Monthly Archives: July, 2016

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

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

11/2/01 – Some fun at Dell

Dear Sooner Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let me know,

You Dell Pal,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Programmer Analyst II

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

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

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

10/26/01 – 7 Degrees at Dell

Dear Pals at Sooner,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Always thinkin’ at Dell,

Kevin

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Programmer Analyst II

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

 

 

Letters to the Power Plant #10 — Inside Dell

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

10/23/01 – Inside Dell

Dear Sooner Friends of Dell,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Pal,

Kevin

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Programmer Analyst II

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

 

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

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

10/16/01 – Bootcamp at Dell

Dear Friends at Sooner,

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

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

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

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

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

while in Visual Basic this would mean:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Dell Buddy,

Kevin Breazile

Pro-Rambler/Analyst II

Letters to the Power Plant #8 — Overhaul at Dell

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

10/5/01 – Overhaul at Dell

Dear Sooner friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Friend,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

Programmer/Analyst II