Letters to the Power Plant #102 — Dell Learning and Learning and Learning

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 one hundred and second 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.

8/13/04 – Dell Learning and Learning and learning….

Dear Soonerites and associates,

Everything is going pretty good down here.  That is… I still have a job.  Dell is growing rapidly.  I’m getting used to my new job as each day goes by.

Interestingly, even though I’m on the support team, I keep getting assigned to new projects.  Right now I’m on 5 different projects.  Three of which I’m the main developer.  One of my projects goes live next Monday, so that will make things easier.

They are going to send me back to Dallas in September for some more training on Oracle Financials so that I can start writing programs for that in the future.  Oh boy!!!  I can’t wait.  For those of you who know me well, you know I like writing programs.

They don’t even have to be really fancy ones.  Just things like some HR Supervisor getting sucked down a whirlpool or a fish jumping out of the water, or an e-mail telling you who has a birthday today.  Just as long as I get to program something I’m happy.

Note to reader:  To learn more about the HR Supervisor being sucked down the whirlpool read the post Hitting the Power Plant HR Cardboard Ceiling.  To learn more about the birthday emails see the post Power Plant Birthday Phantom.

Actually, I’ve been doing more programming since I have been on the Support team than I was doing on the Development team.  I think I was doing more of the paperwork on the development team than programming.  Moving to the support team is supposed to be “good for my career”.

If you move around and do the different roles, then you become more familiar with all the aspects that are important in writing good programs.  For instance, now that I’m on the Support Team, I am not necessarily so thrilled that when I was on the development team, I wrote a program that after you stayed logged on for a time, but didn’t use the application, it started snoring, and then it started making a tapping sound, like it was trying to wake you up.

Well.  Being on the support team has taught me that when I write programs, I don’t need to add all those extra features into the program because the users do enough of that already.  —  I mean the snoring part and the tapping on something to wake you up (like when you are in an “eye-lock” and staring off into space), not the “adding features to the program” part.

Other training that I will be doing in the near future is “Safety Training”.  I am signed up to take a CPR course.  —  Actually, we have a bigger chance here that someone will suddenly drop dead than we ever had at Sooner Plant.

For one thing, we have a couple of thousand people in our building.  Second, the stress level is a lot higher around here than it is at the Plush and Oasis-like environment of the Sooner Plant Resort.

I have lost count of the number of times I’ve seen an ambulance pull up at the front door to rush someone off to the hospital.  —  Of course we do have a higher recovery rate here than you have at Sooner Plant.  One reason is that they have a really good Heart Hospital not too far away from Dell, and at Sooner Plant, the only choice you have when you are put in an ambulance at Sooner is to end up at the Ponca City Hospital!!  And we all know what that means.  “Whenever anyone goes in.  They never come out”.  —  It has been a few years since I have taken CPR, so it is about time.

Next week I will have been gone from Sooner Plant for Three Years!!!!  Does it seem that long to you?  (I know.  I know.  Three years of not having to put up with my rantings and ravings.  Three years of relative calm, and lack of controversy).

August 20 is my anniversary.  — This means that next year, I will get an extra week of vacation.  —  I like that idea.  I already get four more days off by being on the support team (because they feel sorry for us —  though I don’t know why).  And I get 5 or six days off for Christmas break.  —  So I’m just about up to 5 weeks of vacation again, which is what I would have had if I had stayed at Sooner.

Our “Boot Camp” group is going out to lunch next Friday to celebrate our 3 year anniversary.  I have been talking to some of them, and no one feels like they have been here for 3 years.  —  Of course, some of them haven’t had any sleep for 3 years either.

I have a knack of scheduling time to sleep in my Outlook Calendar so no one schedules a meeting for me between 10:30 in the evening until 8:00 in the morning.  —  That’s using “Time Management” to improve my “Work-Life Balance”.

I am taking some training next week called “Effective Business Presentation Skills”.  It is a two day class at a meeting room in a hotel down the highway.  Just think of the kinds of PowerPoints I will be able to come up with after I take this course!!!  —  Gee!  If only I had those skills when I left Sooner.  I might have been able to make a “really good presentation” at my going-away party.

Note to Reader:  To learn more about the presentation at my going away party see the post Power Plant Final Presentation.

Well.  This letter has gotten a little long, and you guys have been bored since I said “Everything is going pretty good down here.”  So I should probably wrap this up.

It was good hearing from some of you last week.  When you write, It really makes my day.  Of course those people coming by my cubicle to see what strange thing is going on today, get a kick out of reading over my shoulder at all the things that happen up there in Soonerland.  —  It’s good to hear from you guys.

Keep up the good work, and don’t let the bed bugs bite,

Your friendly Dell Programmer,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile


Kevin J. Breazile

Global Financial Systems I/T

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #103 — OSHA 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 one hundred and third 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.

9/2/04 – OSHA at Dell

Hey Sooner friends, and friends of Sooneridians,

Last week was interesting.  OSHA came and inspected our building to see if we were complying with all the OSHA regulations.  Of course we were.  They gave us some Star or some kind of Plaque to put on our wall down at the front entrance to say that we were a “Stellar Site”!!!

I was invited to eat lunch with the OSHA team twice last week.  The OSHA people asked us to tell them stories about when we did something dangerous and/or was almost killed.  My biggest problem was figuring out which story to tell them.  I had so many.  I finally settled on telling everyone about the first time I ever went inside the Precipitator.

It was when I was on the Labor Crew and Bill Rivers told me (and Curtis Love) to go in the precipitator and wipe down insulators on the sides of the hoppers.  Bill told us not to drop anything in the hopper or we would have to go get it because we couldn’t leave anything in there or it would clog up the feeder at the bottom.

I confidently told Rivers that I wasn’t going to drop anything.  This was when the fly ash suits were not very good.  They only went down to your ankles and didn’t have a hood or elastic around your wrist.  They were basically useless.

So anyway.  I went in the precipitator and worked my way back with flashlight in one hand and a scotch brite pad in the other.  I climbed down onto the edge of the first hopper that I was going to work on.  The hoppers at the top are 12 feet by 12 feet square.

It happened to be full of ash up to about two feet from the top.  I sat down and started scrubbing the insulator with the scotch brite pad when “bloop”, I dropped my yellow flashlight in the hopper.  It disappeared into the ash, and it was suddenly very dark in there.  Well.  The first thing I thought was, “So that’s why Bill had a string tied to his flashlight.”

Well, anyway.  I leaned forward and reached down into the ash trying to feel for the flashlight.  I couldn’t find it, so I thought it must have sunk farther down in the ash.  So I slid down into the hopper holding onto the edge by one hand and reaching down into the ash with my other hand.

I reached down far enough that the side of my head was laying on the ash and clogging up one half of my half face respirator (yeah.  This was before I had a Full Face Respirator.  This only covered my mouth and my nose).  Anyway.  I thought maybe it had gone a little farther over to the left, so I climbed around the side of the hopper reaching down into the ash, and at one point I was hanging on by only a couple of fingers when I thought, “maybe I ought to just bail off into the ash and find that flashlight.”

I made my way back to the ledge where I had been sitting.  My eyes were starting to get used to the pitch dark, so that I wasn’t bumping into things anymore.  And I climbed out of the hopper and made my way back to the door on the side of the precipitator.  —  I was covered with fly ash from my head to my toes.  It was hard to breathe through my respirator because I had clogged it all up with ash.

Anyway.  I went and told Bill Rivers that I had dropped my flashlight into the hopper, and I showed him which one.  So he gave me a key and a big hammer and told me to go down and open up the door on the side of the hopper and see if I could get it out.

So Curtis Love and I went down and opened up the door.  As soon as we opened the door, out flowed a huge stream of ash, re-covering me with fly ash so that I looked pretty much like an albino.

The ash poured through the grating and made a big pile on the ground below.  It was then that I realized that if I had bailed off into that ash, I would have been suffocated right quick.  I hadn’t realized how deep the hopper was.

Anyway.  After all the ash came pouring out there still wasn’t a flashlight.  So I started digging out the ash from the hopper below the door.  I dug and dug until I had my whole body upside down inside the hopper and Curtis Love was holding my legs and I was reaching down into the throat of the hopper which was an 8 inch pipe.

I could just feel the flashlight with the tips of my finger when all of the sudden my whole head went dipping down into the remaining ash as Curtis let go of my legs.  I grabbed the flashlight, and my newly cleaned respirator was again all of the sudden clogged with ash and I couldn’t breathe.

I was so furious.  I backed myself out of the hole by pushing against the hopper walls, all while trying unsuccessfully to breathe through the respirator and hold onto the flashlight.

I came out of the hopper door all ready to jump all over Curtis when he said, “I’m sorry Kevin, I’m sorry.  Those guys were tickling me.  I’m sorry, I couldn’t help it.  They were tickling me and I couldn’t help it.  I”m sorry.  I didn’t mean to let go.  I’m sorry.  Kevin, I’m sorry.”

So what could I say?  —  anyway.  I recovered the flashlight, and I didn’t die.  So there were two good things that came out of that.  —  By the way.  I never dropped a flashlight a hopper again.  —  But isn’t that interesting that the flashlight fell through over 10 feet of ash down into the throat of the hopper?

Note to Reader:  To learn more about my adventure that day in the fly ash see the post Angel of Death Passes by the Precipitator Door.

Well.  I didn’t tell this whole story to OSHA.  Just the part about my climbing around looking for my flashlight at the top of the hopper and almost bailing off into the fly ash.

I do have a few other stories about near death experiences and Curtis Love.  I don’t know if you guys would want to hear about them or not.  Anyway.  This letter has been way overdue for an ending, so I’ll just finish it here.

Stay Safe!!!

Your friend from Dell,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile


Kevin J. Breazile

Global Financial Systems I/T

Dell Inc.

Letters to the Power Plant #104 — Quick Note from 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 one hundred and fourth 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.

9/17/04 – Quick Note from Dell

Dear Sooneridians and friends,

I have just kicked off a database job and I am sitting here watching it hoping that it will finish before it is time to go home.  So I thought I would take this opportunity to write to you to tell you how things are going down here.  Congratulations to Toby for getting his new position!!!!  That’s great.  Now maybe he will stop moving around from job to job every two years.

Note to reader:  To learn more about Toby O’Brien, see the post “Toby Teaches Power Plant Time Management.

I went to some more training this week.  I went to one class called, “Building better I/T Client Relationships”.  We learned all sorts of neat ways that you approach different people in order to get them interested in what you are trying to get them to do.

They said that people fall into 4 different categories.  Some are Analyzers, others are Facilitators, then there are Promoters, and there are also Controllers.  —  I thought.  Hmmmmm.  I wonder which category some of my old bosses would be in?

Well let’s see.  There was the Equipment Support Supervisor.  He was definitely a Controller.  Then there was the Human Resources Supervisor.  She was definitely a Controller.  Then there was the plant manager,  He was undoubtedly a Controller.  —  Gee that about sums it up.  Doesn’t it?

Well.  That means that there is only one way to deal with all these “leaders”.  That’s right.  Sit back and watch them all try to control everyone else.  It’s kinda fun when you think about it.  With all that controlling going on, there wasn’t much room left to “Facilitate”.  —  Anyway.  I’ll stop all this Psychology sounding talk and get on to more pleasant conversation.

You realize that when the database job finishes, I’m outta here, so if I suddenly end this letter without so much as a “How-do-you-do”, you’ll know why.  So I’ll just say all that now before the job finishes.  “I hope you guys are doing great!  Write when you can.  Your Friendly Dell Programmer,  Kevin James Anthony Breazile”.  There.  Now I don’t have to worry about putting that at the end of the letter when my job finishes.

I normally wouldn’t start a job running like this, but my manager sent me an e-mail a little while ago and he said that we were about ready to run out of licenses for our timekeeping application and he was wondering if I could run some sort of database job on the application and terminate a bunch of useless employees.  —  Well.  He didn’t quite word it like that.

He said he was wondering if I could terminate a bunch of employees in Kronos that haven’t used the application since the beginning of the year so that we could free up some licenses for all the new people we are hiring.  —  We have started hiring all those people in Oklahoma City, and other places, and we are in the middle of…..  Oh.  I better not talk about that.

I just saw a big burly guy walk down the main aisle, and I suppose he’s coming over here to check what I’m saying so I don’t spill the beans about anything that is “Confidential”.  So I won’t.  Anyway.  I wrote this SQL statement (that’s stuff that databases like).  —  Oh.  My job just completed…….

Oh.  I can’t help it…..

I hope everything is going well with you guys.  Let me know how you are doing when you get the chance.  Talk to you later.

Your friendly Dell Programmer,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile


Kevin J. Breazile

Global Financial Services I/T

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #105 — Well 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 one hundred and fifth 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.

10/7/04 – Well At Dell

Dear Sooner Plant Friends and Friends from everywhere else,

—  No.  I know you all are curious to know if we found a new “well” at Dell because of the subject line.  —  No.  Boy!  Some of you farmers are Soooo predictable.  Geez!!

That has to do with Dell’s concern that we all stay healthy here. —  I’m just telling you about the “Well at Dell” thing that we’re doing here, because after being here for over three years I have finally gotten my first hardhat sticker from Dell!!!  Yeah.  Really.  It says, “Well at Dell, Know Your Numbers”.

Ok.  So down here it’s more like a “binder” sticker, or a “laptop” sticker than it is a Hardhat sticker, but it’s the thought that counts, and I “thought” it was a hardhat sticker when they gave it to me.

It’s talking about your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and body fat.  They came around and took our blood yesterday.  It was almost as easy as if they had a cart come right by your cubicle.

You just walked up to one person and they took your blood pressure, then this other guy took some blood, then you had to take off your socks and shoes and everything from your pockets and you had to stand on this thing that looked like a bathroom scale, only it was better than that.  It somehow calculated your body fat.

I would tell you what it said about my body fat, only I quickly forgot.  That happens sometimes you know.  Besides, I figured that most of the fat was in my head anyway and there wasn’t much I could do about that.

Not only did I get a bunch of free blood work, I also took a class last week for CPR and First Aid.  And the Red Cross gave me a “First Aid Fanny Pack” so when someone gets a cut, or a heart attack, I can run up there with my red bag strapped to my waist and everyone will automatically know that I have been “medically trained”.

They also send people to school to become a First Responder.  I think I’m going to take that next year.  —  They will pay for it.  We have so many people in these buildings where I work that the odds are pretty good that someone is going to need the aid of CPR.

Oh yeah.  We have the AEDs too.  The Automatic External Defibrillators.  I was trained in those last week too.  So I feel almost as safe as I did when I was on the Confined Space Rescue team, except that they didn’t teach us how to tie different sorts of knots in a rope.

I wasn’t sure if it was real “safety training” since they didn’t teach us how to tie a double figure-8 follow-through.  The Safety instructor had all sorts of “horror” stories just like Randy Dailey used to have, so I figured it must have been a real safety class even if we didn’t tie a bunch of knots behind our backs with the lights out.

Note to Reader:  To learn more about Randy Dailey and the Confined Space Rescue team see the post Power Plant Confined Space Rescue Team Takes It to the Next Level.

The latest Off-site we had was the week-before-last.  Our team went out to watch a movie.  It was called Collateral.  It was “ok”.  The best part was that we went to that movie theater where you get to eat dinner while you’re watching the movie.

So as we were watching all the blood and guts on the movie screen, we were snarfing down a bunch of pizza and drinking Dr. Pepper.  —  I think I was able to eat three more pieces of pizza than I normally would because I was drinking “Diet” Dr. Pepper!!!

Well.  I’d better get ready for my next meeting.  It’s a one-on-one with my manager.  I’ll write later. —  I figure you guys are all on overhaul now anyway.  The other day when the wind was blowing from the north, I thought I got a whiff of the precipitator when it starts to smell sour.  —  Well, at least the weather is cool.  Let me know how things are going.

Note to Reader:  To learn about how the precipitator turns sour see the post What’s That Strange Power Plant Smell?

Your Well friend from Dell,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile


Kevin J. Breazile

Global Financial Services I/T

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #106 — Shivering 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 one hundred and sixth 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.

10/14/04 – Shivering At Dell

Hello once again Friends at Sooner Plant and the vast beyond,

Boy.  It is fffreeezzziinnggg down here.  It made it all the way down in the 60s today.  And with that wind, it was quite nippy.  I almost thought about putting on a long sleeve shirt, but before I could think about it, I thought about breakfast, and quickly forgot to put on a long sleeve shirt.  —  That’s ok, ’cause it’s just the perfect temperature for a short sleeve shirt in my cubicle.

I had two projects go into production last night, which was fun.  I installed one from one of my computers while I was installing the other with my other computer.  I was doing the “using both mice at the same time” thing, (which I’ve gotten pretty good at doing since I’ve been working at Dell).

This morning both of my project managers were happy because everything turned out all right.  —  About a month ago when our new Oklahoma City site opened up, I was able to “rollout” Kronos to that site without doing anything.  It just went right on in there without any problem.

This afternoon we have a “All-Hands” meeting with our Director.  Since it’s my birthday this month, we get to have cake and everyone is going to sing “Happy Birthday”.  They asked me last week what kind of cake I wanted, and they gave me this big long list of options.

I chose the following cake:  French Vanilla cake with Bavarian Cream filling and Chocolate Butter cream icing.  —  Gee.  That sounded too good to pass up.

It’s ok though.  I worked off the extra “fat” by walking up and down the stairway one extra time today — when I ran out to McDonald’s to get my lunch (2 double cheeseburgers —  You know.  Double Cheeseburgers at McDonald’s are only one dollar a piece!!).  —  See.  I’m trying to be “healthy” and frugal, and have my cake and eat it too!!!!

Tomorrow we are going to have an All-Hands meeting with our Vice President.  We are going to a place called Carlos and Charlies.  I don’t know what kind of place it is, but it’s over at Lake Travis and they said there was going to be a surprise, so I’m curious.  It’s one of those all day things, so I’ll let you know how it goes.

Well.  I’m turning 44 on Monday.  Yep.  Some of you might remember when I first showed up at Sooner Plant the first time in the summer of 1979 when I was 18 years old.

It seems like Ray Eberle was working for Brown and Root that summer.  —  I’m not sure if he was there that summer or came the following summer….I remember that because I remember Bill Gibson having this very interesting drawl that he would go into where when he would tell stories, he would start to drag out his sentences in a funny way, and after marveling at that for a few weeks, I heard him talking to this Brown and Root guy (Ray), that was talking the same exact way!!

I thought that was kind of neat that these guys had their own special way of talking when they were telling stories.  And everyone knows that Bill Gibson can tell stories.  I couldn’t believe how many jokes Bill Gibson could tell.  I thought after a couple of months that he would run out and start repeating them, but he just kept on coming up with new ones for 20 years.

Anyway.  I remember working with Jerry Mitchell, Sonny Karcher and Larry Riley a lot that summer.  They didn’t have a yard crew yet, so I was able to work in the Maintenance shop as a helper.  I remember the last couple of weeks of that summer working with Aubrey Cargill (what ever happened to Aubrey?)and Ben Hutchinson gathering up driftwood and boards that had washed up on those long dikes out in the lake and throwing them into the new dump truck.  We were kind of “breaking it in”.

It was the truck that Dee Ball wrecked when he went to Oklahoma City to pick it up and brought it back with a dent right down the front because he had run off the road and hit one of those reflectors when his cigarette fell down between his legs while he was driving down the Interstate.

I also remember working with Dee Ball.  Every time he would get in a vehicle he would end up tearing it up some way or other, or at least getting it stuck somewhere.  Marlin McDaniel was the A foreman and Orville Ferguson was the Supervisor.  Since I worked for Marlin McDaniel, he would assign me to whatever crew needed help (after I had finished sweeping (or shoveling) out the maintenance shop each morning), or where I would get in the least amount of trouble.

I still have a list somewhere at home that I made when Larry Riley and Sonny Kendrick told me to go to the Tool room and get some tools.  They told me that I needed to get a 3/4 come-along.  As soon as they said that, I thought I’d better write this down, because this is going to be a really funny joke, and I’ll want to remember it.

So I wrote down 3/4 come-along, and a 3/4 box end, and a large bastard file (uh huh.  I knew they were pulling my leg right off).  Then they said they needed a 4 foot soft choker and a 1/2 inch shackle.  —  That was the first thing I had heard of before, after all, a shackle IS something that you put on someone’s ankle when you throw them in a dungeon.

So I went up to Bud Schoonover (meeting him for the first time), and I leaned on the window and said with a grin, “I need a 3/4 come-along”.  —  I was surprised when he turned around, took a few steps and grabbed some contraption that had chains and hooks and a handle hanging in every direction and he handed it to me (Yeah.  That was in the days when there was plenty of tools in the tool room and Bud would actually give them to you).

So I went down my list and he gave me all those things.  Boy.  So I thought, this wasn’t a joke after all.  —  I began to think that it was  joke a little while later as we carried all these things down to the bottom of Belt 2.  I was thinking about those shackles and the choker and how this was looking more and more like a dungeon as we descended down into the darkness.

I remember working with Dale Hull.  He was interesting.  He had aligned the tires on his car himself and got over 100,000 miles on one set of tires, so I thought he must know what he’s doing.

I also remember that someone was selling 100 pound bags of potatoes that summer, so I split a bag with Ray Butler.  I took those 50 pounds of Potatoes home and we ate potatoes until they were growing out of our ears (oh.  Wait, that’s what happens when you don’t clean your ears. —  Never mind).

Anyway.  It was that summer that I learned how to eat raw potatoes.  It’s like eating a turnip. (Did you ever wonder why they call them “turn ups?” — Oh.  Neither did I.  I was just wondering if you did).

Oh My Gosh!!!  (That’s OMG if you are chatting with someone online).  Look what I’ve done!  I certainly didn’t plan on writing an aimlessly rambling letter to you guys when I first started.  I was just going to tell you about the cold weather that we’re having.

Yeah.  That’s all I had to talk about.  —  The weather.  —  Go figure.  Anyway.  I think all that cold air whistling through my ears must have done something to my brain.  —  Yeah.  I think it did.

I’m bobbing my head back and forth now and I can hear something rolling around in there (and the guy in the cubicle across the aisle snickering).  If I get the motion down just right I can hear something bouncing off both sides of my skull like a ping pong ball.  Hey!  That’s kinda neat.  —  Did I mention that it was Ramblin’ Ann’s Birthday today?  —  Well if it isn’t, it should be, ’cause I’m celebrating it!!!!!

Your friendliest Dell Programmer and Support person,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile


Kevin J. Breazile

Global Financial Services I/T

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #107 — More Training 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 one hundred and seventh 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.

10/26/04 – More Training At Dell

Hey Soonerites!!  And friends of Sooner Plantians,

Well.  I thought I would take a minute to drop a line to you guys (that’s fishin’ lingo, ’cause I know how much some of you like to fish) to see how you’re doin’ up there.  I was in training all last week taking another .NET class.  (See?  I knew that .NET would peak your “Fishin’ Interest”).

Actually.  The .NET course had to do with the .NET computer programming language called C# (sharp).  You may have remembered me mentioning this before.  Well.  That’s where I was all last week.

The week before that was when we had the VP off-site, and we went to this place at Lake Travis and messed around all afternoon.  After 2:00 in the afternoon they said we could drink all the Margueritas and beers that we wanted as long as we were safe driving home.

Yeah.  Like how many would that be?  They had a boat that we would take a long ride around the lake.  —  The biggest surprise for me was that the Vice President gave me another award.  I had gotten one last quarter for “Customer Experience”, so I wasn’t expecting another one (so soon — you know how managers like to pass the awards around so no one feels left out).

Anyway.  It was actually a team award, and I just happened to be on that team.  So we each received the “Vice President’s Leadership Award”.  That was because I was on the team that implemented CMM.

CMM stands for Capability Maturity Model.  So now that you know that, I’m sure everything is clear.  I can hear you now saying to yourself, “Oh!  CMM.  Capability Maturity Model.  That explains it.”

Actually, our group was the first organization at Dell to Achieve CMM Level 2.  Which is a big thing if you are an IT person.  We are on our way to Level 3. —  I know.  (bowing), I have accidentally impressed you with my greatness……Hey…. You didn’t have to……WELL!!!!  Some people just don’t know how to accept the fact that some are at CMM Level 2, and others are NOT!!!!

Anyway.  I should change the subject.  —  I noticed the last time that I sent a letter to all you guys that a particular donut-eating person no longer had a valid e-mail address.  I had heard that this was the case, but no one so far has offered any information as to why this would be the case.  Which just makes me wonder all the more.  I have a theory, and I’m just waiting to see if it pans out.

I had a strange dream about the Precipitator the other night (How’s that for changing the subject?).  It was during overhaul and the entire roof of the Precipitator had been removed to do some major “overhaul” for some reason.

Well, for some reason, my cat was up there chasing around a mouse, and there was fly ash caked up all around the top, and I was walking around up there like I was supposed to be looking for something, but I don’t remember what it was (you know how dreams are).

Anyway, At one point, I was standing on a real long ladder that went all the way from the ground to the top of the precipitator (about 100 feet — for those who haven’t seen it), and I was trying to hold on to the top of the precipitator on the corner and my cat was dodging in and out chasing that mouse, and I was doing everything I could to keep that long ladder from falling off and trying to grab the cat every time it came close enough.  — Pretty weird huh?  Well.  You know how dreams are.

Well.  I had better get back to whatever it is that I’m supposed to be doing.  Oh.   Yeah.  That’s right.  I’m supposed to be doing something.

I hope all of you are having a good day.  Stay safe.

Your friendly Dell Programmer,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile


Kevin J. Breazile

Global Financial Services I/T

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #108 — Support Rat 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 one hundred and 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.

10/29/04 – Support Rat at Dell

Sooner Plantians and friends from Afar,

I know I just wrote the other day. And I know a lot has happened since then when I was asking what happened to the doughnut man.  And I am very sad for a person that I always considered a good friend, Gary Morris.

I just had to write today and let you guys know what I found in my cubicle this morning.  When I opened my cabinet a few minutes ago to change CDs in my laptop so that I could listen to Gregorian Chants instead of The Four Seasons (by Vivaldi), I found that someone had put a rubber rat  with a grimacing face in my cabinet all dressed up for Halloween.

The rat is about 8 inches standing up on its hind legs.  It is wearing a little felt wizard hat with a spider on it, and a little shawl with witches and stars on it and it’s tied together with a little red bow.  Pinned on it’s chest is a miniature Dell badge of the person that this rat was first given to (so I have found out).  Around the rat’s waist is an orange ribbon that is tied to a little pumpkin bag like the rat is going trick-or-treating.

Inside the bag is a packet of picante sauce from Whataburger.  On one of the ears, the rat has an earring that is holding the earplug of a little Dell radio strapped to the orange ribbon around his waste.  The Dell Radio is blue and says “Dell Memory” on the side.

It is actually a real radio that has a button on the side that you can push which turns on a little teeny flashlight (which would be great if you are in your storm shelter and you need to see something without going blind by turning on a ‘real’ flashlight’.  —  You guys in Oklahoma know what I’m talking about, but I don’t have a storm shelter down here).

So, why do I bother to tell you guys about this?  The guy across the aisle from me knew about this rat, though it was the first time I had ever seen it.  He said that it is given to “Support Rats”.  And now that I’m in support, I was fair game to receive The “Support Rat”.

Now some of you are already nodding your heads (and I’m not talking about you guys that are nodding off to sleep because you fail to see the relevance of all this).  Charles Foster, Scott Hubbard and I always worked on the Precipitator during overhaul while all you guys that worked in the boiler used to get all kinds of stickers and recognition by obtaining the extinguished honor of being called a “Boiler Rat”.

Charles, Scott and I never had that privilege, and I always felt like we were being left out of that special club only because we were working on plates and wires while most of you guys were lucky enough to be in the boiler repairing boiler tubes and riding up and down on skyclimbers.

So when it was explained to me that I was given the honor of being the “Support Rat”, you can imagine how hard it was to fight back the tears that were welling up in my eyes.  —  Someone really does care about us guys after all!!

I knew you would want to hear about this so that it would brighten up your day too as it has mine.

Your friendly Dell Programmer,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile


Kevin J. Breazile

Global Financial Services I/T

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #109 — Dellections are Over

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 one hundred and 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.

11/5/04 – Dellections are Over

Dear Soonerites and other friends and Roomies,

Aren’t you guys glad that those elections are over?  Boy!  I know some of you must be licking your wounds, but all I can say is that “I’m sure glad that is over!!!”  Most of you know that I’m a die-hard Republican  (I didn’t talk to my dad for a month when I was 12 in 1972 when he voted for McGovern), so you have an idea how I feel.  Now I can go get some sleep.

You have probably noticed that when I start my letters to you guys at Sooner Plant, that I usually mention that I am sending this letter to other “Friends”.  You don’t see them because I send this as a blind copy because the list is so long that if you printed out the e-mail and I had included the names in the “To” section, the names would probably fill a quarter of the page.

I was thinking about it the other day, and I realized that of all the friends I ever had in my life, I can pretty safely say that they are my friends today.  —  Well, there’s one guy that’s questionable, and I haven’t talked to him in over 18 years so I don’t really even know what happened to him for sure.

Anyway.  The oldest (I mean “longest”) two friends that I ever had are on this e-mail list.  I met them when I was in the second grade.  They are still friends with each other and they live in Columbia Missouri where I grew up.  There’s actually a third person who used to live in Columbia that is on this list that I knew from the 3rd grade thru College.  We actually graduated together with Psychology degrees.  She went on to become a computer programmer, and I went on to become a janitor.

One of those friends.  I’ll call him Mark, since that is his name, was the first person that I met when I moved to Columbia when I was entering the 2nd grade.  I think when you’re about that age, you’re finally old enough that your friends become more important to you than when you’re younger.  I think that because I don’t remember having any friends before that age, though I know that I did have some.

Anyway, I went to school with these guys through High School, except for three years when I went to Catholic School.  The one thing I remember about both of these guys is that they both were people that I didn’t have to think twice about whether or not I could trust them, because they always acted honorably. —  I know that they may remember times when they might not have done exactly what was right, but I know that they were both really good people.  —  Better than I was.  Anyway, I just thought I would mention them since they are always in my prayers, and I wish them both well.

Then there are those people on my e-mail list that work at other plants.  There’s my ol’ roomie that I lived with in a trailer during a long Muskogee overhaul.  Then there’s TOBEEEEEEE!!!!  And a handful of others that I consider friends who probably hit the delete button before they even open my letters because they don’t see the sense in reading my long rambling letters.  Then there’s my friend that we harassed down at Corporate Headquarters when Mike Gibbs and I were down there on the SAP project.

For all of you who don’t know about Sooner Plant and have been wondering who all these people are that I keep talking about:  Sooner Plant is the best coal-burning power plant in the country, which probably means that it’s the best one in the whole world.

We used to get jackets and stuff each year because we had the lowest operating costs of all the power plants in the country.  We could produce electricity cheaper than anyone else (despite the attempts of some people in upper management that tried to impose failure).  Many of the people at this plant helped build the plant, and then were hired by the electric company once the plant was built in 1979 and 1980.

I started working there during the summers in 1979 and I was amazed at the diverse amount of hoolagans that worked there.  They were brash, irresponsible, petty and disrespectful.  I got along with them real well and enjoyed every minute of working there.

An interesting thing happened during the years that I became an electrician and became married and raised a family.  The people at the plant became a part of my family.  They started becoming more and more responsible, and caring.

As each year went by, most people became a year wiser. —  There were a few that were stuck in the pettiness of being an old-style manager and they couldn’t break out of that mold.  That is why I refer to the Equipment Support Supervisor in less than “friendly” terms.  Maybe he’s changed over the past few years since I’ve been gone, because every year he gets one year older and closer to his grave.  Anyone who’s screwed with as many lives as he has, has got to begin to wonder what he’s going to be doing after he’s dead.

So, in case you were wondering about how I start my letters,  now you know.

I’ll write later.

Your friendly Dell Programmer,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile


Kevin J. Breazile

Global Financial Systems I/T

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #110 — Fall at a Rising 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 one hundred and 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.

11/12/04 – Fall at a Rising Dell

Dear Sooner Plantians and Friends less Fortunate (not to be working at Sooner),

Well, it’s Friday afternoon, and it’s getting late, so I thought this would be a good way to ensure that I don’t ramble too much, because I’m in a hurry to go home.  It’s 51 degrees outside right now, and that’s pretty cold for “these here parts”  I think it dipped down almost to the upper 40s this morning.  I got out my winter light jacket this morning, so I’m equipped.  I suppose you guys are done with Overhaul up there by now.  I haven’t heard the latest.

Well.  Dell had their Quarterly report come out yesterday and we made 12.5 Billion dollars in the last quarter.  That makes an annual revenue of $50 Billion.  I have been here for a little over 3 years, and when I came here our annual revenue was $30 Billion, so we’ve moved up the ladder quite a bit.

All the ol’ timers that have been here for 10 years are more were all of the sudden hopping around because our stock finally went up above $40 a share today (it was $20 when I started here), making their stock options look a little better, so they were all of the sudden talking about retiring and stuff.

I’m afraid I missed out on the years when the stock split a whole bunch of times in a couple of years, so it will probably take a while longer before I become a “Dellionaire” (as they call them down here).

I heard Stick is retiring.  This makes me kinda sad.  I know that when I ever get to make it back out to the plant that there won’t be a lot of people around that I recognize.  Actually, a lot of you guys might still be there, I just won’t recognize you.  You know how you get forgetful over the years.  You saw how well I remembered Eldon Waugh and Bill Moler when I left.

I think I was writing a letter to Scott, or Ray about a month ago, and I couldn’t remember the last name of Bob.  The Bob that worked in Instrument and Controls, that all of the sudden one day Super Equipment Support Supervisor decided he didn’t want around anymore.  You know.  The guy that worked his tail off all the time.

Well, I couldn’t remember his last name for the longest time.  It was weeks later when we were driving in the car to go out and eat or something, and all of the sudden, I yelled out “Blubaugh!!!”  Well.  You can imagine the strange look my kids gave me.  My son Anthony asked me, “What’s a Blubaugh?  I don’t see it!”  My daughter just rolled her eyes, because she’s used to me blurting out seemingly meaningless phrases, especially since I’ve been getting older and I’ve been writing programs more.  I think a couple of months ago without warning I stood up from the kitchen table and said, “That’s it!!!

















Of course, you could imagine the feeling of euphoria that was spreading over me when I realized that that was what I was looking for.  It was so simple.  I think I saw tears come to Kelly’s eyes, but then again, we were eating Spaghetti, and it did have a lot of onions in it and she was choking on her food.  Well.  Not to make this too rambling of a letter, I think I’ll wrap it up here.

Keep writing and letting me know “Watt’s Happenin’ at OG&E”  —  Do you guys remember that?  Wasn’t that the name of a Newsletter or something that we used to get?  No.  Wait.  It was the videos that we would watch during the Safety Meeting about things that were happening around the company.  Are they still showing those?

I ought to come up with one for Dell, like “Where in the ~ell are we at Dell?”  —  Well.  Maybe I need to work on that one a little bit.  We’re a very ethical company and that one wouldn’t pass the test.  —  That’s one thing about this place.  It’s a real nice working environment.  Everyone is pretty “Ethical”.  It took a while to get used to it, but now I’m fitting right in.

I’ll write later,

Your friend from Dell,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile


Kevin J. Breazile

Global Financial Systems I/T

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #111 — Working at the Speed of 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 one hundred and 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.

12/7/04 – Working at the Speed of Dell

Dear Soonerites and friends,

It has been a few weeks since I wrote.  What, with the Thanksgiving Holiday and all.  Only now am I recovering from the Turkey Binge that occurred a couple of weeks ago.

I just finished reading an article online called “Living In Dell Time” that described what it is like working at Dell better than I ever could.  You guys ought to read this article, it will give you an idea of what it is like working here.  Here is the link:


I would suggest reading it all the way through, because it is so interesting.  You might want to print it out and take it with you when you go to the bathroom so you will have something to do while you are waiting for things to develop.  This was the best article about Dell I have ever read as far as describing how things are run around here.

I didn’t know how much they could actually mention.  I noticed they didn’t say anything about the leprechauns and Keebler elves that just twitch their nose to assemble computers.  That is still too much of a trade secret to make it into a magazine article.

I like the part in the article toward the end where it is talking about how we hold our supplier’s feet to the fire.  At one point it said how we gave a “Team Award” to Maxtor hard drive company for becoming our preferred hard drive company, and then about 10 seconds later, before the Executive Vice President that was receiving the award could get back to his seat, Dell was warning them that we were about ready to drop them if they didn’t meet our “new” expectations!!!!

That’s what it is like on these projects I’m on.  When you receive any recognition or anything, that’s all for things you have already done, and doesn’t count for anything you are doing at the moment.  —  Things sure do move fast around here.

You might remember when I first came here that the first project they gave me was to build a whole new web application that interacted with our Data Warehouse and that had a whole bunch of features and stuff and it was due 2 weeks before they gave it to me.  My manager at the time told me that I might as well get used to it, that’s the way things are done at Dell.

That’s how our company can have a Negative 36 day Cash Conversion Cycle (for all of you Finance people out there  — if any of you are.  Oh yeah.  Annette, you know what I’m talking about).  A Negative 36 day Cash Conversion Cycle is unheard of.  —  That’s in the article too.

All right.  I’ll quick “gloating” (or whatever I’m doing) about Dell.  I heard that you guys at Sooner have been just shy of being in Heaven since my last letter.  Yeah.  I heard the roar of applause from all the way down here when you received the glorious news that the most illustrious Equipment Support Supervisor has finally decided to retire!!!!

I can’t tell you how happy I am for you guys!!  This is so great!!!  Now you know how the abolition of slavery must have felt to the slaves!!!  I kept walking around the building that day with my arms going up and down over my head like people do at a football game when they are trying to urge their team on with a cheer.

I suppose it looked kind of strange.  Especially since I had this big goofy smile on my face and the only noise I was making sounded as if I had been slain in the Holy Spirit and I was speaking in tongues.  I have to admit, it did strike me in some way as a profound religious experience.  —  I think it had something to do with the virtue of Hope!!!

As if all bad things finally do come to an end.  Ok.  So I may be overdoing it a little.  I’m sure some of you are sad and forelorn that this era of Sooner management has come to an end; but only those of you that are a glutton for punishment.

Well.  I can see by the old clock in the bottom right hand corner of my computer screen that it is time for me to go home.  I’ll write later.  I hope everything is going well with you, and I’m sorry that I will have to miss the going-away party (that should be a great party —  With songs like “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead” and other classical songs being sung throughout).

Talk to you later,

Your Friendly Dell Programmer,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile


Kevin J. Breazile

Global Financial Services I/T

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527