Purveyor of Squiggly Things

A Mini-safari, Part III: A Surfeit of Legs

We are continuing to explore the invertebrate fauna of Room 302.

Shh. Be very quiet. Under this pot is a vessel holding a venomous centipede!

centipedes

They come from the Purveyor of Squiggly Things in small plastic containers full of dirt, leaf litter, and wet paper toweling.  They’re happy in there, but impossible to observe. Right before the classes are set to view them, she “decants” them into containers packed with pale plastic “Eater Bunny” grass so that the students have a chance to actually see one.  This process is performed inside a dry, empty aquarium so that any escapees have literally nowhere to go.  The human female has added “centipede wrangler” to her resume.  Padding.  Definitely padding.

In this tank we have a group of millipedes.

millipedes3

They don’t actually have a million legs.  Humans are just prone to exaggeration.

Sigyn really likes the millipedes because they are docile and “curly.”  I’d open the enclosure and let her in, since they’re slow and harmless, but they are also currently engaged in eating a rottenish cucumber.

millipede

Munch, munch, munch.  Sigyn is begging for one as a pet, saying they’re easy to keep and cheap to house and feed.

millipede2

That latter, at least, is certainly true.  These particular myriapods are so un-picky about their food that they’ve been known to eat the cellulose sponges put into the terrarium for added moisture.

Hmm.  That gives me an idea.  The human female is always saying she needs more fiber in her diet–and she does love sponge cake…

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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–It’s Not All Pens Around Here

It’s not all pens around here, though you’d never know it by the ink samples on the dining room table.

No, there is a lot of messing with the human female so that she gets her exercise running around.  Take, for instance, the time the stockroom folks delivered a package that patently was not anything she had ordered.  It contained petri plates full of nutrient goo, meant for doing environmental sampling.  She called the Vendor Who’s Responsible and asked whose name was on the original PO.  They told her it was for someone named Craig Bell.  Armed with that info, she searched the A&M directory for anyone named Craig Bell.  She found a Greg Bell, so she called him and said she might have his package.  Then, since the VWR had just sent the good that were manufactured by another company, Hardly Diagnostics, she called them and was told the package was something ordered by one B.E., who actually is in the Biology Department.  So the human female called B.E., who met her in the hallway for a handoff.  B.E. got her plates, the human female had thirty minutes of her day wasted, and I had a good laugh.  Win-win, I’d say!

The human female and her prep staff were in charge of the snacks for the big, ten-day Teaching Assistant workshop that took place right before the start of the semester.  They received a schedule of all the break times and the human female carefully calculated how many snacks and drinks they’d need–six snack breaks times sixty participants, etc..  She went on a huge shopping run.  Then she found out they were responsible for two other breaks, so she had to go again.  I made sure that, on the second run, the Big Box Store was out of the cookie assortments everyone likes so much.  Or rather, they had them, it was just that each one had been opened. No idea what happened there (munch, munch…)

I also saw to it that on one of those runs, the human female’s university ID fell out of her pocket.  She didn’t know about it until she got an email from someone who works on campus saying that someone had found it and put it on the windshield of her doesn’t-work-on-campus boyfriend’s truck in the Big Box Store’s parking lot.  Rather than turning it in to the store, the boyfriend had taken it home.  The human female had to call him up and arrange to get it.  He wanted to take it to some coffee shop he was going to and leave it there.   The human female actually had to explain to him why leaving a card that identifies the worker’s department and which functions as, you know, a KEY in a public place was not a good idea.  She and the human female ended up driving all over the southern part of the city, out in the country, to catch up with him and get the card back.  That was a good one!

The first week of the semester was an absolute joy–for me.  One lane of the humans’ route to work was closed on the first day, and I arranged a fender-bender-tieup on the second.

The Thursday Night Home Football Opener caused as much trouble as predicted.  Traffic was a zoo.  Some employees were told they could leave at 1:00 and others were not.  Students were told to attend their afternoon classes, but some buildings were locked up early so they couldn’t do that.  I worked with the Memorial Student Center to be sure lockers in the MSC were available for the students to stash their stuff so they could go right to the game from class.  And then the next day, I saw to it that offer was rescinded.  Confusion is so exhilarating.

I’m still having fun with Workdon’t.  I had it mess up September’s insurance deduction for a lot of people.  And since the human female was finally able to hire a fourth Tech, I’ve had opportunities for mischief there, too.  He was hired three weeks ago, and he’s not in the system yet as far as anyone being able to code his ID card for the door locks.  Ah, door locks.  Love’em.  I’ve favored some of the Teaching Assistants and Lab Instructors in the same way.  There are all sorts of people wandering around who can’t get where they need to go.

The Purveyor of Squiggly Things continues to be a willing and able partner in the human female’s mental demise.  They are located in one of the states that bore the brunt of Hurricane Florence, so they shut down for a few days.  The human female had to put in her weekly order with them early, and then hope it came in time.  Then there was the time they canceled one item without notice (no Nostoc for you!).  The female didn’t notice it until the shipment arrived without it–no backorder notice had been sent.  Quickly, she scrambled to put in a phone/credit card order with the Alternate Purveyor of Squiggly Things–who also cancelled without any notice, on the exact same item.  The human female and her staff had to make do with prepared slides.  Then on the same lab, it wasn’t until Tuesday that the human female discovered that in one room, the jar of Nitella (a lovely freshwater alga) from the APOST contained no actual Nitella, just a lot of Bazania, a weedy aquatic liverwort that I’ve had fun spreading through all the freshwater tanks on the floor.  The human female called up the APOST to chew them out for sending bad merchandise, but they couldn’t find the PO in their system.  Why?  Because the human female had canceled the order when they couldn’t ship the Nostoc, so the Nitella in the lab was from a previous semester.  Didn’t she look like an idiot for not remembering?  Yes, she did!  And even moreso when she discovered that the Oedogonium in one of the lab rooms was also mostly Bazania.  Have I mentioned how much I like Bazania?

Then, on another order, the Purveyor of Squiggly Things just randomly changed the shipping date from one in September to one in October.  The human female caught it in time.  I still don’t think she’s realized that half of the employees at POST actually work for me.

I’m still playing my favorite game, Vendor Roulette.  The human female ordered a bunch of prepare microscope slides from several different vendors.  She received most of them.  That was too boring, so I had the Vendor Who Was Recently Swallowed by the Vendor Who’s Responsible (VWRSbVWR) send the invoice to the university’s satellite campus–in Qatar.  Never mind that POs are distributed with the email to which invoices should be sent.  Nope!  The invoice went all the way to some foreign fellow in the Middle East.  Someone there sent it to the human female, who let the VWRSbVWR know what to do with the invoice.  That was such fun that I started a whole ‘nother round–VWRSbVWR to Qatar to the human female to VWRSbVWR. That time she talked to an actual person, and it seems to have been resolved for now.

I’m still having another vendor, Lonza, send the human female Angry Past Due Notices for any university invoice, regardless of whether it is hers or not.  It’s such fun that now I’m doing it with a second vendor as well.  She’s everybody’s scapegoat, and I love it!

The last time the human female’s set of teaching labs and prep rooms was inspected, the inspector seemed preternaturally fascinated with the breaker boxes.  In one prep room, he found several slots without circuit switches, and he wrote them up, promising to send a tech to fix this Very Dangerous Problem No One Else Had Ever Found.  Nothing happened.  Then more nothing.  The human female called the department’s safety officer, who promised to put in a work order.  Not too long after, someone from Slow, Silent, and Costly came out and did the job.  A week later, someone else from Slow, Silent, and Costly came out to do the same job.  Also, the one worker at SSC who came when he was needed, actually called with updates, and did a good job the first time has retired.  I love it when smoke curls out of the human female’s ears.

The human female lost her yoga t-shirt, and I hid it so well that no one ever turned it in to lost and found.  She couldn’t ask the custodian if she’d found it, because said custodian quit on no notice.  The new custodian can’t figure out how to lock the human female’s office door, or that of her nearest office neighbor, since their locks lock and unlock “backwards.”

Construction continues to make driving anywhere in town a misery.  Lanes disappear for no reason at all, with no warning.  Getting to work is more and more like a video game every day.   And the TexDOT  (i.e., the Texas Department of Ongoing Torture) has just announced that in the next few years, they are going to widen the east bypass around the city.  Yes, the one they just spent five years redoing all the on-ramps on!

And one day, anyone trying to approach the Blocker Building suddenly found there was no actual way to do it.

construction on campus

The human female occasionally likes to listen to books on tape or books on YouTube while she works.  She was really enjoying a good murder mystery.  Too bad I saw to it that the last two hours were missing.  Never fret.  Waiting a few weeks for the book to arrive on interlibrary loan was a good exercise in patience for her.

On the homefront, the felines continue to offer me amusement and the humans bemusement.  The swirly one, at my prompting, has begun a new routine of rubbing up on the human female if she sits on the floor, with each arching rub going a little higher up her back, until she can nibble on her shoulder or her hair.  When she’s not tearing around the house or rubbing, she’s Sitting Funny.

goobercat

I taught her that too.  The humans have since had to barricade that lower shelf of that bookcase you see there, because she likes to NEST.

Aaaaand the human female  is still waiting for the needlework kit she ordered in January.  Some jokes never get old.

So you can see that I have been very busy.  And a busy Loki is a happy Loki.

Sometimes I smirk so hard my face hurts.

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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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Mischief Update

I’m trying to make good on my resolution to keep my populace up to date on my doings.  Since I last reported, I had all that good fun in New York, but not all of my mischief has been travel-related.

Vendors continue to be the bane of the human female’s existence.  Well, one of them, anyway.  I saw to it that the outfit that sold her the brobdingnagian paper shredder for the office ignored the billing instructions.  She received a “Past Due” notice on the not inconsequential purchase price , even though a) she hadn’t received the first notice and b) the invoice shouldn’t have been presented to her anyway.

The last batch of mosses and liverworts (ugh!–liverworts!  Sounds like something you’d need to take strong antibiotics for!) from the Purveyor of Squiggly Things is doing pretty well, survival wise, but some of the little sealed trays have been sprouting Arabidopsis seedlings right, left, and center.  I gather that the plant is the botanical equivalent of glitter.

The two new hires on the human female’s team are working our surprisingly well.  They and the two old tech are forming a really stable, cohesive unit.  I shall have to see if I can drop a few accusations in a few ears and turn them all against one another—or against the human female— before the cheerfulness level reaches annoying proportions.

Both new techs were hired at the same time, but I am having extra fun with one of the new employees and Workdon’t.  I made it so that he wasn’t showing up in the system and couldn’t log in.  Workdon’t didn’t recognize him.  It took about a week to get him to show up, and even then, he was only in there as his ID number.  “Good morning, ID number!”  It took another week to get the system to call him by his actual name.  Everyone was happy, until he realized that somehow, Workdon’t has latched onto his Social Security number and is using that for everything.  All attempts to code his ID card for building access and room access have failed, because Workdon’t’s number for him is his SSN, not his ID.  Meanwhile, he is also unable to select insurance options, so he’s completely uninsured.  No one seems to know the magic words to make him a Real Boy as far as Workdon’t is concerned.  He exists in Administrative Limbo. vENN

Everything works perfectly for the other new tech, of course.

I’ve arranged more fun surprises for the female’s work group.  There are some Mysterious Damp Patches in the hallway ceiling and in one of the rooms just adjacent.  Slow, Silent, and Costly came out to look, replaced the wet tiles, banged around, and said it was fixed.  (This was before the female went to New York).  The spots reappeared.  SSC decided it was the fire sprinkler system and sent three more techs, who said, “Nope, not our problem.”  Supposedly there is another work order in, but no one’s holding their breath.

I invited some little beetle-y friends to overrun the break room and the offices.  For days, no one could figure out what they were or where they were coming from.  Slow, Silent, and Costly sent out someone to set traps.  The human female returned from New York, took one look, and said, “Pantry pests.  Find the infested cereal and get rid of it.”  All sorts of nooks and crannies and drawers were investigated, to no avail.  Finally, after much consternation, the custodian found an old, abandoned carton of oatmeal behind some dishes in the back of a high cabinet.  Well, to be more precise, it was a carton of 75% insects and 15% insect frass, and 10% actual oatmeal.  I was peeved they found it so quickly!  Next time, it will be rotten shrimp heads behind the refrigerator.  Let’s see them suss THAT one out.

It wasn’t my only arthropod amusement.  The lawn, upon our return from New York, was courting-city-citation long, so the human female mowed.  I was trying to nap, and the mower annoyed me, so I tucked a green lynx spider inside her sleeve when she wasn’t looking, and it BIT her.  How was I to know she’d spring up in a big red welt and itch for a week?

Coming home from a trip is always a let-down.  There is always a huge pile of bills and junk mail to sort through  (I arranged a “buy a commemorative brick in the sidewalk” appeal from a church the humans don’t belong to, along with several “renew your membership” pleas from organizations they don’t belong to), the houseplants look floppy, there is weird stuff in the cooling unit, and no magic hotel staff to do the cleaning.  I’d left the felines instructions to shed copiously, which they did enthusiastically.  The human female has been sweeping regularly, and there are still cat-fur tumbleweeds drifting lazily from room to room.

The house clamored for some attention too.  The sprinkler system is old and crotchety, so it wasn’t much of a chore to get it to run in the middle of the night when the dial was actually set to “off.”

Then the human male decided to shave one day and pulled up the stopper thingy in the sink.  Imagine his surprise when the stopper-pull plunger bit came off in his hand!  (Yes, of course this was one of the faucets installed just before we left!)  He decided to investigate one of the two other identical faucets, to see if he could figure out how to fix it.  In so doing, he pulled the knob out of that one as well!  Ehehehehehe!  The human female was not happy.  She managed to get the stoppers out so the sinks could be used, and she made the male stay home from work so the plumber could make a return visit and do the work properly.

She was also not amused when the male, still suffering from a bum knee, used a towel rack to help lever himself up off the necessary.  Have you ever calculated the force necessary to pull one end of a towel bar out of sheet rock?  Hint:  it isn’t much.

I’ve had some fun with the weather as well.  Last week, it was supposed to pour buckets of rain for five days.  The Big City to the South had flooding, the humans had about two or three inches after getting nothing for three days of near 100% chance, and the local airport recorded half an inch total.  It often happens this way.  The human male’s hypothesis is that there is a thirsty bird at the airport, one who drinks out of the rain gauge.  That’s ridiculous!  Everyone knows it’s an opossum.

While the weather was gloomy, the human female got the notion to make a chicken pie, despite the fact that it was WARM and cloudy and not cool and cloudy.  She tried a new crust recipe.  It tasted all right, but she’s lost the knack of getting the top crust on straight and had to patch it up.

pie

The joins leaked in the oven, and the crust stuck to the shielding foil and ripped off.  it was tasty, but Volstagg’s beard crumbs!, that was definitely the “don’t do this” illustration for a pie-making article.

It’s good to be home…

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Mischief Update–

Sigh.  I don’t know why I always let so much time go by between updates.  It’s just makes it longer and more tedious to write up.  Not that I don’t relish reliving my naughtiness, you understand.  It’s just all the typing.  Can Frost Giants get carpal tunnel?  I may be the first to find out.

Remember the trip the human female took to visit her sister?  On her first day, I saw to it that she got an automated message that several of the lab rooms were over temperature.  She spent a lot of time on the phone trying to figure out, long-distance, what was wrong and who could fix it.  Turns out there was a chilled water outage and there was nothing anyone could do but wait for maintenance.  In the meantime, I arranged fifty-six further alarm messages (ding!), coming every little while, day and night.  Since she was bunking with her mother, I was able to deprive two people of sleep with one misdeed.  I like to be efficient.

The estimate for the humans’ property tax bill for the upcoming year has arrived.  The city and I like to do a little jiggery-pokery.  One year we’ll claim not to have raised taxes, but we up the evaluation by about ten percent.  The next year, the evaluation will remain nearly constant and we’ll protest, “But we didn’t raise rates last year, so we need to do it now.”  It all ends up the same, eating into the human female’s quilt fabric budget.

I’m growing daily richer, since I now own the traffic cone and big orange barrel concession for the county.  I’m making a mint off University Drive alone, where they’ve taken away two lanes so that they can re-do medians and turn lanes and traffic signals.  I also like to nudge people to cross against the light or else do a left on red.  If I time them right, I can back traffic up on University Drive from Texas Avenue to Wellborn Road!  Meanwhile, Wellborn Road itself is under construction, as is the whole Harvey Mitchell Parkway-FM 60 intersection.  They’re building a Diverging Diamond interchange, but hte locals have already dubbed it the Death Diamond, which is hurtful.   I mean, just because I designed it so that  drivers will end up on the wrong side of the road if they want to turn left, is that any reason to resort to name calling?

So, basically, throughout town, one can’t get there from here.  I advise you to invest in anything that comes in safety orange.

The Purveyor of Squiggly things shipped an order of delicate little hydra on Monday, not Tuesday.  They didn’t actually arrive until late on Wednesday, nearly too late to be useful.  Living on the edge is good for her.  Another order of the beasties arrived all dead.

The Purveyor of Paper Goods, usually vastly obliging, is not returning the human female’s telephone calls.  Probably because he’s found out she’s going to go with a different supplier for her enormous glove order.  (That’s an enormous order, not enormous gloves.  They only come up to extra large unless you special order them.  Then you can get ones that would fit Hulk.)   She’s ordered biodegradable gloves, which I actually do approve of, because they’re green.  I don’t care two of Volstagg’s waistcoat buttons about conservation–I mean the gloves themselves are green.

A different vendor keeps sending the human female past-due notices for orders she didn’t make of goods she didn’t receive. She has helpfully pointed out to them that A) she does not work at the Vet School or in the Chemistry department, B) she is not the person clearly named on the invoice, and C) she couldn’t pay the invoice even if she wanted to, since all  university’s invoices are handled by the Chief Bean-counters.  Every time she has to respond to one of the vendor’s dunning emails, her own terse reply gets shorter and pricklier.  I plan to keep this up until she’s returning nothing but key-smashes.  @*#%$^7fh&6$#!

Another purchase was a ladder.  I got very excited, because I can have all sorts of fun with ladders and high places and heavy objects and slippery floors, but it turned out to be a DNA ladder, which is just a little tube full of little bits of stuff that the humans use to do Science with.  I was able to work with that, though.  She ordered two, 1 kb ladders and I sent her one.  Plus one 100 bp ladder.  Nyeah, so there.

She also tried to order oculars—eyepieces—for some of the student microscopes.  The Purveyor of Expensive Optics (POEO) told her that some of her scopes were too old, and the part was no longer available.  She searched surplus sites online and found a different vendor, who told her that a different part would work just fine, and she should buy some and prove it to herself.  She did, and lo!  The part fit not only the older scopes but the newer ones as well.  Thus did she discover that Mister Slightly Smarmy POEO cannot be trusted.  Rats!  He was one of my better operatives.

I’ve been having fun with other bills, too, ones sent from the local medical clinic.  Last fall, when the human female was having such trouble with her trotters feet, she made several trips to the podiatrist, making the requisite $30 copay each time.  Now the clinic says she owes an additional $26.32 for each visit, no explanation given.  It also wants an additional $6.00 for a visit she made to a regular doctor last September.  She has talked to them three times on the phone, and each time, she’s told that they are Looking Into It because These Things Take Time.  They also billed her for her annual physical, which should have been free.  They further billed her for a visit to the doctor when she hurt her back at work.  She tried to call and get that refunded, since Workman’s Comp should cover that, but the clinic’s bean-counters just said they’d apply it to her outstanding balance–which consists of those extra payments she doesn’t actually owe.  She’s tried talking directly to the insurance people, who all agree she’s owed a refund. She asked them to talk to the clinic people, but so far no rapport has been reached because, as they keep reminding her, These Things Take Time.

And she has a plethora of places to keep up with her health online, because the Midgardian motto is:  Applicationem ad eundem finem destinari est.  She tried to get to one of the websites the other day, only to find that her “personal” login wanted her to enter the University’s “token.”  Which no one had bothered to give her.

I’ve been tinkering with the elevator in the human female’s work building.  It started smoking one morning, which made everyone in the building a little nervous.  even after the smoke cleared, it was a little like playing Elevator Roulette–one never knew if it would actually stop on the floor selected.  Or if it did, whether the doors would open.  The repairmen fiddled with it for days.  One of the human female’s Techs ignored the “out of service” signs and got stuck in there for half an hour one day.  That was fun.  It’s working again now, but I can think of at least three large orders the human female’s going to have to bring up before the summer is out, so I will have some more opportunities.

I’ve actually sort of taken up meddling with machinery as a hobby.  The humans’ dryer has been turning itself on and off at random recently, as well as cycling through various settings at random during a load.   The human female stayed home one day to have the repairman in.  He could not, of course, duplicate the problem.

On the same day, a plumber came to replace all the leaky  ever-running bathroom faucets.  The human female bought the faucets ahead of time.  It took two tries, because the salesman gave her two of one kind and one of another, when they should have all matched.  The clerk at the checkout was Deeply Suspicious when the human female wanted to exchange the odd duck for a more conforming clone.  When the plumber arrived and put his hand to the valve to shut off the water, it came off in his hand!  So it was all more hassle and expense than intended, which is how I like my DIY projects.

It wasn’t my only foray into the fascinating world of faucets.  I arranged that the one in room 303 of the human female’s building would suddenly start fountaining water from the top of the tall fixture-stand.  It rendered the sink in the busiest dishwashing room completely unusable.  The maintenance man did arrive, eventually, and showed the human female and her techs how to fix the problem in under a minute.  Now that they know how to fix it, next time, I will make something else go wrong.

I dosed a TA with sleepy pills so that he missed proctoring his lab final.  The human female had to cover for him, putting the finishing touches on his exam at short notice and running his students through it.  Was he properly apologetic?  No, not so much.  Another TA had to have it explained to him that telling a student to meet him “by 4:00″ was not the same as meeting him “at 4:00.”  The student couldn’t figure out why his TA wasn’t there in the morning, and the TA wondered why, at 4:00, there was no student in sight.

I made grades and assignments disappear randomly from the electronic gradebook.

I made the plagiarism-checker website send nearly everything back with a “0% match” report, which ought to be impossible (ehehehehehe) because there should be at least a little match if the students all typed “test tube” and “experiment” and the names of the reagents.

I put mealybug on the ferns and scale on the pitcher plants.  I trained the felines at home to nestle in the African violets and shove them off the window ledge.

I fixed it so that the office copier/printer/scanner/coffee maker will send a fax, but not receive.

I had a talk with the sewing machine, and as she was putting the last bit of binding on a baby quilt, the human female mitered a corner wrong and had to pick it all out.

Lest you think that the human female is the sole recipient of my mischief, let me tell you about the long-term prank I’ve been pulling on him.  The Department has a Really Exceptionally Expensive System (REES) which is supposed to monitor temperature and water leaks, etc., and call people automatically if something goes amiss.  Earlier this year, the system was overhauled/replaced, at Great Expense.  Things went well, until the techs couldn’t tie it properly into the system.  At one point, all the alarm calls were going to the human male’s server room and his office phone was turned into the REES number.  The system is not what was ordered.  There are monitoring nodes no one can physically find in the building.  The system self-checks and keeps saying, “Yep, all good!” when all it means is that it has been able to ping a node and get a reading.  Telling what that reading actually is?  Pfft!  That’s for sissies.  It won’t properly connect to anything and no one at REES wants to take the credit for having sold the Department something that doesn’t work or schedule someone to come out to fix it.  The whole shebang could be on fire for all anyone on the emergency call list knows.  Oh, well, at least it eliminates those pesky in-the-middle-of-the-night robo-calls!

And you remember my treasure, my jewel, WorkDon’t?  The humans have discovered a few other features.  It is incapable of encumbering funds for grants.  There is no way to tell it to set aside a particular amount to be spent later.  Also, pretty much all HR communications pass through the Dean’s office, often bypassing the peons at lower levels who actually need to see them.

But oh!  The Dean!  She was such an able ally,  manhandling the budget and inflicting her whims upon the Biology Department, but she is departing to make some other university’s faculty and staff miserable.  So you see, it hasn’t been all beer and skittles  (or Kool-aid and Twinkies) for me, either.

Odin’s Eyepatch!  I didn’t realize, until I had written it all down, just how much I have accomplished since last I updated.  A busy Loki is a happy Loki!

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