If you were to buy your true love each gift in the "Twelve Days of Christmas" song, it would cost you approximately (US) $14,215.18
The source and the price of the items are all according to PNC Bank Corp. in Pittsburgh:
This week, I entered a chat room in which a trivia game was in progress. There was one guy asking a lot of simple questions on a microphone and a dozen or so chatters who would then race to respond by typing the answer in the room. Simple questions: What's the capital of Portugal? What's the chemical formula for water? What's the highest lake in the world? Who fit the battle of Jericho? At one point the guy floored me with this one: How many moons does the earth have? - Was he serious? They were more like crossword puzzle clue questions than trivia questions, the kind that a frequent crossworder could answer even before the reader had finished speaking it.
The relatively low level of difficulty of the game was evident in the fact that everyone always got the right answer! (well . . . most everyone). The winner was not so much who got the answer right, but who was fast enough to be the first to type the answer in, and, in this particular game, that person was usually a chatter named pugs - an amazing trigger finger on that one. . . she knew all the answers and almost always managed to type it in first, an astounding feat even by this game's standards - you go girl!.
On another occasion, I witnessed another trivia game in progress. This game dealt almost entirely with Catholic trivia, though. A specialist's game. The questions weren't so easy: What are the sacraments? What are the virtues? What is hypostatic union? What was Father Pio's weapon? Some of the people in the room tried to keep up with the game's host, responding in general terms, offering fragments of half-remembered affirmations which were partially correct sometimes. One astoundingly fanatical woman, however, answered the questions verbatim almost everytime! It was incredible. After a long streak of perfectly verbatim answers, amazed, I asked her if she had once been required to memorize these things word for word. She said "yes". Her answer somehow triggered a fight with some of the other chatters, who began to insist that the church makes no such demand on anyone - Does too! - Does not! - Too! - Not!! Too!!! It doesn't take much to start a heated argument in a chatroom, as anyone who has visited one knows. Some people, I think, just like a good fight and welcome any opportunity to become aggresive. It's weird. I hadn't meant to start a schism with my simple question. Sigh. Oh well. At any rate, I detest vitriol, so while they got busy shouting at each other, I lost interest and my mind began to reflect on the process of learning by rote.
Flashback to the eighth grade, the only year of my scholastic career spent in a Catholic school, ever. The parish of St. Philip Neri in the Bronx, New York. I remember the school held and promoted a trivia contest that year. They distributed a three page list of definitions and concepts to all the students to memorize, from which they would select all the questions in the contest. Everyone was excited. I thought it was kinda dumb. I remember thinking, "What's the point of quizzing people on a preconceived list of words?. That's not learning. That's rote."
I found myself wondering now if the insistence on rote memorization which I witnessed back then is related somehow to this trivia wiz' catechism acumen I was witnessing now. Some questions: Is this an intrinsic feature of the Catholic church's evangelization of its young? If it is,it would partly explain my aversion to doctrine as a fundamentally rehearsed (and thus robotic) enterprise, for I have always thought that it is better to derive a formula than it is to memorize one. I don't know much, but I'm sure of a few, a couple, of things.