dead cat ballet

The Dead Cat Ballet, Acts I-IV

It is nearly time for the annual Dead Cat Ballet.  You will recall that I recently provided a synopsis of the Overture.  We have now had Act One, in which the human female was informed that a PO was generated for her requisition.  But there already WAS a PO, and the Purveyor of Dead Things was already working to assemble the requisite number of corpses!  Would the human female receive double the Dead Things?! Cue flurry of frantic emails.  Did she need to cancel this new PO?  Yes?  No?  Turns out that the PO number stayed the same as was mentioned in the Overture, but to avoid confusion, a new requisition number was given when the request moved from out-for-bid to bid-awarded.  Because that’s not at all confusing…

Act Two has involved Central Receiving  which, as you recall, is among the dramatis personae for the Ballet because the large trucks from PODT cannot navigate down the alley along which the human female’s workplace is located.  They originally acceded to the human female’s request to receive the shipment from PODT in early August and deliver it to the human female on the 11th.  Except now it is going to be later, a far less auspicious day.  Pick a day, mortals!  I need to know when to make it rain.

Act Three involves outsourced Area Maintenance because, as always, to get ready to receive Dead Things, one must be able to drive a pallet jack through the doorway, which has a nice, convenient post in the middle.  The human female placed a work request to have this done on Ballet Day, only to be told that this is not actual maintenance and so she will have to PAY for the privilege of being able to shuffle Dead Things.  She didn’t ask me.  I could get rid of that pesky post once and for all.  Also some floor tile and some actual doors, but hey, there’d be room for the pallet jack.

Act Four has been a total surprise to everyone involved.  The human female went to the stock room to pick up a few things and was presented with not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE boxes of…..drum roll……dead cats from the Purveyor of Dead Things!  Unexpected, unannounced, and not part of the regularly scheduled Dead Cat Ballet–which, this year, was not even supposed to include Dead Cats.  The human female had to perform some accounting archaeology to figure out which ancient PO these erstwhile pussycats fulfilled.  Any guesses?

LAST August.  That’s correct!  These were ordered LAST August.  Incredible.  Just to make life more interesting, 26 were ordered and 21 were shipped, which raises the question:  If you are going to wait an entire year to ship, why not wait a bit longer and ship the whole benighted order?

That’s all right.  The Departmental Bean Counters are going to just LOVE this partial receipt which is sure now to make this PO overhang the end of one fiscal year and dangle into the next…

And we haven’t even gotten to Ballet Day yet!
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Mischief Update–Woe is Everyone

I am the God of Mischief, but sometimes I wonder if there isn’t someone higher up the food chain, because I began typing this last week and everything I had just… disappeared.  I have tried several more times since, with the same result.  I suspect the human female’s computer is infested by evil spirits.  An exorcism may be in order.

But anyway, I’ve been busy.  You’ll recall that the human female has been having trouble with her trotters.  She was feeling better, so I convinced her and the human male to go to the Other Big City to the North and traipse all over the botanic garden, the zoo, and several art museums.  Well, she’s been having a lot of pain.  She finally hied herself to the farrier and guess what?

fracture-ads

Boom! Stress fracture!  If she didn’t weigh quite so much, her skeleton would not be self-destroying.  Anyway,  it appears to be healing, but I’ve seen to it that her sidebar ads are now all full of foot-related item.  Also crockpots, because fractures notwithstanding, nothing is more important than her getting my dinner on the table.

It’s August. The yard looks horrible, even though the human female has had the irrigation people out again.  She is starting to suspect the business model I’ve coached them on:  On each visit, fix the problem at hand, but break/misalign/misadjust something else so that a return visit is necessary.

The A/C people who were contacted in early July have been unable to schedule the humans for a service call.  “Too busy,” they say.  More likely they’ve heard about how scary the humans’ attic is and are just to polite to turn them down flat.

The City, without warning, has decided to rip up and re-pave the humans’ main route of egress and ingress around the house.  (I have friends on the Roads Committee.)  Last night I arranged for a steamroller to be parked in their alley so they had to go home the long way around the block.  Surprise!

Most of my work lately has been done at the human female’s workplace.  For starters, I have tinkered with the annual registration process for buying chemicals which the Drug Enforcement Agency considers particularly indicative of illicit pharmaceutical activity.  Not only has she had to register all over again this year, but she’s been asked to submit multiple copies of her affidavit, and instead of one which covers all of her suspect purchases, she’d been required to fill one one form for each item.  Who knew iodine was so problematic?

There have been all sorts of fun doings in the hiring department.  The human female’s new Tech I’s do not particularly like one another, and one of them is preternaturally breaky, feckless, and easy to distract.  Trying to replace the recently-departed Tech II is proving to have its own pitfalls.  Two people whom the human female has expressly asked to apply have expressly declined.  One applicant is in another state and will probably not want to travel on her own dime for an interview, one would require months of paperwork to obtain a work permit, and a third is someone rejected for the earlier Tech I position.  The likelihood of identifying and hiring anyone suitable before fall diminishes daily.

The human female was patting herself on the back for coming up with a way to display live centipedes in such a way that they were actually visible to students.  They come in moist paper towel and soil and are very good hiders.  Her idea was to decant them to clear containers with moist filter paper and clear Easter grass.  Last semester, it worked. This semester, they all died. Out of spite, one presumes.

They aren’t the only fatalities.  Someone–by this I mean someone NOT me!– has been sabotaging the live animals.  Two fish tank bubblers were  unplugged under mysterious circumstances, leading to the death of several fish.  Then a millipede was transported from its cozy terrarium to the cold hard lab bench of a room down the hall, where it likewise expired  The culprit remains at large and everyone is nervous. (Please don’t tell Sigyn; she would be most distraught!)

The human female received a cryptic email about a recent Environmental Health and Safety Department (EHSD, AKA Eek! Hazards, Sickness and Death) safety inspection.  She was rather confused, because usually she knows when the inspectors are coming and goes around with them.  After some calling around and some confirming emails, it came to light that it was not the teaching labs being audited but the EHSD.  Next the auditors wanted to examine the human female’s labeling, storage, and handling of dangerous chemicals, again with the purpose of auditing EHSD.  Then the actual EHSD inspectors came through.  The human female feels very, very inspected.  All in all, her work group came through very well, but that is only because I did not show them the Scary Room in the basement.

The human female, ever the miser, has been trying to cut costs in her work group by exploring less expensive formulations of some of the chemicals they use.  For instance, the lab in which the students study the sense of taste by inflicting mysteries upon one another surely does not require the most pure formulation of sucrose for the “sweet” solution.  She has been successful in identifying cheaper alternatives.  Her Prep Staff is enthused.  Her boss is not.

The human female got a lot of test tubes the other day.  Except she didn’t.  They were for someone else.  Recent deliveries have been about 5% Other People’s Stuff.  I know, I know, it’s a really appalling figure, but I swear I’m doing my utmost and I hope to have it up to 10% shortly.

In the meantime, I have fun with the shipments that are hers. She recently had to purchase a pull-down projector screen to replace the one in room 323 that would no long retract.  (Who knew that swinging on one would do that?)  She bought it over the phone from Stapler (no mean feat, since they do not admit to having a purchasing phone number on their website), since she had to make sure it was sold tax-free, as this realm refuses to pay taxes for any reason whatsoever.  She specifically requested that they mail her an invoice showing the lack of fees assessed as well as the word INVOICE in very large, very obnoxious letters, as the Departmental Bean Counters cavil at paying from mere packing slips.   She received the shipment the very next day, along with a packing slip showing a price different from what she was quoted, along with a heaping helping of state sales tax.  She called asking for rectification and was helped by a lovely individual who promised to take care of it right away and send a re-rectified, tax-free INVOICE.   What appeared in her email box was a credit memo for the tax, but no INVOICE.  She called and talked to a different helpful person who provided her with the number of a  third helpful person who proved to be associated with Stapler’s rewards program but who promised to re-re-rectify the situation.  The next day the human received a PACKING SLIP with the right price but without the magic word.  She called and spoke with another delightful person who abjectly apologized and promised to send a re-re-re-rectified INVOICE. The next day the human female received a PACKING SLIP showing the correct price and a credit memo showing the tax coming off the original purchase.  The human female, deciding that for once the Departmental Bean Counters could just *deal*, forwarded both to them with an explanation of the whole sorry fiasco.  It’s quiet so far, but I’m hoping to have more fun when the credit card bill comes in.

Remember the piglets and the human female’s case of PPP?  After multiple calls to the vet school and the chicken farm, no action on getting those porkers on a pyre was forthcoming.  The piglets began to mysteriously disappear by ones and twos into the dumpster (which is legal, just not preferred.)  Then one day, the vet school called, offering to use the defunct swine to test their new incinerator—for free!  Success!  That only took, what four months and ten phone calls?

Everything takes longer than estimated.  One of the new Tech I’s pointed out, quite rightly, that the emergency eyewash in one of the prep rooms was positioned in such a manner (at a sink which is below some overhead cabinets) that it was physically impossible to put one’s eyeballs into it.  A Work Order was submitted to move the eyewash to the other sink in the room.  This was accomplished.  Sort of.  Something something about the top of one of the faucets being lost, thus engendering a geyser, and then more something about another visit to fix that and not having the right part and then still more something about finally having to actually swap the whole faucets and something else about the workman in charge being sacked.  You can tell I didn’t really pay attention.  The human female had to run up and down the hall multiple times, letting workmen in, which is all I cared about.

It seems the human female herself cannot perform even the simplest of tasks in one go.  Recently she was tasked with affixing the new emergency contact signs to each of the lab room doors.  Not only were the little signs of a size not easily divisible into a sheet of laminating film, forcing her to piece the things, she ran out of laminating film halfway through the project.  And she ruined one.  And this woman has two degrees?

All of this flopping about like a headless fowl tends to give the human female a bit of an appetite.  Most days I make sure she packs a healthy lunch. Sometimes I even do it for her.  Why, just the other day, I made her a delectable cheese sandwich.  And hygiene is so important to me that I even left in the little protective square of paper on each side of the cheese.

I’m thoughtful like that.

So:  home, yard, work, food.  I have, as the Midgardians say, “all the bases covered,” (whatever that means) and I count myself content.

For now.

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Dead Cat Ballet: The Overture

It’s that time of year again.  The human female is choreographing the annual Dead Cat Ballet, that wonderfully complex and colorful process of ordering and receiving all of the dissection specimens for the upcoming academic year.  Note that even though the Anatomy and Physiology Classes have switched from actual real live dead cats to a computer program, owing to my carefully-orchestrated dead cat conundrum which has made it impossible to find a good dead cat anywhere in North America, she is still calling it the Dead Cat Ballet, even though no actual dead cats are involved.  I guess “Other Dead Things Ballet” doesn’t have the same cachet.

She has checked with Prep Staff to determine just how many worms, pig kidneys, sheep brains, sheep plucks, clams, etc. to order.  She has contacted the Purveyor of Dead Things to obtain a quote for all of the corpses and viscera, and she has carefully entered the resulting information in the new, non-BAMN ordering system.

nascoorder

That is a lot of sheep eyes.

(Later) Uh, oh!  Trouble in dead-thing paradise!   The total for this purchase is over the straight ordering cap and the human female has FORGOTTEN to attach a “Sole Source Justification,” a magic document which would automatically throw the order to the Purveyor of Dead Things, and the requisition has gone. out. for. bid.  This is a lengthy process which can throw a Thor-sized wrench into the works.  The human female has hastily created and attached a sole source document, but to no avail.

Bids it is!

(Later) This is indeed taking quite a while.  The human female has contacted the Bean Counters to see how things are progressing.  The Bean Counters have told her that so far, no one has bid on the transaction, not even the Purveyors of Dead Things!  The Bean Counters suggest that she contact the PODT directly and tell them to bid, using their original quote.

This she has done.  The person she spoke to at PODT was unsure how to do a bid, but said she would attempt to figure it out.

(Later)  The bidding period has elapsed and the PO has been awarded to the PODT.  Everything is fine, yes?

(Later) No!  The human female has just received this email from a confused individual at PODT.

Good Morning,

If you could please email me a copy of your authorized purchase
order for quote 31845, which we received via email I would appreciate it.

What?

The human female has called the sender of this message.  Turns out that the PODT received only a copy of their own bid, along with substitute W-9 forms so they can set up an account.  No PO, no bid award document, nothing.  The look on the human female’s face is priceless. There is a long-standing business agreement between the University and the PODT.  There should be nothing TO set up.  After comparing notes, they have determined that the PO was sent with a billing address and account number that are different from the usual. Probably because the wrong account number and billing address are on the original bid.  Why?  Who knows?!  Loki!  She has promised the poor confused soul at PODT that she will confer with the Bean Counters and try to figure out what is going on.

Am I done making trouble?  Oh, no, no, no!

The Bean Counter with whom the human female usually confers is out, so she has called the next one up the Bean Counter Food Chain (BCFC).  That particular BC is out of the office, so she has done as his answering machine message indicates and called a third Bean Counter one level back down the BCFC.   This BC has promised to look into things and call her back.

(Later.) The plot thickens!  It is very twisty!  Here is the gist.  The PO was sent to someperson@purveyorofdeadthings.com.  So far, so good.  BUT, the PO was sent to DeadThings Aristotle Corp rather than to DeadThings Education, LLC.  Never mind that both entities are in the ordering software.  Never mind that they are listed in the software’s database of vendors as having the SAME mailing address.  In case you have lost track, we are now at one PO, one company, two company names, two account numbers,  three company addresses, three Bean Counters (four, if you count the one at PODT), and waaaay too many emails and phone calls.

Can this transaction be saved?  Um, possibly.  But it is very likely that the BC at the University will have to cancel the original, faulty PO and issue a new one.  They will also have to overhaul the PODT entry in their vendor database, because apparently DeadThings Aristotle Corp just plain shouldn’t be used at all.  Nor should someperson@purveyorofdeadthings.com.  This may take a while.  Which means that the human female cannot order the OTHER things she needs to order from them until it all gets sorted out.

(Later)  All of this and it looks like the PO just went to the PODT with the original number.  Which is to say that the human female has just ordered dead things.  She still has to get the order filled and delivered, which will involve adventures of their own.

You know, the human female did a little jig and made a pitcher of mimosas when BAMN went away, because she naively believed that her ordering woes were a thing of the past.  Pfft!  It’s like she’s never even met me.

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The Dead Cat Ballet, Act 2…

I am still messing with the human female’s tiny mind with regard to yesterday’s large shipment from the Purveyor of Dead Things.  It’s so easy, there’s scarcely any sport in doing so, but I do so enjoy the faces she makes!

You may recall that yesterday’s shipment was short a large quantity of inedibly-pickled seafood–namely clams and squid.  There were three mystery shipments inbound from Fed-up and Exhausted, which the human female was hoping contained the missing invertebrates.

What did today bring?  More confusion!

The three shipments did actually show up at the human female’s workplace.  I say “three shipments,” but what she received was five boxes. Someone can’t count!  The five boxes, visually, seemed too small to contain all the missing items. What would they hold?  Squid? Clams?  Something else entirely?  Yule all over again!

The boxes contained….bivalves, bivalves, and more bivalves!  Two hundred and two of them, to be precise.  Usually, they’re packaged in bags holding 5 or 10, but quite a few of these were packaged individually in lots of plastic each, making them bulkier and more annoyingly wasteful.

But where are the squid?  We demand squid!  And the 202 clams don’t tally with the 204 on the big packing list from yesterday.  More delightful conversations:

HF: Um.  We’re up to our knees in clams, but still short–we requested eyebrow-level amounts of clams.  And we are, alas, still squidless.  And the math’s still wonky.

(I may have neglected to mention that the original order was for 647 clams.  Some have been on back-order since the very first, which makes whipping up a big batch of Dead Thing Paella more than a little problematic…)

PODT:  You are right. That is a lot of clams and a lamentable insufficiency of cephalopods.  We have done some research.  Your clams and squid did in fact not make it into the big shipment.  But when the order paperwork was processed, we saw clams and that triggered an inventory.  Know what we found?  Clams!  So we sent you some,  via Fed-up and Exhausted.  Please check our math:  202 clams actually visibly present in your possession + 204 clams listed on yesterday’s big packing list but regretfully AWOL + 241 on back-order = 647.   Plus 688 squid.  And 10 back-ordered lampreys.  To say nothing of the cats we still can’t cough up. Do we get a gold star?

HF:  Sigh. For now, yes.  Pleeeeeease send me more of my dead things!

PODT:  Yup.

Hooray! Mystery solved!  But you know me, I can’t let the fun end there.  Surely I can wring some more out of this jest.  There’s still receiving to do!  Which means BAMN!  I’ve made myself some popcorn and settled in to watch the show.

All right, we have material from two POs in the big shipment, because the seven male sharks were supposed to come last year but the PODT only sent females then so it’s males today.  But wait!  There were supposed to be seven NEW sharks also, smaller ones for the freshman class.  Augh!  There are only seven sharks on the packing slip. Which seven sharks did the human female get, the LS03586 all males or the LS03575-any-gender-goes? HOW DID SHE MISS THIS?!  Quick! Panic! 

Ehehehee! Now she’s sending frantic emails.  One to her minions:  Run down to the Dead Things room and see which Chondrichthyes are currently residing there!  One to accounting:  Wait! Don’t pay the invoice on the order I just did receiving for!  And the eye-rolling e-mail is coming back. From accounting:  Take a breath, woman, the invoice hasn’t shown up yet.  From Minion #1:  Hold on, I’ll check!  From Minion #2:  What are you rambling on about?  Check the last page of yesterday’s big packing slip.

Great Frigga’s hairpins, what a moron the human female is!  She is the only person I know who can LOSE a page of a multipage packing slip when it is stapled to the other pages.  Granted, the printout of the three five mystery Fed-up and Exhausted boxes got shuffled in there, but still.  There it is, in black and white.  All cartilaginous fishes fully accounted for.

Heh.  Now she’s sending “nevermind” e-mails.

What an exhausting morning!  But I think we finally have all the questions answered?  Where are the rest of the squid and not-back-ordered clams?  Still with PODT.  Where are the lampreys?  On back-order.  Did we get all the sharks?  Indeed we did.  Is the human female losing all her marbles?  Yes, by the handful.

So we are left with just one mystery.  A box has been left for the human female, and no one has a clue what it is.  She’s opened it, and it still doesn’t make sense.

misdelivered order

RNA?  D1000 reagents?  None of this is familiar.  It’s either a misdelivery or the early stages of a nervous breakdown and dementia.

I know which my money’s on.

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The Dead Cat Ballet

Ah, the Dead Cat Ballet.  That yearly pageant of shipping, unloading, storing, counting, and sweating.  How will it go?  I am sure my populace is waiting with bated breath to hear all about this year’s production and my part in it.

The post has been taken out of the double door, so that has gone as planned.  Except, of course, that Facetious Facilities Services (FFS) has decided to charge for taking the post out this year.

And here comes the truck!

DCB-1

In the rain.  (Shut up, mortals. You can whine about the drought or the rain on shipping day, but not both.)

There are only three pallets of Dead Things this year, and there are six people helping unload and stow, so this is actually going fairly quickly.

DCB-2

The Purveyor of Dead Things has added to the fun and mystery by packing a number of the smaller items in boxes marked “Mixed specimens.”  Cow eyeballs?  Spiders?  Snakes?  Nobody knows!  We will have to open them all and peek. It is like Yule, minus the colorful wrapping paper!

But what is in these totally unlabeled boxes?  More surprises!

Whew!  All done.  Twenty minutes.  These mortals are quickSweaty and quick.

Now comes the counting and checking, to make sure that the Purveyor of Squiggly Things has sent what was ordered.  Pig kidneys? Check.  Frogs?  Check.  Actual DEAD CATS? Check!  Sharks that were ordered LAST YEAR?  Check and check!!

Squid?  Clams?….Guys?

Oh, no!  Ehehehehe!  I thought this had all gone too quickly and smoothly.  There are 775 raw calimari on the packing slip, but only 87 have arrived.  The packing slip shows 204 clams, all of whom appear to be playing hooky.

dcb-3

Cue the e-mail flying back and forth between the human female and the Purveyor of Dead Things.

HF:  Um, where are my dead things?

PODT:  We sent them!  You should have 113 boxes of dead things. They’re in there.  Count your boxes.

HF:  That will be hard to do.  We’ve unpacked all the mixed boxes and split up the contents and put everything away.  We’ve checked the contents of the boxes.  We think we’d have noticed clams and enough squid to fill at least three shelves.

PODT:  We remember packing them.  We had to unwrap a pallet to put them on.  Maybe you overlooked them.  How many pieces were in your shipment?

HF:  Read my frowny lips:  Never mind the number of boxes. We counted the dead things in the boxes. We checked the entire contents of our Dead Things Stockroom.  We received no clams and minimal squid.  That much defunct seafood would make a BIG pile.  Are you sure you don’t have a fourth pallet sitting around somewhere?

PODT:  We’ll look into this and get back to you…

The human female is now plowing through some e-mail that accumulated while she was out of the office for a few days.  Hello!  What’s this?  “This” is a forwarded shipping notice that was originally sent to the University’s accountants, outlining three big boxes coming from the Purveyor of Dead Things via Fed-Up and Exhausted.  Running the tracking numbers shows that these packages are currently in Tiny Podunksville, Texas, scheduled for delivery tomorrow.

More e-mail! This is fun!

HF:  What are these three Fed-up and Exhausted shipments?  Could they be the missing dead things?

PODT:  Have you counted the boxes you received?

HF:  Please. Check. And See. If. The missing dead things.  Got. Sent. Via. Fed-up and Exhausted.  And if they did, can you tell to what address they were sent?  Central Receiving or the Biology Stockroom?  And if they did, are we going to be billed for shipping, or will they come free, as everything on the truck did?

POTD:  <whimpers>

For those of you keeping score, there are now three P.O.s involved here, two shipping carriers, and at least two deliveries. There may be three, because all the lampreys and the REST of the clams are still on back-order!

Guess we’ll find out what’s what tomorrow, if and when those three double-unicorn-secret-mystery boxes show up.

I live for this stuff.

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