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?

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.)

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

Letters to the Power Plant #6 – Meeting with the CIO

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 sixth 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.

09/28/01 – Meeting with the CIO

Dear Sooner plant,

I went to a meeting with Randy Mott this morning, our Chief Information Officer (CIO), who, by the way, was named “CIO of the Year” in the world this year.  I think it was a productive meeting.  The first thing that I noticed was that his cubicle was TWICE as big as mine.  Yes.  He does NOT have an office.  He works in a cubicle just like everyone else.  Even Michael Dell, the CEO of the company has a cubicle.  Michael doesn’t even keep a chair in his cubicle, He works standing up at a drafting table. — And Dell is more than 20 times bigger than OG&E!!!!

Anyway, back to the meeting with Randy Mott.  He told me that he thought I would have to stop doing the mouse in the sock thing because it was shocking my coworkers.  I told him that I thought they would get used to it, and that they might even start doing it themselves.  He said,  “No, I don’t think you understand.  You are “shocking” your coworkers!!!”

Apparently, by rubbing my socks on the carpet when I move my mouse around, I am putting a static charge on the cubicles, and when my coworkers lean against their desks, they are getting shocked.  — It was at this point in the conversation that I learned that our CIO was named “CIO of the year” and that Randy was rather proud of this accomplishment (which he should be).

I thought about telling him that if the cubicles were properly grounded this wouldn’t happen, but I decided not to mention it.  So I suggested that maybe I could wear grounding bracelets around my ankles to bleed off the static charge.  He told me he knew I used to be an Electrician, but that I should find some other way to manipulate my mouse, or that I should learn to use the “hot keys” like most programmers do.  (You see, Randy Mott used to be a programmer at Wal-Mart where he worked his way up to CIO, so he knows about those sorts of things — this was something else I learned about Randy in our meeting).

Why of course!!!  Hot keys!!!  That is when you press the CTRL-C to copy, and CTRL-V to paste, and things like that.  There is a “Hot Key” for just about every operation.  The advantage of that is that you don’t have to take your fingers off of the home row keys, and it doesn’t slow you down.  —  So I returned to my cubicle feeling rather foolish and put my unused scissors back in my drawer, and pulled my socks off of both mice and slipped them back on my feet.

Then my Vice President came by and said, “Hey lets go out to lunch!”  So he took all the new guys that were under him (6 of us) out to lunch.  We went to a Mexican restaurant named, “On The Border”.  I was thinking the whole time, “Oh No, not another one of these torturous meals where we get so stuffed that we can’t move, then we have to do some sort of physical activity to make us barf it all back up again.”  — But that didn’t happen.

We spent so much time talking that we didn’t eat that much.  So even though we sat there for an hour and a half, and kept eating chips and salsa, we didn’t get too stuffed.  —  When I got back to work my whole team and a couple of other teams were all throwing a football around in an area in our building across from our cubicles that is the size of the entire maintenance shop at Sooner, except without any furniture.  I realized that if I had eaten too much for lunch this activity would have been devastating and I was wondering if that had been intentional.

They were handing out free root beer, so I drank some of that.  — I also found out that I had missed their breakfast this morning because I had that meeting with Randy Mott, but I had lunch and they didn’t, so it kind of made up for that.  It turns out that every Friday they have breakfast for us and they call it “The Breakfast Club” and everyone dresses any way they want and they call it “Casual Friday”.

Anyway.  That is how my day went.  The weekend is here, and I am done for the day, and my Manager just walked by my cubicle and said, “Hey I thought I told you that you could leave early.”  So, I suppose I should go home.

I would still like to hear how things are going up there, so keep me informed.  I sent this with the mailing list as a blind copy, that way you shouldn’t have to have a header with everyone’s name listed on it, let me know if that worked.  If anything it may have Ray’s name listed on it, since I don’t have him on the long mailing list, (mainly because I never heard back from him when I was making it – but I thought he would appreciate the reference I made to Walt Oswalt in the update from last week).  — Is Ray doing ok?

Kevin Breazile

Programmer/Analyst II

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #5 – Programming 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 fifth 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.

9/27/01 – Programming at Dell

Dear Sooner Plant,

I have been trying to get along with only 2 computers.  Annette asked me earlier if I use one hand on each keyboard, or do I use both hands on both keyboards, or do I use one keyboard for both computers, or ….something like that, I don’t remember which.  Anyway, here is what I have done:

When I’m just typing away totally absorbed in what I am doing, I can type about 105 words a minute according to Mavis Beacon.  So I tried using one hand on each keyboard, and found that I had to set up a new set of home row keys, (places to put my fingers on the keyboard).  I thought I could manage 50 words a minute on each computer, and that would still be pretty good.

Unfortunately, when I measured my speed I was only getting about 30 words a minute per computer, and I didn’t think that was very productive.  — I finally realized that I had to keep stopping and using the mouse to point and click at different things, and each time I did that, I had to re-position my fingers back in the middle of the keyboard, and I took my eyes off of what I was typing, and it was a total distraction. —

Anyway, what I finally figured out was that I could drop both mouses (mice) down through the little hole in the back of the desk and put them on the floor.  Then I could slip off my loafers and put one mouse under each foot.  After trying that for a while I realized that I needed to cut holes in my socks so that my big toe could stick out so I could click the mouse efficiently.

I had to swap my left foot mouse functions so that the right button functioned like the left button, because my big toe on by left foot kept clicking the right button, and that was wrong. — That was easy to fix.  then, I realized that my foot would keep sliding off my mouse, especially when I used by big toe to scratch the calf on my other leg.  I would have to completely stop typing and look down on the ground and position my foot back on the mouse.

So I figured out the obvious solution!!!  Take off my sock and cut a small hole in the sole, feed the mouse through the hole in the toe, then put my sock back on!!!!  Then my mouse would stay on my foot whenever I had an itch.  The only problem is when my manager comes by and asks me to step into his cubicle, I have to take my socks off and put my loafers on sockless.

Anyway.  It seems to be working fine except for that and I am almost up to 50 words a minute on each computer.  Now I can use one hand on each keyboard, and one mouse for each foot.  I suppose I look like a little kid throwing a tantrum while I’m working, since I’m shaking both my hands and feet and whipping my head back and forth to look at both monitors.  It must be catching on, because whenever coworkers come by my cubicle their heads automatically start moving back and forth just like mine as I stare at both monitors at the same time.

In the morning I have a meeting with the CIO (Chief Information Officer) of Dell.  His name is Randy Mott.  He used to be the CIO of Wal-Mart.  I’m not sure what the meeting is about, maybe he wants me to show him how I do the mouse-in-the-sock thing.  Just in case, I’ll bring a pair of scissors.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Anyway, I’m about done for the day.  I’ll send you another update soon.

Please let me know how things are going up there.  I enjoy hearing from you guys just as well.

 

Kevin Breazile

Program/Analyst II

Letters to the Power Plant #4 – Trying to Recuperate

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 fourth 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.

9/21/01 – Trying to Recuperate

Dear Dell Customers,

I have spent most of the day trying to recuperate from yesterday (Thursday).  I went to work yesterday without a clue as to what I was getting into.  Our Manager made our team go out to eat lunch at some fancy Mexican restaurant where we ate so much food that we could hardly move.  Then he forced us to eat Dessert!!!   We had to sit on hard wooden chairs for over two hours!!!  Then he dragged us over to some Adult Arcade called “Dave & Busters”.  It reminded me of a grown-up Chucky Cheese’s.  Then he gave us these cards that allowed us to play arcade games for the rest of the afternoon.  It was exhausting!!!  I kept playing a Star Wars pinball machine until I couldn’t move my arms anymore, and my socks were all soaked from perspiration.  All night I kept dreaming about these metal balls flying back and forth hitting bumpers and lighting lights, and sounding alarms and Luke Skywalker kept saying, “May the force be with you”, and Darth Vader kept saying, “I AM your father.”  This place had pool tables and a couple of bars, and as I have found, in Texas, everyone drinks beer and shoots pool.  And here I am without a pool cue (Walt?).  Finally, late in the afternoon we left and played bumper cars all the way home on the freeway.  — Yes.  Managers can be cruel.  He called it “Team-Building”.

I was just beginning to recuperate this afternoon when these guys from Baskin-Robbins set up a couple of tables right next to my cubicle and started dishing out ice cream to everyone that came by.  They had a whole table full of toppings and a bunch of different flavors of Ice Cream.  —  Since they were right at the entrance to my cubicle, I had to keep eating more and more, so as not to insult them.  Now I’m not sure how I’m going to make it out to my car to go home.  I can’t even push my chair back away from my desk because the wheels are embedded in the carpet.  Next to our cafeteria (which is run by Marriott), there is an exercise gym.  I might try to hobble over there and work off some of this stuff before I attempt to go home.  I feel out of place in there.  It’s full of muscle-men types like Gene Day.  I think I’ll pass.

I have seen other means of torture at our Manager’s disposal around our building.  Just out back there is a volleyball pit where employees are herded in and compelled to compete against each other by knocking a ball back and forth which causes perfectly ordinary folks to throw themselves in the sand while others urge them on and tell them “Good Job”, and “Nice Try” and they clap their hands and hoot and holler and do high fives.  My bootcamp friends (those that started with me), keep scheduling basketball games, and I ask them, “Are you the Manager?  Who made you in charge of torture this week?”  Then I sneak back to my cubicle where I can boot up my computers and relax in a swirl of program code and e-mail heaven.

It has been a rough week, but today is Friday and the weekend is here.  Finally, a chance to lay back and take it easy.  —  Oh no, Kelly (my wife) just called….. We’re going out tonight!!!…………………….

Your Friend,

Kevin Breazile

Programmer/Analyst

Letters to the Power Plant #3 – Learning new things 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 third 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.  So please ignore the bad grammar and the overuse of the word “Got”, “Get” or “Gotten”.

9/17/01 – Learning new things at Dell

Dear friends,

I have been learning a lot of new things at Dell.  I spend half of the day in “bootcamp”, ( a place where we learn a different computer language each day), and I spend the other half of the day working in my cubicle.  They are teaching me a lot and I am grateful.

I found out today that I have been teaching them a lot too, without realizing it.  When I first moved in my cubicle, I didn’t have a chair, so I did the most obvious thing.  I went out to my car and got my tool bucket.  I placed it in my cubicle and sat on it while I worked.  It wasn’t until today when I received a chair that I found out that people around here don’t sit on tool buckets while they work.  — They told me that I would have gotten a chair a couple of weeks ago, but that they were so intrigued by my use of a five gallon bucket that they thought they would hold off giving me a chair so they could study the benefits of working while sitting on a bucket.

Many of my cubicle mates have shown an interest in my style of writing code (that means, programming).  They haven’t seen anyone splice code fragments together using wire nuts and a pair of strippers before.  One guy down the way asked me what brand of dikes I liked best because he was going to go out and buy some after he saw me trimming some clip art with mine.  Of course I told him that there was only ONE brand of dikes — Kleins.

I have also taught my fellow computer nerds the benefits of butt splices when copying and pasting computer code.  With a good pair of crimpers and some electric tape, copying and pasting takes on a whole new dimension.

At first they thought I was just joking when I whipped out my electric tape and started wrapping up my code into a three-tier business model.  Their first response was, “What kind of Duct tape is that?” (actually, I think they said, “Duck Tape”).  I showed them how a properly wrapped piece of code wouldn’t short out the program causing it to crash.

They have shown me a few things too.  I had to go get a can of skoal and keep it on my shelf.  Whenever the monitor overheats, I whip it out, squish it around in my mouth for a few seconds and spit in the back of the monitor, and voila!!!  (voila is french for,  “There it is”).

They have also taught me that keeping a cowboy hat in your cubicle is a useful tool.  Whenever someone yells, “Hey You!”, the first thing you do is toss your hat up over the cubicle, just in case someone is shooting a rubber band across the room.  It is an old cowboy trick.

I call it a room, but where I work is really about the size of 4 basketball courts.  Cubicles as far as you can see.  Being tall is a great advantage (which I’m not).  It changes your perspective from being in a maze to being in a wide open prairie.  I think I saw Dilbert (or is it Dellbert?) working down on the far end the other day.

It is good to hear from you guys, I’ll talk to you soon,

Kevin Breazile

Programmer/Analyst

Letters to the Power Plant #2 – Everything is Fast in Texas

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 third 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.

9/7/2001 – Everything is fast in Texas – Dell Update

Hello everyone at Sooner Plant,

I miss you guys, when I find time to stop for a moment to get a drink of water, (from my sponge that I use to wipe the sweat from my brow).  I am finally receiving my computers and stuff for my cubicle.  I have been using a borrowed laptop from my manager up to now.  I have two computers with two keyboards and monitors.  I use both of them at the same time.  — They are made by Dell by the way.  — Since Compaq went out of business –  :-)  .   With two computers I am able to program in two computer languages at the same time.  On one computer I may be programming using C++ while on the other computer I am using JAVA, or composing an ASP page for the intranet.  This is great!!!   The next thing they are working on for us programmers is to put on headsets that connect directly to our brains so we can write programs in our sleep.  I can’t wait!!!  All these years I have been dreaming about all sorts of programs, and now they will finally be captured and made into something useful.  — Things like:   Birthday Phantom 2.0 !!!!

It is interesting to work in a place where security is such a big issue.  You wouldn’t believe how many companies would like to know what Dell is doing.  All sorts of security measures are taken to ensure that spies aren’t infiltrating our environment.  Not only do they check all of our e-mail (like this letter), but they also filter out everything that is flushed down the toilet or spoken in a restaurant.  There are actually spies from other companies that sit in restaurants and listen to Dell employees out to lunch.  How do we know?  Just say, “Do you know what my manager told me today?”  And you will see people in nearby tables stop talking and lean in your direction.

The reason is similar to Sooner Plant’s position of being the best plant in the country.  Dell is able to sell computers cheaper than any other computer company in the world,  and only they know why.  The secret to their whole success is  ******SECURITY VIOLATION******** THIS PORTION OF THE E-MAIL HAS BEEN DELETED BY DELLSECURE—-IT CONTAINED PROPRIETARY INFORMATION.  ******SECURITY VIOLATION********   Isn’t that neat?  Who would have thought that the solution would have been so simple.

Well, I have to go, two big bouncer types just showed up at my cubicle tapping their feet with their arms crossed across their chest, and for some reason they don’t look too happy.   —  Did  I say something wrong?????

Write to you later,

Kevin Breazile

Programmer/Analyst

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,885 other followers