May 24, 2009


Samantha of Back to Me is a former vet tech, so I've been emailing a lot with her about Georgie. I was fretting to her because I felt bad that I hadn't noticed his side-breathing (which means he's having trouble breathing), and that when the vet asked how long he'd been doing it, I had NO IDEA because I HADN'T NOTICED. And even after the vet pointed it out, I still don't feel like I can see it. I'll look at him and think, "AH! Yes! I see it!"---and then I look at one of the other cats and their furry sides look the same to me.

Sam reassured me that breathing stuff is hard to see. I was relieved.

It reminds me of other things I've learned in various jobs, things that at first were impossible to see but then became obvious. One example is when I worked in a plant nursery and my co-workers were trying to tell me about plants that were "stressing"---that is, plants that needed to be watered but weren't yet WILTING or anything. At first I was just, "What?? I don't know what you are TALKING about." But after awhile, "stressiness" stood out to me like a blinking red light.

Once you learn something like that, you don't unlearn it: it's still like a blinking red light. I get a little stressed myself when I see a stressing plant in a lobby, or a whole row of stressing plants outside a grocery store. If I have a sippy cup of water in the diaper bag, I'll give them a little drinky.

Another example is when I worked at the daycare and learned to tell if a diaper was wet. It seems so obvious now, but I remember when my co-workers would say, "Well, just FEEL it. Is it wet?" and I'd be all, "Uh." Now I give it a little squeeze and I know if it's wet or dry or OMG DANGER DANGER EXPLOSION IMMINENT.

Also from the daycare I learned how to estimate a fever by putting my lips on the child's forehead. I never got as good as my coworker Steph, who could judge it within a couple of tenths of a degree, but I could tell "no fever" from "low-grade fever" from "oh dear, we are going to have to call the parent."

I used to make a lot of bread, and I got very good at telling when the dough needed more flour and/or more kneading---even though at first I was looking with frustrated bewilderment at the recipe that told me to add more flour "if needed."

And I've made batches of fudge so often, I can tell by the smell and taste of it when it's ready to pour out---even before it's lost its shine or stiffened up.

I'll bet you all have superpowers like this: things you can spot right away when the average person wouldn't know what you were talking about. Tell me! I'm interested!


Nowheymama said...

Signs of an ear infection

Early signs of an allergic reaction

And I am a champion label reader

Kim said...

Wow, this is really embarrassing, but oh well.
I can decipher the many different moods of our dog.
That even sounds weird to me.
I can also usually guess the temperature outside within two degrees.
Damn, that sounded even worse.
I'm stopping now.

Kristi said...

I can often tell when I'm about to cry. However, not always.

Maggie said...

I can estimate delivery time almost exactly...from the start I am usually within an hour, once labor starts I can usually get within 10 minutes.

Newborn weight - usually to the ounce.

Bad things and complications - I know when things are going to go wrong (usually very wrong).

Where to start an IV, even if you can't see what you are looking for.

And there are a slew of other job things that have become second nature...but that seemed like I would NEVER understand when I first started. Ahhh, the knowledge that comes with experience... Too bad things seem to keep changing!

Now, when you can you do a post about stressed plants? I can't ever figure it out, but if you tell me your secret then I might just learn to keep a plant alive after all!

edbteach said...

Within a week of starting a new school year I can tell you when boys have their birthdays. (First part of the school year vs. late in the school year.) I can also tell you who is the oldest child in the family and who is the baby and who is an only child.

Behavior gives all of these things away - if you know what to watch for.

Kylene said...

I can tell by the smell and the look of the oil in the pan that it's hot.

At our old house, I could tell what time it was when waking up by the angle of the light through the window.

I almost always know what time it is, give or take 10 minutes, and I don't wear a watch.

I almost always know where to find whatever my husband is looking for in the house, even when he was the one who put it there.

I don't have an babies so I don't have any superpowers there yet.

Heather said...

I can always guess the temperature accurately, including the relative humidity.

I can always tell you where anything is because my special gift is apparently looking at EVERYTHING and not realising I've retained it until someone asks and I can say something like, "It's on the park bench, to the left of the red sweater, underneath a cardboard box" without moving from where I am standing. Dad says I could do it even before I could talk, I'd just toddle off and come back with whatever he'd asked me for (that he couldnt find himself).

HHRose said...

I can tell if certain electronic devices are on (TV, Radio, etc.), even if there is no volume. waves (?) are audible to me.

Jen - Mom of 4 said...

I'm a theatrical lighting designer by trade, but have taken the last several years off. But I can tell by just the lighting positions if there is going to be a dark area. It drives me insane! I end up focusing on the dark areas of a whole show or church service. Very distracting. This is one super power I wish I could turn off! :0)

Jess said...

Let's see. I see that someone else has already said this but I am very good at deciphering dogs' moods. I am also good at estimating how much a cart full of groceries is going to cost.

Can you teach me the plant stress thing? It turns out that the hanging plant we bought needs water at least twice a day and I would love to be able to know when before it gets all wilty and I think it's going to die.

Kathy said...

I, too, am accurate at knowing the time without wearing a watch.

I also know when my sister or best friend are calling on the phone, even without special ring tones.

I know which child did which naughty thing, even if I just see the resulting mess.

I am generally good at knowing when I'm being lied to (does not apply to my ex-husband).

kelli said...

I can do the fever thing also. And I can pour exactly 4 or 6 ounces of water to make a bottle without looking.
I also am a freak about remembering numbers, even if I only see them once.

Bea said...

I think my plants must be in a continual state of stress. The pansies on my front porch keep wilting because I'm SURE they can't possibly need water yet. It's exciting, though, repeatedly bringing them back from the brink of death. Makes me feel like an ER doctor administering those electrical things then sighing in relief with the heart starts pumping again.

I can see a grammatical error a mile away. I don't think that's a superpower, though - more of a super-source of annoyance.

Christina said...

How fun is this?!

Some repeats of others, but I share the talent, too: estimating the cost of a cart of groceries, telling if a child is eldest, baby, or only - also if they were conceived using in vitro (don't worry - I only get confirmation if I know them really well, but ea. time I've been right on my hunch!)

I have a really good memory for numbers, birthdays, and random facts about people like which foods they hate, if they have any allergies, or their middle names. This shocks people a LOT.

I can smell when snow is coming and I get a headache if there's going to be a big weather change like thunderstorms.

I've driven a Jeep for many years, so I can feel or smell instantly if something is wrong with my car - even if a light isn't on.

And I agree - teach us the plant stressing thing!!!

Maestro Dennis said...

I can tell when a violin/viola/cello/bass needs adjustment, and it usually only takes a few taps of my magic wand before it's playing spectacularly again.

I can tell when the cats are hungry because they either fight alot or come try to smell my hands. I can tell when they're thirsty because they swarm around the bathroom toilet, hoping I'll open it and give them a drink.

My mother taught me the "oh the plants are stressing" thing, I can tell that too. Doesn't drive me crazy, but it shows up on my radar. :) I don't know if it's something you can teach, because it ends up being this "feeling" you get about a plant, but the way I describe it is that the plant appears to be very tense, as though he is stretching his limbs and leaves out to get the most sunlight because he needs energy. You might notice a tiny bit of paleness in the leaves, but mostly it is the posture of the stems. Right?

I can generally tell the astrological sign of someone just by judging how well I get on with them. At the very least, I can tell what class of sign they are (water, earth, air, fire) because of how frustrated or calm I am when I deal with them. They can be complete strangers, and still I can tell.

My chronic arthritic pain gets worse when it's about to rain.

I can tell when the vacuum needs the bagless canister emptied, and I can tell when the brush needs to be de-filled, just by the sound it makes.

I can tell whether the steak will be rare, medium rare, or just medium -- even if it seems too bloody sometimes, I know it will continue to cook once it has left the stove... it's uncanny sometimes.

Snoopyfan said...

This is so fun!

I can tell oldest, youngest, only children by their beavior.

I am good at remembering birthdays and children's names (adults, not so much).

I can spot a spelling error a mile away (drives my husband insane-he is a horrendous speller!)

I can tell the age of a child up to about age 12, then I can't anymore. I am usually right within 6 months.

Swistle said...

I don't think I can teach the plant-stress thing---or at least, my coworkers were unsuccessful teaching me. I think it comes as a result of working with plants all day every day: the eye gets so accustomed to what they look like normally, it can then easily see small changes.

Raisin'Cookies said...

My most useful super power these days is being able to bring my autistic son from the brink of a melt-down. To the outsider, he's acting like a normal rambunctious little kid, but to me, I can see him verging on the edge of disaster, and that he needs to be reeled in quickly.

Don't ask me to explain the signs, though. I can't.

mom huebert said...

I am impressed with the other commenters' powers!

I myself can tell when something is done in the oven without looking. I can't tell you how many times I have gone to check whatever's baking and had the timer go off just as I open the oven door.

Also, if I wake up in the middle of the night I can usually guess within fifteen minutes what time it is.

Oh, and most mornings I wake up about one minute before the alarm. I'll be laying there thinking did I miss the alarm? it feels like time to get up and then the alarm rings.

samantha jo campen said...

Oh I'm so glad I could help. You know you can email me at any time!

I can smell if a cat is anemic. You can smell it on their breath.

I can tell you any breed of dog walking down the street--even if it's a mix. Bryan thinks this is crazy and I'm all "How can you NOT know?"

I would wake up within a minute of Theo waking up when he was a a newborn. I sensed it somehow. And he wasn't on a 'schedule' or anything--it was crazy.

I swear to you this is the truth: our cat had bladder stone surgery a few years ago. No complications, everything went great. I worked down in our apartment complex's office on Saturdays--Bryan was home. All of a sudden, in the middle of my day I just stood up from my desk and said "I need to go check on the cat." I went upstairs, walked right past Bryan who was next to our cat and picked her up. She had chewed out two of her three stitches and her incision was open. Needed to back to the doctor. HOW DID I KNOW THAT I HAVE NO IDEA. Freaked the crap out of Bryan.

Karly said...

At first I was all nope, no super powers here, but then I remembered! I do have a super power! I am able to add the exact perfect amount of water to Stove Top Stuffing without measuring it. Not too watery and not too dry. I know. It's amazing.

Also, I eat too much Stove Top Stuffing. (For breakfast, with a slice of American cheese melted in it. Yum!)

And, I am able to add the perfect amount of melted peanut butter and chocolate to People Chow/Puppy Chow/Muddy Buddies/whatever you call it every time without measuring. It's a gift.

Dr. Maureen said...

Um. I'm sure I have some, but all I can think of right now is an obnoxious semi-serious one: I can differentiate an equation *like that*. (snaps fingers). Also, I worked at the tutoring center in college, and one kid came in once with algebra homework where he had to decide whether an algebraic expression was greater than, less than, or equal to a second algebraic expression. I glanced at his book and said, "greater, greater, less than, equal, less than..." etc. and had a very difficult time explaining why, since, to me, it was as easy as looking at actual numbers.

And yes, now I sound like a jerk.

Shelley said...

The most useful superpower I have is being able to tell when it's time to go. I can see that even though one or both kids SEEM like everything is fine and fun and la-la-la, that we are less than five minutes from Defcon-Holy-Shit Meltdown, and I whisk them out just in time.

I also have that psychic connection thing with my sister - we routinely phone each other at the same time, or when I'm thinking of her she'll phone me or vice-versa.

Oh, one other one: I have what I call 'the valve' - I know exactly when I have to stop drinking, and it's often right in the middle of a drink; if I ignore the valve, then I will get sick. I'm generally pretty loaded by then anyway, so I always obey. You know, all two times a year that I actually drink.

Whimsy said...

Um. I can't think of a single super power. NOT ONE.

But all of you super powers having folks are fantastic and I think I'd like to gain some of your powers. Because they are awesome.

Kelly said...

I can duplicate most restaurant recipes, especially pastas and sauces, very accurately.

I know when my cat is out of food, water, or when his catbox is in a state unacceptable to him...because he stalks me and sleeps on my face etc. Its not so much of a super power. A total stranger would just yell at him to get off their face. But here's the thing. He's 15. When I had my first kid, my priorities shifted and Inky ran out of water for a couple days. I felt SO bad and so Inky and I had a talk. I told him he needed to TELL me when he was getting low on items. I'm not shitting you. The next time his water dish had like only an inch left, he started stalking me! He totally understood me.

I have a psychic connection with one of my friends and every time I call her she goes "I was JUST picking up the phone to call you" or something like that. that's been going on for like 8 years.

I can't think of any others. =(

Shana said...

Let's see. I can mix all manner of alcohol in the same night with no ill effects.

When I pick my 10yro daughter up from school, I can tell within 10 seconds what kind of day she had, with no words or overt body language.

I can look at my cats before I leave for work and JUST KNOW that one of them is going to pee somewhere that is not the box while I am gone.

Within the first hour of any new extracurricular kid event/season beginning (for example, the first day of soccer practice or dance class), I know which moms I will not be friends with and which ones I'll get along fabulously with.

Linda said...

I can tell when I need to go get the drugs because someone needs to be intubated. I can tell when someone is about to code. I can tell when someone is dying.

I would LOVE to be able to tell when plants are stressed.

Anna said...

The only one I can think of is that, after one particularly dull temp job, I can fold pieces of A4 paper into perfect thirds (to fit in an envelope). Furthermore, I can do it accurately, neatly and quickly, while thinking about something else. As I'm sure you can appreciate, this comes in very useful in my everyday life (stay-at-home mother).

desperate housewife said...

I remember TONS of useless, random information and have all these pointless information tidbits to hand out when someone starts talking about, say, a certain Russian ice skater or thirteenth century cathedrals or something equally FASCINATING. My best friend in high school use to be able to spot this gleam in my eye whenever my brain latched on to such an information bit, and she would alert everyone, "Uh oh, here comes a random fact."
This makes me sound like SUCH a dork I almost want to delete this comment...

Maggie2 said...

I know when it's going to rain, thanks to the massive migraine it gives me. I have made so many muffins that I don't need a recipe anymore, I can just throw stuff together until it 'looks' right. I can tell my husband exactly where to find what he's looking for without even getting up (after he's ransacked the house in a mad search...) I can tell when my toddler needs a snack or a nap or some attention BEFORE she has a meltdown, but maybe that's just a Mom thing. Great post!

suddensilence said...

The first thing I thought of is kind of weird. I can tell when somebody can't hear and is faking it or doing what I call the 'deaf nod'.

(Simon Cowell on American Idol does it a lot -- Ryan will make a snarky comment and I can see in Simon's eyes that he didn't hear it. Then he'll turn to Paula and ask her what Ryan said, as the camera cuts away.)

Anyway! If you can't hear me and you're trying to fake your way through the conversation, I'll be on to you. :-)

The fever thing -- yes. I can usually see it in their eyes and cheeks, but I usually use the back of my hand to be sure.

One superpower I *wish* I had: being able to tell that my bobbin has run out of thread. After years of quilting you'd think I could tell somehow, but no. I'll be sewing merrily along, finish a row and then see that half of it is undone because the bobbin ran out. Argh! :-)

~ Wendi

crisitunity said...

I love that Linda knows when someone is going to die but WISHES she could tell when plants need more water.

From prior jobs and education, I can tell:
...approximately how many hundreds of pages are in a stack of paper.
...what corners were cut when taking a bite of a commercially-made pizza.
...whether a film is shot in Panavision or not.
...whether the problem with a document is how it was written or how it was edited.

I kill plants. 100% of the time.

JAB said...

I can tell when the cat is side breathing-he pulls his front legs (arms?) back whilst sitting on his back legs. We don't know why he does it or why he has hairball "times of the month" that are accurate to a calendar either.

Jaci said...

I run farmer's markets, and I can now by feel tell the weight and subsequent price of a tomato by feel within, at most, ten cents. Sometimes when I'm being slammed, I cheat and just round down when the price probably actually is by about thirty cents to be safe and go about my business.

Courtney in FL said...

I know if there is a cop around way before anyone on the highway can see them (without using one of those little gadgets).

Many times I can tell what song is going to play next on the radio before the current song is even finished. Also, I can be listening to one radio station and sense that a song is on another station and turn to it in time to sing along.

Steph the WonderWorrier said...


One thing, not job-related but just something about me, is that I'm very, very intuitive and can read people really well. It takes a lot to "surprise me", and I generally can figure out people's conversation topics even when they're speaking in another language by picking up on their body language and any few english-ish words they are saying. I'm also really intuitive and sensitive to the emotions of others.

I've always been gifted at speaking with and relating to children, and have been able to quell many-an-issue/argument/tantrum. Just one reason I've gone into the field of teaching elementary school.

I type ridiculously fast after having an office job that was a very demanding data entry job. I type over 100 wpm.

Kelsey said...

I have a difficult time coming up with any!!!

Two useless ones that come to mind - I'm good at recognizing actors/actresses in small roles and immediately recall other things they've been in. This is irritating to my companions when watching a movie with me and I don't refrain from leaning over to say: do you know who that is? and then name other things they've been in.

I am very good at hearing and recognizing the soft background music in public spaces.

Leslie said...

In high school, I developed the ability to guess the sex of unborn children by looking at the father. I'm about 85 percent accurate.

If my parents have been out, I can call them as they're walking through the door. I've done this so often, I now wait 20 minutes after I *want* to call so they'll have a chance to unload the groceries or grab something to drink.

I can also identify the actors from voiceovers, but I think that's just a good ear and not a superpower.

1hottiredmama said...

I can measure a perfect teaspoon of salt in the palm of my hand without using a measuring spoon.

I can tell first thing in the morning if a child is going to call home from school because he's "sick" (even if he's not).

I can sense my children getting into things they shouldn't without even seeing them.

I can mix enough water with a packet of oatmeal without measuring.

the new girl said...

I have incredibly finely-tuned Gaydar.

Annsy said...

Like others have mentioned, I can detect background music anywhere. I can also tell you who is singing a certain song, even if I've never heard the song before (just by the sound of the music or the voice).

Also, and I don't know if this is a superpower, but for both of the cities I've lived in as an adult, I can tell you what zip code any address is in. I can also identify almost any area code's location.

cindy said...

In my waitressing days, I could tell how much money I made in tips from the weight/height of the stack of dollar bills.

Emily R said...

Kelsey, please watch movies with me. I'm always whispering - who IS that guy? I know I've seen him before.

Here's my nerdy one: I'm pretty good at guessing the p-value of a test statistic without looking it up. Also, I can guess pretty closely square roots of numbers that aren't perfect squares.

I wish my Mom/Homemaking superpowers would kick in. I always wonder why that kid is crying, and I burned a frozen pizza last week. And a batch of cookies.

Jen said...

my most useful superpower is totally boring and work-related: i can cut the exact right number of words so that copy rags around product correctly. oh and misspellings and punctuation mistakes stick out to me like stressing plants.

my best friend and i have done the "i was just about to call you" thing but not consistently. did anyone else hear that blip on npr about quantum entanglement?

(oh and apparently i'm an npr super-nerd.)

Erin said...

I can tell by taste and feel when chocolate chip cookies are going to be short, as in spread out over all creation in the oven.

I can tell by feel if my kids have a fever. I just stick my hand on the back of their neck and voila!

I have a super sensitive sense of taste and can tell when milk is about to go off. That doesn't help me much, though, because I will turn to my husband as my "Here, taste this." guy and he isn't as sensitive.

Erin said...

Oh! I forgot some that I remembered while reading through.

I can almost always guess when a woman is pregnant. I'll just get this hunch about someone. And usually, they will announce their pregnancy within a few days.

I also can guess how old a kid is. Mostly it's based on how big or little they are in comparison to mine, but I still think it's fun.

I have a freakish memory for numbers. I have my 16-digit credit card number AND the 3-digit security code memorized. But, for the life of me, I can't remember my girls' social security numbers. I'm not sure why that is.

And my mom swears that when I call her, the ring sounds different.

Nik-Nak said...

Back reading, hence the year later comment....I thought this post was cool so I had to comment.

I can tell a breed of horse just at a glance. Quarter horse, walking horse, foxtrotter, roan, etc. Show me a horse and I can give you their backstory. =)

Can do pretty much the same thing with dogs too, but only big dogs as I am not the least bit interested in little yappy dogs.