[If you’re already sick of my IBM ranting, you should probably ignore this post.]
So it turns out that my IBM problem was not, in fact, the fan. Probably something in the motherboard related to the fan. Why do I know that? Because after all this, at about 4:15 today, the IBM guy came and dutifully dissassembled and reassembled my laptop and made it Work Again. Yay! He then looked at the third of three boxes he’d come with (one for the new MB, one for the fan, and one for the keyboard bezel) and said ‘hrm, I wonder what this one is.’ Turns out the delivery people had handed him three boxes, and walked off, and the third was… a part for a Dell. So some Dell support guy somewhere in Boston has my new fan, while the IBM guy has the Dell guy’s connector doohickey. I do not have my new fan- the dude installed only the new motherboard and new bezel before then figuring out what had happened with the third box. The laptop seems to be fine anyway for now, and the fan is noticeably quieter than it has been in months, so something is improved. In the short term, I’m thrilled; in the long term, well, as soon as I get back, I’ll be calling IBM service again- the repair guy broke my home key.
I do have to give IBM credit- they seem to have pulled a lot of strings to get something to happen before my flight. In particular, Kay at the help desk has been spectacular, patient, and eventually effective. She gets a big thumbs up. Everyone else involved… well, hey, it works, and I’ll have it on my plane. So yeah, thumbs up to all of you too ;)