The website refers to them as "Mentally Stimulating Diversions."
In reality, they are excruciating timed quizzes that force you to reach into the deepest recesses of your mind to try to remember the name of the capital of Burkina Faso or the name of the guy who played quarterback for the Houston Oilers from 1971-79.
Since discovering Sporcle (www.sporcle.com) several years ago, I've learned a lot about myself. I've learned that, yes, if prompted, I can list all the franchises of the National Hockey League from east to west, based upon the geographic location of their arenas, in less than four minutes. I've also learned that, if I really set my mind to it, I can memorize all 196 nations of the world and type them out, in rapid-fire style, in about the same amount of time - except that I always forget one or two at the end and then need to spend another couple minutes going back through them all until I remember the Solomon Islands or Tuvalu or Cape Verde or whatever other little ones slipped my mind.
I often try to stick to the sports- and geography-related quizzes, because those are my strongest categories. (And, luckily for me, they are the most Sporcle-friendly topics - there is great new content for them all the time.) It's a lot of fun sometimes, though, to branch out and see if I can handle a quiz about animals or art or music. I often surprise myself by discovering how much has gotten lodged in my brain one way or another over the years. "Grab bag" quizzes have shown me that I'm usually good for at least a few Oscar winners for Best Picture that start with the letter G, or AKC-recognized dog breeds that start with the letter A, or whatever else gets thrown at me.
The local seniors who exercised their brains with a fun day in North Harmony earlier this week each probably encountered questions they knew the answers to immediately. They probably also each encountered questions they never would have been able to answer, no matter how much time they were given. But I'm sure many had one of those fantastic moments where they thought, "Wait a second, I know this" - and after a moment of thinking, the answer sprang to the forefront. That's the wonder of how our minds work. And that's why we all need mentally stimulating diversions in our lives.
(By the way, the quarterback for the Oilers from 1971-79 was Dan Pastorini. I never can remember his name, and always kick myself when it pops up after the clock hits zero. And the capital of Burkina Faso is Ouagadougou. I never have a problem remembering that. Properly spelling it, however, which Sporcle requires for credit, is a completely different story.)