Are All Actuaries Nerds?

By Norman Levinrad • September 12, 2016 • 0 Comments

There is a perception that actuaries are a boring, nerdy bunch. But I know some of you have pretty cool hobbies, and there’s nothing people with hobbies enjoy more than talking about their hobbies (as anyone who I have corralled to talk about motorcycles knows full well). 

So are all actuaries nerds? I asked Steve Parks, an actuary in Southern California, to respond to that question. Here’s what he said.

"As for hobbies, right now the two that occupy the most free time are bicycling and bowling. I have become absolutely addicted to cycling. When I was younger — during college and a few years after — I was a serious cyclist. Did a little racing (though not particularly successful at it), but mostly I just rode... a lot. During college, there was a period where I was averaging 350+ miles per week. Then I took a 30-year break to raise kids. Got back into it about 3 years ago and am kicking myself for having waited so long. Now I take every opportunity I can get to go climbing the mountain roads near my home. Fortunately, Santa Clarita is a great city for cyclists. We are blessed with a good network of bike trails in town, an abundance of great mountain roads nearby, and a thriving cycling community.

"Bowling is our family activity. My wife Sue and I bowl in a league with her brother and his wife. It works as a great family activity because we can all have a good time together. And even if you’re terrible at it, the ball still comes back.

"As for motorcycles, I'm currently between bikes. Over the years, I’ve owned Yamahas, Hondas, BMWs, and most recently, a string of Ducatis. The Ducatis have lead me to the belief that it’s probably time to move away from sport bikes. Although I’m not in the market right now, there’s probably a touring bike in my future. My father rode his GoldWing into his 80s, and I hope to follow his example.

"Other than the above, I’m a huge music fan. For a while in college, I was a music major. Wanted to be a professional trombone player. But after immersing myself in that world, I learned two things: (1) trombones, as much as I may love the instrument, were on their way out. Gigs for trombonists were getting harder and harder to find (I’ll spare you the details of how disco ruined popular music and the music industry); and (2) the starving-artist lifestyle was not particularly appealing to me. I met several musicians much more talented than me who were living in poverty, with the future not looking much brighter. But this experience left me with a deep passion for music — especially big band jazz and classical. 

"That's about it. However, make no mistake about it, deep down I really am a nerd. Just ask my wife."

If you want people to know about an exciting hobby of yours that blows up the stereotype of actuaries as boring nerds, email me about it at and we’ll include a short blurb telling our readers about it.