When You Know Your Doctor Is A Hopeless Nerd

Look, I love the original Star Trek TV series as much as any ardent Trekker.  I loved Kirk, and Spock, and Bones, and Scotty’s thick Scottish accent, and Uhura and the cool little gadget she wore that stuck out of her ear, and Sulu and Chekhov.  I even liked some of the bad guys, like Kang and the Romulan woman with the bad complexion that Spock seduced in one of the later, forgettable episodes.

3-27-14-1But even I would never try to invent a tricorder like the one used on the original series.  Of course, as any dedicated fan of the show knows, the tricorder was a device that allowed the crew of the Starship Enterprise to gather enormous amounts of information simply by vaguely waving the tricorder in the general direction of an object or person.  In the classic episode City on the Edge of Forever, where Kirk must kill his beloved Edith Keeler, Spock apparently used a tricorder to record millennia of human history being displayed by the time portal that allowed Bones to go back in time and change human history so the Nazis won World War II.  (Trust me — this synopsis, while totally accurate, doesn’t do the episode justice.  It really is a great episode.)

But I digress.  Three ER doctors from Philadelphia, who seized upon the fact that Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy used the tricorder in diagnosing the medical condition of his patients, have invented their own version of the tricorder.  Their device monitors vital signs, goes through a series of questions that assist in the diagnosis, and ultimately helps the doctor to come up with a determination of what’s wrong with the patient.

So, these doctors are total Star Trek nerds — a conclusion confirmed by the fact that, as the article linked above shows, they had their picture taken in replicas of the uniforms worn by crew members in the original series.  So what?  It looks like they’ve been inspired by the show to create a useful diagnostic tool, which is a good thing.  No word, however, on whether this tricorder also makes that really cool whirring sound that fans of the show remember so well.

Next up — the transporter!

A Serene Voyage To Nerdsville

Last Sunday I was walking home from work when I encountered a Segway tour of downtown Columbus.

It appeared to be a bespectacled family of four that was rolling along by the Statehouse, with the Mom holding her Segway handlebars in a death grip.  Even though the devices weren’t moving at a pace much faster than a good, brisk walk, all four of the riders and the guide were wearing bicycle helmets and appeared to be protected against any imaginable possibility of injury in the event of, say, a Segway collision where the rider is hurled six inches to the ground.  As I walked past, the little group was stopped on one of the Statehouse sidewalks, but after the guide had finished his spiel they went  gliding serenely and silently away in the direction of the Ohio Theater, looking for all the world like peculiar moving statues.

And I thought:  nerds.  Or, as Ogre might bellow in Revenge of the Nerds:  “NERDS”!

I’m sorry, Segway.  Your device might be a self-balancing, gyroscopic technological wonder, and another great leap forward to a future where humans don’t have to move a muscle, but helmeted people on Segways is the most infallible nerd indicator since the development of Dungeons and Dragons and the premiere of Star Trek:  Voyager.

I hate to admit it, but I would never don a helmet and take a Segway tour of Columbus, or anywhere else, because it would provoke a severe case of ipsenerdophobia.  True nerds need a refined sense of self-awareness, as a kind of defense mechanism to avoid putting themselves into obvious nerd situations, and a Segway tour sets my nerdar jangling at peak frequencies.  As a geek who wears glasses, read comics into my college years, and likes science fiction, I’ve got more than enough nerd tendencies as it is.

Global Nerd

IMG_1920I’ve always liked maps and globes.  I like the look of them, and I like the way that they can change.  I remember discovering an old atlas in my grandparents’ attic, leafing through it, and wondering about exotic places like the Ottoman Empire that could only be found on an outdated geography book.

I think maps are cool, so I was grinning ear to ear when Kish and I stumbled upon Metsker Maps in Seattle.  What a fantastic store!  It’s crammed stem to stern with standup globes, miniature globes, inflatable globes, wall maps, fold-out maps, ancient framed maps, hiking maps, and books about maps — as well as incidentals like a good pocket compass.

After wandering around for a while with a  kid-like look on my face, I went up to the guy behind the counter and said:  “This is the coolest store I’ve been in in years!”  He nodded knowingly, recognizing that I was just another globe geek who was letting my nerd flag fly.

Fog On The Spectacles

Recently, the weather has taken a sharp turn in a much colder direction.   This change has brought about one of the worst drawbacks to wearing glasses — the annoying fogging phenomenon that occurs when the glasses-wearer walks from frigid climes into a warm room, the lenses turn to milk, and the blinded nerd stumbles aimlessly until some kind of equilibrium is reached and the glasses once again allow, rather than prevent, clear sight.

I’ve worn glasses since I was in first grade, and they have their good and bad aspects.  The drawbacks of glasses are many and well-recognized.  When I was a kid, and glasses actually were made of glass, they didn’t really facilitate aggressive participation in contact sports.  It’s not easy to crowd the plate when your brain conjures mental images of an inside pitch shattering your spectacles and lacerating your eyeballs.  If the frames of your glasses got broken — and they inevitably did — your beleagured Mom was likely to patch them up with scotch tape.  Several of the school photos of UJ and me feature us sporting taped-up, horn-rimmed glasses.  It was, candidly, not a good look.  And the reality is that glasses are never a positive fashion statement.  No one with 20-20 eyesight decides that no-prescription glasses would enhance their appearance.  This is why the large blow-up photos found on the walls in an “eye center” are so misleading.  I’m convinced that none of the laughing skinny 20-somethings or the smiling, rugged 40-year-old outdoorsmen shown wearing the latest optical fashions really need glasses.  (They never show them wearing fogged glasses, either.)

Still, to my mind there is one central, dispositive positive aspect to glasses.  If your eyesight is poor, there are only two alternatives to wearing glasses — being unable to see anything clearly, or either regularly sticking something into your eye or paying some mass-marketing practitioner to perform “laser surgery” on the most important of your five senses.  I’ll take glasses — even occasionally fogged glasses — over those alternatives any day.