this is why we can’t have nice things

One Ringy-dingy…

The mirthful outlet shenanigans have been resolved, though there will need to be another power outage in a few days.  More fun on the horizon!

While all of this was going on, I was also playing merry Hel with the telephones.  The human female got a voice mail on her office phone, which she was able to reach remotely and listen to.  It was a sweet, southern-grandmotherly-sounding woman from the local telecommunications service, asking about the multiple phones on the floor.

The human female called her back and got called “darling” and “honey,” (so I don’t need to tell you it wasn’t a video-call…)  The nice woman told her that there were several phone lines on the floor that were out of service because, “there is a hole in the wall and some lines were cut.”  She rattled off a set of numbers.  Two were the human female’s number, which presumably was working.  Another was the front office.  The human female had to look the others up and could only find one of them.  Mysteries!

Now if any phones aren’t working because of large holes in the wall,  it’s probably the ones on the other side of the hall, where the con/destruction is going on.  (This is, incidentally, the same area where workmen putting in a door last  year sawed merrily through a phone line.)  The Telecom people may just have bad intel. (Innocent whistling.)

So the human female promised to check into things and get back in touch.  Ehehehehehe!  Now someone has got to go around the whole floor and call all the phones and see if they actually ring, because there’s some question as to whether, when called, the phones will just ring and ring and ring or whether they’ll come up as “out of service.”

One of these days, all of the utilities and amenities in this building are going to work, and the inhabitants will drop dead of shock.

What shall I  meddle with next?

>|: [


She Honestly Doesn’t Know If She’s Coming or Going

I’ve spoken here before about the ongoing con/destruction in the human female’s workplace.  I’ve been working with Slow, Silent, and Costly and all the contractors to make sure it is the biggest headache possible.  I’m proud to say that my hard work is bearing fruit!

This is what the Prep Staff’s office looks like right now.


I believe that’s the ceiling sitting in a pile on the floor, there.

And then there are the Outages.

The human female and her techs knew there were going to be numerous outages, as bits of the remodeled second floor utilities are tied into the remainder of the system.

Every time there’s a scheduled outage, there are a million texts and emails beforehand, clarifying just what is and isn’t going to be affected.  Precious plants, animals, and perishable chemicals have to be protected with backup power.  Sometimes I think EVERYTHING on the floor needs to be hot, cold, or wet!

The inbox overfloweth.

All the computers on the floor need to be shut down ahead of a power outage, because a) they don’t like to run when it gets to be 90 indoors and b) there’s always the chance that the power will spike when it comes back on.  (Nobody trusts their UPS.)  Since people are logged in remotely, this means no one can do anything on their work system during an outage and all the computers need to be switched on again afterwards.  They’ve been scheduling outages for Saturdays, but nobody goes in to turn things on until Monday, so it’s a nice little “break” from work. (But see below.)

The power and chilled water/AC outage at the beginning of the month went more or less as planned.  Backup power went where it was needed and nothing died.  But many of the rooms are on automatic temperature monitoring, and when they get warm the human female gets a nice little text notification.  Bing!  Every minute or so for every room that edges up over 78.2 F.  She got to delete one hundred and twenty-two messages!  All day Saturday!  Then there were the accompanying emails…

Then there was an unscheduled water outage.   That was fun.  More email!  Does the building proctor know about this?  How about the facilities coordinator?  What’s affected?  Is it fixed yet? With every text and every email, the crease in the human female’s forehead got just a little deeper.

Then I made a water leak.

The next week, I scheduled a two-day outage of the hot and cold water, the RO water, the forced air, and  the vacuum lines.

Then a two-day outage for natural gas.

The vaccum is something that never gets used, gas wasn’t needed those days, and the forced air is only used for blowing up sheep lungs in what has to be the grossest demo in the whole Lower Division Instruction Program.  (The human female and her techs keep trying to write this out of the lesson plan, but it keeps being put back in.) 

The water, however, was a pain.  No water fountains, no faucets, no potties.

The human female is still working from home, so she was minimally inconvenienced.  I just had to make sure she got all her notifications.

The most recent outage was supposed to be a power outage.  Then everyone heard that it was only supposed to be for the north end of the building–which is where most of the offices are.  Something about “volts” and “buses” and blah blah blah.


Today, Prep Staff discovered that, while the lights and such were back on, there was no power in many of the wall outlets!  More fun!  More email!  This is part of the best one, from one of the contractors:

power outage 1

Apparently the “more information” was this:

blown transfomer

Now, you’ll recall that only the north end of the building was supposed to be affected, but Behold!  The outlet in room 302, down at the other end of the hall, went out as well, the one the ultra-cold freezer (-80F) is plugged into.

Cue a hundred more texts and emails

An unplugged freezer doesn’t freeze very well, so everything started to…t…h…a…w.   A poor Prep Staffer had to move everything into a regular freezer, with plans to move things to alternate storage in another building once it was all frozen again.

Nice try, but the things in that freezer are very, shall we say, finicky, so they will probably need to be replaced.  The human female drew up a list to present to the nice contractors, in hopes that they can be prevailed upon to make good the loss:

freezer losses

More email:  Were there other primers?   Is that all the ONPG that was spoiled?  Was some of it not mixed up and in the freezer?  The bacterial cultures aren’t replaceable, are they?  Just how much Sybr Green did we really have?  While all of this unscheduled swapping and counting and price-looking up was going on, someone noticed also that the water and RO water was off.



All while the human female was dealing with the flurry of activity and paper that vetting and interviewing applicants for the vacant tech position, put together a fall purchase list, and deal with a ton of other paperwork.

Out of all of this, I have confirmed one Biological Fact:  The human female is part chameleon.  No, really,  I can prove it! Her face definitely can change color, and her eyes can swivel to look in two directions at once.

And she’s going to be bald before all of this is over…

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Ehehehehehehe! Mischief That Covers a Multitude of Sins

The Department that the humans work in has given every employee a handy cloth mask, proudly labeled with the Department’s name.  Very chic.  I helped pick them out!

The human female has just tried hers on.  It is miles too big and hangs under her chin.  Great Frigga’s corset!  I though it was supposed to make it so I couldn’t see your face!

Taking up the elastic doesn’t help.

She’s checking the tag.  Oh.  Size L-XL.  That would explain that.  She may have an ever-burgeoning butt, but she has a pea-sized head.

She has given it to the human male.  It’s the same size as the one he received, and both are far too small for his face.  It looks like a nose-warmer stuck on there.

Surely someone in the Department has an appropriately-sized head?

>|: [


Mask-making 2.0, Part II: Si vos es facile offenditur, nunc averte oculos tuos

Once, many years ago, the human female sewed a Very Special Dress for her sister.  It was made of several coordinating fabrics, all with a “very cute” Noah’s Ark theme. I’m told it was cute, anyway.  I wasn’t here then, so I can’t vouch for it one way or the other.  Personally, I think it sounds hideous.

Sigyn would probably like something like that, though.

At any rate, the human female has had the leftovers from that twee little project hanging around for decades now.   She rummaged them  up and decided to make herself a mask out of them, using the new pattern.  (But in a smaller size.)

I tried to get her to trace around the wrong pattern again, but she used the right piece of paper.  However, I’m a genius, so I was easily able to think of a different way to turn this little project into a WOMBAT (Waste Of Money, Brains, and Time).

All I had to do was nudge one of the outside pieces over just a smidge before she traced and cut.

Behold the results.


Once you see what the zebras are up to, you cannot unsee it.

Ehehehehehe!  Ooopsie!

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Kitchen Mischief, Part III: A War of Attrition

You may think the current spate of kitchen mischief is an acute problem.

acute.   adj.,  Of sudden onset and short duration

Well, no.  The current tiff is new, and likely to be short, but in truth, my meddling here is more of a chronic source of woe (to the humans) and extreme satisfaction (to me)

chronic.  adj., Lasting a long time, ongoing, persistent

One of the easiest ways of annoying the humans is to take away something they really like.  The minute they find something they especially enjoy, I make sure it becomes unavailable. Either markets stop carrying it, or it ceases to exist altogether.

The female’s favorite brand of tortilla chips?  Hit and miss, and only at the Large Market in the Big City to the South.  The male’s preferred brand of ginger-flavored gummy bears?  Wildly varying from easily-findable in one local market to costlier-than-rubies and only from the Large River Company to ginger-crop-failure in The Antipodes and not available for love nor money.

Do you see what is not in this pantry?


Cream of snow pea soup from the people that put a Norse ship on the package.  Vanished!  Scholars in ages hence will find reference to it but will assume it is apocryphal.

Down here with the drinks?


No pear-flavored Izze soda, no strawberry fizzy water, and none of the hard apple cider gently kissed with elderflower that the human female adores.

And in the freezer?


No key lime pie BlueBell ice cream, that’s what.

Gone, all of them, the way of the passenger pigeon, the thylacine, and size 6 on the human female.

I could mention more, but the list is long and—

Sigyn? What are you–?


Ah, yes.  This stuff.  Well may you hug the empty jar, my love.  It’s the last there will ever be…

>|: [


It has been a while since the human female received an interesting package in the mail, but one has arrived today.  Come, Sigyn, let us see what awaits!

Ah!  I recognize the wrapper.  She has ordered from these people before.  It has taken quite some time to arrive.


It’s one of those self-sealing plastic bag things.  We just need to peel up this corner…


Keep going…


“An Irish Florilegium II”


Sigyn says she has heard the human female talk about the two beautiful volumes of this work.  She saw them in some super-fancy, super-expensive bookstore in London and has been pining for them since.  I guess when she saw this used volume for sale online she was unable resist.

I also guess that she is now wishing that, given the recent painful expenditures for tree-felling and a new cooling box, she had not also purchased this tome for a much discounted yet still mildly eyebrow-raising sum.   Clearly she has not learned that as soon as I become aware that she has spent some measure of money on something frivolous, I will engender some mundane pecuniary need of an equal or greater amount!

Let us open the volume and see whether the illustrations have lived up to the glory of their memory.

Sigyn, dearest, please!  I do understand your excitement to discover a trove of botanical watercolors, but truly, your squeals of joy are almost painful to the ears!


The prints are indeed fine.  This representation of a delightfully deadly, carnivorous flytrap is very lifelike!


Sigyn is admiring this plate of lovingly-rendered DYCs.


All in all, a most pleasing book.  As the human female relaxes to peruse the text and illustrations and muse about acquiring this much more expensive volume I, I think I shall prick her guilt and dampen her enjoyment just a little, by whispering a reminder in her ear that the clothes dryer has begun to make some interesting noises.

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It Looks As If We Are Playing “Taps” Thrice This Week

First the tree, then the doorbell, and now the refrigerator.  The humans tried very hard last night to find a new one.  One store was already closed for the day, one was closed for the weekend, and one was letting in customers only by appointment.

Frantically, they started looking online and were immediately confronted by a dizzying array of sizes, door arrangements, colors, freezer positions, and purchase options.

Then they discovered an unforeseen side-effect of the current pandemic—it is impossible to just buy a major appliance.  Everyone is home, so more people have been trying to make their homes better–apparently by buying up all in-stock units.  Supply chains have been disrupted.

They did drive out to the one still-open store.  The human female went in to look while the male sat in the car on the phone, speaking with a customer representative for a different company, trying to find out what, if anything, was available in the short term.

The female found two refrigerators that would suit, but the nearest delivery date she could get was twelve days out–if she were lucky.

Back to the house, back to the computers, frantically checking delivery dates, installation fees, and customer reviews.  They finally found one that should be here in about a week–and they bought it, sight unseen, which is terrifying, if you think about it.

So now it’s today, and they are faced with the fact that the old fridge is not going to make it to the end of the day, let alone until next week.  More ice, more ice chests, more weeding.

The male thought of a partial solution.  He went out and has returned with a mini-fridge that will keep the critical things cold.


Hmm. It would be better if the door opened the other way.  This necessitates removing the hinges, the door, the leveling feet, and some other bits of hardware.  The removals on the top of the unit are easy enough…

But getting the bottom door hinge off when the directions say not to tilt the unit more than 45° or risk! damaging! it!—THAT is going to be less fun.  For them, anyway.  *I* am enjoying myself thoroughly, watching both of them lying on the floor. The female is actually mostly under the dining room table, tilting the fridge about 44.5°, and the male is struggling to get a screwdriver in the space between the unit and the floor.  Not easy when you can’t exactly see the screw head…

Job done!


Now if they could only figure out where the extra screw goes…

(time passes) The new little unit should be cold now.  So…the “critical” ice chest items go into it, and things that have spent the day in the dying refrigerator but won’t fit in the new fridge need to go into ice chests as well.

Volstagg’s waistcoat!  You people have a lot of condiments!


They’ve done a mini grocery run to replace some things that spoiled.

The countertop is still a mess.


The ice chests will need new ice or cold packs every so often, so they’ll need daily attention and a rotating cycle of cold packs through the large freezer.


Not to mention there’s not room anywhere for a pitcher of orange juice.

They’ve re-written the weekly menu to use up things that came out of the dying freezer and to avoid buying big things that need refrigeration.

They’re learning to deal with zero counter space.  They’ve determined that the mini fridge did not exactly keep tiny pints of self-pity ice cream solid at the setting they had it at.

They’re going to have to rearrange the living room to maneuver the new fridge in and the old fridge out.

And last but not least, they are going to have to unhook the water line for the ice maker from the now-dead fridge.  When a valve has been in one position for a while, the awful water around here tends to freeze it in place.  If they can shut what needs shutting without breaking the valve in the process and flooding the kitchen, I will greatly surprised.

It’s going to be an interesting week.

>|: [



So That’s What That Noise Is…

Sometimes, with the two humans working from home, the house is a fairly busy and noisy place place. Texts come in.  Phones ring.  Zoom calls happen.  Felines misbehave.  The air conditioning cycles off and on.  The clothes dryer buzzes.  The dishwasher gurgles.  Chairs creak and keyboards clack.  Someone munches something.

Other times, it is quiet.  Today it is very, very quiet.  The human female swears she can hear a soft, occasional clicking noise.  She has investigated the stove twice, and no, there’s not a burner still on.

Tick.  Tick.

No, the dishwasher isn’t doing its slow-drying routine.

Tick.  Tick.

No, she’s not hearing a drip from the faucet.

Tick.  Tick.

Ehehehe!  This has been going on ALL. DAY. and it is starting to drive her crazy.  I can’t wait for the mortals to find the surprise I’ve made!

Oh!   I think they’re starting to be suspicious. . .


The cooling box has been known to piddle water on the floor from time to time, but this?  This is new…

Tick.  Tick.

And Great Frigga’s corset, there we have it!   The male has reached into the freezer compartment for some ice…


And there isn’t any.  Just cold water, a whole lot of condensation and some very unhappy, very melty ice cream.

Oh, and soggy waffles.  Let’s not forget the soggy waffles.

It has finally dawned on them that the ticking noise is the death rattle of the twenty-year old refrigerator  surrendering its life and heading for Appliance Valhalla, or whatever the electrical afterlife is called.

Yes, I have chosen THIS WEEK, with a weekend looming and the checkbook still reeling from Expensive Tree Removal, for a major appliance to die!

The freezer portion of the refrigerator is obviously moribund.  They have a sneaking suspicion that the refrigerator compartment is not long for this world, either.  I am sitting back with one of the last of the cold beverages, watching them pour out gross and melty things, toss out thawed mystery packages, and bundle what can be saved into the big freezer in the garage.  What a tepid, drippy mess!

They hope that the fridge will limp along until they can buy a replacement.  They are removing the essentials to some ice chests and sorting out what might or might not spoil if the fridge failure is complete.  Butter, eggs, cheese bacon, medicine:  ice chest.

Nuts, grains, garden seeds: bin on the counter.


Norns’ nighties, woman!  This is truly ancient rice!


And I am pretty sure the almonds in their shells are a prop left over from a course you taught about seven years ago…

The other counter is looking more bake-y and breakfast-y—and totally useless for anything else, now!


Flour, corn meal, biscuit mix, peanut butter, maple syrup.

Triage complete, what can be saved has been saved, what can’t be saved is already out in the garbage, what doesn’t need refrigeration but which would prefer to be cool is still in the fridge:


Farewell, orange juice and milk.  Your day is over.

Ehehehehe!  And I’m not done yet!

>|: [

Deranging the Strange Arrangement With Grainger–Now With Bonus BAMN!

A box has arrived for the human female.


Well, I don’t know if I’d call her “one who gets things done,” but I certainly am.

You see, this box represents several weeks’ worth of first-class mischief.

Humans are clumsy by nature, always dropping things and breaking them.  Last semester, the students broke a number of the glass graduated cylinders used in the urinalysis experiment.  Terrible things, students.  Can’t be trusted.

At any rate, the decision was made to order a bunch of plastic cylinders that the feckless little darlings couldn’t break.  So the female ordered 24 of one size and 6 of another, so as to fit the hydrometers on hand.

And she waited.  And waited.  Finally, exasperated, she called the vendor and was dismayed to learn that they had never received the PO at all.  So she jumped through all the hoops and asked the Bean Counters to re-send it.

And they did.

So she waited some more, and still no box of plastic piss-jars.  She called the vendor again, who told her yet again that no such PO had ever been received.  At this point, the human female recalled that it had been long and long since she had ordered from this vendor, and it occurred to her that, back in the glory days of BAMN, the program administrators wanted all POs to be emailed to a person, rather that to a helpful or useful address not tied to a transient and mortal meat-sack.  She asked the person on the other end of the phone what address would actually reach the orders department.

Armed with this little nugget of information, she contacted the Bean Counters and asked them to transmit the PO one more time.

You can see by the presence of the package and all of this boring wrapping paper that a shipment eventually resulted, so how did it come about?


Not long after the PO was transmitted to the vendor for a third time, the human female had a missed telephone call, and then an email, from chipper customer service rep saying that if the human female would call them, they’d be more than happy to set up an account and process the order.


Everything involves an account these days, so the human female called and proceeded to try to navigate the vendor’s byzantine account setup.  The Helpful Person on the other end of the line (trained by me, of course) tried to walk her through the whole process but the human female could never quite get her to understand that the University is a rather large place and the Biology Department only a small part of it–and the human female smaller still.  The Helpful Person wanted to create an account for the whole of the Department and make the human female the contact person for it—or perhaps the person in the stockroom, since that is the delivery address.  Or maybe whoever is in charge of Departmental Billing…

After about twenty minutes of internal zip codes, building abbreviations, and increasing frustration on the part of all parties, the human female had finally had enough.  Abandoning the idea of an account (for which she did not wish to be Responsible), the human female asked if they could just abandon the notion of an account and process the order some other way.

Why, yes!  Yes, they could!  Relieved, the human female launched into placing a guest order with the credit card.  Everything went swimmingly right up to the point where the Helpful Person read out the total.

Including tax.

Rule One of purchasing:  The University never pays tax.  Ever.  Slight snag, yes?

No worries, the Helpful Person told the human female!  All she had to do was make the purchase, request the tax refund form, fill it out, provide a copy of the University’s tax exempt paperwork, and sit back and wait for the tax to be refunded to the card.

At this point, if the human female had been listening instead of grinding her teeth, she’d have heard me giggling in the background.  It’s a known fact that initiating a tax refund stunt like that would make the Bean Counters purple in the face and bring on a spitting apoplexy.

Followed by a stern reprimand and a lecture about Rule One of purchasing:  The University never pays tax.  Ever.

It was at this point that the human female reached her limit.  She thanked the Helpful Person for their help  time and rang off.

Next, she contacted the Chief Bean Counters and asked them to cancel the PO entirely.

Now, obviously, here are the cylinders.


So how did she get them?  She remembered, belatedly, that this particular vendor has a punch-out right at the front of the purchasing software site, one that takes the user straight to the catalog where they can load up a cart and check out easy-peasy.  Once the PO was cancelled, she logged in, went through the punch-out, put in the order, hit a button, and took delivery about 48 hours later.   No problems, no tax, and no escaping that it was her own incompetence that led her down the garden path in the first place.

Well, I may have helped a little.

So now there is a full set of plastic cylinders for the urinalysis experiment.  The Prep Staff are always quick to point out that it isn’t really real urine, just something they whip up out of water, food coloring, and chemicals.

Theoretically.  No one has yet connected the strange results they keep getting with my capacity to quaff and process ale…

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