Vendor Who's Responsible

A Veritable Treasure Trove of. . .Stuff

Five years ago and more, I wrote about the building in which the human female spends so much of her time. The herbarium is housed in an ENORMOUS metal building well away from campus. The parking lot is a notorious dumping ground for cast-offs of many ilks. I don’t believe I have shown, however, just what sort of junk is stacked up inside…

The herbarium occupies only a small portion of the building. The University’s large collection of preserved animals occupies a roughly equal footprint, and the rest of the building is storage, a Magnet Research Lab, and various other engineering/mechanical/fabrication endeavors. The strange noises–and at times odors— which emanate from the other spaces are practically infinite in number and provide “habitat enrichment” for the human female as she labors away at the Big Book of Boring Botany.

There is an inordinate amount of flotsam and jetsam stored in the hallways between areas. I am particularly intrigued by this collection of gas cylinders.

They are properly capped, stored upright, and secured with a safety chain, but they have been sitting here for eons and no one seems to be doing anything with them. This raises several questions. Does anyone check on them? Does anyone know how many there are supposed to be? If there is one full of helium, would anyone miss it if I took it home and used it to make the felines make funny squeaky noises?

Great Frigga’s Corset! What have we here? Someone has left a random package here, free for the swiping all unopened and unloved. And it’s from the human female’s old nemesis, the Vendor Who’s Responsible. I thought the days of mysterious packages from various vendors were over!

Norns’ Nighties! Look at that ship date! March 9, 2020, from Beantown Chemical Corporation. Whatever it is, it has been sitting here for nearly a year and half! No doubt it was left here when the university locked down for the plague and has been utterly forgotten about. Hmm. Does the packing slip say what it is?

Europium (II) fluoride

I have no idea what that is, what it’s used for, or whether I should be standing on this box…

I know from sabotaging the human female’s various chemical exploits over the year that the first thing to do is to look up the Safety Data Sheet for this chemical. Let’s see what it says.

As I understand it, that is pretty standard stuff. I mean, powdered sugar has about the same warning–and we saw last week that nothing happened to my sweetie when she actually all but rolled in the stuff. Perhaps this Europium (II) fluoride is not so bad after all. Let’s see what else it says.

No information available. Three of the scariest words in the scientific lexicon. Basically, no one knows how big of a fire or explosion it will make, or whether it goes “boom” if you hit it or if there are sparks around.

Pardon me if I skedaddle…

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Never Fear

My readers have been quite vocal about their concern. “Loki,” they say, “With the human female retired from the University, how will you keep up with your mischief? Whatever shall you do?”

It is very kind of all of you to be worried for me. Rest assured, I am not idle.

First off, I have left quite a lot of residual mischief floating around Intro Bio. Two of the vendors that the human female used to deal with now have “punchouts” in the Aggie Buy purchasing interface, which allows for faster, easier chaos. Apparently, trying to order cuvettes for the spectrophotometers from Fisher now prompts a message in their new punchout that they can’t sell them to A&M anymore because of a deal A&M has with Another Vendor. I suspect that the “other vendor” is the Vendor Who’s Responsible.

The construction in Heldenfels is NOT finished. The teaching labs which were to move to the second floor are still waiting to have a usable space to move into. Workmen did, however, finally put the missing ethernet connections in the area of the third floor where one had been removed when the utility conduit was put in. In fact, they put four ethernet connections in. The fact that they put them all in room 319 (tiny, tiny prof office) rather than 318 (Techs’ office) is causing some consternation. The missing outlet in 318 was replaced, but it is on the wrong wall. But, hey! A completed work order is a completed work order!

And there is plenty to do here at the house, messing with the human female’s expectations about how retired life should go. She catches up on laundry; I wad the sheets up in the dryer so the middle of the mass doesn’t dry. She cooks up a new recipe; I make sure a perishable ingredient doesn’t get back into the fridge and is discovered too late to salvage. She tackles a “quick” organizing job; I make sure it takes half a day. She finds a serial drama she wants to watch on YouTube; I make sure it isn’t available in the U.S.

She resolves to get in some walking as many days of the week as she can; I make sure that the housekey that should be in her pocket…

…isn’t.

Now she gets to sit on the front porch like a big, dorky milk bottle until the male gets home from the store.

The days are just packed.

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Chaos by the Numbers

There seems to be some notion that I have been “slacking off” recently,  doing nothing but eating take-out food and traipsing about the neighborhood, looking at wildflowers.  After all, it is summer!  Usually by about this time, I have the human female’s work life all tied up in knots with large course orders for fall from the Vendor Who’s Responsible and the Purveyor of Squiggly things and the Purveyor of Dead Things.  Not to mention plans for the Dead Cat Ballet.

This year, everything is different.  Instead of dealing with so many concrete objects, I have extended my mischief largely into the realm of the abstract, and believe me when I tell you:  the numbers add up to maximum chaos.

Days remaining in the self-isolation/quarantine the humans are having to do, on account of being exposed to The Virus: 10

Number of weeks that the human female has been working from home: 14

Number of pounds she’s gained: Approximately (There is probably a correlating number of bags of chips consumed, but she has been hiding the evidence, so it’s hard to tell for sure.)

Number of days per week the human male spends at least some time on campus: 3 to 4

Number of times he has found construction vehicles occupying or blocking his reserved, numbered parking space: 8

Number of Zoom meetings per week:  2 to 5 for the human female, 10 for the male.

Number of times per day I jiggle the router and make the home internet connection drop3 to 10

Number of times I have made the human female’s internet browser seize up so that it will not make bookmarks or remember her history, causing her to scramble to try to figure out where was that thing she needs to find again: 2

Gigabytes of personal files she has removed from her work system in preparation for retiring: 8

Number of personal file folders that vanished in download entirely: 1

Number of major projects the human female is working on: 6

Number of minor projects: 3

Number of Tech Is Intro Bio is short: 1

Number of Bio lecturers who have decamped to other departments with not a lot of warning: 1

Average number of undergraduates in the Intro Bio program in the fall: 3,000

Percent increase in Biology enrollment predicted for fall: 15

Number of persons the largest classroom on campus this fall will hold: 600

Number of persons that will actually be allowed to occupy said room: 120

Usual number of Intro Bio lab sections:  About 120

Percent occupancy allowed for teaching rooms: 40

Usual number of students per lab section: 24

Number of half-sections per section this fall: 2

Number of students who will be allowed in each lab half-section in the fall: 12  (Because, of course, 12 is 40% of 24.  Ask the Provost.)

Original number of minutes in a lab section: 170

Minutes in the new, shorter sections for Bio 111 and 112 in the past few years: 110

Minutes in the Corona-shortened, online sections this spring: 60

Minutes in the Biology 107 and 112 half-labs this fall: 70

Minutes in the Biology 111 half-labs this fall: 50

Minutes mandated between lab time slots for passing and cleaning: 30

Minutes mandated between half-lab time slots: 20

Minutes mandated at noon for deep cleaning everything on campus: 45

Average number of days between conflicting “This is how we will Do Things” directives that come down from University Admin: 7

Man-hours spent trying to figure out what to teach in tiny bites of time and how to teach it: Dozens and dozens and counting

Percent of fall course order that can be ordered until lab syllabus and activities are firmly decided upon: 0

Weeks wait time for glove orders: 5? 7? 10?  No one knows.  (That’s not true.  I know, but I’m not telling.)

Percent increase in price of biodegradable nitrile gloves: 30

Percent budget cut everyone is sure is coming: 15

First day of fall semester:  August 19 (moved up)

Estimated date of completion of second floor construction:  August 19 (moved back)

Weeks between first day of class and first day of labs: 1

Number of times Anatomy and Physiology will have been moved in the last few years:  (Let me count:  up, down, up…down): 4

Rooms which will not be ready when the semester starts: At least 1

Number of stools which will have to be carted downstairs to put in the new labs whose stools will not yet have arrived: x/2, where x is the number of stools on the third floor.  (Guess having half the students per lab on the third floor works out well for the second.)

Number of rooms that have to come *off* the Biosafety Level 1 permit: 1

Unscheduled AC outages so far: 1

Scheduled AC, power, and water outages: 1 eachAnd no one knows when or how long.

Square feet removed from room 302 for new conduits: 25

Number of currently-intact walls in the Prep Staff office: 3

Number of from-out-of-country Teaching Assistants who will not be able to be in-country when the semester starts: Unknown, but most assuredly someone will be stuck somewhere!  Visa problems, quarantine, take your pick.

Number of new international Bio grad students who have deferred coming to the U.S. because of the pandemic: 1 so far, with almost certainly more to come.

Percent of Bio faculty who secretly or openly believe the University will have to shut down completely again at some point in the fall: 100

Number of times the human female’s Prep Staff have got the forensics electrophoresis gel to work: 0

Chapters of the horrible digital/online course text book the human female has reviewed to date: 44.5

Pages of notes and corrections on said book: 365 and counting

On the home front:

Number of masks made so far: 63

Number of times Taffy Cat has to be shoved off the laptop every time the human female tries to work sitting on the sofa:  Average of 7

Number of piles of upchucked breakfast Flannel Cat left in the living room this morning: 4

Number of days per week the struggling baby hollyhocks must be hand-watered: 7

Height, in meters, of the tallest sunflower this year: 3+  And half of them try to get into the car with the human female every single time.

Days over 100°F so far: 1

Days that have felt like over 100°F: Half of May and all of June

Weeks without in-person church attendance: 7

Number of old TV series binge-watched: 3

Episodes in the English-dubbed Chinese fantasy drama the human female has been working her way through: 50

 

Keeping My Hand In, Part II: I Think “DEA” Stands for Drug Enjoyment Agency

Ah.  The seasons turn.  The air is golden with grass pollen.  The dandelions bloom and puff in the lawn.  The mockingbird sings from that one dead branch the human female can’t reach, even with the ladder…

And the DEA paperwork comes.

bad DEAform2

Astute minions may recall that every year the human female has to swear that she will not make meth in the basement. 

And look!  This year, the Vendor Who Doesn’t Want to Be Responsible if she should take it into her head to start financing things with some illicit pharmaceuticals has helpfully sent her a copy of last year’s completed form.

Here it is in its unredacted glory:

bad DEA form

I believe the Midgardian word is “trippy.”

Flannel Cat, who Takes Things Seriously, does not approve.

work from home helper

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There’s That Word Again…

It’s a universal phenomenon. Happens on all nine realms and in all the places in between. You hear a new word, something you’re absolutely certain you’ve never heard before. And then suddenly, boom! You run into it three times in the next week.

Today’s word is: SNORKEL. Sigyn ran into it at the pen show last week and fell in love with it. Every now and then she’ll say it to herself and giggle. “Snorkel.” It is indeed a funny word.

Believe it or not, the human female is trying to buy some. She needs them for an upcoming lab exercise. The students will be conducting an experiment on the diving response in humans. Apparently, this primitive species retains some animal hard-wiring. When their faces or heads go under cold water, their heart rate slows. The human female wants to see if this response occurs if the test subjects can still breathe while their heads are under water.

Searching for “snorkels” brings up a wide array of options. Everything from professional divers’ gear to cheap plastic kiddie models. The human female is now muttering under her breath—the really good ones are upwards of $30.00 apiece, which is not at all within the target price range for a state-supported institution.

Now she’s checking to see if perhaps the Vendor Who’s Responsible has them. I’ve tweaked their search algorithm for “better functionality,” and I’m delighted she gets to try out its new features. Ping!  Her search has yielded results.trying to buy snorkel

Ehehehehe! Cheap plastic kiddie models it is, then.

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You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Or sometimes you can, it just takes a really, really long time.

All the human female wanted was some phosphoric acid.  It shouldn’t have been difficult, right?  The stuff is, after all, practically everywhere.  They put it in soda, for Sleipnir’s sake!

So the human female, months ago, ordered a case of six three-liter bottles.  (Well, 6 x 2.5 liters, but the Vendor Who’s Responsible likes to round up).  They were part of one of the big orders back in May.

Now, sometimes I like to pick an item or two on a large order and have a little fun.  You recall–the May orders sat on her desk for months, incompletely received.  Part of that was test tubes.  And part of it was the acid.

So, the acid didn’t come and it didn’t come and it didn’t come.  When the human female called the VWR, they told her that it was delayed because the manufacturer had to make it.  Because why on earth would they actually STOCK it?

More queries, more excuses, more delayed estimated ship dates.  One after the other.

It was taking so long that she thought maybe she should order a different product, because sometimes the VWR has one version of a chemical if the others are out of stock.  So she fired up the online catalog, and discovered that, sure enough, there was an alternative–and it was even less expensive!

vwr phosphoric acid is three cents

Three cents for a case seemed like an awfully good price!  But then she logged in or refreshed the screen or something and it came back as its regular price.  And behold! The product she had ordered was by far the cheapest one–by a factor of ten.   All the other options were ultra pure and ultra pricey.

She would just have to wait.

And wait she did!  The shipment was delayed again and again.  There were supposed ship dates all throughout June.  Nothing.  Finally, on the 19th, it was definitely, absolutely, 100% going to ship.

It shipped on the 24th.

The package took its sweet time, nordling all about the continent, seeing the sights and, no doubt, stopping at all of the quaint roadside attractions this part of Midgard is known for.  Enormous balls of string, reptile farms, diners shaped like improbable headgear, that kind of thing.

On June 28, the acid reached Texas.  And vanished.

phosphoric acid trip

How does one lose a shipment that, according to Unrepentant Package Squashers, weighs one hundred and thirty-four pounds?  The human female called the VWR and called UPS and asked them to please, please find the shipment.  It was if it had been swallowed by a black hole.

The human female followed up a hunch and confirmed that yes, phosphoric acid IS used in the manufacture of various illicit drugs.  Perhaps it had been absconded with by some meth-making malefactor.  Sigh. Probaby gone forever, then.  She called the VWR one more time, and they promised to reship the whole case.

So, the replacement acid didn’t come and it didn’t come and it didn’t come. 

But then–a miracle! (No, actually, it was me just deciding to have a little more fun.)  In lateish July, the original shipment mysteriously reappeared in in tracking!

phosphoric acid trip-2

The human female waited with bated breath.  The package went out for delivery, but then turned around and ended right back up at the freight center.  How maddening!

But then–delivered!  Huzzah and great rejoicings!  Delivered at last!

phosphoric acid trip-2

Except, it wasn’t.  It wasn’t at the stockroom, and it wasn’t at Central Receiving.  No shipment, anywhere.

The human female called the UPS, who assured her it had been delivered.  She assured them it hadn’t.  UPS insisted they even had a signed delivery receipt.  Signed in the stockroom, big and bold, by someone named “Jason.”

Except that there *is* no person in the stockroom whose name is Jason.  And there isn’t anyone at all in the University’s directory whose name is Jason and who has a last name that sounds anything like what UPS said was the receipt.  She had UPS send her a copy of the receipt.  Yep!  Jason Kl~~~~ squiggle -something.

It was at this point that the human female had what I believe is known in some parts of Midgard as a “spittle-flecked nutty.”  She ranted to anyone who would listen—and anyone who couldn’t scuttle away fast enough–about how someone’s head was going to roll for this.  She wanted answers.  She got none.  She wanted a full investigation by a Congressional Subcommittee.  She got excuses.  She wanted an army of workers to start building the gibbet and making a path for the tumbril.  She got crickets chirping.

She demanded that Unrepentant Package Squashers launch an immediate investigation.  The delivery driver must be found and made to say where and to whom he had “delivered” the goods.  Probably, there was no Jason at all, and she had uncovered a far-reaching conspiracy to divert honest, hard-working people’s phosphoric acid into the seamy world of clandestine drug laboratories.  Wasn’t the acid actually identified on the external shipping label for all the world to see?  The VWR was practically asking for people to intercept and misuse their goods!  Yes, indeed, she was going to break the story Wide Open.  By gum, she was going to see this through!

And then one morning, the nice lady in the stockroom asked her if she knew anything about a large, unclaimed parcel that was just sitting in the basement of an adjacent building.

Could it be?  Was it?

It was!  Filthy, plastic-wrapped, holey, and with its attachments all torn up–but undeniably a big batch of phosphoric acid!

phosphoric acid-box

The bottles, despite the total lack of packing material, hadn’t broken.  All 18(16) liters accounted for and perfectly intact.

The paperwork, not so much.

phosphoric acid-box-torn label

Oh, how she wished the boxes could talk!

The human female, while undoubtedly relieved to be able to FINALLY close the PO, was nonetheless disappointed that she had not, in fact, busted up a drug ring. She does lead such a boring life.

Some questions remain.

Where was the shipment between July 2 and July 22?  Three weeks is a long time to misplace such a hefty shipment.

–Who is is the mysterious Jason Is he actually a Jason?

Why did the Unrepentant Package Squashers  let some random humanoid sign for such an important shipment?

Why was it just left in sitting in the basement, with no attempt to find out who it belonged to?

Why does the shipping statement from the VVWR say the weight was 73.58 pounds, while UPS has paperwork that shows it weighs 134 pounds?

phosphoric acid-weight

–Just what did the UPS charge VWR for the shipping? Did they bill for 73 pounds and change, or the nice, round, entirely-fictitious weight of 134?

Why did the VWR say they couldn’t ship until late June because the acid was, “being made” when the made-by date on the bottles says they were born in early May?

phosphoric acid-date

–And finally, since the Internets says, “Phosphoric acid is made from the mineral phosphorus, which is found naturally in the body,” what—or WHO–is the manufacturer making this stuff out of???

And, oh yes–where will Loki strike next?  What will his next mischief be?

There’s really no telling. Rest assured, though, human female, you won’t see it coming until it hits you right between the eyes. . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VWR-Intended Use 2019

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

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

testtubes-vs-ups

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not even close…

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Tracking Information–My Favorite Form of Fiction!

It’s no secret that I do some of my best work with purchasing.  Nothing can make the human female’s life more annoying than a good, old-fashioned mix-up with merchandise, poor packing, overages, shortages, breakages, billing, packings slips, miscommunication, and all the vagaries of various freight companies and their whimsical ideas as to what constitutes timely delivery.

Where would I be without the Vendor Who’s Responsible?  The human female orders so many things from them that I have LOTS of opportunities to put my little finger in and stir up some good, old-fashioned mischief.

The human female has two big, incomplete, partially-outstanding orders with the VWR.  One is from early in the spring; the other is from May.  Will the phosphoric acid ever arrive?  How about the pipette tips?  The centrifuge tubes?  She’s called, she’s poked, she’s been put off—and off, and off.  “It’s shipping from a different warehouse.”  “It’s shipping from the manufacturer.” “It’s a special order and the manufacturer has to make it.”  Thus the phosphoric acid, ordered in early spring, and its June 18 delivery date.

Lately she’s been getting Order! Update! Emails!  Progress!  Things are moving!  There is tracking information!  There are arrival dates!

Arrival dates firmly chiseled in jell-o.

Observe closely. Watch those delivery dates.

vwr-interim ship date

Great!  Some of the pipette tips were set to arrive on June 17.   They didn’t.

vwr-initial ship date

Woo hoo!  Here’s a big chunk of the latest order all set to come on June 20!

VWR-tracking est

Uh, make that June 26.

VWR-in processing

Make that June 27.

more dates

Oh, well.  July then.   Maybe.

So what has actually arrived?  Phosphoric acid?  Tips?  Tubes?  Six crates of nothing?

Guess.

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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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Fun With Paperwork (My Fun, Not Hers) AKA: What Is The Sound of Frustration?

Every year, the human female has to cross her heart and swear that she isn’t going to use her powers—or her drug-precursor chemicals—to whip up a quick and profitable batch of meth down in the basement.  There’s a specific form to fill out that assures compliance with all applicable DEA rules.  Ordering any of the chemicals on the naughty list assures that the vendor will be sending the blank form and asking for the completed document back.  The one from the Vendor Who’s Responsible looks like this.

VWR-Intended Use 2019

So it came this year.  The human female signed it, scanned it, and pdf’d it back.  She received another notice that she had to do it.  She huffed and replied that she HAD done it, and attached a copy.  She then got the email equivalent of a long-suffering sigh from the Vendor Who’s Responsible, pointing out that she had to have her manager or supervisor sign it.  See? There’s a spot right there at the bottom.  Never mind that she hadn’t had anyone authorize her last year.  That was then; this is now.

So she hunted up a boss and had him sign it.  She scanned it, pdf’d it, sent it back, muttered some under her breath, and counted herself good for the next year.

Fast forward a week or two, and she received yet another email notice that she needed to complete the form.  Once again, she pointed out that she HAD filed it–twice.  “See?” she said. “It is attached. right. here.”  There was quite a dramatic eye-roll involved.  She looked like one of those baby dolls whose eyes roll back in their sockets when you tip them.  There might even have been a faint “mama” whimper, but I can’t be sure.

The Vendor Who’s Responsible wrote back, pointing out what she had overlooked, that this request was for her, but under a different account number. Ehehehehe.  I wonder how that happened???

So she wrote the second account number on the form, right next to the first one, scanned it, pdf’d it, and sent it back.  Mentally, she filed the incident under completed business, uttered a few not-so-sotto-voce profanities, and prepared to forget about it for another year.

Until she got another notice that her DEA papers were about to expire.  She sent back a terse little email pointing out that they’d already had three different copies, with two different account numbers, with and without a supervisor’s official okey-dokey and “here it is attached again in case you numb-wits couldn’t read the previous iterations.”  This time, the whimper was more like the growwwlll that comes out of a dog just before it sinks its teeth into the meaty part of your calf.

Want to know the funniest part of all this?  It’s the possibility that she might purchase iodine crystals that triggers the DEA compliance paperwork.  She’s going to check the new, revised lab exercises and realize that she won’t actually be buying iodine anymore.  You’ll know when that happens–it’ll be just like the sound a desperate coyote makes as it chews off a leg in hopes of either escape or bleeding out into sweet oblivion.

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P. S.  Here’s a catchy little song about “No Iodine.”  I think I’ll get it stuck in her head for the next three days.