What are Phobos and Deimos?

Man, my sleeping cycle is seriously f**ked up. For the last two weeks or so, I’ve been going to bed really late like around 3 or 4 am but still managed to get up by 10 am to go to work at 11 am. Till recently, looks like my body (more of my brain) has finally taken its toll so I was feeling tired and went to bed early at 11 pm—–believe it or not, my body thinks it’s early. I was hoping I could sleep till 7 am to get my full 8 hours but nope, my body began to stir, slowly getting out of REM stage and woke up at 3 am. Three o’clock!!? Now, I can’t go back to sleep and I dunno if I can go back…. I want to play golf before work. Maybe I’ll stay awake and overload on the coffee or mountain dew till I finish my shift. Oh well.

Enough of my sleep ramblings, I wanted to share that I finished reading a book called “Brainac” by Ken Jennings. If you’re not familiar with the name, he flat out broke the Jeopardy! record for the most consecutive games, seventy-five, and earned three million dollars in winnings. This so happened because Jeopardy! decided not to limit five days winning anymore. A champion can stay on as long as s/he keeps winning. I remember reading about him in the newspapers and started to watch him on Jeopardy! I wish I had a tivo so I could watch all his appearances, maybe there’s a dvd? When I watched him on the show for the first time, I could immediately tell he was different from any contestant and his knowledge of trivia was brilliant and freakingly astounding. He was like a machine, going through questions like he’s Dave Crockett shooting these tin cans as they fall one by one quickly. He knows even the smallest details that no one would bother to know but he knows. He said he enjoys knowing “weird stuffs”, which apparently is extremely useful in trivia.

My first experience with trivia probably was the Gallaudet Academic bowl competition. I believe it first started in 1997 ‘cuz my good friend, Kent, was on the team along with his classmates, Beth and Carolyn. They were a bunch of smart seniors. Well, Kent was definitely a slacker but he knows a lot. They went to Kansas to compete in the Midwest Regional, which they won handily over Texas and earned a trip to the deaf national tournament at Gallaudet Univ. in Washington, DC. They didn’t win as California School for the Deaf Riverside (CSDR), became the first school to win the tournament. Kent, Beth and Carolyn graduated that year and who’s the next crop? It was Nick Beck, Jill Birchall, Kevin Symons and myself.

I truly feel that we couldn’t have a better team, with Nick being our “anchor”, it was his first chance to be in the spotlight than constantly being teased in school or getting stuffed in some lockers. I think we also got to see how smart he really was, despite his eccentric personality. He reads a ton of books, possesses a sponge-like memory, is excellent at remembering people names like the Supreme Court judges or U.S. presidents, and current world events as he likes to read newspapers daily.

Jill, the only girl on the team, knew what most girls like to know–celebrities, literature, art—and she even surprised us with some music knowledge like she knew who was on the Grateful Dead band, despite we’re all deaf and knows NOTHING about music culture. Boy, we would sink without her. She’d spend summers catching up on People magazines and YM/Seventeen’s, although she probably has graduated to reading Cosmopolitan now. Like Nick, she remembers names very well.

Our third player, Kevin, he’s the one who got married recently is a different kind of nerd than Nick is. He wasn’t necessarily eccentric, just a bit of loner who would wander in his own world but he came alive in geography and he knows all U.S. capitals. He’s also good at math—quickly solving problems and guess what? he is now a project manager of a small firm that drafts blueprints for wealthy people who want to build a million dollar home. Those blueprints cost more than four figures.

Now, the fourth player, me. Ha, I don’t have much to say except I know a bit about sports, some random facts (maybe weird) and history. That’s about it. I wonder how did I get on the team. I think I was good at keeping the team together and being upbeat, like Jill and Nick didn’t get along so well, ha. So, that’s the four of us and one coach/teacher, Marybeth Lauderdale. I can see why she was so excited for us and really thought we had a team that was good enough to win the national. Except on one question: Name the two moons around Mars.

It was the last game in the Midwest Regional tournament, having blown away every other teams except maybe for one team, Indiana. Our final opponent was Missouri; we had beaten them in the first round but they fought their way back into the final round. Their team was led by one girl—I don’t remember her name—but she wasn’t pretty and looked like a snotty pig to me. One thing I still remember about that girl was that one MSD student told me that she wasn’t even a full-time MSD student; she only took one class, a PE, at the deaf school while the rest of her classes was at a public school. She had just transferred there so she can be eligible to participate in the academic bowl competition. On the contrary, Jill was born deaf and entered 0 to 3 infant program at ISD and remained there till she graduated. You think such a “scandal” would only occur on the NCAA level? Think again!

In the first three rounds, our brains were hitting on full cylinders, pulling ahead hard and was ten points away from having an insurmountable lead that they couldn’t beat us on the final “jeopardy” question. I think the score was 125 to 55. But on the final question, “Where will be the next Deaf Winter Olympics held in?” That pig-faced girl buzzed in before I could and she answered correctly, Denmark. That gave her team 10 points, from 55 to 65, thus not out of the game because they could bet all of their points to double their score and we’d have to be wise with our wager. I remember I was soo pissed as they still had a chance. And what a big chance that was.

In our final team conference, we knew they would bet it all so we bet only 10 points. The final question’s about to start and it was to “name the two moons around Mars.” We looked at each other, expecting to see who knows the answer. None of us knew. We looked over the other side. We saw the pig-faced girl made a gasp, looked down and wrote the answer. She knew! that pig-faced girl. We tried to re-focus and discuss, frantically trying to get an answer but it was all hopeless. We had lost. They doubled their score to 130 and we went 10 points down to 115. The whole thing was over and they’re going to Washington, DC, not us. It was the worst feeling, like getting kicked in the stomach. I felt like throwing up. Really was sick. I remember being shocked, then got really mad at myself for not stealing the last question—the next Deaf Olympics. I knew that one. Like Ken Jennings, he got jeopardized for not knowing the answer to “most of this firm’s seven thousand seasonal white-collar employees work only four months a year.”

That was eight years ago and I still remember like it happened last week. At least I had good memories, it was a blast with my team and we really learned a lot of stuffs like how facts are connected to each other and being more in touch with the world like I want to travel Europe someday. I enjoy doing crossword puzzles and like to watch Jeopardy! shows. Of course, I had my high school crush on Jill, so maybe that’s why I got on the team. ;-)