Holy Smokes, I Can't Believe You Managed That May 21, 2022 7:03 PM   Subscribe

Honestly, once or twice very much lately (as well as historically over a longer run), Ask Mefi has truly impressed me. So I'm suggesting this thread as a fun collection point for impressive "wow, how the hell did you manage that?!" Ask Mefi moments.
posted by MollyRealized to MetaFilter-Related at 7:03 PM (25 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

Just to start things off, I was impressed that recently a fuzzy glance at an album yielded an ID thanks to HonorariaGlossop. There have definitely been other moments ...
posted by MollyRealized at 11:20 PM on May 21 [1 favorite]

Great idea! I asked about a San Francisco artist I stayed with in 1990. It was a signal event (of four) that primed me to study landscape architecture - which is what I do now, but also how I practice in landscape.

A lot of people here went to great lengths... and found the person and location - it was all very amazing, and impossible without a community of friends.
posted by unearthed at 1:09 AM on May 22 [9 favorites]

Today is my Metafilter 22-year anniversary. The site has kept me coming back for forty percent of my life, ever since grad school in Louisville.
posted by mecran01 at 5:07 AM on May 22 [19 favorites]

A MeFite traveling with a kitty stopped at a rest area of a freeway, and the nightmare began: the kitty got out. Frantic, the MeFite turned to the omnipotent hive-mind. Another MeFite heard the call, spread the word, and started the search. MeFites & friends found the kitty none the worse for wear, and within a couple of hours, they returned the kitty to its people. Happy ending, and it was not necessary to get in touch with Kevin Bacon.

The Hive didn't establish world peace or slow global warming, but they warmed the chilly cockles of my old heart.
posted by mule98J at 6:37 AM on May 22 [33 favorites]

Cat Stuck on 7th Story Molding

Happy Ending!

(I can't imagine the panic. Sometimes Ask Me really helps during an emergency. Can't imagine another place online where this is possible.)
posted by tiny frying pan at 7:09 AM on May 22 [9 favorites]

I joined Metafilter after reading an article that featured an Ask where MeFites decoded an elderly cancer patient's last writings, described by the OP as index cards full of random letters. For almost 20 years, the family had tried to figure out what the writings meant. MeFites got it.

I vaguely remember another article about an Ask where someone wanted information about a grandparent's address in Berlin in the 30s or 40s, but I don't remember that as clearly and I can't find it now.
posted by FencingGal at 7:31 AM on May 22 [15 favorites]

I was amazed at how easily shinybeast figured out this obscure windows issue.
posted by signal at 10:19 AM on May 22 [6 favorites]

FencingGal, I think you're thinking of this all-time classic, in which yankeefog wanted to know where his grandfather lived in 1938 Vienna, before fleeing the Nazis. A Mefite at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC came through not only with the address, but also...
I was able to locate an address in the 1938 Vienna phonebook, but I asked one of my colleagues here at the Museum who has far more experience with this kind of research to see if he could find anything else. He happened to have access to a recently-acquired archival collection from the Jewish Community Vienna (Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien, or IKG) and offered to search the collection for more information. Within only a few hours, he was able to locate fifteen pages of documents related to yankeefog's grandparents, including copies of their application for emigration from Vienna and a hand-written request from yankeefog's grandfather for financial assistance from the IKG. Copies of these documents--which, by the way, include the Vienna address yankeefog was looking for, in his grandfather's handwriting--are being sent to his family members.
posted by Jeanne at 12:15 PM on May 22 [22 favorites]

Yes Jeanne. That’s the one. Thank you.
posted by FencingGal at 4:47 PM on May 22

I almost bankrolled the trip home for the lost in the desert kitty, it just worked out before calling in the mods as go-betweens.

On a sad slightly related note... I once took a break from MeFi for a week or two and went back through the Asks. I saw one that was OMG, shit out of luck there, I can fix that. Some Japanese lady was flying into my hometown rural airport looking for public transportation across a couple of mountains and states to do a maybe final visit to an estranged mother. Horrorshow situation for the area. I hadn't been home in a long while, she was going to the city where my oldest sister lives. I was all set to fly in, rent a car and driver her there and back. Planning on surprise visit to sister "Hi, guess who?", then turning it into a surprise visit back home to see my mother and aunts and a roadtrip to see other sister and nephews, make a couple weeks long vacation. By the time I could have gotten old grey-beard church folks to get her there and back in the worst case. Got to the end of the post.... it all happened 3 days ago. Back then, I even could manage speaking Japanese. Just a bit too late for omakase. I'm still a bit *something* about not catching that post in time.
posted by zengargoyle at 5:44 PM on May 22 [4 favorites]

Is it ok to toot our own horns in this thread?

I'm incredibly proud of successfully finding a video clip from a very vague description within six minutes of the question being posted.
posted by hanov3r at 9:13 PM on May 22 [5 favorites]

Beyond those already mentioned, the person with the kindle trapped in an elevator comes to mind, but I can't seem to find it. Was it not on Ask itself?
posted by Salamandrous at 1:09 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]

Wasn't there something about a couple of East European women possibly being trafficked, or something like that?
posted by NotLost at 2:04 PM on May 23 [3 favorites]

Yes, 12 years ago many many people rallied to help two women. I sent my first money order at a CVS late at night to some fund to get them somewhere. The details are sketchy now, 12 years later, but it was amazing to actually be able to help.

I also remember MOST of these which is amazing in its own way.
posted by stormygrey at 2:43 PM on May 23 [6 favorites]

Thank you for that, stormygrey.

As I said it once before "prevented the abduction of two russian women into a sex trafficking ring from a '97 ford aspire in the mountains of wyoming, using nothing but ask metafilter"

Here's my most recent update.

I would really welcome any stories or memories from that time. I treasure mine.

Also I'm in NYC for the next three days. So it's timely.
posted by fake at 4:09 PM on May 23 [5 favorites]

I was amazed that showbiz_liz was able to connect "magic fish" to a Deep Space 9 episode. I've seen that episode but would never in a million years have made the connection.
posted by mpark at 5:09 PM on May 23

A MeFite traveling with a kitty stopped at a rest area of a freeway, and the nightmare began: the kitty got out.

This is one of my favorite AskMes ever, and I want anyone else browsing to be able to find the actual question: Cat lost at Devil's Tower - help.
posted by gladly at 5:18 PM on May 23 [5 favorites]

Oof gladly, I remember following that saga in real time (when I should have been working) and I legit cried real tears when the kitty was found. One of my favorite AskMe stories ever, for sure.

I'm now gonna go hug my kitty real tight. He will chomp me but I don't care.
posted by nayantara at 5:32 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]

While it never arrived at an absolutely definitive answer, RevRob330's heroic attempts to solve the mystery of whether NECCO wafers went to the South Pole deserves recognition.
posted by zamboni at 9:26 PM on May 23 [2 favorites]

Omg-- that NECCO wafers one actually half-solved another ongoing mystery for me. NECCO also claimed to have been used as rations during the Civil War, a claim I couldn't find any hard evidence of (certainly it's unlikely verging on impossible that they were ever issued to soldiers) but couldn't figure out where it came from either. These two unsourced facts together which trace back only to NECCO publicity material make me think NECCO just straight up made them up at some point, exaggerating something known and converting it into a NECCO ad. I feel freed!
posted by peppercorn at 11:26 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]

Not an individual post or comment, but AskMe helped me raise my kids.
posted by headnsouth at 6:37 AM on May 25 [4 favorites]

I still really like the progression of how I found a short story I was looking for.

1. Give a description and title I thought the story might have had. (Both correct.)
2. Give name of anthology I thought I remembered story being published in. (Totally wrong.)
3. Give general idea of years I thought the story might have been published in. (Fifty-fifty--the year I found it in was sort of right, the year the actual volume came out was off by about a decade.)

And people ran with it--finding just enough vaguely or closely related clues that I was eventually able to piece together that I had the wrong anthology entirely. Once I started looking at the right anthology, I was able to find the correct volume and year of publication (because Pushcart Prize handily lists everything they've previously published in each of their anthologies). Something that had bothered me for a couple decades was solved within a matter of hours, and thanks to finally realizing I'd been logged out of the internet archive, I was able to dig back through and read the story again, and it was just as gut-punchy as I'd remembered.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 2:31 PM on May 25

Beyond those already mentioned, the person with the kindle trapped in an elevator comes to mind, but I can't seem to find it. Was it not on Ask itself?

That was on the blue in this thread, and there was a follow up here on the grey.
posted by Jawn at 8:27 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]

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