I Was Tricked Into Being Here, Part I: I Was Promised Chaos!

The human female said something about people running around and chaos and food, so when she and Sigyn asked if I wanted to join them, I thought, “Why not?” and came with.

Big mistake.

Turns out this isn’t some raucous party with infinite opportunities for mischief, it’s  a church food drive and I’ve been recruited to help sort and pack.  If word of this gets out it is NOT going to do good things to my villain cred.

Looks like the food is all here and now we just have to sort it, with the various items for the holiday baskets going on different tables.  Sorting gravy mix from instant potatoes is a bit beneath my intellectual capabilities, but Sigyn is having fun, so I guess I can stand it for an hour or two.


I must admit, that went very quickly.


The people in charge are actually pretty well organized.  One of them wants the human female to help be in charge next year.  Snort!  They have never seen the inside of her backpack.  If they had, they wouldn’t put her and “organized” in the same state, let alone the same sentence.

It’s all sorted.  Now we have to count things, since we need a certain number of each item.  Sigyn and I are on the “Bean” table.




Along the way, we’re supposed to check dates and put aside anything that’s expired.  There’s a prize for whoever finds the most out-of-date thing.

These spuds have seen better days.


No, wait!  This can is even older.


Brainstorm!  Quick, Sigyn–we brought the human female!  There is nothing here as decrepit and past the best-by date as she is!  We are sure to win!

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That Can’t Be Good

Every now and then I like to arrange a little mystery for the human female and her Prep Staff.

For example:

oozy door

What is that oozing out of the cold room?

Where is all that wet coming from?  (None of the chemical containers in the cold room is leaking.)

Why is it rust-colored?

When is Slow Silent and Costly going to show up to investigate?

Who could possibly have done this???

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DNA Stands for Do Not Attempt…

The students are going to be studying DNA in lab this week, and Prep Staff is running a text experiment to make sure that all the reagents and equipment will work properly.

The experiment involves something called PCR.  That stands for …. I’ve never figured out what, exactly.  I’m going to assume it stands for Please Contribute Resources, so I’m doing exactly that.

Because I’m helpful like that.

Anyway the idea is that it can take a teeny, teeny, teeny amount of a person’s genetic material and make a bazillion copies so it can be analyzed.  Prep Staff is getting a sample from various people on the floor.  Obviously, they want the finest DNA possible, so I’m giving them a sample.

I have my little tube full of sterile saline, here.


Next, I label a cup with my name…


Well, that was predictable.  Sigyn, my love, you’ve contaminated my cup!  Your lovely DNA is all over it now and I’ll have to get a new one.

Where was I?  Oh, yes.  I’m going to swish the saline in my mouth for a moment or two…


Spit it into this new cup…


And then pour it carefully back into the tube.


That is some precious Jotun saliva, right there.

Next, the tubes of saliva will go into the big centrifuge.

But first, a little ride…


After a spin, it’s all alcohol and primers and a long, boring wait for the thermocycler.  We’ll check back in later to see how it all turned out…

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Well, I Could Have Told You *That*

Hmm…  Look, Sigyn! What have we here?


Stray screws are seldom a good thing.   Especially when accompanied by little bits of broken-off plastic.


It would seem  that the human female has a screw loose.

Or two.

I’ve been saying as much for years.

And I think I know where these bits are from.  Come over here and look at the human female’s laptop.


See that right there?  The hinge is breaking!  The cover is coming off the laptop!  It makes horrible little crunchy noises, and the bezel is actually coming away from the screen!   Total laptop failure is surely imminent!

It could be that the thing is five years old.

It could be that the hinge is naturally the weakest part of a laptop.

It could be that the human female uses it all the time.

It could be that the current cat and the previous cat like to help her use it.

Or it could be that, every night after she goes to bed, I open and close it sixty or seventy times, really fast…

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Fun With the Front Office

Judging by the feedback on yesterday’s post, some people think I need to spare the human female my mischief for a bit.

Very well.  Today I’ve turned my attention to the Biology Department’s front office.  Everyone there likes a good cup of java, so they ordered two coffee jugs.

And this is what they got:


Meanwhile, un restaurante somewhere esta tratando de lavarse all of its cuchillos y cucharas in a carafe.

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Perhaps I Should Ease Up…

The human female is clumsy.  There’s really no other way to put it.  Not a week goes by that she doesn’t misjudge a doorway or round a desk corner a mite too closely.  I’ll be honest—sometimes I give her a little extra nudge.  It doesn’t usually take much, though.

That being said, it’s been a rough couple of weeks for her.  Last Saturday, when she was wiping up some spilled water in the dining room (I helped the human male drop his travel mug), I didn’t point out a puddle she missed.  Not five minutes later, she found it the hard way and ended up in a startled little pile on the kitchen floor.  Bruised knee.

Later that same day she was pulling some invasive Japanese honeysuckle out in the woods with some Nature Nerds.  I think they pulled several miles of vines and runners.  Did I see the nest of fire ants?  Yes.  Did I warn her?  No… not exactly.  Did I have a good laugh when she did the yelping and arm flapping thing?  Maaaaybe.  Nine good solid bites that still itch and which will probably scar.  She should know better than to stick her hand in the soil without looking.  I’ve probably taught her a valuable lesson.

On Wednesday at work last week, she was carrying a big, light-but-bulky-and-slidey armful of styrofoam to take to recycling.  She came out of the prep room, marching in that determined way she has, barging along even though she couldn’t see over her burden—and promptly fell over a student and his laptop who were minding their business and sitting quietly on the floor.  It was just like in the movies when they show the death of the dinosaurs and the hapless behemoths topple over, making the earth shake.  Bruised hip and other knee, wrenched toe bones.

Then, on the Saturday just past, she put some mulch on the flower beds (and that in itself is a fun story, because she had to go to FOUR places to find mulch!)  All the mulch bags were wet and heavy, and when she bent down to adjust a bag in her little, two-wheeled wheelie barrow  (I pointed out that the load was crooked), I got to see a most beautiful display of physics.  The bag fell forward, the barrow tipped, and the metal handle of the barrow whipped up and smacked her right across the bridge of her nose.  The noise was most impressive!

Suncast 15 Gal. Portable Resin Taupe Lawn Cart


<<<<< picture of the perp




So today she has a cut between her beady eyes and, while she’s not sporting a full double-shiner, it does look like she’s played a bit fast and loose with the brown eye-shadow.  Sort of a barely-there-panda effect.

So there she is, looking like an escapee from a silent slapstick comedy movie.   I know, I know.  I should have not only more self-control, but more compassion.  There’s enough trouble for her to get into without my assistance in percussive maintenance.   I will let up—else the poor thing will never make it to the New Year in one piece.

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Fun With Photosynthetic Pigments

One of the student lab exercises the human female has to support addresses that all-important biological process, photosynthesis.  One of the activities involves poking test tubes of various photosynthetic pigments into a spectrophotosomethingorother and seeing what wavelengths of light they absorb.  It’s actually rather cool.

But the best part is that these pigments have to be extracted from plants.  One cannot just waltz down to Pigments R’ Us.  The protocol is very long and very finicky, and it involves all SORTS of nasty organic solvents.  It takes all day, and it’s about as close to alchemy as it gets.  At every step, something could go wrong, necessitating starting all over.  Sooo much opportunity for mischief!!

The human female and one of her Tech II’s are attempting the process today.  They’ve whooshed up the spinach and a bit of yellow squash peel (for extra xanthophyll) in a blender full of acetone with some calcium carbonate. (I stayed FAR AWAY from this step!!)

Then they pulled the resulting slop through a Buchner funnel with a vaccum, and the resulting lovely green liquid has been “washed” with water.  That is a very fiddly step, because it takes one person to pour the water s l o w l y into the separatory funnel while someone else gently rocks it and “burps” it periodically to vent the gas it gives off.  I got to help with that this time, because burps are always funny.

They’ve reached the point, about an hour into the process, where the separatory funnel is placed in the hood and the layers are allowed to settle out for about forty minutes.  What they should have is a nice bilayer, with clear water and waste on the bottom and the chlorophyll and other pigments in a nice, dark green layer on the top, all ready to be decanted for the next step.

Let’s have a look!


Norns’ nighties!  That is not at all how things should look.  At this point, there’s nothing to be done except start over.  Perhaps the human female was holding her ugly face the wrong way…

More spinach, more squash peel, more calcium carbonate, more acetone, more getting very much out of the way!, more water, and more rocking and burping.  Surely this time…


Ehehehehe!  And we haven’t even gotten to the petroleum ether part, let alone the rest of the separatory steps!

We could be here all day, folks.

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