Has anyone seen something so amazing they wanted to tell everyone about it, but by the time they could, the event had passed?
October 13, 2004 1:49 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone seen something so amazing they wanted to tell everyone about it, but by the time they could, the event had passed? [MI]

Two examples that happened to me:

i) back in the early '80s in Scotland, I sat in a classroom, looked out of the window and saw the space shuttle fly by at low altitude, piggyback on a Boeing like this:-



I thought I had imagined it. I didn't tell anyone because I thought nobody would believe me anyway. I later found out that another class had spent the afternoon out in the playing field looking for the space shuttle which was due to make a fly-by. I told everyone I had seen it THEN, but still nobody believed me!

ii) February 2001, I watched the sunset from my office window in Tokyo, right from where I normally sit. As the sun reached the horizon, I saw something take a bite out of it. It was Mt Fuji. The scene lasted about a minute. What made this more amazing was that Fuji wasn't visible that day because of the smog - so it really was an unexpected "partial eclipse".
posted by SpaceCadet to Grab Bag (28 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
You can see a similar phenomenon from Senggigi Beach on Lombok. The beach is due west of Kintomani (the volcano on Bali - about 40 or 50 miles away). You can't see Kintomani at all during the day it's just too far away to see, but as the sun gets redder and redder, and closer and closer to the horizon, suddenly a fuck-off mountain appears, bitten out of it. It is truly awesome. (second pic doesn't really give a full flavour, but it's still quite cool - both pics are taken from exactly the same spot)

Er, that doesn't really answer your question does it?
posted by bifter at 5:32 AM on October 13, 2004


hey bifter, know what you mean: I took photos of the Fuji/sunset partial eclipse thingo in the previous year but they didn't come out at all well either in photo....but to the naked eye, it looks like the sun is sunddenly changing shape or being eaten - also it's just the surprise of seeing it because you can't see the mountain before....but as it slides behind the mountain, you can't help but see the silhouette. From Tokyo, as far as I know, it only happens one day per year.
posted by SpaceCadet at 5:45 AM on October 13, 2004


This is an interesting phenomenon that happens all the time. I experience it with art and literature. The other day, I was listening to a piece of classical music on my iPod. It was a piece I know well, but I hadn't listened to it for about a year. It overwealmed me. And I was walking down a busy New York street, surrounded by people. It was painfull to not be able to share my experience with anyone. I wanted to cry out for people to stop and put on my headphones and listen.

I also remember when I was younger, thinking that if I found someone really attractive, it was hard not to tell them. I didn't, because I knew they would take it as a come on. But it wasn't always about that. It was about having a really strong feeling and not being about to share it.

We're social creatures. I'm pretty shy and misanthropic, but at times it's hard for even me to keep things to myself.
posted by grumblebee at 6:19 AM on October 13, 2004


bifter: The biggest fuck-off mountain in your pic is Mt Agung (on the left) but Kintamani is the one taking a chunk out of the sun.

Kintamani is a big crater with a lake (Batur) and a number of peaks, the largest of which is Mt Abang (2151m) on the eastern rim.

Satellite pic here. Kintamani is the crater just above the centre (with the big lake) and Agung is just to the right of the centre.

I got fantastically lost around the northern edge of Kantamani ealier this year...
posted by i_cola at 6:38 AM on October 13, 2004


Once, in a tub/shower, I had my eyes tightly closed because I had shampoo in my hair, and I had a bar of soap in my hand. I accidentally dropped the soap. I couldn't see where it was, wanted it back, and was too lazy, I guess, to reach down and feel around for it. Out of impulse I kicked out, just to see if I would hit it. I did hit it, and because I was facing the back of the tub (away from the spray) the soap shot up the back slope of the tub and popped into the air. I reached out with my hand -- remember, my eyes are closed, and this is all happening in a split second -- AND I GRABBED IT OUT OF MIDAIR!!!!

I've never shared this with anyone, even though it was one of the most amazing athletic experiences of my life. It's a continuing source of despair to me, even years later, that no one was there to see it.

I hope someone can top this, but if we're going to continue to ramble on about eclipses and space shuttles, I'm not optimistic. ;)
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:55 AM on October 13, 2004 [2 favorites]


That's funny that this thread seems to have slightly derailed into a Bali/Batur conversation.

I'd just like to add my little picture of the sun revealing the volcano. Here you go. Taken at sunrise.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:56 AM on October 13, 2004


Yes. The Northern Lights in the sky over Seattle at midnight one November. A green rolling field in Normandy, in spring, passing out of vision just as I realized the dish-like depressions in the grass were shell craters. Brilliant white clouds of tear gas over my neighborhood's soccer field, brightly illuminated against the black night sky.
posted by mwhybark at 6:57 AM on October 13, 2004


And SSFlanders -- I once had a similar experience.

I was in a cubicle once working late on a project, and needed a red pen for part of it. I went walking around the office of low-slung cubicles to see if I could find a desk that had a red pen, and finally found one sitting neatly tucked in a generic cup being used as a pen/pencil holder. This desk was about 20 feet away from where I was working.

After finishing with the pen, and knowing most of the staff had left for the day, I decided to chuck the pen back towards the cubicle. I then walked over to the cubicle with the intention of picking the pen off the floor and putting it back in the cup. Well, the damned thing landed right back into the cup on the guy's desk. I quickly looked around to see if ANYBODY had seen it -- and naturally, no one had.

The funny thing about these stories is how ridiculously difficult they are, and yet at the same time they are so ridiculously banal that you don't bother mentioning it to anyone. You're half worried they won't believe you, and half worried they just won't care.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:02 AM on October 13, 2004 [1 favorite]


This is an interesting phenomenon that happens all the time. I experience it with art and literature. The other day, I was listening to a piece of classical music on my iPod. It was a piece I know well, but I hadn't listened to it for about a year. It overwealmed me. And I was walking down a busy New York street, surrounded by people. It was painfull to not be able to share my experience with anyone. I wanted to cry out for people to stop and put on my headphones and listen.

Walking around campus, listening to La Boheme on my iPod, I often feel quite like this. The worst part is that the little cretins wouldn't appreciate it.
posted by waldo at 7:03 AM on October 13, 2004


I've had many experiences like this while walking/hiking, either out my back door or in countries thousands of miles away. You go round a corner or over a rise and see a wonderful view, or you see just the *right* arrangement flowers and rocks and stream, and you think, 'That's perfect! I wish so-and-so could see this!'

The irony is that if you *were* walking with so-and-so, you might well have not noticed the scene in the first place. I think to see these things you have to be on your own to some extent.
posted by carter at 7:34 AM on October 13, 2004 [1 favorite]


I've experienced this a couple of times with concerts...

You have several tickets and plans to go with friends, they end up not being able to go at the last minute, and it turns out being one of the top five concerts you've ever seen. Out of my top five concerts I have friends that were supposed to go with me to four.

On the flipside... I once went on a spontaneous road trip from Portland to New Orleans, leaving behind concert tickets to friends who swear it was the best show they ever went to.
posted by togdon at 7:37 AM on October 13, 2004


Flanders, Civil, you guys need to come to my house. We call those "You couldn't do that again if you tried" moments, and we love sharing them.

More a propos to the "thing you saw but couldn't share," I was driving my son home from school one day last spring and an entire family of ducks started marching across the street. Two adult ducks, probably ten ducklings, straggling to get across and I was horrified to see this huge schoolbus barreling down the street, heading right for them. I expected carnage, but the school bus suddenly stopped and put out its stop sign until they were all safely on the other side of the street. Completely mundane, and yet, totally awesome all at the same time, and telling it just isn't the same as having seen it.
posted by headspace at 7:38 AM on October 13, 2004


I worked as a beach lifeguard in St. Johns County, FL, for six years, and, because I wear hard contact lenses, always kept a pair of goggles around my neck in case of a rescue. One afternoon (on a day with uncharacteristically clear water conditions) whilst surfing on my break, I was sitting in about 10 feet of water all by myself, when, looking down, I saw what looked like a perfect conch shell. Naturally, I slapped my goggles on and dove down to investigate. When I got to the bottom, the shell was broken, but when I turned my head back up to resurface, a pod of at least 10 Pilot Whales was slowly cruising by not 15 feet from where I was kneeling. The combination of the goggles and the water clarity that day was stunning; from 15 feet away, I was (and still am) sure that I could see each individual whale looking at me.

It was incredible. No one else I was working with that day even saw the whales, but boy did I ever.
posted by saladin at 7:54 AM on October 13, 2004 [1 favorite]


What a great question!

I don't know what's worse: the cool thing that happens when no one else is there, or the cool thing that happens when someone is there who won't, or can't, appreciate it.

During a black-clad period of adolescence, I spent a significant amount of time with my friends hanging out at cemeteries. I know, I know! In our defense, there was absolutely nowhere else we could go that was as well-kept, leafy, and peaceful.

One day, there was a flock of swallows flying in formation in the sky. I’ve seen cool flocking formations from all kinds of birds, but this was different. For 30 minutes they formed highly complex geometric patterns for just a few seconds at a time, reforming into yet more complex patterns that I am hard-pressed to even describe. I’m sure there was some perfectly rational biological reason for what they were doing, but to my eyes it looked like the purest exuberance. All the damn depressos I was with wouldn’t even look up. Damn you, Morrissey, for ruining the best bird-watching I’ll ever do.

Then there was this, which sounds like an opium dream, but wasn’t. On second thought, I do know what’s worse: if someone had been there moping during my ectasy, it would have been pinching time. Hard, defiant pinches.
posted by melissa may at 8:31 AM on October 13, 2004


Once in grade school, I had brought a set of "loaded" dice to school with me. Basically, these were two sets of dice, one being normal, the other set having one die with all 5s and the other with 2s or 6s only (for 7s or 11s). I amazed folks with my ability to guess the roll of the dice, but was really using the "loaded" set. When I gave the normal set to a friend to inspect, he then bet that I could not call it when he rolled them. But I did. Ten times in a row. When it came out that I also had some cheating dice, nobody would believe that I actually called the real throws, even though I was calling numbers that the "loaded" dice could never reproduce.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:36 AM on October 13, 2004


I've always been curious if anyone else has experienced this:

Swimming in the YMCA pool at the age of 8 or 9 or so, I suddenly found I could breathe underwater. I wasn't breathing water and I'm certain my mouth was open... My only theory is that I somehow created a bubble around my mouth that wasn't breaking despite swimming around, and was rebreathing my exhalations.

This happened at least twice, and I remember swimming around for about 5 minutes each time before breaking the surface (to see if I could still do it when I went back down -- I coudn't).
posted by o2b at 8:41 AM on October 13, 2004


When I was about five or six and my family still lived in New York, my dad and I were outside one weekend afternoon. He was tooling around in the garden or cutting the lawn or something, and I was running around doing something else. I happened to look up in the sky and see some birds flying around. I watched one of them land on the roof of the house and proceed to start doing backflips. More like flying a loop, I guess, but the bird kept doing it over and over. My dad didn't believe me when I first told him, but then I dragged him back to where I was standing before and, sure enough, the bird—a barn swallow—was still there flying a loop and landing back on the roof. Nobody believed us.

Another time, my dad and I were both outside but on opposite sides of the house. He was in the front, I was in the back yard playing with a Mylar blimp—or something like that, anyway—someone had given me for my birthday. It stayed afloat because the sun would heat the air inside. Anyway, it was tied to the back of a lawn chair, and a gust of wind came up and launched the thing into the air and over the house, landing on the other side. No one has ever believed that story either, but my dad and I both saw it happen.
posted by emelenjr at 8:48 AM on October 13, 2004


I'm going to to cheat and tell a "couldn't do that again" story rather than a "nobody will believe me story."

In the early Eighties my family--seven of us--and my cousin's family--four of them visited Hannibal, Mo., not far from where my family lived at the time. There are train tracks there along the Mississippi River. As we walked back up from looking at the river, a train came along at a fair clip. My brother and cousin David and I lamented not having the foresight to lay some coins on the tracks for some really cool smashing. So I tossed a nickel, perhaps from twenty feet a way. It landed on the track and was immediately smashed by a train wheel.

I was a god that day.
posted by Mo Nickels at 8:51 AM on October 13, 2004


bifter: The biggest fuck-off mountain in your pic is Mt Agung (on the left) but Kintamani is the one taking a chunk out of the sun.

I got fantastically lost around the northern edge of Kantamani ealier this year...


Yeah, apologies for spelling and poor memory - I was on honeymoon, loved-up and stupid at the time.

I was also around Kintamani a week or two before going to Lombok, and we spent a while exploring. It was fantastic scenery, but very tough to get away from the local tourist-trappery: especially as I forgot to bring my driving license. We didn't actually go into the crater though (sounds like you did?), although we got a couple of nice photos from the rim. I still can't believe that people actually live in the crater of an active volcano.
posted by bifter at 8:55 AM on October 13, 2004


My alma mater has a hilly campus. One winter there was a heavy snow, a brief period of warmth, and then a cold snap. This resulted in a rolling crust of about one inch of ice on top of the snow. This crust could be shattered easily into nice hefty pieces. I spent an evening alone, casting pieces of ice across the sheet. As they would skitter across, they would slowly break up resulting in a grainy yet musical noise of rising pitch. The sound was utterly eerie. I had no recording gear, no one else was around, and I've never been in a place with similar conditions again.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:24 AM on October 13, 2004


Hey, Mo Nickels -- is that where you got your handle?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:05 AM on October 13, 2004


When I was 6 years old, I was in my attic sitting on the floor. We had a weight bench up there, so I was leaning my back against it to read a book. There were detachable 2lb, 5lb, and 10lb weights on the floor all around the weight bench. They were plastic, and shaped like doughnuts, and I guess they were filled with sand or something.

I looked up from my book for some reason, and looked at one of the detachable weights that was also on the floor by my feet. So I looked at one particular weight, which was bright red, and there was a flap on the edge that kept the sand (or filling) in...maybe where the factory sealed it together? Imagine like a car tire, and the flap was located where the tire tread would be. But this flap was really tight against the weight, and you couldn’t pry it off. I mean, it was tight/flush with the rest of the weight. It was the size of a postage stamp.

All of a sudden, from under the flap, I seriously swear that I saw a little flesh-colored tongue poke up from under it! I can only describe it as looking just like a clam neck, but the size of a pinky finger. And it was thick like a tongue. It was moving around like how a snail' "foot" would react, and it was stuck under the seam of the weight, so only the tip was groping. It did this for a few seconds. I couldn't believe my eyes, so I reached-out and touched it with my finger. Right before I made contact with it, it withdrew very quickly, and disappeared back under the flap.

Okay, so I have to admit that this house was very haunted, and I have so many stories of seeing ghosts and hearing things, but never anything like this. The incongruence of something fleshy coming out of the middle of a plastic weight was just so freaky! I have no explanation, either. I mean, the weight was fully sealed, and there was no way there was anything living inside of it. And the finger/tongue that came out was just too big to accommodate anything living in there anyway. Shudders.
posted by naxosaxur at 10:13 AM on October 13, 2004


I went on a road trip from Portland, OR to a camp in central California. My friend Michelle wanted to go to a specific campground for the night where she had stayed with her father when she was young. It was quite near Crater Lake, near the border of Oregon and California.

We tried again and again to head West from the freeway, but the roads were closed early because of some heavy snowstorms (I guess). When we finally found a road that would take us in the right direction, we were pretty much lost, and it was getting late.

We came around this heavy bend in the road, and instantly we were out of the corridor of trees that line the freeway. We were turning along this moderately high ridge, and spread out in front of us was this absolutely stunning valley, with a stream that cut a very uneven path through the middle of the grass, willow trees hanging over the stream, and cows spaced out almost perfectly in every direction. Behind them was a row of dark (what folks in the East would call mountains, but I'm apt to call) hills, and above the hills, the sky was streaked with every gorgeous sunset color imaginable.

It was also the "magic hour" just before the sun goes down, when every color is about 1,000 times more vibrant than normal. Everyone in the car gasped, and I think I might even have started weeping a bit. It may have been the most beautiful thing I've ever seen, which just seems absolutely stupid because it was just a field + stream + trees + livestock. But that's just how it goes.

On preview: naxo, that freaks me out.
posted by jeremy at 10:20 AM on October 13, 2004


One November while I was in college, I was sitting on top of Lantz Mountain in Highland County Virginia around dawn in November. It was snowing and I was facing east across the valley. The snow slowly moved away, and as the sun rose, its rays shone directly through the snow squall directly in front of me. For a few moments before the sun was obscured by cloud cover, it seemed like glitter was being scattered across the entire valley. That sight is still seared in my imagination even 15 years later--one of the most beautiful sites I've ever seen (and of course no-one else in camp believed me).
posted by trox at 10:50 AM on October 13, 2004


Well, I wasn't the only one who saw this, but it's kind of the same:

Last year I blew off the afternoon's work and left the library (I'm a grad student) to go record shopping. I went to this place called Twisted Village Records, which is in Harvard Square in Cambridge and is awesome. It's underground--you have to walk down a little flight of stairs, and there are no windows down there.

I browsed around for about an hour and bought some records. When I got back to the stairs to head outside, the sky was a crazy color--an intense, deep, sulfurous yellow. It was about six o'clock, and wintertime, but the sky was on fire; there was so much light that I looked behind me and I was casting a shadow down the stairs.

When I got outside, everyone was standing around and looking up at the sky which, towards the other end of the street, was purple rather than yellow, but equaly bright. Everyone--tweedy professors, homeless guys, little old ladies--was staring open-mouthed upwards. It was as though someone had used (sorry to say it quite this way) the Hue / Saturation slider in Photooshop on the heavens! It really seemed as though the sun had been spread around the whole sky!

Anyway, I walked back to the library, but by the time I got there it was basically over. Everyone had been buried in books and hadn't noticed how cool it was--later that night my girlfriend saw on TV that there had been some Northern Lights earlier, but no one who hadn't seen it could appreciate how strange and amazing it was.
posted by josh at 11:38 AM on October 13, 2004


I have also experienced the "pen bounced back into the cup thing" but here's another one.

When I was young, maybe around 7 or so, I was in the backseat of the car during a family vacation. We were driving down the highway (I don't know where we were going) when suddenly a hawk flew down parallel to the car window and LOOKED INSIDE at me, before flying off. This was a split second occurance, and made me yelp with surprise. I tried to tell everyone about it, but no one else had seen it, and no one believed me that it had happened, because of my young age and imagination. I swear it did, although over the years, it's easy to doubt when you're the only one to see something. Sometimes I wonder if I was the only one meant to see it, and I've been excited to see hawks ever since.
posted by agregoli at 12:00 PM on October 13, 2004


Another bird story. About 15 years ago, driving to meet a friend somewhere, I saw a flock of starlings over an empty lot. The flock was dense, and HUGE, bigger than I've seen before or since, and looked like a writhing black cloud, or a blob of ink dropped into stirred water. I pulled over and watched for a long time...it was hypnotic, the way the mass of birds roiled together, only about 20 feet from the ground. Again, hard to describe why, but it was the closest this atheist has ever come to a religious experience.
posted by icetaco at 5:17 PM on October 13, 2004


I've always been curious if anyone else has experienced this:

Swimming in the YMCA pool at the age of 8 or 9 or so, I suddenly found I could breathe underwater. I wasn't breathing water and I'm certain my mouth was open... My only theory is that I somehow created a bubble around my mouth that wasn't breaking despite swimming around, and was rebreathing my exhalations.

This happened at least twice, and I remember swimming around for about 5 minutes each time before breaking the surface (to see if I could still do it when I went back down -- I coudn't).
posted by o2b at 8:41 AM PST on October 13


my boyfriend had that experience! he's never encountered anyone who could relate...it happened to him when he was a little kid too, swimming in his backyard pool.
posted by ifjuly at 9:33 PM on October 13, 2004


« Older Free Rental of Area of Bar in London? (No Cheesy...   |   How to do deal with "lets just be friends" when... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.