Letters to the Power Plant #16 — A New Year at Dell

After I left the power plant and went to work for Dell on August 20, 2001, I wrote letters back to my friends at the plant letting them know how things were going.  This is the sixteenth letter I wrote.  Keep in mind that at the time when I originally penned this letter I didn’t intend on it being posted online.

01/03/02 – A New Year at Dell

Dear E-Pals from Soonersville,

I hope everyone had a great holiday.  I just came back to work yesterday from my vacation.  I was able to take the whole week and a half, from Dec. 21st to January 2nd.

Today it is cold outside.  I mean, it is really cold out.  The weather man called it a “Hard Freeze”!!!  I bundled myself up and stepped outside this morning ready to face the harsh weather of Austin USA.  The first thing I noticed when I stepped outside was that my cat’s water wasn’t frozen.  So I thought.  “Hmmm, has someone been putting antifreeze in my cat’s bowl?”

Then as I made my way through the blinding blizzard to my car, I thought it was strange that there was only a thin layer of frost on the windows.  I climbed into my car and turned it on to let it warm up, and began the tedious task of scraping away the patches of frost from my windshield.

Then my son Anthony came prancing out of the house, and told Kelly that he didn’t want me to drive him to school, he just wanted to walk.  I asked Kelly if he was sure, I didn’t want them to get lost in the blizzard between our house and the school a block and a half away.  She said, he was determined to rough it, and they took off down the sidewalk.

I went back in the house and turned on the news and there was a winter storm advisory.  The temperature was 31 degrees, with no wind.  The sky was clear and the sun was shining.  I have to keep reminding myself, I’m not in Oklahoma anymore.

In Oklahoma when the weather man says there is a winter storm advisory, there really is.  Down here, when the weather man says there is a winter storm advisory, then that means that you have to put on your jacket, or at least walk briskly to the car and rub your hands together a few times to keep them warm.

Now I am sitting in my cubicle with a long sleeve flannel shirt and a tee-shirt on underneath that.  It must be about 80 degrees in this building.  I have my jacket hanging behind me, just in case I get too cold.

My forehead is all sweaty from wearing too much clothes.  I made the mistake of wearing my better pair of shoes that are laced up, so I can’t easily slip them off under my desk, so my socks are getting damp from the sweat.  —  I have made three trips to the ice machine to cool myself off.

The sun is shining in the window, adding radiant heat to everything around me.  All I can think of is that there is a weather man taking a break in the newsroom chuckling with his buddies about how many people probably overdressed for the “Hard Freeze” today, and now they are all sweating out the day in their cubicles at Dell.

Anyway, I am looking forward for the new year at Dell.  I think Dell is supposed to run all of the other computer companies out of business this year.  It will be interesting to see.  I’m supposed to write a program that tracks the demise of all the other companies, and then schedules a fun committee party each time one goes under.

I’m writing a program that scans the news articles on the Internet and looks for certain keywords associated with certain companies, and then using some statistics, it figures out the exact date the companies will go under.  People are always trying to get the inside scoop from me, so they can win the office pool for guessing which day Hewlitt Packard, or Compaq, or Gateway disappear from the face of the earth. —  We’ll see if that statement gets past the DELLSECURE e-mail screening program.  — By the way,  think about that the next time you decide to buy a computer, and you are wondering who has the best warranty.  The warranty won’t be any good if the company is gone.

Your friend from Dell,

Kevin Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Programmer Analyst II

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

 

Letters to the Power Plant #15 — Roads around Dell

After I left the power plant and went to work for Dell on August 20, 2001, I wrote letters back to my friends at the plant letting them know how things were going.  This is the fifteenth letter I wrote.  Keep in mind that at the time when I originally penned this letter I didn’t intend on it being posted online.

12/05/01 – Roads around Dell

Hey Sooner Friends,

I’m sorry it has been a while since I have written.  I was in town for the holidays and came around to visit.  It was good to see you guys again.  Sorry I missed seeing some of you.  Mike Gibbs and Alex said they wanted me to add them to the e-mail list, but I don’t have their e-mail addresses easily accessible.  If someone would tell them to e-mail me, I’ll put them in the address book.

There is an interesting phenomenon in Austin, and I didn’t understand it at first, and I’m not too sure that I fully appreciate it yet.  I noticed that a lot of roads around here didn’t have names, they only had numbers ( some have names AND numbers).  There are a lot of streets called something like this:   CR 169.  Then there are those that are called something like this:  FM 1325.  Then there are some called something like this:  RM 620.

At first I thought that CR stood for County Road.  I could understand that.  It was a little strange I thought, that CR 169 went through both Williamson county and Travis county, but I thought, “What the heck”, if both counties want to name the road the same thing, then why should I care.  I thought that FM 1325 might be a radio station where I could hear the traffic report about that particular road, but since my radio didn’t have 1325 on the FM dial, I thought maybe it should have been 1325 on the  AM radio.  There was a Mexican station there, and I couldn’t tell if they were talking about road conditions or not, but if they were they had written a song about it and had a band playing along.  —  So I thought, “Maybe not.”  Then I thought RM 620 sounded like a hotel room, but that didn’t make sense either.

I was beginning to think that the CR 169 meant that there was a curve in the road and we should slow down to 169 miles an hour, and that RM 620 meant that they were doing Regular Maintenance and we should slow down to 620 miles an hour, and that FM 1325 meant “Fast Motorists”, and we could go 1, 325 miles an hour.  But someone finally told me what these road signs meant.

It seems that CR stands for “Country Road”, and FM stands for “Farm Road” and RM stands for “Ranch Road”.  — “OK”, I thought.  I could see where CR might mean Country Road, except for the fact that many Country Roads ran clear through the middle of town and had Malls and Huge movie theaters on them.

Then I thought, Well, Texas HAS declared itself as it’s own country, and maybe that’s what it meant.  That it was “Texas Country”.  And I could see where FM might stand for “Farm Road”, after all, there is an “M” in the word “Farm”, so FM could mean “Farm Road”, even though every Farm Road I had driven down was more like a two or four lane highway, and I hadn’t seen a farm anywhere.  —  “Ranch Road” I’m having a little more trouble understanding.

First of all, why have an abbreviation “RM” for “Ranch Road”?  There isn’t even an “M” in “Ranch Road”.  When I brought this to my fellow Texan’s attention, I was asked, “What do you want them to call it?  “RR”?  Then everyone will think they are driving on a Railroad Track.  You don’t want that do you?  Then no one will stop at intersections.  They will just honk their horns and go right on through, and then there will be a big mess.

I didn’t see that that was much different than what they were doing right now, but I could see their point.  “Since Farm Roads were FM it was only natural to call Ranch Roads RM, don’t you see?”  Continued my Texas Mentor.

I thought that it would be kind of nice to give roads names instead of numbers, and so I mentioned that to my coworker.  “Oh, they have names, but people like the numbers better.”  The traffic reporters like to say, “We have a tractor trailer jack-knifed on 183 causing major delays, and there is a 16 car pile up on 3248 just south of the mall, and there is a major slow down on 79 at I-35 where there was a head on collision with a motorist who sped through a red light while honking his horn.”

I had to admit that made a lot of sense.

I hope all is going well with you guys.  Thanks for keeping in touch.

Your Friend at Dell,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

Letters to the Power Plant #14 — Meeting at Dell

After I left the power plant and went to work for Dell on August 20, 2001, I wrote letters back to my friends at the plant letting them know how things were going.  This is the fourteenth letter I wrote.  Keep in mind that at the time when I originally penned this letter I didn’t intend on it being posted online.

11/16/01 – Meeting at Dell

Hey Gang,

I hope everything is going well with you.  I suppose your overhaul went smoothly and you guys are getting ready for Thanksgiving.

We had a Hellacious storm last night.  The neighbors were out in their Arks again.  No rainbow this morning, so I guess we must be doing something wrong.

You guys know how I don’t really care to be the leader in a group, but I do like to be the recorder, or the facilitator, or something like that.  Well.  The other day I was elected to be the guy to take the minutes at a meeting.  Since the purpose of this meeting was to schedule other meetings there was nothing proprietary that was discussed.  So I thought it would be interesting to you guys to read what I wrote in the minutes of that particular meeting just to get a feel for the meetings at Dell.

It went like this:  — Well before I start, let me just say that the names were changed to protect the innocent, so I changed Robert’s name to John, John’s name to Marvin, and Marvin’s name to Jim, and Jim’s name to Kevin, and Kevin’s name to Robert, Kori’s name to Shilpa, and Shilpa’s name to Rosalind, and Rosalind’s name to Kori.  So don’t be too confused when you are reading the minutes and you are thinking “boy that sure sounds like something that Robert would have said”, but I said that John said it, well, now you will know why.  Anyway, here goes:

Robert started out the meeting by mentioning that the Thanksgiving lunch this week was much better than the Mixer lunch last week.  He thought that there was a lot better desserts at the Thanksgiving lunch.  Shilpa nodded in approval.

Marvin looked at the other members around the room and then had a look as if he didn’t get the e-mail for either lunch so he just looked at the table for about five minutes as if he was dreaming about all the food that he wasn’t able to eat.

Jim said that he thought that the desserts at both lunches were equally good, and pointed out that the best dessert at both lunches was the blueberry, marshmellowy fruit bowl thing, (which he had brought and had made with his own two hands — unlike some others who had went down the street to Boston Market and bought their stuff.  —  The desserts and salads were brought by those members that remembered to bring something).

Kori said that she thought that the best time to hold the daily issues meeting would be in the afternoon right after lunch, but Rosalind said that right after lunch she has too much trouble staying awake and that later in the afternoon would be better for her, and then Kori said that it shouldn’t be too late because she usually likes to leave early and she didn’t want to leave late because a meeting was late getting out.

Rosalind didn’t seem to hear what Kori was saying.  At this point Rosalind’s head was beginning to nod up and down in apparent approval, until the point where her eyelids were visibly beginning to close. (Did I mention that this meeting was being held right after lunch?).

At this point Marvin had recovered from the shock of missing two free lunches, and he said that he thought the weekly code review meeting should be held every Friday morning in the team room at the corner of the building.  Jim began to chuckle, and when Marvin asked why, Jim said that we couldn’t have our meeting there, because the Breakfast Club sets up breakfast there every Friday morning, and we wouldn’t want to be sitting there discussing programming code while someone is frying pancakes.

Marvin said, “Breakfast Club?  What the Fricken is Breakfast Club?”  Then Marvin said he had to go burn one and he left the room. (‘burn one’ is Texas lingo for smoking a cigarette.  At Dell, you have to stand at least 50 ft. from any Dell entrance if you want to smoke a cigarette).  Kevin at that point said, “Well, if he would go read his e-mail instead of ‘burning one’, maybe he wouldn’t be so skinny.”  (Remember, I changed Jim’s name to Kevin, so that wasn’t me that said that, it was someone else).

Jim stated that we could meet for our daily progress meetings at 2 in the afternoon, and Kevin said that he couldn’t because he had another meeting scheduled every day at that time.  So Jim suggested that we could meet at 3 in the afternoon, and Robert said, “that would be alright, but I have my one-on-one with Kevin on Wednesdays during that time, if I can change that meeting time, then that would work.

Then Kevin said that Robert could change his meeting time to Thursday at 1 in the afternoon, and then Shilpa said that she was hoping that we could hold the code reviews on Thursday at 1 because Rosalind doesn’t really care that much about the code review, and if she falls asleep, that’s ok.  Everyone looked at Rosalind, and she didn’t object, (though there was a slight purring sound emanating from her throat).

So Robert suggested that we could hold the one-on-one during the breakfast club time on Friday morning and eat breakfast while we discussed the world events and career development (I gave it away that I changed my name to Robert didn’t I?  By saying “we” when I was talking about a “one-on-one” meeting — oh well.  If you had looked up at the top of this letter, you would have figured it out that I was Robert anyway).

Marvin rejoined the meeting.  He was soaking wet.  Jim asked if it was raining outside.  Marvin nodded that it was.  He squished and squished his shoes on the way to his chair.

Marvin said that he thought the development server Dev AP Oh One should be upgraded to Win two Kay. (Note:  I am spelling it out like it sounds, He was actually talking about a server that has the name (Note: the actual name of the server has been removed because it is propriety information), but we refer to it as DevAp01 for short, and he thought that it should be upgraded to Windows 2000).

Jim pointed out that this was not an issues meeting, this is a meeting resolution meeting, and we should discuss that in the issues meeting, not a meeting meeting.  So Marvin said, “When is the issues meeting?”  Kevin said that we were going to have it right after lunch, but now it will conflict with the Code Review Meeting on Thursday, so we will move it to later in the afternoon.

Kori groaned at this point and said, “but not too late.  I want to be able to leave early, and if the meeting runs late, I’ll be later.”  Everyone agreed that no one wants the issues meeting to run late, and it really can’t because Jim has another meeting directly after the issues meeting if we hold the issues meeting at 3:30.

Then Shilpa said to Robert, “Aren’t you on the fun committee?” and Robert said that he was, and so Shilpa said, “So what sort of fun things are we going to do at this meeting?  And Robert said that we were going to eat candy from Rosalind’s Halloween bowl, and we were going to watch Jim stack up Starbursts to see how high he can stack them before they fall over.

Then if we still needed to have more fun, Robert was going to lick a tootsie pop over and over again to find out how many licks it took to get to the center of the tootsie pop.  — It was after saying that statement that Robert began to feel that most of the rest of the people in the meeting were much younger than him, and hadn’t seen the commercial with the owl licking the tootsie pop.  So Robert sat back down after his triumphant speech and quietly said, “and that’s what we’re going to do.”

So we all ate candy, and watched Jim stack the starbursts, and when he had stacked five of them end on end they fell over, and when they looked at Robert for more fun, he opened a tootsie pop, and licked it three times, then bit into it and said, “Three”.  Then Marvin said, “I get it.”   Then the meeting was adjourned.

That was it.

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Programmer Analyst II

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #13 — Dellbert at Dell

After I left the power plant and went to work for Dell on August 20, 2001, I wrote letters back to my friends at the plant letting them know how things were going.  This is the thirteenth letter I wrote.  Keep in mind that at the time when I originally penned this letter I didn’t intend on it being posted online.

11/09/01 – Dellbert at Dell

Hello to overhaul worn buddies,

I have had an interesting week.  On Monday my 2nd line manager took me and another guy out to the Macaroni Grill to eat.  They had this paper table cloth and he started to write all over it with a crayon drawing diagrams about things at Dell.  I kept looking around knowing that there might be some spies lurking about, but it wasn’t that crowded, and there was just a couple of ladies sitting by us with some very young kids, and all they were doing were eyeing the crayons wishing they had some so they could draw also.

We sat there for two hours discussing this and that.  (Notice how I’ve learned to avoid the dreaded — “DELLSECURE” notice).  This and That is a good phrase for just about anything.  Anyway when we were done with our discussion, the manager started to scribble out everything that he had drawn, and that was just about all those little kids could handle.

They had been complaining to their mom earlier that they didn’t have any crayons, but when they saw that grown man scribbling all over the table, they went ballistic.  Needless to say, the Hostess quickly supplied them with their own set of crayons.  — I think the manager was a little jealous by this, because they clearly had a pink crayon, and we didn’t.  He didn’t make a fuss about it though, but it might have been reflected on the tip.  I’m not sure.

Anyway, they’ve been upgrading things here, and so servers have been going up and down all week, and sometimes I could write programs on one server, and sometimes I could write them on another one, and at other times, I could write them on two servers, only to have them completely reformatted, and loose everything I had.  —  Luckily I back everything up quite regularly now.  Especially after my manager made the point to tell me that I should back up my work many times.

I had one of my monitors pushed all the way back in the corner of my desk and the other clear down at the end of my cubicle, and I was wondering if he wanted me to do a circle for safety again, when he finally explained that he wanted me to back up my work so I wouldn’t keep losing it.  He also went the extra mile to point out that he didn’t care one way or the other where I placed my monitors on my desk.

Backing up by the way doesn’t always have to be done in a “pickup”.  It can also be done on a computer.  Actually, it’s quite the opposite.  Where you have to do the circle for safety before you back your vehicle, you only have to click and drag stuff to back things up on a computer.

I suppose, if you weren’t paying attention to what you were doing (as some people like myself are apt to do) and you got things mixed up, you might end up clicking and dragging your truck around the parking lot, and running rings around your computer monitor.  I suppose that would look kind of silly.  At least that’s what some members of my team have said.

Anyway, today we had a “Mixer” for lunch.  That was where we had a lunch in that big room I have so frequently mentioned.  It brought back memories of how Eldon Waugh never wanted the Women’s Club to have dinner with the Men’s Club, because that would lead to “Fraternizing”, and that was nothing but “Evil”.

Well.  We had a lot to eat for lunch, and I’m very full of it, (at least that’s what some have been known to tell me), and if that is Fraternizing, I will have to agree with Eldon.  Anyway, that is where I think I ran into Dellbert, and finally you can see why I have the Subject as Dellbert at Dell.  I’ll tell you more about him later, because, it is Friday, and it is 5:00 and I have to go.

I realized after I sent the last letter that I had left off the subject line.  Oh well it was too late by then, and you could probably have guessed by reading it, that the subject of last weeks letter was:  “Fun at Dell”.

I hope everything is well with all of you.   Way to go Mark Fielder!!!

Your Dell Pal,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Programmer Analyst II

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #12 — Some Fun at Dell

After I left the power plant and went to work for Dell on August 20, 2001, I wrote letters back to my friends at the plant letting them know how things were going.  This is the twelfth letter I wrote.  Keep in mind that at the time when I originally penned this letter I didn’t intend on it being posted online.

11/2/01 – Some fun at Dell

Dear Sooner Friends,

Our manager told us to go home early today, so I thought I would take this time to write a quick letter to you about my week.  I hope you guys are having a fun time up there in Soonerville.

We had a Halloween party / Information meeting this week.  I was given a plaque or a trophy because our team completed this great big project that they had been working on.  I felt kind of funny getting that since I wasn’t here during most of the time to actually help out with much.  But then it occurred to me that there are some people that take credit for the work that others do, only because they are in the right place at the right time (or the right position is more common).

Talking about being in the right place at the right time.  Since I am the new guy around here.  I have been selected to be a member on the “Fun” committee.  I suppose it is much like being on “Men’s Club” up there.

Every time they have a meeting, we are supposed to come up with fun things to do.  Since we have about 3 meetings a day, you can see where you might quickly run out of fun things, and you get to the point where you say,  “Enough of this ‘fun’ stuff, can’t we just ‘meet’?”

I did have a good suggestion for a Christmas Party.  I told them that I knew a perfect Santa Claus that we could hire.  He lives in Ponca City and I’m sure he would be the best Santa Claus on the planet Earth.  His name is Bud Schoonover, and he is the “Ho-Ho-iest” Santa Claus around.  He only has one Santa Claus suit, and he won’t let anyone else use it, because it is the only one he has.

Note to reader:  To learn more about Bud Schoonover as Santa Claus see this post Power Plant Christmas Party Party Pooper.  To learn what Bud Schoonover would do when there was only one part left, see this post:  Elvin Power Plant Tool Room Adventures With Bud.

I went on to explain that he has cheeks that are like cherries and a stomach that bounces like a bowl full of jelly, but everyone just stopped and stared at me, until someone else mentioned Laser Tag, and then the room erupted in applause, and “hurray for Laser Tag”, and my idea about Santa Claus just kind of sank into oblivion.  I thought about mentioning that we could get Bud to be the Laser Tag General for our team, but when I thought about his brutal relentless drive to defeat the onslaught of parts grabbers, I thought it just wouldn’t be fair to the others, so I didn’t mention it.

I have begun to think that what they need is a committee that thinks of fun things for the “fun” committee to do while they are meeting to discuss what fun things everyone else has to do.  They could call it the “fun for fun committee committee”.  The only danger in having something like that would be if one person got on both committees, then he would be stuck in a perpetual loop planning fun for the fun committee while planning fun for everyone else, which would include the “fun for fun committee committee”.

I thought I wouldn’t have very good ideas about how to have fun (and so far the rest of the committee would agree with that assessment), then I had a great revelation (that means an Idea).  I thought I would ask you guys for suggestions.  Just think of it as the Sooner subcommittee of the fun committee for Meeting enjoyment.  If you guys have any ideas how these fun starved employees can do something enjoyable, send them to me.

Oh.  I already suggested Barbeque.  That didn’t fly either.

Let me know,

You Dell Pal,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Programmer Analyst II

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #11 — 7 Degrees at Dell

After I left the power plant and went to work for Dell on August 20, 2001, I wrote letters back to my friends at the plant letting them know how things were going.  This is the eleventh letter I wrote.  Keep in mind that at the time when I originally penned this letter I didn’t intend on it being posted online.

10/26/01 – 7 Degrees at Dell

Dear Pals at Sooner,

If you go to www.Mapquest.com on the internet and look at Austin Texas, you will discover something shockingly familiar.  If you zoom into downtown Austin, you will see a roadmap that you have seen somewhere before.  It seems that the same people that engineered the City of Austin also designed the plan for Sooner Plant.  Now the truth can come out.

We all know who built Sooner Plant right?  Brown & Root.  We all know who owned Brown & Root right?  Lady Bird Johnson.  Yes.  And we all know what town Lady Bird Johnson ruled right?  Austin TX.  So is it merely a coincidence that Sooner Plant wasn’t built facing north and south (or east and west) like every place else in the civilized state of Oklahoma?  Is it a coincidence that both Austin and Sooner Plant are exactly 7 degrees off of true north?  Or is there a conspiracy afoot?

Note to Reader:  To learn more about how Brown and Root built Sooner Plant, see this post Indian Curse or Brown and Root Blunder.

From a Lady Bird’s eye view, Sooner Plant looks very similar to Austin.  — The Intake even resembles the river that runs through town.

I think while Brown & Root was building Sooner Plant that Lady Bird was envisioning her own secret Shangra La resort.  That must be the reason for all the land and the wildlife preserve.  You think I’m kidding?  Just look at this website:  www.wildflower.org   Guess where that is?  Right in the middle of Austin. And guess who founded it.  That’s right.  Just west of the capitol (Which by the way, with the tall tower on the Texas University campus looks just like two smoke stacks).  — So you thought all along that the big field just west of the boilers was to build more plants.  —  Think again.  — I think Lady Bird was planning on causing OG&E to go bankrupt when they had to overpay for the plant.  I don’t think she thought the Corporation Commission would raise the electric rates high enough and we would be forced to abandon the plant.  —  Then Her plan would have went into effect.  She would have taken the T-G building and turned it into a Hotel.  She would have turned the Maintenance shop into an inside tennis court with a couple of fancy restaurants.  Belts 10 and 11 would of course been turned into the world’s largest water slide.  — This plan seems so obvious.  Especially after seeing Austin from a Lady Bird’s Eye View.

What do you think?  I have already heard plans from you guys about making a Cappuccino machine from the turbine steam down in the Maintenance shop.  This only goes to show that the place was literally designed as a resort.  That’s why you always feel like you are on vacation from reality whenever you are at work!!!!  Now you know.

After all these years, I finally have an answer as to why someone would build a plant 7 degrees off of true north.  It just seems so obvious now.

Always thinkin’ at Dell,

Kevin

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Programmer Analyst II

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

 

 

Letters to the Power Plant #10 — Inside Dell

After I left the power plant and went to work for Dell on August 20, 2001, I wrote letters back to my friends at the plant letting them know how things were going.  This is the tenth letter I wrote.  Keep in mind that at the time when I originally penned this letter I didn’t intend on it being posted online.

10/23/01 – Inside Dell

Dear Sooner Friends of Dell,

I hope overhaul is going well for you.  If my memory serves me right, you should just about be done.  The other day my manager gave me a new project, and he said the due date for it was October 2nd, three weeks ago.  I told him that I had heard that Dell was a fast paced company but I was going to have to be a little late getting that project done.

He said, “Welcome to Dell”.  He said he would take me to Starbucks and buy me a Cappuccino or something to help me with my nerves.  I wasn’t sure what he meant, so I took the next step in the Quality process.  I asked him,  “My nerves?”  He replied by saying that after gulping down a few Espressos from Starbucks I’ll be all tuned up and ready to work on this project, and before I know it, I will have had it done three weeks ago.  Starbucks by the way is located just past the lobby and past the bank.  Next to a gift shop.

This morning all of the IT group, (that’s me and 1,800 others – or is the number 3,000 I don’t remember) here in Austin are going to an “All Hands” meeting.  That’s the meeting where last time our CIO Randy Mott gave the guy $100 for asking a question.  I’m supposed to leave here in a few minutes, and that is why I’m taking the time to write a letter.

We all get in buses and go down to some performing arts theater, and they put on a big show about what sorts of projects IT rolled out in the last month.  I think one of my projects was rolled out this past month, so I might get to stand up and present it to the group.  I would tell you what it is about, but since I haven’t written it yet, I’m not sure.

I was told the other day that I am considered an Inside Trader at Dell.  That means that I have access to financial information that is confidential and I’m not allowed to buy or sell Dell stock at certain times of the year  — Like now.  I’m also not allowed to give anyone advice about trading Dell stocks.  — So don’t ask me.  All I will say is:  “Don’t buy Compaq, or Hewlett Packard, or Gateway.”  They don’t have a chance.

Most of the time while I was working at Sooner Plant I was the only “Kevin” there.  When you called me on the radio, all you had to say was “Kevin”.  Here at Dell, there is a lot of Kevins.  They are everywhere.

One out of 10 of the new recruit’s names were Kevin.  I checked the directory the other day, and we have 226 Kevins working at Dell.  I feel like that Italian joke about Luigi.  Someone yells, “Hey Kevin” and 30 heads pop up over the cubicles. (I think they call that “Prairie Dogging” when the heads pop up over the cubicles).  — Actually, people don’t yell around here.

All you usually hear are the sounds of computer keyboards tapping away.  Maybe a groan now and then, (when someone’s program didn’t work the way they thought it would).  And People saying, “Did you hear what Kevin said the other day?  No, not THAT Kevin, that other Kevin.”

By the way.  Our Senior Vice President and probably all time favorite friend of Michael Dell’s name is Kevin Rollins.  I think he’s behind the Kevin Conspiracy at Dell.  I think he’s grabbing up all the Kevins he can find in order to take over the Kevin Market.

That doesn’t quite explain the Flores situation.  Odd as it seems, Noe Flores for years has been the only “Flores” at Sooner plant.  You can say “No Way Flores” (since his name is Noe Flores) and everyone knows exactly who you are talking to.  Dell, however, has 36 Flores’s.  So, Noe, don’t be surprised if you get a call from someone at Dell asking you to come down for an interview.  I think they might be trying to move into the Flores market as well.

Well.  I had better go catch the bus to the All Hands meeting.  “Impulsive”  —  That was the fourth Imp.  Impunity, Impatience, Improvising, and Impulsive.  — I’m surprised none of you replied back with the answer.  That is a good sign I guess.  That probably would have been Impulsive.

Have a good week, and BE CAREFUL!!!!!

Your Pal,

Kevin

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Programmer Analyst II

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

 

Letters to the Power Plant #9 — Boot Camp at Dell

After I left the power plant and went to work for Dell on August 20, 2001, I wrote letters back to my friends at the plant letting them know how things were going.  This is the ninth letter I wrote.  Keep in mind that at the time when I originally penned this letter I didn’t intend on it being posted online.

10/16/01 – Bootcamp at Dell

Dear Friends at Sooner,

Today I officially end my training at Dell’s Bootcamp.  It has been 8 weeks since I started my job here and I can still remember my thoughts the first morning when we had to attend Bootcamp.  Silly me.  I thought, “Bootcamp?  No sweat!!  I’ve been wearing boots for the last 19 years.  Steel toes none-the-less.  This Bootcamp stuff should be a cinch.”

I still didn’t quite understand after the first day when the training coordinator said,  “Kevin, we expect, ‘Business Casual’ attire for bootcamp.”  I said, “No problem.”  I bent down, untied my bootlaces, pulled out on the tongue a little so my feet could breathe better, and pulled my shirt tail out of my pants.    The coordinator became very reverent, and bowing his head ( I think he was praying), he walked away.  I couldn’t figure it out.  I was the only one wearing boots!!!  “What kind of place is this?” I thought.

Anyway.  Bootcamp didn’t have anything to do with boots.  We all wear loafers or some kind of dressy shoes that you can easily slip off under your desk to cool your feet while you program away.  Sometimes you feel like you are in a locker room with the aroma of sweaty feet wafting through the air.

Bootcamp is all about Computer Programming.  I guess they call it Bootcamp because the first thing you do in the morning is go in the training rooms and boot up the computer.  Anyway.  In the last 8 weeks I have been learning new programming languages, and going over some I already knew.  Each Programming language is like speaking a whole different language.  You learn different words that mean doing the same sort of stuff.  Just as in French you may say, “Merci Beaucoup” (that’s pronounced “boo coo” in Oklahoman).  In English that means “Thank You a lot”.  Well programming languages are the same.  In Java I might say something like:

if ((tag.background == ‘#E5E5E5’) || (tag.background == ‘#e5e5e5’)) { tag.background = ‘#CCCCCC’; }

while in Visual Basic this would mean:

if  tag.background = “&E5E5E5” or tag.background = “&e5e5e5” then tag.background = “&CCCCCC” End If

So you see.  You are actually saying the same thing in two different languages.

Well, in bootcamp we have learned a whole lot of different languages in the last 8 weeks, as I have said earlier.  I have put them into different categories so that I can explain them to you further.

The first set of languages I learned, I called the “What!!!” languages.  These are called “C” and “C++” (pronounced “see plus plus”).  That was my first reaction when the instructor said, “Kevin, today you have C and C++.  I said, “What!!!  For 4 years I have made all A’s and I’ve been here only one week and I only have a C and a C++?  By the way (I wondered), is C++ the same thing as a B- (B minus)?”

Then I have what I call the “Shirt Size” languages.  That is XML, XSL, HTML, XHTML, and DHTML.  I figure that XML means, “Extra Medium Large”.  XSL means “Extra Super Large”.  HTML means “Heavy To Medium Large”, XHTML means “Extra Heavy To Medium Large”, and DHTML means, “Damn Heavy To Medium Large”.

Then there are the “Screenplay” languages.  They all have the word “Script in them:  VBScript, JavaScript, and JScript.

Then there are the “Coffee” languages:  Java, Java2 and JavaScript (Ok, so that is in two categories).

Then there are the languages that like to be seen.  They have the word “Visual” in them:  Visual Basic, Visual C++, and  Visual J and Visio.

Then we learned the Dyslexic version of SAP.   We call it:    ASP (which has nothing to do with a snake).

Then we learned the hyperactive languages:  Hypertext Markup Language, Active Server Pages, ActiveX Documents.

So you see, I have become two things in the last 8 weeks.  I have become “Multilingual” (which means I can speak many languages), and I have become very confused.

I started programming an ASP page on one computer and developing a Visual Basic program on my other computer.  The left side of my brain, which controls my right hand is telling it to type one thing, and the right side of my brain which controls my left hand is telling it to type another, and my ASP program is accidentally getting some Visual Basic stuff in it, and my Visual Basic program is getting ASP stuff in it, and I’m falling asleep and dreaming about only getting a C++, and in my dream, my C++ is getting HTML and I feel like I’m wearing a really big shirt and drinking coffee, and getting all hyper, and I keep thinking about the Reeses commercial where they kept getting peanut butter in the chocolate, and chocolate in the peanut butter, and that maybe if I merge it all together I will come up with a whole new language that will not only do all the jobs you want to do, but will taste great at the same time.

And all this leads to some confusion.  Especially when I present my programs to my Manager, and there is chocolate and peanut butter and coffee stains all over the keyboard and I pull out a really really big shirt from one of my drawers to wipe it all off.

Anyway.  Bootcamp was over today.  We had a party.  Ate Cake.  Received Diplomas.  Had a group Picture.  Gave High Fives.  My manager shook my hand (then wiped the chocolate off on my long shirt tail).  Now I am back in my cubicle getting ready to go home.

I hope everyone is doing well at Sooner.  Keep in touch.

Your Dell Buddy,

Kevin Breazile

Pro-Rambler/Analyst II

Letters to the Power Plant #8 — Overhaul at Dell

After I left the power plant and went to work for Dell on August 20, 2001, I wrote letters back to my friends at the plant letting them know how things were going.  This is the eighth letter I wrote.  Keep in mind that at the time when I originally penned this letter I didn’t intend on it being posted online.

10/5/01 – Overhaul at Dell

Dear Sooner friends,

I think I need to get more sleep.  Sometimes I think that I’m not quite aware of my surroundings.  This morning while I was eating breakfast and staring at the calendar, I realized that it was the first Friday in October.  Now, we all know what that means.  So I grabbed some plastic trash bags and duct tape and left for work.  I guess I got there a little early.  It was around 7:00, and no one stirs around here until around 8:00.  So I just started working.  By the time my Manager came in the door, I had covered all the lights and receptacles in my cubicle with plastic and I had my one of my monitors on the floor in pieces with a makeshift hold tag tied to the electric cord.

He immediately became interested in what I was doing.  I could tell by the increase in the volume of his voice that he was excited.  Which is to be expected at a time like this.  He asked me why I was doing what I was doing and I reassured him that I was only going through one computer — of course.  I figured I would do the next one sometime in April or May, or I might even postpone it until NEXT October if I had to.  I explained to him that I didn’t have a true RMS multimeter, because I gave it a coworker (Scott) when I left OG&E, but I could calculate it on my other computer because I had written a program to do that.

He had a strange puzzled look on his face so I said, “It IS overhaul, isn’t it?”  He shook his head in both horizontal directions and when I lifted up on my feet and looked around at the cubicles, I noticed that no one else had covered their cubicles with plastic to keep washdown water off of their computer accessories and fixtures. — When I looked up at the ceiling where the ceiling tiles have been removed to make room for the surveillance cameras, I could easily see spotlessly clean cable trays full of pretty yellow network cables. My manager grabbed me by the shoulders and started to shake me. — It was about that time that Kelly woke me up to go to work and I realized that I had just been dreaming the whole thing.

I still wasn’t sure it had all been a dream while I was on the way to work because I began to notice that everywhere I looked it appeared as if bottom ash had been scattered all over the ground.  I was puzzled when I arrived at work and I asked our Administrative Assistant, (that is ‘clerk’ in Soonerese, we recognize their importance by calling them “Administrative Assistants”, anyway, I asked her…), what that stuff was all over the ground.  She asked me to explain to her what I was talking about, so I went outside and got a handful of the bottom ash looking stuff and brought it in the building.  She looked at it.  Then looked at me.  Then she said in what I thought was a rather arrogant tone, “It’s dirt.”

What!!  I thought dirt was Red!!!  What kind of pallid pasty dirt is this?  It looks like dirt that has had all of it’s useful minerals squeezed out of it until all that is left is…. well…. bottom ash!!  I wonder how they get anything to grow here.  I guess they just fertilize the heck out of everything. — “Oh,” I said, “Dirt”.  — “I knew that.”  — “I’ll just go back to my cubicle now, and program something”  “Have a good day”.  Then the Administrative Assistant, I’ll call her Ginger from now on, since that is her name, said, “Remember.  At one o’clock today, we are all singing Happy Birthday to our Vice President in the Houston Conference Room.”  I told her I would be there.  And I was.  And we had cake and Ice cream, and sang Happy Birthday, and he acted surprised, and I just got back from there a little while ago and I’m still wondering what to do with my pointy party hat.

Anyway.  It may be that I’m not getting enough sleep, or maybe it’s that I’m getting too much.  I’m not used to getting up so late in the morning.  I guess it’s just something that I’ll have to get used to.  Also, my drive to work is so short (7 minutes), I feel like driving around the parking lot a few times when I get to work, just to give myself time to prepare for the day.  But then, it’s easier to get ready for these days, than the ones I am used to.

Well, I know that overhaul is starting for you guys, and I am really sorry I can’t be there…. no really…….  oh ok…. So I’m not.  Anyway.  Everyone work safe.  Don’t let anyone rush you into anything unsafe.  Watch out for the Yellow Flag.  Keep away from the 4 imps, (improvising, impunity, impatience, and imp….  uh, imp…..  Oh, I can’t remember it.  I guess I’ll just say it’s “impossible”  — maybe one of you guys could jog my memory.)

Note to Reader:  To learn more about the four Imps, see this post:  Power Plant Imps and Accident Apes.

Anyway. (I have found that starting a new paragraph with the word “Anyway” has become a habit).  I’ll talk to you later.

Your Friend,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

Programmer/Analyst II

Letters to the Power Plant #7 — The Straight Scoop

After I left the power plant and went to work for Dell on August 20, 2001, I wrote letters back to my friends at the plant letting them know how things were going.  This is the seventh letter I wrote.  Keep in mind that at the time, I didn’t intend on it being posted online when I originally penned this letter.

10/1/01 – The Straight Scoop at Dell

Dear PreOverhaul workers,

Linda asked me how much of what I had said in my letter about my meeting with the CIO was true.  I wrote this letter back to her.  Then when Annette told me that she had tried the mouse in the sock thing, but couldn’t quite get it to work, I thought I would send everyone a copy of the letter, so everyone could get the straight scoop.

My Letter:

Well, let’s see.  I did have a meeting with the CIO Randy Mott, and he does have a cubicle just like everyone else including Michael Dell and their cubicles are twice as big as mine.  Randy was named CIO of the Year this year.  He talked with a handful of us for about 2 hours, where we sat around a table and chit-chatted about all sorts of proprietary things that I can’t talk about.  He did start as a programmer at Wal-Mart.  —  A couple of weeks ago we had a BIG meeting with Randy, and when the first person asked a question, Randy gave him a Hundred dollar bill, right out of his wallet.

I did have lunch with my Vice President, along with 5 others, and we did go to a restaurant called, “On The Border”, and he paid, and we did sit and talk for an hour an a half.  I did eat a lot, even though I said I didn’t.

My team was playing football when I got back from lunch, and they did have free root beer.  And the room is as big as the entire maintenance shop, except that it has carpet.

We do have breakfast every Friday morning, and we may dress casually on Fridays, except that I don’t.  I enjoy being dressed up (for a change).

My Manager did walk by my cubicle and say that he thought he told me to go home early.  I told him that I was just writing a letter to some friends of mine.

I didn’t really do the mouse in the sock thing.  I already knew how to use Hot Keys, so Randy didn’t tell me that.  I only made that up to make the story more interesting.  Since all that other fun stuff must seem boring to Sooner employees who have an adventure every 15 minutes.  It is very fun working here, and very fast paced, and the Managers clear up to the President try to figure out how to make our jobs better all the time. (Quite a change huh?)

Your friend,

Kevin

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