Until I looked it up, I thought it was a mistake in spelling. I first saw it on WeatherBug. Then, I saw it on Accuweather. Finally, it showed up on the crawls at the bottom of local TV shows. I thought maybe typing the word “area” automatically caused extra pressure on the third finger from the left on the right hand to snap down in response, forcing the typist to place an unintended “l” at the end.

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8. How many questions make up the perfect quiz?

(a) More than seven, obviously.

(b) Enough to assess the participant’s knowledge of the material.

(c) However many trick questions an instructor can think of.

(d) Enough to fill the space for a monthly column.

Answer: None, any and/or all of the above. My work here is done. Enjoy the new school year.


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