October 12th, 2005

The longest third floor...

I like this obituary in the 10/10/05 on line version of the Chicago Tribune.

Theodore Roosevelt Heller
Theodore Roosevelt Heller, 88, loving father of Charles (Joann) Heller; dear brother of the late Sonya (the late Jack) Steinberg. Ted was discharged from the U.S. Army during WWII due to service related injuries, and then forced his way back into the Illinois National Guard insisting no one tells him when to serve his country. Graveside services Tuesday 11 a.m. at Waldheim Jewish Cemetery (Ziditshover section), 1700 S. Harlem Ave., Chicago. In lieu of flowers, please send acerbic letters to Republicans. Arrangements by Chicago Jewish Funerals, Douglas MacIsaac, funeral director 847-229-8822, www.cjfinfo.com. Published in the Chicago Tribune on 10/10/2005.


And, I love these entries in Mr. Heller's honor:



I had lunch with Jay at Hard Times Cafe today. He gave me a birthday card, and a bottle of:

I hate to beat a dead horse, but in this sentence on the placard on every table: "Course chili simmered in it's own juices...", course should be coarse and it's should be its. I've mentioned this to every waitperson who has served me, and to the manager once. Obviously, no one but me kares.



I had my advising appointment with Dr. Dicks at 3:20. I believe I'm going to register for both ENG 511 and CSC 554, and then drop one of them.

At home, I tried to register, and got this <sarcasm>user-friendly</sarcasm> message:


I've thought of three things it could possibly mean:
  1. It didn't recognize my PIN number.
  2. The system is temporarily unavailable.
  3. I can't use this function because I'm not taking a class this semester, and have to do something else before I can use it.
What does it really mean? I have no idea. There was a follow-up screen that said the same thing, with "code=08" after it. Isn't that helpful!

I sent an e-mail to my adviser asking him if he had any idea what this message means. He replied:

John,

I believe that in the military, "code 8" means that someone has gone insane. Registration does not open until next Tuesday morning, so no one can register yet. Seems like they could write an error message saying that.

Cheers,
Stan Dicks




At 7:15, I headed to NCSU thinking that I was going to be a participant on the panel of the Out in the Workplace Panel Discussion, being held as part of NCSU's Everyone Welcome Here Week, October 11th - 14th.

Out in the Workplace
Come hear personal stories from LGBTQ employees of various companies and professions on their experiences with being out at work. 8:00pm-9:30pm, 4210 Nelson Hall

This session is co-sponsored by Magna Publications, Inc., publishers of newsletters and other information products for higher education, including GLBT Campus Matters. For this program, Magna Publications is providing complimentary copies of the latest issue, “Out of the Campus and Into the Workplace” to the first 25 participants. Magna Publications, 2718 Dryden Drive, Madison, WI 53704, www.magnapubs.com


That was what was supposed to happen. Here's what actually happened:

  1. I arrived at the Talley Student Center where I was to meet tonight's host, Sam. There were two other panel members already there, both IBMers, one of whom had his son, who seemed to be about 16 or 17 years old, with him. Shortly, there arrived another panel member, another IBMer.

  2. Eventually, the host arrived, who had three people with him, one of whom was another panel member, not from IBM, thank [insert deity of choice here]. Introductions were made, and the nine of us started a ridiculously long trek over to Nelson Hall.

  3. The panel discussion was supposed to start at 8:00, and we arrived at Nelson Hall at about 8:05. We took the elevator to the fourth floor, went to room 4210 -- to find the lights off and the doors to the room locked. There were no "audience members" about waiting for this event to start.

  4. Sam made a cell call to Steven (who works at State, and happens to be a friend of mine) to try and get the room unlocked.

  5. Figuring it would take too long to get someone to do that at this time of night, they decided to use an open area on the second floor instead. At this point, I'm still wondering, "To whom are we going to present this panel?"

  6. It was now about 8:15, and the nine of us got in the elevator and pressed "2," and it slowly proceeded from the fourth to the second floor. That is until it made an abrupt stop. We thought it was one of those "hard stops" that sometimes happens when a lot of people are in an elevator. It was a hard stop alright, hard and long, which is usually a good thing, but definitely wasn't in this case.

  7. We pushed the "open door" button to no avail. Having no idea how far we'd actually traveled, we pushed each of the floor buttons (the 4th floor was the top floor) in hopes of "jump starting" it. All of the floor lights except the one for the third floor came on when we pushed them, so we surmised that we were on the third floor.

  8. Sam got on his cell phone to Steven to tell him what had happened. Next, we pushed the "Call Button" in the elevator, which connected us to the Campus Police. After trying to identify the elevator in a way other than, "It's the one closest to the railroad tracks side of the building," the policewoman said she'd get help.

  9. After about 20 minutes, we called back for a status update. "All I can tell you is that they are on the way. I've called 'Elevator Maintenance,' but it's a service, and we just have to wait for them to show up."

  10. Did I mention that this building was hot when we first arrived to it? Did I mention that this small, enclosed place, now filled with nine people who were already hot, was not cool (or groovy or totally awesome either)? Did I mention that one of the two people who were not on the panel, but in this elevator, was a woman with heels on? Did I mention that the other person not on the panel was a straight man stuck in an elevator with 6 homos, the son-of-a-homo, whose orientation was never disclosed, and a straight woman? Did I mention that it turns out that this straight man and straight woman who were in the elevator, but not on the panel, were our only audience members?

  11. After yet another 20 minutes or so, we called back for an update, and were told the same thing, and, "Call us back if anyone starts to panic. Oh, by the way, do you have a Robert Usrey in there with you?" "No," we said, "Should we?" She replied, "Well, he's supposed to be in that building, but we can't find him." Needless to say, we had a field day with that one once she hung up. Every once in a while the elevator shook a little, and everyone but the person who had shifted their stance, thought it was starting back up.

  12. There was only one person out of the nine who had ever been stuck in an elevator before. It was at a conference in a high-rise hotel. He was in one of those glass elevators from which you can see out into the hotel atrium. It was full. "All of a sudden," he said, "the elevator just took off heading straight up, fast enough so that when it hit the top, it made the people jump off the ground some. Then, down it went, just as fast, until it hit the bottom. It did this about twelve times, and then just stopped." At this point, I started thinking about this recurring elevator dream that I used to have. I haven't had it in a long time. Perhaps this is it.

  13. During the time up until this point, we did determine that we were indeed at the third floor, as Steven had come to the elevator on that floor, and we had talked through the door. Now, there was a lady out there, which gave us hope, but she was not an elevator person. One of our nine, who was the most assertive, said, "Are you going to stay out there?" She replied, "Well, I wasn't going to." Then she asked, "Is there a Robert Usrey in there with you?" Seems like the nine of us screamed at once, "No!"

  14. I said to my captive audience, "You know what? In three hours it will be my birthday. I really don't want to turn 48 in an elevator." Shortly after that they all sang Happy Birthday to me. And shortly after that, we reached the milestone of being in this elevator for one hour.

  15. We suggested to Sam that he make another update call. He did, and got the same response, "They are on their way, sir, that's all I can tell you." Sam tried, "Well, can you at least tell us how much longer it will take before they're here?" "I'm sorry, they are a service and don't work for us, so I can't."

  16. When Sam let her hang up, Adrian, our resident assertive man, said to him, "Oh, I'm sorry, but I can't let her get away with that answer again." He pushed the call button, and went into Mary Mode. "Look, 'I can't give you any more information' is no longer an acceptable answer. We've been in this elevator for an hour now. You're going to do three things: 1) You're going to make this your top priority. 2) You're going to find out where this service is, and get them here fast, and 3) You're going to get someone over here to stay outside this door for us to ensure our safety, because if you don't you just might have a liability issue on your hands." She was as speechless as we were, but surely not feeling as good about what she just heard as we did.

  17. Did I mention that the ceiling of this elevator had four lighting panels -- not three lighting panels and one trap ceiling door like they always do in the movies when the good guy is trying to escape? Did I mention, that at this point, two of the guys have taken off their jackets, the woman has removed her shoes, and I'm sitting on the floor?

  18. At about 9:25, help arrived, and after an incredible amount of hacking at the door, including it opening about four inches at one point, then closing back up, a quiet hum was heard, and we were directed to push the button for the third floor. We moved less than a foot, the bell rang, and the door opened.

  19. Once out in the hall, someone said to no one, "So, if there are no questions, that's all we really have for you tonight, folks." Ironically, the panel discussion was supposed to end at 9:30.

  20. Steven was outside the door, and livid, and ended up driving me back to my car, which was in the Coliseum parking deck on the other side of campus.


I drove straight to Flex, where I proceeded to "shit face away" my birthday celebration, which started a little before the actual day. Rick E. and Robert F. each bought a round of Goldschlager shots for me, and I drank four or five bourbon and diets.

Robert was a dear (of course!) and had made oatmeal and raisin bars as a birthday cake, and I had two of those. Yum!

On the way home, it was all I could do to get there, eat the Wendy's Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger, but not the fries, before I could get to the bed without throwing up. G-d, just let me fall asleep before I throw up and I'll never... (You know you know the rest.)