Star Trek Trivia

Geeks Who Drink recently held a nation wide Star Trek Pub Quiz. I have made no secret of my love of Star Trek, so this seemed like an awesome opportunity. Unfortunately my regular trivia team was all unavailable, so I opted to go up to Portland alone and try and find a group that would have me, and fortunately I was welcomed onto an awesome team.

The crew

The intrepid crew of Team Screw the Ocampa

After a hard fought 8 rounds, and two tie-breakers, our team, Screw the Ocampa, was victorious! Curious to see how our team compared to the rest of the nation, I pulled the results from 27 other venues across the USA that were running the same quiz, which you can check out here. Of the 324 teams that competed, our team ended up with the 8th highest score in a 7-way tie for 14th place, putting us in the top 2.5% of the nation! The highest score came from a team out of New York, New York, which scored 85 out of a possible 88 points, and had the great name, There are 4 lights!!! While New York City may have been the venue with the highest score, the location with the highest proportion of high scores (>75%) was Tempe, Arizona, but they only had 6 teams competing. The city with the most teams was Austin Texas, but no team from that city scored better than 75%.

Fill in the rest of this caption later

The number of teams and distribution of top scores across the participating cities.

One of the hardest things about trivia, aside from the questions, is coming up with a team name. With 324 teams, there was a great selection of team names that were inspired by The Original Series (Spock On), The Next Generation (House of Picards), Deep Space Nine (My Nagus), Voyager (There’s a right way, a wrong way, and Janeway), and even Enterprise (Day TRIPPers)! There were some common themes amongst the names, with the most popular team name variant being anything to do with Red Shirts (e.g., Red Shirt Revenge, Red Shirt Insurance Policy, Redneck Redshirts etc.) which showed up 15 different times. The next most popular theme for a team name had to do with character names. No doubt the recent passing of Leonard Nimoy helped inspire some of the 11 different team names that featured Spock (e.g., Rock out with your Spock out (x2), Spock’s Beard (x2), Spock Stars etc.). Tied with Spock at 11 team name inspirations was Wesley Crusher (e.g., Shut Up Wesley (x8), The Wesley Crushers (x2), Wesley Crusher Sweater Collection etc.). Rounding out the team name mentions were Tribbles (10), Kirk (8), Picard (7), Pon-Farr (6), Gorn (6), Borg (5), Riker (5), Worf (5), Janeway (5), and Darmok (5). The majority of the team names play off general Star Trek Universe references, but there were quite a few names from other franchises, including Han Shot First (x2), This is the Place for the Stargate Quiz?, and my personal favorite Millenium Battlestar 5. 

The futuristic utopia of Star Trek promotes community, inclusiveness, and infinite diversity in infinite combinations. For me, being able to walk onto an established team and be so welcome, truly exemplifies that the ideals of Star Trek are thriving in its fandom, LLAP.

Receiving the traditional Klingon welcome greeting from Kaolin son of Kiln, who when not killing it at trivia also does Klingon karaoke.

Receiving the traditional Klingon welcome greeting from Kaolin son of Kiln, who when not killing it at trivia also does Klingon karaoke, check out Bon Jovi’s Dead or Alive in the original Klingon.

Round-Up Ready: San Francisco Edition

Catch of the day at New May Wah market

Catch of the day at New May Wah market

My recent “all quiet on the cyberfront” has been due to commitments to getting ready for a trip to San Francisco for a conference on flame retardants (more on that later). In the mean time, here is a quick summary of some of the highlights of my time in San Francisco, as experienced through a sensory overload and guided by my second cousin Mary, who is celebrating a birthday today, Happy Birthday Mary!

The Smells

Spilled beer and fish at the Hyde Street Pier, the exotic smells of New May Wah Market, and the distinctive odor of The 38 Geary Bus, there is no shortage of interesting aromas in the City by the Bay.

The Tastes

A lemon tree grows on the grounds on Jacuzzi Winery

A lemon tree grows on the grounds on Jacuzzi Winery

The freshness of all the food really stands out, be it the backyard meyer lemons, the asparagus, caught that day sushi, Yuubi Japanese Restaurant, the amazing local beer Lagunitas Beer, and the wines of Sonoma valley, specifically the Jacuzzi Winery, with its knowledgeable and friendly staff.

The Feels

The photoscopes, or original moving picture show booths, with colorful content

The photoscopes, or original moving picture show booths, with colorful content at the Musee Mecanique

It is always good advice to be careful about what you touch, but at the Musée Mécanique touching and playing with all the coin operated fortune telling booths, games, and photoscopes is encouraged and awesome. The California Academy of Sciences has a stricter touching policy, but is still very cool and definitely worth a visit, particularly for the planetarium.

The Sounds

The sounds of the city, like the roar from The Giants Game, are quiet once you enter Grace Cathedral, although it is difficult appreciate the quietness when all you can hear in your head is The Decemberists Grace Cathedral Hill.

The Sights

There are so many great sights in San Francisco; Muir Woods, Lands End, Bay Bridge at night, Golden Gate Bridge at anytime. These iconic images have been featured in many movies and television.

The Golden Gate Bridge at night, with planes and stars overhead

The Golden Gate Bridge at night, with planes and stars overhead

Top 5 Movies/TV Shows Based in San Francisco

  1. Full House
  2. The Rock
  3. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  4. Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco
  5. Star Trek (see next page for a nerdier breakdown of San Francisco in Star Trek) Continue reading

The Cultural Reach of Star Trek Extends Far, Far, Away

Star Trek: The Next Generation is a great show, one that I feel was a great influence on my development, and I am by no means alone in thinking that, just take a look at the documentaries Trekkies or Trekkies 2 for more extreme examples. I find it fascinating how far reaching the influence of Star Trek is, as seen in art, pop culture, political discoursecurrent technologies and scientific breakthroughsBorg rats anyone?

  1. Bringing on the Borg rats?… It’s not a mind meld, it’s previous training to signal.
  2. The only thing worse than rats: telepathic borg rats
Socks of the future

Socks of the future

One particular area that has benefited from Star Trek aesthetics has been the clothing and fashion industry. The Star Trek brand has influenced the creation of amazing t-shirtswetsuitsbathrobes, and Spock inspired oven mittshoodies, and socks.

While these clothes and fashions are truly awesome, they pale in comparison to the fashion sense demonstrated on The Next Generation. Fortunately, there is a tumblr devoted to cataloging and critiquing the fashion sensibilities of the 24th century, aptly titled Fashion It So. Some of the more fashionable episodes that are reviewed include GambitThe Drumhead, and Dark Page.

Star Trek has not only assimilated into the fashion world, it has also made its way into the culinary world. Here are a few neat Star Trek inspired food items;

Plomeek tea, recipe available from Food Replicator

Plomeek tea, recipe available from Food Replicator

Star Trek not only inspired food products, but also food itself. Serious Eats has a great primer on the food of various Star Trek cultures, and the excellent tumblr Food Replicator provides recipes for some of the dishes, including Leola Root Soup and Hasperat, there is even a Star Trek Cookbook, for those more inclined to get their recipes offline. Characters in the Star Trek Universe have a unique relationship with food. With the use of replicators, they can have their stomachs desire in an instant, no need for prepping or cooking. This instant availability of food never seemed to diminish its enjoyment, but the enjoyment and simple pleasure of handling and preparing meals is largely absent in the Federation, with the exception of Deep Space Nine’s Captain Sisko, who grew up working in his fathers restaurant and frequently cooks real, not replicated, food for his crew. With the advent and steady improvements to 3-D printing, the replicator technology featured in Star Trek is becoming less far fetched, but hopefully we are far away from losing touch with our food.

Red Shirt Cologne instills confidence, showing the universe your strength, your valor, your devotion to living each day as though it could be your last

Red Shirt Cologne instills confidence, showing the universe your strength, your valor, your devotion to living each day as though it could be your last

With fashion and food choices covered, one of the last frontiers  Star Trek has influenced is the dating scene. There are at least three Star Trek inspired dating sites, Star Trek DatingTrekkie Dating, and Trek Passions. Regardless of how you get there, if you manage to find your imzadi, be sure to make a good impression with a Star Trek inspired cologne, scents include Tiberius, Pon Farr, Shirtless Kirk, Sulu Pour Homme, and Red Shirt.

Speaking of Redshirts, contrary to popular belief they all aren’t as doomed as we once thought, as long as the redshirt wearer is not in the security department. From a recent statistical analysis of crew member mortality from The Original Series;

Only 10% of the entire redshirt population was lost during the three year run of Star Trek. This is less than the 13.4% of goldshirts, but more than the 5.1% of blueshirts. What is truly hazardous is not wearing a redshirt, but being a member of the security department. The red-shirted members of security were only 20.9% of the entire crew, but there is a 72.2% chance that the next casualty is in a redshirt and 64.5% chance this red-shirted victim is a member of the security department. The remaining redshirts, operations and engineering make up the largest single population, but only have an 8.6% chance of being a casualty.

The study did not examine the impact of being named after a character on The West Wing on the likelihood of survival, but based on this hidden gem from Star Trek: Voyager, where it is revealed that the crewmembers who shared the name of characters from The West Wing all died on the way back to the Alpha Quadrant, it probably isn’t good. Speaking of casualties, you can brush up on your detective, and acting, skills with this How to Host a Mystery: Star Trek: The Next Generation game, which is reviewed below.

It is clear that Star Trek has permeated into many aspects of our culture. Its influence can continually be felt and seen all around us, and is only limited by our imaginations.

Round Up Ready – Education Edition

This year holds many neat anniversaries, and oddly enough each of them have had an impact on my education, in a quasi-related way.

First up, pretty much any student in elementary or high school would always love the day that the science teacher would pop in a Bill Nye the Science Guy video. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first airing of his television show. On a recent podcast, it was revealed that Bill Nye will be returning to the airwaves so to speak, with a new series of videos that will be broadcast on YouTube as part of Nerdist Industries.  Bill Nye has always been an advocate for science education and promoting continued funding for space and exploration. He is definitely a personal role model, not just for his science awesomeness, but for his bow-tie wearing prowess.

The space program, for which Bill Nye is such a great advocate, is also celebrating a unique anniversary this year. September 5th marked the 35 years since the launch of Voyager I. After that short 35 years Voyager I is about ready to leave our solar system, which is an amazing accomplishment, some say that is on par with the Magellan travels and the moon landingWired has complied a photo retrospective of Voyager I ‘s journey, they are quite stunning, and something that I think we have come to take for granted. Voyager I (and many other space missions) are such an inspiration to me and have in their own round about way encouraged me to pursue an education in the sciences.

In addition to the role Voyager I has had in revealing some secrets of our solar system and universe, it also had a supporting role in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Star Trek: The Original Series is also celebrating this year, as it celebrates 46 years since the original airing of the first episode. To mark this occasion Google, made one of its best Google Doodles yet.

While TOS wasn’t my series (although I have come to enjoy it), I was still inspired by the great vision of Star Trek. I know those days of watching Star Trek: The Next Generation inspired me to pursue science, and I am very happy about that.

While I didn’t end up following any of the engineering sciences as would be suggested by my inspiration from Bill Nye (former Boeing engineer), or space, or Star Trek, I did end up pursuing an education in Environmental Toxicology. It was during this time that I learnt about Rachel Carson, whose ground breaking and seminal work, Silent Spring, is this year marking 50 years since its first publication. In her book, Carson drew the public’s attention to the consequences of indiscriminate use of pesticides, mainly DDT and its effects on non-target organisms such as birds. Her book was, and continues to be, very controversial, but its strengths lay in the way it was written. It was written in a very accessible and eloquent manner, and was backed up with an extensive reference list. Carson’s book is largely credited with the launching of the modern environmental movement, and the banning of the use of DDT. Rachel Carson is a true inspiration to me, not only in terms of her science, but for her gift of communicating that science to the public, and ultimately having an impact of so many people.

Inspiration to pursue education can come from anywhere. There are lots of other people, experiences, and television shows that have helped guide me towards this path, above is just a very small sampling, I will do my best to draw attention to the others at another time.