sic transit gloria zea


The humans, bereft of magic that can make anything be anything, spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out why things are the way they are and how they get that way.  Hence, next week’s biology lab will address the subjects of genetics and heredity.

I confess I do not know much about this subject, just that if you cross a mortal with another mortal, sadly, you will probably get another mortal.  There seems to be no way around it, which is why Midgard is so backward.

Since there are laws regarding the obtaining, studying, and disposing of humans, the students will be examining an even less intelligent organism — corn.   Apparently if you cross corn having some big letters with corn having some other, smaller letters, you get a crop of corn that has mixed big and little letters.   This excites the mortals for some reason, as does the fact that if you take those mixed-letter corn plants and let them make plant whoopie, you get some specific ratio of big to little letters.

I know. I don’t get it either.

Thus, the students are to be presented with several dry ears of corn that supposedly illustrate some of these phenomena.  The corn is useless for anything else, including eating.  Why?  Well, first, because it is not “eating” corn.  Also, it is very dry, and very old.

And also bug-ridden.  You see, there is a small, reddish-brown beetle that has made its life’s work, its noble contribution, the eradication of all this boring, alphabetic corn.   It is quite persistent and completely tireless.  It seeks out dry corn wherever it may be found and gobbles it right up like Volstagg at a feast.  It leaves behind quite a lot of powdered corn starch mixed with beetle poop.  This makes the ears unpleasant and messy to work with.

I may or may not have shown it where all the corn is stored…

At any rate, I have arranged that last week and this, the human female has had the task of cleaning all of the corn ears, brushing away all the fecal fallout, dusting out the display boxes, and re-shrink-wrapping all the ears.

Let’s drop on on her progress, shall we?

Here’s a really messy display box.


Those little beetles have been very thorough.    This one’s even worse!  Look at all that frass!


After some vigorous thumping and brushing, the box now looks like this:


I suppose it’s an improvement, but now the poor students will actually have to study.

The bagged and/or shrink-wrapped ears are just as infested.


Look at all those sad little corpses of beetles who gave their lives for the cause.   I bet the human female doesn’t even stop to mourn.


She’s dusting off the ears, putting them in this plastic tubing,


and using this tool to shrink the tubing to fit the corn.


It is currently off, which is why I can bear to be near it.  Heat guns and Frost Giants are non-mixy things.

Here’s an ear all ready to have its diaphanous cocoon shrunk to fit.


The close-fitting plastic sleeves will keep the kernels from falling off the cob and keep the beetles from re-attacking the ears.


Right up until the point I poke holes in all the plastic…

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A Long-Overdue Mischief Update, Part IV: Odds and Ends

Patient water is the sworn enemy of all hard rock.  It’s the steady, grinding stream of mischief that will do the human female in in the end.   So here, a compendium of some of the other little merry japes and pranks I’ve been playing.

–The local 24-hour Burritotorium put beans–beans, mind you!– on her otherwise perfect egg, potato, and cheese breakfast burrito.  No one was happy about the beans, then or… later.

–The human female’s Uniterruptible Power Supply apparently can be interrupted.  When anything ever comes near its plug, it commences a long litany of beepy complaints.  The first time this happened, it would not shut up.  No amount of plugging, unplugging, or resetting would suffice.  No, the computer techs had to buy a battery for what is essentially a battery.   Beeeeeeep!

–The felines continue to drive all and sundry to drink and/or tears.  Their latest rage is to chase one another over the leather sofa, claws out.  One drags shoes around by the laces.  The other chases anything that moves but will not fetch, which is why the end of the hallway is a minefield of soggy mice.  One of them, we surmise, ate most of a nitrile glove that came home with the human female and fell out of her pocket.  I say surmise, because while the cuff was found in the middle of the living room floor, along with a few other fragments, the remainder has yet to surface.  Both felines were dosed with petroleum jelly to help ease any foreign bodies… through.  Both, it transpires,  adore the taste of petroleum jelly and will lick it off a finger as many times as it is offered.  Strange beasts indeed.


–The human female came home from work one night to discover that her car had a very, very flat tire.  The humans struggled into the twilight to get the car jacked up.  In so doing, they discovered two places on the car NOT to put the jack, lest one bend the bottom edge of the car.  Once they finally got the tire off and the spare on, they had to take it to the only place open at 8:00 p.m.  Bad news–they couldn’t fix the tire; it would have to be replaced.  Good news–they had a tire of just that kind in stock.  Bad news–it had already been promised as part of a set of four.  Good news–there was one of the next-highest quality available.  Bad news–now the tires don’t match.  Good news!–add another mark to the tally of nights the human females don’t get to arrive home at a reasonable hour, eat dinner, and get to bed at a decent time.

–Coleus plants showed up on one lab’s prep checklist.  No one knew what they were there for.  Well, I knew, but I wasn’t telling.


–The mix of normal and albino tobacco seeds for the Zoology lab completely failed to germinate.  (Yes, they use plants for studying genetics in zoology.  No,  I don’t understand it, either.)   The mix of normal and albino corn seeds for studying genetics in Bio 111 did all germinate, but they all died by midweek of the week they were needed.  Sic transit gloria zea.

–The human female’s work group continues to be understaffed.  For most of the semester, there have been three where there should be four.  The human female advertised for another Tech I.  Someone did a little something, and the posting went up without the requirement for a cover letter, so critical information was lacking.  One applicant listed the same person three times for his three references, with no company affiliation.  His resume was in a foreign language.  One person’s application said “refer to resume” for all their work history, but it wasn’t on the resume.  Another applicant included a cover letter anyway, but it was full of misspellings and misformatting, and the first page and a half was blank.  The cover letter was full of typos, including one that made a racial slur.  One person who actually got an interview asked no questions,  showed no enthusiasm, and appeared to be half asleep.  Another person was interviewed via Skype.  The human female had all sorts of trouble launching Skype— (apparently resetting one’s Google password sixteen times is the right amount of times), and in the end, the interview got done with the human female’s laptop and one of the Prep Tech’s Skype profiles.  Skype, meanwhile, has taken up residence on the human female’s laptop and starts upon boot-up.  It won’t close, either, unless it is forcibly shut down from the task manager.   The human female eventually did succeeded in hiring someone.  We’ll see how it all works out.


–The best part about the Prep Staff being understaffed has been watching the human female do Tech I scutwork.  Washing dishes, taking down labs, setting up labs, watering plants, making solutions, dealing with every gross and stainy thing.  She goes home tired, sweaty, and multicolored nearly every day.  It’s good for her.  Keeps her humble.  She’s learning all sorts of things, such as the 1-liter bottles used for solutions don’t actually hold a liter, and if you try to put a liter in…  She’s also had a instance or two of panic and momentarily forgot which way of a carboy spigot is OFF.  Curiously, she is now also good at  mopping.

–A month or so ago, the human female got a bill from the doctor for an amount marked “hospital services.”  Since she hasn’t been in the hospital, she called and asked what it was for.   Turns out that’s how her lace-up foot brace was coded.  (Made sense to me.)  She paid it.  A week or so later, she got a PAST DUE notice on that same amount.


Knowing she’d paid it, she ignored it.  A few days after that, she received a robo-phone call from the hospital’s Billing Department, instructing her to call about her past-due balance.  She called.  And was put on hold.  She followed the instructions and pressed “1” to talk to someone—and was disconnected.  She called back and was put on hold for about twenty minutes–and was then dumped straight to the satisfaction survey.  (On which she selected “very dissatisfied.”  She called a third time and was put on hold for another twenty minutes.  When she finally reached a human and explained what was going on, she was told, “Oh, yeah.  I see where you paid that.  Now you only owe X large amount.”  That, apparently is for the air cast she’s currently wearing.  For which she had not yet been billed.  So now she gets to anticipate that giant whopper bill.

das boot

Good times, my friends, good times.


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