Month: August 2019

Oh, Well Done!

Sigyn, did you hear something?  I thought I heard a thumpy noise, like something out on the front porch…

loki-lookright-pkg

Nothing over there…

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Nothing over he—

Sweet Glittering Bifrost!  The Unrepentant Package Squashers have outdone themselves this time.  I asked them to pay a extra special attention to anything they were given to deliver to the humans, and they’ve surpassed my wildest dreams.

I mean, look at this!  It’s a thing of mangled beauty!

One corner is magnificently crumply.

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And look, Sigyn!  Take a moment to appreciate how the sealing tape is hanging on by just a few fibers.

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Careful, love.  I don’t want you entangled in what intact tape there is!

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UPS, you have done yourself proud with this one!

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I salute you!

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>|: [

 

Mischief Update–I Solemnly Swear That I Am Up To No Good

I always say that I’m going to keep up with documenting my mischief. After all, future scholars and chroniclers will want to be able to appreciate my long games, my spur-of-the-moment flashes of evil brilliance, and my witty prose. But I’m so *busy* doing the actual mischief (and fighting off vegetative nightmares) that I do sometimes fall behind and then have to jot down an elephantine wodge of insidious history. Like this one.

I continue to do some of my best work with vendors. My collaboration with They Had One Mission And Stumbled is proving to be a very fruitful one. The human female put in an order for cases and cases and cases of those green, biodegradable lab gloves she’s switched the whole teaching program to. Her two previous orders each had delivery problems, so she was hoping for a smooth transaction this time. As if.  No, the whole pallet of glove cases did arrive, but it came in in dribs and drabs over a few weeks’ time. Half the order came in one or two cases at a time. Each little portion had its own ship notice and its own packing slip. The packing slips weren’t all the same size or format, and things came via both Unrepentant Package Smashers and Fed-up and Exhausted. In the end, there were eight packing slips, and one of the larger shipments came addressed to Stephen Wolfe. Luckily, that particular addressee-fu has occurred before, and the stockroom personnel know now to just shrug and reroute-the shipments to the human female. Finally, when one of these multi-box shipments of four different sizes of gloves comes, all the cases need to be held somewhere until they all come in and are checked off. Basically, it takes over a whole room for a couple of weeks.

One particular order for a refill for an antibody demo kit never came in at all. The human female waited….and waited…and waited. Finally, she called the vendor directly. The vendor did the email equivalent of a blank stare. They’d never received the PO at all. Turns out that the purchasing software had “helpfully” directed it to the personal email of a person who is not at the company any more.  The human female fixed that, much to my annoyance. Perfectly good prank, and I only got to use it once.

Preparations for the annual Dead Cat Ballet have already begun. She asked for a quote from the customer rep at the Purveyor of Dead Things and eventually got one. Of course, it didn’t have the plethora of pickled piglets she wanted and they had to do it over, so… Starfish remain totally unavailable, so the human female had to order three-hundred some-odd sea cucumbers. (Is that even an animal? Or are they switching to vegetables for dissection?) In any case, she submitted the order for approval and waited….and waited. No PO. I’ve figured out that if I distract her just as she’s quadruple checking the order one. last. time, she forgets to file the This Order Must Go to the Purveyor of Dead Things/ sole source paperwork, which slows the whole process down to a crawl. The order’s been placed now; we’ll see if it actually shows up as promised….

Earlier, she ordered some sharks for the a different class. The professor very strictly specified 1 female and two males. I helped the PODT pick out three beautiful females.  At my behest, hey also shipped three female stiff kitties and no stiff tomcats on a two male, one female order.

Speaking of Dead Things–remember the room full of skulls? Most of the shipment came in at once but there were a few things backordered (cats, deer, and the ever-elusive platypus). They came in a few here and a few there. Then the human female received another shipping notice and another invoice for two deer and one platypus, with a different order number from the big main one. Cue panic. Turns out that fake invoices are the Purveyor of Dead Heads’ way of putting shipped backorders through their system.  The human female submitted it for payment, but she’s discovered it didn’t get paid because a few days ago, the Purveyor of Dead Heads sent it to her again.

Oh, and remember the papers the human female has to sign every year for the Vendor Whose Responsible, saying that she promises not to use any of her chemicals to set up a meth lab in the basement?

VWR-Intended Use 2019

She filled them out this year and sent them in. Then they sent another request. “I already did this!” she whined. “How about you have your supervisor sign where it says, ‘supervisor’?” they replied. So she had him sign them and sent them back. They sent a third request. “I SAID I already did this!” she type-screamed at them. “But it’s a different account!”the VWR shot back. And setting her up with two account numbers wasn’t the best part of the joke. After all the wrangling–it turns out that the new lab exercises don’t even USE the chemical that triggered all the DEA paperwork in the first place!

That wasn’t the only fun the VWR and I had with the human female!  Oh, no!  Not by a long shot!  The new 111 labs use an astonomical number of test tubes–and now that the Powers That Be have decreed that they should be single-use (or at least tossed in the glass waste at the end of the week), the program is going through mounds and acres and tons of the things.  The human female ordered FIFTY THOUSAND of them.  She waited.  And waited.  Finally, there was a shipping notice!  She tracked it very faithfully on the Unrepentant Package Smasher’s website.  It got as far as Waco (which is, as they say in this part of Midgard, “up the road a piece”) and that’s when I stepped in.  You see, fifty thousand test tubes–fifty cases of 1,000) comes on a pallet.  When UPS has a pallet to deliver to the Department’s stockroom, if the driver doesn’t feel like working his large vehicle down the alley, he doesn’t.  He may take it to Central Receiving or just dump it somewhere else.  Which is what I suggested to him this time.  He dumped it down at the UPS hub facility back in Waco.

testtubes-vs-ups

The tracking said, “Will attempt delivery the next day,” but they didn’t.  And they didn’t call.  When the human female called them, asking if they could pretty please route the package to Central Receiving so that she could get it from them, they said, “NO,” and insinuated that she was somewhat lower than pond scum.  They made her get an Authorization For Reroute from the VWR, e-mailed to UPS and not sullied by her hands or her mail program.  She managed to do this, resigning herself to the $110.00 change of address fee she incurred in the process.  While she was waiting for the authorization to go through, the UPS tracking said, “Out for Delivery”–which induced a panic, because it wasn’t supposed to go anywhere until the paperwork cleared.  Frantic, she called the UPS depot in Waco who looked and said, “Nope, sitting right here.” It took a day or two after that to have the package show up at Central Receiving, and finally all the test tubes came to their “forever home.”  She should thank me!  She knows now to split the big test tube order into parts or to specify that it not be on a pallet.

Sometimes, when I finish with the human female for the day, I have a little mischief left over. Then I start looking for other mortals to tamper with. One of the human female’s techs, for example, played a big part in the acetone scare of a few months back. Funny, was it, coworker?  How “funny” did you think it was when I had HR lose your paycheck?

For the 111 labs, this summer was the second go around with the new labs. The professor wanted to try something different with the Forensics lab, the one that uses invisible bits of DNA and gooey/gelly agarose and lethal amounts of electricity. The first time, the results were deemed “okay,” but apparently they could have been better. So the human female ordered a different set of DNA primers. (Whatever those are…) The test gel–ehehehe! The test gel was completely blank except for the ladder of reference DNA fragments! Now, it’s a multi-step process from sample to gel, so they had to re-run it with various combinations of old and new primers and old and new regents. (I don’t need to know what “taq polymerase” is to mischief it up a bit!) Nada. Zip. Zero. They never did figure it out and ran out of time and had to do the lab the “old way.” I think the human female needs to read fewer articles on gel electrophoresis and more on chaos theory.

She won’t have too much time to read for a while. She’s been sad in recent years to do less with botany than in days of yore. I’ve been whispering in her ear that she’s a washed-up has-been and that she will die in ignominy, and I’ve been looking for opportunities to torture her further.  And now I have my chance! Years ago, she worked with a team of other plant nerds to write The Big Book of East Texas Planty Things That Only Other Plant Nerds Will Care About.  Recently, she’s agreed to collaborate as editor on Volume Two Much (which is FINALLLY in production), meaning she’s going to need to lay in a stock of red pens and patience with other people’s prose. About 157 pages of daisy-related gibberish is going to land in her mailbox any day now. I’m especially tickled because she’s going to have to shell out over $100 dollars to increase the size of her Dropbox space to handle this project. Time-consuming, unpaid, tedious, AND expensive. I’m enjoying this and she hasn’t even started yet.

I suppose it’s not true that she hasn’t been doing any botany this summer. She hasn’t been in the field because a) hot, b) foot in a boot, and c) did I mention hot? She has been working on the Herbarium’s database, fixing errors, checking label information, and other very boring jobs. Recently, she found that I told the student workers they could make changes to the database, an apostasy that was supposed to be Forbidden At All Costs. They’d been editing their version and she’d been editing her version, with the result that she had to re-enter a couple of work sessions worth of data. Now she has to work, not on her saved version of the file, but on the main version that I have urged the Herbarium to host on its server. She has to do all sorts of computery gymnastics just to log on and reach it, and there’s always the chance that the file she needs will be locked for use by someone else.  (Like when I had someone leave for the weekend still logged in with the file open!) And I’ve peeked–the student workers, busy little bees, are always adding new records, all of which will have to be vetted, so the proofing is very much a moving target.  She’ll never be done!

You know…sometimes, all it takes to put the finishing touches on the human female’s day is something very simple. The other day I saw to it that her ugly silver car had a nasty-gram on it when she went to get it from the church parking lot, where she had left it for a few days. During the week, the church makes a little income from charging students to park there while they’re at the university. “Your license plate has been recorded,” the note said, “and the next time we find you here without paying, you will be towed at your own expense.” This note was left under her windshield wiper, right next to her properly displayed parking permit, whose number– along with her license plate number–is duly recorded in the parish office.  You should have seen her eye twitch!

The human female was making (delusional)  gardening noises and plans for a while there. “I’m going to plant this,” and, “I’m going to plant that,” and “Oh, this would look good out front.” She was starting to be really annoying. Then the heat hit, and now she’s just hoping nothing expires from pure despair.  She tried to plant a shrublet the other day and couldn’t manage to chip a hole in the hard-as-iron dry clay.  She had to let the soaker hose run for an hour before she could scrape out a spot for it.  I did nudge a little rain her way to help. But is is *my* fault the accompanying wind broke off 1/4 of her beloved Vitex bush? Or that the five lush, now-house-high elm trees that planted themselves neatly along the property line are, she’s beginning to suspect, not native winged elms but invasive Chinese lacebark elms? Yes. Yes, it is.

In the backyard, the big dead oak is still looming over the house, making the human female fret every time the wind blows.  The tree service folks she’s called either want an amount with a lot of zeros, or they quote a price so low that it’s pretty certain that their “company” is just Joe Bob With a Chainsaw.  The one reputable outfit that comes highly recommended has a voice mailbox that’s full and doesn’t answer email.  (They wouldn’t come take the tree down anyway.  I’ve warned them what a loOnY the human female is, and they have a file on her that says, “do not respond.”)

Inside the home, I’ve been egging the Terror Twins on.  They stage wind sprints and wrestling matches every night about 11:00.  If you’re a betting person, bet on Flannel.  She outweighs Taffy by a fair amount and knows a little judo (I think she’s been taking lessons from Muffy.)  Recently, she gave Taffy a scratch on the chin that made a big scab.  The humans had to take off work, come home, crate up Boo Boo Kitty,  and haul her–screaming all the way–to the vet.  The vet cleaned it up and administered an antibiotic shot, to the tune of over-a-weekly-grocery-bill or half-a-nice-fountain-pen.  It took four adults to hold Miss Wriggle on the table for the shot, and by the time the fur-slinky was back in the crate, the entire exam room, all its occupants, and all its contents were covered in drifts and fluffs of cat hair.  They’ll remember Taffy for a long time.

So, you see, I have had my fingers in all her pies, as the mortal say.  Work, church, home –you name it, I’ve done it.  “But, Loki!” you cry.  “Can you keep this up?  Aren’t you running out of ideas?”

Not even close…

>|: [

Science is Wiggly, But Fragile

There’s something new in the Critter Room!

For the 112 labs, this summer is the first time the new activities are being tried. Some have worked well and are relatively Loki-proof. Others have enough moving parts that I can get a little traction. For the Osmoregulation lab, the precious little kiddos are no longer going to dissect a kidney and learn how to do a urinalysis. They will be experimenting with real, live clam worms, members of the Annelida. This is a clam worm:

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Sigyn thinks their myriad paddle-like parapodia are “cute.” I’m reserving judgment until I see one in real life.

We’ve heard that a small batch of test subjects has arrived and has settled into their new aquarium home.   Let’s go look!

Supposedly they’re in the thank with the sand.  Do you see anything?

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I don’t either.  I understand they’re good at burrowing, so maybe they’re down in the sand?

(later)  Ah ha!  The human female and her minions are about to test the experiment. Now we can get a good look!

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They don’t have any legs, but those little swimmy-things undulate, so they’re able to move pretty well.

(later)  The human female is shocked and grumbling.  The worms are supposed to be able to change the salt concentration inside their bodies to match that of the water outside their bodies.  The experiment called for the worms to be moved from their average-sea water tank into beakers with water that is more or less salty and then weighed at short intervals to see whether they are gaining weight by taking up water to become less salty or losing weight through losing water and becoming more salty.  And when that was done, they were put back into standard sea water and weighed some more to see if the adjustment can be reversed.

Um, the experimenters ran into a little snag or three.  Why?  Hello?  God of Mischief standing right here!

First, one of the treatments called for the worms to be put in plain water.  Note for future reference:  Clam worms do NOT like that.  Much wriggling and stress ensued.  They won’t be trying that again.

For the most part, the worms behaved as expected.  However, to make sure that it is only “worm” being weighed and not clinging water, each time a worm moves from a treatment beaker to the scale, it must be patted dry.  The humans went through a LOT of paper towels, and the worms were looking quite a bit the worse for wear by the end of it.  One of them didn’t survive.  (Sigyn was very sad.)

Afterwards, when the worms were returned to their big tank, I meddled some more.  I took some of the fine sand that the Prep Staff minions had stirred up while getting the worms out of the sand in the first place and worked it into the filter pump.  I was only trying to make the pump make funny noises, I swear!  I didn’t mean for the pump to fail entirely and make most of the worms die.  Don’t tell Sigyn.  She’s very soft-hearted and would be mad at me for days

(Much later)  Well, the humans went ahead with the experiment on a large scale with all the classes, as planned.  They ordered one hundred clam worms and were all set to house that many.  They even found some super-absorbent paper to dry the worms with, so they wouldn’t get handled so much.

That’s when I thought it would be funny to have things to even wronger.  Clam worms are voracious carnivores but will eat fish flakes in a pinch.  Apparently they themselves taste pretty good.  Two days before the lab, the Vendor (whom we shall call the Purveyor of Things That Can Breathe In Seawater) called and admitted sheepishly that somehow a fish had been introduced into the holding tank that was housing her worms prior to shipment–and it had EATEN two thirds of them or more. Eheheheheh! Oopsie!

Only about thirty worms arrived, so the experiment was set up to use far fewer worms.  By the day of the experiment there were even fewer left.  Who knew that traveling makes them hangry and liable to indulge their little penchant for eating one another?

And then there were eighteen.  Six each for three rooms.  The worms got put through their paces morning and afternoon, and I have to say, the results were not pretty.  The worms refused to do their osmoconforming magic in the morning sections, and by the afternoon sections they were quite battered. There is no way they’d last a whole week in a fall semester.  The filter pump quit again and, all in all, it the whole caboodle was judged a failure.

I haven’t told Sigyn. As far as she knows, the worms have just gone to the great big fish tank rest home, or whatever serves as the out-to-pasture equivalent for weary Annelids.  I’m sorry that worms suffered—but more than a little gleeful that the humans feel guilty about it.  They’re going to work with the POTTCBIS to see if a sturdier—and presumably less-appetizing!—creature that doesn’t have to be fished out of the sand with a litterbox scoop is available for next time.  They’re thinking snails.

In which case, I’m thinking garlic butter…

>|: [

It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets—Part IV: The New Venue and a New Idea

So far, the new venue for the second two days of the Gaming Weekend is proving to be quite nice indeed. It is much cooler and about a million times quieter.  The kitchen is a real kitchen, and there is a lot more room.

As I mentioned previously, it belongs to a troop of cookie-selling, uniform-wearing female children.  They tend to reward their members with little patches.

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Sigyn is enthralled.

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Perhaps I should consider some similar idea for my army of minions.  Garner me a thousand dollars, earn a badge.  Infiltrate a branch of the Midgardian government, earn a badge.  Recruit some new minions, earn a badge.  It’s worth thinking about…

Sigyn is intrigued by this tasteful portrait of a pretty young woman.

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No doubt the organization wishes all of its members to be just as genteel and cultured.  Except, she apparently grew up into this:

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Great Frigga’s Corset! What a stern-looking woman!  She has the air of One Who Can Get Things Done.   Perhaps I should investigate further…

There is a stash of old magazines in a bookcase.

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It’s all full of Helpful Advice and Good Ideas.

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Or maybe not…

The decor in this place is eclectic, to say the least.  Sigyn has discovered a pair of rideable bookend beasts in her favorite color.

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And she’s trying to give me heart palpitations by pretending to being eaten by this lion.

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Usually I am swift to leap to her defense, but I can tell this vicious attack is not in earnest because a) the lion is smiling and b) I can hear my sweetie giggle.  But I will play along.  Unhand my beloved, you cheddar-hued feline or I will strike you where you stand!

More giggles.

Some creative soul has decorated the baseboard in this corner.

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No, Sigyn, don’t go in there.  You don’t know where that hole may lead!

There is also a collection of interesting cushions.

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Sigyn is good at following orders.

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Why does this giraffe have piano keys between its legs?

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This lion looks very self-satisfied, as if it has eaten something delicious.  It may well have.  After all, it is stuffed.  (Badum tss!)

Sigyn says this pillow means “take a nap.”

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No, Sigyn.  I don’t care if it looks comfy.  Yes, I know we stayed up late last night playing games and eating cookies.  All right, all right.  You can curl up and take a nap.  I’m going to go back to the stack of old magazines and see if there are any usable hints for assembling and directing my army of chaos.  I’ll wake you when it’s time to go home.

>|: [

It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets—Part III: What’s Really Important

Breeding and balancing unholy monsters has given me quite an appetite.  Fortunately, the other aspect of Gaming Weekend is EATING.  Come, Sigyn, let’s repair to the kitchen area and see what delectables are on offer.

There is the usual assortment of chips and crackers.

cheezits

Sigyn is in the Cheezit box only because she hasn’t seen the Cheeto bag yet.

Enjoy your crunchies, my love. I’m after more substantial fare.

The human male obtained some beef this year.

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He rubbed it with spices.

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And then cooked it long and slow in the smoker.  There had better be some of that left!

Score!  There is some sliced and wrapped in foil in the refrigerator with all the fruit and coleslaw.

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The human female made her gingerbread cookies again, and they are going quickly.

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The nearly empty first bowl of which apparently functions as a very effective Sigyn-trap.

Do you need help getting out, my love?  No?  Just going to eat your way out?  Very well.  Just call out if you need me.  I’ll be over yonder consuming my weight in brisket.

>|: 9

 

It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets—Part II: Topsy Turvy Beasts

An unusual game has just been brought out, one the human male received for his just-past birthday.  It involves trying to balance various animals on a plinth.  The animals are all angle-y and intriguing.

Sigyn, stop!

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You just met that bear!  You don’t know if he’s friendly or not.  And maybe he doesn’t like hugs.

I do not trust the eagle-condor-vulture thing, either.

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Back, winged fiend!  I know she’s snack-sized, but restrain yourself!

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The octopus, however,  is very friendly— and quite good at shaking hands.

This beast seems tame as well.

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What’s it called?  “Warthog?”  This must be the human female’s game piece, yes?

Sweet Glittering Bifrost!  What is that?!

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The game rules identify it as a Mythical Omni-Beast composed of some aspect of each of the others.  It has warthog tusks, a shark fin, the toucan beak, bear paws, and so on.  It’s a good thing it appears to be gentle, because Sigyn is thoroughly smitten.

No one knows what this piece does.

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Looks like the humans have managed to get the shark, the warthog, and a crossing symbol onto the plinth.  And a Sigyn.

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Ah!  Now it all begins to make more sense.

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The plinth is magic, and each animal piece has a small spell attached.  The magic can communicate with a computer so that the animals become part of a narrative on the screen.

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The object is to keep all the animals alive by “feeding” them “energy” with the polyhedral pieces that must also be balanced on the plinth.

The “cross” game piece does just that–it crosses two of the animals currently on the plinth.

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Which is how we managed to make a Ruffled Swinejaw

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I will admit, this is amusing.  It is giving me all sorts of good ideas for beasts I could engender to form part of my army.

So far, the humans are playing in what they call “co-op mode”, in which they all join efforts to stack as many animals and generate as many bizarre mutants as possible.  That is all well and good, but where is the competition?  Where is the striving?  I think we need to invoke Battle Mode, where a card deck comes into play.

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That way, I can play cards like this:

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Or this! 

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Truly!  I think I have found MY game!

>|: [

 

It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets—Part I: No, Actually, It IS all Fun and Games

The humans are doing that thing they do again, that Thing that takes days of planning and preparation, that involves moving a lot of heavy things in very hot weather, that involves cooking and cleaning and logistics enough to move an invading army over the Alps in winter without the aid of hippopotami…

I speak, of course, of  the Summer Gaming Gathering.  

There are friends coming from far and wide, including the Blue-haired Goddaughter and the Knittery Friend.  They’ll all be bringing games and food and family members.  Sigyn and I will probably go for a little bit.  I like to try games I can cheat at win, and Sigyn likes talking to people and playing with game pieces that look like little animals.

I have involved myself rather more than usual this year, by making the clubhouse in the humans’ subdivision unavailable for the final two days of the gaming.  The human male and his friends looked high and low for a substitute venue and were just about to plunk down a Lot of Money to rent a space, when one of the gaming friends convinced the local Cookie Sprout troop to rent them their  meeting house for those two days, very cheaply.  I was sad to see the other deal fall through, because I had a kickback arranged, but I am consoling myself with the fact that there will be TWO venues for the humans to have to clean, and the second place has TWO bathrooms, one with not one but two toilets, so the human female will have extra, EXTRA potties to scrub.

The guests are arriving and the games are coming out.  The human male says this one is fun to play.  It has “Explosion” in the name–so I am intrigued.

marblegame

Any game that involves pieces that will roll around and get underfoot and go under the furniture is all right in my book, although it would be better if some of the marbles were green. 

This game has cards, as well as markers with strange symbols.

japanese-game

I think the artwork is giving Sigyn wardrobe ideas.

This next one is getting a lot of play. Sigyn, let’s insinuate ourselves into the fun.  It involves getting someone to guess the Mystery Word using just one-word clues–and no two hinters can give the same clue, or that clue goes away.  That is, one could say “wick” or “beeswax” if the mystery word was “candle,” but if two people say, “wick”, “wick” will not be one of the clues the guesser gets.  So do you give the obvious clue or not?

just-one2

Ehehehe!  I just whispered in the players’ ears and ALL of the clues were the same, so the guesser now has to guess the word “parachute” with NO hints at all!  Diabolical.

Oooh!  Ooh! I know!  I’ll make the next guesser have to come up with “the human female.”  All right.  The guesser has his eyes closed, the other players have written down their clues,  and now they are silently comparing notes.  The hints are “botanist,” “cookies,” “clumsy-stupid” (hyphenated words are allowed), and “sweetie.”  Deal with that.

This next game is getting a lot of attention too.  It’s much more complex and seems to have some sort of avian bias.  I think, if one played long enough, one could learn something about birds, and the artwork is quite nice.  Sigyn, unfortunately, is so occupied in trying to keep the eggs warm that she’s having trouble remembering all the rules.

wingspan

Those last two games seem to have won some sort of award.   I think it’s a safe bet that copies of both will eventually be coming to live with the humans.  Where the male is going to put them, I have no idea.  If I were nice, I’d make some sort of pocket-dimension spell for him, one that would allow him to store an infinite number of games in a single small room.

But I’m not, so I won’t.

>|: [