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August 19th, 2004

The suntan lotion bottle...

The "Review Changes to ITIM Control Documents based on ITIM Entry" meeting today was short, but fruitful. I was pleased with my level of contribution in the meeting.

My meeting with Dana right after that meeting to prepare our response to Randy on the audit items was very productive as well. I like working with the ITIM team.

I left work at about 4:45. At home, I ate the Mushroom Bisque soup that I bought at lunch yesterday. Love that soup.

On the way to class, I left Joe a message to see if he'd be available later to help me move Courtney's car from the airport to the IBM parking lot.

I parked in the deck by Reynolds Colesium, as the lot in front of Thompkins isn't open to the public until 7:00PM. It was so humid out that I was sweating by the time I got to class. At least I knew where the room was, as it's the exact same room that last night's class is in.

Once, again, I was one of the last few people to come in, and as I took a seat in the "U," there still being one available this time," someone from across the room said, "Nice shirt." (I had my Maui t-shirt on.) I looked up to see Lars (from last semester). As I looked around the room, I saw almost every person who was in 517 last semester in there.

At this point everyone in the room was looking at me due to Lars' comment, and I was sweating from the walk in the humidity. I said, "You know you're too old for grad school when you have a hot flash in class." Laughter all around.

Dr. Dicks came in, and opened the class talking about its "purpose," which is:

This course prepares technical communication students and practitioners for the concepts, responsibilities, and tasks that they will need to manage in a technical communication environment. It follows a dual path, covering the complex project management responsibilities and the equally difficult personnel management issues associated with leading a successful technical communication team.

He had us go around the room introducing ourselves, and telling him if we'd ever worked in a management or supervisory position in any jobs we've ever worked in.

I said, "I'm John Martin. I received my undergraduate degree in 1980, with a major in Math & Computer Science. I started this program this past Spring. I've worked on and off, mostly on, for IBM for 24 years. I was a manager at IBM for a little over a year." I was surprised to learn as we went around the room, that there were four other people in the class currently working at IBM.

Dr. Dicks went over the syllabus, and assignments for the course. I am not going to like this course, but I will be able to do the assignments, so will just chalk it up to one of those things you have to do to get through. We spent the rest of the class "brainstorming" about characteristics that "good" and "bad" managers have.

Dr. Dicks asked, at the end when the board was full, "And can we see any very high-level pattern here? Two or three major categories?" One or two folks threw out, "Personality Items" and "Process Items," which is what we ended up going with. Personally, I would have categorized them as "Emotional Intelligence" vs. "Business Intelligence" type items.

My cell phone went off three times during the class, and even though I had it on vibrate, I think Jennifer, sitting next to me, heard it going off. It was Joe both times, and then the voicemail indicator going off, the third time.

I was out of the building just a few feet when I realized that I'd left the bag I'd brought in in my desk. It contained my $77 book to return at the book store, along with its receipt, and the keys to my car. I returned immediately, and it was still there.

I checked my message from Joe, and he was good to help me with Courtney's car. I checked in with him and he agreed to meet me at my house at 7:45.

I stopped in the book store to return that book for an $81 credit to my American Express card. There were two clerks working the buy-back and return desk, and one of them was this guy, Jeff, from the bars. I got the impression right away that he was not "out" at work, and seemed a little uptight that I might somehow "out" him. Not to worry. I got my credit to my card, and left with a nod.

Joe was in my other spot when I got home, and on the phone. I ran in to pee, and we headed out to the airport.

On the way, I explained to him that we were in for an adventure in that Courtney's car was parked in short term parking in section F1, I didn't know exactly where it was, and we might have a little trouble starting and stopping it.

Once there, I headed into the "Daily" lot, and Joe said, "Are you sure that's what we want?"

I said, "Oh, no, you're right, we're only going to be here a few minutes, I should go in the "hourly." I got in that line, then he said, "No, wait, is this going to take us to a different lot? Because she's probably in the 'Daily' lot."

"Oh yeah, makes sense." I backed out of that gate, fortunately no one was behind us, and pulled back into the "Daily" gate.

We found section F1 pretty easily, and as I was riding up one aisle of that section, Joe saw her car in the next aisle.

I unlocked her car, which surprised me because I thought she said the locks didn't work, and smiled when I saw the infamous suntan lotion bottle lying in the middle of the driver seat. I started up the car. It was a little hesitant, but cranked, not without a little more noise, and palsy, than I was expecting.

I backed out, and headed to the exit gates. I was so busy looking in the car to find the light switch, and get familiar with the dash, that I didn't notice Joe wasn't following right behind me. I never did get the dash light to come on, which didn't help things.

I had left the park brake on in my car, which Joe was now trying to drive, and he was looking for the brake release, and I had driven off without making sure he was following me.

Near the gates, I got a call from him telling me he wasn't right behind me, and to wait for him after I got through the gate. I paid the $70 parking charge, and waited for him to come through. I got out and told him, "Okay, we're going to go through a badge-activated gate at IBM. Get right behind me, and tailgate me in before the gate comes down."

Joe got right behind me as I was badging in, and we zipped through without incident. I took a parking spot all the way to the left in this one row, where unfortunately, there was little light, which more unfortunately I didn't realize until it was too late.

I turned the car off, and as expected, it kept running. I had warned Joe about this distinct possibility. He knew that we'd have to lift the hood, and push the "Stop" button.

We got in front of the car, and looked for a lever to open the hood. There was this little silver thing sticking out between the grill, which we thought had potential. We give it a tug. Nothing.

"Hmmm," I thought. "Oh this will be bad if we can't get the hood up. I guess we'd just have to let it run until it runs out of gas."

I opened the driver door and looked for something to push or pull to open the hood. Unfortunately, I hadn't parked under a pole light or anything, and it was dark. The dash lights didn't seem to work. I tried the map light, which worked, but I still couldn't see a lever. Joe reached down where the one on his truck was, and found one, which we pulled on.

At first it didn't do anything, and then he pulled it harder and it did. The hood "popped up," but it didn't open. Joe went back around to the front, and we were ecstatic to find the lever in the grill now protruding. Joe pulled or pushed on it, and the hood opened. Thank god.

So, now we're both looking into an almost pitch black engine. "Damn, I wish we had a flashlight." We took a moment to let our eyes adjust. I took the infamous suntan lotion bottle, and pushed on something sticking out that I was hoping might be it. I think it was the oil check stick.

"Lord," I said. "I hope we don't push anything to make this beast jump forward."

Then I spotted the word "Stop" in red letters over to the left. I pushed it with the bottle and the car coughed a little, but kept running.

Joe reached his hand in there, and pushed it with his thumb. It coughed, and then choked, and he pushed harder, and it suffocated. Silence. "We stabbed it with our steely knives, and we did just kill the beast."

Whew. Whoever said you can never depend on two gay guys in the dark with their hands in your engine?

We stopped by Sammy's on the way home, and had a glass of beer, and some chips and cheese sauce. After that we ordered a pitcher, and a finger and wing plate. It was all quite yum.

There were multiple, huge TV screens in the place, most showing the Panthers game, and the others playing other things like the Olympics and the barnet trivia game. We watched as, whenever the Panthers made a big play, all the hot college boys hooted, hollered, and scratched their balls. Joe and I tried the hooting and hollering, and hopefully weren't too obvious that what we really wanted to do was scratch their balls.

Joe came in to use the bathroom when we got back to the place, and we ended up talking for another 30 or 45 minutes, sitting on the couches, and eating chocolate covered raisins. He left shortly after 11:30.

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