Vendor Who's Responsible

Take a Tip From Me

I do some of my best work with little pieces of plastic.  I’ve been amusing myself and making the human female’s life more interesting by messing with her ability to do something as mundane as order pipette tips.

You remember pipettes, yes?  Fantastically useful things, but without the single-use, disposable tips, they’re just very expensive, very precise squirt guns.  Tips come in two sizes–yellow for the two smallest size of pipettors and blue for the larger one.

The human female and her Prep Staff already have a lot of tips.  I mean A LOT, a lot.

tip cabinet

And that’s not even all of them.

The tips get “stuffed,” 96 at a time, into color-coordinated tip boxes, of which there are also bunches upon tons of manys.

stuffed tip boxes

The stripey tape is a bit of nifty science.  It starts out plain, and once exposed to the high heat and pressure of an autoclave, it grows stripes.  Any box you see here that has an undisturbed bit of stripey tape contains sterile tips.

Unless it’s one of the boxes upon which I have switched around raw and striped tape, in which case, all bets are off.

Let us examine one of the boxes more closely.

rainin-tip-box

Odin’s eyepatch!  That really is a lot of tips.

rainin-tip-box-2

Heretofore (love that word), the mortals have been hand-stuffing the tips into the boxes, the sort of mindless,  necessary busy-work that could probably be left to trained raccoons.  (They have such clever little paws!  The raccoons, not the humans.)

rocket tips

Now, the new lab exercises for the Bio 111 students call for approximately eleven million times more pipette uses than the old ones, meaning approximately eleven million more tips.  No one has time to stuff that many tips, and there aren’t enough sardines and marshmallows on the planet to convince a raccoon to do it.

Some researchers just buy boxes with the tips already stuffed in  (this is called “racked”) which is convenient but very expensive and mind-bogglingly wasteful.  The other alternative is to buy the racked tips once and thereafter refill the boxes with pre-placed cards of 96 tips each.  Since soooo many tips will be needed, that’s what the human female and her staff have decided to do.

BUT–and here’s the part that makes my evil little heart go pitty-pat—not all tip boxes are created equal.  Each major pipettor brand and several major labware vendors has its own sort of box, and the refill inserts fit only their own boxes.

So what is the human female to do?  All the old, yucky tip boxes she has are one kind, but no one knows which (possibly Fisher?)  All the fancy new pipettors came with one box of yellow tips and one box of blue tips per per set, and those are made by Rainin.  She’s got to pick a supplier and make a commitment for the long haul.  It’s like choosing a mail-order  bride, except more expensive!

Rainin is out, as their refills cost about twice what my helmet did.  Fisher is out, as she hears the box latches don’t hold up.  There are lots of other options, but she has finally narrowed it down two, a smaller vendor “A” and the Vendor Who’s Responsible.

Ehehehe!  Look at her try to do math!  If she needs to order 30,000 yellow tips and 43,000 blue tips and each comes 96 per card, and the cards come eight to a pack, and five packs are in each case, how many cases does she need to order?  And, wait!   The blue tip boxes and cards are bigger, so there are fewer packs per case, so that’s a different multiplier.  Or is it divisor?  She’s getting confused.

Oh, clever human!  She’s asked for quotes from the two vendors and has them bidding against one another.  They’re falling all over themselves, trying to undercut each other and offering all sorts of inducements!  She has offer, counter-offer, counter-counter-offer, counter-counter-counter-offer, and counter-counter-counter-offer plus offer of free goods.  Which all means more math—what is the total price now versus the ongoing cost of refills?  One is cheaper now; one in the long run, but only a little. One is offering to give her free empty boxes and sell her all the tips at refill prices.   Don’t answer yet!  Don’t forget two very important considerations for the math!  The blue tips come fewer pack to a case since they’re larger, so that’s a separate set of calculations.  And one vendor has half the number of packs per case, so their quote has to be doubled for comparison.  And that 43,000 yellow tips means ordering a partial case, and can she get a quote for just part of a case?  Yes?  More math!  It’s so exciting!  Who is going to get the bid??  It would be easier to just add them to the huge order of everything else from the VWR.  But would that be better?  Oh, the quandary!!  Time is running out–the order has to go in today.  

Come on, mortal, decide already!  Just know that whichever vendor you don’t choose is going to send you hurt and aggrieved emails for weeks afterwards.

What’s that?  The VWR has thrown in two free cases of tips?  That tips the scales.  Order going in to them and a polite decline to the other vendor.

And right on cue:  Message from the other vendor.  “I wish you’d told me.  I could have done something else.  What changed in the last ten minutes?”  The human female got to enjoy her thrifty decision for all of twenty seconds before the guilt trips started arriving in her mailbox.  I love it!

Oh, well.  What’s done is done.  It’s not as if there aren’t a million more things that need doing, so no time to dwell.

one-missing-tip

And I think I’ll just randomly remove tips from boxes.  Here. This one has 95 now, and I spit a little in two or three of them..

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Mischief Update: I Had Help

Lest my loyal readers think I’ve been doing nothing but swanning about gaming conventions and rescuing Sigyn from the odd bit of macabre glassware, I present for your delight a compendium of my latest exploits.

While the human male and I were up at the gaming con, the human female was on her own.  I made sure that every morning she was driving in to campus, there was a wreck on the way, slowing her down and making her late.  One day I actually blocked the entrance to campus!  I do some of my best work with traffic cones and vehicles with blinky lights.  A couple of days, I parked a big pickup in the lane she needed to be in to reach her parking spot.  Love pickups.

To make the human female’s work life a little more surreal and the job of her Prep Staff more difficult, suborned one of the undergraduates.  Together, he and I dismantled the human torso model in one of the lab rooms and hid the various body parts all around the lab room.  It made for a very visceral treasure hunt!

Then there was the week the students were playing with working with DNA.  Prep staff always has the very expensive reagents measured down to the microliter.  Someone spilled a whole tube of DNA ladder (a mix of DNA bits of known sizes), and two groups added ladder to every single sample, instead of just loading one lane of it in the electrophoresis gel they were running.   Cue the human female doing a mad scramble to order more over the phone with a credit card.

It’s not just the undergrads I’ve warped to my service.  I nudged one of the Lab Instructors, and she accidentally sent a copy of the lab final to every student in one of her sections.  Since what she sent was the base exam for a whole group of TAs, all those TAs had to write completely different exams.  This same LI also (thanks to my meddling) left her thumb drive in the computing lab.

Another TA decided to change the due date on a homework assignment.  This is strictly forbidden, as there’s a master calendar.

Another decided to ignore the rules about food in the lab and  bring cookies for his class.  Admonished, he removed them.  And put them back later.  Honestly!  Grad students are so suggestible!

And yet another decided to let the students into the lab final one at a time.  It took him about forty minutes to get them all started on the twenty-five station exam.

And yet another TA lost a whole set of ungraded homework papers and a set of ungraded quizzes.  Cue a big tizzy over what to do.  The human female thought someone on Prep Staff found them, and told everyone the good news. Unfortunately, what was found was four *other* sets of papers this TA had left in the Prep Staff office, so she had to untell everyone the good news.  The human female got chewed out for speaking too soon and muddying the situation.  Isn’t it funny how I can always work it round to her disadvantage, even when it’s not her fault?

Honestly, I’m finding TAs to be some of my best minions!

The human female ordered some pond weed that was urgently needed for a lab.  The Purveyor of Squiggly Things obligingly sent it on a Monday for arrival on Tuesday.  Then Fed-up and Exhausted, for reasons that were never explained, held onto the package in Memphis, Tennessee for twenty-four hours, so that it arrived on Wednesday, cold-damaged and kind of sad looking.  Salvageable, but too late to be useful for the lab.

Of course, I can’t leave the other vendors out of the mix.  I don’t always have time to think up new tricks, but the old ones are still good.  I sent the invoice for the human female’s latest order from the Vendor Who’s Responsible to Qatar in the Persian Gulf again, and then I  made sure an invoice from another vendor, one that wasn’t hers and didn’t have her name on it showed up in her mailbox with “Please pay this PAST DUE BILL NOW” all over it.  She spends half her time trying to tell vendors where invoices really ought to go.

One of the lab rooms has been too cold–about ten degrees colder than the other labs and the hallway.  *I* think it feels good in there, but humans are wimps, so the human female filed a work order.  Come to find out, some worker from Slow Silent and Costly, on some prior visit, had removed the valve that lets hot water for the climate control system into the room.  Not closed it.  Removed it. Possibly because it was leaking.  No one’s sure.  Now someone else has to come out and put it back.

I took the Biology Image Library down one day, so all of the students trying to study were met with a giant Error 404.  It’s an old program, and the underlying software, I think, is scratched onto rough stones in primitive runes.  The human male will be lucky if he can keep it running.

In the meantime, the University has decreed that all users have to have dual-factor authentication if they are logging in from off-campus.  They keep changing the adoption date, too, moving it up and up.  People are scrambling to get the software on their phones and such.  The human female’s phone wouldn’t take the software (thanks to a little jiggery pokery from Yours Truly), so she had to go over to a hidden room in an unmarked building and purchase a little doodad that generates a  log-in code at the push of a button.  So far, she hasn’t lost it, but it’s only a matter of time…

Computers are such fun to mess with.  I arranged a campus-wide cascade of computing, web, and email outages one day, starting with an equipment failure in the main computing center.  The systems were supposed to be multiply redundant so that if some bit failed, things would still keep going.  If you have all the systems in the same building, though…  Hey–they should thank me!  It was a good exercise in disaster recovery.

That caused such merry chaos that I’ve had random email outages and slow downs once a week or so since then, just to keep things interesting.

I’ve kept it rainy.  4.75″ just the other day.  The human female has given up trying to mow.

The human female had to get new glasses, just for a slight prescription change in one eye.  Would they let her get just one new lens?  They would not!  Because of her frames, it was all or nothing.  She wanted to get frames just like the ones she had.  Ehehehe!  Of course they don’t make them anymore!  She had to settle, which is always demoralizing for her and fun for me.

She bought a box of her favorite orange cookies, Mexican polvorones.  When she opened them, she found them smashed to crumbs.  I think she needs to look up the definition of “polvo” and not whine so much.  And that old quip about broken cookies having no calories?  Yeah, not true.  You should see the size of her!

Then there’s all the stress of Yule preparations, but that’s a tale for another time…

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Mischief Update–It’s Not All Pens Around Here

It’s not all pens around here, though you’d never know it by the ink samples on the dining room table.

No, there is a lot of messing with the human female so that she gets her exercise running around.  Take, for instance, the time the stockroom folks delivered a package that patently was not anything she had ordered.  It contained petri plates full of nutrient goo, meant for doing environmental sampling.  She called the Vendor Who’s Responsible and asked whose name was on the original PO.  They told her it was for someone named Craig Bell.  Armed with that info, she searched the A&M directory for anyone named Craig Bell.  She found a Greg Bell, so she called him and said she might have his package.  Then, since the VWR had just sent the good that were manufactured by another company, Hardly Diagnostics, she called them and was told the package was something ordered by one B.E., who actually is in the Biology Department.  So the human female called B.E., who met her in the hallway for a handoff.  B.E. got her plates, the human female had thirty minutes of her day wasted, and I had a good laugh.  Win-win, I’d say!

The human female and her prep staff were in charge of the snacks for the big, ten-day Teaching Assistant workshop that took place right before the start of the semester.  They received a schedule of all the break times and the human female carefully calculated how many snacks and drinks they’d need–six snack breaks times sixty participants, etc..  She went on a huge shopping run.  Then she found out they were responsible for two other breaks, so she had to go again.  I made sure that, on the second run, the Big Box Store was out of the cookie assortments everyone likes so much.  Or rather, they had them, it was just that each one had been opened. No idea what happened there (munch, munch…)

I also saw to it that on one of those runs, the human female’s university ID fell out of her pocket.  She didn’t know about it until she got an email from someone who works on campus saying that someone had found it and put it on the windshield of her doesn’t-work-on-campus boyfriend’s truck in the Big Box Store’s parking lot.  Rather than turning it in to the store, the boyfriend had taken it home.  The human female had to call him up and arrange to get it.  He wanted to take it to some coffee shop he was going to and leave it there.   The human female actually had to explain to him why leaving a card that identifies the worker’s department and which functions as, you know, a KEY in a public place was not a good idea.  She and the human female ended up driving all over the southern part of the city, out in the country, to catch up with him and get the card back.  That was a good one!

The first week of the semester was an absolute joy–for me.  One lane of the humans’ route to work was closed on the first day, and I arranged a fender-bender-tieup on the second.

The Thursday Night Home Football Opener caused as much trouble as predicted.  Traffic was a zoo.  Some employees were told they could leave at 1:00 and others were not.  Students were told to attend their afternoon classes, but some buildings were locked up early so they couldn’t do that.  I worked with the Memorial Student Center to be sure lockers in the MSC were available for the students to stash their stuff so they could go right to the game from class.  And then the next day, I saw to it that offer was rescinded.  Confusion is so exhilarating.

I’m still having fun with Workdon’t.  I had it mess up September’s insurance deduction for a lot of people.  And since the human female was finally able to hire a fourth Tech, I’ve had opportunities for mischief there, too.  He was hired three weeks ago, and he’s not in the system yet as far as anyone being able to code his ID card for the door locks.  Ah, door locks.  Love’em.  I’ve favored some of the Teaching Assistants and Lab Instructors in the same way.  There are all sorts of people wandering around who can’t get where they need to go.

The Purveyor of Squiggly Things continues to be a willing and able partner in the human female’s mental demise.  They are located in one of the states that bore the brunt of Hurricane Florence, so they shut down for a few days.  The human female had to put in her weekly order with them early, and then hope it came in time.  Then there was the time they canceled one item without notice (no Nostoc for you!).  The female didn’t notice it until the shipment arrived without it–no backorder notice had been sent.  Quickly, she scrambled to put in a phone/credit card order with the Alternate Purveyor of Squiggly Things–who also cancelled without any notice, on the exact same item.  The human female and her staff had to make do with prepared slides.  Then on the same lab, it wasn’t until Tuesday that the human female discovered that in one room, the jar of Nitella (a lovely freshwater alga) from the APOST contained no actual Nitella, just a lot of Bazania, a weedy aquatic liverwort that I’ve had fun spreading through all the freshwater tanks on the floor.  The human female called up the APOST to chew them out for sending bad merchandise, but they couldn’t find the PO in their system.  Why?  Because the human female had canceled the order when they couldn’t ship the Nostoc, so the Nitella in the lab was from a previous semester.  Didn’t she look like an idiot for not remembering?  Yes, she did!  And even moreso when she discovered that the Oedogonium in one of the lab rooms was also mostly Bazania.  Have I mentioned how much I like Bazania?

Then, on another order, the Purveyor of Squiggly Things just randomly changed the shipping date from one in September to one in October.  The human female caught it in time.  I still don’t think she’s realized that half of the employees at POST actually work for me.

I’m still playing my favorite game, Vendor Roulette.  The human female ordered a bunch of prepare microscope slides from several different vendors.  She received most of them.  That was too boring, so I had the Vendor Who Was Recently Swallowed by the Vendor Who’s Responsible (VWRSbVWR) send the invoice to the university’s satellite campus–in Qatar.  Never mind that POs are distributed with the email to which invoices should be sent.  Nope!  The invoice went all the way to some foreign fellow in the Middle East.  Someone there sent it to the human female, who let the VWRSbVWR know what to do with the invoice.  That was such fun that I started a whole ‘nother round–VWRSbVWR to Qatar to the human female to VWRSbVWR. That time she talked to an actual person, and it seems to have been resolved for now.

I’m still having another vendor, Lonza, send the human female Angry Past Due Notices for any university invoice, regardless of whether it is hers or not.  It’s such fun that now I’m doing it with a second vendor as well.  She’s everybody’s scapegoat, and I love it!

The last time the human female’s set of teaching labs and prep rooms was inspected, the inspector seemed preternaturally fascinated with the breaker boxes.  In one prep room, he found several slots without circuit switches, and he wrote them up, promising to send a tech to fix this Very Dangerous Problem No One Else Had Ever Found.  Nothing happened.  Then more nothing.  The human female called the department’s safety officer, who promised to put in a work order.  Not too long after, someone from Slow, Silent, and Costly came out and did the job.  A week later, someone else from Slow, Silent, and Costly came out to do the same job.  Also, the one worker at SSC who came when he was needed, actually called with updates, and did a good job the first time has retired.  I love it when smoke curls out of the human female’s ears.

The human female lost her yoga t-shirt, and I hid it so well that no one ever turned it in to lost and found.  She couldn’t ask the custodian if she’d found it, because said custodian quit on no notice.  The new custodian can’t figure out how to lock the human female’s office door, or that of her nearest office neighbor, since their locks lock and unlock “backwards.”

Construction continues to make driving anywhere in town a misery.  Lanes disappear for no reason at all, with no warning.  Getting to work is more and more like a video game every day.   And the TexDOT  (i.e., the Texas Department of Ongoing Torture) has just announced that in the next few years, they are going to widen the east bypass around the city.  Yes, the one they just spent five years redoing all the on-ramps on!

And one day, anyone trying to approach the Blocker Building suddenly found there was no actual way to do it.

construction on campus

The human female occasionally likes to listen to books on tape or books on YouTube while she works.  She was really enjoying a good murder mystery.  Too bad I saw to it that the last two hours were missing.  Never fret.  Waiting a few weeks for the book to arrive on interlibrary loan was a good exercise in patience for her.

On the homefront, the felines continue to offer me amusement and the humans bemusement.  The swirly one, at my prompting, has begun a new routine of rubbing up on the human female if she sits on the floor, with each arching rub going a little higher up her back, until she can nibble on her shoulder or her hair.  When she’s not tearing around the house or rubbing, she’s Sitting Funny.

goobercat

I taught her that too.  The humans have since had to barricade that lower shelf of that bookcase you see there, because she likes to NEST.

Aaaaand the human female  is still waiting for the needlework kit she ordered in January.  Some jokes never get old.

So you can see that I have been very busy.  And a busy Loki is a happy Loki.

Sometimes I smirk so hard my face hurts.

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Mischief Update–Improvement in My Cash Flow

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

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

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

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

science

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Grand Bench Paper Saga

Do you see this stuff?

benchpaper

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

That’s a lot of diapers.

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

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

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

And just how does that crow taste now, mortal?

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

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

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

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

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

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*Waste Of Money, Brains, And Time

A Long-Overdue Mischief Update, Part V: Aggie-Buy is My Favorite Thing Ever

You know, I have written a lot about how bad BAMN was, but Odin’s Eyepatch!  I’m having nearly as much fun with plain old Aggie-Buy!

Whenever she wants to order something, she first has to figure out what it is.  She has several old removable racks for the dishwasher that each hold approximately a squillion test tubes.  The racks are getting a little rusty, so she wants to replace them, but what should they be called?  Dishwasher racks?  Inserts?  Or are they regular test tube racks that can go in the dishwasher?   She knows they originally came from the Vendor Who’s Responsible, but the search feature on their website chokes and dies on multi-word searches.  I guess she’ll have rusty test tubes until she figures it out.

And what about the small, rimless, printing-less test tubes that Intro Bio uses as cuvettes in the spectrophotometerizers?  Is she looking for “cuvettes” or “test tubes”?  Or maybe “sample tubes”?  Flint glass or borosilicate?  Disposable or washable?   Case of 1,000–or maybe fewer?   She doesn’t know the product number because she doesn’t have the records of previous orders and because the ones she has, being printless, don’t have the product number on them, do they?

Aggie Buy also does delightful things like urp up “your PO has been approved for distribution,” two months after the goods have been received.

The human female needed catechol for just one lab during the entire semester.  Usually, she orders a bottle of dry powder.   The bottle looks empty—adding water to the minute amount of power inside and shaking yields about 20 ml of usable solution.  This year, when she ordered, the Purveyor of Squiggly Things (and Occasional Non-Squiggly Things) agreed to substitute two small bottles of pre-mixed catalase and charge her just the original item’s price for her inconvenience.  It came in good time and was used to good effect.  All was well until it was time to pay the invoice.  Then the snowstorm of comments started (and keep in mind that each comment generates an email telling the human female that she has a comment and she has to log in to Aggie Buy and open the program and click through to see the comment.  When she responds, she gets another email telling her her comment has posted) :

  • Bean Counter #1:  The department ordered 1 for PO Line Item 7 but the vendor is billing for 2. If the second item has been received and the department is going to keep the item, please create another receipt for the additional item so this invoice can finish routing for approval. If the vendor missed billed, has the vendor been contacted about a credit memo. Please provide an update.
  • Human female: We ordered 1 of a dry powder preparation of the chemical. The supplier could not ship in time for our needs, so they substituted 2 of a liquid preparation of the same chemical, which gave us about as much as the dry powder would have made. Okay to pay as invoiced.
  • Bean Counter #2: line item 7 needs a receiving of one done to match the vendor billing. thanks
  • Human female: Yesterday Bean Counter #1 said they were billing for two. Which is it? One or two? What actually happened is that the vendor shipped two but said they’d bill for one (or for the original price of the powder) to make up for the inconvenience of being out of what we ordered. (Original product was not available to ship on time, so they subbed.) If they billed for one, great, we got something free. If they billed for two, it’s all right to pay for what they shipped.
  • Human female: Okay, looking at the invoice, they billed for what was shipped, not what the Carolina account rep said they were going to bill. But we DID receive what was billed, it just doesn’t match the original PO because the vendor could not supply the original item. (Different form of the same chemical.)
  • Bean Counter #2:  so will you be correcting line item 7 to match the billing so we can move this invoice forward? thanks
  • Human female:  Do I need to go to the PO and change things? Where am I supposed to correct line 7?
  • Bean Counter #2:  You need to go to the PO and do a receiving of one for line item 7-thanks
  • Human female:  Okay, though I don’t see how that will fix the problem since they billed for two of a different item.
  • Bean Counter #2:  if you did not get two for line item seven do not do receiving, I thought you said you received everything they billed they just billed from a different quote, if you did not get 2 for line item 7 contact the vendor for a credit. thanks
  • Human female:  I did get two, but NOT two of what the PO shows. I keep trying to explain. They subbed two of a different product (liquid) that was roughly equal to the amount the powder I ordered would have made. On the packing slip sent to Anita Luna, I marked that I received the two they shipped and billed for. (And apparently I *can’t* do receiving in AggieBuy. I was never given that ability.) They are only asking payment for what they sent, which was a SUB for something they didn’t have. Anita has a digital copy of the packing slip.
  • Bean Counter #2:  Bean Counter #3, please look at this and see the human female’s response in comments
  • Bean Counter #1:  Human female, PO Line Item 7 was created for 1 @ 10.25. I do realize the vendor sent and is invoicing for a substituted item and is billing 2 @ 9.23 for a total of $18.46. Since 1 was ordered and the vendor is billing for 2 and if they department received all of the item on line 7 and agrees to pay the overage, then another receipt will need to be created and receive 1 more for line item 7 since the vendor invoice a quantity of 2. Please let me know if you have any questions or if this doesn’t make sense. Thank you.
  • Human female:  I don’t think I have the ability to do receiving. I scan the packing slips and Bean Counter #3, in our Bio Dept. does the receiving. I was never enabled to do it, I don’t think.
  • Bean Counter #2:  Bean Counter #3, since the human female cannot do receiving can you receive one on line item 7- you can see comments on this document. thanks
  • Bean Counter #3:  Done.

Ah, yes.  Done.  The human female is done.  So very, very done.

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