Saturday, September 19, 2009

Providence RI / Somerset MA

Current mood:happy
At 4 PM Tuesday, my manager walked up and told me that I needed to be in Somerset MA the next morning and it was all I could do to keep from jumping up and shouting “YAY!” at the top of my lungs. These days I am very pleased to be going anywhere. Even so, we have two engineers in that region that both know how to work on this instrument, so I sort of smelled a rat and asked him why he wasn’t sending one of those guys. Well as it turns out, this is something of a high profile issue and an unusual problem and he had this silly idea that I was better qualified than the other guys. So mixed blessing there – on the one hand he thinks I’m better than the other guys on this product, but on the other hand he’s sending me off on difficult and unusual repairs where the possibility of failure is real. Then he dropped the real bomb shell on me. The guythat trained me on how to work on these instruments had already been there and failed! Great – it’s an unusual problem, with a high profile customer in an application that has the interest of my management, AND the guy that trained me had already been there and failed.  No pressure though, no pressure . . .
My mother-in-law has been spending the week with us, so there was no way I was gonna be able to fly pretty. I have to admit though that I still gave it some thought, thinking that at 3AM she would be sounds asleep upstairs and maybe it was feasible to get ready down stairs and out the door. It was a fleeting idea before my common sense kicked in and slapped me. Nope, not worth the risk and my wife would absolutely kill me if her mother saw me. So yet another drab, boring day in airports and airplanes.

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When I got to the hotel in Providence RI, I immediately unpacked and got ready, thinking I’d go ahead and make the drive an hour north to spend the evening with the Sisters of Worcester. It was kind of a long drive, but well worth it to hang out with the sisters instead of staring at the walls of my room. It’s really kind of ironic – I know very few people in Austin Texas area where I’m from, but when I get to Indianapolis or New England area, I know lots of people. So over a thousand miles from home, it was neat to be among friends. As usual, the sisters made me feel welcome and we spent a couple of hours yapping and taking pics. My good friend Kristen, who I had been chatting with since I found out I was on the way, had brought her guitar, a gorgeous Takimine 12 string. Of course I would think it’s gorgeous since I’m pretty sure it’s the 12 string version or my own guitar. 
J   A bit of talking, a bit of singing, a bit of pictures and then called it a night. Given the nature of the following days service call, I wanted to be at my very best, so a late night was out of the question.
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I wont bore you too badly with all the little details, hell I haven’t even written my field service report on it yet, but the next day was a bit of fun - NOT. Apparently our software guy has been busy and made a few changes that we in field service were not aware of. I wasted two hours running the instrument in our diagnostics software where I could find no problems, but as soon as the customer reinstalled it into his process and running it, it started reporting errors. Turns out that our software is monitoring and alarming on characteristics in the users “run” mode that it does not monitor or alarm on in our diagnostics mode. So many hours wasted spinning my wheels until I worked this out. Ultimately I DID figure out what was causing his problem, and it all boiled down to lack of filtering and lack of maintenance. This instrument uses optics and gold plated mirrors and they had coated one of them with something that only absorbs infrared  in specific places. My customer was very doubtful about what I was telling him, so to PROVE it to him, I had to drive over an hour north to my factory, get this mirror, drive back south and install it long enough to prove to him that the new mirror resolved all issues. This took me fairly late in to the afternoon and evening and just shot my plans all to hell. I had intended to go to dinner with Sally, but working so late made this impractical.
Gotta tell you, I really like the uniforms the Continental Airline gals wear. Cute, well fitting, classy. I wanna be a flight attendant!
Thought about flying home pretty and cleaning up in the Austin airport, but it just seemed like too much trouble. Tonight, and this weekend for that matter, will be pretty busy. My mother-in-law is staying with us, and our aunt and uncle are driving up from San Antonio to spend a night or two with her. There will be lots of drinking, lots of trying to play and sing while far too drunk to do it. Supposedly it was my mother-in-law that told my aunt and uncle that I cross dress, though I’d never known she had a clue. I really hope the subject does not come up, because I have no interest in speaking to her about it. I head out for SCC Monday, so it’s gonna be tough trying to get my hair washed, my clothes cleaned, nails done, and everything packed this weekend with the house full. I’m tired just thinking about it but just can’t wait to get to SCC.  See y’all there!

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