A Blog Around The Clock

This nerd thing going on is really bugging me. I went back and re-did the test, changing only 2 or 3 answers to what I did before (not lying, just taking the other one of two possibly correct answers) and got a much higher score:

I am nerdier than 77% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

I agree with Jim that the quiz is not really measuring nerdiness so well. I’d argue that it actually measures geekiness instead. The questions are all about computers, math and Star Trek! And others have added Tolkien and slide-rules to the mix.

I can barely figure out HTML after two years of blogging. Yeah, I played Pong with another friend when I was a kid, and my girlfriend got a brand new Commodore 64 for her birthday in 1984 on which we played Chutes and Ladders. Back in 1980, a good friend of mine had a Sinclair ZX Spectrum. I used to go there and play Hobbit on the computer, but never bothered to learn anything about the way the machine works – it just did not interest me at the time and now I am kicking my own ass for not realizing how important it was to become. If I studied with my friend, I would have grown into an uber-geek and would probably be rich today. Now he really was a geek – back then he despised BASIC and did all his programing in machine language – typing zeroes and ones – and he made a program about a year later that transcribed music played on a keyboard into sheet music! So, I am not a computer geek.

I did great in math back in school. I went to math competitions every year and often progressed from school to city to county to state level (never made it to federal, though). In high school (9th grade) my math teacher was one of those math geniuses who used to represent the country at Math Olympics. He was a horrible person and a horrible teacher but he liked me because I was good at finding short, elegant solutions to problems, and did not need extra time and repetitions to understand the new material. But, the next two years I had a math teacher who was too stupid to understand what I did when I employed shortcuts and elegant solutions and forced me to go the pedestrian way (30 lines of calculations instead of three). We fought over it and I was, being a teenager, openly voicing my opinions of her intelligence and her understanding of mathematics. In the end, she soured me for math for good. Many years later, I took an upper-graduate level course in modelling biological oscillations. It was over my head, but the course did for me what I intended, i.e., not to learn to make models myself, but to understand what other people are doing when they publish their own models. So, I am not a math geek.

We were NEVER allowed to use calculators in school, so I never developed love for those or personal preferences for certain brands. To this day, I do all my calculations by hand. My father used to have a slide-rule, and I learned how to use it when I was a kid. Perhaps I could ask my Mom to send it to me. So I am not a caculator/sliderule geek.

Fortunately for me, Belgrade Television started airing the original Star Trek several years after it first aired in the States, thus I was old enough to watch it, like it and appreciate it. But I never cared to learn any additional trivia. I never bought any paraphernalia. I never watched any of the subsequent “generations” and could not care less. It was a great show for me as a kid at the time and that’s it. I’d like to get myself a set of DVDs of the original series before the all get remastered. So, I am not a Star Trek geek.

I watched all six movies in the Star Wars series in the theaters when they were released – but not on the first day and never more than once! And never again since! My friends used to love Blake’s 7 when it first ran back in the 1980s. I watched a few episodes and, frankly, did not like it that much. Perhaps I missed something subtle about its genius, which I am sure Orac will be happy to enlighten me about. I do watch sci-fi channel every now and then – but only Mutant-Monster movies because I love to dissect the errors in biology while enjoying the bad acting and poor special effects after midnight. So, I am not a Star Wars geek.

I have read Hobbit twice – once in Serbo-croatian, once in English. I have read Lord Of The Rings twice – once in Serbo-croatian, once in English. I own a first-edition hardcover Sillmarillion which I have never read, but I have read several shorter Tolkien books instead. And I loved Bored Of The Rings as well. So, I am not really a Tolkien geek.

While I grew up on science fiction, I barely read any fantasy or space-opera. I hoard books, but most of it is non-fiction. I almost never sell or give away books – I find it hard to part with them. I just sent a package of books to a friend who needs them more than I do and the exact content of the package is a result of about an hour of heated debate between my wife and myself: I have not read it yet! – You never will! – Oh, yes I will! – When, in thirty years? – No, it is high on my To Read list. – Yeah, how high, 200th?

So, of course I tested low on the geek scale – my nerdiness is in other areas. I am not a computer geek or a Trekkie – I am a science nerd instead. I responded with a big YES to each of the questions on that test! And I started early. Dinosaurs. Animals. Books. Riding horses. As a kid, I used to have more toy animals than Darren Naish has today! I played with an Erector set, and with a chemistry set (to which I added a lot of equipment and chemicals from the Yugolaboratoria store), and an electrical set, and I read books all the time. Today: Growing ferns and Venus Flutrap on my porch. Shelves decorated by a microscope, a microscope slide dispenser, several beakers of different sizes, a brain coral, a clay T-rex, a happy bird, an ostrich egg, several figurines of quail (and a few other birds), a plastic human torso from which one can take out individual internal organs, and a real lava lamp!

Science-themed t-shirts: I have a Darwin shirt, and many other shirts I have (or used to have) sported various caterpillars or DNA molecules, etc. I am a proud owner of three exclusive, not-for-sale “I Ate Dinosaurs” “It Ate Dinsoaurs” and “Jobaria” t-shirts given away by Project Exploration. Beat that if you can!

So, yeah, I was always a nerd, I am a nerd now and my kids are nerds. But I was never a geek, which the online test is measuring.


  1. #1 Chris
    September 9, 2006

    I read ScienceBlogs through RSS (using bloglines), and there have been some serious issues with your posts lately. None of the link tags are closing, so the entire article shows up as a huge underlined link. I can still read it fine, but I figured that you might want to look into that. (This has been happening for a week or so)

  2. #2 coturnix
    September 9, 2006

    I have forwarded your concern to the person in charge of technical issues. Thank you for drawing my attention to it. Have you tried Atom feed as well?

  3. #3 beepbeepitsme
    September 9, 2006

    I am only somewhat nerdy.. I failed.

    “Somewhat nerdy. I mean face it, you are nerdier than about half the test takers.”

  4. #4 Erin M
    September 9, 2006

    haha! You retook the test… you were suffering from nerd envy!

    I’ll see your lava lamp, and raise you a pin-pressions…

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