Tag Archives: lawrence j peter

My trivial life

Below is an account of my time in Learned League, a surprisingly robust site and community, where people who like trivia compete with each other daily, six question and write-in answers at a time. But first, you need to know a little of my home life growing up.

I love to learn new things. When I was a kid, at the dinner table, I would monologue about this fact or that, while my ever-suffering parents and brothers would quietly listen. Well, except there was the one time my father hit a breaking point, and interrupted me to tell me I was the world’s largest repository of useless information.

That stung, but I was impressed Dad remembered the family vocabulary lesson from the day before, where I lectured on the long and storied history of the word repository.

Useless information then, perhaps, but not for long.

Revenge of the Nerd

Until recently, and for more than a decade, Thanksgiving evenings in my hometown included a round or two of Trivial Pursuit. My extended family has since switched to other board games. That’s a pity, because my grasp of trivia made me a family celebrity.

I’d always be on the “boy’s” team, of course, in boys v “girls.” And I’d consistently be their MVP — providing Science, Arts & Literature, History and other rarefied (to most of my male family members) assistance. No bother that I’m clueless in Sports & Leisure. That was my teammates’ domain. My deep complementary knowledge was a capstone to a winning strategy for us “boys.”

At about the time when we were switching to other holiday games, I joined Learned League. A client recruited me. I was honored, and also delighted to play in a formal setting. Delighted, and almost immediately, humbled. Man! Those questions can be hard!

Do you think you have what it takes to play? Here are sample questions. Take your time. I’ll wait.

Not easy, huh?

Take a look at the results of my latest 25-question rundle, below:

There I am, dead center, with a perfect record of equal wins and losses … as well as 5 ties!

Do you see the shaded area at the top? Those five players were the best of our rundle. They will be promoted to a harder group (harder rundles are A, B, C, and D leagues). Promotion is an important aspect in this competitive field. (A relevant piece of trivia: rundle is a mostly antiquated term for a step in a ladder.)

I was promoted this way twice, and was both times reminded of Lawrence J. Peter’s adage about business promotions. His Peter Principle states that if you do well, in a strict business hierarchy, you’ll eventually be promoted to your level of incompetence.

Needless to say, both times I was demoted back to my E comrades.

I used to get more worked up about losing so many matches. I’ve since come to look at this as more of a community than a competition. When I was in college I took the qualifying test for MENSA. I passed, but declined to join. To paraphrase Groucho Marx, I wasn’t going to join a club nerdy enough to have me as a member. Dumb logic, I now realize … But now I have Learned League.

And although my dad passed away last year, before his dementia became too bad I was able to point to my mediocre Learned League scores as proof that he was wrong. I am measurably not the world’s largest repository. Not by a long shot!

Referrals are open!

Do you think this sounds like a fun way to spend 20 minutes daily? Find me on Twitter (@thelarch). I’ll fill you in, perhaps refer you, and maybe even give you the sage advice I wish I’d had when I first joined.