Saturday, January 31, 2004
A mouse, to a mouse, of a mouse, a mouse, O Mouse!
On Thursday I picked up the untouched mousetrap, figuring Mr. Mousie is long gone by now.
Today we saw him again.
On the plus side, I now own the Zoo Tycoon Complete Collection! :D
Random things to fret about re: grad school applications. Had a *great* talk with a professor about her work and her lab, and have to run a bunch of frantic errands on Monday to make sure that it's my own failure to do something that jeopardizes my admission. It's funny, I am perfectly happy if my application is denied because I don't have the skills or am not ready yet. I will *not* be happy if they can't even look at my application because I didn't get a transcript in on time. On Monday I will have to turn on the charm and try to wheedle a quick turnaround out of the lovely ladies who work at Northeastern's records office. I love you, lovely ladies!! Mwah!!
Gods and Generals keeps getting better. I really like Chamberlain's story, but he wasn't even introduced until halfway through. Did a very cursory search for Civil War battle info, and the occurrences in the book appear to be more or less accurate. I tire of the generals, especially the Confederate ones, nattering on about God and how He has put his stamp of approval on their cause. Stonewall Jackson in particular is not playing with a full deck. He refuses to think of his true feelings for his wife and daughter because he thinks that if God knows he's happy, God will take those happy things away. Nice.
Anyway, I have a new game to install. :)
Thursday, January 29, 2004
It drives me crazy when I'm halfway through a book and still don't know what the title refers to. Case in point, The Crimson Petal and the White. I can kind of guess, but geez, it would be nice if the metaphor would appear in the text somewhere. The point of a book's title is not to add another layer of meaning to the book.
Freakin' cold out today - at noon, it's 3 degrees, -10 windchill, and probably much colder tomorrow. It was so cold this morning that the insides of my nostrils stuck together whenever I inhaled, and I had to be careful not to let the fog from my breath freeze on my glasses. I very much don't want to walk to class in a little while.
I had a Most Embarrassing Moment this morning. There was a Streetwise guy, a tallish black guy in a tan parka, outside White Hen, and he suggested that maybe I could buy a paper on the way out. So, I bought my package of cinnamon rolls (which my strange healthy cow-orkers are not helping me eat), and kept a dollar out for him. I walked outside with dollar outstretched... and it was the WRONG GUY. It was some other tallish black guy in a tan parka, just hanging out waiting for someone. Much awkwardness ensued as I apologized, wondered aloud where the Streetwise guy went, and then slunk away with my tail between my legs.
Have been listening to Howard Dean yell remixes. A year from now nobody will remember that it even happened, but for now it's good entertainment. I liked the Dean/Simpsons remix. See the message board at www.DeanGoesNuts.com. Incidentally, an on-line quiz picked Kucinich for me, followed by Kerry and then Dean. This is the extent of the research I've done on candidates so far.
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
Tonight I got to play yet another round of Who's Bleeding? This is of course the entertaining, educational, fun-for-the-whole-family game in which I find blood spots somewhere in the house and then have to figure out which dog is bleeding and why. Jazzy usually wins. In fact, at the moment he is wearing not one but *two* bandages.
This time, *I* won the game. I apparently split a knuckle while cleaning tonight and didn't realize it for a while. Oops.
Oh, and this is good.
Don't let your grandparents read this
The Dead Grandmother/Exam Syndrome
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
The Bintlog is bigger and better than ever before!!!!
Yes, I located the Title checkbox in Blogger. Please, hold your applause.
I learned from the Bookslut blog about the 50 Book Challenge - basically, read 50 books this year and blog about them. My first thought was, !!!!!!!, and I started mentally choosing books. My second, far more rational thought, was, Whoa, hold on there, Trigger! I probably should be spending time on homework, not adding recreational reading, you know?
[Incidentally, if my recordkeeping is complete, I read 43 books last year, not including "Principles of Organic Chemistry" and other school-type tomes.]
So, what am I reading right now? Gods and Generals, by Jeff Shaara, is my "train book" (the one I take on the train), and The Crimson Petal and the White, by Michel Faber, is my nightstand book. Gods and Generals started very slow and clumsy, but one year into the Civil War things have picked up quite a bit. It follows four different people with major roles in the war, and I find it irritating when the point of view keeps switching. However, I love war stories, am intrigued by military strategy (which I know *nothing* about and frankly don't want to), and like being spoonfed manageable doses of history. I look forward to the rest of the story. It's no Winds of War, though.
The other book also took me a long time to get into. It's narrated from the point of view of the book itself, which is strange. The first few chapters were the book leading us through the streets of London, introducing us to characters, beckoning and tantalizing with promises of good stuff to come. Odd. It's written in ornate Victorian language (sort of tongue-in-cheek), which I normally enjoy, but I've been reading so much modern fiction lately that my taste for flowery Dickensian prose has faded a bit. I'm finding myself skimming some paragraphs, because he takes twice as long as he needs to to say anything. The best part of the book is Sugar's "secret", that when she's alone she is writing an elaborate revenge fantasy in which the customers of prostitutes die horrible deaths. This I want to know more about. The thing with Henry, who is unbearably in love with the widow Mrs. Fox... eh.
Now, why does it smell like dog food at the office today?
Saturday, January 24, 2004
I have a fan!! I got a lovely email from the owner of www.edgewatergreyts.com today. He mentioned that he enjoys our greyhound webcam, and I'm so happy that someone else likes to visit my pretty babies, too. Yet another reason why dogs are better than kids... posting a webcam where random folks can watch your kids sleep is generally not considered acceptable :)
Today we're going to a 50th birthday party for a friend I used to work with back at CPD. Sometimes I miss working there, not because the work was great, but because it was a very social place. I'm not very outgoing, but even we shy, retiring types need *some* interaction with other actual human beings. Plus, in an office full of cops, there are always donuts around!
DH and I walked to McNamara's last night in the sparkly snow for a lovely dinner. This winter is really starting to drag, especially with the insane cold we've had lately, but nights like that remind me why I like winter and why I like my neighborhood. Passersby may wonder about the big smiley face drawn in the snow under the Kennedy.
I need the cold weather to break because there's a ZZ plant at Target with my name on it. I may try Home Depot first, though, in case they have a larger version. And spring (and spring training!) is getting ever closer!
Tuesday, January 13, 2004
Have attended my first session of "Plant Diversity and Conservation." I like it so far, and the prospect of doing a presentation in front of such a small class is not so scary. We were alerted beforehand that our classroom was the ugliest classroom on campus, and having seen it, I feel confident that it's true. I'm always amused by what color schemes different decades deem appropriate for classroom or other institutional use, but really, when has *taupe* ever been a good idea?
Friday, January 09, 2004
Alas, the scorned Mr. Goodbar, the ugly step-child of the bags of Hershey's miniatures, passed over, shuffled aside until he is all that remains, and only the most desperate chocolate cravings can render him palatable. Until noble Diane, feeling sorry for Mr. Goodbar (and annoyed by the growing color imbalance in the candy bowl), eats one. And maybe another.
And, dammit, now I like them better than the regular Hershey bars *and* the Krackle bars.
Special Dark, though... those are sacred.
Am reading Bang the Drum Slowly on the train. It's very good, with these poignant touches of funny and sad that hit without warning. I couldn't stop giggling at the Tegwar scenes. I love baseball stories, especially older pre-free agency stories, when the pay was crap but they played anyway because that was what they'd always dreamed of doing.
Tuesday, January 06, 2004
Today, I encountered a new word, courtesy of Eric Zorn's blog. He referred to Pete Rose (who has finally 'fessed up) as "a disgusting and oleaginous public figure." Oleaginous? Does that mean covered in margarine? [checks dictionary] Hmm, actually that's not far off. It means oily.
This ends today's vocabulary lesson. Must find places to use my new word!
Have been semi-inspired to clean out the book room and see what has been buried over the past year or so. I may not be up to realphabetizing at this point, but I could at least figure out what I've read lately. My log of read books is woefully out of date. I need to set up a database and get a barcode scanner so I can figure out what I have and what I've read (and what can be eliminated). You think I'm joking.
...10 minutes of eBay time later...
Okay, I can get ISBN software for $40 at sellshareware.com, or $24.95 at collectorz.com, and I can get a barcode reader for $3 on eBay. I f***ing love the Internet.
Just got spam inviting me to "Make yourself bigger for the New Year." After spending several days alone with Mark's bag of Hershey bars, I think I'm well on my way already.
Monday, January 05, 2004
From tonight's Tribune.com: "Archibald Candy Corp. announced Monday that it is selling its Fannie May and Fanny Farmer businesses to an unidentified buyer and shutting down its decades-old manufacturing plant in Chicago, putting 625 employees out of work."
Nooooooooooo! The city used to be the candy capital of the country, but I guess it's just not cost-effective anymore. I don't know what all the former candy company employees do when their factories close; it's really too bad. I will very much miss the Fannie May factory and its outlet store. I've been a regular customer since I started at UIC in 1993; the factory is a short walk west from my old and new offices. When the weather is just right, the West Loop smells like chocolate and toast (from the Bay's English muffin factory, also nearby). The neighborhood has changed rapidly, filling up with high-priced condos and the first trickle of trendy restaurants, but the factory and store have remained constant. The ladies who work at the factory store are so sweet and helpful and love to give out free samples. I make a point of going to the store after every major candy holiday, to get 75% off on chocolate marshmallow pumpkins and other such delicacies. They say the brand will be sold and the candy will still be available, but the factory will be gone, and if it isn't Chicago's candy, it just doesn't have the same charm. Ditto for Frango mints.
Got my textbooks for the plant conservation class. They look pretty cool. Felt bad for the guy in front of me, who has four classes and whose total bill was $530. I got off easy, I think. Reminds me, I have to drop that physics class before they charge me for it!
Sunday, January 04, 2004
No more to report on the rodent front, except I know there's still one in the house because I left out a piece of dog food and it vanished a few hours later. I'm out of traps, though, and it's snowing and I'm unshowered so I'll deal with it tomorrow.
Snow! 6 inches! I took a picture but it was too dark out. It's very pretty, though.
I have to work tomorrow! Waaaaah!!
Saturday, January 03, 2004
Mouse #3, R.I.P. Also, the peanut butter was stolen from the indoor trap again...little bugger must have a light touch.
Doing laundry is fun by comparison.
On the karma-positive side, I gave this old bike that was in our garage to a guy who lives in the neighborhood. He and his daughter are going to fix it up together. He just sent me an email to thank me, said she loves it. I'm so happy that it found a good home!
No middle-of-the-night SNAP sounds in the house, so yay. I checked the traps this morning and discovered that something had eaten the peanut butter off one without triggering it (the spring wire was bent wrong and I wasn't sure it was going to work anyway). I went to the grocery store, and when I came back, I found that mouse #2 had been caught under the porch. I apologized sadly, and set three more traps. On the plus side, I am no longer afraid of mousetraps. It just took some hands-on experience to see how they work.
So far so good. Mark may come home to find me dressed in camo, face blackened, perched on top of the kitchen cupboards with a sawed-off broom and a box of D-Con, muttering "Here, mousie mousie mousie." Either that or doing a Bill Murray from Caddyshack.
What to do today? Finish laundry, straighten up my books and notes from last semester, maybe take a shower, play The Sims until my eyes fall out. And!! I have food in the house again! Such luxury! It's not all junk food, either. I bought chicken and veggies.
Friday, January 02, 2004
Update: Libby was nosing around the garden near the air conditioner, so after promises of boooones (which I didn't follow through on), I got her away and investigated. One of the glue traps was lying face down in the garden. It turned out to be the one from under the potting bench; the other traps were untouched. And how, you may ask, did a fairly heavy plastic and glue dish measuring about 4 by 8 travel across the patio, around the porch, and into the garden? I did my best CSI impression by flashlight and found this in the glue:
--half a mouse (ugh)
--long (1 1/2 inches) white or pale grey hairs
So... a cat? Perhaps. I haven't seen any cats of that description around, though. My guess is we have a possum. Could a possum have stolen the other traps? Maybe. Am I an unwilling participant in some bizarre predator-prey system? Apparently. Am I glad it was a mouse I caught, and not a rat? Absolutely. Do I feel awful about how it died? Yeah :(
Quick research on possums reveals that they do eat carrion, and their number one predator is the car. Perhaps I should park the truck in the back yard.
Happy New Year!!
My resolution this year is to avoid extraneous sources of guilt, such as making resolutions that I don't intend to keep. Figure *that* one out.
It is now imperative that I set down for the public record the following story, so if something really dreadful happens to us, the medical examiner won't be mystified and the neighbors will be forewarned. First, the prolog, by Lewis Carroll...
"Mine is a long and a sad tale!" said the Mouse, turning to Alice, and sighing.
"It IS a long tail, certainly," said Alice, looking down with wonder at the Mouse's tail; "but why do you call it sad?" And she kept on puzzling about it while the Mouse was speaking, so that her idea of the tale was something like this:--
The McMouse Story
It began when the weather turned colder, probably in November. Mark saw the mouse first. He said several things rather loudly when he saw it scurry across the living room floor. I saw it second, running along the baseboard in the kitchen. We surmised that it was getting into the walls via the return vent in the breakfast nook (as we continue to call the room with all the plants, even though there are far too many plants on the table for any actual breakfasting to occur). (That return vent, incidentally, has no cover on it, because it's in the basement with about half of the old lumpy paint removed. We've lived here for eight years. Things happen slowly around here. Shut up.)
We debated what to do with Mr. Mouse, but were having an ethical dilemma. It didn't seem right to just kill it, because all it wanted to do was stay warm and have dinner. I looked for a humane trap, but apparently Osco doesn't share our ethical views. We let the matter slide. We were busy with other stuff.
Shortly before Christmas (actually, it was Chanukah), I made some questionable chocolate gingerbread, and spent a companionable afternoon in the kitchen with the cozy smells of baked goods and the cozy crunching sounds of Mr. Mouse, who was luxuriating under the bottom drawer of our cupboard and most likely eating dog food. We resolved again to get a humane trap, but we never quite got around to it. The holiday classic, "O Chanukah Mouse, O Chanukah Mouse, why must you be so crunchy?" reached number one this holiday season.
Mark looked under the back porch and discovered that something had torn a hole in the birdseed bag, and birdseed was everywhere. Clearly, Mr. Mouse had more than one source of food. Libby spent much time nosing around the porch and the bushes, but that didn't necessarily mean anything because we get all sorts of critters in our yard. We tried to get the dogs interested in mousy smells in the house, but if we're not holding milkbones in our hands, they just don't get it.
I bought traps, plastic ones that are really easy to set and bait. They don't have the oomph of traditional traps, but I was too afraid of real ones to attempt to use them. We baited the traps with dog food and set them under the porch and near the vent. We then left for Michigan for several days, fretting about the monsters we'd become. Not to worry, because we caught nothing.
As time went on and Mr. Mouse continued to defy us, we gradually felt more annoyed and less guilty about taking the little bugger out. The risk of piles of baby mice in our house was just too great. I said to myself, What would a good ecologist do? The answer was to take away the habitat. If there's no handy food and shelter, the mice would move away, perhaps next door. So, I finally looked under the porch to see what was going on in there. The birdseed was everywhere, a terrible mess. There was also a brown paper lawn waste bag, partially full of grass clippings, that I hadn't thrown out yet, and piles of dry leaves that had drifted under the walls of the porch. Oh, and lots of scrabbling sounds of tiny toenails on paper, and a tiny grey mouse leaping out of the top of the bag and running under the porch wall towards the air conditioner. I may have said something like "Aiiiiieeee!", which most of the neighbors probably heard. I armed myself with a broom, gloves, and a plastic bowl, and prepared to do battle.
I prodded the bag a few more times, not wishing to be surprised by a second mouse while carrying the bag away. It turned out to be a wise decision, because a second mouse did eventually get tired of being poked with a broomstick, and it too scrabbled out the top and did a flying squirrel leap towards the far wall. I may have said "Aiiieeee" again, I am not sure. Ask the neighbors. I poked the bag several more times, then hauled it out to the middle of the yard and left it there. I then cautiously cleaned out the storage area, swept up most of the seed, and basically shut down the bed and breakfast. I left instead the two plastic traps baited with peanut butter. Grimly defiant, I was sure this would end our problems. I swept the leaves out from around the air conditioner as well, and was slightly surprised when a greyish chunk of construction debris jumped up and ran into the garden. "Aiiiieee," I believe is what I told it. I chased the mouse all the way to the brush pile in the neighbor's yard, which is a perfectly good place for a mouse if you ask me.
The next day, I checked the traps. They were *gone*.
Over the course of the next two days, we each saw Mr. Mouse in the house and think we also saw him outside, running between the bush and the potting bench two different times. He was not wearing a trap larger than his body. However, we're not sure that what we saw today was a mouse, and are now worried about smallish rats. What was under the porch living in the paper bag was definitely mice, but the other critter(s) seemed bigger and maybe browner. I really really really hope we're mistaken. As I write this, late on January 2, with Mark off in Utah where the rodents can't find him, there are two "real" traps and two glue traps arrayed both indoors and out. I can't stop thinking about them being there, especially the one in the house. I am convinced that I or the dogs will trip it and lose toes. I have the babygate protecting the trap, and the dogs can't reach the ones outside, but I still worry.
If any of these traps disappear, I think it may be time to call in a professional. Or sell the house. It's the car spiders all over again, I'm telling you.
The tale is not over. In the meantime, I wear heavy shoes in the house at all times.