Month: June 2015

In search of goodies, Part VII: In which Sigyn confuses the fish market with the pound

Uh, oh. I’m not sure we’ll actually be leaving any time soon.


Sweetie, no. Those lobsters are for… Yes, they’re cute and that one does seem to be extra-friendly, but they’re for… Yes, I bet you could teach it to fetch, but… well. These lobsters aren’t meant to be pets. People buy them and…

You know, I think that it probably wouldn’t get along with the cat. Yes, that’s it.

>|: [

In search of goodies, Part VI: Spectral anomalies

Augh! We are shopping *again*. No trip to the big city would be complete without a trek to the big, big food market the humans like so much. The female, particularly, just can’t stay away from the produce.

We’ve BEEN here. We’ve DONE this. RECENTLY. I am bored of vegetables.So you know what? I’m just going to let my magic flit and flutter about in here and make them all a little more interesting. Let’s turn up the color a bit.


The beets will be yellow.


The kohlrabi will look even weirder in purple.

I can’t do much with these tomatoes, but the asparagus will be more fun if it is white and purple.


And cauliflower? Pfft! Three new colors, none of them white…


I will make all the peaches be white inside…


… and then I shall sit on them and squash them all until they look like little inner tubes.

Now can we go?

>|: [

Mischief Update. New and Improved, with pictures!

Ehehehe. I have outdone myself this week. I have to leave some room for improvement, because no mischief is perfect, but I think I can safely say the old chaos-o-meter is holding steady at 9.50. AND bear in mind that the backdrop of all this has been the anticipation, arrival, and aftermath of a very juicy tropical storm. (It is raining again as I compose this.) Surely that is worth another 0.25?

You may want obtain a beverage and recline in your favorite seat. This is a long one…

1. I have been playing fast and loose with the human female’s annual Very Large Order of Very Dead Animals. She has discovered that felines are in very short supply. (Something to do with the improved economy–fewer people are abandoning cats at shelters, which is good for cats but bad for anatomy students.) I am enjoying watching her and her teaching team scramble to adapt lab prep, come up with alternative exercises, and explore creative solutions. Pffft! The answer to the cat problem is staring her right in the face–if the feral cats on campus keep breeding at the rate they have been, she can simply ask the Purveyor of Dead Things to supply the kitty-pickling recipe and bring the whole operation in-house.


2. She has been trying to coordinate the delivery of the huge Dead Thing order with Central Receiving and the maintenance people who actually have to alter a doorway to get the pallets into the building. Last year, I arranged for this to happen on the same day as the annual lab safety inspections, lock installation, and a fume hood outage (which resulted in a less-than-stellar safety inspection.) I hope to tangle things even more this year. There’s construction on the first floor of the building; I should be able to arrange something.

3. She procured the funds to order 44 lab stools to replace the ones the students have so enthusiastically broken. She can get them, but no one can tell her when. The truck that will bring them will be too big to fit down the alley near her workplace, so they need to be re-routed to Central Receiving, who will accept them but are not keen on actually bringing them to her on a smaller truck. Negotiations are ongoing. She can buy them. She can have them delivered. She just can’t take possession of them!

4. More construction. Oh, my. The restrooms on the human’s workplace floor are out of commission for the foreseeable. They were supposed to start ripping up yesterday, with a 3 hour water outage in the morning. However, I had a little "chat" with the work crew, and they started jack-hammering a day early, unannounced. When they turned the water off, I distracted them momentarily and nudged, and the valve that controls all the sinks’ water was broken in the off position, so there wasn’t a working bathroom sink in the building. They scurried about looking for a replacement part, but in the meantime–Germs for everyone!

5. The students had a lab practical exam this week. I arranged for not one but TWO students to break test tubes in the spectrophotometer. I don’t fully understand what a spectrophotometer does, but I do know how to discombobulate one!

6. She ordered five fish tanks, drat her. I broke the splash shields in the old ones and we were just a few splashes away from pretty fireworks and free fried fish for everyone. She spent a couple of weeks with the aquarium techs, trying to find replacement parts (unavailable) or a repair solution (cost-prohibitive), so whole new ones were needed. (If I can’t have a fish dinner, I can at least cost her some money.) Four of the new tanks arrived, but without the Free Magnetic Algae Scraper each box proclaimed was included. Two phone calls and a handful of emails later, they might send her some. Or they might not. Oh, they’ve written back. They won’t. They’ve offered some other part instead. Whatever.

7. Microscope slides. Oh, the slides. She had a lot to order, to replace breakage, insure spares, beef up a lab exercise, and outfit a new lab room. 100 human sperm smear slides! What is she going to do with them? I don’t think I want to know! Fifteen different subjects. Five vendors to work with. I did some quick, spreadsheet-defeating jiggery-pokery and made sure that no single vendor had all fifteen. And no single vendor had consistently the best prices and quality. So, four orders, four vendors.

She needed slides of the free-floating stage of the jellyfish Obelia. I saw to it that they are practically unavailable at any price. So she considered a different genus, Aurelia. Now, I have been practicing my internet manipulation skills, tying together odd corners of the cyber realm at random. Thus, searching for "Aurelia, slide, buy" brought up (as a hit, not an ad, mind you!) —- something that can be considered to be a "shoe" only because it’s meant to be strapped to a foot. Silvertongue though I be… for once, words fail me, so just look:


Take a moment and let that sink in.

Ehehehehe! The look on her face was priceless! What? Why? WHO would purchase and wear such, with the bejewelled naked mudflap cutout? It is clearly labeled a "women’s shoe." Do they think that men will otherwise be confused and disappointed when it is not available in their size? But at least it was on sale… Just as she was about to get over her shock and bafflement she noticed that it also comes in pink.

She did eventually find and purchase the last eleven Obelia slides available anywhere. However, my prank is the gift that keeps on giving because now all of the advertisements on the sidebar of her browser are for hooker shoes. And now you can never unsee that shoe. You’re welcome.

8. Not only are Very Dead Cats in in short supply, Defunct Starfish are completely unobtainable. Note: I want it on record that I am not responsible for the virus that is wiping out starfish along both coasts. I am simply enjoying the human female’s frustration as she tries to adapt the labs to feature other animals. She and her colleagues decided that a small fish would make an acceptable dissection exercise. Just to make her day a little more surreal, when she went to the website of the Purveyor of Dead Animals and did a search for "perch" (a type of small fish she knows they stock) in order to price them, I made sure she was greeted by this:


Sweet Frigga’s corset strings! Ehehehehehe! That can’t be right! Note product description. I may not be an expert ichthyologist, but I think that specimen is missing a feature or two.. Or six. (But I bet it smells better than the preserved sort.)

She looked again and found these related products:


Speaking of fried fish for everyone! I actually hurt myself laughing. Surely I am not the only one who finds it on the whole very disturbing that the Purveyor of Dead Animals is also in the Food Service business. One devoutly hopes that the two back ends of this operation are kept very, very separate, though this gives me an idea for a most creative aquarium scene and a corresponding way to cater an unforgettable buffet.

Whew! I shall leave you with one last catlet…


and go in search of a well-earned glass of wine and a backrub. Sigyn, care to join me?

>|: [

In search of goodies, Part V: I found the Loki section of the store.

Turns out it’s not all baking spices and wooden stars in here. They have a whole section tailored to my tastes.


Surely if they have a Green Goddess blend, there’s one here somewhere for a God who likes Green?

And this one seems intended to appeal to Frost Giants.


Wait! Over here against this wall, there’s a whole section devoted to chili peppers, those piquant little berries that Midgardians can’t seem to get enough of. Form the meekly mild to the truly incendiary, they’re all here. Usually the humans get the slightly-spicy-yet flavorful Aleppo peppers or the robust-and-smoky Anchos, but you know, all these chilies look pretty much alike.


It’d be just awful if somehow some of these wicked little fellows got mixed up in the jars back home.

>|: [

In search of goodies, Part IV: Sigyn is happy

The human female loves to bake, though she doesn’t do it often for reasons of time. Also, the human male doesn’t care for sweets much, so if she makes something, she can end up eating it ALL herself. (Which is why her pants fit the way they do. Well, that and because I’ve taken them all in a bit here and there. She’s convinced she’s ballooning up and she’s only partly right.)

This shop has a dazzling array of baking spices and seasonings, and Sigyn is over the moon, sniffing everything and chattering with the female about recipes. She has all but climbed into the Baking Assortment box!


I am sure that, with a little encouragement, the human female will bore us to death on the ride home with a lecture all about the different kinds of cinnamon. I think I will steal some bits of crystallized ginger to stuff in my ears.

Hold! Sigyn, what is that? It’s pretty, but surely that’s not edible!


It smells a little like those black jelly bird eggs that you like.

I am deeply suspicious…

>| : p

In search of goodies, Part III: A place of delicious smells and sneezes

Having left Joe the Merchant behind, we are now fossicking about in a charming spice emporium. The bags and bottles and jars seem to go on forever, and the air is redolent with a hundred exotic aromas. Opening the sample jars and sniffing everything is strongly encouraged. Sigyn has not stopped sneezing since we came in. Perhaps, my love, you should not sniff quite so hard.

I did not know that there were so many different kinds of pepper! I always assumed that it came in one model–black and speckly. But no, there is a (mostly) green sort for me–


–and some red peppercorns for you.


I know the label says “pink.” Those are not pink. Clearly the proprietor of this establishment is color blind. And look–the label says these are not even truly peppercorns at all! They need to hire a new copy editor, wouldn’t you say?

The human female says that spices used to be as valuable, pound for pound, as gold. They are still on the pricey side. If you need me, I will be over in the corner, filling my pockets with saffron…

>|: [

In search of goodies, Part II: We’re still at Joseph’s

It could be very hard indeed to choose the most interesting thing in this store. I am leaning toward this fancy pasta:


Because a) made with green, spiky things; b) full of ripped out hearts (only vegetables, but still); c) stuffed with cheese; and d) stuffed with more cheese…

Sigyn is giggling back at this funny red cow


and wondering where she can get some big, dangly earrings like that.

I am surveying the aisle with all the sauces and toppings. Sigyn–come here! You will want to see this, I think.


I’ve heard this stuff is delicious. I believe that “dulce de leche” means “sticks to fillings,” and “fleur de Sel” translates to “sit down with a spoon and eat the whole jar at once.”

Oooooooooh. Sigyn, you distract the humans while I drop a jar or two of this into their basket. Don’t you imagine it is good on just about anything?


The humans are looking at interesting beers and hard ciders. Sigyn thinks this wine sounds as if it might be good.


Of course she does. Violet-scented wine–what will they think of next?

>|: [

In search of goodies, Part I: In Which We visit Mr. Joseph’s Mercantile

While we are in the big city, the humans–piggish to the last–want to try to visit various markets and purveyors of comestibles. I have no objection. Sometimes they buy things I find very tasty.

So here we are at a place named for its owner, Joseph. Supposedly, it sells a lot of fancy foods, but so far, you can’t prove it by me. We haven’t made it past the vestibule because Sigyn has found a little pot of Campanula flowers.


Not a great photo, but there’s no mistaking that joyful smile.

There is a nice selection of succulent plants, too. This gold-colored one is particularly nice.


Come on, sweetie. Don’t you want to look at yummy things?


Oh, yes…. Chocolate yogurt definitely counts.

>|: [

What’s the Fuss About?

You humans and your friend just couldn’t get over not being able to poke in the pen store the other day, could you? No, you jumped in the car and made a return trip to the big city to visit the store when it is open.

The place is full of fountain pens, all right. I’m impressed! I had no idea there were so many different kinds. I don’t see the point of someone owning more than one or two, and *I* don’t feel the need to own one at all, but I suppose I can appreciate the variety.


Am I reading that price right? I had no idea they could be so pricey. Why pay that much for something you will probably lose within a month?

Sigyn has found one that has the looks of a fast sports car, in just her color.


Um, Sigyn, have you seen what they want for that one? Back away, very, very slowly… There’s a good girl.

There’s a clever little rainbow of a book on the counter, full of writing samples in all of the different colors of ink they carry. It’s the most interesting thing in the stop, and I’d like to sit and pick out a signature color of green for my own use in non-fountain pen projects, and Sigyn is interested in the pinks and reds, but the mortals are monopolizing it. That’s all right. We can go over and look at the pre-owned classic pens in that case over there.


Now that green one in the celluloid that looks like shell… That one I actually sort of like.

The owners of this fine shop have made sure to carry a lot of stock. There are boxes and drawers and bins and cabinets of pen parts and accessories. A fellow could get lost in here!


The human female is considerably less pen-crazy than the males. She has tried several today, and she still can’t find one that is comfortable for or, or that she can write with without getting ink everywhere. She has now wandered over to a display of silver-point utensils. It’s an ancient art that uses a soft metal tip to make marks with. I have read about this and would like to try it.


Interesting, but the end result doesn’t look any different from graphite pencil.


Argh. Why are we still here? While you drone on forever, with all your talk of ink flow and barrels and converters,I am growing bored, and that is never a good thing, or a safe one. Go on, you nib-nerds, and dither. I think I will do a little rearranging and relabeling. I will blunt points, loosen gaskets, and unscrew ink bottle lids just a little. When you have left, the proprietor is going to spot some of the chaos, and closer inspection will reveal open boxes of stationery with one dog-eared sheet in each. All the pens in the non-fountain pen display are going to be mixed up in their little cubbyholes. The owner is going to scroll through the security footage, find your faces, and make a little poster with you and "permanently barred from premises" on it.

I don’t think you need to worry about finding this store open ever again.

>|: [

Mischief by the Numbers (Mischief update)

The human female has been doing a lot of ordering. She really enjoys spending other people’s money–as who wouldn’t? When I take over the planet, one of the best parts will be never having to pay for anything myself ever again.

It’s a tough job. I’ve had to stubbornify computers, slow down internet access, sow confusion in the hearts and minds of vendors, fiddle with vendors’ web pages, muddy terms of service, and snarl lines of communication left and right. Let’s see how she’s progressing…

Item: Wooden lab stools

Ordered: 44

Color choices for finish: 4

Different catalog numbers for the same item from same vendor: 2

Weeks for delivery: 6

Phone calls or emails it will take to arrange delivery: probably 2

Item: Dissecting microscopes

Ordered: 5

Number of quotes from vendor before one showed up with the right price and address: 3

Number of separately-billed parts needed to buy to assemble one usable scope: 5

Item: Microcentrifuge:

Ordered: 2

Number of emails/online chats to establish educator discount: 2

Whopping educator discount (percent): 1

Item: Large cabinet for storing exams

Ordered: 1

Number of cabinets of the right size available anywhere: 1

Number of different catalog numbers for this item with single vendor: 2

Height difference between this cabinet and door, in inches: 0

Phone calls/emails required to set up delivery: probably 3

Number of hernias among delivery personnel: probably 2 (projected)

Number of times the human has applied for a rebate offer from this vendor and had it rejected for trivial reason: 3

Item: Aquaria

Ordered: 5

In stock: 4

Emails/chat sessions required to get vendor into purchasing database: 5

Aquaria purchased via purchasing database portal: 0

Emails from vendor explaining they don’t do purchase orders: 1

Transactions completed without hitch: 0

She has also been hard at work on the herbarium database:

Number of source files to combine: 9+

Number of records: 250,000+

Number of pairs of duplicated accession numbers that must be tracked down and resolved : ca. 50

Specimens that will have to physically examined to correct record entry: 2000+ (rough estimate)

Hours spent in combining, removing redundancies, formatting, fixing errors: thousands.

Hours spent convincing spreadsheet program to save file properly: 10 (regular occurrence)

New gray human female hairs: I cannot count that high

Formula: How much I care = (Hours in workweek X hassles per hour) / vacation days taken

That’s right folks, incalculable!

>|: [