room of doom

Mischief Update: Sometimes I Even Make Myself Tired

I am getting so good at beating the human female into the ground that sometimes I even exhaust myself.

She was whingeing the other day that she hasn’t a pain-free day since last September.  If it’s not a headache it’s a stomach ache or her wonky elbow or her crummy eyes.  Mostly it’s her trotters feet.  The surgery has mostly healed, but what with one thing and another, a lot of days it’s hobblesville.  I might need to stop warping her orthotics and messing with her shoes, though, because it has cut down on the number of walkies, and Sigyn is sad about the lack of botanizing.  I keep telling Sigyn that she really doesn’t want to go out these days, because the temperatures are about a squillion and a half degrees.

I have been keeping busy on the home repair front.  I managed to make repairing the garage ceiling into the handyman’s version of If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.  So the fellow came and re-attached the ceiling panel to the ceiling studs, but when he pulled off the drywall tape, it pulled for pretty much the entire length of the garage, meaning the tape and refloat was going to be a BIG job.  So he put the first coat of “mud” on the tape and turned his attention to replacing the two bathroom ceiling fans, both of which died horrible, squealing deaths some time back.   So he went to the store to buy two fans and came back to put them in.  Installation requires playing the game known as Now? No! How About Now?, otherwise known as find-the-breaker-by-flipping-them-all-one-at-a-time.  The humans’ list of what breakers go with what was sadly incomplete.  But eventually they got that circuit off and the fan went in without too much fuss.  But then the handyman came down from the attic and informed them that their AC unit was leaking—blowing cool air all over the attic— and that they should call the AC people and get it sealed up.  Then he went to put in the other fan and delivered more bad news.  That fan wasn’t actually tied into any duct–it was just venting into the attic and had probably died of insulation inhalation.  Oh, and the FAN ITSELF was a different size than the one he bought.  So he went to go back to the store to return one and buy one of the proper size, only he couldn’t GO anywhere because his truck battery had exploded in the humans’ driveway.  So the human male had to drive him up the road to buy a battery so he could come back and put it in and then go back to the store for a new fan.  When he finally returned from his search at three different stores, it was to inform the humans that no one made a fan that size anymore, so they could choose between a smaller one, which would mean patching the ceiling drywall around it, or a larger one, which would mean cutting a larger hole in the ceiling.  They opted for the larger, but by then it was so late in the day that he couldn’t do it.  He had to come back on the following weekend to do it, and to do the sanding and the second round of floating on the garage ceiling.  The second round of floating didn’t go so well.  He tried a “fast drying” mud so he could sand it soon after and finish up, but it didn’t work, so he got to scrape it off and start over with the regular stuff.  So now there are finally fans and a fixed ceiling, but the garage now needs repainting, and their is taping mud sanding dust all over the garage floor.

Still trying to get the AC people to come out.  Funnily enough, they are very busy in the summer.

We are also waiting for the sprinkler people to come again.  Remember that the human female had to grovel abjectly to get them to come out last time?  Well,  I have fixed it so that now a different station is not watering at all.  This explains the general unthrifty look of all the shrubs around half of the front and down the left side of the house.  Poor little quince bush can’t catch a break…

I have seen to it that the humans’ favorite cherry yogurt, the male’s favorite Asian noodle bowls, and their favorite sun-dried tomato paste are no longer available anywhere.  It’s a nice little racket.  I find out what products they like, then seek out the manufacturers or supermarket purchasing clerks and make sure those items are no longer made or carried.  I get paid for this by the manufacturers of competing products.  Oh, and I also totally rearranged their favorite grocery store so they they can’t find a thing anymore.

Mostly, though, it’s the human female’s work group that has been occupying most of my attention.

Long–time readers may recall that the human female and her staff spent a lot of time and energy to convert a basement Rat Room (AKA Room of Doom) into a functional classroom.  When they first moved in, it was a Botany classroom.  With the demise of Botany, it became a Non-majors Intro Biology lab (NMIB).  Last year, the lab for that course was downgraded to a short demonstration period. Now the Powers That Be have decreed that an Honors section of Majors Intro Biology (HMIB) is moving in, so NMIB is being shunted to the basement of a nearby building, one that is infamous for leaking like a sieve and/or flooding at the slightest provocation.  (The human female worked in that basement for twenty-eight years before moving to her current location, so she knows to be Prepared.)  This room originally belonged to Bio but was lost to Wildlife and Fisheries Science in a poker game.  Or so the story goes (when I tell it.)  But anyway, the human female and her staff are having to clean up and fit out a new room.  Demo microscope?  Computer?  TA desk? Whiteboard?  Projector?  Screen?  Safety equipment?  It was all decided, then it all changed– one day while the human female was at her yogurt class, a meeting was held in which all the decisions made at the meeting she just left were abrogated.  She’s not in the loop.  She’s not anywhere near the loop.  She’s heard the rumors that there IS a loop, but you couldn’t prove it by her.

The creation of this HMIB raises all sorts of questions.  Will the human female be doing the buying for this course?  Will her Prep Staff be prepping the labs?  The answers change almost daily.  HMIB will be autonomous and will order all of its own supplies.  HMIB would like back some of the equipment that NMIB moved out of the room.  HMIB has changed the door lock code so that NMIB can’t get back in.  HMIB would like Prep Staff to keep the gloves and paper towels stocked.  HMIB wants to know how to purchase X, Y, and Z and can you arrange to have all our pipettors recalibrated?

Well, the powers that be have now decided that NMIB should become an online-only course after the one upcoming semester, which means all the hard work on both rooms will become worthless and all the materiel toted into the room will have to toted right back out.   And just today she heard a rumor that the HMIB class will move *out* of the room of doom after one semester.  It’s all one big hilarious shell game and I’m loving every minute of it!

Now, has anyone noticed that all the courses associated with the human female seem to be doomed?  First the two junior-level botany classes, one after another; then introductory botany; then a full non-majors course; now the non-majors course in live form.  She’s an academic Typhoid Mary, that’s what she is.

Meanwhile, the Summer Session Majors’ Intro Biology Part II has begun.  I had a chat with the registrar, and the room numbers for the five sections were listed incorrectly. Chaos ensued on the first day.  One student was so confused that she went to the wrong lab section twice before figuring out she was supposed to be somewhere else.  Ehehehehe!

The door locks are malfunctioning again.  The swipe card lock on the Prep Staff office has failed altogether and the others operate more or less as the mood takes them.

Speaking of Prep Staff…  You recall all the fun and drama associated with hiring a new Prep Staff technician? Well, a second Tech left to pursue lofty educational goals (or just to get away from the human female.)  Trying to hire a replacement has been even more fun (for me) than the first–and that one was made more complicated by an offer letter that vanished before the new Tech could sign it.  For this second posting, fewer people applied.  Then, right in the middle of the hiring process, both people in the department who can actually navigate the proliferous piles of paper necessary to effect a hire went on vacation.  The hiring certificate could not be found.  The interview documents and the hiring matrix were misplaced.  Then HR (Having Regrets) demanded the new Tech’s Selective Service form before an offer letter could be produced, rather than as part of the first-day-paperwork.

This has been such fun that I have started the whole process AGAIN.  On Monday of this week, with the human female’s boss out of town and unreachable by any means known to mortals, one of two upper-level Techs handed in her slightly-less-than-two-week notice.  Now, this removes the lid from a whole new container of annelidous squigglies, because hiring a Tech II is hard.  The job requires knowledge of the University’s Introductory Biology Program that most people won’t have.  It is also hard to bring in and outsider to supervise people who have been in place for a while.  Even getting permission to hire this Tech II is not a given, since the Dean has to approve.  No doubt she is going to ask, “What did you do with the last one I gave you?” Even if approval is given, there might not be any good applicants.  It might be better to hire a third Tech I and promote one later, but the technicalities of getting a position reclassified make even my head hurt.  TLDR:  The human female faces the very real possibility of starting the big fall semester one tech short, and even if she manages to hire one, THREE of the four will be new.

Ordering fun continues unabated.  The human female received the multi-page quote for the big fall course order from the Vendor Whose Respnsible, but it was missing two items, and one item had a similar but not identical product switched in.  One line item quotes the price for the needed  pack of 10,000 pipette tips but lists it as 1,000 tips.  Since 1,000 tips has the same product number as 10,000, I think I’ll see if I can’t get them to charge the bigger price for the smaller number.  If it goes the way the Great Glove Incident of 2013 went, she’ll be required to send back the 1,000 before they’ll ship the 10,000.  Also, I noticed that the vendor’s website, for one of the items, shows that a case of six, one-liter bottles is out of stock, but six single bottles are available–for the separate one-liter price, of course.  The human female as asked for clarification on all of these questions from the sales rep, but none has been forthcoming.  Time’s a-wasting, mortal.  You need to order now so I can start working my mischief with the shipping and billing.

The humans have been dithering about adding a feline to their household.  They say it just doesn’t feel right to come home to an empty house.  They seem to have forgotten the “joys” of cat-fur tumbleweeds, mysterious pukings, litterbox-misses, and intemperate midnight serenades.   I’d just as soon do without, thank you, but Sigyn also likes kitties, so it looks as if there will be one.  The mortals have interviewed several likely candidates at the local pound and at the Vet School, which has some research cats being retired from a study.  They found a truly beautiful cat, one with a magnificently multicolored, marbled coat and mesmerizing eyes, a true paragon of feline pulchritude, one possessed of every virtue and no doubt a tenth life to boot—but someone else snagged it.  Their second choice bit the human female by way of introduction.  They are now dithering between one relatively calm gray cat of no especial beauty and a strikingly-patterned amber tabby that bounces about at warp speed and who ought to come with a friend to keep her amused.  The human female wishes she could adopt all the kitties, including the old fat ones and the yowly orange ones.  The human male is leaving it up to the female.  Fenrir’s fleacollar, woman!  It’s just going to shed, poop, scratch, and annoy me, whatever you pick, so just pick something.

Folks, I hate to brag, but on a scale of one to ten, the mischief this time is a solid ELEVEN.

I need a nap

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Mischief Update: Many Happy Returns

I’ve been a busy little bee this week.  It’s a two-headache week for the human female, and it’s only Thursday!  (Can’t we find something else to call this fourth day of the week?  It galls me to cite my oafish brother every seventh day.  And can we talk about Wednesday = Odinsday?  Honestly, honoring those two every week spoils two perfectly good days and makes me cranky right through to the weekend.)

But on to the mischief.

–The campus IT lackeys finally responded to the memo the human female sent about an outage of the Very Important Campus-wide Grade and Bulletin Board Program outage.  That occurred on September 29.

–The human female’s Tragic Snacking Habits have caught up with her.  I saw to it that some friendly ants found the two granola bar wrappers she left in the car trashcan.  They’re scurrying in and out of orifices in the dashboard.  It’s coming on winter–they’re very happy to have a warm place to nest!

–You’ll recall that the dishwasher died.  It was replaced.  Workmen came out and installed a shiny new one.  It despaired of the human female’s cooking so much that after three washes it uninstalled itself.   Both mounting screws came out.  She had to call service personnel and take time off work and be home while they re-installed it with New Improved Bigger Screws.  Any bets on how long this job will hold?

–Several of the filters and pumps on the various aquaria at the human female’s workplace have taken to making rather alarming squealing, gargley noises.  So has the cat.  Do you suppose the two are related?

–At my instigation, the incubator in the Room of Doom, which was ancient when the human female and her staff cleaned out the room and moved a class in, played a game of hockey with the human female.  She was trying to set it to 37C, but all it has is an outdated analog dial marked 1 to 10.  A setting of 4 didn’t get it warm enough, so she turned it up.  Then it was too hot, so she turned it down a smidge.  Too cool.  Too hot, Too cool.  After six or so adjustments, I took pity on her and let it settle at 38C, which she hopes is good enough.  Enzymatic reactions are such finicky, temperature-sensitive things.  I wish her well…

–My biggest project this week has been a fine piece of work to do with two little piddly microscope camera power supplies.  This sort of thing used to be readily available and cheap at Wireless Hut, but most of those stores have gone out of business.  The human female and one of her techs poked about and finally found an acceptable item online at Humongous River Supply Company.  Since ordering from HRSC takes a credit card and not the usual ordering software, the human female asked the Department’s purchasing officer to conduct the transaction, and to buy two.  The purchasing offer declined, because the electrical doo-dads were actually from a third-party vendor, who would insist on charging tax, which the University steadfastly refuses to pay.  So the human female called the actual manufacturer who said that no, they would not sell them direct, but if she were to purchase through HRSC, they would lop the tax off when the order was billed.  The human female conveyed this info to the purchasing officer, who put in the order.  Then there was some question when the order total came to much more than the sum of the items.  The human female (duh!) forgot about a little thing called shipping charges. The bits and bobs came the day before yesterday.   Mindful of my influence, the human female had one of the techs test them.  Hooray! One worked.  Boo!  One did not.  (ehehehehehe!)  The human female contacted the manufacturer, who said, “Take it up with HRSC.  They’ll contact us about a return/refund. Order another, then we’ll refund one.”  With a headache building, the human female tried and failed to find a contact number for HRSC on their website.  She could send an e-mail query, but only by logging in with her own account, which has nothing to do with the University and, of course, has no record of camera power supplies.  So she asked the purchasing officer to ask for a return, since the transaction was tied to that account.  The purchasing officer declined to be of use, but did direct the human female to the part of HRSC’s jungle of a website where she could put in a request for someone to call her.  So she tried that, and was almost immediately called back.  And put on hold.  When a Helpful Person finally answered, they insisted on having all of the personal information belonging to the purchasing officer, just to make sure the human female had no nefarious purposes in mind. The 17-digit order number was not enough, oh no! This took some time, as everyone here has a mailing address and a billing address and a ship-to address, which are not always the same.  With the purchasing officer and the human female involved, that was a total of six addresses.  It was a delightful conversation, with background noise, interruptions, misunderstandings, and unclear diction.  I’m pretty sure both parties were speaking English, but here wasn’t a lot of actual communication going on.  Eventually, the Helpful Person said she would mail  a return label to the purchasing officer, who works in a different building from where the defunct merchandise resides.  The human female then made the mistake of asking if the label could be sent to her instead, since she’s the one in possession of the Useless Object. That started another round of What’s That Address?  The human female finally got the Helpful person to agree to send a call tag from Unrepentant Package Squashers to the Departmental stockroom, where the package may or may not get picked up.  There’s an 18-digit tracking number for the call tag.  That is thirty five digits to return a $9.00 cable.


So here is the pesky little item, all boxed up and on its way to the stockroom, where a call slip may– or may not– show up for it.

This has been a fun little project.  I haven’t decided whether I’m done with it yet.  After all, she still has to try to order a replacement!

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Sigyn Loves Glassware

We all know that my sweetie has an affinity for glass, though her enthusiasm has been known to get her into trouble.  Remember this?  And this?

Well, she especially likes the glassware that the human female keeps in her office window.

You can probably guess why she likes this Erlenmeyer flask.

It came out of that horribly junky room the human female excavated last year, and it is brightly, obnoxiously RED.

I view it with suspicion, because even though Sigyn has yet to fall into it…

…she appears to be trying.  Dearest, please come down from there!

 The human female and Sigyn share a love of miniature labware.  The teenier it is, the more loudly they “squee.”  This itsy-bitsy beaker is one of their favorites.  

If I had to choose, I’d say it’s my favorite as well.  Not for cuteness, but because, as far as I can tell…

There is no way in Hel for her to get trapped inside.

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The Room of Doom, Part III: Calling on the Old Gods

It has crossed my mind that if I am to properly subdue Midgard and rule it utterly, I might need to occasionally enlist the help of some of the native deities. Contacting them, however, has proven unexpectedly difficult. Gods often dwindle as their devotees die out, and many are sleeping the sleep of the unremembered.

The ancient pantheon of the land of the Nile holds a particular fascination for me, but I’ve made no progress with them at all.

Hold! What is this? Perfect! I have found a holy book containing all the mysteries and rites of the Jackal-headed god of the underworld.


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The Room of Doom, Part II: Trash and treasure

Today I begin my in-depth fossicking about, looking for useful bits and pieces. Someone with my godly intelligence and keen inventiveness should be able to make some fine weapons or other contrivances out of the best fragments and scrappets.


But first I think I want to don a pair of these protective gloves. There’s not a speck of all this that doesn’t look somehow contagious…

Hmm. This appears to be some species of engine. I’ve no idea what it’s meant to do, but I am certain its innards can be re-purposed.


Likewise this gizmo. (I like that Midgardian word, “gizmo.”)


I can definitely think of some uses for this:


These, not so much:


I peeked, and this cooler is, unfortunately, accurately labeled. I am glad Sigyn isn’t here to mourn the little whiskered mummies.

There is probably a story behind all of this, but I’m not sure that I want to hear it.

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The Room of Doom, Part I: Where clutter goes to die

No photos of me today*, but Great Frigga’s corset, would you look at this?


The human female and her cohorts must be doing something correctly, because enrollment in their courses has grown to the point where another lab room is required. Since staging a coup and booting a different department’s courses out of the building is frowned upon by the Powers That Be, space has to be found elsewhere. The collective eye has fallen upon a basement room in an adjacent building.

Behold the Room of Doom:


I mean, look at all of this! All things obsolete, broken, moldy, toxic, or just plain unidentifiable.


This room has been the depository for everyone’s cast-offs for quite some time. No one knows what half it is.


The human female and her staff have now been tasked with the job of clearing this all out and making a sparkling new teaching lab.


Personally, I don’t think it can be done. But just think of the good time I shall have poking about, discovering treasures, and adjusting all the tall, wobbly piles so that they fall on her head!


Don’t wander off. The fun begins tomorrow.

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*Because, godliness notwithstanding, I think a haz-mat suit is in order before I enter. . .