this is why we can’t have nice things

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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The Vendor Who’s Responsible–For Killing Trees

The human female’s big order to the Vendor Who’s Responsible for the fall semester wasn’t as big as it has been in some years, but it was big enough, running to multiple line items and a couple tens of thousands of dollars.  The various items have been arriving a few here and a few there for over a month now, and it’ a rare week that doesn’t see some sort of packing slip in the human female’s in box.

Years ago now, I had a chat with the Vendor Who’s Responsible about their shipping and their packing slips.  I suggested that some items should ship directly from the manufacturer.  Thus, a large order to VWR might generate shipments from a dozen different vendors–each vendor using its own color and format of paper, of course.

The human female and her minions usually have enough brains to cope with this, but lately I’ve encouraged the Vendor Who’s Responsible to up their game a little bit.

Wouldn’t it be fun, I suggested, if they put ALL of the items from the whole order on each and every packing slip.  Just in case someone can’t recall what they ordered, you understand.  It makes for no little confusion, what with all the “shipping from alternate warehouse” notes and Prep Staff’s helpful notations of “this came on prior packing slip.”  The slips got so confused, it was impossible to tell what was and wasn’t in any given box.  The spreadsheet of orders became amusingly muddled.  The human female instructed her minions to check and initial ONLY the things actually included in the particular shipment in question.

Hence, this:

Page one of the slip for a recent order.  The minions have checked off and dated items included in the shipment:

vwr invoice1

But wait, there’s more!  Page two:

vwr invoice2

Page three:

vwr invoice3

Did anything actually arrive?!  The human female has taken to dropping the useless pages on the floor as she reads.

vwr invoice5

And on we press!  Page four:

vwr invoice4

There we are!  Anything else?

Page five:

vwr invoice 4

Auuugh!  I meant to annoy the human female, but this!   THIS is why our forests are disappearing!  Stop it, vendors!  I am going to rule this miserable rock one of these days, and I’d appreciate it if there was still a little vegetation left on it when I do!

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I Made Art

All of this talk of carpentry and construction has made me want to be a little creative myself.  I think that today I shall dabble in modern, avant garde sculpture.  Using found objects is very “in” these days, so I shall poke around and see what’s to hand in the human female’s workplace.

Hmm.  There are the usual beakers and dissection specimens, nitrile gloves and various bits of apparatus.

The Anatomy and Physiology students are doing a unit on cardiopulmonary physiology this week, and this tub of spirometer parts gives me an idea.

respirometer1

A dastardly, brilliant idea.

The Anatomy and Physiology tech has brought the human female and her Intro Bio techs two large bags full of mouthparts for autoclaving, so….

Later:

Look, Sigyn!  I made sure their biohazard bags were not autoclavable and BEHOLD!!

respirometer2

I call it “Two Bags’-worth of Mouthpieces Covered In Slag”  As with many works of art, the true genius is in the details.  The bag plastic has completely adhered to the neoprene mouthpieces.  Look how it catches the light!  It’s a not-so-subtle statement about finding beauty in the ruined and about society’s dependency on plastics and other man-made substances which will ultimately betray us, choking off the very air we breathe.

And like all the best art, it’s participatory.  Ehehehehehe!  It is going to take the human female and two of her techs about two hours to pick all the little bits of melted plastic off the mouthpieces—which aren’t event theirs.

Great Frigga’s Corset!  They’ve broken out the acetone to help loosen the plastic!  Sigyn it is time for us to be elsewhere!

(still later)  The best part of this bit of mischief?  A & P ultimately decided to THROW AWAY all the mouthparts!

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Mischief Proceeding at a Pretty Good Clip

Well, that visit to the cast iron toy exhibit was six kinds of traumatic.  In the end, Sigyn befriended the bear and did not need rescuing, but I did have duck-and-pineapple nightmares last night.  I need some really good mischief to feel more myself.

I think I’ll start with something small but quite annoying.  The kitchen is a good place to look for trouble.

I know!  The humans are always looking for clips to hold shut bags of chips, cereal, cookies, and other assorted carbohydrates.  I have become quite adept at breaking them.

CRACK!!

broken clip 2

Success!

broken clip1

That used to be one of their favorites.  It came from a scientific products show and was very good at gripping.  But without the little piece I’m holding, it’ll never grip anything again.  Time to kick this little piece under the fridge.

Aaaand just for fun, I will knock the clip’s twin brother off the freezer door so that it breaks too!

I think I can get the metal bits loose as well.  kick, kick, kick

broken clip 3

And just so the human female doesn’t get any ideas about combining the pieces and trying to resurrect one functional clip, I think I’ll take the little metal posts.

broken clip 4

I’ve been looking for a new quarterstaff…

Hmm… If I recall correctly, the human female has another clip just like this on her desk at at work.

I think I shall go for what sport-minded Midgardians term a “hat trick”…

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Behold…

Here is one of the “herbivorous” urchins that I mentioned in my latest mischief update, the ones I have trained to eat soft-bodied invertebrates.

urchin

They’re stripey and spiky and I love them.

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Well, I Could Have Told You *That*

Hmm…  Look, Sigyn! What have we here?

screwloose2

Stray screws are seldom a good thing.   Especially when accompanied by little bits of broken-off plastic.

screwloose1

It would seem  that the human female has a screw loose.

Or two.

I’ve been saying as much for years.

And I think I know where these bits are from.  Come over here and look at the human female’s laptop.

screwloose3

See that right there?  The hinge is breaking!  The cover is coming off the laptop!  It makes horrible little crunchy noises, and the bezel is actually coming away from the screen!   Total laptop failure is surely imminent!

It could be that the thing is five years old.

It could be that the hinge is naturally the weakest part of a laptop.

It could be that the human female uses it all the time.

It could be that the current cat and the previous cat like to help her use it.

Or it could be that, every night after she goes to bed, I open and close it sixty or seventy times, really fast…

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More Fun With Departmental Computers

Someone begged the Department Head for a new laptop that was much more expensive than their allowance.

Someone got the new laptop day before yesterday.

Someone spilled water in their computer bag today.

ashas laptop

You know, it’s amazing how gray the human male is going, and how quickly.

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