Day: August 26, 2020

This Is Why I Will Eventually Win

Sometimes mortals ask me why I’m so sure I will eventually come to rule this miserable rock. What plan can I possibly have to subdue a planet full of Homo sapiens? For them, I have one word.


The humans are going to do half my job for me by driving each other insane with 8.5″ x 11″ pieces of paper or torturing themselves with the equivalent in electrons.

As I mentioned on Monday, the human female is adrift on a sea of forms in a leaky rowboat of bad programming.

Wrangling teaching assistants and lab instructors to cover the 88 sections of Biology 111, the twenty-plus sections of Biology 112, and the handfuls of Biology 107 and Honors Bio 111 has been a nightmare. People signed up for sections they had conflicts with, and one Lab Instructor with six sections quit the day before the semester started, necessitating a flailing search for a replacement(s) by the Program Director and the frenzied and continuous rearrangement of large sections of the giant lab schedule grid.

The dust of section assignments appears to have cleared (though it’s not impossible that more may go awry before the first lab is taught…) The human female is now attempting to obtain four things from the teaching assistants and lab instructors for her her biology courses:

  1. A computer account request form for the department, if they don’t already have an account.
  2. An info sheet that gives their contact info, their lab sections and office hours and the zoom info therefor, and their schedule. (As it is, unfortunately, currently illegal to insert tracking microchips into the lab teaching staff, admin has only this document to know where to locate errant TAs and to check who might be free to cover a lab when a TA or LI goes AWOL.)
  3. A lab safety agreement which makes them promise not to drink the sodium azide or chew gum in lab—and which asks for the contact info for the person(s) who should be notified when they inevitably forget this promise and do just that.
  4. A security access request that will enable their ID card to open the appropriate doors at the appropriate times. (Until the power goes out, when people with keys become as gods.)

Each of these forms goes to a different person, but the human female (foolish woman!) has offered herself as sacrifice and has volunteered to collect, collate, and distribute them. What she doesn’t know is that I’ve poked and nudged and suggested and obfuscated and arranged funsies for her such as the following:

–All of the joy of A Diabolical Obstreperous Bundle of Excrement that I treated in detail on Monday.

—She provided the blank, fillable forms to the professors to put up in “the cloud” for the TAs and LIs to download, fill out, save, and return. Some of the profs distributed old versions of the forms. Ones which asked for Social Security Numbers rather than University IDs. Or left off the emergency contact info.

–Some TAs haven’t sent anything in yet. Zip. Nada.

–Some TAs who have had computer accounts for years turned in request forms.

She has received the following:

–The blank versions of the forms.

–Unsigned forms

–Incomplete forms

–Schedules that just say “T” where the time block should indicate WHAT COURSE they are teaching and what the section number is.

–Forms with the wrong section numbers.

–Forms that fail to update section assignments and schedules disarranged by the section shuffling that occurred last week.

She has had the following email dialogues with TAs:

“If we’re supposed to schedule office hours for when the students are not in lecture how do I know when the lecture is for the section I teach?” “That is a very good question. Look on the main A&M info portal for the class schedule and search for your course.” “I can see my section 510 but not my 570”. “Check the next page.”

“I have one set of office hours on my TA info sheet and another on the main sheet that has all the office hours. Is that a problem?” “Yes.”

She is almost...almost… done collecting all of this information, which is good, because the people who need it are chomping at the bit and the labs begin next Monday.

She’s under a terrible time crunch for another reason, one that has taken me by surprise and which has the potential to make me reevaluate my entire campaign for world domination. What’s that?

Stay tuned…

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