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.

>|: [

I’m Not Leaving Without a Fight

If the human female thinks she can escape her workplace without a farewell barrage of mischief from me, she’s either stupid (quite likely!) or willfully delusional (almost certain.)

The phones have finally been replaced with the new VOIP units, and now I know where the word “VOIP” comes from. That’s the feeble, pathetic sound they make when a call comes in.

voip…. voip…

It’s so faint that it sounds like a proper phone ringing in another room, so even when a call does come in, the subconscious files it under “someone else’s problem” and filters it right out. The sound quality’s not so great either. The person on the other end of the line sounds as if they’ve been stuffed into a bus station locker—-muffled and distinctly tinny.

The Teaching Assistants and Lab Instructors continue to rearrange their lab and office hour schedules with merry abandon. No sooner does the human female compile and distribute the information than someone announces that they’ve changed something. One enterprising Lab Instructor (hired to teach six sections) quit entirely the day before classes started, leading to some hair-pulling and creatively colorful language on the part of the Intro Bio Director. There’s one TA whose name doesn’t match what the university says it is (married over a year ago), as well as a Lab Instructor whose existence the university doesn’t acknowledge at all. He’s not in the directory and thus cannot be added to the list of lab users the human female had to compile and submit to BioRaft.

Ah, BioRaft. This is the University’s newest attempt at herding cats. In theory, it is a place to gather all the lab safety for the university under one benevolent umbrella. In practice, however, it is being slowly implemented and is still earning a big, redN in “works and plays well with others.” The entire Intro Bio program is one reporting unit, with the human female in charge of reporting. She got the initial listing set up without too much fuss, noting which permanent staff members face which workplace hazards. Toxic chemicals? Check. UV light radiation? Check. Infectious biological agents? Yes, please. Now, however, she has to enter in the information for each of the fifty or so TAs and LIs. “Can’t I,” she asked sweetly, “submit a spreadsheet with each of the pertinent persons, their contact info, and the hazards they face? Surely such could be imported into the guts of the program?” “Don’t be silly!” BioRaft has answered. “Remember our slogan: “One by one is more fun!”

BioRaft has the same notion about hazardous chemical inventory. They’ve been promising for about six months that “real soon now” it is going to be possible to upload a spreadsheet with names quantities, container type, location, manufacturer, and particular hazard for each and every chemical Intro Bio uses. The human female has had such a spreadsheet ready go since forever, but each inquiry has been met with, “you bet, but not yet!” I had big hopes for BioRaft as a source of aggravation for the human female and hilarity for me, but now that the stupid wench is running away retiring, she’s deprived me of that pleasure, and I’m more than a little put out.

I continue to have fun with the computing software infrastructure on campus. One day last week, Zoom had problems nationwide, wreaking havoc on the ability to teach or take classes online. Then there were problems with eCampus, the portal for all grades and assignments. If I could find a way to feed off frustration and panic like some sci-fi monster, I would be as fat as Volstagg.

The construction in the building, which has afforded me so many, many opportunities for outages, delays, noises, and funny smells, and which was originally supposed to be complete before classes started on August 19, is nearing completion but is by no means done yet. I believe the major work is done, but the workmen are still in the installing fixtures/ running wiring/ painting/ running around without masks/ parking in other people’s spaces stage.

They’ve nearly finished with their total disruption of Prep Staff’s office space. Let us examine the progress.

It looks a little less “horror movie” now and a bit more “comedy of errors.” Buuuuuut… Do you see that blank wall to the right? That demarcates the area that was “borrowed” from the office to allow for a duct conduit from regions below to regions above. What do you notice?

I’ll give you a minute. Humpty tum, humpty tumpty tumpty tum. Got it? No? Sigh. Silly mortal.

It’s not what’s there that’s the problem. It’s what’s missing! Behind that partition is the AC vent for the entire room, and the new blank wall is missing the electrical outlet and the ethernet port that used to be there. Ehehehehehe! Prep Staff is going to be warm and unconnected unless the contractors can be persuaded to come out and remedy the situation. I could be wrong ( I’m definitely cynical) but their, “Oh, yes. We know. It was always part of the plan and we intended to fix it. Yes, that’s right,” rings a bit hollow…

Oh, and the faucets in 313? No running water. Or, rather, there’s a steady stream of hot water trickling from the tap, but no more than that, and no cold at all. Hooray! One more round of fun with Slow, Silent, and Costly before the human female leaves.

Soon alas, I will have to give all this up. No more con/destruction. No more fun with (f)utilities. No more Intro Bio. I’m bereft.

Bereft, but not out of options. Just you wait, human female. There are more ways to torment you than just the university…

>|: [

How Much Fun Can I Cram Into One Week? Part II: Friday

Good morning!  Are you ready to face another day in the (f)utility disaster that is Heldenfels Hall?  No?  Too bad.  You promised the phone people you’d be there today to let them into all the rooms that need phone lines.

Let us take stock of the current situation:

AC: Off, with no indication of duration.  Anticipated temperature?  100 F or thereabouts.  There is an additional chiller en route for room 314 where the Prep Staff is temporarily housed.

Elevator:  Sedentary.

Phones:  That’s why we’re here.

What now?  Oh.  The resident of the office next to the human female’s is requesting a chiller for his office, since he plans to come in today.  You’d better call for another…  Ah.  Prep Staff is all departing to work from home.  I don’t blame them.

The human female will just redirect the one that was supposed to be for 314 to 315 when it shows up.

Norns’ Nighties!  It is already warm in here.  Open up a window, why don’t you.  See?  Nice breeze.  You may need to weigh down everything on your desk, but stop whining.

(later)  The chiller is here!  Just let the service techs plug it into that unoccupied power strip there and you will be fine.  Go back to work.

(later) It is suspiciously quiet.  And hot.  The breeze has disappeared and the chiller next door has mysteriously stopped.  You should look into that.

Ah.  It is, sadly, dead.  Likely you just tripped a breaker somewhere.  Yes, one of the ones in the locked room you don’t have a key for.  Well, that’s a pickle, isn’t it?

Say, weren’t the phone people supposed to be here by now?  The human female is calling the building proctor.  Who is giving her the number of the phone tech.

Dialing the phone tech.  Friendly greeting. Phones imminent?  No. Phones not imminent.  He’s upstairs, getting Chemistry set up.  He’s having trouble getting even one line to work.  Given that things are not going well and it’s just getting hotter and hotter in the building,  shall we give it a pass today and try again on Monday?  We shall.

There goes the last reason to stay in this oven of a building.

The human male is perfectly ready to have a break from the woes he’s been having today—some of the larger online classes this fall will have more than 300 students, and the Provider Of Online-Teaching-Software (POOTS) charges for that.  Who’s going to pay? The Department?  The University?  The professors?  No one knows!  Meanwhile, the long-delayed laptops have arrived unexpectedly, and they all have to be set up.  It’s madness in the computer shop, I say!  Madness!

So, yes, he is ready to drive the human female home.  It’s a short walk to the car and–

blocked car

Or you could just wait in the shade for a bit…

>|: [

How Much Fun Can I Cram Into One Week? Part I: Thursday

It has been an amusing week for me.  Because we’re having a continuous heat advisory, I orchestrated an unannounced chilled water outage, on Monday and Tuesday, so there was supposedly no cool air for a couple of days.  Nonetheless, I made sure the human female’s office was sitting at about 65 degrees F, so while the rest of the world was trying to determine how much clothing they could wear without being arrested, she was huddled in her chair, wrapped in a sweatshirt and wearing a mask by herself indoors just to keep her lumpy nose warm.

I also saw to it that the promised phone line cuttage did, in fact, occur on Monday.  The lines were just working one day and not the next.  Something no one thought of was the fact that without the phone line, the fax machine didn’t work, and, while people could scan things with the big copier, the machine refused to let anyone mail the scans to other people.  But it was only until Thursday, so…

Please note that I have talked the Bean Counters out of springing for any more internet connections/routers/cabling/connections, so all of the internet phones that are coming will be more traffic on existing ethernet.   When the power or the internet goes out in the future, no one will be able to call for help!

The plumbing work order is still open, because the RO water lines continue to drip–but only when the plumber isn’t looking.

Wednesday was more or less status quo, with everyone preparing for the very busy Thursday.

The human female had a lot planned for today.  She has a Teaching Assistant meeting to go to, there’s a backlog of tasks for the computer, and this afternoon it’s Moving Day for the Honors Freshman Biology course, as well as the day that one of the Professors is coming to pick up a load of out-of-date biology books for donations.  There are student workers lined up and everything!

I suppose I should explain that the Honors classes are moving to the third floor of Heldenfels because they’re supposed to move to the second floor of Heldenfels from the basement of Butler but, since the second floor of Butler still looks like a war zone and does not bid fair to be finished before the start of the semester, the current move is being made, with the notion that the human female’s Prep Staff will be close at hand to prep the labs.  Luckily, since Bio 111 and 112 labs will be taught online this fall, there are rooms up here available.  Still with me?

Today dawned bright, hot, and humid.  Everyone toting boxes and pushing carts is going to finish up wet and smelly.  I think I will stay far, far away.

The phones are still out, of course.   No one is coming on today after all.  But we have a promise!  Surely by 8:00 on Friday!

Great Frigga’s corset! The elevator, which has been behaving for a few days with all the equanimity of a tired, hungry toddler, has just decided that it had had enough and  is refusing to open, close, or travel.  Bad elevator!  No biscuit. (Ehehehehe!  Stairs are good cardio, mortals.)

The Prep Staff is needing to make things ready in the basement for the Dead Cat Ballet but has discovered that someone has locked the door to the basement stairs, and with the elevator sulking, there is no way to get to the Room of Dead Things.  Does the Bio Facilities Coordinator have the key?  Or the building proctor?  They do not!  It seems clear that no one is going to be looking at Dead Things until after 11:00, when the custodian who has the key gets back from lunch…

Say, has anyone noticed?  It is suspiciously…warm in here today.  And still.

A few phone calls turns up the fact that the air conditioning is out.  Completely.  Plumbers on the second floor needed to the thing to thing so they could do the other thing, and it will surely be back on by this afternoon.

Looks like you have to decide now, woman, whether you want to be moving boxes and carts and such with no elevator to take you anywhere and no cool air when you get there.  Perhaps you’d better alert the student workers and the book-collecting professor that moving is not likely to happen, because it is supposed to be over 100 F today, and the building is already more than a little on the sauna side of comfy…

Bing!  The first of many, many emails and texts letting the human female know that rooms are beginning to overheat has just rolled in.

Meanwhile, the human female has been tasked with gathering all the info for the VOIP-phones-that-don’t exits yet.  What are the office room numbers, phone numbers, Net-ID’s, and emails of everyone on the third floor.  Hmmm.  Wouldn’t it be funny if three or four people didn’t answer her email request and had to be hunted down?  And it would be funnier if people couldn’t remember their Net-ID or gave her their university ID number instead.  Oh, no–wait!  How about two people turn in the same phone number!  They moved offices, and do the numbers follow the person or remain with the office?  Ehehehe! And it would be even funnier if some rooms weren’t even on the list the human female has to complete.  Minor rooms like, oh, the Prep Staff Office, for instance…

Bing!  Temperature alert!  The remaining people on the floor are definitely starting to wilt.  Portable chillers have been called for for the room where all the plants, fish, and other critters have been gathered (recall that the room where plants and critters usually reside is currently under destruction).  The human female is making a series of phone calls and emails, wondering how she can arrange to have all the alerts go to someone else…  Good luck with that.


It’s going to be too hot to want to have a TA meeting up here later, isn’t it?  But look!  A notification has just popped up that there’s a nice, cool room reserved in Butler for the meeting.  Surely that’s a mistake, but the human female is checking whether the room is available anyway, because 80 F indoors and rising.


Yes! The room is available!   But no!  The person calling the meeting says a little heat never bothered anyone and we’re not wussies and don’t need the room.  Farewell, cool air…

Ugh!  Out into the heat!  The other day the human female had to fax some important papers (back when fax was still an option). When she called yesterday, she found that the fax never arrived, so she is using her lunch to drive to the post office and mail them.  When she comes back on campus, she’ll see my next little surprise–a big (f)utility vehicle parked in the center of the intersection she has to drive through to reach her parking space…


(later)  That was one roasty meeting.  The elevator is still out.  There’s no word on the AC.  Everyone but the human female has dripped their sweaty way home.  The human female is thinking longingly of escaping herself, but where are the promised chillers? Let us go see if they ever arrived.

No sign yet.  Back to the offi—

Odin’s Eyepatch!  I thought Thor was stupid!  The human female, now the only non-contractor person in the building, has locked herself out of her office!  She thought he had her office keys in her pocket, but no—those are the car keys from lunch.  You could call someone.  Where’s your swipe card woman?  Oh, in your backpack, in your office.  How about your phone?  Back on your desk.  Too bad!  Why don’t you just go into the open, scary, under-construction Prep Staff office and use their ph—

Oh, right!  Ehehehe!  Sucks to be you.  You have two choices, don’t you?  You can sit in the 85 degree break room and wait for your husband to miss you at the end of the work day, or you can walk over to his office and see if he’ll come over and let you in.

Ugh!  Even hotter outside.  The human female’s appearance now approximates that of someone who has been standing under a sprinkler.  Up to the fourth floor of BSBW.  Blah, blah, husband, blah, blah, locked out, back we go, out in the heat, and back to Heldenfels.  Back to the office and the keys and the phone and the no AC.

Bing! Bing! Bing! Bing!  You missed a lot of texts.

Glorious day!  The workmen are finally here with the chillers!  Once  they’re set up, the human female can go back over to the human male’s workspace and chill (literally) in the graduate computing lab and work there until it’s time to go home.

Bing!  Ahhh.  4:15 p.m. and finally, some cool air.  It is lovely here.  She’s just going to sit right down here and log in and do the work she hasn’t had a chance to do yet today and…

That is a Macintosh, you dolt.  Of no use to you.  Go ahead now, disinfect the mouse and the keyboard and the surroundings.  You know the protocol.   There, that machine over there is a PC.

Typetty, typetty.  Log in.  Hmm.  You need to map yourself to the network drives you need.  The document you need to remind you how to do that is on your Google Drive, which you can reach from…

Oh.  It wants your dual authentication code.  And just where is your Duo fob?  That’s right.  At home.  Face it woman, you have bothered other people enough for one day and neither the universe nor I like you and your are done for the day.  But don’t forget to sanitize the computer.  Which you shouldn’t have been using because it’s not one of the ones distantly spaced, can’t you see that?  Yes, it has an “I used and cleaned this computer” sign on it from yesterday.  No, it doesn’t have a “don’t use” sign on it.  Yes, there’s no computer to the left and the one to the right says, “repair work in progress don’t use,” so this one is actually six feet from any other working system, but it’s only those other unmarked ones, over there, that you’re supposed to use.  How stupid can you be?

You know what?  Time to admit you’re licked.  Give up.  Just sanitize your I-was-sweaty-when-I-sat-down chair, sit on the floor quietly and read something.  And I’ll turn the AC down some, so you can shiver while you’re doing it.

And just think!  You get to come back tomorrow!


>|: [


Mischief Update: Set Chaos to Maximum

The contractors swear by all they hold holy that the second floor of the human female’s workplace will be finished on time.  Well, except for the air conditioning.  And the stools.  And maybe the electrical.  Or the water.  Or the phones.  But finished!

The New! and Improved! second floor is going to have multiple fume hoods, safe enclosures where scientists can work with nasty chemicals, DNA, and other cooties.  Evacuating so much air in a steady flow requires a VLF (Very Large Fan), and there’s no place those fans can go except the roof.  So a delivery was scheduled and a massive crane procured, and all the building’s inhabitants were told to stay home for a day and not approach the premises at all, to eliminate the chance of a) a  VLF landing on their pointy head, or b) a VBC (Very Big Crane) toppling over and making a pancake of someone or someone’s car.

The VLFs arrived, oh yes they did! But I had a word or two with the Purveyor of VLFs and they made their appearance sans the bolts required to actually attach them to the building.  So it was deferred until the following weekend when, once again, everyone was invited to stay very, very far away.

The old internet wiring in the part of the second floor that is going to become Biology and Chemistry teaching lab rooms was meant to have been stripped out, to make room for bigger/better/faster connections, and the contractors took this charge very much to heart and set to with a will, encouraged by myself.  So eager were they to accomplish the ripping and stripping that their zeal quite got away from them and they removed all the internet wiring from the part of the floor that is supposed to remain offices.  Ehehehehe.  Oopsie!  There is, unfortunately, no provision in the builders’ remit or room in their timetable for replacing what they took out–and no budget, either.  All parties involved are having a fine squabble and a round of finger-pointing about who’s to replace it.  And, more to the point, who’s to pay.

Water remains an iffy prospect.  There has been spotty low water pressure, a drip that doesn’t drip when the plumber comes, and hot water that takes for. ev. er to arrive once summoned.  The human female, having forgotten her water bottle at home, poured herself a mug from the break room tap.  Imagine her revulsion (and my glee!) when what she ended up with was pale yellow in color, with a fine black sediment and a rather disagreeable taste.  That will teach her to look before she sips.

The workman have created such a clutter outside the door that needs to be utilized for the annual Dead Cat Ballet that there is no way for the delivery truck to access the alley and no way for a pallet jack to approach the door. The human female, having made all the arrangements for delivery, removal of door posts, etc., was forced to do a little something I like to call “grovel and backtrack,” cancelling the door work order, arranging future delivery (at some as yet to be determined date) of the shipment with Central Receiving, and notifying the Purveyor of Dead Things that their payment will be tardy, since she cannot pay for what she has not received and checked.  Of course, I will make sure the person she spoke to in customer service at the PODT doesn’t tell the Bean Counters at the PODT, and there will be a nice dunning letter in the post for her, you mark my words.

The human female and her coworkers were told week before last that the phone lines were going to be cut at some unspecified date and be out for a while.  Another outage!  It has come to light, however, that there is no plan to replace the land lines and that the entire building is being switched to something called VOIP.  I was, I admit, confused.   Is not “voip!” the sound it makes when one wraps a piece of hot dog bun wrapper around a stick and lights it in a campfire, causing drips of molten plastic to fall with a very characteristic “Vvvoip!  Vvvoip!” ?  Apparently, though, no pyromania is involved, merely Voice Over Internet Protocol.  I am not dismayed, however, because I am fully capable of causing mischief with computers, so expect some good fun there!   (At a yet to be determined date, of course.)

The human male has not been exempt from my mischief.  He had ordered a number of Spanish language computer keyboards for a new faculty member arriving from Chile.  They did not come and they did not come and they did not come.  When he called to find out why, he was told that they were out of stock for educational customers.  When the male pursued it further, he talked with another person, who took a look around at the simply massive pile of Spanish language keyboards in the warehouse and said they would ship them out.  We will just see about that…

Another order, comprising some dozens of laptops, was dispatched to the human male by a carrier I had not previously meddled with.  But I adore making a new business connection, so I had a little chat with the good folks at Doin’ Hella Little, who subsequently informed the human male that they were completely unable to parse the delivery address (the University does not use street names and numbers but internal mail stops, building names, and room numbers) and that the laptops were going to rest comfortably in a warehouse at their distribution center in Humble, a small town rather closer to the Big City to the South than to here.  When the human male asked whether they could not reroute the delivery to Central Receiving, which does have something that is recognizably a street address, he was told that they could not do that and, if he didn’t want to drive an hour or more each way, he could take it up with the vendor.  Which he has done, and the vendor has supposedly Explained Things to Doin’ Hella Little, but we shall see if the laptops materialize.  

In the meantime. the human male was contacted by another shipper, inquiring about his shipment of over 100 tablet computers.  A bit of detective work uncovered that these were, in fact, not his at all but destined for some establishment in a town about two hours and more from here.

Recently, an old friend sent the humans a photo taken of them a decade and a half or so ago.  They were thinner then, and not so gray, and there’s a light in their eyes that is lacking now.  I simply can’t imagine why, can you?

>|: [

Time Is Fleeting. Madness Takes Its Toll…

Great Frigga’s Hairpins!  The human female is actually up on campus in her office today!  First full day here in eons.

It’s all very surreal.  Rooms 318, 319, and 302 are all torn up.  All the plants and animals from 302 are in room 325.  There is an anonymous half-person hanging out of the ceiling in room 313 doing who knows what.

I made sure that the huge generator-mobile thingy is parked right under her window, so even though it’s “quiet” in the building with most people still working from home, it’s plenty loud.  Especially with the various bangings and clangings that are going on.  That should help with her headache, don’t you think?

Everything looks strange in the office, doesn’t it?  Does she really have this much stuff?  What is all this junk?  She’s picking up bits of paper and putting them down again, trying to make some connection with the distant past that was her life Before and her life Now.

Well, looky here.  This is how her desk calendar was left.


Otherwise known as the last day anything made sense.

Contrast with the date on  the To-Do list she’s brought with her today.


Note items 9, 10, 11, and 12.  Preparations are afoot for the annual Dead Cat Ballet!  But since almost no Dead Things were used in the spring semester, the shipment is going to be much smaller this year, only 900 pounds or so.  Mostly piglets and kidneys.  Many, many piglets, and many, many kidneys.

Perhaps we shall call it the Porcine Parts Parade this year…

And now, for the finishing touch on today, I think I’ll have one of the contractors park a big diesel truck outside, right next to the air intake for the building.  Ah, yes, there it is!  The office now has the distinct air of eau de exhaust. 

No migraine medicine is proof against that.

>|: [

The Trick is to Just Not Let Up

The trick to driving mortals right around the bend and all the way to Gibbersville is to just. not. let. up.  If one mischief is good, two are better.  If the water is off, blow out some outlets.  If the water and the outlets are out, go for the phones and the freezer.

But don’t stop there!  Why not arrange matters so that they cannot even enter the building?

When the outlets in the human female’s building blew, the exterior electronic door locks malfunctioned and defaulted to “always open.” Oh, door locks, how I love thee!  You have provided so much fodder for mayhem over the years!  When  power to the outlets was finally restored, the doors locked again, but their tiny, electronic card-reading brains became deliciously addled and they forgot all of their programming.

The human female received a call from the building proctor after hours.  She had a frantic Fish Feeding Person on the line who didn’t know the human female’s name (they do not work directly together) and who was unable to get into the building because her card wouldn’t work.  The fish, poor little mites, had to wait until things could be reprogrammed.

Then there are the computers.  They all have to go off a head of the outages and be turned back on again afterwards.  The human female’s Prep Staff can get to most of them and do the honors, but the human female’s office is not a place they can get to, so someone with the right key has to go up on campus and restart her system.

With another outage looming on the horizon, the fun just keeps coming.

Meanwhile, there is a dripping faucet in room 325… But it only drips when the plumber isn’t looking.

Room 302 is its own particular disaster zone…

room 302 wreck

Something unannounced is happening in 313…

room 313

And just what is going on down on the second floor?


What’s behind the mysterious Door X?

Do you really want to know???

>|: [

One Ringy-dingy…

The mirthful outlet shenanigans have been resolved, though there will need to be another power outage in a few days.  More fun on the horizon!

While all of this was going on, I was also playing merry Hel with the telephones.  The human female got a voice mail on her office phone, which she was able to reach remotely and listen to.  It was a sweet, southern-grandmotherly-sounding woman from the local telecommunications service, asking about the multiple phones on the floor.

The human female called her back and got called “darling” and “honey,” (so I don’t need to tell you it wasn’t a video-call…)  The nice woman told her that there were several phone lines on the floor that were out of service because, “there is a hole in the wall and some lines were cut.”  She rattled off a set of numbers.  Two were the human female’s number, which presumably was working.  Another was the front office.  The human female had to look the others up and could only find one of them.  Mysteries!

Now if any phones aren’t working because of large holes in the wall,  it’s probably the ones on the other side of the hall, where the con/destruction is going on.  (This is, incidentally, the same area where workmen putting in a door last  year sawed merrily through a phone line.)  The Telecom people may just have bad intel. (Innocent whistling.)

So the human female promised to check into things and get back in touch.  Ehehehehehe!  Now someone has got to go around the whole floor and call all the phones and see if they actually ring, because there’s some question as to whether, when called, the phones will just ring and ring and ring or whether they’ll come up as “out of service.”

One of these days, all of the utilities and amenities in this building are going to work, and the inhabitants will drop dead of shock.

What shall I  meddle with next?

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She Honestly Doesn’t Know If She’s Coming or Going

I’ve spoken here before about the ongoing con/destruction in the human female’s workplace.  I’ve been working with Slow, Silent, and Costly and all the contractors to make sure it is the biggest headache possible.  I’m proud to say that my hard work is bearing fruit!

This is what the Prep Staff’s office looks like right now.


I believe that’s the ceiling sitting in a pile on the floor, there.

And then there are the Outages.

The human female and her techs knew there were going to be numerous outages, as bits of the remodeled second floor utilities are tied into the remainder of the system.

Every time there’s a scheduled outage, there are a million texts and emails beforehand, clarifying just what is and isn’t going to be affected.  Precious plants, animals, and perishable chemicals have to be protected with backup power.  Sometimes I think EVERYTHING on the floor needs to be hot, cold, or wet!

The inbox overfloweth.

All the computers on the floor need to be shut down ahead of a power outage, because a) they don’t like to run when it gets to be 90 indoors and b) there’s always the chance that the power will spike when it comes back on.  (Nobody trusts their UPS.)  Since people are logged in remotely, this means no one can do anything on their work system during an outage and all the computers need to be switched on again afterwards.  They’ve been scheduling outages for Saturdays, but nobody goes in to turn things on until Monday, so it’s a nice little “break” from work. (But see below.)

The power and chilled water/AC outage at the beginning of the month went more or less as planned.  Backup power went where it was needed and nothing died.  But many of the rooms are on automatic temperature monitoring, and when they get warm the human female gets a nice little text notification.  Bing!  Every minute or so for every room that edges up over 78.2 F.  She got to delete one hundred and twenty-two messages!  All day Saturday!  Then there were the accompanying emails…

Then there was an unscheduled water outage.   That was fun.  More email!  Does the building proctor know about this?  How about the facilities coordinator?  What’s affected?  Is it fixed yet? With every text and every email, the crease in the human female’s forehead got just a little deeper.

Then I made a water leak.

The next week, I scheduled a two-day outage of the hot and cold water, the RO water, the forced air, and  the vacuum lines.

Then a two-day outage for natural gas.

The vaccum is something that never gets used, gas wasn’t needed those days, and the forced air is only used for blowing up sheep lungs in what has to be the grossest demo in the whole Lower Division Instruction Program.  (The human female and her techs keep trying to write this out of the lesson plan, but it keeps being put back in.) 

The water, however, was a pain.  No water fountains, no faucets, no potties.

The human female is still working from home, so she was minimally inconvenienced.  I just had to make sure she got all her notifications.

The most recent outage was supposed to be a power outage.  Then everyone heard that it was only supposed to be for the north end of the building–which is where most of the offices are.  Something about “volts” and “buses” and blah blah blah.


Today, Prep Staff discovered that, while the lights and such were back on, there was no power in many of the wall outlets!  More fun!  More email!  This is part of the best one, from one of the contractors:

power outage 1

Apparently the “more information” was this:

blown transfomer

Now, you’ll recall that only the north end of the building was supposed to be affected, but Behold!  The outlet in room 302, down at the other end of the hall, went out as well, the one the ultra-cold freezer (-80F) is plugged into.

Cue a hundred more texts and emails

An unplugged freezer doesn’t freeze very well, so everything started to…t…h…a…w.   A poor Prep Staffer had to move everything into a regular freezer, with plans to move things to alternate storage in another building once it was all frozen again.

Nice try, but the things in that freezer are very, shall we say, finicky, so they will probably need to be replaced.  The human female drew up a list to present to the nice contractors, in hopes that they can be prevailed upon to make good the loss:

freezer losses

More email:  Were there other primers?   Is that all the ONPG that was spoiled?  Was some of it not mixed up and in the freezer?  The bacterial cultures aren’t replaceable, are they?  Just how much Sybr Green did we really have?  While all of this unscheduled swapping and counting and price-looking up was going on, someone noticed also that the water and RO water was off.



All while the human female was dealing with the flurry of activity and paper that vetting and interviewing applicants for the vacant tech position, put together a fall purchase list, and deal with a ton of other paperwork.

Out of all of this, I have confirmed one Biological Fact:  The human female is part chameleon.  No, really,  I can prove it! Her face definitely can change color, and her eyes can swivel to look in two directions at once.

And she’s going to be bald before all of this is over…

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