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Jul 07 2009

Just call me Encyclopedia Shazzam-ica!

A Trivial Pursuit playing piece, with all six ...

A Trivial Pursuit playing piece, with all six wedges filled in. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back in the days before everyone had access to the worldwide web at home or on their mobile phone, it was not unusual for friends and family members to call me for random bits of information. Often it was for help with written communication along the lines of, “I’m working on a cover letter and I need another word for …” I guess it was just easier to ring me than to crack open a thesaurus, probably because they had trouble finding the ones they used in college.

I was also a very popular teammate in Trivial Pursuit and had a reputation for being a fount of knowledge on popular culture.  Besides my own personal interest, I had worked in news media for a lot of years which pretty much required that I keep up with it.  I basically served as a trivia “lifeline” for my circle of peeps long before “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire ” hit the airwaves.

But that changed when I moved to Sweden, due in large part to the 6-hour time difference and the price of long-distance calls. And in the time I’ve been here, I’ve definitely lost my edge when it comes to American pop culture. Plus nowadays most folks have Wikipedia or the Internet Movie Database at their fingertips 24/7. Which is why I was so surprised last Saturday when I got not one but three requests for random info in a matter of hours.

The first call was from a favourite IT colleague who was attending an American-themed 4th of July picnic. He was making Jell-O from a package that had obviously been imported from the US because the instructions for preparing it used Imperial rather than metric measurements, and he needed help with the conversion.

The 2nd inquiry came via text message from a Swedish friend who was in the the middle of an argument with her sister about the proper conjugation of an English verb. The final request was from my fellow-expat American pal Nicole who needed to know the name of the condition that soldiers often suffer from after doing a tour of duty in a combat zone. (For some reason the term Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder just would not form in her head.)

It was just like old times! Though afterward I could not help but wonder outloud to Dr. Darling, “Was the internet broken today?”

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Feed my ego!

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