Pointless Questions...with Aaron Mucciolo

Last year I was looking for a theme song for this column. Well, no one suggested or composed one, but a friend of mine says she did choreograph a mean tap dance piece in my honor. Anyway…

Hey pointless question dude: what’s up with those random amoeba-shaped splotches of dead grass on the southern half of Wilder Bowl? I know the ones on the northern half are from those tents they set up during orientation, but I have no idea what these other ones are for.
–Emily Brebach, Conservatory sophomore

“Those brown splotches were from where we sprayed glyphosate,” Dennis Greive, the Grounds Service Manager with the grounds shop on campus, said. “We sprayed to eradicate wire grass that was invading the turf in that area.” Wire grass is the common name for any number of perennial grasses that have horizontal stems called rhizomes (growing beneath the ground) and stolons (above ground) which branch out (pardon the pun) to cover a wide area from a single main plant.

Most grasses can grow upwards or by spreading out horizontally or “vegetatively through what are called tiller mowing your lawn encourages plants to grow this way,” Associate Professor of Biology Roger Laushman said. Wire grass, therefore, is not the only type of grass that threatens to encroach on an area if it is not stopped at the root.

And while some varieties of wire grass have been cultivated for use in pastures or even lawns (such as bluegrass), most are uncontrollable, take over the area and aren’t as pretty to look at or run through than ‘normal’ grass.

“There’s no selective herbicide for it,” Greive said. So Grounds used glyphosphate, the household version of which is RoundUp weed killer which essentially kills anything green. It shouldn’t be brown much longer, however. Grounds seeded the area and Greive expects that “probably in a week the new grass will be sprouting.”

How come spiders don’t get caught in other spiders’ webs?
–Allison Moon, College senior

“Quite a few do, actually,” Professor George Uetz of U. Cincinnati’s’s biology department said. In fact, he adds, “There are a lot of spiders that prey on other spiders.” Some species of spider are not web-builders, and they tend to get caught in their craftier cousins’ traps. There’s even a species of spider that invades other spiders’ webs.

But how do some spiders manage to escape ensnarement? “Spiders don’t get caught in their own webs, and sometimes avoid others, by several reasons,” Uetz said. “They have tiny tarsal [i.e. ‘on or near the foot’] claws on the tips of their legs that allows them to minimize contact with the web.”

“Second, they hang upside down when they crawl so their weight isn’t pushing them down onto the web. Third, they know how to get unstuck.” A spider caught up in a web will pull other strands of the web together, sticking them to each other, to free itself.

Spiders also spin up to seven different types of silk, from sturdy anchoring lines to the sticky cross threads that trap their prey, and spiders of the same species certainly lay out their webs similarly and know where to step. “The orb weaver [the species that produces the classic wheel-shaped webs] is a good example,” Uetz said, “The spokes are not sticky, only the circular part, so they walk on spokes.”

Why does StuLocker take friggin’ forever to open? Does it have anything to do with the main server, OCNS1, not working?

For those who haven’t experienced the problem, a quick explanation: even before the OCNS1 server went down a few days ago and StuLocker became completely inaccessible, simply opening your StuLocker from any Macintosh computer on the campus network had been taking several minutes, with similarly long periods for copying or moving files. While the CIT doesn’t know exactly what’s wrong, they do know what’s causing the problem. It’s a software or program problem. The network’s software was upgraded this summer with great success and only one major problem: StuLocker connections moving slower than my editor Blake Wilder trying to run a mile after an OC NORML meeting. Can I get a rimshot please!
This is different than the hardware problem that currently has OCNS1 down for the count. In that case, two of the hard drives of the actual machines that store the information are effectively fried, and the CIT is working on getting the information off of those machines and on to working ones so everyone can access their information again.
The good news is the problem appears to be restricted to Macs. So once the hardware problems are fixed and StuLocker is back in existence, you can access StuLocker without too much trouble either through the web or on any campus PC computer.

Next week… cigarette prices, paper sizes and possibly cartoon moles. Man I love this job. Email your questions to aaron.mucciolo @oberlin.edu or mail ’em to Pointless Questions c/o The Oberlin Review, Wilder Box 90, Oberlin, OH 44074. Your name will only be used with your permission.

October 4
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