Friday, 22 May 2015

The nerdiest things I've done

Drawing Wrex of Mass Effect in my agenda: geeky or nerdy?

Time for another Fandom Friday!* I learn a lot from these events. Today: apparently there's a verb called "to nerd". It sounds like a geek word. A while ago, I read an about a group of scientists that had looked into the cultural meaning of the words "nerd" and "geek" based on their linguistic use. If I remember correctly, their conclusion was that "geek" is mostly related to fandom of things considered nerdy, while "nerd" is not. It's obviously a grayscale thing, hence the heated arguments about the definitions.

I don't really identify as either a geek or nerd, but it wasn't very hard for me to come up with five things I did that could be considered nerdy. (I left out the video gaming, as that would hardly be a surprise.) It's up to you to say if they qualify!

1) Old Frisian Runes

I'm fluent in the Old Frisian runic alphabet (both reading and writing). I've always loved history and extinct scripts, so when I read this alphabet in a magazine for medievalists, I decided to teach it to myself by writing in runes in my agenda.  I am the first to admit that this is a totally pointless skill to have. I can't communicate with other people writing runes, because they all write in the better known Scandinavian scripts. I can't read original texts either, because I don't know Old Frisian. The amount of archaeological objects with runic inscriptions found in the Netherlands is very low, so it's an obscure script that's probably only known by a few people worldwide. Nevertheless, I've always enjoyed writing it, even if it's only me that can read it.

The Uruk hai sword looked a bit like this one on Storm the, but it was broader and heavier

2) LOTR extended version marathon

This was during my highschool time. I was hosting a birthday party, in which everyone had to come as a Lord of the Rings character. I think I doubled as ent and lady Galadriel (or Eowyn, I don't quite remember - it was the lazy solution since I have that hair naturally), because I was wearing living branches and leaves in my ent costume and that was slightly impractical. There are still many fond memories of that party circulating amongst my friends, one of which is my friend falling asleep during Return of the King and snoring loudly in the romantic scene of Eowyn and Faramir (poor girl, she'll probably be remembered for that for the rest of her life). Another is two friends almost getting reprimanded by the police for having one of those really fake plastic silvery children swords tied to their bikes, because "someone could think it was real". The handmade solid wood Uruk hai blade that they brought - definitely capable of murder - was totally okay, though.

This picture of us was posted on the LOTRO forum at the time

3) Gamescom 2010

I was hanging out with an in-game friend in Lord of the Rings Online when he said: "hey, I'm going to Gamescom tomorrow in Germany and I have a spot left in my car - wanna come?" So we went, with a whole bunch of friends and acquaintances I had never met in my offline life before. We got to meet some of the LOTRO team and they were very kind to us. We eventually managed to conquer the six computers in the LOTRO corner to play an instance together. Because the event was in Köln, we had to play on the German client - oops! We managed to do everything by sheer muscle memory, although the skill names were a source of much hilarity.

It was that day that I found out that Gamescom events are not really something for me: too big, too many people, too much waiting for having a glimpse of some game that I was supposed to be very excited about. It was really the experience of hanging out with all these people I had done things together with in that online game that made it a very memorable day.

Our favourite Klingon drinking song

4) 'ej HumtaH 'ej DechtaH 'Iw

You might not be able to tell with all this SWTOR talk on this blog, but I'm actually more of a Trekkie than a Star Wars fan at heart. We used to meet up with four fellow trekkies and friends to see the D9 series. I think it took us about 1,5 years to watch the whole thing. During the course it somehow became tradition to sing a famous Klingon drinking song at the start of the evening. We learned it by heart. My friend Marinka always was the best at singing (and at the Klingon language in general) because she could do it with such passion.

    'ej HumtaH 'ej DechtaH 'Iw
    'ej Doq SoDtaH ghoSpa' Sqral bIQtIq
    'e' pa' jaj law' mo' jaj puS
    jaj qeylIS molar mIgh HoHchu'qu'

which more or less means:
    And the blood was ankle deep.
    And the River Skral ran crimson red.
    On the day above all days.
    When Kahless slew evil Molor dead.

I don't think we even drank any alcohol with it, but it was all in the right spirit. I still have many fond memories of those evenings.

5) Nature nerds

I met my friend Marinka in highschool through a drawing I made in my agenda of Myathropa florea, a hoverfly I found in my back garden. We were mutually surprised by each other knowing the name of the insect. It was the start of a deep friendship that lasts until today (until she finds out I revealed how we met on this blog - haha). 

We both loved going to youth nature camps, where we sought animals and plants in the wild. This was a totally not cool thing to do. I remember overhearing a conversation about my friend by two more popular (or, less weird) girls going something like this: "You know, she is actually a nice person. Only those queer nature things she does..." *looks disgusted*

But who cares. We had a ton of fun discovering and learning about new plants we had not seen before.

Me drawing Lathraea squamaria -->

Geek or nerd?

Regardless of where you stand in the geek-nerd debate, I think at least a few of these should qualify as "nerdy things", don't you think? Striking is that a lot of these activities involve hanging out with friends and have formed strong, happy memories over the years. Maybe the stereotype of the lonely, socially-awkward nerd isn't all that accurate after all.

What nerdy things did/do you do?

* 5 Fandom Friday is a weekly event organized by the Female Geek Bloggers group on Google+.


  1. Ahh, I love Deep Space Nine! Might be my favorite Star Trek and I love a lot of them!

    1. I know right, so hard to pick a favourite! For me it's DS9, TNG or Voyager - but I wouldn't be able to tell which one is the best.

  2. I'm not really one for labels. I think the obvious question is, which one in the picture is you?

  3. I think geek and nerd are kind of the same. I always think of geeks as being a bit more tech savvy, though

  4. Like Rowan I am not much one for labels either. So I have no clue in which one you would qualify but I am pretty sure you are a cool person in my book.

    The most geeky/nerdy thing I did though was probably my love for comic books (even though I am behind of the times on it) and tabletop RPGs (even though my experience actually playing them is close to 0). Plus a lot of useless trivia knowledge that when I say people give me a weird look about.

    1. Who cares about being nerdy/geeky when you can be Rakuno-approved? Much cooler.

      And... more tabletop RPGs! I really feel like I'm the only one that didn't play those. I'm also horrible at trivia. I can't seem to remember names, dates and titles. I don't know what my brain is doing with all the space.

    2. Well, my trivia tends to be really vague and useless since I too have a horrible memory for names, places, faces, dates... well, pretty much anything.

      Tabletop RPGs are fun and I highly recommend giving it a try if you have the chance. In fact I think you would fit right in considering your character descriptions. :)

      In my case, I am unfortunately too impulsive to properly roleplay and I live in a country where it is almost unheard of, so getting a local group or even RPG books is pretty hard. On the other hand the prevalence of digital books and the internet makes it easier than ever to get into the hobby. So maybe I should give it a try again some day if I ever manage to deal with my impulsive nature.

      As a bonus, tabletop RPG games don't need to be all serious and dramatic either. They can lead to some very hilarious out of context quotes, like the ones that this site collects:

    3. Tabletop games aren't really for me, but I appreciate the thought and link. :)

  5. I assume you've seen the Geek / Nerd / Dork etc Venn diagram that was doing the rounds a few years back?

    There's a version here with some discussion:

    Back in the day "geek" was more of a label that people applied to themselves and with pride, whilst "nerd" was more a label that others used and which had negative associations, i.e. a lame and uncool person who was into uncool things. "Nerd" also predated computers being a major thing that lots of people had access to.

    Not sure that I have the level of obsessive interest or implied expertise in anything to claim to be a geek, but I go along with that label cos it's the simplest way of identifying me as someone with a lot of liking for Trek, LOTR, tech etc.

    1. I googled something along the lines of "difference geek nerd", but I got so many different opinions... it wasn't really helpful. I also tried to find back that newspaper article I talked about, but no luck. I didn't see that diagram`before, so thanks for linking it! (Here's a clicky version, for the lazy readers.) I think it's a great visualization. I also learned some new words, such as "dork" and "dweeb". ^^

    2. I thought just pasting the URL would make it clicky. It seems to do that in Wordpress, but I guess not here on Blogger.

      I suspect the what people think the meanings and associations of these words are varies so much from person to person that it might be rash to assume too much about what they had in mind.

  6. Geeks/nerds know at one time it was such a negative thing. But to be honest, many people see them as creative forces in society. I'm a total nerd and don't really care. I deal with computers, software and pictures of the earth on a daily basis for a job. When I get home, totally into video games. I grew up playing table top Dungeons and Dragons in the school library during lunch with my friends. All a point of view I suppose. I love finding good sci fi series or movies to watch. I pick apart technical errors all the time, but can still enjoy the movie I see. I dunno, I think it's the age of the nerd/geek!

    1. I think you're right about the "age of the nerd/geek". I did it all wrong: when I was in highschool it was totally uncool to do anything nerdy. And now everyone is fighting about who's the most nerdy. :O

      Thanks for revealing your nerdy nature to us. I feel a lot better already. :)

      Also, so many gaming bloggers seem to have played table top Dungeons and Dragons! It looks like I really missed something.

  7. You are a good artist! :)

    1. I don't consider myself as one, but I'm glad you like it. :)


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