Month: July 2020

Fun and Games with Fun and Games

Thor, my oafish brother, may command lightning and all that, but I myself am no slouch when it comes to electricityEspecially when it involves getting the human female’s electronic gizmos  to disgrace themselves without warning when the chips are down.

Tonight, the humans are playing games with some of their friends from various Big Cities to the north and south. They’ve found a website that lets one of the group who has bought a copy of one of their game bundles log in, choose a game, and then send a code to everyone else so that they can go to the website and join the same game.

It’s a neat concept.  With the whole group in on a video meeting as well, it is much like a party.  A weird camera-angle, lounge-in-your pajamas, eat-snacks, drink-wine, and contend-with-random-appearances-by-small-semi-naked-people sort of party.

It worked perfectly last week.  I even sat in on a round.  The object of that particular game was making snarky comments for other people to upvote, and I was the very clear winner.  No one outsnarks me. 

That was last week.  Tonight, just to thwart the human female and render her even more socially inept when it comes to gaming, I have had a word with her tablet.


Ehehehehe!  That is a whole lot of diddly-squat!  Obviously, it does not like you.

Maybe you need to update your browser.


Maybe you need to remember your password.

Oh, you typed it in exactly as you wrote it down, ages ago?

Maybe you need to update your operating system.  But right in the middle of a party is not exactly when the human male feels like doing tech support.

Guess you get to sit and watch.

I suppose you can sit in the corner and play solitaire on your phone.


disabled phone

Ehehehe!   Until recently, the human female had a repeated number in the code that unlocks her phone.  I made it so that unless she hit those two sixes at precisely the right interval it would take only one of them, and then when she hit it again, it would act as if she waited too long and error out.  And, of course, I had saw to it that the open-with-a-thumbprint quit working about two days after she set that up, so that wasn’t an option either.

The other day she finally decided she’d had enough and changed her PIN.  About half the time, she forgets and tries the old one, so she’s really no better off.  She also reprogrammed her thumbprint-ID.  There’s no denying that’s convenient.  It’s amazing how sensitive that little app is!

So sensitive, in fact, that it can read a partial print when she picks up her phone just so and decide that she’s an impostor trying to gain access.  And what does it do to impostors?  It locks them out!

Tsk, tsk.  I think there’s a deck of cards in the end table…

>|: [



Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo–Where Does Intro Bio Go?

The swirling maelstrom of chaos at the humans’ university does have a center.

Three guesses what who that is .

It’s not just the construction, which—in addition to the human female’s building–is ongoing in multiple other buildings, it’s also the fact that  the students are due back on campus in under a month, and there is only a semi-solid* plan of where to put them all.

How do you put 350 students in a large classroom if it is only safe to space out 128 of them?  Where on earth do you put those large, freshman biology courses?  What about the labs?  And what about the unexplained 25% increase in freshman Biology enrollment for the fall?

These are the questions which have had a whole string of answers as the summer has unfolded.  Plans change weekly, if not daily.   Labs for Bio 107 and 112 will be face-to-face, but Bio 111 will be online.  All the courses will be online, with the lab period halved and half the students attending at the beginning of the period while the others attend in the second half.  Since Bio 111 comes with the First Year Experience course tacked on,  the 111 labs will now be only 50 minutes.  Experiments will be mostly demos. Wait!  112 will be online and 107 and 111 will be face to face, and 111 will use what are normally 112 rooms.  No, wait. There simply isn’t room on the floor or in the day to accommodate the increased enrollment in Bio 111.  Now Biol 111 and 112 will be online, with Bio 111 back to the longer lab period.  Bio 107 will be fact-to-face, with a split period.

Honors lab sections of Bio 111, which have been meeting in the basement of Butler Hall, were slated to move to the remodeled second floor of Heldenfels, but we all know how THAT is going.  Rather than start the semester in Butler and then move to the second floor of Heldenfels, the course is going to move wholesale to the third floor of Heldenfels, which is fine, because 111 and 112 won’t be there.


Yeah, that’s ^ not happening.

And what about the lectures?  One of the human female’s coworkers is scheduled to be in a large auditorium in the Student Center.  Her boss is going to be teaching in the giant arena, an enormous, cavernous space which can house basketball, graduations, concerts, and (I am not making this up) monster truck rallies.  


I believe the registrar has his eye on the football stadium.  That’s the rumor I started, anyway.

And, of course, anything face-to-face must also have an online option.

You can view the current master plan here.  Until it changes.

Friends, I did not cause the pandemic, but I am absolutely on board for the logistical mayhem and confusion.  My evil-grinning muscles hurt.

>|: [

*currently the consistency of a soft custard

The Trick is to Just Not Let Up

The trick to driving mortals right around the bend and all the way to Gibbersville is to just. not. let. up.  If one mischief is good, two are better.  If the water is off, blow out some outlets.  If the water and the outlets are out, go for the phones and the freezer.

But don’t stop there!  Why not arrange matters so that they cannot even enter the building?

When the outlets in the human female’s building blew, the exterior electronic door locks malfunctioned and defaulted to “always open.” Oh, door locks, how I love thee!  You have provided so much fodder for mayhem over the years!  When  power to the outlets was finally restored, the doors locked again, but their tiny, electronic card-reading brains became deliciously addled and they forgot all of their programming.

The human female received a call from the building proctor after hours.  She had a frantic Fish Feeding Person on the line who didn’t know the human female’s name (they do not work directly together) and who was unable to get into the building because her card wouldn’t work.  The fish, poor little mites, had to wait until things could be reprogrammed.

Then there are the computers.  They all have to go off a head of the outages and be turned back on again afterwards.  The human female’s Prep Staff can get to most of them and do the honors, but the human female’s office is not a place they can get to, so someone with the right key has to go up on campus and restart her system.

With another outage looming on the horizon, the fun just keeps coming.

Meanwhile, there is a dripping faucet in room 325… But it only drips when the plumber isn’t looking.

Room 302 is its own particular disaster zone…

room 302 wreck

Something unannounced is happening in 313…

room 313

And just what is going on down on the second floor?


What’s behind the mysterious Door X?

Do you really want to know???

>|: [

One Ringy-dingy…

The mirthful outlet shenanigans have been resolved, though there will need to be another power outage in a few days.  More fun on the horizon!

While all of this was going on, I was also playing merry Hel with the telephones.  The human female got a voice mail on her office phone, which she was able to reach remotely and listen to.  It was a sweet, southern-grandmotherly-sounding woman from the local telecommunications service, asking about the multiple phones on the floor.

The human female called her back and got called “darling” and “honey,” (so I don’t need to tell you it wasn’t a video-call…)  The nice woman told her that there were several phone lines on the floor that were out of service because, “there is a hole in the wall and some lines were cut.”  She rattled off a set of numbers.  Two were the human female’s number, which presumably was working.  Another was the front office.  The human female had to look the others up and could only find one of them.  Mysteries!

Now if any phones aren’t working because of large holes in the wall,  it’s probably the ones on the other side of the hall, where the con/destruction is going on.  (This is, incidentally, the same area where workmen putting in a door last  year sawed merrily through a phone line.)  The Telecom people may just have bad intel. (Innocent whistling.)

So the human female promised to check into things and get back in touch.  Ehehehehehe!  Now someone has got to go around the whole floor and call all the phones and see if they actually ring, because there’s some question as to whether, when called, the phones will just ring and ring and ring or whether they’ll come up as “out of service.”

One of these days, all of the utilities and amenities in this building are going to work, and the inhabitants will drop dead of shock.

What shall I  meddle with next?

>|: [


She Honestly Doesn’t Know If She’s Coming or Going

I’ve spoken here before about the ongoing con/destruction in the human female’s workplace.  I’ve been working with Slow, Silent, and Costly and all the contractors to make sure it is the biggest headache possible.  I’m proud to say that my hard work is bearing fruit!

This is what the Prep Staff’s office looks like right now.


I believe that’s the ceiling sitting in a pile on the floor, there.

And then there are the Outages.

The human female and her techs knew there were going to be numerous outages, as bits of the remodeled second floor utilities are tied into the remainder of the system.

Every time there’s a scheduled outage, there are a million texts and emails beforehand, clarifying just what is and isn’t going to be affected.  Precious plants, animals, and perishable chemicals have to be protected with backup power.  Sometimes I think EVERYTHING on the floor needs to be hot, cold, or wet!

The inbox overfloweth.

All the computers on the floor need to be shut down ahead of a power outage, because a) they don’t like to run when it gets to be 90 indoors and b) there’s always the chance that the power will spike when it comes back on.  (Nobody trusts their UPS.)  Since people are logged in remotely, this means no one can do anything on their work system during an outage and all the computers need to be switched on again afterwards.  They’ve been scheduling outages for Saturdays, but nobody goes in to turn things on until Monday, so it’s a nice little “break” from work. (But see below.)

The power and chilled water/AC outage at the beginning of the month went more or less as planned.  Backup power went where it was needed and nothing died.  But many of the rooms are on automatic temperature monitoring, and when they get warm the human female gets a nice little text notification.  Bing!  Every minute or so for every room that edges up over 78.2 F.  She got to delete one hundred and twenty-two messages!  All day Saturday!  Then there were the accompanying emails…

Then there was an unscheduled water outage.   That was fun.  More email!  Does the building proctor know about this?  How about the facilities coordinator?  What’s affected?  Is it fixed yet? With every text and every email, the crease in the human female’s forehead got just a little deeper.

Then I made a water leak.

The next week, I scheduled a two-day outage of the hot and cold water, the RO water, the forced air, and  the vacuum lines.

Then a two-day outage for natural gas.

The vaccum is something that never gets used, gas wasn’t needed those days, and the forced air is only used for blowing up sheep lungs in what has to be the grossest demo in the whole Lower Division Instruction Program.  (The human female and her techs keep trying to write this out of the lesson plan, but it keeps being put back in.) 

The water, however, was a pain.  No water fountains, no faucets, no potties.

The human female is still working from home, so she was minimally inconvenienced.  I just had to make sure she got all her notifications.

The most recent outage was supposed to be a power outage.  Then everyone heard that it was only supposed to be for the north end of the building–which is where most of the offices are.  Something about “volts” and “buses” and blah blah blah.


Today, Prep Staff discovered that, while the lights and such were back on, there was no power in many of the wall outlets!  More fun!  More email!  This is part of the best one, from one of the contractors:

power outage 1

Apparently the “more information” was this:

blown transfomer

Now, you’ll recall that only the north end of the building was supposed to be affected, but Behold!  The outlet in room 302, down at the other end of the hall, went out as well, the one the ultra-cold freezer (-80F) is plugged into.

Cue a hundred more texts and emails

An unplugged freezer doesn’t freeze very well, so everything started to…t…h…a…w.   A poor Prep Staffer had to move everything into a regular freezer, with plans to move things to alternate storage in another building once it was all frozen again.

Nice try, but the things in that freezer are very, shall we say, finicky, so they will probably need to be replaced.  The human female drew up a list to present to the nice contractors, in hopes that they can be prevailed upon to make good the loss:

freezer losses

More email:  Were there other primers?   Is that all the ONPG that was spoiled?  Was some of it not mixed up and in the freezer?  The bacterial cultures aren’t replaceable, are they?  Just how much Sybr Green did we really have?  While all of this unscheduled swapping and counting and price-looking up was going on, someone noticed also that the water and RO water was off.



All while the human female was dealing with the flurry of activity and paper that vetting and interviewing applicants for the vacant tech position, put together a fall purchase list, and deal with a ton of other paperwork.

Out of all of this, I have confirmed one Biological Fact:  The human female is part chameleon.  No, really,  I can prove it! Her face definitely can change color, and her eyes can swivel to look in two directions at once.

And she’s going to be bald before all of this is over…

>|: [

Sigyn is Just the Right Size

I do love my little Sigyn!

Emphasis on the “little.”

She’s a good dangler and a pretty good climber, but sometimes she just can’t reach the flowers she wants to see.


For example, it’s a sure bet she’s never going to be able to examine the inside of that tall copper lily unaided.

Likewise, this false dandelion would be out of her reach if  I weren’t holding it down with Gungnir.


Sniff as long as you like, my love.


Gungnir and I are very patient!

Some things are right at her level, though.  ‘Tis the season for crapemyrtle blossoms, and when the white ones fall, it can look as if it has been snowing.


She likes to play in the drifts and pretend it’s December.

The heat index is over 105° F.  I think I’ll join her!

>|: [

It’s the Frustration of the Century!

Apart from the plague, the con/destruction, and the (f)utilities, all anyone can talk about is this Comet of the Century that is supposed to be so spectacular and so easily visible.

The humans have tried to see it from their front yard on multiple nights.  No luck–their neighborhood is too bright, with most of the city between them and the horizon.

So tonight we have all bundled into the car and are going to try to drive north of the city, away from lights.  *I* think the humans are going to get skunked again, but Sigyn is excited and hopeful.

In theory, the heavenly visitor should be easy to spot.


Even the human female, with her dire lack of knowledge of all things astronomical, can usually manage to locate the seven stars of the Great Dipper Bear.

The human male has pulled off on a lesser-traveled road in the northern part of the county.  Unfortunately, many other cars have decided to use this exit, and we keep getting blinded by traffic.
Odin’s eypatch, idiots!  Turn down your high beams!

Alas, it is as I feared.  We are too late in the evening, and there is still too much horizon glow.  And there is a lot of moisture in the atmosphere, which makes everything appear to wobble in the binoculars.

Here is a complete  and accurate representation of what is visible with the binoculars:


While I am delighted to have been correct about our chances of seeing the comet, I am annoyed at being dragged out of my comfortable nest and made to stand, peering up into the sky, while hoping I am not standing on a fire ant mound.

We’re giving up and leaving.  Good.

I think I will give the humans some other reason to remember this evening.

low tire pressure

>|: [

It’s For ME!

A lot of packages come to this house.  The human male likes to order things like pens and ink and electronics and a new phone. (I could tell him why his current phone won’t hold a charge.  The reason starts with “L.”)  The human female is all about quilt fabric and little plastic blocks.

The Terror Twins just appreciate a good box.


But today the package is for ME!

Great Frigga’s Hairpins!  It is three-quarters open!


What I ordered had better be in here, or there will be Hel to pay!

Whew!  Safe and sound!  Come to Loki, you pretty new cloak, you!


The old one is so ratty and wrinkled.  I shall now look my glorious, pristine self again!


Make sure it hangs properly, my love.  The future ruler of all Midgard must look his best!

>|: [

How to Waste an Afternoon

I’ve written before about how the dusty old human female often spends hours at a time out at the dusty old herbarium, working with dusty old plant specimens.  She has two projects going on.  One is slowly making the herbarium’s database better, correcting errors, adding missing information, bringing the nomenclature up to date, and so forth.  (That’s what she says she’s doing, anyway.  I see a lot more YouTube than botany, some days.)

The other project is checking on distributions of various plants for the book on Texas botany she’s helping to write.  Does the local collection have a specimen of X from Y county?  Yes?  No?  If Yes, is it correctly identified?  If Yes and then No, what is the proper identification?  As you can imagine, this can be a very s l o w process, because each uncertain plant has to be correctly identified and its county compared to a master list of species occurrences, just in case it represents a new county for the map.

The process is made even slower by the fact that Midgardian science refuses to be a knowable, static thing.  On the contrary, I’m convinced that there are legions of plant nerds whose sole purpose in life is to constantly change the classification of things so that, at any given moment, whole swathes of the average herbarium consist of specimens with the wrong names on them.

Find a specimen.  Check the identification.  Check the name.

This furry gray one was originally collected as Gnaphalium falcatum.


That’s a good name, because it reminds me of wailing and gnaphing of teeth.

However, as you can see, someone has annotated the sheet.  If I understand the gobbledyspeak the human female was spouting, some geek at some point decided that Gnaphalium needed to be split up based on characters of something called “the pappus.”  I think that was it.  I could be wrong.  My eyes glazed over at that point and I was mentally counting my knives rather than really listening.  I think she said that this particular Gnaphalium is now in Gamochaeta.

“But, Loki,” I can hear  you saying.  “That annotation doesn’t say Gamochaeta falcata!  It says Gamochaeta antillana.”

Well-spotted!  This is something else I’ve arranged to slow the human female down.  I had a word with the person who wrote the latest treatment of these plants.  “I don’t care how or why or what,” I said, “but can you also split up what used to be Gnaphalium falcatum into two or three different things in such a way that other botanists will have to peer at every specimen under a microscope to sort them out?”  He was quite amenable to the bribe of several gold pieces, so now the human female is having to look at every single sheet of the former Gnaphalium falcatum to see how it should be placed.

Now she’s identified it, she has to make the correction in the database.  Let’s see.  This is sheet number 115267.


She’s looking up the record in the big spreadsheet….


Ehehehe!  I’m not sure if you can read that, but it says “Aristida adscencionis“.  That name belongs to a GRASS, a plant in an entirely CLASS.  Something is definitely NOT RIGHT.

So now she has to traipse across the giant warehouse that is the herbarium and rootle through the cabinet that houses Aristida adscensionis and see what is going on.  Are there two sheets with the same number?  Did someone mis-enter the number on the grass sheet?  She won’t know until she looks, and there are a LOT of Aristida adscencionis to look through.

(Later)  She didn’t find any such sheet among the grasses, so she has to assume that whoever entered this specimen in the database just copied the record before it and didn’t change all the information.  Good old 115267 only exists on this sheet, so now all she has to do is correct it in the database.

Well, that’s twenty minutes or so well spent!  She’s got a dozen or so folders full of Gnaphalium to get through.  I hope she packed a lunch!