Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Nerd Nonsense

I normally don’t click on links to participate in quizzes that tell you what celebrity you most match up with or what star wars character you might be. In fact, I still haven’t participated in any of those but I did something similar after reading a blog site I often patronize. The quiz was intended to score your level of nerdiness. I have always suspected that a nerd lies within but this quiz tells me otherwise and I am not sure how proud I am about that.

Wikipedia defines the term “nerd” as such:

Nerd, as a stereotypical or archetypal designation, refers to somebody who pursues academic and intellectual interests at the expense of social skills such as: interpersonal communication, fashion, and physical fitness. It is also the name of a candy made by Willy Wonka.

One might hope that this label ends with high school graduation but it really doesn’t. Granted the likelihood of getting wedgies at work significantly decreases but the term seems to still float around. Bill Gates is often deemed King Nerd and offers hope to all living in Nerdville without the ability to vacate.

Here is my score on the quiz:

I am nerdier than 1% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

First off, I don't despise nerds as the results indicate. Also there is a problem with this quiz and many like it. For one, you can easily identify the answers that will give you the desired result. They have a few questions that you either know or don’t know but most of them offer you choices that you fully expect to give you a higher or lower nerd score. My score indicates that 99% of the participants of this quiz were found to be nerdier than I with a final conclusion that I must be cool. Sure, I buy that. Yet taking the quiz alone seems to indicate more nerdiness in me than they were able to determine. And finding out you are cool on a quiz seems rather…un-cool.

The definition above seems to be all encompassing but I have an issue or three with it.

1. Intelligence - The implication of a nerds academic pursuits implies to most that this group is intelligent and likely smarter than the average Edge. The intelligence quotient of a person is not related at all to their book smarts or the ability to regurgitate information…though it might help some. My IQ and SAT’s are the perfect example of this paradox. On an IQ test my score indicates that I am just shy of Mensa levels (Mensa indicates that you are a genius). The SAT test I took indicates that I might be lucky to go to Technical School and graduate.

2. Social Skills – The difference between a nerd and a dork seems to lie firmly between Intelligence and Social Skills. Those that are smart AND socially inept get to be nerds. Those that are not noted for intellectual prowesses but still suffer socially seem to be dorks. Though I seem to be fairing quite well socially these days my ability to be a popular socialite in high school was lacking. Thus I was more of a dork and I am quite fine with that. The only point of contention I have with the definition is that it again implies something untrue. If Wikipedia is correct then one might assume that a nerd does not develop socially by choice, seeing more value in academia. I contend that academia is a safe haven for those that are missing a key social element in their personality profile. Not all socially lacking people turn to their studies but many do. So I might argue that a true nerd has little or no ability to socially develop even if they put the books down.

3. Fashion and Physical Fitness – This epidemic is much further reaching than Nerdville. The only reason I have matching colors and updated styles on my person is due to the help of my lovely wife. Physical fitness is a dear friend of mine but we have lost touch quite a bit these last few years. So again, these attributes can easily be assigned to a non-nerd. And I assume some nerds also have wives with fashion sense as well as a decent physical fitness regiment.

So I guess, like many of life’s labels no one description can describe an entire group. I think that we all tend to become more and more well rounded as we age even if we are relatively helpless to make huge changes. Those that only concentrated on the books hopefully go out and participate in social settings beyond that of Star Trek conventions. Those that only concentrated on popularity hopefully completed that college degree and realize that something valuable lies in intelligence and education. Still there are the extreme examples that will likely never make strides toward the middle ground.

How nerdy are you? Take the Nerd Quiz and leave your score in the commentary.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Don't Play With Fire

I don’t consider myself “called to the ministry” in the traditional pulpit preaching sense. I stay active with my church, volunteer, lead groups and such but nothing you might consider Pastoral. However, before moving from the UMC to a Bible Church I was given the opportunity to preach a sermon. Once a year my old church had something similar to open mike night except it was during regular services and people were selected or invited to participate. Somehow my name was submitted and I got the call to preach. I was quite flattered and accepted having no idea what I would do or what I might have got myself into.

I ended up using the title above and it was based on a personal transition that had recently taken place in my life. I had been what I considered to be a Christian for 20 something years but never really understood my own faith. One night while watching the Comedy Channel, Steve Harvey was on stage. He went into a bit about heaven. It went something like this:

“Lines. Everywhere lines. Lines at the supermarket. Lines of traffic. Lines at the ballpark and at Six Flags. I hate lines and if you are like me you always have your eye on the horizon looking for that lane that is open or moving quickly. We will do ANYTHING to get through them faster. We cut people off in traffic, we zoom ahead faster when we see someone else headed the same direction, and we only have our own intentions in mind. But can you imagine the line in heaven? That is a line I am scared of. That is a line that will make me think twice. I can see it now. Ole Bob is twenty spots ahead of you and you know he was a good man. Then Saint Peter points him to the left instead of the right and I really get nervous. If ole Bob didn’t make it what chance have I got? ‘Hey man…want to have cuts?’”

He performed this much better than I can paraphrase plus his mannerisms and facial expressions had me laughing out loud. But something hit me like a ton of bricks. The rest of his stand up routine became a blurry background as I stared into the gleaming glow of the TV in deep thought. What would I do if caught unexpectedly standing in a heavenly line? Do I make the cut? Can anyone really know the answers? How do I find out? Who knew Steve Harvey saved souls?

The rest of my sermon took the audience through my experience of researching answers and the conclusions of that search. While my conclusions have me in an assured state of confidence, not everyone finds the same religious path. This post is not to convert anyone or to explain why I came to the conclusion that I did. Rather, I would like to know from you, if you’ve ever had this type event happen. Even the most devout atheist must sometimes wonder…what if I’m wrong? Can I find truth? How do I begin the search? Is life on earth really all there is? If not, how are we judged eternally? Are we judged at all or do we all get to hop around the Universe at whim? If judged, will I make the grade? Is heaven and hell the only choice? I am a good person…is that enough?

Questions like that plague the mind if uncertain. Some are content to NOT have the answers and just hope that some type of Universal justice will allow them to pass go and collect $200. To me, this mentality is like not carrying life, car, or medical insurance under the presumption that nothing will ever happen to you. It would drive me nuts. What about you?

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Coma

Janie took her normal seat next to the hospital bed and clasped his hand in hers. It had been 3 weeks now since the accident but it seemed an eternity. Scott laid there unflinching as though he was in the deepest and most peaceful sleep humanly possible. Doctors encouraged her to speak to him as data indicates coma patients can hear you. She whispered softly into his ear and let her warm breath meet his skin in hopes that he might respond. Seeing no effect, she sat back in her chair and began the daily ritual of reading the paper aloud. Scott was a man of routine and she wanted familiar things to fill his day. Since coffee cannot be administered intravenously, the day’s headlines would have to suffice.

Janie had an ability to read but not engage fully. She would often drone on about the gas prices, the war in Iraq, and the latest sports updates all the while drifting off into her own world. Today she recalled their first meeting at the restaurant. He the manager of a quaint diner and her a customer seeking nothing more than a burger to tame the growls of hunger. He was so cute in his own little way…overly proud of managing such a dive. His smile sent shivers down her back and she was unsure if his piercing look was meant just for her or if he tore everyone apart with his beautiful blue eyes.

She stared at him casually from the corner booth as he rang each guest up at the register, smiling with a bright white gleam. He caught her eye and she quickly, bashfully looked down at her fries with a quiet giggle. I cannot believe I’m flirting with cheeks full of greasy treats. He must think I look like a chipmunk storing nuts for the long winter. As gracefully as she could, a napkin met her lips to catch the mustard oozing from the corner. As she looked back up, he was gone. Hmm…must have retreated to the backroom for a break, she thought.

“Hi, I’m Scott”

Startled that he had managed to creep up on her unexpectedly, she almost shot milkshake from her mouth as she regained composure and swallowed. Her cheeks turned a light shade of red as she held her hand out to greet him.

“I’m Janie.”

“Nice to meet you. And how’s the food today?”

She was nervously tapping her foot under the table wondering if his inquiry was part of his managerial duty or because her flirtatious body language had snared him.

“Very good, though not of the healthy variety that I should be eating.”

“No, nothing healthy on our menu but it will cure what ails ya.”

“Either that or put me in an early grave.”

Nodding in agreement he continued, “I get a lot of regulars around here and assume that you’ve never graced us with your patronage.”

“Nope. First time. I’m pretty new to the area and was told this was the best burger joint in town.”

“Well the burgers are good but the manager here is what makes the experience so wonderful,” he said with a sarcastic smile and a wink. “All kidding aside, I hope you come back when the healthy food starts getting bland.”

“Thanks. I certainly will.”

“Great. Nice meeting you.”

Sure enough Scott continued table to table, striking up small talk and asking about the food. Maybe he was just being a good manager. I cannot just leave. Well sure I could, I can always make an excuse to come another time. Yeah that is what I’ll do…don’t want to come on too strong and get embarrassed.

Janie collected her things and started for the door. By this time Scott was behind his counter again and was meticulously wiping down the trays.

“Bye now,” Janie said over her shoulder with one last look of interest.

“Wait. I mean…just a second.” He removed his apron and smoothed out the wrinkles of his work shirt as if to primp before moving in for the kill. Noticeably nervous after being so confident earlier he offered, “Umm…you are new to town, right?” Before she could answer he went on, “And I am sure you already have several friends and all but…if you ever need someone to show you around, I’d be glad to. I mean…I know this area pretty well. Banks, grocery stores, the health foods market,” he let out a nervous chuckle.

“Actually friends isn’t what I have. They are just co-workers and I would love a tour. Let me give you my number.”

Pen still behind his ear, he fumbled for it with shaky hands and offered it to her.

“I don’t have any paper, do you?” she asked.

“Here, just write on my hand.”

Her smile gave away her thoughts that even this was just so cute…and typical male.

“I promise I will write it down when I get in the office and have paper,” he said apologetically.

“No problem. Just don’t wash it off by accident before you do.”

The sound of Nurse Bailey checking Scott’s vitals brought Janie out her day dream.

“How’s he doing?”

“Still stable with good readings,” Bailey touted heartily.

“When is the doc making the rounds today?”

“Should be any minute ma’am.”

“Ok…thanks.” Her tone gave away the sadness in her heart. She realized that she needed to stay positive but the burden of this was getting too big to handle. If only she had not asked Scott to go out for milk and eggs that drunk driver would have never crossed his path.

Doctor Reid entered the room looking down, fastidiously studying Scott’s chart. Laying the clipboard on the patient’s legs he leaned forward with stethoscope in hand. Janie studied the expression of Doc Reid’s face, looking for any clues of good or bad news. He listened intently averting her direct gaze and began shining his pen light into Scott’s eye. First the left one, then the right.

“Well.” Doctor Reid began. “I have wonderful news.”

Now leaning forward in her chair, Janie said, “Yeah, is Scott making progress?”

“Oh no…not at all. But I did save 15% on my insurance by calling Geico. A fifteen minute call could save you that much or more. Get a free rate quote, view your account and pay online.”

Got you again, didn’t I?!
To make up for it, have a laugh by clicking here.