Why Being Weird Is Awesome!

I’m weird.

Not in a “I like to swim in a baby pool filled with tapioca” weird, but weird nonetheless.

I wear goofy t-shirts to the gym. I play Dungeons & Dragons and read an inordinate amount of comic books. I often prefer the company of people’s pets more than the people themselves. I have a bookshelf full of Japanese historical texts that I can’t even read without a dictionary. I am more than happy to cartwheel down a long hallway for no particular reason. I am fascinated by primates. I am a computer nerd, working a corporate IT job, who spends his nights and weekends putting on pajamas and fighting people. I get funny looks and people poke fun at me when I don’t drink alcohol and refuse dessert or extra servings at parties. And I think everybody should treat their life like one giant game.

Okay, let me rephrase… I am $@%&ing weird!

When I was younger, I used to try to fit in with the herd. To be like everybody else, because clearly majority rules and everybody else must know how to life except for me. (I hope my dripping sarcasm was evident right there…)

Then I went to my 20 year high school reunion.

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San Diego Comic-Con 2016 Review

Aka – “The Better Late Than Never” Recap

Every year, after San Diego Comic-Con comes to a close, three things happen.

One, I get sad… really, really sad. Two, I immediately start making plans for next year. Three, I crack my knuckles and sit down to write about Nerd Prom.

Only this year I waited on number three. In fact I waited almost two months!

It’s not that I didn’t want to write about SDCC 2016, it’s that I wasn’t sure what to write.

Every year seems to fall into a theme for me:

But as I sat down at my keyboard, the week after returning home, I was having a hard time putting my finger on the common theme.

There were parts of it that definitely felt like the Year of Community II: The Wrath of Khan, but if I looked at it from a different perspective it was also very inspirational (and conversely full of setbacks and disappointments as well… but we aren’t talking about that today) and a bunch of other adjectives as well.

But nothing struck me as an overwhelming theme.

I guess, before I reveal what I finally figured out was the underlying theme of 2016 was, I need to stress that I had an absolute blast.

Once again it was 5 days of sheer nerd bliss!
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Why It Is Great To Be A Geek!

AKA – How I Learned to Cope With My Nerd-Shame

Hi. My name is Jeff, and I am a geek.

Three and a half years ago I launched The Jerd.

I did it because I wanted to help people (more specifically my fellow geeks and nerds) eat better, get in-shape, live longer and happier lives, and feel better about themselves.

I wanted people who avoided gym class (or any physical activities) like the plague as a kid to have a resource to help them take those necessary first steps on the road to fitness.

A resource that was geared to them, with references and analogies that resonated.

I wanted to build a safe space, devoid of judgement or any negative stereotypes… whether they be about geeks or jocks… where people could realize that the two things are not mutually exclusive (It still twists my Underoos that people make Geek vs Jock into some Samurai vs Ninja struggle,) and that you can live a healthy and geeky life!

I wanted The Jerd to be like the Jedi Academy on Coruscant.

Not just because I want a lightsaber, but so we can wax poetic together about why Batman is so important or how much we love Raiders of the Lost Ark, all the while learning about exercise and eating healthy.

So today I want to break down what being a geek really is about, some of the different ways geekery can manifest, why it is awesome to be a geek, and why I avoided identifying myself as a one for almost 25 years.

While this article might be a little more self-indulgent than most, I hope you get something out of it; whether you are a geek or not.

And of course I want to know what you think too…

So make sure you speak up once I finish rambling!

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An Interview with Ryon Day

Editor’s Note: This interview is long. So hella long in fact, that I almost thought about splitting it up into two or three parts; but I decided against it. You get it all at once! And if you just want to listen, the podcast version is embedded all the way at the end of the article too… enjoy!

Whenever possible I like to bring other people in to discuss their fitness philosophies with you, my fine readers. I do this for three distinct reasons:

  1. My views on fitness are just that, my views. I want to showcase as much positive stuff as possible
  2. I want to give you guys an occasional break from my awesome sarcastic ramblings
  3. Because I selfishly like hearing what other people have to say…

I say this because this week I sat down with Ryon Day, of Geek & Sundry and #TeamHooman notoriety.

I was lucky enough to meet him briefly at San Diego Comic-Con this year and he graciously agreed to sit down with me for what I thought would be a simple chat about fitness; and while we definitely talked about working out, and eating right, it turned into a wonderful discussion about what it means to be a geek, how to positively affect change in those around you, and how to love yourself.

So sit back and enjoy this very long, but fascinating, look into the geeky mind of a fit, and healthy, geek!

(Also, the full NSFW audio interview is available as well for those who want our voices in their ear-holes… see below!)

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San Diego Comic Con: More Than Just Comics

It should come as no surprise to any regular readers that San Diego Comic-Con (aka – SDCC, Nerd Prom, Nerdvana, The Biggest Geek Orgy of the Year, etc…) is a massive inspiration.

Both for this site, and to me personally.

Well the 2015 convention has come to a close, and once again my Cup ‘o Inspiration overfloweth!

Every year seems to have a theme to me.

And as I sit here, typing this at 30,000 feet on my way home, I can’t help but think that this year was all about Community.

Confession – I didn’t do much in the way of preparation for this year.

Of course I looked over the schedule and selected a few “must attend” panels, and filmed a PSA YouTube video, but other than that I had promised myself to not be stressed, to not rush around, and to just let things happen “organically” (I apologize, I work in corporate America and sometimes the buzzwords just come out. I kinda hate myself right now.)

Rather, this was going to be the year of just enjoying SDCC as a vacation.

And enjoy it I did!

Mostly because it consisted of me hanging out with friends from all over the world, meeting tons of fascinating new people, and having amazing once in a lifetime nerd experiences.

And while all of that is awesome, here is what made it the year of Community!
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Fitness Lessons from Geek and Sundry

Fitness Lessons from Geek and Sundry - The Jerd

It should come as no surprise to long-time readers that I consider Geek & Sundry one of my major creative inspirations.

In fact, one half of the catalyst for this very website was sitting in on panels given by Felicia Day and Sandeep Parikh at the very first Geek & Sundry event at San Diego Comic-Con in 2012!

Geek & Sundry, whose primary focus is a very successful YouTube channel, has produced quite a few shows since it’s inception in April of 2012; but one of the most interesting and inspiring ventures they undertook was the introduction of a second channel dedicated to video blogs aka vlogs.

I will spare you the entire story of how the channel began, and how it grew and changed over time; but suffice it to say it showcased quite a few unique and fascinating people, and their geeky passions, for the Internet to fall in love with!

And now the grand experiment is over.

The vlogs channel, and program, is unfortunately coming to a close this month… so as a fan, who found himself greatly inspired by much of their work, I want to pay them some homage by doing what I do best.

Pulling fitness lessons out of their work and personas!

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LARPing 101 – Getting Fit the Nerdy Way

LARPing 101 - Getting Fit the Nerdy Way 2 - The Jerd

If you’ve been paying attention, you know that I am a huge proponent of finding alternative fitness methods.

The first step to starting on a healthier path is eating a little better and getting out of your house and moving around!

But after that, the next thing that often comes to mind, when people think about “getting in shape” is starving themselves, eating nothing but salads, and running endless miles on a treadmill. And that sounds miserable and boring, doesn’t it?

Lucky for you, I am here to tell you otherwise!

You can definitely start your fitness journey by finding a geeky hobby you enjoy and burning off some calories without even realizing it.

One such hobby you can pick up is LARPing, or Live Action Role-Playing.

Now, truth be told, I don’t have much experience with this nerdy past-time other than watching the movie Role Models, so I have assembled a team of fake sword-wielding, bad-asses to educate us all on the subject and keep me from saying something stupid (not the easiest job in the world).

Today we are joined by three fantastic folks, all involved in different LARP organizations – Michael Surbrook, Kristin Brumley and Leslie Stewart.

So let’s see what they have to say about the hobby, how it can help you get in shape, where you can get started…

Oh, and how to unlock the secrets of +3 Cardio and -3 Flab!

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It’s Time to Talk Nerd Tolerance…

Body Image - Nerd Shaming - Nerd Tolerance - The Jerd 2

That’s right. It’s time for #RealTalk.

Nerds and geeks are a funny lot, we spend our entire lives being –

  • Stereotyped
  • Shamed for our “non-mainstream” interests
  • Picked on for our physiques
  • Made to feel uncool and unworthy of group acceptance

And then we turn around and do the same thing to those around us!

Honestly, I have never been sure if this unfortunate cycle of exclusion should amuse or anger me.

As someone who has always had one foot on each side of the jock/nerd fence I have seen it my whole life. My fellow nerds, stereotyped and put upon for years by the “cool kids”, turning around dismissing anyone with muscles as “meat-heads” or “gym-rats”.

As if being fit and healthy is something that deserves derision.

But whatever, I would do my best to chalk it up to some psychological phenomenon I am not smart enough to understand and laugh it off.

Then the Team Unicorn fiasco happened…

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International TableTop Day 2014

Internationa TableTop Day Logo

Another year, another International TableTop Day gone by.

And because it can’t all be fitness, I wanted to take today to put the “erd” back in the Jerd with a bit of a recap.

Saturday, April 5th marked the 2nd annual TableTop Day; to celebrate I took a road-trip up to Toronto, Canada to meet some Internet friends and play a bunch of games!

TableTop Day

Video games are awesome.

Anyone who tries to tell you differently should not be trusted (#JerdProTip)! But that doesn’t mean I don’t also have an immense love of rolling dice, slinging cards and crushing my enemies having fun with friends!

This Internet-based holiday was the perfect chance to step away from the keyboard and controllers and to remind myself of just that.

The brain child of Wil Wheaton and the fine folks over at Geek & Sundry, TableTop Day is a celebration for all the fans of tabletop gaming, young or old. In their own words it is “a single day where the whole world is brought together in a common purpose of spending time together and having fun.”

Last year there were over 3,100 official TableTop Day gaming events in 64 countries worldwide!

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The Mighty Jerd 105

Alright loyal readers, it is time for yet another edition of “Get to Know the Mighty Jerd!

One of my goals for starting this site, in addition to offering geektastic health and fitness advice, was to develop a community amongst the readers.

It’s no fun just talking at you, I want to talk with you. So one of the ways I have been doing that over the past year and a half has been by giving you glimpses into all the things over the years that have contributed to my geeky/athletic self in the hopes you would:

  1. Get to know me better and come to trust me so that when I give you the Koolaid you won’t resist
  2. Let me in on what makes you tick

We talked Pong, Mattel Handheld Football, Atari games and Dungeons & Dragons in The Mighty Jerd 101.

I let you in on my undying love of Steve Jackson Games in The Mighty Jerd 102, along with my first PC Gaming addiction (Wizardry) and my favorite arcade games.

The Mighty Jerd 103 was over-run with Hobbits, X-Men and Batman.

I let you all in on what really scares the crap out of me, sharks, in The Mighty Jerd 104.

Today, in another attempt at letting you get to know the jock hiding behind the nerd curtain, we are going to try something a little different just for fun.

Best.Tag.Ever

I have come to find that I really, really enjoy video and sound editing (I never would have seen that coming a year ago). So I am leaning more and more towards trying to balance out writing articles for you fine folks, and sharing my thoughts via YouTube videos.

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Review: Of Dice and Men

…The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It

Of Dice and MenAnd now for something completely different.

I started (and finished) David M. Ewalt’s “Of Dice and Men” last night not knowing exactly what I was going to be reading. Okay; I knew it was going to be related to Dungeons & Dragons (a game I played extensively as a child – see The Mighty Jerd 101) but other than that I was going in blind.

What I got was a charming tome that is equal parts self-discovery, examination of the sociology of gamer culture, explanation of the game itself, business study and nostalgia piece aimed at anyone who has ever cracked open a game made or been inspired by the works of Gary Gygax (he’s one of the founders of this revolutionary game #DnDprotip).

The book is not a definitive history of D&D sporting loads of “never before heard” insider information nor does it contain an in-depth examination of the game itself. It straddles the middle ground rather adeptly though, and provides anyone who has ever thought “What is Dungeons & Dragons?” or “Why is Dungeons & Dragons so popular?” a clear, positive and easy to follow picture of the game (and culture) so many people love so very much.

D&D means different things to different people: Some folks want action, others want drama.” – David Ewalt

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What I Learned at San Diego Comic Con 2013

aka “Why I Am So Excited!”

San Diego Comic Con 2013I have tapped my fingers on the keyboard, only to delete what was written, more than a few times since my plane took off from San Diego beginning the long journey home to the east coast.

If you have never been to a convention like this before, especially one of this size and filled with your peers, it is really difficult to explain exactly why it is such a big deal.

I think Tony Kim, over at Crazy 4 Comicon, really summed it up best when describing his first time to Comic Con.

He managed to put into words, better than I ever could, what SDCC actually means; and now it is over. Almost a year of build up, the stress of getting tickets, the anxiety of obtaining one of the coveted hotels in the downtown area… it has all come and gone once again and, truth be told, my brain and body is still a little fuzzy!

That’s right, Nerd Prom 2013 has come to a close and while I am sad it is over, I am beyond excited for The Jerd: Year Two!

Since this site was forged in the fires of SDCC 2012 it is only fitting that I let you all in on how it was and why I am so pumped for things yet to come!

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How To: Survive San Diego Comic-Con

How To Survive San Diego Comic-Con

Nerd Prom.

Geek Christmas.

Nerdvana.

No matter you call it, the fact doesn’t change – San Diego Comic-Con, is without a doubt, the largest convention of its kind!

It is a literal sea of people, all coming together to celebrate their love for comics, movies, video games and geek culture… and if you’re attending, it doesn’t matter if you plan on spending your entire time in the convention center or if you are going to venture out to the many off-site events (like NerdHQ or the Geek & Sundry lounge) because either way you are in for sensory overload and a lot of stress!

So how do you survive a mega-con of this proportion with your sanity and fitness goals intact?

The Basics

How to Survive San Diego Comic ConWhile these apply to any convention, they are vital to your survival of a con of this magnitude:

  1. Budget – There is one simple fact you just have to accept; you will spend more money then you planned! To keep it from getting out of hand though, split up “floor” money and “entertainment” money. Know how much you want to spend on all the cool stuff you are going to see on the convention floor and separate it from what you plan on spending on tickets to off-site events, going out drinking with your friends, etc… That way, when you find that Limited Edition Bedazzled My Little Pony Galactus variant figure you just can’t live without you know you won’t be stuck in your hotel room at night because you’re broke.
  2. Bring Snacks – I could lump this into #4 below, but I feel it’s important enough to call it out on its own. You’ll be walking around non-stop, and you will get hungry! You could stand in one of the ridiculously long concession lines to spend $18 dollars on some cold, nasty chicken fingers or you could toss a few snacks in your bag, freeing up your time, cash and saving you from eating a plate of deep-fried shame! I recommend tossing an apple, a banana, a bag of raw almonds and maybe some jerky or a Quest protein bar into your bag each morning.
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The Mighty Jerd 104

Alright all you aspiring Jerds out there in Internet-land, it is time for yet another edition of “Get to Know the Mighty Jerd!

Over the past year I have been slowly mapping out exactly how I came to be such a Nerd of the highest order (my origin story if you will) by detailing all the things that piqued my interest as a small child, and how they influenced me growing up. Up until now they have been all about my geeky obsessions, the hobbies I partook in and the stuff I really enjoyed. Now, I know I promised to regale you all with tales of my awkward, early high school years (wait for it, it’s coming… I promise!) spent dreaming of becoming Batman, working at Renaissance Faires and comic book shops, all the while failing miserably to attract the fairer sex; I thought I would take things in a different direction today though.

If you haven’t followed along with the story so far, give The Mighty Jerd 101, 102 and 103 a read as well if you want to know all about the jock hiding behind the nerd curtain!

Why Sharks Scare the Crap Out of Me pt 1

While not one of my personal geeks, I know the horror genre is a big deal in the geek community at large. I can think of only two particularly significant times where this genre intersected with my childhood in a meaningful way:

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Nerds Shall Inherit the Earth!

Editor’s Note: A few weeks ago Brian Kehs, host of the Keys to Running series and your resident running aficionado here at the Jerd, asked me if I watched the TV show “Survivor“. When I told him that reality TV wasn’t really my thing, he asked if he could write up his thoughts on this season’s winner and I told him sure! That was almost three weeks ago.

So without delaying even further, here are Brian’s ultra-timely takeaways from the “Survivor” season finale that aired three weeks ago!

Sometimes the Nerds do Win

Survivor Nerd John CochranThere’s something kind of wrong (okay, really wrong) writing about the TV Reality Show “Survivor” for this site, but something happened this past season that made me sit up and take notice.

John Cochran (or simply Cochran as he was known on the show) won the show.  A self-described and honest to goodness nerd actually won the million dollar prize. He didn’t just win the game, he utterly dominated the game. There were zero votes cast against him at the last tribal council, and he was the obvious and clear winner. That’s right…

The nerd won.

So, how in the world did this happen?  How is this even possible?  This is a game that is owned by jocks, athletes (sometimes professional), ruthlessly cunning strategists, and some of the most vicious people you can imagine.  In the reality-TV world of “Survivor“, the meek shall not inherit the earth.  Let’s take a closer look and see how he did it.

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The Mighty Jerd 103

That’s right nerds and nerdlettes, it is time for another scintillating edition of “Get to Know the Mighty Jerd!”

Over the past few months I have been slowly revealing bits and pieces of my origin story; the formative moments that established my copious amount of nerd cred. I have been doling out these bowls of awesome-sauce in small portions so as not to blind you with the epicality (it’s a word dammit!) of my tale; so this week I am going to pull back the tent flap a little more to round out the rest of my middle school years for you loyal readers. If you haven’t followed along with the story so far, give The Mighty Jerd 101 and 102 a thorough reading before you dive into today’s installment!

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The Mighty Jerd 102

A few weeks back I started to chronicle the path that led yours truly to the throne of awesome on which I sit; and since you can’t fit this much nerdiness on one plate we are taking a second trip back to the geek buffet to fill up once more. If you haven’t brushed up on The Mighty Jerd 101 make sure you take care of that first, then you can take a gander at some of the geeky goodness that influenced me in my middle school years!

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