mischief update

Mischief Update: A Smattering of Mischief From All Aspects of Life

I feel as if I’ve not been posting often enough lately about making the human female miserable. Too many posts about strange Midgardian shops and food and nature and flowers. (Love you, Sigyn, but face it. Posies are not what I’m here for.)

But I have been far from idle. Let me fill you in about all my various naughtinesses.

The house: Repairs from last year’s hailstorm damage are at last complete with the installation of a new skylight. However, the final chapter of the long saga of condestruction has yet to be written, because Roofer Number 5 has yet to a) ask the humans to sign the conditional check that Usually Sounds Amiable, Although… mailed to them and/or b) write a check for the difference between the payout and the actual costs. There’s also the fact that the human female hasn’t yet found all of the little goodies from the installation of roof and gutters. Why, just last Saturday, when she was weeding around the house, she came up with these.

There are plenty more for her to find when she mows for the first time. Can you say, “Whannnnnnnggg!!!”? The lawn mower is going to!

Oh, and speaking of weeding, I’ve set up a battle for the ages in the side yard. It’s Mint vs. Bermudagrass vs. the human female and her St. Augustine grass army. Right now it’s each faction for itself, but I predict the Bermudagrass and the Mint are going to make common cause and form a botanical Axis of Evil which will be all but invincible.

So, yes, the house repairs are essentially done. It has all left the human female twitchy quite leery of bad weather. Which means that I’ve arranged for a line or two of really nasty weather to go over the house each week. Don’t worry about me, though. I can teleport myself and Sigyn to someplace safe every time the radar looks like this:

So many tornado watch boxes!

and I refuse to join in the exciting-but-not-at-all-fun activity of sitting in the closet with the cats and everything precious when there’s an honest-to-Thor tornado in the vicinity. Actually getting the cats in there is a three person job and there are only two humans. It’s like an insane hybrid between Twister (ha!) and Sardines. Yeah, no thanks. The mortals can cower amidst the hangers and mismatched shoes. I’ll go relax on a beach somewhere.

It is definitely Spring, and that means not just scary storms–it also means pollen. Every day, the human female’s car gets yellower and yellower. I wish she’d park it in the garage and put the male’s car in the driveway, because it is blue. Blue and yellow make green, which I’m sure would be particularly aesthetically pleasing.

Ah. The human female’s car. I get so much mileage (snort!) out of it. She got the flat tire fixed, but yesterday the Tire Pressure Monitoring System light came on. She thought that meant she had another leak, but she eventually smarted up and consulted the owner’s manual. It’s wor$e than an impending flat, because if it’s just the TPMS light without the little flat-tire-and-! icon, it means the TMPS system itself is malfunctioning and will not warn her of any problems with the tires. Fixing it is sure to involve computer chip$ and diagno$tic te$t$. Meanwhile, the passenger side rear door lock is still non-operational. The handle is wedged in the lock position with a big wad of paper. There is a huge bag of plastic wrap from the Food Bank in the cargo area–plus some in the front seat—that all needs to go to the recycling center. I tell you, the vehicle is super-classy from bumper to yellow bumper.

I have been finding the Food Bank to be a very fertile ground for mischief. I’m not allowed to take photos in there, but let me tell you, it’s a big metal building full of fun. The human female comes home each week filthy, sweaty, tired, and reeking of various effluvia. If there’s something that stains, you can be assured that I’m shoving it in her path. One week it was slimy cucumbers and furry peppers that needed to be culled from among good produce. Another week, it was a can of Alfredo sauce that had somehow been breached. The contents were unbelievably stenchsome and gray and crawling with…things. This past week, it was leaky bags of flour and sugar, sticky containers of applesauce, and some broken glass that led to a bandage and some bloodshed. And yes, I was responsible for the fact that, during the sorting of donations, there was nearly a whole pallet full of canned corn and almost nothing to vary it up with. Scale that wasn’t weighing properly? Also me. Ripped bag of jelly beans turning the floor into a rainbow colored minefield? Me again! It’s a rare week she doesn’t break a nail or three or throw her back out, but she keeps doing it. So far, she’s not signed up for any warehouse shifts, and I really, really want her to, because if watching her try to steer a pallet jack is funny, just think of what I could do if they let her drive a forklift…

I continue to wreak havoc with the mail. Last week, not one, not two, but THREE packages that were logged as “delivered”, weren’t. The human male had to go down to the post office twice, chasing after them with the postmaster herself. They had been delivered, all right, to a differently-numbered box in a different multi-box unit, on a different street entirely. But I’m not completely heartless. some of the mail is getting through!

She probably doesn’t have to worry about getting selected to sit on a jury, though. This part of Midgard has trial-by-a-jury of one’s peers. The chances that the defendant is going to be a lumpy, aging, klutzy plant nerd with the reasoning powers and emotional control of a backward toddler are vanishingly small.

I also made sure she got the invitation to a luncheon honoring a friend of hers for various charitable efforts. Yes indeed, the human female and her $75.00 per plate were specifically requested to attend.

Other tidbits: I have fixed it so that the human female’s mouse won’t work when she works plays on the laptop whilst sitting on the sofa unless she moves it to the opposite side of the laptop, forcing her to mouse with the arm that gets tendinitis if she mouses with it. I have also seen to it that the new operating system on the laptop provides a very, very annoying plonky sound effect whenever she downloads anything. No amount of following directions on how to get it to stop doing that has worked so far. If she figures it out, I’ll just make something else start making noise.

Oh, and then there’s the labels. The human female identified a number of plants for a colleague and typed up the labels for mounting. She used a template she’s used for years, one that perfectly sets the labels up eight to a sheet, complete with Texas county maps where she can color in the county in question. This is what they looked like when I got through with them:

I continue to work with the Terror Twins. The other morning, I had both of them harfing up breakfast at the same time! I had a very kibbly obstacle course there for a while, and it was such fun I think I’ll do it again next week. Flannel Cat, especially, is very prone to submitting her meals for review if she’s kept waiting for them. And I’ve trained her to eat just a little at a time so that her leftovers have to be picked up and rendered inaccessible by Taffy Cat (because Taffy is a Hoover and rivals Volstagg for sheer capacity.) Of course, Flannel will then ask for the rest of her meal later in the day, requiring that the other furry minion be distracted or sequestered behind a locked door so that Flannel can dine in peace. But Flannel finds Distracting Entertainment—such as The String!!distracting and will frequently abandon food dish in favor of pouncing. Given that and the fact that Taffy will start clamoring and climbing on the humans a full two hours ahead of mealtime, the feeding nonsense can occupy a good portion of the day.

I do try to see to it that the humans have to spend a further good portion of the day on the telephone, trying to mitigate one or another of my nefarious schemes. The human male has gone multiple rounds with SuddenDrop, their internet provider recently. The humans, angered by an unannounced 20% rate hike on their bundled cable TV and internet, ditched their cable entirely and promised the company they’d cancel the internet the minute that fiber internet becomes available. The current provider responded by capping their download allowance without telling them. That was right about the time the human female’s computer decided it didn’t want to recognize its charging cable unless the moon was in the right phase and she held her face a certain way. Downloading all the software on the new laptop put them well over the cap on data, and they got billed for all of the extra bytes. All of them. Surprise!

The human female spent a good deal of time on her phone. Something that should have been a one-phone-call finagle—getting a nursery in her mother’s home town to plant a tree in her mother’s yard—turned into a multi-day, multi-call, multi-text operation. Every time she called, she got a different person and had to explain what she wanted all over again, and the person who knew about pricing didn’t have the schedule, while the person who could schedule the job didn’t know if they had the tree she wanted in stock, and the person familiar with the stock is not the one who could handle the billing. Despite asking the nursery to call the mother to arrange a good time for planting the tree, the nursery merely showed up with it, ready to plop it in the ground. It’s in now, and since I actually like the human female’s mother, I’ll probably let it live.

Whew! See what I mean? Busy, busy Loki. That’s all for now. I’ve got to go convince one cat that she’s starving and the other that there is some paper that desperately needs shredding.

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Mischief Update–Bits and Pieces

If this were a meeting run according to Rules of Order rather than a Manifesto of Mischief, we would start with Old Business. Ongoing projects, as it were.

The humans still do not have the new gutters that Roofer Number Five promised. Nor have they received word whether Usually Sounds Amiable, Although… is going to pay for the hail-cracked skylight. You’d think the roofing company would want to finish this job, seeing as how they haven’t been paid yet. I think I can stretch this situation to January if I try, so there’s my first New Year’s Resolution right there.

I may have overdone the mischief with the bedroom ceiling fan and the constantly-breaking chain. It broke one too many times and humans got rid of it, bringing home a nice, more powerful, quieter model with a sturdy chain. Just so you know, Sigyn is wrong–my pout is adorable, thank you.

Over the weekend, I got my hands on the humans’ light-up magnifying glass.

A corroded battery weakened the plastic bit you see in my hand. It won’t hold battery #3 in place anymore. The human female tried superglue, putty, and wedging things with little bits of cut-up rubber band. All failures. I could magic it back together, but that would defeat the whole purpose of breaking it in the first place.

I continue to not go anywhere near housework. The felines, however, have been quite helpful recently. Here they are folding clean laundry.

That’s one load that’s going to get to go for a second ride…

The cats are pleasant enough to look at as they are, but I’ve been experimenting a bit with some shape-shifting spells. What do you think, one head apiece or…

Is the two-headed model better?

They do like to conduct mischief in tandem. Covering laptop bags and backpacks with Specialty Fibers is a favorite activity.

I have been working a bit on the canine front as well. At my behest, the neighbor’s off-leash mutt charged and barked and growled at the human female when she was three feet from her own front door. I’ve also chipped away at a different neighbor’s fence boards so that at any given moment, one or both of their barkers may be running loose in the alley, to the detriment of hygiene and vehicular safety.

Pervasive Number Confusion (AKA PNC), the humans’ new bank, continues to set low expectations and fail to meet them. The other day, the humans received an Important Paper Letter in the mail letting them know that they could choose paperless statements. The humans are already paperless.

Balancing the checkbook is going to be easier this month. There will be fewer deposits to add in, since the humans’ monthly retirement checks from TRS failed to show up in either paper or electronically-deposited form. (You will recall that they were receiving actual checks while waiting for the Direct Deposit paperwork to kick in.) The human female contacted TRS, which lived up to its full name of They’re Really Swamped by sending back an e-mail that said that, due to high query volume, someone would probably be able to get back to them in five business days. Or perhaps it’s PNC’s fault? Or Usually Smashes Parcels Significantly? I might know…but I’m not telling! USPS, meantime, has been cheerfully delivering the humans’ mail to other addresses. It’s such fun when things arrive that are correctly addressed but which have been marked “redeliver” by whomever they ended up with first. Funny how the unwanted catalogs and junk mail seem to find the house on the first go….

Ugh. That’s enough for now. It’s October weather out there, and this poor Frost Giant is going to go sit in the freezer for a while. (So don’t be surprised later if the ice cream’s gone.)

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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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