Unrepentant Package Squashers

A Tale of Pipettes, Part II: The Great Un-boxing

It is time.  Time to tackle the huge shipment of pipettes that arrived in less than pristine condition.  This is a portion of the boxes–the good ones:

pipette-boxes

The smashy boxes have been segregated to the front desk so their degree of smashiness can be ascertained.

The human female and her staff are now proposing to start unpacking and see just how bad the damage is.

It’s not looking good…

pipette-box smash7

The corrugated carnage is of the extremest sort.

pipette-box smash6

Hmm.  The pipettes themselves seem actually to be unharmed.  Pity.

pipette-box smash8

Oh, well, can’t have everything.

It’s like some malicious math problem:  If there are thirty-nine boxes, two product boxes per box, and three pipettes per product box…  Plus packing cardboard.  The human female and her staff have become automatons.  Open carton.  Take out boxes.  Open boxes.  Pull out the cardboard straps holding the pipettes and remove the fancy-cut-and-folded cardboard inserts.

So. Much. Cardboard.  I am making a castle out of the empties.

pipette-fort

This is possibly more pipettes than have ever been assembled in one place at one time in the history of the world.

pipettes2

In each box there is also a registration card, a booklet in a bag, and two boxes of pipette tips, each its own plastic bag.

pipettes

It’s a recycler’s nightmare.  The human female and her techs are nursing dozens of paper cuts, and there are at least four carts of flattened boxes to be hauled out to the recycling bin.

Each pipette also arrived with one or two tags hanging from it.  Hmmm…  Scan the code and enter info for a chance to win something…

pipette-tags

And nothing in the fine print says I can’t enter 300 times.

pipette-tags2

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A Tale of Pipettes, Part I: Getting Them Here is Half the Fun

Quite a number of the laboratory exercises that the human female and her staff have to prep and support employ very Precise Scientific Devices known as micro-pipettes. These are capable of measuring out infinitesimal aliquots with great accuracy.

Image result for micropipette

That’s the theory anyway.  In practice, the students forget to use them with the disposable tips, adjust the volume to ten or twenty times the required amount, and hit the tip discard plunger instead of the uptake/dispense button as often as not.

Recently, the Powers That Be have decided that these teaching lab pipettes are a disgrace, a blemish, a true PR nightmare for the Department.  An edict was issued that they be replaced, one and all, and one of the professors who is in the progress of overhauling all of the lab lessons ordered one hundred sets, each with three pipettes of varying sizes.

Folks, that is a LOT of pipettes.  They were quite eagerly awaited.  I mean, who, faced with the task of checking the calibration on a whole floor full of pipettes, hasn’t fantasized about chucking them all out the window and starting afresh.

Some of them arrived.  Some of them didn’t.  Unrepentant Package Squashers insisted that the missing TWO PALLETS had been signed for.  But signed for where?  And by whom?

Some diligent phone calling by the ordering professor eventually turned them up.  In the Biggish City to the West.  Yep, delivered to the wrong university entirely.  After some argling and bargling, Unrpentant Package Squashers deigned to pick them up and to deliver them to Central Receiving on this campus.

Then it was just a matter of getting them here.  The human female suggested that the fine folks at Central Receiving be enlisted to deliver them (as the CR folks have proven themselves prompt and dutiful in the delivery of dead cats, but the ordering professor wished UPS to make good their delivery or refund the shipping fee.

The pallets were coming!  They didn’t come.  A date was fixed!  And discarded.  They were coming on Friday!  No, Monday.  No, Tuesday!  Finally, an independent moving company was hired to bring them.  A company that had– it must be mentioned–just the week before dropped an expensive and fragile instrument off a delivery truck no fewer than three times between Building A and Building B on the campus.  Moreover, they propped the mangled package up in hopes that no one would notice the damage.

People noticed.

So here we are today, awaiting the two pallets from the movers. The humans are hopeful, if possessed of more than a little trepidation.  They know not that I slipped said movers a little tip to deliver the goods in an… amusing condition.  I can hardly wait to see in what condition they arrive!

Oooo!  Here they come!  Two pallets, a total of thirty-nine boxes.  Most of them look pretty good.

pipette-box smash4

Others, not so much.

pipette-box smash2

Ehehehe!  That one’s good and crumply!

pipette-box smash3

Yikes! Ehehehehe!

No, wait, this one’s my favorite:

pipette-box smash1

I have a feeling that the un-boxing is going to be interesting indeed…

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Mischief Update–Improvement in My Cash Flow

A busy Loki is a happy Loki, and boy, am I happy! I’ve also found some clever ways to bring in a little extra income, as you shall see.

Mostly, I continue to make the humans’ work environment and strange and surreal place.

First off: Slow, Silent and Costly continues to play dice with utilities and maintenance. Faucets drip or stop dripping at random intervals. Chilled water lines drip spots into ceiling tiles. One section of campus had both a chilled and a heated water outage–at the same time. Another week, most of west campus lost landline telephone service. And recently it came to light that the sewage from a large dorm complex had been tied into the storm drainage system and was routinely discharging gallons and gallons of wastewater into a local stream. (That wasn’t my idea, but I have been amused by the outcry and all of the digging up that fixing things has necessitated.)
Closer to home, two men showed up and installed a new break-room faucet in the human female’s area, unasked for and without warning. The work order for the new countertop in one of the main Intro Bio prep rooms involved multiple entities, none of whom, apparently, was talking to the others. All of the work (remove sink, replace counter, replace sink) had been written up and approved–and was in fact due to begin. Then two plumbers showed up, saying they’d been sent to look at a “leaking faucet.” No, the human female explained, the problem wasn’t a leak, it was that splashed water had, over time, warped the particle board counter and laminate covering. The two men hemmed and hawed, looked at the sink in the counter and its attendant plumbing, said, “Yep, this is a job for a plumber,” and left. Bill a visit from two techs.
The doorlock people finally finished their work, but it did take a while. One day they were delayed because someone who was supposed to show up and do part of a job, simply didn’t.  And once the locks were installed and hooked up, it took several further days before they were activated.  One professor still can’t get into his office.  And another two days for the old locks to be removed. I made sure to adjust the cordless power tool’s whine to the particular frequency that resonates with the human female’s fillings.
The policies of the University continue, at my direction, to remain mysterious and capricious. On the Third of July (a holiday devoted to the purchasing of watermelon, charcoal, and fireworks), the Powers That Be declared that staff could take early release and get a jumpstart on the festivities. Fifteen minutes later, another announcement came out– “Ooops! Sorry! We forgot summer school’s in session! If you’re involved with the actual teaching of classes, you don’t get to sneak out early. Our bad.”
The University’s first home football game of the season has been scheduled for Thursday, August 30th, to launch the career of our new circus-elephant-monikered coach. Since this is a work day, all of the staff and student parking lots are bound to be full. To better serve game-goers, however, many of the parking lots must be vacated. The Powers That Be have given notice that staff in these lots should make alternate arrangements on that day or vacate by a certain p.m.  It was even said that they could get a $10 credit for an Uber ride to work that day.  Most recently, “non-essential” staff have been told they can leave early, so that Moneyed Alums can have free run of the campus. Rest assured, I’m getting my cut.

Oh, the fine folks at Transportation Services are some of my favorite minions. Recently, they “discovered” some arcane tax law that says that the University’s faculty, staff, and students can no longer pay for their parking permits pre-tax. So essentially, parking is going up. More pennies in my pocket.
The University sends out various congratulatory newsletters every week. Here’s a screen shot of one of the most recent:

science

There is nothing like good, clean contrast in web design, and that is NOTHING like good, clean contrast.  When the human female asked the web folks about it, they assured her that the page was coded for maroon and white.  It’s just that the campus’ Exchange email program doesn’t seem to want to talk with the design software.  But they’re Looking Into It.

The University generates a lot of waste. I mean, a LOT, a lot. The hazardous waste, such as is generated by the human female’s program, is all tagged and contained and sent for proper disposal. Recently, the protocol for so doing has changed. Unfortunately for most users, I tickled the license for the software that lets folks fill out the disposal tags and requests online, such that only one user on the entire campus could log in and do it at any given time. Remember, folks, to beat the crowd: before 8:00 and after 5:00 are Hazardous-Waste-o’Clock!

The human female actually is all about the safety. And compliance. She harps on it all the time. Blah, blah, blah, “Use a hemostat to change that scalpel blade.” Nag, nag, nag. “Tie your hair back before you light that bunsen burner.” “Don’t lick that petri dish.” Whatever. Apparently the Vendor Who’s Responsible, though, has its doubts about her, because it asked her again to sign the “I am not going to use this iodine to make meth” declaration again, for the second time in six months. I keep telling her that if she’d let me set up a little…special lab down in the basement we could fund pretty much anything she wants to do with the Intro Bio program, plus have enough left over to stop looking like she dresses out of the charity box.

I may set up that lab anyway.  The price of horn polish just went up.

Negotiations with various vendors continue to be one of my favorite ways of annoying her. She managed to do an end-run around me recently, though. When she called the Purveyor of Squiggly Things to change the amount of squigglies in an order, she discovered that I’d changed the delivery date from the 6th to the 9th and was able to correct it. Rats! I was looking forward to the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

She also remembered to order the 700-plus pig intestinal roundworms that she’d forgotten to order. She forgot the live Penicillium culture, though and had to order it at the last minute on the credit card, with ru$h air $hipping. Meanwhile, it’s almost time for the annual Dead Cat Ballet involving the Purveyor of Dead Things.  You just know I’m not going to let that go off without a hitch. (I can tell you that I already know that there will not be any actual dead cats. They’re on indefinite back-order.)

And the packing slips for all of these orders! Who knew that little pieces of paper could be such fun? I had the new video camera and tripod show up without a packing slip. The packing slip for a couple of items off the human female’s enormous fall order from the Vendor Who’s Responsible showed ALL the items on the order, so that one had to leaf through the many pages to figure out what was in that particular box. Then the free goods that enormous order garnered were sent with double and triple packing slips so that she had to make sure that there weren’t extra free goods her conscience wouldn’t let her keep.

Sometimes, when I run out of new ideas, I just revisit an old one. Remember the hurricane last September? I fouled up orders and shipping and deliveries for weeks, when Fed-up and Exhausted and Unrepentant Package Squashers couldn’t get any live materials in or out of Houston? The human female put all sorts of notes into the purchasing system, explaining the work-arounds she’d had to do and pointing out which goods weren’t coming. The other day, the Bean Counters, trying, no doubt, to be ahead of things when it came to closing out the fiscal year, dredged the whole mess up again, asking her to do receiving on the things she didn’t get, or to indicate they weren’t coming if that were the case. She pointed them at her months-old comment and let them know that, no, there are no more live termites coming in on that P.O.

I don’t let the male rest on his laurels– or his haunches– either. Some server or other is always going down, one round of soft ware updates breaks something the last one fixed, and the parade of clueless users through his office is never-ending. The other day, one of the machines hooked to the network was causing an error message, so Central Information Services disconnected it. Except they didn’t–they mistakenly shut down the system of one of the Department’s super-users, who was in the middle of a days-long backup of his squillionty terrabytes of data. The resultant shouting wasn’t at the human male, but it was human male-adjacent, which was nearly as draining for him and just as amusing for me.

Traffic around town continues to be a sick, twisted joke. I’ve managed to tap into the traffic-barrel rental business, so I have money coming in there, too. The new Diverging Diamond of Death opened this week. I get the feeling that, after it has been open for a while, the local populace will promise me anything if I just put things back the way they were.

Despite my best efforts at further delay, the long-awaited expansion of the church facilities has commenced. The human female is in mourning, though, because the entire beautiful courtyard has been turned into a construction-staging area, and all the trees have been cut down. That wasn’t my idea. I was hoping they could be saved, because Sigyn liked them. She hasn’t had a glimpse of the denuded courtyard yet. I’m hoping to keep it from her as long as I can.

On the home front, the Terror Twins and I keep things lively. Every night I let in June bugs and click-beetles so the felines can have an arthropod frenzy. The click beetles are their favorites because they make! noise! AND are fun to chase. So far, my record is three in one night. One of these days, the human female’s going to tire of getting up off the sofa, catching the clicky little goobers and chucking them outside and just let the kitties have their fun. When that happens, I’ll make sure Flannel Cat eats one and leaves the bug barf in the main traffic pattern in the house…

I’ve recruited the large appliances to my cause. The dryer still turns itself on at random intervals. The little end-stopper thingy came out of the dishwasher’s left top rack-glide, so now it’s possible to actually remove half the top rack completely. And the refrigerator, from time to time, will piddle a little puddle of very cold water into the middle of the kitchen floor. Always, you understand, when someone can discover this transgression sock-footed.

The local market has stopped carrying the humans’ favorite kind of shredded cheese, while no store the humans can find in four different cities carries the female’s favorite flavor of yogurt. I keep offering them more and more opportunities for spiritually-enriching penance and self-mortification– you’d think they’d be grateful, but no. Hypocrites.

I hid last month’s utility bill, and no one thought to contact the company and volunteer payment, so when this month’s bill showed up, it was for two months of triple-digit-heat-fighting AC and dear-Idunn-please-don’t-let-the-lawn-die watering. That was a real shocker, I can tell you. The human male looked like a gaping codfish there for a minute or three.  I took photos.

So, as you can see, I’ve been up to some first-rate mischief, and even managed to monetize it a bit. Life (for me) is good!  I give this update a 9.75.

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The Grand Bench Paper Saga

Do you see this stuff?

benchpaper

It’s bench paper.  Think of it like a waffley diaper for lab benches.  It sops up any spills, cushions glassware a little bit, and gives students a place to doodle their initials and little hearts and the occasional “biology sux.”  The human female buys rolls and rolls of it every semester—ten lab rooms, three long benches per lab, plus side counters, plus all the prep rooms.

That’s a lot of diapers.

She always orders the same product from the Vendor Who’s Responsible:  six cases of two double rolls each.  This semester, when she plugged the product number (which you’d think she’d have memorized by now, but nooo) into the search box of the website, it brought up several options, one of which was marked “exact match for product xxxxx.”  Usually, that means that something’s been discontinued and what’s tagged is the next best thing.  Dismayed that her usual product wasn’t available, she regretfully ordered six cases of the suggested stuff.

True to form, the Vendor Who’s Responsible had the six big boxes in the stockroom a few days later.  It was immediately apparent, however, that what arrived was NOT in any way like the regular bench diaper.  It was thin and slidey and not waffley at all.  The human female was full of twelve kinds of indignation and fired off a pointy memo to the vendor rep.

And then, looking at the order page again, she realized that the one that said “exact match for product xxxxx” actually WAS product xxxxx, and the product she’d ordered was the next one down the page.

And just how does that crow taste now, mortal?

Shamefaced, she contacted the rep and started pursing a return.  She was hoping to get pre-paid return labels, even though she knew the error was her own and she didn’t DESERVE them.

There followed one of my best efforts at fouling up paperwork.  Messages went back and forth between the human female and the vendor and the rep.  A message was sent with labels as an attachment that got overlooked.  She had to have it pointed out to her.  Labels got printed out and taped on, and all the big, heavy boxes got lugged down to the stockroom for pickup.

Then (and this was a stroke of genius on my part!) someone at the Vendor Who’s Responsible decided that since the human female was pursing a return, what she actually needed was a replacement, so they shipped one more roll of the wrong diapers.  So now she had to try to get them to understand what happened and get ANOTHER return label sent to her.  It came, and that’s when she discovered that the previous six labels had just been address labels and not actual pre-paid freight labels.  She had to request six more of the right sort of label.  They sent them as an attachment, but only five would print, and since each had a separate Unrepentant Package Squashers tracking number, she had to have a sixth.  The Vendor Who’s Responsible had to send the whole shebang over again, then the labels had to get printed out and taken to the stockroom and taped over the old labels.

So, finally, about a month after the initial order, all the boxes went back and the human female could order the right table diapers.  It turns out that the university has a no shipping charges, free returns policy with the Vendor Who’s Responsible, so the human female wasn’t out any actual money.  BUT the chagrin and inconvenience involved were so enormous, and having six enormous boxes taking up all sorts of room while waiting to go back was so annoying, that I’m calling the prank a success anyway.   It was a real WOMBAT.*

I’ll be sure to remind her boss of this next time evaluations come around.

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*Waste Of Money, Brains, And Time

Nerds in the Woods, Part I: Something New

Long-time minions may have noticed that there haven’t been many nature walk this year.  The human female’s bum feet have kept her pretty close to home.  Today, though, she is back out in the woods.  Our favorite “wilderness” park is now home to a brand-new Nature Center.  The city has been building the thing for years, now, and it is finally done!

Let’s go on a quick tour and see what all the fuss is about.  I’ll be the judge of whether what we have now is better than all the trees, flowers, and grass they ripped up to put it in.  Hmm.  Curved roof, big empty room, smaller empty room,  concrete amphitheater, outdoor classroom, very-angular-not-shapes-found-in-nature sidewalks, gardens.  I must say, I’m not impressed.  No doubt it will be nicer when the city gets around to filling it with actual science.  The human female and her coworkers have provided lots of checklists and texts for displays, but none of them are up yet.  Therefore, there is still time for me to introduce misspellings, misidentifications, and various plausible yet completely erroneous “facts” into anything that goes up.

Sigyn wants a closer look at the gardens, and I’m happy enough to oblige.

Oh, these are reasonably attractive, and the butterflies seem to approve of them.

pentas

The human female is put out, though, because these pentas are not native, and she knows she thoroughly vetted the landscape plans and provided a list of attractive native plants.

Uh, oh.  The plantings also include tropical milkweed, shrimp plant, two kinds of Cuphea,, Mexican mint marigold, butterfly bush,  and powderpuff, none of which are native.  The human female has that pinched, twitchy expression she gets when there is something—or someone—who desperately needs correcting.  Best to move on before there is an incident.

What have we here?   Ah.  Various groups of nature lovers have set up booths and tables with educational displays, games, and assorted activities.  The human female is supposed to take a turn manning one of the booths.  Let’s see what’s afoot.

Hmm.  What’s all this brown cloth?  I am fairly certain that Unrepentant Package Squashers was not invited to this gathering!

Tshirt1

And what is it they’re selling?

tshirt2

Oh.  The ubiquitous Midgardian garment-cum-billboard, the T-shirt.  And it has a leaf on it.  How quaint.

tshirt3

Oh, look—they’re for sale.  Remember:  You too can advocate for the park and be a Friend and have Friends, but it’ll cost you..

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Glass Math, Part II: The Damage Really Adds Up

The humans have arrived home after a long day at work.  It is late. They are tired.  They are hungry.  The Terror Twins are demanding to be fed.  The human female is attending to this task while the male begins dinner preparations.

Hurry it up, mortal!  Gods and their consorts need sustenance too, you know.

By Odin’s Wretched Depth Perception!  What was that monstrous noise?!  It sounded alarmingly like…

brokencasserole1

Breaking glass.

Oh, ehehehehe!  My little set-up has finally paid off!  I’ve been encouraging the mortals to store their large, 4-quart glass casserole on top of the refrigerator, since it is was too large for any of the cupboards.  I knew one day it would fall off, and, well, just look!

brokencasserole2

That worked even better than I hoped it would.  Both the cover and the dish itself have simply exploded upon impact!   There are multiple large pieces, all right, but even more insidious little shards and a great quantity of nearly microscopic glass dust.

There is glass everywhereon the floor, under the refrigerator, between the refrigerator and the cabinets, on the counter, under the microwave, between the microwave and the wall, all over the cutting board, among the bags of snacks and bottles, around the wine and cider bottles, under the pantry door and inside the pantry, and–look at that! —all the way into the dining room!

There is even glass inside the toaster.

The first order of business is to sequester the ever-curious and tender-footed felines while all this vitreous shrapnel is dealt with.  The human female is attempting this task—she has Taffy in the bedroom and—Oh, no!  In stuffing Flannel in after her, she has allowed Taffy to escape!  There is a delightful amount of shouting and panicking going on.  Now all three are thundering down the hallway and–yes–no—yes!   She has managed to chase both confused and complaining beasts into the bathroom!

Now the real fun begins.  A large box has been procured to hold all the razor-sharp debris.  The human male is dealing with the big, wicked chunks,  while the female is sweeping nooks and crannies for all the evil tiny bits.  Ehehehehe!  They have to shake out a whole bunch of aprons and potholders and dust off the chip bags.  And every now and then, they have to stop and pick the glass out of the bottoms of their shoes.  This is going to take forever.

All accompanied by pitiful meowing and a good deal of scratching.

(much, much later)

The humans have done all they can do—for now. The floor has been swept and swept again.  It has been gone over with a wet towel.  The box-o-glass has been taped shut and placed in the trash.  The cats have been let out and mollified.   No doubt more bits of glass will be discovered in the future, but what can one do?

The casualties are extensive.  Not only are the humans out one large casserole, but the plummeting vessel broke the wooden cutting board that was on the counter.  The human female has tried, but it really can’t be glued back together.  There was enough glass in the  ancient toaster that neither human felt certain they had cleaned it all out, so the toaster has been disposed of as well.   This has turned out to be a delightfully expensive prank!

It also raises a deep, philosophical and mathematical question:

How can an eight-pound dish make ten pounds of shards???

(still later)

A trip to the local store and the cutting board and toaster have been replaced.  The casserole, however, is another story.  Who knew that four-quart dishes were so difficult to find?  The humans are now online, attempting to source a replacement for what has been a much-used wedding present.

Well, poke my eye out and call me Fury!  It turns out that the dish was part of a series of cooking vessels that is no longer being made.  Used duplicates are available, for a large price, with the postage on such behemoths amounting to more than the price of the dish!  There are no modern equivalents that do not have dismal reviews online.  Tut, tut!  The human male has located a stoneware vessel of approximately the same capacity.  The female is not impressed by its odd shape, fearing it may not fit in the refrigerator easily.

But it is GREEN , mortals, and that trumps everything.  It will be here by next week.

Stop the presses!  UPDATE!   The GREEN dish came, it was a good size, and it was GREEN, and it wasn’t too tall and it was GREEN.  But there is a chip on one handle that has aspirations of being a full-blown crack.  The humans have to send it back, which entails printing out a return tag , repacking the dish, and taking the dish to the local Unrepentant Package Squashers office.  Then they’ll get a credit and can order another one if they choose.

So, still not over!

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