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You were doing it wrong
July 6, 2010 1:58 PM   Subscribe

What in life did it take you a surprisingly long time to realize you've been doing wrong all along?

"Crap, I've been doing it wrong." We've all had those sudden epiphanies where we realize we've been doing something incorrectly, ineffectively or just suboptimally our whole lives, in domains from handicraft to human relations to technical stuff to personal grooming. What have you spent large portions of your life doing wrong?
posted by colinmarshall to Grab Bag (933 answers total) 1175 users marked this as a favorite
 
Tying my shoes. No joke. I was nearly thirty years old before I learned that "right over left and left over right makes a bow that's tidy and tight." Thank you, Ian!
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:01 PM on July 6, 2010 [55 favorites]


Pronouncing the word "segue." Seriously, I always thought it was "seeg." Surprisingly, I never really wondered why I never saw word pronounced "seg-way" in print.
posted by griphus at 2:02 PM on July 6, 2010 [52 favorites]


Peeling a banana. Opening from the stem is totally not the way to do it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBJV56WUDng
posted by ElfWord at 2:04 PM on July 6, 2010 [116 favorites]


learning that wisdom is usually an outcome of life experience and rarely the privilege of the untried
posted by infini at 2:04 PM on July 6, 2010 [28 favorites]


I realized his winter that I always tied my shoes the wrong way - the two loops ended up in a granny knot. Since I changed so they make a square knot, I don't remember them untying by themselves.
posted by springload at 2:06 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also: Assuming that adults are, well, adults and put civility and maturity ahead of egos, agendas and personal issues. I was, apparently, an idealist of mammoth proportion with that one.
posted by griphus at 2:07 PM on July 6, 2010 [89 favorites]


Tying a twist tie. I used to just wrap it around and around... and be puzzled that it didn't hold.

(When I finally learned how, I protested: "How was I supposed to know! I've never seen one tied!" My sister responded with, "Yeah, but haven't you ever UNTIED one?" I'm not very observant, apparently.)
posted by cider at 2:08 PM on July 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


Similarly to griphus, I made it to my late 20's before I realized that the word "awry" (which I read as "awe-ree") was the same word as the "uh-rye" that I'd been hearing people say all my life.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 2:09 PM on July 6, 2010 [34 favorites]


Studying--as in, using techniques more sophisticated or labor-intensive than "Skim through text once, take final," or "Type up first draft of paper, hand it in." I got as far as grad school on glibness and motherwit, and then hit the wall with doctoral-level statistics.
posted by Kat Allison at 2:11 PM on July 6, 2010 [47 favorites]


a box and a stick and a string and a bear: "Similarly to griphus, I made it to my late 20's before I realized that the word "awry" (which I read as "awe-ree") was the same word as the "uh-rye" that I'd been hearing people say all my life."

What? Okay, I've been mispronouncing "segue" and "awry," apparently.
posted by griphus at 2:11 PM on July 6, 2010 [21 favorites]


It took me a really long time to learn to put my keys in the same place every time I come in the door. So simple, and no more frustration every time I get ready to go somewhere.
posted by MelissaSimon at 2:12 PM on July 6, 2010 [22 favorites]


Catching! I used to watch the faces of people who were about to throw things at me- whether it was in a "oh, here's my keys, catch" situation or in a sports context I'd look at their face, then see the object maybe at the top of its arc, then sort of squint nervously as it (hopefully) landed in my hands, with only estimation and a little peripheral vision to help me find it. Um, no. I recently learned that I should ignore the thrower's face, and instead watch the ball itself, all the way along its path from the thrower's hand to mine. It sounds simple; just "keep your eye on the ball". But I consistently messed it up until I actually forced myself to watch that thing and track its *whole entire path* from hand to hand. Now I play catch like a champ.

Also, I thought the word Larynx was pronounced "LarrNICKS". It's actually "LARRinks". Oops.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 2:13 PM on July 6, 2010 [14 favorites]


Me too RE: awry.

My flatmate seems to have gone his entire adult life under the impression that dishes left on the bench overnight will be clean and back in the cupboard by morning.
posted by doublehappy at 2:14 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


As it happens, those segue and awry issues were both discussed on a recent episode of the podcast Battleship Pretension. So, uh, we're none of us alone, I guess. Makes me wonder what's up with those particular words that so many people would evidently have the exact same problem where they can't connect the spoken version with the written one, though.
posted by colinmarshall at 2:15 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


...and segue. Massive comment deja vu right now.
posted by doublehappy at 2:15 PM on July 6, 2010


It took about ten years of casual biking to realise that you shift gears down to go up hills, not up -- I always thought I was just really bad at slopes
posted by rollick at 2:15 PM on July 6, 2010 [29 favorites]


It took me until adulthood to realize that courage, tenacity, and hard work get you a lot farther than plain old smartness.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:16 PM on July 6, 2010 [82 favorites]


Heat up the pan BEFORE putting oil and food in it.

Also, moisturizer isn't a waste of money.
posted by oinopaponton at 2:16 PM on July 6, 2010 [17 favorites]


Handwriting the capital letter "I."
I got bored with "H's" and went ahead on my own, writing from left to right and making a counter-clockwise loop. Apparently the arrows on the chart over the blackboard go the other way.

Pronouncing the word bedraggled. I always said 'bed-raggled.'
Apparently it's 'be-draggled' instead.

I think there may be a lot of pronunciation goofs represented here. People who learn vocabulary by reading often get it wrong.
posted by SLC Mom at 2:18 PM on July 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


Shaving my legs.
posted by anniecat at 2:19 PM on July 6, 2010


I was always taught (and believed) that putting salt into a pot of water will make it boil faster. Apparently that's not the case, which I learned about a week ago.
posted by joshrholloway at 2:22 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


I also spent a long time with terrible dandruff and bad skin, using prescription shampoos etc to no avail, until it all disappeared about two weeks into my first attempt at a rigorous exercise schedule
posted by rollick at 2:22 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


discrete/discreet.

Please tell no one.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:23 PM on July 6, 2010 [38 favorites]


Eating. I knew the food pyramid (I know it's not current, but at least it was a place to start) but apparently my parent was taken in by a fad diet. As kids we used to get lectures about avoiding the protein and fat and sugars, and eating mostly the carb parts of the meals (rice, pasta, bread, etc). I think there may have been an element of "suffering is good for you" in there, too. Seriously--f'rexample--spaghetti was barely wet with spaghetti sauce, Chinese food was a serving-spoonful of meat/veg to half a container of rice. I've spent my whole life up to a few months ago thinking that was the right way to eat--and struggling, since I'm hypoglycemic and carbs are difficult. Then I started calorie counting and found out how very many calories are in the carbs.

That was my shocker of the year: it's better for me to eat a significant amount of the tasty stuff and only a small amount of the bland filler-type stuff. Dude. *Decades* of eating in a way that was not only bad but specifically bad for me, that was less pleasant, and doing it because I thought that was the right way to eat...oh, the regrets.
posted by galadriel at 2:24 PM on July 6, 2010 [23 favorites]


I reccently realized I've been slicing tomatoes wrong my entire life.

I always used to put the tomato stem down on the cutting board (so it wouldn't roll) and then start slicing from the side. It wasn't until I saw someone on the Food Network place the tomato on its side and start slicing from the top (opposite the stem) that I realized that tomatoes sliced that way would hold together much better. It was a real 'duh' moment for me.
posted by widdershins at 2:25 PM on July 6, 2010 [14 favorites]


I just found out last month that you are not supposed to grip a bowling ball with your thumb, index finger, and middle finger; it should be your thumb, middle finger, and ring finger. For years I wondered why my ball tended to curve into the gutter rather than go straight down the lane like everyone else's...
posted by castlebravo at 2:26 PM on July 6, 2010 [47 favorites]


Previously: Sit vs Stand I was a stander, and i was shocked - SHOCKED - to find people sit. I never knew. Now i sit.
posted by escher at 2:29 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Thinking Seattle was the capital of Oregon.
posted by Evangeline at 2:30 PM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


I pronounced breakfast with an extra "r" (breakfrast) until I was in high school, when friends started teasing me. I had no problems spelling it and no other speech issues.

Also: folding a fitted sheet, mixing up the cheese powder with milk BEFORE adding it to the macaroni.
posted by ista at 2:31 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


All the way through graduate school I used to contract "you would" as "you'ld", rather than "you'd". I still think there should be some difference between "you would" and "you had", but oh well.

Also I used to change drill bits by actually turning the drill head until the bit loosened, now I just hold the drill head and spin the drill backwards/forwards to loosen/tighten the bit. So much faster.
posted by true at 2:31 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I used to think that when my mom would say "be a good doobie" is was her making some kind of clumsy drug reference. But I have just been corrected.
posted by donovan at 2:31 PM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Wearing earbuds. I always thought they fell out because my ear canals weren't shaped properly or something, and I just couldn't use them Turns out I was putting them in backward, with the speaker grilles facing behind me. Put them in with the grilles facing forward and they stay in just fine.
posted by Naberius at 2:32 PM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Similar to 'segue' and 'awry': Annihilate. I would read it and subvocalize "ann-hill-ate", and wondered why I never saw "uh-nigh-uh-late" in print. I guess I just never noticed that first i.
posted by randomname25 at 2:33 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


TV cooking shows somehow gave me the impression that things like garlic and onions (for pasta sauces) had to be sautéed at really high temperatures. I'm not very organized or coordinated, so I burned a lot of food. Since lowering the heat down to med/low, I'm rushing around less and my results have really improved.
posted by bonobothegreat at 2:34 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't put your pizza toppings on before you grill the dough.

And yet, every time I still forget that this results in... well... bottomings.

I also thought Alaska was an island until I was 18. Because on US maps they put it in a box like Hawaii.

Public school geography is a thing of beauty.
posted by karminai at 2:36 PM on July 6, 2010 [13 favorites]


Opening a plastic milk jug. Up until last year I thought I needed to pry off the little plastic ring with a spoon before I could twist off the cap. Turns out if you twist the cap the little ring breaks away on its own.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 2:37 PM on July 6, 2010 [14 favorites]


Rinsing the washing up. Really.
posted by Chairboy at 2:40 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, I thought the word Larynx was pronounced "LarrNICKS". It's actually "LARRinks". Oops.

Me too. In fact, I just learned this about thirty seconds ago.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 2:41 PM on July 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


I thought Hawaii was close enough to the mainland to take a boat and get there in an hour or so. When I first flew there, and 4 hours passed and the stewardess said we were only halfway there, I thought I'd got on a flight to Narita by accident.
posted by elizardbits at 2:41 PM on July 6, 2010 [19 favorites]


More pronunciation fun: fiery is pronounced "FIREY", not "FEERY"; macabre is pronounced "MACAWB", not "MAC a bree"; and quixotic has nothing to do with Don Quixote and is pronounced just like it looks.

I've also learned that most people do not respond to reasoned, well-articulated arguments (contrary to what I was taught in college). When attempting to persuade others, good rhetoric is sadly often more effective than good debate. Realizing this also opened my eyes to the staggering amount of manipulative maneuvering at play in the political world, and turned me into a huge cynic — but that's another story. The best direction for me to head from that point was to learn to love the ignorant masses instead of loathing them, accept a world that's much less than perfect, and make lemonade out of lemons. Dale Carnegie's How To Win Friends and Influence People is much less exploitative than it sounds, and was a tremendously valuable resource for me.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 2:41 PM on July 6, 2010 [39 favorites]


I don't think I learned the distinction between but and butt until I was 18 or so.

Further/farther.

Between/among.

Etc.
posted by dfriedman at 2:42 PM on July 6, 2010


Eating kiwi. I hardly ever ate them because I thought you had to go through an elaborate ritual of peeling them, then slicing them like for a fancy fruit salad.

And then I lived with a Kiwi, and she looked at me funny when she saw me torturing a kiwi to snack on, halved her kiwi, and then ate it with a spoon. Like a grapefruit. And I was like, "DOH!"

This thread is awesome.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:42 PM on July 6, 2010 [47 favorites]


The word infinitesimal.
For the longest time I thought it was infantesimal (you know, small...like a baby). It wasn't until I used it a couple of times in a paper that I noticed MS Word kept auto-correcting it. Infinitesimal. my mind was blown! It makes so much more sense, too. It's something that's infinitely small!

Rob Cockerham of cockeyed.com compiled a list like this a few years ago, but for the life of me I can't find it now.
posted by phunniemee at 2:42 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, and thinking honesty in relationships actually meant that you told your partner everything that was your head.
posted by Chairboy at 2:42 PM on July 6, 2010 [79 favorites]


I was an adult before I realized that Ensign was a military rank, and not just a popular first name in the future. I had only ever heard it on Star Trek. Until I wrote this post I had no idea how it was spelled, as I've only ever heard it spoken.
posted by dipolemoment at 2:43 PM on July 6, 2010 [78 favorites]


Meh.. in your head.
posted by Chairboy at 2:43 PM on July 6, 2010


and quixotic has nothing to do with Don Quixote and is pronounced just like it looks.


Quixotic has everything to do with Don Quixote; Miguel de Cervantes' character is the original idealist.
posted by dfriedman at 2:43 PM on July 6, 2010 [49 favorites]


More mispronunciations: epitome = epit-o-mee, not epi-tome.
posted by amethysts at 2:43 PM on July 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


Quixotic derives from Don Quixote.
posted by seventyfour at 2:46 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, also, take the corn husk off before eating the tamale.
posted by karminai at 2:47 PM on July 6, 2010 [33 favorites]


Oh, and given the huge number of word-related omgs in this thread, I'm going to post this link to Common Errors in English that I found a few years ago. It's a wonderful resource.
posted by phunniemee at 2:48 PM on July 6, 2010 [15 favorites]


And then I lived with a Kiwi, and she looked at me funny when she saw me torturing a kiwi to snack on, halved her kiwi, and then ate it with a spoon. Like a grapefruit. And I was like, "DOH!"

I just gasped, and my eyes lit up, and a lightbulb went off above my head.

I have [had?] elaborate kiwi-peeling rituals too.
posted by alynnk at 2:48 PM on July 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


it took me a long time to realize that the proper orientation of the ass gasket is with the flap in front. flushes right down that way.
posted by pahool at 2:48 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh, and that "momentarily" means "for a moment", not "in a moment". So someone who says "I'll be with you momentarily" is actually saying that they'll only see you for a very small amount of time. Which is probably accurate, but not what they meant.
posted by true at 2:48 PM on July 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


I thought, until an embarrassing age, that Hawaii was a short flight from LAX.

Also: penultimate.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:52 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


What a coaster is, and why people use them.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 2:53 PM on July 6, 2010


The cockerham list.
posted by 8dot3 at 2:53 PM on July 6, 2010 [23 favorites]


For a year or more, I spent an hour and a half driving into the city during my morning commute one way. Then, in an effort to avoid some bridge construction, I took a slightly different route, and literally cut the commute time in half.

And years ago, when I used to have to catch a train in and out of the city to and from college, I would fret and worry about catching a particular train home as I rode uptown on the subway. So I decided to stop wearing a watch. I would either make the train or have to catch the next one, but I stopped worrying about it.

As for the more profound, I guess maybe that I stopped being intimidated by people -- bosses, teachers, professors, superiors, people who seemed completely self-confident, unlike myself -- when I realized that all of them, the great and the meek, have to sit on the toilet, too.
posted by crunchland at 2:54 PM on July 6, 2010 [15 favorites]


Until a couple of years ago, I thought melancholy was pronounced me-LON-co-lee.

Also, my mother was in her late twenties when she found out that pickles came from cucumbers. Even worse, she discovered this after meeting her boyfriend's parents for the first time, and complimenting his mother on the wonderful pickles she grew.
posted by myelin sheath at 2:54 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Rinsing the washing up. Really.

I don't think there's a right or wrong there.
posted by onya at 2:54 PM on July 6, 2010


At 44 (this past few months) I learned that it's better to lather up for a shave with a good shaving brush and good shaving soap that to smear gel or foam in a can on my face. After you use a brush for a week you realize why it took a lot of marketing money and years of advertising for shaving cream companies to get you to forget about shaving brushes.
posted by smallerdemon at 2:56 PM on July 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


As a lady-type, I was shocked to find that we're supposed to wipe from front to back. I think I was in my 30s when I found that one out. Yay for reduced UTI incidence!
posted by otherwordlyglow at 2:56 PM on July 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


And also, the point of small talk, and why people engage in it.

I used to think small talk was the most boring, pointless thing ever, until I realized it's often a way for people to feel more comfortable with one another before continuing the conversation. It's like handing someone a small familiar appetizer before bringing out one's personal plate of weirdness. Makes things go down a little more smoothly.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 2:57 PM on July 6, 2010 [135 favorites]


true,
momentarily |ˌmōmənˈte(ə)rəlē|
adverb
1 for a very short time : as he passed Jenny's door, he paused momentarily.
2 at any moment; very soon : my husband will be here to pick me up momentarily.
posted by mhz at 2:57 PM on July 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


Hyperbole is not, contrary to my 18-year old self, pronounced the same way as you would a sporting arena / rhymable with "dole".

It should.
posted by Lemurrhea at 2:58 PM on July 6, 2010 [14 favorites]


I never used to put product in my hair. Never, ever, ever. I hated the feeling of crunchy hair.

Turns out there's an entire class of hair care products that aren't crunchy. And the one that I use has been around since 1928. And yes, a little dab will do ya.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:58 PM on July 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


I... didn't use version control until my second programming job, after college. When in fact, version control is the best thing since, nay, better than sliced bread. It is so good that I'm going to teach my family how to use it, so they don't have to deal with dissertation_version_5_no_really_this_is_the_one.doc ever again.
posted by Jpfed at 3:00 PM on July 6, 2010 [46 favorites]


castlebravo: "I just found out last month that you are not supposed to grip a bowling ball with your thumb, index finger, and middle finger; it should be your thumb, middle finger, and ring finger. For years I wondered why my ball tended to curve into the gutter rather than go straight down the lane like everyone else's..."

Well, I'll be goddamned.

On topic, there's any number of words my wife has to correct me on pronunciation. THere's that whole "learning by reading" thing that kids with few reader-friends wind up getting messed up by.
posted by notsnot at 3:01 PM on July 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


Kiwi-related: I thought Australia was close enough to NZ to be seen on the horizon.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:02 PM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


When I was about nine, I heard the word "gangbang" somewhere. Naturally, I thought it described a big fight, so I happily used it this way until I was about 12, presumably mostly to other people who didn't know what it meant either. Then I was watching the Superbowl with my parents and about 20 players wound up in a huge pile. "It looks like the aftermath of a gangbang!" I said. My dad replied that a) it didn't and b) it wasn't really a word I should use. I later looked up gangbang in the massive dictionary at school (for that is what we did before the internet) and felt very silly and rather embarrassed. Even now, 27 years later, whenever I see the NFL in action, the first word I think of is "gangbang". Luckily I now live in the UK, so this isn't an everyday problem.
posted by rhymer at 3:06 PM on July 6, 2010 [122 favorites]


Oh, and shaving in general. Shave with the grain if you don't want a bunch of painful ingrown hairs. If you must shave against the grain, do it infrequently.

Seconding that moisturizers are not a waste of money. I used to get the most horrifically painful dry patches of skin around my mouth that felt like nothing but sheer burning agony. Solution: just some basic face lotion after shaving. I haven't had the problem since.

Flossing and brushing twice a day. That's not bullshit from your dentist.
posted by smallerdemon at 3:06 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I learned not to throw a ball like a "girl" or to be non-sexist about it, ineffectively, you step forward with the the leg opposite your throwing arm.
For the record, I am a girl and I know many women can throw a mean ball, but I am new to it.
posted by Duffington at 3:08 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I was almost 30 years old before I learned to use just deodorant instead of antiperspirant. My shirts used to have pit stains within an hour after I got dressed. I tried every antiperspirant imaginable to stop the flow, and more and more of it. I ruined quite a few shirts with cakey white antiperspirant residue. Then one day, on accident, I bought a deodorant stick that wasn't also an antiperspirant. The difference was unbelievable! My armpits were no longer open faucets, and I haven't used an antiperspirant since.
posted by Balonious Assault at 3:09 PM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Too much vinegar in salad dressing. I knew the formulas, but refused to believe them until kind of recently. Also, too much garlic in some things. It's not always great to have a ton of garlic in everything.
posted by kirst27 at 3:15 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I spent a lot of years being anxious about the hairs all over my face, because as a lady it is a great sin to have hairs on your face. Then one day I realized I could use my regular old lady's razor to get rid of them. Face->smooth. Anxiety -> gone (or moved on to other things..)
posted by amethysts at 3:15 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


I was in my teens when I realized that those "hors d'oeuvres" that I read about and those "ordervs" I heard people talk about were one and the same.

In my 30s, it took a few years after I discovered his works to learn that P.G. Wodehouse's last name is pronounced "Wood-house".
posted by fings at 3:15 PM on July 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


I was almost 30 years old before I learned to use just deodorant instead of antiperspirant.

Seconding this one. Pit stains and painful rashes both disappeared. A little sweat in my life is annoying, but actual underarm pain is downright torturous.
posted by smallerdemon at 3:16 PM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


I used to pronounce nuclear like George W., "nukular". It really is easier to say that way, but as I'm a liberal snob, I make sure to pronounce it correctly now ;)

You really need to get your teeth professionally cleaned every 6 months. W/out dental insurance, I "saved money" by skipping it for two years. I have two cavities and have to go in for gum scraping. The total cost will be the same as if I had just gone in on schedule, only now I have to pay the bill all at once.

I didn't know the kiwi-eating thing either.

I used to feel that manners and not swearing was kind of bullshit. Not that I never engaged in it, but I thought society would be better off if we were all just honest with each other at all times and didn't pussyfoot around issues, and that fuck is just a word and we should all just get over it. I do still think this to some degree (an ideal world, yada yada), but I now appreciate the respect for others aspect of etiquette a lot more.
posted by wwartorff at 3:21 PM on July 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


I was grown ass adult before I learned that "United Kindgom" and "Great Britian" are not synomyms for England.

Also, England actually has shires. Not hobbit shires, but shires nevertheless. I thought shire was a word Tolkien had made up.
posted by nooneyouknow at 3:22 PM on July 6, 2010 [16 favorites]


Pickles come from cucumber plants. Not some (imaginary) pickle tree (...was in my 20s when I figured that out).
posted by dog food sugar at 3:23 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


oh sorry preview. I'm not the only one confused by pickles.
posted by dog food sugar at 3:24 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I made it all the way to middle school thinking the third monday in January was milk day.
posted by politikitty at 3:27 PM on July 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


My sister and I used to think "handjob" was another word for "manicure." Our parents are immigrants who don't speak much English, so they never corrected us. Oh, we were so innocent back then...
posted by keep it under cover at 3:27 PM on July 6, 2010 [23 favorites]


That I should've studied what I loved and was good at rather than what I thought would get me a job.
posted by jgirl at 3:29 PM on July 6, 2010 [28 favorites]


Age 28: Learned that reading in bed is greatly facilitated by having a second pillow to prop up your head. Doing it for years with one pillow was a prescription for a sore neck.

Age 29: Learned that you do not pronounce the L in "salmon" or "almond".

Age 32: Learned that my habit of slowing down a bit out of courtesy to allow someone to merge into the highway lane in front of me is actually causing them a bit of stress trying to gauge where I am going to be when they merge. Unless there is some danger of them not being able to get in, don't slow down, but maintain your speed.

Mid-30s: peeling tomatoes and peaches! Learned how to dip them into boiling water for 10-15 seconds, then into ice water. The peels come right off, no horrible hacking and gouging the things to try to get the skin off.

Age 34: Learned that the slight irritation on my scalp I'd had for much of my adulthood was due to the economy brand shampoo I'd been buying since I was 17. Bumped up to better shampoo and my scalp and hair are nice again.

Age 37: Learned that when you swing the bat at the baseball, you do not aim for a perfectly horizontal cut, but are actually trying to hit up on the ball. To do this, you have to swing partially downward at first, timing the contact with the ball on the upswing. Started getting much better distance on my hitting after that.

Age 38: Learned that nothing is worth living a lie and coming out to my friends and family was nowhere near as difficult as I'd though it was going to be. Wish I'd learned this 20 years earlier.

Age 40: Learned that no matter how many gardenias I plant in Phoenix (more than five at this point), they will not survive unless I make the soil acidic. Similarly, citrus will not thrive unless the soil has been amended so it's no longer alkaline. I can't tell you how many trees and shrubs I've killed by not knowing this.

Something I still do wrong, but won't ever change: I drive an automatic transmission with both feet - right on the accelerator and left on the brake. Just never going to break myself of that bad habit. :-(
posted by darkstar at 3:30 PM on July 6, 2010 [43 favorites]


Another word one... genre I thought it was jen-er not zhahn-ruh until I was in my mid-twenties.

I also thought salt would make water boil faster...
posted by patheral at 3:32 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I thought Chanukah and Hanukkah were two different holidays, and that I'd just never heard the first one spoken since I'd never heard anyone say CHanukah. One day I was in line at the grocery store where I'd shopped for years. The person in line in front of me had a loaf of challah bread on the belt. The cashier said "Man! Isn't our HALLA bread just the best?!? And I immediately said to myself "OMG Chanukah is Hanukah!" I was 25.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 3:32 PM on July 6, 2010 [26 favorites]


I'm pretty sure I still don't know how to pronounce lots of names that are famous-but-rarely-vocalized: for example, I thought Goethe rhymed with "ho breath" until recently. Who knows how many others I'm confused about... does Nietzche rhyme with feature, or not?
posted by jetsam at 3:34 PM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


I **still** use the two bunny ear method to tie my shoes. I'm in my 30's.

You'd think someone who knits and sews had better coordination, no?

Also - I mispronounced bal-sal-mick (correct) wrong for YEARS. I butchered it to the point that I can no longer reproduce my ridiculous pronunciation.

And acidophilis (a-sid-doff-i-lus). I was saying a-sid-OH-file-us.

Yeah. I read things, and never heard them out loud, until I say it wrong and someone corrects me (thank GOD) (not sarcasm).
posted by bibliogrrl at 3:36 PM on July 6, 2010


Another word one, this time written. I always would contract will not to woln't. Which made more sense to me than won't. Where'd the damned l go?

Tie the drawstrings of anything that has them together at the end. It keeps them from being pulled out in the wash. Too many hoodies and pj pants de-stringed before I learned this.

You do not need to wash your hair every day. Nor do you need to take a steamingly hot shower to be clean. For some reason these were ingrained in me by someone along the road, and I didn't learn them until I was in college.

The big one: You are not your academic performance, grades, or reputation. You can be a good person and fail a class, or do badly on a paper, or get a bad review at work. I had my self worth pretty well tied into my academic life (since it is my chosen path in life, also my job) until I had a nervous breakdown in college over failing a few classes and changing majors. I still have a hard time with this one, and one of the few things that will still break me down into abject panic and terror and self loathing is someone I respect academically criticizing something I wrote or said and I realize they are right.
posted by strixus at 3:36 PM on July 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


Who knows how many others I'm confused about... does Nietzche rhyme with feature, or not?

It's "Nee-chay," so unless you pronounce "feature" as "fee-chay," no.
posted by griphus at 3:38 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also, I don't care what anyone says. It is still SAL-mon (salmon) to me. Sam-man just sounds weird.
posted by strixus at 3:38 PM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


I do pronounce the L in almond. It's not very strong, but it's there.
posted by wwartorff at 3:40 PM on July 6, 2010 [77 favorites]


Where those mysterious drops on the toilet seat were coming from.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:43 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Kiwi skin is perfectly edible.
posted by stinker at 3:44 PM on July 6, 2010 [16 favorites]


It's "Nee-chay,"

Uh, I've got some news for you, Griphus...

posted by dersins at 3:46 PM on July 6, 2010 [14 favorites]


Egg shells are edible, too, but that doesn't mean they're fun to eat.
posted by phunniemee at 3:47 PM on July 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


I drive an automatic transmission with both feet - right on the accelerator and left on the brake.

Oh God please stop. People actually do this?
posted by reductiondesign at 3:52 PM on July 6, 2010 [32 favorites]


Don't lock your knees while standing, if you want to avoid feeling faint or unstable.

One of my friends looked like he had a major epiphany when another friend taught him the trick of making a letter L on his left hand to work out left from right. His expression was priceless.
posted by divabat at 3:52 PM on July 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


Growing up only hearing the jingle, I thought Nobody Doesn't Like Sara Lee was actually "Nobody does it like Sara Lee". It blew my 30 year old mind to learn the true version.

Recently, I realized that Alfred Molina was the porter dude ("Throw me the idol!") at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark. That was a bit mind blowing (since I thought I knew that movie so well), though in a different sense.
posted by El_Marto at 3:53 PM on July 6, 2010 [35 favorites]


dersins: "Uh, I've got some news for you, Griphus..."

...you'd think any of my previous comments in this thread would have prevented me from even considering myself an authority w/r/t pronunciation.
posted by griphus at 3:54 PM on July 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


I do pronounce the L in almond. It's not very strong, but it's there.

What.

Dude, the word is pronounced ALL-MUND. Or is this one of those Oregon hick things? Cortex, back me up.
posted by peep at 3:54 PM on July 6, 2010 [68 favorites]


Mascarpone cheese. For many years, I was quite sure that it was pronounced "MARS-ca-pone," spelled marscapone. I recently looked up the Wikipedia page so I could explain what it was to someone who had never had it, and I was shocked to see that it was spelled "mascarpone." So I started calling it "MASS-car-pone," and have been a few months. Only just now, when I looked up the Wikipedia page again, have I discovered that it is apparently "mass-car-PONE."

I'm probably still wrong. What other crucial letter have I missed?!

I also only found out in the last couple of years that leaving your tea bag in the whole time you're drinking your mug of tea does not produce maximally delicious tea. Although the tea may not be as bracingly strong it tastes a lot better if you steep your bag (or loose leaves) for only a few minutes. Never realized this until I started dating a tea maniac.
posted by mandanza at 3:54 PM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


One for the Canadians: I was about 15 before I realized that the stylized B in The Bay logo was actually, well, a B. I could just not figure out the sign for the longest time, and couldn't for the life of me see that strange squiggly yellow symbol as a capital B. Then one day, I did. I've felt slightly ridiculous walking into The Bay ever since.
posted by just_ducky at 3:56 PM on July 6, 2010 [24 favorites]


Years ago I used to participate in an e-mail based poetry-writing group. This was also before I learned that poems do not need to rhyme. Anyway, I wrote a poem I was super happy with and sent it to the group for feedback LOLs. This was how I learned that the word pomegranate does not rhyme with speculate.
posted by oulipian at 3:56 PM on July 6, 2010 [14 favorites]


Also it took me a ridiculously long time to realise that you can actually view things in Google Reader as a list, rather than have everything expanded at once - SO MUCH FASTER dealing with massive RSS feeds now, especially after holidays!
posted by divabat at 3:58 PM on July 6, 2010


"hearth" doesn't rhyme with "earth" even though it obviously ought to.
posted by Mngo at 3:59 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Waiting for someone to bring up the "D" in the Disney logo.
posted by colinmarshall at 4:00 PM on July 6, 2010 [22 favorites]


Um, shit. Thanks for the info on granny knots, guys.
posted by naju at 4:01 PM on July 6, 2010


OK, I will admit something embarrassing. Until I was about 15, I thought the word approximately was a synonym for precisely or exactly. Actually, I thought it was some kind of superlative for exactly, the pinnacle of exactness, as if that makes any sense.

I was a voracious reader and often picked up on meanings solely from context and never bothered to double-check my best guesses with a parent or dictionary.

Think of how the word might appear in a book. "We lived approximately 2 miles from the school." "I'll be home in approximately two and a half hours." So I'd think, wow, how unusual to live EXACTLY two miles from the school.

Don't ask me how I got to my teenage years still misinformed. I have no idea.
posted by peep at 4:02 PM on July 6, 2010 [21 favorites]


That responding is not the same as reacting - the former is more reasoned and patient, the latter emotional and often ill-considered.
That patience is a virtue, particularly during a crisis that involves a group.
That I learn something new nearly every day - something I hope continues for my entire life.
That some things that older people do are not 'on purpose' (as in purposefully irritating), but rather because of a condition that can't be helped (such as Alzheimer's, poor hearing, bad balance, etc). See: patience.
posted by dbmcd at 4:03 PM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Waiting for someone to bring up the "D" in the Disney logo.

Or the arrow in the FEDEX logo?
posted by dersins at 4:03 PM on July 6, 2010 [17 favorites]


That the image I see of myself in the mirror is half life size.
posted by rongorongo at 4:04 PM on July 6, 2010 [17 favorites]


One day I noticed that one of my favorite t-shirts had a tiny little hole near my belly button. Not a big one. Just a tiny little hole. I didn't think much of it. But then I noticed it on another t-shirt. Some shirts had more holes than others. None of my nicer shirts had holes, but all of my more everyday-casual-wear-all-the-time shirts had holes. I decided that it must be because they were so cheap (and they were very cheap t-shirts). So I upgraded. But it wasn't long until I noticed a hole on the new shirt. For years the reason behind these tiny holes eluded me and so I assumed it must be my abs.

So one day I'm playing softball with my friends. It's a warm evening and I reach into the cooler of beer and pull out an ice cold bottle of beer. The kind with a twist off cap. I'm joking with my friends and I look down and realize that everytime I'm opening a bottle, I'm grabbing my t-shirt and twisting the cap off with the shirt. And all of the holes are right where I grab the bottle and twisted the cap off.

So it took me a while to learn not to open a bottle with my shirt in hand.
posted by phelixshu at 4:06 PM on July 6, 2010 [74 favorites]


Miniseries is not pronounced mi NI zer ees, and in my mind should have a damn hyphen in it.
posted by QuakerMel at 4:07 PM on July 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


Holy shit. The first thing I thought of was that I only learned a few weeks ago that I've been mispronouncing "segue" all of my life. In my head, it rhymed with "vague." Damn straight, griphus.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:09 PM on July 6, 2010


Age 29: Learned that you do not pronounce the L in "salmon" or "almond".

Wait, what? It's al-mond. The L is not silent. (Although, hey, I just looked it up, and what the fucking fuck? No. The dictionary is completely wrong on that one. Everyone pronounces the L. Everyone. Well, I have heard some people not pronounce the L, but I'd assumed they were idiots.)

Banal. Until I was probably 19, I was dead certain it rhymed with anal. Turns out it rhymes with canal. WHOOPS.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:10 PM on July 6, 2010 [37 favorites]


I drive an automatic transmission with both feet - right on the accelerator and left on the brake.

Oh God please stop. People actually do this?


A good friend of mine does this. It was quite frightening to watch at first. He says that it's because he's used to driving a manual transmission. But I think he's just a contrary kind of guy who likes to do thing differently than everyone else. Since he does it perfectly well, it's really kind of charming.
posted by gabrielsamoza at 4:11 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I as well grew up as a reader kid, and I as well heard my mother use the word segway in conversation all the time, and I knew about how a seeg worked in literature, and then ... lightbulb. It makes you feel dumbest, I think, when you have BOTH words in your vocabulary. I'm down to one segue now. A little consolidation, if you will.

I know this is not the discussion about anecdotes regarding others, but I can't pass up mentioning this friend-of-a-friend girl that I met when she was 17. Several of us were sitting in Waffle House and she stopped talking for a second while she stared intently at the menu. She then looked up at us and happily (and proudly) exclaimed, "Oh! 24/7 means they're open all the time! Twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week!"
posted by komara at 4:12 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


You know how we get Vitamin D from being in the sun? I thought until my mid-20's that this was because the sun beamed it into us from 93 million miles away.
posted by something something at 4:13 PM on July 6, 2010 [17 favorites]


rongorongo: That the image I see of myself in the mirror is half life size.

What?
posted by komara at 4:16 PM on July 6, 2010 [45 favorites]


As long as we're doing pronunciation errors, here's one that's not about me: the prominent linguist John McWhorter has written that until he was 28 he pronounced "albeit" as "all BITE."

Age 29: Learned that you do not pronounce the L ... "almond".

Everyone I've ever heard pronounces the L in "almond."

Banal. Until I was probably 19, I was dead certain it rhymed with anal. Turns out it rhymes with canal. WHOOPS.

The American Heritage Dictionary's usage panel accepts "banal" rhyming with "anal" or "canal." The former is how I pronounce it, and I'm fine with that.
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:17 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Regarding almond pronunciation, the L sound is apparently optional, though I've generally heard it pronounced with the L in the US. It seems to be different on the other side of the pond.
posted by Cogito at 4:18 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought narwhals were imaginary creatures like unicorns until a few months ago. Imagine my happiness when I discovered they were real.

As someone else mentioned above, I didn't know what "penultimate" meant until recently. I thought it was a synonym for "ultimate". Oh the shame when a friend corrected me.
posted by Evangeline at 4:19 PM on July 6, 2010 [15 favorites]


Discussion of the pronunciation of 'banal' warrants a link to All About Halifax (warning, mild NSFW language).
posted by komara at 4:19 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Just within the last few weeks: the merits of figuring out my local bus routes. I hate paying for parking in Seoul, and buses do in fact, go pretty much everywhere I want.
posted by holterbarbour at 4:21 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


How I used to read the word "read:" in my head.
posted by jabberjaw at 4:22 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


For years and years I never got the joke in the classic pickup line, "if I told you, 'you have a beautiful body,' would you hold it against me?" I just thought it was a creepy line and never gave it much thought.
posted by Cogito at 4:23 PM on July 6, 2010 [18 favorites]


Peep: I was responding to Darkstar who said that they don't pronounce the L at all (anymore).

So, yes, I pronounce almond the same way you do, basically. I maybe just don't put as much stress on the L sound, is all.

[and i'm not a dude ;)]
posted by wwartorff at 4:23 PM on July 6, 2010


I learned the word "segue" in college only when a friend named his dog that. This was ages before the Segway. But "epitome" was the one that had me forever: I thought "e-pit-oh-me" was one word, and "epp-i-tohm" another, with the same meaning. Sheesh.

However, the big one is lyrics. I STILL sing some of the most cracked-out wrong words to "Bennie and the Jets" that you will ever hear.
posted by kostia at 4:24 PM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


It seems to be different on the other side of the pond.

UK mefite here. I pronounce it AR-MUND, but my accent is rather embarassingly RP-flavoured so YMMV.

It took me a long, long time to learn how to spell "soldier" properly. I'd always want to spell it "solider" for some godforsaken reason. Also, I continue to spell "because" using the rhyme: Big Elephants Can Always Upset Small Elephants.
posted by fight or flight at 4:24 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Just for the record, pronouncing the L in almond is acceptable. It's a variable pronunciation.

But since I'd erroneously pronounced the L in salmon for so long, and felt so contrite, I opted to shift to a similar silent L in almond, just to make it symmetrical.

Not to mentiojn that the guy wh0 corrected my pronunciation of salmon did so by saying that I sounded like an illiterate hick trying too hard to sound educated by pronouncing the L. He was a jerk, but he knew which buttons to push to get me to change, may he DIAF.

Anyway, now it's SAH-mun and AH-mund. It feels better to me that they are harmonious...

posted by darkstar at 4:25 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I first learned the word "defenestration" it was using a cat as an example. For the longest time, I thought it could be used on cats and on cats alone. I don't believe that any other verbs are noun specific, why this one?

As I've gotten older, I've spent a lot less time listening to what people tell me they think they want, and engaging them in conversation to help them find out what they actually do want - because most people don't really know.

This plugs into my being less of a goal oriented moron. Goals are now just placeholders. General aims. I've been much happier since transitioning to being more about the journey or process than reaching some arbitrary memoir building bullet point that I think I want, but don't really.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 4:29 PM on July 6, 2010 [17 favorites]


Definition of 'erstwhile' - I thought it meant strong and steadfast, instead it means former.
Pronunciation of 'subtle' and 'victuals'- (when I was younger) I thought they were sub-tile and vic-tyoo-uls, instead they're suttle and vittles.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:29 PM on July 6, 2010 [17 favorites]


Anyway, now it's SAH-mun and AH-mund.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. You're still pronouncing salmon wrong. It's SAM-un.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:29 PM on July 6, 2010 [13 favorites]


Waiting for someone to bring up the "D" in the Disney logo.

What about it? It's a D. It looks a little bit like a backwards G or a 6, I guess.
posted by zsazsa at 4:33 PM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Oh, and that "momentarily" means "for a moment", not "in a moment". So someone who says "I'll be with you momentarily" is actually saying that they'll only see you for a very small amount of time. Which is probably accurate, but not what they meant.

This is not so straightforward. There's a traditional rule that "momentarily" should mean "for a moment," not "in a moment." But it's often used to mean "in a moment." In fact, that's the only way I've ever heard it used (except by people who are trying to illustrate the traditional rule). This suggests that the rule is obsolete.
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:34 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


A few years back I learned that the proper spelling of dilemma does not have a silent n. Up until that moment I was 100% stake-my-life-on-it certain it was spelled dilemna.

Wait, victuals is pronounced vittles? Whoa!
posted by platinum at 4:34 PM on July 6, 2010 [21 favorites]


Oh! Holterbarbour's comment reminds me of another one. I was seriously 19 years old before I learned where the buses in my area went and how to ride one. Man, I felt like such an idiot. I had to be driven or drive to high school all four years because I believed that (a) there were no buses that went anywhere near my house and (b) the bus was only for super poor, probably homeless people, who were probably also dangerous and crazy. (It's not like I'm from a rich family. We were kinda poor for a long time. We were just were never so poor as to not have a car, and somehow I got some weird ideas about the bus.)

It turned out that I could have been bussing to school really easily the whole time, and most people on the bus were not scary or dangerous. I could have had so much more freedom in high school, and hassled my mom so much less, if I had only known that riding the bus was possible!
posted by mandanza at 4:34 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ooh, two few more:

-That tennis balls are green, not yellow.

-That Driclor (CertainDri) is the only effective anti-perspirant out there. To the day I die I will plug this stuff. It's amazing.
posted by holterbarbour at 4:35 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whoa, whoa, whoa. You're still pronouncing salmon wrong. It's SAM-un.

Heheh, I'll leave the details to Merriam-Webster... :)
posted by darkstar at 4:35 PM on July 6, 2010


It wasn't until I took a class in electrical engineering that I learned that someone who was electrocuted was dead. When you stick your finger in an outlet and survive the jolt, it's called an electric shock.
posted by Cogito at 4:37 PM on July 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


Yeah, I didn't intend to imply by "SAH-mun" that I pronounced the A as in "far". We're pronouncing the A the same way, as in Sam, hat, etc.
posted by darkstar at 4:38 PM on July 6, 2010


That weird Arby's logo is stylized drawing of a cowboy hat. (I thought it was some sort of weird stylized "A" for Arby's, or something.)
posted by Wild_Eep at 4:40 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Math. I stopped doing math homework in 5th grade. It caught up with me in 10th grade. But it wasn't until half way through college, when I couldn't do the computations for the basic science courses required for my chosen major, that I realized what a dis-service I had done myself by doin' wrong by math.
posted by Ys at 4:40 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I learned less than a year ago how to figure out which glass is mine when sitting with a big group at a round table: curl your middle, ring, and pinky fingers on each hand down to touch your thumb while leaving your pointer finger straight up. One hand will be it the shape of a lower-case b, and that is the side with your bread plate; the other hand will be in the shape of a lower-case d, and that is the side with your drink.

Before, I had to wait until someone sitting next to me claimed a glass and bread plate before I could start enjoying anything, and half the time they were wrong anyway. Making letters in my lap is a much, much better way to do it.
posted by iminurmefi at 4:40 PM on July 6, 2010 [94 favorites]


It turns out it's more important to be pleasant than smart. (Both ideally. But as soon as statistical or ideological perfectionism starts trading off with being friendly, you're losing.)
posted by salvia at 4:40 PM on July 6, 2010 [39 favorites]


The only reason I can type as fast as I can is because of muscle memory for every specific word. I couldn't tell you where letters are on the keyboard. I'm told this was not the way I was supposed to learn to type, but I suspect it's the same way most people my age type. But I wish I knew the right way so I don't get slowed down when I come across a word I don't know.

I also apparently don't swallow correctly. When I was little my tongue pressed against my bottom teeth when I swallowed, which is apparently wrong. My orthodontist attached a tongue rake, but I don't remember ever being told where exactly to put my tongue when I swallow. I think it goes behind the top teeth...? Or maybe you're supposed to put pressure on the palate just behind the top teeth...? I'm insanely self conscious about it today.

Also, when I was a kid I thought you performed a blowjob by actually blowing, like you would into a trumpet. Luckily some kind older girl friends disabused me of this notion before I was old enough to make a complete fool of myself...
posted by lilac girl at 4:41 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


tennis balls are green, not yellow

Aren't they just yellow-green?
posted by Cogito at 4:42 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


That I should've studied what I loved and was good at rather than what I thought would get me a job.

In my case, just the opposite: I should've studied what would get me a job rather than what I loved. Doing so would have saved me 10 years of shit retail jobs between college and grad school.
posted by coolguymichael at 4:44 PM on July 6, 2010 [37 favorites]


Chaise Longue - I'd always read it as "chaise lounge".

I still see it as "chaise lounge" in a lot of places that should know better.
posted by backwards guitar at 4:45 PM on July 6, 2010 [21 favorites]


For a long time, I thought Calvary was a misspelling of cavalry, and was under the vague impression that Jesus had something to do with mounted soldiers.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 4:45 PM on July 6, 2010 [28 favorites]


Aren't they just yellow-green?

Nope. They're "optic yellow".
posted by dersins at 4:49 PM on July 6, 2010


Realized at 42 that i pronounced 'across' as 'acrossed.' Might be a regional thing as my mom and my chiropractor do the same thing and I notice it occasionally pronounced that way by others.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 4:51 PM on July 6, 2010


I thought Likert (as in Likert scale) was pronounced like-urt, while apparently it's named after some guy who said his name "lick-urt." It makes me feel better that 95% of the people who use Likert scales professionally mispronounce it.

I didn't know you couldn't microwave cans with tin foil on top/silverware sticking out of them until college when I tried to do it in a friend's apartment.

I thought Manhattan was a state until I was in middle school.

I thought origin was pronounced orRIgin and chastise was pronounced chas-teese 'til middle school.
posted by emilyd22222 at 4:52 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


That the image I see of myself in the mirror is half life size.

Oh, man. That was a painful revelation for me too. I knew I was carrying some extra weight around but I'm a big guy with a big frame, and from checking myself out in the mirror every day I thought I was carrying it pretty well. Then I saw a candid picture that someone had taken of me out in the wild. I was stunned when I realized the obese guy in the picture was actually me.

Now, after having dropped over 50 lbs. (with more to go) I still don't trust that image in the mirror. It seems I'm pretty skillful at presenting my best to the mirror for inspection, but it's not really an accurate reflection of what I look like to others.
posted by Balonious Assault at 4:52 PM on July 6, 2010 [15 favorites]


That weird Arby's logo is stylized drawing of a cowboy hat.

I thought it was a fish jumping out of a loaf of bread until I actually went to one and discovered that there was a real dearth of fish on the menu.
posted by emilyd22222 at 4:53 PM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Turns out I was putting them in backward, with the speaker grilles facing behind me. Put them in with the grilles facing forward and they stay in just fine.

The speaker grills are supposed to point into your ear canal, not forwards or backwards.

A couple of months ago I was demonstrating a lab class to undergrads where we taught them how to count cells (demonstrating it so I could then teach it myself later in the week). While the tutor was explaining it to them I realised I've been doing it wrong for years - counting a small square instead of a large one - and I need to go back and recalculate all the cell counts in my thesis. Which also explains why my counts were always so much higher than the literature. Fortunately a) I demonstrated for someone else before teaching it myself so I didn't put 130 students wrong for life and b) I found this out before I submitted the work for publication rather than after.
posted by shelleycat at 4:54 PM on July 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


A year in college made me realize that a lot of food products are safe to eat right out of the packaging. Bologna can be kept in the fridge and does not need to be frozen, and can be eaten uncooked. Also peanut butter does not need to be kept in the fridge after being opened.

Coming from a culture that was mostly vegetarian for much of its existence tends produce all sorts of weird habits like that.

Also, I learned recently that it's spelled wEIrd and not wIErd, which is incredibly annoying since IE is phonetically correct.

I was about 15 before I realized that the stylized B in The Bay logo was actually, well, a B.

I was about 15 before I realized that "The Bay" was actually the famous Hudson's Bay Company that I heard so much about in school. This led to a series of realizations that history is not just some disconnected series of events that happened a long time ago but is in fact alive and very much connected to everything happening right now.
posted by Throw away your common sense and get an afro! at 4:54 PM on July 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


I typed with two or three fingers (but fast!) until last year, when I practiced for a while on typingweb.com and learned about home keys and all that.
posted by emilyd22222 at 4:54 PM on July 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


Didn't realize until I was 30 that England has its own flag - I had just thought the Union Jack was the flag of each of the constituent nations of GB.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:54 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I learned the word "segue" in college only when a friend named his dog that. This was ages before the Segway. But "epitome" was the one that had me forever: I thought "e-pit-oh-me" was one word, and "epp-i-tohm" another, with the same meaning. Sheesh.

My God, I thought I was the only one. I didn't learn that I was making this mistake until I was around 21 years old.
posted by hiteleven at 4:56 PM on July 6, 2010


I should add on the "segue" conversation that I'm almost certain that this is one of those things, like with "chaise lounge," that was ignorant and incorrect from the beginning, but has been used so commonly since then as to be correct now. (the real term is chaise longue, meaning "long chair." We English-speakers transposed the letters.) My point is that I still think that I'm right, and the "segway" pronunciation sounds stupid to me still, but it's only been a few weeks.

On a more serious note, because this recently led to crisis for me, when I got my first cat, my roommate informed me that wet food is mostly just water and that cats subsist much better on dry food, and so that was what I exclusively have fed all of my cats until about a month or so ago, when my three-year-old cat got acute renal failure and the vet told me that I had it exactly backwards, and that dry food should basically never be used unless for a specific medical purpose (like UTIs or diabetes or the like.)

My cats are doing a million times better for it.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:57 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was about 28 years old before I realized that the word "remuneration" was both spelled and pronounced that way. I always said "renumeration", like it was related to "numeral" in some way.
posted by barney_sap at 4:57 PM on July 6, 2010 [51 favorites]


It took me a while to realize that people don't want to hear me yammer on about whatever I'm interested in, or give them unsolicited advice on whatever I believe I know more about, and that you becomes a lot more likable when you really listen and ask questions about another person's interests, rather than focusing on how they relate to you.
posted by emilyd22222 at 4:58 PM on July 6, 2010 [65 favorites]


I'm not a native English-speaker, so it took me a while to figure out that "gnome" is pronounced as "nome" and that "syrup" and "pyramid" are not pronounced as "sigh-rup" and "pie-ramid".

And apparently a lot of people in the South think that David Bowie's last name is pronounced as "Boo-ie".
posted by ttyn at 4:58 PM on July 6, 2010


Another one: in the early days of the Web, I thought that ".com" in an URL meant that your browser was launching an application. That is, "www.cnn.com" would launch an application called CNN that would display in your browser.

Those who remember the MS-DOS days will know that .com was a file extension for an executable file, along with .exe. Needless to say it took me a long time to transition from the 80s computer world to the Web-connected 90s.
posted by hiteleven at 4:58 PM on July 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


Dammit, non-preview! I can't even edumacate you all on chaises lounges?
posted by Navelgazer at 5:00 PM on July 6, 2010


Ditto on dilemma - I'm still sure my third grade spelling class taught me 'dilemna'.

I discovered my sophomore year in college that people normally eat cereal with milk in the bowl, not dry. No thanks. I'd rather have my breakfast crunchy and colorful instead of that grey mush at the end.
posted by zix at 5:01 PM on July 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


When I worked for a newspaper, I learned that curtains were hung, people were hanged.

On a pronunciation note, I grew up in the midwest, went to law school in the South, and had Civ Pro with a prof from the Northeast. All three regions pronounce "Voir Dire" differently. So when someone asked me, "How do you pronounce voir dire?" I said, "I pronounce it 'jury selection.'" Because damned if I'm going to attempt it!

(Similarly, when some foreign friends asked me how we in Illinois pronounce "Blagojevich," I said, "In Illinois, we usually pronounce it, "That idiot in Springfield -- no, no, the current idiot, not the last idiot. Right, the one who never actually goes to Springfield.")
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:01 PM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


When I learned the keyboard layout as a kid, I assumed it was pronounced duh-VHOR-ack. Then, my friend who liked classical music told me it should be pronounced DVOR-zhahk. Only later did I learn that the inventor of the keyboard pronounced his name the first way and I was ignorantly correct to begin with.
posted by Cogito at 5:05 PM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


I was 13 when I learned that calm and clam are not the same word.

I am 38 and I cannot spell receive.

I still don't really understand evolution, though I cheerfully accept that it's so.

My husband is mortified by that last one.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:06 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I should add on the "segue" conversation that I'm almost certain that this is one of those things, like with "chaise lounge," that was ignorant and incorrect from the beginning, but has been used so commonly since then as to be correct now. (the real term is chaise longue, meaning "long chair." We English-speakers transposed the letters.) My point is that I still think that I'm right, and the "segway" pronunciation sounds stupid to me still, but it's only been a few weeks.

Nope. It's not mangled French; it's proper Italian.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:06 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, and when I was first learning web design I used to think that Dreamweaver actually was spelled as Dreamwaver. So I would talk to my friends, who knew about web design stuff, and I would be really confused as to why I was getting funny looks every time I mentioned anything about dreamwaver. Total dyselxia.
posted by ttyn at 5:10 PM on July 6, 2010


Ditto on dilemma - I'm still sure my third grade spelling class taught me 'dilemna'.

What!?! It's not? I am absolutely positive I was taught the same spelling. Now I have some research to do.

Of course, I also thought "gym" was spelled "gymn".
posted by Evangeline at 5:11 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just learned this past year that slowing down when you go over railroad tracks is not just something that people who don't like being jostled do, it prevents damage to your car.
Similarly, I didn't know that it's bad to back up and shift into drive from reverse before you're fully stopped.
posted by emilyd22222 at 5:12 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nope. It's not mangled French; it's proper Italian.

That's probably a joke I'm not getting, but for real, it's famously mangled French.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:14 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I didn't know that wearing non-cotton underwear every day is a really bad idea for the ladies. I didn't even own any cotton underwear.
posted by emilyd22222 at 5:15 PM on July 6, 2010


I thought meme was pronounced mee-mee until I few years ago.

Also a bunch of stuff related to happiness over the past 18 months. Turns out any number of things can create the same feelings you get from romantic love! Who knew? Certainly not this failed lutheran until I was 31...
posted by MillMan at 5:15 PM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


On the Canadian logo front, I used to think that the Montreal Expos logo was a stylized rendition of the letters "elb" (see here).

I found out later that I was not alone in this. My Dad and an Uncle informed me and one of my cousins that the logo was in fact an "M".

But even they were wrong. If you look at it closely, it's actually an "M" with an "e" in the bottom left corner.
posted by hiteleven at 5:17 PM on July 6, 2010 [13 favorites]


I always thought smarts trumped everything else. It took me a very long time to realize that getting buy-in and building relationships are far more important and effective than being clever.
posted by jasondigitized at 5:17 PM on July 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


This is awesome. I had no idea that I have been tying my shoes wrong!

I actually didn't know how to make ice until I got to college. My grandfather was a tinkerer who installed ice makers in all of our family freezers, so I never had to figure out filling trays and twisting the sides to get the ice out. My roommates fell on the floor laughing at me when they came home to find me banging the ice tray against the kitchen counter.
posted by elvissa at 5:20 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Navelgazer: segue: Etymology: Italian, there follows, from seguire to follow, from Latin sequi
posted by zsazsa at 5:21 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've just recently (at almost 39) discovered the Oil Cleansing Method!! I've been stripping my face of essential oils for my whole life!! My skin is softer and my pores look better than they've ever had! It really is amazing!! I'm exploring more natural remedies and treatments. Go Granola!!
posted by pearlybob at 5:21 PM on July 6, 2010 [45 favorites]


Frankly, you should take an extra year and study both because it's really hard to go back later to do either.
posted by amanda at 5:23 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Until last year, I thought the spread of bagels and other snacks on movie and television sets was universally sponsored by Kraft, and therefore called the Kraft services table (rather than craft services, for people in the craft of production). I used to idly wonder how they won this contract and why so many actors were eating Velveeta.

I used to think 'concerted' and 'conceited' were the same word, as in, "I made every conceited effort to help."

Living in buildings in which laundry facilities are in the basement, I find it much more pleasant to do laundry twice as often than hauling it all to the laundry room less frequently. It took me years to discover this.


I am not ashamed to admit that I have learned a lot from this thread.
posted by casualinference at 5:24 PM on July 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


Waiting for someone to bring up the "D" in the Disney logo.

The D didn't really give me trouble; it was the Y at the end that always looked wrong. I remember wondering about "Disnep" at some point when I was little.

Also: Beige is pronounced "bayzh," not "beezh." I don't know exactly when I figured that out, but I seem to recall it having something to do with Crayola crayons.
posted by limeonaire at 5:26 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I didn't know that you aren't supposed to push down on your burger patties with a spatula when you cook them. Then I didn't know that it's bad form to correct those who push down on their burger patties.
posted by emilyd22222 at 5:26 PM on July 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


That the image I see of myself in the mirror is half life size.

Again ... what?

Someone needs to explain this one to me, as if I were a third-grader. Is this an objective, scientific optical thing?

Or a subjective "it only looks that way" thing?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:26 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ahh, I thought Sys Rq was referring the chaise longue, and I couldn't follow where that was coming from. Good to know the etymology of segue, though.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:27 PM on July 6, 2010


It's "Skype", not "Sky-pee".
posted by divabat at 5:29 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


I grew long hair after having grown up with short hair. So I kept combing it like short hair, never even thought twice about it.

It turns out, ten years later, that the tangles come out easier if you start brushing out the ends and move higher with each stroke, until you can brush from the scalp to the ends. Starting out from the scalp (as you would with short hair) just jams the brush in the tangles and makes them tangle tighter. Who knew! :)
posted by -harlequin- at 5:29 PM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Cool Papa Bell: I think people are saying that when they look in the mirror, they instinctively and subconsciously present themselves in a way which makes them appear much thinner. Much like how I will always present my best, most smolderingly handsome face to the mirror and then get upset when candid pictures of me talking make me look like David Cross with hair.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:30 PM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Re: Mirror half size

Oh, holy shit.

The important point is that no matter how close or far we are from the looking glass, the mirror is always halfway between our physical selves and our projected selves in the virtual world inside the mirror, and so the captured image in the mirror is half our true size.

Oh fuck.

I'm fat.

And my head is HUGE.

on the other hand, something else just got bigger...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:30 PM on July 6, 2010 [105 favorites]


I learned that even if you can read a particular personal insight about someone, you shouldn't blurt it out at them at the first possible moment. Particularly if you just met that person.

Also people find it weird when you avoid eye contact 100% of the time. So attempt to look at people in the eyes, at least once in a while, even if it makes you yourself uncomfortable; corollary sometimes I fake it and look right above the bridge of their nose.

That dealing (somehow, anyhow) with emotions is better than finding ways away from them: meditation, ignoring, pushing away.
posted by stratastar at 5:31 PM on July 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


Also, this was much more of an emotional epiphany than a hard-and-fast intellectual one, but one of the best moments in my life was when I realized that it was stupid and harmful for me to hold partners' past sexual history against them or to try to measure up to it.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:32 PM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


"Something I still do wrong, but won't ever change: I drive an automatic transmission with both feet - right on the accelerator and left on the brake. Just never going to break myself of that bad habit. :-("

My father actually told me it was better to drive that way, but I think it had something to do with his years of driving trucks that required double clutching.

One thing I've only recently realized is that it's stupid to "save things for best." Dishes, sheets, expensive bath products, etc... - use them on a regular basis, or they're worthless.
posted by HopperFan at 5:33 PM on July 6, 2010 [19 favorites]


Not to hijack the topic onto tennis balls-- my instincts say yellow, but there's apparently a good deal of debate about it on teh intarwebs, and my wife says green. I'd argue with her and say "Wikipedia says optic yellow! It's just like a fluorescent marker!" but that went nowhere. It was actually my two-year old son that convinced me. He's just learning to speak and learn his colors, and he will not accept that a tennis ball is yellow. He is quite insistent that they're green. I would say he is a pretty neutral arbiter on the matter. And then I saw this, which pretty much made me hang my head in shame and admit defeat.

NB: the Wikipedia page also says it's "green-yellow"
posted by holterbarbour at 5:34 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


On a similar note to HopperFan, my parents learned the hard way that one shouldn't save nice wine for that perfect occassion, when they finally opened a bottle of Chateau Latour they'd been holding onto to discover that it was nothing but vinegar by the time they'd gotten to it.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:35 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sammun.
All-mund.
I don't care what anybody sez.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 5:35 PM on July 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


More mispronunciations: epitome = epit-o-mee, not epi-tome.

No, both are okay.

For me it's this computer word 'cache' -- of course, because of the "e" on the end, this word is pronounced with a long "a" -- and I don't care what you say, that's how I'm saying it!
posted by Rash at 5:41 PM on July 6, 2010


Whoa! The Expos' logo is not "elb"?

Similarly, I always thought the Milwaukee Brewers' old mitt logo looked cool on its own, but a few years ago a friend pointed out that it was a stylized "MB."

And I think I was 28 or so before I realized the Washington Redskins were from D.C., not State.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:45 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Women do not have more ribs than men do. I was taught that we did, when I was in 6th or 7th grade at Catholic school, and never really thought about it until embarrassingly many years later.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:45 PM on July 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


More mispronunciations: epitome = epit-o-mee, not epi-tome.

No, both are okay.


Yikes, this is descriptivism ad absurdum.
posted by Jaltcoh at 5:46 PM on July 6, 2010 [17 favorites]


I'm sports analogy-challenged, and thought for years that my boss who referred to getting the routine work completed as "blocking and tackling" was talking about sailing, not football.
posted by Sukey Says at 5:51 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sorry, but mine's hair-related: If you have cowlicks, curly or wavy hair, or your hair just naturally asserts itself in some ambitious way of its own that you probably wish it wouldn't: Stop fighting it. You will never win. Instead, find a hairstyle that lets your fucked up hair do what it wants. Then when people say "wow, your hair's wild!" you can say "hey thanks!" I was almost 30 before I figured this out.
posted by applemeat at 5:55 PM on July 6, 2010 [25 favorites]


I thought the Expos logo was "elb" until I dated an Expos fan, and she corrected me. I never understood what the hell "elb" was supposed to stand for.

Similarly, I took the Twins logo to mean that the team must have moved there from Cincinatti at some point, and that Cincinatti then reformed the Reds. It wasn't until a few years ago that I was informed that the Twins moved from DC, and that the Reds-style "C" was for the logo to mean "Twin Cities."
posted by Navelgazer at 5:57 PM on July 6, 2010


Primadonna was pre-Madonna to me until I was about 19.
posted by jschu at 5:58 PM on July 6, 2010 [19 favorites]


Apparently I say crayon wrong.

(Someone please explain the Disney thing?)
posted by dpx.mfx at 6:03 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I thought the Expos logo was "elb" until I dated an Expos fan, and she corrected me. I never understood what the hell "elb" was supposed to stand for.

In all fairness, it does contain an intentional E and B. I never noticed the M before, though.
posted by Cogito at 6:04 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Those "hold as you would a pencil" chopstick instructions always stymied me until one day I realized I hold a pencil wrong - way down by the tip instead of further up the barrel. So I started holding them like you're supposed to hold a pencil, and my chopstick use is much better.
posted by Flannery Culp at 6:05 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm sports analogy-challenged, and thought for years that my boss who referred to getting the routine work completed as "blocking and tackling" was talking about sailing, not football.

Oh! I always thought the (engine) block* and tackle (box) were Things You Need On A Fishing Boat. Maybe that's Bait & Tackle!

* In retrospect, I doubt those little motors could go by that name.  
posted by salvia at 6:06 PM on July 6, 2010


Until this year's World Cup, I had no idea that My Country 'Tis of Thee was actually ripped off from God Save the Queen.

I was dumbfounded. I was seriously wondering why England was lining up at the beginning of the game to sing an American song, until the crowd got loud enough for me to hear the words. I had no idea.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:10 PM on July 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


I have just realized, in the last year (and I'm almost 40!) that just because someone is related to me does not mean I have to allow them to treat me badly. If I wouldn't put up with the behavior from a friend I choose, I certainly don't have to put up with it from someone who happens to be in my life by an accident of genetics.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 6:13 PM on July 6, 2010 [26 favorites]


The Expos logo does contain an e and a b and an M, but no l.

(Since they became the Washington Nationals, I've been mentally referring to them as the Washington One-Pubes, since their logo looks like a small, flaccid, uncut cock and balls adorned with a single leftward-pointing hair. It is hilarious.)

Oh, that's another one: flaccid. The double-c is supposed to sound like an x. I know, right?

Also: Pot on the stove. It's boiling over. I take it off the heat. An observer suggests I simply blow on it instead. Oh! I was 26.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:14 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, that's another one: flaccid. The double-c is supposed to sound like an x. I know, right?

Both are fine. Same with succinct.
posted by emilyd22222 at 6:16 PM on July 6, 2010


At the end of a long visit to the British Museum I finally learned that the Elgin marbles are not actually ancient Greek playing marbles.

When we first moved to Salem my husband told me that the big rock by the Common was Plymouth Rock, and people from Salem stole it a long time ago. I realized this was a lie when I repeated the story to some friends and he burst out laughing. A year later.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 6:16 PM on July 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


It took me about 10 years to realize I didn't need to sort my clean spoons, forks and knives into their plastic slots in the drawer. Instead, I just dump them all in and pick one out when I need it. They're not so hard to recognize that they need to be classified!
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 6:18 PM on July 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


I don't know if anyone's explained the Disney D thing, but it took me a long time to realize it was a D. That's all.
posted by amethysts at 6:22 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I used to have a really tough time swallowing pills, particularly if they weren't gel-caps and dissolved rapidly. Then one day I decided to take a mouthful of water first, tip my head back, open my mouth, toss the pills in and swallow it all in one go. I don't know why kids aren't taught to swallow pills this way from the start. Why on earth would you want to tilt your head forward to take a drink of water when the pills need to go the other direction?
posted by phunniemee at 6:23 PM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Also: Pot on the stove. It's boiling over. I take it off the heat. An observer suggests I simply blow on it instead.

I used to just take pots off the stove that were foaming over. Someone suggested I pour a little olive oil in there. Works every time.
posted by emilyd22222 at 6:28 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Personal grooming for ladies 101: If you do not want your bra shining out like a beacon from underneath a white shirt, you should wear a bra close to your skin color, not a white bra. This is by far the most helpful thing I have ever learned from a fashion magazine and it made me feel quite stupid.
posted by pie_seven at 6:34 PM on July 6, 2010 [27 favorites]


Personal grooming for ladies 101: If you do not want your bra shining out like a beacon from underneath a white shirt, you should wear a bra close to your skin color, not a white bra. This is by far the most helpful thing I have ever learned from a fashion magazine and it made me feel quite stupid.

I used to wear a black bra under everything because the African American girls I hung out with in high school told me that it was invisible under white shirts. It took me years to figure out that it was because it was close to their skin color, not because there's something magical about black bras that makes them invisible under your shirts.
posted by emilyd22222 at 6:36 PM on July 6, 2010 [105 favorites]


I have snapped my fingers wrong my whole life. I was probably in my mid-twenties before I realized that everyone else I know snaps their middle finger against their thumb. I snap my ring fingers, always have since I taught myself to snap when I was about 8 or 9. I have learned to snap my middle fingers now, but it's still more comfortable to use my ring fingers.
posted by stennieville at 6:39 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Cool Papa Bell: "The important point is that no matter how close or far we are from the looking glass, the mirror is always halfway between our physical selves and our projected selves in the virtual world inside the mirror, and so the captured image in the mirror is half our true size."

This isn't really true though, right? I mean yeah, if you trace your face on a mirror the outline will be half-sized. But you don't look at a mirror like it's a painting -- you look at it like a window. It has space and depth that perfectly, well, mirrors the real world. If the mirror were replaced by plate glass and your reflection replaced by a perfect body-double, you wouldn't suddenly be agog at how gigantic "your" head suddenly looked. And you wouldn't need a half-sized midget for the faux-reflection to look right.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:39 PM on July 6, 2010 [28 favorites]


Tennis balls are chartreuse.

"Sushi" is actually rice, not raw fish.

I pronounced "pannier" wrong for the longest time until I had to get new ones and the guy at the bike shop had no idea what "paneers" were.

I had acne all my adult life until I stopped trying to treat it with acne medicine, and indeed stopped washing my face 2-3 times a day. Now it gets washed maybe once per day and my skin is much clearer.

Same thing with shampoo -- my hair looks much better now that I just put some baking soda and apple cider vinegar on it every few days.

And oh god -- how to eat. I grew up eating junk, and ate junk until my early 30's, had terrible rashes, yeast infections, awful ADD... now I eat real food and get some exercise and I have no health problems.

nthing segue
posted by rabbitrabbit at 6:42 PM on July 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


It took me a few decades to figure out that the "Champs Elysees" thing I was reading about was the same thing as the "shomza leesay" thing that I heard people talking about.
posted by alms at 6:46 PM on July 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


I was in my early twenties before someone explained why "double dipping" chips in salsa was gross and wrong. I had seriously never thought about the saliva on the chip getting into the dip, and always wondered why people scooped dip onto little plates instead of eating from the bowl.
posted by Malla at 6:47 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


It took me about 10 years to realize I didn't need to sort my clean spoons, forks and knives into their plastic slots in the drawer. Instead, I just dump them all in and pick one out when I need it.

Oh, no no no no no... You sort the utensils because utensils of the same type tend to "nest" (in other words, your spoons are "spooning"). They get cleaner if they're separated.
posted by Evangeline at 6:50 PM on July 6, 2010


That it's ok to laugh during sex. I thought sex had to be entirely serious, and when I figured out that it was ok to keep being my playful self, it got a whole lot better.
posted by lover at 6:52 PM on July 6, 2010 [34 favorites]


Evangeline, that's what my mom would say, that's why I don't sort my spoons! hah!
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 6:56 PM on July 6, 2010


irregardless vs regardless
posted by toodles at 6:57 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


It took me about 10 years to realize I didn't need to sort my clean spoons, forks and knives into their plastic slots in the drawer. Instead, I just dump them all in and pick one out when I need it.

Similarly, if all of your socks are identical, there's no need to sort them into pairs before putting them in the drawer. Just take out two.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:58 PM on July 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


If you are an adult, and your friends are trying to goad you into doing something that you feel insecure about (singing, dancing, what have you), it is because they like you and want to have fun with you, not because they want to see you embarrass yourself. Trust your friends.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:02 PM on July 6, 2010 [89 favorites]


For a long time I thought blog was pronounced "bee-log" and was short for bio-log or something like that.

realize I didn't need to sort my clean spoons, forks and knives into their plastic slots in the drawer

I find this deeply disturbing.
posted by DarkForest at 7:03 PM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


I've totally confused myself. Keep on doing what you're doing.
posted by Evangeline at 7:05 PM on July 6, 2010


When adding someone as a contact here on Metafilter, I realized I had no idea what the difference was between a colleague and a coworker. Actually, to be honest, I'm still confused.
posted by tantivy at 7:10 PM on July 6, 2010


Something Awful has had an amazing thread similar to this one for a few years now.

My favourite, which I can't find know, was someone being shocked that rubber bands were something you could buy on their own and not just things that cam wrapped around broccoli at the grocery store.
posted by Adam_S at 7:13 PM on July 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


Until I was 16 I thought the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne were, "Should all the quaint ants speed for God"

Could never understand why it was sung at New Years.


Peeling a banana. Opening from the stem is totally not the way to do it:


WHAT???!!! Holy crap, I've been doing it wrong! I always thought it the stem broke off easily that meant the banana was ripe.
posted by scuza at 7:16 PM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Also regarding wavy hair, do not rub vigorously with a towel: pat, or air dry.
posted by stratastar at 7:18 PM on July 6, 2010


I was in my mid-30s when I discovered there's a little arrow on the fuel gauge that indicates which side of the car the gas tank is located.

Late 20s before I realized the Burger King logo was actually a stylized burger.
posted by Majorita at 7:25 PM on July 6, 2010 [66 favorites]


That life has no meaning. Liberating.
posted by ovvl at 7:33 PM on July 6, 2010 [45 favorites]


mirror is always halfway between our physical selves and our projected selves in the virtual world inside the mirror, and so the captured image in the mirror is half our true size.

Counterexample: Put your hand right up to the mirror. Actual size! Now put the mirror 50' away. Way less than half! Your image in the mirror is the same size as you would be if you were standing twice the distance between you and the mirror away from you.

(Or, if you prefer, draw the rays.)
posted by mendel at 7:35 PM on July 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


ovvl - Indeed, this is one that shouldn't get buried in the shoe tying shaving rubble. :)
posted by smallerdemon at 7:39 PM on July 6, 2010


I was about 34 when I learned that what I had been reading as "MY-zuhled" was in fact pronounced "miss-LED" and did not mean "taken advantage of financially". I thought it had to do with miserly or something, duh.
posted by tristeza at 7:39 PM on July 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


I mangled "denouement" in front of my first-year English class at university. I didn't understand the quiet snickering until I saw an episode of Star Trek: TNG in which Data credited Riker with anticipating his denouement.

I was in my late 20s before I figured out why "Take my wife. Please." was funny.

Also, I learned that little girls shouldn't look up words in Japanese textbooks written by former sailors, and then ask to go to the bathroom using their new-found knowledge.
posted by Soliloquy at 7:39 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I always thought that pork ribs, being pork, must taste like ham; thus I avoided them.
Tried them for the first time last year... so very very tasty and un-ham-like! (and then you add that sauce — nom nom nom2!)
posted by blueberry at 7:41 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Uh, on the Stevie Nicks level... I was recently corrected by my wife on the lyrics to "Edge of Seventeen." Apparently there isn't a "one-winged dove." (That never made any sense to me but it's what I heard.)

Threads like this are what prompted me to join MetaFilter. Thanks to all for helping me realize I'm not the only one with eccentricities.
posted by JV at 7:45 PM on July 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


As a kid, I thought earthquakes were caused by that ball that chased Indiana Jones around.

It took me about 8 months to learn how to knit. At least three of those months, I couldn't tell the difference between knit and purl stitch.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:45 PM on July 6, 2010


I had no idea about the banana peeling. Totally blew my mind.

"Mid-30s: peeling tomatoes and peaches! Learned how to dip them into boiling water for 10-15 seconds, then into ice water. The peels come right off, no horrible hacking and gouging the things to try to get the skin off." Holy smoke! You mean I could have been doing this all these years?
posted by Ereshkigal313 at 7:48 PM on July 6, 2010


You didn't need to be rich, famous, or backed by a major label to be a musician or a performer. Opportunities abound!
posted by divabat at 7:55 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


also, on a personal level: that my parents were never going to be satisfied with anything I do, so I might as well do what makes me happy.
posted by divabat at 7:57 PM on July 6, 2010 [25 favorites]


I was in my mid-30s when I discovered there's a little arrow on the fuel gauge that indicates which side of the car the gas tank is located.


WHOAH.
posted by unSane at 7:58 PM on July 6, 2010 [94 favorites]


Froma mefite who would prefer to remain anonymous:
I didn't realize until my early twenties that if a man would have sex with me, all it meant was that he wanted to have sex with me, not that he liked me as a person or found me attractive. This is the one thing that was left out of the sex talk that my mom had with me that really would have been helpful to include.
posted by jessamyn at 7:59 PM on July 6, 2010 [78 favorites]


Apparently there isn't a "one-winged dove."


Oops.

*makes mental note to cue up that song and sing it correctly for once*
posted by darkstar at 8:00 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


And another one...
"Years after a bad breakup where I was told I was unlovable, and carrying that for years… Only recently (in the last month) realizing that having a loving relationship that later ends is not a shameful thing. That while there is always a certain kind of risk in giving someone your heart (in that it may work out, or it may not), either way, just in your doing so, you are making the world a little bit better."
posted by jessamyn at 8:04 PM on July 6, 2010 [32 favorites]


>Stevie Nicks -- "one-winged dove."

Completely with you on this.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:07 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


>arrow on the fuel gauge that indicates which side of the car the gas tank is located

Lest you feel too bad, this is only true on some cars and is increasingly true, so it may not have been true on your past cars.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:08 PM on July 6, 2010


I was 45 before I realized that there's nothing to be gained in being overly nice to people.

Bonus: -if counter staff are out and out ignoring you, just idly touch or fuck around with the shit on their desks and they'll perk right up.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:09 PM on July 6, 2010 [71 favorites]


Primarily, it took me many years to discover that it is more useful to be liked than to be right.

That people almost never say what they mean or think, but what they say is a clue to what they think, if you can only decrypt it. (I was a little Aspergery when I was younger.)

Also, you can't meet and dance with strangers at nightclubs. People come to dance with their friends.
posted by musofire at 8:11 PM on July 6, 2010 [22 favorites]


I was about 25 when I figured out that Soup Du Jour wasn't actually a certain style of soup.
posted by TheOtherSide at 8:11 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


There are two things I've done wrong for most of my life.

My folks came over from Korea, and I was born a year after they'd arrived. I grew up in a traditional Korean household, as the oldest of three boys, and was tasked with the duties and responsibilities one would imagine as being typical for anyone who is the oldest sibling of a bunch, as well as being expected to pursue the prototypical and stereotyped alpha Asian male: be the second head of the household, behind the father, accept responsibility for the stupid things your younger siblings may have done, excel in all things academic, and become successful in a professional sense.

So I did all that. I didn't know what else I could do. I studied everything, with most things being genuinely interesting, and a few things being completely dull but pursued due to parental pressure. From an early age, I was picked out from amongst the other school kids and underwent rigorous testing, just to prove I could score greater than the XXth percentile on one test or another. I was given labels as a testament to my test-taking abilities, but the only ones that really stuck were "geek," "nerd," and other pretty base terms that didn't have much to do with intellect at all.

When there was a question, I was expected to answer it. Not just simple questions, but questions that had to do with culture (I'm a first-generation American), or questions regarding neighborhood or family politics (yes, there are neighborhood elders or Korean "godfathers," and all sorts of other related nonsense).

I grew to be a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. I knew a lot about a lot of things, a little about almost everything, but not everything about anything. I had a brief stint at an Ivy League university, at a relatively young age, lived on my own, read Atlas Shrugged, and everything clicked: I am great. I am smart. I will be successful.

I went on to medical school, and for reasons I'll get to in a moment, ended up pursuing a residency in primary care, forgoing the more competitive specialties. I was at the top of my game, and then a whole bunch of things happened at once.

Pop got sick. Really sick. Girl cheated on me, left me. I had no money. I was going to two different plasma centers, cheating the system by coating my pinky nail with nail polish and using acetone I hoarked from the med school to get rid of the dye that lit up under a blacklight at the plasma places, used to mark people so that they couldn't go to multiple centers. I don't think it fooled anyone. I was depressed. Everyone's still looking to me to be the head of the household while my father wasn't doing so well. My academic performance suffered, I shunned my friends, and I tried to fix things on my own, the way I'd always done-- the way I was raised to do.

Professors and attendings would ask if I was ok. Is everything ok? You look worn out. Is everything ok? And I'd say, yeah, everything's fine. I'll just study more, or work more, and things will improve.

Things didn't improve.

One snowless February afternoon (For some reason I always remember it being snowless, even though it almost never snows here), as I was walking back from giving plasma, I got really, really cold. Entering my apartment, I got really lightheaded, and I had a sudden urge to take a shit. So I went. All that plasma they take out of you while you're watching Lifetime movies on those small TVs with the bums who're wondering what a Korean guy is doing giving plasma in an area with no Asian people? They replace it with saline. And that saline must've just gone straight into my bowels. I had a single bout of massive diarrhea, barely made it to bed, and woke up twenty hours later.

I gave up on donating plasma. A few days later, I was stopped in the hallway by the head of neurology-- this is a guy I really didn't know, and he said something like this to me: Hey, look. Look. I don't know what's going on, and I don't know what you're going through. It's none of my business. And then he said this, verbatim: "It's ok to ask for help." And he gave me the number to a psychiatrist.

And really, seriously: I might post funny stories about apples, or other humorous anecdotes about The Way Things Are, but that one phrase was like discovering something so wondrous, so foreign, that my brain could never have fathomed it as a possibility. It's ok to ask for help. So I did. And things got better. My colleagues helped me. My friends helped me. My family helped me: people whom I've known for my entire life helped me. It's always been easy for me to tell other people "that's what friends are for," or "that's what family's for," but it took me decades to accept it for myself as even a mere possibility.


I am very successful now. Professionally, yes, but more importantly, personally: I have FRIENDS. I have FAMILY. I know now that I've had and will always have people who will not simply support me, but HELP me. And more than anything else, these simple facts have helped me become the physician I am now: have advanced my career to the point of pretty much absolute success and satisfaction. My patients like me. Their families like me. The hospital staff likes me. I have the respect of my peers. I feel that I am a decent physician, and a good man. Why?

Because I take my time to break things down so that people understand what I'm talking about when it comes to their loved ones. Because I know it's not just enough to take care of the patient, but that it's also my responsibility to take care of the family and friends and their bedside. Because I am able to admit, often remind myself of, and am supremely humbled by the fact that I was so wrong about two things for most of my life: that for all I may think I know, there's so much I do not know and cannot even fathom to know, still. And that it's ok to ask for help.

I was also wrong about Atlas Shrugged being great.
posted by herrdoktor at 8:12 PM on July 6, 2010 [560 favorites]


I used to refrigerate everything. Now I keep some things out on the counter: butter (in a covered glass dish), eggs, bananas, peaches, apples, asparagus, tomatoes, etc.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:13 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


And I still don't understand women, and dating. But fukkit: how bout them apples? Mmmn. Apples.
posted by herrdoktor at 8:14 PM on July 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


You sort the utensils because utensils of the same type tend to "nest" (in other words, your spoons are "spooning"). They get cleaner if they're separated.

Wait. What? Cleaner?
posted by segatakai at 8:14 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


As far as momentarily goes, perhaps it varies by American, British or Australian English. Here in Australia, I would always take it to mean "for a moment", not "in a moment", so I find it a bit disturbing on US airlines when the captain announces that we will take off momentarily. What, before crashing back onto the runway??
posted by AnnaRat at 8:20 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


I was about 34 when I learned that what I had been reading as "MY-zuhled" was in fact pronounced "miss-LED" and did not mean "taken advantage of financially". I thought it had to do with miserly or something, duh.

That's why those kind of mispronunciations are called misles, because they misle you!

(And now I realize that Language Log is totally the new alt.usage.english when it comes to naming these things: eggcorns and crash blossoms, misles and mishy-phens.)
posted by mendel at 8:22 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm still lost on the Disney thing. It's just a D, right? What is everybody else seeing? What am I missing here, people?!?

for the love of jebus, someone please help, it's eating me alive
posted by spinturtle at 8:23 PM on July 6, 2010 [13 favorites]


I'm sure I have thousands of these but I'm blanking on the ones that haven't already come up.

Not me, but it's bound to make someone feel better: you only correct the waiter "there's been some mistake, I ordered the lobster" once before you learn what bisque is.
posted by mendel at 8:25 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee: "(Similarly, when some foreign friends asked me how we in Illinois pronounce "Blagojevich," I said, "In Illinois, we usually pronounce it, "That idiot in Springfield -- no, no, the current idiot, not the last idiot. Right, the one who never actually goes to Springfield.")"

Bluh-GOY-of-itch.

Evangeline: "Oh, no no no no no... You sort the utensils because utensils of the same type tend to "nest" (in other words, your spoons are "spooning"). They get cleaner if they're separated."

I think he meant in the drawer, not in the dishwasher.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:26 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


tantivy: "When adding someone as a contact here on Metafilter, I realized I had no idea what the difference was between a colleague and a coworker. Actually, to be honest, I'm still confused."

I don't know this for a fact, but I just assumed that a coworker is someone in the same office or company, and a colleague is someone in the same field but not necessarily office/company.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:29 PM on July 6, 2010


Re: the Disney D, there's a Facebook page (46 fans) called "When I found out the Disney 'D' WAS a 'D', it blew my mind."
posted by colinmarshall at 8:30 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Some music is actually better than others, and the stuff on the top forty will probably not be the best stuff available. It's well-worth your time to explore for something that strikes you more personally. Anyone who ever judges you based on your musical tastes, however, is an asshole, and not worth your time. Probably. And every once in a while, the Top Forty gets it right.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:31 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Since I was a kid I thought the ideal golf/baseball swing ended up at the point of impact with your forearms and club/bat in a straight line. I could never figure out why I could. not. get. a reasonable distance on my drives even though my accuracy was pretty damn good, and never really got more than a just-out-of-the-infield base hit. So one day I'm screwing around at the driving range, getting frustrated so now I'm just fucking off. Let's see what no arm motion, just twisting the waist looks like. Ok, now what about if I just hold the club like a baseball bat, 90 degrees out from my forearms in my fists, and hit only by twisting my wrists. Ka-blammo! So now I hit both golf balls and baseballs with about a 30 degree angle between my forearms and club, and roll my wrists over, instead of doing this unnatural motion where the club passes through in-line. Huge difference.

I learned that my boss doesn't usually want me to think up some innovative best way to do something in real time. He wants me to do what HE would do. If I think up a good idea, I should discuss that first, not just do it and then get defensive about it later. Also that even though my boss may not be as knowledgeable a technician as I am, it's still totally possible that he's seen or heard of every way to screw it up, and my idea might be one of those ways for a reason I haven't thought of yet.

That there's no such thing as a synonym. All those words in the thesaurus DON'T mean the same thing, they're just grouped together for that moment when you're thinking, "kind of, but not really, like..."

What I wish I knew that has bothered me every couple of days for EVER: so once the drawstrings on your sweat pants or whatever have the ends tied together, which I do - what's the best knot to tie in them around your waist so that you can a) get them to stay tight enough, and b) get them undone again without a knife?
posted by ctmf at 8:33 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


>> ... would you hold it against me?

>> Take my wife. Please.

I was over forty when I caught on to "joystick". Not so much gamer's joystick, but airplane joystick, between the pilot's legs.

Another thought that occurred to me about the same time; Why did our dates' fathers, having themselves been teenage boys, even let their daughters out of the house? Never crossed my mind when I was 17.
posted by Bruce H. at 8:35 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Sturgeon's Law has a non-obvious implication: if 90% of everything is crap... 10% is good. Even country music. Even hip-hop. You just haven't looked.

My taste in everything has greatly expanded since that dawned on me.
posted by ctmf at 8:36 PM on July 6, 2010 [119 favorites]


ctmf - tie them like your shoes, but don't the square knot with the loops.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:36 PM on July 6, 2010


Apparently, a lot of people are going to be shocked to learn that a kiwi is a bird, not a fruit.

And here, we eat a kiwifruit like a boiled egg, lop the top off, and eat with a spoon.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 8:39 PM on July 6, 2010


That the US Postal Service logo is actually an eagle. I just figured that out, like, last year, at age 28.
posted by number9dream at 8:41 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I learned every single mispronounced word in this thread correctly, but it took me until last year to learn my family was misusing hydrogen peroxide.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 8:41 PM on July 6, 2010 [13 favorites]


It took me a long time to realize that any shame I felt by being rejected, beyond the initial, 24-hour sting of it, was probably due to my own actions surrounding the incident. If you know a person well enough to ask them out then they will be kind if they aren't interested, and woudn't have any reason to hold it against you. If anything, they'll probably be flattered and appreciative of your honesty.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:50 PM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


ttyn: "And apparently a lot of people in the South think that David Bowie's last name is pronounced as "Boo-ie"."

Because that is correct pronunciation of the kind of knife that is spelled the same way, which was in the area way before that guy came on the scene. (which i didn't know until i pronounced the knife like the singer)
posted by ArgentCorvid at 8:51 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thanks, colinmarshall. I still don't really get it - guess I've always seen it as a D rather than a backwards G - backwards G doesn't even seem to make sense. Appreciate the clarification though, I was worried there was some evil voodoo magic that I wasn't hip to.
posted by spinturtle at 8:55 PM on July 6, 2010


I figured out that I don't particularly like parties unless there are fewer than ten people there and I know them all already, and that I should make other arrangements to see friends. Around the same time I realized I was tired of going to rock shows and there was no particular reason to go to any, after a decade of going out a few times a week.

My social life has been much less active but much more enjoyable since then.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:57 PM on July 6, 2010 [15 favorites]


And here, we eat a kiwifruit like a boiled egg, lop the top off, and eat with a spoon.

What? That's how you eat a boiled egg? I've always peeled them. Have I been doing it wrong?

I am addicted to this thread.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:57 PM on July 6, 2010


I was actually taught this by a nun, and only figured out the truth as an adult: she told all us third graders that the cerebrum was the left side of the brain, the cerebellum was the right side, and the medulla was what the cerebellum actually is. I was in college before I realized that the cerebrum comprised what we commonly think of as the two hemispheres of the brain, the cerebellum is where I thought the medulla oblongata belonged, and the medulla is actually the lower half of the brain stem. Huh.
Plus, I thought the word 'draught' was pronounced "drawht", not "draft".
Great thread.
posted by msali at 9:14 PM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


What I wish I knew that has bothered me every couple of days for EVER: so once the drawstrings on your sweat pants or whatever have the ends tied together, which I do - what's the best knot to tie in them around your waist so that you can a) get them to stay tight enough, and b) get them undone again without a knife?

Tie them once with a simple overhand knot (like step one of tying your shoes). Then tie another overhand knot, but this time only feed a loop of one of the strings through rather than the whole thing. (I'm not sure how to explain this better without a drawing.) Anyway, it ties up tight and unties just by pulling the end of the looped string.
posted by Camofrog at 9:17 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]



Miniseries is not pronounced mi NI zer ees, and in my mind should have a damn hyphen in it.


I had this problem with "biopic" until recently. It does not, it turns out, rhyme with "myopic".
posted by treblemaker at 9:19 PM on July 6, 2010 [28 favorites]


rabbitrabbit: so am I!

Relationships don't have to follow conventions if the conventions don't work for you. If you like things to be unusual, and your partner agrees, then great!

It took me a LONG while - and 2 breakups with the same guy, who is awesome - to believe this. I had thought that relationships had to follow a certain way to be "right", and couldn't reconcile what I wanted with what I thought I had to want. It turned out that my guy was just as flexible as I was, and shared some core values on that front, so it was all good!

"I believe that trust is more important than monogamy" - Savage Garden sang that in 2000 and it took me 8 years to really appreciate that line.

Related: If your boyfriend introduces you to a girl he hooked up ages ago saying "you two have so much in common!", don't waste 2 years of your life being jealous of her and thinking she's a threat. Especially when you end up rediscovering her after those two years, have a crush on her, find each other interesting and hit it off well, mutually flirt, and end up in a short intense passionate fling online.
*wishes she could poke her past self in the eye*
posted by divabat at 9:23 PM on July 6, 2010 [17 favorites]


My Theatre History professor told me, "Your education is what YOU make of it." He went on vacation and brought back a key chain that was a ball with a baby fetus in it (I was 18 and thought, "Ain't no baby gonna stop me from getting my degree!). He offered me a chance to be a dramaturgy assistant for the summer at a school in another state but I chickened out because of the single-mom thing. Not a regret, but I could have gone. Also, my Playback Theatre director gave me the scholarship and the opportunity to study in New York for a summer. I took the scholarship, lived with a musician and my son, continued to make babies, and never went to New York. Again, no regrets, but I could have gone.

Also, when your husband says "You're nuts." Take it as a compliment, but like previously mentioned: be honest about what is in your head when you are in a relationship. Otherwise, the thought will fester into full-blown irrationality.

My 10th grade English teacher told me to put punctuation outside of quotation marks. WHAT?!?! I threw a fit. Turns out, I do it now sometimes:

Can someone please tell me how to capture an exact time in a youtube video for a post, and a specific moment in this thread so I can place it under a highlighted "previously"?

I am always still learning (even the simplest of things).
posted by psylosyren at 9:26 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I finally realized it's 'Euthanasia' and not 'Youth in Asia;' it's "For all intents and purposes' and not 'For all intensive purposes' and it's ' She's got electric boots, a mohair suit. You know I read it in a magazine. B-B-B-Bennie and the Jets' and not 'She's got electric boobs...'
posted by ericb at 9:26 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Conditioner. Not optional, as it turns out.
posted by Iridic at 9:27 PM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Whistling. For most of my childhood and adolescence I could only whistle by inhaling, not by exhaling, and it just didn't sound as loud. Just couldn't purse the lips properly. Once I learned how to whistle on the out-breath, I drove people crazy by whistling non-stop.

Writing the capital letter Q in cursive. I was in college before that was cleared up.

Cooking rice and oatmeal without burning the bottom contents of the pan.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 9:28 PM on July 6, 2010


I had this problem with "biopic" until recently. It does not, it turns out, rhyme with "myopic".
Oh well, crap. Just... damn.
posted by 8dot3 at 9:41 PM on July 6, 2010 [15 favorites]


When I was about nine, I heard the word "gangbang" somewhere. Naturally, I thought it described a big fight, so I happily used it this way until I was about 12, presumably mostly to other people who didn't know what it meant either.

You think that's bad? During my orientation for grad school, we had a "community building" afternoon where we did all sorts of cheesy games to get to know each other. One of the games involved the teams doing some sort of relay race that involved writing down ways we could get to know each other better throughout the semester. Anyway, there was a complete breakdown in the game about halfway through, when one of the students, a German guy, wrote...you guessed it, "gangbang."

Needless to say, many people were shocked, horrified, outraged, and I honestly think it hurt him socially, at least for that first semester.

Later on, he and I became friends, and he brought it up. He really had no idea why people were so upset. And while we were talking about it, it occurred to me that, when he wrote "gangbang," he really meant "orgy." Which is still sort of maybe not appropriate, but...so different in connotation from gangbang. So different! So then I got to explain to him the difference between an orgy and a gangbang. He was thoroughly embarrassed.

Ah... cross-cultural exchange!
posted by lunasol at 9:45 PM on July 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


You don't even need to heat corn on the cob before you eat it, but if you like it hot, just bring some water to near boiling and drop the corn in for a few seconds. You're not "cooking" it, you're just making it hot.
posted by Camofrog at 9:46 PM on July 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


This one was my husband's enlightened moment.

A soothing ointment comes sealed.
He was rummaging around for something to pierce it with
and had no idea that by flipping the lid upside down
the pointy structure would pierce the seal.

The look on his face when I showed him was priceless
and one of my best moments.

He was well into his 30's at the time.
posted by will wait 4 tanjents at 9:47 PM on July 6, 2010 [14 favorites]


I remember being blown away when I found out the title Led Zeppelin song "D'yer Maker" is pronounced "Jamaica" (if you have a British accent) and hence, what such a title has to do with a Reggae song.
posted by holterbarbour at 9:50 PM on July 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


My personal favorite that
I have corrected - and was delighted to!

Used to think it was "For all intensive purposes"
Now I know it is "For all intents and purposes"

THIS is why one of my few picked battles while raising offspring
was PRONUNCIATION.
Without that, you cannot master the English language
... and you will never be a good speller.

Required.
posted by will wait 4 tanjents at 9:54 PM on July 6, 2010


Didn't realize until I was 30 that England has its own flag

Yeah... just discovered this when I was watching the World Cup this year.
posted by lullaby at 9:54 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Unit testing. Seriously. It's like a condom for your code.

Also? Drugs are only as good as the people you do them with. Took me three decades to learn that one.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:54 PM on July 6, 2010 [23 favorites]


Even up to the time I was in the fourth grade or so, I thought the word 'ass' referred to the male genitalia.

Even more absurdly, I have since discovered that debt (esp. student loan debt) is a thing to be taken seriously, that not all (argumentative) hills are actually worth dying on, and that I am not the center of the Universe. Also: that there is a vast amount of suffering in the world. Unfathomably vast.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:04 PM on July 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


The summer I took college biology, something clicked in my head and I truly considered the qualities of mammalia for the first time - and realized that birds were not mammals. I cant tell you how shellshocked I was. It blew my mind.

I dunno. I guess I had just never really thought about it before.
posted by greekphilosophy at 10:04 PM on July 6, 2010


My segue people! I thought it was pronounced seg and one day I started wondering why I never saw it spelled out proprerly, as segueway.

This was long after the Segway was released, by the way.

Also on pronunciation: I went back to school a couple of years ago (another thing that I finally did right) and in my program we read out loud a LOT. And you know what? EVERYONE has words that they don't know how to pronounce. It's so embarrassing but it really shouldn't be. One of my classmates that first semester even carried around a dictionary and if someone used a word she didn't know, she wrote it down and looked it up. I respected the hell out of her for that.

One other thing I've learned: if I'm envious of someone's success, it's because I haven't put enough time in on my own shit. When I'm doing the work, someone else doing well doesn't eat at me at all.
posted by sugarfish at 10:22 PM on July 6, 2010 [16 favorites]


I have since discovered that debt (esp. student loan debt) is a thing to be taken seriously

I have also learned this lesson, the very hard way. Yikes.

Other things:

Moving is always twice as expensive as you think it will be.

Learned this year, at age 32: that making a to-do list, and sticking to it, makes everything better.

It's much easier to light a charcoal grill using a chimney. (learned this last week!)
posted by lunasol at 10:22 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I used to think oral sex was just a fancier way of saying kissing... right up until I was about 14 years old.
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 10:23 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


joe lisboa: "Even up to the time I was in the fourth grade or so, I thought the word 'ass' referred to the male genitalia. "

Ha! I used to think "cock" was synonymous with "ass."
posted by griphus at 10:23 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


More:

I thought "sleep with" just meant sleep together in the same bed, until I was 12 and totally pissed off my camp counselor by asking her if she slept with her boyfriend.

I thought the word "anorexic" was pronounced "anexORic" for a really long time.

My segue people! I thought it was pronounced seg

Wait! What the WHAT? It isn't pronounced seg?
posted by lunasol at 10:28 PM on July 6, 2010


"Misled," I always read in books as "MYZE-ulled," the past tense of "to misle," which I thought must have been what a "miser" did.

my niece read American Girls books and pronounced "Felicity" as "feck-teck-uh-lee" and "determined" as "der-muh-tid."
posted by dubadubowbow at 10:31 PM on July 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Relationships don't have to follow conventions if the conventions don't work for you. If you like things to be unusual, and your partner agrees, then great!

It was only a couple of years ago that I realized this, when my wife's grandmother died -- and, through her grandmother's diaries, kept since youth and bequeathed to my wife, we learned that she and her husband (who had what everyone held up as a model marriage, and who were devoted and committed to each other in thought and deed until the day she passed, almost 69 full years of marriage) had an open marriage, and quite actively so.

Oh, and as for song lyrics, I was in my mid-30s when I found out that 'Til Tuesday song was "Hush hush, keep it down now, voices carry" instead of "Hush hush, even downtown, boys are scary."
posted by davejay at 10:32 PM on July 6, 2010 [14 favorites]


And here, we eat a kiwifruit like a boiled egg, lop the top off, and eat with a spoon.

What? That's how you eat a boiled egg? I've always peeled them. Have I been doing it wrong?


That's a hard boiled egg. How do you eat a soft boiled egg?
posted by HiroProtagonist at 10:32 PM on July 6, 2010


"That weird Arby's logo is stylized drawing of a cowboy hat. (I thought it was some sort of weird stylized "A" for Arby's, or something)"

Better Still

Arby's ----------> the name?
R B 's
Roast Beef

14 year old daughter pointed it out to me last summer.
FacePalm indeedy.
posted by will wait 4 tanjents at 10:35 PM on July 6, 2010 [29 favorites]


I was a freshman in college before someone told me that "Anyways" isn't a word.

That same year I learned that telling people something isn't a word isn't a great way to make friends.

Yacht does not rhyme with ratchet. I was in high school before I realized that.

I had to teach my 20 year old friend how to read a cross walk sign while we were in downtown Chicago because he would just blindly walk out into traffic expecting it to stop. When I explained the system to him (Red hand means don't walk, white walking man means walk) he was flabbergasted.

I learned at least five things from this thread.
posted by rmtravis at 10:44 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I just learned this very weekend that there's a reason I don't like cilantro: I can't actually taste it. (Seriously, it tastes like soap to me.)
posted by bluedaisy at 10:44 PM on July 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


I was halfway through college before I realized that if you write your lowercase 't' with a serif at the bottom, you'll have a much easier time distinguishing it from a +

A friend thought "Melanie" was pronounced "muh-LAY-nee".
posted by 0xFCAF at 10:45 PM on July 6, 2010


quixotic has nothing to do with Don Quixote and is pronounced just like it looks.

Wait, what!!?

Bonus: I have a Ph.D. in English.
posted by mecran01 at 10:46 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Christmas is actually about Jesus for a lot of people. I grew up atheist and did not really hang out with religious people.

Early 20s before I nailed down how to boil water. Never learned to cook as kid and I dont really like it and sure, heat it and until there are bubbles sounds easy, but water always has bubbles. How many bubbles, small bubbles or big bubbles, do the bubbles need to rise to the top? And what is a roiling boil anyway?

Just because you feel worthless doesn't mean you are worthless i.e. your emotions lie. A lot. They should not be unconditionally trusted.

The logo for the defunct Saturn car brand was not abstract art. It was a drawing of Saturn.

The names I was taught of historical figures may not have been their actual names but the anglicized versions of their names. William the Conqueror = Guillaume the Bastard. Charlemagne = Charles the Great = Karolus Magnus.
posted by nooneyouknow at 10:47 PM on July 6, 2010 [18 favorites]


I thought the term clerestory window was pronounced like cler-est-or-eee. Apparently, however, it was named after a guy whose last name (clerestory) was pronounced like clear-story.

Also, my first ISP (Internet Atlanta c. 1996) owned the domain www.com so I was very, very confused when I had to type in www.www.com to go to their homepage. It took me a while to realize what was going on (that they actually owned the www.com domain name), as well as finally figuring out that you could go to websites and not even need the www at all (e.g. apple.com). It still irks me to this day when I omit the www prefix and a site won't load because the administrator doesn't know how to configure apache/htaccess.
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 10:53 PM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


I was in my mid-30s when I found out that 'Til Tuesday song was "Hush hush, keep it down now, voices carry" instead of "Hush hush, even downtown, boys are scary."

My take was always: "Hush hush, Keep it downtown, this is Kerri." Years later I dated and just recently proposed to a Kerri. She said yes. Thank you, Aimee Mann.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:56 PM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Until just a few years ago, when he was in his early 20s, my husband thought the phrase "to bust a nut" meant to get really mad.

I die laughing whenever I remember the conversation where this became clear. We were in horrible traffic and he said it was so frustrating he was going to bust a nut. In a voice quavering with imminent laughter, I asked him what he thought that meant.

Then I howled.

Now he still uses it that way, but to be funny.

He also thought that "to shrug" was synonymous with "to sigh" until he was 22 or so. I guess he never read a book that said someone "shrugged his shoulders" -- he doesn't read much fiction -- because otherwise it's often done in a context where sighing would make sense. What gets me as a writer is I'd never write that someone "shrugged his shoulders" because it would be adding on two words that don't add any extra information, but to my husband that would have been extra information! Now whenever I omit redundant words I wonder if I'm warping someone's perception of English.

Oh, and until he was 19 he thought that pancakes were made from fried buttermilk, like you just pour some buttermilk on a griddle and out come pancakes. He had no idea there was flour in them. Similarly, I've met tons of people who have no idea what things are made out of flour. They know flour exists, and they eat the foods it's in, but it blows their mind to know that bread or cake or crackers are made out of flour.

My husband is a rocket scientist. Literally. He is one of the most brilliant people I know. Yet every couple of years something along these lines comes up and it's the funniest shit ever.
posted by Nattie at 11:00 PM on July 6, 2010 [30 favorites]


Use lube. Seriously.
posted by NoraReed at 11:06 PM on July 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


'twas quite a while before I realized Penelope was not pronounced like pen + elope. Even looking at it now, that pronunciation seems pretty reasonable.
posted by Cogito at 11:10 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Arby's ----------> the name?
R B 's
Roast Beef
14 year old daughter pointed it out to me last summer.
FacePalm indeedy.


A R B Y S

Americas
Roast
Beef,
Yes
Sir!

Well, not really, but it sounds convincing, right? Actually, Arby's was founded by two brothers whose last name was Raffel. The Raffel Brothers. The R B's.
posted by dersins at 11:11 PM on July 6, 2010 [15 favorites]


At about 28 I learned:

If you spin an egg, and it spins fast, it's boiled, but if it spin is wobbly, it's raw.

And I taught it to my husband last week. Oh yeah, paying it forward.
posted by anitanita at 11:18 PM on July 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


Actually, Arby's was founded by two brothers whose last name was Raffel. The Raffel Brothers. The R B's.

Kind of like how the Bee Gees derive their name from being brothers with the last name Gibb, making them the Brothers Gibb. (something I didn't find out until a couple of years ago)
posted by Afroblanco at 11:18 PM on July 6, 2010


Had a previous girlfriend start spontaneously sobbing in the car as we were driving along. I had no idea what the problem was, so I asked.

Eventually, she eeks out, "That's so sad, I've never seen a hearse built just for babies before."

I looked in my rear-view mirror: a PT cruiser. They had recently been introduced, not very common yet.

This kind of stuff happened all the time with her.
posted by bagels at 11:20 PM on July 6, 2010 [271 favorites]


I realized I'd come a long way shedding my prescriptivist youth when, during one evening of passion when a lover looked up from the bed and said I had "the most disconcerningly [sic] attractive smile", I just smiled even more broadly and kissed him, instead of teasing him about the mispronunciation. If you sweet talk me like that, I don't care what kind of grammar you use!

In my 20s, I decided I would never put a period inside the quotation marks, unless the whole sentence was a quote. That's more the British style and it seems much more sensible to me.
posted by darkstar at 11:23 PM on July 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


The facade on a building (or a false face) is not pronounce fuh-kade, but fuss-arhd. I had always thought they were two different words.
posted by bystander at 11:25 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Once over dinner, I explained to a doctoral student the principles of shifting gears on a bicycle. It took a long time, with a lot of sketches on napkins, our conversation going around in circles. It turned out that all along he thought his shifter levers had to remain perfectly parallel at all times.

I used to think "wack" meant "good" or "cool." It was my roommates' crack dealer who set me straight.

Later on I figured out that you shouldn't get into financial arrangements with people who do a lot of heavy drugs.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:26 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I really believe that people would be insulted if I didn't remember their names. Turns out they were way more insulted by the avoidance mechanisms I went through in an attempt to hide my not knowing their names.

The moral: Just say, "I'm sorry, could you tell me your name again?"
posted by argybarg at 11:46 PM on July 6, 2010 [35 favorites]


Remember the old adage that one should "never to talk about sex, religion or politics in polite company"? From the ages of 5 through to 28 I thought people who said that were being sarcastic.

I only worked out that prunes were dried plums at the age of 29.

I thought that the "Daleks" (from Doctor Who) were the "Dialects".
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 11:49 PM on July 6, 2010


I thought narwhals were imaginary creatures like unicorns until a few months ago. Imagine my happiness when I discovered they were real.
One of the few This American Life episodes I've listened to had a 'confession' from a lady who didn't know unicorns weren't real. (Act One is full of things like this thread, but that was by far the funniest.)
posted by gregjones at 11:50 PM on July 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


Nicholson Baker's The Mezzanine has several examples of this. The one that changed my life is tucking your undershirt into your underwear before tucking your dress shirt into your pants. Through some magic of friction, your shirt won't come untucked anymore.
posted by rafter at 12:01 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also, along the lines of the banana peel trick: a friend from Africa eats apples "upside-down." She holds them like a popsicle by the stem and eats everything: that little bit at the bottom, the core, the seeds, everything. Right down until you're only holding a stem, which can be used to pick your teeth before you toss it out.

I get so much more apple for my buck now.
posted by rafter at 12:16 AM on July 7, 2010 [11 favorites]


Cogito : 'twas quite a while before I realized Penelope was not pronounced like pen + elope. Even looking at it now, that pronunciation seems pretty reasonable.
A similar mispronunciation was the basis for a running joke in the movie Club Dread.

I did not learn the finger trick for multiplications of 9 until high school. I was not happy.
posted by lilac girl at 12:16 AM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


discovered after three and half decades of bad hairstyles: there is no reason to comb or brush curly hair unless you want to ruin your curls.
posted by mirileh at 12:18 AM on July 7, 2010 [19 favorites]


Okay.. who else was prompted by The Wire to check on "evacuate"?
posted by vidur at 12:20 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


bagels: "eeks" Did you mean eke?

Along the lines of pronunciation, when I was little potpourri was pot-pour-ee, not poh-poor-ee. And I just recently learned that while echinacea and rosacea sound alike, panacea sounds different.
posted by IndigoRain at 12:21 AM on July 7, 2010


A bit of an esoteric one: I only learned a few years ago that you have a 'dominant' eye and a 'following' one (I forget the actual terms): the dominant one holds your actual line of sight, while the other one adjusts itself to gauge the distance of the object that you're looking at.

Made my aim when playing pool much better - your dominant eye should be positioned directly down the shaft of the pool cue, otherwise the parallax will cause your shot to be off by a fraction.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:22 AM on July 7, 2010 [17 favorites]


unfixable chair mystery solved: not all glues work by the preschool method of spread and stick. wood glue needs pressure applied on the joint (or will not stick).
posted by mirileh at 12:25 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I also found out relatively late that you can munch on kiwifruit skin & all, just like an apple. Before that, I used to have elaborate rituals that involved slicing the kiwifruit in half & scooping the flesh out with a spoon.

On a similar food vein: I used to go to extreme lengths to try & scoop out grapefruit between the pith & the flesh (leaving heaps of fruit behind) when it turns out much simpler to lift the entire segment out, with a thin film of pith on the outside.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:26 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Aaand...somebody I know never realised that the little door to your fuel tank normally comes with a slot that you can put your fuel cap into while you're filling up - instead of placing it on the roof or hood of your car.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:29 AM on July 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


"(Similarly, when some foreign friends asked me how we in Illinois pronounce "Blagojevich," I said, "In Illinois, we usually pronounce it, "That idiot in Springfield -- no, no, the current idiot, not the last idiot. Right, the one who never actually goes to Springfield.")"

Bluh-GOY-of-itch.


G-Rod!
posted by tzikeh at 12:30 AM on July 7, 2010


If you are cooking something on the stovetop in a frying pan, like chicken breasts, first you need to make sure the oil in the pan gets really, really hot all on its own for several minutes before you put anything else in the pan. Otherwise, the food in the pan just absorbs the not-hot-enough oil and gets greasy and gooey, instead of getting seared and nicely browned by it.

Also, different kinds of cooking oils work best for different tasks. The difference between cooking in olive oil versus vegetable oil versus grapeseed oil is not just how they taste! Some are better for cooking over high heats than others, some make better salad dressings than others, etc. Listen to your recipe.
posted by Asparagirl at 12:31 AM on July 7, 2010 [18 favorites]


Thank you, America's Test Kitchen! Your demonstrations of what not to do and why not to do it have elevated me from a grossly incompetent cook to a merely lazy one.
posted by Asparagirl at 12:35 AM on July 7, 2010 [10 favorites]


And, finally, that shirt folding trick that was posted on MeFi some years ago.
posted by rafter at 12:40 AM on July 7, 2010 [37 favorites]


Damn, I kept meaning to ask almost the exact same question, but never got around to it. Now I'm jealous.

What prompted me to ask was the realization (from maybe a year or so ago), that the flap on toilet seat covers can be removed entirely, as opposed to leaving that un-perforated side at the back. I don't know how obvious this is, but I still don't see why they don't just perforate that too.

Another thing was, as a kid, I always thought it was "London bridges falling down." I'm sure there'll be more of those "dumb kid" thoughts when they come to me.

And if no one mentioned yet, there was a similarly interesting thread relating to words.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 12:59 AM on July 7, 2010


I wish I had learned 15 years ago that consistency is the most powerful tool I have. For those of us who weren't blessed with physical and/or mental gifts at birth, consistentcy is where skill and expertise come from. Repetition and failure (performed mindfully) will make you better at pretty much everything.
posted by palacewalls at 1:28 AM on July 7, 2010 [33 favorites]


Oh, also? When I am reading, I no longer stumble when I encounter the phrase "we know now" or "we now know". They mean the same thing anyway, no sense sussing it out every time.
posted by palacewalls at 1:33 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I didn't understand why I had such awful split ends until I had nearly graduated from college: I shampooed ALL of my hair -- I have long hair -- and didn't condition because my scalp gets naturally oily within a day. When I found out you're only supposed to shampoo the hair on your scalp and condition the rest, it blew my mind. No problem with split ends since then.


A bunch of stuff about pet parrots that I was doing wrong:
I didn't find out until after all three of my parakeets and my cockatiel died that feeding your birds bird seed is a really great way to make them fat and give them cancer. I was a teenager when the last one (the cockatiel) finally died and I felt incredible guilt for not knowing any better; it should be illegal to sell bird seed as legitimate bird food for pet parrots -- I dunno about songbirds and the like.

Similarly, I didn't find out until later that while pet stores will try to sell you gravel for parrots, it can actually kill them if they eat it; their crops aren't designed to need gravel to digest food. Gravel is for chickens.

It also took some trial and error to realize that even if most vets claim they will treat pet birds, they have no clue what the hell they're doing if they're not an avian vet because birds aren't much like mammals or even reptiles. They won't tell you that they have no clue, they'll just take your money. I don't know why I had assumed that all vets get avian training, or maybe that birds weren't anything special.

I also didn't know that most animals that are bred for a certain appearance (color mutations in parrots) are usually inbred and have horrible health problems. I picked out pretty birds before, but now I have a default grey cockatiel and a Congo African Grey, which aren't generally bred for color mutations. It's given me a better appreciation for the natural coloring.

It wasn't until I was a teenager that I found out most other people did not take their birds out of their cages and play with them, and that many people keep their birds in cages that are inhumanely small. I thought these people would take it the right way if I told them they were inadvertently being cruel and they'd want to know about those things just like I was glad to hear about the gravel, but it turns out it just makes them angry at you and nothing will ever change for the bird; generally (but not always) those kinds of people buy birds as decorations, don't consider them "real" animals, and the bird will live and die a horrible unstimulated life. I had always deeply assumed that the only people who got pets were animal lovers, and the day I realized there were tons of mistreated pets and self-mutilating parrots are common it was heart-wrenching.

However, I have since learned that you can know a lot about a person based on how they treat animals, and that really terrible people will talk cavalierly about how they've mistreated animals.

The most recent thing I learned is how many parrots are trapped in the wild for the pet trade, and how many of the ones that are confiscated are simply euthanized. Many parrots are endangered in the wild because of this. I used to think it was really nice that people have pets, but given all I know about breeding and trapping now, I'm starting to think it might not be the sort of thing I want to contribute to. I'm also not sure it's great for an animal to never mate its entire life; I don't know if the trade off in protection and security and environment is really worth that. I'd get my birds mates but I can't afford to keep more birds and I wouldn't want to find homes for the babies knowing how many parrots are abused, so I just try to keep them happy the best I can. I used to think I would just always have a few birds at any given time, but now I'm thinking when my current birds eventually die I might not get any more pets, or maybe I'll just take in rescue birds since they're too difficult for most people to handle. I feel like all my childhood assumptions about pets have been dismantled and I've been doing it all wrong.
posted by Nattie at 2:03 AM on July 7, 2010 [25 favorites]


I used to try to please other people, thinking that if they liked me then I'd like myself more.

Now I do things that make me happy, and as a result people like me more and, perhaps paradoxically, and more pleased than they would have been before.
posted by twirlypen at 2:32 AM on July 7, 2010 [31 favorites]


No, No, seriously...
Evangeline, what do you mean by "You sort the utensils because utensils of the same type tend to "nest" (in other words, your spoons are "spooning"). They get cleaner if they're separated."?
(specifically the getting cleaner part)

I... I just can't imagine what you are saying here...
unless it's a joke of some kind, in which case...
ha-ha.
posted by segatakai at 2:43 AM on July 7, 2010


When I was a kid, I had a mormor, morfar, and farmor (farfar had already passed). Other kids had grandparents, but I didn't seem to have any. It took many years before I fully made the connection between what I had and what grandparents were -- I was using the Swedish words for the same thing.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 2:58 AM on July 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


Evangeline, what do you mean by "You sort the utensils because utensils of the same type tend to "nest" (in other words, your spoons are "spooning"). They get cleaner if they're separated."?

She means in the dishwasher. Don't put all the spoons together or they'll end up spooning and won't get maximally cleaned. For the same reason, you should put silverware in the little basket with the business end pointing up. It's a bit messier to load it that way, but they come out perfectly clean.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:58 AM on July 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


I only just learnt that Australians call red-heads "rangas" as a derivative of orangutans, which are orange. This didn't occur to me for ages because growing up in Malaysia I always thought of the apes as "orang utan" - or "jungle person" - so it didn't occur to me to blend the syllables.
posted by divabat at 2:59 AM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


the real term is chaise longue, meaning "long chair." We English-speakers transposed the letters.)

The corruption to chaise lounge is an Americanism not an Englishism, its still called a chaise longue in the UK.
posted by biffa at 3:02 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


How to hold a knife. You do it like this, not by wrapping your entire hand around the handle. Learned that about a year ago. It has made my life much easier.

Also, how to cut a bell pepper. Chop off the top and bottom, make a single cut in the side, unroll and remove the center. Then cut into strips. Easier, no more hockey stick like strips, the center is gone immediately and you get to eat the bottom part.
posted by Hactar at 3:19 AM on July 7, 2010 [24 favorites]


When in a Chinese restaurant, the fastest way to get a fresh pot of tea. Take the lid off the pot and put it back - upside down. It will be a matter of seconds - well, ok, minutes - before they replace it with a new one.
posted by ouke at 3:33 AM on July 7, 2010 [15 favorites]


I always thought the phrase "play it by ear" was "play it by year". It wasn't until about a year ago that I heard someone say ear and asked.
posted by nvsbl at 3:36 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Despite reading loads and loving words I was embarrassingly late (15 or so?) before realising that 'upside down' meant that literally the things up side was down.
posted by Gratishades at 3:42 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


At age 28 I learned that paper and envelopes are stationery, not stationary.
posted by Ness at 3:47 AM on July 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


Oh and opening stubborn jars. Turn it lid side down, grasp the base of the jar in the palm of your hand and give it sharp tap on a solid surface (the floor is good). The lid will usually pop right off if you've given it enough force.
posted by Ness at 3:54 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Uh - pop right off when you twist the lid, not pop right off during the tap - that would suck.
posted by Ness at 3:55 AM on July 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


This is just what I could recall from having read everyone else's, but I think it'll be pretty clear that I have so many:

My father lied to me a lot when I was a kid. Consequently, I believed that the sky was purple when I wasn't looking at it until I was about six. Also, that the big flat rocks in the lawn were the tops of mountains. His grand plan worked, though, and I have a great bullshit detector as a result.

I thought as a kid that the reason my shoes were so often under the couch in the morning was because of the rotation of the earth.

In sixth grade, I missed the lecture on dividing by fractions for a music lesson. Coming back to class, I was getting help from the girl next to me, and she was clearly messed up because her numbers were coming out BIGGER after having been DIVIDED. I marched up to the teacher's desk and let her know she had taught everyone wrong.

Another summer I was learning algebra with a friend to skip ahead a little, and we did not know what paRAbolas were when we started algebra II the next fall. Couldn't anyone see the bowl shapes?

I didn't find out about the knuckle trick with the months of the year until a couple of years ago.

Only in the last couple of months did I figure out that perhaps the full body shiver that felt necessary after having dealt with an awkward social situation was a symptom of a little social anxiety.

A friend told me a couple of years ago she always made herself eat the crust of bread because "that's where all the nutrients are."
posted by lauranesson at 4:02 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh, and last year I learned you can almost always just pull the foil right from the top of a wine bottle.
posted by lauranesson at 4:03 AM on July 7, 2010


Applying eyeshadow - you need to hit the socket-line, not colour in the lid.

The joke 'My dog#s got no nose - how does he smell? Terrible.' I thought the joke was that saying someone smelt terrible was rude, and it was funny to be rude. Where the nose fitted in to this theory, I have no idea.

That hair that naturally parts down the middle will not ever be coaxed into a straight fringe.

the pronunciation of several words that I generally do not need to say out loud.
posted by mippy at 4:13 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh! And two years ago I got to watch a friend realize that a full moon didn't disappear to make a new moon the very next night.
posted by lauranesson at 4:14 AM on July 7, 2010


"I think there may have been an element of "suffering is good for you" in there, too. Seriously--f'rexample--spaghetti was barely wet with spaghetti sauce, Chinese food was a serving-spoonful of meat/veg to half a container of rice"

My parents made spaghetti bolognaise without tomatoes, as my dad didn't like them. Similarly, the only veg that existed in our house were mushrooms, cauliflower, sprouts and tinned carrots. (Northern English cooking - I didn't discover pesto until I was nineteen.) It took me years to realise that I really liked veg - just different ones.
posted by mippy at 4:16 AM on July 7, 2010


HiroProtagonist: That's a hard boiled egg. How do you eat a soft boiled egg?

We (Americans) don't (eat soft boiled eggs). That's a broad generalization, certain to have plenty of exceptions, but soft boiled eggs are certainly not as common in the States as they are in Europe (and, I assume, Australia and New Zealand).
posted by syzygy at 4:55 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Running: I was running in Judo class years ago, and my instructor told me that if I didn't lift my feet so high in between each step, I wouldn't get so tired when I ran.

Brushing my teeth: I switched to an electric toothbrush, and on my next dentist visit, the hygenist and dentist were incredibly happy. I asked why -- the literature indicated that electric toothbrushes and regular toothbrushing should be around the same. He said: "Oh, that's only if you're brushing properly.

Also, he also told me that you should use a soft brush, not the hardest brush available.
posted by Comrade_robot at 5:00 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


One hand will be it the shape of a lower-case b, and that is the side with your bread plate; the other hand will be in the shape of a lower-case d, and that is the side with your drink.

A French trick to tell if the moon is waxing or waning: the waxing moon looks like the top half of the letter p ('premier') and the waning moon like the bottom half of the letter d ('dernier').
posted by mahershalal at 5:22 AM on July 7, 2010 [22 favorites]


I was about 22 before I found out that archipelago was NOT pronounced ark-a-pell-ARGO, but in fact ark-a-PEL-a-go. My mother laughed hysterically when I declared this revelation to her - it had been an in-joke with my father, and she never realized I didn't know the difference. Also, it was during the 3rd Harry Potter book that I found out that Hermione was Her-my-o-knee, NOT Her-mee-own. A flatmate revealing to me that garlic existed pre-crushed in jars was a highlight of my mid 20's (despite the tiny inward cringe).
posted by Pippi Longstocking at 5:27 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sorry, but mine's hair-related: If you have cowlicks, curly or wavy hair, or your hair just naturally asserts itself in some ambitious way of its own that you probably wish it wouldn't: Stop fighting it.

Just learned this last week, but the way to tame a cowlick is to blow dry it in the opposite way from the way that you hope it will go -- blow dry counter-intuitively, blow dry the hell out of it, then blow dry it in the way you actually want it to lie. Basically it is possible to demoralize hair, but you have to sneak up on it.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:36 AM on July 7, 2010 [18 favorites]


My fiancé points out every. single. time. that tapping the lid on the pop-top can doesn't actually disperse the bubbles, but I can't stop doing it. Even for a non-carbonated beverage.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:37 AM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


'Lefty loosey, righty tighty' has changed my life.

Also, if you have a sponge or a rubber glove, just about any tight lid can be opened easily.

Probably about 5 years ago a friend taught me how to make gravy when she saw me dissolving flour in a glass of water and consequently explained roux to me. Much nicer than Gravox!

That multiplication of 9 trick with the hands is the coolest thing I've discovered in ages!
posted by h00py at 5:39 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, if you have a sponge or a rubber glove, just about any tight lid can be opened easily.

You can also give the metal lid about three evenly spaced sharp whacks with the back of a knife (or a heavy knife handle), which will help loosen the vacuum seal and make it easier to open the first time around.
posted by elizardbits at 5:47 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I was growing up in DC, there were yard signs around that said "Save Soviet Jewry!"

For years I didn't understand why saving Soviet jewelry was a matter of such concern.
posted by OmieWise at 5:47 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was definitely in my twenties before I realized that I connected the name "Sha-von" with the spelling Siobhan.
posted by oulipian at 5:48 AM on July 7, 2010 [12 favorites]


I realized that
posted by oulipian at 5:49 AM on July 7, 2010


I still haven't quite worked out OULIPO humour & wordplay.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:54 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


The chest of Superman's costume does not feature an intriguing Kryptonian design consisting of abstract yellow shapes on a red background. It's just a big stupid 'S'.

More practically, I didn't learn the superiority of leaving the toilet lid down until I was in my mid-20s.
posted by tomcooke at 6:03 AM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


I didn't learn the superiority of leaving the toilet lid down until I was in my mid-20s.

I used to fight with my ex about this all the time. It's not because I'm afraid I'll accidentally sit on the seatless rim (because seriously, who backs in without even looking? idiots, that's who), or because I don't want to touch the potentially icky lid (whatever, it's our pee, not the pee of weird strangers). It's because the stuff stored on the racks above the toilet tank can fall in to the open toilet, thus rendering them forever ruined beyond repair.

Er. For me, at least.

posted by elizardbits at 6:09 AM on July 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


Correctly positioning the rear view mirrors on my car. Learned that here about a month ago (couldn't find the more recent post, though). Works a treat.
posted by vers at 6:24 AM on July 7, 2010 [12 favorites]


There are flaps on the side of aluminum foil, wax paper, and cling wrap boxes that you are suppose to poke through to keep the rolls from jumping out of the box when you're dispensing a piece.
posted by maloon at 6:27 AM on July 7, 2010 [82 favorites]


That's excellent, maloon. I honestly never knew that.
posted by h00py at 6:35 AM on July 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


I went my whole life thinking something was wrong with me that made me fundamentally defective, unlike other people. I was almost 30 before I figured out this was because my parents never told me when I was doing something right - only when I was doing something (they thought was) wrong; so therefore my inner voice automatically criticized every little thing I did wrong and didn't pay proper attention to anything I did right. In a blinding flash of insight I realized it wasn't something intrinsic to me, it was something outside of me that caused that feeling, and I was no more messed up than anyone else.

I always wondered how other people could keep it together and - function, I guess, living their lives. I realized in other people's minds, I was keeping it together too - and most people were too busy worrying about their own little fuckups to really notice or care much about my little fuckups.

It sounds simple, but that perspective shift changed my life.
posted by flex at 6:58 AM on July 7, 2010 [73 favorites]


"You sort the utensils because utensils of the same type tend to "nest" (in other words, your spoons are "spooning"). They get cleaner if they're separated."

What I meant to say was "You don't sort the utensils." Don't sort the utensils into categories - spoons in one basket, forks in another, etc. And by "separated", I just meant not nesting.

Then I totally confused myself and all hell broke loose and I think I told someone his mother doesn't love him.
posted by Evangeline at 6:59 AM on July 7, 2010 [10 favorites]


Getting a bra fitted. My mum just put me in the size she thought I should wear, and I'd try going up or down here or there, or think they would fit like clothing, so a 34" and 36" were little different. I went and got measured and found I was wearing a bra three cup sizes too small.

My mum refuses to get measured and my sister buys the biggest one they've got, as she says she'd just have to spend more money if she found out she was a different size.
posted by mippy at 7:02 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I do know how to pronounce Blagojevich, I just prefer to call him "that idiot" like most Illinoisians do for most of our governors. They'll all end up in prison anyway. I, however, did not know how to pronounce Hermione until she corrects Viktor Krum in Goblet of Fire. I thought it was HER-me-own.

I thought when someone slept fitfully, it means they slept REALLY WELL. Because when people sleep fitfully in books it's usually when they've had a stressful and emotional day and for some reason I got the idea that they were sleeping like logs because they were so worn out. That interpretation makes PERFECT SENSE in 99.9% of uses of the phrase ... so I didn't figure out I was wrong until I was like 28!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:11 AM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm 41. Last year I learned that pimentos are in fact NOT the red center of an olive. We saw some olives stuffed with bleu cheese at the grocery store, so I asked a friend how they got the pimento out in order to stuff in the cheese.

Said friend just stared at me.
posted by matty at 7:11 AM on July 7, 2010 [16 favorites]


The first time I had edamame I was choking down the pods, thinking what utter crap it was and wondering what all the fuss was about. My date found it amusing, so there's that.
posted by Mister_A at 7:27 AM on July 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


Last year I learned that pimentos are in fact NOT the red center of an olive.

What is the center of the olive, then? Wikipedia claims These sweet pimento peppers are also the familiar red stuffing found in prepared Spanish green olives.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 7:29 AM on July 7, 2010


I didn't learn the superiority of leaving the toilet lid down until I was in my mid-20s.

And also, because little kittens can, in their curious way, fall in there and not be able to scrabble their way out backwards. Curiosity killed the cat.
posted by aqsakal at 7:35 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


The center of the olive is a pit (seed), which is removed prior to being sold. Olives are often stuffed with a filling, most often pimento, but that's not how they come naturally!
posted by explosion at 7:36 AM on July 7, 2010


Keeping your left foot on the brake pedal can cause your brakes to wear out prematurely. It takes very little pressure with power brakes to engage the brakes slightly. Also can ruin your gas mileage.
posted by Lone_Wolf at 7:43 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Until very recently, I thought Gene Shalit was a fictional character created for The Critic. He looked so goofy and "Gene Shallot" sounded like a joke name!
posted by giraffe at 7:44 AM on July 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


Up until I was 20, I thought Wyoming was pronounced "Why-o-me." No one EVER corrected me and I'm pretty sure I've said it a few times, especially in grade school when learning the states. In all fairness, we don't say "Ark-an-sas"...right??
posted by whitetigereyes at 7:45 AM on July 7, 2010


A friend recently told me that it wasn't until he was well into his 20s that he realized you could buy a roll of quarters from the bank. Somehow he made it through college and beyond thinking everyone just saved up their quarters until they had enough to do laundry!
posted by Jemstar at 7:56 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I thought that it's only jaywalking if you go from corner to opposite corner at an intersection, and you had to walk in a curve.

Apparently I've been jaywalking with abandon my entire life.
posted by punchtothehead at 7:57 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


It wasn't until they did the redesign of the post office logo (and I read an article about it!) that I realized it was an eagle. I always thought it was a man with a big nose sitting down with his legs out. I thought it was the pbs logo person at a different angle.
posted by frecklefaerie at 7:58 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


I was in college when someone told me that interstate numbers were not random and they went from little -5 numbers on the west to big -5 numbers on the east (I-5 in CA to I-95 on the eastern seabord) and the ones that ended in zero the numbers got bigger from south to north. and that the spurs & bypasses were not named randomly either. I was AMAZED until that point how people knew so much about which roads went where. D'OH!
posted by pointystick at 8:01 AM on July 7, 2010 [10 favorites]


I used to change drill bits by actually turning the drill head until the bit loosened, now I just hold the drill head and spin the drill backwards/forwards to loosen/tighten the bit.

"Drill head"? The thing that holds the drill bit is a chuck. Your new method is much faster, but is also more dangerous. If you pay complete attention every time you do it, you'll probably be OK. If you don't, the edges of a spinning drill are not things you want your fingers on.

On left-foot braking: That was actually taught in Drivers Ed for a while. Not any more, thank God. I have heard that the current idiotic thing being taught is that on three-or-more-lane highways, the right-hand lane is dedicated to entering and exiting traffic, and that when you enter the highway, you should move to the left, beyond the right lane, as soon as possible. People who do that create a huge amount of unnecessary turbulence and slow everything down. Please - if you're not going to go faster than the lane you're in, just stay in it, OK?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:03 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Waiting for someone to bring up the "D" in the Disney logo."

When the Michael Keaton Batman film came out, I saw the symbol on posters everywhere. I knew it meant Batman, but for the life of me could not work out why. What did some yellow teeth have to do with Batman?
posted by mippy at 8:04 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


>>rongorongo: That the image I see of myself in the mirror is half life size.
>What?

Others have explained the technicalities. But for a simple test try this:
1. Use a ruler to measure the distance between your chin and the top of your head. Call it d1.
2. Now stand in front of a mirror. Make a small mark on the mirror where your chin is an another one at the top of your head. Call the distance between them d2. It will be half d1.

I don't really agree with those who say this trick makes them think they are less big or fat than they actually are - the reflection is proportional in size to your own body. It is a useful distortion to know about if you are ever measuring off something using a mirror reflection (such as your inter-ocular distance when buying glasses).

Something else I did not realise till recently: the "Mayday" radio distress call - and most of the other less serious ones - are all French ("m'aider, etc)
posted by rongorongo at 8:06 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Until about 6 months ago, I was flossing incorrectly.

Before I had flossed horizontally. Now I know that you move the floss between the teeth in a vertical motion,
posted by fizzix at 8:09 AM on July 7, 2010


I didn't discover how good The Smiths or The Pixies were until 2003.
posted by h00py at 8:14 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


At age 29, I finally discovered that witch hazel is not just another term for rubbing alcohol.

At age 26 or so, I learned how to properly mince garlic. I'd always really carefully sliced it into thinner slices, then cut those into batons, then turned 90 degrees and cut those into tiny cubes. It took forever. Finally, someone showed me how to use a chef's knife properly by putting my other hand on top of the tip and basically moving the whole thing in an arc while chopping chunks into ever-smaller chunks.
posted by Eshkol at 8:14 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


When the Michael Keaton Batman film came out, I saw the symbol on posters everywhere. I knew it meant Batman, but for the life of me could not work out why. What did some yellow teeth have to do with Batman?

The office where I worked with my dad had a video shop directly across from the front window and they had a window display with the Batman logo on it, and Dad was always about those goddamn teeth. I could see both, and I enjoyed the teeth the most.
posted by h00py at 8:17 AM on July 7, 2010


Human relations: I gradually learned a few years ago that you don't have to manipulate people into being in a relationship with you, and that relationships don't have be these toxic things that you are required to be in to prove your worth to society or whomever. As you can imagine, I'm a much healthier person now!
posted by foxjacket at 8:19 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


One of my wife's coworkers, an Orthodox Jew, believed that "farfetched" was a Yiddish word. (Put the emphasis on the second syllable.) As in, "Such a day, I'm totally farfetched." What she thought it meant precisely isn't clear.
posted by argybarg at 8:30 AM on July 7, 2010 [14 favorites]


Along the lines of the Disney D and the Fedex Arrow... I JUST realized (like last week) that the Sun Microsystems logo says SUN around the square, I had always just thought it was squiggly lines.
posted by magnetsphere at 8:34 AM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


I only recently (I'm 35) figured out that Arby's is a phonetic spelling of R-B, as in Roast Beef. I was thinking, "Who the fuck has a nickname like 'Arby'?" all this time.
posted by notsnot at 8:36 AM on July 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


One for the Canadians: I was about 15 before I realized that the stylized B in The Bay logo was actually, well, a B. I could just not figure out the sign for the longest time, and couldn't for the life of me see that strange squiggly yellow symbol as a capital B. Then one day, I did. I've felt slightly ridiculous walking into The Bay ever since.

I remember thinking the "B" was a ribbon (I think it's supposed to look like a ribbon). I must have been nine or ten before I realized in a blinding flash of light that it was a B.

I was really slow in figuring out how to make the most of my appearance. I was 25 before I realized I had naturally wavy hair and that mousse did wonders for it, 27 before I found out I should wear autumnal colours, 31 before I learned what styles suited me. I've got a voluptuous figure and one seldom sees the kind of clothes I need to wear represented on models because it doesn't suit their figures. Autumns are also rare (4% of the planet) and there are fewer clothes out there for us.
posted by orange swan at 8:43 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Speaking of logos, I don't think anyone's mentioned the Amazon logo yet. The happy, smiling arrow tells you they've got everything, from A to Z.
posted by phunniemee at 8:43 AM on July 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


What prompted me to ask was the realization (from maybe a year or so ago), that the flap on toilet seat covers can be removed entirely, as opposed to leaving that un-perforated side at the back. I don't know how obvious this is, but I still don't see why they don't just perforate that too.

I thought the whole point of the flap in back is that it hung in the water so when the toilet was flushed the cover would be flushed, too, without the need to touch it.

Last week, while baking pretzels, I learned that wax paper is definitely NOT the same thing as parchment paper.
posted by Ruki at 8:45 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Something I still do wrong, but won't ever change: I drive an automatic transmission with both feet - right on the accelerator and left on the brake. Just never going to break myself of that bad habit. :-("

My father actually told me it was better to drive that way


There's actually nothing at all wrong with using both feet to drive providing you aren't hugely different in feel between feet - as in 'ambi-foot-strous' like you could be ambidextrous. The main reason for forcing someone to use the right foot to brake is to ensure that there is never a time when you have both pedals being pressed at the same time. It prevents this (obviously bad thing in normal driving) happening, but if you can do prevent that on your own then there is no issue at all with driving using both feet.

In racing, using both feet is far, far preferable but we are more concerned with transition between throttle and brake and back again, as well as needing to use both pedals at times (blipping for smoother gear changes on downshifts in braking areas for instance, as well as left foot stability braking while still on power) but these advantages are irrelevant in normal driving. However, it doesn't make it a 'bad habit' unless you can't control your feet properly and rest your foot on one of the pedals when you shouldn't be. I drive automatics with both or just one, depending on my mood.
posted by Brockles at 8:47 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


For the longest time I pronounced "vehemently" as "vee-hee-ment-ly" instead of "vee-uh-ment-ly" Of course, until getting laughed at. I still get stuck on "renowned." It has "own" inside of it. I want the short 'o'!
posted by Ms. Toad at 8:51 AM on July 7, 2010


How do you eat a soft boiled egg?

To clarify, Americans stopped eating these because of salmonella fear.
posted by Rash at 8:57 AM on July 7, 2010


I thought infrared was pronounced "in-FRARED" (rhymes with in-SCARED). When I found out at age 30 it made a lot of sense.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:11 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


I spelled "every time" as one word until this ask.mefi thread opened my eyes. Also, it's not as rare a mistake as I previously had thought. ;)
posted by bjork24 at 9:20 AM on July 7, 2010


Was 30 before I realized that it's not cheating to study to learn something or to work hard at something to get better at it.

Was 40 before I realized it was okay to accept help from people. In fact, it can be like giving a gift to them.
posted by qldaddy at 9:21 AM on July 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


One I just remembered -
That Claude Lévi-Strauss has nothing to do with Levi Strauss jeans.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 9:21 AM on July 7, 2010 [12 favorites]


Woops. That second link was supposed to go here.

Sorry phelixshu.
posted by bjork24 at 9:21 AM on July 7, 2010


A friend from New York state mentioned that the prevalent type of apple where she's from is an Empire, not a Macintosh as it is here. It suddenly hit me: That's why New York is known as the Empire State! Whoa!

I was recounting this story to another friend a week later when the next shoe dropped. "And so that's why NYC is called The Big Apple!! Eureka!

Love this thread!
posted by anemone at 9:23 AM on July 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


How do you eat a soft boiled egg?

To clarify, Americans stopped eating these because of salmonella fear.


To clarify even further, that clarification is an extremely broad brush statement, and you are the first I've heard to ever have that concern. Not sayin' it ain't true, but not as common as one may read into.
posted by qwip at 9:24 AM on July 7, 2010


I went my whole life thinking something was wrong with me that made me fundamentally defective, unlike other people. I was almost 30 before I figured out this was because my parents never told me when I was doing something right - only when I was doing something (they thought was) wrong; so therefore my inner voice automatically criticized every little thing I did wrong and didn't pay proper attention to anything I did right. In a blinding flash of insight I realized it wasn't something intrinsic to me, it was something outside of me that caused that feeling, and I was no more messed up than anyone else.

So true for me, too. I don't have the confidence that so many other people have. Sort of related:

When speaking, sometimes I'll say ravage instead of ravish and vise versa. I know the difference, but my brain just can't sort them out when I'm about to say them. I also have problems finding the correct word when speaking. I don't know why, as I have a relatively good vocabulary. I'm a poet and can almost always find the best word for whatever I want to write, but it just doesn't carry over to conversation/speech.

This is the best thread ever. Thanks for sharing folks.
posted by two lights above the sea at 9:39 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also: I am American, and I eat soft boiled eggs all the time. It's called a poached egg. I don't use vinegar, and I don't know anyone else who does either. I usually don't cook it in the shell, so it's not the exact same process as making a hard boiled egg.
posted by two lights above the sea at 9:43 AM on July 7, 2010


Up until I was 20, I thought Wyoming was pronounced "Why-o-me."

Haha, I'm sure most people who live here in the winter ask themselves this, so really, you're not far off.

I've learned that no matter how horrible or crappy a situation may seem at the time, in almost every case what you go through and what you learn about your life and yourself as a result of the situation usually makes it worth it.

Also, a great deal of happiness in life results from becoming interested in the things and people around you. This usually makes you a more interesting person as a result, too.
posted by elder18 at 9:51 AM on July 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


'Lefty loosey, righty tighty' has changed my life.

Similarly, I had been living in NYC for years, and still every time I came out of subway hole I'd have a moment of disorientation as I tried to figure out which direction I needed to go until I overheard a mom say to her kid:

"Evens go east."

OMG.

Of course this only works in Manhattan above Houston, and there are some two-way, exceptions, but still-- OMG evens go east!
posted by dersins at 9:52 AM on July 7, 2010 [23 favorites]


I'm an American and I eat soft-boiled eggs.
posted by Lone_Wolf at 9:53 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


It wasn't until I was almost 40 that I found out that the single best treatment for an itchy bug bite is deodorant. It has to be deodorant, not just antiperspirant, and it takes quite awhile to start working, generally about 30 minutes. But then, if you have one of the long-lasting ones, the itch will disappear entirely for at least a day, sometimes two, and if you start noticing it again, a new application will work before it becomes really bothersome.
posted by Malor at 9:53 AM on July 7, 2010 [12 favorites]


The first time I had edamame I was choking down the pods, thinking what utter crap it was and wondering what all the fuss was about. My date found it amusing, so there's that.
posted by Mister_A at 7:27 AM on July 7 [1 favorite +] [!]

I did exactly that on a date with a guy I had really really liked for years.

When I was in fifth grade, my parents bought a condominium. they would refer to it as the condo. I wrote about it for a school assignment and shortened the name in my own way: I wrote, "My parents bought a condom." I was hastily corrected.
posted by WeekendJen at 9:56 AM on July 7, 2010


Also: I am American, and I eat soft boiled eggs all the time. It's called a poached egg. I don't use vinegar, and I don't know anyone else who does either. I usually don't cook it in the shell, so it's not the exact same process as making a hard boiled egg.

Um. Soft-boiled eggs and poached eggs aren't the same thing - soft-boiled are cooked in exactly the same way as hard-boiled (in the shell), but for less time. To be enjoyed with toast soldiers.

Poached eggs are technically boiled, and are technically soft, but are not the same thing.
posted by altolinguistic at 9:57 AM on July 7, 2010 [18 favorites]


BTW, The nickname "The Empire State" has nothing to do with apples.
posted by Lone_Wolf at 10:00 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also: I am American, and I eat soft boiled eggs all the time. It's called a poached egg.

These are not the same thing. If your water is boiling, it's too hot to be a poached egg.

I don't use vinegar, and I don't know anyone else who does either.

I do, and so do many (if not most) restaurants who serve poached eggs. It helps the whites set properly.. If you don't like the taste of vinegar on your poached egg, you can give it a quick bath in cool water after removing it from the poaching liquid.
posted by dersins at 10:01 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


That "colonel" is pronounced "kernel" (an embarassing read-aloud assignment in 5th grade taught me this lesson permanently)

The Toyota logo isn't just a "T", but three ellipses which apparently represent the heart of the customer, the product and the technology. Also, it looks like a cowboy hat. And I found that if you try, you can make each letter in the word "TOYOTA" with it ;)

That tapping on top of a soda can does nothing to prevent it from foaming over.

Related: You can tame a fizzing beverage by dipping your finger into the foam - try it, it will de-fizz in seconds. I suspect it's the salt on your skin doing this.

A nutcracker is by far the easiest way to open a stuck 2-liter cap.

99% of the time you can simply remove the foil wrapper on a wine bottle neck by grabbing and twisting upward, instead of fiddling with trying to unpeel it for 10 minutes.

Learning how to open a beer bottle with another beer bottle has been a lifesaver.

When I was young I thought graffiti artists tagged buildings for the purpose of getting high off the paint fumes. I voiced this belief in front of my mom & sister one day, to much ridicule :(

I also thought that the T in the Trauth Dairy logo was an F. I thought it was "Frauth dairy" for years.

One of the Beverly Cleary "Ramona" books taught me that the head of a school is spelled "princiPAL", because he's your PAL, not "principle".

Pocahantas taught me to shoot with both eyes open, which really does work.

Eating buffalo wings with one hand is by far the best way - it's not hard to learn and it keeps your other hand free and clean for picking up your drink.

More recently, I've been learning the danger of being "penny wise, pound foolish". It's easy to try to save a buck on everything only to find out that you'd have been better off getting the right/better product the first time around.

Conversely, even factoring in maintenance costs, buying a used car is almost always more cost-effective than buying new.

I find that getting rid of hiccups is easy by holding my breath for as long as possible while keeping my chest/diaphragm relaxed. Rarely do hiccups persist past 1-2 repetitions of that strategy (obviously YMMV)

Calculating a tip or percentage off is a challenge for many; my mom taught me this trick at a young age which works marvelously:
- Take 10% the total of the bill, which is easy (ex - $23.14 * 0.10 = ~$2.31)
- If you want to leave a 20% tip, simply double that amount ($2.31 * 2 = $4.62)
- 15% would be 1.5 times the 10% ($2.31 / 2 = ~$1.15 + $2.31 = $3.46)

The same thing works for %-off sales in stores. Just use 10% as a base factor since it's trivial to figure out, and multiply as needed. In the case of tips, I'll often round the tip up or down to get to an even dollar amount to make it easier.

A rotary pizza cutter is a fantastic tool for all sorts of kitchen cutting, not just pizza.

Rotating your tires is no joke. Do it if you don't want to buy a whole new set every year even though only 2 are worn.

When packing for a trip - especially if luggage space is at a premium - roll your clothes tightly. You can stuff an incredible amount of clothes in a very small space this way. For added space-saving, get the large Ziploc bags and stuff the rolled shirts/etc inside (they should fit just about perfectly sideways) and squish all the air out before sealing the bag. My wife and I rarely need more than one small carry-on suitcase for the both of us this way, even for a week-long trip.

I typically avoid chicken & most pasta dishes at a nice restaurant. More often than not, they're fodder food that isn't worth the price. I mean, chicken fettucine is pretty much the same everywhere (with exceptions, of course). If it's a nice restaurant, my money is going for a specialty dish that is almost certainly unique (beef, certain seafood, etc).

In that vein, when trying to decide what to order at a restaurant with an overwhelming menu, process of elimination works marvelously. Even if you don't know what you want when you sit down, it's pretty easy to determine what you don't want, so start from that angle and whittle the list down. Typically this yeilds only one or two choices that you really would like to try.
posted by sprocket87 at 10:01 AM on July 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


All of a sudden I learned that it wasn't "all of the sudden", but frankly I think it's a strange phrase to deconstruct either way. Also, righty-tighty, lefty-loosey, and hot is on the left, cold on the right. I'm good with tools and fairly practical, but it just hadn't occurred to me that there was a standard for these things. Oh, and that apologizing for one's mistakes feels much better than constantly fighting to defend false perfection, and people who are willing to risk looking foolish have much, much more fun.
posted by tula at 10:01 AM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Related to the name "Penelope", when I was a kid I just could not pronounce the word "Pinochle", even though I knew how to play the game.

Pinochle is pronounced "pea-knuckle", but once I learned to pronounce it properly, I was unable to find anyone else that had even heard of the game.

So, anybody up for a game?

You know what, I'll settle if you know how to play Cribbage.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:03 AM on July 7, 2010


ok, what is it about the D in Disney please don't kill me for being stupid?
posted by pointystick at 10:04 AM on July 7, 2010


I also just learned this weekend that every pleat in a chef's hat is supposed to represent a method of cooking eggs that they know.
posted by WeekendJen at 10:07 AM on July 7, 2010


The thing with the Disney D is that it looks like a (backwards) G.
posted by punchtothehead at 10:09 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


pointystick: "ok, what is it about the D in Disney please don't kill me for being stupid?"

Nothing. It's just a D, but [apparently] a lot of people don't see it.
posted by sprocket87 at 10:10 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


On the original Rock Band drums I used to shove the sticks through that hole in the middle because there was nowhere to store them. For some reason it only worked on mine; on my cousin's set the hole was too big and the sticks would fall through. It took my sister coming over about a year after I got the drums and pulling out the two little tabs on top to show me that there actually is a spot to store the drumsticks.

I have since gotten one of those fancy Drum Rocker sets which actually doesn't have anywhere to store sticks. That I know of.
posted by zompus at 10:14 AM on July 7, 2010


City blocks (in some cities) line up the building numbers with street numbers.

Ie the 2200 block of K street means K and 22nd street.
posted by stratastar at 10:20 AM on July 7, 2010


I had known it for awhile when I found it, but the (now defunct) Buffalo Wings & Vodka blog put it best: Cacaphony does not rhyme with "whack-a-pony."
posted by Turkey Glue at 10:25 AM on July 7, 2010


The Toyota logo isn't just a "T", but three ellipses which apparently represent the heart of the customer, the product and the technology. Also, it looks like a cowboy hat. And I found that if you try, you can make each letter in the word "TOYOTA" with it

Hey, that's pretty cool. It's not an answer to the question, but it's pretty cool.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:26 AM on July 7, 2010


"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years." -- Mark Twain
posted by kirkaracha at 10:28 AM on July 7, 2010 [27 favorites]


As a kid taking singing lessons, I thought that "supporting the breath" meant tensing every muscle south of my ribcage. Singing got so much easier after I realized that isn't what the phrase means!
posted by LN at 10:41 AM on July 7, 2010


After watching 'Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure' when I was a lad, I was certain that the proper pronunciation of the famous philosopher Socrates was pronounced as So-crates, like they say in the movie and not Sock-ra-tees. It was a couple years later when I said it in front of one of my teachers that she laughed and corrected me.
posted by chugg at 10:44 AM on July 7, 2010


Rotating your tires is no joke. Do it if you don't want to buy a whole new set every year even though only 2 are worn.

I was 24 (so roughly 8 years of car ownership) before I finally figured out that this means "switch the positions of all 4 tires on your car for equally distributed wear" and not "jack the car up and manually spin the tires for no apparent reason".
posted by elizardbits at 10:48 AM on July 7, 2010 [48 favorites]


Related: You can tame a fizzing beverage by dipping your finger into the foam - try it, it will de-fizz in seconds. I suspect it's the salt on your skin doing this.

It's the oil, which is a surfactant. You can make it de-fizz even faster by rubbing your finger on your nose, ear, or neck first to oil it up (watch any college student preparing to do a beer bong).

In fact, salt makes carbonated drinks fizz more, because it provides nucleation sites for the bubbles. The actors in Cheers (and any bar setting) were all drinking salty near-beers (low-alcohol beers so they wouldn't get loaded after many takes, and salty so the flat beer would still fizz a little).
posted by Mapes at 10:55 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


@Mapes:
Thanks for making me look like a complete idiot with your intellispeak and made up words. Surfactant? Huzzah?! ;-)
posted by sprocket87 at 10:57 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


rongorongo wrote: "1. Use a ruler to measure the distance between your chin and the top of your head. Call it d1.
2. Now stand in front of a mirror. Make a small mark on the mirror where your chin is an another one at the top of your head. Call the distance between them d2. It will be half d1.
"
Have you tried that yourself? Take a step closer to the mirror and try it again.
posted by secretseasons at 10:57 AM on July 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


Not being from America, it took many years before I realised "New York, New York" comes from the literal description same as "Atlanta, Georgia", or "Portland, Oregan". I had assumed it was a folk phrase, or Sinatra poetry, or something.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:58 AM on July 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


What I used to do wrong when I as younger is that I thought Truth was much more important than it is.

Yes I could demolish a lot of positions by holding them up to the harsh glaring light of objective eternal truth. Hardly anything measures up actually. But then nothing much is left.
My discovery was that I realised that for me this seeking of 'eternal truth' had emotional and social underpinnings. Being happy and engaged with people would obviate the paramount need for logical truth.

Another take on this is that logic shows inconsistencies perhaps but can't say anything about what is of value. What is of value is necessarily founded on subjective emotion and experience and thus inextricably linked with dependent truth, inconsistencies, experiental truths. Those people whose logic I criticised were much better in reasoning in this experiential logic than I was. I came to the conclusion that this kind of reasoning is an essential life skill to have a fulfilling life and that I had a lot to learn.
I used to question the point of it all until I realised that there's not always a lot of sense in asking about a higher cause; that need only arises when things on this plain are emotionally and socially unsatisfactory.

Also demolishing other peoples positions gave me a sense of worth; I was able to see things that they apparently couldn't. At some point I realised what emotional need drove my behaviour and that the payoff wasn't that satisfactory.
posted by joost de vries at 11:01 AM on July 7, 2010 [9 favorites]


TheSecretDecoderRing - as far as the flap on the toilet seat cover, it isn't detachable because you let it drop into the toilet when you use it, and when you flush, it SHOULD just flush down (pulling everything into the bowl), no more intervention needed.
posted by bibliogrrl at 11:04 AM on July 7, 2010


Something else I did not realise till recently: the "Mayday" radio distress call - and most of the other less serious ones - are all French ("m'aider, etc)

Mayday, mayday! We are sinking, we are sinking!
posted by ericb at 11:05 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


If I am agonizing over a decision, the fact that it is hard to decide is usually because I can't see a clear advantage to one, meaning I'm going to be just as happy / unhappy either way, so which way I decide doesn't actually matter. Since it doesn't matter, it makes no sense to agonize over it. Pick one and move on.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:07 AM on July 7, 2010 [52 favorites]


Lighting is way more important then you think it is and yes you need more.

The pronunciation of almost every major character in Greek drama. ("Anti-Gone")

Yes, the quality of your paper and pens does matter. Not fighting with your tools will make everything better (although I need hold my pencil The Wrong Way cause I Am Stubborn.)
posted by The Whelk at 11:08 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I was a little kid:
I thought pee was yellow because the only thing I liked to drink was apple juice.
I thought that kids with Down syndrome had just had a longer gestation time (they were physically older but had had less time to grow up mentally).

As a teenager:
that there were two words, epi-tome and e-pit-o-me, and they had slightly different meanings.
reading asterix the comic, I mispronounced most of the names and didn't get the jokes until much, much later.
effing was short for f***ing.

college: diversity is not just about race and ethnicity

after college:
I should let guys be chivalrous because it is a nice thing in some ways. (I was raised in a town with a women's college and it could be over the top feminist).
how to cut an onion properly.
how to hold a knife properly.
posted by sciencegeek at 11:08 AM on July 7, 2010


If you can't find good seats at a movie, don't settle for a bad view and a neck injury. Ask for your money back and you will get it.

Good grocery stores will let you return ANYTHING. Even if you've opened it. Even if you just don't like it. Even if it's a head of garlic that was rotten and you threw it in the trash.

In general, if you're forceful yet polite you can get a refund on just about anything you are not satisfied with.
posted by Xalf at 11:09 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


When somebody says they've read a book, they don't always mean they've read every word, cover to cover, and they sometimes don't mean they've read much more than a few pages. Everyone overstates their well-readness. This is even true (especially true?) of published writers. I was almost a decade into a writing career before I realized that, and it really helped quell a nagging anxiety I had about being a bit of a fraud.

Two corollaries:

1) Writers are not the same as bookworms. The two categories have significant overlap, but the absolute best readers often can't write, and plenty of great writers are merely average readers in terms of quantity, speed, etc.

2) Pretty much anyone who's any good at creating anything feels like a bit of a fraud most of the time. It's a byproduct of never being satisfied with what you've produced, which is the motive force behind most creative enterprises.

A corollary of the corollary:

2a) Everyone's making it up as they go along, and anyone who truly believes they've got the game of life (or work or parenting or what-have-you) beat is furthest from that condition. It took becoming a parent to learn that one. I kept thinking there'd be some rite of passage or something that conferred on me the poise and gravitas that I saw in my mentors and idols. I do the kind of work that leads to me showing up at big gala events and conferences regularly as the keynote speaker, and I still feel like I'm barely getting by on a wing and a prayer.

And finally: this is the best damn thing in the history of AskMe.
posted by gompa at 11:11 AM on July 7, 2010 [58 favorites]


one more.
that Petsmart can be parsed Pets Mart and Pet Smart.
for some reason I found this entirely amazing.
posted by sciencegeek at 11:16 AM on July 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


I did the Sha-von and Siobhan thing too - also, I thought Sean was pronounced "seen" till I was at least ten and was watching Jeopardy. Blew my mind when Alex Trebec introduced the contestant as "Shawn".

Oh, and until I got my period, I imagined the entire thing came out at once because somehow, no health class or explanation explained otherwise.
posted by kpht at 11:16 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Throughout my school years (and then as an English major), I was taught that I needed a rough draft and then at least 3 more editing passes to get my work up to snuff.

Many years later, my first draft is almost always smarter, clearer and funnier than after I go back, change everything and begin agonizing.

First drafts rule.
posted by dzaz at 11:19 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


in 4th grade, I remember reading "babe" as "baby". I was reading a 4th grade level book and I remember wondering why the boyfriend called his girlfriend a baby.

for a while, I thought "beta" meant "better" version.

Quote Unquote-I still pronounce it was "quote on quote"
posted by duddes02 at 11:21 AM on July 7, 2010


The first time somebody said to me "it looks like you have your work cut out for you," I thought, "great, somebody's already started on it!"

Also, I was embarrassingly close to 40 before I learned that on the Interstate, there weren't 10 exits between exits 25 and 35, but 10 miles. Doh!
posted by kimota at 11:26 AM on July 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


I recently realized after hearin a podcast on nutrition, that I've been misreading the word 'Lecithin' as 'LETCHin'. Just one more reason to read carefully.
posted by HFSH at 11:26 AM on July 7, 2010


BTW, The nickname "The Empire State" has nothing to do with apples.

Up until about 10 minutes ago, I thought that "The Empire State" was due to the prevalence of Empire apple cultivars in NY......

Dang - it was just such a nice fitting explanation, what with the Big Apple and all.....
posted by anemone at 11:27 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was embarrassingly close to 40 before I learned that on the Interstate, there weren't 10 exits between exits 25 and 35, but 10 miles.

This actually varies from state to state. In Massachusetts there are indeed ten exits.
posted by jessamyn at 11:29 AM on July 7, 2010 [10 favorites]


I'm really confused about the mirror thing. I always thought I looked the same in the mirror as I did in photos. To test, I just took a photo of my body straight-on and then took a picture of my body as seen in the mirror.

Did this mess up the illusion? The photos look almost exactly the same. Is it only valid as you LOOK at the mirror, and not if you take a photo of what the mirror displays?

Explanation, please!
posted by rachaelfaith at 11:34 AM on July 7, 2010


Only recently (in the last month) realizing that having a loving relationship that later ends is not a shameful thing. That while there is always a certain kind of risk in giving someone your heart (in that it may work out, or it may not), either way, just in your doing so, you are making the world a little bit better.

This. This. A million times this. It took me until I was 35 (e.g., recently) to realize that when a relationship ends or changes, the good friendship that started it out doesn't have to go away.

I've had some really enjoyable Saturday afternoons lately sitting on my couch, having interesting conversations with my current girlfriend, my ex-girlfriend (who I've hired to clean my house once a week), and my ex's current guy.

Losing my wife a year ago taught me that life is too short for possessiveness and petty childish jealousy. Enjoy and cherish the people around you in your life - even if the interpersonal relationships aren't exactly what you might want.
posted by mrbill at 11:34 AM on July 7, 2010 [23 favorites]


Until I was at least 10 I thought that Popeye's, the chicken chain, was "Pope Yes." I knew it wasn't pronounced that way, but the way the letters slanted was mighty confusing.
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:34 AM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


I only learned toward the end of my rubber cement using career the correct way to apply it:
  1. Put a very thin layer on both pieces you're joining
  2. Blow both applications dry (or wait a minute)
  3. Press together for a minute or so
This works much better than putting them together wet and then letting them dry.
posted by Cogito at 11:35 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I didn't learn to pronounce "St. John" as "Sinjin" until college.
posted by snickerdoodle at 11:36 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


No half-life-sized people were needed to make this gag. I'm going to stop now.

grar
posted by secretseasons at 11:48 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, it looks like a cowboy hat.

To my mother (former Kansas farm-girl) the Toyota logo looks like a bull or a steer's head -- she ignores the upper part of the middle ellipse, and sees horns in its lower part.

If you can't find good seats at a movie... ask for your money back and you will get it.

If the movie is sucky in the first ten minutes, and doesn't look like it'll get better, ask for your money back and you will get it.
posted by Rash at 11:56 AM on July 7, 2010


I was my mom's fifth kid. Closest one to my age was nine years older. As a little kid she would put me to bed by 6:30, and I recall it somehow being implied that children who didn't sleep more than ten hours a night didn't grow up quite right or something. I was never actually tired by that time of course, so at night my sisters and I would sit in our beds under the covers with flashlights, reading comic books and stuff.

When I grew up I thrived on going to bed late, since I never could as a child. But then flash forward to my 20s when my sister had my niece and let her stay up until 11pm as a toddler. I was freaked out by it because of course I wanted my niece to grow up to be perfect. I remember that I felt physically upset that my sister didn't force my niece to bed so that her growth wouldn't be stunted. Buuuut then I started to realize that something didn't quite make sense as I started asking other people about what their bed times were as children. I asked my doctor how many hours of sleep a child needs and his number did not add up to my mother's.

Soooo one day I cornered my mom about whether or not she had ever told me that kids need to get at least ten hours of sleep or something will be wrong with them. Her response? "Of course I did. But who do you think gave you the flashlights and the comic books? Kept you out of my hair, didn't it?"

Yep, that's my mom.


Also? Misled is not pronounced "myzuld."
posted by miss lynnster at 11:57 AM on July 7, 2010 [19 favorites]


Also it took me a while to realize that when people ask me questions I am actually *not* hooked up to a lie detector machine and nobody has given me truth serum. I can shut my trap whenever I want to. And should.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:02 PM on July 7, 2010 [14 favorites]


These are not the same thing. If your water is boiling, it's too hot to be a poached egg.

I do [use vinegar], and so do many (if not most) restaurants who serve poached eggs. It helps the whites set properly.. If you don't like the taste of vinegar on your poached egg, you can give it a quick bath in cool water after removing it from the poaching liquid.


"A poached egg is an egg that has been cooked by poaching, that is, in water. No oil or fat is used in its preparation.

In modern parlance, the term "poached egg" is also applied to a different method of preparation using an "egg poacher", where the egg is suspended in steam, rather than being poached in water.

To prevent dispersion of the white of the egg, a small amount of vinegar may be added to the boiling water.

The term is also commonly applied to an alternative method whereby the egg is placed in a cup, suspended over boiling water, using a special pan called an 'egg-poacher'."

"Poached eggs are eggs that are, arguably, coddled in a very specific way: they are very gently cooked, in water that is just below boiling point."

And:

Um. Soft-boiled eggs and poached eggs aren't the same thing - soft-boiled are cooked in exactly the same way as hard-boiled (in the shell), but for less time. To be enjoyed with toast soldiers.

Poached eggs are technically boiled, and are technically soft, but are not the same thing.


"There are two methods of coddling eggs. The first is to cook the egg in its shell, by immersing it in near-boiling water. This can be done either in a pan where the water is kept below boiling point, or by pouring boiling water over the egg and letting it stand for 10 minutes."

It's interesting that there is so much debate about soft-boiled and poached eggs! I personally steam all of my eggs, poached or "boiled", so I guess the terminology gets even more warped at that point. Maybe I don't eat boiled eggs at all!? *panics*
posted by two lights above the sea at 12:04 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Explanation, please!

There is no illusion. Some people are confused. Go about your business.

I didn't learn to pronounce "St. John" as "Sinjin" until college.

What? Is that a pronunciation of St. John? I have never heard that before, and have known many people from St. John's.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:08 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


It wasn't until they did the redesign of the post office logo (and I read an article about it!) that I realized it was an eagle. I always thought it was a man with a big nose sitting down with his legs out. I thought it was the pbs logo person at a different angle. -frecklefaerie

I thought it was some Family-Circus-type little man icon with a sassy forelock of hair and he was...I don't even know, like, tilted like a rockstar and holding a guitar or something?! So bizarre when I think of it logically, but even now whenever I see it that's what I see "first" before I remember it's an eagle.

Similarly, it was years before I realized the Girl Scout Logo is supposed to be a row of '70s-lookin' long center-part-haired women. It looks sort of like a slanted chubby peanut to me, I guess from associating it with the cookie shaped like it or something, and cookie-ish flavors, never realizing the cookie looks that way because the logo came first. Duh!
posted by ifjuly at 12:09 PM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


What? Is that a pronunciation of St. John? I have never heard that before, and have known many people from St. John's.

The PLACE is called St. John but the NAME St. John is pronounced "Singin"

Yah English is weird.
posted by The Whelk at 12:10 PM on July 7, 2010


Explanation, please!

There is no illusion. Some people are confused. Go about your business.

I didn't learn to pronounce "St. John" as "Sinjin" until college.

What? Is that a pronunciation of St. John? I have never heard that before, and have known many people from St. John's.
-Navelgazer

Yeah, I didn't know that until watching Season 3 of Mad Men, heh. But then, I shouldn't have been so surprosed, those Brits and their spelling vs. pronunciation... ;)
posted by ifjuly at 12:11 PM on July 7, 2010


I was in serious buzzword non-compliance until I learned paradigm is "par-uh-dime" not "par-a-dij-im"
posted by mikepop at 12:13 PM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


sprocket87 : You can tame a fizzing beverage by dipping your finger into the foam - try it, it will de-fizz in seconds. I suspect it's the salt on your skin doing this.

It's actually the oils on your finger. You can make it happen even faster if you first rub your finger along your forehead/nose if you have oily skin, but that's a little gross.

Learned that from the original version of Cupid on ABC. It's the only thing Jeremy Piven ever taught me.
posted by lilac girl at 12:14 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Laundry! I always had this idea, which I got from my mom, that I had to wash all my red clothes in a separate load, or else everything would turn red. It turns out that if I wash them with dark clothes... nothing happens (except all my clothes get clean)! I learned this after a fellow tenant of mine called me out for using too many washing machines at once--I always used to use 3 of my building's 5 machines: one for darks, one for lights, and one for reds, which is especially silly since I only have a few red clothes.

Also, word related: I always used to think that the word 'capacity' was pronounced "cap a city" and that there was another word, "compassity," which in my mind was what people were saying in contexts such as "filled to capacity/compassity." It never occurred to me that people never spoke of 'cap a city' but always wrote about it, but people always said 'compassity' (dropping the m out of laziness) but never used it in writing.
posted by notswedish at 12:17 PM on July 7, 2010


Oh, another one: I thought the German character ß was pronounced like a B rather than SS. That was corrected in college during a particularly embarrassing moment in a 20th Century European History class in which I referred to the "Anschlub."
posted by notswedish at 12:27 PM on July 7, 2010 [13 favorites]


A friend who was trying to scale up a recipe asked how many quarts were in a gallon, and I blew his mind when I pointed out that one quart = one quarter gallon. The intensity of forehead-smacking was amped up even higher when I added that a fifth of booze was one fifth of a gallon. I can't recall when I figured this out but it amazed me at the time, too.
posted by Mendl at 12:28 PM on July 7, 2010 [22 favorites]


Belarus is pronounced "bell-a-ROOSE," not "bell-AIR-us."
posted by Bleusman at 12:42 PM on July 7, 2010


As another person who learned vocabulary by reading, I was pretty slow to match the spoken "el-EET" with the word that I read as "EE-light", and basically all Greek names were butchered - I think I had Aristophanes almost rhyming with "window panes."

More generally, it took me a while to figure out that other people can't actually read my mind, and that it's unfair to expect them to. It takes a bit of effort, but I'm a lot better off actually starting a conversation about some perceived issue than waiting and hoping someone will notice that my brain is wildly waving its hand in the air.
posted by josyphine at 12:43 PM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


To the people above, regarding salt and boiling water, you were only half wrong before, and you're only half right now.

Adding salt to water doesn't make it boil faster (it actually will take it slightly longer to boil), but it does make it boil hotter (i.e., reach a higher temperature before it begins to boil). This, in turn, actually makes things cook faster. So your earlier belief that adding salt equals faster cooking was in fact correct.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 12:59 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was a precocious child and I knew the meaning and spelling of oesophagus long before I could pronounce it properly. Unfortunately I didn't know that I didn't know how to pronounce it, and took every opportunity to include it in conversation. Sometimes it was pretty hard to get the topic round, but I managed.

Eventually someone gently pointed out that it wasn't actually pronounced ow-uss-phay-gus.
posted by unSane at 1:11 PM on July 7, 2010


I used to be kind of a jealous person. When good things happened to people, I would feel bad and wonder why I couldn't have good things. When bad things happened to people, I would feel bad for them, but also use it as a demonstration that bad things happened all the time.

My life was improved immeasurably when I realized that spending so much emotional energy on feeling bad and focusing on the negative kept me completely closed off from those good things. So now whenever something good happens to anyone, I am genuinely happy and excited for them. I see it as a demonstration of the good things in the world and look for the good things in my life. And in general I try to be optimistic and look for the positive aspects of any situation.

It is hard to get used to, but it turns out it is so much easier and more fulfilling to live that way.
posted by Kimberly at 1:12 PM on July 7, 2010 [23 favorites]


After butchering more than my share of pit-half avocados, I was taught to smack the pit with the blade of the knife firmly enough for it to stick, and then twist. The pit comes right out and BLTAs become a click easier.
posted by clearly at 1:22 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Something I still do wrong, but won't ever change: I drive an automatic transmission with both feet - right on the accelerator and left on the brake. Just never going to break myself of that bad habit. :-(

Color me terrified.
posted by clearly at 1:25 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm sure this has been already mentioned, but I quickly learned how to prounounce "Seamus Heaney" the right way only after I humiliated myself while talking to my cute poetry professor in college.
posted by pyjammy at 1:30 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


sciencegeek: effing was short for f***ing.

It's not?!?! What the hell does it mean when people say "I'm so effing tired." ??? I thought it meant they were fucking tired, but didn't want to use foul language.
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 1:30 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


demo = "dem oh" not "dee-mo". Mom still makes fun of me for that.
posted by mrbill at 1:38 PM on July 7, 2010


Effing is short for fucking, the poster just didn't realize that before.

I was probably 14 before I knew that there was no such thing as an ancedote. (It still looks and sounds better to me.)
posted by Night_owl at 1:40 PM on July 7, 2010


Something I still do wrong, but won't ever change: I drive an automatic transmission with both feet - right on the accelerator and left on the brake. Just never going to break myself of that bad habit. :-(

Not doing this was literally the very first thing they taught us in drivers' ed.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:47 PM on July 7, 2010


Clarification:

Embarrassingly I learned that effing was short for f%^&ing after suggesting it as a vocabulary word for English class in my freshman year of high school.

I also only recently learned that you can scroll down the page in a web browser using the space bar.
posted by sciencegeek at 1:48 PM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


With all this banana talk, how about peeling shrimp (cooked or uncooked) in 2 moves?

Mind blowing... because while it's excusable for a layman not to know, but a chef too?
posted by namewithhe1d at 1:50 PM on July 7, 2010 [12 favorites]


My silly things:
About six months ago, I was getting mopey or depressed because I thought my life kinda sucked. I didn't have a cool car, I "only" made $X (where X is five digits), I wasn't advancing as fast as I wanted, etc. Then I realized how stupid I was being: I can afford a car, even if it's not what I want. I've got a darn good job, all things considered. I felt much better when I realized that.

I'm still learning that I don't need to be perfect. This is a hard lesson, because I'm generally able to pick up new hobbies and do fairly well right off. Unfortunately, mastery comes just as hard to me as everyone else.

The Goodyear logo looks like an elephant head to me. Took me ages to see the shoes.

The driving sign, slippery when wet (you know, this one) looked like snakes or hoses to me; took ages to figure out that it was supposed to be the car sliding.

I'm still trying to figure out why people like me. I think I'm a pretty unsociable/disagreeable person (tend to prefer reading/websurfing to interpersonal interaction, tend to love talking about detail over superficial stuff at the level of eyes glazing over, finding that my interests tend to be esoteric…), but I'm apparently incorrect on this. Haven't managed to internalize it, however.
posted by caphector at 1:52 PM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


I reached the age of 34 without realizing that the word "synecdoche" is not pronounced "SIN-eck-doash." in case you are like me: it's "sin-ECK-duh-key." Even worse, it took an interview on the Daily Show with the author of "Synecdoche, NY" to get me to figure it out. Oh my shame.
posted by KathrynT at 1:52 PM on July 7, 2010 [9 favorites]


I spent a lot of years being anxious about the hairs all over my face, because as a lady it is a great sin to have hairs on your face. Then one day I realized I could use my regular old lady's razor to get rid of them. Face->smooth.

Kissing someone who does this feels like... kissing someone who does this.
posted by bingo at 1:58 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, and that the Dodge logo is a ram's head. I don't know what I thought it was before (some kind of... street sign?), but I distinctly remember walking down the hall of my high school behind a boy with the logo on the back of his t-shirt and stopping short to stare at the ram that I'd never seen before.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 2:03 PM on July 7, 2010


One of my coworkers, who is in her early 30's, believed that, though now extinct, unicorns had once been as real as dinosaurs. We accidentally disabused her of this notion during a meeting a couple of years ago. If she was as embarrassed as you think she would be, she covered it well.
posted by paulg at 2:14 PM on July 7, 2010


Couple things:

1. That high school was actually one of the best times of being in school, which is really sad given how terrible K-12 was for me, but years of bullying left me with a defensive shell and a paranoid belief everyone was out to get me. 20 years on, I know that I had no reason to be defensive and paranoid, that being a teenager sucks, and had I taken the time to make friends and be a little more trusting I could have been friends for life with some wonderful people.

2. That being defensive, prickly, and angry would keep me safe. The only thing it kept me was unhappy and depressed.

3. That "couple" does not mean "2 or 3" but just "2," a mistake I continue to make to much embarrassment.
posted by dw at 2:15 PM on July 7, 2010 [10 favorites]


it was years before I realized the Girl Scout Logo is supposed to be a row of '70s-lookin' long center-part-haired women.

Not anymore.
posted by Vectorcon Systems at 2:22 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


That the best way to eat a banana is not the cartoon method - to half-peel it, using the skin as a handle, eat some, peel some more, eat, peel, until done.
No, I was a growing a teen. Much easier to just peel it fully and be done with the skin - throw the skin away THEN start eating, unhindered by the constant need to peel some more (and wolf down the banana in five bites).
Yeah, ok, our filthy fingers might touch the fruit this way, but let's not pretend our fingers aren't all over our faces all day regardless :)
posted by -harlequin- at 2:23 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thanks to my father's quirky pronunciation of English words, I went around saying MOO-stache instead of MUH-stache for 17 years of my life.
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 2:29 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


For most of my childhood and adolescence I could only whistle by inhaling, not by exhaling, and it just didn't sound as loud.

Inward whistling is a perfectly acceptable alternative to outward whistling if you learn how to do it effectively. Even better is to use both methods in a complimentary fashion. Alternating between inward and outward whistling allows one to breathe and whistle without pause. One can also take advantage of the slight acoustic differences between the two styles to best achieve a given sound. For example, I have a higher range and finer control whilst whistling inward, but it requires greater amounts of air. Outward whistling provides a fuller sound and lower range, but has more restrictive limits in terms of achievable volume range, tempo, and note precision.
posted by dephlogisticated at 2:39 PM on July 7, 2010


At age 28 I learned that paper and envelopes are stationery, not stationary.

That reminds me of my business plan to buy a van and start "Jonesor's mobile stationery store".
posted by jonesor at 2:49 PM on July 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


re: the spelling and pronunciation stuff:

"The Chaos" (by G. Nolst Trenite, a.k.a. "Charivarius"; 1870 - 1946)

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,

I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse

I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.

Tear in eye your dress you'll tear,
So shall I! Oh, hear my prayer,

Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!

Just compare heart, beard and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,

Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it's written).

Made has not the sound of bade,
Say said, pay-paid, laid, but plaid.

Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,

But be careful how you speak,
Say break, steak, but bleak and streak.

Previous, precious, fuchsia, via,
Pipe, snipe, recipe and choir,

Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe.

Hear me say, devoid of trickery:
Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore,

Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles.
Exiles, similes, reviles.

Wholly, holly, signal, signing.
Thames, examining, combining

Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war, and far.

From "desire": desirable--admirable from "admire."
Lumber, plumber, bier, but brier.

Chatham, brougham, renown, but known.
Knowledge, done, but gone and tone,

One, anemone. Balmoral.
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel,

Gertrude, German, wind, and mind.
Scene, Melpomene, mankind,

Tortoise, turquoise, chamois-leather,
Reading, reading, heathen, heather.

This phonetic labyrinth
Gives moss, gross, brook, brooch, ninth, plinth.

Billet does not end like ballet;
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet;

Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.

Banquet is not nearly parquet,
Which is said to rime with "darky."

Viscous, Viscount, load, and broad.
Toward, to forward, to reward.

And your pronunciation's O.K.,
When you say correctly: croquet.

Rounded, wounded, grieve, and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive, and live,

Liberty, library, heave, and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven,

We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.

Mark the difference, moreover,
Between mover, plover, Dover,

Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police, and lice.

Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label,

Petal, penal, and canal,
Wait, surmise, plait, promise, pal.

Suit, suite, ruin, circuit, conduit,
Rime with "shirk it" and "beyond it."

But it is not hard to tell,
Why it's pall, mall, but Pall Mall.

Muscle, muscular, gaol, iron,
Timber, climber, bullion, lion,

Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, and chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor,

Ivy, privy, famous, clamour
And enamour rime with hammer.

Pussy, hussy, and possess,
Desert, but dessert, address.

Golf, wolf, countenance, lieutenants.
Hoist, in lieu of flags, left pennants.

River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.

Stranger does not rime with anger.
Neither does devour with clangour.

Soul, but foul and gaunt but aunt.
Font, front, won't, want, grand, and grant.

Shoes, goes, does. Now first say: finger.
And then: singer, ginger, linger,

Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, age.

Query does not rime with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.

Dost, lost, post; and doth, cloth, loth;
Job, Job; blossom, bosom, oath.

Though the difference seems little,
We say actual, but victual.

Seat, sweat; chaste, caste.; Leigh, eight, height;
Put, nut; granite, and unite.

Reefer does not rime with deafer,
Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer.

Dull, bull, Geoffrey, George, ate, late,
Hint, pint, Senate, but sedate.

Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific,

Tour, but our and succour, four,
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.

Sea, idea, guinea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria,

Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean,
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion with battalion.

Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay.

Say aver, but ever, fever.
Neither, leisure, skein, receiver.

Never guess--it is not safe:
We say calves, valves, half, but Ralph.

Heron, granary, canary,
Crevice and device, and eyrie,

Face but preface, but efface,
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.

Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust, and scour, but scourging,

Ear but earn, and wear and bear
Do not rime with here, but ere.

Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen,

Monkey, donkey, clerk, and jerk,
Asp, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.

Pronunciation--think of psyche--!
Is a paling, stout and spikey,

Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing "groats" and saying "grits"?

It's a dark abyss or tunnel,
Strewn with stones, like rowlock, gunwale,

Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict, and indict!

Don't you think so, reader, rather,
Saying lather, bather, father?

Finally: which rimes with "enough"
Though, through, plough, cough, hough, or tough?

Hiccough has the sound of "cup."
My advice is--give it up!
posted by exlotuseater at 2:55 PM on July 7, 2010 [117 favorites]


Relationships. I alway got them wrong until I came up with my rules, since then, I've only had the one, and it's been working out pretty well for the last decade and a half or so.
posted by quin at 3:06 PM on July 7, 2010


Inward whistling is a perfectly acceptable alternative to outward whistling

c.f. inward singing
posted by Cogito at 3:11 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


It wasn't until the acting classes I took as an adult that I really learned to let go of my first ideas. Not being so emotionally invested in them has allowed me be more critical with myself and turned me into a consummate reviser, and my work has improved because of it. I don't know why I was defensive with myself for so long!

Also, I never connected the written "moped" with mo.ped.s until I was in highschool, and my spectacularly unhip mother busted a gut laughing when I read it aloud like the past tense of "mope" and asked her what it was.

I can still feel the embarrassment.
posted by Westringia F. at 3:11 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


In the same vein as the kiwis, I had no idea that one could cut an avocado in half lengthwise and scoop each half out with a spoon. I learned this last year, and enjoy avocados much more now. I used to peel them by hand and it would get really messy!


It blew my mind when I realized that a Macintosh was a kind of apple, and that that's why Apple's computers were called Macintosh.


I used to put sugar in my tea, but after reading George Orwell's essay on tea, I don't anymore, and it tastes much better.

Nthing "Anyways" and "all of the sudden." Also, "toward" is apparently preferable to "towards."
posted by coppermoss at 3:32 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought Ralph Fiennes' first name was Ray.

I also played Monopoly for years without knowing that the Reading Railroad is pronounced "Redding."
posted by evilcolonel at 3:52 PM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


I had no idea renumeration was wrong! Oh look, my browser just underlined it in red.
Also, thanks for the space bar trick. How did I miss that?

THIS is why one of my few picked battles while raising offspring

Pssst. It's "pitched battles."


I've learned that there is no way to avoid looking like an ass if you try to correct people who think bruschetta is pronounced "broo-shetta."

I was probably 12 before I realized that people on the radio singing to "my baby" weren't singing to their infants.

And I was nearly 30 before I realized that my parents had been talking a Woodhousian language during my youth and that normal people didn't refer to each other as "old bean" or "the mammal" or share a refreshing snort before dinner.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:04 PM on July 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


Wodehousian. I always thought his name was pronounced Woad-house and now I seem to be trying to compensate by spelling it wrong. Sheesh.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:06 PM on July 7, 2010


When I was little I asked my father about turn signals on a car. I wanted to know how he told the car which way he wanted to turn. He would never give me a straight answer. He kept saying, "it just knows." I figured he was jiggling the steering wheel in some way, I never saw him deliberately switch anything on. Granted, I was always in the backseat, so I didn't really have a good view.

Cut to many years later, when I was 17. I had never learned to drive (still haven't), so I hadn't had any first hand experience. I was in a pick up truck with someone I was fairly desperate to impress. I don't know why it occurred to me to ask just then, sitting in the passenger side, all cool and adult.

"So," I ask. "How does the car know which way you want to turn?"

You can imagine the look I got. Who's fault? My dad's.
posted by Hildegarde at 4:09 PM on July 7, 2010 [12 favorites]


I thought "noisome" meant noisy, not smelly, until AskMe set me straight in 2007.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:23 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Surprised that no one has mentioned my particular Achilles heel so far. "Chauffeur" which is not pronounced CHOFF-er, but is, of course, SHOW-fer.

Also, always thought the Goodyear logo was a weird feathery hand pointing to the right, with a bit of sleeve on the left. In my 20's I realized that it was actually a winged foot in a sandal.

Also, could never figure out the Pennzoil logo. Thought it was some strange trash can lid, thing.

I have now coined a phrase for my condition. I am "Automotive Logo Dyslexic"
posted by Spyder's Game at 4:25 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


That the best way to cook rice it to leave it the eff alone.
posted by sunshinesky at 4:33 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'd been having sex for, oh, twentyfive years or more, and thought I kind of had the hang of it. Then I found a new partner who has a big brass bed with a foot rail. Oh, such a revelation! Having something to push off against with my legs makes such a big difference for my stamina and agility.
posted by Jasper Fnorde at 4:34 PM on July 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


When I was in 3rd or 4th grade, there was a sign on the wall in our lunch room written in large letters that read - ONLY ONE DESERT! Now even at this age, I knew that there was more than one desert in the world, There was the Sahara desert, the Gobi, the Kalahara... and I used to stare at this sign every day as I ate my lunch and it would drive me crazy because not only was it blatantly wrong, but I couldn't figure out who was so adamant about there being only one desert in the world and on top of that, why did they choose the lunch room wall to make such a crazy claim. Who was behind it? Why did they care so much?

It was towards the end of the year when I finally made the connection that the sign was above the ice cream cooler and that someone had misspelled "dessert."
posted by puny human at 4:52 PM on July 7, 2010 [22 favorites]


That descriptivist grammarians exist, and that I'm one of them.
posted by joshjs at 5:17 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


The nut is called an ALL-mond when it's on the tree but an Ah-mund when it's off the tree because you have to shake the 'ell out of 'em to get 'em off the tree!

(yes, that old chestnut told to me while I was working at the House of Almonds, a place where people are determined to tell you nutty jokes.)

Apparently, I've been pronouncing "spliff" wrong all these years.
posted by vespabelle at 5:21 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I didn't understand why I had such awful split ends until I had nearly graduated from college: I shampooed ALL of my hair -- I have long hair -- and didn't condition because my scalp gets naturally oily within a day. When I found out you're only supposed to shampoo the hair on your scalp and condition the rest, it blew my mind. No problem with split ends since then.

This works with short hair too, and I used to do that same thing (except I used to shampoo and condition all of my hair) and didn't know why my hair was so oily all of the time plus split ends! Now I know better.


Also, with mispronunciations, aren't most of those dialectal? I mean people pronounce things differently depending on where they come from or when they were born, right? I never worry *too* much about how I pronounce things (unless it's really off - like my previous post).
posted by patheral at 5:26 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Until my early 30s I thought "moreless" was a word. As in "The dinner's moreless ready if you want to come through." I could hardly believe it when a friend told me (with a great deal of laughter) that this word I'd been happily using for years didn't exist and you actually had to go to the trouble of using three words when you wrote it down - "more or less". And I'm a journalist. I'm supposed to have at least a passing acquaintance with the English language.
posted by penguin pie at 5:41 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Another inward whistler here. I still haven't learned how to spit properly, either -- I just splutter. (Anyone got any tips on that? It would be nice to successfully aim cherry stones at the trashcan.)

I thought "wholly" was pronounced "wally" until I was about 15. I also thought "idiosyncrasy" was pronounced "idiosy 'n' crazy." I still think that's better.

I also thought I went camping with a boy named Fawn (I knew a few hippy-dippy kids), but it turns out years later that his name was Vaughan. He never corrected me, though, so pffft.
posted by vickyverky at 5:55 PM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


I... didn't use version control until my second programming job, after college. When in fact, version control is the best thing since, nay, better than sliced bread. It is so good that I'm going to teach my family how to use it, so they don't have to deal with dissertation_version_5_no_really_this_is_the_one.doc ever again. jpfed
This. This a Million Times. In my first job I ended up in a team of 15 with a million lines of code with no version control except for a dev/ and a live/ directory. When stuff was finished, you copied it to live, and it was live.

Version Control. We were doing it wrong.
posted by Jerub at 6:01 PM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


I thought that it's only jaywalking if you go from corner to opposite corner at an intersection

For the longest time I though that too.

I'd smoked for a few years before I realized that packing your cigarettes does nothing but annoy the fuck out of those around you.

And only after having been home for a few weeks after a trip to NYC did I learn that they pronounce Houston (street) incorrectly.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 6:17 PM on July 7, 2010


I thought the squat, yellow flower was a dandelion, and the tall, make-a-wish puffballs were different flowers. When I finally made the connection that the flower goes away, the stalk grows, and the puffball appears to re-populate the world with dandelions, I was well into my twenties.
posted by atayah at 6:18 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Perception is projection.
posted by ajr at 6:36 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you try foods enough times you might eventually get to liking them.
- Vegetables, mushrooms - How could I have hated mushrooms!?

If you don't ask you'll never know.
- Girls, employment, raises, resources

Life's too short to not wear comfortable underwear. Throw out underwear you hate wearing. (I realize that may not be financially responsible for many)

Flossing really does make visits to the dentist less horrifying.

It took me until I was at least 25 to realize if the sun was out and I had some idea of the time of day, I could always figure out where N, S, E, W was.

Similarly it changed my life to start reading the exit signs on the NYC subway that tell you the exit is for the "NE corner of blah street". Additionally with the subway, paying attention to which direction the train was headed as I leave the station will easily orient you if you have a good mental picture of the subway map.

I thought irregardless was a real word until I was 22.
posted by zackola at 6:39 PM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Just bought a furnace for my house for the first time. Paid more than I wanted to, but at least I'll be warm in the winter and cool in the summer, right? But no. A 'furnace' is just the heating portion - doesn't include the cooling unit. How did I get to my mid-40's before I knew this?

My reply to the sales guy was "then why don't you just call it a 'heater' " ?
posted by mikeinclifton at 7:16 PM on July 7, 2010


My reply to the sales guy was "then why don't you just call it a 'heater' " ?

He does! Well, in Latin. "Furnace" comes from "fornacem," which means "oven," and derives from a cognate for the English "warm."

See, Dad, I told you majoring in Classics wasn't pointless.
posted by oinopaponton at 7:20 PM on July 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


That the adage about how money is one of the major things that breaks up couples is very true. You truly cannot live on love, especially when Sallie Mae is involved.

On a related note, the interest rate on a credit card isn't figured by you just multiplying the balance by the interest rate. There's so much fine print and friggin math involved it's no wonder so many people are in credit card debt in this country.
posted by CwgrlUp at 7:43 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


A French trick to tell if the moon is waxing or waning: the waxing moon looks like the top half of the letter p ('premier') and the waning moon like the bottom half of the letter d ('dernier').

Or just memorize that the border between the light and dark sides moves from right to left.
posted by exogenous at 7:57 PM on July 7, 2010


I thought irregardless was a real word until I was 22.

If people use it - and people do use it, every day - it's a real word. I don't care what anyone says.

Look they even have a entry for it in the dictionary.
posted by patheral at 8:00 PM on July 7, 2010


That the adage about how money is one of the major things that breaks up couples is very true. You truly cannot live on love, especially when Sallie Mae is involved.

Absolutely. Thankfully I have yet to experience this myself, as I have been very creative, one might say underground and experimental, with the ways that my couplehoods have broken up, but I've seen this way to often in life not to respect it. It's probably the main reason why I went to law school. Which brings me to:

Don't quit what you like doing but aren't successful at to go to law school.

Seriously, the most important thing I learned from it is that if I'd even been putting half as much effort into selling my beloved talents as I did into that awful endeavor, I'd be making a living at it today.

Also, I've learned that I can lapse on my credit payments, then later pay them in full while sounding nicely panicked and unaware of the situation on the phone, and my credit rating will remain surprisingly solid. That's probably not a good life lesson to take away from anything, though.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:05 PM on July 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


I didn't realize yogurt was a dairy product until someone pointed it out to me when I asked where yogurt comes from.
posted by bdk3clash at 8:08 PM on July 7, 2010


Conversely, I have had numerous hissy fits attempting to explain to people that just because eggs usually found in the dairy aisle of the supermarket does not mean that they contain actual dairy products or byproducts. Similarly, mayonnaise.
posted by elizardbits at 8:12 PM on July 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


one quart = one quarter gallon

oh, wow.
posted by spinturtle at 8:29 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Soft-boiled eggs, here in Australia, are boiled in the shell for about three and a half to four minutes, until the whites are firm but the yolks still runny. Methods of getting into the shell to eat them vary. I put my egg in an egg-cup, tap the top of the shell with a spoon so that it cracks, and then peel off enough shell to bare the top; then I spoon off the top bit of firm eggwhite, thereby making a hole at the top through which the spoon can enter. My mother-in-law uses a gadget that she places over the top of the egg which slices it off using vicious little blades. I hate it because the cut isn't clean and it drives bits of eggshell into the egg.

I prefer poached eggs without the vinegar too, but we poach them in egg rings, which means the white stays in a neat circle and doesn't disperse into the water.

As for "doing it wrong" - my brother-in-law was in his thirties before he was told that bay leaves should be removed from the soup/sauce before serving, rather than just eaten. He was eating them and hating the flavour.
posted by andraste at 8:47 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


When to put the meat in. It works!
posted by dobbs at 8:47 PM on July 7, 2010 [11 favorites]


one quart = one quarter gallon

well, fuck. Yes, it is.
posted by unSane at 8:50 PM on July 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


I thought Ralph Fiennes' first name was Ray.

I believe it's pronounced rayph.
posted by dobbs at 8:50 PM on July 7, 2010


In the same vein as the kiwis, I had no idea that one could cut an avocado in half lengthwise and scoop each half out with a spoon. I learned this last year, and enjoy avocados much more now.

Cut them in half with a chef's knife and the "drop" (without letting go the handle) the blade into the pit. Twist, it lifts out perfectly with the knife.
posted by dobbs at 8:52 PM on July 7, 2010


It took about ten years of casual biking to realise that you shift gears down to go up hills, not up

Took me about 20 years (age 16 to 36) to remember that bicycles are MUCH more fun to ride without any gears at all.
posted by dobbs at 8:56 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I believe it's pronounced rayph.

Right, and his last name begins with an F, so it sounds like Ray Fiennes.
posted by evilcolonel at 9:12 PM on July 7, 2010


I am really obsessive about spelling, so it killed me to learn the name 'Issac' is actually spelled 'Isaac.'

I'd been reading it as 'Issac' since childhood and I only realized my mistake a couple years ago. 'Issac' is so ingrained in my brain that I still feel like one day I'll discover I was right all along and it is actually the true spelling.

Grr.
posted by Put the kettle on at 9:13 PM on July 7, 2010


I attended a video "boot camp" for the Panasonic HVX-200, which I shot my newest documentary with. HD camera, beautiful picture, but let's be honest: the LCD screen on it was shit. It lied and often you'd think a shot looked great and then you'd review it, and it'd be out of focus. The margin of error in HD is a lot less than SD and so you'd think you nailed it and nope, it was crap.

One solution was to have an external monitor - as a one-man crew, I found this unappealing, as well as paying for a small external monitor that could be lugged around.

So at this boot camp, we had a VERY special guest, Marc Singer. Director of Dark Days, a film he actually was donating blood to pay for at one juncture. He was at work on a documentary film about the military, and was embedded with some soldiers who would eventually be shipped to Iraq or Afghanistan. (Unfortunately, the documentary didn't work out.)

Anyway, he's telling us some of his experience using this camera, and how he was switching batteries halfway up a rope ladder during training, and keeping dust off the lens, and so on, and someone asked "how do you deal with the focus problem?" It was a question we all had, due to this silly situation with the HVX-200.

He looked up for a moment, said "oh, I zoom in, focus, zoom out" and kept going with his story.

It was like a room full of starving men were presented a buffet.

I use that technique every day now.
posted by jscott at 9:20 PM on July 7, 2010 [21 favorites]


Nthing lyrics. I thought Alanis Morissette sang about "the cross-eyed bear" that I gave her.
posted by domnit at 9:40 PM on July 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


As a prepubescent girl, I watched some sort of bad late night comedy show where a man's pants bulge followed a hot woman even though the man wasn't looking at her. So I assumed erections were like arousal lie detector tests -- pointing at the thing they were most attracted to.

It's a shame it took me quite a few boyfriends before I realized it didn't work that way (and only because I asked).

I home schooled myself on math for a semester when I had mono. Imagine my embarrassment when I tried to be all smart about parabolas -- (pair-a-bowl-uz).

Similar issues with advantageous (advant-a-jus), albeit (alabite like alibi) and Bill and Ted's saved me from So-Crates.
posted by Gucky at 10:07 PM on July 7, 2010


The kind of car you drive says absolutely nothing about who you are as a person.
posted by The World Famous at 10:13 PM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


"the cross-eyed bear"

If I remember properly, Morissette actually had a "cross-eyed bear" produced as shwag on her tour, this misperception was so common.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:14 PM on July 7, 2010


Definition of 'erstwhile' - I thought it meant strong and steadfast, instead it means former.

That's funny -- I thought it meant "temporarily."
posted by me3dia at 10:31 PM on July 7, 2010


Count me as one of the people who can't see the D in the Disney logo. Even now, when I know it's there, I don't see it without really focusing. It just seems like a chinese character to me: something that means "Disney" but has nothing to do with the phonetic pronunciation of the word. Learning that it wasn't just a squiggle was pretty enlightening though.
posted by sparrow89 at 10:54 PM on July 7, 2010


My wife showed me that avocados are much easier to peel if you quarter them (rather than just cutting them in half.
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:24 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


TheSecretDecoderRing - as far as the flap on the toilet seat cover, it isn't detachable because you let it drop into the toilet when you use it, and when you flush, it SHOULD just flush down (pulling everything into the bowl), no more intervention needed.

Well, that's what I always figured, but that was coupled with the fact that the cover would often sag into the bowl, which made it seem impractical. And really, it doesn't seem like much of a hassle to manually slide the cover into the bowl once you're done. Maybe removing the flap and placing it on the handle for flushing would be optimal for extreme germophobes.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 11:51 PM on July 7, 2010


Actually you don't need to peel avocados if you are slicing or dicing them. Those shapes can be cut while the avocado is in the peel and then scooped out. I've only had to peel one when I discover it has bad spots near the skin, in which case it is best to quarter and peel to make it easy to dig out the bad spots.

One place I lived never had good avocados in the grocery store - they always developed bad spots while they ripened at home so those I almost always peeled.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 12:04 AM on July 8, 2010


Yea! I was working two 8 hour jobs so I was tired all the time, and I read this Hemingway book in which a couple of his usual muchomacho guys were appraising this more refined dude who had just walked into the bar, and one of them said, "Yea, I'll bet he sits down to pee," and I dropped the book and lifted both arms and yelled "Of course!" Changed my way of livin'.
posted by carping demon at 12:07 AM on July 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


I can't believe I read the whole thing! Well... parts anyhow. Anyway, I think the moral of this thread is that we all shouldn't keep what we do in the bathroom such a big secret, because we're probably all doing *something* wrong in there (or in our cars, bedrooms, heads & etc.) "Bathroom behaviors are surprisingly insulated" as muddgirl says in the "Sitters Vs. Standers" post. But I suppose that's also the moral (read: point) of the scientific method & of ask.mefi itself, no?

Anyway, maybe this helps explain why certain elements in our society have such a distaste for science & scholarship! Free will, the meaning of life, the chicken and the egg... Is it really worth pursuing the answers to these questions if it might also mean that we're forced to admit we've been wiping our asses the wrong way this whole time?

(And also, I think we've got "segue" covered, but can anyone tell me how to pronounce "sigue" as in "Sigue Sigue Sputnik"? Thanks!)
posted by idontlikewords at 12:24 AM on July 8, 2010


Count me in with the sitters, yo.

I started sitting in grad school when I had roommates and didn't want to wake them with the splashing when I went to the bathroom at night. Then I started sitting whenever I was using someone else's bathroom, so as not to risk any rogue drops going anywhere on their floor. Then I started sitting whenever I would get up in the middle of the night, so I didn't have to worry about missing the bowl while I was still half-asleep. Then I started sitting when I got up in the morning because "morning wood" sometimes made it a bit of a challenge to pee while standing. (Yeah, TMI.)

I still use urinals when I'm at work or at a stadium or rest stop or anywhere I really don't want to sit down for whatever reason (the toilet looks dodgy, a Senator from Idaho is in the next stall, etc.). But heck, otherwise, sitting is really the way to go.
posted by darkstar at 1:11 AM on July 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


THIS is why one of my few picked battles while raising offspring

Pssst. It's "pitched battles."


Psst. I think will wait 4 tanjents meant "picked battles" as in the phrase "pick your battles" - in other words, you can't fight about everything, but ww4t was quite prepared to fight about that. A pitched battle is rather more violent.
posted by altolinguistic at 1:46 AM on July 8, 2010


The song "Twisting" by They Might Be Giants is about an ex that wants to see her ex hang. Took me 12 years to figure that one out.
posted by gc at 2:03 AM on July 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


One thing I've learned but I'm still trying to perfect is that I don't have to be in every argument, and the phrase "you know what? I really don't know enough about that to make an informed comment," is really, really awesome.

When posting a comment on MeFi (and by extension, anywhere else on the Tubes), take a moment to go do something else, and then come back and decide if that comment is really worth posting. I've thrown away so many comments that were for threads on this site because they either added nothing to the FPP, revealed my ignorance, or both.

Learning which threads on MeFi are just going to make me angry, and not opening them.

While we're on car symbols, the BMW symbol is a spinning plane propeller.
posted by gc at 3:53 AM on July 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


The BMW logo is actually representative of the Bavarian state flag, not a propeller.
posted by kdar at 4:41 AM on July 8, 2010


on pronunciation - realising that ennui was that on-wee word...
posted by russm at 5:09 AM on July 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Why Muhammad Ali/Cassius Clay had two names, whereas "everyone else" had only one. (I blame my parents.)
posted by infravires at 6:10 AM on July 8, 2010


We (Americans) don't (eat soft boiled eggs). That's a broad generalization, certain to have plenty of exceptions, but soft boiled eggs are certainly not as common in the States as they are in Europe (and, I assume, Australia and New Zealand).

What do you dip you soldiers in?

Anyway, my big one: contrary to what my father the firefighter told me, you can indeed use hot water to put fires out. It won't make it worse.
posted by vbfg at 6:48 AM on July 8, 2010


There's a disconnect somewhere.
When I was a teenager, I knew everything.
Now that I am 58, I learn something every day.

My parents were from Canada; they came to the US so that I would be born as a US citizen. When I was little, it was French in the house, English outside. I helped them learn English. My learning was from school and books, not from them. I still mispronounce words to this day because we never spoke of these things.
posted by Drasher at 6:59 AM on July 8, 2010


Shaving cream isn't necessary.
posted by emelenjr at 7:31 AM on July 8, 2010


That a Mango Splitter is an excellent investment.
posted by dobbs at 7:36 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Regarding shoe tying, I've been doing this since I saw it (on MeFi I think) and it's awesome. Ties fast, holds fast.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:54 AM on July 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


*hugs Nattie*

Cogito: 'twas quite a while before I realized Penelope was not pronounced like pen + elope

Actually, it's a Greek name (for example, Odysseus' wife), and in Greek it's pronounced almost as you pronounce(d) it: Pen-eh-lope-ee, with the stress on the third syllable, and a long 'O', as opposed to the US/UK pronunciation, Pen-el-o-pee, with the stress on the second syllable and a short 'O'.

posted by taz at 8:20 AM on July 8, 2010


Also: penultimate.

I'm embarrassed to say I didn't know this meant "second to last" until I was a 1L in law school. Then I read Spielberg's liner notes for the 30th Anniversary Blu-Ray of "Close Encounters" which came out that same year and realized I wasn't the only one who mistook this word as meaning "super duper ultimate."
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:22 AM on July 8, 2010


What prompted me to ask was the realization (from maybe a year or so ago), that the flap on toilet seat covers can be removed entirely, as opposed to leaving that un-perforated side at the back. I don't know how obvious this is, but I still don't see why they don't just perforate that too.

I thought the whole point of the flap in back is that it hung in the water so when the toilet was flushed the cover would be flushed, too, without the need to touch it.


If you hang the flap into the bowl at the front (away from the tank/pipes) it still flushes down -- but it also protects your dangly bits (if you're a boy) from any grossness along the front of the rim. Realizing that made using the toilet in a public place a lot less disgusting.
posted by me3dia at 8:25 AM on July 8, 2010


When I was in (private, fundie Christian) elementary school, my teacher told me that dinosaurs weren't real, that their bones had been put in the ground by Satan to lead us from The Light. Around the same time there was a scandal at a nearby history museum that one of the dinosaurs on display was actually made from the bones of two different species.

I got the two incidents mixed up in my mind and didn't believe in dinosaurs until COLLEGE.

I still have a hard time believing in them, honestly, but at least I'm able to give credibility to the idea.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 8:36 AM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


'twas quite a while before I realized Penelope was not pronounced like pen + elope

There was a ketch in the Falklands for a while whose name was spelt Penelope and pronounced locally as the Penny Lope, so in those very specific circumstances you would have been right! (More recently, the Danish cargo ship which resupplied the Islands, Anne Boye, was always pronounced Annie Boy for no apparent reason.)
posted by penguin pie at 8:43 AM on July 8, 2010


I didn't know about the shoe-tying thing until I read this thread. Mind. BLOWN.

I was in my early twenties when I suddenly realized that "then" and "than" are two separate words.
posted by Vorteks at 8:44 AM on July 8, 2010


Also! I thought that height strip on the doors at fast-food restaurants was just a neat thing so you could see how tall you were. I had no idea it was for estimating the height of bad guys!

I learned that, um, last year. I even worked in fast food a lot in high school and college, and no one ever told me that.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 8:50 AM on July 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


It is possible for small items to disappear down the gap at the front of the washing machine (between the drum and the rubber seal in a machine with the drum mounted horizontally) during a wash. This probably does not explain the large number of odd socks in my sock drawer though, as they are not the tiny in-shoe type of socks. Using a delicates bag for the small items should stop this occuring.

Clean your bike chain by running it through a rag or newspaper after oiling it, so that the oil stays on the inside, where it is needed and not on the outside where it just causes trouble.

Some people exhibit behaviours on the anti-social behaviour spectrum. This can make them good fun to know and exciting to be around. However, they are capable of great cruelty and emotional manipulation, which is usually ultimately damaging to those around them unless they address their behaviour. They do not possess empathy as most people understand it, and therefore are unlikely to want to change their behaviour.

They can be very useful members of society, they are often very driven and determined people.

A person and their behaviour are separate things. One can change one's behaviour if one so chooses.

UK Mefites only - Heat fish and chips up on a tray in the oven for 5-10 minutes after getting them home to re-crisp the batter and get everything piping hot. This will also cause some of the excess grease to run off and give you time to cook up the minted peas and get out the condiments. No more soggy, lukewarm chips and batter to contend with. It's like eating in a restaurant! Probably shouldn't be eating fish, though : (
posted by asok at 8:51 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


> on accident

Did you mean by accident?
posted by MrSomeone at 8:53 AM on July 8, 2010


Once I was on the phone listening to a friend's relationship woes. I offered concrete constructive ideas in response to her. At some point she interrupted me and wailed, "I don't want suggestions, I just want you to listen to me."
Some people just want you to listen to them.

After dating two people who had issues with hypoglycemia, I'm now much more aware of how long it has been since people have eaten and tend to have some form of portable food with me.

There is no right turn on red in New York City.

From a year of a 3.5 hour one way commute: if you assume a submissive posture, ask nicely and smile, most people actually will quiet down when on the cell phone. Of course I only did this when I could see more than one other person glaring at the person talking loudly.

YMMV is an important consideration when giving advice.

Setting a timer for 15 minutes is the best way to get yourself to clean. In fact, for many tasks setting a timer for a limited amount of time may get you to sit down, focus and get things done.

Putting the pie in the microwave for five minutes before putting it in the oven cuts down the overall cooking time. Melting chocolate or butter in the microwave is easier for me.
posted by sciencegeek at 9:18 AM on July 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


My girlfriend helped me realize last night that I use the term "fit the bill" instead of either of the actual idioms: "flip the bill" or "foot the bill". IMO, I feel as if my "fit the bill" could be considered an eggcorn of the same term :)
posted by bolitovt at 9:21 AM on July 8, 2010


I think "fit the bill" is fine. I have never anyone say "flip the bill", although it seems to be gaining traction.
posted by Daddy-O at 9:37 AM on July 8, 2010


fill the bill vs. fit the bill (says "fill the bill" is the more traditional)
from Paul Brians' fun list of common usage errors in English - even if you are a descriptivist and think many of these are no longer errors because they're so common, it can be interesting to learn some of these if you haven't been aware there were two options.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:37 AM on July 8, 2010


Naberius: "Wearing earbuds. I always thought they fell out because my ear canals weren't shaped properly or something, and I just couldn't use them Turns out I was putting them in backward, with the speaker grilles facing behind me. Put them in with the grilles facing forward and they stay in just fine."

Wait? What? huh!
posted by Bonzai at 9:37 AM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I thought the "XING" on street signs and painted on roads (e.g. "SCHOOL XING") was pronounced "zing," well into junior high school.

Also in junior high, I told my best friend's classical-loving father, with some authority, that the Charlie Brown Christmas album was written and performed by Vivaldi. (It's Guaraldi, dork.)
posted by waxpancake at 9:42 AM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ooh, I'm going to blow your minds on the toilet-seat covers:

The flap goes IN FRONT.
posted by callmejay at 9:55 AM on July 8, 2010


Adding to the ultimate / penultimate discussion:

In English, ultimate means 'final', but we often use it to mean 'definitive' or 'best' - all variations on the same theme.

When I was taking Spanish classes in Spain with a bunch of other non-Spanish folks, we were having an open discussion. It's worth mentioning that I was going through my divorce at the time and also that the class had many young attractive European ladies in it. So, the question of the hour was something like:

¿Cuál fue tu última compra? (what was your most recent purchase?)

and so not really thinking about the trap of false cognates, I went on to describe how the biggest or largest or most ... ultimate ... purchase of mine was my wedding ring, for this woman I was now getting a divorce from.

The rest of the class looked at me like I was crazy, because 'ultimo' in Spanish means only 'last' or 'most recent' and not 'definitive'. So while everyone else is talking about things they bought right before class, like a pencil or a cookie, I'm talking about a wedding ring, and apparently I must have gotten married right before class too because now I'm talking about a divorce ...

... anyway the moral of the story here is watch out for cognates. The other moral of the story is that the cute European girls don't care if you're in the middle of a divorce.
posted by komara at 9:55 AM on July 8, 2010 [8 favorites]


When I was a kid, I heard people mispronounce "albeit" so that the middle syllable rhymed with "eye." I assumed they were saying, "I'll buy it." And that sort of made sense in context.

"I hate 'Jurassic Park' -- I'll buy it the special effects are great." I figured it meant "though I'll buy (as in "accept") the fact that the special effects are great," and the odd grammar was just an idiomatic way of talking. (Explaining why they didn't say "THOUGH I'll buy it THAT the special effects are great."

Later, when I saw "albeit" (which means "although," just in case anyone is ashamed to ask) in print, I had no idea what I was looking at.
posted by grumblebee at 10:12 AM on July 8, 2010


I used to think that J.B. Hunt the shipping company was the same as Hunt's Ketchup. So pretty much every time I saw a train I wondered why the U.S. population loved their condiments so much.
posted by alygator at 10:14 AM on July 8, 2010


I was well into my 30s before I realized that I'm stereoblind. Not only do I not have any depth perception, I can't even wrap my head around a written description of it. Explains why I sucked at baseball as a kid, among other things.
posted by HillbillyInBC at 10:29 AM on July 8, 2010


Over the years I have done a lot of collaboration with people via email. I used to send important attachments (such as a document that my collaborator was supposed to review) as a response to the original email thread.

Although "replying" is ostensibly a time-saver, I realized that a lot of things were getting lost in the shuffle because the person didn't notice the attachment or he/she overlooked it or Gmail "hid" the thread, etc.

Now I add in big, annoying caps the words FOR REVIEW at the beginning of the subject line (with the name of the document) and I never send an attachment with a "reply" unless the other person requests it for some reason.
posted by jeremias at 10:36 AM on July 8, 2010


So I assumed erections were like arousal lie detector tests -- pointing at the thing they were most attracted to.

Yeah, I used to think that erections were instantaneous and uncontrollable: the second a guy saw an attractive person, he'd automatically pitch a tent. This resulted in quite the psychological complex once I started dating.
posted by desjardins at 10:37 AM on July 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


You know that Robert Frost poem with the line "...two roads diverged in a yellow wood..."? Well I grew up in a place that was mostly devoid of deciduous trees. For the first 22 years of my life I thought Frost was on mushrooms and this was his psychadellic phase.

Also? I don't know how to spell psycedelic.
posted by mattmoehr at 10:44 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I used to think that erections were instantaneous and uncontrollable

When you're 14 they are.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 10:44 AM on July 8, 2010 [8 favorites]


darkstar: Something I still do wrong, but won't ever change: I drive an automatic transmission with both feet - right on the accelerator and left on the brake. Just never going to break myself of that bad habit. :-(

Actually, that's called left-foot braking and it's a racing technique that's really hard to learn (in the process of training myself to do it for autocross). It lets you modulate the brake and throttle inputs with more precision and speed, and it's rather impressive that you can do it naturally. Provided you don't ride the brakes as you drive and warp your brake rotors and put undue stress on your engine. :)
posted by Punkey at 10:45 AM on July 8, 2010


My elderly mom drives that way. Says that's how they taught her to drive back in the Pleistocene. Freaks me out every time.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:55 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Until I was about 20, I thought school was about learning. (A.K.A. it took me well into adulthood to learn that, in life, people expect you to do mindless rituals under the pretense that those rituals are meaningful.)

Maybe your schools were places of learning; mine weren't.

I came from an intellectual family. Nothing was ever forced on me, but my parents continually read, talked about ideas, and brought interesting things into our home for me to explore. So I knew what it meant to learn, and I loved it.

And adults TOLD me that school was where you went to learn. I remember, as a small child, chomping at the bit to get to school. I wanted to be around lots of people whose primary goals were to teach and learn.

But my elementary school wasn't mostly about learning. It was about social conditioning. It was about sitting and standing when you were told. It was about waiting for recess. It was about making, keeping and losing friends. But I figured things would get better in junior high.

Junior high school was about being bullied. It was about being called a "fag" (mostly because I was obsessed with learning and carried books around with me everywhere) and trying to get from my locker to class without being punched. Then, when I got to class, it was about dealing (or not) with boredom.

I discovered that "learning" was not about exploration and experimentation. It was about doing a specific set of steps, in a specific order, as you were told. Understanding WHY you were doing the steps wasn't important. Asking too many questions about why was discouraged.

[ I LEARNED THAT ASKING QUESTIONS WAS DISCOURAGED IN SCHOOL! MOST TEACHERS DIDN'T LIKE BEING ASKED QUESTIONS, UNLESS YOU WERE JUST ASKING WHICH STEPS TO DO. ]

I know most kids accept the way school is by either liking it in spite of the fact that it's not about rigorous learning or hating it but accepting that they hate it (living for recess or for after school -- or just putting up with the bullshit and enjoying the social aspects of it). I couldn't do that. I couldn't understand that school wasn't about learning. I thought that somehow it was, but that I didn't get how. That I just wasn't doing school right. Or that I just happened to have the wrong teachers, but that next year, with luck, I'd get better ones.

(I was also snobbish about school. Both my parents were professors. I thought being a professor was the highest calling.

I remember having friends -- lots of them -- who would bluntly say, "I hate school." And it wasn't even a big deal to them. They would say, "I hate school" and then, "Come on -- let's go to the comic book store!" But to me it was a VERY big deal. How could you casually say you hated school! That was blasphemous!

In the back of my mind, I knew I hated it, too, but I would never, ever, ever have said that, even to myself. I was so fucked up, I even pretended to be sad when it was a snow day. Years later, when I finally admitted that I hated school, it was SUCH a relief. I was like an abused wife admitting that the abuse was her husbands fault, not hers.)

A guidance counselor told me I'd probably like high school better, and I should just wait out junior-high. I totally believed this (because I wanted to -- needed to -- believe it), and I showed up for the first day of high school THRILLED that I was finally in an institution of real learning.

Except, of course, I wasn't. High school wasn't about learning. It was, again, about rote tasks, following rules, busy-work, cultural indoctrination, getting around the rules, socializing, drinking and sex.

Adults told me I would like college better. Again, I believed them. (Why was I so endlessly naive?) But college was mostly the same. (I DO think it's easier to find colleges that have at least SOME real learning going on than what goes on in most high schools, but I wasn't so lucky. I went to a big, not-very-ambitious, very traditional, state university.)

I finally couldn't take it any more and I dropped out. I was angry because I felt that teachers had wasted so many years of my life -- my prime years for learning. I was angry because I believed in "the dream." And the dream had been shattered. But I was SO relieved to be out of school. It was like the world had rolled off my shoulders.

A few years later, I realized not-having-a-degree was keeping me from all sorts of lucrative jobs. So I went back to college and got my degree (even staying to get a Masters). This time, I went full of cynicism. I didn't expect to learn anything. I just wanted the piece of paper.

I was SO much happier.
posted by grumblebee at 11:03 AM on July 8, 2010 [64 favorites]


How about laundry??

I used to think that if your clothes came out of the dryer wrinkled, and you didn't want wrinkled clothes, you had to iron them. Turns out the majority of clothes really will be fine in a couple hours if you just hang them in your closet as soon as you take them out.

I didn't know you should fold your clothes once in half, and then roll them when putting in your suitcase.

After years and years of heavy periods, and the resultant scrubbing, my mom finally told me that ammonia gets out blood stains way better than things like Shout. Gee mom, I could have used that tidbit a little earlier.

(and it took too long to realize that I was slowly becoming very anemic, even though my periods were average length.)

Or how about when you eat something regularly, perhaps every day for weeks or months, stop eating it, and only then realize that's what was giving you indigestion or just making you feel like crap.

I could think of so much more...
posted by serena15221 at 11:18 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


waxpancake: I thought the "XING" on street signs and painted on roads (e.g. "SCHOOL XING") was pronounced "zing," well into junior high school.

In the Max Headroom TV series, the head of the Zik Zak corporation was Ped Xing, pronounced "zing", named after the traffic sign.
posted by Gridlock Joe at 11:19 AM on July 8, 2010


Hydrogen Peroxide is great for removing blood from clothing.
posted by Daddy-O at 11:19 AM on July 8, 2010


I actually followed my poor husband into the bathroom last night, excitedly waving a box of aluminum foil - so that he could also see with his own eyes that it was true!

The box does indeed have a little push-in doo-dad at each end - to secure the roll in place when you're yanking out the foil. Ditto with the saran wrap. (Such a revelation - among so many here -this is such a great thread.)


Re: laundry. I learned much too late that bras with under wire should never, ever go in a tumble drier. My mother-in-law tipped me off when she saw me clumsily trying to mend yet another bra with a viciously sprung wire & cursing about how lousily "they" made these things. I've never had a problem since.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:32 AM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was in college when someone told me that interstate numbers were not random and they went from little -5 numbers on the west to big -5 numbers on the east (I-5 in CA to I-95 on the eastern seabord) and the ones that ended in zero the numbers got bigger from south to north. and that the spurs & bypasses were not named randomly either. I was AMAZED until that point how people knew so much about which roads went where. D'OH!

Just to clarify, interstates are not just 5s and 0s. Odd numbered interstates run north-south and evens east-west.

Three digit interstates that start with an odd number are spurs and those that start with an even number are either bypasses or run through a city, and start and end on the two digit route.

(in general. PennDOT, in its infinite wisdom, just extended I-376 such that the west-most point is past I-76 and runs through Pittsburgh.)
posted by dforemsky at 11:55 AM on July 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


That the best way to eat a banana is not the cartoon method

Victorian-era people had the devil of a time determining the best way a lady should eat this new fruit -- eventually it was decided a servant should peel it and serve it already sliced, on a plate.

Clean your bike chain by

Some hard-core yet vain cyclists have been known to grease a brand-new chain with a hypodermic needle loaded with oil (so the oil can be placed inside-only, at precisely the right locations).

There is no right turn on red in New York City.

Still? Jesus!

Okay, mine -- one shouldn't discard those 1099 forms schools send you because tuition (paid to an accredited institution) is deductible, even if you don't (or as is usually my case, can't) itemize. Hello, 1040X!
posted by Rash at 12:04 PM on July 8, 2010


The song "Twisting" by They Might Be Giants is about an ex that wants to see her ex hang. Took me 12 years to figure that one out.

It was my girlfriend's brother who commented that the song S-E-X-X-Y was probably about someone with Klinefelter Syndrome. I'd have never figured that out with him.
posted by jscott at 12:08 PM on July 8, 2010


I realized that my whole perspective of nature was distorted. This book helped me to learn the way.

Bits of Philosophy: From The Letters and Journal of Anna Firth Ferguson
posted by supyo at 12:16 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


"My sister and I used to think "handjob" was another word for "manicure." Our parents are immigrants who don't speak much English, so they never corrected us. Oh, we were so innocent back then..."

This would explain some very expensive and underwhelming work I had done on my cuticles.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 12:19 PM on July 8, 2010


I was an adult before I realized that everything others somehow didn't comprehend was inexplicable and moronic, while I didn't get some things for reasons that were perfectly sound. Indeed, everything would be better if it were the way I supposed it was.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 12:23 PM on July 8, 2010


I was in my 20s before I found out that "genitalia" wasn't pronounced "jen-eesh-lee-ha".

...which says an awful lot about me being a high school book nerd with no love life...
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 12:26 PM on July 8, 2010


When I was 5, I though the lyric to Silent Night was 'ground round version, mother and child' and figured that hamburger was a Christmas dish. It wasn't until a long time later that the concept of virginity became clearer.
posted by technocrat at 12:40 PM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was in my 20s before I found out that "genitalia" wasn't pronounced "jen-eesh-lee-ha".


On the other hand that is a much more awesome way of pronouncing it than the regular way. Makes it sound scary and exotic at the same time, like a beautiful alien prince or princess.
posted by unSane at 12:40 PM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Popping back in here for a sec to clarify that "quixotic has nothing to do with Don Quixote" was something of a joke. Obviously the word is derived from the character, but that leads many people to incorrectly pronounce it "kee HO tick." I should've been less facetious when I came to that part. :-)
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 12:43 PM on July 8, 2010


I was older than 35 before I realized that when using a urinal, I could just unzip and extract --- instead of unbuckling the belt, unsnapping the snap, unzipping the zipper, and pulling down the underwear. I think I learned the wrong way from when my mom first took me to use a bathroom as a very small child. I don't blame her for teaching me wrong. She didn't know.
posted by mooncrow at 12:47 PM on July 8, 2010


It was until I was 8 or 9 - even after spending my childhood listening to the Beatles - that I realized that Ringo Starr was not Sinbad the comedian. When I saw Ringo on TV I thought he looked so much like a pirate that he must be this "Sinbad" I'd heard about.

I also thought that soap operas were TV shows that were shot on video, until a friend's mother laughed at me when I asked if a PBS drama she was watching was a "soap."

I had a professor in college who was dumbfounded when the class pointed out that the lyrics to the Jimi Hendrix song were not, in fact, "Excuse me while I kiss this guy." And he was a musician, grew up in the 60s.
posted by Ms. Toad at 12:48 PM on July 8, 2010


"macabre is pronounced "MACAWB", not "MAC a bree"; ".

or MAC-a-bruh ...
posted by tima at 1:03 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was wrong about it's / its until an embarrassingly old age. I'm not sure how old I was but I was just mortified about it. I am a bit of a grammar nerd so I was very hard on myself.
posted by marble at 1:09 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I didn't know that you say the word often as OFF-EN until I read a thread here on AskMeFi. I always assumed it was OFF-TEN, and that some people were just lazy and didn't pronounce the T. Now when I hear people say OFF-TEN with a really strong T I cringe inside :)
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 1:19 PM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Realizing that the sun always rises.
posted by Kharon of the Mekon(g) at 1:21 PM on July 8, 2010


Often is correctly pronounced with or without the "t". You can stop cringing!
posted by futz at 1:32 PM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was a college freshman when I suddenly grasped the banality of the phrase "a thing is always in the last place you look for it."

UbuRoivas: Aaand...somebody I know never realised that the little door to your fuel tank normally comes with a slot that you can put your fuel cap into while you're filling up - instead of placing it on the roof or hood of your car. I will be damned. So it does.
posted by bryon at 1:36 PM on July 8, 2010


...I suddenly grasped the banality of the phrase "a thing is always in the last place you look for it."...

Aw man. Never occurred to me.

This thread alternately makes me feel superior (what, did you think the company was called "isney?") and like a complete dribbling moron.
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:45 PM on July 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


Pronouncing hyperbole. It's hi-PER-buh-lee, not hi-per-BOWL.

Whoopsie!
posted by droplet at 1:51 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Beck and call vs. beckon call. I was 25.
posted by electroboy at 1:53 PM on July 8, 2010


In Johnny Cash's song Hurt (lyrics), I'd always thought that it was about his Swedish friend.
posted by jayne at 1:54 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was older than 35 before I realized that when using a urinal, I could just unzip and extract --- instead of unbuckling the belt, unsnapping the snap, unzipping the zipper, and pulling down the underwear. I think I learned the wrong way from when my mom first took me to use a bathroom as a very small child. I don't blame her for teaching me wrong. She didn't know.

To be fair to her, I bet your mom found it easier to just drop your pants, than to mess about trying to extract your little boy wiener from your fly & direct the stream from it, without it getting all over your clothes & everywhere else.

What's more strange is that you made it to age 35 without realising that nobody else does it that way.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:01 PM on July 8, 2010


Yeah -- I'm so observant.

Actually, since then I've noticed that many guys do this wrong.

Wait, that didn't come out right...
posted by mooncrow at 2:04 PM on July 8, 2010


If peeing with my pants undone is wrong, then I don't want to be right.

Pulling my dick out through my underwear and my fly is just damned uncomfortable. No thank you.
posted by greekphilosophy at 2:12 PM on July 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


Until I was about 20, I thought school was about learning.

Only as an occasional collateral benefit.

At its heart, school is basically just a system of state-sponsored childcare on a mass scale, so that parents can be freed up to earn an income.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:21 PM on July 8, 2010 [15 favorites]


It took me until adulthood to realize that you don't need to wear anything under tights/stockings...
posted by Shebear at 2:22 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


And also, I think we've got "segue" covered, but can anyone tell me how to pronounce "sigue" as in "Sigue Sigue Sputnik"? Thanks!

That would be SIG SIG Sputnik. Rhymes with DIG DIG.
posted by Germs of Love at 2:33 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't believe how many things I didn't know until I read this thread. (And that I wouldn't have seen this thread but for the MeTa callout on how great it is.)

Also, this thread made me realize how great Nattie is. I want to favorite the comment about birds and parrots until my favoriting button breaks. You are a wonderful human being, Nattie, and I am glad your birds have you in their lives.

I was confused until very recently about sanguine and sanguinary. Sometimes I thought it meant bloody. Or was it hopeful? I still can't figure out how it means both. I had a similar problem with the word "lucid," but somehow being able to see through things and understand things made more sense earlier.

Here's something I want to share: the BEST thing I have ever found for any sort of itch is benadryl. I love that stuff.

Also, I have learned almost every good kitchen technique I know from Jacques Pepin cooking programs. The man is incredible.
posted by bearwife at 2:57 PM on July 8, 2010


The BMW logo is actually representative of the Bavarian state flag, not a propeller.
posted by kdar at 8:41 PM on July 8 [+] [!]

Balls. Well, I just learned not to fact-check seemingly mundane items on Wikipedia.
posted by gc at 3:22 PM on July 8, 2010


Not too long ago, I learned--I think from MeFi--that I'm supposed to leave the oven door open slightly (and that's why it sticks there) when I'm broiling. My mom disliked the broiler and never used it, so I had NO idea at all! And I'm 32.
posted by wintersweet at 3:33 PM on July 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


I didn't realize until well into my twenties that the existence of dinosaurs was not in fact discovered the year I went to kindergarten. I thought it was the breaking news that year, and that all information about them including bone discovery and mock-ups of what they looked like and production of these wall charts happened within a span of a few months. I still need to think twice and avoid referring to things as happening, "before dinosaurs were discovered (in the mid 80s)."
posted by zenigmatic at 3:33 PM on July 8, 2010 [16 favorites]


Another one I just remembered:

I thought the assembled dinosaur skeletons in museums were real until I was 29 years old. In fact, they're reproductions --- the actual fossilized bones are far too heavy and fragile to hang like that. My girlfriend laughed at me.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 3:42 PM on July 8, 2010 [9 favorites]


I just read through this thread from the beginning, and I've been keeping my own list:

1. A bruin is a bear, not a wheel.

2. The word is "antepenultimate", not "antipenultimate". (i.e., it's "the one before the one before the last"...not "not the one before the last")

3. You can tell which bread plate and water glass are yours by remembering "BMW". From left to right, your place setting has bread, meal, water.

4. It's much easier to tell Z's apart from 2's if you put a horizontal line through the Z.

5. The Goo Goo Dolls song "Amigone" is pronounced "Am I gone" and doesn't rhyme with Antigone.

6. Macrame and macabre are unrelated words.
posted by tuffbunny at 3:44 PM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


At its heart, school is basically just a system of state-sponsored childcare on a mass scale, so that parents can be freed up to earn an income.

It's not just this. It's this plus a lie that it's not this. If someone had just explained to me what was really going on, I might have been disappointed, but I would have coped better.
posted by grumblebee at 4:07 PM on July 8, 2010 [16 favorites]


For the record, I checked my aluminium foil, glad wrap (saran wrap), and baking paper, and I was very disappointed to find that none of them had pushable tabs to hold the roll in the box.

I guess it hasn't caught on here in Australia.
posted by antiquark at 4:07 PM on July 8, 2010


I guess it hasn't caught on here in Australia.

Maybe you buy the wrong brands. 3 out of 4 of mine (Glad wrap & 2x baking paper) had the little tabs. (I was never aware of them either)

However, when I went to show this remarkable discovery to my SO, I excitedly pulled out the generic brand aluminium foil & was all "look at the ends of the box!! what do you see??"

"Uh, what am I supposed to be seeing?"
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:15 PM on July 8, 2010


Speaking of aluminum foil and saran wrap, I learned a couple of years ago that it's much easier to tear it from the bottom up than from the top down. Meaning, start tearing it from the end of the box that is closer to you, out to the end of the box farther from you; or, by pulling away from you instead of pulling toward you. Easier to demonstrate than to explain, clearly. But, especially with saran wrap, you are much more likely to get a perfect tear.
posted by jabberjaw at 4:32 PM on July 8, 2010


I just realized that I have been pronouncing UbuRoivas' name wrong in my head all this time based on that geographically-specific comment and a quick glance at the profile page. And my new imagined pronunciation is so much more awesome than my old erroneous one.
posted by The World Famous at 4:36 PM on July 8, 2010


I was in my late twenties when I finally discovered that the word FISH wasn't spelled GHOTI.
posted by puny human at 4:55 PM on July 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


I will recheck my rolls, and will check them out at the supermarket too.
posted by antiquark at 4:59 PM on July 8, 2010


I'm a science buff and have read extensively on the history of science and such and it was embarassingly late in my life when I understood what caused phases of the moon. I somehow got it into my head when I was very young that it was the shadow of the Earth and years of education were unable to dislodge it.

Oh, proboscis is not pronounced pro-BISS-cuss. I wanted to share that with you to spare you the inevitable embarassment.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 5:15 PM on July 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


I always spelled it "perogative," because that's how I've heard it pronounced. "Prerogative" still looks wrong to me. I was so sure of this that I had spell check learn "perogative" as the correct spelling.

Earlier this year, I realized that the "Emma Fay" museum in Boston that I so often heard about was actually the MFA, or Museum of Fine Arts.
posted by fogster at 5:40 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


The only thing, continuously-wrong-pronunciation-wise, better than a kid who got their big vocab from reading is a kid who got their big vocab from reading something other than their native language. My best friend in grade school was a treasure trove of these.

Here are mine:
- it is easier to wash a few dishes every day than a million dishes once a week.
- buy cheese on sale and freeze it--as long as you're going to grate or melt it, defrosted cheese is totally fine.

But most recently: if your heels always slip out of your shoes, lace your shoes in lock lace. Weirdly life-changing.
posted by sarahkeebs at 6:00 PM on July 8, 2010 [8 favorites]


One I remembered earlier today as I was making a snack:
When you make a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich, put the peanut butter on both slices of bread with the jelly on top of the peanut butter. This will help prevent the jelly soaking into the bread and getting your hands all sticky.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 6:16 PM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have always said "stahtus" for status. I said it during a presentation last year and like ten people called me on it afterward. Apparently "stattus", like in 'at', or "staytus" is okay, but "stahtus" like in 'apparatus'... actually, scratch apparatus because I've heard people say 'apparaytus'... fuck it, I've probably been saying that wrong as well. Please hope.
posted by doublehappy at 6:40 PM on July 8, 2010


>> ... put the peanut butter on both slices of bread ...

Au contraire, mon frere. Put the peanut butter on only one slice and the jelly on the other so the jelly will soak into the bread and you can put more on without it squeezing out when you bite it.

If the jelly is soaking through the bread and getting on your hands, you need to use better or thicker bread.
posted by Bruce H. at 6:42 PM on July 8, 2010


Also, what the shit? It's not biopic like in myopic? I hate everything.
posted by doublehappy at 6:42 PM on July 8, 2010 [11 favorites]


I remember being blown away when I found out the title Led Zeppelin song "D'yer Maker" is pronounced "Jamaica" (if you have a British accent) and hence, what such a title has to do with a Reggae song.
It's actually even better than that.

It's a reference to the old joke: "My wife's gone to the West Indes" "Jamaica?" "No, she went of her own accord."
posted by AmbroseChapel at 7:33 PM on July 8, 2010 [9 favorites]


If every time you get a raise, you automatically allocate half the loot - after taxes - to retirement savings, it's almost painless to save quite a large percentage of your pay after a few years.

If you simply try to say "I'm going to save 2%" out of every pay, that's going to hurt like hell, since you're already used to spending 100%. If you get a series of 5% raises over a few years, and save half - say, 10% - you'll never notice the difference, but will be able to retire ten or twenty years earlier in the end.
posted by talldean at 7:34 PM on July 8, 2010 [23 favorites]


For the longest time (I'm pretty sure I made it all the way through college), I didn't understand at all how cells and atoms were related. I thought they were both somehow the smallest units of living vs nonliving things. It wasn't until I was teaching science classes that I actually thought about it and had the A-HA! CELLS ARE MADE UP OF ATOMS! moment.

Honestly, I'm a good teacher, I swear!
posted by saritonin at 7:45 PM on July 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


I only learned in grad school that a staple remover should be applied to the top of the staple (the flat part) rather than the bottom (the side with the two curved bits of metal).
posted by espertus at 8:10 PM on July 8, 2010


I finally figured out this week that when you're cooking something in a pan and different parts of it cook at different times (like, say, the top of an omelet, or waiting for the cheese to melt on a burger/in a sandwich), putting a lid on the pan will allow the last bit to cook properly before the first-cooked bits burn. Duh.

For all these years, I've been eating scorched grilled cheese sandwiches and overdone eggs... A whole new culinary world has opened up to me.
posted by Sara C. at 8:55 PM on July 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


For a good, loud, smack of a high five, don't look at the other person's hand. Look at their elbow.

Seriously, this one bowled me over, high fives suddenly started connecting every single time.
posted by Ndwright at 9:30 PM on July 8, 2010 [17 favorites]


"a staple remover should be applied to the top of the staple (the flat part) rather than the bottom (the side with the two curved bits of metal)."

Really? Isn't it easier to apply it to the two curved bits so that they can be straightened for easy removal? Obviously, both methods work (just tested) but if you have a thin stack of papers, applying the staple remover to the top/flat part might tear a bit of your papers. I can't stand the thought.

On topic, I always thought that I was drinking enough water. It is only recently (in my late 20s) that I realized it wasn't so. I now keep a one litre bottle on my desk and drink at least 2 through the day. Life has been much easier since.
posted by vidur at 10:12 PM on July 8, 2010


I also only recently learned that you can scroll down the page in a web browser using the space bar.

I wish I could see your reaction when you press shift-space right now.
posted by IvyMike at 10:26 PM on July 8, 2010 [67 favorites]


This thing about mirrors is the single nuttiest thing I have ever read on MetaFilter.

It's completely mad. The image of you in the mirror isn't "half life size". It's the size it would be if you were a certain distance away. And that distance is twice the distance between you and the mirror.

If the mirror is two inches away, the image is the size of an identical twin four inches away. If the mirror is a mile away, the image is the size of an identical twin two miles away. Somewhere on that spectrum I guess there's an image "half life size". But so what?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 10:36 PM on July 8, 2010 [24 favorites]


Ways in which Metafilter has changed my life:

Switched to Mac
Ran Marathon
Learned home recording
Quit job
Went from lifelong stander to confirmed sitter
Had baby

Yet, all of it pales compared to the direct impact on my life of this:


I also only recently learned that you can scroll down the page in a web browser using the space bar.

I wish I could see your reaction when you press shift-space right now.

posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:37 PM on July 8, 2010 [14 favorites]


Late to the thread, but what the hell. I actually sat down and read every single one of these, learned a bit and laughed a lot, so I might as well pay back a bit.

Alot. I was way too old.

It's, its. Ditto.

Recidivist was not (necessarily) a sex criminal.

Cock Fight wasn't a fight between two recidivists.

The Century 21 logo is a house.

Tomatoes are good. Not poison.

The sex ed films I had in grade school were so bad that I was convinced that my sex organs were horribly misshapen and I wouldn't be able to have sex. It wasn't until a few years later when I got my first look at a Penthouse that I realized everything was the right size and shape. (Though Penthouse created a whole new set of misconceptions.)
posted by Ookseer at 10:39 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Tomatoes are good. Not poison.

The ripe fruit of the tomato plant is not poisonous. The rest of the plant, however, is. So, hey!
posted by Sys Rq at 11:37 PM on July 8, 2010


Butt sweat? Switch from antiperspirant to deodorant.

Also, after removing an avocado pit with the chop and twist method mentioned above, easily remove the pit from the knife by pinching the blade right above the pit.
posted by Monk at 11:42 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Another mispronunciation. After years of doing page layouts, I discovered that "leading" — the space between lines of text — actually rhymes with "bedding". (The word comes from the strips of lead that would be used as spacers.)
posted by Monk at 12:16 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


It took me a while to realize that the logo on Elmer's Glue is a cow, not a blob of white glue.
posted by xiaoyi at 12:39 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


"This thing about mirrors is the single nuttiest thing I have ever read on MetaFilter.

It's completely mad. The image of you in the mirror isn't "half life size". It's the size it would be if you were a certain distance away. And that distance is twice the distance between you and the mirror."

I read this as someone looking in the mirror and thinking they were smaller there than in real life.
posted by mippy at 1:32 AM on July 9, 2010


I have struggled with filling ice cube trays with water for my whole life. Then I hit upon a discovery: if you tilt the tray and start with the first two squares, then let the water flow downhill to the next two, and the next, etc., it fills almost instantly and perfectly. Try it.
posted by ravia at 2:08 AM on July 9, 2010


On mirrors: I would recommend Marco Bertamini's paper on the psychology of the way we perceive images in mirrors (pdf). He cites a paper by Ernst Gombrich which first talked about the "half size image" effect - mirrors are one of those everyday devices where people tend to make some incorrect assumptions about how they work - like the example of the way gears work on a bicycle.

Anyway - his explanation is clearer than mine.
posted by rongorongo at 2:30 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's a lot easier to carry a full coffee cup if you don't look at it. So counter intuitive.
posted by qsysopr at 3:22 AM on July 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


I was also taught that dinosaur bones, fossils and such were planted by Satan to "test our faith". Only about ten years ago after college did I realize, but what about SCIENCE?? How can the earth only be sixish thousand years old and these things really exist? Sometimes I wonder how many other things I have been taught completely wrong. I love you Science. This thread is awesome!
posted by beanytacos at 5:05 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


crtl-alt-arrowkeys will change your monitor's image orientation, on windows. just found out last weekend
posted by yesster at 5:47 AM on July 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Butt sweat? Switch from antiperspirant to deodorant.

Wait a minute, hoss. Are you saying that applying antiperspirant to your pits rechannels the sweat to the butt? Or are you instead suggesting that we should be applying deodorant TO OUR BUTTS?

Not only have I have doing this wrong all my life, but I am also never again to borrow someone else's Speed Stick.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 6:03 AM on July 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


At its heart, school is basically just a system of state-sponsored childcare on a mass scale, so that parents can be freed up to earn an income.

No, no, a thousand times no. School is not simply created as child care. A survival level of child care could be accomplished far less expensively; ergo this is not the primary intent.

School is exactly what you experienced it as: a state-sponsored and corporation-endorsed system to beat down originality and creative thought in order to create mindless, malleable (once) factory and (now) service workers to pay taxes and buy crap: to keep society running.

The "child care" effect is a byproduct, albeit a necessary one, because parents of school-age children must themselves be performing those factory and service jobs to keep taxes and purchasing levels high.

So: "school" today exists to train, as cheaply as possible, the next generation of worker bees while allowing the current generation of worker bees the absolute minimum amount of untethered freedom to perform their own function in capitalist society.


Back on topic, my revelations generally have mostly been about human interaction. Many of these lessons have been painful and only learned after hard years. If only I could have understood sooner.

Doing it wrong: yelling.
Doing it right: discussing.

Doing it wrong: yearning.
Doing it right: asking.

Doing it wrong: "you're wrong."
Doing it right: "I don't agree."

Doing it wrong: resentment
Doing it right: "hey, this bothers me."

Doing it wrong: silence.
Doing it right: "hello, I'm Sean, pleased to meet you!"

Doing it wrong: selfishness.
Doing it right: generosity.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:03 AM on July 9, 2010 [37 favorites]


When you're absolutely sure you're right, that's when you should apologize.
posted by grumblebee at 6:16 AM on July 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


I used to think there was such a thing as a rational person. I've learned that's untrue.

The human race has developed some amazing tools for rational thought: logic, philosophy, the Scientific Method...

A rational person, as I define it, is someone who consistently uses these tools. You can COUNT on him to use them. This means that if you believe in the validity of the tools -- and you believe in the rationality of the person (he knows how to use those tools and always uses them) -- you don't need to reason for yourself. You can just trust what he says.

So, the younger me might have said, "You know, I understand the rules of logic. And I trust them. I trust that when applied correctly, they lead to truth. I also trust that Stephen Hawking understands logic, knows how to apply it, and applies it all the time. Thus, if he makes any truth claim, it must be true. Even if it's outside his field. If he says something about education, politics or art, I can trust that he has applied iron-clad logic to it and so, whatever he says must be true -- or at least as true as possible, given the rules of rigorously-applied logic."

Interesting question: if I know how to use reasoning and Stephen Hawking knows how to use reasoning (and I assume he always does), why do I want him to do it for me?

Because reasoning takes work. It's usually fun work (to certain kinds of mind), but it's still work. And sometimes I'm lazy (or there's some other reason I don't want to do the work, e.g. fear it might topple some sacred cow of mine).

If it takes work for me, it takes work for Stephen Hawking. No human is consistently willing or able to do work. So -- almost definitely -- Hawking (like everyone) doesn't always do the work. Sometimes he takes other people's word for things, sometimes he makes assumptions without examining them, etc.

The first big lesson for me was that just being devoted to logic isn't enough. You can be devoted to carpentry, but that devotion doesn't build a bookcase. In order to build a bookcase, you have to pick up a hammer. Yes, you can train your brain to the point where certain types of reasoning are way easier than they once were -- to the point where those types of reasoning feel automatic. But you will always come across new, difficult topics, complex arguments and hard-to-evaluate truth claims. The work will always be hard.

So knowing that someone is smart, capable and devoted to logic isn't enough to guarantee that his statements are true, free-of-prejudice or well-thought-out.

Still, we CAN'T think through everything ourselves. There isn't time. Luckily, the Scientific Method includes peer review, so if something is generally considered true by scientists, I can probably trust it. (Many people -- not just one -- have gone through the reasoning and found it sound.)

But only a small set of truth claims are evaluated that way.

The second lesson I learned is that the fact that someone is irrational about one thing does not mean he's irrational about all things. In a way, it SHOULD mean that. Logic is supposed to work equally well for all truth claims. But people don't APPLY it equally rigorously for all truth claims.

Pardon me, theists, but I consider "God exists" to be an irrational claim. (I don't mean to get into that debate here. I'm just trying to prove a point about my own thought process.) When I was younger, I would be in a state of trusting someone's logic, then I would hear him say, "I believe in God," and that would make me distrust EVERYTHING he said -- even if he was saying something that had nothing to do with God. Even if he was talking about, say, nutrition.

Then I met some really smart theists (or "met" them via reading their books, e.g. Martin Gardner). It was confusing, because I read their arguments about God and found them unconvincing. Yet I read their arguments about black holes or evolution or whatever and found them totally convincing. Wow (light bulb)! People can be irrational about some things and rational about other things!

Previously, I had figured that if someone is irrational about one thing, he's likely to be irrational about everything. But since EVERYONE is irrational sometimes.

Yes, everything is connected. There is some long line of reason that connects truth claims about God to truth claims about nutrition. But it isn't true that all arguments start (or need to start) from first principles. If you're trying to convince someone that a hammer is better to use for pounding nails into wood than a pillow, you don't have to start with atoms. Someone who has a totally irrational belief about atoms -- that they are little pieces of pixie dust -- might be capable of making a cogent argument about hammers vs. pillows.

This means that deciding who to trust (and in what instances to trust them) is a very complicated business, and it's never going to be perfect. It's very important to separate out things that people are generally irrational about: God, free will, politics, education (no matter where someone stands on those issues, he's likely to be at least somewhat irrational about them). I have learned that I can't tell much about someone's generally ability to reason by listening to his arguments about free will or God.
posted by grumblebee at 6:51 AM on July 9, 2010 [13 favorites]


Butt sweat? Switch from antiperspirant to deodorant.

Wait a minute, hoss. Are you saying that applying antiperspirant to your pits rechannels the sweat to the butt? Or are you instead suggesting that we should be applying deodorant TO OUR BUTTS?


The former. If your body needs to sweat, it's going to sweat. If the sweat glands in your armpits are clogged with antiperspirant, then the sweat will be redirected elsewhere, resulting in the ever-pleasant swamp ass.
posted by Monk at 6:52 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have always said "stahtus" for status. I said it during a presentation last year and like ten people called me on it afterward. Apparently "stattus", like in 'at', or "staytus" is okay, but "stahtus" like in 'apparatus'...

A friend of mine said "stahtus" recently and our group of friends just stared at him. Apparently he'd been using it on the phone a lot at work and now understood why people were pausing to think about what he was actually saying!

My "doing it wrong" is a pretty obscure misreading. Ian Fleming published his James Bond novels through a company he bought called GLIDROSE PUBLICATIONS (now Ian Fleming Publications). I always, always thought it was spelled GILDROSE and did so for about twenty years - and only realised how it was really spelled just before it changed its name! Ha.
posted by crossoverman at 6:54 AM on July 9, 2010


It took me until 3 days ago to look at Ask Metafilter... I've been reading this site forever...

It's like Usenet, before the endless September.
posted by MikeWarot at 6:59 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


crtl-alt-arrowkeys will change your monitor's image orientation, on windows. just found out last weekend

On what version of Windows? Doesn't seem to do anything in Win7.
posted by FlyingMonkey at 7:11 AM on July 9, 2010


When I was little I had a terrible babysitter and when my mom told me she was coming to watch me, I said "NOOOO! Horror sitter!" She was shocked and appalled and said that was a very bad word. I started sobbing because I was a good little girl and I never, ever did anything intentionally bad and I told her I had no idea that “horror” was a bad word. My mom then asked if I said “ab-horror.” I said yes, because I didn’t want to seem like a bad girl, and my mom said she was surprised I would know such a big word.

I avoided using the word “horror” for many years and thought “ab-horror” was a nice way to say basically the same thing. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I realized she thought I said “whore,” and then “abhor.”
posted by SugarAndSass at 7:12 AM on July 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


SugarAndSass - due to the movie A Christmas Story, I thought that the most evil of bad words was fudge, not fuck. I was probably around 15 when I found out it wasn't.

"I'll have a sundae with...hot chocolate sauce, please."
posted by punchtothehead at 7:29 AM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Thanks to Skyhooks and my Grandma, I believed that Ego *was* a dirty word for a very long time.
posted by h00py at 7:34 AM on July 9, 2010


jabberjaw you know what cribbage is???

i grew up playing it with my family and thought everyone played it.

i have met very few people who know what it is, much fewer who can play, and have a really hard time finding anyone who wants to learn how.


my doing it wrong...believing the mythology my family built around itself (not related to the cribbage thing). they weren't a happy ozzie-and-harriet family that had a screwed up kid (me) that was the bane of everyone's existence and the reason that the things went wrong. it wasn't my fault. still really hard to believe that, but years of therapy and friends tell me that's the truth.
posted by sio42 at 7:50 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


This mirror prank would have been a lot harder to pull off if you actually needed a half-size version of yourself.
posted by louigi at 8:11 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Uncle Sam
posted by L'OM at 8:43 AM on July 9, 2010 [11 favorites]


This mirror prank would have been a lot harder to pull off if you actually needed a half-size version of yourself.

The truth is, you are not half the size in a mirror. However, you believe yourself to be much closer to your reflection than you actually are. That is, if you are standing 2 feet from a mirror, your reflected self is actually 4 feet away from you. This is important if you are checking, say, if that pimple is visible from a few feet away. You move the normal conversation distance from the mirror when actual the other person would be much closer.

That may be where the "I am actually half-size" idea comes from.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:47 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


also:


Another one I just remembered:

I thought the assembled dinosaur skeletons in museums were real until I was 29 years old. In fact, they're reproductions --- the actual fossilized bones are far too heavy and fragile to hang like that. My girlfriend laughed at me.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl



i cannot tell you how sad this makes me. i love dinosaurs. i think that somewhere as a kid i learned that the bones weren't real, but i buried it away out of a desire to be fascinated about being so close to something so freaking old and cool.

i seriously was sitting here, staring at your comment, mouth agape with almost a tear in my eye. the deception of it all! oh well, dinos are still awesome. i figured they were shiny like that because of preservation stuff or being all fossilized and stuff.


shift+space=awesome! holy cow! that made up for the dinosaurs. sort of.
posted by sio42 at 8:48 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


crtl-alt-arrowkeys will change your monitor's image orientation, on windows. just found out last weekend

FlyingMonkey : On what version of Windows? Doesn't seem to do anything in Win7.

I believe that this is actually a function of the kind of video card you use, not the version of Windows installed; My coworkers do this for fun to people who leave their machines unlocked at work when they walk away from their desks. Most of the machines in my department only switch orientation on the second monitor (which is on a separate video card) whereas the machines in an adjacent department don't flip at all, (both monitors driven from a single video card)

For people affected by it, it can be a lot of fun though. Watching them come back and see their monitor display upside down, and wondering what happened is cute. But the real fun comes from getting the opportunity to suggest that it's because the monitor cable got plugged in backwards and the confusion that brings? Priceless.
posted by quin at 8:57 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


take the corn husk off before eating the tamale

Which reminds me of something I still don't know - do I eat the rind of cheeses? I know not to eat the wax, but what about the rind?
posted by I am the Walrus at 8:59 AM on July 9, 2010


Re: The dinosaur fossils not being real thing: NOT TRUE. I have dug up real fossils in real life and touched them and cleaned them, and real fossils are actually shiny and pretty. They are also really freaking heavy, though, and fragile, so it's understandable that not all of them can be displayed.

At the Field Museum in Chicago, I'm pretty sure the Sue T-Rex display in the lobby is legit save for the head; the real fossil head is in a case on the second floor. And I think something like 80-90% of the fossils in the Evolving Planet exhibit are real, too, and there's a sign to that effect. The Brontosaurus hanging out outside, however, is not, for what should be obvious reasons. If you look at any of the dinosaur displays, there is some pretty serious infrastructure supporting them. Yes, these things are heavy, but a group of 8 people I was with moved a diplodocus femur encased in plaster and wood, so it's not impossible.
posted by phunniemee at 8:59 AM on July 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


When I was a little girl, my mother told me if I snorted up the snot in my nose, it would clog up my brain and I would become mentally retarded.

I've been testing this ever since for several decades and ....

Oh shit.
posted by HeyAllie at 9:11 AM on July 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


I was almost done with high school before I learned how to hold a fist. I started by curling my fingers into my palms and holding the thumbs straight out. Then (after someone pointed out how ridiculous that is), I tucked my thumbs underneath my fingers. Someone else pointed out that, were I ever to actually punch someone like that, I'd likely break my thumbs.

I don't think I hold a fist properly to this day, but I've never had to punch anyone and don't intend to in the foreseeable future.
posted by backseatpilot at 9:17 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


God, where do I start? All sorts of weird ideas as a kid. Probably the most improbable cross-pollination of ideas was the H.R. Pufnstuf/Josie and the Pussycats mash-up. In the former, a typically bizarre Sid & Marty Krofft drug-inspired phantasmagoria, there were these mushrooms that, if you touched them, you turned into a mushroom yourself, or at least got a nice phallic cap where your hair used to be. I thought that something very similar had happened to Josie and the Pussycats--i.e., that they'd been turned into demi-werecats--and that they could spread the condition via touch. I had an older cousin that I thought looked like Josie. I stayed as physically far away from her as possible, at all times, which caused a bit of panic when she was taking me someplace via car and insisted that I ride in the front seat with her; I was terrified that I'd see her cat tail creeping toward me...

Various mispronunciations of words due to my reading skills far outstripping my conversations with people. (Example: pronouncing acoustics as "a-cow-sticks".) Also, not realizing how many conversations I'd missed due to single-sided hearing loss, and how some people had assumed that I'd ignored them when I hadn't realized that they were speaking to me in the first place, and how that had affected my relationship with them. Recently, I referred to "instant messaging" as "instant messenging" for a short time, before I realized what I was doing.

Thinking that my porn stash was effectively hidden from anyone who I've lived with who wanted to find it, for whatever reason.

Finding out the hard way that there's a really, really, really good reason why most people are engaged for more than two-and-a-half months.

If you have a manual-drip coffee maker without some sort of splash guard, not to hold the coffee pot in one hand while you pour nearly-boiling water in it with the other, especially if you're still half-asleep.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:27 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pronouncing the word "segue." Seriously, I always thought it was "seeg." Surprisingly, I never really wondered why I never saw word pronounced "seg-way" in print.

Same with me and the word "macabre". I realized the spoken word and written word had the same definition, it just took me up to a few years ago to realize they were the same word.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 9:40 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was in college when someone told me that interstate numbers were not random and they went from little -5 numbers on the west to big -5 numbers on the east (I-5 in CA to I-95 on the eastern seabord) and the ones that ended in zero the numbers got bigger from south to north. and that the spurs & bypasses were not named randomly either. I was AMAZED until that point how people knew so much about which roads went where. D'OH!

I actually knew this and found it very useful, though I moved to the Dallas, TX area six years ago. People kept saying things like I35E and I35W and I would usually say "but odds go north and south. That can't be right. There can't be an I35E. It HAS to go north and south." It does go north and south and there is, indeed, a I35E and I35W. Somewhere south of Dallas, I35 forks. I35E runs through Dallas and I35W runs through Fort Worth. Then somewhere north, around Denton, Tx, they rejoin and are once again, just I35. It took me a whole year to figure that out.

I *think* I have a decent vocabulary, but this thread has taught me a lot. Specifically: that even though I can hear "seque" spoken and now what it means, I had no idea that the word I hear in my head when I read it is "seeg." I even knew that both words have the same meaning, but did not realize it is the same word. Also, penultimate. Next to last? huh???
posted by hotlikefriction at 10:27 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


So I have read all the linked-to explanations of the mirror thing and I think I understand what's at issue.

It is true that, in order to see all of yourself, you only need a mirror half your height. The analogy that you'd only need a window half your height in order to see your twin standing an equal distance on the other side of the wall is correct and illustrative.

But.

This does not in any way mean that your image is half-life-size or any other such crazy talk. The image, as others have rightly pointed out, is that pseudo-person standing an equal distance on the other side of the mirror. Just because all the light fits through a hole of a certain size does not mean that the "image" is only that big; after all, eventually all light that gets into your eye comes through your very small pupil (so, I guess you could say OMG my image is only a few millimeters high!).

Now, leading = "ledding"? And victuals = "vittles"? Those I did not know.
posted by secretseasons at 10:28 AM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]



It took me until 3 days ago to look at Ask Metafilter... I've been reading this site forever...

It's like Usenet, before the endless September.


Be aware that this thread is an unusual example of chatfilter allowed to run wild. It just got away from the mods. Usually, the rules here are far stricter.

do I eat the rind of cheeses?

Absolutely! But only if you like the taste/texture.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:31 AM on July 9, 2010


leading = "ledding"?

This is why newspaperpeople spell the word for the first graf of a story the "lede" (pronounced leed) as opposed to "lead," which could be led or leed.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:34 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, I realized that there is more than one kind of intelligence out there. So much emphasis is put on knowledge, especially by me. I can be sorta smart, but I realized that I cannot finish projects, I can't lead, I have a terribly short attention span, and people don't really care that you're right about things, even if you are. I dated a man who was not very smart and his grammar was TERRIBLE when writing. Almost ended the relationship, but I realized he was far smarter than me in many ways. He COULD complete projects, he could lead, he could focus, and his opinions were just as valid as mine. I never noticed that mountains are beautiful or that a person should really try to see every waterfall they ever could before that guy. How could I be so dumb as to not know that it feels good to go look at beautiful things??

And when it comes to being right, sometimes, it is much more important to say that you value a relationship more than your own need to be right.

One more - when you are nice to people as a habit, they are almost always nice back! When you're walking around scowling and grumpy, people scowl and give you the grump right back. Life is easier when you're nice.
posted by hotlikefriction at 10:47 AM on July 9, 2010 [13 favorites]


You can see your entire body in a mirror that is as tall as half your height.
posted by Aiwen at 11:20 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Realizing that eating kiwifruits whole is not only easier, but also tastier. Don't bother with peeling the skin, or scooping out the fruit. If you eat the skin it adds a delicious tartness that counters the (at times) overwhelming sweetness of the fruit. If you simply run it under water and rub you can get most of the hairy stuff off.

Also, did you know that kiwifruits are just a rebranded Chinese Gooseberry? Chinese Gooseberries weren't selling very well in American markets during the cold war so they renamed it.
posted by ghostpony at 11:42 AM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


It is true that, in order to see all of yourself, you only need a mirror half your height. The analogy that you'd only need a window half your height in order to see your twin standing an equal distance on the other side of the wall is correct and illustrative.

Er..... can't you see yourself in a mirror of any height, as long as you are far enough away?
posted by kosmonaut at 11:45 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


(Your whole self, that is)
posted by kosmonaut at 11:45 AM on July 9, 2010


kosmonaut wrote: "It is true that, in order to see all of yourself, you only need a mirror half your height. The analogy that you'd only need a window half your height in order to see your twin standing an equal distance on the other side of the wall is correct and illustrative.

Er..... can't you see yourself in a mirror of any height, as long as you are far enough away?
"
No.
Light rays from your feet hit the mirror and bounce off at the same angle, so they go over your head (and hence, not into your eye) if the mirror is too small.
posted by secretseasons at 11:55 AM on July 9, 2010


I was 29 when I discovered that Baked Alaska is NOT a fancy desert of salmon, but is an ice cream treat.
posted by Windigo at 12:00 PM on July 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Papa was a rolling stone, wherever he laid his hat was his home... And when he died, all he left us was a loan alone.
posted by biochemist at 12:24 PM on July 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


Also, not realizing how many conversations I'd missed due to single-sided hearing loss, and how some people had assumed that I'd ignored them when I hadn't realized that they were speaking to me in the first place, and how that had affected my relationship with them.

Oh yeah. Great feeling, isn't it? Here's another one: sitting at a restaurant table with friends, and not having any conversations with them because the noise in the place is SO LOUD that your monophonic hearing is completely overwhelmed. (You stereo people would not understand.) Nothing that anyone says to you is intelligible, unless they get right up in your good ear and yell. Nobody does that for more than a few seconds, so you get to act like a potted plant.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:45 PM on July 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


Oh yeah. Great feeling, isn't it? Here's another one: sitting at a restaurant table with friends, and not having any conversations with them because the noise in the place is SO LOUD that your monophonic hearing is completely overwhelmed. (You stereo people would not understand.) Nothing that anyone says to you is intelligible, unless they get right up in your good ear and yell. Nobody does that for more than a few seconds, so you get to act like a potted plant.

You described my experience every time I go out. And people always think I have the ability to read lips. I don't. I'm partially deaf AND can't read lips.
posted by grumblebee at 1:08 PM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was in my mid-30s when I found out that 'Til Tuesday song was "Hush hush, keep it down now, voices carry" instead of "Hush hush, even downtown, boys are scary."

My take was always: "Hush hush, Keep it downtown, this is Kerri." Years later I dated and just recently proposed to a Kerri. She said yes. Thank you, Aimee Mann.
posted by joe lisboa



F#ck me running! i cant believe i never knew Aimee Mann was the chick from 'til tuesday. i just done the thing er what we talkin bout.
posted by chasles at 1:30 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Who'd have thought it was possible to have your mind blown so many times by a single page of HTML? I've learned so much! How to peel a banana, how to hold a bowling ball, how to spell remuneration, how to pronounce terpsichore and - above all else - the existence of shift+space! I fucking love this thread.

For years I mispronounced the word dwarf. I thought the W was silent. After I got called out for saying dorf, I began to hyper-correct to the point where I now pronounce sword as swored.

Also, it turns out that the raised floor in the throne room is spelled dais and pronounced to rhyme with mace. It is not spelled dias and pronounced to rhyme with bias.

I used to wonder what made eyebrow hairs different to scalp hairs, because eyebrow hairs stop growing when they reach a certain length, but the hair on your head just keeps growing indefinitely. I was embarrassingly old when I eventually worked it out.


DieHipsterDie: "I'd smoked for a few years before I realized that packing your cigarettes does nothing but annoy the fuck out of those around you."

I'm a non-smoker and having trouble parsing that sentence. Could somebody explain this? Packing them in what?
posted by the latin mouse at 1:33 PM on July 9, 2010


Smokers take their pack of cigs and slam it down into their hand, something about packing the tobacco down to the end or whatever
posted by I am the Walrus at 1:35 PM on July 9, 2010


No.
Light rays from your feet hit the mirror and bounce off at the same angle, so they go over your head (and hence, not into your eye) if the mirror is too small.


Really no. What you describe is when the mirror isn't far enough away. There's no reason at all you can't see yourself in a tiny mirror at the right distance (assuming you can see that far). God, this mirror thing really seems to be a problem for many.
posted by Brockles at 2:31 PM on July 9, 2010


The whole confusion about the mirror thing just reminds me of that joke from Father Ted:

"OK, one last time. These are small... but the ones out there are far away. Small... far away..."
posted by macdara at 2:42 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Only recently did I realise that the best solution for indigestion isn't Rennies or Tums or Pepto Bismol (which doesn't work AT ALL) or any commercial rubbish like that, but simply a spoonful of bicarbonate of soda in a glass of water.
posted by macdara at 2:59 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm trying to oversimplify, here, but isn't the size of the reflection you see in the mirror really only related to how far away from the mirror you are? It's not like my body actually gets bigger just because I get closer to the mirror. But candid photos do always look so strange, because we present our best side to the mirror. I know what angles I am ok with and which angles I pretend don't exist.
posted by hotlikefriction at 2:59 PM on July 9, 2010


Photos look different from mirrors because they are not a mirror image and you are not symmetrical.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:25 PM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


I was well into my teens before I figured out that the phrase "Any Time" on "No Parking" signs meant that you couldn't park there, ever. I thought for years that it was the sign's way of saying "You're welcome," as in an imagined dialogue:

Car: I'd like to park here.
Sign: No parking.
Car: Oh, OK. Thanks.
Sign: Any time.
posted by Fuego at 3:33 PM on July 9, 2010 [72 favorites]


Tapping your cigarettes on something (filter end down) settles the tobacco inside the wrapper down toward the filter more densely. It only takes a few to half-dozen taps to do it, you don't have to stand there being annoying about it. Some people have developed it as a ritual habit and do it whether or not they "need" to.

It depends on how you carry your cigarette pack whether or not you need to do that or not. When I smoke, I carry them in my front jeans pocket. If I remember to put the box in upside down, it's ok. If I put them in my pocket box-top up, it seems to let some of the tobacco fall out, or at least loosen up.

The reason people prefer densely packed tobacco is because loosely packed tobacco burns too fast. You end up with a smoldering part that's long and conical instead of short and disc-shaped at the end. The excessive amount of smoke doesn't taste as good, the cigarette doesn't last very long, and you're liable to flick the whole burning part off when you flick ashes in the ash tray. Very annoying.

So that's what that's about.
posted by ctmf at 3:35 PM on July 9, 2010


I used to wonder what made eyebrow hairs different to scalp hairs, because eyebrow hairs stop growing when they reach a certain length, but the hair on your head just keeps growing indefinitely. I was embarrassingly old when I eventually worked it out.

Now I'm trying to work this out and failing.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:43 PM on July 9, 2010 [14 favorites]


Brockles wrote: "Really no. What you describe is when the mirror isn't far enough away. There's no reason at all you can't see yourself in a tiny mirror at the right distance (assuming you can see that far). God, this mirror thing really seems to be a problem for many."
What I describe does not depend on the distance to the mirror. Draw a diagram for yourself to prove it. Or get a small mirror and try the experiment.

As you move farther away from the mirror, your apparent angular size shrinks, but so does the apparent angular size of the mirror, so you don't get to see any more of yourself. Sorry that this being a problem is bothering you so much.
posted by secretseasons at 4:08 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


When you get to my age, eyebrow hairs do keep growing indefinitely. You have to trim them.
posted by Araucaria at 4:10 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't quite have enough GRAR to work hard enough on my own diagrams to make them publishable, but this one is ok (not great, but ok): you don't see more of yourself by backing away from a mirror
posted by secretseasons at 4:27 PM on July 9, 2010


Shaving.

I "discovered" the joys of using a traditional double-edged safety razor, thanks to Merkur, and my face no longer feels like I scraped it clean with a rusty trowel. Coupled with a shaving brush, shaving soap, and a nice finishing cream, I get a truly smooth shave and better skin at a tiny fraction of the cost of using the latest 5-blade, 2-strip, pivoting head, ten bucks-a-cartridge silliness.
posted by FormlessOne at 4:28 PM on July 9, 2010


As you move farther away from the mirror, your apparent angular size shrinks, but so does the apparent angular size of the mirror, so you don't get to see any more of yourself. Sorry that this being a problem is bothering you so much.

Nope. Sorry. The reflection in the mirror is "shrinking" at a greater rate than the mirror, because, as you're recall, your reflection is twice as far away as the mirror itself. This is easily tested in one's home.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:33 PM on July 9, 2010


Navelgazer wrote: "This is easily tested in one's home."
Great idea! How Much of Yourself Can You See in a Mirror?
posted by secretseasons at 4:54 PM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


When I was in my teens I realized abortion didn't start with the letter n. I thought it was a "nabortion" because of the an that precedes it.
posted by morganannie at 5:04 PM on July 9, 2010


Dammit... having tested this at home now more extensively I now know that secertsessions is indeed correct. I wasn't thinking about the fact that the bathroom counter was blocking my close-up view and not my far-away view, and thus was getting false data.

Sorry about that, secretsessions.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:16 PM on July 9, 2010


No worries! Yay science!
posted by secretseasons at 5:34 PM on July 9, 2010


And another apology for twice getting your name wrong there.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:58 PM on July 9, 2010


Thanks to The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik-Yak, for a long time I thought "oral sex" was *verbal*.

Related note: the school sex ed program in my county was so bad that parents sued the school board to make them get a more useful one.

Aaand...somebody I know never realised that the little door to your fuel tank normally comes with a slot that you can put your fuel cap into while you're filling up - instead of placing it on the roof or hood of your car.

Oh. Wow. Really? There is? Oh man.
posted by galadriel at 6:20 PM on July 9, 2010


I always thought that if I was thirsty, it simply meant I needed to drink water. I recently learned that by the time a human being is thirsty, they've already been dehydrated for a while. Apparently the human thirst mechanism isn't nearly as developed as it should be!
posted by Jessness at 6:25 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


On the thirsty theme, it was only a few years* ago that I learned that drinking electrolytes will usually quench your thirst faster if you're actually dehydrated.

I drank electrolytes DURING my workouts but it never occurred to me to drink them after.

*I've been an occasional ultra-endurance athlete for many years and used to drink myself bloated on pure water after long workouts. Turns out 1/2L of electrolyte was all I needed.
posted by dolface at 6:58 PM on July 9, 2010


I think there are enough of us that pronounce "segue" as "seeg" that we may make it an alternate pronunciation.

In a grad school discussion about "synecdoche", one of our classmates kept pronouncing it "Schenectady", even though the rest of us were pronouncing it right. (Now I can hardly even remember what it means.)

Back in high school, my math teacher (a middle-aged woman) would ask if we had "shot your wad" to see if we had finished her test.

What I was doing wrong: thinking I enjoyed drinking alcohol. A medical condition made it necessary to stop. After being on the wagon for several months, I cheated and had a single glass of wine. I felt sad, and realized that drinking had often made me feel that way. This was in my forties after decades of usually moderate drinking that I realized I actually didn't enjoy it. I no longer have the urge to drink.
posted by phartizan at 7:51 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I learned late in life that "next" doesn't always mean "next".
I always thought that "next Thursday'"meant the closest Thursday coming up.
But apparently on Monday and Tuesday, or there-abouts, it means the Thursday after "this Thursday." Or the Thursday 9 or 10 days a way.

Good Grief.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:55 PM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I thought the assembled dinosaur skeletons in museums were real until I was 29 years old. In fact, they're reproductions --- the actual fossilized bones are far too heavy and fragile to hang like that. My girlfriend laughed at me.

There are real dinosaur skeletons on display at the museum I work for. Someone tried (and nearly succeeded) to steal a skull from one of them, during a big museum event this past year.
posted by Coatlicue at 8:04 PM on July 9, 2010


That it's not only okay, but makes WAY more sense, to start reading my email from the top/most recent down when I'm really (like 100+ messages) behind.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 8:06 PM on July 9, 2010


That it's not only okay, but makes WAY more sense, to start reading my email from the top/most recent down when I'm really (like 100+ messages) behind.

This.

It makes SO much more sense to do it that way and I really like seeing all the fires and panics be quenched BEFORE I see them lit and burning, sorta like watching a disaster in reverse. (It took me quite a few years to start doing it that way, and I still dread opening my inbox after a vacation).
posted by dolface at 8:42 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Tapping your cigarettes on something (filter end down) settles the tobacco inside the wrapper down toward the filter more densely."

In the days when people commonly smoked unfiltered cigarettes, tapping a cigarette or pack was necessary so the end you smoked was firm and shreds of tobacco didn't fall into your mouth. Tapping filter cigarettes is a carry over from this practice is pure pretension.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 9:02 PM on July 9, 2010


Tapping filter cigarettes is a carry over from this practice is pure pretension.

I just told you why I do it from personal experience, and what happens sometimes if I don't. Are you saying I'm lying?
Never mind, it isn't worth arguing about.
posted by ctmf at 10:19 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Until my early 20s, I had the vague impression that the term "pap smear" was Yiddish or something for "father."
posted by the christopher hundreds at 10:48 PM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Navelgazer: "Now I'm trying to work this out and failing."

My premise was flawed. Neither set of hairs reaches a certain length and stops growing. The difference is the rate at which they fall out. (If you were to pick a small section of scalp hairs to vigorously rub with a washcloth every day you could probably replicate the eyebrow effect.)


SLC Mom: "I always thought that "next Thursday" meant the closest Thursday coming up. But apparently on Monday and Tuesday, or there-abouts, it means the Thursday after "this Thursday.""

This Thursday = The Thursday of this calendar week.
Next Thursday = The Thursday of next calendar week.

(And Thursday Next = A woman from Swindon)
posted by the latin mouse at 11:56 PM on July 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


My premise was flawed. Neither set of hairs reaches a certain length and stops growing. The difference is the rate at which they fall out. (If you were to pick a small section of scalp hairs to vigorously rub with a washcloth every day you could probably replicate the eyebrow effect.)

I'm pretty sure your original premise was right...
posted by stray at 12:46 AM on July 10, 2010


When growing up, our kitchen sink had what we called a "garbage disposal" or "food disposal" device. There's a common brand (maybe the only brand, since I've never seen any other) called IN-SINK-ERATOR. I used to always wonder what the fuck an ERATOR was, and why it was in my sink, and how the hell it had anything to do with the garbage disposal. It didn't dawn on me until last year (and I'm 32) that it was a play on the word INCINERATOR.
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 1:45 AM on July 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


(If you were to pick a small section of scalp hairs to vigorously rub with a washcloth every day you could probably replicate the eyebrow effect.)

Huh? So you think if you stopped rubbing your face with a washcloth every day your eyebrows would grow to the length of your head hair?

(or... what stray said)
posted by penguin pie at 3:41 AM on July 10, 2010


Until I was about 10 I thought that testicles were where urine was stored before you peed. It took school to teach me otherwise, not my doctor father. :-P
posted by inbetweener at 7:02 AM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wit two rubber bands, bottles and jars are easily opened.
posted by SillyShepherd at 7:25 AM on July 10, 2010


Since he was "killed in a bar when he was only three," I had no idea why there was a whole show about an adult Davey Crockett. Why was a three-year-old in a bar, anyway?

note: believed until late 30s.
posted by grumblebee at 8:36 AM on July 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


It took until my twenties to realize that when restaurants have "AYCE fish" on their signs, it means they have all you can eat fish, not a specific type of fish called Ayce fish (like trout, perch, salmon, etc).

My husband's cousin realized a few years ago what it means when people say they're trying to "make ends meet". He thought it was a type of cheap meat people had to buy if they were poor.

Also, quart=quarter gallon has changed my life.
posted by varin at 9:59 AM on July 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


On the kiwi theme, I always sliced them in half and used a spoon - until realizing that you can just cut them in quarters and eat them like orange slices. So much easier.
posted by parudox at 12:17 PM on July 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


It took me up until it was too late (and I´m only 20) to realize I should take better care of my knees. If jumping from an elevated surface, please at least try to take some of the shock out of it by flexing your knees. Also, stay away from squash (though I still haven´t learned that lesson).
posted by masters2010 at 12:26 PM on July 10, 2010


Pinochle

I grew up playing single deck pinochle (the kind with the double deck, not the quadruple deck) and now can't find anyone who will play it with me. I'm not even sure I remember it clearly, but I miss it terribly. Unless I have a doctor's appointment, I am up for a pinochle game any time of any day if you're 'round here.
posted by galadriel at 6:25 PM on July 10, 2010


1) Everything is just people. E.g., even as I write this, somewhere in Langely, Virginia, deep within the bowels of the CIA, there is a man, standing in front of a Coke machine, trying to unwrinkle a dollar bill. The most faceless, imposing and mysterious institutions can be broken down to a level where it's Just Some Dude.

2) Related: Do not attribute to malice what can be easily explained by incompetence, fear, ignorance or stupidity, because there are millions more garden variety idiots walking around in the world than there are blackhearted Machiavellis.
posted by Diablevert at 8:04 PM on July 10, 2010 [70 favorites]


there is a man, standing in front of a Coke machine, trying to unwrinkle a dollar bill.

I thought Dr. Strangelove was the best flimic deception of this. The entire movie is people trying to do the right thing until it blows up in their face.

Do not attribute to malice what can be easily explained by incompetence, fear, ignorance or stupidity

Double tripled forthed. You are not the centre of other people's worlds.
posted by The Whelk at 9:04 PM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Verbage vs. verbiage. Not sure I've used it incorrectly that often, but I'm sure at some point I did. The word is verbiage. Verbage, on the other hand, is the exceedingly common misspelling of it.

But people think verbiage just sounds wrong and they want to keep using it even after realizing verbiage is the actual word. At least that has been my experience.
posted by craig8592505 at 10:49 PM on July 10, 2010


I was well into my 30s before I realized that I'm stereoblind. Not only do I not have any depth perception, I can't even wrap my head around a written description of it. Explains why I sucked at baseball as a kid, among other things.

My dad didn't know he was color-blind until an intake test for the army. He said it explained a lot, in retrospect.
posted by not that girl at 11:20 PM on July 10, 2010


The whole mirror thing reminded me of this one - your face will look fatter when you are dehydrated. I realized this in my 30s. I would go on long bike rides and come back and my face was really bloated. But it seemed more intuitive to me that having excess water in your system causes the bloating. However it is the opposite. I can't explain it medically but basically when you are dehydrated your body tries to hang on to the water you have left in your body which results in bloating in certain areas, one being your face. Too much sodium in your diet does the same thing.

Not that I was purposely drinking less water to make my face look thinner, but it was nice to realize that an added benefit to drinking lots of water is that your face won't be as bloated as it is when you are dehydrated.
posted by craig8592505 at 12:03 AM on July 11, 2010


Up until recently I thought that New Zealand was located where Papua New Guinea is.

I thought wheelbarrows were wheelbarrels up until 2 years ago.
posted by batonthefueltank at 12:26 AM on July 11, 2010


It was a very, very long time into the U.S. financial crisis before I realized that Fannie Mae was not Fannie May. "For a chocolate company, they sure are important!" I'd think.
posted by granted at 1:25 AM on July 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


X-Rays aren't pictures of the bones, but more like maps showing the density of a bone structure.

(learned not without embarrassment: I had asked the technician if we were seeing my neck from the right or the left)
posted by mirileh at 6:26 AM on July 11, 2010


I live on the east coast of the US. Both my fiance and one of our friends had pen pals that vacationed in the Poconos. It wasn't until high school for my fiance, and even later for our friend, that they discovered the Poconos was a ski resort in Pennsylvania and not a tropical island somewhere. =)

The Arby's logo looked like a glove to me for a long time.

Some things I learner from this thread (only halfway through this monster: I also sang "Edge of Seventeen" wrong. I probably will continue to do so, but I know better. The kiwi thing is awesome.

What the heck did people thing the 'D' in Disney was? It always looked like a 'D' to me.
posted by Catbunny at 8:49 AM on July 11, 2010


Also, I was embarrassingly close to 40 before I learned that on the Interstate, there weren't 10 exits between exits 25 and 35, but 10 miles. Doh!

Kimota, up until around ten years ago, using Pennsylvania as an example, there certainly *were* 10 exits between exits 25 and 35. They then renumbered to make the exits match the mileage, but still to this day have "Old Exit Number" listed at the bottom of the signs.

Unrelated, I wish this thread was split into "words I mispronounced and neat facts about corporate marketing" and "all the rest". The rest seem far more interesting; everyone mispronounces a word or two, and I don't understand the fascination with the D in the Disney logo. It's written in cursive; we used to learn that in schools...
posted by talldean at 11:21 AM on July 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought the D in Disney was a G until I was about twelve.
posted by Xany at 11:54 AM on July 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought 'gratuitous' (as in gratuitous sex, or gratuitous violence) meant 'very graphic' or maybe 'really gross' until I was about twenty.

Also I believed that de-bree and deb-ris were two different words that meant the same thing.
posted by smoakes at 1:26 PM on July 11, 2010


the latin mouse: Also, it turns out that the raised floor in the throne room is spelled dais and pronounced to rhyme with mace. It is not spelled dias and pronounced to rhyme with bias.

Dais is pronounced day-us or, alternatively, dye-us (like "bias"). You were right before.
posted by Monk at 2:14 PM on July 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


That it's "should have" not "should of".

It's not a mistake I personally make, but I know plenty of people that do. And, that "across" does NOT have a "t" on the end of it. Talk about cringing!!
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 5:24 PM on July 11, 2010


I thought 'gratuitous' (as in gratuitous sex, or gratuitous violence) meant 'very graphic' or maybe 'really gross' until I was about twenty.

Like many people, I thought that "graphic" (as in "Warning: this news clip contains graphic violence") meant "extreme" or "disturbing", until I realised that it simply means that there's visual imagery.

Unfortunately, this hasn't stopped the generally understood meaning from sliding, from merely "visual" to "extreme".

I then learned that it's better to be unaware of the "correct" usage of graphic, or else you start tearing your hair out when they warn you that something contains "graphic imagery".

(OF COURSE THE IMAGERY IS GRAPHIC, YOU DOLT! THAT'S WHAT IT FUCKING MEANS! GRAR GRAR GRAR!!)
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:16 PM on July 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


I only just now realized that people put their beds in the middle of a room so both people can get out of bed without one crawling over the other. I (and the people I have shared beds with) have always placed a bed against one wall and never considered why this is less common!
posted by hepta at 10:39 PM on July 11, 2010


your face will look fatter when you are dehydrated

Wow, this explains a photo I was just puzzling over. Thanks!
posted by mikepop at 8:38 AM on July 12, 2010


Easiest bread plate/water glass heuristic:

Solids Left, Liquids Right.
posted by joshwa at 9:59 AM on July 12, 2010


I had a minor epiphany a couple of years ago: you can avoid nicking your adam's apple by moving it out of the way. The trick is to swallow without completing the swallow. That is, pretend you're swallowing a sip of water but don't let go of the pressure in the back of your throat. Your adam's apple is suspended about an inch or two higher than normal and for a few seconds, depending on how long you can hold the tension, there is no bump on the neck to get nicked by the razor.
posted by Araucaria at 11:51 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Geez, did I neglect to mention that tip was for shaving?
posted by Araucaria at 11:52 AM on July 12, 2010


We just had a 2 day power outtage. I dumped all the food & had to put up with the smell all week. As I was taking out the trash, my neighbor said, "why didn't you put it in the freezer & wait [until trash day] to dump it?" **!** I will remember this.
posted by Ys at 12:44 PM on July 12, 2010


These might be obvious, but I did not realize the extent of them until my twenties:

- the more effort you put into your appearance (including posture and smiling), the better people treat you.
- the nicer you are with people, the more doors will open for you.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 1:50 PM on July 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


Three really, really big deals:

1. Ever being in the closet. I mean, it happened by default, I found myself in the closet and then had to figure out how to come out of it, but I wish I had come out to my parents the first moment it ever occurred to me to do so. My parents are the greatest and will of course love me unconditionally. They also were awesome east coast liberals and I knew they had no beef with homosexuality. It was just a scary moment to contemplate, and also my first girlfriend was staunchly closeted to her parents which made me feel pressured not to come out to mine either. That was stupid. When she and I broke up, after two years, I had no way of explaining to mom and dad what I was going through (my first heartbreak!) and they were rightly alarmed to see me completely fall apart and not understand why. I felt so much distance between myself and them at that point, which was extremely painful. After I finally did come out to them, when I started seeing another girl a few years later, I felt immediately so much closer to them and more comfortable. I hate the feeling of being closeted, and come out constantly and all the time (you do this all life long, it becomes easy) when I make new friends, or joing a new workplace, etc.

2. Eating carbs (especially sugar or starchy carbs) makes me binge eat uncontrollably, makes my insulin spike, makes me depressed, makes me fat, and makes me totally miserable. Eating fat makes me feel full and satisfied and doesn't kill me. Oh how I wish I had learned this way earlier than I did (when I was about 24.) Thank you Dr. Atkins. Refusing sugar doesn't make me sad or deprived, really.

3. Working out is AWESOME. It not only makes me healthy, it truly makes me happy. Working out really hard feels really awesome. Team sports are awesome. I grew up fat and hating gym class, and truly perplexed how anyone could enjoy playing sports. I tried! I hated it! I hated sports at camp too. I wish I had had some awesome gym teacher somewhere along the way who could have recognized how unpleasant running while fat is, and helped me find activities I could have enjoyed, or to find a way to get through the extremely uncomfortable out of shape --> in shape transition. Better late than never though! I'm 31 and super competitive and practice my team sport for 2-4.5 hours 6 days a week. And I coach! And I play in front of sold out arenas! And I love life!
posted by palegirl at 3:02 PM on July 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


When a person I love or live with or both does something poorly or fails to do something, I used to react all wrong -- I'd ask them to do the thing, or talk to them about how it bothered me (like say, if a roommate left the kitchen a mess.) It's much less painful for me to just clean up the mess and (this is key) also not resent them for leaving the mess. I live with 3 roommates I adore and I'm the tidy one. I am much happier just cleaning up messes here and there than I would ever be trying to get them to clean up after themselves. This is true for almost everything. I learned this when I was about to move in with these people and I asked two friends who are wonderful friends and roommates what the secret to their happiness is. Maude said "when Andrea does something that bugs me, I just shove it up my ass!" Why bicker with your loved ones? It's so awesome not to.

When I am washing my roommate's dishes I chuckle and smile and think "gosh I love her, and she's such a slob, and I am so glad I live with her, she's such an awesome friend!" This winds up being a daily meditation about how much I adore my roommate, it's so constructive. And washing dishes? Not a big deal at all! I'm so glad I don't let it impact our relationship!
posted by palegirl at 3:20 PM on July 12, 2010 [27 favorites]


Easiest bread plate/water glass heuristic:
Solids Left, Liquids Right.
Sorry, joshwa, that makes no sense to me. I mean, yes, the words make sense, but I don't have any way in my head to tie the words in that order. Am I missing something? Does SLLR mean something, or ... no, the words aren't in alphabetical order or anything. I don't understand how this is memorable.

iminurmefi's trick with the b and the d - that I can remember.
posted by komara at 5:35 PM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know, the biggest duh moment for me of the last decade was this:

sports ≠ competitive sports

I hated sports as a kid, because it was soccer, cricket, rugby, cross-country running and everything else I sucked at (except tennis, which I only somewhat sucked at). Basically sports, to me, equated losing. I did love riding my bike, but never connected that with sports.

It wasn't until I discovered snowboarding that I realized that sports didn't have to be competitive. Mountain biking swiftly followed. See also: climbing, Frisbee, recreational swimming, and a thousand others.

The original meaning of 'sport' is to play, frolic, have fun. It's a TREAT, kids!
posted by unSane at 7:31 PM on July 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


I have a new one!

Just today I realized that you pronounce 'kibosh' like 'KYE-bosh.' I'd been saying it in my head as 'kih-BOSH.'

I realized my mistake when I heard Sam Waterston pronounce it thusly on Law & Order last night, and then heard my grandma say it the same way today. I decided that my grandma and Sam Waterston were probably not wrong and looked it up.
posted by Put the kettle on at 7:40 PM on July 12, 2010


Easiest bread plate/water glass heuristic:
Solids Left, Liquids Right.


This is more like an anti-mnemonic: if you try to remember it as being catchy, you'll get it wrong. (The L's don't go together.)
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:59 PM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


You could remember it as SLR...because your place-setting will be picture-perfect.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:14 PM on July 12, 2010


mirror
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:20 PM on July 12, 2010


mirror

That really bugs me. They got the basic idea right, but the h/2 only applies if your eyeballs are on the same level as the top of your head. Otherwise you need more than h/2 to take in the distance from your eyeballs to your crown.

In particular, if you are h units high and your eyeballs are h' units below the top of your head, you need a mirror (h+h')/2 units high to see your whole body.

Jeez, I'm a fuckin' nerd.
posted by unSane at 9:27 PM on July 12, 2010


Personal lubricant...OMFG! Ladies, if you've been thinking sex just isn't that much fun, You might just be doing it wrong! *RUN* to your nearest sex shop (or pharmacy) and get yourself a bottle. Pick up a bottle of pheromonal massage oil while you're at it...doesn't really matter who you put it on; just tell your honey you want to try something different.
posted by Ys at 3:47 AM on July 13, 2010


"Just today I realized that you pronounce 'kibosh' like 'KYE-bosh.' I'd been saying it in my head as 'kih-BOSH.'

I realized my mistake when I heard Sam Waterston pronounce it thusly on Law & Order last night, and then heard my grandma say it the same way today. I decided that my grandma and Sam Waterston were probably not wrong and looked it up."


My next door neighbor/grandfather, of Irish descent, good old Henry Ashbaugh, same one who told me the stories about Clem Kadiddlehopper, pronounced it [kɪˈbɑʃ], which is one of the accepted variants, and the one I'm sticking to.

My lesson from this word and all other borrowed words - plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
posted by HopperFan at 4:20 PM on July 13, 2010


I really think all the mirror thing was, was him saying that he was able to fool himself about how he looked by subconsciously sucking in his gut or turning at a good angle or something when he walked by a mirror, and so he didn't see the weight he was gaining until he saw a candid picture.

In contrast, many people see themselves in the mirror as bigger than they actually are, slender girls who think they're fat, etc.

Or have I had this wrong the whole time?
posted by Salamandrous at 8:40 PM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have ADD and recently (I am 40+) took an online test (and yes, I will go see a real doctor) that indicated I probably have Asperger's. I didn't realize they could coexist, and now big chunks of my life make sense.
posted by mecran01 at 9:29 PM on July 13, 2010


I just want to try and sum up the mirror thing for posterity.

The statement "the image I see of myself in the mirror is half life size" is still, as far as I'm concerned, obviously incorrect.

But, to sound like Bill Clinton for a minute, it depends what the definition of "in" is.

The image you see of yourself in the mirror, i.e. the inverted you you see "on the other side" of the mirror, gets smaller as you get further away from the mirror, of course.

But imagine that a mirror is like your computer screen and you can do "Print Screen". If you were looking at your face in the mirror, and you did a Print Screen, then measured your face on the printout, you would indeed find that the image of your face was half the size of your real space. And this would be true even if you moved further away from the mirror and did a new Print Screen. The other you on the other side gets smaller, but that imaginary picture of you on the surface of the mirror remains the same size and is half the size of the real thing.

I guess it was hard to understand because I don't think of a mirror as a flat surface with a picture on it. I think of it like a window.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 10:33 PM on July 13, 2010


But imagine that a mirror is like your computer screen and you can do "Print Screen". If you were looking at your face in the mirror, and you did a Print Screen, then measured your face on the printout, you would indeed find that the image of your face was half the size of your real space.

I don't even know what this means, but here is my best guess.

Let's say your face is F units high. The mirror is M units high. You stand D units from the mirror.

You take a photograph of yourself in the mirror, and then enlarge it so that the mirror in the photograph is also M units high.

Are you claiming that the height of your face in the resized photograph (call it F') would be F/2 units high, independent of D? That is pretty easy to work out geometrically which I can do later if that's what you mean.

I imagine all this arises because if the mirror is D units from you, your reflected image appears to be 2D units from you.
posted by unSane at 6:53 AM on July 14, 2010


Just last week, I was disabused of the notion that the Goombas in Super Mario Bros. (the original) had pointed, white beards. Turns out, those are supposed to be their mushroom stalks. I'm still shocked and pouting.
posted by juniper at 9:14 AM on July 14, 2010


Re:spelling


I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough.
Others may stumble, but not you,
On hiccough, thorough, laugh, and through.
Well done! And now you wish, perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps.
Beware of heard, a dreadful word,
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.
And dead—it's said like bed, not bead,
For goodness' sake, don’t call it deed!
Watch out for meat and great and threat,
(They rhyme with suite and straight and debt).
A moth is not a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, broth in brother.
And here is not a match for there,
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear.
And then there's dose and rose and lose—
Just look them up—and goose and choose.
And cork and work and card and ward,
And font and front and word and sword.
And do and go and thwart and cart—
Come, come, I've hardly made a start!
A dreadful language? Why, man alive!
I'd mastered it when I was five!
(via)
posted by puddleglum at 4:13 PM on July 14, 2010 [17 favorites]


Dang, segue got me too, but I do blame Sigue Sigue Sputnik for reinforcing it (as idontlikewords mentioned) Been getting my bread-plate and drinking glass wrong forever too, so thanks for the BMW/finger mnemonics (and L for left, much easier than the homophonic 'I write with my right').

OK doing other things wrong:-
Assuming waves were caused by tides, when it's mostly the Wind and the Moon respectively.

Thinking that if I had drank more alcohol in my teens I'd be more social/popular now. Stubborn refusal of peer pressure has possibly resulted in less friends, but less life-screw-ups and better qualifications!

A couple of other Dohs! that I've banished from short term memory... Great Thread guys!
posted by rothar at 4:47 PM on July 14, 2010


I think this is a Seinfeld bit, but I didn't realize until I was on my way to Amsterdam (college aged) that Holland is the Netherlands, and it's where the Dutch live. Similarly, that Den Haag is Dutch for The Hague, and they are in fact the same place.
posted by bbuda at 8:23 PM on July 14, 2010


I think this is a Seinfeld bit...

Yep
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:52 PM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I didn't realize -- until I saw them live, and heard the lead singer talk -- that LCD Soundsystem was from the United States. I swear, he sounds like he has some sort of British thing going on when he sings. And yes, the apparent irony of their singing about being "North American" was completely lost on me...
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 8:30 PM on July 15, 2010


Cutting lettuce.

I worked at a restaurant where we served an iceberg salad with every meal. Before cutting the lettuce, we'd smack the bottom end of the whole head of lettuce on the worktop. This would compact the cut bit of stem at the bottom into the lettuce head, and then you could just pull the core out easily with your hands. Then all you need to do is peel away the outer leaves and then cut the lettuce however you want for the salad without having to fiddle around with the hard core.

It saved us so much time when we were working with 30+ heads of lettuce a night, but I still do this at home.
posted by sascha at 7:16 AM on July 16, 2010 [11 favorites]


halved her kiwi, and then ate it with a spoon

I have always eaten them whole, fuzzy skin and all, and it was always meh, because the skin has a flavor and texture I did not care for. So last night I saw kiwifruit at the store, bought some, and tried this...

and it was FREAKING AWESOME.

So thanks a lot.
posted by I am the Walrus at 7:17 AM on July 16, 2010


Okay, two cooking things:

You really don't need to proof yeast if you're baking with mass-produced yeast that you get in the little packets. 999 times out of 1000, it's fine. You can actually just throw everything together without playing around with water temperature or anything--it might just take a little longer if it's cool.

Ditto beans -- they don't actually need to be soaked, or boiled then soaked, or anything else. It just takes longer. It might help to let them cook on a lower heat so they maintain structural integrity a little better, but that's it.

Also, refrigerating butter makes toast a heartbreaking experience. It isn't necessary to refrigerate salted butter if you go through it at a reasonable clip.

When cutting broccoli, hold it by its trunk like it's an upside down tree.

Okay, more than two.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:43 PM on July 16, 2010


Apparently, the fitted sheet goes between you and the mattress, and the flat sheet goes between you and the blanket. Before realizing this recently, I had always put a flat sheet on the bottom, and didn't even know there was a top sheet. I just figured it was a matter of personal preference which one you used on the bottom.
posted by blue grama at 1:07 AM on July 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


This AskMe just taught me that people no longer put two spaces after a period.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:45 PM on July 17, 2010


Only a few days ago I discovered that many comment boxes have this little thing in the bottom-right corner, which you can drag to expand the box. Including this one I'm typing in right now! Amazing.
posted by parudox at 8:28 PM on July 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


>> ... hair on your head just keeps growing indefinitely.

No. Scalp hair also grows to a certain length and then falls out. It's just that for most of us, the terminal length is longer than we want to wear our hair. Mine stops somewhere shy of 12 inches. My mother's only grows to something like 6 inches.
posted by Bruce H. at 6:56 AM on July 18, 2010


> As it happens, those segue and awry issues were both discussed on a recent episode of the podcast Battleship Pretension.

Which one? I looked back through the past several months of shows and didn't find any topics that seemed to be about this. I'd like to hear it.

cause hearing words is how you discover these misconceptions
posted by intermod at 1:07 PM on July 18, 2010


Also, when purchasing a new bra, you are supposed to fit it so that the first set of hooks is in use, so you can extend the life of the bra as the material stretches by moving up to the tighter hooks.

That could have saved me a lot of money, if I'd learned that before I'd been wearing bras for 13 years. I just bought any bra that fit at any hook.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 4:12 PM on July 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


This AskMe just taught me that people no longer put two spaces after a period.
Does. Not. Compute. Data not accepted.
posted by Dr. Zira at 4:25 PM on July 18, 2010


Well that's just you DrZ. Bet you were double-spacing after the periods in your comment, too -- must be infuriating, how the software automagically corrects your habit.

My mother's only grows to something like 6 inches.

And your eyebrows and eyelashes, only a fraction of an inch.
posted by Rash at 5:06 PM on July 18, 2010


I read the whoooooole thing, took me all evening.

I think I have a avoided a lot of these pronunciation and writing embarrassments in my life by virtue of two habits:

1. I have been reading real newspapers since I was a teenager. NYT, WaPo, LAT, WSJ, whatever. USA Today, Time magazine, and your local newspaper do not count. This is so important, and can not be overstated. Fortunately it's a lot easier to do this these days. Also consider propublica.org and longform.org .

2. For many years I have been listening to smart people talk about things on the radio. NPR, non-amateur podcasts, etc. NPR especially will pay slavish attention to proper pronunciation of strange words (e.g. synecdoche) and won't giggle about using big words in general. Also PBS documentaries. (note: I am not a humorless egghead)

You guys are killing me with the mirror subthread and the handwringing over missed messages in the Disney logo.

Thanks colinmarshal for a great thread. I actually saw it out on the internet before I saw it here, so I think a ton of people are going to discover AskMefi for the first time via this thread. Right on!
posted by intermod at 8:54 PM on July 18, 2010


Continuing the cooking theme from lettuce, beans, broccoli & yeast...

I expect people may disagree, but I learned that it's not strictly necessary to salt your eggplant/aubergine & leave it aside - ostensibly to draw out the bitterness.

My father (who has always been the family cook) saw me doing this once & pointed out that he'd abandoned that practice long ago, as over the years eggplants have been selectively bred and/or genetically modified to not have that bitterness in the first place.

(you might still salt it to draw out the moisture, but it has little to nothing to do with removing any supposed bitterness)
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:58 PM on July 18, 2010


I must have been at least 40 before I discovered what "turd" really means. I always thought it was just a generic put-downer or mild insult, like "jerk" or "shithead". Funnily enough, I learned it indirectly: moving to Italy, I learned some of the rude words first (as one does), and learned "stronzo". When I discovered what that word literally means, I had a terrible suspicion and looked up "turd" in the OED. Blazing insight, red face. (And frantically trying to remember in what context and company I'd ever used it in the past.)

A thread with 815 posts (and another 329 on MetaTalk) can't be all bad, even if it's chatfilter. After all, even nuclear physicists get to goof off in the canten over lunch before they get back to more serious stuff.
posted by aqsakal at 11:58 PM on July 18, 2010


canten > canteen
posted by aqsakal at 11:59 PM on July 18, 2010


My father (who has always been the family cook) saw me doing this once & pointed out that he'd abandoned that practice long ago, as over the years eggplants have been selectively bred and/or genetically modified to not have that bitterness in the first place.

Related, you used to have to add sugar when making tomato sauce from scratch; these days you can add just very little or none at all due to selective breeding.
posted by mikepop at 5:20 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nice thread. Amazing. Sixteen years using and building the Web and I never knew about shift-space.

Learning from a guy at the Burger King I spent a summer not really working at how to tie a trash bag (before they came with flaps) instead of using those useless twist-ties or plastic ratchety things.

Learning from a guy I worked construction with how to "military roll" an extension cord. Example:

http://www.noob.us/miscellaneous/no-tangle-extension-cord-storage/

Learning that eating more vegetables and less meat means I can drop thirty pounds in four months. And that I can make just as tasty Chinese stir-fry and Tom Yum soup as any local Chinese restuarant, and better pho than any local vietnamese restaurant.

Learning that different kinds of beer have extremely different caloric loads, and that it has little to do with how "dark" or "light" they are in color.

The knife-in-the-avacado-pit thing.

Learning senior year in high school that I really, really didn't care what people who didn't think much of me thought. Happiest year of my life, I'd say. Tried a zillion new things, stopped worrying so much about what others thought of me for doing them, etc.

Ditto on someone who mentioned how important it is to get to know someone before becoming emotionally involved with them; for years in school I thought it was just some weird Victorian hangover, all that courting and slow-and-steady. No, it's because some people are crazy or dependent or jealous and you need to know that before you start fooling around with them.

Learning that there are people out there who do not have your best interests at heart, that some people believe some truly batshit crazy things, most of them think science is a sham, and that influences their thinking in many other areas, making them and their other beliefs somewhat suspect. Oh, and that talking to them about how silly it is can be extremely pointless.

Learning that some people just don't read books. Ever. Still boggles my mind.

Learning that the bigger the author's name on a softcover, the more likely it will completely suck, even if you're trapped on a transcontinental flight and have no other choice besides the SkyMall catalog and the airline magazine. Related: I didn't realize that Stephen King can't write for crap and it took me until "It" to find out.

Learning when I was a teenager that I had no depth perception (born with crossed eyes, had an operation when I was two to fix them but too late for stereoscopic vision). I thought I just sucked really hard at baseball.

Learning that college was just like high school, only with fewer poor kids and more of the same sort of mediocre people you knew from AP classes, and that if you want to learn something, nothing is stopping you from doing it without a degree or certificate, and that people who matter tend to skip past those pieces of paper and find out what you really know.

Learning that you should never go into debt beyond your ability to pay it off, even for something important like student loans, and that "I'll just get one more job" is not a sound survival strategy. Fortunately, I learned that one early.

Learning that letting someone love you and loving them back is just about the sweetest thing there is in life. Related: blueberries in the South are huge and sweet, in the North they're tiny and sort of bitter.

But damn, shift-space?
posted by schampeo at 3:11 PM on July 19, 2010 [8 favorites]


You guys know about backspace and shift-backspace, right?

[doesn't work in Linux; to enable, google "firefox backspace"]
posted by intermod at 7:36 PM on July 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


I knew about backspace, but shift-backspace is awesome!
posted by Night_owl at 9:42 PM on July 19, 2010


A lot of my issues in life would be more cleanly resolved had I just asked for what I wanted directly instead of making pre-emptive compromises and assuming I know what the other person wants in the first place. At least then even if my request was rejected, there's no second-guessing.
posted by divabat at 2:46 PM on July 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


I recently discovered that filling my bird feeder with all sunflower seeds draws a much better class of birds than the mixed feed I was using before. It costs more, but it lasts longer. The gangs of sparrows and starlings that used to empty the bird feeder in a day or two (throwing most of it on the ground) are not that fond of sunflower seeds, but cardinals, orioles, and other interesting birds are. The frequency of required filling is way down.

The only drawback is that the squirrels like sunflower seeds a lot, and when that's all there is in the feeder, they are even more determined and resourceful than usual.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:55 PM on July 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


> You don't even need to heat corn on the cob before you eat it, but if you like it hot, just bring some water to near boiling and drop the corn in for a few seconds. You're not "cooking" it, you're just making it hot.

Holy hell Camofrog is right. Wow. Why didn't I know this?
posted by komara at 4:57 PM on July 22, 2010


One more keyboard thing:
On my mac laptop, fn-delete does what a Del key should do, delete from left to right.

Recommending books to other people is hard to do; don't expect them to like what you recommend.

Homemade whipped cream is worth it, even if you don't have an electric eggbeater.

Ceiling fans are way better than I ever expected.

Don't water your plants in the middle of the day when it is hot out. Wait until evening or early morning otherwise you're wasting a lot of water.
posted by sciencegeek at 12:16 PM on July 23, 2010


If you coil a cable (power cord, audio cables etc) hand over hand, it gets all tangled up. There's a right way to coil a cable and this is it. No more tangled cords. I learned this just last year.

Another Canadianism. After a snowfall, your car's windshield is covered. Don't just clear the windshield, remove the snow from the intake vents at the base of the windshield. Otherwise that snow gets blown into the interior of the car where it evaporates and then freezes on the inside of your windshield.

When you're deciding to figure out which line to join at the grocery check out, don't look at how many items the people in the line have. Also check how many fruits and veggies they have because they take the longest time for the cashier to process.

Yoga, karate, swimming, piano playing and probably everything else, you have to be relaxed otherwise it don't work.
posted by storybored at 9:14 PM on July 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nice one on coiling cables, storybored; good to learn! Towards the end, he says, "That's all there is to it." But he's missed out one important point I didn't learn until I started sailing a boat. What if only one end of the cable is free, and the other end is fixed somehow? Most people start with the free end, because it seems more natural and easy that way. Wrong! You start at the fixed end and work down the cable (or whatever) towards the free end - try it!
posted by aqsakal at 1:33 AM on July 24, 2010


jayne, you might also like to know that Johnny Cash's "Hurt" is a cover of a Nine Inch Nails song.
posted by mbrubeck at 11:20 AM on July 24, 2010


It wasn't until I was about 17 that I learned "clapture" was not a word.

I thought it was a synonym for applause.
posted by piratebowling at 6:46 PM on July 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


that Holland is the Netherlands, and it's where the Dutch live.

Holland is part of the Netherlands.
posted by pompomtom at 2:11 AM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's not the part where Peter Pan lives.

Wet clothes will line-dry even in shade on a humid day. It just takes longer. Jeans take longer to dry than almost everything else.

In MA, your auto insurance company is required to pay for a cracked or broken windshield at no cost to you, if you have Comprehensive coverage. The crack must be at least 6 inches long.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:10 AM on July 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was in high school when my mom told me that by and large, other people don't even remember all the stupid, embarassing things I would obsess over.

I was probably in middle school when I realized how bizarre my family's living situation was. We've always had stuff all over the place, on couches, chairs, and the dinner table, with paths leading to vital areas through the mess. It's only been inthe past year or so I've realized to what extent this has shaped all areas of my life, from school assignments to my wardrobe to my interaction with other people and general inability to feel "at home" in my home.

Just this January, I discovered that dogs can be pretty great after a lifetime of thinking nearly all of them were smelly, stupid, scary creatures that would knock you down and ruin all your stuff.

Bathrobes have changed my life.

Moisturizing your skin is the single most important thing you can do for your complexion, after basic hygiene. Once a day isn't enough. Many, many skin issues, especially pimples, are counterintuitively due to overly dry skin. Use an oil-free moisturizer if you have trouble skin.

Dab some foundation on your spots and blend before applying a mix of moisturizer and foundation to avoid that robot skin look.

Ambien is not a sleep aid but a hallucination-inducer and judgement destroyer.

Complected is not a word—it's complexioned. People from outside Appalachia have never heard of it. They also say app-uh-LAY-sha instead of app-uh-LATCH-a. Some people will mock you for saying it "wrong," even if you've lived there your whole life. Fuck those people.

Everyone has an accent.

A one-inch ball of (hair) mousse is enough.

A diet of entirely dry food is not good for cats, as it is far too heavy on carbs and light on protein. Cats shouldn't have food available all the time. You're probably feeding your cats too much.

Don't use soil from outside to pot houseplants unless you want to bring bugs into your home.

ADHD and bipolar disorder are no excuse for laziness and/or neglecting responsibilities.

People who hang around you and invite you to stuff are usually doing it because they like you, not to fuck with you or mock you. It is ok to trust them.

Toss onions in the freezer for fifteen to thirty minutes before cutting to nearly eliminate effects on your eyes.

It wasn't until she moved out for college that I realized my big sister really did love me a
lot, in spite of constantly tormenting me.

Use a carabiner to clip your keys onto a purse strap and never again spend five minutes digging for them.

Natural American Spirits are in no way affiliated with any native peoples, nor have they ever been.

Speeding not only has a negligible effect on arrival time over daily distances, but also is hell on gas mileage. 60 to 65 mph is almost always fast enough and provides optimal mpg. Coast down hills in neutral to further prolong a tank of gas.

If I don't get a flu shot, I WILL get the flu.

Ceiling fans make all the difference in the world.

Not me, but my best friend (22) recently confessed to me that she hated venetian blinds because she could never get them to go down properly or stay where she wanted them. When I explained how to work them, pulling the string all the way to one side (usually the left) to drop them and then all the way to the other to lock them in place, she was absolutely floored. A week or so later she told me I had totally changed her life in that small way.

Sorry for the ridiculous length. I love you all.
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 6:36 AM on July 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


60 to 65 mph is almost always fast enough and provides optimal mpg.<>

Sorry to burst your bubble, but while it is possible this is true for your particular car in terms of mpg, it depends on a number of variables and is false as you have presented it. There is no such thing as one speed for optimal mpg for all cars.

I also take serious issue with your take on speed and arrival time. Your statement only applies to short journeys. An extra 10 mph over a full day's drive produces a significantly different arrival time.

posted by Brockles at 7:46 AM on July 25, 2010


I hate iPhone auto correct.

As a data point for the person above using "bust a nut" as an expression if frustration in a traffic jam, rest assured that it has only ever meant "overwork sufficient to risk a groin strain" to everyone in the UK at least (and my Californian wife). I had no clue that some people parse it as "ejaculation". That meaning still, even now, makes zero sense to me. After all, your testicles aren't broken afterwards when you cum.
posted by Brockles at 7:52 AM on July 25, 2010


I also take serious issue with your take on speed and arrival time. Your statement only applies to short journeys. An extra 10 mph over a full day's drive produces a significantly different arrival time.

Sorry, I should have been more clear. By "daily distances," I meant the trips most people take on a day-to-day basis, such as commuting to and from work, going to the store, visiting a friend, etc. Let's say you have a 30 mile commute—increasing your speed from 60 to 70 mph would save you just under four and a half minutes. For a 20 mile trip, the same increase nets you less than three. To me, that's not worth the extra risk.
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 8:36 AM on July 25, 2010


I now see that you acknowledged the short distance thing in your comment, so my explanation was somewhat superfluous. Oh well.
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 8:39 AM on July 25, 2010


Coast down hills in neutral to further prolong a tank of gas and put yourself and others in great danger. Your vehicle should be in an appropriate gear at all times when it is moving. Never ever coast in neutral.
posted by aqsakal at 11:01 PM on July 25, 2010


According to Subaru, coasting in neutral will damage the power-transmission components. It's why Subarus cannot be ground-towed; they have to be put on a ramp truck. I would not be surprised if coasting would damage other AWD vehicles. Check your owner's manual.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:17 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Holland is part of the Netherlands.

... I did not know this. *facepalm*
posted by Xany at 6:23 AM on July 26, 2010


Complected is not a word—it's complexioned.

Captain Cardathian:
Merriam-Webster dictionary: complected
Pronunciation: \kəm-ˈplek-təd\
Function: adjective
Etymology: irregular from complexion
Date: 1785
: having a specified facial complexion
usage Not an error, nor a dialectal term, nor nonstandard—all of which it has been labeled—complected still manages to raise hackles. It is an Americanism, apparently nonexistent in British English. Its currency in American English is attested as early as 1806 (by Meriwether Lewis) and it appears in the works of such notable American writers as Mark Twain, O. Henry, James Whitcomb Riley, and William Faulkner.

posted by misha at 1:57 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bathrobes have changed my life.

I require an explanation for this awesome statement plz.
posted by elizardbits at 3:54 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you "souvenir" a bathrobe from a hotel, they can & will force you to pay for it, way above its actual shelf price.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:21 PM on July 26, 2010


Unless you use a fake name and pay in cash, without showing a credit card. I believe most hotels do require a credit card for this reason.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:25 AM on July 27, 2010


Bathrobes have changed my life.

I require an explanation for this awesome statement plz.


They're just so versatile, in ways I never would have imagined. Bathroom too hot to get dressed? Bathrobe. Naked when someone comes to the door? Bathrobe. Cold in the house? Bathrobe. Pajamas don't have pockets? Bathrobe. Hate pants but have roommates? Bathrobe. Cooking bacon without getting greaseburns? Bathrobe. I have two, a floor-length, long sleeved fleecey one and a tradition short terry one, and I am almost constantly in one or another around the house. I used to think, "Who needs a bathrobe when you have a towel?". Everyone, that's who.

Regarding complected: I can still remember the day and location where my mom shattered my skin-centric worldview. You've just shattered it all over. I just assumed she was right, especially when I went away to college and none of my friends had ever heard of it.
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 12:01 PM on July 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Traditional. My bathrobe is traditional. Damn auto-correct.

also Apple please stop making me use periods after quotation marks that is not where they go thx
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 12:04 PM on July 27, 2010


If you "souvenir" a bathrobe from a hotel, they can & will force you to pay for it, way above its actual shelf price.

Do they add charge for stealing it, or is it the same price you'd pay to purchase one from the hotel?
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 12:12 PM on July 27, 2010


At the Field Museum in Chicago, I'm pretty sure the Sue T-Rex display in the lobby is legit save for the head; the real fossil head is in a case on the second floor. And I think something like 80-90% of the fossils in the Evolving Planet exhibit are real, too, and there's a sign to that effect.

I should clarify: Yes, many fossils in museums are real. But the free-standing assembled dinosaur skeletons tend to be reproductions. This is what I was told when I asked info desk at New York's Natural History Museum.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 1:05 PM on July 27, 2010


I, too, thought the Netherlands and Holland were interchangeable. D'oh.

From the Dutch govt:

.....Hence, when talking about the Netherlands, (Holland) became the accepted way of referring to the country and its people. Over the years both names have come to be accepted, although the official name, of course, remains the Netherlands.




I just came back to say that this thread has changed the way I cut tomatoes and tear saran wrap and my life has improved, in a small but measurable way.
(I tried the kiwi thing, but I think they weren't ripe enough or something. I still prefer cutting wheels of kiwi and just peeling off the skin in circles, like salami.)
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:01 PM on July 27, 2010


Do they add charge for stealing it, or is it the same price you'd pay to purchase one from the hotel?

It's effectively the same thing, as the "purchase price" itself is way more than it would cost to buy the same bathrobe from a department store. They presumably factor in a processing fee, and then double the result for an extra disincentive - which is fair enough, because it takes some arseing around to manage inventory like that, when your core business is renting rooms, not operating a homegoods store.

Funnily enough, I was in an awful cheap hotel recently & they obviously had problems with their clientele, because they listed the charge for each & every movable item - TV, phone, pillowcases, garbage bin, kettle, ironing board cover...the only thing that didn't have a cost attached was the pricelist itself, so I took that with me when I checked out.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:43 PM on July 27, 2010 [14 favorites]


(I forgot to mention the lightglobes & the batteries from the TV remote)
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:44 PM on July 27, 2010


(by which I mean they also had a price attached, not that I took them when I left)
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:46 PM on July 27, 2010


I believed for years that breaking a bone was one of the worst things that could happen to a kid. This is my sister's fault. She told me that when someone breaks an arm, it means it has been been snapped off. The plaster casts I'd seen on my schoolmates were hollow empty molds so that they could re-grow new limbs in the right shape. I did not find out until a friend of mine brought in an old cast for show-and-tell, and I cringed, thinking there was somehow some bits of arm left in there.

My sister also told me that drinking cupfuls of soapy bathwater would cause me to shrink slowly so that she could eventually carry me in her pocket.
posted by alight at 11:59 AM on July 28, 2010 [13 favorites]


Kirth Gerson: "I believe most hotels do require a credit card for this reason."

Ixnay. They like to pretend they do but they do not. My stock reply to "may I take an imprint of your card?" is now "No." After being burned one too many times by pre-clears and holds, I just refuse to book hotels or anything but airline reservations, car rentals and online purchase of actual tickets with a credit card. I pay with cash on check out. At some hotels they prefer I pay with cash on check in and that's fine too. At two hotels I have paid with cash and left a one night deposit I retrieved in cash on checkout, and at one hotel they locked the mini bar which was also fine.

But really you have to provide a credit card for very little if you're willing to be bold about it, I've found.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:22 PM on July 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


Good to know, DB.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:21 PM on July 28, 2010


I had always wondered why some gas nozzles are so touchy and keep clicking off prematurely if I pressed the trigger too hard.

I just discovered 10 MINUTES AGO that if you let the nozzle rest more or less level in the hole, (rather than tilting it forward and down) you can blast it full throttle.
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:04 PM on July 28, 2010


Over on MeFi Music I just discovered that you can capo a bass guitar, which allowed me to record a bass part the way it was written rather than the way I had transposed it. My mind is still reeling.
posted by unSane at 9:11 PM on July 28, 2010


Bathrobes are a wonderful thing to inherit. I have my dad's old red plaid flannel bathrobe and being wrapped up in it is the most wonderful feeling ever.

(This is the best thread ever!!)
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 8:08 AM on July 31, 2010


That you can stop a leg or foot cramp by straightening your leg or foot out (occasionally going as far as to push it opposite of how it's cramping with my hands). I learned that from reading Conrad's Fate by Diana Wynne Jones.
posted by Margalo Epps at 10:37 AM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just remembered that, until about age ten or so, I thought a car's brake lights came on because the driver flipped a switch at the same time they decided to slow down, just like turn signals. I found out I was wrong after arguing with a friend about it, and then asking my parents. Oops.
posted by davejay at 11:12 PM on August 2, 2010


I only realized Pan-Cake makeup was a trademark about two years ago. I always thought "pancake makeup" was a thick pancake-y layer of foundation. Turns out it's Max Factor's cake of foundation in a pan.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:49 AM on August 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


> I always thought "pancake makeup" was a thick pancake-y layer of foundation.

I thought that until approximately 15 seconds ago.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:39 PM on August 12, 2010 [9 favorites]


I still think that.
posted by unSane at 9:34 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


After years of being a miserable emotional wreck on the birth control I take for health reasons, (many, many different kinds,) I finally at the age of 29 had a doctor tell me that birth control depletes vitamins B6 and Folic Acid and that I should take a supplement. It was almost instantaneous how much better I felt.

I was completely blown away that no one had ever told me this and I have been trying to spread the knowledge to everyone I know since.
posted by trishthedish at 12:05 PM on August 18, 2010 [22 favorites]


I was completely blown away that no one had ever told me this and I have been trying to spread the knowledge to everyone I know since.

trishthedish, I just sent your comment to my daughter. This may very well be the explanation for why she's been so emotionally fragile the last few years, when she used to be one of the strongest and most independent people I knew. Thank you for posting!!!
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:30 AM on August 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


That you're not supposed to tear the cardboard end off the 12-pack soda refrigerator pack. I have been doing this for years and my wife showed me last night the "correct" way of doing it.
posted by reverendjim at 5:12 PM on August 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


That Watership Down isn't about a boat.

I knew it was about anthropomorphised rabbits, and had heard at some point that they travel down a river, so I always assumed that 'watership' was the name of their craft, and that it crashed and some of them drowned.

I read it for the first time last week and gave myself an inner high-five for never voicing that particular preconception.
posted by twirlypen at 9:57 PM on August 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


Some of the advice here with respect to shaving is not going to be helpful for a lot of people. Shaving is an intensely personal procedure, by which I mean that what works for me may not work for you. I know this because for me, shaving cream absolutely makes a difference. If I don't shave against the lay of my beard, I have unacceptable levels of stubble. Even though I always do shave against the lay (after shaving with it), I do not get ingrown hairs. These are all true for me, contradicting some assertions in this thread.

By all means, tell us what works for you, but don't tell us that it will definitely work for us, too. My beard and skin are not your beard and skin.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:14 AM on August 24, 2010


My beard and skin are not your beard and skin.

Working on that.

-- Your friend, Buffalo Bill
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 8:04 AM on August 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


That when going to the beach or pool-side it's WAY easier to apply sunscreen naked, as opposed to navigating all the strings and borders of a bikini.
posted by Carlotta Bananas at 7:29 AM on August 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Growing up in earthquake country, I was always told that a good place to find shelter in an earthquake was beneath some sturdy furniture - sort of duck and cover. We even practiced doing this under our desks in elementary school. Well, it just may be that it's the worst thing you can do. As things collapse, they collapse on furniture and when that gives way there's not going to be any space left beneath it. There may be, however, space next to the furniture which has collapsed but not been flattened - so-called "Triangles of Life."
posted by drdigg at 4:01 AM on September 4, 2010


Growing up in earthquake country, I was always told that a good place to find shelter in an earthquake was beneath some sturdy furniture - sort of duck and cover. We even practiced doing this under our desks in elementary school. Well, it just may be that it's the worst thing you can do. As things collapse, they collapse on furniture and when that gives way there's not going to be any space left beneath it. There may be, however, space next to the furniture which has collapsed but not been flattened - so-called "Triangles of Life."

A couple things: 1. The odds are pretty good that a structure will not collapse during the vast majority of earthquakes. 2. A table is perfectly adequate protection against more likely hazards such as light fixtures falling from the ceiling, knickknacks falling off shelves, etc.

Also: Doorways, yo.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:56 AM on September 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


It wasn't until I was 21 that I learned, via ridicule, that the half circles at the base of my fingernails weren't baby fingernails like the teeth reserves of a shark.
posted by Satapher at 6:08 PM on September 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


It wasn't until I was 21 that I learned, via the previous comment, that sharks have reserve teeth.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:12 PM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


It wasn't until I was 21 that I learned, via ridicule, that the half circles at the base of my fingernails weren't baby fingernails like the teeth reserves of a shark.

Consider yourself de-ridiculed (or re-ridiculed, if you so desire): At age 9 I learned, via a fastball to the thumb, that those are indeed emergency reserve fingernails under there. I also learned that when your coach tells you to choke up on the bat, it's best to just ignore him.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:30 PM on September 5, 2010


Furthermore, it was only a few months ago that I realized De Stijl wasn't a person.
posted by Satapher at 7:26 PM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, so late to this brilliant thread. Read the whole thing and have thoroughly enjoyed; definitely Best of MeFi. Things that have blown my mind: shift-space; Pan-Cake makeup; gas cap holder in the little door; quart = quarter-gallon.

For me, the general stuff in the category of lessons learned (relationships, money, cooking, technology) are sort of endless and ever-evolving, but these were my specific lightbulb moments:

It took listening to Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" in junior high (and the grand facade, so soon will burn) for the lightbulb to go off that the word wasn't pronounced FAKE-ade. (I was definitely the type who learned all my big words from books.)

I was 18 when I smugly, confidently said aloud at a college party that my hobbies and interests ran the gamut. Which is when I learned that gamut doesn't rhyme with kaput.

I was at least 23, 24 when I realized that "The Gambler" dies at the end of the Kenny Rogers song.

I was at least 30 when I was made to learn (by an aggrieved husband) that if I was warm in the house at 80°... and would rather have it at 72°... then turning the air-con down to 60° wouldn't get it to 72° faster. I figured that the thermostat would tell the A/C to blow colder air.

It was only a few months ago when I figured out that, in American football, the teams alternate which goal they defend every quarter. I thought they had "their own side" the whole game, and that likely the home team was entitled to the "better" side. (This might seem relatively insignificant to the rest of the world, but I've lived in Texas my whole life, and American football is THE sport here, and I have watched at least a thousand American football games, probably 100+ of those live. And never realized that whoever I was cheering for was running toward a different goalpost every 15 minutes.)

That embarrassment of realizing that the Whole Entire World knew something that you just came to and have been Doing Wrong for so long... it's a valuable little dose of humility. I hope I never stop having them, frankly.
posted by pineapple at 8:44 PM on September 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


There was a great thread about the thermostat debate earlier this year. zpousman links to this academic paper: Two Theories of Home Heat Control (PDF), which describes the theories non-technical people devise to govern their use of thermostats. The author says that there are two common theories: "feedback theory" (the thermostat detects temperature and turns the heat on or off depending on the temperature of the house) and "valve theory" (the thermostat is like a water tap, and setting it progressively higher will yield progressively more heat). His main point in the paper is that both theories "work" fine in everyday life, even though the valve theory is technically incorrect.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:52 PM on September 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


When my father would say that he was just trying to "make ends meet", I always thought he was saying "make inns meat". My sister corrected me recently.
posted by ollo at 8:46 PM on October 21, 2010


My mother learned quite late from a babysitter that the most space-efficient way of arranging clothes on a clothesline is to hang them across from one parallel line to the other, instead of stringing each item along the same line.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:30 PM on October 21, 2010 [25 favorites]


I've got to say, Ubu, that's the first comment in this monster thread that's made me feel like a complete idiot. Not that I've ever had occasion to put laundry on a clothes line, but I guarantee I would have done it wrong up until just now.

I've always been kind of puzzled how someone could get a whole load of laundry all hung out at once without having a mile of clothes line. It seems so obvious now that you mention it, though.
posted by ctmf at 1:01 AM on October 23, 2010


I, however, have used a washing line from birth. Never heard of the 'across' method. Next time I'm home, I'm going to show my mum and it's going to BLOW HER MIND.
posted by twirlypen at 3:46 AM on October 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I admit that until I got to high school (seriously), I thought Germany was somewhere over by China. I just never looked attentively at a map, I guess. Whenever I read WW2 literature I was always vaguely confused by Hitler's insane military strategy. Why march aaaaaall the way through Russia to get to fucking Poland? And then what the fuck is with turning on Russia when they can obviously cut off your entire supply line? Which, again, is stretching... from China. I just never seriously thought about it beyond shrugging my shoulders in mystification. Then at 14 I finally saw a map and OH MY GOD.

Similarly ridiculous, though less embarrassing: I started flying alone from California to Russia at the age of 8. They used to show the plane's path on the TVs and I would watch the plane travel the curved line and wonder why it didn't just fly in a straight line. I knew that a straight line was the shortest distance between two points. I figured it had something to do with air traffic. Like there were so many planes that they couldn't all fit on... the straight... line. So around age 11, I was sitting in science class (of course) and we were supposed to be working on something but instead I was daydreaming and thinking about the path the plane took, because it always irritated me that I had to be stuck in the plane for hours while we curved over Canada, and suddenly it hit me and shocked me so much that I exclaimed aloud "oh my god! The earth is round! The earth is round!"
posted by prefpara at 4:16 PM on October 26, 2010 [12 favorites]


After complaining to my boyfriend how bright the lights of other cars were in my rearview mirror while driving at night, he showed me to toggle the rearview mirror up to reduce the brightness. (I acknowledged the change but realized I prefer the brighter position due to seeing more details of the cars' bodies). Apparently everyone else knew that but me.

Pronunciation fail: until age 12 or so believed that rattan (the wickerlike material from which some furniture is made) was pronounced "RAT-an" and was low quality, along the lines of "ratty". I still don't love the furniture style, but now know to correctly describe it as "ruh-TAN".
posted by shortskirtlongjacket at 6:22 PM on October 26, 2010


You know that Toni Basil song "Mickey" and the ensuing ubiquitous video? I was born the year it came out, and for some reason (I chalk it up to being really young, sheltered, and clueless in that hopefully cute naivete/kid-thinking sort of way) could not imagine a world in which "Mickey" referred to anybody but Mickey Mouse. Like, the word Mickey could not be a general name, sort of like I don't know...She-Ra or something. So I'd watch the video as a baby and assume she was in love with Mickey Mouse and that made sense to me at the time. Well. I hadn't thought about the song for, you know, decades, and then it came up for some reason a couple years back and it dawned on me she was just talking about some guy named Mickey, not Mickey Mouse. This revelation happened in front of my husband, who of course snickered.
posted by ifjuly at 8:43 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you need to access your windshield wipers, turn them on then turn off the car while the wipers are at their high point. I used to have Jiffy Lube or similar places replace my wipers - my brother showed me how to replace them myself a couple of years ago. Takes 2 minutes a wiper, saves a bunch of money and you can customize the wiper for the different seasons.

I can reserve books through my local library's website. Pick them up at the nearest branch a few days later. Totally changed my life - its like Amazon but no credit card required.

The finger counting for multiples of nine is way too complicated:
1 x 9=9
2 x 9=18 (1 + 8 = 9)
3 x 9=27 (2 + 7 = 9)
4 x 9=36 (3 + 6 = 9)
5 x 9=45 (4 + 5 = 9)
6 x 9=54 (5 + 4 = 9)
7 x 9=63 (6 + 3 = 9)
8 x 9=72 (7 + 2 = 9)
9 x 9=81 (8 + 1 = 9)
9 x 10=90 (9 + 0 = 9)

If you're multiplying 5 x 9, think of the next number down (4) and what added to 4 equals 9 (5) and the answer is 45.

If you have a leg or foot cramp while not on your feet, immediately get to your feet and put weight on that part to stop the pain.

Evidently, I still have not learned to properly tie my shoe.
posted by jaimystery at 4:21 AM on October 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


If you need to access your windshield wipers, turn them on then turn off the car while the wipers are at their high point.

Prepare to have your mind blown: Wiper arms hinge outwards into a locked position. You can just lift them up (pulling away from the windshield) with your hand.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:27 AM on October 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah, that may not work on all cars. A lot of cars have a 'one complete sweep' relay set-up where even if you turn the car off, the wiper will park properly before powering down.
posted by Brockles at 12:02 PM on October 28, 2010


Wiper arms hinge outwards into a locked position. You can just lift them up (pulling away from the windshield) with your hand.

And! It's good to do this when you're parked and you know it's going to storm so ice doesn't form underneath the rubber part, making it impossible to get a good swoosh going.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:39 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you turn on your wipers before getting all the ice off the windshield, the wipers will need frequent replacement.

Even worse, if you drive the car before getting the ice off the windshield, the car will need frequent replacement. I still see moving cars whose drivers have apparently not learned how to use the defroster.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:50 AM on October 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


This thread is awesome. The banana thing blew my mind.

Tight clothes don't really look that good on anyone, fat OR skinny.

That women can train to lift weights and do other chest exercises without looking frighteningly pumped up (which is really a result of extreme testosterone and steroids). That these things aren't just for men was, sadly, a real revelation for me. I "knew" that women could do these things, but the idea of it was so foreign; I thought women mainly should just work on legs/butt, arms, and abs. That we have muscles -behind- our breasts was fascinating, even though I'd taken anatomy years before. What's more, exercising these muscles apparently gives our breasts a better appearance, as does exercise for any other part of the body.

That its possible to be attracted to certain people via their scent. Yes, they can be attractive also, but scent plays a large part of it. Now, when ever I get very close to my boyfriend, it's a little like being drunk or, if I ever were to have taken drugs for fun, like getting some sort of high off of his skin. We now play around with commercial scents that work well with his natural odor, but they aren't needed for me to feel like a kitten with catnip.
posted by DisreputableDog at 5:24 AM on November 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


They used to show the plane's path on the TVs and I would watch the plane travel the curved line and wonder why it didn't just fly in a straight line.

Aw heck, I remember Mr Wizard demonstrating that on a globe on his 80s show.

Mr Wizard IS Don Herbert!
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 12:59 AM on November 2, 2010


Don't forget: preantepenultimate because ultimate, penultimate, and antepenultimate just don't cut it alone.
posted by jeffmilner at 3:09 PM on November 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


I calm and pace myself by taking a break to smoke a cigarette. I have been doing it wrong all these years! (I'm quitting on my birthday.)
posted by not_on_display at 11:06 AM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I do realize how late I am to this party.

We had a black and white tv growing up. (I am 48.) TV wasn't particularly important in my family, but I COULD NOT WAIT for "The Wizard of Oz" each year.

Imagine my surprise, my sophomore year in college, when my friends and I decided to watch it on the school's color tv. I was gobsmacked when Dorothy opened her front door and Oz was in color! Suddenly, I understood the whole dream part of the movie that always seemed weird!
posted by littleflowers at 8:06 AM on November 19, 2010 [8 favorites]


We had a black and white tv growing up. (I am 48.)

Me too (I'm 45), and so did most of my friends.

My friend's mom made him a cookie-monster puppet. I used to play with it all the time when I went over to his house, and, as he was bored with it, he decided to give it to me. I had it for years. It was bright red. Since his mom only had access to a B&W set, she had no idea cookie monster was blue.

The puppet was like the love-child of the actual cookie monster and Elmo.
posted by grumblebee at 10:15 AM on November 20, 2010 [13 favorites]


darkstar: Something I still do wrong, but won't ever change: I drive an automatic transmission with both feet - right on the accelerator and left on the brake. Just never going to break myself of that bad habit. :-(
As a couple of people have mentioned, this is no problem as long as you aren't resting your foot on the pedal as you drive. Many race car drivers use the technique (in reality, they use either foot, depending on which isn't doing something else), primarily either as a 'safety tap' to make sure the brakes are working prior to needing a high commitment from the brakes or to make sure the pads are seated against the disc to reduce the time taken for them to move into position or to reduce the lag time between braking and accelerating - the tiny fraction of a second it takes to move your foot from the brake pedal to the accelerator, multiplied by the number of corners, multiplied by the number of laps can add up during a race. There's also the well-known but not often used these days 'brake test', where someone is hassling you from behind - a sharp tap on the brake pedal without easing up on the accelerator will shunt the car behind into the back of you (race cars are much more vulnerable at the front). This can be explained away to officials as 'testing the brakes'.

My epiphany is pretty boring - it's taken me nearly 50 years to realise that it's OK to me be and it's OK to want the things I want just because I want them - I don't have to justify anything to anyone else. It's also OK for me to allow others to be the same.
posted by dg at 10:33 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had a friend that thought the last letter in the Disney logo was a P - it wasn't until high school that he figured out it was a Y. Who Walt Disnep is, I'll never know.
posted by youngergirl44 at 5:40 PM on November 23, 2010


My local library catalog has an author search (last/first) It took me forever to figure out why my commas weren't working. They really meant last/first.
posted by notned at 10:54 AM on January 14, 2011


As randomname25 points out, Annihilate. Thought it was just some weird word Ben from the Fantastic Four would shout. Likewise, I had no idea that was how to spell what a 5th grade Catholic school nun would shout at us all the damned time. Surprised the hell out of me when I figured it out that year. That sudden lightbulb goes off, then you wonder if anyone else knew you'd been so stupid about it...

Then there's a friend's misunderstanding of a term related to haggling. It's not "chew you down". Of course, the right term isn't really all that politically correct any more...
posted by wkearney99 at 9:16 AM on January 15, 2011


Tight clothes don't really look that good on anyone, fat OR skinny.

Erm...
posted by unSane at 5:27 PM on January 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


It took me ages to figure out that "Diagon Alley" and "Knocturn Alley" are plays on "diagonally" and "nocturnally".
posted by NoraReed at 2:30 AM on January 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


I only realised that when Harry actually says it too quickly in the movie. In fact, I didn't get nocturnally until your comment. Yet ExpertsExchange was instant...
posted by doublehappy at 3:03 AM on January 23, 2011


Don't butter your toast with the common spreader and then put it back for others to use. The crumbs that you leave are not appetizing.

Teach your kids proper behavior by telling them and them modeling the behavior consistently.

Learn to change your flat tire before it actually gets flat (in freezing rain).

Screw Jumping cables; buy a portable battery charger and keep it in your trunk.

Don't ever run out of deodorant again! Buy 6, 8, or 10 and keep them under your bathroom sink. They won't spoil like milk or go bad (considering usage within several months).
The same applies to toilet paper and tissues.

Set your clothes out the night before. You will thank yourself in the morning (and so will your sleeping SO).

Always treat your company like family and your family like company.

Go into your pantry and find any food you haven't eaten in the last three months. Take it to the food bank where people will actually eat it.

I know praying is out of style these days. But if you get in a tight spot and no one else will listen... what the heck.

Oh and get a K-cup brewer.

Best to you all!
posted by boots77 at 1:25 PM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


It seems that many of us have been using laundry detergent bottles incorrectly! Toss the cap in with the laundry and it won't get all funky!
posted by ellenaim at 1:45 PM on February 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Scrub comb out & brush the dog regularly before you vacuum, dust, etc. I had never been part-owner of a dog before, and this dawned on me *five* years into knowing our pug. Now why Dear Partner didn't think of it first is another story...
posted by MidSouthern Mouth at 9:36 PM on February 18, 2011


Wiring a three way switch (or 4,5,6... way switch). I always figured it required memorization of a dozen or so different variants and always had to consult a reference to get a picture to show me the way. Turns out there is a simple order to hooking up the wires (bonds, neutrals, hot, switch leg, travellers) and if you hook your wires up in that order you are guaranteed success irregardless of the complexity of the circuit. It's fricken' brilliant yet I never saw site explain it that way
posted by Mitheral at 7:05 AM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


irregardless

Ha ha. I used to use this word all of the time.
posted by jabberjaw at 8:37 AM on February 23, 2011


I didn't realize I had Graham Greene and Kenneth Grahame conflated until yesterday (oops!), and I thought of this thread.
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:23 AM on February 23, 2011


I love this thread.

Men's shaving:

1) there is no one tool to do everything.

2) Electric on the face.

3) Manual razor on the neck (and guess what: you don't need shaving cream--just use hot water and some skill)
posted by Murray M at 5:00 PM on February 23, 2011


Well, in this thread I learned something that, had I known it 15 or so years ago, would have saved me an inestimable amount of time and mental anguish. If you were a NES player, you may want to prepare yourself.

In Super Mario Bros., if you hold A while pressing Start, you will continue play at the beginning of the World you died on. For example, if you died on World 7-3, you will begin on World 7-1.

I know, breathe, breathe...
posted by Rock Steady at 8:09 AM on February 24, 2011 [12 favorites]


In Super Mario Bros., if you hold A while pressing Start, you will continue play at the beginning of the World you died on. For example, if you died on World 7-3, you will begin on World 7-1.

Dear people of the future, please use your time travel technology and bring this information back to circa 1986. In case you don't already know who needs to know this: Go to some elementary schools, find the kids playing kickball, and tell the ones who were picked last to join a team, or the ones who just aren't playing. This is urgent. You may have rules about not messing with time-space blah blah blah, but you don't understand, we didn't know... we didn't know!
posted by ellenaim at 4:15 PM on February 24, 2011 [16 favorites]


2) Electric on the face.

3) Manual razor on the neck (and guess what: you don't need shaving cream--just use hot water and some skill)


Yikes, I think you want the I'm-continuing-to-do-it-wrong thread. Down the hall, 2nd door on the left. If you get to the bathrooms you went too far.
posted by electroboy at 6:40 AM on February 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


The only reason I know how to spell "vacuum" is because of a spelling bee in elementary school. I always thought it had a silent 'n': "vacumn".

When the teacher corrected me and told us the right spelling, I was like "No freaking way! There's no way it has two 'u's!"

Same thing with "exhibit". "It has an 'h' in it??!"
posted by tatma at 7:07 PM on March 9, 2011


This might be common knowledge nowadays, but you want milk, not water or beer, to cool down spicy food.
posted by iftheaccidentwill at 2:35 PM on March 22, 2011


Better than milk for that is bread or tortillas.
posted by misha at 2:55 PM on March 22, 2011


re: peeling the banana from the other end. I think it's funny that people accept "because monkeys do it" as a good reason to do something. Also, can anyone verify that that is how monkeys peel bananas? Where's the proof?

I thought "assuage" was pronounced ASS-oo-edge for a long time until I said it out loud one time and was laughed at. Heh.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 6:34 AM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


For decades, I spelled it "chior" because, you know, it's pronounced KWIE-ur. A spell-checker gob-smacked me when it changed it to "choir". D'oh!
posted by exphysicist345 at 10:03 PM on April 9, 2011


When I misspelled "opossum", my 4rd grade teacher--as she always did when we misspelled stuff--told me to look up the word in the dictionary. You don't tell a 4th grader to look up POSSUM in the dictionary!!!! Looking back, I think she must have been trying to get back at me for something.

On a related note: I spelled "misspelled" as "mispelled" until grad school.
posted by whatgorilla at 10:38 AM on April 14, 2011


For most of my childhood, I believed that "oneg shabbat" translated as "bundt cake".
posted by elizardbits at 12:50 PM on April 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


You don't tell a 4th grader to look up POSSUM in the dictionary!!!!
Umm...this might be an ignorant Australian thing but, why not?
posted by bystander at 6:17 AM on May 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bystander, I'm guessing because it is not spelled the way it sounds. So if he spelled opossum, "possum"' and then looked it up to try to find the right spelling, he'd just be looking in the Ps.

Teacher probably should have just showed him the entry in the dictionary.
posted by misha at 4:23 PM on May 10, 2011


wiki (emphasis mine): "Opossums (Didelphimorphia, /daɪˌdɛlfɪˈmɔrfi.ə/) are the largest order of marsupials in the Western Hemisphere. They are also commonly called possums, though that term is also applied to Australian fauna of the suborder Phalangeriformes"

Not sure what the teacher's point was, but it seems that possum & opossum are equally cromulent spellings.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:00 PM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've now known for a number of years that the woman whose name I once thought was spelled "Martie Moscowane" is actually "Marty Moss-Coane", but it was only today that I realized that "Carl Castle" is actually "Carl Kassel."
posted by sciencegeek at 8:15 AM on May 16, 2011


Wait, so in the USA, you pronounce the word spelled opossum as 'possum'? I think my trouble is that possums here are spelled possum.
posted by bystander at 2:53 PM on May 16, 2011


Wait, so in the USA, you pronounce the word spelled opossum as 'possum'?

No. There are two separate words with the same meaning when referring to the western hemisphere marsupial, which is not the same animal as the arboreal marsupial species native to Australia, which are called "possum." In the USA, you pronounce the word spelled "opossum" as "opossum," and you pronounce the word spelled "possum" as "possum." But, when referring to the western hemisphere marsupial, you can use either word and be correct.
posted by The World Famous at 4:05 PM on May 16, 2011


sciencegeek, you're still doing it wrong; it's Kasell.

FWIW, I've known that for years, but I found out only a few months ago that it isn't Moscowane.
posted by ellenaim at 6:33 PM on May 16, 2011


It took me about 10 years to realize I didn't need to sort my clean spoons, forks and knives into their plastic slots in the drawer. Instead, I just dump them all in and pick one out when I need it. They're not so hard to recognize that they need to be classified!

I think this is exactly wrong. One doesn't sort utensils because they are difficult to tell apart, one sorts them because the few seconds taken to sort them when putting them away is repaid many times over in the ability to reach into the drawer blind and pull out the correct utensil. Not sorting is a false savings, it's the very definition of doing it wrong.
posted by OmieWise at 5:38 AM on May 17, 2011


Holding in pee. Turns out there are internal muscles for that.
posted by lover at 3:26 PM on June 2, 2011


...and those migraines I've been getting since I was 12? That's one part of PMDD. I didn't know I had menstrual-related anything, let alone many things. It was definitely a eureka moment.

Solution: before my period, I get lots of greens, no caffeine, no processed sugar, no alcohol. As a bonus, now I know when my period is on its way... no more bloody pajamas!
posted by lover at 3:30 PM on June 2, 2011


I just learned a ton of additional things from comments in this NPR post.

One guy said, "until about a few months ago, i didn't understand the true meaning of the punchline to 'why did the chicken cross the road?' I always thought it was the literal meaning rather than reaching the 'other side' after death. my jaw dropped while i pondered the metaphysical properties of what i used to think of as a lame joke."

And my mind was blown.
posted by pineapple at 12:31 PM on June 23, 2011 [34 favorites]


And my mind was blown.
Well mine just blew. I am 43 years old and that never occurred to me.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 3:50 PM on June 23, 2011 [9 favorites]


I always thought it was the literal meaning rather than reaching the 'other side' after death.

I still think it's just a literal joke centering on an anti-climatic semi-meta punchline.

A suicidal chicken crossing a road, and that's all? It doesn't seem all that... comical or philosophical. Was there traffic? A cliff?

And even Wikipedia doesn't offer this alternative meaning.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 2:17 AM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was about 16 before I realised that the this thing was the Batman logo, a black stylised bat on a golden background, and not a really weird set of golden teeth.
posted by Fen at 2:36 AM on July 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


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