The Cosmic Sprout #2

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The Cosmic Sprout #2


Norwescon 35


The Saturday issue of the Norwescon 35 daily 'zine for kids


Katrina Marier




April 7, 2012



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Growing up for over several billion years...


A pesty problem, part II

By Katrina Marier

She had finished cleaning out the mouse habitat and was about to take a snack break when she heard her name broadcast over the comm system. Luckily she hadn't rehydrated1 her uchuu-bento yet, so she stuffed it back into her temporary locker. The voice had sounded like Tosh's so she headed back to Bug Heaven.

And tried not to laugh. Tosh, her mom and dad, Dr. McIntosh, and Dr. Choudhurri were all...well, they were all stuck to the strips she had left out all around her workstation. Rosemarie gave up after a heroic effort and started laughing. Quickly she went to free them...and realized that the tape she'd used had somehow been mislabeled. Instead of the mildly tacky rosin-rubber mineral oil2 the package label said the tape's adhesive was supposed to be, everyone was thoroughly stuck in place with Super Glue. Luckily no one's skin had gotten stuck to anything, only their clothing - which was easily and neatly snipped away. Rosemarie got her mother free first and then went to gather up all the strips as her mother freed the others.

As they were all brushing themselves off and firing up for a lecture, everyone witnessed a spider trailing a cloud of silk behind it float into the room and gracefully spin its way across. In such situations, rarely is one prepared with the right tool at the right time and now was no different. Rosemarie's hands were full of a bag of used sticky strips; the others desperately tried to avoid the tiny arachnid by grabbing onto whatever they could. This quickly became a wild jumble of humans. And by the time everyone had sorted themselves out, the spider had disappeared through a vent.

“Sweetie, what were you thinking, laying out Super Glue to trap a spider with?” Her mom was obviously struggling for patience. Four other pairs of eyes looked at her accusingly. Rosemarie held up the package the glue strips had been in. “I didn't know it was Super Glue, Mom. The package says its adhesive is rosin-rubber mineral oil. Standard ingredient in fly paper. Non-toxic and easy to clean up.” And she held up the package.

Here Tosh sighed and swiped his hair off his forehead. “I knew that joker streak of Commander Lee's would come back to bite us.”

Everyone looked at him. “The last sta onmaster, Commander Lee, was something of a practical joker. He switched glues on the last Chief Botanist because...well, they didn't get along.” here he paused and looked faintly embarrassed. “I thought most of the glue and tape had been collected after the incident, then checked and relabeled as needed - but I guess we missed a box.” He sighed again, “I'll go and talk with inventory.” Then the lights flickered and went out. Within the seconds, the red safety lights came on so everyone could see, if not very well. “Lieutenant Mifune, please come to the bridge,” blared the comm system. “Duty calls,” and Tosh pulled himself to the door and floated off in the direction of the bridge.

Then the regular lights flickered on again. And when Dr. Choudhurri managed to maneuver over to the vent the spider had entered and open it, a cloud of silk whirled into his face. Rosemarie and her mother had to clean him off. Of their tiny friend there was no sign.

“Well, that might explain the lights,” her father said.

“What?” asked Rosemarie.

“Lights and some of the temperature controls have been fluctuating. If that bug's...”

“Arachnid. And I thought the troubles have been happening over the past few days.”

“You are correct about the lights. But temperature control problems in the med lab got worse yesterday evening and this morning. If that arachnid's been free and trying to spin webs which keep floating free...all that spider silk's been collecting and getting stuck in some interesting places.”

Everyone turned to look at Rosemarie. “She only escaped yesterday afternoon. And I did tell you. And filed an incident report. I put down the sticky strips only in my area for the time being because I needed to clear more drastic measures with Dr. McIntosh. My original thought was that since spiders need water, I would have available water stuck to the tape. The spider would walk across the tape to get to the water and get caught. Then I could put her back in her habitat. I was going to go talk to Tosh right after cleaning the mouse habitat. Honest.”

Her parents sighed. “Do you know how she got free?”

Now Rosemarie sighed. “No. I sealed the habitat just like I seal all habitats once I am done with a particular task; and the seals were intact when I went to feed them next. It's possible she could have slipped out when I was putting their food in. If there are cameras there, I don't know about them.”

Then Tosh's voice came over the com system asking Rosemarie and her parents to come to the bridge. Rosemarie's heart sank. I am soooo much trouble. But with her parents right there, there was no way she could get out of this one. Dr. Choudhurri told Rosemarie that he would check the remaining habitats; and Rosemarie belatedly remembered he was one of the environmental engineers working with her dad in keeping atmosphere optimal throughout the station. Yeah, he'd know about leaks wouldn't he? she thought.

The Captain looked very grave as they entered the bridge. “Dr. Evans, Dr. Evans, Rosemarie,” he said, nodding at each in turn. “Intern,” here he looked directly at Rosemarie, “I understand an arachnid under your care has escaped?”

She swallowed hard. “Yes, sir. I'm not sure how.”

He looked at her gravely, “Well, our eight-legged friend has been busy spinning webs throughout this section. Several of the crew have collected no less than six balls of fluff that Dr. McIntosh assures me is compressed spider silk?”

“Yes, sir. Webs in space don't look anything like those on earth. It's the lack of gravity.”

The Captain nodded. “When did it escape?”

“She. Yesterday afternoon, around 04:00 or so. I told my father and left a message for Dr. McIntosh. I guess he's been busy with the same problems my dad has so of course I hadn't heard from him about my solution...” A button flared red over the Captain's head, and he adjusted so he could press it. “Yes?”

“Dr. Choudhurri here. All habitat seals in Bug Heaven are intact and in proper working order. The infrared alarms which should have gone off if a critter were to escape indicate they were never tripped. In short...”

“In short, we don't know how the spider got out,” here the Captain sighed and ran his hand from forehead to neck. And sighed again. “Problem is, the spider stuff is interacting with the ship's systems unpredictably. So far only the lights and a few temperature controls have been affected; but what would happen if a major system were to be affected?”

“We can't evacuate the station and vent all the air due to one little spider,” came Dr. Choudhurri's voice through the comm system. “Completely impractical. Ms. Evan's notion of trapping the spider near Bug Heaven was a good thought, if precipitously invoked. Luring a spider to sticky paper for its daily water was a good and quick solution using available materials. We'll just have to learn to live with her. And everyone should have a trap or a swatter handy should she be seen again. Ms. Evans, you know more about this creature than I do. Do you think she will come out to try and spin another web?”

“Yes, she's opera ng on instinct. And the webs need to be out in the open but not in a place where they'll get tampered with. Look for her to try it again in corners would be my best guess. Luckily there's no food flying around so she may try to make her way back to Bug Heaven, or maybe Botany Bay because that's where food will be. Or she'll die trying.”

“Duly noted. Dr. Choudhurri, let us know what procedures will be needed to deal with spider stuff as it presents itself. All personnel in Bug Heaven and Botany Bay should be briefed on how to catch spiders. Live demonstrations of the technique are strictly forbidden,” he added dryly.

More strips were put up and in about a week, the spider, dubbed Vampirella, was returned to her mate. But no one ever figured out just how she managed to escape in the first place.

  1. Rehydrated: to add water to something that is dried to make it edible.
  2. Rosin-rubber mineral oil: the glue on fly paper.

This story is loosely based on an incident when one of a pair of orb weaver spiders escaped from their habitat on the International Space Sta on in 20081. Granted, that arachnid didn't cause any major havoc then; but what if she had? Most think that the term “bug” when applied to computers refers to a moth caught in a computer at the Harvard Lab in 1947!2 However, there is evidence to indicate that the term was used in the 19th cent, and maybe even by William Shake- speare!

  1. Articles about the spider here,2933,454327,00.html and here:,news-2983.html.
  2. Articles about the term “bug” here and here

Family Track


Junkyard Spacecraft Workshop Pt. 1 10-11:30 AM OLY 1
Family Games ages 6-12 11—1 PM CAS 9&10
Thumbprint Picassos Noon OLY 1
Exploring The Sparklies for Pre-Schoolers 1 PM OLY 1
Bongo for Board Games! 2 PM OLY 1
Family Games ages 2-8 3 - 5 PM CAS 9&10
Family Movie Previews 3:30-4:30 PM OLY 1
Baby Lounge and Quiet Hour 4:30 PM OLY 1
Embroidery 201 7-9 PM OLY 1


Ewok Flower Vase Project 10-11:30 AM OLY 1
Family Games ages 10+ 11 - 1 PM CAS 9&10
Wand Making Workshop Noon-2:30 PM OLY 1
Junkyard Spacecraft Workshop Pt. 2 3-4:30 PM OLY 1
Baby Lounge and Quiet Hour 4:30-5:30 PM OLY 1
Children's Masquerade 6:30 PM CAS 2


Easter Egg Hunt - 4 and Under 10-10:30 AM OLY 1
Easter Egg Hunt - 5-8 10:30-11 AM OLY 1
Easter Egg Hunt - 9-12 11-11:30 AM OLY 1
Easter Carnival 1-3PM OLY 1


Maxi’s Lounge is open for NWC members age 21+ on Fri, sat night. the 14th floor of the tower is closed to people under 21 as of 8 p.m. on Fri and sat.


___(Noun)___ Costume Shortcuts 9 am Cascade 7

How to make ___(p. noun)___ for the ___(adjective)___ child, with or without a ___(verb)___ machine, or ___(verb)___ a lot of ___(noun)___.

How ___(adjective)___ is the Future of ___(verb)___? 9 am Evergreen 1&2

What is ___(noun)___ computing, and how will it affect ___(verb)___, ___(noun)___, and ___(noun)___? More importantly, how will it affect me?

Norse ___(noun)___, ___(noun)___, & ___(noun)___ Tactical Combat 10 am Evergreen 3&4

A hands-on ___(noun)___. Participants, equipped with wooden ___(pl. noun)___, ___(pl. noun)___, and ___(pl. noun)___ will learn and practice basic Norse ___(noun)___ combat skills in a ___(adjective)___, non-contact ___(noun)___. What is it like ___(verb)___ in the shield wall? Instructors will ___(verb)___ required equipment, to be ___(verb)___ by participants.


Fly on down to the pitch for an exciting, though grounded, tournament of Muggle Quidditch! There will be much excitement as teams try to rack up as many goals as they can before the Snitch is caught. Thrill to the game as a player or spectator in our Grand Arena (otherwise known as Grand Ballroom 3)!


Saturday starting at 9 pm in Evergreen 3 & 4


Do you know a Jedi trainee? Or a budding ninja? A fairy princess who wants to show off her wings? Bring them to the Norwescon 35 Children’s Masquerade!

The Kid’s Masquerade allows kids who are too young to compete as Rising Stars (self made costumes by children 13 years and under) to show off their costumes. The children will go on first. All kids wishing to participate must attend the 6 pm meeting on Saturday in Cascade 2 to fill out the Kid’s Masquerade form. They will then walk down as a group down and strut their stuff!


Q: What is an astronaut’s favorite treat?
Q: Why does the moon go to the bank?
Q: I work only when I’m red. What am I?
Q: Why did the astronaut bang his head against the wall?
Q: Which planet is like a circus?


  1. An ice cream float!
  2. To change its quarters
  3. A rocket!
  4. So he could see stars.
  5. Saturn. Because it has three rings.


The Rainbow Connection

You will need a flashlight, a piece of plain white paper, scissors, tape, and a clear glass with some water in it.

  1. Fold your paper in half and cut a small slit in it, about a half inch long.
  2. When you open up the paper, you should have a slit that looks something like this
  3. Place the paper face down on a hard surface and tape your flashlight over the slit.
  4. Turn on the flashlight and aim it at the water-filled glass. A small rainbow should appear on the other side of the glass. This will work best in a darkened room with a strong flashlight!

I found these at and there were many others that looked really interesting!


While wandering around the con, find people who match these squares and mark off live squares in a row using one person per square. Happy hunting!

Norwescon 35, ISSUE 1.1 4/7/12



Katrina Marier, “The Cosmic Sprout #2,” Norwescon History, accessed June 26, 2022,

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