Friday, 27 May 2011

Top 5 Random Unsung Human Traits

 We all have little things that we can do that seem so common and natural that they are hard to put into words.  You assume everyone can do them until you try to explain your unique skill to your friends and all you get is a dumbstruck look and the occasional eye roll.  I like to call these unsung human traits.  I'm certain not everyone who reads this will understand all of them, however those who do will have an "Oh yaaaa!" moment.  I hope you enjoy.

# 5: Eye Floaters (Squiggly Line)

Eye floater simulation (Wikipedia)

  I thought that I would start off with something that is familiar to most of us and that is Eye Floaters.  You probably know these as the little clear squiggly lines that appear in your eye once in a while and when you try to look at it they seem to run away!  This little unsung trait has its reaches into pop culture as well, such as Family Guy which has parodied it not once...but TWICE (See Below)
Go to about 0:40 for a brilliant description of the Floater

Well, what exactly are they?  According to wikipedia "Floaters are deposits of various size, shape, consistency, refractive index, and motility within the eye's vitreous humour, which is normally transparent."  So basically they live in the thick fluid of your eye which is why they tend to run away when you look at them.  They are a sign of degeneration of the eye and apparently persist in our vision forever, however I have had many and I don't see them still.  You may ask why you notice this and not, say that speck of dust on your glasses or contacts.  That's because the floaters are always moving so your brain is not able to focus them out as they do for your dirty glasses.  So the next time you see a little floater friend, say hello.....forever.

# 4: Tensor Tympani (Voluntary Low Rumble in Ear)
  This one is for sure not as common as eye floaters and the only way to describe it is a voluntary low rumble in the ear.  I spent a lot of time looking for this one and whenever I asked anyone about it I got the "look".  So to begin with lets look at a complex uninformative picture (see Fig. Pointless).
Fig. Pointless: Some ridiculous bullshit
The Tensor Tympani is a muscle that resides in your ear and is primarily used to dampen the noises of chewing.  This muscle will tense up and reduce the amplitude of noise coming from your dirty mouth.  If you wish to get a feel for this sound, I find the best way is to tense up your jaw and open and close your mouth slowly and listen for a quiet low sound or rumble.  It sounds kind of like rumbling thunder in the distance.  This occurs when using your jaw, but for a lucky few (like me), we can voluntarily control this muscle to produce that low rumble! NEAT!... and pointless.  This skill is documented and has been measured to have a vibration at anywhere from 30-70 Hz (Vibrations per Second).  To get an idea of this sound you can Listen here. The real sound is way more muffled.

# 3: Gleeking
  This skill is much more useful than the previous two.  Essentially people than can "Gleek" can work at Jurassic Park as one of those spitting lizards. 

File Photo: Jerry would approve and so should you.
Gleeking is the voluntary act of compressing your tongue in such a way that you can forcefully excrete saliva from the gland under the tongue.
Do it.

When someone is skilled in the act they may aim it and send a stream of juicy spit up to 3 feet away.  So of course what does this amazing skill look like?  See below.

Now thats a whole new type of skeet skeet.  Just imagine all of the amazing things you can do with it.... ಠ_ಠ

# 2: Weak Morning Hands
  When I say weak morning hands I mean just that.  If you have ever gotten up from a slumber, walked to the kitchen to get some coffee and find that you are unable to grasp the cup then you know what I am talking about.  The effect seems to last only 10-60 minutes after waking but can be a pain to deal with when you have things to do.  Some people get this and some people don't.  I know of one famous artist that has this problem:

Ai Weiwei 10, 11 and 11.5 seconds after waking up and trying to look at his favorite urn
After some searching it seems like the general consensus that the cause of the weak morning hands is pinching a nerve while sleeping.  By lying in a certain position for hours on end you imagine that things would get a little numb, which is why it feels a little like pins and needles.  It seems like a fairly common trend however for some it is worse than others.  At least now when you have butter fingers you know what you can blame it on.

# 1: Phantom Vibrations
  This last one happens to me all of the time and apparently happens to a lot of people.  Have you ever felt your pocket vibrate and reached for your phone just to find that there was no call at all.  Have you ever thought for sure that you heard your phone go off but it didn't?  These are called phantom vibrations or more syntactically correct sensory hallucinations.  The reason they come about is because in this day and age we are always on some level expecting the next call or text and our brain associates the environment around it with what you expect and in some cases it is your phone.  This is much like being in the woods expecting snakes, now every stick you see looks like its moving.  Also, don't think about Elephants.  A really nice interview with the only known person to publish this effect is given below courtesy of Scienceline.

Is that my phone ringing? by Scienceline

If you happen to have any traits or if any of the above happens to you, leave a comment and tell us about it!  Maybe we can find enough to make a part 2.



  1. I thought my ability to drown out noise by kind of pressing my tounge into my soft pallet while tensing my jaw and creating that 'rumbling' sound was something everyone did...nope I'm a freak ;)

  2. Making my ears rumble is very easy and I'm glad I finally have some type of explanation for it.

  3. I got everything. I always get to see those things in front of my eyes when I'm in a car looking at a blue sky. I can only do the ears rumble thing for 2-3seconds after I have to start again. Im able to gleek but I have no Idea how I'm doing it. It sometimes happens when somethings stuck in my teeth and I try to get it out with my tounge. I had the weak morning hands for some time, hasn't happened for years now though. Phantom vibrations are pretty common I guess, but somehow I switched off any vibration on my cellphone and still my "Phantom Guess" is pretty precise. A bit scary to me, knowing I just checked my Cellphone because I thought it vibrated, having a new SMS yet knowing there was no vibration.

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  4. Eye floaters? Check. Had them for as long as I can remember. One or two are in a different shape than the ones in the picture, but still behave pretty much the same. A particular one reminds me of a part of the moscow metro system xD
    Ear rumble thing? Check. Don't see it as very useful, but I can do it. Can keep it going for more than 2-3 seconds though :P (around 10 if I try)
    Gleeking? Uhh maybe. I can sort of squeeze out saliva from under my tongue, but it doesn't exactly shoot out like a water gun.
    Weak morning hands? Rarely. Usually after getting up from bed it goes away.
    Phantom vibrations? Yeah, those get annoying sometimes. The description was head-on though, get them sometimes when waiting for a text or call.

    All in all, good read. Nice job.

  5. Another cool trait you could talk about is "dermatographism." It's a condition where small scratches on the skin cause localized hives, meaning that you could, for instance, play tic-tac-toe on your arm and it'd stay there, all raised up and red but not actually itchy, for like five to ten minutes.

  6. Well shit, i abandon my blog for half a year then reddit happens. lol

  7. Thanks for this post tho. Really. I too experience all of these things, but never really understood how to describe them to ppl. One I could possibly add is playing various percussive sounds with my teeth, but only hearing them in my head. i'm a drummer by trade, but I wonder if anyone else does this?

    1. Yes! Im a drummer as well. I use my teeth as toms and kick while making a various clicking sounds with my tonge for snare and other weird noises. I always thought it would be cool to be able to record it! Also wonder if its bad for my teeth. Ice been doing since i was a kid.

  8. I can make my ears rumble, but without using my jaw, and for almost a minutes if I wanted. I wonder if it's related to the tensor timpani muscle at all? It seems I do it a different way, with similar results. BTW, it's moire like a medium rumble ather than a far away one.

    1. There isn't likely to be another way for you to be causing the sound, but blood pressure or how hard you are contracting your tempani would have an audible effect.

    2. I too can also focus it for a couple minutes and hold it continually. I do it and it gives music in my headphones more bass haha

  9. I can cause a pretty loud noise simply by closing my eyes a certain way.. It's kind of like an earthquake or a heavy wind or something. I would love to master gleaking, the possibilities for secret saliva attacks are amazing!! Also, my ear squeaks. It's probably not good for my eardrum buuuuut it's not uncomfortable in the least and it makes people smile when they are angry or sad. It's a gift! lol

  10. what if it triggers the pineal gland :)

  11. There actually is a use for the 'ear rumble' maneuver: If you snorkel or dive, it is an easy way to equalize ear pressure at different depths without having to hold your nose and blow... or whatever the hell normal people have to do.

    -Sincerely, Super-Ear-Popping-Guy

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  13. 've tried to explain the ear noise to people and mostly get a confused look. I can hold it for nearly a minute then the muscle fatigues and the rumbling dies out. I can strain to hold it on but with diminishing results. But once the initial flex dies out from fatigue I can flex it again and get the full volume rumble sound, but for a shorter period.

    Sometimes i wonder if I kept doing that exercise repeatedly could I build up this massive bicep style muscle in my ear and make my head explode? Not likely, but it's a funny thought.

  14. I have #5, #4 and even #3, the last one being pretty funny.
    I do vibrate my ears on a daily basis, for the fun of it perhaps... it's good to know it's natural. And I've never know about my eye floaters until now.

  15. I have not seen squiggly lines but I do see chevrons from time to time usually one set on each side of my vision. they do move around sometimes. Kind of like little prisms they are..

  16. When I was in elementary school, I used to play songs in my head quite a bit. Only, instead of imagining sounds, I always would just do the rumbling sound. I found it natural, and that by flexing the muscles in my ears harder, I was able to change the pitch of the rumbling. Soooooo...yeah. I tried to ask my parents if they could hear it too when I did it, but they kept saying "Do I hear what?" I thought it was some kind of super power. Now I can do it for really complex songs, and I can hold the rumbling for almost a minute. I hope it's not bad for my ear drums... anyone know?