Tag Archives: Europe

Brainmuffin: The Renaissance (Polymath) Nerd

NERD
NERD (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Europe had several periods of Renaissance starting in the 12th century. It is the Italian Renaissance of the 15th century with which many are familiar. During the later period, a person who had expertise in several areas of study was called a Polymath. The common term that later came to use was Renaissance Man.

Computer Nerd

Over the years my areas of study and interest has been varied. In high school, as I was too shy to ask girls out, computers became my first interest. Though we didn’t own one, I knew several people who did and my school in Maryland (Smithsburg High School) had an Apple ][, while my high school in Germany (Patch American High School) had Atari 800s. Friends had these as well as Vic 20 and Texas Instruments TI-99/4a. Through all these varied machines, I learned aspects of BASIC. I also learned a bit of PILOT and LOGO. Thousands of lines of code were written on paper and never typed in. I made my own adventure games and even a few graphics ones. Mid-way through my senior year I finally got over my nerves and asked a girl out on a date. Thus a second subject of study entered my life.

My major in college was Computer Science. One does not get much more nerd than that, do they? College  focused and channeled my analyzing skills and matured my coding practice. My interest in Math also expanded and it nearly became a minor. Learning from where various formulas that I had learned over the years derived open a new world. Math explained so much about the underpinnings of the Universe. Women remained unsolved, even after I met my wife.

My Own Beer

In the early 90s I took a job at the University of Tennessee in the Library Systems department. Though I went there to offer my skills for their various development needs, my world would soon expand into the area of homebrew beer. The first few batches were nothing to write home about, but with more practice and research, I was soon being asked questions by those who got me started. When I moved to Marion, Ohio to work for Macola Software, there too I had homebrewers who had been at it for years asking me how I did things. True, I was still using extract, but the recipes were mine and showed my talents for cooking. Over the years my expertise would expand to¬†amateur judging and all grain. I even had Charlie Papazian answer tweets and get me started as the Cincinnati Craft Beer Examiner. If you want to while away some time talking about beer, I’m all ears (and mouth).

Lift Them Weights

I was first introduced to lifting iron in 7th grade gym class. I wouldn’t get another fix for a couple more years when my dad brought a used weight set home. In 1983, the move to Germany meant they went to storage and I lifted very little. I would not start lifting seriously again until the summer of 1990.

The second foray into weight lifting slowly grew into an obsession. The first catalyst was purchasing a copy of Muscle and Fitness. Though I had little variety in equipment, the magazine had ideas I could adapt and meals gave me ideas on what to eat. Eventually, I was eating a great deal more and taking the occasional weight gainer. Weider’s magazine had information on many areas and I was an adept student.

My first gym membership came in 1994. Here I had access to lots of free weights and great machines. Over the next few years I would gain 20 pounds, mostly muscle. I hovered in the mid-190s in weight for years, but I never did get to body weight on bench press, squat and dead lift. Most of the routines I was doing were of the higher, lighter weight variety.

Time passed and we moved a few times more. Gym memberships came and went, though I did buy 200 pounds of dumbbells along the way. For much of that time, I thought there not much left to learn about weight lifting. About two years ago, I again starting reading Iron Man Magazine. The writers had changed since my last subscription and many of them were in their 40s and 50s. As joints were no longer up to heavy lifting, the routines reflected a switch to higher volume with less rest. Starting what I could at home, I rebuilt muscle and drop some weight. A membership at a new gym was soon added and my journey from 200 to 217 began.

Over the course of this year, my knowledge expanded into the area of StrongLift’s 5×5. After some prodding my a co-worker, I finally gave it a try. As I was used to lighter weights, I started low. Eventually though, I would hit body weight on dead lift, with squats closed behind. As for bench, my left shoulder needs more strengthening before that will happen. 135 pounds offers a very good workout at 5 reps and 3 sets.

Nutrition has also expanded in knowledge and I’ve dropped my body fat from 28% to 20%. The struggle becomes tougher here though and the goal is 15%. I’m collecting all the knowledge I can to get lower without sacrificing the muscle I’ve gained.

And women?

I have learned much there too and what I know I cannot share. Their quirks no longer frustrate and I’ve turned it into entertainment. Motivating people is still difficult.

Long way nerd

The journey over over 30 years has taken this nerd a long way. Yeah, I’m still dorky and those who know me don’t hesitate to remind me. I can still talk your ear off, especially about computers, programming, beer, fitness, nutrition, cars, the weather, the law of cosines, the beauty in Calculus…..