After some initial drama finding building 901, I hooked up with Mary, and our first deed of the morning was to get me a temporary badge for the day. I completely forgot about bringing mine with me from Raleigh.
On the way to Security, we stopped at the cafeteria for a quick breakfast bite. I had a bagel with cream cheese and grape jelly, and a bottle of Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino.
In the lobby where I got my badge, there was an ambulance out front, and as we stepped inside, I watched a sight-impaired man be put on a stretcher. His guide dog was beside him, and standing among the scene was someone who looked like Steve Dale—a guy I'd met at the IBM GLBT Leadership Conference back in April of 2002.
It was one of those situations where you think it's someone you know, but they are out of context, so you're not sure. When he came to the 2002 conference, he came from Almaden, California, so seeing him in Austin made me think twice about it being him.
I passed the group and went to the desk to get my badge, and then looked at him again when I walked back by. He was looking at me again. At the same time, he mouthed, "John?" and I, "Steve?" We shook hands and said hello. A very handsome man.
I tried to use the docking station of a colleague of mine who was working from home today, only to find out that, evidently, there are certain models of docking stations for certain models of laptops. Houston, we did not have a go.
I tried the docking station in another colleague's office, and my laptop didn't fit in that one either, but I was able to remove the network connection from his docking station and plug it directly into my laptop, which got me connected.
Mary and another colleague, Shirley (yes, she surely was!) took me to Chuy's for lunch, where I had a killer burrito. Mary kindly picked up the tab for my lunch.
In the lobby, where I went to turn in my badge before being picked up by Irene, Steve Dale walked back through with a colleague and the guide dog.
They stopped, he introduced me to his colleague, Abbey, and then he told me that the guy that had been taken away earlier in the ambulance worked with them, and this was his dog. He's a "regular" up in the lab with them, and they shared some stories about what the dog was allowed to do up there when he was "on duty" (i.e., had his harness on) as opposed to when he was "off duty" (i.e., had his harness off).
A change of dinner plans was announced upon my pick-up: The Salt Lick was out, dining in was in.
Irene, Katherine, and Susan whipped up a delicious meal consisting of chicken breasts, fresh green beans, and a pasta salad. It was all good.
I did the dishes, putting most of them in the dishwasher. The few I washed by hand, Susan dried and put away. While we did this, Irene printed off the words to some of the songs we hoped to have played at the piano bar tonight.
The four of us met Nicole and Andrew at the Driskill Hotel, where we sat around the grand piano and sang along with Kirk. The words to some of the songs that Irene had printed came in handy during the hour-and-a-half-or-so we were there.
An obnoxious man joined us not long after we got there, and in many ways he reminded me of Candice back home—someone with a desperate need to be the center of attention. His special talent was to stand way close to you, rub you, sing loudly (sometimes off key) in your ear and face, and pump his hand madly in the air like some kind of audacious audition for Band Leaders Gone Wild.
It was so incredibly obvious by everyone's body language when he was near them that no one was enjoying his charm, and it got to the point where I told Susan, "The next time he comes near me, I'm going to say to him, 'I'm sure you're a very nice man, but I'm asking you to please respect my personal space.'" Totally overbearing.
Having drank the least of the lot, I drove us home. We stopped to drop off Katherine at her apartment, and while there stopped briefly to step outside and see the Austin city night skyline from the porch of the office of the apartment complex. Pretty stuff.