Monthly Archives: January, 2017

Letters to the Power Plant #38 — Team Builder 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 thirty 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.

06/07/02 – Team builder at Dell

Dear Friends at Sooner, and Toby (not at Sooner) and the I & C escapees,

I hope all is going well with everyone this week.  I have been in Training most of the week.  This afternoon we are taking off a half day to do a “Team-builder”.  Our team is going to our manager’s house to “Team-build” in the back yard by her pool.

We are supposed to drink beer and do some other sort of team building activities.  This sounds like fun, but when you read between the lines, this could be a nerve racking, hair-raising experience.

First of all.  We have to drive clear across Austin to the “Wealthier” part of town.  Then when it is over, I have to drive all the way back to “my” side of town.  — That in itself is a test of stress endurance and disaster planning.

A person attempting this feat will want to take the route that takes them past the most hospitals, and down the highways that have the most tow trucks stationed along the route.  That way, if the stress causes the driver to go into cardiac arrest, the tow truck will be close by, and the ambulance won’t have too far to travel.

This makes me think of the “Green Acres” song.  “Green Acres is the place to be.  Farm living is the life for me.  Land spreadin’ out so far and wide.  Forget Manhattan, just give me that countryside.”

Anyway.  Sorry for the transgression.  The second hair-raising, nerve tingling activity that we will have to perform during our team building activity is that our Manager has given us a questionnaire to fill out.  I have watched our team members merrily typing out the answers to their questionnaires on their computers, humming along as they gleefully typed their answers.  —  I, on the other hand, have struggled and stressed over exactly how to answer these devious, dubious and probing questions.

You see, there are questions like:  What is an Interesting event in your life?  — What can I say to that?  For 18 years I was an electrician at Sooner Plant.  I have had so many Interesting, life changing events during that time, how can I just choose one?

My first thoughts were, “How about the time that Richard Moravek and I got shocked in the elevator?  Or the time I got shocked in the T/R cabinet?  Or the time I got shocked looking for a ground?  Or when I was shocked by the vacuum line under the precipitator hoppers?”  All those were interesting events.

Note to Reader:  For more information about Richard Moravek, or being shocked, see this post:  Prolonged Power Plant Pause Before the Panic.

Then I thought, “hmmmm”, it was pretty interesting when I told Jim Arnold that  ‘He may be stupid, but I’m not.’ and it was pretty interesting when I asked Jasper Christensen if the Outlet side of the Hot end of the Air preheater could be hotter than the gases that were exiting the air heater, and he said he couldn’t say that.”  That was pretty interesting.

It was also interesting when I printed out a questionnaire on every printer in the company (including all the billing and check writing printers) and when James Harlow called Ron Kilman to ask him who Kevin Breazile was and why did he do that, Ron Kilman didn’t know what to say. — That was pretty interesting.  — Especially after a beet-red-faced Tom Gibson told me never to do that again.  Then there was……..  well, you can see my dilemma.  So many interesting events.

Note to Reader:  To read more about printing out a questionnaire on all of the printers in the company read this post:  Power Plant Customer Service Team Gone Wild.

Then there is the question:  “Most serious infraction of the rules.”  First I thought, “Me?  Infraction of rules?  Never!!!!”  Then I remembered,  “Oh yeah”.  I suppose there was the “Birthday Phantom”.  That was kind of an infraction since the I/T department downtown spent weeks doing nothing but trying to track that down.

Note to Reader:  To read more about the Birthday Phantom see this post:  Power Plant Birthday Phantom.

Then there was the time when I changed the SAP logo to be a whirlpool instead of a ripple and it was sucking some unfortunate Business Support Supervisor down into it.  —  Some (who lack a little bit of a sense of humor) might think that was an infraction.

Note to Reader:  To read more about the Supervisor being sucked down into a whirlpool, see this post:  Hitting the Power Plant HR Cardboard Ceiling.

Then, of course, there was the above mentioned Printer thing.  —  I knew something was going to happen when the mail room upstairs was stacked full of replies to my questionnaire, and some of the responses were less than cordial.  — I think Jim Harlow thought that was an infraction.

Then there was the time I messed up the precipitator when I wasn’t even at the plant, but Jim Arnold needed someone to blame.  Bill Green still thinks that was an infraction.

What does my manager want?!?!?  — A novel?  She needs to ask more specific questions than this.  Something like:  “What was your most serious infraction the first week of April in 1999?”  —  At least that would narrow it down!!!!

Then there is the “Trick” question.  It is:  “What is your biggest pet peeve about Management at Dell?”  I know what I’m supposed to say to that question.  The obvious answer is:  “Management at Dell is so nice they make me want to Puke!!!  Where is all the slave driving?  Where is all the “Because I told you so’s?  How can anyone manage if they aren’t going to tell you how to do every little detail of your job?”

Then there is the question:  “Interesting people you know”  I wrote down Bud Schoonover and Walt Oswalt.  Need I say more?

Note to Reader:  To read more about Bud Schoonover see this post:  Carpooling with Bud Schoonover.  To read more about Walt Oswalt, see this post:  A Window into the Power Plant Man Bedroom.

I miss all of you.  I wish I could be there, but for now, I have to go drink some beer by the pool.

Talk to you later,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Customer Experience / Warranty Cost

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

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Letters to the Power Plant #37 — A Bit of Dell Trivia

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 thirty 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.

06/03/02 – a bit of Dell Trivia

Hey Sooner Friends from Up North,

I was just reading about Databases, (because my new project requires me to learn this), and I thought I would send you a quick note to show you something I just read:

If I have 64 database tables that I want to join (That’s relational database lingo for those of you who don’t know), then the number of possible ways to join those tables is just about the same number of grains of sand it would take to fill up the entire universe with sand.  —  Yes.  It would take: 1.2 x 10 ^124 grains of sand to fill the entire universe with sand.  When you write that number out it looks like this:

12,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

Isn’t that something?

I thought you would want to know.

Kevin

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Customer Experience / Warranty Cost

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

 

Letters to the Power Plant Men #36 — Sunburned 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 thirty 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.

05/23/02 – Sunburned at Dell

Dear friends at Sooner,

This has been quite a week.  I’m glad I have a long weekend to recuperate.  I have had to use my brain, and my back this week to accomplish all the activities I had to perform.  —  I’ll give you a run down of what my week has been like.

I know this won’t sound like much to the Sooner Plant Super Heroes who climb boiler walls like Spiderman, and Leap steam leaks with a single bound like Superman or rip your shirts open at the seams like the Incredible Hulk when Jim Arnold asks you to do impossible tasks, but for your average geeky computer programmer like me — this has been quite a week.

First, if you will recall.  I had a meeting on Monday in “The Board Room.”  —  That meant that I had to drive diagonally across the City of Austin during Going-To-Work traffic.  Which meant, I had to spent half of the weekend before, playing bumper cars at the carnival just to get back into practice.

Well, when I arrived at “The Board Room”, there was this big long wooden table that looked just like one you would see in a movie where all the old guys are sitting around looking at an even older guy at the end of the table telling them what to do. —  Only, there weren’t any “really” old guys there — except maybe me.

There were people from Japan, and Europe, and Malaysia, and ….  Oh yeah, from America.  We sat around for 4 hours and while all the other guys were discussing this and that (which I can’t say), I had my laptop out on the table, and I kept typing away, like I was keeping notes.

We can do that because we have mobile cards in our laptops that allow us to stay connected to the network even though we have to take our laptop with us, like for instance….. to the restroom.  —-  Anyway.  While I was in the meeting I did write a quick e-mail to Ray Eberle.

Then when the meeting was over I had to drive diagonally back across the City of Austin to Round Rock during Going-To-Lunch Traffic, which, even though it isn’t as crowded, the people that drive during Going-To-Lunch time seem to be a little more agitated than the Going-To-Work crowd.  —  Anyway.  By the time I was safely back in my cubicle, I was totally exhausted from driving to-and-fro, and sitting in the 4 hour meeting trying to look totally interested and busy at the same time.

The next day (Tuesday) was our I/T All-Hands day.  We broke up into teams with people we didn’t know and did a “Team-Building” thing.  Each team had to build a raft, and then we had a raft race.

In order to build the raft your team had to go solve certain puzzles and do activities at different places in order to get the parts to build a raft.  It was a lot of fun, and by the end of the day I was totally soaked, from the part where our raft fell to pieces when we were halfway across the pond on our second trip.  — It was rather fun.  — Nevertheless.

I wasn’t wearing my hardhat because I didn’t think I needed it.  Now I realize why I should have worn it.  —  It seems that over the years while I have been wearing my hardhat, the hair on my head has been quietly getting thinner and thinner.  —  I think this is the first time I have ever gotten a sunburn on the top of my head.  —  You know.  The part where the hair is supposed to protect it.

When I had finally limped home, I went in the house and put a bunch of Aloe Vera lotion in my hair to soothe the sunburn.  —  I wish Gene Day had warned me about these hazards!!

Well, Wednesday was a fairly quiet day.  I spent most of the day in my cubicle studying for my next project which is still in the planning stage, and moaning from my aches and pains, only when I had to move, which was about every 5 or 10 minutes to keep my legs from falling asleep.  So I sounded like this all day:  “Oooohhhhh, typetypetypetypetypeclicktypeclickclicktypetypeOooooohhhtypetypetypeclickdoubleclicktypetypeclicktypeOooooohhhhh.”

Then Today, we had another All-Hands meeting, with a much smaller group.  It was my Manager’s Manager, so we had only about 40 people there.  We had to play a game called “Jeopardy”, except that all the questions were about Dell.  Our team won one game and lost the final round.  Anyway, my brain is still sore from playing that, because we had to actually “Think”.

I was given an award for my “Outstanding Contributions to the Customer Recovery Team.”  They said that my Business partners said that I had helped them out so much that they wanted to give me something.  — I was pretty shocked, then I remembered that I had fixed all their computers, so now they think I am some great guy.

That’s kind of what I did at Sooner.  —  Of course, I never remember getting a $100 dollars just for doing something extra.  It seems I do remember being told that I was an Electrician, and it’s not an Electricians job to fix peoples’ computers.  — Anyway.  That made me feel good to actually get paid something extra just for “helpin’ the team.”

My last thought as I left the meeting was,  “What?  No Hardhat Sticker?”  —  You know.  No sticker saying that I was a “Boiler Rat”, or one that said that “I survived Sooner 2 in 2002?”  — Bummer.  Just a lousy Hundred Bucks?!!!! (I’m just kidding of course — I have to throw in that line for the DellSecure Program, so it knows that I’m “just kidding”).

I hope all is going well with you guys.  I hear that, at least in OG&E downtown, the Quality process is picking up again.  Is this true?

It’s been good to hear from you guys, keep in touch.

Your friend from Dell,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

_____________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Customer Experience / Warranty Cost

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #35 — Not Boring 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 thirty 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 (Boy.  Times have changed).

05/17/02 – Not boring at Dell

Dear Friends,

Since I have been told that my last letter to you was “extremely” boring, I thought I would make it up to you by writing another letter that is only partially boring, thus letting you face the weekend with a chipper attitude that will make your weekend fly by so fast that before you can turn around you will find yourself back at work ready to make the Equipment Support Supervisor a “Hand”.

The first item of interest is that big empty space on the other side of this floor.  You know.  That space that was about the same size as the maintenance shop, only empty and carpeted.  —  Well.  This week it is still carpeted, but it isn’t empty.  They have been putting up cubicles all week.

200 new employees will be moving in that room.  So…. We all know what that means.  —  Yes.  No more laptops in the bathroom stalls.  —  That’s right.  The bathroom will be twice as busy as it is now, so the bathroom stalls will be premium real estate.

We won’t be able to afford the luxury of writing e-mails while contemplating the meaning of the universe anymore.  So as I look  around at these four stall walls and realize that “Change Happens” (It says something else on one of the stall walls, but it sounds kinda similar), I know that change is good.

Yes.  Just think of all those new faces I will be seeing every day.  In the mornings I will pull into my parking space just ahead of someone else who will be waving wildly at me greeting me with all sorts of wild angry expressions, (which I know will just be some people’s way of saying how much they care.

You know the expressions.  Yes you do.  —  You’ve seen them many times.  The Equipment Support Supervisor and Business Support Supervisor really do care you know.  That’s why they makes those wild angry expressions.  Didn’t you know that?).

Yes.  As it is now, if you don’t show up by 7:45, the parking spaces around the building gets sparse.  Just think what it will be like when 200 more people are working in this building.  Luckily we have the “Dell Shuttle”.  You can park way off over the hill and have the Dell Shuttle come by and pick you up every 12 minutes.  —  I prefer to arrive a little early, so I am able to find a parking space close to the door.

Well.  I have an interesting meeting next Monday.  I’m not sure what it’s totally about.  I know what we are supposed to be doing, but I’m not sure why we are doing it in the room where we are going to be doing it.  From what I understand, this meeting will be in the “Board Room”.  —  Yeah, like in the “Board of Directors” room.

I know that they are interested in what we are about to do, but I didn’t think they would be interested in what “we” are doing.  —  We shall see.  The room where this meeting is being held is not on the Round Rock Campus.  It’s in a special building that is located just down the road from Michael’s house.

I’ve seen Michael’s house from the Highway.  His house is literally about the same size as the town of Morrison. —  Just to give you an idea.  Remember that Michael is worth about $11 Billion. —  Do you remember my last e-mail when I was talking to you about all those numbers?  Well that is the same as saying 11 GigaDollars!!!!  —  I know these numbers are boring to some people, so I won’t dwell on them.

Actually, since I am risking another Extremely Boring e-mail, I will end this letter now in order to avoid the dreaded “BORRING” notice I have received from one concerned citizen of Sooner.

I hope all is going well with all of you,

Your Friend from Dell,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Customer Experience / Warranty Cost

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #34 — Big Drives

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 thirty 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 (Boy.  Times have changed).

05/17/2002 – Big Drives

Charles,

Do you remember the 20 MB hard drive I had on my first 8088 computer?  Then 200 MBs, Then 2 GBs (Gigabytes), Then 20 GB?  At home I have an 80 GB hard drive.  Well.  Anyway.  At Dell and Wal-Mart, and probably at OG&E, they are using drives that are Terabytes large.

Now.  To understand a Terabyte, it is 1000 Gigabytes.  A Megabyte is one million.  A Gigabyte is one Billion.  A Terabyte is one Trillion!!!  —  We have terabyte drives that store our databases.  We are moving over to a new database that will have a Petabyte (PB) of memory.

You can see where this is going.  1000 Terabytes!!!!  To put this into perspective.  That is 1,000,000 Gigabytes!!!!  No let’s go one step further, That is 1,000,000,000 (1 billion) Megabytes.  No, let’s call it what it is:  one Quadrillion bytes.  Or 1,000,000,000,000,000 bytes of information!!!!!!

Now I will say what I heard my dad say the first time he brought home a box of 10 low density 5 1/4 inch floppy disks, before there were hard drives.  “There are 360 thousand bytes (360 KB) on this disk!  Do you know how long it will take me to fill up just one of these?  I can put a whole book on just one of these disks, and I have 10 disks in this box!!!!  I will never use these up!!!”

Certainly, we will never use up a Pedabyte of space…….certainly not…….

I started writing this to just Charles Foster, but then I thought the rest of you might be interested in this exercise in Mathematics.

Note to Reader:  To learn more about Charles Foster, read this post:  Personal Power Plant Hero — Charles Foster

Your pal at Dell,

Kevin

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Customer Experience / Warranty Cost

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527