Vendor Who's Responsible

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. . .

>|: [

Advertisements

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…

>|: [

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.

>|: [

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!

>|: [

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.

>|: [

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.

Mischief Update: Turning It Up to Eleven

Looking back over recent entries on this blog, I realize that it’s all been rather touchy-feely around here.  Family visits, art museums, wildflowers, and all manner of fluff. Don’t for a moment think, however, that I’ve turned over a new leaf or gone soft or wavered at all in my determination to make the human female’s life a maelstrom of chaos and despair.  Far from it!  I’ve just been too busy to jot all the mischief down.  Allow me to rectify the situation.

I’m still thwarting most of the human female’s attempts to do her job in an expeditious manner. She had to order some rubber stoppers for some large vessels.  Now, the stupid things come in various sizes and with and without holes.  Did she need something normal like a one-holed size eight? She did not! She needed size 13.5. Not 13, not 14. 13.5. With two holes. She couldn’t find them *anywhere.*  No one had them in stock. I finally let her locate some online from Rubber Stoppers ‘R’ Us or some such and she was pleased to put in an order–with postage totaling more than the price of the goods.  And mmmm. That all-pervasive aroma of rubber goods never fails to cling to hands and storage.

There are just so *many* ways that purchasing can go wrong.  A quick trip to the pet store to buy crickets for the tarantulas to eat can turn into a second trip to have a cashier refund and re-ring the transaction to remove the sales tax, which the original cashier had been instructed to delete, and for which the human female presented the appropriate documentation. (I convinced the poor lad that he should jam the long Tax Exempt number into the customer phone number field on his little computer). And yes, the University will quibble over 8.25% of $2.40.

Toluidine blue.Toluidine blue.” Mellifluous words that roll on the tongue like a fine wine.  The human female ordered some last fall as part of the elephantine order.  And it didn’t come.  And it didn’t come.  And it didn’t come.  The human female called the Vendor Who’s Responsible to enquire as to its whereabouts and was informed that it was Still Going to be a While.  It was that same old story–the warehouse to which the order was directed was out, and there was no ability within the system to transfer the order to a different fulfillment center.  So, after some snarling and growling, the human female ordered some from a different vendor.  So naturally, the original order showed up two days later.

I’ve got proof–the Vendor Who’s Responsible thinks of the human female as an inanimate object:customer is an it

A large part of what the human female does involves safety. She very carefully transcribed and collated a bunch of student Lab Safety Agreements (that paper they all sign saying they won’t do anything stupid in lab, a document that effectively cuts the SAR (Stupid Accident Rate) by a solid 3%) and, under my direction, even more carefully locked the filing cabinet.  That Prep Staff did not have a key for.  I suggested dynamite, which would have been Eventful and Exciting, if a little iffy for the continued legibility of said LSAs, but someone eventually found a key, drat it. Oh, well, there was a nice half hour of tizzy, so I’m counting it as a win.

I do love the unicellular members of the Archaeplastida. The human female and her staff had to grow up several liters of Chlamydomonas, a little, single-celled green alga for one of the labs this semester.  People call me high-maintenance, but Great Frigga’s Corset, those little goobers are finicky! They need just so much light, but not too much. Perfect media to grow in, with just the right amounts of certain solutes.  *This* much agitation while in the growth chamber, but no more.  Apparently that last is particularly important. The students got to find out the hard way that if you jostle the carboy full of goobers just a smidge too much, they shed all their flagella and sulk in the bottom of the container. And then when they’re put into the let’s-see-how-well-they-swim-without-the-ability-to-photosynthesize-or-respire exercise, the students get to take data on a whole bunch of nothing much happening.  Meanwhile, another goober, Scenedsmus (one I am quite fond of, since it has horns at either end of the colony and is inclined to contrariness), steadfastly refused to interact with the gel-making chemicals in order to form perfect little algae pearls for the other part of the photosynthesis lab. The supposed-to-be-cutting-edge curriculum had to resort to the old-fashioned protocol, which involves punching little circles out of spinach leaves.  I like to keep the humans  humble.

I really can’t help myself–- meddling with experiments is just so much fun! Another of the students’ labs involved running gel electrophoresis, a process which is just loaded with variables that an enterprising man such as myself can meddle with.  Prep Staff’s test gels just wouldn’t run.  Or rather, they would, but the results looked like a toddler’s first attempts at finger painting and not like a neat set of crisp, glowy bands.  I actually lost track of how many times they had to re-run it.  More agarose in the gel.  Less agarose in the gel.  More DNA in each lane. Less DNA in each lane.  More DNA stain. Less DNA stain.  Placement of the stain in the gel instead of the sample (this actually works better.) Different reference ladder. Cue multiple very expen$I’ve orders to Let Our Nuclear Zaniness Abound (AKA, the Purveyor of gel reagents, AKA the company that keeps sending other people’s invoices to the human female).

Then there’s maintenance, which is a very fertile garden in which to sow seeds of mischief and nurture them to weedy fruition.  Take the countertops and backsplash in room 306, for example.  They were made out of an inferior particle board covered with laminate, and years of moisture from the sink and the steam from the autoclave had fashioned them into a warped, bulgy, separating, landscape reminiscent of the rolling hills of someplace noted for its hills.  The human female and all concerned parties started trying to schedule replacement sometime last fall.  I delayed the project multiple times with the room being needed for actual work, with shortages of the epoxy replacement countertop materials, and with the ever-present question of available funding.  Prep Staff emptied the drawers and cabinets for what turned out be a false alarm and had to put everything back.  There was a planning meeting about the whole thing that no one saw fit to tell the human female about, and the person at Slow, Silent, and Costly who was in charge of the project quit and didn’t tell anyone, so various balls were dropped there as well.  Good times!  When the work was FINALLY done I decided to have a little more fun.  The next day, everyone on the floor started asking that dangerous question: “Do you smell gas?” A lot of sniffing about ensued, and the general consensus was yes, everyone smelled gas.  In room 306.  SSC was called again and two fellows came out –but only because they had left some tools behind on the previous day.  Those two were summarily pounced upon and made to do the sniff test.  After much nosing about, they were able to figure out that during the counter installation, someone had bumped one of the riser pipes that feed the wall-mounted gas nozzles.  Behold– leaking gas! But no one could find the actual leak.   More sniffing.  Soapy water was brought and squirted about, and leaks were found in a couple of places. A drill had to be fetched.  At one point, there were THREE workmen, the human female, the Bio Department’s building proctor, the Assistant Department Head, and some of prep staff all in the little room.  Attendant thereunto was the annual discussion about whether or not a new autoclave is in the offing.  It was the same old story.  If someone else gets a new one, the human female can have a secondhand one from that someone else.  Maybe.  In theory.  Eventually, the circus packed up its monkeys and the taint of mercaptan was dispelled.  The human female deeply regrets that she was not the one who got to fill out the cheery How Did We Do? satisfaction survey for that one.  Six months or so from work request to putting the last bits of stuff back in the drawers.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.

More recently, I did some mischief that didn’t discommode the humans, though it caused some departmental consternation.  It was discovered that there was a sizable pool of water under one of the buildings, mostly from rain.  Now, there are two pumps down there to keep the basements from flooding, which is a good thing–-as long as they’re operational.  One pump was broken and the backup was out of commission as well, along with the alarm system that’s supposed to tattle when a swimming pool develops. While workmen were sloshing about trying to fix things, they discovered that there was a leak or two or three coming down from floors above (Reverse Osmosis water, sprinkler system, etc.)  It took a week and change to drain the swamp, during which time the cats that like to hang out under the building had to find drier accommodations elsewhere.

Several of the rooms in the human female’s tiny domain must remain within a fairly narrow temperature range, for the comfort of various finned or chitinous residents.  Over Spring Break, when the human female was trying to enjoy the fleeting visit with her mother and sister, I suggested to Slow, Silent, and Costly that it would be a good time to do some maintenance on the air handling system.  With the A/C out, the temperature in those special rooms quickly rose, and the human female got to deal with her phone going off with a TEMPERATURE ALERT! every ten minutes for the better part of the day.  Of course, no one was advised of the impending work beforehand. That would be cheating.

Throwing rooms off temp is such fun that I did it some more.  I had one of the walk-in coolers running nice and hot.  I do this on a semi-annual basis. It’s one of my favorite tricks, because if it looks as if it’s going to be hot for a while, all the contents have to be shifted to the other cold room. The human female and her cohorts do spend a lot of time shuffling materials from one place to another. Exercise!  It didn’t get fixed and it didn’t get fixed and it didn’t get fixed.  When the human female called Slow, Silent, and Costly to ask sweetly what the Hel was going on, she was told to call the head HVAC fellow, who was completely surprised to find out that there was any problem at all on the floor. I do my best work as a silver-tongued intriguer, but my obfuscation skills are every bit as good.

But in mid-March the human female was informed that the heating issue in room 322 from last November was fixed–and would she like to take a satisfaction survey?  Nothing like timely feedback, eh?  How about this?

SSC-survey from last year

Many points awarded for having fixed the problem soon after it was reported; minus several thousand points for communication.

And then— No, you know what?  My hand is cramping from writing all of this down!  I’ve been so bad this spring that I shall do myself an injury trying to chronicle it all at once.  More mischief update anon–I need to go find an ice pack.

>|: [

Completing a Mischief-Birthday Sandwich: To B. E. or Not To B. E.?

I started the week with mischief and spent the middle looking at art.  I think I’ll complete the mischief-birthday sandwich by making a little annoying surprise for the human female.

She has received a box. This is not out of the ordinary.  The box is from a manufacturer she has ordered things from before, which is also not out of the ordinary.

gotbarbsplatesagain

There is only one problem with this box.

She has not ordered anything from this manufacturer recently.   Examining the box reveals that it is full of TSA petri plates.  The human female says TSA stands for “Tryptic Soy Agar, a goopy jelly which is used as a general growth medium for the isolation and cultivation of microorganisms.”

She is very, very sure she has not ordered TSA plates.  Ever.

But something about this mischief feels familiar.  Ehehehe!  Look at her!  I can practically see the gears turning in her tiny brain.  I can hear a tinny grinding noise and she’s screwing up her face.  Almost has it… Almost has it…

And now she remembers:  Last fall, I arranged for a box of plates just like these to show up unordered and unannounced.   After a lot of poking and calling and thinking, she figured out that that batch actually belonged to B. E., a colleague who works in an entirely different building.  The Vendor Who’s Responsible had simply pulled the human female’s name out of its hat as Someone in the Biology Department who often Orders Things and slapped it on the box.

A quick call to B. E. confirms that yes, ladies and gentlemen, at my behest, the Vendor Who’s Responsible has done it again.  Many of their products–such as this one–ship directly from the manufacturer, meaning that there’s one more step along the purchasing path where information can go astray.  The vendor, Hardly Diagnostic, is still laboring under the impression that the human female is the only person who ever orders from them.

So here comes B. E. now, to retrieve her parcel and reveal to the human female more details of my mischief.  First, since the wrong recipient was indicated on the box the last time B. E. made this order, this time she asked the Department’s purchasing officer to make the order for her, so that it would not look like a repeat order from B. E. and hopefully not go to the human female again.  Ha!  I have hexed the purchasing officer’s office as well, and Hardly Diagnostic just once again pulled a random Biology Department address from its collective bum and sent the box to the human female.

Because that worked so well last time. 

Second, the human female has noticed that the actual P.O. number is actually on the outside of the actual box.  B. E.  is telling the human female that she has ONE ongoing, open P. O. with the Vendor Who’s Responsible.  One. P.O.   As in “can just call them up and tell them to put any/everything on that one P.O. number.”

The human female is sitting here with her mouth hanging open, which, let me tell you, is NOT a good look for her.   She is imagining a future with just one lovely P.O. number for all her dealings with the Vendor Who’s Responsible, and now I am so torn.

On the one hand, I don’t want her to try to make the same arrangement with the V. W. R., because I really, really enjoy making her go through the whole process of getting a separate requisition number and P.O. number for every purchase.  But on the other hand, imagine all of the tangley mischief I could accomplish if I kept messing up her orders and every time she tried to straighten something out with the V. W. R., she had to refer to the same snafu’d, ever-more-convoluted mess of a mis-directed, mis-packed, mis-delivered, back-ordered, P.O. And all her scanned packing slips she sends to the bean counters would have the same P.O.  There’d be no way to match up invoices with orders, and she’d be a gibbering mess inside a fortnight…

Rats!  I hate it when I have two conflicting mischiefy ideas and can’t choose between them!

Oh, well.  I suppose I’ll let B. E. keep her one magic number and just keep having various vendors send all her stuff to the human female, and I’ll keep tinkering with the human female’s orders.

One doomed P.O. at a time.

>|: [