The King of Glue

no real metaphor


The world of adhesives is a cutthroat business; full of natural born killers that would not hesitate to slit your throat and then seal it up to make a sale. It is further troubling to realize that most educated people fail to understand the challenges inherent in the arena of industrial solvents because either you sell the glue or you become a distant memory. Adhesives are more than just glue but most folks have equated adhesives with simple white containers with a friendly bull on the label. This is due to the fact that over 47 million young school students use Elmer’s Glue® on a weekly basis. When one extrapolates the white frothy rivers of glue that are pouring in and out of our elementary schools weekly, one sticky fact remains: that is a lot of glue. However, it is ironic that rivers of pretend glue suffer from limited uses. It is friendly and edible but for the most part, Elmer’s is an amateurish component of the professional glue toolbox.

In the world of adhesives, Elmer’s Glue® is the single most popular and recognizable brand but to the trained gluing professional, Elmer’s Glue® is considered nothing other than kiddie stuff. You can eat Elmer’s and schoolchildren across the country regularly do that exact thing and any self-respecting glue dog knows that if you can eat it, it really isn’t doing it’s job. All glues, even edible ones, are chemical based and are formulated from man-made chemicals synthesized from petroleum, natural gas and several minor raw materials found in nature. The exact formula and specific ingredients vary between products but they all have some common traits starting with the legendary polymer. A polymer is a large molecule described as being a spaghetti strand and most polymers are naturally "sticky" depending on how they are made while other polymers require a tackifier to make them sticky. One of the many challenges is to be sure to have exactly the right balance and mix of polymers and tackifiers to create glue that is sticky and strong.

The world of industrial adhesives covers the gamut of applications and surfaces because when things have to stick, it can’t matter what the things are or what they are supposed to do. All they do in the glue business is make sure that those sonofabitches don’t come apart. Glues are used in absolutely everything and if something doesn’t have glue in it or on it, stay out from under it. People at home have about three kinds of glues: Elmer’s, some skanky dried up bottle of Superglue® (or Krazyglue® or variation of the non-worldly variety of glues) and caked-up library paste that seems to defy both time and space continuums.

Now, Superglue®, with the kickass ingredient cyanoacrylate, has been a wonderful addition to the household gluing palette, because, for the most part, it generally works. Even if some object, saturated with the glue thing fails to adhere, the consumer does not blame the glue. The glue always goes blameless due to a most amazing feature: it can make your fingers stick together in a rather aggressive manner. Now, the fact that it can do it has nothing to do with anything tangible. Well, it rarely holds it because of several reasons, including the failure to read the instructions with the Superglue®, failing to follow the specific protocols for specific substances and finally, failing to let the broken object dry properly but the purchasers remain blindly loyal due to the finger sticking deliverable.

People have the image of the man hanging on the steel girder with his helmet supposedly attached by a few drops of Superglue®. Now, if it did happen, the television crew read the directions, applied the glue correctly and let it dry. People have jumped to the conclusion that if it is indeed Superglue®, it must indeed be super. Highly educated adults are content with their perception that this product overcomes the laws of physics just because of its name. And we all know that if the products were was not "super," the company would not have named it such. However, people being people, can find fascination with the mundane and constantly blame everything but the actual glue if the cracked plate fails to hold. Dialogues such as the one below are repeated daily across the country:

"Be careful," says the spouse, "that Superglue® is powerful stuff."

"I know, I know," says the other, "I will be careful."

"It’s open! It’s open!" says the first spouse, "Hurry up! Don’t let it drip."

"Okay, here it goes," says the second, "Hold the plate."

"DON’T LET IT TOUCH YOUR FINGERS!" pleads spouse one, "BE CAREFUL!"

"Okay, I put some extra glue on there," says spouse two, "that should hold it."

For several minutes, the two adults hover above the broken piece of china or eyeglass frame, waiting for an epiphany from the glue gods on the diagnosis of the item. A vast majority of the time, the item fails to hold but the participants fail to blame the glue and carefully close up the glue for another attempt in the future. However, most Superglue-type products turn almost immediately solid, dry useless objects which force the consumer to spend another six bucks on one ounce of magic glue and the cycle ironically starts over again.

In the grown-up world of adhesives, it has been very dynamic with all the inroads in molecular engineering, polymer chemistry and civil engineering. The days of curious dabblers, concocting different recipes of glue in their backyard has long since past as the arena of adhesives is now high-tech and completely computerized. Glues are tested even before they are made as part of computer simulations that replicate all the attributes of glue from sheer strength, overall stickiness and duration without ever leaving the computer screen. Scientists have dramatically reduced all kinds of waste by not making something until the formula was tinkering with on a screen versus a costly and variable-intensive laboratory environment. A computer simulation maintains a constant quality control, good documentation, no toxic by-products and increased overall quality. This type of quality control still has to fight ancient tales of glue being made of out of horses and other animals but once you see several supercomputers grinding out analysis of thousands of small molecule structures, you realize that no one gets their hands sticky anymore.

The old days, a few restless scientists would start with the challenge of making sure two things stuck together by trying countless combinations of substances on surfaces and start seeing how they worked. There was no scientific method demonstrated except for persistence and an open mind. If the two substances were wood and steel, they would start with tar, then whatever epoxies they had laying around and when one thing seemed to work better than the other things, they would pursue that course until another clue arose. After months of trial and error, some promising substance would remain that would continue to evolve and hopefully, the documentation was complete enough to replicate the steps when the time came to try it for production. Then the scientists would revert backwards and see what ingredients they could take out of their mixture that was not necessary. There was no sense having stuff in the glue that wasn’t needed because of the extra costs, so the true glue dogs would build it up, take it apart and finally have a product that generally did what was expected.

Obviously, the old world of adhesives wasn’t pretty and there was no real formal scientific approach so the discipline of adhesives was a wild mixture of dreamers, backyard mechanics and meatball scientists. This all changed however when the new era of adhesives begun in 1964. A young scientist came to United Adhesives after two planned detours; four years at Texas A&M university and two years in the US Army. The scientist’s name was John "Jack" Welkler and he became a living legend. In fact, 1964 was the year of a new informal dating system in the glue business because all the events that occurred before Jack arrived was called "BJ" and the time after he arrived at United Adhesives, was known as "AJ." Obviously, this new naming convention wasn’t embraced immediately but once he got some steam underneath him, the number of patents and published articles rose exponentially after his arrival. During his years at United Adhesives, Jack had been awarded over a thousand patents and been published countless times in professional journals. Some historians look at 1964 and claim that the Beatles took over the world and believe it or not, there are scientists who sincerely view the emergence of Jack Welkler in the same light of reverence. You can believe it or not.

Jack had an uncommon ability to work with all types of people: senior executives who flocked to him once he gained his notoriety to hourly part-time employees who were welcomed sincerely by Jack when they wandered past his open laboratory. Jack liked to work out in the open as much as possible and had two larger outdoor labs adjacent to his section of Research Building 4. Jack was assigned to Building 4 as a new hire and he remained there through numerous management changes and the ebbs and flows of the business. As Jack continued to grow and generate income for the company, he assumed more lab space and after awhile, had a pretty impressive team of people and even a more impressive collection of equipment, samples and junk that was liberated from all over the company. Jack felt that his glue had to do what you needed it to do and by adding limitations to it, just diminished it’s effectiveness. If the glue would dissolve or weaken near water, it would be useless to construction workers but it might be handy for temporary underwater construction. If the glue dried very fast, it would be effective for demolition, civil engineering and aeronautics. And if it dried slowly and bonded only flat, clean wood planks and you got hungry between meals, it was Elmer’s.

Over the years, Jack blew up a lot of stuff, bonded even more things together and slowly Building 4 was his playground to run. A lot of the businesses grew tired of explosions, odd smells and the occasional fire siren so the building was set aside mainly for Jack and his team. Most of his team stayed with him due to his teaching and mentoring of the groups and because working with Jack was an opportunity to work with a legitimate living legend. In addition to what it would do for a resume, having Jack as a boss was highly prestigious and all his team walked around the company with a sense of belonging to the best team of hipster engineers in the world. What Jack made for the company was obscenely profitable and thus, he had considerable latitude to do what needed to be done. He would have been told that in a management meeting but he never attended any because his bosses told him to come if he wanted, which of course, was never.

Jack was always encouraging his team not to get discouraged when their plan for a new adhesive failed to deliver its initial goals. He would encourage them to see deeper into the situation and look for clues to the next step.

"So, what did you learn?" asked Jack to someone as he sat on top of some monstrous piece of crap on the outdoor lab.

"Not a damn thing, Jack" responded one of his lieutenants and they would follow up with some general variation of this famous glue dog summary: "this shit doesn’t stick to anything." There are other versions of the age-old lament dealing with whatever property of adhesion the team was working on at the time. The property could be sheer strength; thermal properties or high-temperature superconductor processing but "this shit doesn’t stick to anything" covered a fair amount of territory.

"Nothing?" said Jack, "Really, that would be something I would like to see. We’ve made thousands of batches and we could always find something to be excited about." Jack tried to avoid the use of the word "I" as much as possible because he wanted his team to get excited about the scientific process of discovery.

That was the level of encouragement that Jack was famous for as a manager and his protégés flourished under it. Many engineers came through Jack’s apprenticeship and were well distributed through the company in senior roles so as a result of Jack’s tutelage, he was untouchable. If there was ever a discussion about outsourcing Research & Development, there were at least two people in the boardroom who would terminate that type of analysis due to their growing common sense and internal loyalty to Jack. His support system was strong in the boardroom and throughout the company and the sense of quiet confidence surrounded Jack and his merry band of scientists and engineers. Even year or so, some new hotshot, looking to make his or her mark at the company, would implore senior management with tired clichés of paradigm busting, low-hanging fruit or the eradication of the internal sacred cows and touch upon Jack. The conversation would end quickly with the new employee wondering what sacrosanct faux pas they had just committed and would usually slink away. Jack was a big sacred cow that no one wanted to go away and that needy adoration made him untouchable but for all the right reasons.

Jack loved puzzles and the intelligent application of sealants were the main tools in his bag. The word was that if Jack couldn’t make it stick, it wasn’t meant to stick. Over the years, project teams challenged him to make stuff adhere: glass on iron (an acrylic hot-melt combo), iron on wood (two-part epoxy), ceramic and a never-identified mystery alloy (UV glue) and Jack’s favorite challenge: the iron-spare rib-concrete combination which he made one through the judicious amount of polyurethane hot-melt and a kiln. The young guys were Jack’s favorite as their frightening lack of wisdom made them easy targets for his laboratory magic. He would ask them questions into order to get a better idea of their need: if it was for a customer, the problem would be solved as they stood there, if they were smartasses, he would walk away mumbling and the young punks would smirk between themselves. A few hours later, the main punk would discover one of his or her valuable tool adhered to the ceiling fan 80 meters above their heads without any clue how it got up there and even less idea how it was sticking on there.

Professional journals regularly sought out Jack’s opinion on anything that had to do with adhesives. In fact, rumor had it that Jack was the sole reason that United Adhesives is where it is today. About ten years ago, when Jack was filing patent after patent for United Adhesives, the company was the target of several takeover bids and the rumor was that the real target was Jack. Jack had turned down countless job offers because he liked what he did, he liked where he did it and the company always treated him fairly. They provided him with everything he needed and the most importance piece of that was space. Jack liked a big room and needed a lot of area to work on different tasks. Investors looked at Jack as a reason to invest in the company and his employment was an asset for venture capitalists. Finance people would field calls from a wide variety of investors with three questions, in this specific order: 1.) How is Jack? 2.) How is business? 3.) How is Jack? If there were any inkling that Jack wasn’t happy, the value of the company would head into the financial crapper. Once an unsuspecting and brand new administrative assistant named Beverly Hickcox had told an inquiring stock analyst that "Jack wasn’t here anymore" and the stock fell to half its value in one afternoon.

The assistant, who was told in passing that Jack moved some of this things out his assigned corporate office. The reason that he had moved things was because he never left Building 4 and he hated having stuff in several areas. The assistant, after understanding what she had done, was hospitalized for a week due to a nervous breakdown. The estimates on the stock loss were almost reached a quarter of a billion dollars and although it recovered quickly, she was damaged goods. She was immediately reassigned to Jack, per his request, and was put in charge of his schedule and attempting to deal with his random approach to administrative requests. Jack had heard about her honest mistake and her subsequent corporate scapegoating and demanded that she be promoted to his staff and her personnel file purged of any negative documentation. She sized Jack up and assured him that she would engineer a way to allow him to do what he wanted and streamline non-necessary demands of his time, which was anything that took him away from having fun. She was given his unlimited signing authority, developed a system for him to manage his documents and he make it clear that she had total authority to make commitments under his name and position. Her sudden elevation to internal power broker ironically turned the tables within the company’s administrative morass, she extracted reasonable revenge on the faceless and nameless toadies that originally conspired to have her fired in the first place. It was very common to see her meet with the company President as Jack's stand-in representative. She was an extremely effective and crafty executive that continued to evolve in her role but she made one thing clear: she wasn’t leaving Building 4 either.

As a result of the request, Jack enjoyed himself with a minimum of annoyances, established an unseen bond of loyalty with every office and clerical worker at the company. His act of support of the new Administrative Assistant was unheard of and the non-exempts made sure Jack knew everything that was going on in the company. He gave away patents as wedding presents, he co-authored articles with doctoral candidates that needed a boost as they neared graduation or were praying for tenure somewhere, forced professional journals to reference numerous people in their regular tributes to him and throughout this time, his legend grew stronger and stronger. Although he knew everything and had a blindly loyal team around him, he was a glue man and that is all he wanted to do. Jack believed that adhering two pieces together had to work at two levels: the actual chemical level in which substances bonded together as a result of introducing both a chemical bond and the more metaphysical, holistic level in which the two (or any number) substances merged because they actually wanted to be merged.

One of the best stories about Jack occurred during an early project for NASA. Jack had a quarter section of the space shuttle sitting in the middle of the lab floor five years before anyone else had seen it. NASA was struggling with the composites made for the heat panels and their subsequent sticking on the shuttle. NASA didn’t like their original findings and they feared the tiles were engineered and made wrong. They also feared that their assumptions, during development related to heat protection, were based on incorrect data as well and the chances of success were almost impossible. The original design had thicker, clunklier tiles that were assumed were better to keep the heat off the shuttle. As time went on, design methods continued to improve so much after the original design was accepted that the old solution wasn’t fooling anyone, especially NASA Engineers. Jack was providing the NASA team with the brutal realities of re-entry and tremendous physical effects on the shuttle but they seemed not to be listening. After awhile, Jack told them that they obviously had other demands on their time so he packed up the samples and told them to go on without them. The quarter section stayed as per the original deal between United Adhesives and NASA for Jack's personal enjoyment.

One day about two months after he had walked away, Jack got a call in the middle of Building 4 from an old friend who was leading the shuttle project and he listened patiently to the issue and told him to send him some samples to view. They arrived the next day and Jack cracked them open and started playing with the samples like they were children’s toys. He squeezed, burned, pulled, dissected and stood on the tiles, and once in awhile, he would take a measurement and scribble something in his composition book. People were somewhat interested in what Jack was doing, because he was always doing something exciting, but he remained fixated on his analysis and the groups knew enough to let him concentrate when he was focused on a problem. The day went on with Jack headed out to a test range with a box full of heat tiles and eventually came back and wrote down some ideas on the blackboard near his desk and went home. He walked out with his untouched bag lunch, he was too busy to eat that day, and a heat tile in his hands.

The next day, he called up his contact at NASA and told him that the whole panel idea was flawed and that they were kidding themselves if they could secure spongy heat tiles, roughly the size of pop tart boxes all over the shuttle. He didn't beat the contact over the head with "I told you so's" but made it politely clear that these issues were already known and identified by Jack two months previous. However, due to someone's lack of fortitude or ignorance, the issues laid dormant at some middle manager's desk. Jack’s contact knew immediately it had to be fixed and picked up the phone and called the Senior Director of Operations and gave him this terse message:

"Jack says the tiles are shit," said the contact. He didn’t need to add a last name.

"Then they are shit," said the Director of Shuttle Operations, "See if you can talk Jack into coming down for a few days and straighten out the jerkoffs in Engineering." The Director was the top authority for the Space Shuttle and he needed someone like Jack to help to get this issue ironed out with a minimum of attention and get the program back on track. He knew that Jack had tried earlier but the timing was different because no one else could solve the problem. He dealt with Congress and at least six government agencies but he made this decision himself. If asked, all he had to do was drop Jack’s name and the inquiry would stop, even if it came from the President.

That was the extent of the phone call: no media, no press releases just a generic looking man getting picked up at the airport by a pimply-faced junior engineer with a sign that said, "Welkler." Jack walked up to him and identified himself.

"I’m Welkler, let’s go," said Jack.

The junior engineer looked at him and just about crapped his pants. Jack looked like was there to fix a refrigerator and all he had a small carry-on bag. It appeared that Jack wasn’t planning for a long stay and the kid just nodded and headed for the car. They hopped into a NASA pool car and were driving towards the complex in complete silence. The junior engineer was immediately intimidated by such a legend sitting in the front seat. Jack was polite and tried to engage in small talk as well but it was difficult for both of them. He enjoyed having his hand out the window, making the air rush through it like a little airplane. As the junior engineer drove, Jack continued to move his hand, banking and climbing it as the car continued toward the Space Center.

They got to the gate and were waved through.

They made to the hangar and inside rested the only working prototype of the Shuttle. This was top secret stuff and someone tossed Jack an "All Access" Credential and he walked over to a testing area and approached the latest prototype panel with no direction or advice from the group. The junior engineer was in awe; there was a hundred panels in the hangar with no identification that he could see and Jack walked over to the latest and greatest like he had a map. Jack started tugging on a few tiles and they popped off as if they were fashioned with mucilage. Several engineers began congregating near Jack and a few of them actually knew him. The junior engineer stood transfixed watching the pre-eminent expert in the world wander around the side panels and heat shields, yanking at things and chatting with a few of the old pros.

"This is nice," said Jack in a sarcastic but playful tone, "I think I could have my kid pick this off."

"Well, Jack," said the Director of Shuttle Ops, "you aren’t far off."

Jack paused and started off on a mesmerizing discussion of materials. He was emphasizing the big group of talented engineers were losing sight of the fundamental beauty of working together and communicating with the design engineers. "Materials science is the study of the physical and mechanical properties of engineering materials, such as metals, glass, ceramics, polymers and composites, " calmly said Jack, "but you can’t build this stuff in one room. Just as important as the relationship between the properties of materials and structure, you got to get those engineers down here to help us."

Someone grabbed the phone and made a quick call. In about ten minutes, a little line of spectacled engineers in short sleeve shirts wandered in and they all hovered around the other side of Jack and waited. Several of them knew Jack and he warmly reached out and shook their hands. The tension was reduced significantly but Jack wanted to keep their attention for the final performance. Jack started to talk quietly and non-verbally motioned the group to mix together as he started speaking.

"You scientists design and develop new space age materials," said Jack, "but without the groups working together, all the technology is wasted. You spend your day focused on processing and fabrication of composites, super-alloys, and the goofy materials you guys cook up but no one knows about it. You cannot invent in an isolated lab, you need to be talking to the other guy. If you don't cooperate and collaborate face to face, all it becomes is a waste of time. The way this stuff looks today, I can hose it off, burn it off or wash it off. Either way, it isn’t too pretty. "

The junior engineer saw an entire platoon of engineer’s look sheepish and embarrassed. Jack was up on a workbench now, and he was brutal with his insights. Each comment was measured, accurate and completely provable. They all knew Jack was right and his wisdom was a slap in the face. They had been so involved in budgets and politics, that they forgot to be engineers. Jack was really riffing now: lecturing the team on buckling and stability theories, crash worthiness, dynamics of polymer melts, fracture and fatigue, mechanical fasteners, theories of laminated composites, repair techniques, structural performance of polymer glasses. He hopped off the workbench and faced the group but allowed a pregnant pause to maximum effect. Collectively, the crowd of engineers knew that Jack was their guy.

He paused and said, "And one more thing, it is like all you engineers collectively fail to remember anything about surface treatments and the superplastic forming of high-temperature alloys. It is time to start over and work together. I am not here to find fault, I am here to help."

Jack waved the junior engineer over the front of the group and whispered something to him.

"It is time for lunch. Do you know where I can get a clubhouse sandwich?"

All the engineers saw was Jack’s friendly reach out to the new kid and a brief conversation. The two walked away from the carnage and left the two groups to fend for themselves. The crowd of engineers were wondering why Jack was spending time with the kid but they were collectively so in awe of Jack that they started to re-work the project and busted up into different cross-functional groups to start getting ideas ready for Jack. Whiteboards were wheeled in, calculators were humming and obscenities were drifting up in the ceiling because Jack got people working and one of the by-products of Jack’s pep talks was that everyone starting swearing like sailors. Jack always enjoyed the well-placed obscenity as long as it was directed towards a problem or an inanimate object. Directing emotions at things that had no feelings made the team’s band together and reduced significant tension.

Jack and the young engineer wandered out of the hangar and found the closest cafeteria. Lucky for NASA, Jack got his clubhouse sandwich and spent a good hour talking to the youngster. He never interrupted or intimidated the kid but rather sought out the young engineer’s ideas about the issue. The engineer was thrilled to tell Jack what he thought about a wide variety of things. Jack listened and allowed the kid to take off on tangents and theories that had almost nothing to do with adhesives, space travel or engineering. As the lunch hour concluded, the young engineer was ecstatic about the audience he had with Jack and upon arriving back at the hangar, took control of a discussion group identifying the correct material composite. Jack was pleased as he looked around the room at the activity, engineers were building things and exchanging ideas with their counterparts and he felt the problem could not withstand this level of problem scrutiny too long.

Jack made a few notes and handed the Director of Shuttle Ops a tile about one-third the thickness of the original tile at about one-sixth of its weight. The backing was a textured surface and there seemed to be a subtle adhesive to increase its surface contact with the shuttle.

"Give this a try," said Jack, "I was playing around at home and figured we could get better sealing, better protection with a lot less weight if you treated the composite tile with thermal coating after curing it."

"I am surprised it took you that long," said the Director, "how long do I let this crowd go before I tell them that you probably figured it out?"

"Let them go another day or so, "sighed Jack, "somebody might head down the same path I did last night. If not, tell the young kid that I got the idea from him and give him the credit."

"Got it," said the Director.

Several months later, the new processed tiles were testing well and the buzz in the industry was that the issue was solved. People throughout the industry knew that Jack was behind a lot of the success and it was confirmed with a series of patents generated out of NASA with several names listed as the patent owners, including Jack’s. The final process was more refined that Jack’s initial prototype but the elements of his ideas were well represented and provided significant insight to the final solution. The good news was that NASA owned the idea from almost the beginning and everyone was feeling energized about the future. Jack tossed the patents in a big box hand marked "paperwork" that sat on the corner of his desk and went back to work. He was confident that if Beverly had any questions for him, she would find him. Two weeks later, a large unmarked truck showed up at Building 4 and out from the back came the original shuttle panel that Jack played with on his first day at NASA. Eventually, one quarter of the new shuttle frame was reassembled in the corner of Building 4 just for fun and it sat next to version 1.0. There were signatures of all the engineers along with hundreds of supportive comments and creative obscenities from the shuttle team. Jack was happy to see the souvenir and it remains in the corner even today next to the antique. People still cannibalize both of them for parts as the shuttle’s composites are still used in a variety of experiments when needed.

Recently, an intern was walking into the building, and she found herself walking next to Jack. She carried with her a rather large paper bag and she had seen Jack numerous times so the intimidation factor was muted. He had a backpack with him that included his lunch, a few journals with pages torn out, the torn journal pages clipped together with names and highlighted notations and a few tools. Jack, upon seeing the bag, nicely asked the woman what was in the bag.

"I was just going to tell you," said the woman in an excited tone. "In addition to my lunch, I started working on a water soluble adhesive with deteriorating sheer properties. I made a batch last night at home and I want to see if it works like I think it will work."

"Are the properties consistent?" asked Jack as they continued to walk towards a work area. Deteriorating properties sound bad but if they can be regulated, there are hundreds of applications that would benefit from such a product. Jack was thinking about surgical stitches, construction repair and nanoengineering. Jack had been thinking a lot about nanos that was just around the corner. A "nano" is the space between atoms and meant one-billionth of something and is usually used in reference to a nanosecond (one billionth of a second) or a nanometer (one billionth of a meter). However, the world of molecules was going to be placed upside down with new tools enabling scientists to create entirely new approaches to manufacturing and to health. It would allow materials to actually grow themselves by adding the right atoms and molecules to the mix. This would not be limited to organic materials but even to computer hardware and software. This technology was likely many years away from commercial application but Jack was already thinking about it.

"To the second," said the intern, "But I only have a stopwatch at home so I need to repeat the experiment with legitimate calibration."

"Now, that sounds like a lot of fun," said Jack, "come on over when you have time and let me help you with it."

The intern blushed. She knew the next few days were going to be like winning the lottery. She was going to be guided by the eminent authority on the subject, she was going to get all the credit for it and she was going to have a blast doing it. He asked her to come by and see him when "she had time" which made her laugh. Once she said the word "Jack" all of her other duties would disappear. She figured she would wait one minute after going to her desk before she ran directly to Jack’s desk. She had never felt like this before: andrenilized but from the inside out; shaking with excitement.

"One more thing," said Jack, "What did you bring for lunch?"

"I brought a salad. What did you bring?"

"I have some tabbouleh, some dawwd basha and a root beer."

"I wouldn't have guessed it," smiled the intern. "I don't hear that menu everyday of the week."

Jack smiled and said, "My wife is in the middle of a Middle Eastern food kick and it all tastes pretty good cold. I wish I had some pie but we can work on that tomorrow."

Jack waved goodbye to the intern and stopped at his desk. Beverly came over and said, "You will be missing three meetings today and two meetings tomorrow. Anything you want thrown around?"

"Yes," said Jack as he handed her his backpack. She grabbed the journals and threw them in a huge dumpster by his desk, scanned the documents to assess who should see what article, put his lunch in a sample refrigerator behind the dumpster and put the can of root beer on top to keep it cool. It would not be touched by anyone.

She tossed his backpack behind his desk and said, "All done. Go wander around and build something."

"That girl said she is working on a water soluble adhesive with deteriorating sheer properties."

"That girl," said Beverly, "is a Ph.D. candidate from Stanford and her name is Jennifer."

"Oh," said Jack. "It seems what she is doing sounds like a lot of fun."

Beverly looked at him and said, "Well, go help her."

"Okay," said Jack as he walked towards the end of the building with a pad of paper and a pencil.

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