dead cat ballet

Oh, How Could I Forget?!

It happens every fall.  It’s as perennial as the changing of the leaves, the aroma of woodsmoke on the air, and the roar of the football-watching crowds (only one of which actually occurs in this part of Midgard in September.  The colored leaves will hold off until the middle of December, and the woodsmoke won’t arrive until January–unless someone barbecues for Thanksgiving…)

It did happen this year, and I did meddle, but I was so busy being naughty in other directions that I forgot to write about it.  Of what do I speak?  Why of the Dead Cat Ballet, of course!  The arrival of the year’s worth of preserved animals, “fresh” from the Purveyor of Dead Things, carefully coordinated with the PODT, the carrier, Central Receiving, Prep Staff, and Slow, Silent, and Costly.  Given all the things that have to go right, at just the right times, it’s amazing that it ever works.

The human female put her order in in May, the same as she usually does.  This year, the request included a truly staggering number of frogs and sea cucumbers (the latter of which, although they ARE pickled, are not at all nice on sandwiches.  Don’t ask.)  She was informed that the lampreys would be on backorder, and that the sharks might be delayed.  This was expected, as lampreys have the gall not to fling themselves into nets until late in the year.

Fast forward to August, when the human female began to arrange the shipping and delivery.  Central Receiving, true to form, indulged in that Midgardian children’s game known as “phone tag,” but eventually a date and time was settled upon. The human female, having been instructed that all requests to Slow, Silent, and Costly go only through the Department’s Facilities Manager (no more ad hoc work requests to deal with my plumbing projects, if you please), obliged and requested that the post in the double doors be removed.  When she asked the FM for the work order number, in case something went wrong at the last minute (like last year, when the removed post was put back before the delivery even happened), she was told, “It’s under control.”  “But what is the number?” “It’s being handled.”  In other words, mortal, sit down, shut up, and listen to your betters.

The delivery arrived as scheduled, multiple pallets of it, right on time.  One of Prep Staff having had quite enough of the Human Female and moving on to bigger and better things, the team was a person short, so the affianced of one of the minions was dragooned into helping.

I let it all proceed as desired (which should have been their second clue), with swift transfer of all the various boxes from the pallets to the shelves.  Sea cucumbers here, frogs over there, fish on the shelf by the door.  But what about the boxes with no labels?  Oh, just put those in the hallway and we’ll sort them out later.

When all the labeled parcels had been stowed away, the scope of my mischief was apparent.

dead-frog-boxes

None of those boxes had external markings that would hint at their contents.  What was supposed to be a forty-minute session of sweating and grunting turned into a long, protracted, painful parody of Yule, with everyone sitting upon the ground and opening the boxes to discern their contents.   None proved to be completely full.  “I’ve got three rats.” “Four more squid in this one.” “Mine is just twelve copies of the insert for the preserving fluid.”  And so on, for another delightful hour.

At the end, the human female and her minions were short on two items and over on one.  (Midgardians, apparently count like this:  One, two, many, ….thousands.)  A look through the labeled boxes revealed that one, at least, was mismarked and contained something different entirely, altering the count further.

So of course the human female called the PODT, who agreed to send the missing defunct vertebrates.  When she told them how the shipment had been so inefficiently packed as to result in about a pallet’s-worth of unlabeled, un-full boxes and asked if couldn’t they please a) pack full boxes next time, and b) label them.  “Well,  on your next order you should specify that you want the boxes labeled. I don’t know–there might be an extra charge for that.”

Ehehehehe!  Don’t you know that about half your vendors and ALL of the freight lines work for me now?  Now that I know it really bugs you, you can look forward to even more mystery boxes next fall.

One final note.  This might be the end of an era. Since the real, live Dead Cats are being ordered separately these days, since they take so long to arrive, for the first time in memory, there were no actual defunct kitties in this year’s order.  The human female reckons that the whole rigmarole  ought to be renamed.  She’s proposed the “Dead Frog Fandango.”  Hmm.  It’s not untrue, but it just doesn’t have the same “zip.”

What do you think?

>|: [

Mischief Update–I Solemnly Swear That I Am Up To No Good

I always say that I’m going to keep up with documenting my mischief. After all, future scholars and chroniclers will want to be able to appreciate my long games, my spur-of-the-moment flashes of evil brilliance, and my witty prose. But I’m so *busy* doing the actual mischief (and fighting off vegetative nightmares) that I do sometimes fall behind and then have to jot down an elephantine wodge of insidious history. Like this one.

I continue to do some of my best work with vendors. My collaboration with They Had One Mission And Stumbled is proving to be a very fruitful one. The human female put in an order for cases and cases and cases of those green, biodegradable lab gloves she’s switched the whole teaching program to. Her two previous orders each had delivery problems, so she was hoping for a smooth transaction this time. As if.  No, the whole pallet of glove cases did arrive, but it came in in dribs and drabs over a few weeks’ time. Half the order came in one or two cases at a time. Each little portion had its own ship notice and its own packing slip. The packing slips weren’t all the same size or format, and things came via both Unrepentant Package Smashers and Fed-up and Exhausted. In the end, there were eight packing slips, and one of the larger shipments came addressed to Stephen Wolfe. Luckily, that particular addressee-fu has occurred before, and the stockroom personnel know now to just shrug and reroute-the shipments to the human female. Finally, when one of these multi-box shipments of four different sizes of gloves comes, all the cases need to be held somewhere until they all come in and are checked off. Basically, it takes over a whole room for a couple of weeks.

One particular order for a refill for an antibody demo kit never came in at all. The human female waited….and waited…and waited. Finally, she called the vendor directly. The vendor did the email equivalent of a blank stare. They’d never received the PO at all. Turns out that the purchasing software had “helpfully” directed it to the personal email of a person who is not at the company any more.  The human female fixed that, much to my annoyance. Perfectly good prank, and I only got to use it once.

Preparations for the annual Dead Cat Ballet have already begun. She asked for a quote from the customer rep at the Purveyor of Dead Things and eventually got one. Of course, it didn’t have the plethora of pickled piglets she wanted and they had to do it over, so… Starfish remain totally unavailable, so the human female had to order three-hundred some-odd sea cucumbers. (Is that even an animal? Or are they switching to vegetables for dissection?) In any case, she submitted the order for approval and waited….and waited. No PO. I’ve figured out that if I distract her just as she’s quadruple checking the order one. last. time, she forgets to file the This Order Must Go to the Purveyor of Dead Things/ sole source paperwork, which slows the whole process down to a crawl. The order’s been placed now; we’ll see if it actually shows up as promised….

Earlier, she ordered some sharks for the a different class. The professor very strictly specified 1 female and two males. I helped the PODT pick out three beautiful females.  At my behest, hey also shipped three female stiff kitties and no stiff tomcats on a two male, one female order.

Speaking of Dead Things–remember the room full of skulls? Most of the shipment came in at once but there were a few things backordered (cats, deer, and the ever-elusive platypus). They came in a few here and a few there. Then the human female received another shipping notice and another invoice for two deer and one platypus, with a different order number from the big main one. Cue panic. Turns out that fake invoices are the Purveyor of Dead Heads’ way of putting shipped backorders through their system.  The human female submitted it for payment, but she’s discovered it didn’t get paid because a few days ago, the Purveyor of Dead Heads sent it to her again.

Oh, and remember the papers the human female has to sign every year for the Vendor Whose Responsible, saying that she promises not to use any of her chemicals to set up a meth lab in the basement?

VWR-Intended Use 2019

She filled them out this year and sent them in. Then they sent another request. “I already did this!” she whined. “How about you have your supervisor sign where it says, ‘supervisor’?” they replied. So she had him sign them and sent them back. They sent a third request. “I SAID I already did this!” she type-screamed at them. “But it’s a different account!”the VWR shot back. And setting her up with two account numbers wasn’t the best part of the joke. After all the wrangling–it turns out that the new lab exercises don’t even USE the chemical that triggered all the DEA paperwork in the first place!

That wasn’t the only fun the VWR and I had with the human female!  Oh, no!  Not by a long shot!  The new 111 labs use an astonomical number of test tubes–and now that the Powers That Be have decreed that they should be single-use (or at least tossed in the glass waste at the end of the week), the program is going through mounds and acres and tons of the things.  The human female ordered FIFTY THOUSAND of them.  She waited.  And waited.  Finally, there was a shipping notice!  She tracked it very faithfully on the Unrepentant Package Smasher’s website.  It got as far as Waco (which is, as they say in this part of Midgard, “up the road a piece”) and that’s when I stepped in.  You see, fifty thousand test tubes–fifty cases of 1,000) comes on a pallet.  When UPS has a pallet to deliver to the Department’s stockroom, if the driver doesn’t feel like working his large vehicle down the alley, he doesn’t.  He may take it to Central Receiving or just dump it somewhere else.  Which is what I suggested to him this time.  He dumped it down at the UPS hub facility back in Waco.

testtubes-vs-ups

The tracking said, “Will attempt delivery the next day,” but they didn’t.  And they didn’t call.  When the human female called them, asking if they could pretty please route the package to Central Receiving so that she could get it from them, they said, “NO,” and insinuated that she was somewhat lower than pond scum.  They made her get an Authorization For Reroute from the VWR, e-mailed to UPS and not sullied by her hands or her mail program.  She managed to do this, resigning herself to the $110.00 change of address fee she incurred in the process.  While she was waiting for the authorization to go through, the UPS tracking said, “Out for Delivery”–which induced a panic, because it wasn’t supposed to go anywhere until the paperwork cleared.  Frantic, she called the UPS depot in Waco who looked and said, “Nope, sitting right here.” It took a day or two after that to have the package show up at Central Receiving, and finally all the test tubes came to their “forever home.”  She should thank me!  She knows now to split the big test tube order into parts or to specify that it not be on a pallet.

Sometimes, when I finish with the human female for the day, I have a little mischief left over. Then I start looking for other mortals to tamper with. One of the human female’s techs, for example, played a big part in the acetone scare of a few months back. Funny, was it, coworker?  How “funny” did you think it was when I had HR lose your paycheck?

For the 111 labs, this summer was the second go around with the new labs. The professor wanted to try something different with the Forensics lab, the one that uses invisible bits of DNA and gooey/gelly agarose and lethal amounts of electricity. The first time, the results were deemed “okay,” but apparently they could have been better. So the human female ordered a different set of DNA primers. (Whatever those are…) The test gel–ehehehe! The test gel was completely blank except for the ladder of reference DNA fragments! Now, it’s a multi-step process from sample to gel, so they had to re-run it with various combinations of old and new primers and old and new regents. (I don’t need to know what “taq polymerase” is to mischief it up a bit!) Nada. Zip. Zero. They never did figure it out and ran out of time and had to do the lab the “old way.” I think the human female needs to read fewer articles on gel electrophoresis and more on chaos theory.

She won’t have too much time to read for a while. She’s been sad in recent years to do less with botany than in days of yore. I’ve been whispering in her ear that she’s a washed-up has-been and that she will die in ignominy, and I’ve been looking for opportunities to torture her further.  And now I have my chance! Years ago, she worked with a team of other plant nerds to write The Big Book of East Texas Planty Things That Only Other Plant Nerds Will Care About.  Recently, she’s agreed to collaborate as editor on Volume Two Much (which is FINALLLY in production), meaning she’s going to need to lay in a stock of red pens and patience with other people’s prose. About 157 pages of daisy-related gibberish is going to land in her mailbox any day now. I’m especially tickled because she’s going to have to shell out over $100 dollars to increase the size of her Dropbox space to handle this project. Time-consuming, unpaid, tedious, AND expensive. I’m enjoying this and she hasn’t even started yet.

I suppose it’s not true that she hasn’t been doing any botany this summer. She hasn’t been in the field because a) hot, b) foot in a boot, and c) did I mention hot? She has been working on the Herbarium’s database, fixing errors, checking label information, and other very boring jobs. Recently, she found that I told the student workers they could make changes to the database, an apostasy that was supposed to be Forbidden At All Costs. They’d been editing their version and she’d been editing her version, with the result that she had to re-enter a couple of work sessions worth of data. Now she has to work, not on her saved version of the file, but on the main version that I have urged the Herbarium to host on its server. She has to do all sorts of computery gymnastics just to log on and reach it, and there’s always the chance that the file she needs will be locked for use by someone else.  (Like when I had someone leave for the weekend still logged in with the file open!) And I’ve peeked–the student workers, busy little bees, are always adding new records, all of which will have to be vetted, so the proofing is very much a moving target.  She’ll never be done!

You know…sometimes, all it takes to put the finishing touches on the human female’s day is something very simple. The other day I saw to it that her ugly silver car had a nasty-gram on it when she went to get it from the church parking lot, where she had left it for a few days. During the week, the church makes a little income from charging students to park there while they’re at the university. “Your license plate has been recorded,” the note said, “and the next time we find you here without paying, you will be towed at your own expense.” This note was left under her windshield wiper, right next to her properly displayed parking permit, whose number– along with her license plate number–is duly recorded in the parish office.  You should have seen her eye twitch!

The human female was making (delusional)  gardening noises and plans for a while there. “I’m going to plant this,” and, “I’m going to plant that,” and “Oh, this would look good out front.” She was starting to be really annoying. Then the heat hit, and now she’s just hoping nothing expires from pure despair.  She tried to plant a shrublet the other day and couldn’t manage to chip a hole in the hard-as-iron dry clay.  She had to let the soaker hose run for an hour before she could scrape out a spot for it.  I did nudge a little rain her way to help. But is is *my* fault the accompanying wind broke off 1/4 of her beloved Vitex bush? Or that the five lush, now-house-high elm trees that planted themselves neatly along the property line are, she’s beginning to suspect, not native winged elms but invasive Chinese lacebark elms? Yes. Yes, it is.

In the backyard, the big dead oak is still looming over the house, making the human female fret every time the wind blows.  The tree service folks she’s called either want an amount with a lot of zeros, or they quote a price so low that it’s pretty certain that their “company” is just Joe Bob With a Chainsaw.  The one reputable outfit that comes highly recommended has a voice mailbox that’s full and doesn’t answer email.  (They wouldn’t come take the tree down anyway.  I’ve warned them what a loOnY the human female is, and they have a file on her that says, “do not respond.”)

Inside the home, I’ve been egging the Terror Twins on.  They stage wind sprints and wrestling matches every night about 11:00.  If you’re a betting person, bet on Flannel.  She outweighs Taffy by a fair amount and knows a little judo (I think she’s been taking lessons from Muffy.)  Recently, she gave Taffy a scratch on the chin that made a big scab.  The humans had to take off work, come home, crate up Boo Boo Kitty,  and haul her–screaming all the way–to the vet.  The vet cleaned it up and administered an antibiotic shot, to the tune of over-a-weekly-grocery-bill or half-a-nice-fountain-pen.  It took four adults to hold Miss Wriggle on the table for the shot, and by the time the fur-slinky was back in the crate, the entire exam room, all its occupants, and all its contents were covered in drifts and fluffs of cat hair.  They’ll remember Taffy for a long time.

So, you see, I have had my fingers in all her pies, as the mortal say.  Work, church, home –you name it, I’ve done it.  “But, Loki!” you cry.  “Can you keep this up?  Aren’t you running out of ideas?”

Not even close…

>|: [

The Dead Shark Shuffle

The human female just sent off the large order to the Purveyor of Dead things, that almighty conglomeration of pickled fauna which will constitute this year’s Dead Cat Ballet.

Since it can take for. ev. er for the PODT to amass such a mountain of carcasses, especially the cats and sharks, and since the Powers That Be have not finished specifying which particular cadavers they want to include in the new 112 labs, she has put in an order of just cats and sharks and sheep brains, which she knows she needs for the upper level Anatomy lab.  She will make the huge order later, whenever the final cast of Dead Things has been made.

She has not forgotten the “difficulties” the PODT and I have made for her in previous years–how orders have come wrong, incomplete, late, leaky, or not at all, so she took special pains to set constraints on this order.   The professor teaching the class was quite specific. One triple-injected pregnant cat; two double-injected cats, two male and three female; ten sheep brains; one triple-injected pregnant shark; and three double-injected sharks, two female and one male.  She wrote,”NO SUBSTITUTIONS ON SEX” in the description of the cat and shark line items.  She included “PLEASE DO NOT SUBSTITUTE SEXES ON CATS AND SHARKS” in the area of the P.O. that’s for notes to the vendor.  When the Helpful Representative from the PODT called and said, “We’re short of male sharks, is it all right to go ahead and send three females now?” she replied, “Augh!  Please do not!  We can wait until August to get what we asked for.”

The sheep brains arrived.  The pregnant kitty arrived.  A double-injected female shark arrived.  And then…

Oh, dear.  Would you look at that.

allgirlsharks3

Two more lady sharks, with nary a gent among them.

She called the PODT and tried to point out the error of their ways.  The Helpful Representative on the receiving end of her exasperated expostulation seemed very surprised that the human female was not 100% satisfied with the three sharks she had received.  Higher math appeared to be beyond the grasp of the Helpful Representative, who could not quite be brought to understand that 1 + 2 does indeed = 3, but 1 apple plus 2 apples does not equal one apple plus two oranges, and that for the purposes of the fruit salad in question, any apple beyond one is a useless surfeit.  In the end, the PODT agreed that she could keep the two extra females at no cost and that they would send two males when–or if– they get them.

Of the regular dead cats, there has been nary a whiff.  (Which is good, because those things are…aromatic.)

It is not a ballet, it is a graceless, lurching Dead Shark Shuffle.

I think I can string this out all summer.

>|: [

Time For Dead Things Again Already?

I hadn’t realized the summer was nearly over, but Odin’s eyepatch!  It’s time for the Dead Cat Ballet again already!  The human female put in her usual multi-page, multi-ton, multi-thousand dollar order with the Purveyor of Dead Things back in May, and today’s the day they’re set to arrive!

She put in a work order with Slow, Silent, and Costly to have the post taken out of the double doors downstairs, so there will be room to get a pallet jack through.  It was supposed to have been done by 8:00 a.m., since the dead things are coming at 9:00.

Could I let things proceed as scripted?  No, I could not!

It’s 8:40. The human female is just coming onto campus and her techs have just this moment sent a text.  Great Frigga’s Corset!  The post is not out of the door, and is that…?  Yes it is!  The delivery truck is here!

Now she’s human female is on the phone to SSC, asking them not so nicely why the post is still in the doorway.  Ehehehee!   They DID take the post out of the doorway at 7:00, but I brought this gross breach of security to the remodeling crew on the first floor, who very helpfully put it back in.  SSC is on their way to remove it again.

Very well.  It’s out again.  But the techs are saying the borrowed pallet jack, which has to be in the basement to receive the goods from the elevator (because, you will recall, a loaded pallet jack will not fit the elevator, so the goods have to go down by themselves) will not fit in the elevator.  The human female has told them that, yes, it will fit, but they will have to be… creative.

At last!  The post is out, the spare pallet jack is in the basement, and help has arrived for the unloading.  The first pallet is on its way into the elevator and…

…it’s too wide!  It won’t go through the elevator doors!  This is priceless!  The delivery men have lowered the pallet and are picking it up again from the narrower side.  Oooh–the suspense is killing me!  Ah!   Now it just fits in the elevator.  Good show!

Snort! The human female has just realized that once the loaded pallet is in the elevator, there isn’t room to lean in and push the button for the basement.  She should have thought of that before.  She’s texting the basement crew to call the elevator.

(later)

I must admit, that was impressive.  The human female and her crew moved 4,240 pounds (or about 31 human-female-units) from tailgate to store room in 30 minutes.  It would be more impressive if they’d managed to get all the boxes on the shelves.  However, the Purveyor of Dead Things sent twenty or thirty unlabeled boxes, and no one knows if they’re hearts or frogs or kidneys or fish or eyeballs or what.  They’ve all got to be opened.

Some of them are suspiciously light.  The suspense is killing us all!

Ehehehehee!  This is beautiful!  I told the packing crew at PODT to let their imagination run wild with the packing, and they’ve outdone themselves this year.  Each of the mystery boxes is stuffed with yards and yards and yards of crumpled paper.  It’s like Yule! Anything could be in here! One box is less than half full of earthworms.  Another is less than half full of sheep eyes.  This one has–count them!—four measly clams.  This one has three little gray fish.  This one has just one pig heart.

2018-DCB-5

 

Another has only the packing slip and several copies of the “our preserving fluid is so safe you could almost drink it” card.

My favorite, though, is the long, skinny box that looks as if it might contain a poster.  The human female does not remember ordering a poster, but there it is.  The contents?  Three small jars of PTC test paper strips.  This is brilliant.

(later)

Well, all the boxes have been sorted and put on the shelves.  Now the techs have to count it all.  Given how the PODT has shorted us on at least one line item every year, it’s a safe bet that something will be off.

There’s a multi-page packing slip to corroborate, along with a copy of the original purchase order, because sometimes the PODT doesn’t send what was ordered, and sometimes what’s on the packing slip doesn’t agree with what was received.

Each box needs to be opened–because who knows what’s in them.

Crayfish?  Check.

Grasshoppers?  Check.

Fetal piggies?  Check.

Tiny, bony fishies?

2018-DCB-4

Dead cats?

Dead cats?

Stiff kitties?

(crickets chirping.)

We do not have dead cats today.  It would not be the Dead Cat Ballet unless there were a problem with the defunct felines.  The dire national Dead Cat Conundrum is still very much a “thing.”  The stiff kitties are, alas, on indefinite back order.  Also missing from the order are the sheep plucks.  A pluck is a nasty thing–trachea and lungs–and the human female is just as glad they didn’t show up.

2018-DCB-3

Thor’s bitty ballpeen! That is a lot of kidneys.  And a even lotter of hearts, because they sent us one extra.

And it had its own box.

2018-DCB-2

Uh oh.  Looks like there’s a discrepancy with the J2 (double injected) sharks.  We could almost call this yearly onslaught of formalinic fun the Dead Shark Tango, because it seems there is always a problem with the sharks as well.  And since the fancy, double-injected sharks are for the upper-level Chordate Anatomy classes taught by the Big Boss, a discrepancy is a Big Deal.  The human female ordered 14 males and 5 females.  What was in the boxes?  15 females and 5 males.  The PODT didn’t have what she wanted, so they sent what they had.

Thanks to my meddling, she’ll now have to spend a lot of time on the phone with the PODT.  She’ll probably find it easier (if more expensive) to just order 9 male sharks on a separate PO, one marked “NO SUBSTITUTIONS!!!” IN ABOUT SIX PLACES.

Now do something about that mess!

2018-DCB-1

It looks like Hurricane Mittens came through.

>|: [

With Moo-moo Here and a Moo-Moo There

The human female is always complaining about the quantity and quality of junk email she receives.  Subscribing her to various mailing lists is one of my chief joys.

Recently I learned that the Purveyor of Dead Things also sells a line of farm and livestock products, so I signed her up for all of those announcements.  She tried to go to the website and update her mailing preferences, but one has to have an account with the PODT to do that.  She doesn’t actually have one, believe it or not.  She just gets mail from them because she hosts the Dead Cat Ballet and orders so much dead seafood paella every year.  She wrote to them and said, “Please–only mail about educational materials!”  That little missive has apparently gone unheeded.

So now she is getting daily mail like this:

nasco1

N,o, no, no, NO, NO!  The human female does not NEED any appetite boosters!  She shovels away plenty already!  The calm-but-not-groggy thing might be good, though.  She sure is quick to fly off the handle ad slow to wake up in the morning.

Nasco2

I…guess?  I think this may be pork-steering and pig-sticking products.  I know that I prefer dealing with the human female from a distance.  Having something to poke and jab at her from beyond arm’s-length could be very useful!  And being able to stab her with needles from across the room would be AWESOME!  Domestic pigs come pretty large, I hear, so I’m reasonably sure she would fit in the Heavy Duty Shorty Hog Holder.  Very well—I am sold.

nasco3

The human female is quite fond of earrings and has quite a collection.  She might even welcome a pair or two of these, and it would certainly make it harder to lose her in a crowd!  (I don’t care if she strays, but the human male would probably be sad if she wandered off or got herself rustled.)

goat blanket

Well, it is getting on to the warm part of the year…  Bet they have one in her size.

Now…  Where is the credit card?

>|: [

Mischief Update: Getting the Year Off To A Great Start

The human female was heard to say, “2016:  Wow, what a dumpster fire!!  2017:  I miss the dumpster fire– at least it was contained.  2018:  I welcome our new alien overlords–at least they put out the fire.”

After a quip like that, I couldn’t very well fail to step up and fulfill the prophecy, now could I?  Thanks to my meddling:

Both humans were sick for the annual Feast of Thanksgiving and Overeating

The file server in the Biology Department died a spectacular death on the Eve of Yule, ensuring that the human male had a very interesting holiday.

The Terror Twins made off with the human female’s prized university ring, prompting five days of fretting and more furniture-moving and sweeping than has transpired in a decade.  It was finally located.  In the pantry.  Under things.

Do you recall the malfunctioning fridge?  The departmental fix-it man did, in fact, find a replacement and brought it over.  And it worked!  Prep Staff moved it from the drop-off point to its new home.  To make sure that the door didn’t swing open in transit, they very helpfully put the hasp on the outside of the door over the little knob and turned the little knob.  Which is how the human female got to pay for a lock being cut off.

The Alternate Purveyor of Squiggly Things duly sent the multiple jars of Hydrda (wonderful little beasts with sting-y harpoons!) when requested.  They failed to send the invoice to the university’s Bean Counters, though, so it didn’t get paid.  I’m doing everything I can to ruin the human female’s good name with every vendor on the continent.

Despite the hard work of the human female and her Prep Staff, the vast quantity of Dead Things ordered last year and delivered, put away, counted, and paid for with great difficulty didn’t include everything required.  The human female had to order 3 more sharks and 100 pig kidneys from the Purveyor of Dead Things over the semester break.  Learn to count, people.

The Powers that Be, trying to discommode as many persons as possible, blocked off two parking areas for “utility work” in December, forcing space-holders to park in one of the campus garages.  The humans ended up in the Scary Garage, the one that has wicked little cut-through lanes to let cars zip across the spaces.  The parking lots themselves were devoid of any signs of activity beyond big piles of pipe and some Big Yellow Machines until mid January.  Up to this point, the humans’ spot has been entirely unaffected, and they could have parked in it every single day.  They’re back in it now, but the piles of pipe are still hanging around, so they may yet be back in the garage.

The annual Gaming Weekend in the Big City to the North was scheduled for mid-January when most of the humans had a three-day weekend.  The human female was sick and couldn’t go.  The human male got 2/3 of the way there when someone called him to tell him that, this time, it was the Mail Server which had thrown two hard drives and died.  He had to turn around and drive all the way back and spent most of the holiday getting it back up and running.  I think I am three for four on ruining holidays with server issues…  Not bad, not bad!

Several big boxes of textbooks for the new teaching assistants showed up.  Lovely big book.  Hummingbird on the cover.  Lots of glossy photos.  Unfotunately, it’s not the textbook in use.  Bye-bye little hummingbirds.

Speaking of books, the Department, at my urging,  has elected to adopt an open-source, online textbook beginning in the fall.  The human female is reading it through.  She’s on Chapter 9 and has about thirteen pages of errata.  It’s such fun to watch that vein in her head pop out.

Then there’s the usual beginning-of-the-semester-fu with TAs who can’t teach because they don’t have a valid passport (how did they even get here?), a lost day of class due to ice and snow (these humans become undone at the slightest sign of a flurry), mangled syllabi, a shortfall of lab manuals, unavailability of live termites because of ice and snow somewhere else, crazy drivers, and general influx of different germs from all corners of Midgard.

The days are just packed!

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Dead Cat Ballet–Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Open Your Email

This was in the human female’s email, courtesy of the Purveyor of Dead Things.

past due nasco

You are correct!   This is in reference to the bill for the large Dead Cat Ballet, the one the human female has been struggling with since AUGUST.   I’ll wait right here while you scroll through the archives and refresh your memory.

It’s invoices again!  Apparently, BOTH invoices (the one from the right vendor ID and the one from the wrong vendor ID) got cancelled!  The human female had to write MORE emails explaining what happened and telling the Bean Counters that yes, they could pay for the dead seafood paella and all the other goodies.

Friends, I’m not sure I’m ever going to be able to top this one.

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