Minh’s Notes

Human-readable chicken scratch

Minh Nguyễn
January 29th, 2005
Quiz Team


Quiz Team dominates at Northmont

The St. X Quiz Team once again participated in the Northmont Academic Challenge Tournament. We defeated several good teams personally and beat out a number of other schools by pointage. I attended and participated in the matches for the last time, and I have some vital Quiz Team trivia for you (oxymoron intended).

Read on for the good stuff…

(We were team 44, for all of you keeping track. That means none of you, of course.)


By this morning, I wasn’t even sure if I should go to this tournament, especially because of the distance: supposedly one hour away. Between the ice that was falling from the sky and the impending layer of snow, the weather made this tournament a risky affair. Because I insisted, my father reluctantly drove me there.

It took us about 1½ hours to get there, but the weather cleared up completely by the time we reached Dayton, and we arrived a bit early: shortly after I got there, the staff announced, “We’re on our way to being on time!”

I’m not sure all of you appreciate how much that statement meant to us, and to the staff there.


I didn’t go with the Varsity team today, so all I know is that they had a perfect record and ended up winning the entire Varsity bracket. They’ll therefore advance to state. The Varsity team consisted of Melson, Barber, Seifried, Kiger, and possibly one other member (I can’t remember), and was supervised by Mr. Seifried, since Mr. Hussong could not attend.

Junior Varsity starts out well

We played our first match against the Northridge JV team. We beat them 38–55.

I answered a few questions, including these:

Photoshop, Illustrator, and Acrobat. These computer programs are made—
What is the highest digit in the hexadecimal number system?

This question was also notable:


Nowadays this disease is treated by taking antacids. It is caused by H. pylori. In the past, drinking large quantities of milk would be recommended. Name this disease.

…and continues against a familiar team

Then came a surprise: I came to the tournament with the understanding that few teams would come from our neck of the woods, but apparently the Cincinnati area sent quite a few of its teams up to Northmont. So we played Loveland for the second round.

At this point, the Math Round questions started getting overly contrived. Here’s an example, which we obviously got wrong. I don’t even know the answer (I never bothered to try it out…):

For this problem, let set A equal all the odd numbers from 50-99, let set B equal all the multiples of 3 from 60-90, and let set C equal all the multiples of 7 from 60-90.

Now find the union between sets B and C; then find the intersection between that and set A.

You get 15 seconds to answer this problem.

There was one I knew though:

Integrate x4 + 4x for the variable x from 1 to 0. (But did they mean “from 0 to 1”? I’ll never know…)

For this round, we decided to start letting AJ Arand play during the Lightning Round (which was 20 questions long this year, thankfully). Unfortunately we got a question that nobody knew, except me, but I had to sit out anyways:

In what language does the past participial form of a verb always end in -ado or -ido?

Nevertheless, we won the game, scoring 56 points against their 21. Then our Varsity team came in to visit us. Apparently we had beaten them significantly in terms of pointage, even though both the Varsity and Junior Varsity tournaments were apparently using the same questions.

…and rolls along

We next played against Piqua. I was particularly pleased that the Physical Science round was filled with questions on SI units used in physics. For all these questions, we were given what units each unit was derived from:

What is the unit for joules per second?
What is the unit for coulombs per volt?
What is the unit for kilogram meters per second squared?

During the Lightning Round, I again sat out and got frustrated over the lack of answers:

What German philosopher co-wrote the Communist Manifesto with Karl Marx?
Charles II took over the throne of England after what ruler abdicated?

We won the match 61–23.

…and keeps going…

We defeated Greenville 69–22. AJ was particularly happy about answering this question correctly:

Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell)’s job is the same as the title of this 2004 film.

…and stops a bit for lunch

They served the Walking Tacos again today, but this time they called them “Travelin’ Tacos.” Whatever. They still taste good. But since we pre-ordered pizza for the entire team, those tacos had to travel into someone else’s stomach. (I hope that’s not too disgusting; I can’t tell because I’m writing this late at night.)

Some students were collecting the tops of people’s pop cans, for a project that the Northmont students are engaging in: they’re filling a big N-shaped bin with those tops, to raise money for a charity. I contributed – Mr. Kemper would be proud.

Junior Varsity just keeps on buzzing…

We headed back to the classrooms and competed against Tri-County North. It was here that I answered my most questions – some right, some wrong, and some that I timed horribly:

According to the Pythagorean identity, sin²x +cos²x is always equal to what number?
What type of paint is made by mixing powder—
What term do meteorologists use to describe the temperature at which cooled air condenses into water vapor?

AJ was frustrated that Ed got this one wrong:

In English, what does the German word hund mean?

We defeated TCN, 51–18.

When I found out that the moderator was a Spanish teacher, I asked her what a particular sign on the chalkboard was all about:

The sign reads, “No se ganó Zabora en una hora.” What’s it mean?

Not done yet…

At the end of these five rounds, St. X beat out the rest of its bracket, scoring a total of 292 points. This meant that we were to advance to the semifinals. We got another suprise: everyone who advanced to the semi-final level came from the Cincinnati area.

We could’ve just done the whole thing at Cincinnati State, where we usually hold GCAL. (By the way, Mr. Sunderhaus, director of the GCAL was present, as with every year.)

Learning how to play tough

We played Milford next. They were an excellent adversary, keeping about even with us throughout the entire match, to the point that one measly little technicality meant win or lose for each team. See if you can answer this question correctly:

On a piano with two pedals, what does the petal on the right do?
This wartime conference decided that … [I can’t remember the rest…]

The question that started all the challenging turns out to possibly be false. It established that someone had ascended to the peak of Mt. Everest just before Sir Everest, but that Sir Everest had gotten credit for the ascent. But it looks as if Everest himself never climbed the mountain. Please correct me if I’m wrong about this…

We defeated Milford 45–43, after a harrowing and overly-stressful match. My late-night synopsis cannot express how close this match was, but afterwards Breyer had to step out and get a drink of water, just to cool down!

And how to relax

Compared to the previous round, the finals were incredibly relaxed. So much so that I can’t think of much to say other than our score: 57–41 against McNicholas. We won the entire tournament!

But is it worth it?

Nope. Northmont still isn’t worth the drive, and I have a feeling that, unlike this year, people won’t be lining up to participate. Despite the Walking Tacos.


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