Nearly a month into winter's briskness and a seasonal quiz is due. So, scratch your cranium three times and dip into the memory reservoir to answer these:

1. In the poem "Casey at the Bat," the ballgame was being play in

A) Flatbush; B) Paducah; C) Grovers Mill; D) Mudville.

2. Cupid was the god of love to early Romans; ancient Greeks, however, had called him A) Adonis; B) Eros; C) Camelot; D) Ares.

3. Louis Armstrong played the same instrument as A) Benny Goodman;

B) Lionel Hampton; C) Harry James; D) Duke Ellington.

4. If you want to climb in this mountain chain, you you'll have to head south of the equator A) The Andes; B) The Urals; C) The Himalayas; D) The Alps.

5. A huge clock called Big Ben is high in a tower where? A) near the Seine in Paris; B) opposite the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia; C) on one side of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.; D) in London near Westminster Abbey.

6. Diego de Velazquez was A) the first European to see the Pacific Ocean;

B) a Spanish painter; C) the inventor of the water clock; D) the artist who sculpted "The Thinker."

7. The Falkland Islands are located in the same ocean as A) the Azores; B) Samoa; C) Madagascar; D) New Zealand.

Remember, all seven correct merits a handshake and look of admiration from your neighbors, plus at least one laptop user in the coffee shop, as a Renaissance Person for the winter. Six in the win column is commendable. Five right is still nifty. Four correct a bit iffy; and three or fewer puts you on the dean's (naughty) list.

Speaking of tests and quizzes, this columnist still feels anyone running for a high government office should have to pass a civil service test. If the fellow delivering your mail has to show he knows something, why shouldn't the president and those brilliants sitting in Congress?

(Answers to quiz: 1-D, 2-B, 3-C, 4-A, 5-D, 6-B, 7-A.)

Braille's birthday: If tomorrow is Jan. 4 at your house, it marks the birth date of the man who did more for the blind than anyone else in history -- Louis Braille. The system of using arrangements of dots for letters that could be felt by those without sight, and also made and sent by them, broadened their world through communication as never before.

Born in 1809, Braille lost his sight in an accident when he was just 3 years old -- first one eye, then the other because of a lack of medical knowledge at the time. Sadly, he died from tuberculosis 43 years later in near-poverty. Life isn't always fair.

When you meet someone who doesn't have a smile, give that person yours. And may the winds of fortune blow gently at your back all through the new year.

Contact Joe King at alamedanews@bayareanewsgroup.com.