OK, I admit it ...

There are places where looking - and acting - like a geek can get you made fun of. In Japan, however, it can get you a nice discount - at least at a theater near Tokyo. It's showing a film about summertime romance , "Densha Otoko," in which a nerdy 20-something with a girlfriend problem turns to his computer for help ... from websites that offer relationship advice. No, a patron doesn't have to show up in horn-rimmed glasses and a short-sleeved white shirt with a vinyl pocket protector to qualify for the reduced rate. At the box office, however, he must request "one ticket for a geek." A manager says his customers "are getting a kick out of saying it" and that at any given showing about 70 percent of the audience has. There are "only a few who look like typical geeks," though.

Well, when I was in school: How times have changed

September: It's a time for memorizing locker combinations, cracking open new textbooks, attending parent/ teacher conferences, and generally getting back into the swing of another academic year. It's also a time to step back and look at overarching educational trends, as the Associated Press recently did in compiling some notable comparisons using statistics drawn from national averages and percentages at public schools across the US. A sampling:

Student/teacher ratio
1960: 25.8 to 1
1980: 18.7 to 1
2002: 16.1 to 1

Teacher pay
1995: $36,675
2000: $41,807
2005: $47,750

Enrollment by school level
Elementary: 439
Middle: 617
High school: 760

Racial/ethnic distribution
White: 78.1%
Minority: 21.9%

White: 58.3%
Minority: 41.7%

Kindergarten enrollment (full-day)
1973: 20%
2003: 65%

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