Unrepentant Package Squashers

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

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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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What If You Gave a Wood-Destroying Insect Party And Nobody Came?

Ehehehehe!  I know I said I’d be moving on to other projects, but I haven’t wrung all the mischief out of Harvey yet.   (I know it’s a disaster of Ragnarokian proportions, but that doesn’t mean I can’t amuse myself at the human female’s expense.)

Monday was supposed to be the first day of the semester, but the University closed for two days–days on which it did not actually rain.  So now, it is midweek of the first week and everyone is behind and things are confused and everyone wants things done YESTERDAY.

Even though the U. was closed on Monday, the human female came up and put in several hours of work because her sole Tech II is out this week.  They met and mapped out work for the week.  The human female made all sorts of hurried notes.  Here are some she made on the very elegant notes the Tech II made — on whatever was handy.

aftermath1

That silver Sharpie marker is so classy.

Most of the human female’s morning has been taken up by logistics.  You see, Usually Squashes Parcels Significantly suddenly terminated mail delivery to the local area on Monday.  No warning, no delivering mail that was already out on route. Nope, back to the barn, no mail for you, no projected date of return to service.   Never mind that when they closed the local sorting center a few years ago, it was with the idea that it could be resurrected if need be.  Well, needs be now, people!

On top of Usually Squashes Parcels Significantly, Fed-up and Exhausted, which has a major hub in the Big Inundated City to the South, suspended all deliveries there and in the surrounding area, which includes here.  Unrepentant Package Squashers followed suit.

So here is the human female, trying to prep lab for next week, the lab that includes our old friends the fragile, ship-overnight-and-hope-for-the-best termites, with no way to get said Blattodeans here to play with!

termites1

(Sad, over-exposed photo of the container the termites will inhabit, if they come.  The green pan of water is a moat to keep out the ants, which like to dine on tasty Isopterans.)

Over the last few days, she has sent and received numerous calls, texts, and emails, trying to get the termites here.  It goes like this:   If  Fed-Up and Exhausted won’t do it, can Unrepentant Package Squashers do it routing through Big City to the North?   The Purveyor of Squiggly Things, who prefers to ship only FU&E, says they’ll look into it. She calls Unrepentant, who says they can.  The human female also contacted the Vendor Who’s Responsible, since she has glassware to order, and they say Unrepentant can’t.  She calls Unrepentant again and they say they can, and she lets Vendor of Squiggly Things and Vendor Who’s Responsible know.  Vendor Who’s Responsible  responds with a screen capture of the Unrepentant website, listing the local zip code as one they will not ship to. Human female responds with a screen capture that says the local area is unaffected.  Vendor Who’s Responsible emails back that both FU&E and Unrepentant have changed their tune and are now accepting *ground* shipments for delivery here, but not live or refrigerated materials.  The human female still insists they ought to be able to do air shipments through Big City to the North, and if not, she will drive to Random Small City to the North and pick them up there.   They’ve been going around and around all morning, with no clear path to Termiteville yet in sight.

If we could somehow rope in the Purveyor of Dead Things, we’d have some sort of twisted Vendor/Shipper Bingo going on.

So here I sit, with all the party props needed to entertain the termites properly, and no one to play with.

termites2

Guess we could always test whether Sigyn has trailing pheromones that are mimicked by Bic ink…

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I Love a Good Mystery

I love a good mystery.  Even more, I love it when the human female is mystified.  I try to make her life a little more surreal each and every day.

Take yesterday, for example.  One of her Tech II’s brought her a note hand-written on notebook paper, saying that a box of duct tape from Smiling River in South America arrive with no packing slip, so here was a receipt.  The human female was quite puzzled, because she hadn’t ordered any tape.  She asked the Tech if she had ordered it.  No, Other Tech wrote the note.  Well, did Other Tech order it?  First Tech wasn’t sure, as Other Tech was out sick.

The human female then asked Office Workers 1 and 2 if they had ordered it, since they are generally in charge of office supplies, and duct tape is sort of an office supply item, if you kind of squint.

Blank stares.

So today, the human female has asked Other Tech the following questions:

  1.  Did you order duct tape?
  2.  If you did, did you use the credit card or a purchase order or what?
  3.  Why not just buy the stuff at the store, like a normal person?

Other Tech has responded  “No”, “see above”, and “well, duh, that’s what I do”, respectively.   So the mystery remains!

Well, let’s just see if we can get to the bottom of this.

Here is the box in question.  I’ve decided it’s not so much a smile in the logo as a snarky little smirk.

I approve.

ducttape1

Let’s just have a little look, here.

ducttape2

Sure enough, four rolls of duct tape, no packing, no packing slip.  Just Tape in a Box.

ducttape3

No clues here.

ducttape4

Let’s examine the label for hints.

Well, here’s our first problem.  This isn’t even a correctly-formatted  university address.  The university doesn’t use street addresses, and there’s no internal mail stop number.

ductttape5

The human female is now running the tracking number on Unrepentant Package Squashers’ website.  Ha!  She has learned that it was signed for in the departmental stockroom.  How it made it there with that garbled address is anyone’s guess.

Now she is emailing Detroit Tool and Supply to see if they can cough up a PO number or a name on a credit card or something, because seriously—someone ordered this stuff and is probably wondering where it is.

Oh, look.  There is another shipping label underneath the first one.  How very odd…

ducttape6

On this label, there is the name of a professor in the Chemistry Department, along with another improperly formatted, incomplete university address.  Note that the Chemistry Department is on the other side of this very large campus from where the human female resides.  The two departments do not share finances, personnel,  stockrooms, or other facilities.

Armed with this name, the human female has looked up this professor and emailed her to see if, by some chance, she has ordered some smirky duct tape.

Return email:  No, I have not ordered any duct tape, smirky or otherwise.  Let me ask around, because duct tape sounds like a Thing One Of Us Might Do.

Copied on email:  Hey, Chemistry Staff, did any of you order any duct tape?

Copied on email:  (chorus of “not I!”)

Copied on email from Chemistry Purchasing Agent:  Yes, YOU, “J”!   You asked me to order some duct tape for you and I did.  So there.

Email to Chemistry Professor:  Come and get your stoopid tape.

Okay, okay.  The human female, who was a bloodhound in a former life (and who still looks like one, especially first thing in the morning), has solved my little mystery.  She figured it out.  Am I disappointed?  By no means!  Because, all told, this has WASTED a good forty minutes or more of productive time, and she has NOTHING to show for it!

My job here is done.

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Mischief Update: Here We Go Again

It’s been quite some time, I believe, since I have enlightened my readers as to my progress in making the human female’s life a nightmare.  Let me rectify that!

I was not idle over the Yule holiday.  I managed to manipulate both space and time. Something the human female ordered on December 12 was tracked to Hutchins, Texas on December 13.  On the 14th, she was told it was in Ocala, Florida on the 13th and was in Hutchins, Texas at 1:00 p.m., even though it was then only 9:00 a.m.  I like to watch that vein in her forehead bulge.

Two Yule gifts that people said they were sending to the human female have yet to arrive.  She does not know whether the gifts were, in fact, sent; whether Unrepentant Package Squashers or Usually Smashes Packages Significantly has made some grievous error; or whether I have been holed up somewhere, secretly eating chocolate, reading botany books, and drawing mustaches on photos of the grand-nieces and -nephews.

My gift to the male was a nasty cold.  Generous soul that he is, he shared with the human female, so that they both hacked and snorted their way through the holiday.  The female is still coughing, so I’m getting some good mileage out of a few microbes!  It’s called Thrift.

Of course, the fact that record cold has been followed by record heat, then rain, then fog, then wind, then cold again so that no one knows what to wear hasn’t helped.  Thor’s not the only one who can fiddle with the weather!

Following my recommendation, the local utility company has instituted a monthy “road improvement” fee to be assessed on all households.  Ostensibly, this is for Road Improvement, but it is actually the “Loki Roadtrip Improvement” fee.  By spring break, Sigyn and I will be able to go someplace really nice.

On the work front, I continue to be quite busy.  The new semester has started, which means the usual chaos of out-of-department teaching assistants, computer users who manage to delete their entire mailboxes, multiple conflicting versions of each syllabus, malfunctioning thermostats, and no-shows at critical meetings.

BAMN, my beloved purchasing software system, that which has caused the human female so much grief, is being phased out.  That is all right.  I have wrung about as much mayhem out of it as I can.  I will be able to confound her with just vendors and shippers and bookkeeping!  Why, already this semester, the Purveyor of Squiggly Things has shipped termites on the wrong day, increased all their prices, and lost the human-female-approves-all-shipping-charges-so-please-do-not-call-on-every-order note that was hanging in their shipping office.  There’s no fear anyone will forget BAMN, though, because there will long remain that open commitment with the Purveyor of Dead Things for that last order of stiff kitties.  It will remain on the books for-ev-er.

She is also haunted by the Ghosts of Piglets Past.  The Landfill Guardians have decreed that the preserved porcine cadavers are too much all at once.  The female must PAY the University’s Vet School to pick them up and incinerate them.  The good news is that she finally made contact with the people who can make this happen.  The bad news is that all the little piggies have to be unbagged before they will take them. File under “eew.”

The human female produced a small spate of actual useful activity in re-organizing the Biology Image Library, a vasty collection of images and review questions which the students may use (but mostly don’t) for study. Responding to numerous student requests, she sorted the images in each review set by lab.  Wanting to keep her occupied and out of my hair for as long as possible, I tinkered with the underlying code so that the images in each set display in alphabetical order by file name–no exceptions.  The only way to accomplish the sorting was to save each image, rename it with a name beginning with the name of the lab, and re-upload it.  Repeat for each review set.  Lest she become too complacent and file the sorted gallery as “completed business,” I deleted the script that alerted her to new faculty users requesting faculty access to the library, so now each new user will have to email her so that she can log in and enable them.  And then mail the new user back to let them know they can access the library.

I have engendered a war betwixt the human female and the main office copier-printer.  She was unable to print to it, getting only the message that the printer was offline due to a document “stuck” in the print queue.  When she tried to delete the document, she discovered that it was not one of hers.  It belonged to the IT tech who last set up user access to the printer–so she couldn’t delete it!  The IT tech was able to remotely log-in and delete it, but I guess his finger slipped (innocent whistling), because then the human female’s computer couldn’t see the printer at all.

I have also had my wicked way with the Department’s back-up server, with its array of hard drives.  I have had the drives fail one after the other, usually during a major backup session or an array rebuild, and at the most inconvenient times!  Such as last thing on the last day before the Yule holiday.  And on weekends.  And when the humans were out of town.  The human male does not often indulge in profanity, but he has learned some new words!

Astute readers will recall that the human female had a teensy little tiff with one of my hymenopterous associates back in October.  Since then, her swollen knuckle and advancing avoirdupois have kept her from wearing her engagement-wedding ring combination.  After determining that the swollen joint was not going to return to its accustomed size any time in the near future, she took the ring to a local jeweler for re-sizing.  They kept the ring for a few weeks, then reported that they could not do the job without separating the rings from one another, nor would they do the work unless she agreed to re-tipping all the prongs and having some additional work done, to the merry tune of $400.00+.   She asked them to return the ring to her, saying she will seek aid elsewhere.  So now she has it back and has added “find a different jeweler” to her ever-increasing to-do list.  The longer it sits about, off her hand, the more time I have to shove it down the sofa or feed it to the cat, so by all means, mortal, procrastinate away!

The humans and the feline continue to rely on various prescriptions for their continued miserable existence.  I have had had some fun with the mail-order pharmacy, Pills-R-Us, before.  They  used to think 11 pills was an 11-day supply and so not count it as eligible for autoship. Well, now they think that 9 pills is an 11-day supply.  I’m going for seven next month.  Meanwhile, the pharmacy that compounds the feline’s nostrums continues to invisibly under-fill every syringe of transdermally-applied medicine  (they look full), with the result that estimating what is left in any given syringe is indeed a crapshoot.

Let me think….  What else?

I made a funny smell in Room 313, prompting a round of everyone’s favorite game, “Hunt the Stench.”  The consensus was “mouse,” and I scattered a few dry droppings about, so the past week has involved traps, peanut butter, and a sort of rodentiferous paranoia. Except no one has caught anything.  Except perhaps hantavirus, but eh, Frost Giants are immune, so who really cares?

I made a steam leak in the autoclave, such that the resulting cloud set off the fire alarms and the whole building had to be evacuated.  On the first day of the semester.  In the rain.

The fridge made a puddle.

The feline made a puddle.  I have also taught her to lick the leather sofa, so now there’s a light, very smooth patch in her favorite spot.  Well, actually the middle of the dining room table is her favorite spot, because that’s where all the good sun is, of course.

My favorite spot is anywhere Sigyn is, about four inches to the left.

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