Monthly Archives: June, 2016

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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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”.

Note to Reader:  To learn more about Walt Oswalt and Pool Cues, see this post:  A Window Into the Power Plant Man Bedroom.

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