stiff kitties

Labels are Very Important

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

They say a picture is worth a thousand words:


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


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


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

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In Which We Learn Just How the Human Female’s Sick Little Mind Works…

In all of the excitement of discovering that deer are sigynivorous and that some monotremes have skulls that look like something straight out of science fiction, one important fact was overlooked.

Not all of the skulls came.  Six of the seven requisite deer skulls are on back-order, as are a few of the nightmare beasts.

Missing entirely are the cat skulls.

I have written before, at length, about the dearth of pickled cat cadavers for the Dead Cat Ballet, how I have conspired to make it nearly impossible for the human female to obtain stiff kitties at any price or within any reasonable time frame.  Well, this same shortage means that cat head-bones are just as hard to come by as the rest of the beast.  The seven cat skulls she ordered from the Purveyor of Head Bones are on indefinite back-order.

The human female has mulled this for a few days now, and she has come up with a solution that horrifies even me.  I, who will stop at nothing and for no one in my bid for conquest, would never have come up with such a plan.

You see, the human female does still manage to order a few dead cats from time to time.  The Anatomy and Physiology teaching assistants still dissect a few kitty cadavers as demonstrations for their students.  At the end of the semester, there’s not much left of Mittens, if you get my meaning.

Perhaps you can see where this is going.  I will spell it out, painfully, for you.

She has written to the POHB with the most bizarre notion ever to come out of her  twisted soul.  “What,” she asked, “if we cut the heads off a few of our used cat cadavers and mail them to you?  Could you process them for skulls?”

I don’t know which is more appalling—that she would suggest it, that the POHB would agree to attempt the procedure, or that two of the human female’s minions would leap at the chance to perform the decapitations.

So here we have it:

box of catheads2

A box of noggins.

box of catheads1

All boxed up and ready to send.  I’ve heard that preserved animals are difficult to process into good skeleton specimens.   This will either end glory and shiny skulls or in tears and recriminations.  I guess we will find out.

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To be continued…


Time For Dead Things Again Already?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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



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

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


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

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

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

Crayfish?  Check.

Grasshoppers?  Check.

Fetal piggies?  Check.

Tiny, bony fishies?


Dead cats?

Dead cats?

Stiff kitties?

(crickets chirping.)

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


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

And it had its own box.


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

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

Now do something about that mess!


It looks like Hurricane Mittens came through.

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The Dead Cat Ballet, Acts I-IV

It is nearly time for the annual Dead Cat Ballet.  You will recall that I recently provided a synopsis of the Overture.  We have now had Act One, in which the human female was informed that a PO was generated for her requisition.  But there already WAS a PO, and the Purveyor of Dead Things was already working to assemble the requisite number of corpses!  Would the human female receive double the Dead Things?! Cue flurry of frantic emails.  Did she need to cancel this new PO?  Yes?  No?  Turns out that the PO number stayed the same as was mentioned in the Overture, but to avoid confusion, a new requisition number was given when the request moved from out-for-bid to bid-awarded.  Because that’s not at all confusing…

Act Two has involved Central Receiving  which, as you recall, is among the dramatis personae for the Ballet because the large trucks from PODT cannot navigate down the alley along which the human female’s workplace is located.  They originally acceded to the human female’s request to receive the shipment from PODT in early August and deliver it to the human female on the 11th.  Except now it is going to be later, a far less auspicious day.  Pick a day, mortals!  I need to know when to make it rain.

Act Three involves outsourced Area Maintenance because, as always, to get ready to receive Dead Things, one must be able to drive a pallet jack through the doorway, which has a nice, convenient post in the middle.  The human female placed a work request to have this done on Ballet Day, only to be told that this is not actual maintenance and so she will have to PAY for the privilege of being able to shuffle Dead Things.  She didn’t ask me.  I could get rid of that pesky post once and for all.  Also some floor tile and some actual doors, but hey, there’d be room for the pallet jack.

Act Four has been a total surprise to everyone involved.  The human female went to the stock room to pick up a few things and was presented with not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE boxes of…..drum roll……dead cats from the Purveyor of Dead Things!  Unexpected, unannounced, and not part of the regularly scheduled Dead Cat Ballet–which, this year, was not even supposed to include Dead Cats.  The human female had to perform some accounting archaeology to figure out which ancient PO these erstwhile pussycats fulfilled.  Any guesses?

LAST August.  That’s correct!  These were ordered LAST August.  Incredible.  Just to make life more interesting, 26 were ordered and 21 were shipped, which raises the question:  If you are going to wait an entire year to ship, why not wait a bit longer and ship the whole benighted order?

That’s all right.  The Departmental Bean Counters are going to just LOVE this partial receipt which is sure now to make this PO overhang the end of one fiscal year and dangle into the next…

And we haven’t even gotten to Ballet Day yet!
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Mischief Update: Special First-Day-of-Class Edition

Wow!   When I’m on fire, I’m on fire.  Yesterday was a GREAT day for me.  It was the first day of the fall semester here at the University, and I made good use of every opportunity for mischief I could find.

Despite the fact that every outside door in the building bears quite prominent signs stating, “Lower Division labs will NOT meet the first week of class,” I saw to it that a seemingly endless parade of clueless undergrads wandered the halls and into and out of offices, seeking sections that were, in fact, NOT meeting.  Prep Staff finally made additional signs for each lab door just so staff could get a little peace.  I’m meeting with all of the teaching assistants later in the week.  My plan is for them to begin lab next week with, “If you would all pass your homework to the front, we will start of with a quiz over last week’s experiment.”  Good thing everyone around here is trained to respond appropriately to pukers and fainters.

eCampus, the World Tree-like computer interface that links together schedules, grades, homework, notices, etc. for the entire campus, contracted electronic emerald ash borers yesterday and put forth only tiny dribbles of information.  Cue thousands of students wondering why their classes don’t show up and countless staff well and truly stymied in their attempts to upload course files and section folders.  This is has become a dependable, if not well-loved, first week of school tradition.  Fret not!  It will sort itself out once seventy thousand people aren’t all trying to log in at once.  I’ve been telling everyone that the “e” in “eCampus” stands for “eventually.”

I brought back another time-honored tradition for the first day of the semester.  It poured.  Everyone who didn’t heed the forecast endured about twenty minutes of very heavy “50% chance” and arrived at their over-air-conditioned destinations dripping and shivering.  Oh, and did I mention there’s a small but definite flu-outbreak in one of the sorority houses?

Surprise! The carefully-negotiated lab teaching schedule for first-semester majors’ biology lasted less than twenty-four hours.  Three teaching assistants who had overload assignments (three-sections each) were relieved of their extra sections, and these were given to a new teaching assistant, necessitating a small domino-sequence of changes to the grid.  Behold!  Is it not a thing of beauty and terror?


Surprise!   The recently-quiescent Honors Program in Biology has been resurrected.  At yesterday’s staff meeting, the human female and her colleagues were made aware that there will be THREE lab sections of honors first-semester majors’ biology.  No info was provided as to who the teaching assistants will be or what they’ll want, of course.  The human female and her cohorts have been scrambling to learn their identities, gather their personal information, and get them plugged into the above-pictured grid, email lists, and lab meetings.

The Chancellor and Regents sent a memo to congratulate everyone on doing such a fine job, and the Provost encouraged all the weary staff and faculty to keep producing excellent results and better student outcomes (= higher grades) on a tighter budget, with no sacrifice in quality.  Ehehehehe!  More budget fun!  The only group on campus who seems to be flouri$hing is Engineering.  I think they have designs on the entire east side of campus and envision a small tribute state composed of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Business, Science, Education, Liberal Arts, and whatnot out on west campus or out by the river.  Hmm.  Perhaps I have thrown in my lot with the losing side and should abandon the human female to partner with someone in Engineering in mutual efforts to take over the world…?

The human female received a call from Central Receiving yesterday, informing her that they were holding a shipment with her name on it.  “How large?” she enquired.  “Small box; about six pounds,” was the reply.  Clearly, this was not the long-lost squid and clams, which should be several hundred pounds. The human female agreed that Central could plop the parcel into the campus mail.  It arrived yesterday afternoon and proved to contain the ten missing lampreys.  The human female was so glad to see their jawless, toothy faces that she said something about making them all small party hats.  (Should I be worried about her?  Nah.)

A second delivery, this one made to the stock-room, proved to contain fourteen dead cats, part of an order the human female made this spring to the Purveyor of Squiggly Things (and also sometimes Not Squiggly Things.)  She has yet, of course, failed to receive the twenty-four stiff kitties she ordered much longer ago than that from the Purveyor of Dead Things.  This afternoon she will order twenty-five more.  By the Norns’ nose-hairs!  It is dead cats 24/7 around here.

She also needs to order eleven microscope slides of human blood, taken from someone afflicted with the malady known as sickle-cell anemia.  (Jotuns aren’t afflicted by this malady; it sounds dreadful.)  She is put in the guilt-inducing position of hoping that there is someone who is sick enough with this to contract to bleed for a slide-making house.

And I still owe the human female a really rotten prank or two.  Her work group has had both Environmental Health and Safety Department (EHSD, AKA Eek! Hazards, Sickness and Death) and Biosafety (BSL, AKA Bacteria, Slime, and Loogies) inspections this week.  Despite my best efforts, they passed both with flying colors, but the human female locked me away for the duration of both inspections, so I was unable to point out to the inspectors all of the more subtle-yet-deadly deficiencies.  I had to content myself with pointing out that in two of the prep rooms, the safety showers are immediately adjacent to the circuit-breaker boxes and with making sure the human female and her staff received yet another directive about the handling and labeling of biohazard waste.  (Long story involving bags of different colors, autoclaves, stickers, and disposal personnel who are convinced that Red Means Instant Annhiliation, such that heretofore any red bag must be put into a black one before they would consent to dispose of it.)

The days are just packed.

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