Archive for March, 2006

Atomic Monkey

Thursday, March 9th, 2006

A trucker favorite since 2003…

Atomic Monkey

Welcome to the new ParticleTruckers.com

Thursday, March 9th, 2006

Come on in. Stay a while. Take your shoes off. Spill something on the carpet.

Jim the bull

Wednesday, March 8th, 2006

The “Jim” Controversy

“In the catastrophe flick The Locusts, what is the name of Evan Pott’s prize winning bull on the feed lot?” Internet and other searches are failing miserably until, with time running out, Trucker Nick Wenos finds a picture of the bull with the name present! It’s Jim! We manage to get our answer in before time runs out. We are all but certain it will be huge points. A few hours later we learn it is a 285-point haul (meaning that only 7 teams got it right!) and Trucker HQ erupts in a frenzy.

Alas, when we learn of our updated score a short time later, it is discovered that we were not given credit for our answer. Under the rules of the contest, protesting is useless for this type of error. If there is any difference in our score and the official score, the Contest and Oz prevail. Days later, the contest ended, we use clandestine methods to acquire a copy of the actual score sheet with our team number on it. Our team number is in the center of the sheet, and is the only one on the sheet not crossed out. The only conclusion we can fathom is that because all the other numbers were crossed out, it probably appeared to the computer input operator that ours was crossed out as well and as a result, we did not get credit for the answer. Of course, had we been given credit for the answer, the value of the question would have dropped from 285 to 250, but this is of little consolation for us.

Interestingly, this 35 point difference could have had an effect on the Top 10. If 10th place team Good Night Irene got the question right, their score should be 35 points less. If 11th place Astro Wolfpack got the question wrong, their score should remain the same. This scenario gives Astro Wolfpack 8520 points and 10th place and moves Good Night Irene down to 11th Place with 8510 points. This would be the only Top 10 “situation” that could develop, but it is significant if true because a top 10 finish is huge in Trivia. Our team certainly agrees that it is probably not significant to deal with hundreds of calls about a 5 or a 10 point question that wasn’t scored properly. However, if a team believes it answers a question with a large point value, but does not get credit for it… some level of checking should into this claim should take place since it is more likely to have an effect on the overall contest. Additionally, we would suggest that some method of double-checking the input of team numbers be done when questions obviously receive only a few correct answers.

History

Wednesday, March 8th, 2006

2006 – E85 Certified Particle Truckers

2005 – Particle Truckers: Keep On Delivering

2005 is a year when we benefitted greatly from the UWSP students who jumped in and played with us. We have always played from an on campus location and eventhough a core group of Truckers are now playing as UWSP alumni our numbers continue to be bolstered by UWSP students who will stop by and play for a few hours here and there. Throughout the contest we estimated that well over 100 current UWSP students spent at least sometime in Trucker HQ which fits in with our “open door” philosophy of getting others involved. Many of these students (some now former students) have continued playing with us and have commented that if it wasn’t so easy to fit in and have a good time they never would have taken an interest in the contest.

Rob Chandanais is unable to join us as his wife Jill is expecting their first child, hence the name “Keep on Delivering.” A various points throughout the contest Trucker Sha appears by webcam to be transforming into a robot with multiple headsets growing out of his head. Sha’s experience as a remote player will prove very beneficial in following years as we have improved our remote player strategies.

Early on in the contest we hear our name read off as being in first place which sends a jolt of energy through HQ. We continue to have a strong showing but we suffer from our typical slide but manage to pull out a 22nd place finish which was our best to date.

Late in the contest we ran into a bit of chaos as we lost all power in our HQ due to a tripped breaker. Players scatter to the Watson Hall computer lab and student rooms with walkmans and radios and keep in contact with HQ via cell phones and with those in HQ who have battery powered laptops. Brett Matuszak sprints across the road to Kmart to buy extension cords so we can run power into our HQ from the Watson Hall front lobby. Unable to open the breaker box where the faulty breaker resides, Nick Wenos takes the panel off with a cordless drill. Unable to find what the problem is we call in maintenance and they assist us with the flipped breaker. As it turns out the breaker that was flipped did not appear to be flipped all the way off so we could not immediately figure out which one had the issue. In a twist of irony, the electrician who came in to address the problem has a son who plays with Team Thicko and found the situation rather amusing. When the power went out we lost contact with our remote players who felt as if the world around them had suddenly ceased to exist. They were sitting in silence wheras those at HQ were running around like a bunch of mice that had escaped from a shoebox all at once.

Once power was restored we began to bring HQ back online in a scene reminiscent of Apollo 13. What had been a very neat and organized HQ immediatly prior to the power outage became a mess of extension cords, network cables, and bodies for the final hours of the contest. After the contest we trace the problem to one of those 5 foot white extension cords that had a small light plugged into it. The extension cord shorted out and melted causing a power surge which tripped the breaker.

2004 – ParticleTruckersLostInTransportation

2003 –

2002 – SreckurtElcitrapParticleTruckers

We are back to having a stable HQ once again as we begin playing from Watson Hall. Kirby Harless makes the trek back to play from Camden NJ and arrives just as the contest is starting.

2001 – Particle Truckers: South Haul

Things look a bit challenging for the Truckers this year as two High Command Truckers can not make the trip to Wisconsin and for the first time in many years the truckers are without an apartment for a base of operations. The team name is a reference to the fact that the Truckers are playing out of South Hall on the UWSP campus.

This contest features everything from a remote playing and listening via the internet to a freak spring storm that takes out the 90 FM Transmitter for part of the contest. Somehow through all this Lead High Command Trucker Rob Chandanais rallies the truckers to 45th place out of 461 teams and 4580 thus continuing the Trucker Tradition of improving our overall place each year.

2000 – The Giant Particle Trucker Invasion

Angie Holland and Thomson Hall play host to the Truckers this year as High Command Truckers Rob Holland and Bob Stuewer along with Trucker Sabotin make the trip North from Florida and Georgia to Trucker HQ in the Thomson Hall Director Apartment. Along the way, they place call to 90 FM and their phone call makes it into a newspaper story of the contest. The team name is somewhat of a play on the travel of some of the truckers North to play trivia. It is also a tip of the hat to a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode that featured a movie filmed partly on the UWSP Campus-Giant Spider Invasion.

The main stays of Trucker HQ are here including the Trucker Toxic Tea, sleeping quarters, and a massive amount of computing power. This time though, there is no need to route the computers a great distance as Angie’s apartment has a connection swarthy enough to meet the Trucker needs. Maggie the wonder dog is present again and though our team players seem to be slightly down in number the average skill and knowledge level seems to be up.

We ride this increase to another “best yet showing” finishing 53 out of 466 teams and earning 4710 points. Once again the perfect hour eludes us. However, we come close in Hour 4 and Hour 29 earning the equally satisfying and frustrating 7 for 8. This year we got all the points for Trivia Stone, but had trouble landing any big “pure trivia” questions. We did manage to get 8 questions worth at least 50 points, but could not get any worth at least 100 for the first time in three years. One of the eight 50+ questions proved to be very exciting, however.

It’s Hour 54 Question 8 and we are all trying to find out what little Tabitha of Bewitched fame got on her first birthday from nosy Mrs. Cravitz. We have only one song to find the answer of course and Kirby has given a prayer to his book of unsold TV pilots before the question was read. Although not found in a TV pilot, Kirby’s prayer must have been heard, because we track down the answer! (One share of stock) Knowing the normal challenge of contest ending questions we are very excited…… as likely were the other 40 or so teams that got it right for 50 points. Oh well. Truck on!

1999 – Particle Truckers: As Seen on TV

Our last year in the Smith Hall Director Apartment with Rob Holland as host. Our team name is primarily derived from our intent to be featured on a Trivia Focus spot (which we were) as well as our hopes of cracking the top 10 (which we didn’t). Of course, “As seen on TV” also fits into the allotted spaces (36) in our team name (something that is always a challenge for us).

Trucker HQ excitement this year featured a countdown clock in the window which started several hundred hours prior to the big contest, the return of the Trucker Toxic Tea, a keg of rootbeer funded by the Hall government, and a serious internet connection skillfully routed from the front desk area. Rumor has it the government is alerted to our presence due to the amount of our raw computing power in operation in our headquarters. Maggie the wonder dog makes her first appearance at Trivia and we easily have our largest turnout to date which necessitates the operation of a “napping” room inside HQ and sleeping quarters in a basement storage room.

Our extra people, computing power, slumber chambers, and perhaps even Maggie the Wonder dog all play a role in our best effort to date. We finish 55 out of 492 teams and pull haul in 4485 points. At one point in the contest we are able to verify that we are ranked as high as 32nd. A perfect hour again eludes us but we come close in hours 1, 8, and 40 with a 7 out of 8 effort. We score points during every hour of the contest and in every part of the contest except for Trivia Stone. Our heartbreaker of the contest comes in Hour 35 Question 4 where we do not get credit for a 285-point question. [GO HERE to read about it.] Many other teams speak of the “Cher” controversy, but we think it pales in comparison to our involvement with the “Jim” controversy.

1998 – Particle Truckers in Boat O Car- DSB

Our first year with Particle Truckers in the Team name and our first year completely headquartered out of Rob Holland’s Smith Hall Director Apartment. Our resources have increased exponentially as we now have computers in the apartment and are seeing how this internet thing can help us out. Folks come from all over the country to be part of our first official year and the apartment is in continuous operation throughout the contest. The first part of our name (Particle Truckers) is a reference to a couple of songs from the band They Might be Giants. Our goal is to have this in our team name every year from here on out. The second part of the name is also a reference to the songs by the Band. Trucker activities in the apartment include tributes to the Silver Surfer, the Trucker Spaghetti Hour, and our first ceremonial dunking of High Command Trucker Kirby in the Truckers Toxic Tea. Other High Command Truckers Rob Chandanais and Bob Stuewer perform the dunking while final High Command Trucker Rob Holland snaps the immortal pic for posterity.

Performance wise we hit three “pure” questions for at least 100 points and have only two 0-fer hours… the read down hours with only four questions. We also have three near misses with perfection in hours 1, 7, and 42 where we manage to get 7 out of 8 questions right. We scrambled to get team members to the running questions and did well there, but only scored a total of 20 points on all of the music questions not even bothering to submit responses for Music 2 or Music 3. Still, we think we have a shot a the top 100 until the final four hours of the contest come crashing down us and we only manage 65 points during the span. Still, our final showing of 116th out of 520 teams and 3,220 points motivates has us motivated to do even better the following year.