bigmacbear: Me in a leather jacket and Hockey Night in Canada ball cap, on a ferry with Puget Sound in background (Default)
[personal profile] bigmacbear

Tuesday, March 28


[personal profile] gmjambear dropped me off at Sea-Tac for a 7 AM flight to Dallas for the ERG Leadership Academy. I realized as I was getting recombobulated after TSA that I'd left my bag of liquids and aerosols at home, which contained my two inhalers, nasal spray (Flonase) and contact solution. The inhalers I would just have to do without, but everything else I could pick up at a drugstore in Dallas. I had some Japanese noodle soup for breakfast. When I reached the gate I spotted a dude wearing a black V-neck T-shirt with a dusting of chest fur peeking out the front and the end of a large tattoo peeking out one sleeve.

After boarding the plane I spotted a heavily inked dude with a stubbly beard, in a T-shirt ripped into a tank top, a few rows forward; also, the dude in the black T-shirt and his lady companion passed by me on the way to their seats. I was seated on the aisle and needed an extension on my seat belt; this happens more often on American than either Alaska or Delta. Diagonally across the aisle was an airline pilot in uniform, next to Dawn from Hacemos who works in Bothell. The two seats between me and the window remained empty until takeoff, so once we leveled off I moved to the vacant window seat so I could keep my arm out of the aisle. The flight attendants were three older dudes and a lady; one of the dudes reminded me of Bill who occasionally sings bass with SMC. The weather was a little choppy over the Rockies; otherwise it was clouds and sunbreaks (of course it's always sunny at 31000 feet). The pilot announced we were going around a storm over Amarillo, TX by flying east over Denver into Kansas and then south over Oklahoma City instead of a straighter route southeast. Because of the storm it stayed choppy the rest of the flight. A tall scruffy dude with dark hair and beard, wearing a red hoodie with a big cat logo on the front, sat in the row in front of the inked dude with the ripped shirt. Eventually the pilot seated across the aisle moved to the seat I'd vacated to give Dawn the aisle seat in their row.

After deplaning, I met Eileen from the Community Network, and Dawn, Paul from one of the Asian ERGs, and I shared an Uber ride to the Hilton Anatole. The Uber driver was a tall, thin black dude. I picked up a Cobb salad for lunch, worked from the hotel room (on the 22nd floor of the tower) for a few hours, then went downstairs for the Meet and Greet. I saw Chavonne from Chicago (who told me to say hi to Gary for her and formally introduced me to Eileen who I'd first met at the airport), Mark B formerly from Seattle, Lou from Michigan and Patrick from Montana.

After the Meet and Greet, I returned to the room, wrapped up a half-day of work and met Patrick for a late dinner at Media Bar. We had fried pickles and a burger each, with shaved brisket on top. Patrick had a Pinot Noir and I had a Cabernet. At dinner, I discovered why LEAGUE could not have its own leadership meeting on the Friday after this event as planned: the NCAA Women's Final Four was being held at the American Airlines Arena and the Minnesota State team and their entourage were staying at the Anatole, as noted by a banner hanging in the Atrium. After dinner Patrick headed for the Tin Room and I headed for the drugstore, where I found everything I needed. I had a nice chat with the Uber driver coming back about automation and self-driving cars. On returning to the room, I saw a weather report predicting a major storm overnight (likely the one we'd avoided over Amarillo); fortunately the event was structured such that I wouldn't have to leave the hotel.

Wednesday, March 29


I slept fairly well, so it was probably just as well I hadn't joined Patrick at the Tin Room. Caught the morning news in the room. Due to the storm, two interstate highways were closed in at least one direction, with I-20 closed both ways due to power lines fallen on the road. Went downstairs for the buffet breakfast at 7 AM. The event began with a presentation by one of the officers of the AT&T Veterans ERG who bore a resemblance to Ian Parks of Where the Bears Are except without the beard. During one of the morning sessions, Geo from LoLA (LEAGUE of Los Angeles) had a wasp land on his desk and carefully took it back outside.

At lunch I met Michael from the Community Network who also works in Bothell. He and I discussed the petition to make Everett City Council elections at least partially by district instead of at large. He's worked with a similar neighborhood association in Kirkland. I also sat with Jacob from OXYgen Austin who I'd met at one of the breakout sessions in the morning. He's tall and thin with a trim beard. After lunch I sat outside on the patio soaking up sun and conversing with Gary via text.

When we returned to class there was a guest speaker from American Airlines. She noted in one of her case studies that AA had put a film called "The Luft Gangster: Memoirs of a Second Class Hero" on all of their aircraft for February and March 2016 in honor of Black History Month. One other difference is that AA ERGs include several faith-based organizations including Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and interfaith; we have avoided those. After a couple more breakout sessions we closed for the day, so I sat out on the patio for a few minutes soaking up the sun and enjoying the nice breeze.

Just before dinner I met Tom, originally from N'Awlins, who reminds me of Tom Skerritt although not as weathered; he was chatting with Curtis from OXYgen Kansas City (who I'd also met at lunch but hadn't had a chance to talk with). At dinner I sat with Curtis, Alice from Hacemos Sacramento, Moises from Hacemos Atlanta who is originally from the Dominican Republic, Randella from Sacramento and Imari from Hacemos South Carolina. Curtis reminded me of Tom from D-I Rochester; Moises resembled Ron from SMC; and Imari had the most interesting shade of red hair.

After dinner we headed out (in an Uber for whose driver we were his first passengers) to the Crossroads for drinks at JR's and karaoke at the Round-Up. There was a group of three cute little cublets at JR's who I'm sure are half my age if that. At the Round-Up the bartender had a nice thick bushy beard. They were having a drag contest later in the main bar so we stayed in the front bar for karaoke. I sang "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm" by the Crash Test Dummies and "The Internet is for Porn" from Avenue Q. After the latter the KJ said "I hope you are a supervisor at AT&T." Four of our group got up to sing "Livin' on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi. Kevin is from Michigan; Mika is the young lady who we met in Atlanta for Pride who craves Ivar's tartar sauce; Shawn is a first tenor with Gateway Men's Chorus in St. Louis and also sings in two bands, so he's a busy dude; and Penny is local to Dallas.

After karaoke the guys met up at the Tin Room (with go-go boys dancing in their underwear). A couple other members of the party, Rob and Curtis, wanted to go back to the hotel so I figured we'd catch an Uber together. However, Curtis wanted a Whataburger so we went there first. The Uber driver was a nice dude from Denton who likes Linkin Park. When we got to Whataburger the dining room was closed, so we couldn't get any food unless the Uber driver took us through the drive-through (and that would be a bit much to ask). So we headed back to the hotel, but missed a turn and ended up stuck on the I-30 bridge over the Trinity River for about 15-20 minutes due to construction. I ended up getting back to the hotel and to bed about 1 AM.

Thursday, March 30


Did not sleep well overnight; I kept having to get up and go to the bathroom every two hours. I had only a little fruit and a bit of a sausage biscuit at breakfast. During the morning session it was a struggle not to fall asleep. I felt much better by the afternoon. Met Luis, a youngish bear from Puerto Rico with light hair and dark glasses, during the LEAGUE breakout sessions. Woof!

As the event wrapped up, I caught a ride to the airport with Debra, Randella who I'd met at dinner, and Michael in Debra's rental car. TSA was painfully slow with only one ID checker and one X-ray conveyor running. Waited in line behind Kevin from Detroit, two nice young dudes, and Randella. (Debra had TSA Pre-Check so got through far ahead of us.) In the next row behind us were a couple of simply huge dudes, one definitely fitting the description of a musclebear. They brought up the topic of this new brand of luggage with motorized wheels, so you can sit on your bag and ride it through the airport. I pointed out if I sat on one I'd probably crush it. Eventually another ID checker arrived and a second conveyor opened up.

I barely had time to grab what proved to be a very good hamburger, the "Big Tex," at Twisted Root. They use tickets with celebrity names on them instead of numbers to distinguish one order from the next; mine was MC Hammer. I wolfed down the burger and was called early to board the aircraft. However, as we waited on the jetway, news came down the line that we would all have to return to the terminal due to a mechanical issue. As we waited to reboard, I caught up with Debra, Dawn, and Eileen, and met Jeff from AT&T Veterans who works in Redmond. I made arrangements via text with Gary to have him drive my car so we could give Dawn a ride home from the airport (her high-school-age girls were going to make the trip but due to the delay they would have to be in bed since it was a school night). Just as Dawn and Jeff went off to grab coffee, we were called to reboard the plane. Fortunately they made it back in time.Originally I was seated at the window beside a tall young dude, but as it happened, quite a few seats opened up and he found another seat, leaving the middle seat empty. I managed to buckle in this time without needing an extender.

When we arrived at Sea-Tac it seemed to take a very long time to get all of our luggage. I ended up driving back, with Gary navigating on his phone. It was an exhausting trip but we got a lot done.

June 2017

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