Eek! Hazards, Sickness and Death

Great Frigga’s Corset! She’s Actually Doing Work! Part II: Mischief In The Mix

Before the human female can fill up all the jars, she has to make the cocktail that goes in them.  Behold, the sacred, secret recipe her Tech II has left:


This makes a little something called FAA–Formalin Acetic Acid.  It’s toxic, carcinogenic, flammable, explosive —you name an unpleasant characteristic, and it has it.  And someone trusts the human female to MAKE this?!

Since PPE (personal protective equipment) is incompatible with horns and messes up Sigyn’s hair, I’m just going to throw a protective spell around us while we are here.  The human female is on her own.

She’s starting with the glacial acetic acid.  Think of this as vinegar turned up to eleven.  It’s so awful that it’s kept in the flammables locker


The mischief I could do with just one spark…

That’s the bottle she needs. That big one, there.  The one too big to accurately pour from.


Next she’s adding the formalin.  It’s a preservative, a watered-down formaldehyde, if you will, but it’s still very bad for humans.

It’s in an unwieldy container too.  She plans to pour some into a beaker and pour from that into the graduated cylinder.  Good plan.  We’ll see if it works.


The last ingredient is the ethanol.  This stuff is very flammable.  And also explosive.   And she has fifty liters of it.  Leaving quickly and going for a walk outdoors is sounding better and better all the time.


Well, at least she has the carboy pushed back and the spigot not hanging over the edge of the bench (where someone walking by, might just happen to nudge it open a bit…)

What will she use to measure out the 2700 ml she needs?

Fenrir’s Fleacollar! Sigyn is trapped in glassware again!  What is it with her?!


Oh, whew!  She was just behind it.  Sigyn, that is one TALL graduated cylinder.  You fall in that one, and I’m not sure even I could fish you out.


So now all the ingredients are in this big beaker inside a running fume hood.  Fume hoods are good.  They keep chemicals from filling a room with nasty vapors.


I quite like the little tornado that the magnetic stirrer is making.  I think I shall devise a spell to do the same thing in my morning grape juice.  Juice with a tornado would be super cool, just the sort of thing one would expect the ruler of Midgard to have!

And that, light of my life, is our exit cue.  In just a minute, the human female it going to try to pour neatly from this big beaker into a large carboy with a spigot.   Then she will do this all twice more, to fill the carboy.  Think she can do it without spilling?

Me, neither.

Fortunately, I have the good folks at Eek! Hazards, Sickness, and Death on speed-dial.

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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?


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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Mischief Update: Special First-Day-of-Class Edition

Wow!   When I’m on fire, I’m on fire.  Yesterday was a GREAT day for me.  It was the first day of the fall semester here at the University, and I made good use of every opportunity for mischief I could find.

Despite the fact that every outside door in the building bears quite prominent signs stating, “Lower Division labs will NOT meet the first week of class,” I saw to it that a seemingly endless parade of clueless undergrads wandered the halls and into and out of offices, seeking sections that were, in fact, NOT meeting.  Prep Staff finally made additional signs for each lab door just so staff could get a little peace.  I’m meeting with all of the teaching assistants later in the week.  My plan is for them to begin lab next week with, “If you would all pass your homework to the front, we will start of with a quiz over last week’s experiment.”  Good thing everyone around here is trained to respond appropriately to pukers and fainters.

eCampus, the World Tree-like computer interface that links together schedules, grades, homework, notices, etc. for the entire campus, contracted electronic emerald ash borers yesterday and put forth only tiny dribbles of information.  Cue thousands of students wondering why their classes don’t show up and countless staff well and truly stymied in their attempts to upload course files and section folders.  This is has become a dependable, if not well-loved, first week of school tradition.  Fret not!  It will sort itself out once seventy thousand people aren’t all trying to log in at once.  I’ve been telling everyone that the “e” in “eCampus” stands for “eventually.”

I brought back another time-honored tradition for the first day of the semester.  It poured.  Everyone who didn’t heed the forecast endured about twenty minutes of very heavy “50% chance” and arrived at their over-air-conditioned destinations dripping and shivering.  Oh, and did I mention there’s a small but definite flu-outbreak in one of the sorority houses?

Surprise! The carefully-negotiated lab teaching schedule for first-semester majors’ biology lasted less than twenty-four hours.  Three teaching assistants who had overload assignments (three-sections each) were relieved of their extra sections, and these were given to a new teaching assistant, necessitating a small domino-sequence of changes to the grid.  Behold!  Is it not a thing of beauty and terror?


Surprise!   The recently-quiescent Honors Program in Biology has been resurrected.  At yesterday’s staff meeting, the human female and her colleagues were made aware that there will be THREE lab sections of honors first-semester majors’ biology.  No info was provided as to who the teaching assistants will be or what they’ll want, of course.  The human female and her cohorts have been scrambling to learn their identities, gather their personal information, and get them plugged into the above-pictured grid, email lists, and lab meetings.

The Chancellor and Regents sent a memo to congratulate everyone on doing such a fine job, and the Provost encouraged all the weary staff and faculty to keep producing excellent results and better student outcomes (= higher grades) on a tighter budget, with no sacrifice in quality.  Ehehehehe!  More budget fun!  The only group on campus who seems to be flouri$hing is Engineering.  I think they have designs on the entire east side of campus and envision a small tribute state composed of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Business, Science, Education, Liberal Arts, and whatnot out on west campus or out by the river.  Hmm.  Perhaps I have thrown in my lot with the losing side and should abandon the human female to partner with someone in Engineering in mutual efforts to take over the world…?

The human female received a call from Central Receiving yesterday, informing her that they were holding a shipment with her name on it.  “How large?” she enquired.  “Small box; about six pounds,” was the reply.  Clearly, this was not the long-lost squid and clams, which should be several hundred pounds. The human female agreed that Central could plop the parcel into the campus mail.  It arrived yesterday afternoon and proved to contain the ten missing lampreys.  The human female was so glad to see their jawless, toothy faces that she said something about making them all small party hats.  (Should I be worried about her?  Nah.)

A second delivery, this one made to the stock-room, proved to contain fourteen dead cats, part of an order the human female made this spring to the Purveyor of Squiggly Things (and also sometimes Not Squiggly Things.)  She has yet, of course, failed to receive the twenty-four stiff kitties she ordered much longer ago than that from the Purveyor of Dead Things.  This afternoon she will order twenty-five more.  By the Norns’ nose-hairs!  It is dead cats 24/7 around here.

She also needs to order eleven microscope slides of human blood, taken from someone afflicted with the malady known as sickle-cell anemia.  (Jotuns aren’t afflicted by this malady; it sounds dreadful.)  She is put in the guilt-inducing position of hoping that there is someone who is sick enough with this to contract to bleed for a slide-making house.

And I still owe the human female a really rotten prank or two.  Her work group has had both Environmental Health and Safety Department (EHSD, AKA Eek! Hazards, Sickness and Death) and Biosafety (BSL, AKA Bacteria, Slime, and Loogies) inspections this week.  Despite my best efforts, they passed both with flying colors, but the human female locked me away for the duration of both inspections, so I was unable to point out to the inspectors all of the more subtle-yet-deadly deficiencies.  I had to content myself with pointing out that in two of the prep rooms, the safety showers are immediately adjacent to the circuit-breaker boxes and with making sure the human female and her staff received yet another directive about the handling and labeling of biohazard waste.  (Long story involving bags of different colors, autoclaves, stickers, and disposal personnel who are convinced that Red Means Instant Annhiliation, such that heretofore any red bag must be put into a black one before they would consent to dispose of it.)

The days are just packed.

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