I'm a huge fan of the Web site ThinkGeek.com. Big surprise given what a huge geek I actually am.
The transition over the years from geeks being objects of derision when I was a kid, to it now being cool to actually be a geek (as opposed to a nerd, which I'm told still isn't cool) has been somewhat amusing for me to watch. Well, sort of amusing, to some degree annoying, it would have been nice for this transition to happen about 25 years ago when I was in school.
That being said, I get a huge kick out of some of the toys and gadgets (some of them actually useful!) on ThinkGeek.
I mean really, who doesn't need a set of lightsaber chopsicks or a USB-powered rocket launcher that lets you actually shoot at your coworkers?
Like most true geeks I love gadgets and toys, they don't actually have to do anything in particular, they just need to be sort of cool, or weird, weird is also good.
For instance, I was perusing the site the other night and came across a sundial ring you wear around your neck.
"A-ha!" I thought to myself, "A watch which never runs out of batteries!"
True enough, the handy dandy little gadget works with no external power. Geek heaven! It's old, but functional technology. Has all sorts of little numbers on it, made of metal. What more do you need?
Only one problem — I work in an office, no sun.
Curses! Foiled again!
Not to be defeated I went back to the site and went looking for more goodies without which my life would simply not be worth living, (not really but it sounds good right?)
All sorts of lovely toys and useful gadgets popped up. Obviously I need the roll up computer keyboard and the Nerf machinegun (did I mention geeks never really grow up?) the screaming monkey slingshot would be nice as well.
Now if I just actually had money.
To make matters worse, I'm a world champion bibliophile (means I like books a lot) and I wrote a piece for the Web some months back talking about politics in science fiction, which led one of my new favorite authors to ask me to review one of her books.
Free book! Woot! ("Woot" is a geek expression meaning, roughly, "Egad my dear fellow what a wonderful thing this is which has just happened to me!) What self-respecting geek could possibly turn that down? (Granted most of us don't exactly have a lot of self-respect to begin with, but I digress...) Well Sarah A. Hoyt, sent me one her books along with one by Dave Freer and I set to reading. Both Freer's Dragon's Ring and Sarah's Darkship Thieves were just unbelievable and I emailed Sarah back to tell her thanks and how great her book was. Somewhere in there I managed to strike up a friendship with Sarah and continue to correspond.
Turns out she's a pusher who keeps enabling my book addiction. I got five more in the mail from her just the other day and am now on the fourth one she sent me. (If I had any self-respect I'd come up for air and food at some point, but like any other addict I just keep getting my fix.) The problem here, is that gadgets and books are like crack to any geek. We just can't stay away from them. The more goofy the gadget or esoteric the science fiction or fantasy book the better.
One of the great joys of life as a geek is when someone who's more or less normal asks us why we need the laser-guided scissors or the USB stress ball. We then get to give them the patented Blank Look, snort and shake our heads in disbelief at the people who simply Don't Get It.
Given that's the look the rest of humanity gives us the rest of the time, it's simply justice.
All IMHO, of course.