Thursday, July 08, 2004

"G" is for...

I'VE KNOWN I WAS A GEEK since 1984. Not that I wore Coke bottle glasses, nor that I ever sported Wrangler high-waters. No, it was when our 4th grade class clown, Joe Comer, one day during a joning session, said what he believed to be Dozens-worthy hyperbole:

"Marvin, you so smart, I bet you read the dictionary!"

Yeah... and?

I did. And the enyclopedia. Our house had 3 sets: a dingy ivory and turquoise World Book 1968 passed down from my grandfather; the glorious burgundy and gold Funk & Wagnalls 1979-80 we brought home one day from Food Giant; and finally a maroon World Book 1984-85 peddled to us by some Huey Lewis & the News lookin door-to-door salesman.

Whenever the whim struck, I could look up the native language of Laos, discover what was Euclidean about Euclidean geometry, learn what lightless life grows in the Mariana Trench, or find out the next time Neptune's orbit would scoot it further than Pluto from Earth. And for extra kicks, with volumes spanning decades, I could play: Watch My People Transform from Colored to Black to Negro to Afro-American... and Back!

And summers were the greatest. In the lull between the last head-first slide of baseball season and picking out new Nikes for school, it was just me and old F& W for hours on end. My 10 year-old fantasies weren't of conquering Zaxxon or of a night with Cheetarah, but of snuggling with a Downey-fresh pillow and the voluminous Encyclopedia Britannica.

But one dare not say such things as a 4th grader. And worse, one dare not have it said by an other's mouth - especially the class clown! It was my little secret; Joe Comer didn't know anything. And neither did his family. So, I told him:

"Joe, yo Mama so dumb, she stared at a container of orange juice for a whole hour... cause the label said Concentrate!"


A lot of things have changed about me since I've grown up, but what will never change is me embracing my inner geek. Sure, it's been years since I have even seen a World Book Encyclopedia, but I can hardly survive five minutes without my new-and-improved, super-souped-up 21st century omniscient replacement: Google!

I am the proud Google Fan Club President of North America, West Africa, and I'm working on a few unrecognized nations in central Europe. I use Google to google anything. And I do mean anything.

At the risk of losing my lifetime allotment of cool points indefinitely, here is a list of random things I've googled lately:

1) What's the longest one-syllable word in English?
ANSWER: Screeched. But also: scrounged, scrunched, stretched, straights, strengths.

2) What's so magic about Magic Hill?

3) Irene Cara

4) What are the top grossing U.S. films of all time after adjusted for inflation?

ANSWER (as of 2002):
1) Gone with the Wind
2) Star Wars
3) The Sound of Music
4) E.T.
5) The Ten Commandments
6) Titanic
7) Jaws

5) What time is it right now in Brasil?

6) The History of Blogging

7) Myself

8) If & is called ampersand, what's the name for @?
ANSWER: Though commonly known as the "at" symbol, it has no name in English. Other languages, though, have names for it:

German --> Affenschwanz, meaning "monkey's tail"
Danish --> snabel-a, meaning, "elephant's trunk"
Italian --> chiocciola, meaning, "little snail"
Hungarian --> kukac, meaning "worm"
Taiwanese --> xiao lao-shu, meaning "little mouse"

9) How to improve your flutterkick

10) Yo Mama Jokes

11) Of the world's 100 tallest buildings, how many are in our city?
ANSWER: 3 - Bank of America Plaza (#20), SunTrust Plaza (#57), IBM Tower/One Atlantic Center (#89)

12) The most common first name for a President?
ANSWER: John (4): Adams, Quincy Adams, Tyler, Kennedy

13) The most common first name for a First Lady?
ANSWER: Elizabeth (3): Monroe, Truman, Ford

Incidentally, if Edwards were to ever become President, the couple, John and Elizabeth, would have both.

14) Who is Dr. Lee Passarella?

The pleasures are endless. It's hedonistic. Because once you've googled to find the answer to your initial question, it opens the door to a zillion others (except for question 14). For example:

Question 11 leads to: What is the tallest building in the world? The answer: Taipai 101 in Taiwan, just completed this year. And on its site, I found that its design and specifications are based on the number 8, which happens to be a lucky number in traditional Chinese culture. Naturally, I have to know why! Answer: Because "Fa," the pronunciation of 8 in Cantonese, means to "make a great fortune in the future." And, for that reason, developers in heavily Chinese areas (even outside of China) will break their necks to incorporate 8 in their street addresses or phone numbers.

Plus, if you need graphic images, there's an endless supply using Google's image search. And for you bargainaholics, now there's for bargain shopping!

A concluding couplet (to Joe Comer, who probably doesn't even know how to turn on a computer):

I should probably stop here, because I could go on all day.
Call me freak, call me geek, but just don't take my Google away!


Collin said...

Ayo, you win my "favorite person of the year" contest for number 14. Oh, and don't forget to try entering your name in "Googlism." It's hilarious, or maybe not if nothing pops up. :)

BLUE said...

you know you gon' burn for #14, right? i'll probably be already good and crispy burnt by the time the fires consume you ... and NOBODY will be right there to watch, judging whose smoke and ash was the most poetic and deserves a literary award.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Heath,

Hardly annonymous. Sure, in the big scheme of things I'm nobody. But as the Bard says, "our little life is rounded with a sleep." Everybody's got a little life, if you get right down to it. But to my wife and dog I'm somebody. And how can positing me as a nobody possibly add luster to your life and career? I don't even know you. Sorry, but I don't get it. This blogging crap is way out of hand, if you ask me


Lee Passarella

Anonymous said...

Forgive the extra "n" in "anonymous." Self-editing is not a strong suit.

-Lee P.