mischief update

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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Mischief Update: I Had Help

Lest my loyal readers think I’ve been doing nothing but swanning about gaming conventions and rescuing Sigyn from the odd bit of macabre glassware, I present for your delight a compendium of my latest exploits.

While the human male and I were up at the gaming con, the human female was on her own.  I made sure that every morning she was driving in to campus, there was a wreck on the way, slowing her down and making her late.  One day I actually blocked the entrance to campus!  I do some of my best work with traffic cones and vehicles with blinky lights.  A couple of days, I parked a big pickup in the lane she needed to be in to reach her parking spot.  Love pickups.

To make the human female’s work life a little more surreal and the job of her Prep Staff more difficult, suborned one of the undergraduates.  Together, he and I dismantled the human torso model in one of the lab rooms and hid the various body parts all around the lab room.  It made for a very visceral treasure hunt!

Then there was the week the students were playing with working with DNA.  Prep staff always has the very expensive reagents measured down to the microliter.  Someone spilled a whole tube of DNA ladder (a mix of DNA bits of known sizes), and two groups added ladder to every single sample, instead of just loading one lane of it in the electrophoresis gel they were running.   Cue the human female doing a mad scramble to order more over the phone with a credit card.

It’s not just the undergrads I’ve warped to my service.  I nudged one of the Lab Instructors, and she accidentally sent a copy of the lab final to every student in one of her sections.  Since what she sent was the base exam for a whole group of TAs, all those TAs had to write completely different exams.  This same LI also (thanks to my meddling) left her thumb drive in the computing lab.

Another TA decided to change the due date on a homework assignment.  This is strictly forbidden, as there’s a master calendar.

Another decided to ignore the rules about food in the lab and  bring cookies for his class.  Admonished, he removed them.  And put them back later.  Honestly!  Grad students are so suggestible!

And yet another decided to let the students into the lab final one at a time.  It took him about forty minutes to get them all started on the twenty-five station exam.

And yet another TA lost a whole set of ungraded homework papers and a set of ungraded quizzes.  Cue a big tizzy over what to do.  The human female thought someone on Prep Staff found them, and told everyone the good news. Unfortunately, what was found was four *other* sets of papers this TA had left in the Prep Staff office, so she had to untell everyone the good news.  The human female got chewed out for speaking too soon and muddying the situation.  Isn’t it funny how I can always work it round to her disadvantage, even when it’s not her fault?

Honestly, I’m finding TAs to be some of my best minions!

The human female ordered some pond weed that was urgently needed for a lab.  The Purveyor of Squiggly Things obligingly sent it on a Monday for arrival on Tuesday.  Then Fed-up and Exhausted, for reasons that were never explained, held onto the package in Memphis, Tennessee for twenty-four hours, so that it arrived on Wednesday, cold-damaged and kind of sad looking.  Salvageable, but too late to be useful for the lab.

Of course, I can’t leave the other vendors out of the mix.  I don’t always have time to think up new tricks, but the old ones are still good.  I sent the invoice for the human female’s latest order from the Vendor Who’s Responsible to Qatar in the Persian Gulf again, and then I  made sure an invoice from another vendor, one that wasn’t hers and didn’t have her name on it showed up in her mailbox with “Please pay this PAST DUE BILL NOW” all over it.  She spends half her time trying to tell vendors where invoices really ought to go.

One of the lab rooms has been too cold–about ten degrees colder than the other labs and the hallway.  *I* think it feels good in there, but humans are wimps, so the human female filed a work order.  Come to find out, some worker from Slow Silent and Costly, on some prior visit, had removed the valve that lets hot water for the climate control system into the room.  Not closed it.  Removed it. Possibly because it was leaking.  No one’s sure.  Now someone else has to come out and put it back.

I took the Biology Image Library down one day, so all of the students trying to study were met with a giant Error 404.  It’s an old program, and the underlying software, I think, is scratched onto rough stones in primitive runes.  The human male will be lucky if he can keep it running.

In the meantime, the University has decreed that all users have to have dual-factor authentication if they are logging in from off-campus.  They keep changing the adoption date, too, moving it up and up.  People are scrambling to get the software on their phones and such.  The human female’s phone wouldn’t take the software (thanks to a little jiggery pokery from Yours Truly), so she had to go over to a hidden room in an unmarked building and purchase a little doodad that generates a  log-in code at the push of a button.  So far, she hasn’t lost it, but it’s only a matter of time…

Computers are such fun to mess with.  I arranged a campus-wide cascade of computing, web, and email outages one day, starting with an equipment failure in the main computing center.  The systems were supposed to be multiply redundant so that if some bit failed, things would still keep going.  If you have all the systems in the same building, though…  Hey–they should thank me!  It was a good exercise in disaster recovery.

That caused such merry chaos that I’ve had random email outages and slow downs once a week or so since then, just to keep things interesting.

I’ve kept it rainy.  4.75″ just the other day.  The human female has given up trying to mow.

The human female had to get new glasses, just for a slight prescription change in one eye.  Would they let her get just one new lens?  They would not!  Because of her frames, it was all or nothing.  She wanted to get frames just like the ones she had.  Ehehehe!  Of course they don’t make them anymore!  She had to settle, which is always demoralizing for her and fun for me.

She bought a box of her favorite orange cookies, Mexican polvorones.  When she opened them, she found them smashed to crumbs.  I think she needs to look up the definition of “polvo” and not whine so much.  And that old quip about broken cookies having no calories?  Yeah, not true.  You should see the size of her!

Then there’s all the stress of Yule preparations, but that’s a tale for another time…

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Mischief Update: All In a Day’s Work

So busy!

I woke the human female up early, because both of her Tech II’s were out, which meant she had to do the opening up.

She was really awake once she stepped on all the cat litter the Terror Twins had kicked out of the box.

I started by loosening the cap of the human female’s water bottle in her backpack.  I wanted to make her morning a little more memorable.  With a certainty, she will remember excavating all its contents and spreading them around her office floor with the space heater on low all day.  I don’t know why she’s whining–only one little notebook was ruined.  I mean, it’s not like her phone got wet.  Mostly, because she forgot her phone at home.

She *almost* got all the morning duties done before the first class started.  She was delivering gloves and paper towels at 8:05, but no one threw anything at her.

Her boss was out, so she was holding the fort in the office.

It poured rain a good part of the day–she’s been trying to get out to mow the lawn, because in spots you could hide a jaguar.  I guess ten or twelve inches of rain in a month keeps things a bit on the soggy side.

She was showing the Tech I something in the dishwasher, and she mashed a thumb opening it up.  I don’t know how, but she managed!  She’s a bloody idiot–in all senses of the word!

The Head IT People on campus have decreed that henceforth everyone will have to have something called “dual factor authentication” if they want to use a Virtual Private Network from off campus.  I’ve set things up so the human female can’t set get it working.  The operating system on her phone is too old.  It wouldn’t have done her any good today anyway, as I amused myself by sending every person who tried to connect with dual factor a cute little message saying that A&M was “out of telephony credits.”

And the reverse-osmosis water line in the plant and animal room started disgorging weird white chunks along with the water.

Then there was a professor looking for some graded exams, and the human female couldn’t find them.

Then she broke a fingernail.

And the needlework she ordered in January still hasn’t come.

And that was only Monday…

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Teeny Little Mischief Update

I don’t have time for a full mischief update today, but I can tell you how the broken refrigerator drawer turned out.

The human female found the superglue.

superglue2

Pardon me, “Krazy glue ®.”    Must be specific.  (Mortals set great store by brand names.)

Then she had a good hunt ’round for the plastic bit that had broken off.  Hadn’t she put it in a safe place?  Why yes, she had!

I’d moved it, of course.

It was then time to reunite drawer and plastic bit.

superglue1

That is when she noticed that the corresponding bit on the other side of the drawer was also gone.  Thanks to my mischiefy magic, she was quite unable to figure out where exactly the bit she had went, or how to attach it.

Thus, the drawer remains unfixed, and there is a little, anonymous bit of plastic awaiting the aid of someone more clever than she.

All hail the status quo.

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Mischief Update–Improvement in My Cash Flow

A busy Loki is a happy Loki, and boy, am I happy! I’ve also found some clever ways to bring in a little extra income, as you shall see.

Mostly, I continue to make the humans’ work environment and strange and surreal place.

First off: Slow, Silent and Costly continues to play dice with utilities and maintenance. Faucets drip or stop dripping at random intervals. Chilled water lines drip spots into ceiling tiles. One section of campus had both a chilled and a heated water outage–at the same time. Another week, most of west campus lost landline telephone service. And recently it came to light that the sewage from a large dorm complex had been tied into the storm drainage system and was routinely discharging gallons and gallons of wastewater into a local stream. (That wasn’t my idea, but I have been amused by the outcry and all of the digging up that fixing things has necessitated.)
Closer to home, two men showed up and installed a new break-room faucet in the human female’s area, unasked for and without warning. The work order for the new countertop in one of the main Intro Bio prep rooms involved multiple entities, none of whom, apparently, was talking to the others. All of the work (remove sink, replace counter, replace sink) had been written up and approved–and was in fact due to begin. Then two plumbers showed up, saying they’d been sent to look at a “leaking faucet.” No, the human female explained, the problem wasn’t a leak, it was that splashed water had, over time, warped the particle board counter and laminate covering. The two men hemmed and hawed, looked at the sink in the counter and its attendant plumbing, said, “Yep, this is a job for a plumber,” and left. Bill a visit from two techs.
The doorlock people finally finished their work, but it did take a while. One day they were delayed because someone who was supposed to show up and do part of a job, simply didn’t.  And once the locks were installed and hooked up, it took several further days before they were activated.  One professor still can’t get into his office.  And another two days for the old locks to be removed. I made sure to adjust the cordless power tool’s whine to the particular frequency that resonates with the human female’s fillings.
The policies of the University continue, at my direction, to remain mysterious and capricious. On the Third of July (a holiday devoted to the purchasing of watermelon, charcoal, and fireworks), the Powers That Be declared that staff could take early release and get a jumpstart on the festivities. Fifteen minutes later, another announcement came out– “Ooops! Sorry! We forgot summer school’s in session! If you’re involved with the actual teaching of classes, you don’t get to sneak out early. Our bad.”
The University’s first home football game of the season has been scheduled for Thursday, August 30th, to launch the career of our new circus-elephant-monikered coach. Since this is a work day, all of the staff and student parking lots are bound to be full. To better serve game-goers, however, many of the parking lots must be vacated. The Powers That Be have given notice that staff in these lots should make alternate arrangements on that day or vacate by a certain p.m.  It was even said that they could get a $10 credit for an Uber ride to work that day.  Most recently, “non-essential” staff have been told they can leave early, so that Moneyed Alums can have free run of the campus. Rest assured, I’m getting my cut.

Oh, the fine folks at Transportation Services are some of my favorite minions. Recently, they “discovered” some arcane tax law that says that the University’s faculty, staff, and students can no longer pay for their parking permits pre-tax. So essentially, parking is going up. More pennies in my pocket.
The University sends out various congratulatory newsletters every week. Here’s a screen shot of one of the most recent:

science

There is nothing like good, clean contrast in web design, and that is NOTHING like good, clean contrast.  When the human female asked the web folks about it, they assured her that the page was coded for maroon and white.  It’s just that the campus’ Exchange email program doesn’t seem to want to talk with the design software.  But they’re Looking Into It.

The University generates a lot of waste. I mean, a LOT, a lot. The hazardous waste, such as is generated by the human female’s program, is all tagged and contained and sent for proper disposal. Recently, the protocol for so doing has changed. Unfortunately for most users, I tickled the license for the software that lets folks fill out the disposal tags and requests online, such that only one user on the entire campus could log in and do it at any given time. Remember, folks, to beat the crowd: before 8:00 and after 5:00 are Hazardous-Waste-o’Clock!

The human female actually is all about the safety. And compliance. She harps on it all the time. Blah, blah, blah, “Use a hemostat to change that scalpel blade.” Nag, nag, nag. “Tie your hair back before you light that bunsen burner.” “Don’t lick that petri dish.” Whatever. Apparently the Vendor Who’s Responsible, though, has its doubts about her, because it asked her again to sign the “I am not going to use this iodine to make meth” declaration again, for the second time in six months. I keep telling her that if she’d let me set up a little…special lab down in the basement we could fund pretty much anything she wants to do with the Intro Bio program, plus have enough left over to stop looking like she dresses out of the charity box.

I may set up that lab anyway.  The price of horn polish just went up.

Negotiations with various vendors continue to be one of my favorite ways of annoying her. She managed to do an end-run around me recently, though. When she called the Purveyor of Squiggly Things to change the amount of squigglies in an order, she discovered that I’d changed the delivery date from the 6th to the 9th and was able to correct it. Rats! I was looking forward to the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

She also remembered to order the 700-plus pig intestinal roundworms that she’d forgotten to order. She forgot the live Penicillium culture, though and had to order it at the last minute on the credit card, with ru$h air $hipping. Meanwhile, it’s almost time for the annual Dead Cat Ballet involving the Purveyor of Dead Things.  You just know I’m not going to let that go off without a hitch. (I can tell you that I already know that there will not be any actual dead cats. They’re on indefinite back-order.)

And the packing slips for all of these orders! Who knew that little pieces of paper could be such fun? I had the new video camera and tripod show up without a packing slip. The packing slip for a couple of items off the human female’s enormous fall order from the Vendor Who’s Responsible showed ALL the items on the order, so that one had to leaf through the many pages to figure out what was in that particular box. Then the free goods that enormous order garnered were sent with double and triple packing slips so that she had to make sure that there weren’t extra free goods her conscience wouldn’t let her keep.

Sometimes, when I run out of new ideas, I just revisit an old one. Remember the hurricane last September? I fouled up orders and shipping and deliveries for weeks, when Fed-up and Exhausted and Unrepentant Package Squashers couldn’t get any live materials in or out of Houston? The human female put all sorts of notes into the purchasing system, explaining the work-arounds she’d had to do and pointing out which goods weren’t coming. The other day, the Bean Counters, trying, no doubt, to be ahead of things when it came to closing out the fiscal year, dredged the whole mess up again, asking her to do receiving on the things she didn’t get, or to indicate they weren’t coming if that were the case. She pointed them at her months-old comment and let them know that, no, there are no more live termites coming in on that P.O.

I don’t let the male rest on his laurels– or his haunches– either. Some server or other is always going down, one round of soft ware updates breaks something the last one fixed, and the parade of clueless users through his office is never-ending. The other day, one of the machines hooked to the network was causing an error message, so Central Information Services disconnected it. Except they didn’t–they mistakenly shut down the system of one of the Department’s super-users, who was in the middle of a days-long backup of his squillionty terrabytes of data. The resultant shouting wasn’t at the human male, but it was human male-adjacent, which was nearly as draining for him and just as amusing for me.

Traffic around town continues to be a sick, twisted joke. I’ve managed to tap into the traffic-barrel rental business, so I have money coming in there, too. The new Diverging Diamond of Death opened this week. I get the feeling that, after it has been open for a while, the local populace will promise me anything if I just put things back the way they were.

Despite my best efforts at further delay, the long-awaited expansion of the church facilities has commenced. The human female is in mourning, though, because the entire beautiful courtyard has been turned into a construction-staging area, and all the trees have been cut down. That wasn’t my idea. I was hoping they could be saved, because Sigyn liked them. She hasn’t had a glimpse of the denuded courtyard yet. I’m hoping to keep it from her as long as I can.

On the home front, the Terror Twins and I keep things lively. Every night I let in June bugs and click-beetles so the felines can have an arthropod frenzy. The click beetles are their favorites because they make! noise! AND are fun to chase. So far, my record is three in one night. One of these days, the human female’s going to tire of getting up off the sofa, catching the clicky little goobers and chucking them outside and just let the kitties have their fun. When that happens, I’ll make sure Flannel Cat eats one and leaves the bug barf in the main traffic pattern in the house…

I’ve recruited the large appliances to my cause. The dryer still turns itself on at random intervals. The little end-stopper thingy came out of the dishwasher’s left top rack-glide, so now it’s possible to actually remove half the top rack completely. And the refrigerator, from time to time, will piddle a little puddle of very cold water into the middle of the kitchen floor. Always, you understand, when someone can discover this transgression sock-footed.

The local market has stopped carrying the humans’ favorite kind of shredded cheese, while no store the humans can find in four different cities carries the female’s favorite flavor of yogurt. I keep offering them more and more opportunities for spiritually-enriching penance and self-mortification– you’d think they’d be grateful, but no. Hypocrites.

I hid last month’s utility bill, and no one thought to contact the company and volunteer payment, so when this month’s bill showed up, it was for two months of triple-digit-heat-fighting AC and dear-Idunn-please-don’t-let-the-lawn-die watering. That was a real shocker, I can tell you. The human male looked like a gaping codfish there for a minute or three.  I took photos.

So, as you can see, I’ve been up to some first-rate mischief, and even managed to monetize it a bit. Life (for me) is good!  I give this update a 9.75.

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