The monthly Atlanta games meet-up is held…yeah monthly…at Thrust Interactive. It’s one of my favorite places to visit each month and it’s my fourth encounter with Nerdvana. I thought I’d chat a bit about my other encounters and then you’ll know why I love it there.
In case you haven’t guessed it, I’m a nerd. I’m a social nerd because I have three jocks for brothers and a father that’s been a passionate sports fan his whole life. Besides a love of Comic Books, Science Fiction, Chess, Magic and T-Shirts with slogans on them – I also do the Rubik’s Cube in 35 seconds, solved it on my own way back in 81 and…I own at least 50 different Cubes of one sort or the other. I’m somewhere between Leonard and Sheldon in nerdiness and if you don’t know who they are, then you’re not a nerd yourself (possibly).
My first encounter with Nerdvana came in the summer of 1974. I was one of the lucky 200 who got to attend that year’s St. Paul’s Advanced Studies Program. It was one of the best six weeks of my life. I met kids from all over New Hampshire and they were all really, really smart. In addition to being smart, some were funny, some were athletic, some were gorgeous, some were cool/popular, some were tall, some were thin, some were fat. And only a few of them looked like the Earnie Douglas type of nerd that I was (thin, glasses, a little gawky looking). I learned that nerds came in all shapes and sizes and I learned what it felt like to be surrounded by really bright people. I was in Nerdvana for the first time.
My second visit to Nerdvana was my four years at RPI in Troy, New York. Not quite as prestigious as M.I.T. or Cal. Tech. but it’s no safety school either. Again, lots and lots of really bright people, mostly nerds but also some new classes of nerds. There were burn-out nerds, militant nerds, racist nerds, myopic nerds, and even some angry and mean nerds. And, of course there were quite a few brilliant nerds and nice nerds and funny nerds too. It was a great four years but it was a much different Nerdvana than St. Paul’s School. It was highly competitive and a much less relaxed place. I think that’s why, I spent a lot of my time hanging out with friends at the College of St. Rose in Albany. The nicest bunch of mostly Catholic girls (and some guys) that I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. If RPI was my second Nerdvana experience, then St. Rose was a little piece of heaven on earth.
In 1981, I started programming. I worked for Albany Savings Bank, Victory Markets and Shoney South – each for about a year. A bank, a supermarket and a restaurant chain. I wasn’t always the smartest guy in the room but I was almost always the biggest nerd. I also had to wear a suit (a very non-nerdy kind of attire). In August or 1984, I got lucky again. I flew out to Sunnyvale CA, interviewed with Triad Systems, offered a job and took it. I lived in the heart of Silicon Valley for over 13 years and it’s the biggest Nerdvana on the planet. There was a store there that sold nothing but computer parts and junk food 24 hours a day. It’s where Apple, HP, Netscape, Xerox Parc, Adobe, Sun, Facebook, and Google all started (just to name a few). Al gore wasn’t there, but it’s really where the internet started (ok, some poetic license there).
Shortly after moving to CA, I attended an RPI alumni gathering at the Tied House (a micro-brewery) in Mt. View. I showed up, thinking that I could easily spot the RPI group. Nope, it was like trying to find a nerdle in a haystack, or worse…trying to find a nerdle in a nerdle stack. It was wall to wall nerds.
Anyway, I loved my13 years in California. In 1997, I moved back to upstate New York, to be near my Son. Although I was lucky enough to meet a few nerds here and there, there was no Nerdvana to be found.
In 2010, I moved to Atlanta. In January (I think), I attended my third meet-up, but the first held at Thrust Interactive. It’s a great group of really smart and funny people. Jesse, Chris, Andrew, Roger, Ed…just to name a few. I look forward to spending an hour or two every month. Whether it’s playing Ping-Pong (classic Nerd sport), sucking down a brewski or two (yeah, I threw that in – I don’t believe I’ve ever known a nerd that actually uses that expression), showing off with the cube, eating excellent semi-Hawaiian pizza (the ham is replaced with BBQ-Chicken) or just chit-chatting about the games industry, or just rambling on-and-on with no real point (like I’m doing right now)…I always have a great time.
It’s not the Valley. It’s not every day…but it is Nerdvana at least for 2 hours once a month.