Month: March 2021

Positively Peculiar Paschal Plushiness

How is it that time of year again? It seems as if it were just yesterday I was setting traps for the Eater Bunny (and finding myself quite surprised with the extent of his toothy maw) while Sigyn was hunting colored eggs in the garden. This year, we’re not under lockdown and the humans have ventured out, masked and socially inept distant.

The local market seems to have outdone itself this year in the plush department. I started to write “stuffed animal,” but, as will be demonstrated, some of these…things…are only vaguely natural-animal-adjacent.

This purple rabbit isn’t too bad…

…though he appears to have been the victim of a most unfortunate home perm. And do I detect a little excess intracranial cerebro-spinal fluid pressure? That noggin is pretty pointy.

Here’s another poor bun with curly hair (maybe it’s familial?), though this one seems to have suffered some embryonic misfortune along about when limb buds begin to form, and its coat is a rather unusual color.

This lap-eared lapin is a bit more normally proportioned and has more typical pelage,

…though his overall size suggests that there may be an overactive pituitary involved.

His cousin is of more reasonable stature, but her coat…sparkles.

Either she is suffering from the dreaded Meyer-‘pire Syndrome or is accumulating heavy metals. Time to call the vet. Or an exorcist.

This blobular chick with its lagomorphian bonnet would also seem to be suffering from the same disorder as the larger gray rabbit, or perhaps it is some other form of gigantism.

Do not poke it in the abdmen, my love. That umbilical hernia may be quite painful.

Oh, now this! This definitely says “Easter”

While I appreciate the green fur, I suspect this floppy reptile has rickets, or some other malady which prevents proper bone growth, and I am drawing a blank when trying to reconcile the notion of “Triceratops” with the vernal celebration. Then again, egg-laying rabbits would not appear to mesh well, prima facie, with either pagan or the various monotheistic faith traditions.

More disturbing than the obvious ill health of the above individuals is evidence of an emerging trend toward genetic manipulation and/or a traditional breeding program, with the apparent goal of producing hybrid monstrosities on a heretofore unprecedented scale.

I mean, how else explain this?

Or, Odin help us, this:

Tolles Friggas Korsett! Sogar Dr. Frankenstein wagte sich nicht, den Gesetzen der Natur auf diese Weise zu widersprechen. Sicherlich rollt Mendel in seinem Grab.

And people say *I’m* evil…

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I Know! I Know! It’s in Minnesota!

The humans are cooking again. After the pizza debacle last Friday, you’d think they wouldn’t dare to show their faces in the kitchen for a month, but they’re nothing if not persistent. There’s a delicious dish they make which involves a pork tenderloin rubbed with spices, browned and glazed with apricot jam, roasted on a bed of caramelized onions and served with a wild rice blend.

It calls for a very particular blend of spices from the Purveyor of Spices. Northwoods Seasoning, it’s called. And there’s a jar of it… somewhere. They’re sure of it!

Where is the Northwoods?

The human male is looking while the human female is working on the onions.

Great Frigga’s Corset! He’s actually emptying the cabinet, trying to find the elusive jar!

What?! It’s not there?! My, my, my…. I wonder who could have used the last of it without buying more?

I guess you’ll just have to look it up online and reverse-engineer it. Sure hope you have all the ingredients…

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From the Front Line in the War Against the Plague

The humans, striving to make up for all their (many) shortcomings, have been volunteering at the local vaccination hub. Sigyn and I have tagged along today to see how things are going. The operation is set up at the local convention center. It looks very calm, does it not?

That’s because the big white tents aren’t in this photo, or all the volunteers running about self-importantly in simply garish yellow high-vis vests. Or the long lines of cars, the traffic cones, and general hurly-burly of trying to give out over 1,000 doses per day.

Sigyn, what are you looking at? Oh, that thing.

They say it’s supposed to be a sunflower. Couldn’t prove it by me. It’s certainly…big.

The humans started out volunteering in the parking lot, handing out paperwork and directing traffic on a very cold and windy morning earlier this month. But then the call went out for data-entry volunteers and they looked at one another and said, “That sounds like a cushy, air-conditioned, sit-on-your-fundament sort of job” and they quickly volunteered.

It is also very much the sort of thing that a Loki with free time on his hands can amuse himself with.

On her first shift, the female couldn’t get her password to work for love nor money. She tried changing her password. Three times. No luck. She had to get the supervisor to log her in, which was delightfully embarrassing.

In store for her on today’s shift:

  • I’ve been jostling elbows and making pens run out and encouraging folks to write against their steering wheels in their cars, so a good number of the forms are more than a little illegible.
  • I made a super-special form where the client spelled his name three different ways, and the vaccine assistant helpfully corrected it in the margin–a fourth way.
  • When some folks couldn’t remember the year they were born, I suggested that 2021 was a good answer.
  • I made sure one vaccine assistant recorded the “B” in the lot number like an 8

The software is called ImmTrac, which is short for “Immediately TRying to Annoy and Confuse.”

Starts out simple enough.

The humans have become, it must be admitted, blazingly fast at whipping through the forms. If it’s someone’s first dose, they need to enter all the data, like so. (I’m pretending I’m a client. Obviously, I am possessed of a superior constitution and am immune to all of Midgard’s various pestilences.)

I think I’m the only one who would have a zero as the first digit of their year.

The next screen has room for all of the address, phone, county, and so on. Just to make life more interesting, I’ve seen to it that various of the quickly-growing towns around here have slopped over into adjacent counties, so the humans have to stop and make sure that something’s not an error. GoogleMaps comes in handy for trying to figure out what that street-name squiggle could be, and the zip-code-looker-upper is useful as well. The next page has spaces for the information about the vaccine dose–date, maker, and lot number. You can be sure I like to make sure that all the lot numbers are the same throughout a whole shift–except for three or four that aren’t. Then there’s a screen where the information can be checked, and then–behold!

An electronic pat on the head!

But that’s boring. I had a snoop ’round the software, and if the client’s name or birthdate is too close to someone already in the system, that other person’s record will come up. For example, a Betty Smith born on June 6, 1945 would match any other Bettys (Betties?) born on that day, regardless of surname. Or she might match other Betty Smiths born on different days. Or some Elizabeths… The humans then have to click the box that says “No, I’m doing someone new.” They can get aaaaaalll the way to the end of the record and then get THE DREADED RED BOX, which is actually more of a pink box with red lettering, full of a WARNING that the record may match someone with this and that and the other thing the same, or this and the other thing different but some other thing the same or, et cetera ad frustratum. The only recourse is to back all the way out to the beginning, and enter someone else, handing the offending form off to a supervisor who can use a more detailed version of the software to do overrides and ferret out just what is going on.

If the shift is doing second doses, the humans have to put in the person’s name and birthdate and make sure they’re in the system. Sometimes there is someone matchy and they have to chose the right person. Sometimes the person doesn’t have a first-dose record in the system. Sometimes the person was entered into the system for the first dose incorrectly and the humans have to try to guess how it might have been mis-entered and find the record that way. Sometimes everything is all there as it should be and they can quickly jump to the second dose information and put that in and then…

That’s it. Just “error“. I’m so proud of that! It’s another of my special touches. All the operators were getting a lot of these on every shift. Finally the human male and female figured out that I made it so that the program won’t let you just skip past the correct info page and load up the new vaccine info. Where’s the fun in that? No, they have to always choose “edit” and at least scroll through the info, even if they’re not going to add or amend anything.

And of course I couldn’t let that be the end of my fun. For first or second dose, if they get all the way to the “do a final check of the info screen” and discover they have, in fact, mistyped something, I made sure nothing can be edited from that screen. Nope! Back they have to go and make the corrections on a previous screen! And if they suddenly realize, after submitting a completed record, that something was in error–say for example, the next form in the stack is for the spouse of the previous person and the spouse has legible writing–guess what happens if they try to look the person up and make the correction?

That’s right! A RED BOX ERROR that says, “You’ve already had this vacciiiiiiine!”

Ehehehehehe! And here the humans thought they wouldn’t have to endure software nightmares once they retired! Pfft! It’s like they don’t even know me.

Well, that was a good morning’s work. The humans are pulling a double shift today, which means an exciting boxed lunch, courtesy of some local eatery. Sigyn actually likes box lunches. She enjoys the element of surprise.

Surprise! Your tomato fell off.

My mischief here is nearly done. There’s nothing left for the human female to do except register for next week’s shifts. I think I’ll put her down for all of them.

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Loki, God of A-gleying Best-laid Plans

The humans are really Into Baking recently. The male, especially, is in search of the Perfect Pizza Crust. Their first attempt used an un-risen batch of French bread dough, and that was all right, but it wasn’t Perfect. So the male ordered some sort of fancy flour especially for pizza dough and found an Authentic Recipe, and that made some rather tasty cardboard. (I distracted the human female and she overbaked it.)

So then he read up on the subject and learned that apparently it’s key to use a preheated pizza stone and a 500-degree F oven, so today we are trying it again.

Are your hands clean, Sigyn? It’s time to make dough!

Behold, the fancy pizza flour.

(For some unfathomable reason, the back of the package has graphics of sprinkled spices and crumbs and I swear to Sleipnir it looks like mold…)

Next we need some AP flour…

Ugh! Flour is so hard to get out of green velvet!

Time for yeast!

Personally, I can take it or leave it, but Sigyn loves the way it smells. She calls yeast her “little fungal friends”.

The flour’s ready to go.

So is the dissolved yeast.

Careful up there, my love. Yeast goop is probably harder to get out of red velvet than flour is to get out of green.

The recipe says to “mix by hand to create a sticky dough.”

Better you than me, human. That looks terrible.

Sigyn, I really think you are becoming too involved in this…

If you end up in there, I’m not sure there’s any amount of bathing that would get that stuff out of your clothes and hair.

Sigyn says the dough is fun to play with.

I will take her word for it…

The recipe says the dough should be “sticky.”

I don’t think it said anything about “spackle.”

The dough’s been divided in two and now it’s rising/resting in a barely-warm oven.

The oven is also a good place because, so far, the cats have not figured out how to get into it.

Well, it stuck to the towels, but we got it off, and now it’s all rested and ready to shape and top.

Ehehehehe! Snort! Ehehehehehe! Great Frigga’s Corset, I can’t catch my breath! I’m laughing so hard I can’t hold the camera steady so I’ll just have to tell you…

The recipe was adamant that the pizzas should be constructed on a well-floured peel, so that is what the human male wanted to do. The female had her doubts but went along—spread out the dough for the first pie, spread on the sauce, sprinkled cheese, artichokes, mushrooms (on a sector of it the human male won’t touch), and spices. Then the male tried to slide it onto the the pre-heated pizza stone…

…and it wouldn’t come off the peel. No quick jerk, no little jiggle, no nudge with a spatula could dislodge it. It just sort of sagged and flopped and s t r e t c h e d until the toppings started sliding off, and there was NO WAY in Hel that thing was coming off the peel.

At that point the human male gave up and was ready to go out for pizza, but the human female, to whom wasting food is a cardinal sin, figured that maybe she could fold the whole mess over into a calzone, lift it up carefully, and cook it on a regular pizza pan, pre-heated pizza stone be damned.

Except.. Ehehehehe! The dough was, by this point, stretched so thin that it just sort of oozed/ruptured and– bleeeeargh, disgorged a bunch of its filling.

Her disastrous creation is baking now, and it is the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen go into that oven.

And one of the worst coming out.

Ehehehehehe! My stomach hurts from laughing, and I’m crying over here! Even Sigyn can’t find anything good to say about it. It…it looks like a Horta monster from that old sci-fi show:

That’s right, Kirk! Set phaser to “kill!”

Because it has mushrooms, the human male won’t touch it. I sure don’t want to try it, and I won’t let Sigyn go anywhere near it. The female and the Perennial Bachelor dinner guest are going to split it and try to choke it down.

Eehehehehe! Ow, my tummy! The thick parts are underbaked, there is hardly any filling, and the female has given up after just a few bites. The Perennial Bachelor has managed to keep his half down and polished off the bowl of extra filling as well.

What to do with the second half of the Disaster Dough? The male is still in favor of going to get take out, but the human female who is, as I have observed before, part terrier, is doggedly (ha!) insisting that she can at least make it the way they did the last one, on a pizza pan, no peel involved.

(a bit later:) It resisted.

It’s edible, and the thick part is a bit underdone, but at least the human male got something for dinner. Sigyn and I are going out to eat.

What’s that? Some of you would like the recipe so you can try and see if you have better luck?

Um, yeah, no.

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A Prescription for Mischief, Part III: Oh, So Many Call-backs…

I have chronicled my previous attempts to make the human female’s life more miserable through the medium of mail-order-delivery of prescriptions. Having them lost in the mail is always fun…

I wrote recently about the human female’s latest attempts to get headache medicines. To recap: Former Squish Fonts (FSF), on their website, offered her the option to get her meds in a three-months’ supply. She jumped at the chance because that’s cheaper, easier, and uses less packaging. That was denied, of course, because the Feds won’t trust her with that many tablets. Next, she renewed her prescription for one measly month’s supply, and that came. Then, near the end of the whole phone/address/wrong doctor debacle, the person on the phone offered to renew her headache medicine. She was so discombobulated that she agreed, forgetting that she had the brand-new shipment sitting on the table at home and wasn’t due to be able to order more for a month. When she remembered, she figured the refill request would get cancelled for duplication and that would be the end of it.

Then the duplication prescription came.

Which she very nearly needed, because when she fished something out of her backpack in the car when she and the human male went to the store the other day, her bubble-wrapped set of headache pills fell out of the backpack and I kicked it out of the car entirely as she went into the store. I almost got away with that little prank, but when she was getting back into the car to go home, she spotted the little goobers on the asphalt and retrieved them. (But then I misplaced her glasses, so it was an okay day, if not as much fun as losing a precious eleven orally dissolving tablets.)

Fast forward to today, when FSF robo-called her about Exciting Opportunities to Save Time and Money!! For some reason (innocent whistle), she’s none too fond of their robo-calls, so she hung up. Not twenty minutes later, a real person from FSF called with news about Exciting Opportunities to Save Time and Money!! Reluctantly, she answered the call.

What did they want? Well, after verifying her address (snort!), the Helpful Representative offered her easy online renewal of a non-headache medicine she is still trying out and of which she has about a hundred doses left. She declined.

And then they asked her if she wanted to refill her headache tablets.

These highlights do not include all the information needed to use  RIZATRIPTAN BENZOATE ORALLY DISINTEGRATING TABLETS safely and effectively.  See full prescribing information for RIZATRIPTAN BENZOATE ORALLY  DISINTEGRATING TABLETS. RIZATRIPTAN BENZOATE ...

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How The Pruning Turned Out (Nearly Wordless Wednesday)

The turk’s cap is all snipped down. Look at all the new growth! (Well, some of that is the mint she should have known better than to plant..)

All bundled for collection.

But beware the whippy branches as you pile them all up…

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Clip, Snip, Chop, Saw, Voop-ah!

February was not kind to the landscapes in this part of Midgard. Plants that will take a day or two of freezing weather in stride just couldn’t cope with about a week of Fimbulwinter. There are a lot of dead palms, bottlebrushes, cycads, and other wimpy shrubberies around and about.

Likewise, the humans’ landscaping is quite haphazard. The birds and the wind and the squirrels plant things and the human female leaves them be. All the best things came up on their own. But it gets a bit tangly sometimes, or else things come up where they shouldn’t. Or try to eat the house.

For both reasons, some corrective pruning is in order. Theoretically, everything that is going to recover should be showing signs of life. The neighbors have begun to tidy up their own yards. It’s a pretty day with no rain forecast so, human female, you can’t really put the job off much longer. Since this involves you and edged tools, I really want to be involved (in an observing sort of way, not a doing-chores sort of way), because I smell the opportunity for mischief.

Especially if you get out the ladder. (It’s the folds-a-dozen-ways kind, and those things need very little urging to crunch fingers!)

I think you should probably start with the Vitex. This poor thing has had a large dead tree dropped on it, it has been hacked up by vandals unknown, and it’s naturally brittle-wooded. Now it has a large, low branch that is partly hollow and blocking access to the sprinkler system.

Voop-ah, voop-ah, voop-ah, voop-ah! That’s my impression of a pruning saw in hard wood. I’ve meddled your the saw so it doesn’t lock open anymore, though, which means that, between it and you, the noise is going to be more like voop-ugh, voop-dammit, voop-grr. I’m going to laugh if it folds up on your fingers…

Next you should probably take a look at those outlaw invasive elms you’ve been hoping the Native Plant Society of Texas doesn’t notice that you have.

They’ve got a lot of very low branches that stick out over the lawn, and while it amuses me to watch you duck as you mow, I’ve bonked my horns on them a number of times, so I wish you’d limb them up. Or, you could wait for your neighbor to just chop them off at the property line, because they annoy him too.

While you’re at it, pay some attention to limbs and saplings too close to the house. I know it’s going to break your heart to cut down that slender, six-foot live oak that planted itself all of ten inches from the foundation, but leaving it is a pretty stupid idea. (I know, I know, I’m depriving myself of the opportunity to cackle about a cracked foundation about ten years down the road, but it’s jolly good fun to see her mourn the tree now.)

Sweet Sif on a cracker! No one should have to see this! She has eschewed the ladder and has climbed up into the crapemyrtle to get the branch that’s been trying to tear the gutter off. Woman, you are too old and too rotund to be hanging up there like some strange, globose fruit with your fundament at everyone else’s eye-level. Come down from there this instant!

Here, observe this sad Boxwood. Surely it’s in dire need of some help.

Yes, Sigyn, it’s very sad. Apparently “evergreen” doesn’t actually apply to bushes that were encased in ice for days on end. Oh! Wait! My clever Sigyn has discovered a bit of green beneath the bark in a few spots so it might not be a total loss. The clippers have been put aside. I know what you’re doing, human female. You can call it “Giving it a few more weeks to see if it will start to recover,” but we all know it’s really “I’m too lazy to figure out what to cut and what to keep so I’ll worry about that later.”

Ditto for the very crunchy Pittosporum in the back yard.

What you really should tackle now, though, is the Turk’s Cap (or as Sigyn likes to call it, the Cupcake Bush). That thing dies to the ground most years anyway, and last year it tried to eat the garage, so you’ve got a whole lot of eight feet tall and twelve feet wide to cut down.

That should keep you occupied for the rest of the afternoon.

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Fourth Verse, Same as the First (Có lẽ tôi đã ăn nó trước khi bạn mở túi )

You may recall that toward the end of last year, I amused myself by tampering with the humans’ take out orders. First the restaurant left the chicken off the female’s salad, then they left the dressing off the male’s salad, and then they left the chicken out of both salads.

Understandably, the humans’ enthusiasm for that eatery has diminished. Instead, today they have opted to patronize one of the local Vietnamese establishments. The human female has ordered the grilled pork vermicelli dish. She likes it because it also comes with an egg roll. The egg roll is her favorite part!

This never, ever gets old.

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Loki and Sigyn in the Kitchen: Salad Time!

The humans have been whining again–“It’s too hot for March!” Look, mortals–A month ago you were moaning about Fimbulwinter. Make up your puny minds! If you want it cold again, I can arrange that for you…

Because it’s warm, and because it is another no-meat day, the humans are in the kitchen making salads for dinner. You know, Sigyn, we help out in here enough that we should have a new category for this blog: Loki and Sigyn in the Kitchen!

First, we should wash the spinach and take the stemmy bits off.

The human female says they’re properly “petioles” and not “stems.” Pedant.

Spinach, romaine… What else?

Cucumber! Definitely cucumber!

And carrots! Sigyn really likes carrots because orange is red and yellow together. What else?

Artichokes! Good choice! The human male likes them more than the female does, but I will happily eat the rest of her share. Let’s put in some tomatoes too. Now what?

Oooh! Fancy! The human male won’t want any, but the rest of us like them! And that gives me an idea. If the human female likes peppers…

…she won’t mind if I slice this one up and put it in her bowl. It’s so tiny, after all. She’ll never notice...

That’s all the rabbit food taken care of. Is there going to be any protein in this salad?

Odin’s eyepatch! Goat cheese?! Fig and black pepper goat cheese? I’m not sure about this…

Oh, now the goat is offended? No offense meant, goat. It’s just that I never thought of goat cheese as a salad item.

Of course Sigyn is making friends with the goat.

Well, that was predictable. Sigyn, love of my life, when you are done dallying with your caprine companion there, we have salads to construct. And I hear there’s a balsamic reduction to drizzle over them…

Sigyn, we make a great team! This looks delicious! Now, let’s get to the croutons before the human female hogs them all…

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A Prescription for Mischief, Part II: Headaches are Self-perpetuating

The human female has been trying to get more help for her headaches. She has a medicine that works, but the Medical Powers That Be will only dole out a small handful of tablets per month. She got excited the other day, because while she was dealing with Former Squish Fonts (FSF) about the other prescription, she saw on the site a big announcement, “Get your headache medicine in a 3-months’ supply!” and she clicked, “Yes, please!” Well, I saw to it that that went nowhere. No way can the FDA let her have that many tablets in her possession, and no way can I let her get what she needs. Request denied!

However, there is some hope. Recently, the human female visited a neurologist, who suggested that the human female could benefit from having alternative medications to use in rotation. She sent the human female home with a couple of samples.

Great Frigga’s Hairpins! The human female has been doing Botany and has a pretty bad headache right now. It seems like a good time to try one of the new meds, doesn’t it, Sigyn?

“Nurtec”. “Rimegepant.” Sounds like they’re just reaching a hand in a bag of Scrabble letters for the names of these things, doesn’t it? Let’s open the box.

I think the outside box is just a sleeve for…

…the inside box! Human, how many trees died for this?!

The inner box is stuffed full of literature, along with a third box.

I’ve always been amused by the human propensity for stating the obvious. “Don’t take this stuff if you are allergic to it.” But how will the human female know if she’s allergic if she’s never taken it before? I guess if she takes it and dies we know she was allergic? Welcome to Pharmaceutical Roulette!

So now we get to the box with the actual sample tablets.

It has instructions. Not for how to take the medicine. For how to get this package open. This is the part of the packaging I helped the manufacturer with…

It’s like some sadistic, super-complicated pop-up book. Just what someone with a headache wants! Press button A and pull tab B. You hold the button down, Sigyn, and I’ll pull.

Behold the Rimegepant! Or getting there, anyway. We’ve still a bit more to do. Only two of those blisters have tablets, and we still have to get one out.

Peeeeling back the foil…

Now behold the precious Rimegepant! (Sniff, sniff) Smells like peppermint. Here you go, human. Take your medicine and quit whining.

(Thirty minutes, one hour, two hours later…) Now we get to the best part of my mischief:

The stupid stuff doesn’t work.

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