engineering land grab

Mischief Update: Little Things Mean a Lot

The past week or so looks like the collision between a train carrying aluminum to the recycling plant and Billy Joe Bob’s Bait Barn–cans open, worms everywhere.

In the human female’s workplace, this is the first week of student labs.  The students, many of them first-semester freshmen, mill about like motherless lambs.  There is the one who confuses her Chemistry and Biology schedules and misses lab.  There are the ones who can’t read their schedule and show up in not just the wrong section but the wrong COURSE.  And there are the ones who come to the office to complain that their ID cards won’t let them swipe to enter the labs.  Look, children, just because you see the instructors swipe in doesn’t mean YOU get to.  But since I’ve seen to it that some of the electronic locks randomly refuse to recognize actual authorized card holders, I can see that someone might misunderstand how the system works.

The first week of labs means it’s TERMITE TIME!  The split delivery plan actually worked.  Or it would have, had the damned hexapods managed to stay alive.   The human female swears she spent all week on the phone, ordering replacements and tracking the incoming shipments on Fed-up and Exhausted.  It soon bored me, so I had the chat window for shipping from North Carolina to Texas show up in French.  Also, it was loads of oodles of manies of fun driving up on to campus which was in kicked-over-anthill mode in the celebration of the first home football game to deliver the termites shipped to her house. She wonders if they are doing something wrong in how they house the  delicate little creatures, since they die if you look at them funny.  Again, no.  Accommodations are satisfactory.  I merely tell the little white crawlers bedtime horror stories about the experiment they’re to be a part of, and 70% just up and die of fright on the spot.  (Ballpoint ink is surprisingly terrifying.)

In other Squiggly Things news, you will be relieved to hear that the local bovine genetics company (We-R-Cowspunk) is still selling gift certificates.  Says so right on their website.  Sleipnir’s fetlocks!  Is it time for yule shopping already?

BAMN continues to delight me and baffle the mortals.  Some high mucky-mucks met with the tribal chieftains of BAMN recently, and made it quite clear just how large of a rubbish heap it is.  One user brought in a Voluminous Binder documenting the 1,400 problems he had had with the 2,800 orders his group had placed.  The human female hasn’t ceased whining about BAMN, either.  She has discovered that when she receives the jolly little “This PO #xxxxx has been sent to the vendor!” email, she has to consult the spreadsheet she meticulously keeps, log into the website, pull up all of her requisitions that have been sent to PO, and try to match the e-mail with the requisition. When she has only one open requisition, it’s not that hard.  But on a busy day, when she’s made more than one order, she has to open all the just-gone-to-PO ones in BAMN, click on the requisition number, and find out what the new PO # is to make the match. Because they’re not the same.  (And then click on the PO number if she actually wants to look at it.) She’s asked that the emails tell WHICH requisition # has been turned into PO #xxxx, or at least mention  the vendor, but pfft! where’s the fun  in that?  Since BAMN generates one email when a requisition is submitted into routing, one when it converts to a PO and is sent, one when it is approved for payment, and one when it is paid, her mailbox is as full as Volstagg after a three-day food bender.

And the fun doesn’t stop there!  Sometimes the vendors bobble the ball.  Two so far this semester have either e-mailed or come by in person to inquire with varying degrees of civility why they have not been paid.  Usually it is because they failed to notice the giant “Bill To” address on the purchase order and have not submitted an invoice. It’s not the human female’s fault, but she gets to track down and clean up the messes.

Ah, September…  It’s that time again, the start of the Fiscal Year, when all the university employees’ insurance benefits can be updated.  Everyone was encouraged to log in and make sure their current coverage choices are accurate.  Of course, I arranged an outage on the website for that day–do you even have to ask?

I do hope the humans’ policies are up to date–they might need them.  Three sinks on campus have tested positive for huge amounts of lead, and there is small but growing epidemic of flu.

Engineering continues to try to take over the whole campus.  They now have designs on the second floor of the human female’s building, space her department sorely needs.    Also, Engineering wants all the service courses on campus (English, History, Biology, etc.) to move to issuing only grades of A, B, and C, so their students can have a higher GPA when they take these courses.  Now, I’m no mathematician, but someone has to be below average, right?  Still, their power-hungry bullying certainly has my attention. I am strongly considering jumping ship and joining them!

Parking and Transit, in a move certain to please Bean Counters and no one else, has decided to sub-let all of the 24-hour reserved parking spots in two campus lots, to make them available on home football game days.  This way, they can collect money on the spaces TWICE.  The human male is most definitely not amused, since no one ever asked him it this was all right, and since he has to come up on campus on weekends to do nerdly things with computers, and he would like to park in the space he pays $$$$ for, thankyouverymuch.  He says he can’t imagine who came up with this terrible idea. (Innocent whistling…)

The human male received a bill for the cop-pay for his eye exam–which he had already paid, since the battle maidens at the desk won’t let anyone pass without paying first.  It amuses me to see that payments post up to a week later than bills.  Everyone loves extra paperwork and the phone calls to straighten it out, right?

The humans’ shower is dripping, the front lawn looks positively leprous, the aged feline keeps missing the litterbox, the “check all the tires” light came on in the car yesterday, and the driveway needs weeding again.  All part of a special little thing I like to call Death By Little Things.  No one problem is large enough to do the humans in, but taken all together, they can some days erode the will to keep going.

It really is amazing how little things can really get to a person.  Take last week for instance.  It was nearing 6:00 p.m. and the human female was alone in her office, preparing to leave for the day, when suddenly, BOOM!  “Ah,” she thought.  “‘Tis the folks testing the cannon for this weekend’s football game.”  The boom was followed by a pop!, sirens, and then several long minutes of what was unmistakably automatic weapons fire.  The echoy-nature of a campus full of tall buildings meant she couldn’t tell where the shots were coming from. Alarmed, she called the campus police and asked whether there was some exercise being conducted by the Corps of Cadets or whether the campus was under attack from agent or agents unknown.  After being put on hold, she was informed that it was just a drill and that everyone should have received the advance email stating time and date.  Ehehehe!  With just one deleted Distribution-A email memo, I panicked everyone in earshot.

Supervillain tip #248:  Humans–the more tightly you wind them up, the more spectacular they are when they finally do snap.


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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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