Tuesday 5 January 2010

Nerd Alert!

My brother, Moon, seems to think that I might be a bit of a nerd. Now, the question is, is he right? Should I be depressed and insulted by this, or should I just take it as a bit of a backhanded compliment?

I decided that I needed a good definition of the term before I could make my decision. So, here we have two:

Nerd: (slang, derogatory) A person who, although having good technical or scientific skills, is introspective and generally introverted.

Nerd is a term often bearing a derogatory connotation or stereotype, that refers to a person who passionately pursues intellectual activities, esoteric knowledge, or other obscure interests that are age-inappropriate rather than engaging in more social or popular activities. Therefore, a nerd is often excluded from physical activity and considered a loner by peers, or will tend to associate with like-minded people.

Straightaway, one sees that the term is a derogatory (insulting, disparaging, offensive, belittling ..... you get the point ....) one. So, I should be offended. But, wait, what about the rest of the definition? Now we get to the point where I could start to take it as a compliment. It would mean that I have good technical or scientific skills, which, I suppose we can all agree on. I must have some skill in that area given the amount of time that I have spent with my nose in a book, in dusty libraries photocopying endless scientific journal articles and sitting around in a lab, looking like I was doing something technical and looking vaguely scientific since I was wearing a white lab coat. (OK, so much of my time might have been spent chatting with friends, playing Doom and surfing real estate sites looking for million dollar houses that I could never, ever possibly afford).

  • Sandhill crane

So, what actually bought on this nerdy accusation by brother Moon? Well, I made the mistake of taking him bird watching and it seems that he thinks bird watching is a typically nerdy thing to do. To be fair, we were not just bird watching, we were actually catching birds in mist nets, identifying them, taking measurements and banding them before releasing them. This allows bird populations and migrations to be monitored and studied. Now bird watching is not something that I have done much of, and I certainly do not fit the nerd description given above for this. But, I figured it makes a change from insects, and once in a while, I actually stand a chance of identifying a bird down to species level. So far, this had not happened very often. Here we can see the typical conversation between me and Derek, the Masterbander (oh read it more carefully, I said masterBANDER!), as we disentangle a bird from one of the nets:

Derek, MB: “So, what do you think it is?”

Me: “A bird?”

Derek, MB: “Well, obviously, but do you know what kind of bird?”

Me: “A little brown bird?”

Derek, MB, sighing: “I guess we need a little more work on our ID skills then?”

Me: “Hmmmm, yes - can I come back next week then?”

Derek, MB: “Can you bring coffee and muffins?”

Me: “What about doughnuts?”

Derek, MB: “OK then.”

  • Brown creeper

So, I am thinking, not terribly nerdy at this point. Perhaps after a bit more time!?! Derek, the masterbander, started birding when he was 6, so I have a lot of catching up to do. There were several other people there, all rather better with their bird ID than me and I did catch my brother muttering away “Nerd Alert.....Nerd Alert....” on several occasions. He might have a point where they are concerned, but they were all very nice people, so who really cares?

Anyhoo, I am off to do a bit of bird watching now. Later, I shall continue my species summary on Swainson’s thrush (it is a bird, not a disease!) and we shall see, perhaps one day I shall attain nerd status. And when I do, I shall be proud of it!

  • Rufous hummingbird

  • Black-capped chickadee

  • Spotted towhee

  • Cedar waxwing


Cortes said...

Hmmmm. I looked up the word, and it is a bit unflattering. I remember that I used it once lately as well. Can I take it back? The photos are great though. Mind you, I do recognize the birds!

Baino said...

I actually prefer the term Geek when it comes to gadgets and technology. My transition to geek isn't quite complete and I can't for the life of me see what's nerdy about netting birds, I'd love it! Then birds don't play cricket or golf so I can see where Moon's coming from!

Moon said...

They were all very nice people... but you do have to question what a 20 yr old is doing at 6am, getting a little too excited when a little birdy falls into the net .....

I am also very aware that you and you nice friend, I'll call her N, are very nice too ...

but the term still stand .... Nerds !!!!

Coastal Aussie said...

Gorgeous, gorgeous photos! And it sounds fun and very worthy, to be banding the birds. I bet Moon was just teasing, and glad to be spending some time with you. :)

Don't Bug Me! said...

Cortes: You don't need to take it back - I really don't mind being thought of as a nerd - I do take it as a compliment.

Baino: So, is there a difference between geek and nerd? Moon can appreciate the beauty of a bird, but his patience doesn't run as far as identifying it or anything else "nerdy".

Moon: He was only 18, actually.

CA: Hmmmm, you have never actually met my brother, have you?

Together We Save said...

For some people it could be a compliment.

Don't Bug Me! said...

Saver: Oooh, hello and thanks for popping by! I just checked out your blog - I love a good coupon. Hopefully some of them will work in Canada.

jay said...

Nah ... I don't think that you're a nerd. I'd prefer 'geek' if I was going to call you anything, but I'd have to look it up first to make sure it meant what I think it does! To me, a geek is someone who is totally committed to a particular cause and knows the subject inside out. Doesn't preclude a social life, even if few people are interested in their pet subject.

To me, nerds are boring, because they're one-track and isolationist. You are neither!

Don't Bug Me! said...


Note: The above comment was left by Willow.

Don't Bug Me! said...

Jay: So I looked up geek - A carnival performer specializing in bizarre and unappetizing behavior, such as biting the heads off chickens. Hmm, definitely not that! That is a dated definition. More commonly, the term is now used to describe an expert in a technical field, particularly to do with computers or as a person intensely interested in a particular field or hobby, generally at the expense of broader social interaction. But, you are right, the term does seem a bit more positive than nerd and it seems that geeks are more socially adept than nerds.

Kate said...

Aren't brothers wonderful?

Carolina said...

Wether you are a nerd, a geek or neither, you dó take the most beautiful photos!

Carole said...

I learned the difference between "geek" and "nerd" thanks to my husband. He's a computer programmer and doesn't mind being called a geek, but abstaining from calling him a nerd I must!

Katherine said...

I happy to be a nerd if it isn't defined as only one interest... I have LOTS of nerdy interests!

And, although it's not public yet, I've just 'discovered' the Godwit... and plan a whole art exhibition based on the life and 'stuff' to do with the one we get here - the Bar-tailed Godwit.

So now it's public.

Moon said...

Well.... She is a nerd or a geek... either way.. she gets up at 5.30am to sport birds that she has not idea (well, be her own admission very little) idea what they are ..


Suldog said...

Cedar Waxwing? I would have though - as a matter of fact, I did think - it was a female cardinal. So, I learned something, and I thank you!

Sistertex said...

A beauty! I didn't realize Cedar Waxwings were so beautiful! Just wonderful photos.

Don't Bug Me! said...

Kate: They may annoy us, but we can't help but love them.

Carolina: Thank you - I suspect that I am neither, since I am not all that knowledgeable!

Carole: Yes, it does seem that nerd is definitely more derogatory than geek.

Katherine: Looking forward to the godwit stuff - isn't that the bird that makes one of the longest non-stop flights known?

Moon: Whatever.....

Suldog: I have never seen a cardinal here - I don't think they come this far west or north. Shame, since they are very beautiful birds.

Sistertex: They are gorgeous aren't they? One of my favourite birds, especially since they don't bite when you are trying to get them out of the net.

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