Archives For Oddities

If you were with us last year, you may have read about my experiences with dead people here, here, and here.

This wacky stuff started about 5 years ago, for reasons unknown. It escalated after I became a reiki master. And it seems that I now have a bunch of abilities with things that are sort of…you know, odd. Unexplainable. Paranormal. Yeah, I don’t understand it either. But those of you who have firsthand experience with me on this know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, I wanted to learn more about it, as in, am I losing my mind or is it a real thing? So I took a class on psychic mediumship. I know, it sounds nuts. Unfollow me if you must.

It was a small group, just two other students aside from myself, plus the teacher. We took turns trying to sense any non-corporeal people who might be present. And to quote Velma from Scooby Doo, “Jinkies!”

The first time I tried to “read” one of the students, I “got” the presence of a man and described him, and the student said it sounded like her uncle. I said I had the sense that he was a fisherman or a dock worker or someone who worked on or near water, and I had a strong feeling he died at work. Apparently her uncle was a fisherman, and he did, in fact, die on a fishing boat. So far so good. But later I worried that my brain was fucking with me because I was getting conflicting info. I said, “I’m thinking that he died of a heart attack, but then I’m also getting that he died because of an accident, they can’t both be right so I must be imagining all this.” She told me my read was correct; her uncle had a heart attack on the boat, which caused him to have an accident that ultimately killed him. What a shitty way to go. (But I was secretly glad that my impressions were correct. That makes me a bad person, doesn’t it.)

And then here’s what happened when I read for the other student:

Me: Okay, I’ve got a man, it looks like he’s bald, with a round face and sort of protruding ears. I’m getting the sense people might have thought he was a bit strange or off-kilter. Does that ring a bell at all?
Other Student: Yes. (She was laughing.)
Me: It sounds like an F name, maybe Frederick or Frank.
Other Student: His name was Frank.

At this point I’m thinking, “Seriously?? Wow. Holy fuck.”

Me: Was he your grandfather?
OS: Yes.
Me: On your mother’s side, yes?
OS: Yes.
Me: Do you have something of his, like a box, or something that’s kept in a very specific box? I keep getting the impression of a special box.
OS: He made my grandmother a carved wooden box, which my grandmother left to my mother, and she gave it to me.

NO WAY!

Me: I just heard “Te amo” in my head. Did he speak Spanish?
OS: Yeah, he was from Puerto Rico.

Whoa, this shit just got real. Also, hearing a foreign language in your brain out of nowhere is kind of unsettling.

Me: Okay, now I’m hearing “little flower.” Does that mean anything to you?
OS: Oh my God! He used to call me “Florecita.”

Grandpa Frank was speaking to me in English again, but “Florecita,” as you might have guessed, means “little flower” en español. By this time, the poor woman was a sobbing mess and I was casually freaking out.

And thus I concluded my first readings as a medium. Go figure.

Sorry, no raindrops on roses in this joint (but plenty of whiskers on kittens, thanks to the three Weeblettes).

I was looking around my house the other day and I thought, You have a lot of really weird shit, Weebs.

It’s true, I have a lot of really weird shit. Eclectic, you might say. A lot of strange objects that I’m rather fond of. Let’s take a tour, I’ll show you around.

First, we’ll visit the infirmary to see my beloved collection of smallpox-related antiques. I’ve been obsessed with smallpox for years. In fact, my doctoral dissertation (which I didn’t finish, otherwise I’d be Doctor Weebles) was on smallpox inoculations in 18th-century America. There are many mighty diseases that have plagued humanity for centuries: tuberculosis, bubonic plague, yellow fever, etc, but I find smallpox the most compelling. As pathogens go, this one is brutal as fuck. Kill rates during epidemics ranged from 30% to 50%. In many parts of the world, children weren’t even considered official members of the family until they had contracted and survived smallpox. That’s some sick shit, yo. And smallpox is the only disease to be completely eradicated (although polio is on its way to extinction as well). It exists only in the labs now (and hopefully will not return in weaponized format, or any other format).

Clockwise from top left: 20th-century smallpox vaccine vials, 19th-century fleams, 19th-century scarificator, 19th-century ivory folding lancet, 18th-century scalpel.

In case you’re wondering how lancets, fleams, and scalpels treated smallpox, these little beauties were used to create wounds through which the smallpox matter (or cowpox matter, later on) was introduced. The scarificator is a neat little device with several small blades on the bottom to create multiple wounds at once. All of these tools were used for bloodletting as well. It was thought that many illnesses were caused by an overabundance of blood, so doctors would bleed patients to drain the “excess.” Shockingly, this charming practice hurt many more people than it helped.

Let’s move on to the Teeny Tiny Chamber of Horrors. Please note that Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy are here only for scale, not for punishment. They learned their lesson after last time.

This is my guillotine. There are others like it but this one is mine.

Raggedy Andy now knows the penalty for geting fresh with Raggedy Ann...

Raggedy Andy now knows the penalty for getting fresh with Raggedy Ann…

We’re going to make a right turn here, onto Sesame Street:

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One! Two! Three! Four! Five! Six! Six Count von Count items! Ah! Ah! Ah!

Aside from Oscar the Grouch, The Count is my favorite Sesame Street character. What better way to honor him than to build a shrine that includes toys made in his likeness? Please take a moment for quiet reflection here if you like.

Around the corner from Sesame Street is the Museum of Wacky Old Items. These objects are late 18th century to early 19th century.

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From top to bottom: Folding knife, bullet probe, blistering iron.

The folding knife, called a “penny knife” because that’s how much it cost, is the kind carried by soldiers during the American Revolution. This one is in pretty good shape but who knows, maybe it was used by a smokin’ hot guy in the Continental Army. It titillates me to contemplate this. The bullet probe determined the depth of a bullet wound. Fat load of good it did, though; it was a lot more common to die from nasty, infected bullet wounds than to be killed outright by bullets. The blistering iron did exactly what you’d expect: you held it over a fire to get it nice and hot, then seared the skin with it to cause a blister. You know that philosophy behind bloodletting? Yeah, well, blistering was another method of relieving people of the bad “humors” that caused disease. In theory, the blister would draw all the ick (that’s the official medical term for it, by the way) from the person, and when the blister drained, presto, disease all gone. But guess what? Yup. Didn’t work. In fact, you know who died after being severely weakened by copious bloodletting and blistering? George Washington. Poor bastard was already very sick, and the “medical” treatment finished him off.

And finally, let’s visit the farm and say hello to my stuffed animals. Not the taxidermy kind, either. I know, I know, you’re thinking, “Weebs has stuffed animals???” Yes. Yes I do. Allow me to introduce you to some of my plush friends:

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Ham and Peas. Yes, those are the peas from Toy Story 3, how kind of you to notice.

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Top left to right: Whaley and Squeezy Shark. Bottom left to right: Owlie, Legs, and Narwally. What? I didn’t say I was good at naming them.

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The cuddliest breakfast ever: Toast, Coffee, and Pancakes. If only I could find a real mug of coffee this big.

Mr. Weebles is concerned about my penchant for buying giant stuffed toys because they take up a lot of space. I tell him I can stop anytime I want to. (I just don’t want to.)

And this concludes our tour for today. Thank you for joining me, I hope you’ve all enjoyed it as much as I have. Please be sure to gather all your belongings, watch your step as you disembark, and get home safely.

Mysterious windows

Madame Weebles —  January 24, 2013 — 156 Comments

One of my favorite books of all time is Time and Again by Jack Finney.  (He’s the guy who wrote Invasion of the Body Snatchers, by the way.)   Time and Again is a science-fictionish historical mystery set in New York City.  I say “science-fictionish” because it’s set in both 1970 and 1882.

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My very well-loved copy of one of my very favorite books.

Finney set up a compelling time-travel approach: you can take any structure or locale that has remained unaltered and use it as a way of going back to an earlier time during its existence.  Time travelers must first immerse themselves in the everyday life of their destination era—the culture, current events, attitude, etc—as a way of “loosening” the mind’s ties to the current day.  Finney used the Dakota apartment building in Manhattan as a portal between 1970 and 1882.  The way it’s explained in the book, you can almost believe it could work.  I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about other places that would serve as appropriate portals.  I could use the Empire State Building to go to 1931.  The Brooklyn Bridge could take me to 1883.  Certain historic houses could get me as far back as the 1650s and 1660s.  You get the idea.

My favorite part of the story is when the protagonist, Si Morley, arrives in 1882.  He boards a Fifth Avenue coach and looks at another passenger:

…I sat watching him from the corner of my eye, tense, excited, almost frightened at my first really close look at a living human being of the year 1882….This was no motionless brown-and-white face in an ancient photograph….There he sat, a living breathing man with those memories in his head.

I still remember when I first read these lines.  I had goosebumps.  Because I get this.  I so get this.  It’s not about witnessing a historic event or meeting a famous historical figure.  It’s about being a part of that time, even briefly.  Like when you first visit another country:  “Look!  Actual Italians/Indians/Australians/Peruvians!  And this stuff looks just like in the photos!  Hey, they really talk like that!”  Except you would be visiting, say, 1862:  “Hey, Lincoln is president and right now they’re all living through everything I’ve read about!!”  It would blow my mind to see and interact with 19th-century people as live, Technicolor humans and not as static black and white relics.  To walk through streets with the old buildings when they were brand new.  And before they were torn down.

If you’ve read this or this, you know I’ve had some strange experiences with people who are no longer with us in corporeal form.  I’ve freaked out a few of you (you know who you are) by being able to sense things without your telling me.  So I wasn’t surprised when something else peculiar happened a few months ago…

I was on a train in New Jersey.  We were about to stop in Newark—the tracks go over the Passaic River and into the station.  I was looking out the window as the train passed over the railroad bridge. For a second or so, I saw the scene not as it is now, but as it might have looked in the 1830s or 1840s.  It was fleeting but I remember it vividly.  Lots of trees, low small buildings and houses, and boats.  What I recall most distinctly is a mill with a waterwheel near the bridge.  When I got home I looked for lithographs or maps of the area during that time, but no dice.  If I did a thorough archival search I might find some but it doesn’t seem worth the effort.  Maybe I imagined the whole thing, maybe I didn’t.  I’ll probably never know.

All I know is, I hope it happens again and that I’ll be able to verify it.  I would love nothing more than to peek through one of those mysterious windows of time again.  Until then, maybe I’ll entertain myself by thinking of going to Flushing Meadows Park to see the 1939 World’s Fair.

. . . but I’m fairly certain that Hell has, in fact, frozen over.

I was informed today that There’s something about Mr. Weebles is going to be Freshly Pressed.

It’s too bad they didn’t choose Hey, nice rack or one of my Fuck You posts, but I guess WordPress has higher standards than I do.

As many of you know, I’ve heard dead people.  I’ve heard them here, here, and also here.

So now I’d like to tell you about some of the peculiar occurrences in the Weebles house that didn’t involve hearing the voices of disembodied people.  These have all involved electronic devices of some sort.

It started last summer.  One day I came home from running errands and went into the bedroom.  I turned on the light but it didn’t go on.  I figured the bulb had burned out so I put in a new bulb.  Still, no light.  WTF?  It had worked fine that morning.

I figured maybe there was a problem with the outlet.  I went to unplug the lamp so I could try it in another outlet, but that’s when I saw that the lamp was already unplugged.  It hadn’t been unplugged that morning.  And it’s not as if the cats could have knocked it out; the plug fit too snugly in the socket for that.  Whatever, I plugged the lamp back in and that was that.

Until the next day.  The television was on and I was puttering around the house.  I had my back turned to the television when I heard it turn off and then back on again.  I was nowhere near the remote control, nor were the cats.  And there was no evidence that the cable box had reset itself like it sometimes does.

Things were calm for several weeks after that.  Then one night we were sitting in the living room and our Roomba suddenly turned on.  Again, no cats nearby.  Mr. Weebles checked it out and everything seemed to be fine.  No obvious reason it should have switched on.

A few weeks later, I was in bed reading before going to sleep.  When I went to the kitchen to get a glass of water, I saw that the bathroom light was on.  I know for a fact that the bathroom light was off when we went to bed that night.  And once again, it wasn’t something one of the cats could have done.

Other electronic oddities: Once, while I was watching television, the channel changed by itself.  Nobody was near the remote.  And twice, random apps on my phone mysteriously started up while the phone was sitting on the table next to me.

But my favorite was when I found my laptop and mouse neatly set up on the coffee table one morning.  I had left everything in disarray the night before because I was really tired—I just plopped the laptop, mouse, and all the cords on the table in a pile and went to bed.

These events occurred over the span of a few months.  And just as abruptly as they started, they stopped.  We haven’t had any further activity since last fall.

To this day I have no idea what it was all about.  I never felt a strange presence in the house during those times, never had the feeling someone was there.  I was more amused than creeped out by these strange happenings, but Mr. Weebles wasn’t quite so amused.  He’s glad things are back to normal, but I have to admit that I kind of miss it.

Hello.  My name is Madame Weebles and I’m a trypophobic.

I’m going to go ahead and assume that most of you haven’t heard of trypophobia.  It isn’t one of those phobias that everyone knows about, like claustrophobia or acrophobia.  But it’s real.  Peculiar, but real.  Google it.  You’ll see.

Trypophobia is basically a fear of holes.  Or, more accurately, it’s an extreme aversion to holes.  Or clusters of holes.  Or other clusters of things clumped together.  It’s hard to explain.  Things like honeycombs.  Cracked earth.  Spores.  Seed pods.  Wasp nests.  Holey cheeses.  Closeup images of pores or cells.  Clusters of alien eggs in horror and science fiction movies.  The bubbles that form on the top of pancake batter as the pancakes start to cook.

I’m not just saying that these things gross me out or that I hate looking at them. It’s waaaayyy beyond that. I’m saying that they affect me on a visceral level.  I get physically and mentally repulsed.  I get angry.  I panic and squirm.  I feel nauseated.  I desperately want to flee and wash off all the cooties.

This isn’t something that affects me on a daily basis, fortunately.  If I were a beekeeper I would have a big problem with all those honeycombs, but ordinarily I can go about my days happily, free from offending visuals.  Although every once in a while a television show will sneak in a honeycomb or cracked earth or some other nasty hole-riddled item and I have to close my eyes.  And I have to prepare myself when I watch movies because you never know when they’re going to show some sort of pods or insect sacs or vampire eggs or something.  But I can safely watch cheese commercials because I’m okay with most cheeses.  Most.

This cheese does not upset me.

Yeah, I know, it sounds strange and silly. But hey, if you’re going to have a fear/intense aversion to something, it may as well have some comedy value.

I didn’t even know it was an actual thing until a few years ago.  I assumed it was just my own personal weirdness. Then Mr. Weebles found an article about trypophobia on the Internet—he showed it to me and said, “I think this is what you have.” And sure enough, that was it.  After years of getting wigged out by all kinds of dots and holes, I finally learned that my weirdness had a name!

Nobody really knows what causes trypophobia or why these images trigger this reaction in some people.  There seems to be a genetic component to it because it tends to run in families.  My mother has it too, and I didn’t even know it until I mentioned it in passing several years ago and she said she had the same problem. There are theories that it involves genetic memory—a primitive, instinctive understanding that things with holes can indicate decay, disease, or danger, and should be avoided.  But I don’t know that this sufficiently explains such an intense revulsion.

If you want to have some fun, do an image search for “lotus seed pod” or “Surinam toad.” But be warned: they’re really disgusting, even to a lot of people who don’t generally have an issue with this type of stuff.  But just the idea of them is making me sick and creeped out right now.  It makes me wish I could scrape my retinas to rid myself of those images forever.  Unfortunately, I will always have pod- and toad-related flashbacks.  Those horrific little fuckers will haunt me until the day I die.

Okay, I have to go and throw up now.