I have this thing, where my brain retains all manner of seemingly useless information (at the unfortunate expense of forgetting time-sensitive things like, say, deadlines or appointments) seemingly indefinitely. I can remember stuff I read in OWL magazine as a ten year-old, or visualize pictures from old encyclopedias and National Geographic magazines in my grandparents’ basement. It’s a skill that has earned me somewhat of a reputation, either as an insufferable know-it-all or the go-to person when a slippery trivial factoid is needed. Seriously: my sister has been known to phone me long distance during a dinner just to settle a “what’s the word for…” or “which character did X…” kind of question. The phrase, “Kath will know that” is common enough in my family. But then again, so is “Kath, for the love of god, please just SHUT UP!”, so it kind of balances out, really.
Truth be told, I love this geeky trivia thing of mine. I have a fascination with anything historical (and that goes right back to the origins of life on earth) or cool and scientific or futuristic (is there intelligent life in the universe? Is time travel possible? How closely are humans and chimps related? And so on…) So, barring all the tedium of daily life, you’d more than likely find me parked in front of the TV watching some documentary on something. Just not those ones about construction and big bridges or buildings. That doesn’t tickle my fancy at all. But astronomy? Yes. Cavemen? You betcha. Ancient Egypt, Greece or Rome? Most certainly. Dinosaurs or sharks? Just try and keep me away.
And it doesn’t end with me. My oldest daughter loves docs too. One of the sweetest moments for me was when this little girl (she was four at the time) who seemed so much like her dad in every other way, refused to take her bath because she just couldn’t tear her eyes off the TV screen where I was watching BBC’s Walking With Cavemen. I was floored. And thrilled! We had something in common – finally! Something special, something I loved and was interested in. Something that was just for us.
Since then we have enjoyed watching the BBC series Earth, The Blue Planet, Wonders of the Solar System and Walking With Dinosaurs, Sir David Attenborough’s Life Series and the brilliant and engaging Neil deGrasse Tyson on PBS’s NOVA. It’s so fun for me to have a little mini-geek who is equally engaged in all these fascinating stories as I am! I love to watch her grapple with tough concepts for the first time (could you travel back in time? But what if you did, and you existed in the past: BEFORE YOU WERE EVEN BORN???) and also to see her incredible fascination with things that many other people find arcane or even boring (how does the australopithecus pelvis differ from that of a chimp’s? And from modern humans?). I just love sharing this nerdiness with my girl.
My mini-geek doppelganger. And our horrible guinea pig. Anyone want to adopt a guinea pig, by the way?
And now, thanks again to the amazing people at BBC, we have found a new way to feed our inner geeks (and even little sister likes this one…maybe there’s hope for her yet!). Our new fave show, which is permanently programmed into our PVR, is Horrible Histories. Witty, clever, funny and, best of all, true! Based on the book series (you may have seen or even ordered some of them from Scholastic), this CBBC (Children’s BBC) series is a must-see, even if you’re not a weirdo history nut like we are. Here, have a taste and see for yourself. This is one of my favourite sketches, but really…they’re all good.
Oh, and FYI, there’s a typo in the title there…it should read “Domesday Book”, not “Doomsday Book”. Just in case you wanted to know.