mischief update

Home Again, Home Again–Mischief Update

*Yawn!* Yesterday was a long day of driving. I’d like to know whose idea it was–it surely wasn’t mine!–to put the human female’s mother’s place in a different time zone, so that about twenty minutes into the already-long trip it is suddenly an hour later already. We returned home a via different route, one that goes past a rather scenic dam-made lake and not through an hour and a half of stop-and-go traffic associated with the Big City to the West.

So here we all are again, back in the heat and swampy humidity. I’ve healed Sigyn’s broken arm and she’s as chipper as ever. I so hated seeing her in that awful cast!

The humans noticed immediately upon pulling into the driveway that the roofer had not made good on his promise to fix some small areas of roof/gutter intersection that weren’t nailed down properly. A call to him has brought a further promise to send someone out to attend to that this week, weather permitting. And the gutter replacement? No sign of it.

The lawn looks like the Pampas of the Argentine. Of course, I’ve seen to it that there are a few bare spots where take-all patch has done a number on the St. Augustinegrass, so the effect is somewhat patchy. Still, mowing will have to happen soon or else the humans will get a nastygram from the City. The human female need not worry, however, about mowing down the blooms of her perennial, autumn-flowering schoolhouse lilies because they are nowhere to be seen. Did they flower while she was away, or are they late this year? I know, but I’m not telling!

The house also needs some attention. The houseplants are gasping for a drink, various cats have been sick in various spots (the cat sitter cleaned up, but you can still see where), and the dust bunnies have mutated into dust rhinos. There is laundry to be done, along with grocery shopping, and the kitchen window is just begging to be cleaned. (Don’t look at me. I don’t do windows.)

I have been playing hide and seek. I hid the female’s watch before we left on our trip. She tore the house apart looking for it but did not find it. Her mother gave her a spare one and she has put a new battery in it. Of course, once she’d spent the money to do that, I poked the old one out of hiding. The male found it in the box of “tech” they’d taken on the trip. Such tech! You would not believe the number of chargers, cables, adapters, hubs, etc. that those two own! The human female never can find the charging cable she needs, or the one that gets photos out of her phone. If she has the cable for the tablet, the one for her tiny fan is missing. If she knows where the fan cable is, the one for her phone has gone AWOL. The red one goes with her blue camera. The white one goes with the blue iPad. The blue fan has a black cable. It’s diabolical! She’s tried keeping them in designated spots–it’s like she’s never even met me.

Today I have hidden the human female’s spectacles. She knows she had to have them to see the TV last night (catching up on the news) but took them off to work on her computer. Logically, then, they should be somewhere between the living room and the dining room table. It’s been immense fun, watching the humans turn the house inside out, rummage through the garbage already in the bin, riffle through piles of paper, grope around in the sofa and then move it away from away from the wall (look! cat toys! more dust rhinos! that leg weight you’ve been missing!). I know where the glasses are, but I’m not telling. Maybe I’ll nudge them into her path tomorrow. Then again, maybe not. First her watch, now her glasses. She feels lost without either. Next, I think I’ll hide her library card. Then a shoe… Or car keys… Or maybe a pair of the shorts she wears so often… There are so many options!

And then there is plumbing. One of the felines was sick this morning–ate too quickly and harfed up all her kibble. The human female grabbed a tissue, scooped it up, and disposed of it in the commode. Imagine her panic when it wouldn’t go down!! She sprinted for the plunger, still in her pajamas and socks. The plunger proved ineffective, but she did manage to reach an arm in (ugh!) and pull out a wad of clog. More plunging. Now, all of this frantic plunging and groping splashed water all over her, her socks, the floor, and the toilet. Reaching into the cabinet under the sink to get the disinfecting cleaner just knocked two bars of soap into the cats’ water dish, putting *more* water on the floor. The human male, coming to help and to bring her the long plumbing snake I’d hidden in garage, walked through the water on his way out of the bathroom and left tracks throughout the house. She did eventually get the clog resolved, and then they both spent a good chunk of the rest of the morning mopping, scrubbing, disinfecting, and then cleaning the rest of the floor, themselves, the plunger, the cats’ bowl, and the various towels used in the operation. Tomorrow, I will induce the other feline to gobble her breakfast and then re-present it for inspection, and we’ll see what happens next.

The human male has sent his misbehaving camera off for repair, but now his computer display is strobing and there’s a funny line down the middle. . . It’s still under warranty, but he’s going to have to travel to the Big City to the South to have it looked at, and if it’s anything beyond a minor repair, it’ll have to be sent out for service. Before he can do any of it, he has to back up everything on the machine which will take (peers at status bar) approximately eleventy-three hours and fifty-four minutes.

That will give him plenty of time to get the insurance thing straightened out. The humans have their car insurance and credit card with Usually Sounds Amiable, Although… They’ve arranged to have their insurance billed to the card, which they pay off every month, rather than getting a separate insurance bill every month. Recently, that arrangement has become unarranged, and individual bills have been arriving. The male has called and called and emailed and emailed, and each time, he has been assured that everything is back the way he wants it. Another monthly insurance bill has arrived today and he is on the phone–again–trying to make it past the phone tree to bludgeon some cooperation out of them. We’ll see how that goes.

(later)

He was finally able to talk to a live human being who assured him that yes, insurance was being billed yearly to the card, but that their “new and improved” billing systems is programmed to send out a bill to everyone every month anyway. No one, not the customers nor the help line folks, likes the new system. Well, rats! I thought it was some of my best work!

Aaaaad, Taffy Cat is on the dining room table again!

So, as you can see, settling back in and situation normal!

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Mischief Update: Of Shell Games and Suspicious Crashes

If you were expecting an update about completed construction–really?! In this town, with these humans, over a holiday weekend? With me involved?? Surely no one is that naive.

Status of roof: Still up in the air. As roofs generally are. Ehehehehe. No word on whether/if Roofer Number Four has convinced Usually Sounds Amiable, Although… to do the work he outlined for the price he’s willing to charge. Clock is ticking. Will there be any wood, felt, and shingles available when some agreement is reached? That is a very good question.

Nothing more has happened with the ceiling in the craft room. If my plans work out, the humans will get about half an hour’s notice from Attempts Total Involvement that they have to get all the breakables out immediately. The human female has been putting off that little chore, so it’ll be fun to watch her scramble. Still no word on where all the books and shelves are supposed to go, either.

The sewing machine has been cleaned and returned. The humans are just this minute hunting up the screwdriver to put it back into the cabinet—

Norns’ Nighties! What was that awful noise?!

And why do the felines look so guilty? Oh, I bet I know what happened. One or both of them jumped up on the cabinet and walked out onto the extended table. I’ve been working with them on stealthily going where they’re not supposed to, and the lessons seem to be paying off! I think they need a refresher, though, because if they’d done it properly, it wouldn’t have landed on the laundry basket. It would have fallen forward, gouging the laminate flooring and the armoire and breaking the table. The only fallout from a dump-over in this position is literal fall-out. The humans are going to be sweeping and magneting up pins for a good while. Between that and lowering the very heavy machine precisely into the cabinet, if I’m lucky, someone will need a bandage before the day is out.

The specially-ordered lightbulb for the human female’s big sewing lamp came–and it is exactly identical to the one from the local crap craft store. And this one not only strobes, it emits a high-pitched hum guaranteed to drive her ’round the bend (okay, further ’round the bend) in under a minute. It’ll have to go back. I have offered to write a Strongly Worded Letter to the fine folks at Obsolete Technology Troubles. She’s hoping they offer a replacement lamp, but I bet I can word it in such a way that they offer only a grudging not-apology and something useless like $5.00 off something she doesn’t want. In the meantime–No stitching for you!

So, yes, I’ve been busy. My best work here, though, is not in tipped furniture, flickering bulbs, or scheduling woes. Oh, no no no! It is with accounting. Numbers are a very, very fertile ground for mischief.

The Water-sucking People billed Usually Sounds Amiable, Although… directly. USAA paid them, minus the deductible. Attempts Total Involvement have sent USAA a bill for work which has not even commenced yet, and USAA has paid them, minus the deductible. That’s right! They’ve deducted the deductible twice! The human female paid for the sewing machine cleaning out of her own pocket and sent USAA the receipt. You’d think that USAA would add it all up and just have the humans pay ATI the deductible minus what was spent on the sewing machine and then pay ATI the remaining bit of the deductible. Loki-Logic, though, dictates that USAA is going to send a check to reimburse the human female for what she spent on the machine, issue a check for the full amount to ATI, and have the humans write a check to the Water-sucking People for the amount of the deductible. Meanwhile, the advance on the roof claim just sits in the bank, waiting for some sort of agreement to be reached!

That whirring noise you hear is the human female’s head spinning. If we wrapped that noggin in copper wire and gave her some magnets for earrings, we could hook her up to the power grid and make up for some of the whopping power bill that the old AC racked up as it was dying while trying to cool the house in the middle of a heat wave.

The final, finishing financial finagle was to make sure the humans received their own Strongly Worded Letter, letting them know that their claim for “damage to their AC” has been categorically and very pointedly denied, disallowed, and disapproved.

Which would be truly crushing, you know, if they’d actually made that claim. But no. I saw to it that that thing died in such a manner that every last cent for its replacement came out of their own linty pockets. Belts will be worn a little tighter this season.

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Mischief Update: Let’s Revisit Hel Week, Shall We? Part 1: Condestruction-related Items

I’m sure my many fans and minions want to know the status of all last week’s mischief projects. I thank you for your interest! I have endeavored to not let up the pressure too much, lest the humans grow complacent. I shall answer the questions I know you have.

Do the humans have a new roof yet? They do not! Roofer #4 was incommunicado until the middle of this week and was not returning calls (roofers are a bit busy right now.) He finally surfaced long enough to reassure the humans that he is “working on the paperwork” to submit to Usually Sounds Amiable, Although… In the meantime, roofer #5—who was contacted weeks ago, before the advent of roofer #4— came out to take a look. He pointed out that the humans’ current roof has something called “double felt”, whatever that is. That will make it more expensive to remove. He submitted an estimate some two thousand dollars higher than roofer #3’s, the one that USAA wouldn’t fully cover. Between hail storms and other disasters and my own stockpiling lumber and other goodies for the building of my own palace, the prices of construction materials are going through the roof (Bwhahaha–couldn’t resist!), so that the price of the project is rising by the hour and there isn’t even a firmly fixed insurance settlement yet!

But at least the water-damaged ceiling is fixed, right? It is not! The water removal equipment is gone–they picked it up on Monday, despite the fact the water-sucking folks said they’d pick some of it up on Saturday. The house is strangely quiet without two fans and a dehumidifier running around the clock. But there the work has stalled. The company charged with restoring the ceiling and carpet in the craft room, Attempts Total Involvement, or ATI for short, came out on Wednesday. Where the humans expected ceiling repair and replacement of the cutaway carpet pad and a steam-cleaning of the rest of the carpet, ATI has other notions. They’ll fix the ceiling all right, and then paint it. That, they say, will make the walls look funny, so they purpose to paint the entire room. I could have told them that the humans painted everything with the cheapest, untinted titanium white they could buy, and that the ceiling would certainly match the walls if they just used that, but if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s keeping mum if it can make my day a bit more interesting and the humans’ a bit more frustrating. ATI also wants to take up the entire carpet pad, which means the room must be emptied. Everything must go–the dollhouse, all the quilt fabric, the stitching supplies, the sewing machine, multiple boxes of stuff-and-whatnot, tens and tens of linear feet of botany and art and craft books, and the bookshelves themselves, a prodigious heftage of planks and cinderblocks. There is, I hardly need point out, no place in the house to put all of this. ATI says they’ll pack it all up, but no one has the vaguest notion of where it’s going to reside for the duration. I have not offered the use of my pocket dimension, the place I stash all my goodies, so the humans will have to work something out on their own. The human female will have to pack the breakables herself. You can’t really hurt quilt fabric, but dollhouses are quite… smashable. Sigyn is most worried about the miniature lab glassware that lives on the windowsill. She’s offered to pack it up herself. I shall stand ready to rescue her should it become necessary.

What is the prognosis for the antique sewing machine, the one that got avalanched by wet fiberglass insulation? Unclear. The gentleman at the repair shop seemed entirely unfazed when given the description of what the poor thing experienced. Makes me wonder what Midgardians do to their machines that would render him so unflappable in the face of such a tale of misfortune. What nightmares has he beheld??

What about the sewing light? Did the new bulb work? Ehehehee! As of yet, there *is* no new light. The humans called on Thursday. The person who answered the phone said they’d have to speak to the person who helped them originally, and he promised to pass along a query and have him return the call. (Too many ‘he/hims” in that sentence, but you get the idea.) There has been a suspicious silence since then… It is slowly dawning on everyone just who sits on the board of Obsolete Technology Troubles…

But at least the new AC works, right? It does indeed. I find the sub-90°F temperatures indoors most salubrious and Sigyn and I no longer have to camp in the freezer. The human female sent in the paperwork for claiming the rebate from the city for installing energy-efficient equipment. The AC installer said last week that the inspector “will likely be around tomorrow,” but that didn’t happen. The human female called the AC company this week, and the AC company set up the city inspection for the next day (Tuesday). Tuesday came and went in its own desultory fashion. No inspector. The human female called the AC people, who looked into it and promised a visit from the city on Friday. Friday, of course, being the day the humans were planning a quick trip to the Big City to the South. The human male ended up going to the Purveyor of Pens with one of his friends while the female stayed home to let the inspector in. The inspector has just been, and the unit passes, but apparently the AC technicians forgot a little thingish thing that keeps a wire from rubbing or misbehaving in some other unsanctioned and undesirable fashion. The inspector helpfully left a memo as to what needs fixing:

Perfect! Clear as mud. So someone will be coming back out at an as-yet-unspecified date to crawl up into the attic once again. That wobbly pull-down ladder has never felt so loved and needed as it has in the past fortnight.

How long do you think I can s t r e t c h all of this home repair out? Should there be a betting pool? I think maybe there should be a betting pool—and one of the items should be “guess the date on which Usually Seems Amiable, Although… gets fed up with the humans and cancels their homeowner’s policy.

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Mischief Update–Naughtiness Old and New

(Checks notes) Apparently I’ve been so busy doing photographable mischief that I haven’t had the time to write about all the other mischief I’ve been doing.

Firstly, the roof. You will recall the Hellishly Horrible Hailstorm that Happened Here. Suspecting that the roof had been damaged, the humans had three different roofing companies out to give their opinion. The consensus opinion was that the human female looks awful in shorts. And that the roof is, indeed damaged. Not only that, the gutters and leaf guards on the gutters have taken a big hit, and my army of trained squirrels have eaten all the vent caps. True!

All it takes is a little bit of this.

The humans contacted their insurance agency, who sent someone out to have a look. Days passed, and the insurance company sent a very detailed run-down on what they were willing to pay for all the various steps of roof replacement, gutter replacement, vent caps, etc. So then the humans had to decide which roofing company to go with, and they had to get the gutter company out to offer an opinion as to whether they really need replacing. I had a chat with the roofing company they selected, and made sure that the estimate, when the humans received it, exceeded what the insurance is willing to pay. I had a second chat with the gutter company, which is of the opinion that the gutters don’t need replacing, exactly, but that maybe they need to come off before the new roof goes on. And then go back up or get replaced. Ping-ping back to the roofing company, which says they don’t need to take the gutters off to replace the roof. Return serve to the insurance company, with the humans providing the roofer’s bit and asking what happens if they spend more on the roof and less on the gutters. And that is where the ball lies, with everything on hold as the humans wait to see if the insurance company will increase what they’ll pay for the roof. The first check from them has arrived, and I made sure the bank’s lobby was closed due to lack of staff when he went to deposit it. However this all turns out, you can be sure I will hide some important piece of paperwork that the humans need to submit to prove that they actually did the repairs, so that they can get the remaining settlement money. Assuming we can ever get the repairs to take place. There’s a two-week waiting period for repairs once you even get on the schedule—and who knows how long the repairs will take, or what the roofer will find when the old shingles come off? (He’ll find that plywood has tripled in price in the last few months, that’s what he’ll find…)

I continue to train the felines to add “spice” to the humans’ life. I’ll have to work with Flannel Cat some more, though, and teach her how to harf up her supper more quietly. Unfortunately, last time she did it, she telegraphed her intent with a prodigious gagging noise and some extreme facial contortions, such that the human male was able to leap up from his seat on the sofa so that he was unscathed when the rain of soggy kibble fell from the topmost perch of the cat tree, which stands directly behind the sofa. Flannel spectacularly decorated that perch, the next two levels down, the sofa, and the floor, but she missed the human male. Pity. Both felines routinely hurl upon the bed quilt, though, which necessitates a lot of laundry. Good kitties!

The gold “balloons” on the fence around the Large Ugly Apartments (LUAs) continue to irk me. They put them up, I deflate them,

they put them back up. I deflate the whole row.

So far, I am winning.

As you can see, NO option is Loki-proof, and at at least $7.00 a pop, it all adds up.

Breakfast continues to be fruitful ground for mischief-making. The human female and I had a long conversation the other morning about whether it was useful and saves time if the eggs come pre-cracked.

I say it is. She says it isn’t. Agree to disagree.

The gravity in the bathroom is still functioning.

If I grease the towel rod, I think I can get this to happen on a daily basis…

The lone surviving hollyhock has bloomed. It has frilly, pale pink petals.

Don’t get too attached to it, human female. I’ve inoculated it with some sort of orange rust and invited some spider mites over as well. They’ll go nicely with the runaway mint and the dollarweed I’ve let loose in the lawn.

The humans continue to try new recipes. I like to suggest ingredients to them.

Somehow they did not go for that one.

I meddled with the human female’s iPad tablet so that it would not charge. At all. It was actually losing power while plugged in and eventually shut itself completely off. The human male took it to see if it could be repaired. The repairman plugged it in and it worked perfectly, making everyone look like an idiot. I love it when that happens. Meanwhile, I’ve arranged that the human female’s laptop will, once or twice a day, just decide to stop charging unless she wiggles and waggles the cord around just so to find the sweet spot.

Hmm. What else is new? The next door neighbor mowed down the elm seedling between the houses that the human female had put a big, red, DON’T MOW flag on. So much for a free, conveniently-situated shade tree.

Oh, and my new hobby is putting little pinhead sized holes in all the human female’s favorite shirts. Right in front where they can’t be invisibly mended. And I made sure the only jeans that fit her have been discontinued.

All in all, I’m keeping busy. It’s true that I don’t get to wreak sweet havoc with vendors and office coworkers these days, but it’s still a good life. I mean, I can still arrange for cryptic and confusing email offers like this one.

And it’s time to feed the cats again.

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A Visit to the Mischief Archives

It  has been some time since I shared some of the mischief I have done but not previously written about, mischief that didn’t spawn a photo or a blog post of its own.  I herein admit gloat that all of the following was my doing.

Remember the time she was short some cat skulls so she sent off  some preserved Dead Cat heads to the Purveyor of Head Bones to see if their hungry beetles would eat the flesh off?  Not only did the beetles not eat their têtes de chats morts et conservés, but they all up and died.  True!  The human female killed a dermestid colony.

I put her name in all sorts of fun places on the internet, so she got a very interesting email inviting her to log back in and complete her PayPal purchase of some very lewd shoes named “Private Desire.”

I arranged for an ordered chair to show up with no packing slip whatsoever.   This makes the Bean Counters all purple in the face and it never, ever gets old.

At the beginning of the semester, I nudged a bunch of students, and they all went to the wrong labs, including one who put his head in the right lab room.  The teaching assistant, who already had a full classroom, asked him what section he was in.  I whispered in his ear, and he told the TA the wrong one.  So the TA sent him next door, where there was one seat left and the TA made him welcome.  It wasn’t until the second TA was taking up the signed Lab Safety Agreements that she realized he wasn’t hers.  But, subtracting the wrong student, she was one student short. And just where had that missing student been?  Independently wrongly next door with the first TA, which was why that class had been full!  There’s a reason the human female is going bald.

And the students broke, did break, have broken, will break, will have broken, will have been breaking more and more micropipettors.   Basically, anyway you conjugate it, they break ’em.

wonkypipettes

Every semester.  And every.  Single.  Time, the Pipette Repair People send her an invoice that doesn’t say invoice. With the wrong address.  Then she has to get them to send a corrected one, one that says invoice, and she turns it in to the Departmental Bean Counters,  About 10 days later, the Pipette Repair People shriek at her that they haven’t been paaaaaaaaid.  Then the human female has to remind them that the University is a Net 30 operation and that they will get their payment in due time.  Then about two weeks later, they shriek at her again, and she reminds them to count to THIRTY.  The human female says it gets really, really old.  For her, maybe.  I still get a good laugh out of it.  Especially since each cheery little email from them ends with, “Please don’t hesitate to contact us for any questions. Have a wonderful day!”

You know what else got old?  All the calls from TAs about broken respirometers that turned out not to be broken.  How hard it is to screw the lid on a fat tube and to measure liquid accurately?  Pretty hard, apparently!

The week after that, the big fifty liter carboy of Chlamydomonas (a friendly little green alga that is part of the photosynthesis experiments) grew up all “ooky” and contaminated.  The human female was never able to prove that I was the one who meddled with the autoclave so that the growth medium was contaminated, but from the epic side-eye I received, I think she suspected.

That same week, i had the fun of watching the human female and her Prep Staff tear the entire third floor apart, looking for one of the colored light boxes used in the Photosynthesis lab.  The human female knew she’d put it in the cabinet in room 305, but it wasn’t in there.  Until it was, after they all tore the floor apart another two times.  Turns out that lying on your side makes you invisible to biologists.

Then there was the day when she burned her fingers, her watch broke, one of the prep rooms overheated, and there was cat  puke to clean up.  I can’t remember if it was a Monday.  But I bet it felt like one.

I DO remember that it was a Sunday, though, when the low-tire-pressure-you’re-going-to-die warning light in the human female’s car came on.  She drove it very carefully to the nearby shop attached to a discount store, where they told her that they couldn’t find anything wrong with the tire, so she drove it carefully home, planning to take it to the dedicated tire place later.  When she went out to do so, the light was gone.   Teasing her is such fun.

I made it rain on her when she was returning the very heavy liquid nitrogen tank full of bull spunk.

It rained on a Tech I interviewee, too.  How to make a good first impression?  Don’t show up looking like a drowned rat!

How to make a good impression with Admin?  Have a whole batch of hazardous waste come back from waste collection because Environmental Health and Safety didn’t “like” the way it was tagged.

Then WorkDon’t cancelled the Tech timesheets that had some overtime hours on them.  When that was finally straightened out, their checks didn’t come on time.  (See?  It’s not just the human female I like to mess with.)

As always, the devil–and the mischief–are in the details.   And that takes us up through the end of last September!

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Mini-Mischief Update

I have not been idle.

Some highlights from the days of preparing to move all University classes on line, getting staff to work from home, and generally settling into what is the new “normal.”

–One teaching assistant had a computer whose microphone didn’t work.  but only with the virtual meeting program she needed to teach.  It was fine otherwise.

–One teaching assistant is incommunicado and failed to “show up” to stream her lab section.  Cue scrambling to email all the students the link to enter another teacher’s lab section meeting at the same time.

–The human female’s Prep Staff and some of the Lab Instructors have been frantically videotaping experiments, dissections, living creatures, and microscope slides before they are banned banned from being up on campus and not just banned.  When they tried to upload two labs’ worth of material, they discovered the memory card in the camera was empty.

–The video meeting software on the human female’s laptop works, but it refuses to acknowledge the existence of her University email program.  She can schedule a meeting and send the invites with her home email program, but that’s Unprofessional, so she has to copy all of the info out of one email message, open the other program, and send it that way.

–She cannot also click a link in an email and join a meeting.  She’s got to get the video program running and then cut and paste the code in.

–Sometimes there’s a lag on receiving virtual meeting invitations.  The first day, the human female got one two hours after the meeting was over.  People are texting one another the meeting invite codes as insurance.

–But since text messages are also delayed, well…

–The human female’s building is without reverse osmosis water, critical for watering plants and animals.  Prep Staff had to haul two carboys from the second floor of a different building in order to have enough to last a while. Construction in the building (scarcely begun and now to languish for who knows how long) is suspected of causing the outage. (But we know who’s really to blame.)

–The final shipment of live material never arrived.  No explanation, no apology, just no Hydra, no Planaria, and no centipedes.  I’m thinking of having the invoice show up, though… Or maybe I’ll make it impossible to cancel the PO.  Ever.  I haven’t decided which yet…

–And then there’s the ice machine.  Ah, the long saga of the ice machine.  More on that anon…

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Mischief Update: Where to Start?

I’m already perfect, so I don’t make resolutions, but I do have a goal or two for this year.  One is to be more regular in providing Mischief Updates.  I write about the Big Mischiefs, but not always about the petty, grinding, day to day naughtiness that I thrive on.  Looking back, I haven’t done one since last summer!  To that end, I’ve decided to just sit and type today, and as far as I get is what you get of my infinite naughtiness.   Looking in my Mischief Journal, I have five and a half pages of notes.  I have been a very, very busy boy.

I had the Purveyor of Head Bones send a Second Notice invoice when they shipped some back-ordered platypus skulls.  It woke the human female up–she thought she was in trouble.  I love that deer-in-the-headlights look.

I made a teensy little power outage one day and the freezer with all of the stock of Useful Bacteria warmed up.  I tried calculating all the lost hours of culturing and aliquotting and labeling, but I gave up after a squillion.  And then I laughed as I watched the human female’s minions clean the contaminated freezer.

I arranged for an endless stream of hungry graduate students to traipse through the human female’s office, asking for Teaching Assistant jobs.  It’s such fun to make her have to tell all of those sad, pleading eyes, “No.”

When it came time for the TA training workshop, the human female and her minions were in charge of taping and playing back the practice mini-lectures.  First, I made all the camera cords look like this:

cable woes

What one goes with which TV?  Are the TV’s similarly color-coded?  I don’t know, and neither did they.   Although the minions had checked all the camera and power cord pairs beforehand, I snarled it all up again and arranged that one of the cameras, on the day of, had the wrong sort of output cable.  Then the camera the human female was responsible for somehow had the recording quality set too high, and it ran out of memory right in the middle of someone’s talk.  Embarrassing!  She had to scramble around and get a card reader from the human male and then quickly find the manual for the reader online while everyone was waiting.  Then, at the end of the day, one of the minions dropped a camera.  Odin’s eyepatch, those things are expensive!  It worked for a while, after a fashion.  The display was gone, but if you knew what the display should be, you could poke the right buttons and it would record.  I kicked it a little overnight and the next day it died entirely.  Ehehehehe.  What do you suppose the human female forgets she is one camera down when it’s time for this year’s workshop?

I tinkered with the departmental computer server so that multiple TAs’ directory permissions….vanished.  Others had their cards inexplicably not work to open doors.  The system that lets the human female code door cards wouldn’t let her log in.  Note to self:  this kind of stunt inconveniences a LOT of people.  Must do again.

The folks who were supposed to show up to sell goggles didn’t.  Cue parade of students wandering into the front office to ask where they can buy them.

There was a whole spate of spectrophotometers misbehaving for no reason.

And that brings us just to the end of the first week of last semester!

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Mischief Update–I Solemnly Swear That I Am Up To No Good

I always say that I’m going to keep up with documenting my mischief. After all, future scholars and chroniclers will want to be able to appreciate my long games, my spur-of-the-moment flashes of evil brilliance, and my witty prose. But I’m so *busy* doing the actual mischief (and fighting off vegetative nightmares) that I do sometimes fall behind and then have to jot down an elephantine wodge of insidious history. Like this one.

I continue to do some of my best work with vendors. My collaboration with They Had One Mission And Stumbled is proving to be a very fruitful one. The human female put in an order for cases and cases and cases of those green, biodegradable lab gloves she’s switched the whole teaching program to. Her two previous orders each had delivery problems, so she was hoping for a smooth transaction this time. As if.  No, the whole pallet of glove cases did arrive, but it came in in dribs and drabs over a few weeks’ time. Half the order came in one or two cases at a time. Each little portion had its own ship notice and its own packing slip. The packing slips weren’t all the same size or format, and things came via both Unrepentant Package Smashers and Fed-up and Exhausted. In the end, there were eight packing slips, and one of the larger shipments came addressed to Stephen Wolfe. Luckily, that particular addressee-fu has occurred before, and the stockroom personnel know now to just shrug and reroute-the shipments to the human female. Finally, when one of these multi-box shipments of four different sizes of gloves comes, all the cases need to be held somewhere until they all come in and are checked off. Basically, it takes over a whole room for a couple of weeks.

One particular order for a refill for an antibody demo kit never came in at all. The human female waited….and waited…and waited. Finally, she called the vendor directly. The vendor did the email equivalent of a blank stare. They’d never received the PO at all. Turns out that the purchasing software had “helpfully” directed it to the personal email of a person who is not at the company any more.  The human female fixed that, much to my annoyance. Perfectly good prank, and I only got to use it once.

Preparations for the annual Dead Cat Ballet have already begun. She asked for a quote from the customer rep at the Purveyor of Dead Things and eventually got one. Of course, it didn’t have the plethora of pickled piglets she wanted and they had to do it over, so… Starfish remain totally unavailable, so the human female had to order three-hundred some-odd sea cucumbers. (Is that even an animal? Or are they switching to vegetables for dissection?) In any case, she submitted the order for approval and waited….and waited. No PO. I’ve figured out that if I distract her just as she’s quadruple checking the order one. last. time, she forgets to file the This Order Must Go to the Purveyor of Dead Things/ sole source paperwork, which slows the whole process down to a crawl. The order’s been placed now; we’ll see if it actually shows up as promised….

Earlier, she ordered some sharks for the a different class. The professor very strictly specified 1 female and two males. I helped the PODT pick out three beautiful females.  At my behest, hey also shipped three female stiff kitties and no stiff tomcats on a two male, one female order.

Speaking of Dead Things–remember the room full of skulls? Most of the shipment came in at once but there were a few things backordered (cats, deer, and the ever-elusive platypus). They came in a few here and a few there. Then the human female received another shipping notice and another invoice for two deer and one platypus, with a different order number from the big main one. Cue panic. Turns out that fake invoices are the Purveyor of Dead Heads’ way of putting shipped backorders through their system.  The human female submitted it for payment, but she’s discovered it didn’t get paid because a few days ago, the Purveyor of Dead Heads sent it to her again.

Oh, and remember the papers the human female has to sign every year for the Vendor Whose Responsible, saying that she promises not to use any of her chemicals to set up a meth lab in the basement?

VWR-Intended Use 2019

She filled them out this year and sent them in. Then they sent another request. “I already did this!” she whined. “How about you have your supervisor sign where it says, ‘supervisor’?” they replied. So she had him sign them and sent them back. They sent a third request. “I SAID I already did this!” she type-screamed at them. “But it’s a different account!”the VWR shot back. And setting her up with two account numbers wasn’t the best part of the joke. After all the wrangling–it turns out that the new lab exercises don’t even USE the chemical that triggered all the DEA paperwork in the first place!

That wasn’t the only fun the VWR and I had with the human female!  Oh, no!  Not by a long shot!  The new 111 labs use an astonomical number of test tubes–and now that the Powers That Be have decreed that they should be single-use (or at least tossed in the glass waste at the end of the week), the program is going through mounds and acres and tons of the things.  The human female ordered FIFTY THOUSAND of them.  She waited.  And waited.  Finally, there was a shipping notice!  She tracked it very faithfully on the Unrepentant Package Smasher’s website.  It got as far as Waco (which is, as they say in this part of Midgard, “up the road a piece”) and that’s when I stepped in.  You see, fifty thousand test tubes–fifty cases of 1,000) comes on a pallet.  When UPS has a pallet to deliver to the Department’s stockroom, if the driver doesn’t feel like working his large vehicle down the alley, he doesn’t.  He may take it to Central Receiving or just dump it somewhere else.  Which is what I suggested to him this time.  He dumped it down at the UPS hub facility back in Waco.

testtubes-vs-ups

The tracking said, “Will attempt delivery the next day,” but they didn’t.  And they didn’t call.  When the human female called them, asking if they could pretty please route the package to Central Receiving so that she could get it from them, they said, “NO,” and insinuated that she was somewhat lower than pond scum.  They made her get an Authorization For Reroute from the VWR, e-mailed to UPS and not sullied by her hands or her mail program.  She managed to do this, resigning herself to the $110.00 change of address fee she incurred in the process.  While she was waiting for the authorization to go through, the UPS tracking said, “Out for Delivery”–which induced a panic, because it wasn’t supposed to go anywhere until the paperwork cleared.  Frantic, she called the UPS depot in Waco who looked and said, “Nope, sitting right here.” It took a day or two after that to have the package show up at Central Receiving, and finally all the test tubes came to their “forever home.”  She should thank me!  She knows now to split the big test tube order into parts or to specify that it not be on a pallet.

Sometimes, when I finish with the human female for the day, I have a little mischief left over. Then I start looking for other mortals to tamper with. One of the human female’s techs, for example, played a big part in the acetone scare of a few months back. Funny, was it, coworker?  How “funny” did you think it was when I had HR lose your paycheck?

For the 111 labs, this summer was the second go around with the new labs. The professor wanted to try something different with the Forensics lab, the one that uses invisible bits of DNA and gooey/gelly agarose and lethal amounts of electricity. The first time, the results were deemed “okay,” but apparently they could have been better. So the human female ordered a different set of DNA primers. (Whatever those are…) The test gel–ehehehe! The test gel was completely blank except for the ladder of reference DNA fragments! Now, it’s a multi-step process from sample to gel, so they had to re-run it with various combinations of old and new primers and old and new regents. (I don’t need to know what “taq polymerase” is to mischief it up a bit!) Nada. Zip. Zero. They never did figure it out and ran out of time and had to do the lab the “old way.” I think the human female needs to read fewer articles on gel electrophoresis and more on chaos theory.

She won’t have too much time to read for a while. She’s been sad in recent years to do less with botany than in days of yore. I’ve been whispering in her ear that she’s a washed-up has-been and that she will die in ignominy, and I’ve been looking for opportunities to torture her further.  And now I have my chance! Years ago, she worked with a team of other plant nerds to write The Big Book of East Texas Planty Things That Only Other Plant Nerds Will Care About.  Recently, she’s agreed to collaborate as editor on Volume Two Much (which is FINALLLY in production), meaning she’s going to need to lay in a stock of red pens and patience with other people’s prose. About 157 pages of daisy-related gibberish is going to land in her mailbox any day now. I’m especially tickled because she’s going to have to shell out over $100 dollars to increase the size of her Dropbox space to handle this project. Time-consuming, unpaid, tedious, AND expensive. I’m enjoying this and she hasn’t even started yet.

I suppose it’s not true that she hasn’t been doing any botany this summer. She hasn’t been in the field because a) hot, b) foot in a boot, and c) did I mention hot? She has been working on the Herbarium’s database, fixing errors, checking label information, and other very boring jobs. Recently, she found that I told the student workers they could make changes to the database, an apostasy that was supposed to be Forbidden At All Costs. They’d been editing their version and she’d been editing her version, with the result that she had to re-enter a couple of work sessions worth of data. Now she has to work, not on her saved version of the file, but on the main version that I have urged the Herbarium to host on its server. She has to do all sorts of computery gymnastics just to log on and reach it, and there’s always the chance that the file she needs will be locked for use by someone else.  (Like when I had someone leave for the weekend still logged in with the file open!) And I’ve peeked–the student workers, busy little bees, are always adding new records, all of which will have to be vetted, so the proofing is very much a moving target.  She’ll never be done!

You know…sometimes, all it takes to put the finishing touches on the human female’s day is something very simple. The other day I saw to it that her ugly silver car had a nasty-gram on it when she went to get it from the church parking lot, where she had left it for a few days. During the week, the church makes a little income from charging students to park there while they’re at the university. “Your license plate has been recorded,” the note said, “and the next time we find you here without paying, you will be towed at your own expense.” This note was left under her windshield wiper, right next to her properly displayed parking permit, whose number– along with her license plate number–is duly recorded in the parish office.  You should have seen her eye twitch!

The human female was making (delusional)  gardening noises and plans for a while there. “I’m going to plant this,” and, “I’m going to plant that,” and “Oh, this would look good out front.” She was starting to be really annoying. Then the heat hit, and now she’s just hoping nothing expires from pure despair.  She tried to plant a shrublet the other day and couldn’t manage to chip a hole in the hard-as-iron dry clay.  She had to let the soaker hose run for an hour before she could scrape out a spot for it.  I did nudge a little rain her way to help. But is is *my* fault the accompanying wind broke off 1/4 of her beloved Vitex bush? Or that the five lush, now-house-high elm trees that planted themselves neatly along the property line are, she’s beginning to suspect, not native winged elms but invasive Chinese lacebark elms? Yes. Yes, it is.

In the backyard, the big dead oak is still looming over the house, making the human female fret every time the wind blows.  The tree service folks she’s called either want an amount with a lot of zeros, or they quote a price so low that it’s pretty certain that their “company” is just Joe Bob With a Chainsaw.  The one reputable outfit that comes highly recommended has a voice mailbox that’s full and doesn’t answer email.  (They wouldn’t come take the tree down anyway.  I’ve warned them what a loOnY the human female is, and they have a file on her that says, “do not respond.”)

Inside the home, I’ve been egging the Terror Twins on.  They stage wind sprints and wrestling matches every night about 11:00.  If you’re a betting person, bet on Flannel.  She outweighs Taffy by a fair amount and knows a little judo (I think she’s been taking lessons from Muffy.)  Recently, she gave Taffy a scratch on the chin that made a big scab.  The humans had to take off work, come home, crate up Boo Boo Kitty,  and haul her–screaming all the way–to the vet.  The vet cleaned it up and administered an antibiotic shot, to the tune of over-a-weekly-grocery-bill or half-a-nice-fountain-pen.  It took four adults to hold Miss Wriggle on the table for the shot, and by the time the fur-slinky was back in the crate, the entire exam room, all its occupants, and all its contents were covered in drifts and fluffs of cat hair.  They’ll remember Taffy for a long time.

So, you see, I have had my fingers in all her pies, as the mortal say.  Work, church, home –you name it, I’ve done it.  “But, Loki!” you cry.  “Can you keep this up?  Aren’t you running out of ideas?”

Not even close…

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Mischief Update: Turning It Up to Eleven, Part II

The chronicle of Mischief continue!

Computing on campus continues to be fun. Anyone logging in to do anything with HR, Workdon’t, purchasing, the library, etc., etc., is now required to have dual-factor authentication.  (Must make sure the peons are who they say they are.) I arranged the tutorial website to not match the actual Duo interface, which was good for more than a few giggles.  The human female had to buy a little dongle-thingy to generate a Duo passcode, since her phone is a bit of a dinosaur.  The various websites are supposed to remember the code for sixty days, but for some reason, it never does. I wonder why?

I had a little fun at the human male’s expense as well.  Two computers kept throwing error messages saying that they couldn’t connect due to “trust issues.” After a not insignificant amount of sleuthing, he determined that two computers had the same “name” as far as the network was concerned.  That took a while to clear up.

Right after Spring Break, one of the human female’s Tech Is quit with no notice.  She got to experience all the fun of hiring someone through Workdon’t, including processing applications from someone who no doubt is a very nice individual but whose Psychology degree and many years of employment in the lawn care industry didn’t precisely fit him for the job.  Another applicant had one name at the top of her letter of intent and a different one at the bottom. One gave no address on the resume.  The top candidate took another job before she could be brought in for an interview, and two others declined to come for interviews, but the human female finally was able to hire someone who promises to be an asset to the team. The girl studies maggots on corpses, which makes me think she and I might have some shared interests…

Prep Staff found a wrapped string-cheese stick in a bag of stick-on electrodes. It expired last May.  Don’t look at me.  Well, okay, do look at me.  I put a student up to it last spring, but I certainly don’t eat those things myself.

The Teaching Assistants were my able helpers this semester too.  One of them gave out half the answers for the large Animal Diversity assignment to her students, and the only way to make things even for everyone in the other 83 sections was to give all of them the info too. Of course, part of the original info dump consisted of erroneous info, so that was a nice contribution to the muddle.

April ushered in the dreaded Annual Employee Evaluation period. This is announced a million times and is supposed to last until the end of May, although everyone got the email that This Extremely Important Thing is Due–and the due date is given as two days from then. Then everyone spends the whole two months with the fool thing Overdue! People shouldn’t complain, though, because Workdon’t helpfully guides supervisors through the process.  Each successive evaluation category won’t load, though, without hitting the next button, which loads then next page, and then hitting the “back” button to get back to the previous item.  It won’t let the human female see her supervisees’ self-evaluations, though, which leads to some flying blind.  I’ve told the human female to just flunk all her employees and let the higher-ups sort it out.

HR is just always fun.  The human female missed a call from them one day when she was home sick. When she returned the call the next day, the person who’d called was quite unable to remember what she’d called about.  The new employee?  Nope.  Information about increasing contributions to the humans’ retirement accounts?  Nope, not that either.  No one has called back, so I suppose it wasn’t important—or WAS it??

Someone wrenched the doorknob off the door between room 305 and room 309.

Speaking of good old room 305…  Earlier this year, the human female and her staff had to move out of there because Anatomy and Physiology had to move in because the second floor (where A&P was) was going to be renovated.  Well, what with one thing and another (read: Loki), this did not happen, but A&P had the third-floor room all semester anyway.  Now they have to move out again, because no one let the registrar know about the shell game and the room’s been assigned to Biology again for the fall.  Renovations will *finally* start in January, so they’ll be back upstairs again. Quit whining, humans!  Moving microscopes and models and skeletons and dead cats and spectrophotometers gives you muscles.  I just saved all of you a fortune in gym memberships.

Someone stole the human male’s credit card number and started buying things in a different state.  He got it cleared up quickly, but it raises an important question:  Who would want to be him???

Someone called the human female, a botanist, and asked her how to get rid of toads in his pond, since they were keeping him up all night and he needed his sleep after having surgery and… The human female always wonders how these random callers manage to find her.  Duh!

Health-wise, the humans are plodding along. The human female has been trying for months to get the second half of her shingles vaccine.  I’ve been hindering the production of same, so that humans everywhere are wait-listed.  I’m also working on developing my own vaccine, and when it’s ready, I’m going to make millions.  Anyway, she called the clinic ahead of time to see if they had any and was told they had six doses and if she came first thing on Shot Giving Day, she’d get one. On the day, I delayed her and delayed her with Workdon’t shenanigans so that she missed the morning hours (only realizing she’d done so when she was already in the car.) She tried again in the afternoon, only to be told there was no dose available.  The kind lady at the check-in went to look and managed to find one dose. When the human female got back to the exam room, she was told they were all out.  Then that person went to double, triple check and managed to find a single vial.  The human female took it gladly–and then spent the next 48 hours feeling as if she had been beaten half to death.  Can’t have her feeling lucky or smug, now can I?

And then there’s the weather.  My idiot brother Thor may be the god of thunder, but I do have the ability to nudge storms about, with an eye to inconveniencing the human female, with an ever-increasing degree of precision.  I allowed only five sunny days in February, and since then, there have been severe weather outbreaks on a fairly regular basis.  I managed to steer a tornado within just a mile or so of the campus, and all the humans got to hunker in various windowless classrooms and hallways.  On another occasion, the human female was out at the herbarium all by herself when the tornado warning was issued.  The herbarium is in a big metal building, the sort tornadoes like to demolish most, so she climbed inside an empty, unplugged chest freezer and hunkered there for a while.  As Odin is my witness, I wish I had a photo of that!  It was never my intention to harm the human female or the house, just interrupt her day and make the phones go off with weather alerts every ten minutes for days at a time.

It has rained so much and so often that the human female was unable to mow what passes for a lawn for over a month.  By the time I finally let her, it was long enough to want a scythe and not a mower.  Results=not winning any awards. Especially since she has been slaloming around 1) little oak seedlings she wants to save, and b) presents left by the next-door neighbor’s dog. Truly, the lawn looks like it has mange.

She’s especially nervous in bad weather now, because one of the big oaks in the back yard failed to leaf out this year. It’s reeeeally close to the house, so it needs to come down in a controlled manner before a storm brings it crashing down on the roof.  She’s been calling around, trying to find someone to do the job.  The outfit that did such a good job with the last big tree removal project seems to have gone out of business. We’ll see if she can find anyone to do the job without charging an arm and a leg.

She doesn’t have an arm or a leg to spare, but she might be willing to give up a foot.  I’ve been treading on her toes again, and her trotters are giving her misery again.  Unless she comes up with a miracle in the next week or so, I’ll have successfully derailed vacation plans for the year.  Shut up your whining, you/1  I’m saving you money and keeping you from a) eating a lot of fattening foreign food, b) contributing to global warming with airplane exhaust, and c) boring all of your friends and acquaintances to death with innumerable photos and poorly-written travelogues.  “But!” I hear you say, “Don’t you and Sigyn enjoy going on vacation with the humans?”  On vacation, yes.  With the humans? Not so much. And remember: Magic-user here. Sigyn and I can go wherever we want, whenever it’s convenient. And since temperatures are flirting with 90° F, that may be sooner rather than later. I think I hear the icy fjords calling.

Well, there you have it.  Several weeks’ worth of finely-crafted mischief. I really do think this merits an 11!

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Mischief Update: Turning It Up to Eleven

Looking back over recent entries on this blog, I realize that it’s all been rather touchy-feely around here.  Family visits, art museums, wildflowers, and all manner of fluff. Don’t for a moment think, however, that I’ve turned over a new leaf or gone soft or wavered at all in my determination to make the human female’s life a maelstrom of chaos and despair.  Far from it!  I’ve just been too busy to jot all the mischief down.  Allow me to rectify the situation.

I’m still thwarting most of the human female’s attempts to do her job in an expeditious manner. She had to order some rubber stoppers for some large vessels.  Now, the stupid things come in various sizes and with and without holes.  Did she need something normal like a one-holed size eight? She did not! She needed size 13.5. Not 13, not 14. 13.5. With two holes. She couldn’t find them *anywhere.*  No one had them in stock. I finally let her locate some online from Rubber Stoppers ‘R’ Us or some such and she was pleased to put in an order–with postage totaling more than the price of the goods.  And mmmm. That all-pervasive aroma of rubber goods never fails to cling to hands and storage.

There are just so *many* ways that purchasing can go wrong.  A quick trip to the pet store to buy crickets for the tarantulas to eat can turn into a second trip to have a cashier refund and re-ring the transaction to remove the sales tax, which the original cashier had been instructed to delete, and for which the human female presented the appropriate documentation. (I convinced the poor lad that he should jam the long Tax Exempt number into the customer phone number field on his little computer). And yes, the University will quibble over 8.25% of $2.40.

Toluidine blue.Toluidine blue.” Mellifluous words that roll on the tongue like a fine wine.  The human female ordered some last fall as part of the elephantine order.  And it didn’t come.  And it didn’t come.  And it didn’t come.  The human female called the Vendor Who’s Responsible to enquire as to its whereabouts and was informed that it was Still Going to be a While.  It was that same old story–the warehouse to which the order was directed was out, and there was no ability within the system to transfer the order to a different fulfillment center.  So, after some snarling and growling, the human female ordered some from a different vendor.  So naturally, the original order showed up two days later.

I’ve got proof–the Vendor Who’s Responsible thinks of the human female as an inanimate object:customer is an it

A large part of what the human female does involves safety. She very carefully transcribed and collated a bunch of student Lab Safety Agreements (that paper they all sign saying they won’t do anything stupid in lab, a document that effectively cuts the SAR (Stupid Accident Rate) by a solid 3%) and, under my direction, even more carefully locked the filing cabinet.  That Prep Staff did not have a key for.  I suggested dynamite, which would have been Eventful and Exciting, if a little iffy for the continued legibility of said LSAs, but someone eventually found a key, drat it. Oh, well, there was a nice half hour of tizzy, so I’m counting it as a win.

I do love the unicellular members of the Archaeplastida. The human female and her staff had to grow up several liters of Chlamydomonas, a little, single-celled green alga for one of the labs this semester.  People call me high-maintenance, but Great Frigga’s Corset, those little goobers are finicky! They need just so much light, but not too much. Perfect media to grow in, with just the right amounts of certain solutes.  *This* much agitation while in the growth chamber, but no more.  Apparently that last is particularly important. The students got to find out the hard way that if you jostle the carboy full of goobers just a smidge too much, they shed all their flagella and sulk in the bottom of the container. And then when they’re put into the let’s-see-how-well-they-swim-without-the-ability-to-photosynthesize-or-respire exercise, the students get to take data on a whole bunch of nothing much happening.  Meanwhile, another goober, Scenedsmus (one I am quite fond of, since it has horns at either end of the colony and is inclined to contrariness), steadfastly refused to interact with the gel-making chemicals in order to form perfect little algae pearls for the other part of the photosynthesis lab. The supposed-to-be-cutting-edge curriculum had to resort to the old-fashioned protocol, which involves punching little circles out of spinach leaves.  I like to keep the humans  humble.

I really can’t help myself–- meddling with experiments is just so much fun! Another of the students’ labs involved running gel electrophoresis, a process which is just loaded with variables that an enterprising man such as myself can meddle with.  Prep Staff’s test gels just wouldn’t run.  Or rather, they would, but the results looked like a toddler’s first attempts at finger painting and not like a neat set of crisp, glowy bands.  I actually lost track of how many times they had to re-run it.  More agarose in the gel.  Less agarose in the gel.  More DNA in each lane. Less DNA in each lane.  More DNA stain. Less DNA stain.  Placement of the stain in the gel instead of the sample (this actually works better.) Different reference ladder. Cue multiple very expen$I’ve orders to Let Our Nuclear Zaniness Abound (AKA, the Purveyor of gel reagents, AKA the company that keeps sending other people’s invoices to the human female).

Then there’s maintenance, which is a very fertile garden in which to sow seeds of mischief and nurture them to weedy fruition.  Take the countertops and backsplash in room 306, for example.  They were made out of an inferior particle board covered with laminate, and years of moisture from the sink and the steam from the autoclave had fashioned them into a warped, bulgy, separating, landscape reminiscent of the rolling hills of someplace noted for its hills.  The human female and all concerned parties started trying to schedule replacement sometime last fall.  I delayed the project multiple times with the room being needed for actual work, with shortages of the epoxy replacement countertop materials, and with the ever-present question of available funding.  Prep Staff emptied the drawers and cabinets for what turned out be a false alarm and had to put everything back.  There was a planning meeting about the whole thing that no one saw fit to tell the human female about, and the person at Slow, Silent, and Costly who was in charge of the project quit and didn’t tell anyone, so various balls were dropped there as well.  Good times!  When the work was FINALLY done I decided to have a little more fun.  The next day, everyone on the floor started asking that dangerous question: “Do you smell gas?” A lot of sniffing about ensued, and the general consensus was yes, everyone smelled gas.  In room 306.  SSC was called again and two fellows came out –but only because they had left some tools behind on the previous day.  Those two were summarily pounced upon and made to do the sniff test.  After much nosing about, they were able to figure out that during the counter installation, someone had bumped one of the riser pipes that feed the wall-mounted gas nozzles.  Behold– leaking gas! But no one could find the actual leak.   More sniffing.  Soapy water was brought and squirted about, and leaks were found in a couple of places. A drill had to be fetched.  At one point, there were THREE workmen, the human female, the Bio Department’s building proctor, the Assistant Department Head, and some of prep staff all in the little room.  Attendant thereunto was the annual discussion about whether or not a new autoclave is in the offing.  It was the same old story.  If someone else gets a new one, the human female can have a secondhand one from that someone else.  Maybe.  In theory.  Eventually, the circus packed up its monkeys and the taint of mercaptan was dispelled.  The human female deeply regrets that she was not the one who got to fill out the cheery How Did We Do? satisfaction survey for that one.  Six months or so from work request to putting the last bits of stuff back in the drawers.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.

More recently, I did some mischief that didn’t discommode the humans, though it caused some departmental consternation.  It was discovered that there was a sizable pool of water under one of the buildings, mostly from rain.  Now, there are two pumps down there to keep the basements from flooding, which is a good thing–-as long as they’re operational.  One pump was broken and the backup was out of commission as well, along with the alarm system that’s supposed to tattle when a swimming pool develops. While workmen were sloshing about trying to fix things, they discovered that there was a leak or two or three coming down from floors above (Reverse Osmosis water, sprinkler system, etc.)  It took a week and change to drain the swamp, during which time the cats that like to hang out under the building had to find drier accommodations elsewhere.

Several of the rooms in the human female’s tiny domain must remain within a fairly narrow temperature range, for the comfort of various finned or chitinous residents.  Over Spring Break, when the human female was trying to enjoy the fleeting visit with her mother and sister, I suggested to Slow, Silent, and Costly that it would be a good time to do some maintenance on the air handling system.  With the A/C out, the temperature in those special rooms quickly rose, and the human female got to deal with her phone going off with a TEMPERATURE ALERT! every ten minutes for the better part of the day.  Of course, no one was advised of the impending work beforehand. That would be cheating.

Throwing rooms off temp is such fun that I did it some more.  I had one of the walk-in coolers running nice and hot.  I do this on a semi-annual basis. It’s one of my favorite tricks, because if it looks as if it’s going to be hot for a while, all the contents have to be shifted to the other cold room. The human female and her cohorts do spend a lot of time shuffling materials from one place to another. Exercise!  It didn’t get fixed and it didn’t get fixed and it didn’t get fixed.  When the human female called Slow, Silent, and Costly to ask sweetly what the Hel was going on, she was told to call the head HVAC fellow, who was completely surprised to find out that there was any problem at all on the floor. I do my best work as a silver-tongued intriguer, but my obfuscation skills are every bit as good.

But in mid-March the human female was informed that the heating issue in room 322 from last November was fixed–and would she like to take a satisfaction survey?  Nothing like timely feedback, eh?  How about this?

SSC-survey from last year

Many points awarded for having fixed the problem soon after it was reported; minus several thousand points for communication.

And then— No, you know what?  My hand is cramping from writing all of this down!  I’ve been so bad this spring that I shall do myself an injury trying to chronicle it all at once.  More mischief update anon–I need to go find an ice pack.

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