Rise of the geek

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Rise of the geek
You're cooler than ever and in good company in
By Dan Vierria - dvierria@sacbee.com

Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Story appeared in SCENE section, Page E1

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Holy gigabyte, Sacramento is oozing geek culture. It doesn't take a
Romulan mind probe to detect intelligent life forms in Sacramento who can
discuss dynamic hypertext, Daleks, druids and Dungeons & Dragons.

"Sacramento is a geek-friendly city," says Stephanie Rector, webmaster of
sacramentogeeks.com. "Who else but a geek would think that the state's
capital, the home of the governor and a Mecca of state jobs, would be a
cool place to live?"

Generally speaking, geeks are intelligent and employed, but socially inept.
Once ridiculed, geeks now are marginally cool, thanks to popular, geeky
TV characters like Hiro Nakamura of NBC's "Heroes" and bug-freak Gil
Grissom of CBS' "CSI." Geek chic is big on TV.

Computers, science, video games, sci-fi and fantasy are major geek
passions. Other geek interests include anime, mathematics, comic books,
classic literature, and cult movies and TV shows. Renaissance fairs, too.

According to Rector, the multitude of government and high-tech jobs in the
area makes the city attractive to geeks. Teaching is another popular geek
profession, she adds.

"Getting a state job is the Mecca dream of many of my job-seeking geek
friends," says Rector, whose Web site is a geek-seeking missile, targeting
the numerous clubs, "meet-ups," social gatherings and other geeky
interests and activities in the Sacramento area.
Forbes magazine has ranked Sacramento among the "most wired" cities in
the country, and the Sacramento TV market has long attracted high ratings
for sci-fi programs.

Amaranth Wise is a fundraiser by profession and a founder of Sacramento
Whovians, a "Doctor Who" fan club. The BBC-produced sci-fi TV series
has become a cult classic.

"I'm a geek; I prefer to stay at home in a dark room with a computer," Wise
says. "I avoid natural light."

Geeks are wild about "Doctor Who," "Star Trek," "Farscape," "Battlestar
Galactica," "Star Wars," "Lost" and "Heroes."

They adore role-playing games, anything Hobbit, X-Men, "X-Files," Spider-
Man, board games, the Science Channel, Discovery Channel, online
forums and extraterrestrials. "Star Trek," although considered old school in
today's geek culture, remains a traditional favorite.

"You can walk into any office in Sacramento and find someone with a
Starship Enterprise model on their desk," Wise says. "Walk into any office
with 'Geek' on your shirt and you'll get a bunch of people saying, 'Hey, I
love your shirt!' "

A geek self-diagnostic

Are you a geek?

The online Urban Dictionary's top-rated definition of a geek describes
these four traits:

• Lack of participation in physical activities, such as sports.

• An interest in computers.

• A crude sense of humor radically different from common society.

• A negative attitude toward common society.

In the stereotypical sense, geeks are the ones handling radioactive
isotopes in chemistry class, sitting at home on prom night and tagged
"losers" by the popular kids. Geeks often get the last laugh through
academic achievement and high-paying jobs.
Famous geeks include Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and George
Lucas. On the blog Geeks Run the World, "Geekfu" proudly posts, "One of
my most favorite geeks is Pythagoras. He was the Greek philosopher who
came up with the Pythagorean theorem. I love Math!"

Without geeks there wouldn't be an Internet, and without the Internet many
geeks wouldn't have a social life. Geeks may well inherit the Earth – once
they get it reprogrammed.

"Geeks realize that much of the stuff that most people just don't
understand is actually really cool and fun," Rector says.

To boldly go ...

Melissa Lauritzen of Placerville is "captain" of the "Star Trek" fan club USS
Oberon and webmaster of Sacscifi.info. She says a new "Star Trek" film
scheduled for release late this year and rumors of a tour event coming to
Sacramento sometime this year should re-energize Trekkers, as they
prefer to be called.

"Everything is kind of underground right now," she says. "Fans are out
there, they're just not participating as much."

Billie Piper, left, and Christopher Eccleston starred in the B BC's 2005
revival of "Doctor Who." Sci Fi Channel

Lauritzen is a big fan of "Star Wars," too, but does have a favorite that isn't
in the sci-fi category.
"I do have one fantasy weakness – 'Moonlight,' " she says about the CBS
series about vampires.

Another Trekker, Rob Lerman of North Highlands, held the rank of
Commanding Admiral of Starfleet in 1993-94, the highest position in the
international Starfleet Academy fan association.

"It's the largest fan-led 'Star Trek' club in the world," he says.

Lerman, now a senior IT analyst for AT&T, is still a member but not as

"With any organization there's politics involved," he says.

The Sacramento area also has spawned the internationally known "Star
Trek" band, Warp 11. Steve Hartford of San Francisco-based Reboot
Music (the band's label) calls Warp 11 "international geekdom celebrities."

The band will play a CD-release concert at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Blue
Lamp, 1400 Alhambra Blvd.

Warp 11, with song titles like "Don't Klingon Me" and "Rage Against the
Federation," for med in 1999 when all members worked at a Rancho
Cordova high-tech company.

"I read somewhere that Sacramento has the highest per capita number of
'Star Trek' fans of anywhere in the country," says Karl Miller, vocalist and
bassist for Warp 11. "There's lots of people in Sacramento, but not a whole
lot to do. They turn to sci-fi."

The Doctor is in, very in

Wise's sci-fi Whovians gather once a month at a "meet-up" to watch
episodes and debate cutting-edge topics of the day.

"We'll pause it ("Doctor Who" episode) so somebody can go get a slice of
pizza and it might not get restarted for 45 minutes because we're arguing
about another sci-fi subject," Wise says. "Somebody will say, 'The space
station on "Doctor Who" reminds me of the one on "Deep Space 9." ' We'll
go into entirely bizarre subjects."

Several Whovians are teachers or former teachers, Wise says.
"We're all relatively intelligent; most of us have at least one college
degree," she adds.

Last month's big storm that knocked out power in some Sacramento areas
hit Wise's home hard. She endured three days without electricity – an
eternity for a geek.

"We played Scrabble and sat around a lot looking at each other," she says.
"You can only read so many 'Star Trek' novellas a day."

About the writer:

      Call The Bee's Dan Vierria, (916) 321-1119.


                                         Rise of the geek


Geeks often are mistaken for nerds. There is a difference – and neither likes to be called a

Stephanie Rector of www.sacramentogeeks.com says the easiest way to differentiate
among geeks, nerds and dorks was silk-screened on a T-shirt she saw on cafepress.com:

Geek: Understands, creates and fixes Really Cool Stuff.

Nerd: Understands and collects Really Cool Stuff.

Dork: Confused by Really Cool Stuff.

Geeksta rap rocks da house – especially if you're a geek. Rajeev Bajaj, a Fremont
chemical engineer, is a star of the high-tech geeksta rap scene. Check out his blog at
geekrhythms.blogspot.com. His lyrics from the album "Geek Rhythms":

Hot electrons can ruin my day

Switch the transistor to go the other way

I make my software self healing

To prevent such a calamity from dealing

A deadly blow to my directory root

If all else fails ... YO, REBOOT

With tunes like "Belt Buckle Tractor Beam," Warp 11 spoofs "Star Trek" themes. The
band (clockwise from top left, Jeff Hewitt, Karl Miller, Brian Moore and Kiki
Stockhammer) plays a CD release party at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Blue Lamp. Jeremy

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