dead cat conundrum

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.


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.



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.


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?


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.


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.


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!


It looks like Hurricane Mittens came through.

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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.


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.


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  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  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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A Blast From the Past

You have read my tales of the Dead Cat Conundrum, which in years past has caused the human female no end of grief.  How to source, buy, arrange shipping for, take delivery of, inventory, and put away hundreds of dead cats at a time.  You have heard me relate that, in this realm of Midgard, dead cats for dissection are scarcer than synapses in Thor’s skull.  There are no cats to be had.  Nary a whisker.  Not a whiff of a defunct feline.  Not a breath of a mention of passed-on pussies.  The scarcity is such that the Anatomy and Physiology classes have adopted a virtual cat dissection software program instead.  The human female has not been able to reliably secure even the few cats needed for the upper-level Chordate Anatomy course.

Which is why she was so comprehensively gobsmacked to have received this shipment today.  Look, Sigyn!  Some dead cats came!


To say that the human female never in a million years expected this would be a big, hairy understatement with training wheels and a blue felt fedora.

I mean, look at when this order was originally made!


Eighteen months!  That just might be a record!

If I didn’t think her dorky visage would traumatize everyone, I’d attach a photo of her with her mouth hanging open in slack-jawed befuddlement.

The best part of this bit of mischief is that this order was made with BAMN, which is long since defunct.  The human female and the departmental bean counters are going to have to find some way to PAY for these tabby cadavers with some without a functional open PO.   Ehehehehe!

I’m betting I can stretch this out a little longer, so stay tuned…

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Mischief Update: Here We Go Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let me think….  What else?

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

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

The fridge made a puddle.

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

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

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Mischief Update: The Top of the Roller Coaster

It’s that time of year again in the humans’ workplace.  Summer projects are winding down, and preparations for the fall semester are ramping up.  It’s like the top of the roller coaster:  Nowhere to go from here except down, with the concomitant screaming, unexpected turns, and occasional upchuck.

The students are back in town, which means driving, parking, and eating out have gone from pleasant pursuits to full-contact sports.

The City finally came and picked up the dead oak carcass that was decorating the front yard, so the human female is not confronted with her horticultural shortcomings each morning as she leaves the house.  No, the dead spots in the front lawn will just have to suffice for that.  The lawn is looking particularly patchy, as 8+” of rain in the last two weeks have precluded mowing.

I taught the front bathroom toilet how to make a startling high-pitched squeal.  Cue new float assembly.  Home repair is such fun.

You will recall that the human female has initiated a split-delivery order for termites.  She thought she had the situation well in hand, after having corrected the initial snafu.  Not so!  The Purveyor of Squiggly Things called to remind her that her requested second ship date was Labor Day, and thus no labor would occur.  Since the POST does not ship on Saturday or Sunday, the human female has had to stipulate that the insects be shipped to her home on the previous Friday for Saturday arrival.  She attempted a delivery like this once before, and a tag-team foul-up involving me, the Purveyor of Squiggly Things, and Fed-up and Exhausted resulted in the delicate little beasties being delivered to the loading dock on campus, where they languished and eventually perished in the early fall heat, while the human female sat awaiting them on the other side of town.  Will we have a repeat of this tangle this year?  Stay tuned to find out!

I am sure you are all eager to know:  Is there any progress on attempts to acquire the rest of the ingredients for Dead Thing PaellaWhy, yes indeed!  There has been a little flurry of back-and-forth e-mail between the human female and the Purveyor of Dead Things just this very morning.  The cephalopods are present and accounted for, with clams just now entering the processing stream.  Does the human female want squiddies now and bivalves now, or should the PODT wait and make a mega-shipment when the clams are done?  One shipment, please! That way the 24 dead cats on back order since last December (don’t you love a PO that stays open between one fiscal year an the next?  I know I do!) have a theoretical hope of hitching a ride.  “But what of the lampreys?” you plaintively ask?  (Or maybe you don’t ask, but I shall tell you anyway.)  The lampreys are supposedly inbound. As are the fourteen dead, naked felines ordered from the Purveyor of Squiggly Things (who also sells Dead Things), which the human female ordered from POST because the PODT had kitties on back-order since last December. In the meantime, the Anatomy and Physiology instructor has requested 25 more cats for next fall, which need to be ordered NOW if there’s a hope in Hel of obtaining them before 2018.

Fall 2018…That is when one noted Seller of Computers told the human male the urgently-needed laptops ordered for the Anatomy and Physiology labs would be available. They later amended that date to mid-September of this year, which is better, but not really satisfactory, as they are needed when the semester starts, and it is going to take some time to load up the software on them.  And that would be the virtual-cat-dissecting software that A&P is switching to because of the Dead Cat Conundrum! See how I have brought things full circle and tied them with a sparkly green bow?

Oh, and last week the human female received a call from the Purveyor of Squiggly Things asking about the simply enormous order for Mr. Unfamiliar Name in the Biology Department.  A little sleuthing turned up Mr. U. Name in the Biology Department of one of the university’s satellite campuses.  So close! She almost ended up with a ton of supplies she didn’t need and can’t pay for.

The humans have attempted to relieve some of the dead-animal-related stress by purchasing entertainment at a discount.  One of the local video and bookstores has been “circling the drain” for quite some time and has recently announced that it is going out of business. FORTY PERCENT OFF EVERYTHING! their advertisements screamed.  So down the humans hurried, only to find out that no, only the used books are 40% off.  The next week, they announced a massive SALE!  The human male (who should have known by now to call ahead) went over on his lunch hour only to find out that that sale did not apply to that particular store.  All hail Loki, god of misleading advertisements.

I have also taken over the position of god of unwanted Spam. (Wait, that’s redundant.  God of Spam.) The university’s mail program used to have a pretty good filter, catching most of the spam and unsolicited offers of riches, larger mammaries, and enhanced sexual prowess and just chucking it into oblivion.  I’ve been tinkering, and now the spam filter just flags all of these and then sends each user a huge daily (or twice or thrice daily) post stating, “We have quarantined all these and you may wish not to view them.”  Then it lists them.  Fifty or sixty or seventy at a time.  Sex dating online!  Make love use best men’s health medicine!  Perfect mood with strong health!  You are a winner! This would not be so bad in and of itself, but I have set it up so that each gargantuan serving of garbage goes back nearly three weeks, meaning users get notices of each message a dozen or more times before it ages off the bottom of the list.  As well, each BIG dump of verbal refuse is accompanied by a smaller dump of 7 to 9 messages, as if the system is gleefully interrupting with, “Oh, hey, look!  More crap here!” (This is the e-mail equivalent of  the Imodium not having taken effect yet.)  I’ve also arranged matters such that a good handful of messages in each user’s box appear to come from the user.  Congratulations, human female! You’ve just offered a lucrative job at K-Mart to yourself!  Pleas to the campus IT Help Desk result in 1) a copy of the plea being returned to the supplicant with no further verbiage, 2) a brief note which boils down to “Yeah, sucks, doesn’t it?” and 3) absolutely nothing.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be a Mischief Update if I didn’t have BAMN shenanigans to report.  One of the human female’s most reliable vendors, He of the Gloves, Bags, and Booties, dropped by to politely ask why he hadn’t been paid for the delivery he made back in June.  It turns out that with BAMN, which requires the human female to log in and do receiving for all received goods, she is no longer scanning packing slips and forwarding them to the Department’s accountant for payment.  The vendor was not presenting an invoice to BAMN or the Department as the human female was assuming he had.  It’s all cleared up now, but the human female looked petty and miserly for a bit there, which is not a good look on her.  I should do this more.

In other BAMN Receiving issues, the human female finally got in the very last of the huge fall order from Vendor Who’s Responsible.  In one of my finer touches, the program, when displaying a large PO for doing receiving, displays only 5 line items.  The user must manually expand it.  After the user  selects an item, receives it, and saves the receipt thereof, the view defaults back to just 5 items.  Every. Single. Time.  Also, saving the receipts as the items come in does not actually result in the receipts being submitted for payment.  No, the human female unknowingly ended up with a big pile of “open” receipts” that all had to be submitted in a two-screen process for each one.   My favorite part, though, is how if a user needs to view the PO to remind herself what has been received/submitted and what has not, the only way to do it is to hit the generate a receipt button, which makes a new receipt with its very own number, a receipt that may not actually have any received items on it.  It just sits there, open, until it is manually cancelled.

And the human female just sits there, open-mouthed, with a blank stare.  I think she might be broken…  Have I gone too far?  Should I relent in my campaign to reduce her to tears and bring the university to a screeching halt?  Should I be rethinking my life’s choices?   Hmmm.


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