Month: May 2019

In Which We Learn Just How the Human Female’s Sick Little Mind Works…

In all of the excitement of discovering that deer are sigynivorous and that some monotremes have skulls that look like something straight out of science fiction, one important fact was overlooked.

Not all of the skulls came.  Six of the seven requisite deer skulls are on back-order, as are a few of the nightmare beasts.

Missing entirely are the cat skulls.

I have written before, at length, about the dearth of pickled cat cadavers for the Dead Cat Ballet, how I have conspired to make it nearly impossible for the human female to obtain stiff kitties at any price or within any reasonable time frame.  Well, this same shortage means that cat head-bones are just as hard to come by as the rest of the beast.  The seven cat skulls she ordered from the Purveyor of Head Bones are on indefinite back-order.

The human female has mulled this for a few days now, and she has come up with a solution that horrifies even me.  I, who will stop at nothing and for no one in my bid for conquest, would never have come up with such a plan.

You see, the human female does still manage to order a few dead cats from time to time.  The Anatomy and Physiology teaching assistants still dissect a few kitty cadavers as demonstrations for their students.  At the end of the semester, there’s not much left of Mittens, if you get my meaning.

Perhaps you can see where this is going.  I will spell it out, painfully, for you.

She has written to the POHB with the most bizarre notion ever to come out of her  twisted soul.  “What,” she asked, “if we cut the heads off a few of our used cat cadavers and mail them to you?  Could you process them for skulls?”

I don’t know which is more appalling—that she would suggest it, that the POHB would agree to attempt the procedure, or that two of the human female’s minions would leap at the chance to perform the decapitations.

So here we have it:

box of catheads2

A box of noggins.

box of catheads1

All boxed up and ready to send.  I’ve heard that preserved animals are difficult to process into good skeleton specimens.   This will either end glory and shiny skulls or in tears and recriminations.  I guess we will find out.

>|: [

To be continued…

 

More Adventures in the Room of Skulls

I was able to rescue Sigyn from the clutches of that murderous deer.  Horrible creatures, deer, really.  I prefer to think of them as merely the larval stage of roast venison.

There are more skulls here, and they are drawing a lot of attention.  The human female and her minions are showing them off to anyone who wanders by.

Sigyn is investigating the pronounced sagittal crest on this opossum.

skulls7

The human female says that is where all the jaw muscles are attached.  It certainly looks capable of eating anything it finds.  Opossums are strange creatures–tails like rats, huge rafs of babies which they tote about in pouches or on their backs, fur that always looks like they’ve been washed in the washer on the wrong cycle, and a predilection for rummaging about in compost heaps.

I am more impressed by the dentition of this male vervet monkey.

skulls3

This fellow looks quite up to the task of perforating anyone who tried to put him in a funny outfit or make him do silly tricks.  And the overall effect is of a toothy little human.

Great Frigga’s hairpins!  Look who has turned up!  Marty, that goggle-eyed menace, has dropped by to ogle the chicken skull.

skulls10

I don’t want to think about what Marty’s skull might look like.  Not much room for a brain, that’s for certain.

Oh, and here is Fisi, trying to sneak in a nibble on the oppossum.

skulls11

Shoo!  Bad hyena!  No biscuit!

Sweet Tony Stark on the half shell!  What sort of alien mutant nightmare beast does this one come from?!

skulls8

Don’t get too close, Sigyn.  I don’t trust this thing at all.

skulls9

poke, poke, poke.

No sirree. I do not trust this thing at all, at all.  Nor can I figure out its modus operandi.  No proper teeth to speak of, but what about these long pincer-like things up front?  What IS it?  Where does it live?  What does it eat?  What does the rest of it look like??

Oh, I am going to have bad dreams and flashbacks about this one, I can tell you.

(Reads label.)  Huh.  I never, ever would have guessed.  Log your guesses in the comments, folks, and we’ll see if anyone comes close.

>|: [

It is Nine Kinds of Macabre in Here

The human female and her minions managed to make it through the first semester of new labs for Biology 111.  Now they’re facing all new exercises for Biology 112.  This course deals with evolution, phylogeny, and the many and varied organisms that inhabit this realm.  The instructor, with an eye to relating one notion to another, has planned an exercise in which the students will examine various vertebrate skulls and use their features, coupled with gene sequences, to come up with a vertebrate family tree.  It sounds both cutting-edge and ghoulish, and I must admit to being intrigued.

Sigyn, the human female says the skulls have arrived and are in room 313.  Let us see what has come!

skulls1

That is a veritable plethroa of crania!  And they’re from some outfit called “Skulls Unlimited.” Snort.  Of course they are.  I shall call them the Purveyor of Head Bones.

Some of the skulls are quite tiny.  This one is from something called a shrew.

skulls2

Sigyn is surprised at how tiny it is.  But as you should know, my diminutive princess, size is no indicator of fierceness.  A look at the teeth will reveal just what voracious predators shrews are.

The rat skull, on the other hand, just has long, orange incisors.

skulls6

And, according to Sigyn, “the cutest little molars ever!”

While the turtle has no teeth at all,

skulls5

though its bony jaw is quite capable of snapping up its prey.

Still, it is not always the carnivores that one needs to watch out for–

skulls4

Turn my sweetie loose this instant, you perfidious cervid!  Hang on, dearest, Loki’s coming!

Apparently white-tailed deer are not above a little snacking when the morsel is especially tasty.

>|: [

 

Yes, She Is Just. That. Clueless.

With the human female, the truly mysterious becomes clear in time.  The blatantly obvious takes longer.  Sometimes I take advantage of that when planning mischief for her.

Take, for example, the strange Case of the Reddish-Pink Menace.

The other day, the human female noticed a bit of what looked like reddish ink on one of her shoes.  She didn’t think much of it–she works in an office and around labs.  No doubt she’d run afoul of some dropped marker or spilled chemical.

Then she found a spot of a similar color on the living room floor, near the couch.  She pondered a bit and then cleaned it up.

Next, it was a reddish-pink spot on the bottom of her backpack.

inkybackpack

The cogwheels of what passes for her intellect began to turn slowly.  Perhaps she had a pen leak in the backpack?  Perhaps that red ballpoint she’s lost track of?  That would explain the spot on the floor, since that is where the backpack often sits at home.  (Yes, she’s a slob.)  If the shoes had been next to the backpack, that might explain that spot as well.   She looked through the disaster that is her backpack but found nothing.

This morning, however, rooting around in there for her keys, has produced a new clue.

inkyfinger

That is definitely ink–and it’s fresh.  I think she is about to finally discover the source of the stainage.

Rummage, rummage, rummage.

Aha!  The culprit has been apprehended!

Months ago, in one of his periodic fountain pen frenzies , the human male stumbled upon a package of  pens shaped like sharks.  He purchased a set, thinking it might be fun to give them out to friends.  The human female, being a surprisingly bloodthirsty wench, lost no time in seizing the white one and filled it with a reddish ink that made it look as if its innards were sloshing with the blood of its hapless victims.

She’s scary like that.  She didn’t use it much, because the ink was a little too pink and didn’t “look bloody enough.”

But she’s reaped the rewards of her actions, because look who was lurking in the depths of her pack:

inkysharkpen

What with one thing and another and a little help from me, his cap had completely unscrewed and he was merrily leaving a bloody trail behind him.  Take a look in her backpack.  It’s all Sharknado vs. Cat in the Hat Comes Back down in there…

And that particular color may not be waterproof, but it sure does not like to come off skin.  Ehehehehe!  She’ll be flaunting the badge of her carelessness aaaaalll day…

My work here is done.

>|: [

It’s That Time of Year Again!

Odin’s eypatch, where does the time go?!   The grass on the roadsides is turning tawny, the mosquitoes are living it up, and the outdoor air has all the physical properties of a lukewarm bath.  I  have blinked once since last year’s festivities and suddenly it’s cherry season again.  Sigyn and I have been doing this for years—when the cherries come in, we have our annual cherry pull.  Sigyn usually wins, and I have my suspicions about last year’s results…  Still, it’s a Tradition, with a capital “T”, and Sigyn loves it so, and thus here we are.

Hmm.  This year’s fruit looks a little smallish and under-ripe.  It is a little early.   Perhaps someone jumped the gun a bit with the harvest.

2019-cherries1

Come, my love.  Let us get my humiliation over with.

2019-cherries2

1…2…3…  Tug!

2019-cherries3

Gnnnngh!  Idunn’s little apples!  The stems this year are most monstrously strong!

2019-cherries4

Pull pull pull pull, pull ……..

<Snap!!!>

2019-cherries5

Heels over horns!

Ow.  Sigyn, light of my life, are you all right?  You’re sure?  Well, thank goodness for that.  No, I am not injured either.  Let us examine the results.

2019-cherries6

Is that…?  Do my eyes deceive me?   We appear to have tugged to a draw!  We both have an intact stem and a bit of the connector.  I didn’t think that was even possible!

I suppose we shall have to wait for another double cherry to come along and go best two out of three.   

Stay tuned!

>|: [

Suspicious White Powders…

You’d think the human female and her staff have enough to do, looking after their own students, but nooooooo.  Several times a year, the building plays host to visiting high school students for various enrichment programs or the Science Olympiad or some such.

Usually, this just involves making sure that the visitors don’t get up to any mischief with the rooms or their contents.  And no, the human female doesn’t trust them not to, hence this treatment of every unlockable cabinet in the rooms loaned out.

mystery powder0

A few rooms were used the other day by the most recent Science Olympiad.  There were rocks in one room, fossils in another, problem solving in a third, and Odin’s Crummy Depth Perception, what did the Thermodynamics students do in here?!

mystery powder1

What is this mysterious white powder all over the benches?

mystery powder2

What a mess!  Someone (I vote not I!) is going to have to clean that up.  The human female, not knowing what it is, has advised her staff not to tackle the task until someone from the Science Olympiad can tell them what they are being exposed to.  Sigyn, you may want to effect a precautionary retreat.

I, on the other hand, am unaffected by most substances.  Plus I don’t think that the S.O. coordinators would let high-schoolers play about with anything truly dangerous.  Therefore, I think I will indulge in a bit of mischief…

mystery powder4

And give the humans some footprints to clean up as well…

mystery powder3

Ehehehehehe….

>|: [

The Grunt-work Behind The Scenes

The human female–and Sigyn–are still squeeing about the glowy seedlings.  It’s fun when an experiment works the way it should.  Consider, however, how much effort goes into the preparation for an experiment, all the lowly, menial labor that has to be performed before the students can have their two hours of fun in the lab.  Tasks ideally suited for the feeble intellect of the human female.

Take, for example, all of this pipetting that has been going on.  Each action has to be performed with a fresh, new pipette tip.

Folks, that is a LOT of tips.*  Lower Division Biology used to stuff their own tips into the boxes.  Longtime readers may remember the purchasing gymnastics performed by the human female last fall, when she pitted vendor against vendor to secure the lowest price on refill tips that come helpfully already stuffed into replaceable inserts.   Let us catch up with Prep Staff and the human female and see if the investment has paid off.

The new refillable boxes are clean and sturdy.

tip boxes3

The inserts are super easy to snap in full and snap out when empty.  Here’s one whose useful life is over.  It looks as if it ought to be good for something else, doesn’t it?  So far, though, no one has been able to come up with any good ideas.

tip boxes2

Great Frigga’s hairpins!  The empties do pile up, don’t they?

tip boxes1

The program is going to go through thousands of these every semester.  The human female, loathe to just toss so much plastic cavalierly into the landfill, is going to have to lug them across campus and put them in the plastic recycling.

But still, it’s a significant time and labor saving over buying loose tips and stuffing them.  And let’s address the REAL issue.  With these new tip boxes, is Sigyn any less likely to—

tip boxes4

And that would be a “no.”  Hang on sweetie, Loki’s coming.

>|: [

*The scientific term is “metric crap-ton

Sigyn Is In Love

Remember all the fuss with the power tools and racks and seeds?  It has all come to fruition.

The seeds came through their cold nap very well, and the students were able to plate up their seeds.  Well, mostly able.  Despite being instructed to pipette their seeds into a straight line on the Murashige and Skoog medium, some of the kiddos were guided by a certain Jotun who shall remain nameless and just plopped all of their seeds in the center of the agar.  Others, in a demonstration of obtuseness which will live in infamy, carefully pipetted all of their seeds onto the lid of the petri dish.

Still, enough of the little geniuses did it near enough to correctly for the plates, after two weeks in a growth chamber, to be worth looking at.

arapidopsis seedlings2

Sigyn thinks they are adorable and wants to hug them.

arapidopsisseedlings

The students are using them to study heredity.  One of the parental lines is “wild type”.  When viewed through special glasses under a blue light, the little plants don’t fluoresce and just look like dark shapes.  The only brightness is where the light source is bouncing off the background.

arapidopsis-no-glow

The other parental type, however, has been Meddled With and gifted with a gene originally found in jellyfish.  The plants produce green fluorescent protein (gfp) in their cells.  When viewed with the fancy glasses under blue light, the plants fluoresce–they appear green and are clearly visible– not just shadows.

arapidopsis glow

Theoretically, the gene for fluorescence is supposed to be dominant.  Let’s look at the F1 plants, the hybrids between glowy and not glowy.  All of these seedlings have one copy of the glowy gene.

arapidpsis-hybrid

Great Mendel’s peapods!  All glowy!  Our hypothesis is correct!

Further observation of seedlings that are the result of crossing this F1 generation with itself shows that glowiness is inherited in a 3 to 1 ratio over non-glowiness, thus re-confirming that the gene for green fluorescent protein production is, in fact, dominant.

That green glowiness is a neat trick, I must say.  And yes, Sigyn, the little seedlings are cute.  But let us bring science to bear on the real question raised by this little experiment: What would it take to get this gfp into me so that I can glow green in the dark?

>|: [

 

 

Mischief Update: Turning It Up to Eleven, Part II

The chronicle of Mischief continue!

Computing on campus continues to be fun. Anyone logging in to do anything with HR, Workdon’t, purchasing, the library, etc., etc., is now required to have dual-factor authentication.  (Must make sure the peons are who they say they are.) I arranged the tutorial website to not match the actual Duo interface, which was good for more than a few giggles.  The human female had to buy a little dongle-thingy to generate a Duo passcode, since her phone is a bit of a dinosaur.  The various websites are supposed to remember the code for sixty days, but for some reason, it never does. I wonder why?

I had a little fun at the human male’s expense as well.  Two computers kept throwing error messages saying that they couldn’t connect due to “trust issues.” After a not insignificant amount of sleuthing, he determined that two computers had the same “name” as far as the network was concerned.  That took a while to clear up.

Right after Spring Break, one of the human female’s Tech Is quit with no notice.  She got to experience all the fun of hiring someone through Workdon’t, including processing applications from someone who no doubt is a very nice individual but whose Psychology degree and many years of employment in the lawn care industry didn’t precisely fit him for the job.  Another applicant had one name at the top of her letter of intent and a different one at the bottom. One gave no address on the resume.  The top candidate took another job before she could be brought in for an interview, and two others declined to come for interviews, but the human female finally was able to hire someone who promises to be an asset to the team. The girl studies maggots on corpses, which makes me think she and I might have some shared interests…

Prep Staff found a wrapped string-cheese stick in a bag of stick-on electrodes. It expired last May.  Don’t look at me.  Well, okay, do look at me.  I put a student up to it last spring, but I certainly don’t eat those things myself.

The Teaching Assistants were my able helpers this semester too.  One of them gave out half the answers for the large Animal Diversity assignment to her students, and the only way to make things even for everyone in the other 83 sections was to give all of them the info too. Of course, part of the original info dump consisted of erroneous info, so that was a nice contribution to the muddle.

April ushered in the dreaded Annual Employee Evaluation period. This is announced a million times and is supposed to last until the end of May, although everyone got the email that This Extremely Important Thing is Due–and the due date is given as two days from then. Then everyone spends the whole two months with the fool thing Overdue! People shouldn’t complain, though, because Workdon’t helpfully guides supervisors through the process.  Each successive evaluation category won’t load, though, without hitting the next button, which loads then next page, and then hitting the “back” button to get back to the previous item.  It won’t let the human female see her supervisees’ self-evaluations, though, which leads to some flying blind.  I’ve told the human female to just flunk all her employees and let the higher-ups sort it out.

HR is just always fun.  The human female missed a call from them one day when she was home sick. When she returned the call the next day, the person who’d called was quite unable to remember what she’d called about.  The new employee?  Nope.  Information about increasing contributions to the humans’ retirement accounts?  Nope, not that either.  No one has called back, so I suppose it wasn’t important—or WAS it??

Someone wrenched the doorknob off the door between room 305 and room 309.

Speaking of good old room 305…  Earlier this year, the human female and her staff had to move out of there because Anatomy and Physiology had to move in because the second floor (where A&P was) was going to be renovated.  Well, what with one thing and another (read: Loki), this did not happen, but A&P had the third-floor room all semester anyway.  Now they have to move out again, because no one let the registrar know about the shell game and the room’s been assigned to Biology again for the fall.  Renovations will *finally* start in January, so they’ll be back upstairs again. Quit whining, humans!  Moving microscopes and models and skeletons and dead cats and spectrophotometers gives you muscles.  I just saved all of you a fortune in gym memberships.

Someone stole the human male’s credit card number and started buying things in a different state.  He got it cleared up quickly, but it raises an important question:  Who would want to be him???

Someone called the human female, a botanist, and asked her how to get rid of toads in his pond, since they were keeping him up all night and he needed his sleep after having surgery and… The human female always wonders how these random callers manage to find her.  Duh!

Health-wise, the humans are plodding along. The human female has been trying for months to get the second half of her shingles vaccine.  I’ve been hindering the production of same, so that humans everywhere are wait-listed.  I’m also working on developing my own vaccine, and when it’s ready, I’m going to make millions.  Anyway, she called the clinic ahead of time to see if they had any and was told they had six doses and if she came first thing on Shot Giving Day, she’d get one. On the day, I delayed her and delayed her with Workdon’t shenanigans so that she missed the morning hours (only realizing she’d done so when she was already in the car.) She tried again in the afternoon, only to be told there was no dose available.  The kind lady at the check-in went to look and managed to find one dose. When the human female got back to the exam room, she was told they were all out.  Then that person went to double, triple check and managed to find a single vial.  The human female took it gladly–and then spent the next 48 hours feeling as if she had been beaten half to death.  Can’t have her feeling lucky or smug, now can I?

And then there’s the weather.  My idiot brother Thor may be the god of thunder, but I do have the ability to nudge storms about, with an eye to inconveniencing the human female, with an ever-increasing degree of precision.  I allowed only five sunny days in February, and since then, there have been severe weather outbreaks on a fairly regular basis.  I managed to steer a tornado within just a mile or so of the campus, and all the humans got to hunker in various windowless classrooms and hallways.  On another occasion, the human female was out at the herbarium all by herself when the tornado warning was issued.  The herbarium is in a big metal building, the sort tornadoes like to demolish most, so she climbed inside an empty, unplugged chest freezer and hunkered there for a while.  As Odin is my witness, I wish I had a photo of that!  It was never my intention to harm the human female or the house, just interrupt her day and make the phones go off with weather alerts every ten minutes for days at a time.

It has rained so much and so often that the human female was unable to mow what passes for a lawn for over a month.  By the time I finally let her, it was long enough to want a scythe and not a mower.  Results=not winning any awards. Especially since she has been slaloming around 1) little oak seedlings she wants to save, and b) presents left by the next-door neighbor’s dog. Truly, the lawn looks like it has mange.

She’s especially nervous in bad weather now, because one of the big oaks in the back yard failed to leaf out this year. It’s reeeeally close to the house, so it needs to come down in a controlled manner before a storm brings it crashing down on the roof.  She’s been calling around, trying to find someone to do the job.  The outfit that did such a good job with the last big tree removal project seems to have gone out of business. We’ll see if she can find anyone to do the job without charging an arm and a leg.

She doesn’t have an arm or a leg to spare, but she might be willing to give up a foot.  I’ve been treading on her toes again, and her trotters are giving her misery again.  Unless she comes up with a miracle in the next week or so, I’ll have successfully derailed vacation plans for the year.  Shut up your whining, you/1  I’m saving you money and keeping you from a) eating a lot of fattening foreign food, b) contributing to global warming with airplane exhaust, and c) boring all of your friends and acquaintances to death with innumerable photos and poorly-written travelogues.  “But!” I hear you say, “Don’t you and Sigyn enjoy going on vacation with the humans?”  On vacation, yes.  With the humans? Not so much. And remember: Magic-user here. Sigyn and I can go wherever we want, whenever it’s convenient. And since temperatures are flirting with 90° F, that may be sooner rather than later. I think I hear the icy fjords calling.

Well, there you have it.  Several weeks’ worth of finely-crafted mischief. I really do think this merits an 11!

>|: [

Mischief Update: Turning It Up to Eleven

Looking back over recent entries on this blog, I realize that it’s all been rather touchy-feely around here.  Family visits, art museums, wildflowers, and all manner of fluff. Don’t for a moment think, however, that I’ve turned over a new leaf or gone soft or wavered at all in my determination to make the human female’s life a maelstrom of chaos and despair.  Far from it!  I’ve just been too busy to jot all the mischief down.  Allow me to rectify the situation.

I’m still thwarting most of the human female’s attempts to do her job in an expeditious manner. She had to order some rubber stoppers for some large vessels.  Now, the stupid things come in various sizes and with and without holes.  Did she need something normal like a one-holed size eight? She did not! She needed size 13.5. Not 13, not 14. 13.5. With two holes. She couldn’t find them *anywhere.*  No one had them in stock. I finally let her locate some online from Rubber Stoppers ‘R’ Us or some such and she was pleased to put in an order–with postage totaling more than the price of the goods.  And mmmm. That all-pervasive aroma of rubber goods never fails to cling to hands and storage.

There are just so *many* ways that purchasing can go wrong.  A quick trip to the pet store to buy crickets for the tarantulas to eat can turn into a second trip to have a cashier refund and re-ring the transaction to remove the sales tax, which the original cashier had been instructed to delete, and for which the human female presented the appropriate documentation. (I convinced the poor lad that he should jam the long Tax Exempt number into the customer phone number field on his little computer). And yes, the University will quibble over 8.25% of $2.40.

Toluidine blue.Toluidine blue.” Mellifluous words that roll on the tongue like a fine wine.  The human female ordered some last fall as part of the elephantine order.  And it didn’t come.  And it didn’t come.  And it didn’t come.  The human female called the Vendor Who’s Responsible to enquire as to its whereabouts and was informed that it was Still Going to be a While.  It was that same old story–the warehouse to which the order was directed was out, and there was no ability within the system to transfer the order to a different fulfillment center.  So, after some snarling and growling, the human female ordered some from a different vendor.  So naturally, the original order showed up two days later.

I’ve got proof–the Vendor Who’s Responsible thinks of the human female as an inanimate object:customer is an it

A large part of what the human female does involves safety. She very carefully transcribed and collated a bunch of student Lab Safety Agreements (that paper they all sign saying they won’t do anything stupid in lab, a document that effectively cuts the SAR (Stupid Accident Rate) by a solid 3%) and, under my direction, even more carefully locked the filing cabinet.  That Prep Staff did not have a key for.  I suggested dynamite, which would have been Eventful and Exciting, if a little iffy for the continued legibility of said LSAs, but someone eventually found a key, drat it. Oh, well, there was a nice half hour of tizzy, so I’m counting it as a win.

I do love the unicellular members of the Archaeplastida. The human female and her staff had to grow up several liters of Chlamydomonas, a little, single-celled green alga for one of the labs this semester.  People call me high-maintenance, but Great Frigga’s Corset, those little goobers are finicky! They need just so much light, but not too much. Perfect media to grow in, with just the right amounts of certain solutes.  *This* much agitation while in the growth chamber, but no more.  Apparently that last is particularly important. The students got to find out the hard way that if you jostle the carboy full of goobers just a smidge too much, they shed all their flagella and sulk in the bottom of the container. And then when they’re put into the let’s-see-how-well-they-swim-without-the-ability-to-photosynthesize-or-respire exercise, the students get to take data on a whole bunch of nothing much happening.  Meanwhile, another goober, Scenedsmus (one I am quite fond of, since it has horns at either end of the colony and is inclined to contrariness), steadfastly refused to interact with the gel-making chemicals in order to form perfect little algae pearls for the other part of the photosynthesis lab. The supposed-to-be-cutting-edge curriculum had to resort to the old-fashioned protocol, which involves punching little circles out of spinach leaves.  I like to keep the humans  humble.

I really can’t help myself–- meddling with experiments is just so much fun! Another of the students’ labs involved running gel electrophoresis, a process which is just loaded with variables that an enterprising man such as myself can meddle with.  Prep Staff’s test gels just wouldn’t run.  Or rather, they would, but the results looked like a toddler’s first attempts at finger painting and not like a neat set of crisp, glowy bands.  I actually lost track of how many times they had to re-run it.  More agarose in the gel.  Less agarose in the gel.  More DNA in each lane. Less DNA in each lane.  More DNA stain. Less DNA stain.  Placement of the stain in the gel instead of the sample (this actually works better.) Different reference ladder. Cue multiple very expen$I’ve orders to Let Our Nuclear Zaniness Abound (AKA, the Purveyor of gel reagents, AKA the company that keeps sending other people’s invoices to the human female).

Then there’s maintenance, which is a very fertile garden in which to sow seeds of mischief and nurture them to weedy fruition.  Take the countertops and backsplash in room 306, for example.  They were made out of an inferior particle board covered with laminate, and years of moisture from the sink and the steam from the autoclave had fashioned them into a warped, bulgy, separating, landscape reminiscent of the rolling hills of someplace noted for its hills.  The human female and all concerned parties started trying to schedule replacement sometime last fall.  I delayed the project multiple times with the room being needed for actual work, with shortages of the epoxy replacement countertop materials, and with the ever-present question of available funding.  Prep Staff emptied the drawers and cabinets for what turned out be a false alarm and had to put everything back.  There was a planning meeting about the whole thing that no one saw fit to tell the human female about, and the person at Slow, Silent, and Costly who was in charge of the project quit and didn’t tell anyone, so various balls were dropped there as well.  Good times!  When the work was FINALLY done I decided to have a little more fun.  The next day, everyone on the floor started asking that dangerous question: “Do you smell gas?” A lot of sniffing about ensued, and the general consensus was yes, everyone smelled gas.  In room 306.  SSC was called again and two fellows came out –but only because they had left some tools behind on the previous day.  Those two were summarily pounced upon and made to do the sniff test.  After much nosing about, they were able to figure out that during the counter installation, someone had bumped one of the riser pipes that feed the wall-mounted gas nozzles.  Behold– leaking gas! But no one could find the actual leak.   More sniffing.  Soapy water was brought and squirted about, and leaks were found in a couple of places. A drill had to be fetched.  At one point, there were THREE workmen, the human female, the Bio Department’s building proctor, the Assistant Department Head, and some of prep staff all in the little room.  Attendant thereunto was the annual discussion about whether or not a new autoclave is in the offing.  It was the same old story.  If someone else gets a new one, the human female can have a secondhand one from that someone else.  Maybe.  In theory.  Eventually, the circus packed up its monkeys and the taint of mercaptan was dispelled.  The human female deeply regrets that she was not the one who got to fill out the cheery How Did We Do? satisfaction survey for that one.  Six months or so from work request to putting the last bits of stuff back in the drawers.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.

More recently, I did some mischief that didn’t discommode the humans, though it caused some departmental consternation.  It was discovered that there was a sizable pool of water under one of the buildings, mostly from rain.  Now, there are two pumps down there to keep the basements from flooding, which is a good thing–-as long as they’re operational.  One pump was broken and the backup was out of commission as well, along with the alarm system that’s supposed to tattle when a swimming pool develops. While workmen were sloshing about trying to fix things, they discovered that there was a leak or two or three coming down from floors above (Reverse Osmosis water, sprinkler system, etc.)  It took a week and change to drain the swamp, during which time the cats that like to hang out under the building had to find drier accommodations elsewhere.

Several of the rooms in the human female’s tiny domain must remain within a fairly narrow temperature range, for the comfort of various finned or chitinous residents.  Over Spring Break, when the human female was trying to enjoy the fleeting visit with her mother and sister, I suggested to Slow, Silent, and Costly that it would be a good time to do some maintenance on the air handling system.  With the A/C out, the temperature in those special rooms quickly rose, and the human female got to deal with her phone going off with a TEMPERATURE ALERT! every ten minutes for the better part of the day.  Of course, no one was advised of the impending work beforehand. That would be cheating.

Throwing rooms off temp is such fun that I did it some more.  I had one of the walk-in coolers running nice and hot.  I do this on a semi-annual basis. It’s one of my favorite tricks, because if it looks as if it’s going to be hot for a while, all the contents have to be shifted to the other cold room. The human female and her cohorts do spend a lot of time shuffling materials from one place to another. Exercise!  It didn’t get fixed and it didn’t get fixed and it didn’t get fixed.  When the human female called Slow, Silent, and Costly to ask sweetly what the Hel was going on, she was told to call the head HVAC fellow, who was completely surprised to find out that there was any problem at all on the floor. I do my best work as a silver-tongued intriguer, but my obfuscation skills are every bit as good.

But in mid-March the human female was informed that the heating issue in room 322 from last November was fixed–and would she like to take a satisfaction survey?  Nothing like timely feedback, eh?  How about this?

SSC-survey from last year

Many points awarded for having fixed the problem soon after it was reported; minus several thousand points for communication.

And then— No, you know what?  My hand is cramping from writing all of this down!  I’ve been so bad this spring that I shall do myself an injury trying to chronicle it all at once.  More mischief update anon–I need to go find an ice pack.

>|: [