Where in the World Are We?

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HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Have you played Tradle? I know we’ve talked about Wordle, and Tradle is like that, only with geography. Here's the link.

Reds and readers, this is an exercise in humility for me. It is TRAGIC. And yet, I KEEP doing it. And I keep discovering how clueless I am about geography.

It works this way: the game displays a block graph, with carrying sizes of squares, depicting the major exports of the country. For instance: In huge letters: AUTOMOBILES. In huge letters: CHEMICALS.In huge letters: SEMICONDUCTORS. In medium letters: Photo lab equipment. In small letters: gold: In tiny letters: Non-filet frozen fish. There are MANY boxes, but you can tell the ratios by the size of the boxes.

(Can you guess the one above?)

So the game lets you access a list of all the countries in the world. (Do you know how many there are? Guess. I had to ask Alexa.) And then you get five tries to name the country. Once you enter a guess, the thing tells you how close you are to correct by telling you how similar the products of your guess country are to the correct answer, many kilometers your answer is from the correct answer, and what direction the correct answer is from your answer.

It’s kinda fascinating, because it really makes you think. If the main exports were, say, tea and spices, you’d put yourself in a different part of the world than if the main experts were iron ore and lumber. It’s really cool. And mind-bending in a fun way.

And like Wordle, you can only play once a day.

But. Unlike Wordle, I have NEVER gotten it right. Never. I have played it four whole times, and I have never gotten it right. Once I posted on Twitter that I had failed at the day’s Tradle, and that when I saw the answer I had almost hidden under my desk in embarrassment. (The number one expert was: Water. And I MISSED IT.) A lovely twitterer told me her fifth grader had gotten it in one try. Lovely for him. Lovely.

In today’s I had another embarrassing obstacle. I kept yelling at the screen: “I know what this country is! I can show you on the map where it is!! But I just don’t know the name of it! ” VERY embarrassing. (Because I do not allow myself to look at a map, of course, it seems like that would be cheating.) I was right, that’s exactly where it was, but I still don’t call that a win.

Have you tried it?

LUCY BURDETTE: Based on your recommendation Hank, I did go take a look. So far it’s a big NO for me. It looks frustrating, and on top of that, looks like a big time sink, though I can see that I’d probably learn a lot! But keep in mind that I’m always late to a trend, so let me know if everyone in the world decides to do this, and then I’ll try harder:).

HANK: It really takes about 10 minutes. And you can only do one a day. :-)

HALLIE EPHRON: I am so bad at geography. Whenever there’s a Jeopardy category that remotely relates, I go to the bathroom. Jerry (a longtime stamp collector) would have been great at this game. I play Spelling Bee and the NY Times Mini Crossword and Tiles and the Boston Globe crossword puzzle… daily… which I usually manage to ace. I’m so impressed that you’re hacking away at Tradle, Hank. For me it’s a bridge too far.

HANK: Yes, I do words, happily, too. But this is SO IMPOSSIBLE!

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: This is 100% the kind of game Ross would have forced our children to play. A geography bee champion as a kid himself, it was the one thing he had stage father ambitions for. I have vivid memories of the flash cards, the atlas books, etc., etc. The Maine Millennial actually made it to our state geography bee in 6th or 7th grade. She didn’t win, but it did get her a nice discount once when we were shopping at the National Geographic Museum store in DC.

As for me? No. No way. I can’t remember capitals (except for Oslo, which is popular in crossword puzzles) let alone who produces the most Scandium in the world. Honestly, Hank, this sounds like something Soviet kids would have gotten quizzed on in the 60s.

HANK: I just burst out laughing. SO hilarious. Yes, maybe soooo…

RHYS BOWEN: I have to try this! I’m usually good at geography. As a kid I loved pouring over the Atlas and looking at encyclopedias and I have traveled extensively as an adult. My favorite category in Trivial Pursuit. So this will be another time waste after Wordle before I get up. I’m now played Wordle 102 times and failed twice. One was a word with too many options: shame shake shave etc and the other didn’t count as an English word in my opinion!

So let’s see how frustrating Tradle will be!

HANK: Ooh, try it!

JENN McKINLAY: I have not tried it, but being a game masochist, of course I will! Not that I need more humility but it’s all about balance I suppose. My parents frequently played geography games at dinner - name the states, provinces, etc of various countries. My brother always won - very annoying.

HANK: This is so challenging..but doable, you know?

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Hank, I'd never heard of this, and now I'm hooked!! That is so much fun, and I got my first Tradle on the 6th try. I love maps, I love geography. I play Trivia Genius all the time and usually do pretty well on the geo questions–as long as it's not the capitals… With Tradle, it helps if you think in kilometers, always a struggle for me!

HANK: Oh, I am so excited to hear this. And shaking my head at your success. Isn’t it fascinating? Not so much my humiliation at it, :-) but it feels like I’m really learning something. And visualizing the world. And yes, thinking in kilometers. I just cut it in half, that works well enough.

How about you, Reds and readers? Are you savvy about geography? Are you tempted by challenging games? Have you tried Tradle? When you were in school, did you love geography? Why? Or did you not care? And don’t you think it’s fascinating how the Reds differ on this?

(And if you try it, let us know!)

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