Metatalktail Hour: Bragging Rights September 1, 2018 7:32 AM   Subscribe

Good Saturday evening, MetaFilter! This week, being the first weekend of the month, we're posting in Euro time! (Cue Eurovision music.) And centrifugal wants to know what "weird things you're entitled to bragging rights about. Because of my friend being strangely impressed by my skills at untangling bindweed from the plant it's strangling without hurting the plant, and because an oddly big component of my job in gun violence prevention is showing people how fast I can open a combination lock."

As always, this is a conversation starter, not limiter, and we're delighted to hear about everything that's up with you (that doesn't involve politics!).
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 7:32 AM (207 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

I’m super duper good at jigsaw puzzles! I wish I could get paid for it but then again, jobs suck the fun out of everything.
posted by iamkimiam at 7:52 AM on September 1, 2018 [6 favorites]

I am constantly amazing my SO by my ability to make smoothies to the exact volume regardless of the amount of glasses needed by only eyeballing the ingredients.

Also, I visited Alinea back in 2015 and took a picture, posted it, and as of a couple of days ago it just broke 10,000 views.

and, keep it on the DL, but I was just mentioned under an alias in an article in a highly respected technology magazine - shhhhhhhh.....
posted by alchemist at 8:49 AM on September 1, 2018 [8 favorites]

I am the human level!

Hanging pictures. Sinking fence posts. Woodworking in general. 99% of the time it's level and square already when I check it with the spirit level.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:13 AM on September 1, 2018 [18 favorites]

Many people think it's pretty weird that I'm a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.
posted by QuakerMel at 9:34 AM on September 1, 2018 [25 favorites]

I have parking karma. Parking spaces magically appear for me. I've lived in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles and my parking karma follows me. It's pretty awesome.
posted by Kangaroo at 10:09 AM on September 1, 2018 [11 favorites]

I am a baby and animal whisperer. Hand me the fussiest, colickiest baby and I will calm him/her. Animals love me. I can get even the most recalcitrant cat to come and purr at me (basically by ignoring them, if I'm honest. They hate that.).

I am also a packing GENIUS. Got my daughter's entire wardrobe packed into a carry-on sized bag for college. I packed all of her linens, knick knacks, toiletries, etc. packed into two medium-sized plastic bins. The volunteers at move-in basically told her that she had the fewest boxes/suitcases/etc. WOOT!
posted by cooker girl at 10:23 AM on September 1, 2018 [8 favorites]

In my time in archaeology I got really good at spotting and identifying human remains. It's impressive how often there'll be little bits of human bone scattered around places with long histories of use/habitation.
posted by Rust Moranis at 10:31 AM on September 1, 2018 [10 favorites]

Folding fitted sheets into perfect squares.
posted by not_the_water at 10:47 AM on September 1, 2018 [20 favorites]

Dad had an scheduled MRI yesterday and by coincidence had a small fall that morning in the garden. He got a call this morning about it, and it turns out he had a silent stroke. Dad and Mom are on their way to the hospital now. He's cracking jokes about not letting (name of current president redacted) come to his funeral, which makes me think he's ok- but I am understandable concerned. This could be nothing, it could also be super serious. What luck that he had a scheduled MRI right after he took a tumble... that might have saved his life!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 11:10 AM on September 1, 2018 [22 favorites]

I used to be pretty good at sexing Canada geese by everting their cloacas to see what was inside. (Did you know that male waterfowl, unlike most birds, have penises?) The geese don't enjoy the process so I also had to get good at restraining them. I haven't had to do it in a long time, but I bet if you handed me a goose I'd remember how.
posted by Redstart at 11:15 AM on September 1, 2018 [21 favorites]

I have parking karma.

I'm really good at reverse parking into spaces. It's something I've received compliments on. It's just easy for me to figure out how to tetris my way into a parking space.
posted by Fizz at 11:26 AM on September 1, 2018 [5 favorites]

It's not so much a skill as it is an experience, and I'm not sure that it counts as weird, but I once rode my motorcycle all the way around the Sahara desert and I've been bragging about it ever since.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:32 AM on September 1, 2018 [8 favorites]

I always have one perfect bowling frame. Perfect spin, perfect angle, perfect speed. The rest of the game, I bowl like a drunken toddler, but there’s always one throw that dazzles.
posted by mochapickle at 11:36 AM on September 1, 2018 [9 favorites]

This is only sort of a bragging rights thing and mostly something I've been eager to tell you all about and didn't really get a chance until today, but: I'm still riding last week's high from finally submitting our proposal to the MN Public Utilities Commission to create a green tariff program for renewable natural gas. Seriously, this is something I've wanted to do since I started working for this company almost a dozen years ago, and we've been working really hard on it for about the last year, and it's here! I'm super thrilled (I was actually looking forward to telling MetaFilter about it almost as much as actually getting it filed!). And this past week I spent two days at an industry workshop learning about other ways to produce RNG and it's even more exciting than I thought it was. I am fired up, people.

So fired up, in fact, that I ordered a batch of custom bumper stickers that read "I F❤️BIOGAS," which I came up with a while back and have been giggling about ever since so I figured I had to actually do it.
posted by nickmark at 11:45 AM on September 1, 2018 [28 favorites]

I can operate spacecraft pretty well. I helped recover the SOHO spacecraft in 1998. But I'm more impressed with the person upthread who can fold fitted sheets.
posted by Rob Rockets at 11:56 AM on September 1, 2018 [36 favorites]

My wife has type 1 diabetes and I am uncannily accurate are detecting when she is getting low blood sugar. I usually pick up she is getting low before her CGM alarms.
posted by COD at 11:58 AM on September 1, 2018 [11 favorites]

I am excellent at giving gifts. I frequently make people cry. (from happiness)

I type super-duper fast. People often demand to know if I'm just banging on the keys to make it sound like I'm typing because I go so fast, and come around to look at my screen. Sometimes in live chatrooms I get accused of being a bot due to my typing speed. :D I get even faster when I've had about two drinks and my inner editor shuts the fuck up about my spelling and typos. (I used to put this knowledge to good use when on a tight deadline in college. It had to be juuuuuuuust enough to turn off the inhibitor, but not too much or I'd fall asleep or stop making sense or start confusing my 4th-century heresies. ("Shit did I just type Appollinarism when I meant Arianism?") I don't really have anything I need to type that fast these days!)

I am uncanny at snatching thrown toys out of the air, which is really just due to having three children and a lot of practice at knowing when they're about to throw and how much arm power the kid's about to put behind it, but it always startles people, especially as I am markedly clumsy and unathletic. But if a kid whangs a toy car at another kid or a TV or a fancy cake, I snatch it out of the air like a frog catching a fly. Doesn't work with adults, I have no sense of how hard they're going to throw! Gently toss me your car keys, I will drop them. Four-year-old flings a block at another kid's head? BAM, intercepted.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 12:18 PM on September 1, 2018 [27 favorites]

I can always pick the most expensive item in any shop. This is no use to me because I’m constantly broke but c’est la vie.

I used to be pretty good at sexing Canada geese

I read that as “sexting” and I had a lot of questions.

Also I just got engaged last weekend and I’m getting married in 11 weeks, whoop! (That’s just actual bragging I guess, not technically a weird talent or anything, but I just felt like sharing because he’s amazing and I love him to death and life is shitty and crazy and it’s nice to have nice things)
posted by billiebee at 12:23 PM on September 1, 2018 [66 favorites]

I have a lot of weird talents, and right now I am practicing one of them: wandering.

No really it's a skill, one that takes practice. I follow my hunch and gut feelings a lot, and this is applied in all kinds of microscenarios from turns to when to hurry and when to not hurry.

I have tried to practice as many times with other people, but only with limited success because of how my instinct and gut feelings get clouded by every else's intents and desires.

I'd really like to be able to share this with someone, because as shitty as my life is sometimes I have a gift and knack for finding the placid and stunning - and sometimes just plain old magical - often in nature, or in how things may line up throughout the day.

Today I am practicing that by taking a rest and recovery day, seeing if I can fix my rear rim, take my time sorting camp back in to trim, and enjoying being lazy in my hammock in a surprisingly empty biker section of a county park.

I posted these in the end of the last thread, but here's some pics of my ride so far
posted by loquacious at 12:25 PM on September 1, 2018 [14 favorites]

I am a good finder! From finding my way through the mazes of Medicare sign-ups to finding that impossibly tiny bottle of yumminess on an obscure shelf of a market I've never been in before that makes a certain recipe sing, I can find it! I also always seem to be able to sense which direction north is, which helps me find my way around in new places.
posted by Lynsey at 12:39 PM on September 1, 2018 [7 favorites]

Typos jump out to snag my eyes. I see them in billboards when traveling at highway speeds. I notice when a date range is incorrectly punctuated with a hyphen instead of an en-dash.

Tragically, I can’t apply this skill to my own writing.
posted by Jesse the K at 12:42 PM on September 1, 2018 [13 favorites]

I have a parking mojo as well! The yin to that yang though is that I have an innate ability to pick the longest line up in any queue; doesn't matter if it's the faster line, if I join it, it's doomed to slow to a crawl.

I can also navigate like a homing pigeon to any place I've been to once before.
posted by arcticseal at 12:49 PM on September 1, 2018 [7 favorites]

I give dogs the best butt-scritches. I can make 'em dance, twitch a leg, lean forward until their knees are touching the ground. They can't get enough.
posted by agentofselection at 12:51 PM on September 1, 2018 [15 favorites]

I am really good at un-tangling necklace chains. Even when they're tightly knotted together.

Other than that I guess I'm a good jack-of-all-trades? I learn fast, even if I've never been the best at anything, I tend to be pretty good at everything I do. Except flower arranging, which for some reason I'm incredibly bad at, despite the fact I'm an artist.
posted by stillnocturnal at 12:54 PM on September 1, 2018 [8 favorites]

Dear Loquacious, with apologies if this is obvious, you might enjoy reading the history of the Dérive if you haven't come across it yet. I consider wondering (and psychogeographic explorations in general) one of my only real hobbies. (There's also the Wanderer's Union, whose parent organization's website is nearly content free at the moment, I was surprised to discover. There are no chapters in the neighborhood of your profile, but I'm sure they'd be keen to support one.)
posted by eotvos at 12:57 PM on September 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

Apparently I'm weirdly good at googling things, according to my coworkers. It doesn't really seem like I'm that great at it, though.

What I'm really good at is pub quizzing. I used to belong to a team in London, and we had to start rotating our pubs because the quizmasters kept starting to handicap us after several consecutive wins.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:23 PM on September 1, 2018 [7 favorites]

Having to think about the bragging rights one. There's a few things that come to mind but aren't suitable as either (a) political, (b) not entirely legal perhaps, or (c) not suitable for a family website as there may be ladies, children or small horses present. Or (d) some combination of the previous three. Maybe later.

+ + + + +

It has been an interesting week as summer ended and autumn arrived. The Great British Bake Off has begun, which has facilitated much food-oriented debate. Unfortunately, during a brief trip to the city a few days ago, this led to somewhat heated debate in (no surprise) a branch of Wetherspoon, and I was relieved to return to rural England which has rather different strands of custom, tradition and insanity.

But also baking still, and today was the first of a series of village shows, fetes, harvest festivals and other food-oriented events I'm got in my calendar for possible attendance at over the next few months. I put on my new MetaFilter t-shirt, got on a bus driven by someone who obviously hasn't driven down rural English lanes before, and arrived an annoyingly considerable time later. Which led to getting stuck in a line for admission to this particular village show, as several rich people at the front of the queue were not happy that admission was 50p (around 65 US cents) as opposed to free, and wanted to argue about it.

Until someone behind me who was carrying a marrow suggested what he was going to do with it if held up any further, namely [redacted because extreme anatomy] and everyone hurriedly paid up and we got in.

First stop was, of course, for tea and cake. For some reason, most people were served their tea in a Hello Kitty mug, but tea is tea and I had a mug and a splendid chocolate cupcake. Other cakes were available, but it's going to be a long autumn and I need to pace myself.

After the tea and cake it was time to peruse the fruit and vegetable categories, which had been judged before the doors opened. The usual trestle table system was in operation, allowing freedom of movement. Critiquing was undertaken in small groups or individually. Every now and then you'd hear a small slap, as either a child was admonished for touching an exhibit, or an adult was swished with a flyswatter by the "Protector of Exhibits" if they attempted likewise. Crying was minimal.

The "novelty or unusual vegetable" category attracted most attention. The carrot ... thing ... was a worthy winner, prompting one elderly lady to reminisce about an American Airman she "briefly met" during the war. The conjoined tomatoes also attracted comment:

{awkward silence}
{nearby vicar stifles a giggle}

I wandered into the main exhibition hall, which contained mainly jams and preserves, and it was obvious there had been some ferocious competing taking place, probably resulting in deeply, and silently, held loathings which will carry on to next years shows. The chutneys looked good, as did the winning marmalade. As usual there were some pleasingly random categories, such as bunting, and best display in something recycled.

After more inspection, and finding a non-obvious section of scones and other baking to examine for a while, I went back to the tea and cake area just as the last cake of the day was being unveiled. This was a superb cake, with a thick layer of buttercream and many walnuts on top. The octogenarian who sharp-elbowed her way to the front to get the first slice (somewhat annoyingly I still have the mark of her zimmer frame on my hiking boot) declared it "bloody marvellous".

Autumn event #1 down; many more to go.
posted by Wordshore at 1:33 PM on September 1, 2018 [44 favorites]

At my previous job, my super skill was finding things on the work intranet and remembering policies. Not sure what my super skill is now.
posted by Kris10_b at 2:02 PM on September 1, 2018 [6 favorites]

Also I just got engaged

Congratulations, that’s wonderful news, and I wish you and your fiancé a lovely day (and life) together!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 2:06 PM on September 1, 2018 [5 favorites]

iamkimiam, perhaps you'll like this movie!

I am an excellent squirrel -- if you need to fit a newly acquired bag of groceries into an "almost-full" fridge or a new batch of cleaning supplies into a linen closet, I'm your woman. Similarly, I can find the things a few weeks afterwards. Finally, I am excellent at eating nuts (preferably roasted and salted but I'm not that picky).
posted by batter_my_heart at 2:39 PM on September 1, 2018 [13 favorites]

This isn't some durable skill that I can claim. But, over the past couple of weeks, it's clicked in my head that my seemingly life-long aversion to more-than-rudimentary-for-a-functional-adult levels of housecleaning has resolved itself! Apparently, the critical combination of needed factors was: (1) self-employment; (2) working from home; and (3) podcasts. Now when I need to take a break during the day, I pick a corner of the house and grab the right combo of cleaning supplies, put on my headphones, and get my domestic on for 20 minutes! Sure, the house still needs all sorts of remodeling and other TLC, but it's a delightfully weird (and bragworthy for me) feeling to look around and realize that I would *not* freak out if someone dropped by unexpectedly.
posted by shelbaroo at 3:04 PM on September 1, 2018 [15 favorites]

My eldest kid can repeat anything she hears backwards. Say, "Where do you want to go for dinner?" and she will immediately say, "Rennid rof og ot nawu ood rehew?" It's magical.

I guess I'm bragging about my procreation skills.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:35 PM on September 1, 2018 [24 favorites]

I’m still traumatized by the lobster FPP. :(
posted by Melismata at 3:43 PM on September 1, 2018 [6 favorites]

Madonna Louise Ciccone once told me to shove hydrangeas up my ass.
posted by roger ackroyd at 3:58 PM on September 1, 2018 [20 favorites]

Ok - you know the part of patty cake where you “roll them up” and sort of spin your hands around each other? I can simultaneously spin one hand toward me and the other hand away from me.
posted by lyssabee at 4:08 PM on September 1, 2018 [8 favorites]

I used to be unnaturally good at flight simulators. In fact, I have an award proving it. I was on a team in college and we competed at NIFA events; we were the only team that was not composed of students training to be professional pilots. One event at every competition is a simulator where you are asked to fly a set of maneuvers and are scored by how closely you hit the timing and positions. You might have to fly straight and level for 30 seconds, then a climbing left 360, then a descent, etc. Each segment is timed and you're scored at how closely you hit your marks (for example, a 360 turn should take 2 minutes and if you're not back at your same heading in exactly 2 minutes you get docked points).

We had a brief practice period before the actual event, and I pretty quickly figured out the exact settings for each type of maneuver that would allow me to fly them perfectly. I bored the judges because I didn't miss a mark. I don't think anyone else came close to my score.

This was a fairly simple simulator, and I wonder if I could actually repeat that performance with modern full-video sims, but it's a very dumb skill that has one particular application which will never come up again.
posted by backseatpilot at 4:18 PM on September 1, 2018 [12 favorites]

I am very good at reading and processing large quantities of dubious nineteenth-century prose. (British Library research trips have included such things as dozens of collections of exemplary women's biographies, 100+ Victorian anti-Catholic sermons, and 130+ nineteenth-century religious novels.) My academic career amounts, in effect, to saving other people from having to do the same thing.

(I should point out that this is actually fun, although individual novels have been known to inspire a yearning to switch careers to something like, say, baseball announcing, or perhaps forensic accounting.)
posted by thomas j wise at 4:37 PM on September 1, 2018 [9 favorites]

I have excellent time sense. I always know what time it is, within a couple of minutes, no matter how long it’s been since I looked at a clock. This means I always know when the oven timer is about to go off. I’m also very good at estimating how long something will take. Oddly, possibly related, I’m completely unable to wear a regular watch because they always stop working after a few months; a new battery stops immediately. Fancy, cheap, digital, windup, battery, all of them. Thank goodness for cell phones.
posted by john_snow at 4:58 PM on September 1, 2018 [16 favorites]

Haven't done it in a long time but I'm really good at finding hard contact lenses. In college, we stumbled back to the dorm at night after guzzling beer and somehow while flailing my arms describing something I knocked both lenses out of my best friend's eyes. I made her stand there to mark the spot while I ran to the desk for a flashlight, I found both of them. In the grass. At night.

I'm good at parallel parking.

I'm the space queen when it comes to packing the car. Or a suitcase.
posted by yoga at 5:02 PM on September 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

I've got a photographic memory with a pretty quick recall. It's handy as hell, but sometimes the brain gets jumbled. Trashing old photos is harder than it sounds.
posted by deezil at 5:25 PM on September 1, 2018 [7 favorites]

There's a big vein in the middle on the back of both my hands, with enough finger contorting I can make that vein pop over the bone in the hand for the middle finger, for each hand.
posted by numaner at 5:27 PM on September 1, 2018 [8 favorites]

I have to say, I'm curious about how showing people how fast I can open a combination lock is relevant to my job in gun violence prevention.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:46 PM on September 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

I do payroll and HR for 13 separate organizations in eight geographic locations; each location has as many as 25 departments or sales points. As long as an employee has been working for the corporation for at least two pay cycles, I can usually tell you what city and which department they work in before it can be looked up in the computer. There are usually about 1300 non-salaried employees.

I did not request this skill, but it routinely gives people a little jolt when they see it. It is also useful when I should be sleeping, but the mind is racing, going through each department and matching faces to names in my imagination.

I cannot, on the other hand remember what I had for breakfast this morning.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 5:57 PM on September 1, 2018 [16 favorites]

When fueling my car, I can stop pumping at EXACTLY the dollar amount I decided upon before I arrived at the gas station. I never go over. I never go under. It is a gift. I can also stop the microwave at the last possible millisecond before it beeps.

I am 47. I have never lost a game of Taboo, regardless of who my teammate was.

Same goes for Air Hockey.

My toes are so long, I can pick up small objects with them.

I cannot, however, defeat my nine-year-old in Reversi. It is impossible.
posted by 4ster at 5:58 PM on September 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

Billiebee, congratulations!

Homo neanderthalensis, how scary! My thoughts are you with and your father. Hoping for the best for him.
posted by lazuli at 5:58 PM on September 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

I can read a recipe and know pretty well how it will turn out (except for baked goods - there's too much chemistry involved there). This is pretty nice for avoiding disappointments in the kitchen.

I'm also an ace at picking the right size drill bit or socket wrench - better even than Hubby, a former professional mechanic, with the added advantage that I put them back in the index when I'm done which means that we can find them the next time we need them. Needless to say, I have taken over all drill bit and socket wrench picking at home.

Finally, I'm really good at visualizing a work flow and planning the ... logistics, maybe, for lack of a better word. At my job I actually plan out all the tiny details of an experiment before I set foot in the lab (with occasional quick checks on equipment compatibility and supplies etc, to avoid surprises later). I write up my plans as a Word document, print it out, take it to the bench and work from it as a checklist. Any little discrepancies I jot down and transfer back to the Word file, which then becomes the record for my electronic lab notebook. This way, I usually catch calculation errors and other mistakes before it's too late. Basically, I try very hard to avoid thinking at the bench.
posted by Quietgal at 6:11 PM on September 1, 2018 [6 favorites]

Non-resume skills:
* Choosing the correct Tupperware container for a certain amount of leftovers
* Poultry evisceration
* Fire-building and maintenance (my wood stove record is seven days of flame on one match, though it was a very long match)
* Queen of Where Is, though no one else in my family will clean up when they can't find something
* Good at conversations with security guards/mechanics/behind-the-scenes-make-it-work folks
* Can load pigs onto a trailer and offload them at the butcher without any problems or excessive noise
* Pretty good at tracking down forgotten childhood books (folks who participate in those Ask questions have taught me a lot--thanks!)
* When I get lost while driving, I go in whatever direction the most traffic is going, and it usually gets me back to a major road and re-oriented.
* I'm good in emergencies. Private panic is for after things are triaged and addressed.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:32 PM on September 1, 2018 [7 favorites]

Apparently I'm weirdly good at googling things, according to my coworkers.
I am also weirdly good at googling things. It's a matter of figuring out the combination of words that will pertain to that thing but won't pertain to a lot of other things.

I'm pretty good at putting together IKEA furniture, but I think it's mostly that I take the time to look at the instructions pretty carefully before I begin. I think that most people are bad at putting together IKEA furniture because they try to wing it.

I am a total socially awkward mess in my day-to-day life, but I am weirdly good at door-to-door political canvassing. I think it's because it's an awkward interaction no matter what, and I am not fazed by awkward interactions, since all my interactions are awkward.

I am embarrassingly terrible at giving gifts. I'm pretty sure that it's a moral failing.

So my news for this week is that I started my computer science class (Data Structures, which depending on how you look at it is the second or third class for CS majors), and it's... surprisingly fine? They're doing something called "Team Based Learning," which means that we're all put on a team and we sit together at class and work on problems. I thought that would be real weird, because I'm a non-traditional student and I'm much older than most people in the class, but it's fine. I'm neither the smartest person on my team nor the person who is contributing least. There's another old person, which is nice. The other people don't seem to care that the two of us are old. Honestly, I think I might kind of like it. I realize this is really weird.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:46 PM on September 1, 2018 [12 favorites]

I'm pretty good at whistling. In New England, at least, that prompts some old-timers to quote a stupid ditty about whistling women being unnatural.

The other week I went to a dance camp and it was excellent - great music, singing, and so much dancing. The food was good and it wasn't terribly expensive, and the people are terrific. My feet and more than a few other parts hurt for days. Lots of staying up late dancing and then getting up in time for more. Came home to a weekend of events for a dear friend's 90th birthday. Beer, family, friends, more dancing, more singing. Which may have a bit to do with having had a cold this week. I coughed so much yesterday that my ribs hurt, esp. when I cough, or when a Wordshore comment makes me want to laugh. Alcohol will help, and as it's nearly 10 pm, I'd best get on it.

I have a small woodstove and, for a while, challenged myself to bring the fire back from the tiniest of coals, but it would be difficult to keep a fire alive for 7 days.

My son dropped off some roasted Brussels sprouts, they make them at his 2nd job, a small expression of love, so that was dinner sorted.
posted by theora55 at 6:53 PM on September 1, 2018 [5 favorites]

I can cut my own hair, evenly, without using another mirror to see the back of my head. Perfect shoulder length cut every time.
posted by Ruki at 7:00 PM on September 1, 2018 [6 favorites]

I'm pretty good at putting together IKEA furniture, but I think it's mostly that I take the time to look at the instructions pretty carefully before I begin. I think that most people are bad at putting together IKEA furniture because they try to wing it.

Once I had the extreme joy of discovering that IKEA has mis-manufactured a shelf (holes drilled on the wrong side of one piece), making it impossible to put together with drilling more holes. Which is not the point of shopping at IKEA. I knew it was made wrong, rather than user error, because I can read directions. Said joy was tempered a bit by feeling bad for my housemate, who had to go to the trouble of returning it.
posted by ktkt at 7:03 PM on September 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

I can’t find anyone to play Monopoly with me because I will dispense with any opponent ruthlessly. I will find unexpected ways to defeat you that cut straight into the most tender, sensitive part of your soul. I will capitalize on the deepest weakness in your heart, that painful deficiency in your psyche that caused your divorce, your inability to finish school, the reason you don’t talk to your parents anymore. I will find that flaw and I will take it and grab it and squeeze it in your face while I quickly take everything you own and laugh at your helplessness to stop me. You WILL cry and you WILL never speak to me again.

And that’s why I can’t play Monopoly any more.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:07 PM on September 1, 2018 [14 favorites]

I have an amazing sense of direction and have rarely gotten lost, even in cities I'm brand new to.

Related, I'm also an incredible travel planner. When it comes to vacations, there are two types of people: those who use a spreadsheet and those who do not. Don't knock travel-by-spreadsheet until you've traveled with me. (Actually ha ha forget I said that because this is one gift I prefer to keep to myself. Solo travel is my self-care.)
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:37 PM on September 1, 2018 [7 favorites]

> john_snow:
"excellent time sense." I can't express strongly enough how envious I am, because I am time-impaired.
posted by theora55 at 7:38 PM on September 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

I've beaten all the cups in F-Zero GX on Master difficulty and all the story mode missions on Very Hard.

I've cleared a deck in Triples (a Set clone for Android) in 1:35. (That means finding one set about every four seconds, though the app automatically deals out new cards or ends the game if there are no sets on the board, so it's faster than playing with actual cards.)

I was pretty good at writing funny house meeting notes for my college dorm.

I'm really good at cramming for tests. In fact, I was so good at cramming for tests that I won a statewide award, and my high school put my name up on a banner facing the front door for two years after I graduated, before I told them to knock it off.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 7:44 PM on September 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

> I have to say, I'm curious about how showing people how fast I can open a combination lock is relevant to my job in gun violence prevention.

I'm not completely sure, but my guess was that people say "but if I keep my gun locked in a gun safe (and therefore out of the hands of untrained gun users/children), I won't be able defend myself and the bad guy will get me for sure!!" And then you show them that you can open a combination lock in 1/100 of a second or something so fast as to be insignificant and suggest they get a gun safe and a new unlocking hobby.
posted by Secretariat at 7:51 PM on September 1, 2018 [9 favorites]

Sadly, I am excellent at suggesting dinner at restaurants that turn out to have closed the week before.
posted by kristi at 8:03 PM on September 1, 2018 [16 favorites]

I can cut my own hair, evenly, without using another mirror to see the back of my head. Perfect shoulder length cut every time.

Well now- that's just a goddamn superpower.

Dad is still under observation, and they're still running tests but it looks like he had a mild mini-stroke during the week before the scheduled MRI yesterday. The fall probably wasn't the cause, probably didn't help matters. We'll know more in a few days, he's being held at least overnight, possibly more. The good news is he is totally lucid, and doesn't seem to be any more impaired than usual, that is to say he is as unsteady on his feet as he's always been, and he still flies off on tangents, but he's not any worse. (Actually mom swears he's sharper than usual- wouldn't it be funny if blowing a clot in his head fixed his mild confusion!)

I have been cleaning the house in a frenzy and throwing myself into the garden to avoid thinking about it.

THE GARDEN OK. First Sun Gold harvest a few days ago- they were delicious, and since there is some new growth- maybe more to come! New indoor succulent (because the old one died lol) and I got two new lovage plants! The mitsuba is starting to sprout- and the fava beans are covered in aphids but also starting to grow beans so yay? I hosed off the favas today while my dog watched. The chives had a mild aphid problem too- I reached down to pick some and my hand came away covered in like 20 aphids oh god that was nightmare fuel... but after diligent spraying with oil its a non-problem.

Dad fell into the two hatch peppers yesterday before his test. He snapped one straight off- it dead. I'm glad he had the peppers to break his fall honestly. If they hadn't been where they were he would have been much worse hurt than scrapes and bruises. But the one that was merely listing was the one with like 8 baby peppers attached so I did some emergency surgery and transplantation and so far- it lives!

Dad's really been looking forward to those peppers and especially now... I really want to save that plant for him more than anything.

The work interview I had went... great honestly but also weirdly? The office is a little disorganized, but they do great work for the animals, and I love the vet. They also do a lot of work for the rescue I used to volunteer for so that's really cool. During my work interview they were spaying a sweet little pit pup for the rescue. I'll either get an offer or I wont, but the 4 hour work interview I had Thursday makes me think I will. They seem to want me as a tech with the animals which is honestly cooler than reception but who knows. Mom keeps telling me that even if I don't get the job this was my first real interview as an adult and that's a victory no matter what. She's right of course- but I'd really like this job XD

I also have my one class which I started this week and is kinda a blast. Pure cultural anth stuff about out of body experiences and spirit possession and the like- not what I signed up for- I thought the class would be more medical anth...I mean, you take a class called "anthropology of the body" you don't expect it to be about consciousness... but hey I NEED THIS TO GRADUATE SO FULL SPEED AHEAD!!!

The book is really interesting anyways- and to supplement the class I dug out my copy of "the spirit catches you and you fall down" so at least I have that to take my mind off of stuff.

A friend is coming over tomorrow so I wont be alone. I'm not in the greatest of places, but I'm ok. Dad should be ok. God I hope he's going to be ok.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:20 PM on September 1, 2018 [19 favorites]

Got a hole-in-one at a pitch-n-putt course once.
posted by KazamaSmokers at 8:36 PM on September 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

I have no sense of direction, except when inside of shopping malls.
posted by monopas at 8:42 PM on September 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

"Related, I'm also an incredible travel planner. When it comes to vacations, there are two types of people: those who use a spreadsheet and those who do not. "

Amen! If you travel with me and I planned it, you will get a custom google map sent to your phone with all relevant locations marked and at least three restaurants close to the hotel that suit your needs/taste (if you're a vegetarian, I will have found at least one all-veggie spot and checked all menus for good veggie options; if you have kids, I will have checked children's menus and found at least one fast food comfort food place), as well as the closest grocery store (just in case). You will also receive a google doc with a complete itinerary that will include dates, times, flights, hotels, taxi companies, addresses, phone numbers, restaurants, activities, alternate rain activities, possible downtime activities, emergency numbers, notes on hotel amenities, blank spaces to write in the hotel room numbers of everyone in the party, and hotlinks for every location and company involved. It will be neatly organized so you can find things at a glance. And it will have a link to the custom google map just in case you lost it. There will be adequate buffer time built in so that you're not rushed, as well as flexible downtime. (That is, it will not be a forced march of "fun.") It's possible I will provide you with snacks, since I have to pack them for my kids anyway and I don't want anyone to get hungry! If I know your flight was long I may meet you at the airport with trail mix with M&Ms and a Diet Coke because you're likely to be a little hungry. This is just the way my brain works, I have always been a person who needs plans and contingency plans and now that I just, you know, do that, I am much less tense because I know exactly what I'll do if things go awry because I have contingency plans and contingency plans for my contingency plans!

But the true skill I've gained in adulthood is that when I'm NOT the travel planner, and a more spontaneous person is, I just relax. I used to spend the whole time super-antsy that we were running late, we were going to miss X, the taxi was a terrible way to get to Y, etc., and I was not any fun, but now I just put a couple granola bars in my purse (I get hangry) and just go along for the ride. Worst case scenario, I read some books on my phone because we have to wait two hours to eat dinner or whatever.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:47 PM on September 1, 2018 [16 favorites]

Well, just over in the MetaRegrets thread last week I mentioned one of my bragging rights go-tos: I once won a bet by running a mile backwards in under 9 minutes (8:31, to be exact). But the best part of that win was that as soon as I agreed to the bet, my opponent--certain that he would win--started talking it up all around the math department. The week before the run, he stood up at the beginning of grad colloquium to announce the contest, and everyone present agreed that he was obviously going to win. Winning after that was much better, in itself, than the six-pack of beer that I collected.

Also, on the stupid human trick level, I can do the overtone singing thing where you seem to produce two notes at once. Picked that one up in college from a fellow choir nerd (who is, coincidentally, the best natural mathematician I have ever met).
posted by egregious theorem at 8:55 PM on September 1, 2018 [10 favorites]

I have to say, I'm curious about how showing people how fast I can open a combination lock is relevant to my job in gun violence prevention.

Probably more like: "That shitty little lock-box you put your gun in to keep it out of kids hands is shitty. Any tween can crack that, it's just a matter of patience and the instructions are on the internets."

Get some hard-to-pick key locks or something more alarm-system failure detected smart safe for your guns.
posted by zengargoyle at 8:56 PM on September 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

Eyebrows, I feel like we understand each other on a spiritual, custom color-coded Google Mapped level.

(Hello I am the person who knew she was going to Scotland soon, signed up for Edinburgh Groupon back when Groupon was an individual city thing, and got a half-day experience at a falconry and raptor rescue center for like 50GBP. You don't stand on a moor in the Highlands having bald eagles land on you without some spreadsheets being involved at some point along the way, my friends.)
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:57 PM on September 1, 2018 [25 favorites]

I've been a cook for like a decade so I have impeccable and impressive "oh the rice is done now" senses. I can't tell you how long it takes something to cook, but I just know when it's done. Steaks to temp, bacon in the oven, a pizza, pasta, jam, cookies, a roast, anything. It's like spidey senses.

And then I'm training someone and they're like "how long does this cook for?" and I'm like "uhhhhh as long as it takes me to chop a gallon of onions and start half a medium long recipe ish" WHICH ISN'T HELPFUL.

I'm also really good at finding the most labor/space/product efficient way to make things.

Long story short: I am really good at my job and it's fucking awesome, and everything is done at the same time when I throw dinner parties.
posted by Grandysaur at 9:01 PM on September 1, 2018 [12 favorites]

The more dire the situation, the funnier I get. In every surgery I've had (many) the last thing I always hear is the surgical team laughing at some shit I've said.

I also can hold my breath for over a minute. In the recovery room after surgery I set off the alarms because I stop breathing for over a minute fairly often. The mystery to the nurses is that my oxygen level doesn't drop.

Another skill, is placing the exact number of sheets of paper in the printer without counting.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 9:02 PM on September 1, 2018 [8 favorites]

Also, I can spell pretty much any word if I write it down, which is only remarkable because I cannot, for the life of me, spell things out loud or tell what word I'm hearing when it's spelled to me (except for Gwen Stefani singing B-A-N-A-N-A-S. But F-E-R-G-A-L-I-C-I-O-U-S took me YEARS to figure out). I think it's all muscle memory and shape recognition.
posted by Grandysaur at 9:04 PM on September 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

If you ask me where I bought $thing, there's a good chance I can not only tell you the store, but give you a shelf location accurate to within a meter. Consequently, I don't like it when stores rearrange their layout, because I now have two maps in my head, and they're in conflict.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 9:18 PM on September 1, 2018 [10 favorites]

This is a great thread, I can’t remember the last time I handed out so many favorites!

My superpowers are baby soothing, kitty calling and present giving. I also am one of those people who has an internal kitchen timer. I can have three burners and the oven going and just *know* when everything is done.
posted by msali at 9:22 PM on September 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

I'm good at dinner timing, usually. Most of the time I am extremely good at getting all dishes, no matter how long or short each individual dish takes to cook, ready at the right time.

There are times, however, where I get overly confident and then have rather spectacular dinner-timer failings. But they're few and far between.
posted by lazuli at 9:36 PM on September 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

Yay, I appreciate the fun answers to this question even more than I appreciate my question getting picked.

Secretariat, you got it - part of my job is promoting safe firearm storage and I've developed the ability to open a lockbox, safe, etc. at lightning speed to prove to people that locking up their guns will not actually leave them unprepared in an emergency. And at least in my part of the field we don't promote using shitty equipment, thankyouverymuch! I have a surprising amount of knowledge about gun storage safety standards for someone who has never owned or even fired a gun.

I also happen to be a human thermometer who can tell if my kiddo has even a very slight fever by kissing her head. I don't kiss anyone else's head regularly, so I don't know whether this extends beyond her. Oh, and also I'm an amazing human bellows and can revive almost any fire by blowing on it.
posted by centrifugal at 9:42 PM on September 1, 2018 [13 favorites]

I can touch my tongue to my nose!

I don't think of it as a real achievement -- it's not like i said to myself one day, "Hey, I'd like to be able to do this," and proceeded to slowly and painstakingly hone my craft. It's just something I've always been able to do.

However, it does amuse those who see it, and anything I can do that brings a smile to someone else's face, I count as a positive in this world.
posted by virago at 9:43 PM on September 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

Woot. Camp full of cyclists. I've had a shower and smores. I didn't break a spoke but definitely stretched and bent some. I spent a few slow hours taking my time truing the rim, and this is definitely where I shine at overpacking, because hell yes I have a spoke wrench. I'm regretting not strapping some spare spokes to my frame though.

That's also one of my major bragging rights: being prepared and overpacked. Thankfully I have the legs to carry it, but it has saved my butt, or at least kept things leisurely, easily solved and comfortable.

No one who knows me or calls me a friend asks why I carry so much crap around because I've helped them with something at least once. Yes, I have a safety pin, an aspirin, an ibuprofen, a bandaid, a bit of tape, a pen, a flashlight, a match, a toothpick, a lighter, maybe even a cough drop or stick of gum.

I probably also have enough tools and metal bits to take apart a phone, a laptop, a bike, and maybe even a major fraction of a car. I probably also have a bit of street sweeping bristle stashed somewhere, useful for picking locks.
posted by loquacious at 9:46 PM on September 1, 2018 [6 favorites]

I'm good at telling what time it is--I can usually guess within five minutes of what it says on my watch, before I look--EXCEPT when I'm in a bookstore. Then it's more like, wonder about the time, look at watch, note that thirty minutes have passed without me even noticing, shrug, go back to browsing.
In my teens and twenties I had a world-beating memory for vocabulary words and names; my idea of studying for a new-vocab test for foreign language classes in college was "read the vocabulary list once the night before and once the morning of the test, bam, done." These days not quite so great, but I'm still good with names. The problem is that I'm lousy with faces: if I meet you once and you tell me your name is Tsukie Hoshino *, I'll remember that I met someone with that name, but I'm not necessarily going to know it's you the next time we meet.

* Actually, anyone would remember the name Tsukie Hoshino or, in standard order, 星野月絵, which means "moon-picture star-field" and is thus a ridiculously charming woman's name and also the name of someone I met in the line of business last week.
posted by huimangm at 9:46 PM on September 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

I'm an excellent electrical (and to a lesser extent mechanical) control troubleshooter. Lots of practice I guess but I can just "feel" when examining a misbehaving system where the problem is or what is acting up once I've had a chance to grok it. Things just have to work a certain way and when they don't it mentally sticks out like a sore thumb or a stone in your shoe.

EG: I once identified which control valve (out of about 30) on a system I'm not familiar with was in the wrong position just at our lunch table just from the description of the inputs, outputs and problem.
posted by Mitheral at 9:57 PM on September 1, 2018 [5 favorites]

I am the lead singer of the best and most famous funk band to have played in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:00 PM on September 1, 2018 [23 favorites]

And reading about all you folks' mojo I had to look up the antonym... I have a bureaucracy hex. Does not matter what country, how important it is, how much or how little is at stake - my documents are a day late, a dollar short, missing the crucial stamp, and I am never aware of the need for a supplementary 27B-Stroke-6 until it is far too late.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:13 PM on September 1, 2018 [6 favorites]

Like Jesse the K, I have an eye for typos. I was once helping to layout a publication in English and Hungarian and I somehow spotted a few typos in the Hungarian text despite not knowing any Hungarian.
posted by moonmilk at 10:32 PM on September 1, 2018 [10 favorites]

I am weirdly, disturbingly good at the game Apples to Apples. I have yet to figure out how to parlay this into some kind of lucrative career.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:01 PM on September 1, 2018 [6 favorites]

My office set up for the past few years has had my desk facing away from the door. I can hold a conversation with someone who stops by, with my torso rotated around to face them, and continue to type out an email or whatever while doing so, without looking at my hands or the screen. It really unnerves people, so I've mostly stopped.

I blame fourth form typing class where Miss Wilson made us tape a piece of cardboard between us and the typewriters so we couldn't see what we were doing.
posted by lollusc at 11:39 PM on September 1, 2018 [5 favorites]

Oh and I'm really good at packing light. I can do four or five days with just an overstuffed laptop bag, and I think I could travel indefinitely with just hand luggage. I've started making more of an effort lately to not be so extreme about it though.
posted by lollusc at 11:45 PM on September 1, 2018 [8 favorites]

Like several of you, typos leap off the page at me. Also grammatical errors (I mean, Obama just made a whopper in his McCain eulogy: "he told Michelle and I . . .") or words to that effect. I also unnerved people by turning to talk to them while still typing, which is just good short-term memory, I think. I'm also pretty good at trivia.

But my favorite thing is creating spreadsheets, such as the one a gamer asked me for that would track games played etc. He fell out of the weekly gaming group after a few years and nobody else cared about the stats, but I still have it and took a look at it before coming here and I think it holds up pretty well. I think it's fun to create a well-organized spreadsheet; must be a holdover from when I was the formal forms designer at the UofA Medical Center. Speaking of forms design, I won a national award for a multi-part form for the Orthopedics Dept.
posted by MovableBookLady at 12:05 AM on September 2, 2018 [10 favorites]

Also grammatical errors (I mean, Obama just made a whopper in his McCain eulogy: "he told Michelle and I . . .")

This is one of the things Mrs. Example and I have in common. On a related note, we've been watching Black Sails, and every single time a character should say "X and me", he/she says "X and I". It's like coarse-grade sandpaper on our last nerves at this point.

Oh, and I thought of another thing. I'm really good at cold-reading Shakespeare. Hand me pretty much any play of his and I'll be able to start reading it out loud and making it sound more or less natural. (I only really run into a bit of trouble with the really late plays where he starts getting Byzantine with his sentence structures and references.) Not generally a useful skill in daily life, but it's tremendously handy when I audition for and/or get cast in a play.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 12:27 AM on September 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

Apparently my super skill at the moment is not resting when I get sick and then getting really sick. The doctor was a bit condescending- "you will probably get better". Heh.

My super skills: as above, I am a squireller (excited that this isn't a family specific term!)- but not as good as my sister who can put things anywhere. I can also tetris a car or a suitcase and pack lots in. Squirelling can be a negative though: "no! you're not tidying, you're squirelling!" meaning that while the place looks great- we won't be able to find anything in any logical place any time soon.

I travelled to Canada from Australia for a wedding and managed to do this with one bag (and one handbag.) Carry-on allowance. High heel shoes and everything.
(Though I did have to 'check' the carry-on when flying a small propeller plane- but I got to put it in at the plane and pick it up when I got off like it was a greyhound bus.)

I also have the bragging rights in our family that I can cook without a recipe book and get some kind of decent meal even though we "don't have any food."

Great thread. Glad your dad is OK, H.N.
posted by freethefeet at 1:05 AM on September 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

I can sing the alphabet backwards. Worked it out with a friend of mine while we were on the swings when I was about 9. I don't get the chance to use it much, as you may imagine, though it did once help me quite a bit on a test. It ends: "now I know my zyx's, at first it's easy but then it vexes". :)

I used to have this bad luck/'talent'/hex where no matter when or where I was on the road, heading to go to a fast food restaurant's drive thru, the car in front of me on the road would also go to the same drive thru. Through multiple turns on the road before it, everything. It was maddening! At some point I managed to shake that one, I sure hope it doesn't come back.

Count me in with the good typo-spotters. I find my eyes are just hopping along, reading a thing, and then my gaze snaps back to a typo involuntarily. I then notice that hey, there's a typo there.

I also have a very visual memory (not quite photographic) and can remember where things are rather well. Sometimes if I am reading something printed somewhat intently, I can remember where things are in relation to the page spread they appeared on. Such as, under a picture on the right side, or lower left almost at the bottom of the page, stuff like that.
posted by cats are weird at 1:27 AM on September 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

I have something that kind of feels like word synaesthesia; correctly-spelled words and harmonious sentences almost chime pleasantly in my brain, while mis-spellings or awkwardly-phrased writing kind of clang unpleasantly. It's nearly impossible for me to make homophone mistakes like their/they're/there unless I'm extremely busy or tired because they feel like radically different words in my head. Same with similarly-spelled names; Catherine and Kathryn feel so different that I can't get one confused for the other.

I can take someone else's prose, spend five minutes editing it and significantly improve how harmonious and smooth-flowing the writing sounds by making small adjustments for cadence (punctuation, changing word order etc.). The downside is that sloppy writing out in the real world makes me incandescently angry because I can't not read it if I can see it and it's clanging all wrong in my head. The latest generation (i.e. my generation) of ad copywriters seem ever so slightly less literate than previous generations and I suffer a lot for this any time I have to go somewhere with a lot of print ads, like on the tube.

The Co Op (UK supermarket chain) has just rebranded a bunch of its stores, and each one now says "Welcome to [name of place]'s Co Op" on the front of the store, whether [name of place] is a small neighbourhood in a bigger city or the name of an entire settlement (local examples: "Welcome to Milton Road's Co Op"; "Welcome to Willingham's Co Op"). And I so so so wish they'd gone with "Welcome to the [name of place] Co Op" because the possessive is entirely unnecessary and makes me feel weird inside every time I read one of these signs, which is several times a week. Presumably it's meant to feel nice and inclusive and community-oriented but it triggers a wall of rage inside me that starts screaming, "MILTON ROAD CANNOT OWN A CO OP". Anyway.

I'm also surprisingly good at spatial awareness while in motion, relative to the speed of things around me. Multi-lane highways feel like playing a giant game of frogger. I know exactly how fast I need to be going compared to everyone else to move into a space in another lane, overtake etc. This is particularly weird given that my static spatial awareness is terrible - I can park okay but I'm not amazing at it, and I often find it hard to tell if a given thing can fit in a given space if I'm standing still looking at it...but somehow it's much easier when I'm travelling at 60mph.
posted by terretu at 1:53 AM on September 2, 2018 [10 favorites]

Oh, and I can often tell when other women are pregnant before they start showing/announce it. This was true of my teachers at school and continues to be true for women I work with. I don't know what it is that tips me off - I tend to observe people closely most of the time without really realising (it's my default setting for interacting with the world; I'm not a creepy staring person, I just notice stuff) so maybe I pick up on subtle changes or behavioural cues.

I also have a strong, sensitive sense of smell so maybe it's a smell thing. COD's comment about being able to tell when his wife's blood sugar is low is super interesting, and reminded me of the woman who can smell Parkinson's.
posted by terretu at 2:10 AM on September 2, 2018 [8 favorites]

Not a skill so much as a genetic gift, but no-one on my father's side of my family has wisdom teeth, including myself and my brother. His kids are in their late 20s, and haven't developed any yet.
posted by Fuchsoid at 2:40 AM on September 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

I am really good at writing sonnets (and other forms of rhyming poetry, but the sonnet is my particular favorite). My college application essays were 2 sonnets, 1 about frame-shift mutations and the other about how they should let me into the school. I recently wrote one explaining the rules of roller derby.

I'm also extremely attuned to what areas on my partner's body are stiff/sore/in need of a quick massage. We'll be lying in bed together and I'll start feeling a slight pressure in some part of my body, and I'll reach over and knead the same muscle on her body, and she'll say, "OH MY GOD, HOW DID YOU KNOW?" It's a little eerie.
posted by coppermoss at 3:50 AM on September 2, 2018 [8 favorites]

I thought of another one: I can crack my sternum, loudly, like knuckles.
posted by 4ster at 4:08 AM on September 2, 2018 [6 favorites]

"Related, I'm also an incredible travel planner. When it comes to vacations, there are two types of people: those who use a spreadsheet and those who do not. "

I am like this too, but I'm giving it up, because I have gotten tired of being the only one in my group doing it. I'm on a vacation right now in a beautiful place with two people who apparently just expected to be told what to do each day and not contribute any effort at all, so I have been pointedly stepping down from the role of Janet-Your-Cruise-Director. One of them has wised up and is now coming up with very good ideas on her own, but the other is still just sitting like a lump every day with zero investigatory interest in where we are and expecting to be told what to do every day AND THEN COMPLAINING about it. So if you hear about a body found off the coast of Nova Scotia please forget you ever saw this comment.

As far as other skillz, I am really really good at writing bullshit. If you've got 2 sentences about something that you need expanded to a whole page or more, I'm your gal.
posted by JanetLand at 4:38 AM on September 2, 2018 [16 favorites]

My spouse can draw an accurate, to-scale floor plan of the Union Square subway station in NYC.

I can make fart noises by gently suctioning the centre of my eight-year old kid's chest with the palm of my hand.
posted by Morpeth at 5:08 AM on September 2, 2018 [11 favorites]

I am the opposite of JanetLand, I can take an expansive topic and summarise it in few words, this was not a skill when I was at university and trying to expand wordcount for longer essays! I also notice typos and bad grammar jumping out of the page. I am really good at doing my nails, and have had manicurists thinking a professional did it.

I got a cheaper than roomba robot vacuum this week, and it is a joy!
posted by ellieBOA at 5:22 AM on September 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

I also got back into reading fiction while on holiday in England last week, I used to be a voracious reader but lost the pleasure in it after reading for facts at university (another skill is super fast reading, at primary school I learnt to fake continue reading after teachers thought I was lying about having finished). I read Stray City by Chelsea Johnson, it was fantastic and reminded me why I loved reading fiction for so long. I graduated 8 years ago!
posted by ellieBOA at 5:30 AM on September 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

I posted it to FanFare if anyone wants to discuss!
posted by ellieBOA at 5:35 AM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I find four-leaf clovers.

I'm in the bit of Madison that is under an extended flash flood watch, because the river a block away is full near to bursting. We sandbagged about ten days ago and plugged up all the places a flooded sewer system might generate interior catastrophe; but the streets (and our basement) have stayed dry so far. We're sort of past "scary" and into "gee, I wish we could use our basement toilet again."
posted by eirias at 5:41 AM on September 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

I'll add another one. I am one of those people that gets around by visualizing my route, and I have a pretty decent memory for navigating in particular. The upshot is that I can usually find my way back to anywhere I've been before. My parents were visiting a while back and I managed to find an Asian grocery store that I had been to exactly once shortly after I moved here a decade ago.

Of course, I took the long way around to get to the store because that's how I had found it the first time. I still can't tell you what street it's on or the optimal way to get there. I just know how to start at the dim sum restaurant, wind through a couple alleys, and end up buying groceries.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:41 AM on September 2, 2018 [7 favorites]

I have since lost this skill due to lack of practice, but I used to be able to recite the names of the states in zip code order.
posted by drlith at 6:01 AM on September 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

I can usually find my way back to anywhere I've been before.

Me too. I grew up in a city with an absolutely bonkers street system that is kind of notorious for being a place only locals can navigate. Everywhere else I go seems like easy mode. I also really notice landmarks and routes as I go places, which my husband calls "gawking" but if you want to know where any business, park, pop up, or school on any street I've ever been on is, I'm your woman because I have noticed and mentally catalogued all of them.

I lived in Cambridge (uk) for six months when I was a tween. For months after I got back I missed it so much, I drew maps of it from memory, just to feel like I was there again for a few minutes. I've only been back a couple times in the ensuing three decades and still can make a bee line for all of my favorite nooks and crannies.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:35 AM on September 2, 2018 [6 favorites]

I can write equally well with both my right and left hands. (That is not to say I can write well with both hands, just that I can write equally well.)

I can throw with either hand and actually own a lefty and a rightie baseball glove.

Small children and animals love me. I have no idea why, but I love to talk to them.

I can chug any carbonated beverage (beer preferred) out of a can (no shotgun) faster than anyone you know or will ever know.

According to a small subset of three humans, on Father's Day, they tell me I am the bestest father ever.

My friends, both of them, know that I can eat the spiciest foods and peppers ever. Ghost pepper? Done it.

IF I have been there before, I can get there again.
posted by AugustWest at 6:41 AM on September 2, 2018 [8 favorites]

Ages ago, in college, in a huge lecture hall (~900 students), I was sitting way at the back trying to finish my homework before the end of the session. Miles away up front at the chalkboard I saw the lecturer shoo an insect that was buzzing him, and I thought "that bee is going to hit me in the eye". Then it zoomed straight up, hit me in the eye, and bumbled off.
posted by moonmilk at 6:50 AM on September 2, 2018 [11 favorites]

I also have a very visual memory (not quite photographic) and can remember where things are rather well. Sometimes if I am reading something printed somewhat intently, I can remember where things are in relation to the page spread they appeared on. Such as, under a picture on the right side, or lower left almost at the bottom of the page, stuff like that.

I do this also. With books, I'll remember where something is not just on the page but also in terms of how far through the book it was (based on the proportions of read vs unread pages). It makes it fast and easy to find snippets of text again on paper, but does not translate at all to reading on the screen. With PDFs on the computer or fiction on the Kindle, I lose my navigation sense completely.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:02 AM on September 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

I am the Most Punctual Person. And I have a great sense of direction. These appear to be heritable traits.

Honestly though my first thought was “I am still alive.”
posted by wellred at 7:12 AM on September 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

Numaner, the veins on the back of my hands do the same thing! It always creeps people out.
posted by Kris10_b at 7:15 AM on September 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

As far as other skillz, I am really really good at writing bullshit. If you've got 2 sentences about something that you need expanded to a whole page or more, I'm your gal.

Like EllieBOA, I have the opposite skill of being able to summarize concisely, and I'm really good at editing paragraphs for space, especially by pulling up dangling words or half-lines at the end of them. Which is why I've always thought of myself more as an editor than a writer.

And also why I haaaaaaaaaaaaate that I got nominated by default and at the last minute last week to show two different sets of undergraduate nursing students around our program and "give them a quick intro to what your program does." Turns out my "quick intro" is one sentence, because by the time they got to my program, they had already spent most of the day touring other programs and our program doesn't do anything a WHOLE lot different than those other programs. I am really, really bad at verbally drawing things out and it's a skill that I probably need to develop more.
posted by lazuli at 7:29 AM on September 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

I'm not sure if this qualifies as talent or occupational hazard, but I'm excellent at catching plagiarism, mostly because if I've read it once, I recognize it when I see it again (though I've got a good ear for student work, too. Some undergrad students DO write about the automomic hegmonization of the Eastern tigers and the Marxian roots of the rehabilitated economy... but not many. Google finds the rest.)

I was TAing a very large intro class for high school students, and two students in two different groups failed to notice that they had THE SAME TA, and couldn't figure out how the heck I'd noticed they'd turned in the same paper when I had so many to grade. Amateurs. :)
posted by joycehealy at 7:57 AM on September 2, 2018 [10 favorites]

I have a one-off brag! My co-workers are all taking turns bringing dinner to a co-worker who just had a baby, and yesterday was my day. The baby-having co-worker doesn't eat gluten, and I was a little stressed out about planning a meal that transported well and was gluten-free. Guys! This melon salad is the best, easiest thing to bring to someone! It is light and delicious, and it needs four-hours-to-overnight for the flavors to mingle, so you can make it in advance, which is not true of many fruit salads. I bought a ginormous watermelon, because they were on sale and cheaper than the smaller watermelons, and I think I'm going to make another batch just for me.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:07 AM on September 2, 2018 [8 favorites]

My superpowers are many. One is destruction. I break things, and people, completely by accident. My folks tried excusing me when this first started, kindergarten, by saying "he doesn't know his own strength". That quickly faded and since then my father has lovingly referred to me as "a destroyer". If I'm ever around my dad and he hears me curse randomly, his go-to response is "you broke it, didn't you?" This power of course has made me an extremely popular martial arts training partner, lover, and handyman.

Also I have the ability to metabolize most drugs, both recreational and medicinal, at the same rate as someone about twice my size.. so about the size of Andre the Giant. This made the endoscopy procedure I had once become one of the most traumatizing events in my life. I remember it all so vividly... it's what I imagine waterboarding feels like. Afterwards the doctors were like "gee the dose we gave you should have rendered you very pliable and caused hella retrograde amnesia based on your body weight.. so weird that we had to have 3 extra people in there to restrain you" Yeah.. weird for you, hell for me.
posted by some loser at 8:08 AM on September 2, 2018 [8 favorites]

Haha soren_lorensen, I’ve moved around a lot and am endlessly joking I can only remember one town centre at a time after getting lost somewhere I’ve lived!
posted by ellieBOA at 9:04 AM on September 2, 2018

I'm really good at the Egyptian rat screw card game, or at least I used to be until everyone stopped playing with me.

I'm also a petite blonde woman so people are usually surprised to find out I work as a mathematician, which is sometimes amusing and sometimes irritating.
posted by carolr at 10:07 AM on September 2, 2018 [8 favorites]

I have a weirdly keen eye for weighing things out as well as guessing the weight of things. Like, if you need a pound and a third of something random put in a bag, I will do that for you and get it within a tenth of an ounce, if not on the nose. I attribute this to the few years I spent working as a cheesemonger.

Otherwise, I can brag about having shaken Timothy Leary's hand once, and getting super stoned with one of the Fruit of the Loom commercial guys (but not on the same night).
posted by missmobtown at 10:11 AM on September 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

I'm very good at reading old 19th century handwriting.

I am also very good at untangling things like necklaces. Once at a trade show I saw a guy at a booth struggling with a huge knotted mess of necklaces/swag. I told him I would straighten it all out for him if he would then give me one of them. He was dubious, because he had been at it a while, but I had no problem doing it and got my reward.

Finally, I usually know when someone close (family or friends) intends to call me, or wants me to call them, even if we have not talked in ages. Of course this does not stop me from procrastinating about making these calls, because I hate talking on the phone, even though more often than not I have reason to regret it when I do procrastinate too long.
posted by gudrun at 10:34 AM on September 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

I think you may be the first person I've ever met outside of my immediate family who knows the Egyptian rat screw cardgame, carolr!
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:52 AM on September 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

Wow. This thread is incredible. You all are incredible. (And I got nothin’.)
posted by veggieboy at 11:25 AM on September 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

I’m really good at knowing where north is. It’s almost a sensation on the side of my face and head.

Occasionally it gets out of whack — maybe after traveling in a plane or whatever — and I will have the sensation, but it’ll be from the wrong direction. When that happens, usually I can reset by consulting a map or compass.
posted by notyou at 11:38 AM on September 2, 2018 [6 favorites]

Weird things I'm entitled to brag about... Well, I'm just weird. But If anything it's probably the go with the flow attitude I acquired at some point. A bit per the norm in these environs: autodidact, atypical neuropathy, oddly spotty autobiographical memory. Bragging rights? I usually win the weird story game.

Most of my bragging rights have expired, but I treat them like everything else, it's like riding a bicycle... you never forget, it would come back pretty quick.

I give kick-ass backrubs. I seriously considered for a while becoming a massage therapist. That same thing that lets me dig in and tear apart and fix problems of all sorts... works just as well through hands and fingers on a body. Seriously, there was a whole list of girl friends (not girlfriends) who'd strip down and flop onto the floor for a zengargoyle backrub.

I've caused some big name networking vendors to fix their broken shit. All QA like. I'm a bit of a dick. They still keep sending me stuff and asking. So I must be at least 51/49 right.

I wish my head were bigger. I have my grandfather's fedora but it comes down to like eye-level on my head.
posted by zengargoyle at 11:56 AM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I’ve got perfect pitch. That’s always fun.

Have a parking angel, in the Boston area no less. Whenever I go into town, I park on Newbury or Boylston street without thinking about it.

I am actually the anti-estimator; I am always horribly off when it comes to estimating anything. At work: how many pages will that be? I dunno, 340? No, more like 200. I always pick the wrong size container for baking or leftovers, and buy the wrong amount of food for the number of people.

I literally can’t do drugs. The one time I tried an antidepressant, it made me suicidal. Pot does absolutely nothing for me, as does cough medicine and most OTC medications. Alcohol makes me tired and even more clumsy; there is literally no external substance that will make me “feel better,” ah well, luckily a good book does the trick most of the time.
posted by Melismata at 12:01 PM on September 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

My husband is still astounded by a) my ability to spot cats (and then fuss them) or b) spot small prey furry creatures. I don’t know why he is so surprised, he did marry me, the three cats in a trench coat 🧥.

In house buying news, I have many thoughts about the English system and many of them are not fit to print. Which is also to say that the long awaited local council searches came back and then were immediately sent back by my solicitor as they didn’t fully cover the property we are trying to buy. Graarrgghhhhh.
posted by halcyonday at 12:14 PM on September 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

I have a weirdly keen eye for weighing things out as well as guessing the weight of things.

You would love Brazil, they have a typical system at restaurants where it is a self serve and sold by weight thing (all dishes are same price, so load up your plate with whatever). In many of the places they have a "guess the weight, and it is free" deal.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:30 PM on September 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

Attention Deficit Disorder has an associated condition called "hyperfocus" where once in a while something will hit your mental groove and you will come to your senses at 2 in the morning having stared at it for 6 hours.

What I'm saying is, for a period of several weeks I maintained a ranking in the world's top 50 Flappy Bird players.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 1:14 PM on September 2, 2018 [9 favorites]

Oh, almost forgot... I know three phrases in Zapotec. Let's eat, Let's sleep, Let's f*ck. If only I remembered which was which, but I guess it wouldn't actually matter should I run into a Zapotec... process of elimination and all that.
posted by zengargoyle at 1:27 PM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I seem to have great spatial abilities. I can tell exactly which cylindrical container will hold the leftovers from a square dish or from any shaped thing into any shaped thing.

I get antsy if I must watch other people load/put things into other things....into vehicles, gift boxes or such; doesn't matter how many or how odd because I know precisely how they will all fit into that other thing.

And I can visualize how a specific piece of furniture will fit into a room even without measuring. Plus I can remember the color well enough to know if it will likely match something else.

These spatial abilities thwart me whenever I need to remember where I tetrised a rarely used item in to storage.
posted by mightshould at 1:43 PM on September 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

I just had a major bike tour stroke of genius. I'm on an energy resupply mission (electricity and kilocalorie) and instead of sitting in a coffee shop for 6+ expensive hours, I stopped in at a museum and visitor center and asked if I could leave my battery plugged in while I ran errands.

They get a small donation, I don't have to sit in a coffee house, my errands are done and now I can just enjoy the park and be somewhere about a billion times more pleasant than a Starbucks!
posted by loquacious at 1:57 PM on September 2, 2018 [5 favorites]

When I was in school, I could set a mental wake up alarm by looking at a clock and thinking "OK, wake up at 7:30am". I'd rarely be off by more than 1 minute.
posted by signal at 2:20 PM on September 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

I have two: I don't get any painkillers for fillings or dental procedures (up to root canals). I hate the numbness of novocaine, and it doesn't hurt much.

And, a family mutation: no body odor. My father (not mother) and siblings all perspire normally, but the sweat has no scent whatsoever (verified by partners). My brother, adopted, used to shower 3 or more times a day, because he felt stinky.
posted by librosegretti at 2:26 PM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh, I do have a superpower I'd forgotten: I don't get bug bites! Though to be fair, it's not entirely clear whether I don't get bitten by bugs, or simply don't react to them with swelling and pain and itching. Unfortunately, I'm the sort of person who's much happier staying inside with a nice book rather than venturing out into the messy outdoors, so this isn't a superpower that has really benefited me much.
posted by ubersturm at 2:32 PM on September 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

My time sense is mostly sleep time. I'm abnormal in that I tend to 28 hour days 6 days in a week, sometimes bi/poly-phasic. I can wake up after 3 hours or six hours just by will. I haven't used an alarm clock or worn a watch for since forever and I'm not much of a cell phone addict. I don't even open my eyes when I wake up, I know what time it is. I sometimes don't know what day it is, or whether it's actually day or night, but I know when I went to bed and what time it is now ish. I mostly wake up like I'm still just lying there with my eyes closed except I'm awake and have a couple of dreams to piece together.

My left hand has a mind of it's own, it's almost possessed. Once upon a time I took up fencing (épée is the true sport, foil is for weaklings and sabre is for pirate wannabee's) and due to ALL HAIL ERIS GODDESS OF CHAOS AND DISCORD... I learned to fence left-handed.

Lefty is all finesse and pokey, Righty is all WHACK!
posted by zengargoyle at 3:02 PM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I too have a little magnet in my nose to tell me where North is, like carrier pigeons.

It has waned a bit over the years, but I always had a photographic memory for spelling. This helped immensely with spelling bees, which could have won me fame and fortune at a young age were I not also hamstrung by stagefright.
posted by rhizome at 3:08 PM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

librosegretti, are you a redhead?
posted by lazuli at 3:12 PM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I always set a timer whenever something I'm cooking will take too long for me to stand at the stove waiting for it (and it doesn't need constant stirring/attention). But around 95% of the time I end up going to check on its progress or smelling from my favorite chair that it's done about a minute before the timer goes off.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:17 PM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

librosegretti, do you and your biological family have flaky earwax?

(so your other superpower doesn't go uninterrogated)
posted by batter_my_heart at 3:55 PM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm a savant at ordering off a menu. I always, ALWAYS have the most delicious dish at the table. Once people witness this enough times, they thereafter just ask me to order for them.

Add me to the list of MeFi parallel parking geniuses.

Also I'm a little bit clairvoyant. Many's the time I've woken up thinking about someone I haven't heard from or thought about in years, only to get a phone call or email from them later that day.

If you ask me to define a word, about 90% of the time my definition will be almost identical to the dictionary's.

librosegretti: Me too on the novocaine! Unfortunately not on the body odor . . .
posted by HotToddy at 4:00 PM on September 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Sometimes if I am reading something printed somewhat intently, I can remember where things are in relation to the page spread they appeared on. Such as, under a picture on the right side, or lower left

It honestly surprised me when I learned as an adult that not everyone remembers text this way. I have almost always been able to locate something I have read by thumbing back through the book and just keeping an eye out for the relevant bit at the relevant location (left hand page, about one-third of the way down, e.g.).
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:02 PM on September 2, 2018 [10 favorites]

Oh and I'm really good at making something out of nothing, foodwise. Give me an empty pantry and I can whip up a three-course meal.
posted by HotToddy at 4:06 PM on September 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

i wish someone had taken a video of me parallel parking this thing.

This was a homemade 24' long party barge/music venue that we built for a boats festival. It's the size of a small house. After the event I got to tow it (with a small powerboat) back to it's riverside parking spot at a friend's home. Towing was easy, but I had to take it down a relatively narrow slough, turn it around, then maneuver it against wind and current to move it alongside the friend's houseboat. The boat maneuvers involved felt like I was using some kind of superpowers.

Also, that was probably my 5th time driving a boat.
posted by twoplussix at 4:24 PM on September 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

This thread is fun. Gramps was a truck driver back in the '20s ish. He taught all of us kids to back up using mirrors instead of turning around to look where you're going. Freaks the hell out of driver's license testers and passengers when you can drive backwards while looking forwards.
posted by zengargoyle at 4:34 PM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, I also have built in compass. I've talked about it before on mefi in that I tend to sleep with my head pointing roughly North.

I do the same thing hammock camping and naturally or intentionally try to line it up north to south. This has the obvious side benefit that sunlight doesn't barrel down my rain fly at the crack of dawn. Also tends to align perpendicular to most prevailing winds.

I am also always noticing small signs of life, whether living creatures or their foot prints. I'll often be hiking at full speed and come to a dead stop just because I see tiny footprints and the drag of a tail of a mouse or something in the dust.

I had sparrows and finches under my hammock and fly this morning. I've missed that.
posted by loquacious at 5:17 PM on September 2, 2018

I hope you all know that I never try to speak for all of metafilter, but bear with me.

Folding fitted sheets into perfect squares.
posted by not_the_water at 1:47 PM on September 1 [17 favorites +] [!]

Could you please post a video of this miraculous feat? I want to learn.
posted by 4ster at 5:24 PM on September 2, 2018 [7 favorites]

"Eyebrows, I feel like we understand each other on a spiritual, custom color-coded Google Mapped level."

ALWAYS color-coded!

"I also happen to be a human thermometer who can tell if my kiddo has even a very slight fever by kissing her head."

Lips are more temperature-sensitive than most other parts of your body, and scientists have actually studied mothers kissing babies to detect fevers, and mothers are quite accurate at telling whether a baby feels warm. (Not, like, telling if it's 102* fever, but telling that the baby is warmer than usual, or a lot warmer than usual, etc.)

"My office set up for the past few years has had my desk facing away from the door. I can hold a conversation with someone who stops by, with my torso rotated around to face them, and continue to type out an email or whatever while doing so, without looking at my hands or the screen. It really unnerves people, so I've mostly stopped."

It really does unnerve them, doesn't it? I used to do this a lot when I worked for my college newspaper, keep typing away while talking to someone and looking at them for the conversation (or sometimes even inspecting a page for corrections while still typing, as long as they held the page up where I could see it), and the OTHER person often finds it so distracting they lose track of the conversation.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 5:37 PM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Thought of one more: I've really good at assembling things. Doesn't matter if it's a kinder egg puzzle or IKEA stuff.
posted by yoga at 5:40 PM on September 2, 2018

Not a redhead, and earwax is...waxy?
Now I'm curious--what's the connection?
(Off to Google furiously)
posted by librosegretti at 6:12 PM on September 2, 2018

I attended a big ten universityl without gradeation from high school or a GED. No SATs', wisdom teeth, tonsils...Or chicken poxs.
posted by clavdivs at 6:44 PM on September 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

I have few notable powers, but I have learned that I am almost universally adored by cats, small dogs, and babies. I am satisfied with this.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:00 PM on September 2, 2018 [8 favorites]

With barely a glance, I can match the correct-sized container (and always find the lid) for left overs. I also have parking karma, but I grew up in Chicago, so I always parallel park in one bite. Mr. lemon_icing simply as to look at puppies and kittens for them to run over, shimmy all over his leg, and pee on his shoes. It's magical.
posted by lemon_icing at 7:18 PM on September 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm really good at soldering. Easily top 2%, globally. Maybe not soldering-Olympics-worthy, but I deserve a starting position at the regional championships. I learned young, and have unusually calm tweezer-hands. I can solder your 1 mil wire or 0201 part better than anyone I've met save one.

I'm even better at wirebonding. I've made some world-class wirebonds: from a crusty, year-old copper pad, across a 5 cm gap with a 90 degree bend, onto incredibly fragile 8nm-thick aluminum. (I didn't design the sample or the box.) Among the 20'000 people in the world who know what I'm talking about, and the 200 people in world who care about the craft in an aesthetic sense, I'm probably not the best. But, the best wouldn't be embarrassed to compete with me. (And, I'd love to meet them! It's a lonely art.)

Sadly, I'm not nearly as good at committee meetings or grant proposal writing, which has replaced wirebonding as my day job. (I'm sure academia isn't unique in promoting people who are good at things into jobs that have very little to do with what they're actually good at.) I hope that I'm good enough at these new tasks that my colleagues will let me keep doing it. But, I'm nothing special. At least I still get to spend my Sunday evenings on holiday weekends wirebonding, which is surprisingly enjoyable and reminds me why I got into this business in the first place.
posted by eotvos at 7:19 PM on September 2, 2018 [10 favorites]

I take the longest baths in the city.

(I swear I wanted to write something else, but no one said this yet, so I feel obligated.)
posted by Literaryhero at 9:40 PM on September 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

I love this thread. I want to invite at least a quarter of you to my house to help me with the things relevant to your superpowers.

Eyebrows, I didn't know that research, and it's great. I'm my kiddo's mother but not the one who gave birth to her - that was my ex-wife, who can't do the human thermometer thing at all and never believed me even though I could guess kiddo's temperature within a few tenths of a degree. I'm tempted to snarkily send her this research. Thank you.
posted by centrifugal at 9:59 PM on September 2, 2018

Haha, librosegretti, there is no connection between the redheadedness and earwax, but there is a connection (the ABCC11 gene) between dry / flaky earwax and low / no body odor.
posted by batter_my_heart at 10:06 PM on September 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

I have this uncanny ability to get lost. I cannot find my way out of a cardboard box even. This is because I have NO sense of direction. I get lost in malls, parking lots, even my own neighborhood! Thank God for GPS eh?!
posted by ramix at 10:41 PM on September 2, 2018 [7 favorites]

Out of a large random lot of thrift store plates/dishes, if I just pick the ones that I like 80-90% will be Noritake or Noritake copies. The other 10-ish percent will most likely be Lenox or something Bavarian.

I also tend to be well prepared, good at the googles, and a pretty good distracter of infants.
posted by monopas at 11:26 PM on September 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

think you may be the first person I've ever met outside of my immediate family who knows the Egyptian rat screw cardgame, carolr!

I played this for hours as a kid and can absolutely still destroy anybody at it. I teach it to my middle school students sometimes- a bunch of them wait in my room for an hour and a half one day a week killing time before another thing- and they are always weirded out at how much better at it I am than any of them, no matter how much they practice.
posted by charmedimsure at 12:07 AM on September 3, 2018 [4 favorites]

I was Time's Person of the Year in 2006. I used to put it on my resumé, but it made things awkward during the interview.
posted by chillmost at 3:01 AM on September 3, 2018 [6 favorites]

Homo neanderthalensis, sending good wishes to you and your dad.


- I'm good with cats and dogs.

- I'm good with people - confident of my ability to read people and situations, build a rapport, read body language etc.

(It's weird writing positive things about myself; the urge is to add a bunch of qualifiers, play myself down, be modest and deprecating etc. It's not even that I worry about coming off as boastful so much as I honestly have difficulty believing that I have any skills. This is a surprisingly useful writing/thinking exercise!)

- Another thing is... I've had some difficult years over the past decade, and one thing I have learned is when you strip all the bullshit of everyday life away and really get down to the heart of things, I am good in a crisis. Which is weird because in less critical situations, I am not that useful or proactive, and am better off being told what to do then deciding what to do. But in really, really difficult situations, I don't lose my head, I think positively and rationally, I do my research, I make a plan, I follow through.
posted by Ziggy500 at 4:37 AM on September 3, 2018 [7 favorites]

I am excellent at finding small animals in trees after hearing noise they are making - crunching, vocalizing, brushing leaves, rustling - I'll pinpoint that sucker and, if it's a mammal, I'll sex it for you. I'm also handy to bring to zoos because I am a pro at spotting animals hiding in their enclosures and describing their location so that you can see them too.
posted by ChuraChura at 5:55 AM on September 3, 2018 [9 favorites]

(this can become annoying if what you're looking for is actually a large mammal, like a stupid giant orangutan, but all you find are tree shrews and gibbons and hornbills, because the orangutans are sleeping while the little guys are rustling around making a SURPRISING amount of noise that you keep hearing and getting excited about because your ears are so finely tuned and you are so eager to find and follow a stupid giant orangutan and then you are crushed because it is a tree shrew which is nice but not what's brought you into the rainforest in the first place)
posted by ChuraChura at 6:12 AM on September 3, 2018 [10 favorites]

posted by cooker girl at 8:27 AM on September 3, 2018 [4 favorites]

the little guys are rustling around making a SURPRISING amount of noise that you keep hearing and getting excited about because your ears are so finely tuned and you are so eager to find and follow a stupid giant orangutan and then you are crushed because it is a tree shrew which is nice but not what's brought you into the rainforest in the first place

Ha, ChuraChura, I was out hiking one day in California and heard a bunch of crashing in the underbrush behind me, so I got all worried but kept telling myself, "It's a squirrel. It's always just a squirrel. It's fine," when a fox ZOOOOMED out of the forest so close to me that it brushed against my legs. When my heartbeat returned to normal, I thought, "Awww, fox!" Then realized that a fox running that fast was probably being chased by something bigger, and I got out of there.

But yeah, it's usually a squirrel for me.
posted by lazuli at 8:32 AM on September 3, 2018 [3 favorites]

A couple of things I forgot:
I'm a really good speller, a great help when I started a career as typesetter/proofreader.
I can count to 10 in Libyan Arabic, and know one curse.
posted by MovableBookLady at 9:09 AM on September 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

I too am an excellent gift giver and wrapper.

I'm good at letting my friends know I love them and keeping them in the loop of my life even if they're far away.

Anywhere I go I catch the attention of small children because I have a good face for babies and they love to look at it. Seriously, even just passing a baby at the grocery store and they're agog at me. It's the best.

I am pretty good at meal prepping. Yesterday i did lunches for this week (vegan chicken salad with dried cherries,) entree and side for 4 dinners (marinated portobello steaks and tempeh, roasted squash, cauliflower, and fingerlings potatoes,) the start to a plum crumble, and today I'll do the baked coconut oatmeal for breks.

I'm also super intuitive about other people's feelings, which comes in really handy being a therapist.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 9:21 AM on September 3, 2018 [3 favorites]

I'm a jack of all trades and master of none by nature. I'm adequate at most of what I do, if I put my mind to it.

I used to think that this was depressing because I'd never have something that I was great at. I would never have something to be proud of.

But now I'm ... kind of happy about it? I'm adaptable. I'm not extremely skilled at languages and bad at math, or vice versa. I'm okay at both! I'm not a genius who can't stand physical activity, or a jock who can't stand to open a book. I'm smart enough to get by and I don't fall all over myself when trying a new sport.

It's nice to know I'll probably be okay at whatever, even if I'll never be famous or amazing.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:25 AM on September 3, 2018 [13 favorites]

Hey kids, let's play a fun new game! It's called "mosquito bite or zit?"

Also, new extreme sport: wash your face with undiluted Dr bronners peppermint soap in a coin operated shower just before it shuts off. Now find the quarter and knob with your eyes closed before the soap hits your eyes and your face goes icy hot from the peppermint oil!
posted by loquacious at 10:11 AM on September 3, 2018 [7 favorites]

I also have the fuzzy photographic memory in which I can remember the locations of facts on a page, but not nessisarly all the details.

I cannot tell you how often I'd see a graph on a test in college and I could tell you will accuracy location on the page, and what the graph looked like... But what the data meant was just.not. there.
posted by AlexiaSky at 10:34 AM on September 3, 2018 [4 favorites]

Oh and I am uncannily bad at spelling.
posted by AlexiaSky at 10:45 AM on September 3, 2018

ramix, my sister, I routinely get lost walking the dog in my own neighborhood. Like, not the immediate few blocks around my house, but I only have to go afield a few more blocks than usual before I become completely disoriented and spend an extra half hour trying to find a street I recognize and figure out which direction to walk on it to find my way home.

Also I never know what day it is. For instance, I was the cause of much mirth last night because I had no idea today would be Labor Day. And by this morning I had already forgotten it again. I've driven an hour for a competition on the entirely wrong weekend. I could go on.

I'm not sure these talents are worth bragging about but I do think they give my loved ones a little boost of self-esteem when brought to their attention. My gift to the world is a feeling of comparative nonbefuddlement.
posted by HotToddy at 11:31 AM on September 3, 2018 [4 favorites]

Twice I have turned on the wipers and kept a rock from hitting my windshield. I don't recommend practice sessions to develop this skill.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 11:41 AM on September 3, 2018 [3 favorites]

After years of archival research, I am exceptionally good at reading old handwriting.

(I’m also the world’s expert on one very specific historical event.)
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 12:04 PM on September 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

I can spell pretty well but this ties up with a thing for counting the number of letters in a word very quickly. Largely useless except for patronising people while doing crosswords.

This may well also be linked into something which I started utilising more as above got older. Words have a shape or pattern for me. If a word is on the tip of my tongue I will usually know how many letters and the rough form of the word, whether it has double vowels, where the main sounds occur when the word is pronounced. Every so often this comes up in conversation at home and I have to explain what I mean with a pattern in two words so I'm assuming this is quite unusual.

As a completely different learned thing I may well now be the world authority on representation of wind turbines in film.
posted by biffa at 12:13 PM on September 3, 2018 [5 favorites]

I just now managed to sneeze while holding a mug of hot coffee without spilling. I call that a win.
posted by acidnova at 1:13 PM on September 3, 2018 [14 favorites]

With barely a glance, I can match the correct-sized container

lemon_icing, if you are not otherwise employed, I recommend you teach a course/offer a blood transfusion/use Jedi mind tricks to pass this ability on to the people at FedEx. A couple of times is have had to ship a bag or other irregular item someplace and the idea of a correctly-sized container for it is not one that registers, it seems.

The last time I had to do was was while I was on the road, shipping a bag much like this to my next destination (I was flying there in a tiny prop plane with negligible cargo space) and my best efforts to ship it were met with slack-jawed stupefaction. It was and is a duffel bag about 27 inches in length, full of clothes on that trip. The dude behind the counter -- bearing the unlikely name of Fortitude -- measured it then pulled down and unfolded a 30" x 30" box for it. I protested to young Fortitude that this was far too large but he assured me it had to be thus because the next size down was 24" by 24". He told me that of course a 27" bag will not fit in a 24" box, sir. I pointed out that being packed with T-shirts and boxer shorts, it could of course compress to 24 inches but more to the point it would fit in diagonally.

The concept of the hypotenuse was a mysterious and arcane one to Fortitude. He called in a coworker to reiterate to the idiot at the counter that 27 is a higher number than 24. I insisted that the 24" box was fine and while they put up a brave defense of pre-Euclidean geometry, I eventually browbeat them into bringing me a 24" box to demonstrate and dropped the bag in diagonally with copious room to spare.

It want to say it was like that moment where the man-ape figures out the rib of a tapir might make a good weapon, but they clearly regarded me with deep misgivings. I was tempted to ask them for a 20" by 20" box to blow their minds still further, but I figured they would fall on me with tapir ribs clenched in their hairy fists, so I paid and got the hell out of there.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:53 PM on September 3, 2018 [18 favorites]

I read (and comprehend) faster than anyone I know. To the extent that people have handed me something to read (a couple paragraphs, maybe), and I had it back and they say things like: "No, please read it." "You read it already?" It's my superpower for sure.
posted by dbmcd at 2:32 PM on September 3, 2018 [6 favorites]

I'm pretty damned good at troubleshooting computer hardware issues. In college I worked in IT as well as the computer lab. When I came in to work there were usually a few computers lined up against the wall with notes saying, Save for Rich.

But what I was really good at was (and is) straightening pins. Bent pins in plugs, on CPUs, whatever someone else bent to shit. Without breaking them off in the process.

Yay me?
posted by Splunge at 3:36 PM on September 3, 2018 [5 favorites]

About 15 years ago, my work relocated buildings, and we were the first group into the building, about 2 days ahead of everyone else. In that time we walked around the whole property as a group and basically meandered around - solid group solidarity... unbeknownst to us, one of the guys used his smartphone gps app and we basically laughed at our 6mph walking pace, and the app plotted a course.
Anyway, on the day everyone moved in, every team had to create a small presentation about their team as well as state a fun fact about their group. Ours was: we held the current record for walking around the building - and we had a map as well as our time printed. A lot of folks scoffed at our record, and said they could do it faster - and we agreed, with the caveat - except it was our whole team, and not just one of us... at that, most people stopped, considered the total physical fitness of their team and conceded the challenge.

To date, I don't know any other group that beat our record. Of course, I haven't worked there for 10 years or so... but, that is pedantry.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:11 PM on September 3, 2018 [6 favorites]

Please pardon me for tooting my own horn. Straightening pins is not easy. A pin can be made of various metals. Some have issues with bending and being bent again. Some pins are coated with other metals. Most CPU pins are gold plated on a base metal. So if they bend there is a chance that the outer gold will crack or break. OTOH if you can get them straight, they will fit. On the third hand, They will be marginally slower. OTOH if the CPU works, you probably won't notice the fact that fewer electrons are jumping the minuscule gap. Honestly I only did CPU pins when there a
was no replacement. Cheap college suckers.

OTOH the pins in any kind of plug are a single, soft metal. Then you use the various plastic tools (if it's still connected to the other end) or metal tools if it is a simple cable.

I have bad eyes. Without glasses I'm legally blind. BUT. If I'm looking at a plug or traces on a PCB, I take off my glasses. Then I have microscope vision. In that case my eyes are amazing. If that isn't enough? I have a collection of magnifying devices. A triplet rock 30X 21mm. A brass snap open printer's loupe. That neat thing that you see in TV shows that is several magnifiers on your glasses? I have it. I am a magnifying motherfucker.

I love the tools that make me good. Peace.
posted by Splunge at 6:39 PM on September 3, 2018 [8 favorites]

Gawd, reading through these is just giving me a long list of things I'm not good at, hahaha. You are all awesome!

My secret superpower is standing at the spot on the platform where the train or el car doors stop at. I have about 75% accuracy at this, and I live and work in the suburbs so it's not like I'm on them every day. I also have a knack of getting flights, movies, hotel rooms , etc that are at the very end of long hallways. That one sucks.
posted by Fig at 6:57 PM on September 3, 2018 [5 favorites]

I am good at knowing what time it is and finding four leaf clovers, much more so than anyone else I have met IRL. Glad to discover I have some Mefite company in both pursuits!
posted by ferret branca at 7:53 PM on September 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

I can’t find anyone to play Monopoly with me because I will dispense with any opponent ruthlessly.

I was playing a game with friends, one that I usually convince my family to play without counting points, and I asked if they would be okay with that, but some people just wanted to play the normal way. So we were about halfway through the game, I'm winning and smack talking my opponents, and my friend is like, um, you're trash talking a lot for someone who likes to play non-competitive games. I'm like, why do you think that's a better idea for me? And he just had this slow, oh.

I'm weirdly good at remembering where things are located, especially at home. My daughter and spouse will both ask me where they've left their books and I often know (basically as long as I've been into the room to see it). My foster sister used to call me, after I left for college, to ask where things were. Not just where do the mixing bowls live, but where are the eggs, bread or her leftovers. I always was able to help her find it over the phone. (This is partly because I could remember my mom's system for organizing the fridge, even if I didn't know what she'd shopped for each week.) I can barely visualize pictures in my mind, but my spacial memory is awesome. I can usually find my way back from anywhere I've gone and find it again later. (Shopping malls are my nemesis; I frequently get so turned around and overwhelmed that I lose my sense of direction and then I get super cranky and feel a bit like I've got vertigo.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 10:58 PM on September 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

I also have a really good sense of time. Enough that I even started a chatty ask metafilter thread about it a while back.

If I'm feeling a bit tired before a meeting, I'll just lean over and snooze for like 20 minutes, wake up on time and get ready for the meeting. I've never overslept.
posted by vacapinta at 1:15 AM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Grumpybear69's List O' SKills, Non-Professional:

- Parallel parking
- Hand fart beat-boxing
- Cooking eggs
- Making babies smile
- Independent eyebrow-raising
- Independent ear-wiggling
- Finding bathrooms in large buildings
- Being articulate in both spoken and written communication while inebriated
- Navigating without a map
- Falling without getting injured
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:16 AM on September 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

I’ve played guitar for decades - I am pretty good at being able to play any tune I have heard before and knock out a fairly good interpretation. My hand usually goes right to wherever on the neck it needs to. However, I suck at remembering lyrics, so when I open mic I usually have my idiot book.

I am hilarious. Just not here.

I was once decked (very forcefully pushed into the side of a trailer backstage) by Jimmy Page’s bodyguard at a Fourth of July free concert in front of the art museum in Philadelphia back in the mid 80’s. Took about an hour to resume normal respiration. Partly because, well, Jimmy Page - and partly for my rib cage to resume its normalish state.
posted by kabong the wiser at 7:33 AM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh - and I was just standing there with my maw agape because Jimmy Page - I think the bodyguard noticed and wanted to head off any fan approach.
posted by kabong the wiser at 7:37 AM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm great at drinking without giving myself a hangover (I've never gotten one, ever), have no wisdom teeth, and have a photographic memory, in the sense that I remember things as they appear on the page they were written on. I can also sometimes remember things in exact detail, down to which outfit I was wearing.

My sense of smell is also so good that the beau regularly calls me a bloodhound. Unfortunately, this means that when things smell off or not quite right, I get nauseous. (Sorry, eggs. I know you're probably fine, but the smell is so intense it makes me gag.)
posted by PearlRose at 9:33 AM on September 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

Many times I have mentioned a famous person and they died within a day or two. Chris Penn is the main example I remember, but Les Paul is another. Nancy Regan broke her hip the day I read an article about Presidential descendants and wondered if she was still alive. I don't consider this a good thing, just a weird thing.

I am very spatial, especially during memory recall, so I often end up using my hands when I speak to relate two or more items even when their location does not matter. I can navigate very well if I am driving or walking and I can direct my husband now that we have practice. I don't take navigation directions from others well and have not found others taking mine well unless we are total strangers.
posted by soelo at 10:02 AM on September 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

I have the opposite of so much here - bad at gifts, had 5 wisdom teeth, no internal timer for cooking!
posted by soelo at 10:03 AM on September 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

As a copy editor, my superpower is seeing when there’s an extra space between words.

If there is an animal around, I notice it. So at the cookout I’m the one who knows there’s a cute bunny in the neighbor’s yard, I see the deer we drove past that others in the car didn't notice, etc.

I read really fast. I wasn’t necessarily the smartest kid in the class, but I was the one who finished the reading first, finished the test first, etc., and spent a lot of time waiting and/or secretly reading my private/fun book.

Apparently I’m delicious. Just ask a mosquito.

It’s not a natural skill, but after a few years I’ve learned what I need to bring to the all-day GA line for U2. Granola bar? Sunscreen? Wet wipe? Sharpie? I gotchoo.
posted by Occula at 11:13 AM on September 4, 2018 [7 favorites]

Just got back from a lunchtime walk at 87°F, which reminded me of another superpower:

I am absolutely FINE when the temperature is >90°F with humidity of 70+. When it was 105 a few years ago, I cheerfully waved to my coworkers as I went out for a walk, and they said "you're not human!", which was a compliment; they are the friendly-competitive-male-engineer type, so the fact that I could do something better than them was to be admired.

A lot of people say "It's not the heat, it's the humidity! 105 in Arizona vs. 105 in New England is so different!" It makes NO difference to me. If I'm in Arizona I might notice that I'm sweating a little less, but that's the only indication. The air feels exactly the same to me.

The annoying side of this is that I'm FROZEN if it's below 60, ah well, can't have everything.
posted by Melismata at 11:28 AM on September 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

I can often induce people to burp, though very seldom burp myself. My greatest triumph was when a friend - who didn't know about my ‘gift’ — called to have someone to talk to when her newborn was colicky and had been squalling for hours. I asked to have the phone put near the baby, I said a few soothing words and right then and there we were regaled with a colossal baby burp.

I have no idea how it happens.
posted by scruss at 11:40 AM on September 4, 2018 [11 favorites]

I have no wisdom teeth. None, ever. This is a genetic thing, my grandfather only had one as did my mother.

I have a semi-photographic memory as well and can remember directions to anywhere if I've been there once. Even if I'm not in my city.

My spelling is near perfect. Unfortunately though, I never really learned grammar in school, so I've always been a little unclear on that.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:39 PM on September 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

In my family, I'm known as asbestos hands. I can take heat others can't take. We used to heat primarily with a wood stove, and I think that left me with hands that can tolerate heat more than others. I can move pots and pans that others can't touch. I can add fuel to a roaring fire and use it to push the fuel around without a burn. I heated with wood for over two decades when I lived out in the wild. Now I'm not immune to a burn, but I can tolerate heat with the best of them. I have the rough thick old man hands of a steam engine fuelman.
posted by Stanczyk at 1:47 PM on September 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm another one who can get lost anywhere. And have an excellent sense of time. I always thought those were related.

I can mirror-write and mirror-read perfectly, but can't seem to turn the steering wheel the right way when using the backup camera. I blame my age.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 2:18 PM on September 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

Late update: Dad is home and ok- he spent three days in the hospital for what looks like nothing more serious than a warning stroke, he's on the appropriate meds and going to be going to doctors for a while but he is OK.

He looks great- smiling and happy, and he's his usual charming self, so it looks like this stroke was a warning shot, and he's going to be just fine. Thank you all so much for the well wishes.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 6:17 PM on September 4, 2018 [28 favorites]

> Homo neanderthalensis:
"Dad is home and ok"
Thanks for the update and Yay!
posted by theora55 at 7:32 PM on September 4, 2018 [4 favorites]

> still_wears_a_hat:
"can't seem to turn the steering wheel the right way when using the backup camera"
Move your hands to the bottom of the steering wheel, much easier to reverse that way. At least, it helps when I am towing something. I'm not expert level, but I can manage, mostly.
posted by theora55 at 7:34 PM on September 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

For illegible or faraway text I can usually tell what it says just by seeing the vaguest shapes of the letters. My uncle has some bad photocopies of an ancestor's letters sent while he was in the Civil War and I can read them almost as well as most other things. As my vision gets older and less-sharp this skill still serves me well.

I'm really good in a crisis. If you ever need a calm, logical person who's able to find answers quickly I can do it. From changing a flat tire on a cold rainy night on the shoulder of 495-S to taking a homeless guy to the ER on Christmas Day because he had a really bad infection. I think I'd be a strong survivor after an apocalypse.

I've lived where I live for 3.5 years now and I rarely have any idea where I am. I've crossed the Willamette River 3x in a row to get to a friend's house for dinner and the Columbia River 5x in a row to meet up with a friend in Vancouver.
posted by bendy at 9:49 PM on September 4, 2018 [4 favorites]

I've always been the "Jack-of-all-trades, master of none" type. I guess I'm pretty good at that.

Brushes with fame: was passed by the Monkees' tour buses on the NYS Thruway, literally bumped into Bill Nye on a crowded sidewalk, was on the same NY-LA flight as Colin Farrell.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:38 AM on September 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

I'm really good at spatial organization/tetrising things into place, which coupled with my love of balancing things into towers makes for really precarious dishrack piles that only I have the ability to dismantle w/o destroying things. This also seems to carry through into being really good at managing multiple complex streams of information; I can genuinely multitask well; be it managing complex work projects, complex relationships or logistics issues. (The first iteration of this drives family and roommates insane, while the second is actually pretty great for my career)

I'm shit at physical self awareness, and am kind of notorious for slamming into corners and walls, so I'm clearly not perfect.
posted by larthegreat at 12:13 PM on September 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

I read really, really fast.
Once I volunteered for an eye-tracking experiment and everything went really well until the end, when the researcher asked if I noticed anything unusual about the example sentences. I said "not really, except that the words kept changing?" Turns out that was supposed to be a subliminal effect and my whole part of the experiment was invalidated. She said I was the fastest reader she'd ever encountered!

I can also untangle the most outrageously bird's-nesty snarl of fishing line.
posted by exceptinsects at 4:19 PM on September 5, 2018 [6 favorites]

I'm shit at physical self awareness, and am kind of notorious for slamming into corners and walls, so I'm clearly not perfect.

larthegreat, do you happen to have any issues with your peripheral vision?
posted by acidnova at 4:41 PM on September 5, 2018

Trip update: I cut it off short and didn't push through to La Push. I got homesick, I accomplished my main mission of getting some alone time in the trees and napping in my hammock and getting away from people for a while so I could go back to caring about people.

I was also worried about bike failure somewhere actually remote, which would likely mean me having to abandon my bike and personally valuable camping gear and hiking out without anything even resembling a backpack. I'm pretty boldz but this gets sketchy while solo - and poor. (Something to note is the hammock and sleeping bag I take camping is also my bed at home, wherever that may be.)

Also instinct told me to zig instead of zag and that usually works out.

I ended the trip giving my stove away to someone who needs it more right here and now. I actually saw her camping at the last state park I was in before home and almost approached her to see if she wanted some hot food or coffee because she looked like she could use it, but that's a really good way to freak someone vulnerable out, and she packed up and left before I had a chance to say hello.

I ran into her back in town and she had her bike stolen and was living on it before, and has been cooking on Sterno cans so I gave her my isobutane stove and nearly full fuel canister.

Maybe that's all my instinct was about, that I'd be able to help someone with something that's relatively small but huge to them.

In other basic news? Ok, what's next? How do I get back into work at a non profit and feeding and helping people and making this world slightly less miserable?
posted by loquacious at 7:55 PM on September 5, 2018 [7 favorites]

Update on my computer science class, for people who have been following that saga:

1. The jerky know-it-all dude asked me for help with his code today. It turns out we were both having the same problem, and we figured it out together. He did announce in the middle of class that recursion was really easy, which was typical know-it-all behavior (and caused the TA to announce that he didn't really understand recursion), but I think he's calming down a bit and acting like less of an asshole.

2. We are part of a study! I'm pretty sure they're studying the weird Team Based Learning format, although the actual verbiage was something like "an academic study of student learning with respect to teaching styles." I signed a consent form, and now I will answer survey questions about my academic experiences and they will look at our grades and shit. I'm happy to be part of a study, especially since I'm finding the whole Team Based Learning thing very interesting. This is my fourth computer science class, and it's the first time I've actually talked to other students, so I'm cautiously optimistic about Team Based Learning.

3. Holy crap, the other students in my discussion section are socially awkward. I'm super socially awkward, and I can't hold a candle to this crowd. Also, there are two people in our class who look like children, and it turns out that's because they are children. They are baby geniuses from the local high school who started taking college classes in ninth grade, and I think one of them may have skipped a few grades, because he looks like he's 11. He also finished our lab today before the TA was done explaining it. The TA is also incredibly socially awkward, and he keeps announcing that he is a new graduate student and just graduated from college and really has no idea what he is doing. I want to tell him to stop saying that, because he's doing fine and nobody would know that he was new if he didn't keep saying so, but I think that would just make him feel more awkward.

So basically, I have hit a very interesting place in the CS major curriculum. Ask me again when we have our first exam in two weeks, but so far I'm really enjoying it.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:58 PM on September 5, 2018 [9 favorites]

Ok, I'm back at a real keyboard, and here's some bike trip debriefing and stats:

Pic dump!

First, I can't recommend the Dungeness River Audubon Center enough. It's really amazing and a hidden gem right off the ODT. There's not a whole lot to do in Sequim on that side of town, and it's really special. The river bridge and park is just stunning. They're getting ready for a huge remodel and expansion, too.

I can also report that the Dungeness river tastes delicious. (Yes, I used a water filter.)

The Olympic Discovery Trail is really amazing. It's a mostly continuous off road or highway trail that currently runs from Blyn all the way to Port Angeles, and it meanders through a wide variety of biomes from the dry rainshadow forests near Sequim State park to wide, flat fields like something out of Kansas in Sequim, to riparian and riverine and coastal temperate forests.

The trail technically runs all the way through to Forks, but only if you're hardy enough for the Olympic Adventure Trail segment. Otherwise it continues through Port Angeles via the 112 to Joyce and the Joyce road cutoff to Lake Crescent, where it picks up again on the Railroad Trestle Trail. (I didn't do this segment, yet. Soon!)

The riding was surprisingly easy and not that hilly. It's really smooth rolling and I found myself making much better time on legs of the trail than I even thought I would. I fully intend to bus out there for day rides and quick overnighters in the near future. I mean, we're really talking about some of the best bicycling I've ever had in my life, and I live right on one of the segments of the ODT and get to ride that part regularly.

Total miles ridden with full touring load: About 100-110, which is around half of what I set out for. This is fine, and it isn't about miles to me.

Total elevation gain/loss was probably only a thousand feet or less. Not bad. If I'd proceeded to La Push, that number would be more like 2-3k feet total, there and back, which still isn't bad at all considering you're weaving through the Olympics.

Overpacking factor: Oh, maybe 3x too much crap. I didn't need my rain gear at all, much less the winter-ish layers and winter gloves.

Random smiles and verbalizations of 'OH MY GOD I GET TO RIDE THROUGH ALL OF THIS!?": Thousands, and dozens, respectively. I actually got caught once on a blind turn just yodeling "OH MY GOD IT'S SO PRETTY" just as a group came around the turn. They all rang their bells at me and rode off laughing.

Times striking/breaking camp: A mere 4 times? I stayed put in one camp for a good while. I have ideas about streamlining my setup.

First day homesick: 4 days, which is a recent record. Usually on my trips to visit friends in Seattle I start missing home in 2 days or so.

Hot fast food meals on the road: Just two. The Jack in the Box was meh, but the burrito, chips, salsa and real pico I picked up on the way home in Sequim was fucking incredible, especially considering I got it to go and just kept riding all the way to my next camp and had it for an early dinner instead of a late lunch, and it was still hot when I got there.

Vaguely hot showers: Two.

Berries picked: Shoot, at least a half gallon. It's kind of amazing to be able to carry just plain oats and throw berries in it for breakfast.

Time spent chilling in my hammock: Lots. I think I did about 6-8 hours one day after Labor Day just watching and listening to all the birds after it quieted down. I can even make breakfast and coffee and stuff without having to put my feet on the ground.

Strange fact: The forest is often intensely noisy if there aren't people around making all kinds of racket. Sometimes even noisier than when there are people around making a racket. This is something I notice that bothers me is how almost no one - and I mean almost no one - ever just seems to sit down and chill out and be quiet while camping and actually wait for the forest fauna to come back and do their thing. If they're not setting or striking camp, they're cooking, or getting ready to go for a hike, or they're busy building a usually unnecessary wood fire - or worse, running a generator and rearranging a truckload of furniture. When I'm chilling and being very quiet in camp I basically blend into the forest so much I've had rangers frequently say "I had no idea you were even here." even though I'm camping in the open in a paid/planned site. People walk right past my camps and don't even notice I'm right there and I'll often hear "Oh, there's someone here!" just as they're about to stumble over me swinging in my hammock.

Favorite moment in camp after everyone went home after Labor Day: The finch that spent a good hour dive bombing me to impress his lady friend. Very brave. He kept zooming and flaring right into my face and hovering there and zooming orbits around my head while hurling what sounded like dire obscenities at me.
posted by loquacious at 2:26 PM on September 6, 2018 [9 favorites]

I can turn my feet out well past 180 degrees, so that my heels are in front and my toes are pointed behind me, then walk across a room that way.

I can, having previously ingested four hits of acid and half a gram of ketamine, balance a multi-colored glowing LED ball on top of my head and then bicycle around the block, neither getting lost, nor wandering off to find the shiny thing, nor allowing the ball to fall. (But maybe that was just Burning Man.)

I have only ever met one person whose tolerance for cold exceeded mine. (In exchange, however, I tend to wilt in hot weather - above eighty fahrenheit, for example).
posted by crotchety old git at 9:22 PM on September 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

I can smell two cups of tea and know which one has sugar in it
I thought it was fairly easy until I learned that no one else in my family could.
posted by M. at 1:19 PM on September 7, 2018 [3 favorites]

I can still solve a Rubik's cube in under three minutes.

I am normally in the middle of reading three or four books at a time, and I tend to leave them scattered around. I can pick up any of them, unerringly open it to the page I left off, and know exactly where I am in the story.

I also have the amazing Google-fu - a coworker (who I did not know was married) once challenged me to discover her husband's name and I was able to produce, within 2 minutes, his name, the name of the local band he played in, and the band's upcoming bar appearances.

I've mentioned being a dirty LARPer in the past - I can accurately shoot a human being in the face with a well-padded arrow from 30 yards.
posted by hanov3r at 3:37 PM on September 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

Had my picture in a few papers this week.
LA Times / local La Canada Valley Sun News
Bicycle Retailer (also has a picture by me, of Steve standing on that awesome drystack wall...)
and this one is the best-written of the three articles:
Pasadena Star-News

The LA Times article has my favorite headline:
Gabrielino Trail fully reopened after 2009 Station fire, thanks to massive volunteer cleanup
Those gigantic volunteers were just laying about all over the place, but with our minds determined and our tools sharp we managed to get them cleaned right up!

The trail opening celebration was last Sunday, and I took a couple of crazy friends around the entire trail starting Saturday afternoon. We camped at West Fork Trail Camp, and rode out to the celebration the next day. Technically we didn't ride the trail the whole time, but we followed the route and only deviated to the adjacent fire road when necessary. We had a schedule to keep, otherwise it would have been awesome to stay on the actual trail the entire trip. So, also technically, I can't say I was the first one to ride the whole thing since it was put back into service, but pretty close.

Thanks for giving me space to brag!
posted by carsonb at 5:42 PM on September 7, 2018 [4 favorites]

I can smell two cups of tea and know which one has sugar in it
posted by M.

I can do this! It came in super handy when I worked for a catering company - I could tell the sweet and unsweet iced tea apart without tasting it.

Why yes, I live in the Southern US. How did you know?
posted by workerant at 8:44 PM on September 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

High five Workerant 😊

I knew I couldn't be the only one! Incidentally, we used to drink sweetened hot tea with lemon in my neck of the woods. Pretty common in Poland when I was a kid, I only ever tasted iced tea when the Iron Courtain fell 😏
posted by M. at 1:21 AM on September 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

while flailing my arms describing something I knocked both lenses out of my best friend's eyes. I made her stand there to mark the spot while I ran to the desk for a flashlight, I found both of them. In the grass. At night.

I don’t know that mine is reproducible, but I have at least a one-time manifestation of this power. Once while cycling home to my place way out on the countryside, I realized I had to relieve myself. There were no cars nearby but rather than take the chance that a neighbour might suddenly crest the hill and gave their headlights catch me taking a whiz by the side of the road, I took a few steps into the woods.

Once my mission was accomplished, I stepped back to the road and suddenly felt a poke on my left eye. I realized I had walked into a branch in the dark. Worse, I had lost the (soft) contact out of that eye. I realized that without a flashlight (pre cell phone era, this was) there was about zero chance of my being able to locate it. I stood there for a second blinking and clearing my vision when with my remaining acute eye, I saw something odd: it was my contact, still stuck on the end of the twig I had walked into.

I plucked it off, and lacking any better way of transporting it home, stuck it in the end of my tongue, being very careful not to swallow in the ten-minute ride still ahead of me.

I cleaned it as usual and it was fine, but in retrospect I think it pretty unlikely that someone could lose a contact lens in the woods at night and then find it again.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:54 AM on September 9, 2018 [8 favorites]

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