Free Rice

I remember when the website Free Rice first launched.  I was prepping for the GREs, and while I am a total whore for flashcards (1/4 of a 3” x 5” index card, definition on the LINED side – I’m not neurotic at all!) it was a good way to shake up my studying and please my inner Lutheran.  At ten grains per correct response (nobody eats when I select the wrong answer) I could spend significant amounts of time “bettering myself and the world”…in a world where scurvy runs rampant.  Anyway, I played on free rice for awhile and then lost interest and momentum – while taking night classes, I discovered my undergraduate major is not my passion.  This realization made re-evaluating things more prudent than taking the GRES.

I recently targeted my career goals and the steps necessary to reach them…returning me to the land of to GRE prep.  We have a family tradition that the “kids” always receive books and to say that my father was thrilled when I asked for GRE prep books this year is an understatement akin to “Santa maybe, sort of, might enjoy a cookie or two.”  He sure received free shipping from Amazon with that order.  In addition to the books, I decided to see if free rice was still in existence.  Holy smokes, not only is it still in existence, but THEY’VE ADDED SUBJECTS!  The chemistry does nothing for me, nor does practicing the German I don’t speak, but world capitals and country placement?  Yipes, stripes – yes, please!  I think I’ve provided a village somewhere with carbs for a month. 

The questions are multiple choice and there have definitely been times where I am able to answer via process of elimination.  For example, I’ve never heard of Melekeok, but since I know the capitals of Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Australia; I’m able to earn those ten grains of rice – potentially to someone in Melekeok, Palau.  Melekeok, which MS Word is pretty insistent either does not exist or is misspelled.  Other times I recognize a city as in a certain country, ten grains – boom.  There are also the logical ones: Kuwait City…hmm…Armenia, Yemen, KUWAIT, or Bhutan?  Others I am able to deduce by knowing the historical (usually colonial) or linguistic backgrounds.  Not to mention the capitals that I actually know!  As expected, I’m solid on Western Europe and the Americas, but also Asia.  Despite my academic background, I pretty much suck at all of the –stan countries.  I’m stronger at my Pacific Island Nations.  I’m not a dork at all.

Admittedly, knowing world capitals is becoming a useless parlor trick.  I’ve never had “What is the capital of Madagascar?” come up at bar trivia or during a rousing game of Trivial Pursuit.  (It’s Antananarivo, by the way – and spellcheck does recognize that one.)  It’s bordering on classic knowledge in an age when we increasingly turn to Google or pull out an iphone to answer these questions, on the off-instance the scrolling text at CNN doesn’t include the information when it’s necessary.  However, it’s information that I’m enjoying learning and it’s promoting a worthy cause.  I encourage everyone to add it to their procrastination links.


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