every word is true

Mischief Update: Workdon’t Addendum

Because I’ve been extra naughty, my exploits have spilled over into a whole other update!  This one is all about my little gift to the University, Workdon’t, the all-in-one-HR software.

Day by day, Workdon’t keeps on revealing its nefarious intricacies. It’s like one of those big boxes of chocolates. At first, it looks as if all of the goodies have been eaten, but Lo! Take up the waffly paper divider, and there’s a whole other layer of treasure underneath.  So, while the mortals in the humans’ workplace have become somewhat inured* to the yoke of inefficiency that was their first experience of Workdon’t, the revelation of some of the other little “features” of the program has been amusing us all. Or me, anyway–and that’s what matters.

Summertime at the University brings with it the period known as Annual Enrollment. During this period, each employee can choose his or her insurance options for the coming year. It ought to be straightforward–decide on how far you are willing to push your luck with regard to purchasing hedgements against disaster, all the while balancing the concomitant deductions to your paycheck.

In practice, however, things often become Complicated. This year, I decided to meddle with the employees who work nine-month appointments. This includes most of the faculty, who take summers off. Many of them have other funding that covers their summers, making them 9+3 employees. All would be well except for one thing: Workdon’t can’t “math.” Earlier this year, many of them discovered that all of the premiums for the summer months had be deducted from their last regular-semester paycheck, leaving about enough paycheck left over to purchase a large(ish) jar of peanut butter–if that.

All of this had been tidied up, but Annual Enrollment brought to the fore that Workdon’t cannot comprehend multiple payment accounts. I thought it would be funny if all of the 9+3-ers ended up in the system as 9+2-ers. You should have heard the squawking! Apparently that one-month pittance matters to them! Cue HR personnel in all the departments trying to correct this for each person, individually. The Biology Department’s HR person (who wears so many hats that he’s going to open a men’s haberdashery when he retires) manually added a further 1 month to each person’s file. Workdon’t decided, then, that they were all one-month appointments and thus ineligible for any benefits whatsoever. When they tried to access Annual Enrollment, Workdon’t laughed at them. When they tried to pick up prescriptions, they were refused, and Workdon’t giggled. And I laughed too.

Once that was attended to, it was time to make up the annual budget, including all the salaries for everyone in the department. A few, a select and chosen few, will be receiving raises. The Departmental HR person had to open several spreadsheets and various and sundry documents all at once, because Workdon’t does not have a Budget Module. (It has plenty of B.M., all right, but not that particular one.) That’s when Workdon’t’s Presto-change-o Feature introduced itself. Each time the budget-in-the-works was opened, the amounts for each individual had changed. Thus someone who was set to receive a 2% raise might show as due a 2.01% increase the next day, and a 2.3% the next. Each person had to be adjusted, again and again, in a process akin to trying to keep an unhappy octopus fully contained in a loose-meshed bag. One professor, whose monthly salary is, shall we say, “x”, had worked his way up to about 3x by the time all the flailing tentacles were nailed the to the deck. I finally had to let it rest because of the terrible stitch in my side.
Then there’s hiring. Workdon’t has its little idiosyncracies there as well. Initially, applicants’ packets for open positions were screened by computer at Central HR before qualifying applications were released to the individual hiring departments–a complex and tedious process. So tedious, in fact, that HR threw up its collective hands and devolved the whole process upon the departments, where applications must now be screened by hand. The human female is needing to hire a new Tech I (what did you do with the last one I sent you?!), which should offer me many happy hours, as applications from psych majors and English graduates are weeded out to get to the biologists.

Even now, thinking of all of this, I find myself chortling. Oh, Workdon’t, you are my finest creation!

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*Google “learned helplessness”

Mischief Update. New and Improved, with pictures!

Ehehehe. I have outdone myself this week. I have to leave some room for improvement, because no mischief is perfect, but I think I can safely say the old chaos-o-meter is holding steady at 9.50. AND bear in mind that the backdrop of all this has been the anticipation, arrival, and aftermath of a very juicy tropical storm. (It is raining again as I compose this.) Surely that is worth another 0.25?

You may want obtain a beverage and recline in your favorite seat. This is a long one…

1. I have been playing fast and loose with the human female’s annual Very Large Order of Very Dead Animals. She has discovered that felines are in very short supply. (Something to do with the improved economy–fewer people are abandoning cats at shelters, which is good for cats but bad for anatomy students.) I am enjoying watching her and her teaching team scramble to adapt lab prep, come up with alternative exercises, and explore creative solutions. Pffft! The answer to the cat problem is staring her right in the face–if the feral cats on campus keep breeding at the rate they have been, she can simply ask the Purveyor of Dead Things to supply the kitty-pickling recipe and bring the whole operation in-house.

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2. She has been trying to coordinate the delivery of the huge Dead Thing order with Central Receiving and the maintenance people who actually have to alter a doorway to get the pallets into the building. Last year, I arranged for this to happen on the same day as the annual lab safety inspections, lock installation, and a fume hood outage (which resulted in a less-than-stellar safety inspection.) I hope to tangle things even more this year. There’s construction on the first floor of the building; I should be able to arrange something.

3. She procured the funds to order 44 lab stools to replace the ones the students have so enthusiastically broken. She can get them, but no one can tell her when. The truck that will bring them will be too big to fit down the alley near her workplace, so they need to be re-routed to Central Receiving, who will accept them but are not keen on actually bringing them to her on a smaller truck. Negotiations are ongoing. She can buy them. She can have them delivered. She just can’t take possession of them!

4. More construction. Oh, my. The restrooms on the human’s workplace floor are out of commission for the foreseeable. They were supposed to start ripping up yesterday, with a 3 hour water outage in the morning. However, I had a little "chat" with the work crew, and they started jack-hammering a day early, unannounced. When they turned the water off, I distracted them momentarily and nudged, and the valve that controls all the sinks’ water was broken in the off position, so there wasn’t a working bathroom sink in the building. They scurried about looking for a replacement part, but in the meantime–Germs for everyone!

5. The students had a lab practical exam this week. I arranged for not one but TWO students to break test tubes in the spectrophotometer. I don’t fully understand what a spectrophotometer does, but I do know how to discombobulate one!

6. She ordered five fish tanks, drat her. I broke the splash shields in the old ones and we were just a few splashes away from pretty fireworks and free fried fish for everyone. She spent a couple of weeks with the aquarium techs, trying to find replacement parts (unavailable) or a repair solution (cost-prohibitive), so whole new ones were needed. (If I can’t have a fish dinner, I can at least cost her some money.) Four of the new tanks arrived, but without the Free Magnetic Algae Scraper each box proclaimed was included. Two phone calls and a handful of emails later, they might send her some. Or they might not. Oh, they’ve written back. They won’t. They’ve offered some other part instead. Whatever.

7. Microscope slides. Oh, the slides. She had a lot to order, to replace breakage, insure spares, beef up a lab exercise, and outfit a new lab room. 100 human sperm smear slides! What is she going to do with them? I don’t think I want to know! Fifteen different subjects. Five vendors to work with. I did some quick, spreadsheet-defeating jiggery-pokery and made sure that no single vendor had all fifteen. And no single vendor had consistently the best prices and quality. So, four orders, four vendors.

She needed slides of the free-floating stage of the jellyfish Obelia. I saw to it that they are practically unavailable at any price. So she considered a different genus, Aurelia. Now, I have been practicing my internet manipulation skills, tying together odd corners of the cyber realm at random. Thus, searching for "Aurelia, slide, buy" brought up (as a hit, not an ad, mind you!) —- something that can be considered to be a "shoe" only because it’s meant to be strapped to a foot. Silvertongue though I be… for once, words fail me, so just look:

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Take a moment and let that sink in.

Ehehehehe! The look on her face was priceless! What? Why? WHO would purchase and wear such, with the bejewelled naked mudflap cutout? It is clearly labeled a "women’s shoe." Do they think that men will otherwise be confused and disappointed when it is not available in their size? But at least it was on sale… Just as she was about to get over her shock and bafflement she noticed that it also comes in pink.

She did eventually find and purchase the last eleven Obelia slides available anywhere. However, my prank is the gift that keeps on giving because now all of the advertisements on the sidebar of her browser are for hooker shoes. And now you can never unsee that shoe. You’re welcome.

8. Not only are Very Dead Cats in in short supply, Defunct Starfish are completely unobtainable. Note: I want it on record that I am not responsible for the virus that is wiping out starfish along both coasts. I am simply enjoying the human female’s frustration as she tries to adapt the labs to feature other animals. She and her colleagues decided that a small fish would make an acceptable dissection exercise. Just to make her day a little more surreal, when she went to the website of the Purveyor of Dead Animals and did a search for "perch" (a type of small fish she knows they stock) in order to price them, I made sure she was greeted by this:

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Sweet Frigga’s corset strings! Ehehehehehe! That can’t be right! Note product description. I may not be an expert ichthyologist, but I think that specimen is missing a feature or two.. Or six. (But I bet it smells better than the preserved sort.)

She looked again and found these related products:

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Speaking of fried fish for everyone! I actually hurt myself laughing. Surely I am not the only one who finds it on the whole very disturbing that the Purveyor of Dead Animals is also in the Food Service business. One devoutly hopes that the two back ends of this operation are kept very, very separate, though this gives me an idea for a most creative aquarium scene and a corresponding way to cater an unforgettable buffet.

Whew! I shall leave you with one last catlet…

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and go in search of a well-earned glass of wine and a backrub. Sigyn, care to join me?

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