They Had One Mission And Stumbled

A Bag O’ Swag, Part I: Nothing Edible Yet

One of the sales representatives from one of the vendors the human female deals with stopped by today.  She used to work for a company that was swallowed up by They Had One Mission and Stumbled, but now she works for a smaller company that still wants to sell the human female the biodegradable nitrile gloves everyone wears around here.

They had a nice chat, and the sales rep left behind a bag of SWAG (Sure, We Are Greedy).  It’s a “cute” human ritual.  The vendor comes in with a bag that is clearly full of samples and goodies and says it’s “just a little something”, and the human female politely pretends not to be distracted by it, though it’s quite obvious she wants to rip into it and see if there is anything edible.

This Swag bag is greenwhich is auspicious. What do you suppose is in it, Sigyn?

swag1

I can sort of see through the plastic.  I think we are in for some riveting Product Literature.

swag2

There are some sample disposable pipettes.

swag3

Sigyn is looking to see if they are marked “To Deliver” or “To Contain.”  There’s a difference.

swag4

I can’t be bothered to know what that difference is, of course, but I understand there is one.

There’s a box of pipette tips in three different sizes–10 mool, 20 mool, and 200 mool.

swag5

What?  That’s not how “μl” is pronounced?

I was right, there’s a substantial catalog in the bag.

swag6

Sigyn is excited because she’s just found out that MasterMix now comes in red.

swag7

If you have to add the primers and the DNA, then what is actually in the Master Mix, hmm?

Look–their centrifuge tubes come in all sorts of colors!  The human female never has any colors other than blue or white.  Because she’s boring.

swag8

“Um, Sigyn?  Don’t look at this page, all right?”

swag9

I have my suspicions about where this Newborn Calf Serum and Fetal Calf Serum come from…

swag10

…and it’s not pretty.

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Seasonally Appropriate Missing Bits

The human female is still waiting for the Missing Bits of her fancy new transilloomini-whatsits.

When they weren’t in the box, she immediately called the account rep from They Had One Mission And Stumbled, who was suitably perplexed.  Yes, the rep said, the Missing Bits were supposed to be part of the unit.  No, they weren’t something that had to be ordered separately.  Yes, she would speak to the manufacturer.  No, she didn’t think the human female deserved to get the whole order free for her trouble.

So the rep did call the manufacturer and ask about the Missing Bits.  The manufacturer was appalled.  Appalled that someone would question the packing and delivery of one of their fine instruments.  Surely the human female had simply overlooked the tiny circle of orange plastic tucked securely into its own bubble-padded envelope admist all the other bubble packing.  And, just as surely, she had also overlooked the 8″ x 10″ rectangle of fluorescent orange plastic which was definitely included.

Um, no.  When I mischief, I mischief good.  The Missing Bits were indeed missing.

Grudgingly, the manufacturer agreed to send replacements.  The human female has been waiting rather impatiently, since the apparatus is definitively useless without the Missing Bits.

A Promising Box has been fetched from the stockroom, where it was just delivered.

Could it be?  It is!  The long lost Missing Bits!

Or one of them, anyway.  Behold the Large Orange Rectangle of Viewyness.

transilluminator7

Yeah, I can totally see how one of these could be overlooked in a package.

Is the other, smaller Missing Bit in the box as well?

Clever Sigyn!  You found it!

transilluminator8

It is indeed a critical piece!  Without this little orange filter, the ability to photograph the gel with a camera phone is lost, and one might as well not have this apparatus at all.

What do things look like when viewed through it?  What do you see?

transilluminator9

Sigyn’s report:  “Everything looks all pumpkin spice-y!”

*sigh*  I bet it does, love.  I bet it does.

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I Love Planning Surprises

I’m still fuming that the human female did an end-run around my carboy mischief. I need to think quickly and come up with some other mischief before my credibility is ruined.

Hmmm. Got it!

I’ve written before about the human female’s dabbling with DNA and electricity. I learned the other day that she calls it “electrophoresis”. There is a lot of electrophoresis equipment round and about here. hings to collect the DNA in, gadgets to multiply the DNA, machines to spin the DNA down (like that giant centrifuge), rigs for separating the DNA into bits on a gel, and special light boxes for viewing the split-up DNA, camera rigs for photographing the gels, and so on and so on.

Well, apparently not only are the special light boxes old, they also put out a LOT of UV light. They call it UV light because if you hang over the box examining your gel, the light will give you face cancer and then you’ll have an Ugly Visage. (Or in the human female’s case, Uglier Visage.) The cameras on the light boxes are also old, hard to focus, and great eaters of batteries.

A while back, the human female was pondering this setup and thinking, “Wouldn’t it be easier if someone invented a system where a person could just capture a gel photo with their phone, since all the phones these days have cameras that work better anyway?” She did a little online searching and discovered that indeed, someone has invented such a thing. One phone call to the manufacturer resulted in a representative from They Had One Mission And Stumbled (who distributes this product in this part of Midgard) coming out with a unit to do a demonstration.

So the human female and her minions all spit in little tubes, the DNA was multiplied and sorted out on a gel, and the new machine was put through its paces. The human female and her staff were thrilled. The little dock for a smart phone worked perfectly and the photos were dubbed “magnificent.” The best part: no more Ugly Visage light–it just uses Sirius-level amounts of blue light and a special orange filter to make the DNA visibile.

And so the human female ordered. She and the minions have been waiting with barely concealed impatience.

And it has arrived! Come, Sigyn, let us witness the unboxing.  I’ve planned a little surprise, and I want to see how the human female likes it.

transilluminator box

Well, there appears to be a surfeit of bubble-wrap.  Being broken is not the surprise.

And here’s the enclosure-thingy that keeps the blue light in and the room light out.  So far, so good.

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Pop! Pop! Pop-pop-pop! Popopopopopop!

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And here’s the illuminator unit itself.  Very nice, flat, and compact.  The human female is pleased.

She is less pleased that the orange filter does not seem to be included in the box, nor the little orange filter window for the very tip top of the machine.

transilluminator 4

Surprise!

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Mischief Update–I Solemnly Swear That I Am Up To No Good

I always say that I’m going to keep up with documenting my mischief. After all, future scholars and chroniclers will want to be able to appreciate my long games, my spur-of-the-moment flashes of evil brilliance, and my witty prose. But I’m so *busy* doing the actual mischief (and fighting off vegetative nightmares) that I do sometimes fall behind and then have to jot down an elephantine wodge of insidious history. Like this one.

I continue to do some of my best work with vendors. My collaboration with They Had One Mission And Stumbled is proving to be a very fruitful one. The human female put in an order for cases and cases and cases of those green, biodegradable lab gloves she’s switched the whole teaching program to. Her two previous orders each had delivery problems, so she was hoping for a smooth transaction this time. As if.  No, the whole pallet of glove cases did arrive, but it came in in dribs and drabs over a few weeks’ time. Half the order came in one or two cases at a time. Each little portion had its own ship notice and its own packing slip. The packing slips weren’t all the same size or format, and things came via both Unrepentant Package Smashers and Fed-up and Exhausted. In the end, there were eight packing slips, and one of the larger shipments came addressed to Stephen Wolfe. Luckily, that particular addressee-fu has occurred before, and the stockroom personnel know now to just shrug and reroute-the shipments to the human female. Finally, when one of these multi-box shipments of four different sizes of gloves comes, all the cases need to be held somewhere until they all come in and are checked off. Basically, it takes over a whole room for a couple of weeks.

One particular order for a refill for an antibody demo kit never came in at all. The human female waited….and waited…and waited. Finally, she called the vendor directly. The vendor did the email equivalent of a blank stare. They’d never received the PO at all. Turns out that the purchasing software had “helpfully” directed it to the personal email of a person who is not at the company any more.  The human female fixed that, much to my annoyance. Perfectly good prank, and I only got to use it once.

Preparations for the annual Dead Cat Ballet have already begun. She asked for a quote from the customer rep at the Purveyor of Dead Things and eventually got one. Of course, it didn’t have the plethora of pickled piglets she wanted and they had to do it over, so… Starfish remain totally unavailable, so the human female had to order three-hundred some-odd sea cucumbers. (Is that even an animal? Or are they switching to vegetables for dissection?) In any case, she submitted the order for approval and waited….and waited. No PO. I’ve figured out that if I distract her just as she’s quadruple checking the order one. last. time, she forgets to file the This Order Must Go to the Purveyor of Dead Things/ sole source paperwork, which slows the whole process down to a crawl. The order’s been placed now; we’ll see if it actually shows up as promised….

Earlier, she ordered some sharks for the a different class. The professor very strictly specified 1 female and two males. I helped the PODT pick out three beautiful females.  At my behest, hey also shipped three female stiff kitties and no stiff tomcats on a two male, one female order.

Speaking of Dead Things–remember the room full of skulls? Most of the shipment came in at once but there were a few things backordered (cats, deer, and the ever-elusive platypus). They came in a few here and a few there. Then the human female received another shipping notice and another invoice for two deer and one platypus, with a different order number from the big main one. Cue panic. Turns out that fake invoices are the Purveyor of Dead Heads’ way of putting shipped backorders through their system.  The human female submitted it for payment, but she’s discovered it didn’t get paid because a few days ago, the Purveyor of Dead Heads sent it to her again.

Oh, and remember the papers the human female has to sign every year for the Vendor Whose Responsible, saying that she promises not to use any of her chemicals to set up a meth lab in the basement?

VWR-Intended Use 2019

She filled them out this year and sent them in. Then they sent another request. “I already did this!” she whined. “How about you have your supervisor sign where it says, ‘supervisor’?” they replied. So she had him sign them and sent them back. They sent a third request. “I SAID I already did this!” she type-screamed at them. “But it’s a different account!”the VWR shot back. And setting her up with two account numbers wasn’t the best part of the joke. After all the wrangling–it turns out that the new lab exercises don’t even USE the chemical that triggered all the DEA paperwork in the first place!

That wasn’t the only fun the VWR and I had with the human female!  Oh, no!  Not by a long shot!  The new 111 labs use an astonomical number of test tubes–and now that the Powers That Be have decreed that they should be single-use (or at least tossed in the glass waste at the end of the week), the program is going through mounds and acres and tons of the things.  The human female ordered FIFTY THOUSAND of them.  She waited.  And waited.  Finally, there was a shipping notice!  She tracked it very faithfully on the Unrepentant Package Smasher’s website.  It got as far as Waco (which is, as they say in this part of Midgard, “up the road a piece”) and that’s when I stepped in.  You see, fifty thousand test tubes–fifty cases of 1,000) comes on a pallet.  When UPS has a pallet to deliver to the Department’s stockroom, if the driver doesn’t feel like working his large vehicle down the alley, he doesn’t.  He may take it to Central Receiving or just dump it somewhere else.  Which is what I suggested to him this time.  He dumped it down at the UPS hub facility back in Waco.

testtubes-vs-ups

The tracking said, “Will attempt delivery the next day,” but they didn’t.  And they didn’t call.  When the human female called them, asking if they could pretty please route the package to Central Receiving so that she could get it from them, they said, “NO,” and insinuated that she was somewhat lower than pond scum.  They made her get an Authorization For Reroute from the VWR, e-mailed to UPS and not sullied by her hands or her mail program.  She managed to do this, resigning herself to the $110.00 change of address fee she incurred in the process.  While she was waiting for the authorization to go through, the UPS tracking said, “Out for Delivery”–which induced a panic, because it wasn’t supposed to go anywhere until the paperwork cleared.  Frantic, she called the UPS depot in Waco who looked and said, “Nope, sitting right here.” It took a day or two after that to have the package show up at Central Receiving, and finally all the test tubes came to their “forever home.”  She should thank me!  She knows now to split the big test tube order into parts or to specify that it not be on a pallet.

Sometimes, when I finish with the human female for the day, I have a little mischief left over. Then I start looking for other mortals to tamper with. One of the human female’s techs, for example, played a big part in the acetone scare of a few months back. Funny, was it, coworker?  How “funny” did you think it was when I had HR lose your paycheck?

For the 111 labs, this summer was the second go around with the new labs. The professor wanted to try something different with the Forensics lab, the one that uses invisible bits of DNA and gooey/gelly agarose and lethal amounts of electricity. The first time, the results were deemed “okay,” but apparently they could have been better. So the human female ordered a different set of DNA primers. (Whatever those are…) The test gel–ehehehe! The test gel was completely blank except for the ladder of reference DNA fragments! Now, it’s a multi-step process from sample to gel, so they had to re-run it with various combinations of old and new primers and old and new regents. (I don’t need to know what “taq polymerase” is to mischief it up a bit!) Nada. Zip. Zero. They never did figure it out and ran out of time and had to do the lab the “old way.” I think the human female needs to read fewer articles on gel electrophoresis and more on chaos theory.

She won’t have too much time to read for a while. She’s been sad in recent years to do less with botany than in days of yore. I’ve been whispering in her ear that she’s a washed-up has-been and that she will die in ignominy, and I’ve been looking for opportunities to torture her further.  And now I have my chance! Years ago, she worked with a team of other plant nerds to write The Big Book of East Texas Planty Things That Only Other Plant Nerds Will Care About.  Recently, she’s agreed to collaborate as editor on Volume Two Much (which is FINALLLY in production), meaning she’s going to need to lay in a stock of red pens and patience with other people’s prose. About 157 pages of daisy-related gibberish is going to land in her mailbox any day now. I’m especially tickled because she’s going to have to shell out over $100 dollars to increase the size of her Dropbox space to handle this project. Time-consuming, unpaid, tedious, AND expensive. I’m enjoying this and she hasn’t even started yet.

I suppose it’s not true that she hasn’t been doing any botany this summer. She hasn’t been in the field because a) hot, b) foot in a boot, and c) did I mention hot? She has been working on the Herbarium’s database, fixing errors, checking label information, and other very boring jobs. Recently, she found that I told the student workers they could make changes to the database, an apostasy that was supposed to be Forbidden At All Costs. They’d been editing their version and she’d been editing her version, with the result that she had to re-enter a couple of work sessions worth of data. Now she has to work, not on her saved version of the file, but on the main version that I have urged the Herbarium to host on its server. She has to do all sorts of computery gymnastics just to log on and reach it, and there’s always the chance that the file she needs will be locked for use by someone else.  (Like when I had someone leave for the weekend still logged in with the file open!) And I’ve peeked–the student workers, busy little bees, are always adding new records, all of which will have to be vetted, so the proofing is very much a moving target.  She’ll never be done!

You know…sometimes, all it takes to put the finishing touches on the human female’s day is something very simple. The other day I saw to it that her ugly silver car had a nasty-gram on it when she went to get it from the church parking lot, where she had left it for a few days. During the week, the church makes a little income from charging students to park there while they’re at the university. “Your license plate has been recorded,” the note said, “and the next time we find you here without paying, you will be towed at your own expense.” This note was left under her windshield wiper, right next to her properly displayed parking permit, whose number– along with her license plate number–is duly recorded in the parish office.  You should have seen her eye twitch!

The human female was making (delusional)  gardening noises and plans for a while there. “I’m going to plant this,” and, “I’m going to plant that,” and “Oh, this would look good out front.” She was starting to be really annoying. Then the heat hit, and now she’s just hoping nothing expires from pure despair.  She tried to plant a shrublet the other day and couldn’t manage to chip a hole in the hard-as-iron dry clay.  She had to let the soaker hose run for an hour before she could scrape out a spot for it.  I did nudge a little rain her way to help. But is is *my* fault the accompanying wind broke off 1/4 of her beloved Vitex bush? Or that the five lush, now-house-high elm trees that planted themselves neatly along the property line are, she’s beginning to suspect, not native winged elms but invasive Chinese lacebark elms? Yes. Yes, it is.

In the backyard, the big dead oak is still looming over the house, making the human female fret every time the wind blows.  The tree service folks she’s called either want an amount with a lot of zeros, or they quote a price so low that it’s pretty certain that their “company” is just Joe Bob With a Chainsaw.  The one reputable outfit that comes highly recommended has a voice mailbox that’s full and doesn’t answer email.  (They wouldn’t come take the tree down anyway.  I’ve warned them what a loOnY the human female is, and they have a file on her that says, “do not respond.”)

Inside the home, I’ve been egging the Terror Twins on.  They stage wind sprints and wrestling matches every night about 11:00.  If you’re a betting person, bet on Flannel.  She outweighs Taffy by a fair amount and knows a little judo (I think she’s been taking lessons from Muffy.)  Recently, she gave Taffy a scratch on the chin that made a big scab.  The humans had to take off work, come home, crate up Boo Boo Kitty,  and haul her–screaming all the way–to the vet.  The vet cleaned it up and administered an antibiotic shot, to the tune of over-a-weekly-grocery-bill or half-a-nice-fountain-pen.  It took four adults to hold Miss Wriggle on the table for the shot, and by the time the fur-slinky was back in the crate, the entire exam room, all its occupants, and all its contents were covered in drifts and fluffs of cat hair.  They’ll remember Taffy for a long time.

So, you see, I have had my fingers in all her pies, as the mortal say.  Work, church, home –you name it, I’ve done it.  “But, Loki!” you cry.  “Can you keep this up?  Aren’t you running out of ideas?”

Not even close…

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No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Remember last July when the human female and her crew switched from regular lab gloves to biodegradable nitrile gloves?   I had fun with that shipment.  It arrived in tatters and parts had to be replaced.  They’ve been patting themselves on the back for “helping the environment.”  Well, I’ve been helping the work environment,  making sure it is one of cHa0$ and obfuscation.

The very first thing the human female did when she got back into the office after Yule break was to order the “green” gloves for the semester.  That was on January 2.  She ordered 4 cases of extra large, 23 cases of large, 32 cases of medium, and 32 cases of small, ten boxes to the case.

This time I wanted to make sure they all arrived in good condition.

Just not all at once.

On January 9, about half the gloves arrived via Fed Up and Exhausted.  There was more than a bit of confusion, and the stockroom clerk almost didn’t sign for them, because They Had One Mission And Stumbled (THOMAS) had helpfully addressed the boxes to “Stephen Wolfe,” which just happens not to be the human female’s name.  She couldn’t check the packing slip, because there wasn’t one, just the freight weight statement. The shipment sat in one of the lab rooms while she worked with the vendor to figure out a) were the gloves hers and b) where were the rest?

About that time, the human female received four shipping notices from Unrepentant Package Squashers.  No explanation for the change in shipper.  The four shipments arrived on January 10.  Each one was a single case of small gloves.

After many emails to and from the customer rep, the human female managed to get THOMAS to agree to finish sending the order.  On January 11, more packages showed up, via Fed-up and Exhausted.  The human female and her minions counted and counted again, and came to the conclusion that they had the right number of cases of extra large and one extra case each of large and medium.  They were, however, still short a case of small.  No packing slip here, either.

Email, email, email, moaning, wailing, gnashing of teeth.  The customer rep was busy, busy, busy and ended each of her “I’m working on it” notes ended with a cheery “Let’s make 2019 the best year ever!”  

On January 14, the female managed to squeeze a packing slip out of THOMAS, but it showed only 23 large and 32 medium.

The human female finally gave up and called customer service directly.  They promised to make it all right.

On February 5, she received a shipping notice from Unrepentant Package Squashers that the long-awaited gloves were finally en route.

They arrived on February 11–and here they are!

glove box

I dragged it out as long as I could, and considering that many of the glove boxes sat in the big middle of the main prep room bench until all was completed and that turning in the non-existent packing slips required a novel-length explanation for the bean counters, I’d say it was one of my better jests.

And to think they’ll be ordering again for summer or fall!  Ehehehehe!

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