Look at this link http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1962551,00.asp It talks about the Z61T and it also has a review on the Z61M. I know that isn't your model but I think they are pretty much the same.
Well I am not sure if this is true but I heard Lenovo gives these dates and then they make them earlier. But I am not sure.
As for the 8-cell battery, I think you can call them and tell them to ship it after everything.
I think I know what you are talking about. I got it only once and what I did was I took out the power cord and also the battery which then shut down the computer. The I put the battery and the power cord back on and everything was...