Interview with Looney_Tunes

Posted by: Pagiedamon

Interview with Looney_Tunes - Thu May 24 2012 10:58 AM

I already know the story... but perhaps you can explain to others why you chose the username 'looney_tunes'.

My daughter actually was the one who discovered FunTrivia while she was playing games on the internet instead of working on her Honours thesis - avoidance behaviour actually paid off! She and I agreed that it would be fun to set up an account and invite family members to join - it would not only amuse us all, but the team message board would offer the opportunity for quick informal conversations. We set up our account, and jointly decided to use the name looney_tunes because we both love the classic Warner Brothers cartoons, which contain so many jokes that you only get after repetition. Cartoons are for adults, and those guys knew it. Meep, meep.

If you could change your username, what would it become?

Something without the underscore - it's such a pain to write! So I'd also avoid introducing capitals - I want it to be easy to type quickly - maybe something like busridesrus or physicsrules.

Please tell us three unusual or interesting facts about yourself.

I don't feel terribly unusual or interesting, but here goes.

I taught myself to read at the age of four, by picking up a French primer called 'Totor et Tristan' that my mother had on the bookshelf (from when she had started studying French in Grade 1). I trailed her around the house for a couple of days asking her how to pronounce each word one after the other until she got tired of my frustration that they didn't seem to make sense, and she found a more traditional primer for me to use. It was much easier to make sense of the words in English. As soon as I thought I had the process under control, I excitedly shared the world of reading with my two brothers (a twin and one a year younger) by locking them in a large closet and not letting them out until they had managed to read the designated page to me. I have never understood why neither of them loves reading as much as I do.

My twin brother taught me and our younger brother to count before any of us started school when he instituted the Saturday morning practice of evening up our leftover money from the previous week's allowance before the new one was doled out. After a few months he realized that he was always the one who had the most left, and the loser in the process, while our younger brother never had any left, so always came out a winner.

I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts, and my family moved to suburban Philadelphia when I was in high school. I went back to college in New England (Smith), and still miss the proper New England seasons. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher (see above!), and thought it would be in English until my first year in college. In my first year, however, I realized that of all 120+ girls in my first year Physics course, the only ones who had enjoyed high school Physics were the four of us from my high school, and I decided that it would be my mission in life to teach Physics to girls. Then I graduated with a BA in Physics just when the space program was being cut back severely, and high school teaching jobs had PhDs applying - I didn't see great prospects of getting a job in a part of the country where I wanted to be facing that competition, and heard that Australia was looking for Physics teachers. There was also the minor issue that I had decided to accelerate and finish in three-and-a-half years, so would be looking for work in January rather than September. I spent a couple of weeks travelling around and checking out employment prospects during the summer between my Junior and Senior years, and returned with a job in my pocket for the following January.

You've lived in Australia for a long time. If you could import one American thing into Australia (that isn't there already!) what would it be? And conversely, what Australian thing would you like to take with you if you ever had to move back to the USA

Australia is in desperate need of Fenway Park and white pines. Well, maybe not. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of family outings to watch the Red Sox play, seated behind first base with my brothers sporting baseball gloves in case a foul ball came our way. (One did, once, but it hit one of my brothers on the head before being caught by someone a few rows behind us.) Buy me some peanuts and Crackerjacks, … Now that I have cable TV, I always check out the baseball games that get televised to see if it's Boston. Last week it was, but they were playing in Philadelphia, not at Fenway. I need to see the Green Monster to feel as if I'm watching a proper game of baseball. And the white pines? When I returned to New England for my parents' 50th wedding anniversary, I spent some time travelling around visiting some places I remember fondly from growing up, and saying a proper farewell to them. The first time I left, I had no idea that it would be forever, so it was good to visit my old summer camp, for example, and look at it knowing that I might never be there again. And the entire trip, in late summer, was suffused with the scent of white pine. Scents are powerful memory triggers, and just a whiff of pine now brings back all sorts of memories.

If I were to move back to the United States, I certainly wouldn't be bringing Vegemite with me! I have become a big cricket fan, so maybe I could persuade the Australian Cricket team to establish a new training venue? And of course the AFL could consider expanding beyond its current national base to include an American team. Travelling for the weekly matches shouldn't really be too much of an obstacle.

In your profile, you state: "Our family includes a Maths/Science teacher and timetabler nearing retirement (and) a University lecturer in History..." Which part of that describes you? And what can you tell us about your profession?

I am the Maths/Science teacher and timetabler nearing retirement. In 1973 I arrived in Wollongong, New South Wales, all ready to inspire the girls at St. Mary's College with a love of Physics and Chemistry. My first day I walked into a class of 45 students, and was more than a little taken aback. (While I was in high school, most of my classes were 12-15 students; there was one class that had 25, and we all felt as if it was too large for words.) Fortunately, their practical lessons were organized so that half the class had Physical Education while the other half had Science, then they reversed. Not very flexible for integrating practical work into the classroom, but not as dangerous as 45 Bunsen burners all going at once! It was also a shock to discover that Year 10 students had to be prepared for external exams on all four years of their curriculum to that point, so as well as teaching the Year 10 work I had to systematically revise the other material. Since the last time I studied anything that remotely resembled Biology was a Grade 6 experiment involving celery and red ink, and I had never studied any Geology, I had a lot of self-instruction to do that first year! Fortunately, my senior classes were a joy - only 8 girls were interested in the Physics/Chemistry course, and that year was the introduction of the use of the exact courses I had studied myself in high school - moving away from the Australian texts famously written by Harry Messel, they moved to investigation-based learning. That was so much fun it easily offset the traumas of the two Year 10 classes.

When my husband decided that the pursuit of his music career required a move to Melbourne, I wound up in a coed school, and had mathematics added to Physics for my teaching. Sadly, I only taught a few years of Year 11 Chemistry in this state, since there was already a Chemistry teacher on staff. But I was offered the position of Mathematics Coordinator when the Maths and Science faculty was split into two separate faculties, and was able to oversee the introduction of the Victorian Certificate of Education (replacing the former Higher School Certificate), with its emphasis on problem solving and process as being more important than just rote memorization of facts and procedures. Not that I advocate doing away with those - if you don't know the basics, you can't see the beautiful big pictures that are waiting to be found.

Then my school decided that it was time to set up a proper timetabling position, rather than expecting the Deputy Principal to spend every vacation wrestling with the timetable. Once I took that up, my classroom teaching time started to dwindle, as it became obvious that the job really needed to involve more than just constructing the timetable for each term. I am now also responsible for what is called Daily Organisation, arranging for teachers to replace their absent colleagues each day (which means a 6:45am start to have the information for the day ready for everyone by 8:00 - good ting I am a morning person), as well as monitoring student electives, maintaining the school's records on VASS (I forget what the acronym stands for, it is the central computerized record of all students and their studies in their final two years of schooling), overseeing the production of reports each term using the computer-based reporting system (and helping all the teachers who can't work out how to make it work), and assorted other tasks that come across my desk. I haven't taught for three years, but do still have a debating team that I coach for the inter-school competition.

You're into the seventh year of your FT journey. Looking back, how has it panned out and is there any advice you would give to those just starting?

Has it really been that long? Wow. I have enjoyed so many aspects of the experience, it's hard to know where to start. The planned family communication didn't work out, and the others became inactive pretty quickly. But my daughter and I used to enjoy playing the Global Challenge together. I'm not sure it's legal, but we were never a seriously competitive unit. We would take turns being the one to read out the question, then agree on our answer. Then we started sharing the load - one for me, one for her, one to share together out of each set; then it just got too hard. She got too busy to spend meaningful time on FiunTrivia, and I took over. The account is mine, I tell you, all mine! (We do still occasionally collaborate on writing quizzes, but even that is getting increasingly rare.)

I think there were two memorable moments in the voyage. First, after playing nearly a thousand quizzes, I decided to write one. Knitwittery is still there, and not bad, although pretty basic. It took a while to really get the quiz-writing bug - I blame kyle for that. I kept seeing references to the Authors Lounge, and finally found my way there. The rest is history.

Then one day I received an invitation to join Revenge of the Llamas (thank you, GTC). After a couple of years playing all the team games, and checking to see that my score, the only one for my team, would have been competitive if there had been an actual team score, it was really exciting to join a team whose activity around the site I had previously noticed. It's great to be part of a like-minded team - I would recommend to any newcomer that they try and find a congenial team, and enjoy that extra dimension of fun.

Someone who's never written a quiz asks you for a couple of pointers. What do you recommend?

1) Play a whole lot of quizzes, on any topics that interest you. (Of course, include the ones about how to write quizzes!) Aim for the ones with sunglasses next to their names, as players have enjoyed those quizzes, and you will get a feel for what works.
2) Browse through the categories, and discover what is hiding where - there are so many quizzes on such a range of topics! Before you decide you will write on something because it isn't already there, look really hard to be sure.
3) When you think you have an idea of what makes a good quiz, and you know what you want to write about, go play some more quizzes, everything that is related to the quiz you are planning, so you know that you are not repeating questions and information that have been used a lot of times before.
4) As you are setting up your template, read the Quiz Creation Guidelines for your chosen category, and pay close attention to them.
5) Before you submit your quiz, make sure you have followed the guidelines, and take the time to proofread carefully. I actually write my quizzes in a Word document, both because it makes it easy to change the order of the questions midway if it seems a good idea, and because the spellchecker catches most of my typos. (Except for the Amazing Race and the Sprint, when I have been trying to cut corners to write quickly, so have just done an outline in Word before typing straight into the template. This saves a matter of minutes, which can matter in a race, but is not nearly so significant under ordinary circumstances.)
6) Remember it's supposed to be fun! If an editor tells you that changes are needed, accept that they have more experience than you, and do it, even if you are muttering under your breath as you do so. I remember muttering over several of my early quizzes, and can now see why I had to do it. The feeling of getting your quiz online is well worth sacrificing a bit of ego over your baby in the process.

What's your favourite quiz that you've written that you feel doesn't get the recognition it deserves?

'Baseball for Sports Haters' is one of my few quizzes without sunglasses, and I actually think it is a really clever quiz. I was inspired while playing Trivial Pursuit with my daughter, who got a baseball question and remarked, "You know that if it isn't Babe Ruth I don't know the answer." I got to wondering if there were in fact ten good independent questions that could have Babe Ruth as the answer, but with three plausible alternatives as well, and the research started. There was some controversy when it went online, because it breaks the statement that quizzes for which all questions have the same answer will not be accepted. But I think that the questions are really good ones, and each one of them is thought-provoking unless you realize that there is a pattern developing.

What's your favourite quiz of someone else's that doesn't get the recognition it deserves?

It's hard to be definitive, but Uglybird has a bunch of amazing quizzes - I remember discovering them, and playing through the entire list in a fit of indulgence. "All's Well: Endings That (Somehow) Satisfy" is one of the lowest-ranked, and an excellent quiz in my opinion. Of course, your stick figures are inspirational, but I believe they are also pretty well recognized by the FT public.

Which quizzes that you have edited stand out the most to you?

Sadly, the ones that stand out the most are the totally unintelligible ones that get submitted on occasion. I have only awarded Editors Choices to a few quizzes - they really stood out as excellent creations. Now, if only I could remember which ones they were. One of them was 'Yours Truly, Cassandra' by Adams627.

Looney, we know you play a big part in adding quizzes to the bus ride. You must enjoy geography. What's the story behind that?

Actually, I never thought of myself as enjoying Geography until I started taking the Bus Ride quizzes. My younger brother was the Geography expert of the family, able to recite state and country capitals at the drop of a hat, and he actually majored in Geography at college. I didn't even participate at all in the original quest to organize a quiz for every country. But once I started on the Bus Ride, I was rather appalled at the poor quality of some of the quizzes that had to be used because there was no alternative. Many were old, with little or no extra information, and often included facts (such as currency, internet domains, and the American state that is closest in size to this country) that really annoyed me because I do not know them, will never know them, and don't care. (This is as much a comment on me as on the quizzes - they were all suitable quizzes when they were written, and were certainly better than nothing as a source of information about these countries.) I was also sucked in by a thread on the Bus Ride chatboard started by doublemm about foods to be found in the various countries we visited. I ended up making the tour more interesting for myself by finding out about local foods each day. By the start of the second circuit, this had become a habit, so I decided to post about local holidays for each country. By the end of the second circuit, I ran out of steam - I was the only person posting anything, and I couldn't think of a third focus area that I would be able to sustain for 195 countries. By that time, the Bus Ride Replacement challenge was in place, and I had started writing new quizzes to replace the ones that irritated me. It is absolutely fascinating to research a country about which you know virtually nothing, and share the interesting things you find with others. Other authors have joined the quest, and we now have 195 quizzes that rank in the top half of quizzes on the site as far as popularity goes. Now my target is to get every country up to two quizzes, so that at the start of each circuit a significant number of quizzes can be replaced to provide variety without sacrificing quality. By the way, Georgia (the country, not the state) is one of 53 countries that still only has a single suitable quiz.

Considering all of the influence you've had with the 'Bus Ride' quizzes and that you've written many yourself, what would be the top few destinations you'd like to visit?

I love cold climates - I have always fancied visiting Norway for the fjords, and of course Antarctica. I almost applied for a six-month posting there, but decided against it since my daughter was then only three, and it would have been a long separation. Too bad the Bus Ride doesn't go there. If I were a person of wealth and leisure, I would want to visit almost every country about which I have written - I have invariably found fascinating things in each of them. I might, however, avoid the ones with active civil wars underway.

Which three countries or places would you like to avoid like the plague?

Anyplace where the locals rejoice in the fact that the temperature never falls below 30C. I am a cold-weather person. There are a lot of tropical destinations that others yearn for - I'm heading to the poles, wearing my warmest clothing and loving the feel of icy air on my face. And, as mentioned above, I am a complete coward and have no interest in visiting places where active warfare is in progress.

As an American in Oz who supports the Australian Cricket Team, how dreadful for you was it when England won the Ashes (twice)?

You are an evil rabbit. And Ricky Ponting has your details. So does Pup. We will get ours (someday).

What's a typical day in the life of looney_tunes like?

Alarm goes at 4:30am. If I am lucky, the dogs have stayed in my daughter's room overnight. If not, the alarm is quickly followed by a Jack Russell and a Cairn leaping onto my chest, each trying to get my assurance that I love them the best. Breakfast while I check out latest events at Funtrivia (and grab three letters) before leaving to arrive at work by 6:45. Cover the teachers who are away for the day, cursing when 12 call in sick on the same morning, and attend to various tasks associated with my job. Keep answering my phone to be told that someone hasn't turned up, and try to find where they are. Also track down classes that have moved from their timetabled room without telling anyone, so the student who has arrived late can find their class. Try to work on the big jobs around the edges. Go home. In the summer, we often take the dogs to a nearby park for a run; in the winter I just stagger home and collapse. My daughter is in charge of cooking, unless she has a meeting or other commitment, so I am free to play the daily games (which tick over at 4pm or 5pm depending on the season). Working around system maintenance, which occurs during prime playing time for me, I usually spend a couple of hours editing (but tonight I am writing interview responses instead - sorry guys). Bedtime for me is around 8:30 - I sleep in front of the TV, so that I can try to watch all the interesting shows that are broadcast when they think people are watching. I actually see very little of them.

Weekends start with walking the dogs, housework, then settling down to quiz writing and/or editing. While I watch the cricket or football, of course. My daughter is usually doing research, so we work in companionable concentration.

If you could be a character in any novel you've ever read, who would you be and why?

When I was young, I wanted to be Cherry Ames because solving all those mysteries in exotic circumstances seemed exciting - then I found out what nursing is really like. Then it was Eowyn, who got to ride a lot of horses and mix it with the 'real men'. Now I am happy to be myself - the interesting characters in books have more problems to confront than I have the energy to contemplate.

I know that you have two terriers, rather like the two in your avatar (cute avatar by the way ) and a horse, plus a possum or two in the roof, but if you had to come back to earth as an animal (not the human variety) which would you choose and why?

I wonder why you like the brilliant flopsatar. I think I would like to be a cat - their evil sense of humour appeals to me. (We are temporarily between cats - they will rejoin the household when we build the new house with a cat enclosure.) And I am sure I could find some humans to keep me in the fashion to which I would like to become accustomed.

Thanks to all who took part.
Posted by: salami_swami

Re: Interview with Looney_Tunes - Thu May 24 2012 11:10 AM

Nice interview, LT. smile I agree about the underscore. It's a pain in the uh huh.
Posted by: rossian

Re: Interview with Looney_Tunes - Thu May 24 2012 12:37 PM

Fascinating interview, L_T. I didn't realise you started off American before moving to Australia. Moving down under is pretty common for the British, but it was a real surprise to me that you went there from the States. Bearing in mind your dislike of hot weather, I'd have thought Canada would have been more to your taste.

I share your love of cricket, but I think you might have an uphill task importing it to America. A game with breaks for meals and which can last five days without either team winning might just be difficult to sell.
Posted by: salami_swami

Re: Interview with Looney_Tunes - Thu May 24 2012 01:01 PM

Upon that description, it's more than an uphill task... It's a wall going straight up, but once you get fairly high it quickly curves, making it even more difficult. It's like a lower case "f" without the doohickey slashing through it... Straight up, then curve. Try climbing that (from the inside, of course).
Posted by: George95

Re: Interview with Looney_Tunes - Thu May 24 2012 02:08 PM

Great interview Looney_Tunes. I didn't know either that there were any Americans living Down Under.
Originally Posted By: rossian
Bearing in mind your dislike of hot weather, I'd have thought Canada would have been more to your taste.

This message was brought to you by Tourism Canada. wink But do realize, that it is 30 Celsius outside right now and I'm sweating like __________ in here. mad

Originally Posted By: rossian
I share your love of cricket, but I think you might have an uphill task importing it to America. A game with breaks for meals and which can last five days without either team winning might just be difficult to sell.
Originally Posted By: salami_swami
Upon that description, it's more than an uphill task... It's a wall going straight up, but once you get fairly high it quickly curves, making it even more difficult. It's like a lower case "f" without the doohickey slashing through it... Straight up, then curve. Try climbing that (from the inside, of course).

Rossian. Agreed. Cricket in North America are those animals that chirp in the evening.
Salami, huh? confused If we use a North American sport analogy, that was so far out in left field, that it's a home run!
Posted by: guitargoddess

Re: Interview with Looney_Tunes - Thu May 24 2012 02:13 PM

Originally Posted By: rossian
Bearing in mind your dislike of hot weather, I'd have thought Canada would have been more to your taste.

She'd only like it here in the winter, it's 35 frickin degrees right now, at least where I am.

I'm with you L_T, I prefer it cooler. Not COLD, but if it stayed between -10 and 15 or so all year round, I'd be happy enough!
Posted by: salami_swami

Re: Interview with Looney_Tunes - Thu May 24 2012 02:24 PM

Gasp, that's 95F degrees. Bleh. I guess that means it's about 35C here, too. :P

lol, George. My description is of a sloped wall. I overcomplicated it, but cannot for the life of me figure out how to uncomplify it. :P
Posted by: eyhung

Re: Interview with Looney_Tunes - Thu May 24 2012 03:19 PM

Really enjoyed this interview with one of my favorite quiz authors. Keep them coming!
Posted by: dg_dave

Re: Interview with Looney_Tunes - Thu May 24 2012 09:38 PM

Originally Posted By: salami_swami
Gasp, that's 95F degrees. Bleh. I guess that means it's about 35C here, too.

I haven't done it yet, but Lubbock one day in April hit 40°C (that's 104°F for Imperialists). I've seen as warm as 44°C (or 111°F) here.
Posted by: MikeMaster99

Re: Interview with Looney_Tunes - Fri May 25 2012 08:00 AM

Great interview Looney_Tunes - thank you and thanks to the interrogators too!

Your wish for cold weather was obviously heard - we've just had the coldest May day here in Melbourne for over a decade - the top temperature was 11C (52F). It bucketed with rain too. Not that bad if it was mid-August, but rather harsh in May. I hoped you enjoyed it!
Posted by: queproblema

Re: Interview with Looney_Tunes - Fri May 25 2012 10:12 AM

Great to see this!

If you want a "cool" vacation site, come see us in Alaska! It's 48 F. (about 9 C.) here right now.

As to civil wars, the last shot of the Civil War was fired here, but it's been pretty calm since then.

Thanks for all the improvements you've made to FT!
Posted by: salami_swami

Re: Interview with Looney_Tunes - Fri May 25 2012 10:45 AM

It's been raining buckets here, too, Mike... But it's been 95F (35C, I believe) with the rain. It's been miserable. Hot rain is no fun. frown
Posted by: Jakeroo

Re: Interview with Looney_Tunes - Sun Jun 03 2012 03:00 PM

You'd prefer cold rain?? hmmm, I doubt that.
In the last 40 years, it's only been above 30C where I live maybe 1 or 2 days (at most) per year. However, for 6 months of the year you can expect to have MINUS 30C at any time (plus another 2 months of bad sledding and/or road construction). You people in southern Ontario have your own thermal zone lol.

Anyway, that was an interesting interview. And Looney? You're welcome to visit me anytime. Bring a shovel ~~
Posted by: salami_swami

Re: Interview with Looney_Tunes - Mon Jun 04 2012 08:22 AM

Yes, Jakeroo, I'd prefer cold rain. smile
Posted by: Tizzabelle

Re: Interview with Looney_Tunes - Mon Jun 04 2012 09:48 AM

A mate of mine is from Boston though she's lived here for most of the last 24 years. She recently lived back in the USA in various locations so she's sharpened up her slightly dulled New England accent but it's interesting to hear her say "mum" instead of "mom". How dulled is that NE accent Looney_Tunes, or do you still sound like you got off the ship yesterday? smile
Posted by: Jazmee27

Re: Interview with Looney_Tunes - Fri Oct 12 2012 06:51 PM

It really is true: you’re your own worst critic, and much more interesting than you give yourself credit for. smile Thanks so much, looney_tunes for this great opportunity to know you better. smile (And you’re lucky to have a twin—I’ve always wanted one of those.) smile

I’m with my mother on the weather: not enough sun frown (don’t necessarily like it “hot,” or even “warm,” but would settle for just “sunny.” smile The wind here tends to be too blustery and cold for me—the fall temperatures are becoming unbearable. frown It’s too cold to open a window, but too warm not too—and the summers arejust as bad, with one not being able to open the window for lack of flowing air. frown Isn’t there such a thing as balance? Not where I come from, there isn’t—the weather’s become more and more unpredictable each year, like last week’s eighty degrees and this week’s thirties. Then it’s going back up.) frown frown frown
Posted by: cubswin2323

Re: Interview with Looney_Tunes - Fri Oct 19 2012 06:58 PM

I enjoyed the interview. It kind of reminds me Inside the Actors Studio, a series which I just love! I'm just waiting for my my turn at it. I'll try to make it interesting and entertaining.
Posted by: salami_swami

Re: Interview with Looney_Tunes - Sun Oct 21 2012 06:55 PM

Me too, Dave. I'm only hoping I am an exciting enough person for an interview. :-P. my life has revolved around FunTrivia for so long..... Haha. I'm 20, and have been on FT for 7 years. I can't remember life without it. wink
Posted by: underscored

Re: Interview with Looney_Tunes - Thu Oct 25 2012 07:16 AM

In defense of cricket we now hove twenty over cricket, fifty over cricket, one day cricket and for the total diehards - like myself - five day cricket, which, by the way has a rest day on the fourth day and only goes from 9am to 6pm with breaks.
As for weather generally the cold weather is on the south east coast. Not so lucky in Perth where I am.
Very glad to have looney_tunes as an Australian - but would like to see a full game of baseball personally - and sometimes we have to lose the ashes just to make England think they are still in the competition mmmmm....? still cannot see why anyone would hate vegemite????
Posted by: Daaanieeel

Re: Interview with Looney_Tunes - Thu Oct 25 2012 08:27 AM

Everything underscored just said applies to me as well. smile
Great interview Looney, quite interesting. smile