slow silent and costly

Making My Mark

After much delay and needless dilly-dallying, Slow, Silent, and Costly are finally coming to paint one of the human female’s prep rooms.  It’s not as if it needs it to function, you understand.  It’s just that the paint is peeling from the autoclave steam, and there is black stuff in the corner that no one wants to examine closely to see if it is mold or little presents from the big cockroaches that infest this realm, no matter how well you clean.

So, in a day or two, workmen will be in here scraping and priming and painting.  I think I’ll leave them a little something.

written-on-wall

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Oh, How Could I Forget?!

It happens every fall.  It’s as perennial as the changing of the leaves, the aroma of woodsmoke on the air, and the roar of the football-watching crowds (only one of which actually occurs in this part of Midgard in September.  The colored leaves will hold off until the middle of December, and the woodsmoke won’t arrive until January–unless someone barbecues for Thanksgiving…)

It did happen this year, and I did meddle, but I was so busy being naughty in other directions that I forgot to write about it.  Of what do I speak?  Why of the Dead Cat Ballet, of course!  The arrival of the year’s worth of preserved animals, “fresh” from the Purveyor of Dead Things, carefully coordinated with the PODT, the carrier, Central Receiving, Prep Staff, and Slow, Silent, and Costly.  Given all the things that have to go right, at just the right times, it’s amazing that it ever works.

The human female put her order in in May, the same as she usually does.  This year, the request included a truly staggering number of frogs and sea cucumbers (the latter of which, although they ARE pickled, are not at all nice on sandwiches.  Don’t ask.)  She was informed that the lampreys would be on backorder, and that the sharks might be delayed.  This was expected, as lampreys have the gall not to fling themselves into nets until late in the year.

Fast forward to August, when the human female began to arrange the shipping and delivery.  Central Receiving, true to form, indulged in that Midgardian children’s game known as “phone tag,” but eventually a date and time was settled upon. The human female, having been instructed that all requests to Slow, Silent, and Costly go only through the Department’s Facilities Manager (no more ad hoc work requests to deal with my plumbing projects, if you please), obliged and requested that the post in the double doors be removed.  When she asked the FM for the work order number, in case something went wrong at the last minute (like last year, when the removed post was put back before the delivery even happened), she was told, “It’s under control.”  “But what is the number?” “It’s being handled.”  In other words, mortal, sit down, shut up, and listen to your betters.

The delivery arrived as scheduled, multiple pallets of it, right on time.  One of Prep Staff having had quite enough of the Human Female and moving on to bigger and better things, the team was a person short, so the affianced of one of the minions was dragooned into helping.

I let it all proceed as desired (which should have been their second clue), with swift transfer of all the various boxes from the pallets to the shelves.  Sea cucumbers here, frogs over there, fish on the shelf by the door.  But what about the boxes with no labels?  Oh, just put those in the hallway and we’ll sort them out later.

When all the labeled parcels had been stowed away, the scope of my mischief was apparent.

dead-frog-boxes

None of those boxes had external markings that would hint at their contents.  What was supposed to be a forty-minute session of sweating and grunting turned into a long, protracted, painful parody of Yule, with everyone sitting upon the ground and opening the boxes to discern their contents.   None proved to be completely full.  “I’ve got three rats.” “Four more squid in this one.” “Mine is just twelve copies of the insert for the preserving fluid.”  And so on, for another delightful hour.

At the end, the human female and her minions were short on two items and over on one.  (Midgardians, apparently count like this:  One, two, many, ….thousands.)  A look through the labeled boxes revealed that one, at least, was mismarked and contained something different entirely, altering the count further.

So of course the human female called the PODT, who agreed to send the missing defunct vertebrates.  When she told them how the shipment had been so inefficiently packed as to result in about a pallet’s-worth of unlabeled, un-full boxes and asked if couldn’t they please a) pack full boxes next time, and b) label them.  “Well,  on your next order you should specify that you want the boxes labeled. I don’t know–there might be an extra charge for that.”

Ehehehehe!  Don’t you know that about half your vendors and ALL of the freight lines work for me now?  Now that I know it really bugs you, you can look forward to even more mystery boxes next fall.

One final note.  This might be the end of an era. Since the real, live Dead Cats are being ordered separately these days, since they take so long to arrive, for the first time in memory, there were no actual defunct kitties in this year’s order.  The human female reckons that the whole rigmarole  ought to be renamed.  She’s proposed the “Dead Frog Fandango.”  Hmm.  It’s not untrue, but it just doesn’t have the same “zip.”

What do you think?

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Your Bad News Is My Belly-laugh

Good news!:  The custodial crew is deep cleaning all the floors so they’ll be beautiful and sparkling.  They’re stripping them down to bare tile and everything.  They’re even using the new, super-strength stripper I provided.

Bad news! (Well, bad for the human female):  The new, super-strength stripper I provided doesn’t stop at dissolving all the old, yellow, grungy wax.  No, it continues to power through and dissolves the adhesive sticking down the floor tile as well!

Now, as the human female and her staff are walking through the rooms, they can hear the distinctive ~crackle!~ of loose tiles underfoot.

Ehehehe!  Will you look at that!  Mop-water has gotten in under the tiles and is squeezing back up whenever someone puts weight in the affected spots!

floortile vs water1

Did I know my little prank would turn out so well?  No–but color me tickled!  Dirty, mop-water-brown and tickled!

Oh, dear.   Looks like it’s time to file a work order with Slow, Silent, and Costly.  I’d frown in consternation and disapproval, but the corners of my mouth keep twitching up…

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It’s Been A While…

Since I sent the human female any plumbing-related woes.  I think, therefore, it would be interesting to have water appear randomly, with no discernible source.

Odin’s Eyepatch! I appear to have miscalculated.  Instead of water appearing on the human female’s desk, it has manifested on the desk of one of her coworkers.  Still, the coworker being absent today, it falls to the human female to move the coworker’s computer, mop up the water, and put down a bench paper blotter, in case more appears.

tydeskleak1

Where did it all come from?!  The human female is looking left and right, down and…

tydeskleak2

…up.  Always, always look up.

I don’t know if I’ve made the observation before, but if I have, it bears repeating:  the human female is a big, fat hypocrite.  She prays and begs for water to fall from above outside, on the “garden,” but let a little moisture drip down from a ceiling indoors, and it’s all, “Woe is me!”  “Plumbing emergency!”  And, “Oh, noes! Now I have to deal with Slow, Silent, and Costly!”

Spare me.

(later) Well, that was fun!  The incident got tagged in the system as a “ceiling tile replacement,” without any indication that workmen should investigate the source of the water damage.  There are so many options!  Plumbing, fire sprinkler system, condensation on chilled water line, melting Frost-Giant snowballs, portal to bottom of fjord on Vanaheim, etc., etc.

In the end, I suppose it doesn’t really matter, because when plumbers from SSC finally do show up, I shall, of course, make sure that the human female looks as foolish as possible when there’s no trace of a leak to be found anywhere.

Until the next Mystery Puddle appears…

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It’s Been Too Long Since We Had Any Squelching

It’s been much too long since we had any squelching around here.  Or at least no squelching inside.  Outside, there’s been a good bit of rain, things are a bit soggy, and the grass is getting loooooong.

Inside, though.  That’s where I love a good puddle.  Aside from the inconvenience, there’s always the chance I can get the human female to slip and fall in it, which is always good for a laugh.  (Don’t worry–she’s never actually seriously injured.  She has far too much padding for that.)

Today feels like it could be a good day for some water on the floor.  Hmm.  Where to put it?  How about in the middle of one of the human female’s prep rooms?  Someplace people have to go in and out of all day?  That could work.  Done!

A bit later…

Aw, yeah.

311-leak2

Looks like the minions have been busy mopping.  I can stand on the shore where they’ve put some bench paper down to sop.  Ehehehe.  Sop and mop!

311-leak1

Now, of course, it’s time for everyone’s second favorite game–Where’s That Water Coming From?  

The humans are  not sure if this is the source of the water on the floor…

311-leak3

…but they are catching on to the fact that there may be more than one problem.  I don’t know if it shows well in the photograph, but can you see there’s a constant stream of water running there?  Tsk, tstk.  Wasteful.

Slow, Silent, and Costly have been summoned to investigate.   Actually, I think that, as is typical, they  have already been here, taken a look at the problem, and promised to return..  How can I tell?  Easy!  1) While the sink is still running, the puddle on the floor has ceased to grow.  I. e., the job is half done. 

Also, someone has left behind a tool.

311-leak4

A lovely, grippy, bone-chomping tool.  An adjustable, grippy, bone-chomping tool.  I do not know who left you out, you sweet, toothy thing, but you’re mine now!

(later.)  Yes, Slow, Silent, and Costly have been here and are coming back.  They have promised a whole new faucet!  The minions are quite excited.

Do you see the diabolical brilliance of my pranks?  This is how you may know that you are in the presence of the Master of Mischief:  I can visit upon the human female and her staff as many misfortunes as I wish, but if I throw them a little bone from time to time, all they can think about is that, and not the giant, still-unsolved problem that SSC may– or may not– be coming back to fix.

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Mischief Update: Turning It Up to Eleven

Looking back over recent entries on this blog, I realize that it’s all been rather touchy-feely around here.  Family visits, art museums, wildflowers, and all manner of fluff. Don’t for a moment think, however, that I’ve turned over a new leaf or gone soft or wavered at all in my determination to make the human female’s life a maelstrom of chaos and despair.  Far from it!  I’ve just been too busy to jot all the mischief down.  Allow me to rectify the situation.

I’m still thwarting most of the human female’s attempts to do her job in an expeditious manner. She had to order some rubber stoppers for some large vessels.  Now, the stupid things come in various sizes and with and without holes.  Did she need something normal like a one-holed size eight? She did not! She needed size 13.5. Not 13, not 14. 13.5. With two holes. She couldn’t find them *anywhere.*  No one had them in stock. I finally let her locate some online from Rubber Stoppers ‘R’ Us or some such and she was pleased to put in an order–with postage totaling more than the price of the goods.  And mmmm. That all-pervasive aroma of rubber goods never fails to cling to hands and storage.

There are just so *many* ways that purchasing can go wrong.  A quick trip to the pet store to buy crickets for the tarantulas to eat can turn into a second trip to have a cashier refund and re-ring the transaction to remove the sales tax, which the original cashier had been instructed to delete, and for which the human female presented the appropriate documentation. (I convinced the poor lad that he should jam the long Tax Exempt number into the customer phone number field on his little computer). And yes, the University will quibble over 8.25% of $2.40.

Toluidine blue.Toluidine blue.” Mellifluous words that roll on the tongue like a fine wine.  The human female ordered some last fall as part of the elephantine order.  And it didn’t come.  And it didn’t come.  And it didn’t come.  The human female called the Vendor Who’s Responsible to enquire as to its whereabouts and was informed that it was Still Going to be a While.  It was that same old story–the warehouse to which the order was directed was out, and there was no ability within the system to transfer the order to a different fulfillment center.  So, after some snarling and growling, the human female ordered some from a different vendor.  So naturally, the original order showed up two days later.

I’ve got proof–the Vendor Who’s Responsible thinks of the human female as an inanimate object:customer is an it

A large part of what the human female does involves safety. She very carefully transcribed and collated a bunch of student Lab Safety Agreements (that paper they all sign saying they won’t do anything stupid in lab, a document that effectively cuts the SAR (Stupid Accident Rate) by a solid 3%) and, under my direction, even more carefully locked the filing cabinet.  That Prep Staff did not have a key for.  I suggested dynamite, which would have been Eventful and Exciting, if a little iffy for the continued legibility of said LSAs, but someone eventually found a key, drat it. Oh, well, there was a nice half hour of tizzy, so I’m counting it as a win.

I do love the unicellular members of the Archaeplastida. The human female and her staff had to grow up several liters of Chlamydomonas, a little, single-celled green alga for one of the labs this semester.  People call me high-maintenance, but Great Frigga’s Corset, those little goobers are finicky! They need just so much light, but not too much. Perfect media to grow in, with just the right amounts of certain solutes.  *This* much agitation while in the growth chamber, but no more.  Apparently that last is particularly important. The students got to find out the hard way that if you jostle the carboy full of goobers just a smidge too much, they shed all their flagella and sulk in the bottom of the container. And then when they’re put into the let’s-see-how-well-they-swim-without-the-ability-to-photosynthesize-or-respire exercise, the students get to take data on a whole bunch of nothing much happening.  Meanwhile, another goober, Scenedsmus (one I am quite fond of, since it has horns at either end of the colony and is inclined to contrariness), steadfastly refused to interact with the gel-making chemicals in order to form perfect little algae pearls for the other part of the photosynthesis lab. The supposed-to-be-cutting-edge curriculum had to resort to the old-fashioned protocol, which involves punching little circles out of spinach leaves.  I like to keep the humans  humble.

I really can’t help myself–- meddling with experiments is just so much fun! Another of the students’ labs involved running gel electrophoresis, a process which is just loaded with variables that an enterprising man such as myself can meddle with.  Prep Staff’s test gels just wouldn’t run.  Or rather, they would, but the results looked like a toddler’s first attempts at finger painting and not like a neat set of crisp, glowy bands.  I actually lost track of how many times they had to re-run it.  More agarose in the gel.  Less agarose in the gel.  More DNA in each lane. Less DNA in each lane.  More DNA stain. Less DNA stain.  Placement of the stain in the gel instead of the sample (this actually works better.) Different reference ladder. Cue multiple very expen$I’ve orders to Let Our Nuclear Zaniness Abound (AKA, the Purveyor of gel reagents, AKA the company that keeps sending other people’s invoices to the human female).

Then there’s maintenance, which is a very fertile garden in which to sow seeds of mischief and nurture them to weedy fruition.  Take the countertops and backsplash in room 306, for example.  They were made out of an inferior particle board covered with laminate, and years of moisture from the sink and the steam from the autoclave had fashioned them into a warped, bulgy, separating, landscape reminiscent of the rolling hills of someplace noted for its hills.  The human female and all concerned parties started trying to schedule replacement sometime last fall.  I delayed the project multiple times with the room being needed for actual work, with shortages of the epoxy replacement countertop materials, and with the ever-present question of available funding.  Prep Staff emptied the drawers and cabinets for what turned out be a false alarm and had to put everything back.  There was a planning meeting about the whole thing that no one saw fit to tell the human female about, and the person at Slow, Silent, and Costly who was in charge of the project quit and didn’t tell anyone, so various balls were dropped there as well.  Good times!  When the work was FINALLY done I decided to have a little more fun.  The next day, everyone on the floor started asking that dangerous question: “Do you smell gas?” A lot of sniffing about ensued, and the general consensus was yes, everyone smelled gas.  In room 306.  SSC was called again and two fellows came out –but only because they had left some tools behind on the previous day.  Those two were summarily pounced upon and made to do the sniff test.  After much nosing about, they were able to figure out that during the counter installation, someone had bumped one of the riser pipes that feed the wall-mounted gas nozzles.  Behold– leaking gas! But no one could find the actual leak.   More sniffing.  Soapy water was brought and squirted about, and leaks were found in a couple of places. A drill had to be fetched.  At one point, there were THREE workmen, the human female, the Bio Department’s building proctor, the Assistant Department Head, and some of prep staff all in the little room.  Attendant thereunto was the annual discussion about whether or not a new autoclave is in the offing.  It was the same old story.  If someone else gets a new one, the human female can have a secondhand one from that someone else.  Maybe.  In theory.  Eventually, the circus packed up its monkeys and the taint of mercaptan was dispelled.  The human female deeply regrets that she was not the one who got to fill out the cheery How Did We Do? satisfaction survey for that one.  Six months or so from work request to putting the last bits of stuff back in the drawers.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.

More recently, I did some mischief that didn’t discommode the humans, though it caused some departmental consternation.  It was discovered that there was a sizable pool of water under one of the buildings, mostly from rain.  Now, there are two pumps down there to keep the basements from flooding, which is a good thing–-as long as they’re operational.  One pump was broken and the backup was out of commission as well, along with the alarm system that’s supposed to tattle when a swimming pool develops. While workmen were sloshing about trying to fix things, they discovered that there was a leak or two or three coming down from floors above (Reverse Osmosis water, sprinkler system, etc.)  It took a week and change to drain the swamp, during which time the cats that like to hang out under the building had to find drier accommodations elsewhere.

Several of the rooms in the human female’s tiny domain must remain within a fairly narrow temperature range, for the comfort of various finned or chitinous residents.  Over Spring Break, when the human female was trying to enjoy the fleeting visit with her mother and sister, I suggested to Slow, Silent, and Costly that it would be a good time to do some maintenance on the air handling system.  With the A/C out, the temperature in those special rooms quickly rose, and the human female got to deal with her phone going off with a TEMPERATURE ALERT! every ten minutes for the better part of the day.  Of course, no one was advised of the impending work beforehand. That would be cheating.

Throwing rooms off temp is such fun that I did it some more.  I had one of the walk-in coolers running nice and hot.  I do this on a semi-annual basis. It’s one of my favorite tricks, because if it looks as if it’s going to be hot for a while, all the contents have to be shifted to the other cold room. The human female and her cohorts do spend a lot of time shuffling materials from one place to another. Exercise!  It didn’t get fixed and it didn’t get fixed and it didn’t get fixed.  When the human female called Slow, Silent, and Costly to ask sweetly what the Hel was going on, she was told to call the head HVAC fellow, who was completely surprised to find out that there was any problem at all on the floor. I do my best work as a silver-tongued intriguer, but my obfuscation skills are every bit as good.

But in mid-March the human female was informed that the heating issue in room 322 from last November was fixed–and would she like to take a satisfaction survey?  Nothing like timely feedback, eh?  How about this?

SSC-survey from last year

Many points awarded for having fixed the problem soon after it was reported; minus several thousand points for communication.

And then— No, you know what?  My hand is cramping from writing all of this down!  I’ve been so bad this spring that I shall do myself an injury trying to chronicle it all at once.  More mischief update anon–I need to go find an ice pack.

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A Long Game I Really Adoored

Look at this.  It was a lovely, long bit of mischief.

newdoor4

Looks like a regular, boring, institutional door, doesn’t it?  But it’s one of  my greatest pranks!  Would you like to guess when I put it into motion?

I shall tell you.

Last July thirty-first.

Last summer,  a new Lecturer joined the four who have their offices off of a shared lobby across the hall from the human female.  The only problem was that her shoebox of an office had a door that opened into the hallway, not the lobby.  A work order was submitted to Slow, Silent, and Costly on 7/31/2018.

In due time two fellows came out (remember, they always travel in pairs), took a look at the blank wall, tapped some sheetrock, sucked a little air through their front teeth, and told all assembled that it was going to Take Some Time, as there was a hitherto unknown Door Shortage.  Yep, they reckoned as how it was going to take six weeks just to get a door, what with all the construction locally and what not.  Besides, the the fall semester was due to start sooner than six weeks,  no one really wanted wall-sawing noise going on with classes in session, did they?  Best wait until the break between semesters, right?

Fast forward to the first day of classes this semester.  It was Door Day!  Three workmen came out to Install the Door.  

They were here all day.

They rummaged all over the hallway ceiling looking for wires.

They cut a small hole in the sheetrock, because they’d have to move an outlet:

newdoor1

Then they cut a door-sized hole in the drywall from Not-so-new Lecturer’s office into the lobby:

newdoor3

But what was that up there?  What was that hangy-downy bit?

They didn’t!  They did!

newdoor2

They didn’t know what that cable was for so they just sliced it.  Depriving Not-so-new Lecturer, an Additional Lecturer, and all of Prep Staff of phone service.  Oopsie!

The rest of the story is best outlined against a calendar.  This is where the human female became involved.  Largely because she was a) handy and b) in possession of a working telephone.

1/14  A work order is put in with Slow Silent and Costly because, “Look what your guys did!”

1/14  SSC replies.  “Phone service is Telecommunications, which is part of IT.  Call Helpdesk Central.”

1/14.  The human female initiates a work order with IT.  And of course, it’s a different work order from the one she filed with SSC.

1/15  She calls IT, since she hasn’t heard anything, and asks them to send her a copy of the work order form.  “We’ll email it,” they say.  They do so.  Twice.  It didn’t show up.

1/15. Ms. L. from IT calls back.  “If you file the work order, Biology will be charged for it.  You need to call Slow Silent and Costly back and get an account number from them, so they will pay.”

1/15.  She calls SSC.  SSC agrees that maybe they should pay for it and asks for the original work order number.  From last July.  Great Frigga’s Corset!  Who has that?!  SSC says she should call Trades, which was the SSC group that had the work order.

1/15.  The human female calls Mr. W. in Trades and leaves a message.

1/15.  She finds two copies of the IT work order where I’d helpfully left them.  In her junk mail.   They’re useless now, of course.

1/16  The human female calls Mr. W. again, makes contact, and gives him Ms. L.’s number and tells them to sort it out between them.

1/18  IT/Telecomm does come out and fix the phone line.  There are hopes that SSC will come out and put the thrice-blasted door in.  Perhaps over the weekend?

1/19  Nothing…

1/20-1/27  Nothing…  The gaping hole remains in Not-so-new Lecturer’s wall.

1/28  The door, as pictured above, is finally in place.  Why did it take so long?  No one from IT bothered to tell SSC that the phone work was done.

One hundred and eighty-two days.  49.86% of a non-leap year.  Roughly as long as it takes to gestate a baboon.

Somehow that seems fitting.

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