Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Blogs: Savers of Sanity

One thing that many nerds seem to have in common – nerds with internet access anyway (and how exactly does one become a nerd without internet access?) – is blogging. Most nerds that I know (including myself) have blogs – numerous blogs. If they don’t have blogs, they follow blogs – numerous blogs.

Obviously, this is an excellent trait if you’re running a blog and need followers. Make nerd friends and get a gathering. Networking, chit-chatting, and general blog-related merriment will ensue, creating a good time for all. While this is an excellent form of entertainment, some may wonder why it must take place over the internet.

It is my theory that should one take all the nerds that follow a blog, put them all in the same room, and leave them there to mingle, chit-chat and network like they would on the internet, there would not be enough dark, quiet corners to go around. Somehow, the internet provides security in conversation that simply isn’t present in a face-to-face encounter. Say what you may about a nerd’s social skills, but really – think about it.

Normal people would be severely threatened by the congregating and communicating of socially adept nerds – because not only would we solve world hunger, world peace and nearly any other crisis, but we would inevitably institute fashion trends, quirks and character oddities into society that normal people just couldn’t pull off. Could you imagine what would happen if awkwardness in daily conversation became the “in-thing?” Eddie Izzard’s infamous “Oy! Sue! I’ve got legs! Do you like bread?” would become the norm in societal communications, and normal people couldn’t handle it. Their natural smoothness of tongue would rebel, their cool sense of style would crumble, and they would snap.

Hence, the fact that we nerds communicate via a faceless, nameless blog format, is really a device to preserve the sanity of those poor normal people. It’s all about helping those less fortunate (or intelligent), right? Obviously, even nerds have personal connections with people, so a blog won’t always do it. However, never fear, for we have discovered a medium for just such issues.

Instant message! The text program of the gods is here to save the day. And we nerds are constantly utilizing its amazing functions (did you know you can play chess on some programs?!). Even to the point that two people can IM each other from sitting next to each other. It is my theory that eventually, the need for social skills can be completely eliminated – if only everyone had IM, shopped online and had a good blog as a medium for expressing opinions and sharing news.

Blog on!


Monday, November 24, 2008

Do you have a zombie plan?

Category: Self-Defense for Nerds

No nerd is truly complete without a zombie plan. As evidenced by the release of “I Am Legend,” air, water and land pollutants, diseases, chemical warfare and the genetic mutations that take place on a daily basis make a zombie invasion inevitable. Therefore, it’s critical that we nerds have zombie plans so that when the zombies attack, we can eventually re-take the world and establish our own nerd-dom! Oh, how the rest of the world will wish they had listened to us… But – here is the zombie plan Alex and I have devised for our particular situations. You may want to analyze your own situation and do the same.

Anyway. As I see it, there are two basic kinds of zombie invasion possibilities, each requiring a different plan. The first is for zombies with Type B personalities. If threatened, or if they see people, they will attack, but not until then. Type B zombies are advantageous for the few of us nerds who are left, as they are too shy to get near each other, and therefore don’t reproduce. They will eventually die out. Until then, they wander around seeking brains – usually ones that are just lying around, as they don’t like the work of prying them out of heads. Although your pets may be in danger.

Type B Zombie Plan:

While I lack a true long-term zombie plan, with a farm in Canada on top of a hill with some steep walls, I do have a short-term one. See, I've got a ridiculous amount of things like ramen and peanut butter that keep for a long time, so I would grab those and the electric kettle we have, along with some of my clothes and as much bottled water as I could carry.

I would then go upstairs and destroy the stairs from there. I would then probably hang out upstairs until zombie threat became imminent, at which point I would lock myself in the bathroom and possibly board up the door, even though it'd be darn hard for zombies to get up there without stairs. I would have access to water and a toilet, at least until something happened to those, and with the kettle I could boil the water if I were suspicious that it was contaminated. I would also be able to wash my clothes and take showers.

There's a window in the bathroom, which would enable me to watch out for zombies, but since I'm on the second floor it's not risky to not have it boarded up. In theory, I would eventually run out of food, but at least I wouldn't become a zombie. Like I said, though, this is a short-term plan. Someday when I have more resources I plan on having a decent long-term one.

The second possibility is personality Type A zombies. These are aggressive, angry zombies who seek out people to eat. They do fight each other quite often, although they won’t eat each other because there are simply no brains to be had from another zombie. Type A zombies have no problem reproducing, and therefore will have to be actively wiped out in order for the human race to be re-established.

Type A Zombie Plan:
Firstly, it is critical to establish a headquarters. I would choose the University Journal office (my workplace) because it is easily defensible. It has two entrances and a ceiling duct in the bathroom that could be accessed by forming a human ladder. Furthermore, it has internet access, which is also important.

However, as there are no weapons allowed on campus, we would have to be creative as to weapons. There is a kitchenette here, so I suppose we could boil water and throw it on the zombies, or throw forks and sporks. Being evil journalists, we could also publish libelous material about them and make them want to go kill themselves because they feel ostracized from the rest of the zombie population. I also have a pencil holder full of pennies. It’s quite heavy, and I feel that it could do some damage if thrown.

I’m fairly certain that with a combination of hand-to-hand techniques and bludgeoning objects, we could manage to dispel the un-ostracized zombies from the rest of campus. From there, we would have access to other resources – broadcast, for instance, to ostracize more zombies around the county. Vehicles to run them down, etc. I’m fairly certain the engineering department could have a few interesting tricks up their sleeves, as well. From there, after freeing the city, we could have a good base to take the world back.

Now obviously, the possibility of having ONLY Type A or Type B zombies is an odd one, so here are a few hints that apply to both Type A and Type B zombies, just in case you should need to escape, or kick some zombie trash.

1. Zombies have especially week knees, due to the large percentage of former football players who have become zombies. Therefore, a few kicks or a baseball bat to the kneecaps should aggravate old football injuries and take them right out.
2. Pretend to be a zombie. Now, take note – this does not work unless you smell like a zombie. So if you’ve got some extra brains, drool them down your front and maybe roll in the muck a bit.
3. Cry. (No. Really. This works.)
4. Threaten to sue. Zombies, due to their unpleasant odor and rotting appearance, seem to have trouble procuring legal representation, and judges and juries seem to be put off by the fact that they eat brains. Complaints of discrimination against zombies are prevalent in the justice system, and several cases are pending. Take advantage of it while you can.

With these tips and a good plan, you can take back the world! Rule it well!

--Alex and Anna

Friday, November 21, 2008

Musical narcotics!

Category: How to Keep a Nerd Entertained.

One of my most favorite things to do is listen to music. Now, being a total music nerd/hipster means that I'm really not into the mainstream music thing. I do not like rap, hip-hop or country. I am happiest when the music is from out of the country. Canada, England, Russia and Israel are a few favorites. Sweden and Iceland rank high on the list as well.

An inevitability with music these days is drug references in the lyrics. They're fairly unavoidable, it seems, although some bands are more creative about it than others. I'm not talking about the fairly obvious references (Weezer - "Hash Pipe" or "We Are All On Drugs") or even the rather subtle insinuations (The Beatles - "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds") but more the infusing of hints and code words into the lyrics themselves.

It may be a sign of my slightly deluded amusement at these things, or that I have been far too inundated with such things, but I find much amusement in ferreting out these references and deciphering them. A recent favorite is Just Jack, an English electro-rap group. For example, without me telling you, could you figure out the lines: "I'm loving Mary Jane, flying with Lois Lane, on board that bullet train..." etc.? Mary Jane, fairly obvious. But if you weren't looking for it, could you guess the others? This fascination with figuring out drug references in lyrics keeps me entertained for hours - when I have hours to spare.

However, lyrical drug references can also have side-effects. Such as - spotting drug references in songs that definitely do not have any drug references. Like... Christmas songs. "Let it Snow?" Really...

Anyway, if you're into that kind of thing and music seems boring to you, spice it up a bit! Find some drugs in it! And by the way, "Puff the Magic Dragon" does not count. We all know that one already, so go get your own drug references!


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When Knitting Gets Out of Hand

Category: Adventures in Knitting

Unfortunately, I kind of see my future in this.


Monday, November 17, 2008

The Joy of BBC America

Category: How to keep a nerd entertained

Besides that time I figured out that I could make a bag with the likeness of Simon Amstell on it, the best thing that has happened to me this year is moving into a house that gets BBC America. Despite the fact that it is far from perfect (where is Never Mind the Buzzcocks? Ponderland? The Mighty Boosh?) BBC America is like the holy grail of nerd television. It's British (which automatically gets it points), and it broadcasts such nerd mainstays as Monty Python's Flying Circus and Doctor Who. After ridiculous amounts of time spent in front of the television with a cup of tea and my knitting (the only way to do such a thing, really), I have compiled a guide to my favorite shows currently broadcast by BBC America for your nerdy perusal. 

I've never considered myself a sci-fi person, but I love Doctor Who. See, he's a Time Lord, and right now he's in his tenth regeneration, and he travels in the TARDIS which is like a messed up time machine, and he has a companion, and they travel through time and space and combat evil! (It's way cooler than it sounds. I promise.) A bonus about watching Doctor Who on BBC America is that it's usually on on Friday or Saturday nights, so I can enjoy it while other people are out partying. Doctor Who is actually so nerdy that some may consider it to be TOO nerdy. (I say there's no such thing, but hey, whatever). I think everyone should watch it at least once, if only for the purpose of being able to have conversations with those who are obsessed with it.  

Okay. For reals? Do I really need to explain the majesty of Monty Python's Flying Circus? The parrot sketch? The Spanish Inquisition? SPAM? That guy who says "IT'S"? "And now for something completely different"? "Stop the sketch, it's getting silly"? Pepperpots? The Argument Clinic? Go watch some. You'll feel better.

If you're going to watch Little Britain, you'll have to access your inner twelve-year-old boy. It's a sketch show devoted to showcasing the lives of various British people, and the humor is somewhat cheap. However, it's the kind of program that is pretty funny at one in the morning. Also, there's tons of crossdressing, which I have come to think of as a common denominator of British comedy. 

Oh, Spaced. How I love thee. And yet BBC America does not show you, in all your British sitcom glory, nearly as often as they should. I can't imagine why. I mean, you feature what most of my country thinks of as "those dudes from Shaun of the Dead", along with Jessica Hynes, who I think of as "whatsherface from Shaun of the Dead" and Anna thinks of as "that lucky wench who got to hug Simon Amstell". Either way, it's a very funny and clever show, and BBC America doesn't show it nearly as often as it ought to. I feel a letter-writing campaign in my future.

In an ideal world, BBC America would show more of the British programming that I've stooped to watching surreptitiously on Youtube... but for now I'm pretty happy. 

Tea: Titan of Tastiness...

Catgory: Cooking for one.

One of the few culinary delights of my life... probably can't really be considered a culinary delight at all. Oh, tea... That wonderful herb and chemical flavored broth that enriches life as we nerds know it... How all the exotic flavors of the earth can be bundled into one little paper packet that magically comes alive as water is added is completely beyond me. However, I don't necessarily have to understand a thing to appreciate it.

What I would caution the prospective tea-drinker, however, (other than the obvious, "beware, this tea may scald you" that is written on the outside of the cups, except for cold teas, obviously...) is that certain teas have certain connotations and can brand you with a label that you don't necessarily want.

For example: Take black teas, for instance. To me, a drinker of white teas and green teas, black teas are comparable to the coffee of teas. Not like... a mocha latte cappuccino kind of coffee - more like straight black strong coffee with no sugar. Black teas are the macho, very strong teas. They are what Rambo would drink - if indeed Rambo drank tea. It would be something along the lines of, "excuse me, can I get some red-hot nails to eat with my black tea? Thank you." And still never forget that when in doubt - pinky out!

Next, there's the chai tea. This is the tea of sophisticated people. This tea wears a scarf, those black, square-ish glasses, and attends poetry readings. The slight spicy tinge to the tea seems to give the brain a little bit of a jump-start, or so chai drinkers would have you believe. It's something that you would drink while pondering the works of Picasso or Michaelangelo or perhaps while reading "Love and War," or "Atlas Shrugged."

Next come the green teas - the teas of spiritual and healthy people. These include herbal teas used for remedies, as well. Green teas are environmentally friendly, and best partaken of while actually out in the environment. Drinkers of green teas are very proud of the fact that THEIR tea has natural anti-oxidants while other teas don't. (To which the rest of us say, "whatever... you nerds.") It's healthy, and it's what those little Tibetan monks drink, so it's got to be spiritually enhancing, too, right? Drinkers of green teas can often be found scaling mountain peaks and kayaking across oceans. Totally environmentally awesome! Which is why the cold kind comes in convenient 20 oz. plastic bottles which can be neatly tossed so as not to slow you down on your way up Everest.

White teas are more like the soda-pop of teas than anything else. They're more like a comfort tea or a pleasure tea. They're for people who come out of the cold and think to themselves, "well... I need something hot. But it's gotta taste fantabulous, and I'm not in the mood for hot chocolate." They're a starting point into tea, and for the casual tea-drinker. White tea flavors usually come with flamboyant flavor names like "Snazzy Strawberry!" or "Voluptuous Vanilla!" They're oftentimes fruity, and could be easily imagined with a dollop of whipped cream on top to facilitate the image of the white tea as a dessert tea. Beware the label of "tea sissy" while drinking white tea.

Then there are the iced teas - flavored or non, these teas are the social butterflies. Honestly, who drinks iced tea all alone? It's like alcohol! You drink with other people, and it's okay. Drink it by yourself... you've got a problem. Evidenced by the fact that it's hard to find iced tea in small, one-cup sized packets. They come in sizes for gallon jars, usually created by the means of placing these packets inside a large glass jar of water and leaving it out in the sun for a day or so. This method produced iced-tea that - once iced - is affectionately referred to as "sun tea." Because supposedly the tea now tastes of the little bits of light it soaked up. Once the tea is sufficiently iced (and in the south, sweetened) it is ready to serve at dinner parties, church functions and luncheons.

Finally, there are the instant teas, which can range anywhere from a chai latte mix to a Crystal Light pop-top canister, or those little "just-pour-this-in-your-water-bottle" mixes. These are for people who are thirsty - but hate the taste of their water. As such, I have a difficult time classifying them as real tea. However, in the interest of fair and objective representation, I will say that chai latte mixes are yummy.

Now that you have been briefed in the various types of tea and their inherent dangers of labels, it's time to get to the real nitty gritty: how to make tea.

Step one: Heat water. This step is necessary - unless you are making sun-tea. Depending on the amount you are attempting to prepare, there are a few ways to do it. For just one, you can simply fill a mug with room-temperature water and microwave it for a minute or so, depending upon the power of your microwave. If no room temperature water is available, cold water will do, or you can melt snow. Beware the repercussions, as cold water and melted snow are slower to heat.

Step two: Ready your selected tea. For tea-bags, be sure to remove the outer wrapper. For instant teas, rip open the packet or ready the correct measurement of said mixture.

Step three: Apply tea. Drop the tea-bag into the water or pour in your mix. For mixtures, stir. Generally with a spoon. For tea-bags, use the provided string to dip and dunk the tea-bag to help the flavor soak into the water. Steep for however long you like your tea strong.

Step four: Add whatever confections you may drink with your tea. Common tea-condiments include sugar, honey, and cream.

Step five: Check the temperature of your tea to be sure it will not burn your taste buds off, and enjoy.

Now that you have discovered the many joys and benefits of properly nerdly tea, go forth and share the good news!


Sunday, November 16, 2008


Welcome to the Nerdy Virgin Brigade! I started it because the geekiness of Anna and I cannot be contained and simply must be spread to the world. We'll both write posts, whenever we darn well want, about topics we feel would be appreciated by the (imaginary) Nerdy Virgin Brigade. Such topics may include (but are not limited to) knitting, movies, TV shows, cooking for one, general awkwardness, things to do alone at night when everyone else is out shagging, and anything else that crosses our twisted minds.
Thanks for stopping by!


Intro to the authors:

Alex (The Noun): Alex is a linguistics major and general dork. Her favorite things include British chocolate, the Navajo language, Diet Coke, Sigur Ros, Dr. Who, Law and Order, hand-knit socks, and frybread. Alex eventually wants to get her PhD and become a grumpy linguistics professor who terrorizes undergrads and works with endangered languages during the summer. For now she supports herself by tutoring kids.

Anna(The Verbinator): Anna is a linguistics fanatic, and is thoroughly addicted to tea, Mountain Dew, and journalism. She will almost never use a little word where a large, confusing word will suffice. Anna aspires to be insane when she grows up, and in the future, would like to be an editor for literary publishing. In the meantime, she supports herself with the help of her family, and friends who don't mind freeloaders.

Both Alex and Anna are crazy-cat-ladies in training and often hold multi-lingual conversations regarding the nature of grammar, the number fourty-two, and the lives of multiple British celebrities. Both Anna and Alex often dream of yarn and keep themselves awake at night contemplating excellently nerdy things to knit with said yarn.