We reach 25 million views today: contest ensues!

Like all hard-nosed skeptics, I have a lucky number—two of them, actually.  The first one is 5, and I’m not sure why, though each of my three names has five letters. But my extra special lucky number is 25, which of course is 5².  So the landmark of 25,000,000 views of this site, a number that will be reached today (I’m guessing around noon), gives me some satisfaction.

When I woke up at 5 this morning, the views stood like this:

Screen shot 2013-11-05 at 4.41.48 AMSince we have about 20,000-25,000 views per day, I expect the odometer will tick over at around 1 p.m. Chicago time. (I could make it sooner if I wanted to post some traffic-inducing drama like criticizing Richard Dawkins for tw**ting about his airport experience with a jar of honey, but you know I wouldn’t sink that low.)

This landmark, of course, calls for a contest and a prize. I pondered long and hard what kind of contest would be easy to enter, involved some creativity, and would be interesting. I thought about asking readers to write a limerick about cats, but not all readers are poetically skilled, and many lack cats. Finally, just a few seconds ago, I hit on it.  Here is the contest:

In the thread below, please tell us one interesting or unusual thing about yourself AND one bizarre experience you’ve had.

I figured this would help readers get to know each other better, and also be amusing.

Please post your answers in the thread below, and I’ll give you one week to do so (contest closes at 7 a.m. Chicago time, Tuesday, November 12).

I’ll start things off with one item about myself and one interesting experience I had:

1. I can play melodies on my head by rapping the top of my cranium with my fist while opening and closing my mouth to vary the notes.

2. I am, perhaps, the only American ever strip-searched (yes, buck naked) by the Guardia Civil in Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona.

There will be one prize, selected by our panel of distinguished (and anonymous) judges.  If you win, you have a choice of two prizes:

1. An autographed copy of WEIT with a cat drawn in it, to your specifications, or

2. A 20-ounce custom mug featuring a photo of the Official Website Cat™, Hili, as a kitten in Poland. Here is what the mug will look like:

Hili mug

I will also autograph the mug on the bottom, but that will wear off over time.

Get cracking!  Do not be too long-winded in your answer, but don’t be too terse, either. (For example, for my strip-search example, I would describe it in a paragraph or so.)

395 Comments

  1. Posted November 5, 2013 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Congrats! I wish I was as interesting and unique as others here.

    I was happy with 10k views! 25M?!?

    Cheers!

  2. Posted November 5, 2013 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Feels like a round of Truth or Dare — a game I’ve managed to avoid. I’ll happily sit on the sidelines and enjoy the fireworks from a distance.

    But…were you to set up some sort of store where one could buy Hili mugs, presumably with the proceeds going to Doctors Without Borders, I’ll fork out cash for the privilege of owning one!

    Cheers,

    b&

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      I’m with you, Ben; on the other hand, I’m fairly desperate to obtain a signed copy of WEIT, catographed by the author. So, my contribution is below.

      • Posted November 5, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

        I do believe — and, Jerry, feel free to correct me on this — that Jerry is generally happy to autograph copies of WEIT that are delivered to him either by post or in person. He doesn’t have very many books to give away, but signing a copy you already have is another matter entirely.

        b&

        • Posted November 5, 2013 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, Ben is correct. If you buy and copy and send it to me, and enclose a stamped return envelope, I’ll be glad to sign it to your specifications. This is one of the benefits (to readers!) of me not being a famous guy inundated with that kind of request.

          • Mark Joseph
            Posted November 5, 2013 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

            Cool. I’ll wait to see if I win the contest, though.

            And, I’ve not only already purchased a copy of WEIT, but have read it, and use it to annoy creationists! (I’d rather use it to educate them, but, well, you know…).

          • teacupoftheapocalypse
            Posted November 8, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

            What if one lives outside the US and therefore does not have access to USPO stamps, or, for that matter, post rates?

            • Michael Fisher
              Posted November 11, 2013 at 8:51 am | Permalink

              I haven’t tried this, but I don’t see why it shouldn’t work…

              Open a USPS account HERE make sure to select your country & that it’s a personal account [not business]

              THIS USPS PAGE allows you to print a delivery label [delivery back to you that is] which is also a stamp & you can enclose it with your book for Jerry. The site is very informative on prices & sizes etc.

              I don’t know if it will work from outside the USA, but I suggest you give it a try ~ can’t hurt

              • teacupoftheapocalypse
                Posted November 11, 2013 at 11:13 am | Permalink

                Sounds like a plan. TYVM.

              • Diana
                Posted November 11, 2013 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

                Huh. I never thought of that. You’re a super sleuth, Michael. I bow to your higher problem solving skills and your Google prowess!

            • Michael Fisher
              Posted November 11, 2013 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

              @Diana [no reply button beneath you, this is the nearest to be in thread]

              *Blush* thanks

              I want to see Jerry inundated at work with bulky brown envelopes ~ marked “personal & Private” ~ get the University gossip net overloaded

  3. Posted November 5, 2013 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    1. I lose and gain weight extremely quickly. I lost 110 pounds in 6 months, then gained about 80 of it back, then lost it again in 5 months, then gained it all back in 10. It’s kind of upsetting and weird.

    2. In one day, I got chased by the police on Athens for hopping a fence running a lap in the original Olympic stadium, teargassed and arrested for simply being outside during some riots, and again chased by the police for doing some risque things with a girl on the rock that Socrates was sentenced to death on, the same rock that Paul gave his sermon to the Athenians in Acts.

    • Posted November 5, 2013 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      Let me fix my grammar.

      I got chased by police IN Athens, for hopping a fence AND running a lap.

  4. bonetired
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    1) Unusual. Being an amputee – through thigh.
    2) Bizarre … having the foot of my prosthetic leg drop off in the main concourse of Euston station in London. The looks on people’s faces ….

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      I bet it would have acquired more bemused looks if your foot had fallen half-off, and you’d started to nail it back in place using a convenient piece of … something heavy.
      Actually, railway platforms are depressingly trip-hazard free most of the time, aren’t they? These days.

      • bonetired
        Posted November 5, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

        I started walking and, accompanied by a metal snapping nose, the foot remained behind …

  5. Posted November 5, 2013 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    In the thread below, please tell us one interesting or unusual thing about yourself AND one bizarre experience you’ve had.

    Both my son and I have an obvious physical mutation (but not the same one). I have an extra hole in my left ear (a mutation shared with a great-aunt) and my son was born with an extra ‘finger’ on his left hand. It had no bones and was only half an inch long, so it was easily removed.

    My wife and I were chased out of Hermann Park in Houston by a pack of squirrels. The story is as follows.

    We were sitting in the park waiting to meet some friends and go to the Lord of the Rings exhibit. A cute, fat squirrel approached us and begged for food. He was very cute and I had the remains of a bag of mini-cheese crackers. So I held one out to the squirrel and said “here squirrel!”. I was reminded about that unique feature of order rodentia as the squirrel approached and used his teeth to grab the cracker out of my hand.

    You see, rodents’ teeth continue to grow and must be worn down. This squirrel hadn’t eaten anything tougher than Wonderbread in years because his teeth were looooong.

    While I was engaged with this cute little squirrel I had lost sight of the tactical reality of the situation. You see, this squirrel was the leader of a gang of squirrels and we were now surrounded. There were about five or six of them. I began passing out crackers, hoping to mollify the tribe.

    At one point, a grackle attempted to get some treats, but the squirrels, trained to a cohesive unit by the leader, attacked the grackle with shock and awe.

    One squirrel, with an unfortunately short tail, crawled up onto the picnic table we were sitting at and made googly eyes at my wife’s pony tail.

    Finally, the leader approached for his ‘reward’. At this point, I felt like I was a store owner in a gangster ridden town, paying a small sum for protection. I reached into the bag and, to my utter horror, it was empty. I told the squirrel, “no more, sorry.”

    I sensed our relationship took a turn for the worst. Leaving my wife to fend off the amorous advances of Mr. Too-Short-Tail, I ran for the car and brought back the only thing left… a glass of water with a lemon.

    I hesitantly offered this as tribute… it was not accepted. As the squirrels approached with a disappointment that said, “We’re so sorry we’re going to have to break your kneecaps”, my wife and I decided that we should retreat to the air conditioned museum and wait inside. The collective followed us.

    After, the visit, our friends wondered why we made them go out first.

    • Posted November 5, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      Dude, that is freaking ridiculous. I’m almost hoping you win.

    • Matt G
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      I’m still laughing!

    • Posted November 6, 2013 at 6:12 am | Permalink

      Loudly laughing in Tokyo — ブワハハハ!

    • Marella
      Posted November 8, 2013 at 3:45 am | Permalink

      My eldest son and I were attacked by a pair of black swans in Perth. He was two years old and had pockets full of acorns he’d picked up. He threw them towards the swans who thought they were being fed and became most indignant when the acorns were not bread. They advanced on us with wings out and beaks forward looking very menacing. I picked him up and ran! I have never felt the same way about swans since.

    • lisa parker
      Posted November 13, 2013 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

      These Texas squirrels are tough! I remember when I was just beginning at the University of Houston (’73) our adviser mentioned that we should NEVER feed the squirrels. I though that was not really a very humane attitude, but I didn’t listen much either. During the early Spring and late Fall the weather was glorious and there were several pretty little patches where you could bring a cloth and sit outside while eating lunch and work on your assignments and communing with nature all at the same time. Until the squirrels came out. If you did not have an attractively plated meal (no paper plates!) with a complete table setting, including lennin napkin, they would bitch slap you and take everything you had-food, money, books, graphic tools or whatever. And so we learn to listen to the voice of experience.

  6. Jesper Both Pedersen
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Tillykke!!

  7. Divalent
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    1. I occasionally jump out of airplanes.

    2. I once sold a peach pit to a squirrel for a nickel.
    I was walking across campus on a warm spring day and the squirrels were all about gathering stuff. I had just finished eating a peach, and was holding the pit as I walked when I looked over and saw a squirrel with something shiny in his mouth as he hopped about. I stop and walked near him, and noticed it was a nickel. He looked at me, I looked at him. I stooped down and dropped the peach pit about a foot in front of me on the grass and held still. He came over, sniffed the pit, dropped the nickel, grabbed the pit, and scurried off. Score!

  8. beyondbelief007
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    1. One of very few people to have collected money FROM prostitutes. As a newspaper boy, age 13, in a small rural Nevada town with 3 legal bordellos, I had to approach the Madam monthly to request the $4.25 subscription fee.

    2. Bizarre Experience: Saw a “UFO” light up an entire mountanside, THROUGH CLOUD COVER, as I made my rounds as a golf-course night waterman in same rural Nevada town. Validated on regional (Utah) TV the next day when there was notice that others had seen the light at various places in NV and UT. Living only 150 miles north of Area 51 at the time, I have suspicions that it was not extra terrestrial.

  9. John Hamill
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    1.
    I share a name with a gay porn star.

    2.
    I thought for quite a while about a scientific symbol I could use for a tattoo (lots of people in Ireland go for a Celtic Cross, which didn’t appeal). I finally opted for Carl Sagan’s Pulsar Map.

  10. Posted November 5, 2013 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Congrats on the milestone.

    I’m an Eagle Scout. It’s not something I care about, or would have earned without my father’s insistence, but it’s what I came up with after sitting here for 5 minutes.

    Bizarre — what comes to mind is the time I was threatened at knife point in Torino, Italy. It was by a guy on a train I had conversed with a few times as a Mormon missionary. He had been friendly with us, but this night he was drunk and demanded money. When we said we weren’t going to give him money, he produced the knife. My companion used the magazine he had in his hands to knock down the guy’s hands so we could safely climb over him and go to the front car to tell the conductor.

  11. Mark Joseph
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    This is only moderately interesting, and not at all unusual (I gave a bit of consideration to posting that what is interesting about me is that there is nothing interesting about me), but my life has followed the same historical arc as that of Western civilization, from Jewish (my ethnicity and the religion of my parents), through Christianity (converted at 18; foreign missionary for 15 years) to secularism.

    Does this count as bizarre? I have a plaque hanging in my bedroom, showing pi to 1,000 decimals (of which I have the first hundred memorized!).

    (with many apologies if this posts twice; I posted earlier, but the website looked funny, and I don’t actually see my post, so with fear and trembling I’m posting again)

  12. Posted November 5, 2013 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    I once had a meeting scheduled with a business contact I had seen only once before. I was at the appointed place at the appointed time, but he was late. However, someone else showed up who looked quite similar. I introduced myself and after the usual small talk we needed to go somewhere to discuss the paperwork. I was thinking of a nearby ice-cream shop, but he suggested a lounge in a nearby bank, saying he had some other business there anyway. I found it a bit strange, but went along. When he briefly left the lounge, I realized that he wasn’t the person he was supposed to meet and left without saying a word, just meeting my real contact back at the first meeting point as he arrived late. I have always wondered why the other person didn’t notice anything strange, but much later it occurred to me that perhaps he was meeting someone he had never seen before, or perhaps only briefly, as well.

    Who knows what would have happened had I played along, especially considering that he had some other business to do at the bank?

    • Diana
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      It would be funny if the guy read what you just wrote & told his side of the story.

    • Posted November 5, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      Tell me there was a newspaper and a package of biscuits involved…

  13. Posted November 5, 2013 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    1. I am right handed and left footed. And so is one of my sons. Other son and daughter (and my wife) are both right handed and right footed.

    2. The only time I ever met Linus Pauling I was naked. He was an acquaintance of my dad, who was a chemist at Rohm and Haas. He invited Linus over to dinner at our house. I was 3 years old at the time and, as my dad was VERY fond of telling everyone, I answered the door in my birthday suit. Must have been changing into my PJs on or something when the door rang…

    Congratulations on the 25 million!

    • Posted November 5, 2013 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      One of my younger brother’s and my friend is Linus Pauling, the grandson of Linus Pauling the chemist, biochemist, peace activist, author, and educator. We were at school together in Geneva, Switzerland (International School of Geneva). :)

      • Posted November 5, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

        Very cool! I have a picture of my Dad and Linus at home. My dad thought very highly of him. Loaded us full of Vitamin C as Linus suggested all through childhood!

        • Posted November 5, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

          Linus was brilliant at chemistry, not so smart about epidemiology. Not only do megadoses of vitamin C have no demonstrated health benefits, there are indications megadoses may actually very slightly increase the risk of some of the very diseases Linus thought C would help against.

          Your best bet is to eat a healthy diet with lots of salad and minimal processed anything — especially refined sweeteners (including sugar and honey and maple syrup along with all the artificial substitutes). You don’t need to eliminate them entirely, but restricting yourself to a tablespoon per day / a teaspoon per meal would be a good idea.

          With a good diet, you shouldn’t have any concerns about vitamin deficiency, but there’s no harm in taking a generic multivitamin on the chance that you tend to eschew foods with adequate amounts of something-or-other.

          For the most part, the rest of the vitamin shelf is really only suitable for people with diagnosed specific deficiencies or related conditions. You’re not likely to harm yourself taking them, but you are rather likely to waste money taking them.

          It’s not unlike homeopathy in a great many ways….

          Cheers,

          b&

  14. moleatthecounter
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    1. About myself: Upon joining a two year Graphic Design course at college in Hartford, Northwich, UK way back in about 1980, I soon realised that I was in the wrong room on the first day, and had enrolled in the wrong course – a four year Technical Graphics course (Which is very far removed from graphic design, as it involved technical and perspective illustration, airbrushing, etc)- but I was so nervous that I didn’t say anything and stayed on this wrong course… for four years.

    2. Bizarre experience: As a former season ticket holder at Manchester United Football CLub, I fell into the trap of irrational, superstitious sport-watching behaviour. During my last season watching United games at Old Trafford, I could only applaud in groups of five claps. If I realised that I had clapped six times, then I had to keep going to ten… or 15…

    • Posted November 5, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      That is bizarre. Everyone knows claps must come in groups of even numbers.

      • Posted November 5, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        I actually get a kick out of clapping in either a 3:2 or 2:3 pattern with people nearby, depending on whether I feel more or less enthusiastic about what I’m clapping for.

        b&

        • Posted November 5, 2013 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

          Ah, so you’re a Brahmsian.

          (Re enthusiastic audience responses: I hate that standing Os have pretty much become standard operating procedure. I think it’s mostly because people are anxious to demonstrate that they “got” something about the performance that regular schmoes didn’t. But I usually end up having to follow suit, regardless of how I felt about the performance, to avoid looking like a flippin jerk. But sometimes I stand (sit) my ground.)

          • Posted November 5, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

            Yes, and amen!

            It’s the musical equivalent of grade inflation. I’ve been to maybe a few concerts deserving of a standing ovation, and the majority of those would be as much in the form of recognition for a lifetime’s achievement as they were for the performance itself.

            When people stand at a junior high school band concert, you know it means absolutely nothing.

            b&

            • Newish Gnu
              Posted November 5, 2013 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

              At my kid’s elementary school “band night” performances, I always thought a standing O was reserved for when the tune was identifiable.

              Boy, now I feel embarrassed.

              • Posted November 5, 2013 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

                Oh, there are many standards. At an elementary school level, an identifiable tune is eminently ovation-worthy.

    • Posted November 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      Are you now using that Technical Graphics qualification professionally?

      /@

      • moleatthecounter
        Posted November 11, 2013 at 8:53 am | Permalink

        Hi there. Sorry about the late reply!

        Yes, indeed I am. I am a professional illustrator – 3D modelling and Photoshop illustration mainly…

        Al

  15. Aelfric
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    This is too good not to enter, so, without further ado:

    (1) Interesting thing about me: I inadvertently memorized the capital of every independent country in the world (I still slip up occasionally, but I’d say I have a 98% or so success rate)–it had to do with a time when I was teaching and trying to encourage my students to develop map skills. There was candy involved.

    (2) I was once accused of setting what turned in to a large fire at my undergrad college. I was summoned by a local policeman for an interview, and after a few questions, he asked “do you know where your backpack is?” I responded, “I think it’s in my car.” He retorted (quite proud of himself) “actually, it’s in an EVIDENCE LOCKER.” There was then a pregnant pause. He said, “it was used to start the fire. Why did you want to burn down the dorms?” Startled, I responded the only way I could: “why the heck would I start a fire with my own backpack??” He waited a moment, and then said “good point.” After a couple more cursory questions, the interview was over.

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 6, 2013 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

      How does one “inadvertently” memorize scads of capitals? :)

  16. Sophy
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Umm.

    1. I can cross my eyes, leave one still in the corner and move the other back and forth, then leave that one in the corner while moving the other back and forth…legacy of watching Marty Feldman.

    2. About 15 years ago while wandering around a grocery store I became aware of another woman following me. When I looked at her she blurted out, “Are you Jamie Lee Curtis?” “No I am not.” I replied, but she didn’t believe me. For that rest of that shopping trip I would turn a corner with my cart and there she’d be staring at me..And no I am not Jamie Lee Curtis and it was only a slight resemblance at the time because I was slimmer then and had a hair style similar to hers.

    • thh1859
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      You couldn’t be Jamie Lee Curtis because I am.

    • Diana
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      My uncle had a guy that was convinced he was Frank Zappa (when Zappa was alive). He wouldn’t take no for an answer & kept repeating, “no, you’re Zappa, man!”.

      • darkwavepunk
        Posted November 6, 2013 at 1:37 am | Permalink

        One of the closest moments I’ve ever had to punching someone in my adult life was when a tourist came up to me and yelled “You Mick Hucknall!” and started taking photos outside the Hard Rock Cafe in London.

  17. Posted November 5, 2013 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    I am a lurker but I would really like a copy of WEIT! This may count as 2 experiences, rather than an oddity and experience …

    1. I was once charged by a mother tiger while riding an elephant in Nepal. She was protecting her 2 cubs, and it was a fake charge as it turned out – she halted only ten feet short of the elephant. The elephant was certainly very scared too.

    2. While backpacking in the Grand Canyon, I was bitten by a lethal scorpion in the hand. It caused my entire arm to go numb for a week.

    • Posted November 5, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      But it obviously (and thankfully) wasn’t actually lethal…

      • Posted November 5, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        It would have been lethal if it had stung George, but fortunately it only bit him…

        /@

    • Diana
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      Wow, a tiger riding an elephant! That’s almost as cool as a dinosaur riding a shark! :D

      • Posted November 5, 2013 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

        I hear a limerick comin’ on…. :P

      • Matt G
        Posted November 5, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

        Well at least George didn’t shoot an elephant in his pajamas!

  18. Sastra
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Interesting or Unusual Fact:

    1.) I have a peculiar capacity for sitting or pacing around for hours without doing much of anything in particular.

    Bizarre Experience:

    2.) I once slow-danced with Richard Dawkins upon a ship decorated to look like the Titanic while I was wearing white bunny ears and a fluffy tail. I do not dance at all well — to put it mildly — but he was very gracious and asked me, and then was very polite and thanked me.

    And oh, yes — he had pinned my tail on.

  19. Jules
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    1. Interesting: Turns out I can bang out a sort of a tune by rapping my cranium and opening/closing my mouth. 43 years old and only just found out!
    2. Bizarre: I stopped rapping my cranium and it turned out the same shitty fish like sound was still there. It’s bizarre because I thought I was intelligent but it turns out I’m as thick as pig shit.

    • Kevin
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      Wittgenstein wrote of the gnashing and chattering of teeth to enhance any song on the mental radio, so to speak. I am a huge fan of teeth and tongue movements to further embrace a tune in one’s head, especially if it involves Bonham playing the drums.

      • Cliff Melick
        Posted November 5, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

        So, apparently is Miley Cyrus.

    • Matt G
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

      Dave Davies (Kinks) once wrote a song about Jesse James. He didn’t know it at the time, only finding out years later.

  20. Fabien
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    I am also a semi-lurker (posted once or twice).

    1. I am a PC game collector, and I have approximately 3000 games (DOS, windows, linux) sitting on my hard drive right now… Yet I have zero time to actually play any of them !

    2. I have given talks four times at the exact same times as Richard Dawkins, in the same buildings, in four different towns the same year… And I’m not talking about conferences or atheist events that would make us converge, this was unplanned and just pure coincidence (I happen to teach astronomy, though, which explain my presence at various universities). My friends like to joke how I can only attract theists at my talks for this reason…

  21. Posted November 5, 2013 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    1. When I was in elementary school I learned how to read and write in one of Tolkien’s Elvish languages. I put this to use by building crossword puzzles for my French class in 7th grade. It was decidedly un-triumphant.

    2. I won a beauty contest by performing as the commedia clown Pierrot. I did a strip tease to Hair from the 1968 musical. There were other skits and perhaps chemicals involved, but no animals were harmed in the making of a legendary night.

  22. Ashamed Male
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Jerry, please tell us more why you were strip searched. Did they know who you were or were you carrying atheist books or literature that they felt rendered you threatening? Did you make disparaging remarks while waiting in line? Its not fair to leave us hanging, we want to know the rest of the story.

    • Alex Shuffell
      Posted November 6, 2013 at 4:12 am | Permalink

      Barcelona can be quite a romantic place, perhaps it was a polite request.

  23. Posted November 5, 2013 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    I guess the most interesting thing about me is that I am a francophile. I was invited to give a talk in Montpellier in 1995 and have been back to France every other year or more since, learned the language, read a ton of French literature including Proust thank you.

    My most bizarre experience also took place in France, on a concert tour. I was entering the Port de St Cloud metro station with some friends and I spoke to them in English. As I was going through a turnstile, a young man politely excused himself in English and squeezed through with me rather than pay his own fare. About that time I had to change my hearing aid battery. I sat on a bench, took my wallet out (!) and extracted a battery from a compartment therein, installed it, and replaced the wallet in my front trouser pocket. While I was getting on the train, a man knelt in front of me, turned, and grabbed me by the ankle. I protested and pushed forward on his shoulder and at the same moment felt a hand fishing in my front trouser pocket. But I kept leaning forward on the first guy, and my wallet stayed where it was, fortunately. I made eye contact with the two of them as the train pulled away. They had failed with me. I decided not to make any gesture, just staring at them as the train picked up speed. I learned later that they kept at it, as several of our group were attacked that night.

  24. Posted November 5, 2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    I learned to speed-read. Following a test that was part of the program, I scanned a dictionary and thought of a word, as instructed, and then *randomly* opened the dictionary to the part where that word might be found. Surprise, surprise… I was on the correct page, alphabetically, but the word was frikkin’ missing! It was a legitimate word too, found in standard dictionaries. Unfortunately, old age has taken its toll, and I couldn’t remember the word to save my life! Arrrgh!!!

    The most bizzare (and best) thing that’s happened to me is that, though the generousity of a beloved friend, I was once taken up on a hang glider by a hang gliding expert. Against the rules, he took me up into a cloud! It was a transcendental experience for me, to hear the wind in my ear, the bird song so clear and unsullied, to lick the cloud-air with my tongue, and to feel its cool, clean kiss upon my cheeks.

  25. Posted November 5, 2013 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Unusual Thing About Myself

    1) I came from a very poor London family. Deafness runs in my family and I did not realise it until years later but I became skilled at lip-reading the teachers. When they turned to write on the board I was lost. At the age of sixteen, and having left school with no qualifications, I took a labourer’s job at the local Whitefriars Glass Factory, making hand-blown ornamental glasses, hard by a huge furnace of molten glass. My pay was £4. 17s and 6d (pence) per week or about £8 US. I began to study literature, economics, astronomy, music, psychology, chemistry, physics, sociology from library books, and alone, at night. Ten years later, and by the age of 26, I was being educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, one of the most prestigious colleges in that prestigious university. I spend much of my time in going to other Oxford colleges and talking with the professors. I had, by then read widely and travelled widely. I was not to be impressed. Wordworth the poet’s famous line about Cambridge academics in the 1790s came to mind, “Great minds, visibly entombed”

    One Bizarre Experience

    1) In 1992 I was camping between Saudi Arabia and Iraq with the Peace Camp, listening to a crackling radio every night as the West threatened war with Saddam unless he withdrew from Kuwait. One January night I was shaken awake by a friend who whispered, ‘Wake-up! The war’s started!’ Above us screaming military jets in groups headed for Baghdad 200 miles away. In the pauses we could see guided missiles, self-correcting, as they zigzagged silently across the starry sky. In the distance at a supposed Iraqi missile site we could see flashes and then flames licking the sky. Ever the joker, I whispered to my buddy, “How can you tell?!”
    Saddam ordered the Peace Camp to be moved up to the Al Rasheed hotel in Baghdad, probably to turn us into a shield to deter allied bombing.
    Everyone went to the bombproof basement, but a pretty girl and I took a room on the fourteenth floor, and braved the missiles striking nearby military intelligence headquarters. In war, romance suddenly seems urgent, hurried. Next evening we were sitting in the hotel gardens, and me hoping to impress her with my filmmaker ability, when we saw all the cars clearing the main roads and the bridges, so we went inside. There was a terrific crash from the garden as a missile struck, destroying the wall upon which we were sitting. Broken glass from the foyer doors and windows came rushing past us, bouncing and sliding across the marble floors. Fired-up by our near-death experience we took the fast lift to our bedroom.

    ………………………………………………………………………
    Finally…
    A cat mug, huh? As much as I love cats, I’d rather have a signed copy of JAC’s WEIT addressed to me by my first name and admitting that he really doesn’t understand my ‘Human Sub-Set Theory’!!

    • Posted November 6, 2013 at 12:47 am | Permalink

      Amendements…

      Unusual Thing About Myself

      …prestigious University. The theologian C S Lewis was recently a Don at my college, and had left a legacy of religiosity. I spent much of my time going…

      One Bizarre Experience

      Final line…

      …From book about the first Gulf War: ‘Iraq Under Siege: The Deadly Impact of Sanctions and War’ edited by Anthony Arnove.

      “… I asked George Rumens, a British journalist and a member of our team. “Tell them…”, he said, “that when the war fever and hysteria subside, we believe the lasting and most appropriate response to this war will be felt throughout the world: deepest remorse and regret for the suffering we’ve caused!”

      • Diane G.
        Posted November 6, 2013 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

        ” . . . deepest remorse and regret for the suffering we’ve caused!”

        Applause!

        Unfortunately, though, there will probably be no lessons learned from the debacle.

        • lisa parker
          Posted November 13, 2013 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

          We didn’t learn anything from Korea or Viet Nam. We won’t ever learn.

          • Diane G.
            Posted November 13, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

            Yeah, I kick myself for being so naïve as to have bought into all that learning-our-lesson crap after ‘Nam.

            “No matter how cynical I get, I can’t keep up.” –Lily Tomlin

  26. Lianne Byram
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Congratulations Jerry. My contest entry is as follows:

    1. In 1986 I circled the globe on a nine month backpacking trip. I can confirm that the earth is indeed round.

    2. During that trip I received my first marriage proposal. I had hired a felluca with some fellow travelers to sail down the Nile from Aswan to Luxor. On the third evening the Nubian boatman (who spoke very little English)invited me to his cooking fire and abruptly asked me to marry him. I was greatly surprised as that was the first time he had spoken to me. I politely declined. I can only imagine how different my life would have been had I accepted!

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      Yes, but if we accept your word about the earth being round, aren’t we just using an appeal to authority? ;-)

      Anent your bizarre experience and the “what if?”, you might be interested in the comic “Marry Me,” about a pop star who, on a whim, marries a guy in the audience holding up a “Marry Me” sign. The “saga” starts here:
      http://marryme.keenspot.com/d/20120730.html

      • Lianne Byram
        Posted November 5, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

        Oh yea of little faith Mark :)

        • Posted November 5, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

          You make that sound like a bad thing!

          b&

          • Lianne Byram
            Posted November 5, 2013 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

            Just joking! Faithless is the way to be.

            • Posted November 5, 2013 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

              Oh, I know — and, of course, I’m just giving you a hard time!

              b&

              • Lianne Byram
                Posted November 5, 2013 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

                :)

      • Posted November 5, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

        Damn. Another one to follow….

        b&

    • Diana
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      I knew a girl in high school who went to Jordan with her family in the summer & someone tried to buy her there for some goats. :D

      • Lianne Byram
        Posted November 5, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

        A perfume salesman in Cairo offered me seven camels but he never mentioned marriage :)

        • Posted November 5, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

          Camels, goats and cows are Bride Prices paid to the father of the prospected bride.

          • Diana
            Posted November 5, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

            Yes, the girl I knew said the man approached her father.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted November 6, 2013 at 2:48 am | Permalink

        Buy her for some goats? What did the goats want her for? ;)

  27. Kevin
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    1. I graduated from Stanford with a philosophy degree without ever reading a book. (dyslexia)

    2. I once swam all day in the ocean at Santa Barbara, watched the sunset, drove to the Grand Canyon and watched the sunrise with a thousand Japanese tourists, then walked all the way down in top siders with no water or food and then walked all the way up—about 20 miles. European tourists (there were no other Americans who went down that day) at the bottom pitied me and gave me some water and food. I drove to Tucson immediately thereafter for dinner and collapsed for 20 hours.

  28. eveysolara
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    you should monetize this beast.

  29. Don Quijote
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    2. I am, perhaps, the only American ever strip-searched (yes, buck naked) by the Guardia Civil in Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona.

    I told them you were coming.

  30. wonderer
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Unusual:

    I believe I am the only commenter to have tipped you off to the fact that William Lane Craig was mirepresenting you on his website.

    Bizarre:

    I’m an atheist who posts regularly on William Lane Craig’s website. ;)

  31. Posted November 5, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Hey, another lurker here, but I’ve been reading the blog (website, sorry!) for a while now, and I love it. So here we go, for the signed book!

    Interesting thing about me: Like some others, I’m tempted to say nothing. I’m only 17, so I don’t have too much life experience…but here’s something anyway. I’m a massive Doctor Who fan; my love of the show is the closest thing I have to a religion! I met one of the men to play the Doctor last year- Colin Baker, the sixth Doctor, and our camera broke! Luckily the super advanced alien who was present would fix it…or not. So the Doctor can’t fix a camera, hmm. Still a brilliant day though- I met the Doctor. Woo!

    And, incidentally, I love the fact that Richard Dawkins is married to Lalla Ward- who played Romana alongside Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor back in the 70s. She was also married to Baker, which means Richard Dawkins, via an introduction by Douglas Adams no less, stole a Time Lord’s wife. That fact always makes me smile.

    Bizarre experience: This one’s easier. My dad and I used to go to St Andrews for weekend trips. They were really good, and I always enjoyed them. St Andrews is the religious capital of Scotland, incidentally, and it’s also where Prince William and his wife went to university. Ironic that I love the place, given that I’m a neo-fundamentalist rationalist radical evolutionary dogmatist materialist naturalist militant New Atheist, as well as being anti-monarchy! Oh well. Anyway, the experience is as follows; there’s a road next to the now crumbling cathedral and graveyard which leads down to the waterside, where there’s a pier. On this road, it is said that there is a woman who haunts it- the Grey Lady (or the White Lady). I don’t believe in ghosts of course, but it was always fun- my dad always used to roll down the window as we drove down the road and he’d call out to her. Then, one day, as we were driving up the road, we saw this woman in the cathedral- not a ghost, but a n old lady dressed in grey with her trousers down- she was doing a pee (or conducting an act of micturition, to translate it for you more formal folks)! And her husband was standing with her. We always laughed after that- the magnitude of history of that cathedral, and there’s an old lady peeing on it in public- for some reason she never guessed passing cars could easily spot her. So there may be no ghost of St Andrews, but for me and my dad there was always a Grey Lady…

    • Greg Esres
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

      “I’m only 17, so I don’t have too much life experience”

      I bet you don’t say that to your parents.

  32. Florian
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    1. My two middle toes (next to the big toe) are fused together on both feet. Used to really embarrass me when i was young but now i like them and think other “normal” toes look weird.

    2. Just a funny story… While camping alone in the southern Calif desert a few years ago after getting up in the morning and putting on my boots i noticed strange footprints all around my camp that did not match my boot print. Thinking that someone had wandered all around my camp at night while i slept i was really freaked out and more than a little unnerved. Then it finally dawned on me that i had been wearing sandals the night before and the tracks were mine. Not that bizarre i guess but when i think back to how i felt that morning i still feel a little creeped out.

    • Matthew Jenkins
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      I used to be a scrub nurse in orthopaedic theatre in the South-West of England; your condition is very common in Somerset farming families! The head surgeon claimed it was an evolutionary adaptation for skipping across the mud flats…

      • Florian
        Posted November 5, 2013 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Matthew. That’s interesting re Somerset. The term is syndactyly and per wikipedia means together-finger in Greek. I’ve always thought my fused toes were good for swimming fast.

  33. Posted November 5, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    In the thread below, please tell us
    -one interesting or unusual thing about yourself

    I’m the first person in Western Canada to obtain a high school credit using the Bagpipes, having done so twice, becoming a certified grade four piper according to the College of Piping.

    AND one bizarre experience you’ve had.

    One bizarre experience? I think that really depends on your definition of bizarre. But if I were to limit it to one, it’d be a challenge to decide between nearly stepping into a group of ants marching roughly a foot wide and I can’t even begin to guess how long as what can only be described as a sea of ants that were without distance between any two ants, or the cat kicking the dog, leaving the mutt absolutely clueless as to what happened. Well, considering the site…

    Fine. When I was about nine, maybe eight, years old, my family had two cats, an orange short-haired male tabby named Tiger, and what can only be described as a mostly black long-haired female calico named Furball. For unknown reasons, we ended up getting a d*g, a jackson terrier named, Jackson. Because when your five or six year old sister names something, it’ll be really freaking obvious why it has that name.

    One particular night, the two cats and the dog were curled up in the dog’s bed, so we decided to take pictures (where they are now, I have no idea. If I knew, I’d submit them, or mail them as I don’t own a scanner and these were polaroids). This went on for a few minutes, until Tiger, on what would be the right side of the image, kicks Jackson, on what would be the left side of the image, who then begins to look around to figure out what just happened. Furball, who would be between them, looks at Tiger, who then begins to lick himself as though nothing had happened.

    I may go over the calming the rather aggressive kitten if anybody wants to hear that one. Its not bizarre, perhaps even expected if you think about it, but kind of funny.

  34. Diane G.
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    sub

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      Sure! Make mine turkey and swiss on whole wheat bread, with lettuce, tomatoes, olives, and bacon!

      (Oh, was that *not* an offer…?)

  35. tombesson
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    1. I have won both a Halloween costume contest at a nudist colony party (I beat out Puss n’ Boots and Peter Pan to win this award.) and the prize as Elvis Presley’s illegitimate son (I proved I had his DNA by singing the lyrics to ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ to the Kingsmen’s ‘Louie Louie’ melody.) at a Helga, Helga, Helga and their other sister Helga Octoberfest contest in Saudi Arabia.

    2. Long age, I was on a US Navy submarine that was flooding at test depth and survived. I learned the lesson that it’s always best to remain calm and carry on.

    • Diana
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      Your typo on 2 perplexed me. I thought the strange experience you had was “long age” & expected some sort of Highlander prince of the universe or Captain Jack Harkness story. :)

      • tombesson
        Posted November 5, 2013 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, Diana. It was but a slip of a digit. No perplexing was intended. One thing I appreciate about reading all these comments is that there doesn’t seem to be a troll in our universe, but lots of Highlander princes and Captain Jack Harkness inspired folks.

        • Diana
          Posted November 5, 2013 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

          I really did look at it for a long time. :)

    • Posted November 5, 2013 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

      Too bad I already entered one most bizarre experience, as yours has reminded me to the time when I inadvertently helped Lionel Ritchie discover religion.

      My GF and I were swimming at a nude beach, and there came along Lionel Ritchie whom I’d chatted up earlier that morning and invited him to check out the nude beach. Of course, with him standing by the bar with his knickers on, I had to wade ashore to go say hello, with my hair dripping water down my back and bare ass. When he saw me arising out of the water, I heard his utter under his breath to his host, “Jesus Christ!”.

  36. Gabby
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    1. Well, I suppose there are some interesting things to list. At various times I’ve sustained myself as a professional artist, musician, photographer, but I think that the fun thing is that at one point I put it all aside and survived for a period as a semi-pro pool player. Mostly 9-ball but I was very strong with 8-ball and straight pool.
    2. Now this one could potentially get me in trouble so I’ll just go with an experience that is probably at least moderately rare among this group and also has a Chicago connection. I once spent an evening in the early nineties tripping on acid and hanging out with the Smashing Pumpkins. It was a very nineties thing to do.

  37. Curt Nelson
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    I was raised by bigfoot people. My life has been very difficult as a result. Most shoes are not even offered in wide much less the triple-E I require. But I’m a good swimmer.

    One time I was abducted in my sleep by alien beings who brought me aboard their flying saucer in order to show me how to make a flying white sauce. (It’s just a roux that you fling with a spoon.) I showed them how to heat a can of spaghettiOs to perfection. Since then I have had the idea of developing a flying white sauce spaghettiO recipe that is delicious, easy, and fast.

    Let me fix my grammar:
    I was raised by BIG FOOTED people.

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 6, 2013 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

      Well, your life probably would have been very difficult the first way, as well.

      • Diana
        Posted November 7, 2013 at 1:54 am | Permalink

        Especially since no one would believe your relatives existed. I think this is how Mr. Snuffleupagus felt in the 70s.

  38. Posted November 5, 2013 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Unusual- Well I generally make up my own curse words instead of using the standard ones.

    Bizarre- I was briefly a suspect in the Son-of-Sam case in the 70s

    • Richard Olson
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      I wouldn’t be surprised if you invented a doozy or two while that went on.

  39. Matthew Jenkins
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    1. I knew an old Texan in Japan who had been friends with Jack Ruby and couldn’t figure out why Ruby killed LHO with somebody else’s pistol, instead of his own of which he was inordinately fond.

    2. Ooh, beat this: I once walked through the electrical field left behind by a corpse. Not creepy at all, actually, just odd. It was about 1991 or so, I was porter in Accident and Emergency, and a very big man was brought into the resuscitation room after a massive heart attack. They failed to revive him and because of a shortage of porters, he had to be left there for a few hours before being taken down to the morgue. Shortly after we shifted him, I walked across the resus room to get an piece of equipment and had this strange experience, which was kind of like moving your hand across the front of a TV screen.

  40. Mr. Twelve
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Not about me, but an interestingly fortuitous way Jerry came to my attention:

    1) While in college around 2009 or 2010 at the University of Kentucky, I read in our student newspaper there was a talk/presentation about evolution on campus that evening. It sounded interesting. Having no plans, I convinced a friend, a biology major, to meet me on campus for the talk. We were treated to a wonderful presentation on Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne. I purchased his book afterward and greatly enjoyed it.

    2) Bizarrely, I didn’t know about his website at all until I was recommended to follow on Twitter a few months ago. Now I’m a daily visitor.

  41. Larry Cook
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    1. I can wiggle my ears, raise and lower my left eyebrow, wiggle my nose and alternately sneer with my left and right upper lips and I can do all these things simultaneously.

    2. I have caught myself on fire twice. The first time was almost forty years ago when I was driving a cab while going to the U of Maryland. I was in the left lane of University Blvd. going about 60 mph while lighting a cigarette. I threw the match at the ashtray but it missed and fell on the floor in front of my seat. I was wearing corduroy pants and in short order there were flames coming up past the steering wheel. I jammed on the brakes, jumped out of the cab and rolled on the grass median strip to put myself out. I was now wearing burnt off shorts and had a pretty bad burn on my left leg.
    The second time I was playing golf in a scramble at a sales meeting in Colorado Springs. On the ninth green when I sank a putt from over 100 feet, my team and I started jumping around in celebration and I felt what I thought were bees stinging me in my upper left leg. It turned out to be a full pack of matches rubbing against the flint on a second full pack of matches in my pocket, lighting both of them up and setting my pants on fire. Polyester (early 80′s) this time and a worse burn, but fortunately the ninth hole came back in to the hotel and I was able to run to my room and change pants without missing a shot.
    I quit smoking almost 15 years ago.

    • Larry Cook
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      And of course Congratulations! 25 million is a large number and I’m glad I’m responsible for some of them.

  42. Posted November 5, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Congrats from yet another semi-lurker who’s been mostly reading you from the shadows… And interesting things, bizarre experiences…? Don’t they overlap…? :-D I’m hard pushed to find something not so thoroughly embarrassing that I wouldn’t mind sharing so publicly… However, and after some effort, here it goes:

    1. I carry the recessive gene for an hereditary blood condition that places my distant ancestry, on my father’s mother’s side, in the eastern Mediterranean. With the surname – and the little idiosyncrasies of customs and beliefs – that run in the family, I very much suspect we may have been ‘conversos’ at some point in the history of Portugal – who then ended up atheist republicans by the turn of last century.

    2. I was 19 and recently married, back in the 70s, and this man, in a dark western suit in the middle of a torrid summer afternoon in the Algarve, approached my husband after speaking to another one in full Arabic traditional dress, and attempted to buy me for a small fortune. Upon being told that I was his wife and he wasn’t about to sell me on, the man in the white thawb and agal nodded and the one in the suit then tried to buy my 12 year old niece, for double my price. It was the price for a virgin, the man in the western suit explained… Thing is, I think that if my first husband could have foretold the future, he’d have certainly sold me there and then, and at a bargain basement price!

    In any case, Jerry, this was quite great fun, but your website is enough of a prize – and therefore, may you soon double your viewings.

  43. Posted November 5, 2013 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    I was once a team captain on an episode of The Crystal Maze with Richard O’Brien.

    Together with my wife (a bridesmaid) and a friend (a groomsman, like me), I survived a multiple rollover, which wrote off our car, when we came off the road on the way from my our friends’ wedding to the reception. (Yes, I was the driver.) I’m afraid it rather spoilt the day for them.

    /@

    • Posted November 5, 2013 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      Is it safe to assume that that’s not the preferred technique for inspecting gravel?

      b&

      • Posted November 5, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

        (I was, of course, directing that question at our friend drilling oil under the shadow of the moon off the African coast….)

        b&

        • Posted November 5, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

          Ah…

          Incidentally, it felt like I was on loose gravel as the car skidded off the road…

          /@

          • Posted November 5, 2013 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

            Funny you should mention that.

            The one-and-only car crash I’ve ever been in, and the only ticket I’ve ever gotten…well, the road at that spot goes below grade to cross under a railroad line. There was a small pickup stalled in the exact spot hidden by the bridge as you approach. And it was a two-lane road…I was in the left lane, as was the stalled pickup. And there was traffic next to me in the right lane. I slammed on the brakes, but there was enough loose gravel on the road that I didn’t stop in time.

            Just a fender-bender, but still not an experience I’d recommend repeating.

            b&

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted November 6, 2013 at 3:01 am | Permalink

              Personally, I feel much safer driving on proper loose gravel. Much more predictable, much less change in grip if it gets wet.

              However, a tarsealed road with just a very thin scattering of loose gravel on it is insanely slippery – the gravel just rolls across the surface like marbles with no grip at all.

              • Posted November 6, 2013 at 7:27 am | Permalink

                That’s exactly what this was — regular asphalt / tarmac / whatever surface street with a thin scattering of loose gravel.

                And the gravel wasn’t a significantly different color / size from the road itself, so it wasn’t really visible until after I got out of the car.

                b&

              • Richard Olson
                Posted November 6, 2013 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

                Motorcycle riders are not looking down where their rest foot will be planted while they brake to a stop. Those miniature ball bearings you speak of cause the foot to kick left like a squarely whacked hockey puck. The rider is instantly engaged with his bike in a desparate, somewhat bizarre balance boogie struggle.

              • Posted November 6, 2013 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

                Almost makes me think y’all should be wearing cleats / spikes….

                b&

              • Diana
                Posted November 7, 2013 at 1:43 am | Permalink

                I remember many a road rash as a kid wiping out on my bicycle on gravel like that over tarmac. I am not a fan of gravel. It has vexed me.

              • Diane G.
                Posted November 6, 2013 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

                What is the purpose of that gravel, anyway?!

      • Posted November 5, 2013 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

        Are you confusing me with Aidan?

        /@

    • Posted November 6, 2013 at 3:58 am | Permalink

      alt. 2.

      While on holiday, we were doing a woodland walk guided by a ranger with a Harris hawk, who she would fly from time to time during the walk. For reasons (which would take to long to explain), I raised my left fist and suddenly found I had the hawk perched on my ungloved hand… Its talons puckered by skin, but it didn’t hurt at all.

      /@

      • Posted November 6, 2013 at 7:30 am | Permalink

        I’ve wondered about that. I’ve personally suspected that there shouldn’t be any more harm from a friendly raptor landing on your forearm than what Baihu constantly does to my shoulders. I imagine I wouldn’t be terribly obsessive about wearing a glove when handling such birds unless I had reason to fear OSHA inspections….

        b&

  44. h2ocean
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    1) I only have 3 lower incisors between my canines. Whether I am missing a lateral or central is anyone’s guess!

    2) While on a Washington DC bus I was called to the front by the driver, who wanted to pay me $100 for my shirt. When the driver’s dad died he made his dad’s shirts into ascots. His mom was on him for a year to get a particular one made, but he couldn’t find the shirt. Apparently my shirt was exactly like it, so he paid me $100 for it so he could pass it off as his dad’s, get it made into an ascot, and get his mom off his back :)

  45. Graham Martin-Royle
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    1/I’m still alive! I used to work in Africa, driving overland tours from north to south, Morocco to Zimbabwe. On my last trip I caught malaria (again, I’ve had it more than once) and combined it with an attack of hep. I was in Camaroon, on the border with C.A.R. and I was so ill that the Drs where I was staying wanted to medivac me out. Unfortunately, it was going to take over 24hrs to get a plane out to me and it was thought unlikely I would survive where I was for that length of time, so they started to dig a hole for me! They were wrong and 20 years later I’m still here, yippee.
    2/As you haven’t defined bizarre I will just mention that I used to be on stage in Amsterdam in a live sex show (I never thought it bizarre but whenever I mention it I get some very strange reactions so maybe it was bizarre).

    • Gareth Price
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      I’m surprised you’re still alive too!! I went on an overland trip across Africa in 1991. Looking back, I am surprised (and relieved) that nobody on the trip was killed, although I got airlifted out to Nairobi after a road accident.

  46. Posted November 5, 2013 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    1. Although I am a little stiffer now with age, in my prime I was more flexible than average. I could bend my thumbs backward (not forward) to touch my wrists. I can still puff out my rib cage to look like a pigeon breast. I showed it to my doctor once, and he asked that I not do that again.

    2. I have an inordinate fondness for spiders. One strange experience was when I was about 12 I had discovered that my grandparents shed had black widow spiders. They lived in Sacramento CA, and this was a wonderful discovery for an arachnophile from Iowa. So I went out to the shed at night with a flashlight, and discovered that everywhere I shone the light there was a black widow sitting out in the open. There must have been one every six inches, on average. I collected several, and smuggled them back to Iowa on our return airplane flight. Sitting in my bedroom, I would let them crawl all over me.
    Please do not tell my mom.

    • Posted November 6, 2013 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

      You win! That story will give me nightmares. The old house I lived in while growing up was filled (well, mostly outside) with widows and just imagining them crawling all over me is enough to send me screaming to a mental hospital. Pretty bizarre story though :)

  47. John Taylor
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    1. I have an identical twin brother with a fondness for the Honey Badger.

    2. I once swam across the Rideau Canal in Ottawa wearing only boxer shorts adorned with the Montreal Canadians’ logo.

    • John Taylor
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

      I should mention my brother is inordinately fond of the Honey Badger.

    • Dave
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

      “I once swam across the Rideau Canal in Ottawa wearing only boxer shorts adorned with the Montreal Canadians’ logo.”

      Carleton engineering?

      • John Taylor
        Posted November 6, 2013 at 5:41 am | Permalink

        Ottawa U Physics.

        • Dave
          Posted November 6, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

          Hey, I was close.

  48. BigBob
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    One interesting or unusual thing about yourself

    Well I bought a satellite. That’s unusual isn’t it? Surfing around the web one day I spotted a KickStarter project called KickSat. The idea was to raise $30,000 to fund a project that would put a fleet of tiny satellites about the size of a large postage stamp into orbit. Life long space nut couldn’t resist. Our satellite will transmit the family’s initials TSMDB so long as the sun shines on it. Launch date is 11 Feb 2014 on a Spacex Dragon on a re-supply mission to the ISS. I’m building a ground station in the hope of recording transmissions from the fleet.

    AND one bizarre experience you’ve had.

    Woke up one morning about 3am – slightly cramped and uncomfortable. Rolled over, stretched out, didn’t help, felt worse. Got up to score a pain-killer but half way down the stairs realised this was beyond aspirin and woke my Dad to tell him something was seriously wrong. What we didn’t know was this was Renal Colic (Kidney Stone). Hospital doctor diagnosed a “pulled muscle” somehow achieved during sleep! Returned home to pass out on the floor. Local doctor came with correct diagnosis and industrial strength pain killers. Bizarre thing is, how can a stone the size of a match head take you from sleeping peacefully to worst pain experience ever in the space of only 3 minutes?

    • Diana
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      Oh kidney stones hurt! My dad went to the hospital recently & even a morphine drip didn’t help the pain. They gave him something else but he didn’t know what it was (which sucks because I like to know about all pain killing methods!)

      • beyondbelief007
        Posted November 5, 2013 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

        Tordol. Life saver!!

        • Diana
          Posted November 5, 2013 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

          Really? I have some of that in pill form and it didn’t even begin to relieve my migraines. Maybe it depends on the pain.

  49. Charles Jones
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Am I correct in remembering a story in which Jerry allowed something that laid eggs in the skin of his head to hatch out? I think THAT qualifies as something far more exotic than a musical noggin. Not that Jerry would enter his own content or anything like that…

    • Bruce Lyon
      Posted November 6, 2013 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

      You can read about it in the book Tropical Nature by Ken Miyata and Adrian Forsyth

  50. Gregg
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    1. Unusual thing about me–I have an “extra” lumbar vertebra.
    2. Bizarre experience–while studying in Germany, the group of Americans I lived with rented a trolley car on Halloween which drove us around town while we partied (keg on board). I went dressed as an asshole–two pillow pinned to either side of my head with my face sticking out of the “crack”.

    • Diana
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      Did people guess that your costume was an Arschloch?

    • pacopicopiedra
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

      The extra lumbar vertebra is interesting, but not so unusual. Roughly 5 to 10% of people have it.

  51. Diana
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    1) I am a toilet paper crusader. I have an uncontrollable need to ensure that toilet paper is oriented on the dispenser in the “under” (& correct) position. Apparently, my preference for this correct position is in the minority as 60-70% of Americans prefer the incorrect “over” orientation and from my experience I think this statistic would hold for Canada too. This compulsion is so strong, that I correct the orientation to under wherever I see it in the over position. This includes friends’s bathrooms, my parents’ house whenever I visit, public washrooms that are foolish enough not to lock their toilet paper dispensers, doctor’s offices, optometrists’s offices, etc. No one has ever questioned me & I wonder if they know and accept my OCD or by the time they’ve notice, I’m long gone & they are left saying to themselves, “I could have sworn I hung the toilet paper in the over position”.

    I’m thinking of starting a mystery cult. Our symbol would be the toilet paper roll hung in the under position & we’d launch crusades of toilet paper orientation correction.

    If your toilet paper is oddly re-oriented from over to under, ask yourself if I’ve visited lately.

    2)One of the most bizarre experiences I’ve had is when I went to New Zealand in the 90s with my mom, aunt & cousins after my nana died, to settle my nana’s estate & sell her house & appliances, etc.

    Being a small town, people got wind that we were going to have a garage sale and started coming by early to check stuff out. I thought this was rude – our relative has died, we are trying to clean things up & you, a stranger, barge in like this in the evening unannounced! A particularly snooty woman showed up and started looking through things in the house that we had started to assemble for selling. Finally, she took a fancy to a pretty velvet bag.

    “Oh what a nice little bag! How much is this?” she exclaimed.

    My aunt and I were in the room where she had spotted the bag. I held my laugh in and ran to another room to try to tell my mother between laughter, “She is trying to buy nana’s ashes!” We were laughing so hard that we had to go outside (the neighbours asked us the next day why we were laughing & holding each other up). We left my aunt in there to deal with the snooty woman and I’ll never forget how hilarious it was when I heard my aunt reply in a very serious, matter-of-fact voice, “Actually, that’s my mother’s ashes”.

    Snooty lady was horrified but she so got what she deserved! She left without buying anything and never came back!

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

      I have an uncontrollable need to ensure that toilet paper is oriented on the dispenser in the “under” (& correct) position.

      Aha! I knew you were a heretic! All True Believers™ orient the TP in the “over” position. You’re just lucky that I left my copy of Malleus Maleficarum at home today…

      • Diana
        Posted November 5, 2013 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

        Ha! I weigh more than a duck so I’m not the malefica!

    • pacopicopiedra
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

      i agree completely with the toilet paper orientation. Have you seen the Simpsons episode where child protective services takes away the Simpsons’ kids (and sends them to the Flanders) for a variety of infractions including “toilet paper hung in the improper overhand fashion?”

      • Diana
        Posted November 5, 2013 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

        Yes! I loved that episode of the Simpsons! I was glad the writers understood proper toilet paper orientation!

        • pacopicopiedra
          Posted November 5, 2013 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

          It was a great episode. I still often refer to some kids as “little neglectorinos.”

    • Lianne Byram
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      What is the matter with you people?! How can you not see that the “over” position is the only sensible toilet paper dispenser arrangement?! Is there no limit to human irrationality?! ;)

      • Nwalsh
        Posted November 6, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

        +1

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted November 6, 2013 at 10:25 am | Permalink

        You will be assimilated into the new regime…

        • Lianne Byram
          Posted November 6, 2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink

          I will never surrender to your collective misguided one!

    • Greg Esres
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

      I was an “under” person many years ago, but then I was confronted by the evidence that “over” was correct: back when we had patterned toilet paper, the pattern would be hidden by the under position, but was very visible in the over position.

    • Posted November 6, 2013 at 12:24 am | Permalink

      The toilet roll holders in our house are vertical …

      /@

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted November 6, 2013 at 5:30 am | Permalink

        You just blew my mind.

      • HaggisForBrains
        Posted November 6, 2013 at 6:19 am | Permalink

        Splitter!

      • Posted November 6, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

        Hahahahahaa…. love those!

        We’re an OVER household, being not as advanced as you. The Over roll has advantages when you can’t find the end, especially in the dark… one can just claw at the roll with one’s nails to find some purchase.

        HOWEVER, this same argument has obvious pitfalls in cat-inhabited households! We’ve also had our d*gs constructing fluffy mounds of paper hills on the bathroom floor.

    • Matt G
      Posted November 6, 2013 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      OK, this is insane. When the loose end hangs on the toilet side (i.e., not the wall side), it doesn’t dispense fifty sheets when you pull hard enough to break the perforation. This is because you can pull AGAINST the roll, preventing it from spinning out of control. Why isn’t this OBVIOUS to you so-called educated and enlightened people?! Just, like, wow!

      • Diana
        Posted November 6, 2013 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

        I want my toilet paper to come out quickly, not fight it and have it break!

        You too will be assimilated in the new regime.

        • Matt G
          Posted November 6, 2013 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

          I, for one, welcome our new toilet paper roll Nazi overlords. Not!

          • Diana
            Posted November 6, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

            Resistance is futile.

            • Posted November 6, 2013 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

              You sure? I always thought it’s the ratio of voltage to current. But how is that important right now?

              b&

              • Matt G
                Posted November 6, 2013 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

                I always thought it was “resistance is fertile”, sort of a call to arms for the counter-cultural types.

              • Diana
                Posted November 7, 2013 at 1:41 am | Permalink

                Must be that psychic connection again because as I typed that I started thinking the same thing about resistance, then I started thinking about resistors in electronics but then I started watching TV.

                Ah Airplane – Leslie Neilson was the best. His brother was actually an MP and deputy prime minister of Canada for a while. They are both gone now. The world is a little less funny without Leslie.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted November 6, 2013 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

        Absolutely correct, Matt! That’s why I _always_ turn the roll so it hangs down on the outside.

        • Diana
          Posted November 7, 2013 at 1:56 am | Permalink

          This is not the correct answer. You will be need reprogramming in the new regime.

    • Matt G
      Posted November 6, 2013 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

      My maternal grandfather died one month after his 100th birthday (mission accomplished!). He wished to be cremated, but my grandmother did not honor this. My mother avenged my grandfather the next year when my grandmother died, wishing to be buried….

    • Posted November 6, 2013 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

      Re: toilet paper orientation

      I would simply appreciate the empty roll being removed and replaced with a full one, in either orientation. Really people, is it so complicated that you must leave it balanced on top of the empty so it falls and unrolls as it heads out the door?!? :)

      • Posted November 6, 2013 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

        …and this looks weirdly unrelated to the comment directly above (LOL).

      • Diana
        Posted November 7, 2013 at 1:52 am | Permalink

        Sometimes, I’m lucky enough to use this excuse when occasionally confronted with changing the orientation of the toilet paper. I feel if I put the toilet paper on after using up the last bit, that there should be no complaints.

        Of course, if I were on the other side of this, I’d go in to the washroom right away & correct the orientation if necessary. It’s my gift. It’s my curse.

        • Matt G
          Posted November 7, 2013 at 5:07 am | Permalink

          Diana, this is why public restrooms always lock up their toilet paper. It’s also why people don’t invite you to their homes as often as they used to. As Diane says, the ONLY exception is when there are felids (or d*gs, or small children) about.

          • Diana
            Posted November 7, 2013 at 7:37 am | Permalink

            Yes, I know it’s why the public restrooms lock their toilet paper. My vigilante group is a force to contend with.

            However, I think my friends are still unaware of my actions.

        • Posted November 7, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

          Well, we all have our cross to bear :).

          BTW I didn’t mention being grateful to correct the orientation because I try to keep my OCD in the closet.

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 6, 2013 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

      Well, you’re absolutely wrong about the toilet paper, of course. The only time the under orientation should ever be used is if you have a cat that likes to paw at the roll. Obviously, this is to prevent him from being able to unwind and entire roll at one time.

      Hilarious anecdote. I think when we’re grieving we’re just looking for something bizarre to crack us up. My daughter & I recently did so concerning my parents’ ashes…

    • Timothy Hughbanks
      Posted November 11, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      The under-over controversy is a favorite in my family. A recent post from my brother’s facebook page:
      http://currentconfig.com/2005/02/22/essential-life-lesson-1-over-is-right-under-is-wrong/

      • Lianne Byram
        Posted November 11, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

        Vindicated by science. Love it :)

        • lisa parker
          Posted November 13, 2013 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

          Okay, was this “Dear Abby” or “Ann Landers”?

  52. wildhog
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    Well the stories above are amazing and I now feel even worse about my boring life!

    1) I can roll up my tongue and whistle through it.

    2) While on a stay in the Peruvian Amazon, I got to play soccer with some natives. Their village had no running water or electricity, and the soccer goals had no netting. When a ball went through the log-frame goal, it went down the bank and into the river, which contained, among other things, caiman, piranhas, and electric eels.

    • BigBob
      Posted November 6, 2013 at 2:32 am | Permalink

      Don’t underestimate the power of the rollable whistling tongue Hog. Some day you will provide the missing piece of the ‘save those kids in the runaway bus’ puzzle.
      Bob(Big)

  53. Newish Gnu
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Unusual: I am terrible with faces and names but adroit with numbers. It is as if I see patterns in numbers and number sequences that I simply cannot explain with words. When I call someone by the wrong name — and that is frequent — almost invariably the wrong name I use will have the same number of letters as their actual name. This true for homophonic names as well. I might refer to Jeff as Mike but Geoff will get tagged with Roger. When I proudly point out this remarkable attribute to my wife, she responds by telling me I’ve known the person in question for 8 years and, No, it isn’t the least bit remarkable it just makes me seem stupid or rude, take my pick!

    Bizarre: I have four siblings. One of them is fairly brilliant but horribly anti-social and behaves in ways that are self sabotaging. He has been kicked out of at least 4 universities, including a very fine one in Chicago.

    When the FBI decided to make public some of their guesses about the Unabomber before he was caught, I thought of my brother. Brilliant? Chicago connection? Problems with authority? Pissed at professors? That manifesto? Oh my d*g, my brother could have written it. I read the whole damn thing highlighting passages that sounded eerily familiar. One discrepancy (age: my brother was a bit too young) finally persuaded me it just couldn’t be him.

    Over the next few years, I discovered that my other three siblings had all gone through the same analysis. I was amazed, however, at the sense of relief I felt when the FBI finally caught the Unabomber. Even though I “knew”, part of me was never quite convinced until the end.

    Well. Writing this just now feels strangely cathartic. Time for a drink.

    • Posted November 6, 2013 at 6:37 am | Permalink

      I too share the difficulty with names and faces to an extent that it sometimes leads to awkward situations with relatives and people at work. Same for birthdays. What are the birthdays of my wife and 3 children? I would have to look them up.
      And yet I have always had enhancements in other areas, especially in remembering details about the taxonomy and biology arthropods.

      • jesse
        Posted November 6, 2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink

        Oliver Sacks has this inability with faces. I believe he wrote about it in one of his books.

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 6, 2013 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

      Definitely a bizarre sibling story. Can’t quite imagine how that would have felt.

  54. cornbread_r2
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    Interesting: I was privileged to live and work at the Hansen’s disease facility at Kalaupapa, Hawaii for nine years.

    Weird: I posed as a Catholic priest for two days while traveling through the deep South via Greyhound bus.

    • cornbread_r2
      Posted November 11, 2013 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      Bizarre experience #2:

      While living at Kalaupapa our little village was visited by the *Russian* America’s Cup yacht on its way to San Diego for the race there in 1992. (Apparently they couldn’t afford to ship their boat to the race venue so they were sailing it across the Pacific instead.) The crew spent a day a half with us drinking and eating — including eating every single egg we had on hand — all under the watchful eye of a KGB agent.

  55. pacopicopiedra
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    ok, I’ll play.

    Interesting fact – My wife and I wanted our honeymoon to be more special than just a great vacation trip. My wife’s inspiration was a weeklong stay on a yacht called The Beagle exploring the Galápagos Islands. Best trip ever! And that was before we got SCUBA certified.

    Bizarre experience – I had my broken nose reset with a butter knife in a church parking lot. The story is this: At my friend’s wedding, the photographer wanted a picture of the groom and groomsmen jumping off a small stone wall. I was next to the groom and jumped a bit higher than he did. He jumped a bit to the right and my nose landed on the top of his head. Blood everywhere and my nose at a right angle in the middle of my face. I tried and failed to push it back into place with my thumb. People came over to see what was going on. My wife (who is a family doctor) mentioned that the tool ENTs use to reset noses looks like a butter knife. The bride’s uncle was an ENT. My friend ran into the church to get a butter knife. Sitting in the passenger seat of my car, the ENT started to shove the knife up my nose. Then he stopped and asked if anyone had a towel to drape over my tuxedo (not reassuring). He stuck the knife up my nose and said, “this will probably hurt quite a bit.” Then he cranked on the knife a few times and I felt my nose move back into place. It hurt quite a bit. I walked around the rest of the wedding with a big bag of ice on my face. I sent a thank you note and a bottle of wine to the very nice (and brave) ENT for saving me from a surgery and thousands in medical fees. It’s still got a slight bend, but overall he did a great job. And my friend got the video on his phone.

    • Diana
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

      Ugh! I was holding my nose in sympathetic pain – that must’ve killed!

    • jesse
      Posted November 6, 2013 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      “I had my broken nose reset with a butter knife in a church parking lot.”

      Best opening line in the world.

      • Diane G.
        Posted November 6, 2013 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

        + 1

        • jesse
          Posted November 7, 2013 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

          Honestly. I mean, can’t you just see it at the beginning of the a John Irving novel?

    • Posted November 6, 2013 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      Share video, please?

      • pacopicopiedra
        Posted November 6, 2013 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

        I don’t know. I don’t think I want that to end up on YouTube.

  56. CassieM
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Hey there – long time listener, first time caller. Actually, it is my third time commenting, but my commenting to reading ratio is extremely small, kind of like the surface area to volume ratio of an elephant.

    Anyway…

    1) Here are a couple semi-interesting things that perhaps add up to something awesome? I have an inordinate fondness for office supplies; I’ve been known to go to Staples for fun. I did not see mountains or the ocean until I was 22, and I’ve never really left the USA (I’m 30). I am a belly dancing biologist; the most fun is when you do it with a sword on your head – the belly dancing not the biology. My cat’s name is Little Kitty, and he is not little.

    2) I don’t know if this qualifies as bizarre, but it’s definitively relevant to this website. When I was a misguided adolescent, I was filmed saying something like, “we should let others know that G*d loves us, and we should live a good life to honor him”. My friend took me to church with her a couple times, and I got cornered by a person with a video camera. I’ve been an atheist for 10 years, and I don’t think I was ever really a believer; I hope that video never comes back to haunt me! What is even funnier is that my friend only went to the church because she wanted to hang out with a 13-year-old boy at the super fun teen time after Wednesday night service; we were at least 16. In fact, all my church experiences were had because of some form of “all the cool kids are doing it” or bribery with now and laters.

    • CassieM
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

      That should be definitely not definitively. Oh, autocorrect. At least, I didn’t try to put an A in it and have it autocorrect to defiantly!

  57. Greg Esres
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    1. I hate food. I am revolted by vegetables. I don’t eat anything that contains nuts. Seafood is gross. I don’t touch anything with ketchup, although bbq sauce is ok. The odor of eggs is enough to make me nauseated.

    2. I once flew under a rainbow in a small airplane. I wasn’t actually sure I could reach the rainbow, because I assumed that the optics always put it in the distance. But as we got closer and closer, I told my student that the physicists say that rainbows are full circles, and as we passed under it, I could see the other half of the rainbow below us, making the circle complete.

    • Dave
      Posted November 5, 2013 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

      Which was the bizarre thing? :-)

    • Marella
      Posted November 8, 2013 at 2:56 am | Permalink

      I once flew in a small plane, slightly above hundreds of fluffy white clouds, in which full circle rainbows nestled like jewels in cotton wool. It was amazing.

  58. Posted November 5, 2013 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    Unusual fact about me: Growing up on State Parks all over Arizona I have had numerous run-ins, in the wild, with interesting (and terrifying) examples of nature’s ingenuity, including rattlesnakes, Gila monsters, tarantulas, centipedes, javelinas, coyotes and a myriad of painful cacti and other succulents.

    Bizarre experience: At six years old I was hiking with my grandparents near our home at Picacho Peak, when a snarling and growling coyote approached us from further down the mountain. My grandpa picket up a softball sized rock and konked it on the head. It yelped and retreated, leaving a trail of blood behind. Later, Game & Fish wardens followed the trail and found the rabid coyote in a cave and put it out of its misery. I guess that’s why I am not much of a d*g person to this day!

    • Posted November 6, 2013 at 6:44 am | Permalink

      Yikes! I had spent many years in Arizona, and I loved it. Wish I had found a Gila monster, though. I still tell my kids about Cholla cactus — the plant so mean it will attach you for even coming near it.

      • Posted November 6, 2013 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

        Regarding the Gila monster, I also have a funny anecdote, when I was small a park ranger gave a demonstration and I remember him mentioning that Gila monsters store food for later. I took it to mean that they could have a snack by turning around and chewing on their own tail, and this was a running joke for years.

    • krzysztof1
      Posted November 6, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      Ah yes, Picacho Peak. I know it well! Strangely enough, speaking of cholla, when I was little, my parents and sister and I, and our pet Boston terrier, Pepper, drove from Coolidge to Tucson and decided to have a picnic out on the desert along the way. We were enjoying ourselves and didn’t notice that Pepper had wandered off. Soon we heard a piercing “Ki-yi, ki-yi!” of a dog in agony and discovered Pepper was completely covered in cactus spines. He had had an encounter with a cholla! Panic-stricken, I asked Dad what we were going to do, and he said, “Oh, oh! I guess we’ll just have to put him in the garbage!” Fortunately we took him to the vet instead. He got all the spines out and Pepper was just fine! (Dad could be a little histrionic at times.)

      • Posted November 6, 2013 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

        Early on we learned a handy trick – using a comb to slide between the chunk of cactus and our skin, allowing for quick yanking, without touching any spines!

        Oddly enough, our cats didn’t get into cacti too often, but occasionally they would come in with porcupine quills, although in all my years in the desert, I’ve never actually seen a porcupine. Skunks, however are prevalent and almost worse to deal with than cacti!

        • Posted November 6, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

          Wouldn’t that just remove the cactus and leave the spines behind?

          b&

          • Posted November 6, 2013 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

            Nope! In my experience it comes off in one piece, but if you’re one who wouldn’t rip a band-aid off, I don’t recommend it :).

            • Posted November 7, 2013 at 9:02 am | Permalink

              Thanks, then! I’ll try to remember it.

              …though I do have a really good streak of putting more than a few miles on paths in South Mountain and Lost Dutchman parks, with no incidents yet….

              b&

    • Posted November 6, 2013 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

      Oh, I forgot scorpions – how could I forget them?

  59. Posted November 6, 2013 at 12:50 am | Permalink

    1. I can roll my upper lip upward and completely seal my nostrils. It’s very handy for swimming.

    2. I’ve run across a field half naked (bottom half) because my partner and I had been camped out without a tent in a thin wooded area in a large park in Seattle. There had been no sprinklers the previous night, so my partner and I did not expect sprinklers that night… Long story short, after some sexy time, we fell asleep… and then were awakened to all our things becoming quickly wettened. Which forced us to grab all our stuff and run out of the woods and across a field to dry land.

  60. Coolred38
    Posted November 6, 2013 at 1:14 am | Permalink

    1. Something interesting about me. I come from a very long line of brown haired, brown eyed, darker skinned relatives and yet I have red hair, blue eyes, and pale skin with freckles. And no, I am not adopted and my father is my father etc. etc. (jokes I have had to put up with since birth)

    2. I once stood in a Sharia Court in a Muslim country facing a hostile Sharia judge who was very upset that I dared not wear hijab (head covering) in his court room even though there is no law in that country ordering hijab anywhere at anytime. He tried to explain to me that hijab is ordered in the Quran and was quite upset when I openly disagreed with him that it was not. He made some comments about my immodesty in Arabic while also asking what sort of Muslim I was(which I still was at the time) to say such a thing. I answered in Arabic (which threw the whole room into dead silence) that I was not in court to discuss my modesty nor the merits of hijab…just the issue of my case. He nearly exploded from self righteousness and insisted I needed to have my case seen by another judge. I agreed and was ushered out of the court. I later wrote a letter complaining about this judge to the local newspaper. While I included the judge’s name I did not expect it to be included in the newspaper…yet it was there. The resulting fall out and back lash was quite interesting and I was touted as some kind of hero by every woman I met after that (and by some men as well). The newspaper asked me for a follow up but I didn’t wish to push my luck as I am very well aware it could have gone in a different direction if the judge had wanted it too. I realize I tread a very dangerous line that day in his court room but in my defense, I had reached my limit in the bullshit every single man in my life had rained down on me up to that point…that judge was the last straw, so to speak. I don’t think I could have played nice that day even if I had been thinking more clearly.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted November 6, 2013 at 5:33 am | Permalink

      I have a friend who has all dark skinned, blue eyes relatives but she is blonde haired & blue eyed. It is funny to see her in pictures with her family.

      I’m light skinned and my dad has dark skin, I uses to complain about how I was ripped off until a another friend pointed out that she was part black yet had fair akin. :)

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 6, 2013 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

      RE your court experience–Brava!

  61. Hanna Pentikäinen
    Posted November 6, 2013 at 1:49 am | Permalink

    I’ve read this amazing website for many years, but I’ve never commented before. The possibility of winning WEIT is just too tempting that I must post my entry for the contest.

    An interesting thing about me: I’m responsible for the initial asteroid orbit determination code for the ESA Gaia space observatory, which will be launched in December. The algorithm computes orbit distributions for newly found asteroids by Gaia. The results are then forwarded to observatories around the globe for further investigation.

    A bizarre thing that has happened to me: When I was in high school, my English teacher (an American) tried to tempt me into joining Opus Dei. Her basic strategy was to friend female students, who were either far away from home or didn’t have many friends, by taking them out for ice cream after school. I always saw through her scheme, but was so fascinated I got to see inside the house where the single female Opus Dei members live in Helsinki (God had told her to come to Finland of all places). She knew I didn’t believe in anything she said, but she kept trying. Intermittently, she would lose a lot of weight, because her lunch was chewing gum. I understood it was some kind of self-torture.

  62. Posted November 6, 2013 at 2:14 am | Permalink

    It has nothing to do with me, but this is something bizarre. Many people know about high-tech Japanese toilets designed to hide unpleasant sounds since many Japanese are embarrassed by excretory functions. But some are also embarrassed by looking inelegant while eating. Get a load of this: http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/japan-burger-kette-bringt-maske-fuer-frauen-auf-den-markt-a-931864.html

    • Posted November 6, 2013 at 2:17 am | Permalink

      Just watch the video if you can’t read German (I know Jerry can).

  63. Posted November 6, 2013 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    OK, not everyone here can read German, but you might get the gist of this (which is primarily about e-books written in English): http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/web/dinosaurier-pornos-auf-der-kindle-plattform-boomt-bizarr-erotik-a-930569.html

    Hint: it’s about dinosaur sex. Here is the photo gallery from the article: http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/bizarre-erotik-ebooks-sind-heimliche-kindle-bestseller-fotostrecke-103174.html

    Apparently bestiality is a forbidden topic for self-published Kindle e-books, but that only includes animals which a) actually exist and b) at the present time.

    • Posted November 6, 2013 at 2:21 am | Permalink

      Order your books now! http://www.amazon.com/Alara-Branwen/e/B0095BUYAQ/ref

    • Alex Shuffell
      Posted November 6, 2013 at 2:22 am | Permalink

      You can buy those Dinosaur-erotica books on Amazon, only available on the Kindle so I’ve not read any.

      • Alex Shuffell
        Posted November 6, 2013 at 2:23 am | Permalink

        Sorry, we posted this at the same time. I didn’t see your other comment.

      • Posted November 6, 2013 at 2:43 am | Permalink

        Right, only on the Kindle. Perhaps this is because the person opposite you can’t as easily see what you’re reading. Like with VHS 30 years ago, maybe it will be porn which will make the Kindle universal. :-)

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted November 6, 2013 at 10:31 am | Permalink

          You just put a book cover around it. I once read a comic book at work this way. :)

          • Posted November 7, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

            Comic book? Yeah, right.

            • Diana
              Posted November 7, 2013 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

              Yep, my friend lent me his Terminator comic books & I read them.

  64. Alex Shuffell
    Posted November 6, 2013 at 2:20 am | Permalink

    Interesting thing about me: I was trained how to walk by a d*g more than by my parents. She was a Japanese Spitz named Jasmine. I used to grab her fur as we walked, when I fell she helped me back up and I pulled myself up on her fur (sometimes ripping out handfuls) she didn’t seem to mind. She was a good trainer.

    Bizarre: I was walking through Torquay town centre (in England) at about 4:30 on a thursday morning on the way to wonder about the harbours an the beach. On my way there two people put their arms around me (they looked like boyfriend and girlfriend) and thought I was their dealer, they tried taking me back to their flat. They apologised when I told them I’m not the person they were looking for. This has happened more than once. When I got to the beach I just sat and thought pretentious thoughts waiting for the sun to rise. A few minutes later a man about 20 years older walked up and sat beside me, he had a very strong Irish accent and I presumed he was just as weird as I was to be out here at this time talking to strangers, so I was interested. We walked about the beach for an hour. Being Irish he was very Catholic and I am very atheist, we started debating. After an hour we sat on the beach together and he started asking if I’ve ever had any gay experiences or thoughts, while he kept trying to tell me he’s not gay. Then he kissed me and started groping my leg. I told him no, he let go. Like the couple I met earlier he was also embarrassed and apologised. I tried hard not to laugh. I soon found out the sun rises on the other side of Torquay behind the cliffs.

  65. Posted November 6, 2013 at 3:23 am | Permalink

    1) My mom was once invited to a private party by Phil Collins and declined.

    2) My mom was once invited to a private party by Phil Collins and DECLINED!

    True story.

  66. eveysolara
    Posted November 6, 2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    1. I’m an anti-natalist

    2. I post half-naked dance videos on my youtube channel.

  67. Posted November 6, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    1. I am perhaps the only person in the country named in honor of newscaster Douglas Edwards [you have to be fairly old to remember him].

    2. Although I did the graphic design and helped publish “MennonPause”, a 60′s underground newspaper at Mennonite-affiliated Goshen College, I did not get expelled, unlike the four fellows who unwisely signed their names to the short-lived, mimeographed paper.

    • Posted November 11, 2013 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

      That sounds amazing…what was in the paper?

      • Posted November 12, 2013 at 8:38 am | Permalink

        Digging into the archives :-) I see that the first issue was fairly benign; a spoof railing against the College’s policy against dancing [which our class pretty much demolished with the advent of a student band called the Corrupters], a graph showing the demise of the prayer coverings worn by the young ladies shown in the yearbook [from 231 to 2, years 1953-1967], a challenge to the women’s dorm policy of curfew at 11. What probably tweeked administration the most was the list of offensive words deleted from the issue, e.g. golly-gee, heck, fink, LBJ, and fuck-37 times. The second, and last, issue had an ode to the four-letter word, a thoughtful article about what is really obscene, e.g. racism, hypocrisy, and a regraph of the covering data, from a linear scale to a log scale – much more impressive!

        After the second issue, the four “editors” were called in and expelled. I don’t think that any of them returned to Goshen.

  68. Posted November 6, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    1. Computers work for me. No, I don’t mean that in a mundane sense. In my case, if somebody says the computer isn’t working properly, I’ll go up to the computer and it shows absolutely nothing wrong. It just works for me. Makes me a horrible beta tester.

    2. I jumped out of a perfectly good helicopter at 3,000 feet above the ground. It was the only time I had a chance to do this and I had a great time (although I think I blacked out for a second) but if I could have, I would have done it again. A most extraordinary event in my life.

  69. krzysztof1
    Posted November 6, 2013 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    1. Fact: If I decide that learning how to do something is important to me, I will do it. Example: I do not have a good sense of balance, so things like riding a bicycle, roller skating and downhill skiing came hard and late for me. But I eventually learned how to do all three (after many falls and being bitten on the arm by a crazed Weimaraner while practicing riding my sister’s bicycle.)

    2. Strange experience: When I was in high school in central Arizona, I decided one day to hike out into the desert north of Coolidge. (I liked walking.) I noticed some buzzards riding the thermals to the west, so I got the idea to start staggering around like a man dying of thirst to see if I could get their attention. Finally I fell down in the dirt and lay still. That did the trick! Gradually they started circling overhead and spiraling lower and lower. I decided that when I could see their beady little eyes that it was time to stop playing games!

    • Posted November 6, 2013 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

      That is a bizarre story. I had heard that buzzards had extraordinary senses of smell and could smell rotting carcasses from miles away. I know after being out in the desert for awhile you can feel like you’re dead, but smell that way too? I was always creeped out by birds’ beady eyes, and hated those vultures in the Jungle Book!

      • krzysztof1
        Posted November 7, 2013 at 9:12 am | Permalink

        When I was in high school all I knew about buzzards was from cartoons and comics! Of course it’s the sense of smell that attracts them to carrion, so it’s kind of a mystery that they did that. So maybe something I did caught their attention. Had I known what I know now, I might have taken some spoiled meat with me!

        • Posted November 11, 2013 at 11:55 am | Permalink

          Some species of vultures are not guided by smell. Black vultures, common in the southern US, are probably not smellers; they watch the ones that do find carcasses by smell (Turkey Vultures) and then chase them off the prize.

          • krzysztof1
            Posted November 11, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

            Interesting! Those birds I saw could have been black vultures. They were at least black!

  70. Matt G
    Posted November 6, 2013 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    I belonged to Tank, part of Oberlin’s student cooperative. We had a tradition of Wednesday night parties which we would advertise by running through the library in our underwear. This included jumping from the third floor to the second. After “Tanksgiving” dinner one year, I started a tradition of nude crew (post-meal clean-up) which, continues to the present (or at least a few years ago…).

    After Oberlin I moved to NYC. I lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn and commuted to Cornell Med Center on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. My primary subway line was the F train. One day on my way home from a long and tiring day in the lab, I witnessed the following series of events. A very proper, British-looking gentleman in his sixties (jacket, vest, hat, etc) was seated next to the window, with a twenty-something largish fellow seated between him and the aisle. The young guy was asleep, and over the course of the ride began to tip toward the gentleman, who did his very best to escape being leaned on by leaning into the window in as dignified a manner as is possible in these circumstances. After a while the young man began to tip the other way, namely toward the aisle. By the time he had reached a ninety degree angle, I was in tears laughing, wondering how long it would be before he toppled to the floor. I can’t imagine what the other passengers thought about this crazy person laughing hysterically on the subway.

    • Matt G
      Posted November 6, 2013 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      Oops! The nude crew thing started in 1986, so it will be 28 years this Tanksgiving!

  71. Eduardo
    Posted November 6, 2013 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations! Love the page.

    1. The founder or my mother’s lineage in Uruguay , a military officer in the invading Portuguese army in 1816, was married to his wife by independence activist, naturalist, and clergyman Dámaso Larrañaga. A few years later Larrañaga would meet with Charles Darwin during his stay in Uruguay in the course of the voyage that would lead him to develop his idea of evolving species. My excruciatingly tenuous link to Charles Darwin!

    2. On 2nd grade I had a teacher who asked us to raise our hands if we believed in god. A couple days latter she divided us in small groups to discuss the likelihood that god existed. I was very young so my recollection is limited but it’s clear in my mind she wasn’t trying to discriminate or proselytize but to make us think critically. Most kids kept their hands down which wouldn’t be unusual as this took place in Uruguay, the nation with the highest percentage of atheists in the Americas and where religion is traditionally kept private. I remember I already had a very solid atheistic view of life so I enthusiastically participated despite I’ve always been introverted. I remember she was young and her face very vaguely. I do not remember her name or know if she’s still alive. Sometimes I wish I could contact her to thank her for the experience and to find out what prompted her to carry out the project. It’s true treatment of religion in Uruguay is relaxed but I still find it unusual she would have lead us to such debate. I can only imagine the commotion if this happened in the American south (I now live in Michigan ). Her charred remains would still be hanging from a flag pole…

    • krzysztof1
      Posted November 11, 2013 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      I had noticed that about Uruguay having a high percentage of atheists! Cool story.

  72. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted November 6, 2013 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    Okay, not sure which is bizarre and which is ‘interesting’ but here goes…

    1. When I walk in the bush (or anywhere), I like to walk barefoot. Helped by New Zealand’s comparative lack of snakes ‘n’ bitey things. My favourite surface is springy leaf litter, but mud, rocks, sand, grass or tree roots are all fine. I just hate gravel (when walking; when driving, I love loose gravel roads).

    2. And I love mountain scenery, though I’m not too good at heights. Well, I was in Switzerland, due to meet some friends in Andermatt at the end of a long day; I drove west over the Nufenen Pass (fantastic snowfields, shining in the sun), and then I just had to get over the Furka. Well the west side goes up like a wall, though the road is quite wide and has enough Armco (guard rails) to keep me happy; when I got to the top I was half-expecting that the east side might be like the Nufenen, with a long gradual descent in a high valley. Well, no. No, no, and no. I just stopped in shock. The east side runs high along the ridge, with just those pathetic stone posts at the edge, or in places a bit of 1″ water pipe that wouldn’t stop a bicycle. There’s something about seeing the edge of the road outlined against the mountains in the distance with miles of nothingness in between that gets to me. And the drop is on the right-hand side the entire way. It just totally freaked me out, I went the whole way down at 20mph on the left-hand (wrong) side, except when approaching blind bends or when I saw traffic ahead or behind (almost none, fortunately), at which I crept over to the right-hand side and crawled along at 5mph swearing continuously till it was past. My friends caught me by chance near the bottom of the pass – “Who’s that wally? – bloody hell it’s II!” But at least I could say to them afterwards, “Well, I’ve done the Furka. And I’m never going near the furka again!”

    • Diana
      Posted November 7, 2013 at 1:58 am | Permalink

      I would have done the same thing. That would totally have freaked me out!

  73. Anthony Leet
    Posted November 6, 2013 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    You may have blacked out but more likely it was sensory overload. Well thats what my instructor warned me about before my first jump. Can’t remember first 10 seconds or so.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted November 7, 2013 at 6:20 am | Permalink

      Looks like an orphaned comment (on my laptop) but I assume it is a response to -blacking-out-while-jumping-from-an-helicopter comment. I wish that had happened to me for my first jump – I did it to crack my height-phobia.

      Did work to, because I had to sit close to the open door during ascent. Took years before I got it again and had to do something again. (Today it is as easy as watching Avatar in 3D, fortunately.)

  74. Posted November 7, 2013 at 4:50 am | Permalink

    Unusual Thing About Myself

    I was diagnosed by the Four Humours Theory of Bodily Function!

    My Scandinavian-Irish family seem to have two generations to every other family’s three. My father was born the century before last in 1897. He was born only 80 years after the Portuguese Catholics in India were burning people alive. And he was born only 37 years after the understanding of germ theory. Because his own father was steeped in the Four Humours Theory (4HT) of bodily health, my father drew upon its precepts to diagnose my own childhood illnesses such as chicken-pox.

    Such childhood woo influenced my life. A slow life is a long life. My first child was born nearly a century later in 1994. I live on my farm in the mountains of Burgundy, not far from some of the greatest vineyards,. (JAC’s dinner with Pinker featured a wine from down the road) I find it best to do things slowly and leisurely. I haven’t found it necessary to run since 1949. I do occasionally get involved in an outdoor sport – I have been known to play chess at a Paris Café table in St Germain. I have visited over 70 countries, many obscure; most States of the USA, and I have lived 40 years abroad. My life has been a continuous search to understand the fundamentals of human belief and behaviour.

    One Bizarre Experience

    I discovered the Iraqi WMD’s!

    Sorry to put an old canard to sleep, but there were once WMDs all over Iraq. I know because I was there. And I discovered some!

    I was covering the first Gulf War for several TV companies, I was left behind at The Peace Camp when all the journalists were told to leave as war approached. And got the very first photos of the allied bombing. The first was a picture of a row of bombed shops with a mosque in the distance. It went on the front page of almost every newspaper and magazine in the world. And it disproved Stormin’ Normin’s claim that the allied bombs were targeted to military objectives. We heard that a Baby Milk Factory had been bombed, which was thought to be an act of terrorism by the Americans against the civilian population. The truth is a little stranger.

    Some of us took a bus to near Abu Ghraib to see the BabyMilk factory, but on the way we stopped at the wrong factory. A big sign at the gates said ‘BabyMilk’ but the place was a chemical weapons factory full of soldiers. There were old tyres burning at the back to pretend that the place had already been bombed. I was formerly a research chemist and knew it was a chemical factory by the smell, by the labels on the chemical containers and by the layout of the place. Some soldiers rushed out and began punching the bus drive to make him move away. Five miles further on we found the real bombed BabyMilk Factory. I checked it out and it was genuine. (Even the reagents in brown bottles came from a company in the UK I had once worked-for) My film and photos went all around the world. That was 1992. Hans Blix and his UN team destroyed many WMD facilities but not all. I later found more.

    Back home I found declassified CIA documents on the internet from local Iraqi spies who had driven past the first, phony BabyMilk factory and had reported it to the allies. Clearly we bombed the wrong factory! Feel free to apply this corrective to historical mistakes.

    S’funny how the hidden truths of the world come out on Jerry Coyne’s blog!

  75. Posted November 7, 2013 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    Something About Myself

    My Brain Doesn’t Work Like Others’ Brains !

    My brain may be Asperger’s! As a child, and isolated by deafness, I made a lab in a shed, using powerful magnets, a small furnace, and lab glassware. I caused an explosion by accidentally igniting hydrogen. When my mother came to investigate I told her that I had dropped a carboy onto a concrete floor.

    I came to understand religion by realising that within human society there are several common forms of ‘consciousness’ unlike mine, and that the human brain can use different operating software, just like computers. Religion, The Law, Medicine or academia are group activities formed by differentiated operating software, each with its own very specific characteristics.

    From childhood I find it difficult to believe anyone about anything, (so did Darwin!!! And Einstein, so there!) I enter into complex observation, and even set-up experiments which seem to disprove popular beliefs. And so many credible and logical objections spring to mind for almost any expressed belief. As a child I dismissed religion, but after five or six years in several universities in the UK and USA, I equally dismissed psychology and sociology as being the result of hidden assumptions concerning the nature of reality, – which go on to form a type of ‘consciousness’ in some individuals.

    If possible become Asperger’s. It is possible that most top scientists are Asperger’s. They take little on faith, and have to find things out for themselves.

    One Bizarre Experience

    I crossed the Danube Under Fire

    Traveling to War-Torn Yugoslavia I stopped at the Belgrade Press-Office to check-out other journalists who said that I should go to Croatia, because you get free hotels, food and a car. They warned that the Serbs were violent and could kill you. So we took overnight busses to Serbia; to the frontline in Krajina province, where two towns, Borovo-Naselje and Vukovar at war faced each other around a curve of the Danube.

    The friendly Serbs took us across the Danube in a small boat with sniper holes in the sail and so we had to lie flat. We walked into Borovo-Naselje and there was a street market and kids on tricycles. I asked when the war started, and they said at five o’clock every night. By four the street-people were clearing down to the cellars, and by five the first Croatian shells came over from Vukovar.

    Some time later I made it into Vukovar, to the rubble-strewn streets, and noticed that someone had left a bundle in the road. A walked over to it, and amid the flies, I could see that it was the rotting body of an old woman.

    We had met a Swiss reporter called Chris who was clearly manic. My assistant, an Israeli girl called Libby, who worked for Mossad at low-level intelligence-gathering, fell for Chris and they ‘moved-in’ together. But Chris crossed the lines and joined the Croatians, and was murdered (by garrotting) by some suspicious Croat soldiers. Maybe to steal his laptop.

    Chris’s body was repatriated to Switz. And we put together a film-crew set off to attend his funeral. We went to the hospital that had performed an autopsy on Chris to find-out how he had died. Not knowing that Liddy was Chris’s lover, the doctor unexpectedly spread large coloured photos showing Chris’s corpse and his organs spread across the table. As an old pro in filmmaking a hissed to another assistant, ‘Keep your camera running’, but she had switched-off in shock.

    I often go to places of conflict because what is reported in the papers rarely has any reality. Be sceptical, my friends, be very sceptical, particularly about war. In war zones both sides put together spin-doctors to make-up the most fantastic of lies, and innocent journalist often write them down as if they are the truth.

  76. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted November 7, 2013 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    I can weave those together:

    Unusual:
    I have (had) both an outlier robust skeleton as “one in 3000 or so” and outlier long teeth roots at about the same anecdotal level.

    People may say they are “heavy boned” but I truly was. I once tried to estimate it and concluded tentatively that I lugged around ~ 1 kg extra skeletal mass of the average ~ 15 kg of live bones, in my twenties. (Bones being constantly remodeled.)

    Bizarre:
    The teeth roots is presumably inherited from my father that has the same trait. But the skeletal peculiarity surfaced in my early teens as some of my joints measured adult sized. Nothing bizarre until I had a chest x-ray to check out before taking divers certificate. As I stood and waited for the exam to be finished I instead see a gaggle of doctors congregate, squawking, before the screen.

    I was cool as I felt in perfect health. But since no one remembered their bedside manners I finally enticed a nurse to get over and respond to my “!?”. And then I heard that I was the hospital’s new side show, the most robust skeleton they had seen. :-O

    • Diana
      Posted November 7, 2013 at 7:57 am | Permalink

      Maybe you’re a neandertal throw back. :)

      • Lianne Byram
        Posted November 7, 2013 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

        I think it’s so cool that many of us have some neanderthal genes. I used to feel quite sad that they had died out completely. Not sure why. I don’t feel any particular distress about Australopithecus for example :)

  77. Posted November 7, 2013 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Hopefully interesting thing: with a career life in public health and a fortuitous relationship with an extremely talented and motivated person, managed to make substantial contributions to the sexually transmitted disease literature working outside of academia. (neither of us have advanced degrees)

    The bizarre: a couple years back was getting pestered by detectives trying to find someone with my name (different middle initial, thankfully) who was apparently committing fraud and covering tracks trying to use the identities of similarly-named people. Doing a little sleuthing of my own, I discovered a “Father” Stephen Muth out there who had written many odious anti-abortion tracts in various church newsletters. Looking at his online history, it became immediately apparent he was being shuttled from parish to parish — with some latest missive of his referring to being unfairly maligned… falsely accused of unspecified misdeeds. One of the places he spent a year or so at… the same church I used to play organ at.

    Kind of reminds me of a joke… nah. I’ll refrain.

    • Posted November 7, 2013 at 8:02 am | Permalink

      …and yes, I don’t mind ending sentences using prepositions with.

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 7, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      OT: Stephen, I did read your response to my request for a definition of CSW; thank you. I agree with you about the dubious benefit of political correctness in such matters. Wanted you to know I didn’t mean to disappear in mid-conversation, I just waited too long to respond and couldn’t refind the post…

      More on-topic: my salary was once mistakenly garnished as I shared a first & last name with some deadbeat, though we also had different middle initials. (Just who ARE the so-called authorities that can create absolute havoc for someone on the basis of such careless misidentification?) Your experience makes mine look so bland. :D

      • Posted November 11, 2013 at 10:25 am | Permalink

        You’re welcome. Glad you agree. For some, the one argument for CSW — that it is less offensive to those that have decided the word “prostitute” is offensive — trumps all other arguments, always. Here’s a bit of our response in the discourse. It’s sad that no one has made any comments on the original work, other than to carp about a perfectly fine (and scientific) term.

        I’ve also relented about telling the joke, presuming present company is OK with off-colo(u)r humor… it’s an oldie, though.

        Q: what’s better than roses on the piano? (anyone, feel free to provide the punch line. no Googling.)

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted November 11, 2013 at 10:52 am | Permalink

          Oldie? That joke has witnessed the growth of the geological column [to pun a little on the answer]

          P.S. to anyone knowledgeable reading this…

          I have read people on blourg comments referring to the “geologic column” & heard it once from a Yank geologist… is that an accepted Americanism or just bad grammar? Seems wrong to me as it conflates the suffix “-ology” with “logic”

          • Posted November 11, 2013 at 11:26 am | Permalink

            Thanks. You’ve absolved me from having to say anything risible. And to this day, I cannot keep empiric vs. empirical straight, despite having gotten it worngly in a scientific talk, so I’m not the right person to ask about geologic.

  78. Posted November 7, 2013 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Something About Myself
    I was a Close Friend of the Great Train Robber.

    The most notorious crime in Britain was the Great Train Robbery of 1963, when a gang stopped a night-train carrying used banknotes to London to be destroyed, and stole £3 million (about $5 million) in cash. I was about 20 when I met Ron (Biggs) who moved into a neighbouring house to be with a girl (called ‘Ivy’ in the film and TV drama)

    He was ten years older and fresh out of prison for stealing and selling a car. He bought a motorbike (Francis Barnett 225cc Cruiser) and we would go for rides around the countryside. He looked like Phil Collins when young, and had an extraordinary ability to give imprecise précis of his activities, i.e. Lies!

    At the time of the robbery he disappeared, but I saw on B&W television, the police pulling his distinctive motorbike from the bushes at the crime-scene.
    He famously married a Brazilian and had a child to stay in Brazil. He is now a senile old man in the UK, and something of a journalistic celebrity.

    One Bizarre Experience
    The Queen ‘Wrote’ to Me in the Jungle.

    I had heard that new ruins had been discovered near Tikal in Guatemala. I was on my way through the jungle in a Volkswagen camper when a group of government soldiers with guns spread out on the dirt road and stopped me. A lad of about sixteen, in army fatigues and carrying some automatic weapon, poked me in the belly and demanded something in Spanish. On account of my long hair and beard it was apparent that he had thought that they had captured jungle rebels, like Ché. I had no Spanish, and so I pointed to a grass-roofed hut down the road and asked in broken Spanish if I could get something to eat there. He looked surprised, and said, ‘Si!” and lowered his gun. So I trundled down as slowly as possible (make no sudden movements as far as guns are concerned) and lunched off a bowl of slightly rancid rice and beans while the soldiers sat across the road, watching.

    Finding the village in the jungle, I was surprised when an official red motorbike drove through one evening. And I was summoned to go to the larger village post-office a mile or two away to pick-up an official letter. I walked the two miles, and, with ceremony, the letter was handed to me. It looked official, and had “On Her Majesty’s Service’ in bold type on the front. The Post thought it might be from the Queen of England. The letter had followed me across Mexico and into Guatemala. It was a demand from the tax office for £13 (about $20) on my old cottage in England.

    I set off to walk back to the smaller village and tried to find a shortcut through the jungle. But I got lost upon zigzagging paths, and sat down to rest as it got dark. From the far distance I faintly heard a generator start-up, which guided me back to my village.
    ………………………………………………………………………………..

    Sorry for too much posting on this site, but it is kinda interesting, is it not?

    • Posted November 7, 2013 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      Pretty funny stuff. My GF (triple citizen) has lots of mail forwarded from and to all parts of the world. The “Royal Mail” postmarks always get a rise out of people in the backwoods of this side of the planet.

      Once, as we were at a checkpoint in southern Mexico, surrounded by teenage Mayans with automatic weaponry, the rental would not start. (needed a push) The “kids” were ready to spring into action to help out, after our questioning. She sweetly offered to hold their guns (in her perfect Spanish) while they pushed. And there was much jocularity.

  79. Posted November 7, 2013 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Something About Myself

    I have a Disturbing Memory for Conversations

    Especially when younger I could immediately recall quite long conversations between groups of people; who said what, and in which order. If someone came late for a dinner-party I could catch them up, and sometimes my recall would go on for half and hour. People enjoyed hearing a reappraisal of what they had said an hour earlier. It does allow for interesting debates with religious folk when I can ponder over what they had just said, and tear it apart an hour later.
    An uncanny memory for facts and figures makes for fun times. While at my television studio the crew would tease me by giving me a ten second countdown while I faced a live camera, and then they would throw-in an odd subject in the lasts second to see if I could talk convincingly about it; something like ‘I-Beams’ or ‘Mongolia’ or ‘Marsupials’ or ‘Baffin Island’.

    One Bizarre Experience

    I find Tennessee Williams’ Dog

    I was introduced to Tennessee Williams at an fancy-dress open-air party in Key West, Florida, where he came dressed as Yasser Arafat, with red Arab scarf. He was, perhaps, America’s greatest literary figure whose plays such as ‘The Glass Menagerie’ recalled the touching delicacy of human feeling within vulnerable people; but there was something of himself in those fictional characters.

    I asked him of his favourite play, and he replied ‘Chekhov’s ‘The Seagull’ but added that it was rare to see it performed. Being a director of Shakespeare at a local theatre, I called actors together for a production at ‘The Waterfront Playhouse’ with my wife playing the lead. On the last rehearsal, Tennessee came to see it in an empty auditorium, and we sat all alone, side by side in the dark with him holding-on tightly to my arm. He loved it, and became particularly excited when Nina came on. Afterwards, he was so gracious to the excellent caste.

    He had a house with a pool nearby, and we became friends; I think that he likes my Englishness, and our mutual old-fashioned consideration for others. Together we would make Cool-Aid in his kitchen to serve to the ‘very important people’ who crashed his house all the time. He had to go up to New York for an opening of his new play, and so he asked me to look after his animals. But unhappy circumstances took his life there. He was alone in bed in a New York hotel when he reached for a plastic container of his heart pills. Unable to open the child-proof cap, he chewed upon it, and the cap came-off and stuck in his throat, choking him to death.

    Back in Key West, his cat disappeared, his parrot escaped, and his beloved bull dog Cornelius was seen wandering off. I traced the bulldog down to the docks where they told me that a shrimp fisherman had taken him to sea. Several days later the fisherman and dog returned, and I suggested that the fisherman keep him.
    What a wonderful man! Southern Hospitality at its best.

    ……………………………………………………

    The accusations of ‘scientism’ are a little odd. I am a scientist, and literary writer/director who has directed ‘Hamlet’ at the Tennessee Williams Fine Arts Centre at Key West. Bet Tanya Luhrmann and those other theologians have not done such things!
    ……………………..
    Again, sorry for more postings, but JAC’s WEIT should become the best website around!

  80. TonyR
    Posted November 7, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    I retired 2 years ago and found WEIT sometime later and fell in love with the website – I also have the book but, alas, it is an ebook so I can’t send it to Jerry for an autograph. No matter, I loved the book too.

    Some little things about me:

    1. Raised in Ireland as a Roman Catholic, even going to a boarding school attached to a monastery! Two years running I came in first place in All—Ireland public exams (The Bishop’s Exam) in religious knowledge with a 98% average. I was asked by one of the monks how I did so well, my other marks, while good, were not that good, had I thought of the priesthood. My reply: Father you did a great job teaching me how to think, you just made one mistake – And what was that my son – You forgot to tell me when to stop thinking, I don’t believe any of this s***. You can imagine the lecture I received; I was just 17. I happily left for Canada 2 years after completing my undergraduate degree.

    2. The death of Duane Gish earlier this year triggered memories of a debate I had with him, oh so long ago now. It was in the early 70s and I, not yet 30, was invited to debate Duane Gish at a local church (Christian Alliance Church of Canada, I think). I had written some letters to the local paper in response to the reverend of that church who told me I was being unscientific if I believed in evolution. I refused the debate – I was doing my MBA and had little time, and felt that my lonely B.Sc. in chemistry would not be quite up to the task without much work.
    Then, I was sent a brochure showing how evolution was not science using the words of scientists themselves (you’ll all be familiar with this, I am sure). I had actually read some of these books – Julian Huxley, Ashley Montague and so on – and was astonished and very unhappy. I wrote to a number of these scientists and received replies from a number of them – Sir Julian Huxley, Ashley Montague, George Stebbins, Michael Lerner, I remember. So, I went to the non-debate as a private person. There, I met Gish – sweet as pie, he was. As soon as the talk started, he turned to me and started asking how I felt that evolution was true given the evidence etc.. I said I was not there to debate but did not accept his version of things, more importantly, I could not accept anything he had to say as he misrepresented what scientists were saying and I felt that therefore anything he had to say about the science was also misrepresented. I believed that this was about his religious beliefs and not about the science. I presented the letters, reading them out.
    He was not at all flummoxed by this, but it did create a bit of a stir in the church. Much else happened, but at least the local reporter, quite bored by it all, I think, reported it as a draw. I still have much of the correspondence, though, alas, my letter from Huxley was stolen awhile after by someone of my friends who had seen my files. It was in his own handwriting too.
    Well, I haven`t told this tale in donkeys years, but I can see that lying and misrepresentation is still a favourite practice of these folks.

    • TonyR
      Posted November 7, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      Oh, and I should have congratulated Jerry on the success of his wonderful website!

      • Posted November 8, 2013 at 5:00 am | Permalink

        Great stories, TonyR, and from a fellow Irishman. (I am of the Irish diaspora) Give the Irish an opportunity to talk, and…

        Of course, JerryCoyne is an old Irish saying, meaning ‘The Evolutionist with Big Boots from the Other Side of the Bog’
        Two entertaining facts from Ireland…

        The Irish definition of a gentleman is a man who knows how to play the accordion (squeeze-box), – but doesn’t!

        How to tell if you are drinking Irish whiskey…

        ‘…If it goes down the throat like a torch lit procession!’

  81. articulett
    Posted November 7, 2013 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been on 4 television game shows and won money on all of them.

    I was an extra in the movie theater scene in Thriller (my friend did some of the monster make up.)

  82. Marella
    Posted November 8, 2013 at 3:41 am | Permalink

    Congratulations Jerry, looking forward to the next 25 million!

    I was born in Zimbabwe when it was still Rhodesia. Things were obviously going downhill even then, and when I was four we moved to Australia where my father had been born.

    When my second son was about 8 I saved him from drowning and nearly drowned myself. We were at Wye River, a small surf beach where I had spent many summers, and Andrew had gone out too far. The water was not very deep but the rip was bad that day and I knew I was as far out as it was safe for me to be, but Andrew was considerably further out and though his father was not far away he wasn’t paying attention. I tried yelling to him but the waves were too loud for him to hear me. I considered my options and realised I had to go and get him. I didn’t want to, as I was not confident of my ability to get back to shore if I did.

    So out I went, turned Andrew around and sent him back in. Unfortunately I had been right about how far I could safely go out into the surf and I couldn’t get myself back to shore. I was pushing forty, overweight and extremely unfit and I was struggling against the rip and losing, when a young man with a surf board asked me if I was ok. I had no breathe so all I could say was “no” which he didn’t quite understand so he asked again and I replied “no” again, I was terrified he’d think I meant that I didn’t need help and leave me, but I simply couldn’t say any more. He told me to hang on to the surfboard and walked me back to the shore. I wouldn’t have thought it would make that much of a difference but I guess having the surfboard just tipped the balance. I collapsed on the sand and by the time I was able to rise my rescuer was gone, back out to the surf I suppose, so I never got to say “thank-you” to the bloke who saved my life.

    So now when people say “would you risk your life for your child”, I don’t have to try to imagine it, I know I would because I did.

  83. teacupoftheapocalypse
    Posted November 8, 2013 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    1. I have more than the average number of limbs, but only one fully functioning leg.

    2. When I was a very young lad, my mother used to drag me along with her for Saturday shopping expeditions, which I loathed. It wasn’t so bad if she included a trip to the hairdresser, as I could just sit there with a book, or, if she was feeling generous, the latest Spiderman or Iron Man comic.

    I was desperate to find a way out and reasoned that the only was that I was going to win, was to make her want to stop taking me. I further reasoned that the best way to do this, was to slightly embarrass her, but without embarrassing myself. But how to go about this? Inspiration came from the kind of variety program that we, thankfully, no longer see on TV these days: I was going to learn to juggle. The TV performer had juggled all manner of things, including his shoes, and I figured such a skill would be perfect in a department store. I borrowed three of my dad’s golf balls and picked up the rudiments in a few days, as I recall.

    The next time I was dragged along to Haberdashers R Us, as soon as I felt the onset of boredom and my mum turned her back, I grabbed three balls of wool and started juggling, much to the amusement of some of the staff and my mum’s shock. Balls of wool were quickly snatched away, and a ticking-off issued, but still I was dragged to yet another department. So I persisted, again, to the amusement of staff and the increasing embarrassment of my poor mother. I found shoes too heavy to catch properly and chiffon or silk headscarves the most pleasing – I enjoyed the way that they floated through the air and they were nice and colourful.

    Further ticking-offs were issued, together with a stern “Wait until your father hears about this!” (He laughed). My mum only ever took me shopping once more. Result.

    Sadly, job done, I never really developed the juggling, but I am still reasonably proficient with three whatever’s-to-hand.

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 8, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      1. We’re gonna have to have a whole ‘nother thread to resolve all the cliffhangers posters have left us with.

      2. I used to absolutely hate being dragged along on shopping trips! To this day I hate shopping (I’m a traitor to my sex…). Fun story. :)

      • Posted November 8, 2013 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

        I have about twice the average number of testes! (And, no, I’m not polyorchidistic.) ;-)

        /@

        • Diane G.
          Posted November 8, 2013 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

          OK, now we’re really gonna have to have another thread to explain all the anatomical wonders here. We’ve got a regular Ripley’s Believe it or Not going on. :D

          • Posted November 8, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

            Statistical games. Average != typical. The typical number of limbs is four, but the amputees reduce the average to something a bit less. And…uh…you can probably figure out from there how Ant arrived at that second…um…tidbit….

            b&

            • Diane G.
              Posted November 8, 2013 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

              No fair including both sexes! :D

              • Posted November 9, 2013 at 6:20 am | Permalink

                Actually, I always thought including both sexes made just about everything more fun and interesting….

                b&

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted November 9, 2013 at 4:51 am | Permalink

              Damn! You beat me to it. That’s one of my favourite brain-teasers. I was about to explain that I am definitely above average since I have 2 each of legs, arms, etc, while the _average_ for those must be fractionally less than 2 due to the small number of people with just one of those items dragging the average down to 1.999…

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted November 9, 2013 at 4:53 am | Permalink

              Of course, there’s also the depressing fact that 50% of the population is of below-average intelligence…

              • Posted November 9, 2013 at 6:21 am | Permalink

                Not only that, half of all statistics have below-average significance….

                b&

    • Posted November 8, 2013 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

      Ah, there are a few here who don’t, but the first part of #1 doesn’t make you special!

      /@

    • Posted November 12, 2013 at 5:35 am | Permalink

      I haven’t read everybody’s entries yet (which is great fun) but if there was a “reader’s prize”, so far your 2. would get my vote. Maybe when 30 million comes up, Jerry will introduce that category?

  84. Posted November 10, 2013 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Something About Myself

    Shy Man Presents Television

    Growing-up somewhat deaf, and with the incumbent speech impediment, I developed a severe shyness in my adolescence. I could not speak to people, and hid from contact for years. People would complain that I could not look them in the eye. But I discovered ‘gels’ and the shyness lifted in my enthusiasm to talk with them.
    Propelled by my success with ‘gels’, my shyness turned into an over-confidence. I began to explore the world. While in The States I talked to a local television station about starting a local program, which later went onto PBS and spread up and down the Eastern seaboard and into the Eastern Canadian provinces.
    My show was about The Arts. I gathered some theatre directors, local artists and performers and sat before a television camera with no script; not thinking what to say until the show began. I felt strangely calm, unruffled, as if I didn’t really care.
    The show was all talk with some filmed inserts that I had done earlier, and when we were clear, my guests turned to me and said…
    “You’re very good at this. You must have been doing it for years!”
    To which I replied, “I have never been on television before!’
    Self-confidence is a terrible thing.

    One Unusual Experience

    I Accidently Met Nelson Mandela

    Following the Czechoslovakian revolution (called ‘The Velvet revolution’) of 1989, I hurried to Prague to talk to the dissidents who had taken power by non-violence. The old communist regime still held vestiges of power. There were still secret police everywhere, who followed us constantly. They wore sunglasses even in the rain, and wore the same light tan leather jackets and running shoes.
    It seemed to me that the Communists in government who now, bizarrely, ran the country as ‘Thatcherites’ (eg Reaganites!) had been skilful in side-lining the brave dissidents who had brought about the revolution, accusing at least one of being a Communist government agent.
    On subsequent visits in the early nineties, I was waiting with an all-girl crew to speak to the writer-President Vaclav Havel, up in the chandeliered rooms of the Hradny Palace, when Nelson Mandela walked in. He had priority to see President Havel. He seemed nervous, being new to power, and so we chatted for a while.

    Picasso once said to me, “Name-dropping is shameless!”

    • Diane G.
      Posted November 11, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      “But I discovered ‘gels’…”

      Starch? Polyacrylamide?

      (Sorry to be a smart aleck…I’m otherwise speechlessly in awe of the full life you’ve led.)

  85. lisa parker
    Posted November 11, 2013 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    I cannot say I am extraordinarily interesting person, but this what I decided on: I think the most interesting thing about me is my experience in 2005 when I contracted a MRSA infection in a largely unobvious place right before Labor Day weekend. It had not been really noticeable and by the time I decided to check with doctor I had to wait about a week for an appointment. By then I was delirious and the infection had spread to my lymph system and was affecting my entire body and caused about total organ failures and they pretty much had me buried. The interesting thing about it was my NDE and what I learned. But I have mentioned that here before and know most of you aren’t really big on that kind of thing, so I’ll throw in my ability (until I got older and my body chemistry changed) to call 10 out of 10 coin flips. It made a great party trick.

    The weirdest thing that’s happened to me was in the early 90′s. All three of my kids were teen-agers and I was working for Exxon during the Gulf War, so life was more than a little hectic. When I got up in the morning I always turned on the radios to keep track of traffic, weather and the time while we struggled to get out the door on time. The radio station I listened to was having a lot of personnel problems, and because he and the station manager were friends, they got Joe Walsh to do the morning show for a week. The first day he was terrible! The jokes, chatter and any attempts at humor were disastrous. My husband sent a fax to the station office asking if they were so desperate that all they could come up with was Joe maybe-one-brain-cell-left Walsh. He didn’t know that the fax went straight to the disc jockey. I got home from work a little earlier that my husband to find a voice mail from Joe Walsh begging him to give him one more try. He called back shortly before Jake got home with his knickers all in a knot and I tried to smooth things over by telling him that Jake was grouchy in the morning and he really was a fan, etc. But he insisted that Jake call him as soon as possible. Jake did and they became great buds; Jake helped him write some new material and Walsh called every day for Jake’s opinion. Jake also contacted Welsh’s manager to explain the lack of any facilities for performers who played “The Party on the Plaza” (which was why Joe and Co were in town.) My family got back stage passes for the concert and t-shirts. I had to help host Exxon’s annular dinner for all the big wigs of all the petroleum producers. My dinner was probably better than theirs, but they had a lot more fun.

  86. Vicki
    Posted November 11, 2013 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Interesting: While I can hold a grudge, after a while I start to forget why I was angry. It’s not a deliberate choice; it’s more that I will realize one day “I know I don’t like so-and-so, but what did she do?” “Was this about me, or is it something he did to my sister?” Keeping a journal doesn’t help much, because it’s mostly un-indexed longhand, and I wouldn’t even know which book to look in, because if I knew when the thing had happened, I might know what it was.

    Small bizarre memory: flying overnight from Hong Kong to San Francisco in 1997, I had asked for a window seat. It turns out I can’t sleep sitting up, and may have been the only non-crew member awake on that plane. As the sky slowly lightened, I looked out the window: that looks like Cassiopeia, which means that if I look over there…and I got a good look at Comet Hale-Bopp from 37,000 feet. No binoculars, and an airplane window, but being above most of the atmosphere does wonders for seeing.

    • Posted November 11, 2013 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      Excellent. And I thought seeing Hale-Bopp from Cottonwood Pass was impressive.

      • Diana
        Posted November 11, 2013 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        Ahhhh Hale-Bopp & Hyakutake were such great comets! I feel so privileged to have witnessed them in my lifetime. It sucks that they showed up before I had digital cameras. The shots I have on film are grainy.

  87. Posted November 11, 2013 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Thank you for an interesting site!

    Somewhat interesting: The Minister of Mining had to officially change the law of the land to allow me to go underground, as the first woman engineer to do so.

    Somewhat bizarre: On finishing the delivery of my third child on a third continent, the attending doctor’s wedding ring slipped off her finger(when taking her gloves off), and she spent five minutes on all fours looking for it…

  88. Posted November 11, 2013 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Congrats on them numbers! May they continue to increase (Ceiling Cat be praised)

    Mildly interesting about mine wee self: I still share my name (phonetically at least) with Kira the Gelfling, & when younger, my appearance as well. People frequently asked me where my wings were (I still refuse to clarify whether I have any or not).

    Bizarre:
    When living in London I (& family) would often take a short cut (Ha!) through the British Museum. One area I always passed though (among many, I hasten to add) was the Egyptian area. I loved the cats. I always felt slightly uneasy going through the rooms of the mummies, a feeling that increased & increased & one day, I heard a low chanting or singing. My hair was too long to be athletic, but it really tried to stand up. I left & never went back to that area. I was always relieved they took the mummies off display. Even before the ‘chanting’, I never felt comfortable – they were ‘unhappy’ dead.

  89. Posted November 11, 2013 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    & I found the nightjar

  90. trombus
    Posted November 11, 2013 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    1) I am very boring, so nothing interesting has happened to me other than growing up an atheist in Kentucky.
    2) I went to the Darwin Chicago 2009 Conference, but was too shy to get you (and other evolutionary rockstars) to sign my copy of “Of Pandas and People.”

  91. keith jameson
    Posted November 11, 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Congratulations on your hits..well merited in my view and a great contributor to my education. I’m a longstanding lurker here mainly because I can’t type and so am creakingly slow.

    I’ve been a sculptor all my working life. Believe me, that’s weird.

    I dropped my ninety pound exam piece, a stone carving, on my hand, bizarrely, missing the bones but splitting the skin. I ran through the sculpture department with cupped hands to plead help from my head of department. He took one look and passed out.

    Afterwards I walked home from the train with my wife-to-be, having been strapped up by the NHS. This happened fifty five years ago. I’m still married to her and thought, though possibly a little ungallantly, that that might have qualified as ‘weird about myself’. She is a great fan of your Hili dialogues and if I don’t win your autographed Hili mug I fear for my future.

  92. Ken Elliott
    Posted November 11, 2013 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    The most interesting thing about me, perhaps, is that I am a capable artist, specializing in stipple pen & ink images, I am well versed in fitness and nutrition having once achieved Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist designation in the prestigious NSCA, and I am also well versed in the game of soccer having achieved a National C License from US Soccer; however, I am employed neither as an artist, as a trainer, nor as a coach. I am a Business Analyst who has 0 talent for the corporate world of projects and systems in which I’ve been employed for over a quarter century. This is, of course, my own fault, realized only in hindsight. Ah, regrets, they are many, but not too horribly weighty. The corporate world provided a safe means for providing for my family, giving them a springboard upon which to launch meaningful lives of their own.

    This is probably the opposite of bizarre, so will immediately disqualify me, but while I have been a life long atheist who only recently came to grips with that fact via the wonderful “The God Delusion” (“my god! You’re reading an ATHEIST book!” my wife exclaimed in total disgust upon closely checking into the book I was reading at that time), and my wife is not, as she believes in some higher power she labels god, while labeling herself a christian despite never having read the bible, both my children are atheists, a way of looking at things at which they each arrived individually after a childhood of never receiving input from myself nor my wife. We neither pushed religion, or no religion. We did, however, never attend church, which likely influenced them greatly by not influencing them at all. My oldest spent one year at a christian university on a soccer scholarship, and satisfied himself to the inanities of faith. My youngest simply doesn’t trifle with it, recognizing the various forms of delusion. My wife and I are routinely complimented on what fine young men we’ve raised, moral to a fault. How can that be without the moral influences of holy scripture?

  93. AR.
    Posted November 11, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    1 Intersting: I have built and installed water monitoring devices that are located in an underground lake in Central America.

    2:Bizarre experience: An ambulance crew did not want to release me after checking me out. My blood pressure was just above the low end of normal. I told them I always have low pressure an was fine. I had rolled a race vehicle over 5 times at 195mph and it didn’t excite me enough raise my blood pressure.

  94. Robert Seidel
    Posted November 11, 2013 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    One unusual thing:

    My left eyebrow is dark and the right one white, due to vitiligo. It’s not a particularly rare condition, with about 1% incidence, but the place makes it unusual (and cool, as I’m often told). I know of only one other person ever who had the same feature – a robber in 19th century Britain, who regularly got identified and caught because of it. So there’s evidence that it has a fitness disadvantage.

    One bizarre experience:

    A few months ago, I was locking after a paper for my bachelors thesis. I couldn’t get it online, nor in the facultys library, nor the central library. So I wrote a mail to my supervisor, in hope he had access to additional channels.
    Back came a mail in a quite indulgent and fatherly tone, saying he had the complete journal lying around somewhere. We met next evening after my lectures.
    The issues were stored away in a corridor in a wall cupboard. He had to step on a ladder, and shift half a shelf-meter of solid paper in the front row to create a small gap, by which he pulled out the issues in the back row one by one for inspection.
    It got hotter – issue 64, issue 64 supplement 1 – then he got the right one and triumphantly stepped off the ladder. He looked up the index, opened at the indicated page … it was white. Misprint.
    I shall never forget his face.

  95. Steven Obrebski
    Posted November 11, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    BIZARRE EXPERIENCE
    When I was almost 8 I was put in an English boarding school run by a true harridan to learn the language. She once beat me
    with her cane to make me walk faster after I had sprained my ankle. I shared a bed with 4 boys. Being small and scrawny I was
    bullied and pushed out of bed before the official 7 AM rising hour. The harridan would hear the noise and punish me and I
    didn’t know enough English to explain. Finally I wrote my parents, my mother arrived, and after a conference with the teachers I got my own private room, but was
    required to henceforth write letters home in English and they had to be submitted to a teacher for correction!
    UNUSUAL THING
    In the summer of 1948, when I was 9 we lived in Bull Savannah,a small village in Jamaica, then a British colony. The tomato farmer from which my parents rented a cabin asked his
    son, Vivian, to look after me and “make sure I didn’t get beat up too much”.
    In those days white people never let their kids mix with village kids. Vivian took me on hikes in the hills where there was a ridge
    of coral and where I found a sea urchin fossil. I asked Vivian how the reef got up to where we were. He said, “Either the reef come up, or the sea go down”. This was my
    first lesson in marine geology, given by a boy younger than me and much smarter, and it stayed with me. It sparked my interest in geology, paleontology, and evolution, and working in Theodosius Dobzhansky’s lab
    on fruit fly speciation as an undergraduate and a degree in Paleozoology at Chicago. Vivian majored in maths and became a
    successful insurance salesman. I regret he is deceased or I would send him this note. I keep the fossil in his memory. And it is owing to Vivian and his friends that I came
    to the US speaking English with a Polish-Rasta accent.

    • Posted November 11, 2013 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      Cool runnings! Loved your story!

      • Steven Obrebski
        Posted November 11, 2013 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

        Thank you.

    • Diana
      Posted November 11, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

      I love the idea of a Polish rasta accent. I once met an instructor who was German & lived in Boston. Before he told us that, I was listening so much to how he spoke that I lost track of what he was saying & I’m proud to say I detected Boston & German!

      • Steven Obrebski
        Posted November 11, 2013 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

        Some teachers in the US were sometimes more inclined to correct me when they understood my pronunciation to be Jamaican rather than the English I learned in the English boarding school I went to in Jamaica. Living in New York City changed all that. Now I am usually identified as a former New Yorker.

  96. tubby
    Posted November 11, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    This happened in the NYC subways in Brooklyn, so maybe it’s not so strange (or shouldn’t be viewed as strange).

    It was winter, so I was bundled up with a sock hat, scarf, gloves and bomber jacket. I prefer the men’s jackets since those tend to have inside breast pockets where it’s easy to stow your wallet, subway pass and MP3 player so I wasn’t exactly looking like a fashionable New York woman.

    As I entered the subway car there was a woman across from me. She looked like she was recently homeless or having some hard times since she had a matching outfit- red coat, hat, gloves, skirt, handbag, heels.. and matching red eyes. Maybe she was sick, or had cried all night, or was drunk or baked. I decided it was none of the above and that her red eyes were due to her being a vampire.

    She couldn’t tell if I was a man or a woman but decided that either way I was gay.

    And she sang a song about my presumed gayness for all of us on the subway car.

    “Me no like batty boys and me no like lesbians. Me no like batty boys and me no like lesbians. Me no like batty boys and me no like lesbians. Ah, me no like batty boys and me no like lesbians.”

    It was a pleasant enough song I guess, even as she stared me down with her vampire eyes. After singing at me for a while she moved to the center of the car to stare me down and serenade me from the distance… and then walked back in front of me for more singing. I think she got off the train the stop after she was done singing for me, this was several years ago so mostly what I remember is the song, the outfit and those red vampire eyes.

    • tubby
      Posted November 11, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      Oh, I forgot an interesting thing. Thanks to there not being a chicken pox vaccine when I was born I ended up getting it when I was a couple months old, courtesy of my brother. No lasting side effects from it other than a few facial scars and being happily immune when everyone else had a pox on them in the second grade. My doctor was concerned that having had it so young might have meant I did not develop immunity, but (luckily) it seemed to work out fine.

  97. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted November 11, 2013 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    Interesting thing about me:

    In college I figured out a trick for blowing a bubble inside a bubble, but this is no longer feasible given changes in the design of the standard wand in bubble blowing.
    (It entails redipping the wand in the soap, then capturing the original bubble on the wand, and then blowing with a short but firm breath. Worked about one out of four times.)

    Bizarre

    Roughly ten years ago, I was en route to Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park to hear and get the autograph of the famed murder mystery writer P.D. James. While driving en route, my nose started spontaneously bleeding and I could do nothing about it. As a consequence when I arrived my shirt a few blood stains on it. I looked like someone who had committed a murder.

  98. Taskin
    Posted November 11, 2013 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    1. Unusual fact: Two of my upper molars have rotated 180 degrees over the years. It was most interesting when they were about 135 degrees around and looked diamond shaped in relation to the other teeth. It’s also fun to go to a new dentist and see how long it takes them to notice.

    2. Bizarre experience: While delivering Christmas hampers for the local food bank several years ago I came within about 10 feet of delivering a box labelled ‘cremated human remains’ to what I’m sure was a very nice family. I’ve never actually told this story, it was such a horrifying experience at the time but this seems like an ideal opportunity to exorcise it. I was volunteering at the food bank and a woman who was a lay minister at a local church asked us if we would deliver a hamper anonymously to a family she knew was in need but who would be too embarrassed to receive it from someone they knew. We helped unload several boxes from the minister’s car including a modest brown paper package. As I was walking up the sidewalk to the recipient’s front door, I just happened to turn the small box over and read the label, ‘Cremated Human Remains’. I don’t think I have ever been quite so shaken, driving back to the food bank and having to explain what almost happened was, well, I don’t know if I remember too much about it. Turns out, as it was winter, the deceased was not going to be interred until spring and this lay minister was in charge of keeping the remains until then, she had left them in the trunk of her car. What that family almost opened on Christmas morning still makes me shudder a bit. Thanks, it’s a relief to get this story out there. (I’m a little bit surprised to see it is not the only story involving cremated remains!)
    Cheers!

  99. Posted November 11, 2013 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    1) I can stick my pinky finger nearly all the way up my nose and my friend Mitch always wants to see it, but I’ll only do it on his birthday.

    2)I went from having 1.5 cats to 2.

    Explanation:I adopted a cat in 2001 to keep my other cat (Kitty McKitterson, Esq.) company while I was getting my masters. Her name is Flipper aka Little Flippy. She hid under the bed. Always. All the time. For 12 years. She liked other animals ok, but hid from people and if you patted her she just looked at you weird. My boyfriend and I went backpacking last August (2012) for a few days. When we got back she was on the bed. Her fur was kinda matted because she never gets pets or groomed. I grabbed a little brush and expected her to give me the “you’re crazy” face, but instead she started writhing around and purring. Now she sleeps with us and makes funny sounds to get ‘petties’ (but you can only pet her when she’s on the bed…if she’s on the floor she’ll still run from you, even if you just were petting her on the bed). Even though it’s been over a year, I still think it’s bizarre, especially when she’s sleeping on my back or climbing into my lap. It’s something I NEVER thought would happen. I thought she’d live and die under the bed. I say I had 1.5 cats, because while I fed her and cleaned out the litter box for her, I never got to pet her. Now, there is no room on the bed!

    • Diana
      Posted November 12, 2013 at 6:36 am | Permalink

      I love the name, “Kitty McKitterson Esq.”.

  100. Posted November 12, 2013 at 2:11 am | Permalink

    Sneaking in under the wire here, last one to post makes it more likely to win, right? That’s how it’s supposed to work for job interviews…

    Hmmm. I can think of nothing about me that is unusual beyond merely trivial, except that I still labor under the delusion that intelligence should be valued more highly in society.

    However, while working for various animal organizations, I have had the pleasure of dealing with vulture vomit on more than one occasion – it was enough to send all my assistants from the room (it really is putrid.) When I was stupidly incautious while handling a red-tailed hawk, it dug its talons deeply into my thigh, and I was able to hold still and encourage the guy taking photos for training purposes to get a clean pic of it to show why you don’t let your attention slip. And I’ve written financial reports with a green iguana stuffed inside my jacket, recovering from hypothermia.

    • Dominic
      Posted November 12, 2013 at 4:36 am | Permalink

      Vulture vomit is pretting interesting – what would be even better would be to have kept some in a jar on your desk as an ice breaker!

      • Dominic
        Posted November 12, 2013 at 4:37 am | Permalink

        ‘pretty interesting’…

  101. Dominic
    Posted November 12, 2013 at 4:53 am | Permalink

    I can recite Hamlet’s soliloqy in about 40 seconds, though I am out of practice!

    When I worked at St.Paul’s Cathedral… There is a lift that was put in many years ago that goes from the crypt up to the whispering gallery. We had keys to call the lift. I was re-pointing the pocket roofs, & had just mixed a bucket of muck & was waiting for the lift. The door opened & there was the Dean, Alan Webster.
    “Ah Dominic” he said, “this is the Finnish President!” (maybe it was Prime Minister)
    “Oh” I said, or words to that effect…
    And the lift door closed.

    I could relate something funnier about St.Paul’s but if too many knew it might cause a – ‘fuss’!

  102. Posted November 12, 2013 at 5:17 am | Permalink

    2) Recently my department of music in Berlin was recruiting a new baroque cello teacher, for which he was to give a masterclass about the St John’s passion by J.S.Bach. As the department’s harpsichordist, it was my job to accompany the cello students at that event.

    On the day, the concert hall packed to the last seat with colleagues, officials from the school, and students, Jan announced that he wanted to work “only on the recitatives”. But no one had invited any singers!

    My job as an accompanist has taught me not to waste my energy on stage fright any more but to get on with the job in hand. But I wasn’t prepared for the following: Jan asked me, a small girl, to sing all the recits. There was no alternative… and so I sang, whilst playing the harpsichord, the Evangelist (tenor), Pilate (bass) and Jesus (bass) to a full and savvy audience. For 3 hours…

    The word embarrassement doesn’t quite cover the experience. Although I am comfortable singing in a lower than normal range for a girl, which I found out that day, it was absolutely excruciating to suddenly have to listen to my own voice belting out all that antisemitic drivel that is the St John’s passion, with jewish musician friends in the audience. Bach’s church music is so important to me, but since then I find it hard to ignore the words and “just enjoy the sounds” any more…

    1) When I see a cat in the street, I will kneel down and miaow at it to lure it to me. In this case, embarrassement is more often than not rewarded with a feline-human tête-à-genoux, if only for a few seconds, it’s worth it! Does anyone else here ever do this?

    • Taskin
      Posted November 12, 2013 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      As a fellow harpsichordist, you have my true and sincere admiration. I never would have thought of doing the St. John passion as a one woman show!

      • Posted November 12, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

        Taskin! I did already think the host can be proud of the diversity of his readership. But a fellow hrpschd nerd around here, I am impressed! Incidentally I play a beautiful copy of a parisian Ruckers-Taskin by Sebastian Nunez (Utrecht). I bet we know each other :-)

        • Taskin
          Posted November 13, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

          Harpsichord nerd, yes, definitely. My Taskin is a Hubbard kit replica of an instrument from 1769. Maybe we should get Jerry to connect us. Here in the wilds of the Canadian prairies, my teacher/colleague and I are about all there is for Baroque specialists for at least a day’s drive. The local University Faculty of Music does not have a Baroque department, a bit sad really. It’d be great to chat!

    • lisa parker
      Posted November 12, 2013 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

      Well, I can sing a little, but no one would want to listen, and I can’t play the harpsichord or anything else much but the radio, but I do talk to and beckon strange cats. Sometimes they respond, sometimes they don’t. Often depends on whether or not I have food.

  103. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted November 12, 2013 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    Weird thing about myself : my 2nd and 3rd toes on each foot are webbed together (and I still don’t understand why my parents asked me if I wanted to get them separated).

    Most interesting experience : leaving out the sex and drugs and rock’n’roll … how about this.
    I walked up a mud volcano in Azerbaijan, as one does, to watch the sunrise on New Year’s morning, as one does. While watching the dawn build, I noticed there were a lot of little white pebbles in the mud of the volcano, crunching under my feet. As the light grew … I realised that they weren’t pebbles, but bone fragments. Human bone fragments (thank you, palaeontology tutors!). The volcano had probably been a burial ground for a long, long time ; plausibly going back to the Zoroastrians. I considered bringing some samples back, but decided that I didn’t need the interesting discussions at Customs.

  104. Posted November 12, 2013 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    Just in case I’m not too late…

    1. I have since childhood been able to draw accurate portraits of people from memory.

    2. Some years ago, a French lady gave me the “Secret” to heal burns on condition that I never reveal what the “Secret” is, as tradition demands. I since have used it on many people and to my amazement it works each time – and that is so very, very weird. It is a method used by “rebouteurs” in France and Switzerland. I have no idea how or why it works, and it has nothing to do with suggestion since I also used it successfully on a puppy who got badly burned when it knocked over a brazero and got badly burnt by the red-hot embers, in Kenya. It also works at a distance, i.e. people phone me and all I need is the name, gender, age of the person and what part of the body has a burn. I don’t call it faith healing because I don’t have any religious faiths at all. Talk about the twilight zone…

    • Posted November 12, 2013 at 5:53 am | Permalink

      For those who read French, here is an article about the Rebouteurs (aka Rebouteux) in the Tribune de Genève:

      http://journal.tdg.ch/geneve/actu/faiseurs-secret-sortent-ombre-2008-12-16

      From the French-speaking Swiss TV:

      http://tinyurl.com/ocnef2a

    • natalie
      Posted November 12, 2013 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

      2) Wow! Hang on a minute.

      If you truly thought that you had acquired the ability to cure something as serious as burns by having been passed on a secret tradition from a French lady, wouldn’t it be your duty as a moral human being to immediately have this special ability investigated scientifically, so that it can be established if and how it works and subsequently passed on to ALL other practitioners of medicine around the globe? Simply “passing on the gift” from person to person is way to inefficient to help your fellow human sufferers outside of France, or wherever else the “enlightened” people live.

      If you believe in your “ability”, then keeping it a secret is cruel and arrogant.

      How handy that the tradition “only works when kept a secret”. Why would that be the case? The obvious explanation is that is is a sham, and must be kept secret to fool people into believing it. There is nothing like whispering to make people listen up!

      You say this special gift of yours has nothing to do with belief. But the article that you post a link to contradicts that:

      “… Si les guérisseurs en général ont des croyances hétéroclites et croient surtout en une énergie universelle, qu’ils appellent parfois Dieu, tous les faiseurs de secret interrogés sont croyants. (…) Ils pensent que sans croire profondément à ceux qu’ils invoquent, il est inutile d’essayer de guérir par le secret», écrit l’ethnologue. …”

      So if you go with what the article says that you posted a link to, you shouldn’t practice your special gift at all if you are not a believer.

      And what’s that distance healing b******t all about? We all know that the physical body is attached to the ear that listens to a phone conversation, so you can in a way have “some effect or other” on a person’s body by talking to them. I would like to ironically add that this ability to affect someone else’s physical wellbeing for better or worse extends even to the modern media: Indeed my body reacts to reading your comment, quite strongly! With the result that my fingers are moving about the keyboard now as a response. I mean, wow!!!

      But if you could really heal burns by the telephone, wouldn’t that lend itself nicely to double blind testing? Surely, how could you refuse?

      The article says that the “faiseurs de secrets” developed their craft in remote areas of France where access to conventional medicine was scarce. That makes perfect sense: when there are on other ways to help people, you want to calm them down, giving their bodies the time to heal themselves. As they might very well do.

      Don’t you think we are out of the dark ages of “making secrets”? Surely, bringing truth to light is desirable? Please don’t think of my answer to you as hostile. Your post reminds me of my best friend: she thinks of herself as a fervent atheist and sceptic. And yet, she believes that she has “magic, healing hands”, that if someone has aches or pains, she will cure their problem and says “I don’t know how it works”. I regularly despair and want to tell her what I tell you now:

      Give yourself a shove. If you believe in your gift, have it scientifically investigated. If you don’t want to do that, laugh and smile at yourself and say “I fooled myself”. For any human, there is no shame in finding out that they were a victim of an erroneous belief. And there is no reason not got go the whole hog and find out whether you are or not.

      1) Now that IS a gift I utterly admire.

      • Posted November 13, 2013 at 5:13 am | Permalink

        Firstly, a person who is recipient of the “Secret” will lose the ability if they reveal the “Secret”, that is why it is called the “Secret”. Those who are qualified to pass it to people they deem worthy are exempted. I am merely obeying the instructions given me when I was given the “Secret”, that is how it is and it is respected by all in France and Switzerland. It therefore is none of the recipients’ duty to have the “Secret” investigated scientifically. Also, one of the rules regarding the “Secret” is to never ask for money or any form of payment, nor to seek for patients – it is up to the latter to seek and solicit a recipient of the “Secret” — lists with the name and phone numbers of “Secret” recipients are available in most hospitals and many doctors’ offices, as well as in the book mentioned in the article.

        I don’t actually believe in my “ability”, I don’t consider it to be an ability but just an “agent”, and keeping the “Secret” secret is neither cruel nor arrogant, it is for protecting it.

        It is no sham and does not rely on people believing it – this is why so many doctors and hospitals have the lists of those who have the “Secret”. It works, and I am each time flabbergasted by the fact that it actually works.

        Yes, most of the people who have the “Secret” are believers and religious, I am not, and neither are a few fellow “Secret” recipients that I have met. Many others do have those beliefs, and they think that without deep belief it is useless to try to heal with the “Secret”, but that is what they think, and they obviously are wrong.

        With regard to distance healing, it is not bullshit either – many of those who phone do so on behalf of a spouse, a child or a friend, and I don’t talk to them after asking for the name, gender, age, part of the body that was burned, and the location of the person needing the healing. Your reaction is emotional and not open-minded because what I have explained goes against your own deep-seated and precious beliefs, that is all. You are a believer of sorts too, apparently religiously and almost fanatically so even if it is a belief that God doesn’t exist. That is your problem. I have no belief in God – which is absence of belief – contrary to your position.

        I don’t care why or how it works, all that matters to me is the fact that it does work, whether you like it or not. I haven’t fooled myself – each time I am solicited to do the “Secret”, whether directly in the flesh or by phone, I am totally skeptical but do it anyway, and each time I do so it happens to work, and it even worked on a badly burnt puppy so it has nothing to do with belief, whether that of the burnt creature or mine (since I don’t have any).

        Your answer to me is so emotional and so very reactional that it does come across as hostile, but that is of no importance to me.

        • Posted November 13, 2013 at 5:27 am | Permalink

          What a load of fœtid dingos’ kidneys

          /@

          >

          • Posted November 13, 2013 at 5:34 am | Permalink

            You are of course entitled to your uninformed and uneducated opinion – I couldn’t care less! LOL! :D

            • Posted November 13, 2013 at 5:37 am | Permalink

              Uneducated? Hardly.

              Uninformed? Well, that’s on you.

              /@ | Barcelona

              >

              • Posted November 13, 2013 at 6:06 am | Permalink

                ‘There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’

              • Posted November 13, 2013 at 10:19 am | Permalink

                Well, perhaps. (My philosophys dreams can be pretty wild.) But we dont determine what does actually exist are by relying on unattested anecdotes.

                What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

                /@ | Barcelona

                >

              • Posted November 13, 2013 at 10:55 am | Permalink

                Like it or not, what I wrote is the absolute truth, and it is in the weird category, after all. You are free to believe it is not true – that is an act of faith too.

              • Posted November 14, 2013 at 4:48 am | Permalink

                No, it is exactly an *absence* of faith.

                /@ | Barcelona

                >

              • Posted November 14, 2013 at 6:23 am | Permalink

                Kindergarten semantics, at best.

              • Posted November 14, 2013 at 7:58 am | Permalink

                Well, youd know, I guess.

                /@ | BCN

                >

              • Posted November 14, 2013 at 8:10 am | Permalink

                In you I have met my undisputed master!

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted November 13, 2013 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

                No, it’s a *lack* of faith. That ‘scepticism is faith’ nonsense doesn’t work around here, we’re used to it.

        • Posted November 14, 2013 at 1:54 am | Permalink

          “…I am merely obeying the instructions given me when I was given the “Secret”, that is how it is and it is respected by all.. …”

          Golly, where have I heard that phraze before? Where was that? Nazi Germany? Or something to do with child abuse? Can’t quite remember now…

          “…this is why so many doctors and hospitals have the lists of those who have the “Secret”…”

          Many things get established in the mainstream without that being a proof of worth and need to be challenged by critical thinkers (I think the sorts of people you will meet around here). One example, again, so hard to remember…, was that maybe homeopathy?

          • Posted November 14, 2013 at 6:22 am | Permalink

            “Golly, where have I heard that phraze before? Where was that? Nazi Germany? Or something to do with child abuse?”

            That is a form of argumentum ad Hitlerum, aka “playing the Nazi card”, one of the lowest and most abject forms of logical fallacies which reflects more on the one making the fallacy than on the one against which this fallacy is directed.

            • lisa parker
              Posted November 14, 2013 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

              People, People! Stop beating on this person! There are a lot of things that are real and the truth that many of you don’t know, don’t understand and/or don’t believe. Sometimes, as a group of scientists and/or well educated brains, many of you are way too quick to start yelling “woo” or otherwise sneer. You begin to sound like the Inquisition! Professor Coyne asked for interesting and bizarre anecdotes. She obliged him. If you choose to disbelieve, fine, but sniping at her is just rude.

              • Posted November 15, 2013 at 2:12 am | Permalink

                I think you must not be a frequent visitor here, or have not been paying attention, if you cannot see why vierotchka’s claim can easily be dismissed as woo.

                Reading more widely, there is clearly nothing more to these “enleveurs de feu” than a combination of the placebo effect, confirmation bias, &c. — the usual stuff.

                Just because Jerry invited interesting and bizarre anecdotes does not give anyone a free pass.

                /@

              • Posted November 15, 2013 at 5:02 am | Permalink

                Oh, so you are inferring that the badly burnt puppy on whom I used this technique and who stopped yelling with pain instantly and who healed in a few days without a scar was responding to a placebo effect? Fine. I am glad that this placebo works each time, that the pain vanishes in moments and that the burn heals extremely quickly without leaving scars.

              • Posted November 15, 2013 at 5:04 am | Permalink

                Thank-you Lisa. I am used to close-minded and indoctrinated people impugning my honesty and truthfulness. It only reveals their ugly side.

              • Jesper Both Pedersen
                Posted November 15, 2013 at 5:09 am | Permalink

                I once met one who knew the secret too. Helped me recover from a severe cigarette burn. Wouldn’t take any money…

              • lisa parker
                Posted November 15, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

                You have a noble and generous soul (metaphorically.)

              • natalie
                Posted November 15, 2013 at 11:05 am | Permalink

                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUB4j0n2UDU

              • Posted November 15, 2013 at 11:16 am | Permalink

                Atheists didn’t use to believe in hypnosis and acupuncture, but both have since been proven to work. See acupuncture anesthesia in surgery for example.

              • lisa parker
                Posted November 15, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

                @Ant. I read this notablog almost daily, so you’re wrong on the first comment. This lady is sharing info. She never asked anyone to believe it. She says several times that she doesn’t understand or believe in it, she can only do it. She comments here with about the same frequency that you do and I have never noticed her make any claim to have magical powers or attempt to aggrandize herself in any way. Every time science cannot explain something doesn’t mean it is “woo”. It often means that science can’t explained it yet. A scientist should be open-minded until all the data has been reviewed. We don’t learn much until we ask questions. It may seem preposterous to you now, given what you know. But neither you, nor science in general should dismiss something out of hand without investigating it first.

              • Posted November 15, 2013 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

                @ vierotchka :

                Non sequitur: Disbelief (or belief) in hypnotism and acupuncture has very little to do with atheism. In any case, it is very far from the truth that acupuncture has been proven to work. (Not that science ever proves anything.) The results are far from conclusive. The efficacy seems little different from a placebo with the same kind of intrusiveness and attentiveness from a practitioner. And as someone else noted above, YouTube is hardly an authoritative citation.

                @ lisa :

                Then you seem not to have been paying attention. (And, btw, Google shows that she’s commented here less than a tenth as much as I have, in fact, but that’s neither here nor there.) Here claim here has all the hallmarks of a claim to have magical powers. Including the “I don’t know how it works but it does”-type statements. Uri Gellar said much the same kind of things as vierotchka.

                Being open minded doesn’t mean that you have to be credulous. “… neither you, nor science in general should dismiss something out of hand without investigating it first.” I’m sorry, but that’s just not so; there are many claims that science can and should dismiss out of hand (see Sean Carroll or David Deutsch, for example). As I said, you seem not to have been paying attention.

                /@

              • lisa parker
                Posted November 16, 2013 at 10:21 am | Permalink

                I’m sure you must be right. From the beginning Issac Beekman had no problem making science believe that ‘air’ was matter and had mass. We can just skip all the intervening years and go right to sciences assurances that no large asteroid or comet could ever hit the earth because of Jupiter’s massive gravitational field. Or even a decade or so ago when science declared that, despite regular reports from sailors since some homo sapiens built the first rafts, that isolated ‘rouge’ waves were mathematically and physically imposable. Until luxury liners showed up with irrefutable evidence. Or the dismissal of repeated reports of pilots who claimed to see ‘sprites’ until they were photographed them from orbit. Shall I go on?

                And I apologize if I did not notice the discrepancy in the ratio of your posts to hers. Perhaps I just noticed them more often because her star is prettier than your ant. Not that it isn’t a cute ant…

              • Posted November 17, 2013 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

                Im sure youre fully aware of the logical fallacy youre committing here.

                /@ | LA

                >

              • Diane G.
                Posted November 15, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

                @ Lisa

                “Firstly, a person who is recipient of the “Secret” will lose the ability if they reveal the “Secret”, that is why it is called the “Secret”. ”

                Hmmm. Doesn’t sound too amenable to scientific investigation, does it?

              • Posted November 16, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

                @Lisa

                Clearly none of the sceptics here are against scientific investigation, but they are for it, regardless of the result. That is what having an open mind is all about.

                Can you tell me how any of the above personal anecdote invites any kind of investigation in any way?

                I suggested a double-blind trial, which seems to me perfectly suited to the healing by telephone information. The person with the “secret” does not even have to reveal anything about what it is that they do. They would just have to agree to take part in the study.

                But my suggestion was met with silence by vierotchka.

                If someone claims to have had this kind of experience repeatedly and is unwilling to have it tested in a double blind fashion, I don’t see why I should trust their anecdote.

              • Posted November 17, 2013 at 3:41 am | Permalink

                “I suggested a double-blind trial, which seems to me perfectly suited to the healing by telephone information. The person with the “secret” does not even have to reveal anything about what it is that they do. They would just have to agree to take part in the study.”

                Where did you suggest that in those exact terms? I certainly don’t recall it, but I would be happy to participate in such.

      • Posted November 13, 2013 at 5:15 am | Permalink

        Oh, and I forgot to mention that after each time I practice the “Secret” on someone, I get positive and grateful feedback days later and often offers of money which I refuse.

        • Diane G.
          Posted November 13, 2013 at 11:04 am | Permalink

          If such a ludicrous story were true, how could you live with yourself, knowing that burn patients all over the world were enduring hideous suffering simply because they don’t know about this ‘secret?’

          • Posted November 13, 2013 at 11:38 am | Permalink

            I can only be concerned by that which is within my reach, my sphere of influence. Same with THC that cures cancer – if you know this, how can you live with yourself, knowing that cancer patients all over the world were enduring hideous suffering simply because they don’t know about this fact?

            • Posted November 13, 2013 at 11:41 am | Permalink

              THC cures cancer?? Sweet!

              • Posted November 13, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

                I posted a bunch of links to demonstrate that THC actually can cure cancer, but for some reason my post didn’t come through. You should google “THC cures cancer” and you’ll find plenty of evidence. Also, search YouTube for “HOW and WHY does Cannabis Cure Cancer – Scientific Explanation”

              • Diane G.
                Posted November 13, 2013 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

                “Also, search YouTube for “HOW and WHY does Cannabis Cure Cancer – Scientific Explanation””

                I like to get all my scientific explanations from YouTube.

              • Posted November 13, 2013 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

                I posted a whole bunch of links that were not to any YouTube videos but to studies, including Harvard studies, which demonstrated the effectiveness of THC in destroying cancer cells, but my post for some reason did not get through. The YouTube video I mentioned is of scientists. Just sayin’

              • Posted November 13, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

                TrollOLOL :)

              • Posted November 13, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

                Oh ye of such utterly bad faith! (pun intended)

              • teacupoftheapocalypse
                Posted November 13, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

                Amongst other medical problems, THC can also be used to treat glaucoma and the alleviate the pain associated with rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. It’s no damned good for treating cluster headaches, for which the best treatment is neat oxygen, which will truncate an attack in a matter of seconds, minutes at worst. Vigorous exercise, which, of course, increases oxygen flow, will also work in 10 – 20 minutes, not to mention help to keep one fitter!

                http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/living/medical-marijuana-glaucoma-treament.cfm

                http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3790227.stm

                http://www.neurologyreviews.com/index.php?id=25318&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=206144

              • Posted November 13, 2013 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

                I’m sorry the sarcasm didn’t come through there LOL. I have seen much scientific evidence to support benefits of medicinal marijuana, as well as hearing testimony of those who swear by it to control epilepsy. When children with previously uncontrolled seizures are able to experience measurable relief, it definitely deserves to be studied further. My unbelieving response was to the previous claims of it curing cancer. I had only ever heard of it being used to reduce nausea and loss of appetite brought on by cancer treatments that are toxic for humans in addition to the cancer they kill. Silly me!

              • Posted November 14, 2013 at 6:13 am | Permalink

                Cannabinoids inhibit cellular respiration of human oral cancer cells.
                Whyte DA, Al-Hammadi S, Balhaj G, Brown OM, Penefsky HS, Souid AK.
                Source

                Department of Pediatricsy, State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY, USA.
                Abstract
                BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:

                The primary cannabinoids, Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta(9)-THC) and Delta(8)-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta(8)-THC) are known to disturb the mitochondrial function and possess antitumor activities. These observations prompted us to investigate their effects on the mitochondrial O(2) consumption in human oral cancer cells (Tu183). This epithelial cell line overexpresses bcl-2 and is highly resistant to anticancer drugs.
                EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH:

                A phosphorescence analyzer that measures the time-dependence of O(2) concentration in cellular or mitochondrial suspensions was used for this purpose.
                KEY RESULTS:

                A rapid decline in the rate of respiration was observed when Delta(9)-THC or Delta(8)-THC was added to the cells. The inhibition was concentration-dependent, and Delta(9)-THC was the more potent of the two compounds. Anandamide (an endocannabinoid) was ineffective; suggesting the effects of Delta(9)-THC and Delta(8)-THC were not mediated by the cannabinoidreceptors. Inhibition of O(2) consumption by cyanide confirmed the oxidations occurred in the mitochondrial respiratory chain. Delta(9)-THC inhibited the respiration of isolated mitochondria from beef heart.
                CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS:

                These results show the cannabinoids are potent inhibitors of Tu183 cellular respiration and are toxic to this highly malignant tumor.

                Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20516734

              • lisa parker
                Posted November 14, 2013 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

                Kind of makes you wonder how any of us ‘baby boomers’ ever get cancer.

              • Posted November 15, 2013 at 4:56 am | Permalink

                Not all baby boomers use or have significantly used pot, and for the THC to be effective in curing cancers one needs to ingest daily doses of cannabis oil (not hemp seed oil) following a defined protocol.

              • lisa parker
                Posted November 15, 2013 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

                I was just kidding. Actually, neither me or my boomer husband indulged. Luckily, neither of us has cancer either.

              • teacupoftheapocalypse
                Posted November 14, 2013 at 7:00 am | Permalink

                While research suggests that cannabinoids present in cannabis retard the growth of many forms of cancer, cannabis use has been linked with testicular cancer, head and neck cancer and lung cancer, although the latter has long been associated with tobacco, which is often smoked together with cannabis. However, a 2012 report by the British Lung Foundation suggested that the risk of developing lung cancer is nearly 20 times higher from smoking typical cannabis cigarettes than from smoking tobacco cigarettes.

              • Posted November 14, 2013 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

                If only it were as simple as smoking a joint, but alas!

              • Posted November 14, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

                Alas indeed. It consists in extracting THC from the buds, a relatively simple but potentially dangerous operation as solvents are needed, and solvent fumes are highly inflammable. Great care and discipline are required to do so, but the technique itself is not complicated and a rice cooker is not an expensive piece of equipment.

            • Diane G.
              Posted November 13, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

              Could we possibly have a very skilled Poe on our hands?

              • Posted November 13, 2013 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

                I don’t get this reference…please explain?!? (As a Poe fan, I feel daft having to ask this)

              • Diane G.
                Posted November 14, 2013 at 12:20 am | Permalink

                @ wlmeeks

                Sorry, not that Poe! It’s an internet meme, used frequently on some bl*gs.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe's_law

                (BTW, I thought your sarcasm was loud and clear, and your remark hilarious.)

              • Posted November 14, 2013 at 11:59 am | Permalink

                Very informative…thanks!

            • teacupoftheapocalypse
              Posted November 13, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

              Naked assumption is always dangerous, but, given the information you have provided so far, one has to assume that the old lady who imparted the “secret” to you, must also have provided the information or skills required to identify others whom you might “deem worthy”.

              Given that, and the knowledge that there are thousands of burns patients around the World, has it ever occurred to you, in the spirit of altruism, to extend your reach by actively seeking out other “worthy” recipients of the “secret” and pass it on to them, with instructions to do the same?

              In any event, how could you not deem any medical burns specialist “worthy”. They have clearly devoted their career and lives to helping burns victims, whereas you seem to regard this “secret” as a mere hobby, which seems somewhat uncaring and selfish. Or is it that dissemination of the “secret” would make you feel less special?

              • Posted November 13, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

                Firstly, she was not old, and secondly, she did not impart me with the authority to identify others to whom to pass on the “Secret”.

                Many medical burn specialists in Swiss and French hospitals also call people who have the “Secret” for burns.

                For me, the “Secret” is not a hobby, it is a service I render to those who ask me to do it, including and especially those referred to me by doctors and the local University Hospital.

                I don’t need the “Secret” to feel special, I am not insecure.

          • Posted November 13, 2013 at 11:39 am | Permalink

            Oh, it is neither ludicrous nor untrue – that is your perception of it, but your perception is incorrect.

  105. Posted November 12, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    What follows is true and, I believe, totally unique. It represents a most unusual event in my life worth sharing. Seldom, if ever, is Christian indoctrination so in tune with science that a Sunday school class becomes instrumental in a child’s conversion from Christianity to atheism.

    It happened this way: The class gathered as usual in a meeting room at the prestigious Riverside Church in NYC. We were met by several teachers and a large poster upon which was drawn a large ladder. On the bottom rung our teacher drew a single celled organism. As he lectured, he drew multi-celled organisms, fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and finally humans on the other ladder rungs. This, we were told, was the scientific version of creation. It was called evolution, biological evolution. It was the first time I understood the concept that would start me on a career in science and a life totally free of superstition.

    An explanation of this unusual Sunday school lesson follows. During the 1950s, Sophia Lyon Fahs was an influential policy maker at the nearby Union Theological Seminary. Fahs was a liberal Christian educator who devoted her life to promote liberal religious education a la Unitarian style. As the story goes, she sent her student apostles out to spread the concept of liberal religious education. The Riverside Church, whose senior minister was the renown liberal, the Reverend Harry Emerson Fosdick, became an educational research laboratory.

    It all paid off. Only one classmate out of thirty claimed to be a literalist, and we had one atheist and many agnostics.

  106. teacupoftheapocalypse
    Posted November 12, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    At the point of posting this comment, there are already 333 (!). Does that make this thread half evil, or did it reach that mark at #308? :)


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