The Making of a Little Professor

Aspies have a reputation as encyclopedias of useless information. We’re the geeks, the braniacs, the little professors. I’ve done more than my share to keep this stereotype alive. I’m a treasure trove of seemingly useless facts and I have superhuman memory for random bits of information.

I know that tigers are solitary animals while lions prefer to live in groups. The last half dollar to be made of mostly silver was the 1964 Kennedy half dollar. The normal human body temperature is not actually 98.6 degrees. The minivan was invented to take advantage of a loophole in CAFE standards.

Why do I accumulate and catalog so much random information?

I think aspies are innately curious by nature. I know that I am. But I think a bigger factor, at least for me, is the tendency to see the world in patterns.

I can’t help noticing patterns and, when a pattern is broken, I need to know why. For example, have you ever noticed that the tops of school buses are painted white? I have.

A few months ago I moved from a rural place where I rarely saw a school bus to a busy metropolitan area. Suddenly there were school buses everywhere and, unlike the school buses of my youth which were uniformly yellow, the school buses here are painted white on top.

A white-topped bus, in case you haven’t seen one around your neighborhood.

Most people will see this and go “huh” and carry on with their day.

But I see the white top on a bus and need to know why it’s there. It’s not arbitrary, right? Someone, somewhere, at some point decided that painting the tops of school buses white is better than painting them yellow. A policy was created, money was budgeted.

At least that’s what I find myself hoping when my daughter finally decides to Google “white tops of school buses” so I’ll finally shut up about it.

That’s how I came to know that painting the tops of school buses white makes the buses cooler (by reflecting sunlight) and safer (by making them easier to see). Also the flashing white light on top makes school buses visible from a greater distance in fog or rain.

In case you were wondering.

The thing about this kind of useless knowledge is that it doesn’t feel useless to me. I like thinking about the simple elegant solution that a change in paint color presents and I like knowing why a familiar pattern has been broken.

Now if only I knew why bacon in a box doesn’t have to be refrigerated . . .

Cooked meat that comes in a box and doesn’t have to be refrigerated. What makes this possible?

15 thoughts on “The Making of a Little Professor”

  1. I have to laugh because I had this same question last year. However, I live in an urban area of rowhomes and many people paint their roofs white for cooler temperatures in the summer. My husband told me the why for the light though! I have always felt like I housed a palace of worthless knowledge, but as you point out, it makes me feel better because I understand something. In a world where a lot doesn’t make sense, finding the answer to things that actually have one, is very satisfying. Plus, I am the go-to person in the family for the strange and obscure and I like that!

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    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one. You bring up a key point – there is a lot about this world that doesn’t make sense so every little bit counts. It’s great that you’re proud of your vast knowledge!

  2. I’m a walking encyclopedia of useless information too. 🙂 My friends often say “just ask E” when they don’t know something. I also used to ski competitively, and the mountain I skied on, I knew every single trail, lift, and route to the various places one could go on the mountain. And a lot about the history… we called me “the Walking, Talking Interactive Trail-map” – seriously!

    1. That’s awesome. I suspect your knowledge in that case was very useful. At least once a week my husband will ask me about something obscure and when I rattle off the answer he’ll ask, “How did you know that?” It’s turned into kind of a joke between us.

      1. I have this exact same dynamic with my wife (with gender roles reversed). She just assumes I will know whatever she asks… or find out within 15 minutes.

  3. My three walking encyclopaedias of exceptionally useful information, feel like they need to understand why things are the way they are in order to make sense of their environment =) To me understanding means safety.. but that’s just me.. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts and getting to know you, x Hannah

    1. Thank you for letting me know you’re reading and enjoying!

      I can definitely see the link between understanding and safety. A lot of my pattern-seeking thought processes are linked to building a sense of security.

  4. Haha, when I first read your exclamation over white tops my first reaction was “What!? Did they stop painting them white!? Must read!” I don’t know why, but I assumed the rest was going to be about them making buses all yellow now or something.

  5. Been reading a bit of your blog the last about 2 weeks, I’m 38 and recently have self diagnosed, though a friend about 2 years ago mentioned she thought I might have aspergers, which I didn’t even know about at the time. Now looking back and reading more about it and noticing more about how I think and interact I’m pretty convinced that the diagnosis fits, and it is good to find blogs like yours to see others who learn and act and have similar social challenges as I do.
    Yes walking encyclopedia, actually read all of them I could find at the elementary school library, as a kid, along with many National Geographic magazines, and other magazines and reference books. Later in middle and high school, I could identify cars/Trucks–(Make-Model and year range-)-Since most cars would have the same style taillights for 4-5 years before the next re-design..almost any car in the dark by the taillights, while we were driving along…my Mom would even catch up to the car or pass it to get a better look…and she would have to try and read the actual badging on the car…I could spot it a good distance away as well, and I would usually be correct, I could sometimes also do it with head lights, but not as often, since taillights are usually more distinctive.
    Thank you for such thoughtful writing, I still have not read every post on your blog.

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