Well, Now We Know What “TS” *Really* Stands For.

For many years, the part of the University that handles parking permits, parking enforcement, and bus services was known as PTTSParking, Traffic, and Transportation Services. They changed that a while back, though, because students, faculty, and staff, universally pronounced this as “Pits”–as in, “Parking on campus is the pits.”

What was the new moniker? “Transportation Services“, or just “TS” for short. They spent Norns know how much on re-branding everything and splashing their new, swooshy “TS” logo on anything they could find. Their new slogan was rumored to be, “Combining and reducing bus routes to serve you better.” They were my favorite part of the University–after WorkDon’t and BAMN.

Still, though, parking usually worked. The humans had a transponder affixed to the windshield of their vehicle and, most days, they were able to get through the gates and park in their spot. Those who didn’t have a transponder could swipe their hang tag for admittance. If it wasn’t perfect, it at least made sense.

Well, just because the humans don’t go up on campus every day anymore doesn’t mean they never go on campus. There are old friends to visit and the library is still a good place to borrow books. They have a retiree permit, which lets them park for free* in the less desirable spaces in one of the garages.

I can’t, in good conscience, allow this convenience to continue! I shall have to confuse this process somewhat, and while I’m at it, I might as well bargle things up for ALL permit holders, right? At my urging, the PPTB (Parking Powers That Be) have decided that it is no longer cost effective to mail out hang tags to everyone each year. That’s right! No more hang tags! It’s all going to be done by phones and barcodes and checking license plates. Look–here it is in in an Official E-Mail:

It’s such an important change that I have made sure that the humans (who have no intention of going anywhere near the campus on a home football game weekend but who might approach the campus at some other point) have also received the information in an Official Mailing.

Along with the Physical Hangtag They Are Not Going to Receive.

Using your phone to park. Bar codes. Longer lines. Hangtags which both do and do not exist until you open the envelope and determine their state one way or the other.

So now we know. “TS” does not stand for “Transportation Services”, “That’s Stupid”, or even “This Stinks.”

“TS” is short for “Thanks, Schrodinger.”

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*For certain values of “free.” There’s a small annual fee.

Deranging the Strange Arrangement With Grainger–Now With Bonus BAMN!

A box has arrived for the human female.


Well, I don’t know if I’d call her “one who gets things done,” but I certainly am.

You see, this box represents several weeks’ worth of first-class mischief.

Humans are clumsy by nature, always dropping things and breaking them.  Last semester, the students broke a number of the glass graduated cylinders used in the urinalysis experiment.  Terrible things, students.  Can’t be trusted.

At any rate, the decision was made to order a bunch of plastic cylinders that the feckless little darlings couldn’t break.  So the female ordered 24 of one size and 6 of another, so as to fit the hydrometers on hand.

And she waited.  And waited.  Finally, exasperated, she called the vendor and was dismayed to learn that they had never received the PO at all.  So she jumped through all the hoops and asked the Bean Counters to re-send it.

And they did.

So she waited some more, and still no box of plastic piss-jars.  She called the vendor again, who told her yet again that no such PO had ever been received.  At this point, the human female recalled that it had been long and long since she had ordered from this vendor, and it occurred to her that, back in the glory days of BAMN, the program administrators wanted all POs to be emailed to a person, rather that to a helpful or useful address not tied to a transient and mortal meat-sack.  She asked the person on the other end of the phone what address would actually reach the orders department.

Armed with this little nugget of information, she contacted the Bean Counters and asked them to transmit the PO one more time.

You can see by the presence of the package and all of this boring wrapping paper that a shipment eventually resulted, so how did it come about?


Not long after the PO was transmitted to the vendor for a third time, the human female had a missed telephone call, and then an email, from chipper customer service rep saying that if the human female would call them, they’d be more than happy to set up an account and process the order.


Everything involves an account these days, so the human female called and proceeded to try to navigate the vendor’s byzantine account setup.  The Helpful Person on the other end of the line (trained by me, of course) tried to walk her through the whole process but the human female could never quite get her to understand that the University is a rather large place and the Biology Department only a small part of it–and the human female smaller still.  The Helpful Person wanted to create an account for the whole of the Department and make the human female the contact person for it—or perhaps the person in the stockroom, since that is the delivery address.  Or maybe whoever is in charge of Departmental Billing…

After about twenty minutes of internal zip codes, building abbreviations, and increasing frustration on the part of all parties, the human female had finally had enough.  Abandoning the idea of an account (for which she did not wish to be Responsible), the human female asked if they could just abandon the notion of an account and process the order some other way.

Why, yes!  Yes, they could!  Relieved, the human female launched into placing a guest order with the credit card.  Everything went swimmingly right up to the point where the Helpful Person read out the total.

Including tax.

Rule One of purchasing:  The University never pays tax.  Ever.  Slight snag, yes?

No worries, the Helpful Person told the human female!  All she had to do was make the purchase, request the tax refund form, fill it out, provide a copy of the University’s tax exempt paperwork, and sit back and wait for the tax to be refunded to the card.

At this point, if the human female had been listening instead of grinding her teeth, she’d have heard me giggling in the background.  It’s a known fact that initiating a tax refund stunt like that would make the Bean Counters purple in the face and bring on a spitting apoplexy.

Followed by a stern reprimand and a lecture about Rule One of purchasing:  The University never pays tax.  Ever.

It was at this point that the human female reached her limit.  She thanked the Helpful Person for their help  time and rang off.

Next, she contacted the Chief Bean Counters and asked them to cancel the PO entirely.

Now, obviously, here are the cylinders.


So how did she get them?  She remembered, belatedly, that this particular vendor has a punch-out right at the front of the purchasing software site, one that takes the user straight to the catalog where they can load up a cart and check out easy-peasy.  Once the PO was cancelled, she logged in, went through the punch-out, put in the order, hit a button, and took delivery about 48 hours later.   No problems, no tax, and no escaping that it was her own incompetence that led her down the garden path in the first place.

Well, I may have helped a little.

So now there is a full set of plastic cylinders for the urinalysis experiment.  The Prep Staff are always quick to point out that it isn’t really real urine, just something they whip up out of water, food coloring, and chemicals.

Theoretically.  No one has yet connected the strange results they keep getting with my capacity to quaff and process ale…

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By All Means, Let Us Commence With Obfuscation

Back at work!  The human female has been away from her desk for so long, I doubt she remembers how to do anything.

Perhaps her email will offer her some guidance.


Well, that’s not much help.  Let’s try another…

email nonsense

Eehehehehe!  I think about half of that may be English, but I’m not sure.  Not even Allspeak can make any sense of it.

I have planned another little gift for her, the human male, and aaaalll the other employees of the university.  A brand new, all-encompassing human resources software suite!  Gone is the old, easy-to-use portal that everyone liked.  Behold the colorful, super “friendly” replacement interface!


It’s a new system, with things called “worklets” and all sorts of menus and drop-down lists.  It’s twice as complicated as the old system and all employees have been told they are just going to adore it.  There are things it doesn’t do that the old one did, and what it does do, it muddles beautifully.  This is going to be JUST as good as BAMN!  I can’t wait until the human female has to do her first leave with it.

People are already calling it Work D’oh!

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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—Oh, So Busy!

I know that all the recent pictures of house-clutter make it seem as if I’m slacking, but nothing could be further from the truth.  I have been plenty busy, and the mischief level around here is such that the human female daily threatens me with a kiddie pool full of acetone.   Here is a recap of my recent misdemeanors.

It is tax evaluation statement time.  The humans have just received a document stating that the value of their dwelling has gone down, which would be great, tax-wise, if I hadn’t suggested to the local taxing authority that the rate should go up.

BAMN, my greatest weapon to date against the human female’s sanity, may be a thing of the past, but I am still finding ways to make the human female’s purchasing job more fun.  (For ME.)  Several months ago now, she sent several of the laboratory’s automatic pipettors for recalibration.  The work was done, and she received a bill.  She received the bill late because the Tech responsible for getting it to her misplaced it for a good few weeks.  The female hastened to pay it, but the DBC  (Departmental Bean-Counters) refused to pay it, because it did not specifically say “Invoice.”  Never mind that she could swear on her miserable life that the work was performed.  The DBC told her to pay with the workgroup credit card, which she did.  Fast forward to recently, when she received a communication from the pipette-fixing people, informing her that her bill was unpaid due to a problem with the card.  She spent a merry half-hour on the phone, during which time it was determined that someone on their end had mis-recorded the credit card’s expiry date.  (Jotun static does wonders for cell phone calls…)

No longer having BAMN also doesn’t prevent vendor-side amusements for me.  The human female recently received two “Your items have just shipped” emails from two different vendors (Including the Vendor Who’s Responsible), later in the day on which the goods had already arrived.   The next day, I saw to it that she received an email saying that she had to fill out a new-asset form for the computer that she had ordered.  Except she’s not James Hutchins, she didn’t order a computer, and that wasn’t her PO.  She had fun trying to disassociate herself from that purchase, because it is Inventory Time, and someone is going to be looking for that laptop.

Then the Purveyor of Dead Things shipped the order of sharks early.  The labels on the boxes delivered did NOT match what the human female ordered, which was a specific mix of sexes and pregnant/not pregnant.  She and one of her staff opened each of the boxes to discover that the pregnant sharks were in fact included, but that the male:female ration of the non-preggers sharks did not match her order.  Someone in the PODT’s shipping department decided that 8 females and 14 males was the same as 10 females and 12 males.  Twenty-two chondrichthyous corpses is twenty-two chondrichthyous corpses, right?  When she called to bellow at them, they explained they’d sent all the females they had.  If they had heeded the note attached to the order which said that this shipment could be held for the larger Dead Cat Ballet which occurs every August, they’d have been able to amass the proper number of sharkettes.  Oh, and while she was counting, I saw to it that one of the bags leaked all over, so she came away, wet and fishy to the elbow.  That’s worth two points, right there.

The human female is suffering from PPP Syndrome–plethora of preserved piglets.  Every semester, the students generate a number of fetal pig cadavers that have been fully digested, and these all have to go somewhere.  One cannot put that many pounds of latex-injected porkers into the dumpster, so they must be incinerated.  A call to the Vet School, which has an incinerator and will eighty-six the piggies for a fee, turns up the fact that the Vet School is selling their incinerator to the University’s poultry farm.  Now the sale is not final, so they still HAVE the incinerator, but they’re unwilling to use it because they already have a big pile of ashes they need to get rid of from prior conflagrations and they want to get out of the incinerating business.  The human female called several times, and each time, the person on the other end assured her they would find out from the poultry farm when they’d start taking piglets for incineration, but no info was forthcoming.  She then tried calling the poultry farm, and the person there said they’d have someone call her right back the next day.  That was week before last.  The piglets remain uncombusted.  If only this sort of run-around counted as physical exercise!

Speaking of the Vet School, they have found a way to further traumatize the humans on the loss of their cat.  Despite the original bill for the feline’s treatment having been paid in full and even showing a credit, the Vet School sent a second bill, referencing a different account number, and showing an additional charge.  A call to the Vet School turned up the fact that the original case had been put under the humans’ friend’s account, since he was the one who took the cat to the vet since he was feeding her that day.  The new bill represented their account, and the fee was for for the disposal of the  defunct pussy’s remains.  What a cheery reminder.

In other news, the leaky ceiling in the Prep Room has been fixed, one month and one week from the time the human female filed the work request.  But nature abhors a dry ceiling as much as a vacuum, so when there was a terrific rainstorm last weekend, I arranged for quite a bit of said rain to enter the human male’s workspace.  Three ceiling tiles came completely down in the computer server room, simply drenching a whole rack of spare system components.  The water eventually found its way into all five floors of the building, necessitating taking apart a large number of things so they could be spread out to dry.  The human male was NOT amused, especially since this event meant the humans had to race back from out of town to deal with it.  They’re always complaining that they want rain.  I wish they’d make up their minds, the hypocrites.

I now have fewer people to annoy in the human female’s work group.  Her Prep Staff is shrinking.  They say are leaving to further their education or careers, but we all know they’re just trying to get away from her.  She has a job posting up, for a Biology Lab Technician, and has so far received applications from a two computer specialists, a psychologist, a salesman, a grandmother, a recent biology grad with not a single day of work experience anywhere, a foreign national whose paperwork would take months, and someone who might be qualified but who attached the cover letter for an application to a different posting.  Still another attached two copies of the resume and no letter at all.

All this stress is playing havoc with her sleep and her waistline.  So much so that yesterday she purchased a larger pair of jeans.  Though they were extensively pre-washed, this morning they fit worse than her old jeans.  Meanwhile, people keep bringing her cookies. 

She was looking forward to a concert in November, by two of her favorite musicians. She’s going to have to look forward a bit more, though, because the concert’s been postponed from November until January of NEXT YEAR.

There is a new mewling infant in the family, this one a new grandnephew.  The human female has a quilt all planned out—has had it planned out for months now.  She just can’t find her sketch.  (Cue innocent whistling.)

That’s not all she’s missing.  Last month, she signed herself and the human male up for some Dotage Insurance.  Since she’s becoming more decrepit by the day, it seemed like a good idea.)  There was Paperwork Aplenty, but the new policy documents were taking forever to arrive.  She called the agent to gripe ask after them, and as soon as she did, the human male said, “Oh, you mean these?”  they had (wait for it…) BEEN BURIED IN THE DINING ROOM TABLE CLUTTER!

And finally, the human female has discovered that her little silver car (she still misses the smashed blue one and has yet to get the hang of parking this one) is missing a piece.  It’s true!  The bit that is supposed to cover the cargo space when the hatch is closed is absent.  The manufacturer lists it as an “accessory,” so maybe it was never there.  Still, its lack is a frequent annoyance, which is all I care about.

I’m a bit out of practice scoring my mischief, but I thinks this has to rate a solid NINE

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Mischief Update

What with distractions in the form of cat toys, UV reflecting plants, baffling seasonal decor, and whatnot, it appears I have failed to update my minions and admirers on my mischief-related activities.  I shall now rectify this lapse.

I saw to it that the ready-made salad the human female had for lunch the other day came loaded with plenty of hot Thai pepper flakes.  It was fun watching her blush and inhale and wipe her runny nose.

Since the human female took a year off of participating in the annual Nerds in the Woods science festival last year, I suggested to the people in charge this year that not only should they not ask her to head the Plant Team, they should not even welcome her help at all when she called to volunteer.

She finally has the license plates to her new car, though it took three trips back to the dealer to get those, all the keys, and the touch-up paint.  It also took several tries to replace the parking hang-tag.

There have been some nasty thunderstorms lately, and the weather prognosticators prognosticated some Frost-Giant worthy hail.  Which is why the human female was out in the driveway at 3:00 a.m., throwing blankets over the car.  Of course, I then saw to it that it did NOT hail  (too noisy for me to sleep through), so it was a giant, unbalancing laundry load of wet blankets the next day for nothing.

The irrigation system at the house has been needing some work.  The human female keeps running over the sprinkler head nearest the driveway, and the whole thing was dribbling in an under-powered fashion that boded ill for the center of the lawn and half the flower beds.  So the human female called the contractor.  And called again.  And called again. And then sent an email asking if they did in fact want customers.  They responded with a terse email saying that she had been BLACKLISTED because of a disagreement from two years ago that she doesn’t really even remember.  She had to outright grovel to get the to come out. I bet when the bill comes it has an extra “Crappy Customer” charge included.

The Powers That Be in the human female’s work group have decreed that the honors sections of the courses are going to get All New Lab Exercises, but they haven’t provided details.  This has made the human female twitchy, because even though the instructors say they will take care of prep, she knows that she and her staff will be called upon to supply equipment, supplies, and expertise.  Also, they want to teach these labs in the former Room of Doom, which has been made over for another course at great cost in dollars and labor.  Which would not in itself be awful, except that the course already in the room meets on a schedule that would allow only 20 minutes to take down one exercise, clean the room, and prep the other.  The human female put her head together with her staff, and they proposed putting the honors labs on the main floor so they’d have newer rooms, better equipment, better access to safety and support, etc., but the instructors would have none of that.  So now the course currently in the room has to move to the basement of yet another building, one out of the range of the walkie-talkies and NOTORIOUS for its frequency of flooding.  They will have to buy equipment that would be readily to hand if they stayed on the main floor.  Proof again that logic has no place in education.

The students have been quite busy.  The human female has been quite busy, filing lab safety incident reports.  Who knew that clams were so hard to open and pig hearts so tough?

She did get to go to one of the fancy Science Product Faires on campus the other day. They had catered box lunches and everything.  She was delighted to receive a smoked turkey and cheddar sandwich on foccacia.  Mmmm.   But is foccacia supposed to be gray on some of the corners?  Eat it!  Mold is good for you.  Builds character.  Why didn’t *I* eat it?  I already have enough character.

The human female called to get one of her prescriptions refilled.  She reached a phone tree, one which put her on hold and asked her to stay on the line after the call to take a Very Important Survey.  She waited on hold.  And waited.  And waited.  And then was rolled right into the survey.  No drugs for you.  She had to call them back at a different number, and when she finally DID reach someone, it was only to be told that she couldn’t order the medicine without scheduling a doctor’s appointment  to get a new prescription.  You know how farmers in some parts of Midgard lead bulls and oxen around by a ring through the nose?  Yeah, it’s like that.

She gets a lot of surveys.  One last week came via email.  TAKE THIS IMPORTANT SURVEY!!! it demanded.  So she accessed the survey.  “You already did this, dum-dum” was the resulting message.

Speaking of the Medical-Industrial Complex, you’ll recall that the human female had foot surgery last year, for which she received several Very Large Bills.  And then more bills followed.  The other day, an ominous Official-Looking Envelope arrived.  I know what you are thinking, but it was not another bill!  I persuaded the BC-BS-BC  (bean counters at an insurance corporation that shall remain nameless) that they’d erred.  It was a giant, whopping refund check!  Of course, it was instantaneously cancelled out by the nasty trick I perpetrated upon the human male’s smart phone such that he had to replace it.    The God of Mischief taketh away, then giveth, then verily taketh away a second time.

The superannuated feline has stepped up her campaign, pushing the limits of what the humans are willing to put up with.  Now it’s near-daily barfs (usually right into the food dish) and puddles.  I’ve convinced her that if even one paw is in the litter box, she’s good to go.  And she does.  Also, wheezy, warm, persistent lap-limpet is her new default setting.  It’s sweet–if a little sweaty, right until the humans realize that it’s very difficult to exit a recliner with a cat wedged between your knees.

And O BAMN, how I love thee!  Though thou art long dead and gone, you continue to delight and amaze.  I had it sing a swan song composed of a massive dump of PO acknowledgements going back to last September. POs for items long since ordered, received, and paid for.

Then the Bean-Counters emailed, asking how to pay for the last order that went through BAMN.  The PO was closed when BAMN was discontinued.  There was no BAMN account to pay it with.  There was a long series of emails back and forth, during which the human female received her original query directed back at her.  They eventually worked out a payment option, but it was fun anyway.

Also fun was the departmental bean-counter refusing to pay an invoice just because it did not have the word “invoice” on it.  I offered to whip out my green crayon and help, but the human female turned me down.  Something about mischief and money not mixing.

A sign saying, “PLEASE SEND HELP!” mysteriously showed up in one of teaching lab windows.  There was no end of panic until it was determined to be just one of my better little hoaxes.

My partnership with the humans that plan roadwork around this city continues to prosper.  One of the main east-west thoroughfares is being reduced each evening to one lane in either direction, just in time for baseball games and the upcoming graduations.  The major north-south route of the humans’ neighborhood is in its second year of construction and becomes worse daily.  I can teleport, so I don’t really care how long it takes the humans to get where they’re going.

The lab prep room ceiling still has a big discolored spot.  Materials have been ordered for its repair, but no repairmen have appeared.

That’s all I can think of at the moment.  If I come up with anything else, I’ll be sure to let you know!

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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.



Mischief Update: Here We Go Again

It’s been quite some time, I believe, since I have enlightened my readers as to my progress in making the human female’s life a nightmare.  Let me rectify that!

I was not idle over the Yule holiday.  I managed to manipulate both space and time. Something the human female ordered on December 12 was tracked to Hutchins, Texas on December 13.  On the 14th, she was told it was in Ocala, Florida on the 13th and was in Hutchins, Texas at 1:00 p.m., even though it was then only 9:00 a.m.  I like to watch that vein in her forehead bulge.

Two Yule gifts that people said they were sending to the human female have yet to arrive.  She does not know whether the gifts were, in fact, sent; whether Unrepentant Package Squashers or Usually Smashes Packages Significantly has made some grievous error; or whether I have been holed up somewhere, secretly eating chocolate, reading botany books, and drawing mustaches on photos of the grand-nieces and -nephews.

My gift to the male was a nasty cold.  Generous soul that he is, he shared with the human female, so that they both hacked and snorted their way through the holiday.  The female is still coughing, so I’m getting some good mileage out of a few microbes!  It’s called Thrift.

Of course, the fact that record cold has been followed by record heat, then rain, then fog, then wind, then cold again so that no one knows what to wear hasn’t helped.  Thor’s not the only one who can fiddle with the weather!

Following my recommendation, the local utility company has instituted a monthy “road improvement” fee to be assessed on all households.  Ostensibly, this is for Road Improvement, but it is actually the “Loki Roadtrip Improvement” fee.  By spring break, Sigyn and I will be able to go someplace really nice.

On the work front, I continue to be quite busy.  The new semester has started, which means the usual chaos of out-of-department teaching assistants, computer users who manage to delete their entire mailboxes, multiple conflicting versions of each syllabus, malfunctioning thermostats, and no-shows at critical meetings.

BAMN, my beloved purchasing software system, that which has caused the human female so much grief, is being phased out.  That is all right.  I have wrung about as much mayhem out of it as I can.  I will be able to confound her with just vendors and shippers and bookkeeping!  Why, already this semester, the Purveyor of Squiggly Things has shipped termites on the wrong day, increased all their prices, and lost the human-female-approves-all-shipping-charges-so-please-do-not-call-on-every-order note that was hanging in their shipping office.  There’s no fear anyone will forget BAMN, though, because there will long remain that open commitment with the Purveyor of Dead Things for that last order of stiff kitties.  It will remain on the books for-ev-er.

She is also haunted by the Ghosts of Piglets Past.  The Landfill Guardians have decreed that the preserved porcine cadavers are too much all at once.  The female must PAY the University’s Vet School to pick them up and incinerate them.  The good news is that she finally made contact with the people who can make this happen.  The bad news is that all the little piggies have to be unbagged before they will take them. File under “eew.”

The human female produced a small spate of actual useful activity in re-organizing the Biology Image Library, a vasty collection of images and review questions which the students may use (but mostly don’t) for study. Responding to numerous student requests, she sorted the images in each review set by lab.  Wanting to keep her occupied and out of my hair for as long as possible, I tinkered with the underlying code so that the images in each set display in alphabetical order by file name–no exceptions.  The only way to accomplish the sorting was to save each image, rename it with a name beginning with the name of the lab, and re-upload it.  Repeat for each review set.  Lest she become too complacent and file the sorted gallery as “completed business,” I deleted the script that alerted her to new faculty users requesting faculty access to the library, so now each new user will have to email her so that she can log in and enable them.  And then mail the new user back to let them know they can access the library.

I have engendered a war betwixt the human female and the main office copier-printer.  She was unable to print to it, getting only the message that the printer was offline due to a document “stuck” in the print queue.  When she tried to delete the document, she discovered that it was not one of hers.  It belonged to the IT tech who last set up user access to the printer–so she couldn’t delete it!  The IT tech was able to remotely log-in and delete it, but I guess his finger slipped (innocent whistling), because then the human female’s computer couldn’t see the printer at all.

I have also had my wicked way with the Department’s back-up server, with its array of hard drives.  I have had the drives fail one after the other, usually during a major backup session or an array rebuild, and at the most inconvenient times!  Such as last thing on the last day before the Yule holiday.  And on weekends.  And when the humans were out of town.  The human male does not often indulge in profanity, but he has learned some new words!

Astute readers will recall that the human female had a teensy little tiff with one of my hymenopterous associates back in October.  Since then, her swollen knuckle and advancing avoirdupois have kept her from wearing her engagement-wedding ring combination.  After determining that the swollen joint was not going to return to its accustomed size any time in the near future, she took the ring to a local jeweler for re-sizing.  They kept the ring for a few weeks, then reported that they could not do the job without separating the rings from one another, nor would they do the work unless she agreed to re-tipping all the prongs and having some additional work done, to the merry tune of $400.00+.   She asked them to return the ring to her, saying she will seek aid elsewhere.  So now she has it back and has added “find a different jeweler” to her ever-increasing to-do list.  The longer it sits about, off her hand, the more time I have to shove it down the sofa or feed it to the cat, so by all means, mortal, procrastinate away!

The humans and the feline continue to rely on various prescriptions for their continued miserable existence.  I have had had some fun with the mail-order pharmacy, Pills-R-Us, before.  They  used to think 11 pills was an 11-day supply and so not count it as eligible for autoship. Well, now they think that 9 pills is an 11-day supply.  I’m going for seven next month.  Meanwhile, the pharmacy that compounds the feline’s nostrums continues to invisibly under-fill every syringe of transdermally-applied medicine  (they look full), with the result that estimating what is left in any given syringe is indeed a crapshoot.

Let me think….  What else?

I made a funny smell in Room 313, prompting a round of everyone’s favorite game, “Hunt the Stench.”  The consensus was “mouse,” and I scattered a few dry droppings about, so the past week has involved traps, peanut butter, and a sort of rodentiferous paranoia. Except no one has caught anything.  Except perhaps hantavirus, but eh, Frost Giants are immune, so who really cares?

I made a steam leak in the autoclave, such that the resulting cloud set off the fire alarms and the whole building had to be evacuated.  On the first day of the semester.  In the rain.

The fridge made a puddle.

The feline made a puddle.  I have also taught her to lick the leather sofa, so now there’s a light, very smooth patch in her favorite spot.  Well, actually the middle of the dining room table is her favorite spot, because that’s where all the good sun is, of course.

My favorite spot is anywhere Sigyn is, about four inches to the left.

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Lest You Think I’ve Been Idle…

Baldur’s biscuits!  Looking back at this blog, I realize that it has been an age since I posted a Mischief Update.  I’ve been busy with other…things, and the human female has been monopolizing the computer.  But she’s doing some actual work at the moment, so I will try to summarize.

The human female returned to work after her recuperation to find that some misguided individual had plugged/unplugged/switched/turned off/relocated or otherwise tampered with all of the cords for the two fish tanks, leaving them with no running filter.  Now, the lungfish was unperturbed because lungs, but the reef tank suffered a catastrophic drop in water quality.  I kept Sigyn away so she wouldn’t see the human female wobbling atop a stool with her foot in a boot, trying to scoop the poor dead fish from the top of the tall tank.  Then she had to remove two moribund brittle stars, one of which fell apart as she tried to do so and one of which was still writhing in the discard bucket.  Now, this piscicide was not my doing, but I did enjoy watching the human female hobble up and down the hall fetching nets and buckets and trying frantically to reach the aquatics tech on the phone. She walks so funny, especially since her not-chopped foot is bad too.

On her second day back to work (the very day she was cleared to drive), one of her colleagues threw his back out and had to be taken to the healer.  I finagled things so that it was the human female who had to take him, and I had a good giggle watching her struggle to push him (at nearly twice her weight) in a wheelchair, get him down the elevator, put him in her tiny car, stow the wheelchair, and then reverse the process to get him into the clinic.  Well, the doctor *did* say he wanted her to put some weight on that foot.

She’s still paying for the whole foot thing, too. I had a chat with the hospital and the insurance company, because it’s more fun if the bills trickle in a little at a time instead of all at once.  It’s also fun if the folks at the check-in desk for all of her pre- and post-op appointments tell her there is no charge but then she gets billed anyway.  I coached the service representative on what to say.  “It’s a courtesy not to charge you but to just roll it all into the inexplicably large tab for the surgery, the anesthesiologist, and all the supplies.  So you owe it, but we think it’s kinder and less confusing to tell you that you don’t.”

To round out my selection of medical and medical-adjacent mischief, I tinkered with her prescriptions.  The Tiny Blue Pills had been on automatic refill with the mail-order pharmacy, but when the human female’s doctor gave up and quit, the prescription lapsed from auto–but no one notified her of that fact.  She was mere days away from running out (and trust me–no one wants to see that!) by the time it occurred to her to inquire and put the order in herself.  She was told that no,  you cannot re-activate auto-refill without a new prescription from the new doctor.  Well and good, but how about an interim prescription until the now-ordered medicine arrives?  She got one, but the local pharmacy wouldn’t fill it, because the mail-order pharmacy had just filled it.  So she asked for just a few days’ worth, which usually isn’t a problem, but I had the local pill-pushers suddenly say they couldn’t do it and  refer her back to mail-order for authorization.  They in turn sent her back to the locals, saying all they needed was an override code. Still with me?  Another trip back to the local pharmacy, and she finally had a few of the precious rounds to swallow.  Another, unrelated call to the mail-order pharmacy to check on her headache medicine reveals that this one cannot be put on auto-refill at all because some cretin coded wrong.  It thinks 11 pills (all they’ll let her have in a month) is coded in as an 11-day prescription, which is not eligible for auto-ship (only 30- or 90-day ones are.)  Funny, she needed one of those as soon as she hung up the phone.  It was all good fun, but I think I prefer her better when she’s medicated, so I may not do this again.

Until the next time…

I saw to it that there was some first-class BAMN goodness waiting for her upon her return.  The invoice for all of the dead cats she was finally able to purchase from the Purveyor of Squiggly Things (And Sometimes Dead Things) was returned UNPAID!  A few phone calls and emails revealed that those defunct kitties were ordered so long ago that the departmental account number had changed in the interim.  The human female suggested that the transaction be transferred to the NEW account.  Because that would make sense. No can do!  The bean-counters had to re-open the old account, put money in it,  pay the invoice, and then close it down again.  It was fixed. No, it wasn’t–there was another, newer invoice that bounced in the same way.   It positively tickles me to think that the human female’s name is probably on the industry equivalent of the “Do Not Accept Checks From This Person” list.

The Affair of the Unpurchased Cats was such a lark that I had to try it again.  Not long thereafter, the human female received a cranky email from the Purveyor of Dead Things asking WHY the large shipment of Dead Thing Paella and other assorted specimens (the one that arrived in August and involved the Dead Cat Ballet) had still not been paid for.  That resulted in another flurry of emails and calls between the vendor, the bean counters, and the human female.  Apparently the invoice (upwards of $14k) had been electronically mislaid.  So that’s two Hot Checks lists she’s on…  If I can keep this up, there won’t be a purveyor out there who will take an order from her.

Then there were the Special Small Opaque Black Microcentrifuge Tubes she had to order via the Vendor Who’s Responsible’s very, very broken BAMN punch-out.  She keyed the order in, put the goodies in the cart.  And it was empty.  She restarted it.  The price was wrong, because it added the Special Extra Teeny Opaque Black Microcentrifuge Tubes instead.  She got that straightened out eventually, but what should have been a five-minute purchase ate up considerably more fun than that. I had time to make popcorn and settle in to watch.

While she was still getting places on her little knee scooter, I tweaked the elevator one morning, so she had to carry the thing up two flights of stairs.

The ice machine went on strike the week all the labs needed ice.

The door on oom 324 spent one day refusing to open with anything other than the master key.  The next day, I had it refuse to lock. With an exam set up inside.

I pointed out to the copier that the elevator, the ice machine, and the automatic door locks were having all the fun, so it took itself offline. When it was coaxed back online, it decided it didn’t need codes and let everyone have unlimited copies for free.  Then it decided its energy-saver shut down period should be about one minute.  I don’t know–what do you think should malfunction next?  Is it time for microwave sparks?

When one is stressed at work and recovering from an injury, good nutrition is important.  The human female purchased a packet of dried apricots to keep in her desk for “healthy” snacking.  Imagine her surprise when she opened them to find I had doctored them with some sort of vile chemical (don’t ask  me –I don’t know what it was.  I just went in the prep room and grabbed something) and they were inedible.  That occasioned an indignant return to the market, so now the folks there think she is a trouble maker too.

The Feline, already on prescription food and several daily meds, came down with a bug that required the humans to administer an oral liquid medicine every day for ten days.  Would the cat eat it on her food?  She would not! (I taught her well.)  Catching her, holding her down, and squirting it into the flailing beast provided a healthy dose of drama to each day, especially since said medication makes her FOAM at the mouth like a rabid weasel.


And as a final unfortunate event, the humans’ credit card was hacked.  What? No!  I know nothing about that.  And no, I don’t choose to explain my recent acquisition of three pounds of gummy septopuses and six shiny new knives.  I’m hurt you would even think to ask…

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