What first drew you to FunTrivia, and what draws you back?
I love competition. I like playing against others either as an individual or on teams. I've always enjoyed trivia, including Trivial Pursuit which was probably my favorite game growing up. The site also provides a wealth of metrics, such as Easy which measures down to hundredths of a second. Because of this data-richness it never gets old looking at what you've achieved and are achieving, and it's all easily navigable. You can imagine how some iterations of this site could be inadequate in some ways, but FT is not.
You've played a lot of quizzes on the site. Have you considered writing any quizzes or crosswords?
No, not really. I mainly play the games, ones that let you directly compete against other players.
What is your favourite category in FT and what was the hardest badge to win of those you have?
I don't play quizzes as much as I play the daily and hourly games. For the games, my favorites are Who's the Expert, Easy, and Heroes. Heroes have a good mix of categories although some I won't even play (Musicals for instance). Expert has a good mix and provides a lot of opportunity for people to win in the ones they're good at and just to enjoy the game on ones that are a long shot. Easy is fun because it may be the only one where sub-20 times are common and come into play a lot of the times.
As to hardest badges... Well, I just earned my five year Veteran badge, that was hard to earn in the sense that nothing I could have done in the last five years could have sped up that process. But so far as skill-based challenges go:
1) GC Immortal. This was very hard to earn, just because playing every day was very draining and had become a chore. There was a point in the last couple weeks where I told myself if I did not get this badge, I would never get another chance because I would never sign up for such an endurance race every again, I hated it. In the last stretch, I couldn't seem to push into the top 30, but I finally made it. Despite missing a bunch of games, I was one of the best scorers so that's what pushed me over the edge.
2) Treasure... Finding the treasure was hard, but it wasn't ridiculously hard. It just required consistent effort and application, and it was quite a fun quest.
3) Endurance... This one was hard because I had a personal daemon that day who wanted to make things difficult for me. I think we both pushed 90,000 points that day.
4) This one's a minibadge, Pot of Gold: Thursday I just won last week. It's hard to win in ones that you don't know. The world is such a big place, and some of those questions sets are very hard, like World Quiz which I never play. I don't need any reminders how dumb I am. Now all I need is Monday to get the week badge.
5) Everything Challenge was hard, but beating my score will be even harder, and I never was able to beat it.
I know you are mostly a competitive player, but even the most cutthroat competitors occasionally need a rest. So what NONCOMPETITIVE feature of FunTrivia do you like best? And if you could have one more such feature added, what would you choose?
I don't think there is one feature that I play in that is not connected to competition. I think among the most edifying aspects of the site is learning so much while playing, and after submitting quizzes, such as the information that's provided in the answer boxes. I often save such information, and that may include unusual words, facts and figures, or anything else. That is one of the best parts is gaining more knowledge of things.
If you were a cat, what breed and color would you be? Would you be an indoor or an outdoor cat?
That's very problematic. I'd like to be the one that survives, honestly, in whatever form that is. I wouldn't want to be indoor because then I'd be cooped up all the time and deal with only a few people (or less) and may feel lonely and trapped most of the time. Outdoor is problematic too, because of the elements, and larger animals like dogs as prey. Overall, the outdoor would represent lower life expectancy but a more thrilling life, and probably death (instead of dying in a warm bed, I'd probably be mauled to death). A warm home represents a longer life with cozier amenities but lacking a lot of fun things an outdoor environment has. Overall, I'd rather be a bird of prey, such as an eagle, which has a long life expectancy and has the power of flight. I've often felt the desire to just lift off and get away from things, which is a really special trait birds have.
We "met" each other as we were two of a few competitive one in our class. Do you still "talk" to other people in our class and have you met any of them?
The only member of our class that I really talked to often was a guy named redshould. He was active duty in the military in his country and he played while deployed I think, but at some point he left after racking up a lot of points and never returned.
I heard that you moved. Where are you living now?
I didn't move yet. I'm finishing up my college degree (psychology major, math minor) and want to move after that is finished to start a master's degree. My favorite states to go would be Illinois or Massachusetts, because they are very cultural areas that have a lot of history and things to explore. Most people already think I am from the midwest or back east. I tell them I watch so much network news, I think I have picked up their accents, since all the top journalists are from the midwest or the east coast!
I wrote a quiz about Texas and included your home town. Can you tell us a little about your "Rose" City? You live in Texas - I've never been. What's the best/worst thing about living there? What would be the biggest surprise to a visitor?
The worst thing about Texas is the heat. It's miserable here. Most of the state experiences almost no winter weather whatsoever. In 2010 we had eight inches of snow fall overnight which was the first time that happened in my lifetime. We can have 80s in the winter. I don't like it, but, almost everyone I've met from the north say it's much better than ice and barren winter for three months out of the year. Now the exception to that is the Panhandle (Amarillo is a bigger city up that way) that gets much more frequent winter weather, given it's proximity to New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Colorado. The heat though is just really horrible. We had 83 days with temperatures at or above 100 degrees in 2011, and a week of highs between 107 and 114. It was worse than the summer of 1998.
One thing that I think is pretty amazing is in the far northeast corner of Texas (the best known city in that area is Texarkana), it is actually closer to Chicago, Illinois, than to El Paso, Texas.
We Brits are always being told that only a minority of Americans have passports, because America itself is big enough for a wide variety of holidays (vacations). Have you travelled out of the country? If so, where have you been and are there any places you have a burning ambition to visit, either abroad or in the USA, and why are they on your list?
I have never traveled outside of the country. I do not have a passport. Your information is probably correct. One day, I would like to visit Europe. Although most people consider France and Italy at the top of their lists, I would much rather see England, Ireland, Finland, Serbia, Slovenia, Austria, Poland, Switzerland, Norway, and maybe a few other places. Now I think I would enjoy Italy because of the food and I think France would be pretty cool because I studied a lot of French in school and I'm sure they are great people to meet, but they are also the countries that are seen most on television and in books, I feel like maybe there are other monuments and places to see that I haven't heard about that are just as impressive as some of the places in Italy or France.
In America, I'd really like to visit New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Boston, and probably Virginia, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont, and other places in New England.
Are you working now? If so, in what line of work and is it your dream job?
No, I am not working, but I do go to school. For a while I had been a math major and finally decided to add a psych minor. But ultimately I came to switch those two around and earn a psych major with a math minor. I still enjoy math very much but some of the professors are a bit difficult personalities, as one might imagine. The psychology faculty are way more approachable and I feel they are way more sensitive to their students. I started my first two years at a junior college and so completed an A.S. in Mathematics, and when I graduate in 2017 I should have a B.A. (or B.S.) in Psychology with minor in Mathematics. After that, I want to apply either to law school or a graduate theology program. My preference of the two is theology. Ultimately, to become a professor of theology I would need either the Ph.D. in Theology or the Th.D. (doctorate of theology) but if that is too much schooling, even a master's allows one to teach at the junior college level or even at university as an adjunct or lecturer. I think people in general are more open to talking about religion with me because I am effective at explaining where I stand and am persuasive but also I want that other person to feel respected too and not shoot down their beliefs. Because that is a very sorry feeling when it seems someone just wants to denigrate what defines you. I think that I would be really unique in my ability to communicate religious ideas to young people who have a curiosity for religion, a curiosity that is usually only found in people that age and not earlier or later.
You are an avid reader - what books have made the biggest impact on you? What are you reading now and planning to read next?
When I was 14 and in eighth grade, that year I read Crime and Punishment. Dostoyevsky went off on these really wild tangents, such as the internal voice of Raskolnikov where you really can get into his mind and what he's experiencing while walking the streets of Saint Petersburg. Raskolnikov's thought processes really resonated with me, even his drab living accommodations sort of communicated to me a willingness to do without luxury and to survive only on what's necessary. That book shaped me in ways that I don't think I realized until more than eight years later when I tried to reread it. I got up to the point of the pawnbroker's murder, which in my opinion is as brutal as anything one would see on a violent series on cable TV. It's very graphic. And at the point when I realized his thought processes had so entered my mind in those eight years that I could (along with him) justify her murder, I was scared and put it down.
Since then I have read many more of his works but I think the most important one I would recommend is The Idiot. He is a realist author. By realism is meant dealing with real things, things as they are. The kids nowadays wouldn't care for it, it doesn't have fantasy and witches and wizards, vampires, blood rituals, and so forth. Who needs a Western canon, who needs the classics when you can have fads that will be out of style in ten years, yes, who needs timelessness and eternity, and works of art that have stood the test of time? Did I mention I am a huge advocate of the classical canon?
When it comes to other thinkers who have shaped me, I've enjoyed Voltaire and his contes philosophiques, which include Zadig and Candide. I think Thomas Szasz, who was a critic of coercive psychiatry and a psychiatrist himself, was one of the most informative writers. If you read through and researched his footnotes you would be occupied for many years. He was very well-read and probably what you would call a polymath, or close to it.
For levity and economics, Frederic Bastiat (fl. 1850s) is a favorite. I call him an economic parabolist, since his manner of teaching economics was similar to how Christ taught righteousness. He did so through use of stories and symbols with which we are all familiar, the language of buying and selling, negotiating, dealmaking, and business, which are things all of us are in greater or lesser degrees involved in everyday. He illustrated the absurdity of legislating behavior, particularly economic behavior and how the theory of socialism is a failure to understand human nature. People need freedom in economic matters and they need to have the incentive to buy and trade protected; the further the government gets into regulating trading, the less incentive the individual merchant or customer has to engage in that business, meaning business goes down, which is the opposite of what we want. A powerful modern defender of the idea of free markets and laissez-faire is Thomas Sowell, who I was saddened to learn has retired as of December (he turned 86 last year).
And one author that I don't think should escape the American consciousness so quickly is Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Now, I will be accused of still living in the Cold War, but I promise I am not! To assert that there are no longer elements in Russia that still want nebulousness and rivalry between the two nation-states, if not war and apocalypse, is wishful thinking. That would be like saying there are no longer neoconservative elements waiting in the wings in the halls of power in America, waiting to send the world back into world war (I just heard John Bolton say that Russia must be "made to feel pain" for tampering in our elections! Who talks like this, Napoleon Bonaparte?), or that there is not a genuine conspiracy among liberal elites to control every aspect in the way we live, including what we can turn our thermostats on, what kind of lightbulbs we can use, biometric identification on automobiles so that no one can drive your vehicle but you, and that they can shut down whenever they want and track constantly, and most ominously, a completely electronic paperless money system. Then if you dissent, they can make your "dollars" or "credits" vanish with the blink of an eye. They can shut you out of the system. That's how they will instill pure obedience and control, with or without your say-so.
Do you have any particular hobbies or sports you take part in? If you could be any successful professional sportsman, past or present, who would you like to be?
I don't play sports. I've always said I've had trouble moving in three dimensions or manipulating the three dimensions, but I'm fine with the others, such as mind. If I did have the physique for professional sports (6' +, fast, physically strong) I would like to play the quarterback position in American football. It's simultaneously the position that receives the most glory and provokes the most ridicule. I'd probably have received more of the latter but it's still cool being a shot caller and having a team of huge guys protect you, making a game-winning drive, etc.
Maybe a surprising thing about me a lot of people would not know is how important music is in my life. I've played music for over 16 years, including guitar for over 13 years. Before that I played in the school band as a kid. I play music constantly and listen to all different styles but my favorite band is Killswitch Engage, a metalcore band from Massachusetts. I take it pretty seriously, I buy sheet music and learn to play along to albums and I own four different guitars, including three electric and one acoustic. Whereas with listening I enjoy nearly all genres, for playing I play almost only metal, some rock to a lesser extent.
People who have heard me play say that I am really good but I normally don't play for people, except for my cat. He loves it. It's a very personal thing to me that is personally edifying and something that I don't need to share with others.
Think of the things that you aren't good at (in life, not trivia). If you could raise your skill in one of those things to average with just a week of training, what would you work on?
I think it's easy to put up mental barriers around things that we are not capable at, and just avoid doing those things. Then when asked what it is we are not particularly able at, instead of reflecting on an unfortunate fact that makes us feel uneasy, our mind will not allow us to look at it. That may be a way of saying I haven't thought this through and it may be that I can't think of an answer. Maybe if one could learn humility, and losing that sense of I'm never wrong and am always right, if one could achieve that very quickly, it would be highly desirable. I'm not saying I'm a failure in that area, but there have been times I have failed in that regard. And in some manner of speaking, admitting to that, on anyone's part, not just mine, is a difficult task.
And it is fortunate to note that these are a symptom of age, and if one works hard, they can overcome them by the time they are old. But I doubt many do, because this hard task requires a transcendent personality.
Editor - Animals & Sci/Tech