Never Fear

My readers have been quite vocal about their concern. “Loki,” they say, “With the human female retired from the University, how will you keep up with your mischief? Whatever shall you do?”

It is very kind of all of you to be worried for me. Rest assured, I am not idle.

First off, I have left quite a lot of residual mischief floating around Intro Bio. Two of the vendors that the human female used to deal with now have “punchouts” in the Aggie Buy purchasing interface, which allows for faster, easier chaos. Apparently, trying to order cuvettes for the spectrophotometers from Fisher now prompts a message in their new punchout that they can’t sell them to A&M anymore because of a deal A&M has with Another Vendor. I suspect that the “other vendor” is the Vendor Who’s Responsible.

The construction in Heldenfels is NOT finished. The teaching labs which were to move to the second floor are still waiting to have a usable space to move into. Workmen did, however, finally put the missing ethernet connections in the area of the third floor where one had been removed when the utility conduit was put in. In fact, they put four ethernet connections in. The fact that they put them all in room 319 (tiny, tiny prof office) rather than 318 (Techs’ office) is causing some consternation. The missing outlet in 318 was replaced, but it is on the wrong wall. But, hey! A completed work order is a completed work order!

And there is plenty to do here at the house, messing with the human female’s expectations about how retired life should go. She catches up on laundry; I wad the sheets up in the dryer so the middle of the mass doesn’t dry. She cooks up a new recipe; I make sure a perishable ingredient doesn’t get back into the fridge and is discovered too late to salvage. She tackles a “quick” organizing job; I make sure it takes half a day. She finds a serial drama she wants to watch on YouTube; I make sure it isn’t available in the U.S.

She resolves to get in some walking as many days of the week as she can; I make sure that the housekey that should be in her pocket…


Now she gets to sit on the front porch like a big, dorky milk bottle until the male gets home from the store.

The days are just packed.

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A Long-Overdue Mischief Update, Part V: Aggie-Buy is My Favorite Thing Ever

You know, I have written a lot about how bad BAMN was, but Odin’s Eyepatch!  I’m having nearly as much fun with plain old Aggie-Buy!

Whenever she wants to order something, she first has to figure out what it is.  She has several old removable racks for the dishwasher that each hold approximately a squillion test tubes.  The racks are getting a little rusty, so she wants to replace them, but what should they be called?  Dishwasher racks?  Inserts?  Or are they regular test tube racks that can go in the dishwasher?   She knows they originally came from the Vendor Who’s Responsible, but the search feature on their website chokes and dies on multi-word searches.  I guess she’ll have rusty test tubes until she figures it out.

And what about the small, rimless, printing-less test tubes that Intro Bio uses as cuvettes in the spectrophotometerizers?  Is she looking for “cuvettes” or “test tubes”?  Or maybe “sample tubes”?  Flint glass or borosilicate?  Disposable or washable?   Case of 1,000–or maybe fewer?   She doesn’t know the product number because she doesn’t have the records of previous orders and because the ones she has, being printless, don’t have the product number on them, do they?

Aggie Buy also does delightful things like urp up “your PO has been approved for distribution,” two months after the goods have been received.

The human female needed catechol for just one lab during the entire semester.  Usually, she orders a bottle of dry powder.   The bottle looks empty—adding water to the minute amount of power inside and shaking yields about 20 ml of usable solution.  This year, when she ordered, the Purveyor of Squiggly Things (and Occasional Non-Squiggly Things) agreed to substitute two small bottles of pre-mixed catalase and charge her just the original item’s price for her inconvenience.  It came in good time and was used to good effect.  All was well until it was time to pay the invoice.  Then the snowstorm of comments started (and keep in mind that each comment generates an email telling the human female that she has a comment and she has to log in to Aggie Buy and open the program and click through to see the comment.  When she responds, she gets another email telling her her comment has posted) :

  • Bean Counter #1:  The department ordered 1 for PO Line Item 7 but the vendor is billing for 2. If the second item has been received and the department is going to keep the item, please create another receipt for the additional item so this invoice can finish routing for approval. If the vendor missed billed, has the vendor been contacted about a credit memo. Please provide an update.
  • Human female: We ordered 1 of a dry powder preparation of the chemical. The supplier could not ship in time for our needs, so they substituted 2 of a liquid preparation of the same chemical, which gave us about as much as the dry powder would have made. Okay to pay as invoiced.
  • Bean Counter #2: line item 7 needs a receiving of one done to match the vendor billing. thanks
  • Human female: Yesterday Bean Counter #1 said they were billing for two. Which is it? One or two? What actually happened is that the vendor shipped two but said they’d bill for one (or for the original price of the powder) to make up for the inconvenience of being out of what we ordered. (Original product was not available to ship on time, so they subbed.) If they billed for one, great, we got something free. If they billed for two, it’s all right to pay for what they shipped.
  • Human female: Okay, looking at the invoice, they billed for what was shipped, not what the Carolina account rep said they were going to bill. But we DID receive what was billed, it just doesn’t match the original PO because the vendor could not supply the original item. (Different form of the same chemical.)
  • Bean Counter #2:  so will you be correcting line item 7 to match the billing so we can move this invoice forward? thanks
  • Human female:  Do I need to go to the PO and change things? Where am I supposed to correct line 7?
  • Bean Counter #2:  You need to go to the PO and do a receiving of one for line item 7-thanks
  • Human female:  Okay, though I don’t see how that will fix the problem since they billed for two of a different item.
  • Bean Counter #2:  if you did not get two for line item seven do not do receiving, I thought you said you received everything they billed they just billed from a different quote, if you did not get 2 for line item 7 contact the vendor for a credit. thanks
  • Human female:  I did get two, but NOT two of what the PO shows. I keep trying to explain. They subbed two of a different product (liquid) that was roughly equal to the amount the powder I ordered would have made. On the packing slip sent to Anita Luna, I marked that I received the two they shipped and billed for. (And apparently I *can’t* do receiving in AggieBuy. I was never given that ability.) They are only asking payment for what they sent, which was a SUB for something they didn’t have. Anita has a digital copy of the packing slip.
  • Bean Counter #2:  Bean Counter #3, please look at this and see the human female’s response in comments
  • Bean Counter #1:  Human female, PO Line Item 7 was created for 1 @ 10.25. I do realize the vendor sent and is invoicing for a substituted item and is billing 2 @ 9.23 for a total of $18.46. Since 1 was ordered and the vendor is billing for 2 and if they department received all of the item on line 7 and agrees to pay the overage, then another receipt will need to be created and receive 1 more for line item 7 since the vendor invoice a quantity of 2. Please let me know if you have any questions or if this doesn’t make sense. Thank you.
  • Human female:  I don’t think I have the ability to do receiving. I scan the packing slips and Bean Counter #3, in our Bio Dept. does the receiving. I was never enabled to do it, I don’t think.
  • Bean Counter #2:  Bean Counter #3, since the human female cannot do receiving can you receive one on line item 7- you can see comments on this document. thanks
  • Bean Counter #3:  Done.

Ah, yes.  Done.  The human female is done.  So very, very done.

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Mischief Update–Coming in Like a Lion

Sleipnir’s Fetlocks–It is March already!  Time flies when you are having fun.  Let me see if I can bring you up to date.

My conniving with the shipping department at The Purveyor of Squiggly Things continues to account for 15% of the human female’s anxiety.  In addition to shipping this semester’s termites early, they have shipped the diatoms early and the crayfish (one line item out of six on a larger PO) early, the shipment of ferns arrived smashed into pteridophytous salad and they have consistently failed to apply their own promo codes for discounts.  Whenever the human female has to call her account rep, there is a fraught pause before he says a timid hello, because he knows no joy is coming down the wire.

BAMN, with its dying breaths, succeeded in making a few last bits of misery for the human female.  Because its programmers can’t count any further than the fingers of a single hand, the screen for doing receiving of merchandise that managed to arrive on time and unscathed will, unless explicitly coaxed to do so, display only  5 items.  Should one forget to tab through to the second (or third, or fourth) page, one is left with only a dangling partial receipt, one which frustrates HOHOHO and all the bean counters all the way up the beanstalk.  The human female has had a few of these (because she can’t count higher than five either) and has discovered that when one goes in to rectify the partial receipt, there is no actual “submit” button.  Well done, BAMN!  Oh, and it sent out its last few purchase requests with Fiscal Year 16 PO numbers.  It does not go gently into that good night.

But throw confetti, pour mimosas!  The human female has at last bidden a fond farewell to my beloved BAMN* and has gleefully switched back to the previous purchasing software system.  I…I think those are tears of joy…  Tears of anguish are more my thing, though, so I think that when she places the first order with it I will play with her head a little.  There!  That first PO to the Purveyor of Squiggly things is going to automatically include a comment note she wrote to the campus Higher-up Omnipotent Head Ordering Honcho Overlords (HO HO HO) back in 2015. It was attached to the last order she tried to put through Aggie Buy in its previous incarnation and says, “I think we need to cancel this PO because it is too late and put it through BAMN instead.”  Really!  And I made it so that she couldn’t delete the comment!  She had to write a SECOND comment that says, basically, “Ha ha ha–just kidding!  I really do want this stuff please don’t cancel oh crap please I’m not joking I really do need 18 jars of planaria and some other stuff but not the snails because I put them in on a previous order…”  Let’s see what HOHOHO does with that!

Well, actually, they won’t do much right off, because even though AggieBuy remembered that old memo, it didn’t remember the e-mail for the vendor.  The HOHOHO pasted on another comment saying she had to provide them with one.  So the human female emailed the poor account rep to double check it, and then attached a fourth comment to the PO giving it to them.  Then she emailed the account rep again, asking him to double check that the new version of AggieBuy is getting the shipping instructions all the way through to the shipping department at the POST.  I’ll let you know how that turns out.

One of the things the human female has to procure each term is one unit of bovine blood for one of the laboratory exercises.  She gets it from the Texas Vet Medicine Diagnostic Lab.  Her recent e-mail conversation with them went something like this, “I need one unit on such and such a date, to be paid for by interdepartmental transfer on account number thus and so.”  “Okay, and what was that PO number again?”  “There is no PO.  We pay this with interdepartmental transfer.” “All righty.  As soon as I get that PO number from you I can get this set up.”  Round and round and round it goes. Where it stops, nobody knows!

The flowers for the botany lab were hard to get this semester, too.  What with the rearrangement of the lab schedule, the Angiosperm lab fell in the same week as Valentine’s Day.  This means everything was twice as expensive.  The human female played phone tag with the florist for several days, trying to see if they could be brought in the week before for cheaper, but it turned out not to make a difference and the usual date was settled on.  So then, of course, I had them come a day late

HR (which is purported to stand for “Human Resources” but which is closer to “Having Regrets” in nature) at the university has eagerly accepted my suggestions.  All employees were instructed to do something or other to get their form 1095-C  (C standing, of course, for Confusion).  Except the form was not actually at the HR website, and the notification that employees could elect to receive it electronically if they did so by January 31–came on January 31.

I look forward to even more fun with the Workday HR overhaul rolling out this fall.  Leave and Payroll and Benefits and Hiring and Performance Evaluation and Employee Resources all in one place!  One little tinker here or there could have massive consequences.  Someone must be spying on my plans for Workday, though.  Folks have already begun to refer to it as Work D’oh and are altering the free tote bags to say same.  I guess that’s all right though.  This way, they can experience several months of dread before they begin hating it in realtime.

This semester’s students seem Hel-bent on gashing, staining, and poisoning themselves in a mad rush to be the first cohort to achieve 100% representation in the big folder full of Lab Incident Reports.  If it’s not Coomassie blue, it’s DPIP–neither of which is any good for the complexion, and if it’s not those two, it’s broken glass.  I thought about buttering the rubber gloves in all the labs, but to be honest, I don’t think they could get any clumsier.

(Actually, I quite liked the results of the Coomassie blue spills. I had my own little tribe of partial Jotuns there for a while.)

They also have a distinct inability to keep track of their personal belongings.  As the gods are my witness, there is a jacket in the lost and found that is on its second trip through this semester.  On its first visit, its owner did come looking for it, failed to identify it satisfactorily as to size, came back a second time with her order form showing she’d mis-remembered the size, and claimed it.  It was back the following week.  I think the young lady is too embarrassed to come look for it again.  Calculators, rings, textbooks, spectacles, water bottles, jackets.  We have it all.  And goggles. Sooooo many pairs of goggles.  Gaggles of goggles.

For some reason, the Campus IT personnel are getting really paranoid about cyber security.  They are advocating everyone switch to dual-authentication for their log-ins.  Of course, since the website that walks one through the process of setting it up says in one place that the passwords have to be six characters and in another that they have to be seven, compliance has been low.

The campus email spam filters, though, are still letting through gems such as “Say ‘yes’ to an astonishing reward from our Palace!”

Continuing with computers, the checking-for-cheating assignment submission program that the humans’ department uses has suddenly decided that it will no longer score submissions in .docx format.  And the big student-management platform has been squirrely all semester.  The other day it ate an entire section of students.  Just because.  (Ehehehehe.)

Then there’s Code Maroon Moron, the campus’ emergency notification program, that is supposed to send dire and timely warnings of things like gas leaks, suspicious packages, frightening weather, monthly tests, etc. to peoples cell phones, computers, and radios.  Last week it was (another) gas leak.  I tinkered a bit, and now the “click here to dismiss this warning screen and get updates” button goes to a page with no updates at all.  Which is just as well.  Because, really, when the tornado is upon you, there is no way that 1,000 students are all going to fit in the basement anyway.

The human female’s little blue car apparently suffered a good bit of damage to the floor of the cargo area in the recent accident.

The aged feline continues to be a big old bundle of fuzzy bother.  Just dealing with her medications keeps the humans busy.  The other day the human female called to renew one of them, got a recording, and was told to give all the information at a the “beep.”  There was no beep.  On another med, the human female called to renew and was told she’d have to get reauthorization from the vet. She called the vet, who faxed it in.  Nothing happened.  The human female called the pharmacy, who said they’d never received anything.  So she called the vet, who said, “We did indeed send the stupid thing, and we will send it again.  Next time, start with us.”  Duly noted.

More phone fun:  The human female, like most mortals, abhors what she terms “robo-calls.” Really?  I think automated sales pitches, with their cheery fake-bonhomie banter are one of my better inventions!  I’m particularly proud of the one the human female received the other day.  When she answered the call, all she heard was, “I’m sorry. That’s not a valid extension.  Please try again.”

I may not have mentioned before my work with various credit card companies.  Last month, the humans’ #2 credit card switched from MasterCard to Visa, all the better to serve them.  Two weeks later, their #1 card sent them a perky letter outlining their plans to improve service by changing from Visa to Mastercard.

I like to make each day a little more surreal.  Past couple weeks 8.5 out of 10!

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*Except for that dismally hanging, eternally open order of chronically-unavailable stiff kitties from the Purveyor of Dead Things from way back.