On Wednesday we are having a teleconference and a co-worker breaks in with the same question that he's asked me during every conversation that we've had for the last 7 days. I can take it no loner and I snap. I start yelling into the phone, "The accelerometer is good. There are no bad accelerometers on this sensor. We've checked them all out. Don't think that there are bad accelerometers here. I don't want to hear you asking that question again". With the outburst I realize that I am out of control and I notice the horrified and shocked look of the contractor personnel faces as they wonder what just happened. And both a co-worker over the phone and NASA people over the phone ask, "Ray? Was that you? What was that?" And I realize that I am out of control.
The minute that the teleconference ends I stand up and apologize to the contractor personnel and they say, "It's okay, Ray, we've wanted to do that to him for a long time now". And I get on the phone later and apologize to the co-worker that I yelled at as well as other people involved. I get in a good session with the weights after work and feel better.
On Thursday we discuss vibration input levels and finally, possibly, have an agreement by the end of the day. We'll try to continue the testing on Friday morning. A combined aerobics/abdominal workout helps me feel better on Thursday night.
On Friday we FINALLY get through the first axis of testing. Though it is a relief to finally make it, the entire experience leaves me disappointed that we had to "lower the bar" so far for the contractor to make it. I get in a good session with the weights after work and give my 94 year old aunt a call. I make arrangements to drive about three hours to my hometown, Flint Michigan, to visit her.
The minute I get off the freeway into Flint I notice how bad the city has degraded in the last four years (since the last time I was here). I pick up my aunt and we drive around the city in here brand new Pontiac Vibe (purchased because she liked the way she sits upright and can see out easily). We see some of the houses that various family members have lived in and we are both horrified and shocked at how many boarded up houses there are. The boarded up houses have moved into the middle class neighborhoods and are everywhere. The final moment of horror comes when we are driving and I realize, "There used to be a Chevy truck engine plant here". It's on a route that we used to drive to play golf or tennis and now the entire plant has been wiped off the face of the earth. Only a huge cement pad remaining. Gone forever! Like the city, gone forever. After a nice visit I drive back to Fort Wayne to go back to work on Sunday morning.
On Sunday there are more delays to continue testing. In the middle of the day I get in a very good workout with the weights and relax before I am called back to the test facility. We get in two runs and quit for the day. Hopefully Monday will be a productive day.
We start making good progress throughout the week on testing. Everyone seemsto be coming together to make things happen and everyone seems to know the limitations and boundaries for the test. Each night I try to get in a workout though I miss a day when two co-workers want to eat Indian food. Each tries to shoo me away from ordering the hot dishes, but I enjoy them and they are not too hot.
We're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and make good progress on testing on Friday and Saturday. On Saturday after work I get in a session with the weights and all of the lifts are a struggle. Thus it appears that I might be coming down with something based upon a slightly sore throat and the struggle with the lifts. There is only one thing that a rational person would do now: go find a party!
I take a shower and head for a club. At the first club there are three cars in the parking lot and no sign of life. I drive by a time or two and then drive around downtown Fort Wayne before settling for a second club. I get a Red Bull and 7-Up and enjoy the music and videos. This club reminds me of an old haunt - the Frat House - because the music is a few years old, the layout of the club, and the atmosphere. At 11:30 there is a floor show where men impersonate women, women impersonate men, and unknown gender people impersonate men or women. Near midnight I leave and head back towards the first club. There is still no sign of life, so I drive around Fort Wayne a bit more before calling it an evening. I'm in bed near 1 am on Sunday morning.
Sunday is a slow day. I sleep in a bit late, read the newspaper, drive around and browse bookstores, get called to a late afternoon meeting at work, and get in a minimum workmanship workout. I am tired.
Monday is a productive day as we have meetings and complete the testing. Afterwards the various agencies and teams head to a local watering hole and toast each other and feel comraderie at finishing the test. Late on Monday I get in a good session with the weights before I change my flights and go to sleep.
Because I want to avoid delays through Chicago I have a 6 am flight from Fort Wayne to Chicago. This entails getting up at 4 am EST (1 am PST) to drive to the airport. All flights are ontime for once (more or less) and I am at the Long Beach post office to pick up held mail just after noon. Near 2 pm I head out for a cold and sunny bicycle ride down the flowing Los Angeles river and around the Aquarium of the Pacific. It is great to be on the bicycle again, great to be in shirt sleeves, and great to be along MY Los Angeles river. After a quick shower I take the World Rally Car to the dealer for a tuneup and skate back home. As I'm at the dealer I strike up a conversation with Person H_CT and I give him my number so that we can go hang out one of these days. Because I have been awake since 1 am PST (with only an hour or so of sleep on the various airplanes) I am dozing off for sleep early.