Saturday, February 19, 2011

2011 Knowledge Bowl

On Monday evening, I got an unexpected phone call from my good buddy Chad Byrd. The purpose of his call was to ask me if I wanted to participate in the Knowledge Bowl, as a member of his team. I had never heard of the event, but could surmise what it was all about. My initial reaction was "Are you SURE you want me on your team?" You see, Chad is a freaking genius, and I am not just tossing that term around. The guy is brilliant. The last thing I wanted to do was drag down the team. But Chad thought I could be beneficial because in the past there had been quite a few Constitutional questions asked. So I agreed to join the team.

Rounding out the team were Chad's lovely wife and his father-in-law, who is as cool as the other side of the pillow. We felt as though we had a pretty nice team. I am somewhat of a history buff, with quite a bit of a math background, and I have a decent knowledge of sports and entertainment. Chad is a whiz at math, knows politics, and can hold his own in physics and chemistry. Meredith seems to have a good grasp on pop culture, and she knows her biology. Mike...well...I'm not sure what he knows...but he IS old. I guess we figured experience counted for something. Seriously, I don't know enough about Mike to know where his knowledge is most focused, but he is undoubtedly a very sharp fellow.

 So now we're all set. We have our pencils sharpened, we have our thinking caps on, our cell phones are off, and we are ready. As the questions begin, we are feeling pretty good about things. Some we know without a doubt, some we have made educated guesses, and some we can't even conjure up a guess. But as the questions progress, we become more and more bewildered. There were so many questions that were straight statistics questions. One question even referenced a poll that was taken. That's right, a SINGLE POLL! Instead of the questions being reflective of general knowledge, quite a few of them were percentages and derived directly from news clips.

For example:

What percentage of the land in the State of Texas is used for agricultural purposes?
I will bet I can find several different answers to this question, and all from credible sources. For one thing, this number is not static. With the extraordinary growth being currently experienced in Texas, who can say with all certainty what this number is?

What percentage of the world's supply of cotton comes from Texas?
Once again, this is a fluid number that is nearly impossible to calculate. Is there really someone that keeps track of EVERY pound of cotton produced in the world?

There are 890 million gallons of milk produced in Texas every year. This is enough to fill the Astrodome how many times?
Well, wouldn't that depend on some unlisted factors? Is this during a huge football game, where the stands are packed with people, the vendors are fully stocked with supplies, etc? Is it just factoring in the exterior dimensions of the Astrodome? Again, I find this question impossible to answer. Let's say the average person is the equivalent of 25 gallons. I think that would be a fair assumption. So if there are 65,000 fans in the stands, 300 players, coaches, and support staff, 1,000 staff, reporters, security personnel, etc., let's just call it 67,000 people. That alone would consume over a million and a half gallons. That says nothing about the truckloads of equipment that are used to supply a place like the Astrodome.

Anyhow, that's enough of the criticism. The event was a great deal of fun, and I saw some folks there that I would not have expected to see. The fact that the proceeds go to benefit the Adult Literacy Council makes it that much better. There aren't many things that I get very emotional about, but I would say that adult literacy would fall into that category. Having been fortunately blessed with parents that valued education, as well as wonderful teachers in my formative years, reading and writing has never been a concern for me. Because of that fact, I am very sensitive to the feelings of those that have difficulties in the area of literacy. The ability to read and write is the ultimate ability to free oneself and liberate one's mind. I am reminded of the scene in the movie "Primary Colors" where Jack Stanton visits the library where the lady is teaching adults to read. If that scene doesn't tug at your heartstrings, you may not have any. Mikelti Williamson did a brilliant job in that scene, as did John Travolta.

So it was a great event that benefited a great cause, and I had the opportunity to visit and compete with some great friends. Not too shabby for a Friday night in Victoria. And even though we didn't know the catcher's name in Abbott & Costello's "Who's on first?" skit, or what Moses' wife's name was, or who ended a World Series by being caught stealing, or how many Psalms were attributed to Moses, I think we are all still pretty smart. I hope I got that one right!


Edith Ann said...


Matt Ocker said...


Edith Ann said...

I am defriending you all!

I would have loved to go watch, but you never said you had a team!

I've never known anyone who was competing, and I think it would have been fun to watch folks you know actually compete. You guys do have a vast collection of knowledge--so how'd you do. (not that it matters anymore...)

Matt Ocker said...

Sorry about that. I guess I just assumed that the omniscient EA would have already known we were competing. Hell, the PD and SO knew. They beefed up security just for me.

We didn't do very well at all. Had we just not outthought ourselves, we would have moved up a couple of slots. As it was, we finished in 22nd place, answering 53 questions correctly. In a word, we got drummed.

Edith Ann said...

My crystal ball is in the shop, what can I say?

Twenty-second place? Dang, that's the shist! (Shist is the word verification word on this comment!)

Well, better luck next year if you do it again, and let me know if you do!

Matt Ocker said...

I'm pretty sure we'll do it again. I had a great time. We'll make sure you get the memo.