The Mandela Effect

The Mandela Effect is a phenomenon, where a large number of people share a recollection of an event that did not actually occur, or their recollection is somewhat (perhaps substantially) different from the facts of the actual event.

The term “Mandela Effect” was coined by a paranormal researcher, Fiona Broome, who had vivid memories that anti-Apartheid activist, Nelson Mandela had died in prison during the 1980s. Broome’s recollection of Mandela was shared by a number of other people. 

In reality, Mandela was released from prison in 1990, and he became President of South Africa in 1994. In 2013, Mandela died at his home following a lengthy illness.

Broome and others, have speculated that because there are often numerous people who share alternative memories of an event’s facts that this suggests the existence of parallel universes. Furthermore, that people might be remembering events that actually occurred in an alternate reality.

I have my own thoughts on the Mandela Effect, sadly none are as glamorous as a “Multiverse of Madness” (yes, a reference to Marvel’s recent Dr. Strange movie), or the famous “Mirror, Mirror” episode of Star Trek. 

Here  are some common Mandela Effect examples. I think many of them are of low consequence. Does it really matter if people remember watching “The Flinstones” as opposed to the “The Flintstones?”

Others  have easy explanations. For example the lyrics to Queen’s “We Are The Champions” is notable, because it does, and doesn’t, contain “…of the world,” at the end of the song.  

Musical performers often modify their hits songs when performing  in a live audience context. While album version ends with “we are the champions,” the band’s memorable performance at Live Aid added “…of the world” to the song’s end. 

Did any of the examples from The Parade article surprise you?

Do you have examples of the Mandela Effect (…false memory syndrome, or groupthink) in your work, or elsewhere in your life?


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Performance Review

A few months ago, I pondered the type of projects I was going to pursue next. 

After much deliberation, I decided that, for now, one of the best ways I could serve my community would be to help alleviate the staffing shortages in our schools.

When my paperwork was finally approved, I stared at the available assignments with some  trepidation.

Eventually, I clicked the “Accept” button for a 1-day assignment as a 5th-grade science teacher in a neighboring school district.

Since then, I’ve worked in four other districts–pre-K, high school, middle school–across myriad income levels, so that teachers can: go to the dentist, celebrate their birthday, take their child to the doctor, attend an IEP meeting, or recover from Covid.

The jobs are never quite the same and are often extremely different from one day to the next. Nearly every day begins with an encounter with  imposter syndrome.

However,  the feedback, from the students has given me an incredible boost. I’ve shared some below.

After I’d  covered her class for 30 minutes–while her teacher was in a meeting–a 2nd-grader wrote me a note:

“Thank you for being the best sub ever. “

A middle schooler said to me (30 seconds into a conversation):

“What?!? You’ve read the book ‘Jurassic Park?’ I’m already your biggest fan, ever!”

A 5th-grader walked up to my desk on his way to his next class, and offered:

“You’re a good sub., but you need to be more strict.”

A high school junior wrote this:

“Dear Mr. Smith, I’d love to thank you for subbing in my class. We may be wild, but we mean well. You’re a great and funny man. I like the way you say ‘ya’ll.’ It reminds me of a cowboy movie. “

These are among the best performance reviews I’ve ever had.

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Cool Change

In my twenties, I found myself in a bit  of a predicament.

Shortly after I’d resigned from my job in Tallahassee, and had let my lease run out, I found out my new opportunity—with a previous employer in Gainesville—had evaporated.

I learned this at 10 pm on a Sunday night, when I still had 135 miles left to drive on the return leg of a weekend trip.  On the agonizing ride home, I concluded the practical, and easy thing would be to rescind my resignation, then I could find a new place to live.

The next day, my boss said they hadn’t hired my replacement and asked if I wanted to reconsider my resignation. 

I opened my mouth, with intent of being practical and saying ”Yes…” but I was overcome by a stream of impractical thoughts. The first thing to come to mind: I couldn’t stay in that soul-sucking  job. 

I was also more than ready to leave Florida where I’d been for 15+ years  since my parents relocated their 3 remaining nestlings to The Sunshine State from Massachusetts. 

My impractical thoughts raced to my youth, in Connecticut and Massachusetts: the fall colors, the fluffy snow, the topography, clam rolls, Fenway Park,  apple orchards, the rocky coasts, Lexington and Concord, aunts, uncles, and cousins, …and cooler weather. I decided to make a big change.

The impractical thoughts won. I answered ”No, I can’t stay here.”

She asked about my new plans. I replied, ”I guess my new plans are to make new plans.”  

The next day, I bought a new typewriter and started writing cover letters to organizations in the Greater Boston area and was able to line up some interviews. 

An unexpected, though welcome, twist was that a couple of college friends (who were now a couple) had offered to let me stay with them, if I was interested in working in the DC vicinity.  Thus, I contacted some organizations in that area, too.

The next few weeks, was a blur of yard sales (where I tried to sell my beater truck) working overtime,  researching potential employers, writing cover letters, running, and listening to live music (see below). 

I had lined up some interviews in Boston and DC, and picked a departure date that would allow for some short visits with my college friends, and my sister’s family in Connecticut, before I had be in Massachusetts for the first interview.

It was almost exactly 30 years ago today, that I put the last armful of items into the trunk of my Mazda 323 and headed north. I’d would eventually settle in the DC area for a spell, before moving to Chicago, and finally West Michigan.

Other than the occasional adrenalin surge and swearing  that accompanies  skidding on an icy road, my regrets are few, far between, and of short duration.

It still seems like one of my best decisions ever.

(Funk Bible “Funken Soul”)

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I Got Nothin’


As some of you know, I had been lying low for a spell.

I’ve been spending time  chauffeuring (until my ”client” reached his 16th birthday)  cooking, dog-walking, attempting to write, thinking about home repairs,  doing some occasional YouTubery, reading. and rebuilding.

As scant few of you know, this follows a phase of my life that is worthy of an “It’s Complicated” status.

It began with a  years-long, undiagnosed,  neurological malady with myriad symptoms: head and eye pain, heaviness and loss of coordination on one side of my body, confusion, fatigue, vertigo,  muscle pain and weakness, short-term memory issues, loss of sensation in my face…

At one time, or another, I was told  by a medical professionals,  I might have (or have had)  a stroke, (or brain tumor, epilepsy, hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, CTE, hydrocephalus, cerebral hemorrhage, Lyme disease, encephalitis, multiple sclerosis…).

Seen and Not Heard

Some symptoms were constant, others appeared as though they were activated by a flipped switch.  One had a clear trigger.  When I spoke more than a few sentences, I soon felt as though I was fighting some external force (Lex Luthor?), for control of my lower jaw. 

People who  knew me from earlier in my life, might be surprised to learn that I often chose to go long periods without saying a word. Not even the last word (I know, hard to believe).

Almost every visit with specialists ended with “<sigh> “I wish we could do an MRI.”

I can’t have an MRI.  I eventually realized that I was on my own for this ride.

It Don’t Come Easy

After many fits and starts, some brute-force, ample tolerance by my family, an understanding client,  some luck, and a helluva lot of time (which forced me to be patient), eventually, my gait steadied, the pain, dizzy spells, etc. subsided. Some time later, I was able to wrest full control of my lower jaw away from Lex Luthor.

When I got through the distracting, sometimes debilitating symptoms, my confidence  depleted.  I was pain-free, and my stamina, short-term memory, and coordination* had returned, but I didn’t have much trust in them.

Many tasks, some that I’d been performing most of  my life, seemed incomprehensibly large and complicated, because it was hard to a visualize successful outcome.

That was another soul-sucking journey (perhaps worthy of its own post one day).

Once, in a moment of reflection following a setback, an old Ringo Starr hit popped into my head. I’ve shared it below, not because it became my mantra, or that I’m recommending that it become yours, but it is a kickass song.

Onward and Upward

Anyway, the diagnosis that I eventually arrived at is this:  I got nothin’.

I intend to keep it that way for as long as I can.

I am  pursuing projects with renewed vigor. Please check out my Services page or blog content and contact me if you’d like to talk about how I can help your organization with content strategy.

*OK, If you’ve seen my handwriting  or played hoops with me,  you know that my coordination has never been all that great to begin with 🙂

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