Why am I the nerd?

In today’s world, no one can know everything. Expertise is a relative term. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. When I walk into some people’s office I am the computer & internet guru. In other offices, I am the worker bee and others still, the new kid on the block.

Back in high school, I had a teacher who used to say, “Everything is easy once you know how”. I was never sure if he was trying to help or not. Of course this is the same guy who used to also tell me after I aced an algebra or physics exam, “Not bad for a girl”. Considering that out of 20 students in my physics class, half failed & only 1 got an A, & I got the B, I was pretty happy, so I still never knew if he was trying to help or hurt.

I only found out the following year that I was supposed to have learned trig BEFORE taking physics. Oh well, so I was bored in trig all year. So is that why I am a nerd?

Well it could be the fact that I can quote major parts of the original Star Trek episodes, or the fact that I feel badly for Dilbert & don’t always see what’s so funny, but I think its really the fact that I am willing to tele-teach my 79 year-old mother how to use her first ever PC and the fact that I move in mostly non-engineer circles of friends.

For most of my friends & acquaintances, I am the ultimate geek: I speak both English and Geek, so I can translate user manuals in to plain English, program VCR & DVD recorders and remote controls, and call Bezek-BenLeumi and translate the technician’s instructions into Heblish or Engrew or at the very least translate the terms in to parts and actions on the PC in question.

In addition to having taught computer programming, calculus, and aerospace science to high school and college students, I have actually designed databases for the federal government and programmed commercial web sites using enough languages to qualify as Campbell’s Alphabet soup.

But I still like to learn new things, and THAT is what really makes me a nerd. Call me glutton for punishment, but after learning “real” programming languages like C++, VB and Java, as well as internet technologies like XML, ASP, and more, why oh why would I also want to learn computer graphics and graphic design? Moreover, as a new olah, why would I want to take these courses in Hebrew?

Way back in the pre-computer, Star Trek only days, I was a musician. I played all sorts of woodwinds and brass, from clarinet to trombone & French horn, practicing hours a day. I was also in every choir I knew about: the local high school & jazz choirs were a given, but the local town group, the High Plains Singers and the big city groups, the Colorado Chorale and the Denver Chorale both made use of me on a weekly basis.

I am not exactly sure when I went to class my senior year, but all that music somehow balanced out all that math and science: first place at the science fair, national recognition for a physics research paper, late night astronomy club meetings and frequent trips to the planetarium. Having my best friend employed there did not hurt either.

I suppose that learning computer graphics uses both parts of my brain. It’s a program, so I have to learn specific ways to do things, but its drawing as well, so I have to also be flexible and creative. I have no idea which part of my brain benefits from doing it all in Hebrew, but it sure is improving my Hebrew comprehension beyond ulpan level. The teachers make no attempt to simplify the Hebrew for me when they are lecturing or while they are running around the lab trying to help everyone.

Besides learning new skills, since artistic drawing was never a skill of mine before (I learned hand drafting and Autocad, but that is exact, not creative), I really have to work hard some nights. It is great experience for me to have the frustration of not quite understanding, never being sure if the glitch that just occurred was my error or a network system error, and reading the help files of the software package, and feeling no better off after reading them than before.

And THAT is what motivates me to be an excellent technical writer. So go ahead, call me a nerd! I take it as a compliment.