Mischief Update: So Very, Very Busy

I’ve regaled my public with accounts of my larger exploits–the hard drive failures, the pipette tip madness, the wholesale emptying of one classroom, the autoclave, etc. , but I don’t want you to think I haven’t been looking for other ways to annoy the humans.

Here, in no particular order, my crimes and misdemeanors:

I sent another invoice from the Vendor Who Was Swallowed Up By The Vendor Who’s Responsible to Qatar, in the Persian Gulf.   The people in Qatar sent it on to the human female, who had to call the Vendor Who’s Responsible yet again and explain how this was never going to result in payment.  She’s had to place another order with the VWWSUBTVWR–this one for An Abundance of Lampreys.  We’ll see how the billing goes, but she shouldn’t get her hopes up…  Actually, that was a fun order, because one of the items showed out of stock at the VWR and in stock from the VWWSUBTVWR.  Invoice and shipping will be from VWR.  Maybe.  Why didn’t she order from the Purveyor of Dead Things, you ask?  Because they are out of filthy, fish-sucking petromyzontidinous goodness until August!

The new first-semester freshman Bio labs, the ones with the new exercises that the female and her staff have been frantically trying to understand and order for and prep, have been rearranged in sequence.  This means that one of the bulletin board displays will go up, come down for a week, and then go back up.  So far the new labs are going fairly well, though they are running over time and the students seem quite reluctant to actually read the exercises and do the appropriate math beforehand.  Protocols that worked for the faculty when tried with small groups over the summer are proving difficult to scale up.  And remember the new micropipettors?  The students have already managed to break six of them.  You might think that they’re just being careless, being young mortals whose pre-frontal cortices are yet rudimentary, but mostly it’s because I’ve led them to believe that they can abrogate the laws of physics and aspirate 1.8 milliliters in a pipette that will only hold 1.0.  I’ve promised a prize of $100.00 to the first student to actually achieve this feat, and they do keep trying!

Ah, students.  The semester is young yet, but already they are showing their intellectual capabilities.  One astute young scholar attended the wrong lab for two weeks–just wandered into the wrong room at the right time, presumably liked it, and stayed.  another added the class late, was directed to a lab to make up the missed session, and then attended a different section entirely.  Several others overlooked emails, signs, and syllabus materials that told them when labs would start and missed the first lab, “Because I didn’t know labs were meeting this week.” Four put down the wrong TA’s name when filling out their Lab Safety Agreement.  Quite a few others put down the wrong section number or supplied their room number instead.  Our future scientists and civic leaders, folks! I should be able to gull them easily and direct them to do my bidding like good little sheep.

The Teaching Assistants are just as subornable.  One left a stack of homework in the classroom.  Another missed his office hours.  And one stellar individual remembered to refill the buffer bottles after their section but neglected to close the stopcock on the large carboy.  They do say mopping is good cardio.  The human female should know.  She knocked over a gallon jug of RO water in one of the prep rooms, and the plastic shattered like glass.  Mop, mop, mop…  Later that day, a bag of old, fermented, red-dyed, soaked lima beans that was triple-bagged fell and splattered on the same spot.  It’s a very clean floor now.

Remember whole reverse-osmosis/ distilled water flap?  The technician did finally come to run the antiseptic (bleach, basically) through the system.  It sat for 48 hours, during which time the bleach ate a few leaks into the lines. That got fixed.  It’s all over now and, apart from still not having distilled water, all seems to be well.  I had been hoping to string this project along until May, so I was a little disappointed that the work has been done.  I contented myself with having someone from Slow, Silent, and Costly come visit the human female the week after it was all over and say, “So, what’s all this about white chunks in the water?”

For years I’ve seen to it that the outlet the human female’s work computer plugs into is as finicky as a spinster aunt.  Jostle any cord that’s plugged into it and the uninterruptible power supply that’s plugged in for the computer beeps loudly about “interrupted power!” (It’s no coincidence that the acronym for those things is pronounced, “oops.”)  The other day, she happened to administer the barest brush to the phone charger she had in the outlet and the UPS started announcing Ragnarok at pitch and decibel levels worthy of Sif in the midst of one of her finest rants.  Every few seconds, BEEEEP!  She tried every combination of plug, unplug, reset, BEEEEP! shut down, restart, reset, and curse she could think of, but all she managed to BEEEEP! do was make her computer unhappy as well.  BEEEEP!  She thought it was the breaker, which is helpfully BEEEEP! behind a locked door to which no one but Slow, Silent, and Costly has the key, but when the fellow from SSC showed up BEEEEP!, he deemed it a faulty outlet.  He departed to get one (I’ve made it a rule that they never to travel with parts) and returned BEEEEP!, only to proceed to tinker with the innards of the wall.  Eventually, she was all sorted out and silence reigned, but it sort of shot an afternoon of (pretending to) work.

The warped counter around the sink in one of the prep rooms has been approved for replacment.  But I’ve delayed the epoxy countertop indefinitely.  Even if it comes in, the crew may need to wait for a semester break to do all the rip out and install.  Prep staff had all the drawers removed or emptied. They’ve put them all back–which of course will mean the slow,  silent, and costly folks will be here the very next day.

The office ran out of Bio 112 lab manuals, so the human female had to put out a call for anyone with a used one from a previous semester.

The honors sections of 112 lab are two weeks behind the regular sections (different curriculum), so the human female won’t be able to carry over live materials from regular labs one week to give them.  Nope!  She’ll have to order all the live goobers in a second time.

The rush order for human sickle-cell anemia hemoglobin (miscalculated on initial order) wouldn’t go through online, so the human female had to call with a credit card and enjoy the fun of trying to explain the whole convoluted mess that is any mailing address at the university.  Eventually, the order went through.  However, when she had to do another rush order for something else last week, the vendor couldn’t pull up her account or address or anything.  Why?  Because it’s another company that has swallowed a bunch of other smaller companies.  Though they all say, “We’re proud to now be a part of Expect Major Delays (AKA, United Amalgamated Consolidated Lab Supplies Unlimited),” they’re still actually, legally separate companies, and they don’t share account info, and you can’t order Company A’s product from the Umbrella Company.  The phone operator actually sent her to the website.

The pet store was out of crickets.  A hungry tarantula is nobody’s friend.

I told the spiny urchins in the two main salt water aquaria to make themselves at home.  This they have done, consuming two lettuce sea slugs and a sea cucumber.  Perhaps the aquatics tech confused gentle, herbivorous sea urchins with carnivorous ones that just like to eat invertebrates named for vegetables.

The copier ate a page of the multipage packing slip the human female was scanning to send for payment.  You know, the big one from VWR?  That big order that has been coming in in dribs and drabs since December?  That’s right, the one where every packing slip includes every item on the whole order, even a particular box has only a single item.  Pages and pages of packing slip!  Except, of course, for the boxes that arrive with no packing slip…  Meanwhile, the three outstanding cases of pipette tips have generated not one but two “update on your shipment, here it comes” emails, but still no joy.

The elevator and key card doors on the floor randomly refused to work during the first week of the semester.  No reason, other than I like to mess with people’s heads.

All is far from perfect on the home front.  A free annual inspection of the heating system showed that my repeated kicking of the infrastructure is paying off.  Something about the supports for the plenum box about to give way…I think.  Something expensive, anyway.

The aerator on the kitchen faucet, with my help, went a little wonky and was spraying water sideways.  The mortals’ old bachelor friend removed it to clean it, and it wouldn’t go back in.  He promised to fix it, but the first new aerator he tried didn’t fit.  He was prevented from returning with the proper part, so the humans had an aerator-less faucet that shut off with a “blurt!” for a few weeks.  It’s mostly fixed now, but it still has a tendency to splatter a bit at low pressure.  I find it’s the little annoyances that can really grind a person down, don’t you?

I made the human female drop a sock in the felines’ water dish.

I made sour milk when the female wanted to eat cereal for breakfast.

The human female finally gave up on the embroidery kit she ordered LAST January (2018).  Come to find out, the kit maker, who is in Europe, has a minimum overseas order, so the human female’s order, which was much less, was just going to sit until several hundred dollars’ worth of additional orders were submitted by the stitchery shop.  The human female gave the shop a Stern Talking To about not advertising items they couldn’t actually procure.  That prank took a full eleven months, start to finish, so bonus points for that.

I made the jam go bad in the fridge.  Do you have any idea how hard that is?  I’m sure the human female could spin you a very boring lecture about osmotic potential and microbes and oxidation and how jam has too much sugar in it to spoil, but Rancid Jam, apart from being a very good band name, is a thing that can happen.  What can I say?  It’s a talent.

So you can see, I’m at the top of my mischief game.  I give it a 9.5 for execution and a 10.0 for creativity.

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