Slipping Between

I come from a culture that firmly believes that on Halloween and All Hallows, the world is close together to “the other world.”  It is more or less assumed the other world is the world of the dead, but that’s not necessarily true, since anything supernatural or weird was also supposed to have come from “another place.”

It was on Halloween when I was six.  In Portugal we were not quite as crazy as in Mexico about the whole day of the dead thing.  There isn’t much about skeletons and that whole “death is cool” thing.  (Which always creeps me out a bit.)  Instead, you go to the cemetery (true) but you just light candles and talk about the people buried there.  (Or you used to.  I think that’s changed too.) Of course this being a small and enmeshed area, everyone ended up competing on the grave with the most candles and all that.

Also because it was a time a year when everyone in our area came to the same place (this covered for instance both where I grew up and where mom grew up, both quite different) there was a lot of talk and discussion of old times. Think of it as a massive quasi-family reunion.

I have issues with faces.  I still do.  Every time I’m about to see a friend I haven’t seen in years, I’m afraid of not recognizing them. I’ve gotten better over the years because mostly I DO recognize them.  Now casual acquaintances is a little different.  If I haven’t seen you in oh, three or four years, and we shared a moment at a con, you might want to lead with the moment.  Or not. Because at cons I tend to be overwhelmed and everything blends together.

When I was little, though, I had really serious problems.  Not recognizing my own parents problems, particularly if we were going to be in a crowd.  So every morning, I memorized the clothes mom was wearing, so if we went out in public, I would be able to find her.

Now in the cemetery everyone was wearing black clothes, and a woman who looked like my mom (size, hairdo, that type of thing) gave me her hand and started booking it towards the entrance, when mom and dad noticed, ran after and rescued me.

Now there are several “Normal world” explanations.  Several children had died in an epidemic in the area, and this woman had decided I was just like her lost daughter and I’d do. But in a small community (or area) it was impossible for her to think she’d get away with it.  Of course emotionally disturbed people might not think clearly, but think of how to explain it to your neighbors?  In a tightly connected community? Impossible.  Even if I had been a dead ringer for her daughter it would be impossible.

However, from what I remember — and yes, the incident made a huge impact on me, partly because of this — the adults acted like this woman intended to take me away and I’d never be able to come back/never be seen again.

Indulge me for a moment.  Perhaps I wasn’t mistaken that night, perhaps it was my mother… or a close enough analog of my mother.  Imagine she stepped out of her world accidentally, and saw her daughter who had died in the epidemic three years ago, standing there, staring at candles on her cousin’s grave.  And she thought she could change it all.  Somehow.

Of course it’s fanciful.  But the idea of crossing between worlds and where little things change perhaps, but the world is the same is a science fiction trope and it’s enshrined in the Mandela Effect.

If you follow that link, you’ll find that most of the time it’s trivial things that you could have forgotten/reformed in your memory.  I’m so not going to take in account spelling, since people might hear something and learn to spell it wrong.

I also have this theory that whether you remember a public figure’s death wrong has to do with whether you follow that particular field.  For instance, you could never get me to tell you when celebrities died.  I spend a lot of time coming across things and going “I wonder if he’s still alive” about a singer or actor, but it’s not of major significance to you.  I can however usually tell you when science fiction writers left this vale of tears (okay, not always) and also when political figures died.  I would never, for instance, suffer from the literal Mandela effect.

This is similar btw, to being a gateway writer.  If you aren’t paying attention to that particular universe, you’ll remember things wrong, but you remember them as always having been.  This is either because gateway writers attune to that universe, or because — of course — we have fallible memories around the edges.

But there are other incidents, at least in my life, that have the force of the Mandela effect.  For instance, I remember when we found Pete’s Kitchen on Colfax, the way I remembered it was that its number was 1974, which is associated with very “strong” events for both Dan and I.  But then suddenly it was 1962, the year of our birth.  And it had ALWAYS been that.  I don’t think it’s possible for me to confuse that, because who the heck forgets the year of their birth? I’d immediately have remembered it as such.

There’s other things, like titles of books changing.  Dates when movies came out moving around.  Or books, because I swear to you I read Have Spacesuit in Portuguese at 8, but apparently it didn’t exist there.

Sometimes I wonder if you know those ridiculous mistakes parents make?  Like when they confuse your actions with your siblings?  Or your favorite foods/places?  Sometimes those are things that you really couldn’t confuse, particularly for people like my brother and I almost a decade apart, and I wonder.

There were two other moments, when I felt like I’d ALMOST gone elsewhere.  One was when I had a really bad fever.  I was sitting in my office, and suddenly everything but my desk changed.  Instead of being in the half of my bedroom I used as an office for 15 years, I was in a circular tower, as you’d find in a Victorian.  There were stairs right beside the desk, and I could smell the ocean and hear seagulls.  And then it was back.  It was the moment of a blink.  But very clear.  Yes, I had a fever.

However, later, when I hadn’t a fever, some months after, I started heading down the stairs to go grab coffee.  It was early morning, the kids were at school and Dan was at work.  But I heard people talking in the living room and one of them was Dan’s voice, the other a girl I knew was my not-yet-in-school daughter, and one of my sons.  I don’t have a daughter.  The whole thing felt wrong.  The bottom of the stairs looked like always but also wrong.  I walked back to my office, then walked back, and the house was in silence, and I went down the stairs, and everything was as normal.

Yes, I know, writer.  Lost in a brown study.

Some years later, one of my sons came in shaken, from college.  He’d gone into his normal class, it was a test day.  his class has desks arranged in the normal way, and he was a little late, so everyone would be there.  But he stepped into the class, and the desks were in a square and it was empty.  Also “it looked/felt wrong.”  He stepped back out very quickly, then back in, and it was his class.

I told him of my experiences, and I’m not sure he was reassured.  I mean, I AM a writer.

But I wonder if there are indeed those things we play with: worlds, extending to infinity, as close together as the leaves of a book, as far away as another plane.  And if sometimes we do cross between close ones unawares.  You know, all those times when your aunt’s favorite sweater is no longer green but brown? And was always brown?

I understand all my experiences are debatable, and it might all be a widespread case of bad memory.  Maybe.  Part of me wants it to be all nonsense and missremembering.   After all, that world where my office was somehow by the sea had to be pretty far away, and I’d hate to wake up one morning and walk off into a world where I didn’t marry Dan.

But I understand that the universe doesn’t have to follow the rule of “what Sarah likes”.

So — have any of you guys had that experience from the mundane “but I remember it always being different” to almost walking into another place?

And what could it all mean, if you have?  Other than brain glitches or momentary memory slips?



419 thoughts on “Slipping Between

  1. Well, for me the effect (or should that be affect?) was similar, but the mechanism was different. I found that I had pretty complete and comprehensive memories of life events that everyone else agreed never happened, and which I eventually traced back to (what I imagine must have been) very realistic dreams either during my sleep or during that semi-waking torpor we all occasionally go through before surrendering to full consciousness. Either way, they inserted themselves into my memory quite as well as actual events did. I only realized they weren’t real when I tried to reconcile them with other memories and found that to be impossible.

    1. I expect we’ve all of us forgotten things, data lost during the uplink between short and long term memories? Perhaps those lost memories do not merely disappear, but rather they slowly dissipate, unless they can find an other mind to lodge in.

      Such other minds must be receptive, of course, compatible (at least loosely) with the lost memory, and at such phases as permit insertion of the lost memory seeking haven.

      1. Now as I consider it, this would explain the invention of dreamcatchers amongst the various Amerindian tribes, would it not. If lost memories take root and send out invites to their compatriots, you could indeed wake up feeling like a new man.

      2. Or maybe the half memories try to combine with other half memories to make a whole one that is then kept. Perhaps some kinds of mental illness are nothing more that lots of half memories combining into something the mind decides to keep.

  2. When I was a very small child (probably five or younger) I had a dream that wasn’t mine. It was in black and white and all my dreams are in color. Also in the dream I was a grown woman and I was in the hospital giving birth. There were several men who were not doctors, wearing what to me looked like old fashioned style clothing. I knew that the scene was unrealistic enough (one of the men had a camera, another was smoking) that it wasn’t some sort of past life memory nonsense and it was obvious to me that it belonged to someone else.

        1. The brother after me is the one who attracts ghosts, actually. I’ve a particularly horrible story that involved him on a drive home.

          A fast, odd story: I was gaming with friends on Lineage II (a Korean fantasy MMO) and we took a break for food. I went and made myself a large double batch of instant pancit canton – my mother remarked on it, in fact, as she and our maid were eating dinner. I said I was craving the taste. I went back upstairs to my room, big bowl of noodles in my left hand, sat back on the foot of my bed (my computer was at the end of my bed back then) and typed, “I’m back” with my right. There were still other people not back at their keyboards, so I took a forkful of my noodles, and stuck it in my mouth. I one-handed typed out a reply to something said in party, then removed the fork from my mouth to jam it back into the pile of noodles while I chewed, without looking at the bowl I still held in my left hand. Instead of noodles, my fork encountered the hard plastic bottom of the bowl. Thinking I’d spilled the noodles, I looked. Except, I hadn’t, and the bowl was completely empty.

          I sighed, typed “BRB after buff” into the channel, rebuffed the party, and went back downstairs to ask for another batch of pancit canton. My mom looked at me funny and said that I shouldn’t eat so much instant noodles, and didn’t I just go upstairs? I said I hadn’t eaten more than a forkful of noodles, and that the rest had disappeared. She asked me if I was sure I hadn’t eaten them all, and I said, “C’mon, Mom. My mouth isn’t that big. That was a LOT of pancit.”

          My mom laughed, remarked that the dwende must be hungry, and asked the maid, who had finished eating and was listening to the exchange with wide eyes, to make me another batch.

          And yes, the blasé response we have is because my family is used to weird shit happening. And no, I was alone in my room at the time.

          1. I don’t know why I’m startled and delighted the PI has Brownies…..
            (I “collect” fay, so I had to go look for what on earth a dwende was.)

            1. Oh man. I have a HUGE amount of stories then I can share, that you’ll enjoy – and that’s just the stuff we experienced. Supposedly the land that our house was built on had a …clan? of them. The mango tree had a spirit (We would see her and in fact, ‘watched’ her grow up) and the head of the dwende clan would appear in visions with the very consistent appearance of an old fashioned hacindero owner, Spanish-looking, complete with white suit and jacket, flat topped hat, vest, and a broom-like moustache. (We called him ‘The Boss.’)

              1. scribbles notes

                Do they have any particular vulnerability? Like fair folk who can’t stand iron or church bells?

                1. Mind, this is my experience, and some of folklore.

                  White dwende don’t seem daunted by hallowed ground or holy artifacts; the impression we got was they respect God and Jesus and revere the Virgin. We’ve not noticed any particular vulnerability to steel or iron. Grey dwende seem to respect those boundaries of hallowed ground, and avoid it (because they see it as territory?)
                  Black dwende vary – some people will say it has an effect – that they grow weak, or go out of their way to avoid such.

                  What is interesting though is that they’re very territorial – they’ve got boundaries and domain which holds ‘villages’ of dwende and within those boundaries what they say goes. They cannot cross into other territories unless they 1) are invited in by the resident dwende/ask permission to pass through or 2) are able to ‘hitch’ a ride on a human being.

                  Also, being invisible, it is common for humans to accidentally bump into them, destroy their homes or such things; but it is possible to appease them by apologizing (it is common superstition to say tabi-tabi po ‘please excuse me’), or giving offerings as an apology.

                  Would you like me to write up a post for you? I wouldn’t mind. ^_^

                    1. I’m guessing that in this case, the word comes from Spanish, which would explain why there’s a very similar Portuguese word.

                    2. Duende is probably from Visigothic, IIRC. Will look up. Anyway, tends to be compared with goblins et al as well as fairies. There is a famous Spanish essay about how the muse/spirit of good flamenco is called duende, and wanting good Spanish writing to also have duende.

                      But these gentles seem different from the Spanish ones.

                    3. People call stuff by names that they’re use to— heck, I just called them “Brownies,” because that’s what they sound like to me. House-related others who are into mischief.
                      I haven’t actually seen anything (thank God!) around my house, but the half-joking might-be fits alright with Gremlins, especially given my well deserved reputation for extremely strange glitches. Mine aren’t really malicious, though… (Or maybe they never were, and their actions just got people killed because aviation at the time was such an “it will probably work if nothing goes wrong” setup.)

                      *shrug* For all I know, mine’s just my guardian angel giving me something to fuss about….

                    4. I remembered wrong about the etymology of “duende.” Apparently the accepted idea is that it’s short for “duen de casa” (owner of the house, master of the house). This would seem rather unlikely, but “tomte” in Switzerland is exactly the same formation.

                      Anyway, the idea is that they were originally some kind of Spanish and Portuguese domovoi or brownie. Except, you know, different. 🙂

                      Which also explains the imagery in Shadow’s family’s dream-instructions.

                  1. Thanks!

                    Territoriality is probably going to feature in the scene where a bunch of fae come with a long list to regale Halley with about odd ball weaknesses: roosters! soybeans! turning your clothes inside out! brass! running water! pentacles!

                2. Hrmm.. do I have [or am I of the] snilmergs? (Like gremlins, but in reverse)? I show up and that cantankerous, recalcitrant piece of machinery works like nothing ever was wrong. Not always, but often enough to make a feller wonder. And sometime I “do something” but that something is ‘Remove cover plate. See nothing I can do. Replace cover plate.’ and yet… repair has happened.

                  1. It’s probably fear, on the part of the supposedly inanimate object you’re supposed to repair.

                    There’s a certain amount of irrationality to this universe of ours; I’m of a mind that it expresses itself differently for different people. Some folks see elves and gnomes, others have cars that won’t start for them until they strike the motor just so. It makes sense to the individual, who is experiencing the events, but it makes no sense at all to the outside observer.

                    Context is everything. Sam sees anthropomorphic mechanisms, Sally sees fairies. Each makes perfect sense, to them, and are probably based on experiential things they’ve gone through, as they try to make sense of the irrational, irreproducible universe around them.

                  2. There were a few of us on the helpdesk where I worked who appeared to frighten computers into working correctly.

                    On the “opening and replacing the access panel” thing, it IS possible, at least in some instances, that some bit of debris got into position to cause a minor short, and the air movement of opening the panel could have dislodged it. The rest is probably just pure intimidation, you machine bully. 🙂

  3. Had a dream that my husband and a good friend were sitting at their desks talking and husband asked friend, “how is your wife doing?” Friend replied, “she had a merman ??” Even in my dream that didn’t make sense, so I leaned in (was looking down on both of them) and tried to force the word but the dream faded away. The dream was so upsetting that I told my husband about it the next day; it continued to prey on my mind so wrote a letter (this was before email) to friends about it, asking were they OK etc. They called on the phone and told us she had had a mastectomy (she is fine today)…nice long conversation which ended with them asking me to please not tell them about any new dreams… Does this count as slippage? I am not usually psychic by the way. Just one of those unusual linkages I guess.

  4. I made a late response yesterday to a several-day-old topic that drifted in a similar direction, about the Martin Luther King assassination. The way I remember it, James Earl Ray was a disgruntled ex-cop wannabe Klucker, and while sad, the story made sense.

    What I find on the web is a totally different story, suitable for the kind of adventure yarn you’d sneer at, with “give me a break” levels of weird.

    If you find a Charter Arms Bulldog you can’t account for, it might be mine. I bought one new in 1982. I remember the store where I bought it, the snotty clerk, the problems with credit card authorization, qualifying with it at the range, and carrying it on duty. But a few years later it vanished, along with the box, the paperwork, the holster, spare ammunition, everything. I’ve fretted over that for thirty years from now, that all sign of it could completely vanish. [it’s unlikely it was sold or traded; “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave” applies to my firearm acquisitions…]

    [feels a strong urge to search cabinets, drawers, and boxes yet again…]

    1. I’m currently looking for a camera lens that I noticed a few months ago had disappeared all by itself, so I can sympathize. It did leave behind the box it came in, though.

    2. Time slippage certainly seems a far more credible explanation for such discrepancies than the idea of mass dishonesty among our MSM and political historians.

      And the current corrupt and deceptive Hillary Clinton is simply being blamed for what an alternate reality Hillary had had to do.

      ‘Ey – you gonna believe me or your lyin’ eyes?

      1. That would explain Hillary’s stories of things like dodging sniper fire, being named for Sir Edmund Hillary, etc…

    3. “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave” applies to my firearm acquisitions…

      Aside from the tragic boating accidents, this has come to be my mode as well. There is not a single sold firearm that I don’t regret selling.

  5. Just one clear memory, from school, of having done homework (math) which I found hadn’t been given us. I was both pretty pissed and quite confused so it has stuck to my mind clearly. I was fourteen or fifteen. Also generally pretty lazy, having problems doing what had for certain been given us, so having done something which hadn’t been was pretty bizarre, not very likely I would have heard something like that wrong. Besides it wasn’t really something I could have heard wrong, what the other kids told me was that the whole subject hadn’t even come up on the previous day’s class.

    I did find that site some years ago (I have a habit of searching for all kinds of, er, woo woo stuff). I like the idea of time/space as some sort of foam thing rather than lines, realities both joining and separating constantly, and that perhaps we both have several potential pasts as well as several potential futures, and even present moment is not quite as stable as we usually think it is. Maybe just because it might make for interesting time travel stories. Or maybe because while it makes world a bit more scary in ways – stable is better than something which might change at a moment’s notice into something that doesn’t feel right, or which you even realize is wrong – it also would perhaps mean that however bad things seem to be they are at the same time always also better somewhere next door, and perhaps you might also tomorrow find out that the better reality is now your past which means your present is also better (or if you write horror the other way around :/ )

    1. Just one clear memory, from school, of having done homework (math) which I found hadn’t been given us.

      Odd one from 9th grade. Dreamt I was doing schoolwork and, being the little joker I was, filled in all the answers with puns on the correct answer, laughing myself silly.

      Next day we were assigned the work I had dreamed about. So I filled in the answers with the puns I remembered from my dream, this time feeling puzzled instead of hilarious.

        1. I’ve had that deja vu feeling more then once. The feeling I’m reliving something I’ve already done or seeing something I’ve already seen- that’s brand new.

  6. Aren’t you a cat person, Sarah? Was there a cat in the vicinity each time? Cats are associated with Halloween, and with creatures crossing over, for a reason . . . .

          1. I feed and take care of four cats at work and my place. Three black (one with white spots on belly.)

          2. Sib’s black cat goes topless. (She has a patch of white on her belly where a human woman’s bikini bottom would be.)

  7. > faces

    I’m not quite as bad as you are, but I’ve had a few embarrassing moments when people were upset that I didn’t recognize them. I guess there are reasons I’m not “a people person.”

    I *do* know that my wife and I remember faces entirely differently. Occasionally we’ll be watching something and I’ll say “He reminds me of so-and-so.” She’ll indignantly deny any similarity at all, which will usually end with a trip to IMDB, where I’ll bring up a picture of each actor. We usually wind up deadlocked.

    1. I’m good at faces, but crap at names. Can’t remember names for the life of me.

      I did meet someone at a party once, who claimed to know me well and who I did not recall in the slightest. It was very embarrassing.

        1. Yep. There’s “the water guy”, and the “lady at the gas station,” and the “hardware store lady,”…

          Stupid brain. |:(

        2. “I’m great with names and faces; I forget everybody!”

          That’s me. Sure there are exceptions, but either you make one heckuvan impression (and often a bad one…) or I see you quite often (friend, coworker, etc.). So sometimes I have to explain, “If I forget you or your name, that’s actually a compliment. You haven’t been burned into my memory as a jerk to be avoided.”

        3. I run into and speak with people I know that I have known for some time. I am quite able to initiate a discussion on what has been going on at their workplace, the activities in which the spouse and children are involved, or ask if they enjoyed the thing they were looking forward to when we last met. Still, the whole time we are talking I keep hoping that someone, anyone, will come up and address the person by name — for I haven’t the slightest recall of that.

          1. It’s interesting to listen to old radio shows, and in this case Bob Hope and Jack Benny and the like come to mind. Someone will enter/appear and one of the already present characters will announce the entrance to the radio audience, “Why, Andy Devine!” Oh, to have a script.

            1. I recently discovered our cable package has some excellent vintage programming on channels up in the four-digit range. I’d learned to look there for “bonus” public television programming and while flipping about the onscreen guide in that neighborhood had discovered that Barney Miller is showing on one channel. Now I’ve learned that the Jack Benny and <Burns and Allen Shows are available in the middle of the night.

              Oh, to have space on the recorder and time to watch all that is good.

          2. I do that all the time. I have complete conversations with people who I know I know, but can’t place to save my life.

            It used to drive my wife nuts.
            Now, she just finds it entertaining. “You have no idea who that was, do you?” is a sentence she likes nearly as much as “I told you so.”

          3. Called anomia I think. My Dale Carnegie teacher was discombobulated by me. Makes even reading difficult if the first letter of the names are the same. Luckily faces I am better with. I can’t always even recall family members names tho.

        4. I am still embarrassed by one time at a family reunion at our home in central Illinois I spent a few hours waiting for someone to mention my Aunt Nancy’s name… since I completely forgot it and didn’t want to admit it.

        5. I’ll forget names. I warn people when they introduce themselves it’ll take me a while. And yes, I will still mix up people, even when I’ve interacted with them for a long time.

          Rhys and our son look very much alike; for a while housemate referred to Vincent as ‘Mini-Rhys’ when he’d derp from sleep deprivation and forget names. I’ve done the reverse – yelled for Vincent, when I meant to call Rhys to ask him a question.

      1. Good at faces but horrible at names seems to be remarkably common. My issue of is the opposite. I can remember the names of pretty much everyone who was in my dorm Freshman year at college, but even at the time, I was hopeless at putting the faces with those names. I could easily remember that Katrina was the girl who lived in the single room at the end of my hall, but if the police had asked me to pick Katrina out of a lineup, I’d have been in trouble.


          Here y’all go. Prosopagnosia for your entertainment or bedevilment. I keep thinking someone should write a thriller using the injury induced kind as a plot device. But not me.
          I score a 0 on their famous faces test, and when I participated in a study for an American/Australian team researching this, it was the first time I ever felt what has to be test anxiety.
          Anyway, people who can’t see faces are supposed to be one-in-fifty, and they’ve localized facial recognition to a particular part of the brain. So injury there, or at least one heritable trait, can cause this. I thought perhaps mine got squished by the expansion elsewhere caused by perfect pitch, but who knows?
          The cool thing for me, personally, is that after reading everything available on the subject, I’ve picked up better ways to deliberately identify people without trying to use faces. I’ve also trained my kids to greet people they recognize by name, but that’ll only work as long as they’re at home.
          But I still often have those moments when someone I don’t know comes up and starts asking me about my family and my life.

          1. I always recognize a face that I’ve seen before (even if only briefly).

            My problem is figuring out why I know the face. Which has probably made some enemies rather paranoid when I wave cheerily at them…

            1. I have the same problem but without the waving at enemies for the most part because I know the face and something about it bugs me or I get a bad feeling.

          2. So, celebrity cognition is merely a way of being insensitive to a segment of the disabled? I see interesting possibilities in a legal action to end Facial Recognition Privilege.

            1. Yeah, you do that. Settle for requiring everyone to wear nametags when outside their own homes, will you? Don’t care if it’s their birth certificate name or nickname or what, just has to always be the same name. Thanks!

              More seriously, this is why blogs and forums are a great way for me to socialize: everyone puts on a nametag.

          3. “I’ve also trained my kids to greet people they recognize by name”

            Years ago I dated a girl who somehow picked up on my issues with remembering names and started to just naturally do this. She was awesome! Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be.

          4. I expect someone will eventually write “an app for that…”

            Actually, I’d find it quite useful.

          5. I find that more people know me then people I know. My son’s Army drill SGT in boot camp knew me from my time in the Navy and my last duty station. Even told my son things I had done there, that I had done. I didn’t know or interact with any soldiers there.

            1. There have been times when some people who were a few years behind me in high school have identified me in public and I have NO IDEA who they are. Apparently, I made an impression.

              1. I have had the same experience, but really, nobody could possibly expect me to have picked out and remembered individual faces from that mob, especially with the distraction caused by those pitchforks, rakes and flaming torches waving about.

                1. I always expect the pitchforks and torches but one of them went so far as to remember my coffee order. That was…weird. And slightly more off-putting than if they’d started shouting to burn the witch.

              2. It’s actually common when you work with the public. You meet one under what’s, to them, a memorable occasion, and they remember it, but for you it’s just another day on the job and might not stick out. I just nod and never let on I don’t remember someone.

                1. A friend and I went to lunch at a place we hadn’t been to in at least six months. I started to place my order, which involves some substitutions due to food allergies, and she rattled off the rest of the order and said, “same as last time?” Then she did the same for my friend, whose order involved a take-out to bring back home to his wife. And she knew our drink preferences.

                  We were both absolutely certain we’d never seen the waitress before. And given the turnover, it was unlikely she would have worked there last time we’d been in.

                  It spooked my friend quite a bit, but I told him I could probably lash together some software in a few days, using off-the-shelf libraries, to do a customer identification system.

                  Tables are all numbered; that’s how the concierge keeps track of which waiters have which tables.

                  Most people pay by debit card nowadays; 90% or more according to one restauranteur I talked to.

                  Almost every restaurant has a security system, so the cameras are already there.

                  The ticket already matches the order and waiter to a specific table. (take a look at yours next time)

                  So, all you need to link the faces of the diners to their table; a “record” icon on the sales terminal would do. At the next visit, when the concierge tells the waitress she has table 6, she taps “6” on the terminal and it runs the faces against previous customers. If there’s a hit, it brings up their order history. If they paid by card, it brings up the name of at least one of them. If it doesn’t return a result, no problem.

                  The cute trick here is, the facial recognition system doesn’t have to be 100% accurate. Even 50% accurate would do. A lot of people would be gratified to be remembered, right down to their previous order, and possibly their name. They’d be more likely to come in more often or leave larger tips.

                  1. I suppose some care would be required for “couples” to ensure not inadvertently outing philandering, something which might be morally fulfilling but would tend to reduce tippage and return visits.

                2. I work in retail. I’ve had people who I wouldn’t recognize in the street come in and tell me I changed their life with something I said while I was helping them shop for clothes. Cool. Glad I helped. I don’t know you and we’re not friends but I’ll take a hug if you want to give me one.

                3. Especially if your work involves fixing things, or rescuing people from disasters (whether minor or major). For example, while I was in college I worked as in the computer lab as the techie-on-duty. Several years later, I had someone tell me “You saved my term paper!”, but I had no idea who they were. Over the course of my four years working there, there were six or seven people whose term papers I had rescued. Their papers had been on dying floppy disks, and Microsoft Word had refused to open the damaged files — but I’d used my Linux expertise to extract the text out of the file, and the worst they usually had to do was do the reformatting and rewrite one or two paragraphs. Everyone whom I did that for remembered me, but I didn’t remember any of them.

                  1. Them: My Savior!
                    You: Another day at the office.

                    See also: Double Star, Farley file, explanation of.

          6. Results
            Out of 30 faces, you correctly identified 6.
            You were familiar with 15 of the people in this test.
            If we exclude the ones you were unfamiliar with, you got 40% correct.

            I’m surprised I did that well.

            Conversely, I remember dogs I saw once 40 years ago. I remember and recognise every piece I’ve seen of a 1200-piece puzzle. Apparently I have a filter which keeps all the useful information out.

            1. Not a filter. Human faces get their own specialized part of the brain. Everything else is observed elsewhere.

              40%? I’m impressed.

              1. Yeah, I was going to mention that. The article I read mentioned many people could tell the difference between two faces down to the limits of the eye’s resolution.

                Unfortunately I’m not one of those people…

            2. OK, this is a poor test for those who can’t attach names to faces. I got 20 out of 30, but would have gotten more if I had names to choose from. I think I only actually missed two, and wasn’t familiar with three.

              But that’s not my recognition problem. I can’t keep from seeing people I know in the faces of people I don’t know. If I know it’s limited to “Famous People”, I am unlikely to miss.

          1. No, actually. I don’t remember if I was in a relationship at the time, but I must have at least subconsciously remembered something that prevented me from hitting on her. The awkwardness (for me, at least) came in a couple of days later, when I realized what had happened.

      2. Most of the time it’s difficult for me to remember names. The one exception was during a concussion. Then I had no trouble remembering names at all. When I recovered, it was back to having a hard time with names.

          1. Grin. Actually, It took a much bigger whack than that. Bigger as in out of body experience and some thought I was dead. So no, I don’t go for that solution.

    2. I also frequently think that some people remind me of others, and my wife often vehemently disagrees. But I can’t remember names for love or money.

      Oddly, everyone seems to be able to recognize me, even if we haven’t seen each other for 30 years. When my parents were having their 50th wedding anniversary party, the principle of my Elementary school recognized me (though that had only been 18 years, but I was a foot and a half taller by then).

      1. It is always a remarkable event when I am the one to recognize somebody on TV or in a film, such as the time it was I who recognized that one of the doctors in the program we were watching about emergency room medics was the Beloved Spouse’s step-sister (from a marriage subsequent to Beloved Spouse’s marriage to me, so not exactly close, but …)

        And I hardly evah have to check my reflection in mirror against my Driver’s License more than once a month.

          1. Saw a trailer of an interesting movie today and did a “now who is that?” thing, and it was Gary Oldman. But then, he tends to disappear into his roles.;

                1. Some other roles he’s played include the bad guy in Air Force One, the bad guy in The Fifth Element, and most famously, Jim Gordon in the Nolan Batman films.

                  He also played George Smiley in the version of ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ that came out in 2011.

                  1. Dang, ANOTHER good actor– the kind that just kind of vanishes into the character.
                    As soon as I read it, I realized that yeah, Zorg did look like Black…but even with his voice, I never connected them!

                    From his IMDB, he’s one of those guys who enjoys his job, too. (Looks like Mark Hamill’s IMDB!)


                    1. Yeah, he’s good. And he as an actor is very forgettable (as opposed to his characters). In fact, I wouldn’t actually know any of his roles if I hadn’t read about them because I have a hard time recognizing him from one role to the next.

        1. I once managed to not recognise my own mother. I was supposed to pick her up at the airport… why is this crazy woman waving at me as I drive past? (My truck is one of a kind, there’s no mistaking it.) In my defense, I hadn’t seen her in a few years and in the meantime she’d changed her previously-eternal hairstyle, but still…!!

          1. My mom picked me up at the airport after cutting her hair into shortish spikes and dying them blonde. First thing she shows me is the (temporary) tattoo she got that morning. I told her not to shock me while I was pregnant. Funniest thing she’s ever done.

      2. I used to work with the public rather a lot, and still get quite a few people who will walk up and try to strike up a conversation with me out of the blue. If I go half a state away, usually that problem fades (thank goodness for LibertyCon!).

        For a lifelong introvert, this can be a problem. I am *still* developing the social tools it takes to interact with people in unstructured situations, and sometimes folks catch me off guard. Once a lady who apparently knew me very well plucked me out of a crowd and took my arm, began nattering away about “Oh, *there* you are! I’d wondered where you got off to. I’ve been…” and so on. Some minutes later, I found out she was trying to duck an over-amorous acquaintance and was just using me as a social human shield. *chuckle* I couldn’t for the life of me find a thing to say the whole time!

      3. I have this issue. One of the girls I went to school with looked so much like one of my brother’s female friends that I often called them by each other’s name.
        It’s so good to know I’m not alone.

    3. Star Wars, Mark Hamill and his car accident between the first and the second movie. I thought it was a different actor when I first saw Empire Strikes back. While lots of people seem to see no difference whatsoever between what he looked like in the first movie vs what he looked like afterwards. Since there was no stories, at least none I had happened to see (I never read any of the actual gossip ones though, unless it was all there was in the dentist’s or doctor’s waiting room) about that accident in Finnish papers (remember, before internet we depended on things like papers, magazines and occasionally radio or television for celebrity gossip…) the difference bugged me for years, especially since so many didn’t even seem to see it.

  8. I’ve always felt like an alien here, nothing fits right. Things and people seem wrong. Like I’m three degrees out of phase or something. Other people agree, I’m from another planet. Some like it, some don’t.

    Age brought familiarity, if not wisdom, and an autism spectrum diagnosis. (Fairly mild, thank God.) So yes, its the brain that is doing it. Doesn’t stop me thinking its the world that’s wrong though.

    What world would fit me? A place where “normal” people would be screaming in frustration and pulling their hair out, most likely.

    1. I have been told, more than a few times, that I seem to be in the wrong time. Evidently my tastes in some things are from the early 20th century. Maybe it’s from old movies I was exposed to, but who knows? I recall hearing songs on the radio in the 1970’s but it was just background. An 8-track player got some attention though the two memorable tapes are jarringly different: one was Fats Domino, the other was Black Sabbath. But when a reel to reel tape machine was acquired/borrowed and I listened to the collection of reels, one had the tune from The Glenn Miller Story and suddenly I heard music. It’s amazing I didn’t wear out the tape – or the LP I was later given of Glenn Miller tunes.

      I do find I seem to be in a sort of state of ‘almost’ quite a bit. Not teetering between worlds (that I notice), but I find I seem to hang back some… but by NOT pressing things, I get invited into things that those who DO press wish they could and get frustrated.

      The closest to any outright “Hey, did the world change” I can recall are the times I’ve had some near-accident or some actual event, but it came out well compared to what might have been. “Did I die back there?” Haven’t yet, that I’ve taken note of anyway.

      1. “I can recall are the times I’ve had some near-accident or some actual event, but it came out well compared to what might have been. “Did I die back there?”

        The “near miss” experience. I’m familiar. I haven’t had one since I gave up street bikes. ~:D Dirt bikes don’t have the same penchant for bringing those “ohmighod I almost died!” moments that the overpowered rice rockets do. No doubt there are many alternate universes scattered with bits of The Phantom, from where he was going just a -touch- faster that morning.

        1. I’ve only had one of those, and I probably wasn’t in any real danger. I was driving (car, not motorbike) in the left lane on the highway in Dallas, when suddenly the pickup truck in front of me swerves to get into the next lane over. And now that it’s out of the way, I can see a big yellow boxy object sitting in the middle of the left lane. I swerve into the next lane to avoid it, and since I’ve just yanked the steering wheel pretty hard to the right at 65 MPH, I can feel that the car’s weight is dipping to the right, and I think “my left front tire is probably in danger of breaking free of the road”. So I pull the steering wheel left to control that and not go into a spin, and now the car is dipping to the left, but less than before, because I didn’t yank hard to the left. I pull the wheel right again, then left, and by now I have the car straightened out and under control.

          I don’t think I was in any real danger — the car was probably a lot further from out-of-control than it felt like at the time. But that episode taught me three things: 1) I don’t experience the “time slows down” effect that I’ve read about occasionally in books; 2) I do, however, make decisions VERY fast in an emergency, and act on them immediately; 3) each of those decisions imprinted a distinct memory in my brain. (High-emotion situations, like when adrenaline is dumping through your system, tend to create lasting memories.) And that makes me wonder if that effect is why people tend to describe time slowing down, because it’s a retrospective effect of their memories. They have (let’s say) four distinct memories of four distinct decisions during that dangerous driving situation, and so they perceive the event (in retrospect) as having lasted longer, because usually you don’t get four distinct memories carved into your brain in one and a half seconds.

          Or maybe the “time slowing down” effect is due to storytelling necessities, where the movie has to go into slow-motion for you to see all the details of the scene — or the book has to take half a page to describe the events of just half a second of the story’s timeline.

          Oh, there’s a fourth thing that that episode taught me: even though I do react very quickly in an emergency, I can be blindsided and not realize my danger — because I don’t seem to feel a sense of fear in those moments. After-the-fact fear, yes — about an hour after I got home that day, I started thinking, “If my car had spun out, there’s a good chance I could have been hit by another car. I could have been in the hospital right now instead of safe at home. Wow.” But in the actual moment? No sense of fear. And I’m not 100% certain that if I was in actual danger, I’d have the right amount of fear to create a self-preservation response. So now I try to think (ahead of time) “How could this situation go wrong?” and make a plan: if the guy I can see on the cross street with the stop sign pulls out, I have room in the lane to my left, so I can veer left to avoid him. And I set up a response trigger in my brain, where I’m watching him out of the corner of my eye, ready to pull the steering wheel left if that trigger, well, triggers. So far that’s worked pretty well.

          1. About “Time slowing down” …

            I read many ballplayers describing, on their arrival in the major leagues, about “learning to slow the game down.” That may simply be a reiterated cliche, it may be a phrase meaning to not let your adrenaline run wild, or it may be an improbability because how could baseball get any slower?

            OTOH, back when I was fencing and would ref bouts in practice I learned to slow down the action, to perceive the discrete elements and sequence so as t determine whether a fencer had claimed “right-of-way” and whose point scored first. So in part the time dilation is a function of the ability to recognize and distinguish events discretely.

            1. I did a very little fencing refereeing in college too – to me doing that felt more like enhanced slo mo replay than actual enhanced time sense during the bout, but maybe that’s a distinction without a difference. The requirement to talk through the attack/parry/reprise thing when you made your call forced a structure that I recall helped me as well, going from visual to verbal.

              Watching Olympic fencing from Brazil during the just past Olympics, I had some flashes of that “seeing” again, even with the higher level of competition, but it was also frustrating since the sport has changed so much. Collegiate fencing had gone electric for scoring back when I helped judge (side judge or looking for off-piste stuff) some intercollegiate level matches, but the sensors were slower too, and between the parts on the blades and the connections to the jackets, not fully reliable. Part of the game, carried over still from non-electric scoring, was to make it obvious to the ref what you did, when you parried and how you made a touch, where sometimes it was better to make an exaggerated attack or parry to make sure they saw everything. Now that all the scoring of touches is electronic and actually reliable, it’s different: At times it looked to me like some of the Olympians were just fanning their blades around looking to trigger the sensors instead of actually fencing – and I don’t think it’s all my older slower brain not keeping up – I would see the same thing on some of the coverage slow motion replays as well.

              1. Being able to name the steps does help. I get the impression that experienced gymnastics judges develop the same skills, going by the television commentary. Part of it, as well, is surely derived from the ability to “tag” a given move from no more than a partial exposure of it, the way I can recognize a Fosse or Astaire move from a mere glimpse, or a Weil or Gershwin song by just a phrase.

              2. After I realized that I was too slow to fence competitively at the college level, I became an equipment manager for the team (this was in the early 1970s). We had weights that we’d use to calibrate the spring tension in the tips of foils and epees so that a certain amount of “touch” would be required to complete the circuit.

                I also remember a scandal involving one fencer who had a hidden contact in his grip that allowed him to generate touches at will.

            2. I’m one of those people who has time slow down.

              I’m pretty sure it’s the upside of ADD. Under the right conditions, you hyperfocus. Nothing exists except you and the ball, and it’s nothing short of magical.
              Of course, the rest of the time you’re fighting to keep your head above water in a world that’s moving much too fast…

              Most examples I could give involve pissed off farm animals, fights, sports, or (w)reckless driving. But here’s a completely frivolous example that’s more fun (and doesn’t involve poor judgement or any significant bragging).
              Once I was carrying a 12-pack of beer bottles under my arm when the back of it broke open and bottles started falling out. I tilted the box so no more would fall out, turned, and grabbed all four falling bottles with my free hand before they hit the ground. Getting the fourth one with a single hand was a bit tricky, but I had all the time in the world to figure it out.

              1. it is, I believe, a matter of brain chemistry. It’s not just moments like that. It’s childish brain chemistry. Remember how much longer the years seemed to be back then?

          2. There’s science on faster perception speed due to adrenalin. I recall an experiment where a goggle-gizmo was rigged to flash a number too briefly for an at-rest test subject to perceive. Then the same test subjects, with goggles strapped on, were thrown off one of the theme park rides that’s the equivalent of a bungee jump. The repeatable across multiple test subjects result? In mid-drop the rapidly flashed number was perfectly perceivable. The subject that they filmed commented he felt like he had plenty of time to see and remember the number in mid-fall.

            1. There’s stories that Ted Williams could see which way the stitching on a ball coming at him was turning, which aided his ability to hit the ball. All I ever see is a blur. Contact between the bat and ball, if it occurs, is purely accidental. Even in slo-pitch softball.

              I read somewhere once that the elite in any sport involving a moving ball, tennis, soccer, baseball, football, whatever, see faster then the rest of us mortals.

              1. Professional ballplayers can reputedly read the stitches; apparently the size of the circle “formed” by a spinning baseball inform whether the pitch is a 2-seam fastball, 4-seam fastball, curve, slider or screwball (reverse curve.) When you consider the evolutionary processes which produce a major-league hitter and the number of pitches seen, it is not surprising. Williams reportedly had atypically good eyesight:

                The myths and facts about Ted Williams’ vision
                From Dr. Robert Levy:

                So Dr. Paull’s recent entry about our 20/10 patient reminded me of the late great Red Sox player, Ted Williams, one of the greatest baseball hitters of all time. Williams was rumored to be able to see 20/3 (able to see from 20 feet away what a normal-sighted patient can see from three feet away); rumored to be able to see the seams on a baseball as they approached him at 90-100 miles-per-hour and tell by the spin of the seams whether the ball was going to be a fastball (straight pitch) or a breaking ball (curve ball or the like); was rumored to be able to read the label on a 78rpm record as it spun (records are what we had before compact discs and mp3s, for you young-uns).

                While these make for amusing stories, Williams himself admitted that none of them were true. He DID in fact have 20/10 acuity, same as our star patient from the last blog entry, meaning he could see from 20 feet away what normal-sighted people could see from 10 feet away – but the other myths and legends were just that, myths and legends. Although as he entered the Marines as a pilot in World War 2, the ophthalmologist performing Williams’ entry examination said his vision was on the order of a “1 in 100,000 occurrence.”

                Still, this remarkable vision was one contributing factor to his being one of the best hitters of all time, and to date, the last player to hit over .400 for an entire season. His lifetime batting average ranks among the best of all-time as well.

                So he may not have been able to see the seams on a spinning baseball, or read the label on a spinning 78rpm record, but his actual visual acuity is still legendary.

                1. Many years ago Cycle Magazine did an article comparing motorcycle racers and the magazine staff on a race track. What came out interesting was a 100% correlation between visual acuity and lap times. The racer with the best eyesight was the fastest, the staffer with the worst vision was slowest.

                  While the article was quite interesting, I’m not sure about their results. A friend of mine is an instructor with several different car clubs. He’s probably run over a hundred track days at one particular track. Once I was riding along with him and we hit the big carrousel turn at around 130mph. He throws the car half sideways, which isn’t the fastest way but impresses the spectators, and then looks up into the sky, pointing out traffic approaching the local airport. He could probably negotiate the track blindfolded by now…

                  1. Yeah, that visual acuity correlation is pretty suspect, in my opinion, knowing people with poor eyesight who do things quite well, vs knowing others with great eyesight who do things very poorly.

          3. I think that as long as the road conditions and tires are good, most cars operate much farther away from their actual handling limits than the typical driver’s fear limit. I used to drive a rarely used rural road through the woods in North Carolina (or as I like to call it, Upper South Carolina) with a nice banked sweeping pair of ess turns at about 30mph above the posted speed limit. Then it was put under construction for a couple of months, which was odd because it was in good condition. One day I saw it was open again, so I turned on to it and put my foot in the tank. Imagine my disappointment when I completed the first half of the sweeping pair of turns to discover that RIGHT THERE the traffic engineers had completely redone the road into a full stop with a perpendicular tee intersection and a nice fresh embankment to catch me just on the other side of the new cross road. I don’t even think there was time for my foot to have reached the brakes. I just turned the steering wheel over HARD and the next instant I was turned 90 degrees to the right and going down the intersecting road, though I was admittedly out of my lane (and had run the new stop sign). The tires didn’t break loose a bit. I was driving a roadster on new asphalt, but the suspension wasn’t even state-of-the art half a century ago and the tires were middle-of-the road consumer tires, not race or even performance street tires. Before I’d experienced it I’d have never believed it could be done, but an autocrosser friend explained that modern tires on dry asphalt are much much sticker than 99.9% of drivers have the nerves to discover.

            1. It’s less “fear” than “known unknowns.”

              You were very lucky– your tires WERE in good enough condition, the road WAS well-made new (but not TOO new, so it was solid instead of giving under your wheels), the road was clean (enough), there wasn’t anything else to reduce your traction…. I’m sure I’m forgetting some other operating issues, probably to do with the frame, etc….

              The effective operating level of a car isn’t “the best it can do in good situations,” it’s about being able to keep operating after basic stuff-that-isn’t-perfect.

              Most of the dangerous stuff I run into is people who over-estimate the conditions they’re driving in–they’re figuring on closer to perfection than ends up being the case*. (Thus far, not literally run into.)

              I also know of two different cases where people were passed by their own tire, and DID NOT crash. Much more effective than the “operating at a high demand constantly” method, even if it’s theoretically ineffective. 😉

              * traction, their own reaction time, their ability to judge the motion of other cars, their ability to predict the actions of other cars, their distance judgement, how much the other vehicle weighs and the quality of their tires and thus how quickly they can brake…..

              1. “passed by their own tire”

                Not what you were thinking, but this reminds me of the time I merged on to a freeway in an unusually large gap for the time. As I start moving over, I see what has caused the gap: a rolling wheel. Not just the tire, the whole wheel, hub and all. It rolled along merrily until the freeway curved and it went to the side. I briefly considered stopping to pick it up, but then I thought the person who lost it couldn’t be too far away.

                Eight miles down the road—EIGHT MILES—I finally see a pickup pulled off to the side of the road with its left rear wheel missing. So… did they not notice that their truck was missing its wheel?

                1. Pretty close to one of the cases–it’s caused by improperly tightened bolts, so it’s driving like crud and the change isn’t as big as you would think.

                  1. I think what she’s describing is a little more serious than that, though the “driving like crud” might still apply – but notice that she said “hub and all”, so the hub apparently came off the axle.

                    Which is distinct from what happened to me one time, where the axle came out of the rear end. Fortunately, I was already slowing down significantly. I’m just glad it was on the driver’s side, so that the axle caused it to curve off to the right. off the road instead of into traffic.

                2. I had a friend who had that happen to him. He was driving down the highway, but was hearing an odd squeal from the rear of his Volvo wagon. At some point, the squeal went away and he felt a mild jolt. As he started to decelerate so that he could investigate, he saw his left rear wheel pass him.

            2. Having a couple morons pull right out in front of me is how I know that my 6000 pound F350 dually will practically stop on a dime, even with (at the time) crap tires that were on their last scraps of tread (in fact it will stop so hard that it bounces in place).

              I don’t do adrenaline or emotion during these little emergencies. I get cold and logical and feel absolutely nothing. No shakes or after-effects either.

              1. I get the after-effects, to an extent, but I too have the cold and lack of emotion. I think that’s why the nice officer stayed with me after the wreck – to make sure I wouldn’t do something like go after the other driver. (My truck was undrivable – what the fur was I supposed to do?)

            3. It’s more than tires. It’s also the center of gravity. This is why there was a problem with roll-overs when jeeps and SUVs became popular. Big trucks, which require a CDL, have an even higher center of gravity. Anyway, someone might can beebop around a curve in a car with a lower center of gravity when trying the same thing in a truck could roll them.

              1. I got my private pilots license many moons ago (wish I had kept it up) it really helped with feeling the center of gravity. Helps with feeling what the car can do. Also helped with the look all around and expect the unexpected. I get annoyed as a passenger when the driver doesn’t feel that.

          4. Feeling like time slows down is a real phenomenon, though I can’t say the cause. But I know it’s real because it has happened to me. When it happens, you are watching what is going on, have tons of time to decide what to do, but your limbs cannot be forced to move any faster than normal, so your brain spends most of the second or so that feels like ten saying, “Move, MOVE, dammit! MOVE!!!!”

        1. Oh, so many choices … Lionel Hampton on vibes, Gene Krupa on drums, Al Jolson … those were the albums you only let your friends know you owned.

          Although the best drummer I’ve heard was probably Bill Robinson …

      2. I seem to have an angel looking over my shoulder (knock on wood) who protects me from the big things, but apparently he thinks that the lesser things are just character-building. By now, my character should be about 25th level.

        But I’ve been in accidents that should have caused considerably more injury than they did, and once would have surely been at least put in the hospital, save for the fact that my father was there and saw the wall of clay dirt start to fall over on me (I could just as easily have been working on digging the rocks at the bottom out alone). Not a slide, this was a literal foot-thick wall of clay six feet tall that dislodged from the rest of the dirt and fell like a block wall being pushed over.

  9. I don’t think I’ve ever had that experience. But I’ve thought about it for many years, ever since the idea came to me, one morning when I could have sworn I had put my glasses HERE, but they were THERE, and I thought, Maybe I did put them HERE, but in the night I slipped into another timeline. But I never envisioned it as a two-way journey.

    1. Our household has a fairly frequent problem with “we searched everywhere, turn around, it’s in the middle of the totally empty table” type events.

      @#$@$#^ Gremlins.

      1. I have that all the time. I have literally moved the thing I was looking for, to see under it for the thing I was looking for.

        I blame evil spirits, myself.

        1. Funny thing… if that were what caused it, there’d be at least one example where it was noticed.

          But stuff is either found in a place where it’s reasonably that we missed it, the first time we look, or it’s where nobody could possibly miss it and we looked several times already.

            1. Really strong evil spirits, if that is what it is.

              Besides the wife being Catholic, I have collected a large number of artifacts from various cultures over the years (and my parent’s years), all of which are supposed to ward off evil (and probably 2/3 authentic).

              Hasn’t helped one bit – we have the same problem.

              1. Those things would drive away evil spirits but not trickster spirits. [Very Big Grin]

          1. “It’s always in the last place you look.”

            Not quite. Sometimes it’s in one of the earlier places, but was unseen.

            And then there were the times I engaged in the “Twisted Hunt” (scavenger hunt sort of thing) on Second Life. Since others can see where you are when you leave, I would sometimes find the hunt object, but hang around and stand near a known decoy before leaving.

            1. Because once you find it, of course, you stop looking.

              Unless, that is, you’re like my friend Michael, who (back when we were in college) used to look for an object, find it, and then deliberately look in one more place just to prove the proverb wrong. It was in the second-to-last place he’d looked!

              1. Then there are those times you look right it, but have forgotten for the moment that that is precisely what you seek, so you keep looking… and then have a “Duh!” moment and go back to… almost find it again.

              2. A man is casting about under a street light. A second man asks what he’s looking for. The first said he’d dropped his wallet and was looking for it.

                The second man helps look, then says, “Are you sure you lost it here?”

                The first says, “No, I lost it in the alley. But the light is better here.”

              3. Because once you find it, of course, you stop looking.

                In some cases, it’s in the place that you decided NOT to look, until after you had looked everywhere else. I was searching for a bad bulb in a string of Christmas lights one year, and the “one after another” search was getting to me, so for a change of pace, I went to the other end. Only to find that the bad one was the one AFTER I gave up from the other direction, so it was literally the last one it could possibly have been.

          2. My workshop is infested with shop fairies.

            Nothing else can explain why I can buy a pack of 10 drills of the same size, and a week later I not only have none, but I now had half a dozen half inch end mills, which were very welcome, but I’m certain I haven’t bought any in years…

              1. Sometimes I don’t find the thing I’m looking for. I find the thing I was looking for last week instead.

                  1. Recently my van/house keys vanished. The timeline: while Eldest was ‘watching’ Youngest while I took a shower. Half an hour. The action: Youngest unzipped and overturned my purse from my desk to the floor. Youngest was still sitting in my desk chair ‘typing my password’ when I stepped out of the shower.

                    The keys turned up a week later, up a floor, under a laundry basket, while Mom was looking for something else, hiding among the dog fur and dust bunnies that collect in such locales.

                    The keys have pulled this sort of stunt before: they turned up in an old, unused diaper bag. If it weren’t for the obnoxiously expensive chip in them, I’d have more than three copies since there are three of us who regularly drive the van, but as it is, I have other uses for my money.

          3. I swear a book hid from me two weeks ago. it is not a small book, and I was trying to pull it to loan to Peter Grant. And I could not find it anywhere. Turned the house inside out looking for it. As soon as he left town, I found it on the shelf, poking out at me. (Battles of the Red River War, for those curious.)

            1. I have learned that with some things it is best to eschew looking for them and instead letting them find you. I disdain Zen philosophy, but under such circumstances as you’ve described it really does seem better to not actively seek out but simply maintain an awareness of wanting.

              This is especially true of things which, upon finding them, cause you to exclaim, “Oh! It has a black binding? I distinctly recall it having a blue binding.”

              The concept of books changing their binding is not open for discussion.

          4. My wife and I went searching in a cemetery for the gravestone of my great-grandparents. Traipsed around for 2 hours; checked all the corners of the graveyard since my cousin had said they found it in a corner near the road years and years ago. Found it on our next trip. Right where we had looked before. When my wife literally tripped over them. 20 feet from where we parked both times.

          5. Well, with me, it could still have been there. Unless, of course, the times that I have had to literally ask someone else if they could see what I was looking for on the shelf in front of me in the grocery store (and thereby have it found) was actually a case of either gremlins or universe slippage.

      2. Ah, yes. Our very first move, from Rockhill to Charlotte. We were leaving a sofa behind, too clunky to carry and the manager had said she’d have it. In the U-haul, halfway up, after turning in the keys, I realized I’d left my purse on the arm of the sofa. We decided against turning around, because the office was closed and we didn’t have keys. We’d call in the morning.
        Get to Charlotte, open the door, and there was my purse, in the middle of the COMPLETELY empty living room.

      3. Huh. My wife and I joke that she hides things from me…

        By putting them EXACTLY where they belong, IN PLAIN SIGHT!

        This guarantees that I cannot find them on my own. 😦

      1. I believe at least one universe out there has Adam Baldwin as President. Assuming Tom Stranger is to be believed. =)

    2. Several years ago, my husband loaned me a computer program on CD. Then I promptly misplaced it. Not unusual for me. We looked for that thing for almost a *year*. He was desperate to the find it because it couldn’t be replaced. We even took my desk completely apart and we both searched through everything. Not only no program CD but no CD at all. A couple months later when we finally decided it must’ve gotten thrown away accidentally, I got up from my desk to use the bathroom. I came back a few minutes later. Square in the middle of my keyboard was that blasted CD! I mean in the exact center like it was carefully placed. I know I didn’t put it there and the only other living creature in the house was our cat. It still freaks me out.

  10. I can’t think of any for me– one thing that I think was a “ghost,” in bootcamp I SAW the barracks room with guys lined up for an inspection– and then the very freaked out night watch grabbed my arm because I was sitting bolt upright in bed. (Too early, can’t remember the word for ghost scenes, heck I can’t even remember the details that struck me.) Later, I found out that yes, the barracks was that old, and yes, the details I remembered were correct.


    Animal Planet has their Mermaid mocumentary on yesterday– some writing flaws, like a minor case of Plot Required Villain for the Navy that really didn’t work very well, and the CGI was definitely CGI, don’t mention the old photographs please, but from what I saw the build-a-fake-science-case was AWESOME. I’m planning to buy the thing from Amazon just to study and see how I can steal technique tricks to do AU fiction building.

  11. I’ve lived in this house about 25 years. When we bought it I thought it had a door into the garage from the kitchen, light switches to the right as you enter the kitchen from the front hall and a light switch on the west side of the hall by the master bedroom.
    It has no door to the garage, or to the back yard from the kitchen. The light switches are mirrored from what I described. And when I get up in the morning and go into the kitchen to make tea, I habitually try and find the ghost light switches.
    I don’t find it particularly spooky, just that for some unknown reason that bogus configuration got burned into my wet ware. I also dream about houses that have different doors for different seasons, but I blame that on “The door into summer.”

  12. Reminds me of a story idea I had a few years ago, then shelved. “Random” Chance Phillips the character name. Never knows where he’ll wake up – or when. Been married 3-4 times, at the same time (or near enough) to women who have known him for years – and he doesn’t recognize at all. One switch occurred as he left the shower – different style clothes laid out for him. Another happened as he walked into a thick fog.
    I tell you, the guy is neurotic! Insists on always carrying important trikets with him all the time. Thinks he might lose them ….

  13. I come a culture so plain vanilla that many Catholic statues disturb me. No crucifixes, just crosses. I still remember in History class we were told,’Just look at Nazi imagery. Skulls. Death-heads, Crossed bones. Runic letters. This is a society immersed in death and searching for something.’ I felt superior. Not a day goes by that I don’t se somebody tattooed with skulls and skeletons. I am a bit freaked out by that.

    As for forgetting faces, I have come to believe that most people face it. That or I have a brain tumor….

    1. I still remember in History class we were told,’Just look at Nazi imagery. Skulls. Death-heads, Crossed bones. Runic letters. This is a society immersed in death and searching for something.’ I felt superior. Not a day goes by that I don’t se somebody tattooed with skulls and skeletons. I am a bit freaked out by that.

      Some of those are things that were deliberately used to try to replace Christian symbols, some are standard military stuff…. of course they were searching for something. That’s what humans do. They hit trouble largely because they were so incredibly rational/scientific. (Which is also why they thought it would be possible to change the program for religion– it’s not ‘scientific,’ so it must be fudgible, right?)

    2. Just a minor annoyance at the habit of trying to make the Nazis radically different, when they were just people– and people doing things that have been normal for most of history, although they were abnormally effective in their methods.

      1. Ah, but that’s a defense mechanism. We want the Nazis to be radically different, because that means we’re incapable of the evil that they did. Problem is, the post war psychological tests shows that most were just average folks.

        1. “Ordinary Men” by Browning is a rather unsettling study of this subject.
          It follows Germans policemen as they morphed into the vanguard of the Final Solution, and then later as they returned to their jobs in post-war Germany.

          1. Another disturbing look at the actions of ordinary people when given permission to go mad is Jan Gross’ book Neighbors. A study of why a the non-Jews in a small Polish town – 1/2 Jewish for centuries, found the motivation to kill them all.
            It did not lead me to good sleep for a long while.

          2. They Thought They Were Free

            One of the Nazis the author befriended and interviewed was a police officer. The author also found one of the Jews whom he had helped deport, who had survived, and interviewed him about the officer. The Jew described the officer as a good man.

        2. You notice people don’t go for Communists were radically different. . .

          Of course, I’ve recently be accused of portraying Hitler as a choirboy for — observing that in history’s mass murderers, he’s third.

      2. Thinking about that, the rise of Naziism was in the time where assembly line was king. The fact that they could efficiently and fastidiously enact their solutions is a factor of the time (and culture. It was Germany)

        1. After the Italians changed sides it became convenient to forget that everything the Germans did, the Italians did first. Right down to the fuhrerprinzip and extermination camps.

        2. I’m pretty sure industry inspired the ideologies that were the spirit of the times. By way of intellectuals in the humanities who had little clue of industrial limits, hence didn’t get that you couldn’t simply measure for defects, and scrap those not in conformance.

          Controlling ideology, tools, and bureaucracy are not a wonderful combination.

    3. I recall Pastor Schulz (I think) pointing out that the cross was a curious religious symbol since it was means of execution. “Suppose it all had happened in more modern times, would every church have a symbolic electric chair?”

      1. No, because the death by torture aspect was an inherent part of execution.

        All the various means of execution that are aimed at being as quick and clean as possible wouldn’t make sense unless the culture had something like our modern moral reasons for wanting a quick, clean death– and a modern culture that can support it.

  14. When I was in junior high or high school (I don’t *think* I was more than 15 at the time), I remember coming home from school one afternoon and taking a nap on the couch. My mother woke me up in time for dinner and to go to my weekly church youth group. I got home from that and did all the normal, routine things involved in getting ready for the next day and going to bed. I was probably in bed by about ten.

    I woke up rather suddenly at around three in the morning with no clue where I was. I just knew I was not in my bed. After a few disconcerted moments I realized I was in the living room on the couch, in the clothes I had worn the day before. Everyone else in the house was soundly asleep and I did not want to wake them up, so I went to my room and got back into bed.

    The next day I asked my mother about it, and apparently she had been unable to wake me up from my nap at dinner time, and she and my father made the decision to just leave me sleeping on the couch. I can be a persistent sleeper, but that is the only time I know of where I was so utterly dead to the world. It is also the only time I can remember having such a mundane dream (everything and everyone exactly as in real life, with the force of memory, rather than my recurring dreamworld).

    On the topic of faces and recognizing/not recognizing people, last year I was at the grocery store I regularly go to after work, and a man started talking to me in the produce section. It took at least a couple seconds before my brain kicked into gear and I identified him as my *brother*. In those seconds he did not even look *familiar* to me, and I’ve known him since he was born. It was rather disconcerting.

      1. Good information to have. I am not surprised to find that other people have had similar experiences, but it is comforting to know all the same. I think my case was exacerbated by the fact I was not expecting to see anyone I knew while at the store, and I had never seen my brother there prior to that time. I was also listening to a podcast at the time, so the people around me were more in the class of obstacles to avoid than individuals I needed to be prepared to interact with.

  15. I do admit to having the Berenstain Bears effect.

    I also have very clear memories of it being common knowledge that Chelsea Clinton having been adopted, then everyone looking at me weird when I mentioned it in passing.

      1. I don’t know. She seems to have joined in the “family business” pretty enthusiastically. And before anyone says, “Well, she can’t help it, she’ll always be considered her parents’ daughter…” when was the last time you heard anything about the Bush twins? Or Julie Nixon Eisenhower? The kids of politicians, even presidents, can easily fade into obscurity if they want to; I have to conclude that Chelsea does not want to.

        1. How often do I hear about the Bush twins?

          Jenna Bush Hager is a teacher, author, editor-at-large for Southern Living and news correspondent for NBC. There was a bit of a foo-fa-rah when she and other female reporters did a segment for The Today Show in which they slathered the flag bearer for Tonga with coconut oil.

          Her sister Barbara has joined with Meghan McCain and Mary Chaney working for gay marriage rights in New York and has founded an non-profit group, Global Health Corps, fighting for ‘equity’ in world heath care.

    1. They’ve always been Berenstain Bears to me.

      And Chelsea is so obviously not adopted. As much as it creeps me out, Hillary was really quite nice looking when she was younger, and Chelsea shares those features. Of course, my friends all say that I seem to be attracted to “teh crazy” so it might just be that.

      1. “Hillary was really quite nice looking when she was younger”

        The Dark Side takes its toll.

        1. It’s not like Hillary’s some wrinkled Senator who is trying to take over the Republic with a conflict she’s controlling both sides of . . .

          Oh. Crap.

        2. Actually, in one of those “gotcha” photos, she was once nice looking. This is why some say if you want to know what a girl will look like in twenty or thirty years, just look at her mother.

      2. Young Hillary twigs my sense of something wrong. As in whatever her damage is, is either early childhood abuse or congenital.

        That said, there are sound reasons to doubt my judgement in that area.

        1. Come on, haven’t you seen the kid’s book that recently came out? Some girls were born to lead!

        2. Something happened.

          She went from working for the Goldwater campaign, to attempting to fake evidence (iirc) while working for the committee investigating Watergate. To repeat – she went from campaigning for a strongly conservative Republican, to attempting to manufacture evidence to give the Dems an advantage. That’s a very dramatic change over the course of roughly a decade.

          1. I believe the anti-war fervor (IIRC, Goldwater was non-interventionist) and the campus unrest in the Sixties worked to imbue her with the zealotry of the apostate, making her fertile ground for the radical climate at Yale Law:

            Hillary Rodham Clinton had a Yale professor named Thomas Emerson (known as “Tommy the Commie”), who introduced her to Charles Gary, and this is where it got really interesting, as she got personally involved with the defense of several Black Panthers who tortured an individual with boiling water, mutilated one of their own members, and committed other horrendous acts.

            So we can see her innate sympathy for the Black Lives Matter movement’s socialist agenda as a natural transition from her youthful radicalism.

            Abandonment of the ideology of one’s early adolescent years often imparts a strong compulsion to be more fervid than those who came to the new ideology naturally.

          2. Another thing which seems to have dropped down the memory hole is that she was in charge of the (Federal) Legal Services Corp, at the time that LSC used suits against the Fed Govt to expand budget-limited benefit programs into unlimited-cost, required entitlement programs.
            At that time, she also sued Reagan to keep charge of LSC after he was elected, and replaced her with Professor William Harvey (she lost).
            One of the things Reagan wanted Harvey to do was look for evidence that she had been systematically diverting funds from LSC legal service programs to support the Sandanistas in Nicaragua.
            On his first day in the building, Harvey asked to see those files, and was taken by staff to a room from which, by the marks in the floor wax, a large number of filing cabinets had just been removed. No one there could explain why they were missing or where they had gone. ( Professor Harvey told me this himself several years ago. Hillary is one of his LEAST favorite people)

        1. Both of her parents were, if not actually beautiful or handsome, yes, rather good looking when younger. Poor woman seems to have inherited about the worst possible combination of their features.

      3. ?

        Chelsea doesn’t look cute. Never has. Back in the ’90s, I was hanging out with some people who were commenting on the fact that the Republicans seemed to get all the pretty girl children. Chelsea was the poster girl for pointing out that the Democrats didn’t.

            1. Maybe not Hereditary President, but Chelsea’s getting a big push lately, so she’s probably going to go into politics eventually. After all, House Clinton doesn’t want to relinquish the throne.

              1. Hillary’s not getting any saner. As President, there’s decent chance she’ll nuke the family reputation.

                1. So the Clintons’ reputation for being a crew of corrupt, murderous psychopaths could be tarnished?

                1. I make this observation because the same thing happened with Trudeau the Second up here in Canada. Lefties always telegraph their punches in advance.

              2. Hillary has had some very suspicious actions lately that lead to concerns about her health (case in point – the “heat exhaustion” that became “pneumonia” when she literally had to be manhandled into her vehicle). And Bill’s finally starting to show his age, as well. When those two finally die, House Clinton will collapse. Chelsea probably doesn’t have the connections or pull to do much on her own.

                And unlike the Kennedys, Chelsea’s an only child. There’s no clan of Clintons to help keep things going.

                1. Couple other possibilities.

                  Other successors inside the party: Okay, the Democratic leadership hasn’t been real tolerant of the internal competition, but there is some.

                  Cronies: None of them probably have the chops for succession.

                  I think Huma is real interesting for what happens when she is cut loose. She’s been an appendage of Hillary her entire adult life. Perhaps she will experience a personality change. Especially if thrown under the bus.

                  1. Huma’s probably got an interesting story. Her parents were (are? not sure whether they’re still alive) notables in the Muslim Brotherhood. She married a Jewish congressman. Her marriage produced a kid, so it *might* have been stable at one point. But her husband’s actions make it clear that the marriage has been dysfunctional for a while now. And there’s no way to tell whether the dysfunction is the fault of Weiner, Abedin, or both.

                    There’s also a rumor that the new e-mails were found in a directory labeled ‘Life Insurance’, hinting that they might have been saved in case some form of leverage was needed in the future.

      4. Odd, other than something about the shape/position of her eyes and the narrowness of her nose, she looks like her dad.

        Wonder if anyone has worked up a “things that people mark as similarities” program yet.

    2. Whoa.

      I quite clearly remember hearing about the Berenstain Bears effect for the first time, and at that time, was certain that I had the same memory of it being “Berenstein”. Now, however, I have an equally clear memory of noting many times before I had heard of it how odd it was that it was “Berenstain”.

  16. Some time around 2nd and 3rd grade, I SWEAR they changed the spelling from Lincon to Lincoln. I remember quite vividly the point where it hit me. I was in the car with my Mother and we passed the sign for the Lincoln log cabin state park just south of Charleston Illinois (we lived in the area and the sign was familiar). I freaked out… Mom calmly explained that it had always been spelled Lincoln.

    Another one for me was meeting a girl on a plane. I boarded the plane (traveling alone) and found my seat by the window and she sat down next to me a few minutes later. We looked at each other and were both FLOORED to have randomly find someone we knew, boarding a plane nowhere near home. Then we spent the rest of the flight trying to figure out where we knew each other from. As far as we could tell, there was absolutely no point in our lives that we could possibly have EVER met. Yet, we both swore that we had known each other for years. When we got off the plane at our destination, she introduced me to her fiance (who was picking her up) and made him drive out of their way to deliver me to the Navy base were I was going for a tech school so that I didn’t have to find a cab. We talked about keeping in touch, but we realized her fiance REALLY wasn’t digging the situation so we left it at “hey, maybe we’ll meet on a plane again sometime”.

    Fevers: I’m one of those people who are prone to extreme fevers. My mother has often relayed stories of me as a kid “Cackling like a lunatic” lying across her lap with a fever so high she could barely touch me, trying everything she could think of to keep me from burning up (ice baths, wet rags, various meds, nothing seemed to work). I’ve had fevers measured so high that “the experts” would say it is impossible for someone to survive. Luckily, as an adult, when I know one is imminent Tylenol is my friend. As a kid, Tylenol wouldn’t even begin to touch it. I have some pretty freaky memories from fever hallucinations both as a kid and as an adult (when I didn’t predict a fever and take the Tylenol quickly enough). My mother collects Angels, and when he was alive, my step-dad collected wolves (Pictures, figures, statues, etc. with particularly intense eyes). One such fever hit me lying on the couch in their living room. *Shutter* I’ll just leave it there for your imagination to fill in… Now multiply that by 1000…

    1. Oh, I have one of those people. We’re currently Facebook friends, because we swear we knew each other, so we might as well make that formal.

          1. The most realistic part of The Matrix was the bit where it was explained that a perfect (or less imperfect) world didn’t work as simulation as it aroused suspicions that things were amiss.

            Hrmm… is Heaven full of skeptics looking for the curtain to look behind or such?

            1. Before the internet, most of us thought we were alone.

              Now we’re able to compare our experiences.

              The cracks in Reality are starting to show up…

      1. The longer post that I didn’t bother making because WordPress has been dumping my posts:

        I went to a WorldCon in SanJose a little over a dozen years ago. I ran into somebody in the hallway where we both did a double-take of “I know you!” Discussion proved fruitless as to the way we would know one another (I hadn’t been to Bay Area conventions, and there weren’t any in my hometown of Sacramento at the time, and I lived in Denver at that point anyway.) She was wearing a nice costume, so I took her picture.

        Fast forward to Denver’s WorldCon in 2008. (We didn’t actually live there anymore, but whatever.) I see her again. We *still* don’t know why we look familiar to one another. She was wearing another nice costume, so I took her picture again.

        By the time Reno rolled around in 2011, Facebook was the thing, so when we bumped into each other there, we decided we were destined to know one another. So now we do. About the only unexplored possibilities I can think of is that I ran into her at a Renaissance Faire when it was still at Black Point, and a trip to the Marin Headlands when I was in elementary school. Otherwise, it’s just retroactive knowledge.

  17. It’s somewhat of a strange one, but there’s a scene in the movie Home Alone that I could swear changed at some point. When I first saw the bit with Kevin and Old Man Marley in the church, I remember Kevin asking if Marley had come because he was feeling bad about himself and Marley responding, “No, I came to hear my granddaughter sing.” I was then confused when later in the scene, Marley revealed the “real” reason he was in church, “Because I came to hear my granddaughter sing.” I sat there thinking, “But wait, you already said that. It’s not a revelation.” Later, when the movie came out on video, I had to watch that scene several times before I believed everyone who said that Marley had just said “No,” the first time. Even now, there’s a part of me that insists I heard it right the first time, and someone realized how stupid it was so changed the editing before the VHS came out.

    1. I got to see a preview screening of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. They largely kept it intact, though the soundtrack wasn’t on there yet (making the end credits song really jarring), but I’m still sad that they cut Alan Rickman’s line: “Hang ’em slow. I don’t want to see any necks broken.”

      1. When I was in high school I REMEMBER reading Gordon Dickson’s Necromancer. There was another chapter in the frond describing the day Paul Formain died. I especially remember the comment about disposable paper clothes when they decided to go swimming. this was a momentary thing in 1960’s industrial design I strongly remember one character mistaking Formain for ‘Forte Main’, the strong hand policy of the Norman-French in subduing England after 1066. These and a few other episodes have not been in any edition I have found since. So where did I learn of an obscure Norman political policy complete with a mnemonic? Did I switch universes or did the book?

        1. Good question, as I remember the same thing about that book.

          I also remember buying the new, unexpurgated, Wasp by Eric Frank Russell, with One Third More Content! and being completely unable to find a word of difference between it and the previous (abridged?) edition I owned.

          Oh well, a good excuse to read a book about which Terry Pratchett stated he “can’t imagine a funnier terrorists’ handbook.”

    2. That’s easy enough to explain. There are often many edits of some movies, by nation, by region of nation, and whether it was the theatrical or VHS/DVD version. For stuff on TV/HBO/Showtime, they’re edited around commercials.

      One of my favorite movies is Mad Max. In the original theatrical version, [that I saw…] Max visits Goose in the burn ward, sees what’s left of him, and there’s a scene cut to outside the door. We hear a gunshot, and then Max come staggering out into the hall. I’ve never seen that scene again.

      Likewise, there are *many* cuts of Phantasm. In one, Jody and Reggie drive into the cemetary at night. They get out of the car and walk around the doors, which they leave open. For a moment they’re standing on each side of the headlights, facing the camera, and in the background you could see the doors shake while the engine went “burrup…burrup…burrp” with a big cam in it. I’ve never seen that part again, and I’ve seen a bunch of different versions of that movie…

  18. The short “I don’t want to get into many details” answer is: things like this happen to me very, very often.

    The longer answer, still without getting into a lot of details is, yes. I have memories that aren’t mine and I have seen things that the world cannot measure. Based on a variety of my own experiences, I don’t think it’s so much a matter of slipping between worlds, as there is far more of this world than most people realize or really want to think about. I know where most of the memories come from, even if I can’t assign a name to the person to whom the memories actually belong.

  19. The Pine Barrens of New Jersey are sparsely populated. They cover much of the southern part of the state, an area of the coastal plane with acidic sandy soil, never profitable for farming. If you have traveled to and from Philadelphia and the shore you have passed through them. They are not like the pines of the North Carolina Sandhills, which are long leaf pines, tall and majestic. While the stands of Carolina pines seem ageless, the Pines seem ancient.

    The Pine Barrens had once been more populated. There had been a bog iron industry, logging, and charcoal making and grist and paper mills. By the mid-1800s town began to be abandoned as these industries moved west. The area has become the home of numerous ghost and horror stories, including that of the Jersey Devil.

    Momma got it into her head that she and I would go to the shore one New Years Day. I drove, as no one in good senses would have let Momma drive. The drive out was uneventful. Once there we walked up and down the shoreline, not speaking much, staying until after nightfall.

    There are not very many people who walk a north Atlantic beach in winter who don’t live there. If you have never been to a beach ‘out of season’ you might consider a trip. There is something overwhelmingly majestic about the ocean in winter. It is so immense, so wild, so powerful and so seemingly permanent that for the moment it overwhelms both headlines and any personal problems you might have.

    After sunset I began the drive back. As we entered the Pines a light fog began to fall, and I continued to drive. There appeared to be no one else on the road. There was nothing on the radio and we drove on in silence. The wisps of fog wove like ribbons through the trees, tying everything together. The certain feeling that we had slipped out of time enveloped me. The odometer continue to log miles, the clocks ticked away the minutes, but the Pines held us. The road continued, but getting nowhere, on we went. I would not have been surprised if, on passing over a rise, the pavement ended and we rolled into a revolutionary encampment. Eventually something snapped and that feeling was gone. The Pines had released us. Signs began to appear as they should, and we passed though towns again.

    I don’t believe in ghosts, I have never met one. Yet I might be disinclined to argue with anyone otherwise sensible who told me they had had a ghostly encounter traveling through the Jersey Pine Barrens.

    1. Never been to an East Coast beach out of season – but did have one long Thanksgiving weekend on Santa Catalina Island. Get out away from the village of condos, and there is the same feeling. Wouldn’t have been surprised by the ghost of a First American shaman walking up and down the cliffside.

    2. Fog seems to be a common thing for the “world junction” idea, which I find interesting. I don’t mind fog – I rather like it. I do not like driving in fog as who knows what/who else (mundane) is stalled/wrecked or speeding behind? But a walk? Not an issue at all. Perhaps it’s terribly mundane but to me it’s just a cloud that isn’t up high and has some neat effects. Though for a magical/mystical feeling even if it isn’t warranted, give me a sky of stars – and no artificial light for significant distance.

      1. Over the years I have had many experiences with fog. As a lover of the Blue Ridge Parkway I have found myself suddenly driving through clouds (and above them as well — but that is something else). Driving in fog or through clouds can be a tense experience as you observe. Still, I recall one particular refreshing hike through a corridor of tall trees in a descending fog, which I do wish I could do again. So, generally I am with you regarding fog.

        The fog in the Jersey Pine Barrens that night was not like any other fog in my experience. It was not so wet or cloud like. It probably had something to do with the interaction between the atmospheric conditions and terrain, but it really did appear to be distinct ribbons.

        1. I once had the extreme pleasure of driving on a hedged road through boggy country, on a bright moonlit night, when there was a single layer of fog in the air. By a layer of fog I mean exactly that: A one inch layer of extremely thick fog hanging above the road just at the height of my car windscreen. As I drove along I had the weird sensation of at times not being able to see the road (not even the lights of the car shone up through the fog because its surface was bright with reflected light from the moon) but able to see where the road was by the upper parts of the hedgerows and then the car would dip under the layer and it became like traveling with a torch under a blanket, and then strangest of all was when it was mid-screen level and I could lift my head up and down and get both effects in rapid succession. I travelled like that for about 5 miles and it was quite an experience. It was like someone was dangling a blanket of cotton wool at exactly the right height to make it fun.

          1. When Robert went to his first medical school interview, on his return the fog was so bad, he had to land in Denver. The problem was he had a test early the next morning, and he was in Denver, without his car. (If he hadn’t had a test next morning, we’d have told him to go to the embassy suites we normally stay at, and stay there for a night, and then we’d pick him up in the morning.)
            So, Dan and I drove out to pick him up. The fog was so deep you couldn’t see past three feet ahead. On a mountain road. So we drove following the back lights of a car ahead of us. And we somehow got there. SOMEHOW.
            I know in several realities we died that night, on that road. You couldn’t see the SIDES of the road.

            1. Old saying in Appalachia, “for every fog in August, there will be a snowfall.” It’s been froggy foggy quite a bit this two-three months past. We may get a proper winter this time. As opposed to those snowless, crispy cold but clear winter days of yesteryear.

              I remember a foggy snow once, a February past. Snowflakes big as churchmice, coming thick and fast that night. As dawn crept up, down in the bottomy hills the fog didn’t creep but wallowed out across the road and the whole world disappeared for a while.

              I’ve driven these back roads a lot over the years. Time was, I could make it all the way home and not quite remember how I got there. Out on that foggy night with the tires whispering and gently crunching over the packed snow I can’t quite say that I *didn’t* take a detour through a farmer’s field, or cross the median that’s always a-blush with wildflowers in the spring.

              No brake lights, no oncoming headlights. Just a low spot in the land and an old pickup. Could’ve been under the ocean, if the ocean was soft, white, and cold. Had to check the speedometer a couple of times to make sure I was still rolling. Snowflakes appeared from nothing at all like magic, it was hard to tell sometimes if I was moving at all. If I’d gone and buried myself in a ditch on the side of the hill they’d never find me in my metal coffin ’till spring.

              Couldn’t rightly say why I turned the wheel when I did, or if it really was a black dog I might’ve, maybe, sorta saw. But I rolled to a stop at a gas station that could’ve been conjured from a djinn’s lamp, forty yards past a stalled car in the middle of the road, just barely illuminated by the edge of the lit Appco sign. We got those folks out of the road by the time the fog was turning a bit ragged, and the world came back.

              A deep fog, like a deep snow, seems to draw up all the light and sound and make every person seem wrapped in their own private world. Nice enough when it’s safe to enjoy, but the fog hides dangers, too. Glad you all made it out safely. *grin* Not solely because I like this blog and the books you write, mind, but it’s a concern, too.

                1. *chuckle* Now you’ve got me wondering where I swiped the phrasing from. Granted I was a bit half asleep when I wrote that, so who knows? Definitely not from the technical manuals I’ve been reading these past couple of days, or the health care stuff. *grin*

                  1. Some time ago when I was quietly working in my garden someone else’s muse addressed me. She had come to tell me that I should inform somebody to pick up their phone. With this encounter I got a vision of the world of muses. To this day I am sure this knowledge was not intended for me.

                    They are a rather singular group, they are rather selfish and perverse. I would not be surprised if someone told me that they are related to pixies and faeries.

                    At any rate, when a muse has a story they have decided must be told, and if their usual trained human outlets are being unresponsive, the just may dump it into the lap of an innocent.

            2. I am so glad that in this world you did not suffer a tragic accident and die. ‘Tis a very good thing that vehicle you were following found it way safely on that road.

                1. Pshaw, he was just following the vehicle in front of him. It was vehicles in front all the way to town.

            3. Dense fog on the way to work this morning, and someone took exception to me driving slow. Tailgated so close I couldn’t see the headlights. If a deer had stepped out . . .

              Whomever it was, he tore out around me in fog not much lighter than what we’d just driven through.

              Then it lifted some more, and I came up on a wreck. Law enforcement and ambulances were there. No, it wasn’t the same car, but it looked like they swerved to avoid something.

              Does anyone else use shooting glasses in fog? I have used some glasses that are essentially the same thing, but I’m not sure if it helps or not.

          2. I suspect there are a number of reasons for those hedgerows, one being the kind of fog you described.

      2. I usually like fog, too. It’s cool to literally be in the clouds.

        Sometimes it just… feels different.

        It’s not even consistent on how thick it is or the light level or sound or anything, although it can be a little like that “I’m driving in snow and it looks like I’m going into warp” feeling.

        If you haven’t run into it– I want an order of what you got!

    3. We can only know reality through our perceptions, so what alters our perceptions necessarily alters our reality.
      Right? 😉

      Fog is scary good at altering perception. Even places I’ve lived for decades seem mysterious and insubstantial when the fog rolls in.

  20. I don’t deny the possibility of the phenomenon – but if it does exist, it apparently has an affinity for certain people and/or places.

    Never happened to me – plenty of brain glitches, oh my, but all of them provably a bug in my wetware, not the world.

    Now, that is when awake. I have had many dreams where everything is completely plausible – and not in sync with my waking world. Opposed to the ones I wake up from because “dream self” suddenly realizes that “this is not possible.” Those take a while to reorient from, especially the ones where, say, a person is either dead or alive (and alive or dead in “real world”), or I ended up marrying that other woman (or not married at all).

    1. Ah the dreams of things that aren’t. Some are jarring on waking. Didn’t I realize Pa died years ago? And the dog many years earlier still? And there was the one dream where somehow I could deal with the waterwheel going across a wide gap like a large dam, I could deal with it going backwards, but when I found myself swimming toward it I awoke just after (in dream) muttering, “I’m not stupid enough to do this.” Not sure if it was the same dream or another, but I was walking across a wooden bridge and section was out… so I focused on the horizon or just above and walked over that, applying Cartoon Physics that as I long as I didn’t SEE I wasn’t standing something solid, it was as if I was. Fwiw, I have been accused of being from a cartoon (as well as being of my time).

      Am I a Looney Tune that slipped off the celluloid?

          1. Ah, Mr. Taurus. (Leaning back with my pipe in my old leather chair while you lay on the couch.)

            I believe that you may be suffering from a repressed memory of auditioning, and not getting the part when some of the unlikeliest creatures were being made into superstars. I don’t recall any oxen in those films, after all…

            (I mean, really! Mice? Crickets? Inchworms?)

            1. An interesting idea. The only non-draft I recall were: Ferdinand, the bull in Bugs Bunny’s bullfight cartoon, and the “Cowboys of Moo Mesa” (which seemed a strange premise all around). I think it’s somewhat a matter of size. How many horses have there been beyond simple transport? Sure, Mr. Ed and Quick Draw McGraw, but they seem to be about it.

    2. Oh, yeah, the dream thing. I could fill a whole thread with those; I write some of the stranger ones down.

      In one very short one I was in a break room eating lunch. The Muzak system was playing Elvis Presley’s cover of Three Dog Night’s “Never Been to Spain” from his 1981 Comeback Tour. I mentioned it to a friend later, who said that Elvis really *had* done a cover of that song, and sent me an MP3. Which wasn’t nearly as good as the one in my dream…

      1. I could swear I’ve heard Nena (of 99 luft balloons fame) doing a cover to “Better off Dead.” I liked it; she did it in a really slow and soulful style, that I much preferred to the faster style by the next band I heard doing it.

        Except the next band turned out to be the original Bad Religion), and even though I could swear I listened to it on my SysAdmin friend’s computer (and he’s religious about backups), I never could find it again.

      2. Dreams are where I’ve come closest to what’s being described in this thread. At one point, years ago, I had a series of dreams that all started the same way: I’d enter a storefront on a dark, rainy night. It was the entrance to an urban mall, and the further in I went, the fewer stores there were. When I reached the other side of the building, I’d come out in daylight in a less built-up area. Still a city, but smaller, with no hi-rise buildings.

        The intriguing part was that I could tell that time passed from one dream to the next. Different plants in bloom, a burn scar that appeared in the grass by a river. Things like that.

        I’ve often wished to have more of those dreams, just to see what’s happened since.

  21. Interestingly, just a couple of days ago, I read an old Murray Leinster story, The Other now, where a guy had been in a car accident and his wife was killed. It was the kind of accident where a minor difference would have meant he was the one killed, and not her.

    Without outlining the whole story, it turned out that in an alternate universe, he HAD been the one to die, and his wife lived. It was not stated, but implied, that their longing for each other brought their realities into conjunction and he passed over into her universe.

    1. I vaguely remember a short story (probably 1930s or 1940s vintage) in which someone had invented a device that showed you what might have happened. Part of the plot involved another character seeing with the device that he would have met the love of his life on a flight he’d missed (I think – there may have been something about an accident), and going to look for her. Unfortunately, she had found someone else in the meantime.

    2. I recall a story (but not the author or title) that presupposed that we each inhabit that universe where the improbabilities stack up however they need to to keep us around – so when you walk in front of that bus, your consciousness snaps over to the next universe where you hesitated at the curb, and when the nuclear war hits your consciousness pops over to one where odd circumstances let it miss you, and so on ad infinitum. It had a bit with the MC finding a box of old paperbacks after one such jump that he subsequently found had never been published.

      The ending was full on grey goo, with far future aliens managing to recreate only the MC from long past DNA traces, so the MC sits alone on a dead Earth, the only human in existence, so the aliens can study him, where he realizes that everyone ends up thus, totally alone in their own improbability-of-survival universe.

      I truly hated that story.

      1. One of Brandon Sanderson’s books (not saying which one because the reveal is a major surprise) has a character who does the opposite. Each time the character dies, a replacement version of the character who is identical except for the “dead” thing is brought over from an alternate universe. We don’t ever see the revival, so it’s not clear if the dead body fully heals and revives, or if a new body is brought to the story’s reality.

      2. …he realizes that everyone ends up thus, totally alone in their own improbability-of-survival universe.

        And has all the time in the world, so works out how form universal junctions and bind them together, with other lone survivors doing the same thing, and eventually these Odd folks have company of their kind – and entire Universes to explore.

  22. When I was about 12 I had a strange thing happen to me. I was at a park near my neighborhood and was headed toward the bathrooms (about 200ft. away was a jogger) when all of a sudden my ears popped and I heard a breeze (but didn’t feel one) and in the distance children (that were most definitely NOT there before) were laughing. Then I heard the jogger breathing heavily and turned to see right next to me.
    It kinda felt like I was in a different world then back in mine in the span of 10 seconds…

  23. I had a precog dream yesterday AM, but it was just of feeding the cat, so no worries (although I did triple check both the cat and her dish to make certain I’d dreamed it and she wasn’t getting a second breakfast.)

    I’ve felt the time-slip in a few places, the oddest being the cloister of the monastery church in Milstadt, Austria. For starters, the carvings on the columns are . . . seriously Odd. So is the story of the place. And I was alone during the slip, even though the tour members were within a yard of me. Also had the slip sense looking at the barrow graves beside the hiking trail and Roman Road near Villach just after the evening rain stopped.

    1. As far as the precog dream, I suspect that’s one of the cat’s long term plans. Start training you that the “first” time you think you’ve fed the cat was just a dream, so eventually you won’t check so closely and she will get a second breakfast.

    2. I won’t make claims of real precognition, but this one does stick out for me. In early 1986 I had a few dreams about space, and a truck, and eventually problems with a space truck and something with Jupiter.

      And in later January of 1986 the shuttle (supposed to be a reliable, even ‘boring’ truck to space) blew up – and changed all the plans for the Galileo probe to Jupiter.

      It’s easy to see it after the fact, but before? It was just strange (but no stranger than other) dreams.

      1. The only time I ever experienced what appeared to be a precog dream, it was for something so inane, I just can’t even:

        I dreamed that a boy at the summer camp where my father worked (and where he took me with him during the summers) made the claim that he owned a Big Cat (can’t remember if he claimed tiger or lion), and that when asked what they fed this Big Cat, he responded, “Three boxes of cat food a day.” It was more than a year later that this exact sequence happened.

        I ask you: WHY would someone dream something so uninteresting and blatantly false? WHY??!?

        1. Most of them are like that.

          For me, those served the purpose of getting me to pay attention to that sort of dream–they have a certain feel, and of course I’m me in them, if that makes sense, because usually I’m not myself in my dreams–so when one that matters comes along I can pay it mind and change something if possible when the time comes.

          Probably as clear as mud, but then talking about futures that won’t necessarily happen generally is!

          1. Had one (count it, one) dream of not-quite-self. Or I was me, but I was acting a part – but it felt like I hadn’t worked at it, it just was. That is, I knew my lines, though had never studied them, and it was not ad-libbing and I was surprised I knew them.

            1. Ditto, sort of.

              My dreams are usually…sort of like reading a book, really, usually in a sort of first-person omniscient. If I see something, then I know what it is. (Even if “what it is” is “big scary thing you don’t understand other than that it’s scary.”)

              I’m always “me” in the sense that it doesn’t feel like anything doesn’t fit, but unless something would draw attention to the differences, I wouldn’t know if the dream-me was ten foot tall and purple; I can’t see my nose or glasses in dreams.

              It’s like one of those “Well, of course you can fly” things in a dream. You run into it, it makes perfect sense, unless it’s one of those dreams where you know it’s a dream and you can’t wake up and you just sit there “watching” it all happen.

              1. So you don’t dream being male, or significantly older, or younger, or non-human, or you do?
                For me, it is kind of like reading a book, but deeper inside the character than a book can provide. I suppose it’s what a really good virtual reality game should be able to do, except that the person I am in the dream does things that make sense to his character but don’t to awake real-me.

                1. I do, but they are so “me” that I never know they are male or whatever until it’s important– and then it’s an “of course I am _____” thing.

                  I am “me, ” but the me is different, as opposed to when I am “definitely not me” (you are there and it is not you that you’re inside) or “not there.” (Camera perspective.)

      2. I’ve had a few precognitive dreams. They’re usually place dreams, though, so I’m not dreaming events but places I haven’t been yet. Strongest one of those was a creek at John Muir’s house with an overgrown bricked curve on it.

  24. Maybe it’s not our memories that are wrong, maybe it’s everyone else. My class had to learn our address in First Grade. My house number was 422. I mentioned it years later – everyone in the family agreed I was nuts. “It’s 413, always has been; 422 would be on the even-numbered side of the street.” Two years ago, my mother found an ancient photograph of me sitting on the front steps with the house number prominently displayed behind me: 422. They’ve all forgotten? Or I crossed over and never noticed? Come to think of it, that would explain why my Hot Wheels car went missing.

  25. Imagine she stepped out of her world accidentally, and saw her daughter who had died in the epidemic three years ago, standing there, staring at candles on her cousin’s grave. And she thought she could change it all. Somehow.

    I think I would rather imagine it the other direction — in this world you died (more or less) at birth, but your parent’s drew you here from the other one, and that was your mother taking the chance to retrieve you.

    It would certainly explain a lot. Your being odd. for instance. Your inability to properly register and record the faces of this world. Your having been born American in the wrong place.

    Ayup, you;m be a changeling, m’dear.

    And I’m about five chapters in on the audiobook of Land of Unreason, so I knows about changelings, I does.

  26. Well, there was that radio station I had on my car’s pre-sets. One day, with no advance warning, it was Spanish language. Really, there’d been no talk of a change coming or anything. And, it was in my pre-sets. My spanish isn’t good enough for a pre-set. I was pretty sure I’d slipped over.

    1. Heh – local AM news station did that. It’s still on my presets, and still jarring to hit what was once the best local traffic and get “Corazonnnn…”

    2. Skip. I remember one day when I picked up Radio Havana on FM. Now, we have gotten VHF skips before, so that wasn’t odd, but this time it was “wall-to-wall and treetop tall.” Turned out that Cuba was in a tiff with the US, maybe over VOH, and had decided to bombard us with programming that morning.

      1. WSUP FM (W for region, but it also worked out as Wisconsin State University [at] Platteville before it was UW-Platteville) is a little 100 Watt station that signs off at midnight. One night the fellow in charge of things was driving back from someplace and was monitoring the station and heard the midnight signoff… and it didn’t. In this case the explanation was simple: a radio ‘pirate’ had struck upon the idea of using the WSUP frequency after signoff and had (finally?) been noticed by someone that would be upset by that.

            1. The radio station at Carnegie Mellon had the call sign WRCT (a legacy of an earlier time when the University was Carnegie Tech). This was usually spoken as “WRCT — We’re Radio Carnegie Tech.”

              As with most low-power college stations, WRCT had one of the sucky frequencies on the far-left-end of the radio tuning control.

              One late-night DJ who was a bit of a joker put these two things together, and gave the station ID as “You’re listening to WRCT… The Worst. At the BOTTOM of your dial!” 😀 😀

  27. I have a clear memory of the moment I first heard Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. It happened before I joined the Marines (April of 89). I remember the video and watching it at my parents house. The thing is, by the history it came out after I was in the Marines. During my time in I hardly ever watched any tv. And I never really had access to MTV at the time. This doesn’t make sense at all to me in the historical aspect of it.

    1. I was utterly certain I’d made a point of watching the first episode/airing of Animaniacs – and rejected it as it was disappointing. I started watching again after seeing Video Revue on a public screen. Going back, it seems that what I was so sure was #001 was #007 which.. was disappointing.

  28. When I had a 104 fever (at 10, they think it might have been rubella) I was attacked by tornadoes made of black sand and mist while in my grandmothers bed. I still hate strongly spiced gin because that’s what grandma used to lower my fever. She made a giant ice/salt/gin and water bath to keep me cold. When my fever broke, I swear that a cavalry of faires chased the black tornadoes away. They had beautiful detailed armor and knightly accessories made from insect parts and plant pieces. If I had the skill, I could sketch them exactly to this day. They weren’t sweet faires but bad ass.

  29. A nice post for All Saint’s Day, and for tomorrow’s almost ignored All Soul’s Day. Other than the candles, it used to be common, at all times of the year, to go through cemeteries like, remembering those who had died. I used to follow my grandmother, and others, and listen to those stories. If I only could remember them now.

    The concept of a thinning between worlds used to bother me at Halloween. Perhaps it’s more of a perception of the imperceptible. There are those who had . . . something, but did not wish to call attention to it, and that something seemed to follow genetic lines and may involve brain structure (one with a head injury practically ceased to experience them). But there was also a danger, not so much an HG Lovecraft “There are things man is not meant to know,” as ending up in things – and maybe attracting the attention of things – that does not have your best interest at heart.

    That’s going to roll the eyes of the skeptical, and invoke the word “superstition.” Maybe that’s for the best.

    Maybe most of us have stories. Some fall into the category of sleep paralysis, and I’ve wondered at times whether dreams are more or less constant and whether there’s sometimes a breakdown between wakefulness and sleep. Sort of like the moment drifting off or waking up where you are dreaming but aware you’re also partially awake. Such as a few weeks ago when I dreamed I’d forgotten a password for an online thing we were using at work, and woke struggling to recall it, then realizing it was a dream and we didn’t even have such a system.

    What do we make, though, of when, while we were all sick from a severe stomach virus, I thought I saw a diffuse white figure looking in from the hall, and discovered the next morning we had all seen it. And we’ve never seen it again.

    I’ve wondered at times if whether there is a multiverse and whether the mind can sometimes pick it up, but that would require a way of interacting with quantum effects, and for particles to wink out of existence there and into existence here, or maybe our minds functioning like quantum computers to explore simultaneous possibilities. Both would explain precognition. But can we pick up the universe next door, or, with a nod to Jung, do we share consciousness with counterparts in the multiverse? That could explain some phenomena.

    1. “But there was also a danger, not so much an HG Lovecraft “There are things man is not meant to know,” as ending up in things – and maybe attracting the attention of things – that does not have your best interest at heart.”

      My in-laws say “If a man is invited to sup with the gods, he should take a long-handled spoon.” (That’s an English translation, probably of a French translation, of a local proverb–don’t know if it’s local to their tribes or regional or what.) I expect there are related proverbs in most cultures. I got the impression when I asked what it meant that the powers referred to by ‘gods’ are not necessary malicious, just not aware of human fragility.

    2. Back when “spiritualism” was a big fad, my grandmother took to doing fortune telling– especially tea leaf reading– as a party game. Not even trying to be persuasive, just looking at the patterns and doing a “what if” on them.

      She was really, really accurate. All her sisters would ever tell anyone was that it was scary, and she wouldn’t say anything about it at all.

      Long story short, she didn’t even have any books of fairy tales in the house. No Disney movies. NOTHING with even a faint association to magic, the Others, not even Wise Animal folktale things. (She eventually, for us grandkids, allowed some Richard Scary books and I think an Aesop’s or similar.)

      1. I did playing cards fortunes the same way, and going with the feeling. When I predicted a friend’s rushed wedding (and maternity) back when she didn’t have a boyfriend, and her father’s death the same year, I retired the cards. My only contact with woo woo is writing.

        1. I used to do divination while raising money for charity. (A group of us put on a haunted house every year. There needs to be a way to stagger the groups going through. The show of telling someone’s future is perfect for the purpose.)

          What I found, is that the vast majority of people will tell you what they’re scared to hear. All you have to do is listen, and repeat it back to them.
          Failing that, go for the universal fears. Death, mutilation, disease, being absolutely alone, the dark, the unknown… Just gently brush past them them, watch to see which ones bite. Then sell them.

          Also, people who’ve witnessed it (or participated in it) don’t want to believe it’s just a show.
          They get a desperation that’s far scarier than anything we did with smoke mirrors, and mechanical contraptions. (I’d like to say the reason why I didn’t feed into their fantasy in exchange for freely offered money was strictly ethical. But if I said that, I’d be lying.)

          1. It’s certainly show at times. At others . . .well, it was a fad in the 1970s, and I’m ashamed to say I learned some, though most of it was the ESP and psi experiments that were all the rage. The most unnerving was when we misread a mind-reading magic trick that was supposed to be “telepathy” in the 4th Grade, did it straight, and it worked. We didn’t realize we were supposed to be using someone in on it who telegraphed info by signals through slightly moving his jaw.

            Anyway, I knew some palmistry, and the last impromptu reading I did was way too accurate for comfort. You might all laugh at this, one once doing an I Ching sort of thing, the objects formed a perfect pentagram. That’s when you back away and say “Forget this.”

            Besides, Christians and Jews are forbidden to use divination, so I didn’t need to be messing with it in the first place.

            1. FWIW, we’re forbidden to seriously try it– magic “tricks” are one thing, party games are one thing, “hey you powers gimme info I can’t get by following the rules” is another. (How wise it is to play a game that involves talking to ’em is another question. 😀 ) I did an article on what the heck kinda magic they were talking about at one point if anybody’s interested, although I’m not sure what the editor “fixed” for me….

              From your reaction, it’s really really obvious that you were in the correct, ahem, spirit. IE, “no way in aych– ee– double- hockeystick!”

              1. I have friends who do tarot readings not as divination but as a sort of psychotherapy reading—use what you know about the person to bring things they need to talk about to light. One of them does it using a Barbie tarot deck. Yes, there is a Barbie tarot deck.

  30. I ascribe all of my ambiguous experiences to brain misfires and remembering only the details that would support a pattern, because I do not want a psychic ability to discover truths I have no way of knowing. Plus it seems to fit the data better.

    In Portugal we were not quite as crazy as in Mexico about the whole day of the dead thing. There isn’t much about skeletons and that whole “death is cool” thing. (Which always creeps me out a bit.)

    Some of the Mexican stuff seems to involve Mexica/Aztec practices. Blah, blah, blah, enemy to the south.

    1. Also, I dream of arguing with strangers over various topics. I prefer to think that this is wholly in my head.

    2. Some of the Mexican stuff seems to involve Mexica/Aztec practices.

      The whole switching-Death-into-a-woman-called-saint-Death thing, combined with the practices the drug gangs get involved in for her, combined with Our Lady of Guadalupe’s symbolism being designed to identify her correctly in their existing mythology (very important non-god lady, to put it short) and what I’ve heard here and elsewhere of the Virgin being hijacked for, ahem, “traditional” practices….


      1. Oh yes indeed. There’s an incredible difference between La Doña Sebastiana (death personified in New Mexican folktales) and La Santa Muerte.

  31. Samain was primarily a legal holiday. Everybody had to assemble and do court cases, so the borders were open. So of course the hills were open, too.

    So now you law ficcers should be happy.

  32. There isn’t much about skeletons and that whole “death is cool” thing

    This one sentence struck me int he whole context of slipping between. While, having accrued enough goth points BITD I still consider myself part of the community despite lack of black clothing and make-up most days I can’t say I haven’t indulged a bit of “death is cool” I get why it is creepy.

    Still, cool’s cousin okay should be something we associate with death. Most religions prepare us for not just the death of ourselves but others. George Harrison famously had prepared what he would do when his death was imminent and actually started those actions when he and his wife were assaulted and he was seriously wounded. She overcame their attacker after George was seriously injured allowing both to survive.

    This is where the slipping between somehow resonated. We shouldn’t worship death (although I’d argue most of the left does unconsciously and some consciously with the latter steadily increasing) but we also are too fearful of her. It seems the wisest of us slip between the two faces of death, the alluring seductress and the hideous hag, to find…what?

    Perhaps we should see death as triune in the same manner as her cousins the fates. I have seen the maiden and the crone above. What face of death is that matron?

    My first guess is she the elegant hostess welcoming you to a respite after a long journey. Just as a good wife can help a young boy transition to a young man (and with the implied motherhood of the matron that other rite of adulthood too many of us skip today: parenting) death, in the guise of the hostess can guide us to the end we all meet.

    Perhaps today is the day of the year we should set aside to slip between her two most common guises to treat with her at her best.

    1. Yeah, like the song* says …

      Although I appreciate Gaiman’s version of Dream’s sister …

      *Lotta different takes on this, from Albert King’s blues to Glenn Yarbrough & The Limeliters’ folkish one, but I think Chesney’s Buffet imitation suits here. First expressed, i believe, in Saint Augustine’s prayer: “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.”

  33. I remember that while I was in Kennewick, WA, I was in a car having a conversation with someone about ancient remains discovered in the area, and how the Native American tribes automatically got jurisdiction over any Native American remains. And I remember some talk about how a set of ancient remains had recently been discovered in the area a few months earlier, and how one or more of the local tribes were trying to take possession and rebury those remains despite the fact that the remains were obviously not Native American.

    That sounds exactly like the Kennewick Man. The only problem is that the Kennewick Man wasn’t discovered until at least a couple of years later.

  34. When I was 5, I got really sick with no symptoms except a moderately high fever and sleeping for a week. I remember watching myself sleep on the bed, surrounded by my mother’s maroon comforter, and looking at the doctor’s office while my dad held me covered in my favorite blanket. I woke up long enough to ask for a grilled cheese sandwich but fell back asleep before my mom finished it. I watched her walk in and try and give it to me then sigh and go back to the kitchen.

    When I was at the height of my thyroid issues, I would sleep for 20+ hours a day. At the time, we were living with my husband’s grandparents in their basement and they always told stories about the thing on the stairs. She’d push people if you came down with the lights off but the stairs were steep and narrow so who knew, right? There were days when I would be sleeping and would just wander the basement, watching what everybody else was doing but I couldn’t go to the stairs. They were dark and I knew if I went to them, I wouldn’t be able to come back.

    I have memories of places I’ve never been where all the people are wearing the wrong clothes.

    I also have vivid work dreams about things I’m going to do the next day and about half the time I come in to find them completed, ostensibly by me.

    I figure there’s a shadow me who’s helpful and curious but can only come out when I sleep rather than slipping between realities.

  35. When I’m near the sections of the Berlin Wall that are at the USAF museum, I feel…. something. I don’t know what. It is a strange sensation I’ve felt in a very few places, or in the presence of a very few similarly-tainted artifacts. A chill sometimes runs down my spine, and I get some really creepy feelings – almost as if something ethereal is involved.

    1. The “topography of Terror” display in Berlin in and around the remnants of what had been a Gestapo “questioning” center. The imprint is . . . strong, especially if you have enough German to read all the signs and boards, and not just the English bits.

    2. That whole Berlin/Cold War section is designedcto be uncomfy and make people move along into the next hangar. The Wall sections used to be displayed in a friendlier place, with more of the graffiti obvious.

      Which isn’t to say it’s not spooky. Never liked the seat from the Lady Be Good.

      1. I first got the feeling when it was in its old position, 18 years ago. I certainly agree that the current placement is spookier. Nothing else there has ever given me a creepy or disturbing feeling, which maybe should be disturbing, given some of what they have in the collection.

  36. I had a story idea loosely based on this. A world where one gender or the other has been wiped out, but due to the Mandela effect, (or something similar), members of the now deceased gender still show up occasionally. Government and private organizations would then find it incumbent upon them to figure out the mathematics of where the dimensions rub together.
    Or possibly another situation that would require more people; i.e. wiped out by plague, zombie apocalypse, genetic degradation, etc.

  37. My dad’s fraternity house at Miami (of Ohio) was haunted. It was once a stop on the Underground Railroad and had secret passages et al, but apparently the ghost stuff was also real. Got knocked down a while back and the new frat house is bland.

  38. Sometimes, I have the feeling that someone else is in the house even though I know I’m alone. It’s an uncomfortable feeling but luckily the dog chases away whatever it is. Dogs are almost anti otherworldly.

  39. I was repeatedly hunted through ravaged streets under a purple sky, before I ever discovered science fiction. Then I’d wake up, duh. I guess I was 7 or 8…

      1. There was a movie, too!

        Leinster gets very little respect; he wrote a lot of pulp fiction, precisely targeted for his markets. But he also did a bunch of screenplays and more serious work, which seems to be mostly forgotten.

        1. Ugh. I had forgotten that there was a movie, The Terrornauts. When I looked it up again, I see from the Wikipedia description that it’s on par with how horribly different the Starship Troopers movie is from the book.

        2. Most writers of Leinster’s vintage get no respect. If people read them they might realize how mediocre our presently exalted writers are.

  40. When I was seven or so, I lived on a farm with my grandparents. 40 acre plots. I walked over to the neighbor’s and got bitten by their dog; the owner apologized profusely. When I came home crying – with a bite on my arm – my grandparents were most surprised because no one lived there and there was no dog. Haven’t thought of that in decades.

  41. A teensy bit (well, maybe not so teensy) of speculation mixed with multiverse theory…

    There’s a branch of multiverse theory that amounts to every time something could go more than one way, it goes every possible way, and the current branch of the universe splits into one new branch for each possible way.

    Since there’s a fair chunk of that happening at the atomic level, there’s got to be a gajillion and some parallel universes that differ only by the position of a few electrons. Or even one electron.

    Mix into that the way form follows function and parallel evolution happens, and you’re going to have parallel universes getting into almost the exact same state after some… interesting diversions.

    So we’re kind of not in a tree trunk so much as a really complicated collection of gajillions of single-threads woven together, and each thread is its own parallel universe but so close there’s next to no difference so it’s very easy to slip between them – and if the end result doesn’t diverge much, it kind of washes out.

    Possibly what holds it all together is the strength of so many people believing this is how things are and if enough people think reality is different reality might change for those people to *be* different (which, frankly, is a bloody terrifying take on the ‘constructed’ or ‘shared’ reality theory. Imagine what the world would look like if history according to radical feminists became reality… oh wait. We don’t need to do that because we have it here. It’s called radical Islam).

    And maybe I should not go exploring these ideas because they do not lead to Good Places.

    1. One series I read with a multi-verse theme had the idea that while any decision could split a time-line eventually the “multi-verse” would get “too big” and collapse into the “most likely time-lines”.

      Very interesting except when your people are from an extremely unlikely time-line and your people “would never had existed” after the next collapse.

      That was Richard C. Meredith’s Timeliner Trilogy.

      The books were “At the Narrow Passage”, “No Brother, No Friend” and “Vestiges of Time”.

      Somewhat grim series.

      1. I liked the series a lot, though I will admit it got a little draggy here and there. It would probably have worked better as two volumes instead of three, or one modern potboiler-sized novel.

    2. There was a short story I read a few decades ago that went the opposite way. The viewpoint character was a young Briton around the 1300s, I think, who ran across a strange individual near Stonehenge, with whom he traveled to the ruins. This individual was armed with a revolver and said he was a time traveler, but the further back he traveled, the more discrepancies he noted from the history of his time. He postulated that the many alternate worlds in the past were in the process of converging.

      He made a recommendation that, for purposes of making a living, the viewpoint character go to France and learn their style of cooking, then come back. As for himself, he was going to travel further back and learn who build Stonehenge. The next morning, the strange individual was gone, and looking beneath one of the stones, the young man found the revolver and realized that the time traveler had had to force the building of Stonehenge himself.

  42. When our kids were small, we lived for several years in the house my grandparents built, and lived in most of their lives.
    Our kids visited with them quite a lot. It’s disturbing when children’s imaginary friends have the names and personalities of people you know (but that they didn’t).

    1. Well, my third youngest great-nephew used to play with a girl who “looked like Ariel (from The Little Mermaid), which my niece later believed was actually my mother’s spirit.

      1. Oh, and at one point, the girl apparently told him that his great-granddad (my father) was going to be rejoining her “real soon”. After hearing that, my sister went to her grave and told her she couldn’t have him yet. I don’t remember, but she maintains that his health improved after that.

  43. When I’m anything more than just slightly tired, I tend to start dreaming before I’m completely asleep. (And with taking care of the Experimental Model, Mark I, I’m getting more experience with this.) Late-night conversations with my wife can get pretty… odd; she’s learned that when I start responding to things she hasn’t said, it’s time to let me sleep.

    Watching TV shows or YouTube has gotten weird lately too: I tend to realize that the scene I just watched didn’t belong there—I better rewind and rewatch that last bit without my brain rewriting it. (Or take a nap.)

  44. Especially when I was younger, I had a steel trap memory from Way back (earliest memory was likely before I was 1 year old, after describing it Dad figures 11 months, then A picture was found of the event and Mom is Pregnant with my Sis, 1 year and 13 days younger than I), and lots others from 2,3, and 4.
    But there are things that make me wonder.
    I’ve been told I did things that were impossible (drunken weirdness done at a wedding reception, while I was at home, having left early and getting a ride from my Aunt and Uncle) or things I have no idea if my leg is being pulled or what, because with several others filling in details, I still feel I Was Not There. Didn’t Happen! And the event (me braking my uncles rake) supposedly happened just a few weeks before.
    Then there are the other odd things . . . you know . . . Family.
    Like a few birthdays back.
    A few days before, I was talking to the folks (an every sunday deal) and letting them know that, yes, I was taking that week off, and of course I’d run up to Memphis to see them. Mom mentioned she’d make a cake for me like when I was a kid . . . did I want a Peanut Butter cake? Yes, I told her that I would love to have some, as it had been years since I had any (like when I was 14 or 15, after then it was usually just a white cake as I tended to just eat the ice cream, and everyone else liked white better). She was heading to the store right after the call and getting the fixin’s. When I got there and we ate supper, Mom says to make sure I save room for my favorite Birthday treat . . . Peach Cobbler.
    I hate peach cobbler.
    Mom never made it when I lived at home, so I didn’t even try any until after I moved out, and I think she only made it for Thanksgiving once while I was there, and I certainly didn’t have any.
    She didn’t even have a recipe until after they moved to Memphis
    What universe did she port that in from?

    1. eh. Same one my mom thought I liked octopus and bacalhau from. OH And bacalhau in rice. Which I used to call “Why are you ruining rice with that?” And I hated rice. (Mom makes almost rice soup, it’s so wet. Turns out I like rice all right. Chinese, fried or dry.)
      Oh, I too had a really early and steel trap memory lasting until about 13 years ago and passing out and hitting my head.

      1. I love rice, but only if I cook it myself, or at some Chinese restaurants.

        Around here people boil rice until it turns into paste. I hate it.

        I’ve noticed a lot of regional/ethnic foods are either minced into tiny bits or cooked until they’re nearly jelly. I suspect a lot of this dates back to a time when people generally had really bad teeth.

        Some food probably tastes okay, but the texture is so nasty there’s little chance I would ever eat any.

          1. The Japanese do that every year for a New Year’s treat called mochi, but they do it by pounding the cooked rice into a gummy paste. Every year, several people (mostly elderly or very young) die because it sticks in their throat.

        1. They’ve actually studied the “boil it to a paste” pattern.

          It lines up pretty well with using unsterilized waste (often including human) in the fields, which makes sense– if you’ve got veggies growing in a bio-hazard that’s fixed by boiling them to death, you’re going to boil them to death rather than go to your death.

    2. I went through a period where I was being told I had been places and done things that I hadn’t, and I had evidence to back myself up even when there were multiple witnesses..

      However, I really hate having missed the strip poker game that EVERY SINGLE OTHER PERSON THERE agreed I had been to.

      1. I had this issue, and found out there was a realtor, named Sarah Hoyt, who’d moved from NC with her husband Dan and her little son Robert and who was very anti-taxation and made speeches about it.
        We look enough alike that our pharmacist confused us. I never me her. She was a member of the league of black voters (!)
        She moved to Denver ten years ago, and I think since then out of state.

        1. It’s one thing when it happens with random strangers or casual acquaintances, but when it happens with close friends (the strip poker game), that’s another story entirely.

  45. I’ve seen enough shit I couldn’t explain in my life that I now know there is some shit I can’t explain.

    I was working a supermarket checkout in high school and went for my break at the luncheonette next door. As I was coming out to back to the King Kullen it was as if someone grabbed me by the neck and threw me back into the luncheonette. I came up swinging, looking for someone to hit, and the customers stared back at me until with a crash some woman in the parking lot gunned it through the front window of the supermarket, crumpled my fiberglass and aluminum checkout stand like a beer can, and punted my cash register halfway down the aisle.

    Against that I’m uncomfortable about speculating too intensely about alternate worlds. What if it turns out this was my best option?

    1. This took place in June, 1976. Our band was doing a bicentennial performance. We had already marched in the parade and it was hot and humid.

      In the middle of the show, things started going black. I knew I was too hot and was about to black out. I stepped out of the line, told the drum major what was happening, and was sat down and given water and wet cloths to cool down.

      In the middle of all this, someone put their hand on my back and started pushing me down. I resisted, but the pushing only got harder. I went down until my head was between my knees. At that point the blackness faded and I could see clearly again, and figured someone did that because I said I was blacking out and it was to help increase blood flow to my brain.

      After a quick change out of my band uniform and I don’t know how many cups of fluid, I asked who pushed me down. That got me baffled stares. No one had pushed me. They saw me put my head between my legs and one of them remembered you could do that for fainting, and thought I knew what I was doing.

      I distinctly felt the hand, gentle, but firm and strong enough that I couldn’t resist with what little strength I still had.

      I offer no explanation. It just was.

  46. I had a weird such slip just last month. I could have sworn that the Democrats, almost to a woman, believed that Comey was an honest, straight shooting public servant and we should all trust his judgement. It all seemed very real.

    I am suprised no one mentioned mirrors yet.

    Story idea: As we start to use wearable devices to do constant recordings that augment our memory we start to have problems with our biological and electronic memories being in conflict over little things. It turns out these slips are real and our minds either paper ov er them (I guess I forgot where my glasses were) or believe various excuses (darn varies). But as large numbers of people start to constantly record the minutia of their lives…

    1. Jeff Duntemann’s “jiminys” would do that… some people are talking about “life recorders” now that are basically dumbed-down versions.

  47. Three time slows stand out in memory,

    The first, I’d gotten lost in the Arkansas back country due to a mis-interpreted southern accent. I ended up blowing a stop sign due to wet slippery clay mud and stopping halfway through the intersection. Looked out my driver’s side window to see a pair of headlights approaching at high speed. I popped the clutch and, an apparent six or seven minutes later had moved forward about a foot-an-a-half when my Dodge Colt was T-boned and totaled by an ancient Olds 88. The 1-1/2 turns of the Colt as it was propelled into the opposite ditch also seemed to take quite some time. The rear driver’s side passenger door was driven nearly halfway through the passenger compartment, but the only actual injury was the Olds driver’s wife slightly skinned her knee on the tuning knob of their radio.

    The second, I was driving an unfamiliar back road in Oregon and ended up taking an unseen curve too quickly. Ended up sliding backwards down the ditch. The sight of bushes and such passing my driver’s side window from back to front in slow motion was surreal at best.

    The third, I was preparing to moor a friends sailboat as we were approaching the dock. As I went to step off to snub up the bow line my feet slipped out from under me. As I was going down, I had enough time to think, ‘Oh, shit, this is really going to hurt. Crap crap crap crap cra . . .” before landing head-first on the concrete decking and knocking myself loopy.

    And Judge Posner is still a moron: commentary/2016/10/ illinois-absolutely-tortured-the-law-to-restrict-your-second-amendment-rights

    1. I’ve hit a car on a motorcycle and flipped a race car, as well as other wrecks in the race car, as well as a fun spin across three lanes of heavy traffic when my wide tired ’76 Colt (I’ve had 2 ’76 hardtops and a ’73 GT) hydroplaned.
      I’ve also had a Dodge Pickup try to park half way through the front of my ’73 GT.
      I recall the most minute details like the front tire of my bike hitting the small space between the chrome trim on the fender opening and the back door of the Caprice I hit as I was pulling for all I was worth to try and clear the bars and the side of the car, or the small bits of grass floating through the racecar and the sparks under the dash I never figured out the source of, when I rolled, or what have you, but oddly time never slowed for me. A few years back I almost hit a truck on my bigger bike, and that too wasn’t slow time for me, either. It’s like my adrenalin rush doesn’t fool the time keeping section of my brain, even when it starts processing things a bit faster.

  48. The worst I’ve had is thinking I see something out of the corner of my eye when there’s nothing there.

    And trying to swat moths that infested a house and often ending up with neither smushed moth nor any sign of it flying about. To be sure, that happened enough that I was thinking about moths that could escape to alternate worlds.

  49. Gee, that all sounds mighty fascinating.
    For me, the most spectacular thing that happened was when a particular line in a song/cartoon episode really caught my ear, and I listened to it over and over… but when I re-listened to the song/episode after a break, it turned out that the line was something else entirely, and what’s more it couldn’t POSSIBLY be misheard in the way that I’d heard it originally.

    Or… booting up a game I’ve played at least a hundred times already, and realizing “Hey now… this detail in the opening scene looks completely different from how I’d always remembered it!”

  50. Oh, yeah. I’ve been to places that didn’t exist the next day. I’ve taken Mrs. Todd’s shortcut more than once. I’ve had any number of small items disappear, then reappear weeks/months/years later, often in different places. (No, not mislaid. Disappeared from the middle of the table in an empty house, reappearing under a pillow two years later sort of weirdness. I have witnesses for some of them.). I get vuja-de – the feeling that the situation will reoccur. It is always matched, later, with a similar deja-vu, completing the loop. My wife’s crazy aunt was a (dis)functional reader/seer. Except she was always right. She would sometimes stop and talk to complete strangers on the street, and know exactly what troubled them, complete with names, dates, and events.

    I even have a really good PSB answer for why, or at least how, some if this happens. Our reality uses only the real numbers for coordinates and movement. But Einstein’s equations clearly show the existence of motion with complex numbers. The complex universe is adjacent to ours, far larger, and really hard for us to get to. (FTL travel hard.) Arbitrarily, I place Heaven on the positive imaginary scale, and Hell on the negative side.

    1. My wife’s crazy aunt was a (dis)functional reader/seer. Except she was always right. She would sometimes stop and talk to complete strangers on the street, and know exactly what troubled them, complete with names, dates, and events.

      There were a couple of saints who were famous for stuff like that– if I remember right, Padre Pio would prod folks in the confessional to make sure they confessed everything they needed absolved. 😀

  51. When I was nine around this time of the year, I slid from one world to another… it scared the bejesus out of me because I went from a normal house to a silent house– (normal as in several children)– about ten minutes later I came back. But even now I wonder if I came back to the world that I left because some of my memories before this slip– are different than other members of the family.

    1. Also things disappear around me– just recently– my sunglasses. I now call it tribute… (not misplaced– actually there one day and gone the next)

  52. If you spend a lot of time in your head, spinning stories, and you also have the capacity to pay attention to the world around you, it makes sense you’d experience seeing something from your mind’s eye, then resetting to IRL input. We see with our brains after all

    Not that I’m discounting not-of-this-universe experience. I “remember” seeing an angel, after all. Just that some zebras are horses.

  53. I don’t mind (too much) when my gremlin takes ingredients off the counter while I am cooking, then puts them right back in the exact same place they were to begin with after 5 minutes of me searching the kitchen and pantry fruitlessly. But damn it I wish the ghost would quit smoking cigarettes in my entirely smoke-free home. She quit for about 6 months after I begged nicely, but started up again worse than ever for about 4 straight days right before I left for vacation a couple weeks back.

    The worst of it is I don’t even believe in ghosts, but this one apparently believes in me.

  54. Late to the party. I just stumbled on this one writing a report a few minutes ago. Supercede vs. Supersede. The internet assures me that the second is correct, has always been correct…..though the -cede- variation comes from the old middle french and changes the meaning from “to sit above” to “to give up, to yield”.
    THe -cede- is the one I remeber learning, with the yield definition and have used all my life.
    On the other hand, I am also a lousy speller and as I learned this year, our memories tend to be lies we tell ourselves to make our lives better.

Comments are closed.