This site has recently gotten a bit of a facelift that wouldn’t have been possible without my brother Scott.
Scott is a computer genius. And not just like he reads a bunch of Gizmodo or is good at troubleshooting Wi-Fi or something. Scott wrote a program that ended up saving a giant retail company over $300,000 a year when he was in high school. Scott is a LEGIT computer genius.
As a computer genius, Scott is also a huge nerd. As in, he owns an “I’m not slacking, my code is compiling” t-shirt that he wears while his code is compiling.
Scott wasn’t always a huge nerd. As a freshman in high school, he played soccer and basketball. Like his older brother, he was terrible at both, but at least he was on the field flopping around and sweating and becoming a man. I couldn’t have been prouder.
But then he started taking apart electronics. I was OK with that as long as the goal was to electrocute or explode something. But then he started learning C. Then C++. Then Java and databases, and before I knew it, he was a full-blown nerd.
Like any good big brother, I did my best to set him straight. Maybe Scott didn’t know that nerds got swirlies and wet willies and unspeakable nicknames. No brother of mine is going to get an unspeakable nickname if I have anything to do about it, so I went about trying to steer Scott back toward the straight and narrow.
Mostly, I did this through name calling.
I was living at home at the time, so when I’d see Scott in the morning, I’d greet him with a “Nerd!” I’d welcome him home in the evening with “Nerrrrrrrrd!” When he’d try to tell me about his latest project, I’d interrupt with, “NERD! NERD! NERRRRRRRRRD!!!” I was not the hero Scott deserved, but I was the hero he needed.
I was not the hero Scott deserved, but I was the hero he needed.
Surprisingly, my strategy did not produce any noticeable results. If anything, Scott only grew nerdier. He jailbroke an iPod. He accumulated novelty t-shirts. He bought a pair of cardboard virtual reality glasses.
He also took the abuse like a real champ, always smiling and shaking his head. Only once did he respond with anything resembling a threat.
“You’d better watch it,” he said one time when I interrupted him with a Nerd Blast.
I paused, a little surprised that he finally responded. “Oooooh,” I finally said. “OOOOOOOHHHHHH,” wiggling my fingers. “NERRRRRRRRRRR (breath) ERRRRRRRRRRR (breath) ERRRRRRRRRR…”
He smiled again. If I’d been paying attention, I would have noticed that this smile wasn’t like the others. This time, there was just a little bit of evil in his eyes.
When I got married and left the house, I finally gave up. My brother had chosen his people, and there was nothing I could do about it.
A few months later, I installed a new printer on my computer at home and walked back to watch TV with Deserae. While we were watching TV, we started hearing faint “beeps.” Not like constantly, but one a minute or so. Living in an apartment, we didn’t think much of random noises, since we were always hearing beeps and coughs and screaming kids and break-ups in progress. But this sounded closer, and it wouldn’t stop.
“Is that us?” Deserae finally asked.
“No,” I said, then got up because it probably was us. I checked on our office and everything looked fine. My computer’s CD tray was sticking out, but I pushed it back in and walked back to the living room.
The beeping continued throughout the evening. Finally Deserae looked at me. “I’m going to lose my mind if that doesn’t stop.”
I walked back into the office and looked at my computer. Everything seemed normal, except the CD tray was sticking out again. I pushed it back in, but this time I waited. Thirty seconds later, the computer beeped and the CD tray popped back out. I sat some more. One minute later, it popped back in.
I poked around my computer, and everything else looked completely normal. It was nuts. I finally did the only two things I know how to do to fix a computer:
- Turn it off and on.
- Ask Google.
Turning it off and on worked for exactly 60 seconds. Nobody on Google had heard of this problem. I turned it off and on again. I tried “Safe Mode.” I started changing random settings in the control panel that prompted messages like “This will make permanent changes to your computer. Are you sure? … Are you really sure???”
Finally, I vaguely remembered something my sister had said months ago about Scott trying to make a virus. I then remembered the evil look in his eye.
I called him immediately.
“Hey Scott, my computer started doing something super weird today. It keeps beeping and popping the CD tray in and out. You wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?”
Furious, I called back.
“Sounds like you have a virus that got triggered by something you just installed on your computer. I don’t know HOW it could have gotten there.” Cackle cackle cackle.
“This is why you don’t call someone a nerd. Especially if they are one.”
LIFE LESSON #33
Never make a nerd angry.