Gremlins and Parallel realities

This is a non-scheduled silence.  No, it’s not that the silence is continuing.  It’s really a partial explanation of the silence.  I have been feeling the “something viral about to land” signals, but discounted them as a source of the silence, because it took so long to fall – slowly worsening over a week or so.  Now it’s here, and it’s some sinusy thingy, which means I slept late.  Weirdly, I feel fine as to words today.  Just clogged up and a bit sleepy.  But not wondering over what exactly is causing me to feel ick helps.

And now, before fall into the my description of my ills which doesn’t interest anyone, not even me, just a quick post about baffling stuff.

What do I mean by baffling stuff?

Oh, I don’t know.  Things that change in the surrounding reality that can’t have changed in the surrounding reality.  Like… like the world changed while you were asleep.

No, I’m not talking about politics, or economics (though for the love of Bob (Heinlein), if that’s a world change, change it back!)

I’m explaining this very badly.

Let’s start by saying that we science fiction and fantasy writers and readers can make up truly twisted stories about the world, while other people shrug and say “well, I guess I’m misremembering.” Or “I’m imagining things” or… whatever.

Only sometimes you KNOW you’re not seeing things, and you’re not misremembering, or else the rest of your family is misremembering along with you, and the SF geek in you steps back and goes “What if I (and the family) stepped overnight unawares into a parallel universe where this, this and this is different?”

Or of course, what if the dreamer dreaming reality missed a step or two, as an author does, sometimes, calling the character Helen in one chapter and Elene in the next.

What on Earth am I talking about?  This: have you never known – know for absolute sure – that you’d put something in one place, only to find it in another, when no kids/cats/husbands could have changed it?  Too often for simple memory failure?  Or when someone else remembered it too?

Take when we moved from our first joint apartment to a home we were renting in a city 30 or so miles away.  We were twenty three and tired, and besides we’d been moving all day.  The last thing I remember, with startling clarity, was my purse sitting on the arm of the sofa we were abandoning (in retrospect I wish we hadn’t, but that’s something else) in the apartment.  Halfway on the road to the new place, Dan remembered it too and said “We’ll have to go back and get it tomorrow morning, before the landlord comes in.”  Only when we got to the new place, my purse was there – on the arm of the sofa we’d taken there.  “Okay,” you say.  “Memory tricks.”  Except impossible, because in that trip to the old place, to get the final stuff and do the final cleaning, we’d stopped at Food Lion for me to get cleaners, and I went in with my purse.  If I’d left it in the new place, I couldn’t have paid, or Dan would have needed to go in with me.

What’s the explanation?  I don’t know.

The ones that creep me out are stories I KNOW were half finished, but that I find in my drive completely written out.  Sometimes stories I JUST planned to write.  Okay, maybe I sleep write.  That’s an explanation.  If so, d*mn I’m good, and can I do it more?  But you’d think Dan would wake up, right?  Since my office is half the bedroom.

Then there’s … what prompts this post – well that and the fact I’m feeling exceptionally silly.

My cats have always hated three types of food: Science Diet (which every vet tries to push at them); “chunks” food – the one that’s tasty slices or tasty lumps or whatever.  They like decently can-shaped food – and anything poultry flavored.

So, in the name of Ned, how did they suddenly switch to eating science diet, chunks and poultry like it’s going out of style.

We bought some science diet because it was very cheap, and I thought, well, even if they don’t eat it all, it will pad out the rest.  Instead, they  devoured it and asked for more.

Okay, my first thought was that SD must have changed their formula, right?  Right.  But the last time at the pet store, Iams slices was on sale very cheap too, so I grabbed a few just to try, and a few of both SD and Iams in poultry flavor.

And they’re eating all of it.  In fact, they’ve doubled their food consumption and eat these once-despised foods, just fine.

What is going on?  Yes, yes, cats mess with your head, but this is too much of a switch, and besides the four of them would never coordinate.

So – what is going on?  Did we step into a parallel world unawares?  Did the dreamer who spins reality forget that detail?

Or are they REALLY just very small spies in fur suits who have replaced my cats?  And if so, what are they spying on?  The word deposition rate of the not-so-sane writer?

What is so fascinating about that?

What do you guys think?  Should I blindfold the cats?

154 responses to “Gremlins and Parallel realities

  1. Curiouser and curiouser.

  2. Christopher M. Chupik

    I wonder if DARPA has been working on kitty-drones . . .

    • No, because if DARPA had kitty-drones, at least under the current administration, the kitty-drones would have brillo instead of aesthetically-pleasing fur, six legs, the head and tail on the wrong ends, and the NYT would already have had an article about it. And they’d come with a 30 minute charging cycle instead of the 22 hour charging cycle of Felis Domesticus vers. 1.0.

      I have clothes and books appear without warning. I know I didn’t buy them, and there are no tags, but dang if I have any idea how they appear in my boxes. Don’t get me started on the self-fraying button threads, either. If anyone has a cure for button-moths, let me know.

  3. All the mold smells interfered with the taste of Science Diet, obviously. So when the HVAC was fixed, SD tasted good again! That’s what my cats told me your cats said. I am not crazy. I also NEVER have foggy commutes where I am sure if I take the wrong exit I will be in Brigadoon or Earth Prime or, even worse, Schenectady.

    Speaking of creepy, how about knowing where something is in a building you’ve never been in before? I swear my mind-clones need to be better about updating their Facebook status.

  4. The whole purpose of cats is to be as insane as possible. At least, my cats. I wouldn’t worry about it.

  5. Well, cats are conduits, of course. While you might never notice their personalities fully supplanted by a ‘visitor’ (cats are also, ahem, stubborn), you can see modifications or shifts in small things. Aloof cats occasionally being cuddly, territorial cats seen consorting with strangers, etc.

    Near as I’ve ever been able to tell, ‘visitors’ are benign. I suspect it’s just a curiosity thing. I mean, cats don’t get that reputation all on their own, they’ve got actual skin in the game. ‘Visitors’ on the other hand… I also suspect the nine lives to be an artifact of ‘visitor’ assistance. They don’t mean harm, but occasionally get their hosts in tight spots. A little quick thinking, reflex heightening and a boost to the right metabolics and a cat walks away.

    As to the purse: Brownies. They must be fond of you.

    • A little quick thinking, reflex heightening and a boost to the right metabolics and a cat walks away.

      Plus or minus a few limbs.

      My grandma had a Siamese queen that went through a swather every flipping year. She also affected the genetics of half the barn cats in the valley by her kittens spreading and… I just realized my grandma had the same way with animals my dad does, because every bleeping animal she had should’ve had a biohazard warning attached.

  6. “And the human suspects nothing?”

    “Not a thing. The feline-persons are agreeable hosts.”

    “Prepare for phase two. Contact Robesquirrel. The invasion will commence soon.”

  7. I don’t have these objective things happen to me. I just get attacked by horrible memories of things that couldn’t have happened.

    • Our brains are professional liars. They make up no end of fictions to fill in the spaces between the bits and pieces of reality that we are able to comprehend. The most important thing is to avoid believing the lies, and avoid psychologists who try to convince you that your parents really were devil worshipers that included your in their sacred pedophilic rituals and animal sacrifices. 😉

  8. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Sarah, cats are minor demons who enjoy “playing with your mind”. [Wink]

    • Our cat went through cycles of “food X is the bestest bestest evar!!11!!!!!!!!” followed by “food X is a vile torture that will never cross my lips because I don’t want to be poisoned”

      I figure it was that he got bored with stuff but it could be that he was just “playing with us”.

      • I have never in sixty odd years (and some of them very odd indeed) seen a pile of kitty bones next to an uneaten dish of generic cat food. If hungry enough they will eat whatever is put out for them. Of course they then find other inventive ways of getting even.
        In fairness, I did usually sweeten the deal with the liberal application of table scraps mostly to boost the fat content. Been my experience that generic by itself does not promote a healthy coat in felines.

        • The oil from canned oysters or baby clams works very nicely, especially in kittens that were weaned onto hard food via half’n’half, cottage cheese and soft cat food. (we slowly decreased the gushy stuff except as a treat, and now the once a month or so addition of oil is just fine)

        • I give them science diet because one has a renal condition and one a heart condition.

          • I have never checked out the science diet cat food, but I would never feed a science diet dog food to an active dog. It is WAY too low in fat content. It might very well be a good dog food for an inactive house dog, because it is basically a diet food, I haven’t checked in long enough to remember what the ratio of vitamins, minerals and amino acids are, but that would be its only advantage (and possibly digestibility) over generic food.

            All that being said, digestibility is a major factor in pet foods, because some of your cheaper brands have good fat/protein percentages, but if the pets can’t digest them it doesn’t do them any good.

        • Well yeah but our cat also went out and hunted things if he didn’t have the right food. And, while I had no problem with him keeping down the local rodent and lizard population, he tended (as do many cats) to bring the prey back into the house where it would either a) escape and expire smellily in some corner or B) he’d eat most of it but leave a little left over in a place where your bare foot didn’t expect to find it or iii) he would eat all of it and then be violently sick.

          We figured it was better to give him food he’d eat readily

          • This makes me have to ask the question, why did you let him in the house while he was carrying his spoils? Most people I know will not allow either cat or dog (or human often enough in the case of kids) past the porch packing anything they have caught or found. This may not alleviate iii) but would eliminate a) and B).

            • He didn’t come in through the door. In the summer particularly we tended to have open windows

              • my cat Calimero, came through the window to sleep with me. My mom didn’t allow him in the bedrooms, but I can’t sleep with the window closed in a house with no venting, so… and besides I liked the big siamese troublemaker. One morning I woke up with something wriggling on my chest. He’d brought me a half-killed lizard, apparently under the impression I was a kitten (I was 10, I think) who needed to learn to finish prey off.

  9. Less curious incident from my teen years, I probably had just had a very vivid dream or something along those lines, since we are talking about something I remembered very, very clearly but nobody else did: I had done a homework assignment, and had that clear memory of the class where the teacher told us to do it, but when I asked a friend how she had done it she said we hadn’t been given it, and it turned out we hadn’t. Was disturbing enough that I still remember it because it made me doubt my sanity, and how well I could trust my memory.

    Branching and merging timelines, glitch in the programming, we create our own reality, the world is some sort of consensus from our individual, separate realities which don’t always merge seamlessly (and so on…)? I have had other glitches during the years too, but that one disturbed me most because the memory of that class was so damn clear.

    Hey, one could always hope that your cats behavior means the world just changed into something more accommodating towards you. Did you say that they now like the cheaper food? 🙂

    • 1. If you take MWI seriously, the universe is consantly smearing out into some distribution of alternate futures.
      2. Fundamental physics is time symmetric.
      -> The present could just as easily (and in some experriments, if you accept 1 ) be the coalescence of “alternte pasts”.

      😛

    • I once dreamt that I woke up at a g-d-awful hour and went to watch right before I woke up at a g-d-awful hour and went to watch. That was not a good day.

      Probably why I don’t dream much these days.

      • Back in my restaurant days I spent several nights dreaming about a harried shift cooking bell to bell. Only to wake up and go spend a harried shift cooking bell to bell. Wash, rinse, repeat. Was not restful.

        • There was one where I was working on a experiment that took about ten minutes to reach completion, except every time it was almost ready, something when wrong, which would then set of the buzzer indicating a fail, so I’d have to hit the reset button.

          I think I was four or five resets in before I realized what was going on…

        • *chuckle* Lived that for a few years. Cooking in my sleep? Done that…

          Also, was quite good for losing weight I couldn’t quite afford to lose. Smell of food all day long means no appetite.

          • Smell of food all day long means no appetite.

            Well, not for everyone. Except for the time I’ve spent working at a desk, my biggest weight gain was when I was a cook.

            • Perhaps it depends on the food and the tastes of the one working in the kitchen. To this day, mexican (well, Americanized mexican- the real stuff rocks) I can only eat when I am sick. Can’t stand it otherwise.

              Pasta, on the other hand, I could *live* on. My family thinks I was switched at birth. Like most folk who crave the tomato, I think I make a good sauce. *grin* Must love garlic, though…

      • When I’m late on books, I dream I’m writing, then wake with all the chapters still to do.

  10. The one that pisses me off is when I’ve torn the house apart looking for something, my husband has looked, we’re ten minutes late and I give up– then we turn around and it’s in the middle of the table we just cleaned off, or similar insanity.

    Broken down crying a few times.

    • Yes. Now if the second license plate light (taken off because I was putting a flat bed on) for my new truck would just reappear I would be happy. I put it in a coffee can with the other light and bolts, had both of them because I checked to make sure they mounted on the new bed properly, then put them back in the coffee can while I painted the bed. Now there is only one of them and the only thing I can think is the other one grew legs and walked away.

    • Hey, that has happened to me too.

      • That is oddly reassuring. We STARTED clearing tables off entirely out of a belief that it’s show nothing was there…..

        • Maybe your house brownie doesn’t like you. I know mine probably doesn’t, I have a tendency to go in these cycles when it comes to cleaning, first I’m a complete slob for several weeks, then when I finally get tired of the apartment looking like the inside of a dumpster I go and clean very, very thoroughly, including all the corners and under everything and moving bookshelves around so I can get at the dust bunnies behind them. Then I can perhaps keep up the weekly cleaning for a while but sooner or later I get back into the slob phase. Not the way the brownies like it (that would be keeping the place spotless the whole time) and they have a tendency to play tricks when they are pissed at you. 🙂

          (Well, that’s the way the Finnish version, kotitonttu, is supposed to behave, but they seem to be pretty similar to brownies)

          • …I’ll try to find ways to deny that, because it makes way too much sense.

          • Can you give me any more info on “kotitonttu”? It sounds…handy.

            • Sure. What do you want to know? One version is that the tonttu is the ghost of the first person to have owned the place, or to have lived in it, but sometimes it’s also assumed that they are just these elves who like to live in human homes, and find one for themselves. If they like you they help you, and they usually like good housekeepers, ones who keep the place clean and in good repair. But if the people there are messy the tonttu gets angry and can start causing all kinds of mischief.

              They like porridge and honey, so it’s good to offer those from time to time, especially on the big holidays. And it’s good to avoid moving around or being awake during the nights because that’s when the tonttu likes to be active, and they hate being seen (another thing I’m not good with, I’m awake a lot during the nights).

              • And the tonttu will probably look like a little old man or woman, dressed in somewhat old fashioned clothes. But as said, they don’t like being seen so try not to surprise them. If you move around during the night do make some noise so that yours can get out of your way in time. 🙂

    • Yep– there is a black hole in my house– every house I have ever lived in–

  11. The Other Sean

    On a related note are the “There it is!” – “WTF? I already searched there!” moments. I’ve looked high, I’ve looked low, I look around again, maybe even right where I started, and there it is. I know I’ve looked there at least once already – how did I miss it? I am blind, unobservant, experiencing spatio-temporal anomalies, or merely being subjected to alien mind control rays?

    • Well, I have positive proof that I have some sort of weird object-blindness. I can search high and low for something, including looking practically right at it, while someone else is looking at it and wondering what my problem is. I sometimes have to ask my sons to help me find things in the store that I don’t normally buy because of this.

  12. Be careful Sarah. You have been infiltrated. The Feline Uber Supremacy Society (FUSS) has been placing it’s operatives in likely locations for years now in preparation for their coming conflict with the Rodent Liberation Front.

    The FUSS masters of disguise and subterfuge. It sounds like they have kitty-napped your cats and replaced them . They will not be dislodged. Your only option is to maintain an anti-rodent zone and hope they lose interest. Resistance is futile. They are the FUSS. Your home has been assimilated.

    • How do FUSS feel about canines? I’m a dog person.

      • Pah! Dogs! The Canine Rebels And Pariahs (CRAP) were defeated long ago and reduced to seeking the protection of humanity. They were too weak to defeat their betters. That’s why your dog is so happy to see you when you get home. You don’t deal with the FUSS.

    • The Other Sean

      I don’t think it was kitty-napping, I think it was alien feline mind-control rays (maybe Kzinti). Quick, make tiny tinfoil hats for the cats!

      • Get your son to video you installing the tinfoil hats on the cats… so you can post the video next time you don’t feel up to doing a post.

  13. Christopher M. Chupik

    You should check for suspicious humps on their backs.

  14. Yes, I have those experiences. I was looking for a particular item and knew where it was. I stood in front of the place where it was and didn’t find it. I moved items even. I called my husband over and he handed it to me exactly where I thought it was. I was seeing something quite different that he was. I have some experiences where I asked for something and it showed on my couch even though I knew it was in the car. So yes–

    As for the cats– they have always been spies in fur 😉 and they are probably messing with you. If I am in an alternate universe it happened when I was ten. And no, I won’t tell the details. Let’s just say that it was disorienting and I was awake.

  15. At least you’re only having this about food. I’m trying to change our litter. Remember: 10 cats.

    “???,” you ask? Because… It seemed like a good idea at the time.

    M

    • I’m thinking of installing a litterbox outside. Because my outside cats think that the gravel I just spread in the new shop (concrete to be poured in the spring) is a 28’x48′ litterbox, and the best place it use it is underneath whatever vehicle is currently parked in there. (usually in the process of being worked on)

  16. Many years ago I was in Germany on a trip from the UK — I was just a tourist — and I was out walking in a village near Koblenz where I came across a graveyard. I looked at the graves and seeing one with two candles on it, I noticed one was lit but not the other. So, I picked the lit candle up to light the other one only to clumsily put that one out too. I felt very bad but there was nothing I could do. I left the cemetery and walked back to the hotel. When I got back to my room I reached into my pocket and found a box of matches. I do not recall going to buy them and anyway I don’t speak German. To this day I have no idea how they got there; perhaps I had asked at the hotel bar for some and forgotten they were there. But why would I buy them as I don’t smoke?

    Rationally, I have to say I somehow acquired them without recalling I had done so, like a memory blip. However I am still sure something odd happened then. The irrational part of me says it was some message I had to have about the loss of light but the potential for more was in me. I really have no idea if this is true and even as I write this I wonder if it ever really happened as I remember it. I don’t suppose I will ever know…

    • William O. B'Livion

      They were on a table you sat at, and your hands picked them up to fiddle with them. Then they went in your pocket along with the ink pen and 3 very twisted paperclips.

  17. I think the one reason I’m not very afraid of dying is that there is so obviously _something_ going on. And when I do, I’m going to have a word with the techies that are running the sim. If nothing else, dieting needs to be easier. And a whole lot of the biomatrixes are faulty, they need to work on that, not constantly tweaking to keep Marxism and AGW alive!

  18. Hmm… have to run off and take younger son for his allergy shot, but I’ll say that I don’t remember having any such kinds of incidents, and of the people I know personally, I have almost always been able to get them to remember how things got the way they found them, so I’m skeptical.

    On the other hand, coincidence seems to be higher around me (and older son) than for most other people.

  19. I enjoyed all the fantasy options for an explanation, but I suspect the only one on target is Sabrina’s on the new cleaner air affecting kitty taste buds.

  20. In Hawaii they call the little people Menehunes and they are pretty much accepted as just part of life, along with Pele and other assorted personal Amakuas. Something disappears, the Menehunes got it.
    As to cats, I’d go with the spies in fur suits hypothesis, but who’s spies are they?

  21. Car key Gnomes?

    • One slipped her keys on my mom’s middle finger while she was in the middle of exploding when I was a kid.

    • As opposed to the sock gnomes who seem to inhabit our new flat washing machine/dryer. Sadly they seem to be mostly in acquisition mode right now although I do have a mystery gray airline sock that showed up as I was unpacking

      • William O. B'Livion

        No, that’s actually the electric company.

        See, they burn all that coal as a distraction. Back in the 1960s they figured out how to do a *really* efficient matter->energy conversion, and they hid it in the back of electric dryers.

        Your socks are helping to power the municipality you live in, and the electric company charges you for it.

  22. “What if I (and the family) stepped overnight unawares into a parallel universe where this, this and this is different?”
    About once a year since I was twelve.

  23. Tony, Tony, come around! Something’s lost that must be found!

    OK, I usually am much more respectful, and I’m more likely to ask Saint Jude to pray for my patience and sanity, but it’s something to chant while looking EVERYWHERE for the fiftieth time.

    • In Brazil it’s apparently St. Guido. No, I’m not joking.

      • Strange, because of the name being Italian, but since it means, “Guide”, it seems appropriate.

        • But now I’m going to be thinking “Guido and Paulie” when I need to find something, including my way…

          Catholic Church Mobsters. Beyond Mother Angelica’s “these guys really need help” grotto guys…. (long story short: EWTN’s founder had a dream, while she was a nobody, that Mary needed a grotto; the mother superior said sure, so long as she could do it on her own… Mother Angelical said, well, I know a lot of guys who really, really need some help.,… grotto got built)

      • In Jewish culture there’s a text used as well, quoting a Rabbi Benjamin:

        All are in the presumed status of blind people, until The Holy One, Blessed Be He, enlightens their eyes. We learn this from Genesis 21:19: “And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink.”

        (Then there’s Rose is Rose, where the keys routinely morph into other household objects so long as the search for them continues.)

  24. You’re in Colorado. Might it be Underpants Gnomes?

  25. I have looked straight at something and not seen it. Then DH or whoever says “but it’s right there in front of you” and I don’t move my head or eyes, but suddenly it is there. They could see it but I couldn’t. Dunno what that’s about. Wrong focal length or something? *shrug*

    As for the cats, are they buttering you up for something else?

  26. Memory glitches: It’s the whole Celtic thing (Celtiberian, you see…); the ability to see that which hasn’t come to pass yet, and the ability to cause to be what should not, are all part of the territory. “It’s my reality — y’all are just livin’ in it.” >;)

    As to the cats: The comedian Gallagher once said, “Your cats will sneak into the pantry, and see you have too many cans of one kind of cat food; then they don’t want that no more. They can’t Read, but they can Compare.”

  27. In regard to your traveling purse: You do know there is almost a trope in fantasy about the magician’s bag that follows him around? Clearly your purse belongs to that class of magical following bags AND enough other people have had similar experiences that we recognize and resonate to that trope. I suspect we should apply for a DARPA grant to investigate the phenomenon, starting with a survey of the populace to identify just who has magical bags or other following items. Then we can get the FBI to swoop down and collect all of them! Then… well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, first we need to collect the traveling bags.

    • Seriously? Haven’t you heard about Rincewind’s The Luggage? You want to take on the luggage and divert it from its path? … I’m not getting between Sarah’s purse and its owner….

    • Lord Darcy has it, too.

  28. The cats are writing your stories while you sleep. That’s hard work, and it makes them hungry.

  29. You’ve rediscovered the Bill Stoddard theory of memory failure! It occurred to me years ago that when I look for my glasses on the dresser, but find them out in the living room—I really did put them on the dresser, as I remember, but in my sleep I quantum jumped into a parallel timeline where a different Bill Stoddard left his in the living room. Memory doesn’t fail; the world changes. It’s a perfect philosophical theory because it explains everything and can’t be tested.

    Of course, it’s really annoying when you wake up and have to ask yourself how you could have forgotten that the Japanese invasion of California was a success.

  30. We fed our cats Science Diet for years. And then one of our aging kitties started losing his hair, and I mentioned this to somebody with the rescue kitties (because you always have to look), and she mentioned that hair loss in cats is almost always due to a food allergy, often gluten.

    Checked the bag. And there it was—gluten, corn, just about every indigestible thing you could imagine (for cats, that is.) (And Science Diet is far from the worst offender in this; it worked just fine for our cats for a decade, after all.) So we bit our lips and went for the much pricier gluten-free high-protein food.

    And damned if it didn’t work beyond our expectations. His hair came back, but both cats slimmed down and perked up considerably. (He just lost a bunch again because we tried a different food, also high-protein but apparently with an allergen in there. It’s particularly ridiculous because he’s a medium-hair black cat with white skin, so hair loss REALLY shows. Back to the one that works.)

    Just saying… KITTIES. Yay kitties.

    • We used to feed our cats lower-price food — but Euclid used to take all his hair off his legs and belly. Science diet seems to fix that. But, heavens, they eat A LOT of it.

  31. If you offer the cats a cigarette next I’m going to get really scared…

  32. What if – cats with thumbs

  33. I’m probably about to convince the majority of readers here that I’m functionally insane, but here goes:

    I’ve had what amounts to a “sense of spelling” that has been 100% for me since I learned to read before I started school. I could glance at a word, and tell you that it wasn’t spelled correctly, even without knowing specifically what was wrong with it. I eventually got banned from spelling competitions in grade school because of it, and in later life, still somewhat connected to that skill, I was also banned from playing Trivial Pursuit. I usually can’t tell you from where I got the fact, or the word, but I can almost always tell you what the fact is, or how the word is supposed to look. Pre-Webster, I probably would have gone mad, or given up reading. Improper spelling grates on me like someone sticking a pin in my eye, although I am prone to screwing things up.

    Now, I tell you this in order to relate the following: I’ve always been able to rely on this skill/talent/curse. It’s like someone with “perfect pitch”, or something, an internal “mind app” that’s become something integral to my mental map of the world. OCD? Aspergers? Probably some form of either of those.

    Here’s the thing: I was rock-solid certain, due to this “whatever the hell you want to call it”, that the word this universe uses for the concept of “vacuum” was spelled as “vacuam”, and pronounced with a bit of an “a” towards the end–“va-cu-am”. I could visualize, as I can with most words, where I’d seen it spelled that way, signs and so forth for vacuam cleaner shops, etc.

    And, then one day, it wasn’t. All of a sudden, I noticed that where I’d always seen and used “vacuam”, it was suddenly “vacuum”. This might not be that disquieting for the average person, but for me, it was like someone suddenly pointed out that the color I’d always called “green” was actually “blue”, and that there was no such thing as “green” in the first place.

    I’ve got no rational explanation for this having happened to me. I’m still able to rely on that “sense of spell”, except in this one weirdly specific case, and the rest of the universe toddles on around me with no sign of difference. And, yet… I’m certain that where I was born, they spelled “vacuum” with an “a”.

    I get that human memory is a fragile and inconsistent thing, but this isn’t a case of losing your keys. I spelled that word “vacuam” for most of my life, into my early thirties, and then suddenly, it was the incorrect spelling. What was really disturbing was going back into some of my papers from my school years, which I was going through while cleaning out a storage area at my mom’s house, and finding places where the word was spelled “vacuum”, in my own handwriting. I DO NOT remember that, although I do remember writing those papers.

    It’s a weird thing, I admit, but I’m morally certain that where I come from, it’s “vacuam”. Some kind of memory glitch? An oddly specific stroke, in my early thirties?

    Or, did I slip through a crack between realities, not noticing? If that’s the answer, what the hell happened to my counterpart who was native to this reality? One would have to postulate some kind of “musical chairs” system, to ensure that only one example of each person is present, I suppose. Or, something happened to him, and I slipped into this reality with no one the wiser.

    It’s a bizarre thing, I admit. But, I’m still certain that the rest of you people don’t know how to spell “vacuum” properly, at least from the standpoint of where I learned it.

    • Did your reality elect Obama? If not, do you have directions?
      Ont hat note, though I have no innate sense of spelling some things I’m very sure of. And one of them is that geneology should be spelled that way — and was spelled that way till about ten years ago — but now it’s always been genealogy. So, I don’t think you’re crazy.

      • The main difference for me is that I don’t have the rock-solid sense of certainty that other people telling these stories seem to have, but I’ve run into cases where there was something similar that seemed to change, overnight as it were, but I always assume that it was a faulty memory.

      • I haven’t been there since the early 1990s, so I have no idea what they did politically. Since everything else is pretty much the same, I have to assume they were as stupid as the bunch in this reality.

        And, directions? Sarah, I don’t even know how I got here, so going back is pretty much out of the question. Hell, maybe the reason I’m here in the first place is that I’m dead there. Around the time I first noticed this, I had the experience of living through a training accident that should have killed me, but which I managed to escape by sheer happenstance.

        As to the spelling of genealogy? The “o” thing has “always been” something I knew to avoid, ‘cos it’s just wrong, and looks that way. Although, I see no reason that arbitrary choice was made, to tell the truth.

        Maybe we’re both refugees, here.

        I can’t tell whether that’s a good thing, or a bad one. It would really reduce my level of irritation with my fellow citizens, if I could somehow make the mental leap to convince myself that “I’m actually just a visitor here, and, gee, these natives are ‘effing weird

    • I don’t think you are crazy either… because after my experience when I was ten. I have two sets of early memories of how my parents were like and where we lived before that year. I can’t get them to coincide.

    • I was really, REALLY hoping that the rest of y’all were going to point at me and laugh. Instead, you’re validating my madness, which IS NOT good.

      Let us say, for the sake of argument, that we are not insane, or wrong in our world-view. Which may well come down to the same thing, when one thinks about it…

      What’s the mechanism, here? How do we explain this set of memories/perceptions?

      I’ve ruled out some vast, world-wide conspiracy of the Illuminati. Too much work, too much consistency, and then we’re left with the question of “Why would they do this to little old me?”. Not going to buy that there is some cabal of dictionary enthusiasts going around and changing everything in secret, and nobody has noticed it except myself and a few others.

      Another option is that one I alluded to, earlier: I (and, apparently, a few others…) have slipped through the membrane that separates realities. Maybe that’s something we all do, from time to time, and the differences are so subtle that we just don’t notice them, except in extraordinary cases. In which case, how do we account for the non-appearance of doubles? In theory, if this is going on, then there has to be a mechanism by which we “push” the iteration of “us” in this reality out, or perhaps there’s a sudden vacancy we fill. I could posit a whole realm of possibilities, here.

      I’ve always wondered if the Benjamin Bathurst from our reality didn’t just pop through the membrane into another, and then didn’t even note the change personally. Which then leaves you to wonder what the hell happened to the iteration that was “supposed” to replace him in this one? Lost in the shuffle? Stomped to death by one of the horses, and thus, unable to make that “walk around the horses”?

      H. Beam Piper was an interesting man, and he did a bit of writing on just this sort of thing. I always wondered if that writing wasn’t informed by some level of personal experience. If I had to pick a classical SF writer from history to sit down and have a long talk with over lunch, I’d be hard-pressed to decide between H. Beam Piper and Robert Heinlein. Which leads into a question that just occurred to me–What does our hostess think of H. Beam Piper, and his works? I don’t think I’ve ever seen mention of him, on this site or any others where she’s written… Inquiring mind would like to know.

      What’s probably going on is that we all have the same “glitch in the machine”, and it’s just one that not enough people have noticed to make it worthy of quantification or study. That’s far more prosaic, and a lot more likely, but I’m still left with a severe feeling of “being out of place”, far stronger than the one I grew up with, having been an “odd” for the entirety of my life.

      • H. Beam Piper was an interesting man…

        Heh. No matter how many times I read that he was a man, I always think “woman” when I see that name. Don’t know if I’m associating his last name with one of the witches on “Charmed”, or what, exactly, but if we’re going there, maybe he IS a female in some other incarnation. 🙂

        • As for “the non-appearance of doubles”, maybe sometimes there are temporary overlaps, which would explain the times when someone else remembers one doing or saying something that is not remembered.

          For example, several of my friends maintain to this day that I was part of a strip poker game that I REALLY regret missing.

          • That’s a thought that hadn’t occurred to me. And, it would account for a couple of really strange incidents I’ve experienced, where people I know well insisted I did and/or said something at a location and time that I was most emphatically not present for. I’ve got a friend of mine who insists that he and I ran into each other and sat down for lunch, discussing a bunch of stuff pertinent to the aspects of our shared lives. Only problem with that? At the time this happened, I was stationed in Korea. When I ran into him again, I was like “Jeez, Fred… Haven’t seen you in, what, ten years?”. To which he demurred, and offered up that shared lunch we’d supposedly had. Only thing is, that could not have happened, because I was not on the flippin’ continent at the time. And, what was weird was that whoever the hell he’d talked to had (correctly, in all respects…) filled him in on what had gone on in my life during the time we’d been separated. Which was decidedly bizarre.

            I’ve had similar experiences with other people, as well, where I’ve been sure I’d interacted with them on an issue, only to have them deny ever having seen or talked to me about it.

            Had another really strange one happen, once: I’m walking into the base Exchange, and I pass another senior NCO who is on his way out of the store. We both stop, do a simultaneous double-take, and go “I know you… But, from where?”. Instant recognition, by both of us. Or, so we thought. We spent about thirty minutes comparing notes with each other, to find that while we had the same job in the Army, and had been in the service for about the same length of time, we literally had never been on the same damn continent together in the preceding twenty-odd years. When I’d been in the continental US, he’d been in Germany. When I’d been in Germany, he’d been in the US. When I was in Korea, he’d been in the US and Germany, and so on and so forth. We could not find one single period in our military careers where we’d been within a thousand miles of each other until that day outside the Exchange. And, yet–We instantly recognized each other as someone we “knew”. Except, that was flippin’ impossible.

            If it’s not already apparent to you, we live in a very strange universe that we’re forced to interpret through some very unreliable senses, and then process on some exceedingly iffy hardware. Who the hell knows what is really going on?

          • My theory (which I use in my multi-dimensional series, and I think I read it somewhere, so I don’t think it’s actually “mine”) is that the theory that every decision creates a new future is incorrect in the scope of the effect. It just creates a little blister of split realities in the area it affects, then heals over once it no longer matters. So we’re walking around in a reality with millions of fine grained splits, each a hair different. And our minds simply averages all these very similar universes. Until we run into a larger decision or natural occurrence, with more serious results. Then we can no longer access part of the whole, and the side of the blister we’re in averages out way off what we remember seeing just before. But two weeks later everything seems fine again, we’ve adjusted, the difference doesn’t matter. Or it no longer “really” exists. And some times we remember being on both sides of the split, before that particular blister healed.

            • That’s a pretty good idea, but the question that I keep coming up with in regards to that sort of theory is, where is the energy coming from that is used to “call” all these split universes into existence, and where does it go when they consolidate?

              Either we’ve fundamentally misunderstood how things work, in regards to energy, or we’re quite wrong with this theory. If every possible decision taken at the quantum level recapitulates the creation of the universe, that’s a whole hell of a lot of energy that’s being called for, on the level of “infinite”. I’m just not quite ready to believe that things are set up that way.

              Until someone hands me an internally and externally explanation for our cosmology, I’m just going to keep an open mind, and say one explanation is as good as another…

              Maybe it does work that way, but as Kryten said when confronted with the idea that Silicon Heaven wasn’t real, “Then, where do all the calculators go?”. (Surely a Red Dwarf reference or two isn’t out of place, here?) I still want to know where the energy goes when the universe consolidates versions, and where it came from in the first place, in order to create the variants.

              • I figure, for conservation of mass and energy, for every universe (or section of a universe) that splits, two have to merge.

                And with so many people around, making so many decisions, sometimes two realities have to merge before they are back in sync. Hence the sudden appearance of lost items, changes in standard spelling, not to mention lost governmental paperwork and anniversaries. Differing eyewitness accounts. Kids who change their names.

                Hey, I write science fiction. Handwavium comes naturally.

              • Maybe the energy comes from the conversion to energy of the matter of lost items.

  34. Hey guys! Be more careful, will you?

    It sounds like she might be about to figure out that she’s a figment of our imaginations.

    And that would be DISASTER!