December 9 – Mouse hunt!

Last week one of my students posted on Facebook the “funniest thing ever”.  So clicked through and was taken to a video, which didn’t play because it said I needed a newer version of Flash Player.  I clicked through to get that and downloaded it.  I double clicked the setup.exe file and nothing happened.  Uh oh.  Eventually, what happened was that browser windows would open spontaneously and take me to various web sites.  I had gotten a Trojan Horse.  I tried to remove the malware, but had no luck.  Our IT staff finally came and took away my computer, but not before I had visited many of my usual web sites.  They said I needed to go in and change all my passwords before something very bad happened.  The malware could have been scarfing up my passwords.  I could imagine someone charging up all manner of goods on eBay.  They had to reformat the hard drive on my office machine.  I had mostly backed it up, so I didn’t lose much.  It will be a pain to reinstall all of my favorite applications.  All in all, it was a very bad episode.  Meanwhile, we had lots of internet connection problems at home.  I had to remove a bad DSL filter and restart my DSL modem.  It made me realize how dependent I am on the internet.

We got the blast of cold, but not the heavy snow.  In ecology we did the lab where I hide film canisters around north campus and the students find them by the GPS coordinates.  I hadn’t the heart to freeze them to death so I only planted one a piece.  Wednesday I sent off my book chapter.  It’s supposed to go to press in a year. 

Thursday I brought home some mice that were left over from the immunology class.  I gave a couple to Laura to feed her snake.  When I got home I had the idea of letting Gretchen play with one.  Schnauzers are supposed to be rat dogs, right?  I was going to put one in the middle of the floor and let her go after it.  What could go wrong with that?  Savannah said the mouse would get away.  I planned to guard against that.  I dropped the mouse in front of the dog, and she showed great interest, even more than she did in the cricket.  That is, she went nuts.  She wasn’t quite sure how to proceed, however, and the mouse ran away.  It got under a bookshelf, which had a very thin opening underneath that I had not noticed.  Savannah rightly said, “I told you so.”  We tried to extract the mouse using various implements, all the while with the frenetic dog getting in the way.  I ended up tilting the bookshelf over.  The mouse ran out and I flung it in the middle of the room.  Or I would have except that Savannah was in the way.  She freaked.  She screamed and moved faster than I remember her doing for quite some time.  Remember, this is a harmless white lab mouse.  On the second crack, the dog did a better job of things.  She actually caught the mouse and mouthed it for awhile.  I took it away, still alive and intact, and fed it to one of the snakes.  For Gretchen, it was an early Christmas present.

Friday Stacey and I took the truck all over northeast Missouri picking up and delivering toys.  We got to be Santa Claus.  We took Gretchen with us, with some trepidation, as we didn’t know how well she’d travel.  We put on her harness so we could strap her in when necessary, but she spent most of the time sleeping on the seat or on Stacey’s lap.  We took her out for potty breaks whenever we would stop.  Overall, she traveled very well.

I got an email from a woman who does bat flight biomechanics at Brown University.  She liked my bat pics from Ruby and wants to use one in an upcoming book she’s writing.  I’m glad someone appreciates these.  They were hard to get, and among the best I’ve done, but they haven’t placed in any contests.  Here’s one of my faves.

Saturday I spotted a squirrel in the back yard trying to get suet out of the feeder.  I took Gretchen to the window.  Once she spotted it, she growled and started barking.  I let her out to chase it, but the squirrel ran up the tree and stayed out of sight.  Gretchen took the opportunity to pee in the prairie.  We took her down to Orcheln’s to get her picture taken with Santa Claus.  She wasn’t that cooperative, but I think they got some good shots.

Monday night was the Fire Department Christmas party.  I had spent part of Saturday putting together the video.  It should appear here:

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