Tag Archives: ice

Does The God of Mice Demand Ice Sacrifice?


From commons.wikimedia.org, uploaded by Edal Anton Leferov, Abraham's sacrifice, a fresco in an old church in Raduil, Bulgaria.

From commons.wikimedia.org, uploaded by Edal Anton Leferov, Abraham’s sacrifice, a fresco in an old church in Raduil, Bulgaria. We don’t do this anymore. Then again, neither did Abraham.

It seems to me that, whatever you might think of religion in general, the fact that today not many mainstream churches practice human sacrifice is probably a good thing.

Not that human sacrifice is totally alien to our modern thinking, what with anorexic fashion models, drone strikes, capital punishment and the NFL.

Anyway, mouse culture and religion, on the other hand, may not be so enlightened. Or maybe, if you are into reincarnation, the side garden I created several years ago in front of my house by the garage happens to be on an old Native American burial site from an ancient, unknown tribe that practice human sacrifice, and so offended whoever is in charge of reincarnation that they’ve come back as rodents.

It could be. After all, we had a “ghost hunter” appear at the university where I teach recently, and it was a popular event with students. I don’t think ghost hunters or psychics or fairy dancers or tree spirits or astrology or numerology or whatever is all that consistent with the intellectual rigor one would hope for from a university, but that’s just me. And no, I don’t put “religion” into that same category—believing in God is a matter of personal faith and lots of smart people are also people of faith. Believing in ghost hunters is a whole other level of irrational magical thinking and not as positively correlated with smarts.

Anyway, I could be wrong. Recent events, if not ghostly, are at least a bit spooky. Maybe the here-after is sending me a message about the here-after in a block of ice.

A block of ice. I didn't photograph the actual dead animals--you don't really need to see that--and the ice block in my garden is a bit smaller, I think. An image from commons.wikimedia.org of ice in Iceland by Andreas Tille.

A block of ice. I didn’t photograph the actual dead animals–you don’t really need to see that–and the ice block in my garden is a bit smaller, I think. An image from commons.wikimedia.org of ice in Iceland by Andreas Tille.

This is where things get weird. Just in case you were scoring at home, they’ve been normal up until now.

A week or so ago, partly due to the increase in recycling produced by the Thanksgiving holiday, my wife suggested that I start using a red plastic pail as our glass recycling container. In Cedar Rapids, glass for recycling is placed in a separate container that one puts adjacent to the big recycling bin that the city provides, and I had been using an old plastic pitcher, but the red bucket is bigger.

The idea, unlike “ghost hunters,” made sense to me. We had rain some time ago (seems like a long time ago now) and it had frozen in the bucket, forming a block of ice that I dumped onto the garden. At the time, I didn’t notice anything odd about the ice.

But Monday, as I was getting my bicycle out of the garage, I saw a frozen, dead mouse in the ice. And not deep in the ice, only partly buried on the surface.

That’s very strange, I thought to myself. I would think an expired animal, even something as small as a mouse, would be something I would notice when I dumped the ice.

And why was the mouse only half buried? If it drowned, wouldn’t it be submerged? Or at least have its head under ice?

Oh well. Best laid plans of mice and all that.

A mouse. From the NIH, but you know what web site I found it on already.

A mouse. From the NIH, but you know what web site I found it on already.

Then, this morning, as I got my bike out again, I happened to glance at the block of ice again.

There’s another dead mouse there, a second one a few inches from the first. And I know that the second mouse was not there earlier this week—when I saw the first dead rodent caught in the ice, there is no possible way that I would have overlooked a second one almost right next to it.

The second passed-on Mickey is only partly “submerged” as if it, too, had been swimming in the ice—which is a neat trick, considering whatever happened to this second  mouse happened well after the ice block froze and the temperature has not been above freezing for some days.

What is going on? The mice remains look relatively intact; there is no sign of violence or struggle, as far as I can tell. But it seems a bit odd that the slain mammals are collecting in my garden.

I suspect some mouse cult. They come out at night and enact their primitive mouse rituals on the ice altar. Whoever drew the shortest piece of string cheese doesn’t even resist as the other mice use tiny hair dryers to melt a patch for the sacrifice to swim in until hell, or at least the ice block, freezes over.

Maybe thousands of years ago, human sacrifice took place on this spot. I would like to think not, and I don’t know that the American Indian cultures in Iowa were ever known for that practice, but you never know. I also don’t think there are ghosts in Warde Hall, either, contrary to what many students seem to believe. But what do I know? I can’t readily explain the collecting cat food carcasses, either.

Or maybe, rather than a scary mouse religious cult, it’s the mice mafia. Cement is expensive, but ice is cheap.

“You don’t tell us where the cheese is, Guido, and you’ll sleep with the roses.”

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The Scenery of a Spring Sky


Late afternoon sky seen form Rockwell-Collins parking lot on my bike ride home.

Late afternoon sky seen form Rockwell-Collins parking lot on my bike ride home.

Well, the sky has started to turn interesting again. In winter, it seems that when it snows, the sky goes ghostly white or slate grey and that’s about it.

Today, the day started with a pretty spring sun, but clouded over. But not evenly, the clouds were clumped with gaps of blue. Late in the afternoon, a quick rain moved through.

On the way home, I thought some cars were throwing up some pebbles. But then, I realized no cars were beside me—the “pebbles” were pellets of ice raining down.

Another sky view.

Another sky view.

Fortunately, the ice storm was very short lived, even if it did sting a bit.

I take it as a sign of spring. In spring and summer, the sky has its’ best cloud scenery, tall mountains with whites and greys and greens and blacks. Then, the twister hits and you end up in Oz.

Well, so maybe a spring sky isn’t an unmixed blessing. Still, it is good to see. The world is brown at the moment, the snow newly melted, but the sunshine promises future green.

I guess I’ll take that interesting sky.

Looking west down Blair's Ferry Road at 5 p.m.. Then, the cloud unleashed some ice. Oh well, I'm still happy to see a spring sky.

Looking west down Blair’s Ferry Road at 5 p.m.. Then, the cloud unleashed some ice. Oh well, I’m still happy to see a spring sky.

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Snow Day, Grade Day, Spider Day, Go To Work in PM Day


A squirrel in an ash tree in my front yard on this snowy morning.

A squirrel in an ash tree in my front yard on this snowy morning.

(Aside to a sister, avoid reading to the end of this post if you don’t want to see the creepy crawly who was keeping me company.)

Well, isn’t Mother Nature in a snit this winter?

Channel 9 warned us this weekend that Monday would be ugly. My wife and I awoke at 5 a.m., when the nagging alarm told us it’s “gym time.” We looked out, but saw nothing, and got dressed. But, in the 10 minutes it took us to don sweatpants and socks, a sound started, sort of like a bunch of tiny pebbles being dropped on a board.

There was ice falling from the sky with an odd sandy rattle. We opened the front door, and briefly considered staying at home because who wants to be out in ice? But the ice wasn’t heavy yet, and the gym is nearby, so off we went.

While we were there, the news flashed on the TV screen: Mount Mercy University is closed for the day. Then our cell phones rang. “Mount Mercy is closed for the day,” they confirmed. The snow day will cause me to reshuffle a bunch of syllabi, and I still have to go in to the office late this afternoon to print papers and practice bell ringing, but both my wife and I had the same two-part reaction: First: hooray! And second: morning nap time!

Later, when I got up again, this time around 9 a.m., I noticed a squirrel scampering across the front yard, and I scampered to get my camera and shot a few snow photos out my windows.

My attempt to photograph snowflakes falling. The tree in the background is deliberately out of focus as I try to get an image of the flakes themselves.

My attempt to photograph snowflakes falling. The tree in the background is deliberately out of focus as I try to get an image of the flakes themselves.

Also while we were at the gym, the ice quickly changed to snow, which was a bit of blessing because I just would rather not deal with ice storms, thank you. Say what you will about the white stuff cascading from the skies—and I’m sure lots of people will have some nasty things to say—it’s far nicer than ice.

Well, I’m sure my wife would remind me that “blogging” doesn’t count as catching up on work. Back to the salt mines, even on this snow day.

Still, the world is pretty when it is covered in new white snow. There will be some melting this week. The company I ordered flowers from this spring just e-mailed me an “order status” message to remind me that there will be an April sometime in the future and I should get new flowers delivered then that supposedly I will be able to plant in thawed ground.

And while I was finishing this post, my pal showed up, the hunting spider who spends her time killing small insects in my office, a service I consider valuable so I try not to hassle her. Somehow, arachnid life seems like a foreshadowing of spring, too.

Hang on, Iowans. Enjoy the snow day. What else can you do?

My pal, the office spider, who showed up by a syllabus I'm updating when I'm not blogging.

My pal, the office spider, who showed up by a syllabus I’m updating when I’m not blogging.

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Bowling for fun


Well, I survived bowling Thursday night. It’s not something I usually do—it has probably been more than two decades since I used anything besides a Wii to bowl, and let me tell you, Wii bowling is not really bowling at all.

Audrey was there, but didn’t want to play, so I was an honorary nursing professor for the evening.

Nixon's bowling ball at the Harry S Truman museum in Indedendence, Mo. Why? Don't know--why would Truman have tricky's ball?

Before the event, another professor at Mount Mercy said he wasn’t going to participate because it takes his body 10 days to recover from 3 games of bowling. Happily, that was not my experience. My left knee is still very sore from my bike spill, and it did indeed give me some problems Thursday at the bowling alley, but I was not especially sore or stiff the next day.

Scored a 74 the first game, but over 110 the second (don’t remember the exact score, it may have been 120 something). The third game I was in the 70s, but we were only a little over halfway through when time ran out, so I was closer to my second game score.

It was a fun, relaxing evening, Kudos to Residence Life at Mount Mercy for setting it up. It would be great if there were some way to encourage more interaction—we were basically playing only with the members of the Nursing Department, but it was good.

The greatest challenge of the evening was to get to and from the van without slipping on the ice. Audrey and I held on and we got it done.

Will I bowl next year if the opportunity comes up? Sure. Maybe I can break 80 on the first game …

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