Month: August 2016

I Can See Why You’d Think So, But It Wasn’t Me

Clean-up in room 313, STAT!

There is a huge blue puddle on the floor in one of the prep rooms.

benedicts2

Just look at this mess!  I know what you are thinking–Naughty Loki, Frost Giant, impressive volume of urinary malfeasance.  Even I could believe that 1+1+1=3… But I swear it wasn’t me!  Maybe Yelp had a little accident?  Guy is blue under all that fur, after all.  Or maybe Benno has porphyria, I don’t know.

Let us examine this lab lagoon a bit more closely.

benedicts3

Hmm.  Not actually pee.  Odin’s eyepatch!  In this place, a mystery spill could be almost anything. Colored water?  No.  Window-cleaner?  (sniff, sniff)  No, not ammonia-y enough.  Melted Otter Pop?  That would be highly unusual, even for this crazy place.

Ah ha!  I think I have a solution.  Benedict’s Solution, to be exact!

benedicts1

It would appear that someone has bobbled the unpacking of same*, dropped a bottle hard enough to break the cap, but recovered quickly enough to snatch the bottle upright before it could disgorge more than a third of its contents.  Good reflexes!  All that remains is to decant the remains of the ruined bottle **. into a secondary container, properly label the new container, consult the Manufacturer’s Safety Data Sheet, and determine what clean up strategy to pursue.

Told you it wasn’t Jotun pee!

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*Although I suppose my suddenly shouting, “Spider!” might have contributed to this miniature Lake Agassiz…

**To be fair, these bottles have had a hard life.  For some reason, the vendor (subcontracted by The Vendor Who’s Responsible) shipped them to the CHEMISTRY stockroom (different building.)  Chemistry called the human female, who asked them to be relabeled and given back to the carrier for delivery here.  They appeared here after a mysterious lacuna of more than a week, during which anything might have happened…

 

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Mischief Update: Special First-Day-of-Class Edition

Wow!   When I’m on fire, I’m on fire.  Yesterday was a GREAT day for me.  It was the first day of the fall semester here at the University, and I made good use of every opportunity for mischief I could find.

Despite the fact that every outside door in the building bears quite prominent signs stating, “Lower Division labs will NOT meet the first week of class,” I saw to it that a seemingly endless parade of clueless undergrads wandered the halls and into and out of offices, seeking sections that were, in fact, NOT meeting.  Prep Staff finally made additional signs for each lab door just so staff could get a little peace.  I’m meeting with all of the teaching assistants later in the week.  My plan is for them to begin lab next week with, “If you would all pass your homework to the front, we will start of with a quiz over last week’s experiment.”  Good thing everyone around here is trained to respond appropriately to pukers and fainters.

eCampus, the World Tree-like computer interface that links together schedules, grades, homework, notices, etc. for the entire campus, contracted electronic emerald ash borers yesterday and put forth only tiny dribbles of information.  Cue thousands of students wondering why their classes don’t show up and countless staff well and truly stymied in their attempts to upload course files and section folders.  This is has become a dependable, if not well-loved, first week of school tradition.  Fret not!  It will sort itself out once seventy thousand people aren’t all trying to log in at once.  I’ve been telling everyone that the “e” in “eCampus” stands for “eventually.”

I brought back another time-honored tradition for the first day of the semester.  It poured.  Everyone who didn’t heed the forecast endured about twenty minutes of very heavy “50% chance” and arrived at their over-air-conditioned destinations dripping and shivering.  Oh, and did I mention there’s a small but definite flu-outbreak in one of the sorority houses?

Surprise! The carefully-negotiated lab teaching schedule for first-semester majors’ biology lasted less than twenty-four hours.  Three teaching assistants who had overload assignments (three-sections each) were relieved of their extra sections, and these were given to a new teaching assistant, necessitating a small domino-sequence of changes to the grid.  Behold!  Is it not a thing of beauty and terror?

schedule-fu

Surprise!   The recently-quiescent Honors Program in Biology has been resurrected.  At yesterday’s staff meeting, the human female and her colleagues were made aware that there will be THREE lab sections of honors first-semester majors’ biology.  No info was provided as to who the teaching assistants will be or what they’ll want, of course.  The human female and her cohorts have been scrambling to learn their identities, gather their personal information, and get them plugged into the above-pictured grid, email lists, and lab meetings.

The Chancellor and Regents sent a memo to congratulate everyone on doing such a fine job, and the Provost encouraged all the weary staff and faculty to keep producing excellent results and better student outcomes (= higher grades) on a tighter budget, with no sacrifice in quality.  Ehehehehe!  More budget fun!  The only group on campus who seems to be flouri$hing is Engineering.  I think they have designs on the entire east side of campus and envision a small tribute state composed of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Business, Science, Education, Liberal Arts, and whatnot out on west campus or out by the river.  Hmm.  Perhaps I have thrown in my lot with the losing side and should abandon the human female to partner with someone in Engineering in mutual efforts to take over the world…?

The human female received a call from Central Receiving yesterday, informing her that they were holding a shipment with her name on it.  “How large?” she enquired.  “Small box; about six pounds,” was the reply.  Clearly, this was not the long-lost squid and clams, which should be several hundred pounds. The human female agreed that Central could plop the parcel into the campus mail.  It arrived yesterday afternoon and proved to contain the ten missing lampreys.  The human female was so glad to see their jawless, toothy faces that she said something about making them all small party hats.  (Should I be worried about her?  Nah.)

A second delivery, this one made to the stock-room, proved to contain fourteen dead cats, part of an order the human female made this spring to the Purveyor of Squiggly Things (and also sometimes Not Squiggly Things.)  She has yet, of course, failed to receive the twenty-four stiff kitties she ordered much longer ago than that from the Purveyor of Dead Things.  This afternoon she will order twenty-five more.  By the Norns’ nose-hairs!  It is dead cats 24/7 around here.

She also needs to order eleven microscope slides of human blood, taken from someone afflicted with the malady known as sickle-cell anemia.  (Jotuns aren’t afflicted by this malady; it sounds dreadful.)  She is put in the guilt-inducing position of hoping that there is someone who is sick enough with this to contract to bleed for a slide-making house.

And I still owe the human female a really rotten prank or two.  Her work group has had both Environmental Health and Safety Department (EHSD, AKA Eek! Hazards, Sickness and Death) and Biosafety (BSL, AKA Bacteria, Slime, and Loogies) inspections this week.  Despite my best efforts, they passed both with flying colors, but the human female locked me away for the duration of both inspections, so I was unable to point out to the inspectors all of the more subtle-yet-deadly deficiencies.  I had to content myself with pointing out that in two of the prep rooms, the safety showers are immediately adjacent to the circuit-breaker boxes and with making sure the human female and her staff received yet another directive about the handling and labeling of biohazard waste.  (Long story involving bags of different colors, autoclaves, stickers, and disposal personnel who are convinced that Red Means Instant Annhiliation, such that heretofore any red bag must be put into a black one before they would consent to dispose of it.)

The days are just packed.

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Breaking in the New Help (And Just Plain Breaking)

The new Prep Staff member in the human female’s work group is working out well.  Big smile, does what she’s told, etc.

Still, I believe in letting her know just what what she’ll be dealing with on a day-to-day basis, so I have arranged some surprises for Prep Staff.

We are back in Room 313, site of previous mischief. Yep, the “hot plates might be hot” sign is still there.  Imagine!  Hot plates can get hot!

hotplatesarehot2

So hot, in fact, that the agar for pouring test tube slants could just boil right over.

burnt-agar

Oopsie.  Probably tougher to remove now that it has cooled.

And I think we might need to order some new beakers…

brokenbeakers

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‘Tis a Puzzlement

The human female likes puzzles.  She’s pretty good at word puzzles and actually amazingly good at jigsaw puzzles, but not so good at math puzzles and pretty hopeless at those wood-rope-bent metal tavern puzzles.

Let’s see how well she does with the one I left for her in the kitchen.

forkpuzzle

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Mischief Update: The Top of the Roller Coaster

It’s that time of year again in the humans’ workplace.  Summer projects are winding down, and preparations for the fall semester are ramping up.  It’s like the top of the roller coaster:  Nowhere to go from here except down, with the concomitant screaming, unexpected turns, and occasional upchuck.

The students are back in town, which means driving, parking, and eating out have gone from pleasant pursuits to full-contact sports.

The City finally came and picked up the dead oak carcass that was decorating the front yard, so the human female is not confronted with her horticultural shortcomings each morning as she leaves the house.  No, the dead spots in the front lawn will just have to suffice for that.  The lawn is looking particularly patchy, as 8+” of rain in the last two weeks have precluded mowing.

I taught the front bathroom toilet how to make a startling high-pitched squeal.  Cue new float assembly.  Home repair is such fun.

You will recall that the human female has initiated a split-delivery order for termites.  She thought she had the situation well in hand, after having corrected the initial snafu.  Not so!  The Purveyor of Squiggly Things called to remind her that her requested second ship date was Labor Day, and thus no labor would occur.  Since the POST does not ship on Saturday or Sunday, the human female has had to stipulate that the insects be shipped to her home on the previous Friday for Saturday arrival.  She attempted a delivery like this once before, and a tag-team foul-up involving me, the Purveyor of Squiggly Things, and Fed-up and Exhausted resulted in the delicate little beasties being delivered to the loading dock on campus, where they languished and eventually perished in the early fall heat, while the human female sat awaiting them on the other side of town.  Will we have a repeat of this tangle this year?  Stay tuned to find out!

I am sure you are all eager to know:  Is there any progress on attempts to acquire the rest of the ingredients for Dead Thing PaellaWhy, yes indeed!  There has been a little flurry of back-and-forth e-mail between the human female and the Purveyor of Dead Things just this very morning.  The cephalopods are present and accounted for, with clams just now entering the processing stream.  Does the human female want squiddies now and bivalves now, or should the PODT wait and make a mega-shipment when the clams are done?  One shipment, please! That way the 24 dead cats on back order since last December (don’t you love a PO that stays open between one fiscal year an the next?  I know I do!) have a theoretical hope of hitching a ride.  “But what of the lampreys?” you plaintively ask?  (Or maybe you don’t ask, but I shall tell you anyway.)  The lampreys are supposedly inbound. As are the fourteen dead, naked felines ordered from the Purveyor of Squiggly Things (who also sells Dead Things), which the human female ordered from POST because the PODT had kitties on back-order since last December. In the meantime, the Anatomy and Physiology instructor has requested 25 more cats for next fall, which need to be ordered NOW if there’s a hope in Hel of obtaining them before 2018.

Fall 2018…That is when one noted Seller of Computers told the human male the urgently-needed laptops ordered for the Anatomy and Physiology labs would be available. They later amended that date to mid-September of this year, which is better, but not really satisfactory, as they are needed when the semester starts, and it is going to take some time to load up the software on them.  And that would be the virtual-cat-dissecting software that A&P is switching to because of the Dead Cat Conundrum! See how I have brought things full circle and tied them with a sparkly green bow?

Oh, and last week the human female received a call from the Purveyor of Squiggly Things asking about the simply enormous order for Mr. Unfamiliar Name in the Biology Department.  A little sleuthing turned up Mr. U. Name in the Biology Department of one of the university’s satellite campuses.  So close! She almost ended up with a ton of supplies she didn’t need and can’t pay for.

The humans have attempted to relieve some of the dead-animal-related stress by purchasing entertainment at a discount.  One of the local video and bookstores has been “circling the drain” for quite some time and has recently announced that it is going out of business. FORTY PERCENT OFF EVERYTHING! their advertisements screamed.  So down the humans hurried, only to find out that no, only the used books are 40% off.  The next week, they announced a massive SALE!  The human male (who should have known by now to call ahead) went over on his lunch hour only to find out that that sale did not apply to that particular store.  All hail Loki, god of misleading advertisements.

I have also taken over the position of god of unwanted Spam. (Wait, that’s redundant.  God of Spam.) The university’s mail program used to have a pretty good filter, catching most of the spam and unsolicited offers of riches, larger mammaries, and enhanced sexual prowess and just chucking it into oblivion.  I’ve been tinkering, and now the spam filter just flags all of these and then sends each user a huge daily (or twice or thrice daily) post stating, “We have quarantined all these and you may wish not to view them.”  Then it lists them.  Fifty or sixty or seventy at a time.  Sex dating online!  Make love use best men’s health medicine!  Perfect mood with strong health!  You are a winner! This would not be so bad in and of itself, but I have set it up so that each gargantuan serving of garbage goes back nearly three weeks, meaning users get notices of each message a dozen or more times before it ages off the bottom of the list.  As well, each BIG dump of verbal refuse is accompanied by a smaller dump of 7 to 9 messages, as if the system is gleefully interrupting with, “Oh, hey, look!  More crap here!” (This is the e-mail equivalent of  the Imodium not having taken effect yet.)  I’ve also arranged matters such that a good handful of messages in each user’s box appear to come from the user.  Congratulations, human female! You’ve just offered a lucrative job at K-Mart to yourself!  Pleas to the campus IT Help Desk result in 1) a copy of the plea being returned to the supplicant with no further verbiage, 2) a brief note which boils down to “Yeah, sucks, doesn’t it?” and 3) absolutely nothing.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be a Mischief Update if I didn’t have BAMN shenanigans to report.  One of the human female’s most reliable vendors, He of the Gloves, Bags, and Booties, dropped by to politely ask why he hadn’t been paid for the delivery he made back in June.  It turns out that with BAMN, which requires the human female to log in and do receiving for all received goods, she is no longer scanning packing slips and forwarding them to the Department’s accountant for payment.  The vendor was not presenting an invoice to BAMN or the Department as the human female was assuming he had.  It’s all cleared up now, but the human female looked petty and miserly for a bit there, which is not a good look on her.  I should do this more.

In other BAMN Receiving issues, the human female finally got in the very last of the huge fall order from Vendor Who’s Responsible.  In one of my finer touches, the program, when displaying a large PO for doing receiving, displays only 5 line items.  The user must manually expand it.  After the user  selects an item, receives it, and saves the receipt thereof, the view defaults back to just 5 items.  Every. Single. Time.  Also, saving the receipts as the items come in does not actually result in the receipts being submitted for payment.  No, the human female unknowingly ended up with a big pile of “open” receipts” that all had to be submitted in a two-screen process for each one.   My favorite part, though, is how if a user needs to view the PO to remind herself what has been received/submitted and what has not, the only way to do it is to hit the generate a receipt button, which makes a new receipt with its very own number, a receipt that may not actually have any received items on it.  It just sits there, open, until it is manually cancelled.

And the human female just sits there, open-mouthed, with a blank stare.  I think she might be broken…  Have I gone too far?  Should I relent in my campaign to reduce her to tears and bring the university to a screeching halt?  Should I be rethinking my life’s choices?   Hmmm.

Nah!

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Remembrance of Things Not Long Past

It’s difficult to believe that we have all been back from London for nearly three months.  So much has changed since then!  England has filed for divorce from the rest of Europe, and my plans to destabilize that part of the world so that I may more readily conquer it are proceeding apace.

The humans talk often and at great length about all the things we did, saw, and ate there.  Trying to recapture a bit of past glory, they are re-creating a bit of the trip by attending a concert of Medieval and Renaissance music.  Sigyn and I have tagged along.

There is a mighty fine harpsichord.  By which, I mean that it is green. Sigyn, if you asked nicely, I imagine they would let you peek inside during the intermission.

consort-concert1.jpg

Now the choristers are singing. Humty tum… Tra-la-la.  “Sumer is icumen in.” People, I don’t know where you’ve been, but Sumer is damned well here already, and I didn’t need a farting goat to clue me in.

(later.) Well, that was a nice concert.  They get kudos for featuring an instrument known as a “sackbut.”  Ehehehehe!  I think “Sack-butt” will be my new nickname for the human female…

I’m feeling a little hungry, how about you, my love?  Let us go see what delicacies are on offer at the reception.

Hmm.  Fruit, cheese, crackers, all sorts of chocolatey things the human female can’t have…  Let’s examine what she did choose.

consort-concert2

Grapes, I recognize, and I believe the yellow rectangle is a lemon bar of some sort.  That looks like pumpkin or zucchini bread with something that is not quite whipped cream. What filling is in the little phyllo tart, do you think, Sigyn?  It looks like cream of mushroom, but that would be weird, even for humans.

<nibble>  Key lime?  Key lime!  We like key lime!  Quick, dearest, you distract the human female with the ersatz clotted-cream and I will make away with this teeny tart and we can feast and reminisce in peace.

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God of Small but NOISY Annoyances

Occasionally,  I like to set up a long good news/bad news chain for the humans.  Even if they end on a positive note, the constant yo-yo-ing is quite draining.  I have a good one planned for today!

Good news–The humans have just discovered that the City has at last configured their waterfowl in a linear fashion and done some resurfacing on one of the roads on the humans’ usual route home.

Bad news–The City has not done a particularly good job of rolling the gravel into the tar, so all sorts of grit is hissing and pinging up into the undercarriage of the car.

Good news–We are now off the freshly-gooed roads and the tiny rocks have stopped flying.

Bad news–The car is making some new and interesting clanging noises!   They sound like they are coming from inside the wheel wells.  Perhaps it is just tarry gravel falling off?

Good news–The car is handling acceptably, and no wheels have fallen off, so perhaps the noise will go away?

Bad news–The noise has not gone away.

(later)

Bad news–The human male has had to arrange to take the car into the shop because the clangy-pingy-boingy noise has taken up permanent residence.

Good news–The mechanics have sussed out the problem.

Bad news–There is a rock in the brake rotor!

rotor-rock

Good news–They have removed the rock before it could do permanent damage–and done it for free!

Bad news–The mechanic doesn’t know how to spell “squeal.”

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