Month: February 2019

1 Evening, 2 Cellos, 3 Over-Excited Females, and a Whole Lot of Screaming

The human female has been insufferable all day.  She and the blue-haired goddaughter, who has driven down all the way from the Big City to the North, have tickets to a concert in the Big City to the South tonight.  She says it involves cellos.  I have no real objection to stringed instruments, so I think Sigyn and I will go with them.

….

Uhg!  The females chattered all. the. way. down.  I am more than ready for some soothing cello music.

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They look a bit under-dressed, but perhaps that is not what they wear to perform…

Now we are standing in front of the auditorium, waiting for the doors to open.  It is cold and windy and Sigyn is getting chilled.  If my sweetie catches cold, someone is going to pay!

Ehehehe!  The security line Sigyn and I are in has moved smoothly.  The human female and the blue-haired goddaughter’s line is not moving at all.  Perhaps that’s because I just zapped the metal-detecting frame and it’s dead.  Now all the cranky mortals have to shuffle over into a longer line!  See you later, ladies—Sigyn and I are going inside where it is warm!

Our seats appear to be satisfactory.

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Later:  Sigyn was sleepy, so she is taking a little nap while some unknown vocalist performs some songs no one can catch the words to.  Thor may be the god of lightning, but I do all right with electricity and can scramble a PA system as well as anyone!

Muuuch later:  Sigyn is sleeping so peacefully that I am letting her have another thirty minutes of nap, while the other concert goers get to sit staring at an empty stage and growing increasingly annoyed.

Later still:  Very well.  Sigyn is rested and refreshed, so I suppose it is all right for the concert to start.  An hour past scheduled start is enough mischief.  Let there be Cello!

Lovely, lyrical cello and—

Great Friggas’s Corset!!!  I did not know cellos could be manipulated to play heavy metal music!

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And what is that frenetic drummer doing up there?!  Odin’s eyepatch!  I have been lured here under false and very decibellious pretenses!

Just for that, I shall make sure that the human female and the blue-haired goddaughter do not show in the official concert photo.

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Sigyn and I are approximately under the red arrow.

The show is over and all the females are still squealing and bouncing up and down.  My ears are still ringing! And we still have a long drive back–it’s going to be midnight before we reach home.  No one had better mess with me tomorrow, because I’m sure to be as surly as a bilgesnipe with a sore paw…

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No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Remember last July when the human female and her crew switched from regular lab gloves to biodegradable nitrile gloves?   I had fun with that shipment.  It arrived in tatters and parts had to be replaced.  They’ve been patting themselves on the back for “helping the environment.”  Well, I’ve been helping the work environment,  making sure it is one of cHa0$ and obfuscation.

The very first thing the human female did when she got back into the office after Yule break was to order the “green” gloves for the semester.  That was on January 2.  She ordered 4 cases of extra large, 23 cases of large, 32 cases of medium, and 32 cases of small, ten boxes to the case.

This time I wanted to make sure they all arrived in good condition.

Just not all at once.

On January 9, about half the gloves arrived via Fed Up and Exhausted.  There was more than a bit of confusion, and the stockroom clerk almost didn’t sign for them, because They Had One Mission And Stumbled (THOMAS) had helpfully addressed the boxes to “Stephen Wolfe,” which just happens not to be the human female’s name.  She couldn’t check the packing slip, because there wasn’t one, just the freight weight statement. The shipment sat in one of the lab rooms while she worked with the vendor to figure out a) were the gloves hers and b) where were the rest?

About that time, the human female received four shipping notices from Unrepentant Package Squashers.  No explanation for the change in shipper.  The four shipments arrived on January 10.  Each one was a single case of small gloves.

After many emails to and from the customer rep, the human female managed to get THOMAS to agree to finish sending the order.  On January 11, more packages showed up, via Fed-up and Exhausted.  The human female and her minions counted and counted again, and came to the conclusion that they had the right number of cases of extra large and one extra case each of large and medium.  They were, however, still short a case of small.  No packing slip here, either.

Email, email, email, moaning, wailing, gnashing of teeth.  The customer rep was busy, busy, busy and ended each of her “I’m working on it” notes ended with a cheery “Let’s make 2019 the best year ever!”  

On January 14, the female managed to squeeze a packing slip out of THOMAS, but it showed only 23 large and 32 medium.

The human female finally gave up and called customer service directly.  They promised to make it all right.

On February 5, she received a shipping notice from Unrepentant Package Squashers that the long-awaited gloves were finally en route.

They arrived on February 11–and here they are!

glove box

I dragged it out as long as I could, and considering that many of the glove boxes sat in the big middle of the main prep room bench until all was completed and that turning in the non-existent packing slips required a novel-length explanation for the bean counters, I’d say it was one of my better jests.

And to think they’ll be ordering again for summer or fall!  Ehehehehe!

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Visiting With Old Friends (Sigyn Speaks)

It’s been more than its fair share of cold and wet this winter, but I think spring may be just around the corner!  I’ve been very busy greeting old friends!

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Hello, snowdrops!  See?  I can hang upside down, too!

Hello, daffodil!

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I’d forgotten you had such a sunny yellow face.  It’s a good look on you!

Hello, dwarf dandelion!

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Looks like you are all by yourself today.  Don’t worry!  I’m sure your cousins will be along soon.

Hello, little rosy bluet!

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And hello, park full of  bluets!!!  You don’t mind if I just flop down and bask in the sun, do you?

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I don’t care what the calendar says–if the bluets are up, it’s spring!

: )

I Know How to Hit Her Where It Hurts

I have written here before about the human female’s big, stupid embroidery project, how she took a couple of years to chart out this rug…

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..stitch by stitch so she could do it in cross-stitch.

You may recall that I’ve thwarted her every effort.  I made the charting software not run properly on her new computer.  I made it beyond difficult to get the program to spit out a readable chart.  Or a readable key.  I hid a few of the skeins of thread she needed.  I turned her chart-marking highlighters into “gel” highlighters, which are like smelly crayons.  In short, I’ve worked to deprive her of any and all enjoyment of this project.

She thinks she finally has me licked.  She remembered to wash the embroidery fabric so it won’t run.  She figured out work-arounds for the chart and key issues.  She found other highlighters.  She assembled all the one hundred and ninety-eight colors of thread.

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With which Sigyn is more than a little enamored.

She has located the center of the design.  She has figured out how to see the holes on this black fabric and taken her first few tiny stitches.

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Nooo!  I can’t have her actually enjoying the fruits of her labors!  I know!   I’ll distract her so she has to pick out a dozen stitches.  Boom!  Done.

And here we are.  Sigyn is checking the work.  Do we have good thread coverage?

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Are the colors pleasing?  Are the stitches tight enough?  Too tight?

Everything good? Yes?  Spendid!  That will make it much more dramatic when I give the human female a sore shoulder and arm and a recurrence of her chronic illness.  She’s had to put it aside.

Face it, female. This is as far as you’re going to get for a while.

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Enjoy your eighty mocking little stitches.

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Behold…

Here is one of the “herbivorous” urchins that I mentioned in my latest mischief update, the ones I have trained to eat soft-bodied invertebrates.

urchin

They’re stripey and spiky and I love them.

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Remember the Respirometers? Part II: I Called It

Did you think the stoppers were the only bits of the respirometers I worked my mischief on?  Pfft!  It’s like you don’t even know me!

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As I predicted, it was a fiasco.  Admittedly, the prediction doesn’t count, because I contributed to the fiasco, but that does not diminish the fun I had watching the human female and her minions scurry, struggle and curse.

First the cantankerous instruments got filled with a small amount of bluish-purple indicator fluid–a simple mix of glycerol and dye.  Never mind the fussy business of getting it equal in all the various tubes, I saw to it that it kept making air bubbles (which interferes with getting a reading) and that the students let their reactions go too long, letting the fluid go up and over into the dry beans or the live, respiring beans.  The Prep Staff was kept hopping, replacing wasted fluid in all the rooms all the time.

And the fluid was wet enough to wake the dry beans up and start respiring, which played merry Hel with the results.

Then there were the test tubes.  They were filled with a bit of cotton, a plastic platform (just visible in the left of the picture below), and then either dry beans or soaked, living beans.

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I had a hand in choosing the platforms for the respirometers.  I made sure that they weren’t all exactly alike.  Some were just a smidge larger in diameter.  Prep staff broke four tubes just loading the platforms in.  The students broke a further five by pressing too hard, trying to jam the rubber stoppers in.  Prep staff spent all week cannibalizing spare units for parts.

Then there were the bits of tubing.  The rigid ones turned out to be plastic,  not glass, but you know what?  They break just as easily!

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*Tink!*  Just like that.  We went through a lot of those.

Unfortunately, the human female put on her Science Thinking Cap and there may be work-arounds for next semester.

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A plastic 50-milliliter graduated cylinder is going to fit as a replacement for the test tubes.  The rig is even more stable afterwards, as the cylinders have big “feet.”  Prep Staff will probably have to cut them all off below the spout so the stoppers will fit, though.

And the breaky little graduated tubes?  Close inspection shows that they are cut from 1-milliliter plastic serological pipettes.

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The human female discovered a five-kilo box of the things in a storage cupboard in one of the prep rooms.  They’ll have to cut those to fit, too.

In short, they can actually improve the basic apparatus!

Am I discouraged?  Disheartened?  Hel, no!  They’ll probably try to use a Dremel motorized cutting tool to do both modifications, and no one ever uses one of those without a mishap or three.  It’ll be broken cutting wheels, sharp edges, slips, sparks, and that annoying, high-pitched “nnnnnyeh, nnnnyeh, nnnnnnyeh” noise that’ll give everyone a screaming headache.

I can work with that.

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Remember the Respirometers? Part I: My Mischief is Unstopp(er)able

Remember the respirometers?  The ones that arrived largely broken or incomplete?  Recently the students did the lab exercise that uses them.   Making things break wasn’t the only fun I had with the respirometers.  Pfft!  I am much more multimischievous than that!

First, the human female and her Prep Staff had to assemble them for use.

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A word of explanation:  The respiration experiment measures the gases given off by the germinating beans in one tube, compared to the not-doing-anything that goes on in the tube with the dry beans.  For it all to work, all the components must be air-tight.

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When the instruments came from the manufacturer, they had no stoppers at all.  That little goof was immediately obvious, so the professor whose project this experiment is demanded that some be sent.

I helped the manufacturer pick out the stoppers to include, so they sent nice, white ones.  Which all proved to be too small to actually seal the test tubes.  Not only that, but they were made of some weird substance that left chalky dust all over everything.

The professor caught this mistake soon after the white stoppers arrived and demanded that the manufacturer supply stoppers that would actually work.

So the black ones arrived.

Which was all well and good, except that they didn’t have any holes.  Holes are a bit critical for this application, but a pain in the neck to drill, so the professor shipped them all back, saying, “I’m not doing this, YOU do it.”

Let us examine the stoppers which were ultimately received and which the science nerds are using today.

Sturdy.  They appear to be made out of the appropriate type of rubber.

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Odd, though.  Every other black rubber stopper she’s ever seen has the size number on the top.  It’s on the bottom of these, so the human female is automatically suspicious.

Not to mention the little stray fringey bits around the edges.  All in all, a substandard molding job.

Thor’s bitty ball-peen!  They are not all the same size, either!

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Nor are the holes!  In assembling the respirometers for use, some bits of tubing are going in neatly and sweetly, while some are so hard to insert that the human female and her minions are getting cramped and bruised fingers from trying to jam them all the way in.  Slicking stopper holes up with glycerin isn’t entirely solving the problem–it just makes everything slippery and hard to grip.  Eehehehe!  Sometimes I’m so naughty I crack myself up!

They are partway through the assembly and the human female has just discovered that….TA DA! 

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Not all of them are completely drilled!!

See?!  Little pucks of rubber that have to be poked out with a probe or small paintbrush handle.

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Uh, oh!  I am laughing so hard I think I may have hurt myself, and Prep Staff is starting to mutter about “acetone” again.

I think I shall beat a strategic retreat.

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