Purveyor of Dead Things

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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Labels are Very Important

I am continuing my exploration of the Room of Dead Things.  Today I am paying particular attention to the labels on the boxes.

The Purveyor of Dead Things is usually good about putting labels on the outsides of the boxes.  (I say “usually,” because last year, I made sure that twenty boxes of the Dead Cat Ballet came in completely unmarked.  Opening them all to discern the contents was like a Very Gruesome Yule.  I still giggle every time I think about it!)

allgirlsharks1

Those are sharks, but not the sharks the human female is hoping for.  She should have learned by now to live with disappointment.

Some of the boxes bear additional helpful notes from the human female or her staff.

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I know *I* wouldn’t want to use eyeballs that were past their best-by date!

Even preserved goods don’t last forever.  Larger items, especially, can degrade over time.  Indeed, older stock is clearly marked “use first.”

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Hmm. I think I will add a few more helpful label items.  

They say a picture is worth a thousand words:

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It helps that my godlike magic lets me see inside the cartons.  Caution labels are always nice:

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Uh oh!  Better mark this one too, to avoid a catastrophe.

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Ehehehe!  Who am I kidding? That box is heavy enough and wet enough inside that, warning label or no, someone’s going to go home some night redolent of Eau de chat preservé.

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A Visit to the Room of Dead Things

The human female is down in the basement, checking on the stock of sharks and cats while the whole Dead Shark Shuffle is fresh in her tiny mind.  I am always up for a visit to the Room of Dead Things.  Sigyn, not so much.

It really is like an educational mausoleum down here.  Shelves and shelves of bags and boxes of defunct creatures, waiting their turn to suffer at the hands of scalpel-happy undergraduates.

It’s all fairly well-organized, with the various sections clearly marked.

room001-3

Kidneys, kidneys, and more kidneys.  There are also shelves of hearts.  And eyeballs.

And braaaaaaaains.

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Thor’s bitty ball-peen!  Sheep brains are SMALL.  I had no idea.  I suppose it doesn’t require a lot of gray matter to grow wool and fall into ditches.

Oooh!  Snake!  Ah, my lovely, I could wish that you were still alive and slithering sweetly about your business of terrorizing the mice and scaring people.

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Oh, now this is interesting!  This shelf has some spare skeletons!

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Rat on the left and lizard on the right.  Hmm.  I shall have to look into an animation spell or two, because those fellows would be quite effective if they were scuttling about the halls or climbing up on desks to sit by coffee cups and computer mice.

Come to think of it, the preserved animals would be pretty great to have running around as well.  I can see it now—skinned cats, litters of piglets, and the odd pigeon lurching from room to room and spreading the good news about formalin-free processing and colorful latex injections.

My To Do list gets longer every day…

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The Dead Shark Shuffle

The human female just sent off the large order to the Purveyor of Dead things, that almighty conglomeration of pickled fauna which will constitute this year’s Dead Cat Ballet.

Since it can take for. ev. er for the PODT to amass such a mountain of carcasses, especially the cats and sharks, and since the Powers That Be have not finished specifying which particular cadavers they want to include in the new 112 labs, she has put in an order of just cats and sharks and sheep brains, which she knows she needs for the upper level Anatomy lab.  She will make the huge order later, whenever the final cast of Dead Things has been made.

She has not forgotten the “difficulties” the PODT and I have made for her in previous years–how orders have come wrong, incomplete, late, leaky, or not at all, so she took special pains to set constraints on this order.   The professor teaching the class was quite specific. One triple-injected pregnant cat; two double-injected cats, two male and three female; ten sheep brains; one triple-injected pregnant shark; and three double-injected sharks, two female and one male.  She wrote,”NO SUBSTITUTIONS ON SEX” in the description of the cat and shark line items.  She included “PLEASE DO NOT SUBSTITUTE SEXES ON CATS AND SHARKS” in the area of the P.O. that’s for notes to the vendor.  When the Helpful Representative from the PODT called and said, “We’re short of male sharks, is it all right to go ahead and send three females now?” she replied, “Augh!  Please do not!  We can wait until August to get what we asked for.”

The sheep brains arrived.  The pregnant kitty arrived.  A double-injected female shark arrived.  And then…

Oh, dear.  Would you look at that.

allgirlsharks3

Two more lady sharks, with nary a gent among them.

She called the PODT and tried to point out the error of their ways.  The Helpful Representative on the receiving end of her exasperated expostulation seemed very surprised that the human female was not 100% satisfied with the three sharks she had received.  Higher math appeared to be beyond the grasp of the Helpful Representative, who could not quite be brought to understand that 1 + 2 does indeed = 3, but 1 apple plus 2 apples does not equal one apple plus two oranges, and that for the purposes of the fruit salad in question, any apple beyond one is a useless surfeit.  In the end, the PODT agreed that she could keep the two extra females at no cost and that they would send two males when–or if– they get them.

Of the regular dead cats, there has been nary a whiff.  (Which is good, because those things are…aromatic.)

It is not a ballet, it is a graceless, lurching Dead Shark Shuffle.

I think I can string this out all summer.

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Mischief Update: So Very, Very Busy

I’ve regaled my public with accounts of my larger exploits–the hard drive failures, the pipette tip madness, the wholesale emptying of one classroom, the autoclave, etc. , but I don’t want you to think I haven’t been looking for other ways to annoy the humans.

Here, in no particular order, my crimes and misdemeanors:

I sent another invoice from the Vendor Who Was Swallowed Up By The Vendor Who’s Responsible to Qatar, in the Persian Gulf.   The people in Qatar sent it on to the human female, who had to call the Vendor Who’s Responsible yet again and explain how this was never going to result in payment.  She’s had to place another order with the VWWSUBTVWR–this one for An Abundance of Lampreys.  We’ll see how the billing goes, but she shouldn’t get her hopes up…  Actually, that was a fun order, because one of the items showed out of stock at the VWR and in stock from the VWWSUBTVWR.  Invoice and shipping will be from VWR.  Maybe.  Why didn’t she order from the Purveyor of Dead Things, you ask?  Because they are out of filthy, fish-sucking petromyzontidinous goodness until August!

The new first-semester freshman Bio labs, the ones with the new exercises that the female and her staff have been frantically trying to understand and order for and prep, have been rearranged in sequence.  This means that one of the bulletin board displays will go up, come down for a week, and then go back up.  So far the new labs are going fairly well, though they are running over time and the students seem quite reluctant to actually read the exercises and do the appropriate math beforehand.  Protocols that worked for the faculty when tried with small groups over the summer are proving difficult to scale up.  And remember the new micropipettors?  The students have already managed to break six of them.  You might think that they’re just being careless, being young mortals whose pre-frontal cortices are yet rudimentary, but mostly it’s because I’ve led them to believe that they can abrogate the laws of physics and aspirate 1.8 milliliters in a pipette that will only hold 1.0.  I’ve promised a prize of $100.00 to the first student to actually achieve this feat, and they do keep trying!

Ah, students.  The semester is young yet, but already they are showing their intellectual capabilities.  One astute young scholar attended the wrong lab for two weeks–just wandered into the wrong room at the right time, presumably liked it, and stayed.  another added the class late, was directed to a lab to make up the missed session, and then attended a different section entirely.  Several others overlooked emails, signs, and syllabus materials that told them when labs would start and missed the first lab, “Because I didn’t know labs were meeting this week.” Four put down the wrong TA’s name when filling out their Lab Safety Agreement.  Quite a few others put down the wrong section number or supplied their room number instead.  Our future scientists and civic leaders, folks! I should be able to gull them easily and direct them to do my bidding like good little sheep.

The Teaching Assistants are just as subornable.  One left a stack of homework in the classroom.  Another missed his office hours.  And one stellar individual remembered to refill the buffer bottles after their section but neglected to close the stopcock on the large carboy.  They do say mopping is good cardio.  The human female should know.  She knocked over a gallon jug of RO water in one of the prep rooms, and the plastic shattered like glass.  Mop, mop, mop…  Later that day, a bag of old, fermented, red-dyed, soaked lima beans that was triple-bagged fell and splattered on the same spot.  It’s a very clean floor now.

Remember whole reverse-osmosis/ distilled water flap?  The technician did finally come to run the antiseptic (bleach, basically) through the system.  It sat for 48 hours, during which time the bleach ate a few leaks into the lines. That got fixed.  It’s all over now and, apart from still not having distilled water, all seems to be well.  I had been hoping to string this project along until May, so I was a little disappointed that the work has been done.  I contented myself with having someone from Slow, Silent, and Costly come visit the human female the week after it was all over and say, “So, what’s all this about white chunks in the water?”

For years I’ve seen to it that the outlet the human female’s work computer plugs into is as finicky as a spinster aunt.  Jostle any cord that’s plugged into it and the uninterruptible power supply that’s plugged in for the computer beeps loudly about “interrupted power!” (It’s no coincidence that the acronym for those things is pronounced, “oops.”)  The other day, she happened to administer the barest brush to the phone charger she had in the outlet and the UPS started announcing Ragnarok at pitch and decibel levels worthy of Sif in the midst of one of her finest rants.  Every few seconds, BEEEEP!  She tried every combination of plug, unplug, reset, BEEEEP! shut down, restart, reset, and curse she could think of, but all she managed to BEEEEP! do was make her computer unhappy as well.  BEEEEP!  She thought it was the breaker, which is helpfully BEEEEP! behind a locked door to which no one but Slow, Silent, and Costly has the key, but when the fellow from SSC showed up BEEEEP!, he deemed it a faulty outlet.  He departed to get one (I’ve made it a rule that they never to travel with parts) and returned BEEEEP!, only to proceed to tinker with the innards of the wall.  Eventually, she was all sorted out and silence reigned, but it sort of shot an afternoon of (pretending to) work.

The warped counter around the sink in one of the prep rooms has been approved for replacment.  But I’ve delayed the epoxy countertop indefinitely.  Even if it comes in, the crew may need to wait for a semester break to do all the rip out and install.  Prep staff had all the drawers removed or emptied. They’ve put them all back–which of course will mean the slow,  silent, and costly folks will be here the very next day.

The office ran out of Bio 112 lab manuals, so the human female had to put out a call for anyone with a used one from a previous semester.

The honors sections of 112 lab are two weeks behind the regular sections (different curriculum), so the human female won’t be able to carry over live materials from regular labs one week to give them.  Nope!  She’ll have to order all the live goobers in a second time.

The rush order for human sickle-cell anemia hemoglobin (miscalculated on initial order) wouldn’t go through online, so the human female had to call with a credit card and enjoy the fun of trying to explain the whole convoluted mess that is any mailing address at the university.  Eventually, the order went through.  However, when she had to do another rush order for something else last week, the vendor couldn’t pull up her account or address or anything.  Why?  Because it’s another company that has swallowed a bunch of other smaller companies.  Though they all say, “We’re proud to now be a part of Expect Major Delays (AKA, United Amalgamated Consolidated Lab Supplies Unlimited),” they’re still actually, legally separate companies, and they don’t share account info, and you can’t order Company A’s product from the Umbrella Company.  The phone operator actually sent her to the website.

The pet store was out of crickets.  A hungry tarantula is nobody’s friend.

I told the spiny urchins in the two main salt water aquaria to make themselves at home.  This they have done, consuming two lettuce sea slugs and a sea cucumber.  Perhaps the aquatics tech confused gentle, herbivorous sea urchins with carnivorous ones that just like to eat invertebrates named for vegetables.

The copier ate a page of the multipage packing slip the human female was scanning to send for payment.  You know, the big one from VWR?  That big order that has been coming in in dribs and drabs since December?  That’s right, the one where every packing slip includes every item on the whole order, even a particular box has only a single item.  Pages and pages of packing slip!  Except, of course, for the boxes that arrive with no packing slip…  Meanwhile, the three outstanding cases of pipette tips have generated not one but two “update on your shipment, here it comes” emails, but still no joy.

The elevator and key card doors on the floor randomly refused to work during the first week of the semester.  No reason, other than I like to mess with people’s heads.

All is far from perfect on the home front.  A free annual inspection of the heating system showed that my repeated kicking of the infrastructure is paying off.  Something about the supports for the plenum box about to give way…I think.  Something expensive, anyway.

The aerator on the kitchen faucet, with my help, went a little wonky and was spraying water sideways.  The mortals’ old bachelor friend removed it to clean it, and it wouldn’t go back in.  He promised to fix it, but the first new aerator he tried didn’t fit.  He was prevented from returning with the proper part, so the humans had an aerator-less faucet that shut off with a “blurt!” for a few weeks.  It’s mostly fixed now, but it still has a tendency to splatter a bit at low pressure.  I find it’s the little annoyances that can really grind a person down, don’t you?

I made the human female drop a sock in the felines’ water dish.

I made sour milk when the female wanted to eat cereal for breakfast.

The human female finally gave up on the embroidery kit she ordered LAST January (2018).  Come to find out, the kit maker, who is in Europe, has a minimum overseas order, so the human female’s order, which was much less, was just going to sit until several hundred dollars’ worth of additional orders were submitted by the stitchery shop.  The human female gave the shop a Stern Talking To about not advertising items they couldn’t actually procure.  That prank took a full eleven months, start to finish, so bonus points for that.

I made the jam go bad in the fridge.  Do you have any idea how hard that is?  I’m sure the human female could spin you a very boring lecture about osmotic potential and microbes and oxidation and how jam has too much sugar in it to spoil, but Rancid Jam, apart from being a very good band name, is a thing that can happen.  What can I say?  It’s a talent.

So you can see, I’m at the top of my mischief game.  I give it a 9.5 for execution and a 10.0 for creativity.

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Time For Dead Things Again Already?

I hadn’t realized the summer was nearly over, but Odin’s eyepatch!  It’s time for the Dead Cat Ballet again already!  The human female put in her usual multi-page, multi-ton, multi-thousand dollar order with the Purveyor of Dead Things back in May, and today’s the day they’re set to arrive!

She put in a work order with Slow, Silent, and Costly to have the post taken out of the double doors downstairs, so there will be room to get a pallet jack through.  It was supposed to have been done by 8:00 a.m., since the dead things are coming at 9:00.

Could I let things proceed as scripted?  No, I could not!

It’s 8:40. The human female is just coming onto campus and her techs have just this moment sent a text.  Great Frigga’s Corset!  The post is not out of the door, and is that…?  Yes it is!  The delivery truck is here!

Now she’s human female is on the phone to SSC, asking them not so nicely why the post is still in the doorway.  Ehehehee!   They DID take the post out of the doorway at 7:00, but I brought this gross breach of security to the remodeling crew on the first floor, who very helpfully put it back in.  SSC is on their way to remove it again.

Very well.  It’s out again.  But the techs are saying the borrowed pallet jack, which has to be in the basement to receive the goods from the elevator (because, you will recall, a loaded pallet jack will not fit the elevator, so the goods have to go down by themselves) will not fit in the elevator.  The human female has told them that, yes, it will fit, but they will have to be… creative.

At last!  The post is out, the spare pallet jack is in the basement, and help has arrived for the unloading.  The first pallet is on its way into the elevator and…

…it’s too wide!  It won’t go through the elevator doors!  This is priceless!  The delivery men have lowered the pallet and are picking it up again from the narrower side.  Oooh–the suspense is killing me!  Ah!   Now it just fits in the elevator.  Good show!

Snort! The human female has just realized that once the loaded pallet is in the elevator, there isn’t room to lean in and push the button for the basement.  She should have thought of that before.  She’s texting the basement crew to call the elevator.

(later)

I must admit, that was impressive.  The human female and her crew moved 4,240 pounds (or about 31 human-female-units) from tailgate to store room in 30 minutes.  It would be more impressive if they’d managed to get all the boxes on the shelves.  However, the Purveyor of Dead Things sent twenty or thirty unlabeled boxes, and no one knows if they’re hearts or frogs or kidneys or fish or eyeballs or what.  They’ve all got to be opened.

Some of them are suspiciously light.  The suspense is killing us all!

Ehehehehee!  This is beautiful!  I told the packing crew at PODT to let their imagination run wild with the packing, and they’ve outdone themselves this year.  Each of the mystery boxes is stuffed with yards and yards and yards of crumpled paper.  It’s like Yule! Anything could be in here! One box is less than half full of earthworms.  Another is less than half full of sheep eyes.  This one has–count them!—four measly clams.  This one has three little gray fish.  This one has just one pig heart.

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Another has only the packing slip and several copies of the “our preserving fluid is so safe you could almost drink it” card.

My favorite, though, is the long, skinny box that looks as if it might contain a poster.  The human female does not remember ordering a poster, but there it is.  The contents?  Three small jars of PTC test paper strips.  This is brilliant.

(later)

Well, all the boxes have been sorted and put on the shelves.  Now the techs have to count it all.  Given how the PODT has shorted us on at least one line item every year, it’s a safe bet that something will be off.

There’s a multi-page packing slip to corroborate, along with a copy of the original purchase order, because sometimes the PODT doesn’t send what was ordered, and sometimes what’s on the packing slip doesn’t agree with what was received.

Each box needs to be opened–because who knows what’s in them.

Crayfish?  Check.

Grasshoppers?  Check.

Fetal piggies?  Check.

Tiny, bony fishies?

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Dead cats?

Dead cats?

Stiff kitties?

(crickets chirping.)

We do not have dead cats today.  It would not be the Dead Cat Ballet unless there were a problem with the defunct felines.  The dire national Dead Cat Conundrum is still very much a “thing.”  The stiff kitties are, alas, on indefinite back order.  Also missing from the order are the sheep plucks.  A pluck is a nasty thing–trachea and lungs–and the human female is just as glad they didn’t show up.

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Thor’s bitty ballpeen! That is a lot of kidneys.  And a even lotter of hearts, because they sent us one extra.

And it had its own box.

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Uh oh.  Looks like there’s a discrepancy with the J2 (double injected) sharks.  We could almost call this yearly onslaught of formalinic fun the Dead Shark Tango, because it seems there is always a problem with the sharks as well.  And since the fancy, double-injected sharks are for the upper-level Chordate Anatomy classes taught by the Big Boss, a discrepancy is a Big Deal.  The human female ordered 14 males and 5 females.  What was in the boxes?  15 females and 5 males.  The PODT didn’t have what she wanted, so they sent what they had.

Thanks to my meddling, she’ll now have to spend a lot of time on the phone with the PODT.  She’ll probably find it easier (if more expensive) to just order 9 male sharks on a separate PO, one marked “NO SUBSTITUTIONS!!!” IN ABOUT SIX PLACES.

Now do something about that mess!

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It looks like Hurricane Mittens came through.

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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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