Monthly Archives: May, 2017

Letters to the Power Plant #95 — Dell News is Good News

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 ninety 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.

2/23/04 – Dell News is Good News

Dear friends at Sooner Plant and Outlanders,

It is interesting that I just wrote to you guys about a week and a half ago and I happened to mention the “fire of ’96”, and lo and behold, not three or four days later, you guys have another big explosion at the plant.  —  I tell you.  That has to be about the 50th time that Sooner was lucky someone wasn’t killed.  I can think of about 3 or 4 of the times right here on my left hand.

I am just glad you are all ok. —  I am also reminded why I decided to go try a career in computer programming.  — Let’s see…  I think it was because I couldn’t take all that excitement every morning in those highly motivated morning meetings when we found out what we were going to have to work on that day.

No wait.  I couldn’t take all that anticipation wondering which restaurant was going to cater the Barbecue for the next Men’s Club.  —  No.  It’s coming to me. —  I think it had something to do with the way OG&E would pay for all my education no matter how much I wanted to take.  — Yeah, that’s it.  —  It wore me out taking all those classes.

I couldn’t stay with a company like that.  I never had enough time with my kids, because I was always taking college courses because OG&E kept reimbursing me for them.  I think they had around $100,000 lifetime limit for reimbursing you for education.  —  Actually, I think I was getting pretty close to that amount.

Down here they don’t do that.  They only pay for $3,000 of courses each year (outside of all the courses they send you to).  That way, if I want to take some college courses, then they will only pay for about 1 1/2 of them until the money runs out, and then you have to go begging your Vice President to pay for the rest.  This makes one hesitate a little bit before signing up for the next course.  —  But you know me.  I’m a glutton for punishment.

Anyway.  I heard that you guys are also on overhaul.  Gee.  Could that have been another reason I’m down here programming on the computer in this climate controlled cubeville.

To tell you the truth, my e-mail archive was getting so full last week that I had to spend about 3 days cleaning it up.  I went through all the letters I have received from you guys since I came down here.  There were over 800 e-mails.  I went through them trying to decide which ones I could get rid of.  So as I was reading them, I started missing all those fun times I had working on the roof and inside those precipitators, all covered with either pigeon droppings or fly ash.

Boy.  That was fun.  But on Friday, we had to go to an I/T All-Hands meeting at some Performing Arts Center and listen to all the good news about Dell.  Then we had to go out to lunch someplace and eat Mexican food and go to a movie called, “Along Came Polly”.

So that took all day, and it got my mind off of how much I missed working all those long hours during overhaul, where your mind was brain-dead by the end of the day after working those 12 hour shifts dressed up in a fly ash suit and a full face respirator and rubber boots with a flashlight hanging from around your neck. —  Whewwww.  I just got the shivers.

I wonder where that cold chill came from.  There must be a little glitch in the air conditioning system or something.  I’ll call facilities and have them look at it.

When I was working in the Payroll department on that timekeeping application, I developed a new method for solving people’s computer problems.  Some of you may remember my technique of “laying on of the hands”, when I would just put my hands on the monitor, and then the computer problems would go away.

Well.  I have obtained two paper fans down here that have a picture of Elvis Presley’s face on them, and I have found that if I wave one of these Elvis Presley fans over the keyboard, the same thing happens.

So when I was in that team room in Payroll, I had one of the fans stuck in a harness that was taped to the door, so that when someone came in and said something wasn’t working on their computer, I would just grab the Elvis fan on the way out the door and wave it over their keyboard, and 9 times out of 10 their problem was solved.

This works especially good on what are known as “PEBKAC” errors.  PEBKAC stands for “Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair”.  So I would wave the fan like a wand, and voila, the problem would go away.  If the person asked me what was wrong, I would just tell them that they had a PEBKAC error, and that it shouldn’t happen again.

Well.  I better get back to work now.  I think my break time is over now.  —  How do I know?  Well.  This letter seems long enough, that’s how I know.  I don’t want to ramble too much in one letter.  If I did, this might be mistaken for junk mail.

I hope all is going well with you guys.  Let me know how you’re doing.

Your friend from Dell,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Programmer/Analyst III

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527

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Letters to the Power Plant #96 — Springtime 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 ninety 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.

3/15/04 – Springtime at Dell

Hello Sooner Plant Heros!!!

I just realized that another 3 weeks have gone by since I have written to you guys.  Boy time flys.  —  Well.  I’m completely done with that “big” project, and today I have started working on some smaller projects.  So, since I’m just beginning something new, I thought this would be a good time to stop and take some time to write to you guys.

Three weeks ago, you had just started an overhaul.  Since this was probably a 12 week major overhaul that you were doing, you should be done by now.  After all, it has been THREE weeks!  So, I suppose the unit is back online, and the Dumper has been put back together after the coal explosion, and you guys probably had an appreciation lunch for all your hard work.

I just got back from an Appreciation Lunch for the Kronos project that I have been working on (so I’m all stuffed with Mexican food).  I think that was about the 6th appreciation lunch I have been to for this project.  We had one 2 1/2 weeks ago, where we went to lunch, and then went to a movie.  We went and saw “Welcome to Mooseport”.  Which was an easy going funny show.

Then a few days later, we had to go to that place where you eat pizza in the theater while you’re watching the show, and we watched a movie called “Big Fish”.  That was quite a whopper of a story.  Our Vice President had us go do that one.

Then a Project Manager that bailed out on the project just when it was beginning to look really hopeless, took me out to lunch because I pulled the whole project through even though it didn’t look like it had a prayer of getting done on time.  —  I guess he felt guilty, so he took me out to a real nice restaurant.

So, in a way, we sort of have our own Men’s Club down here.  Though it isn’t nearly as exciting as the Men’s Clubs at Sooner Plant, where you get a ticket when you come in the door, so that you have a chance to win a prize from Wal-Mart when they call your ticket number.  —  Oh, wait, we did do that when we went to that theater where we ate all that pizza.  If they drew your seat number you would win a $50 gift certificate at some Mall.

I hope all is going well with you guys.  No accidents or anything like that.

I keep having these really weird dreams about Sooner Plant.  The other night I had a dream that I went to visit the plant, and instead of using a pickup truck to go up to the coal yard, you guys had a helicopter, and it would land right on top of one of the Fly Ash silos, so you didn’t have to go up the elevator or climb the stairs.

There was a whole lot of construction going on, like they were building a new part of the plant out in the field just out from the Maintenance Shop by #1 Boiler.  It was really strange.  I remember I was in the helicopter and Diana Brien and Scott Hubbard were there and Ben Davis was flying it around and he was dodging the new conveyor belts that were being installed, and we had tool buckets like we were going to fix something on top of the Fly Ash silo (though I was only there to visit).

It all seemed like a weird Sci-fi movie like Total Recall or something like that where the sky is all dark for no apparent reason.  When we got to the top of the Fly Ash Silo, Charles Foster was there with Andy Tubbs, and they came over to the helicopter, and started talking about what needed to be repaired, and I just stood there grinnin’ because I was so glad to see them, but they were so wrapped up in telling Ben and Diana what was going on that they didn’t have time to stop and say hello, so I felt all out of place.

Oh well.  —  I’m not an electrician anymore, so I don’t get to do all those fun things….  I was talking to a guy today at lunch about how I used to crawl around on the top of the Smoke stack to fix the grounding cables, and how you can see so far when the weather is clear, and there isn’t anything as far as you can see that is higher than you.  And when you lean over and look straight down the brick stack that is inside the concrete stack, it looks just like a big brick tunnel that is perfectly round, and goes so far that you can’t see the other end……  You sure can’t do that sitting here in this cubicle.

Note to Reader:  To learn more about climbing around on the top of the smoke stack, see the post Power Plant Blackbirds and Smokestack Jumpers.

There is no opportunity for the great thrill of drop testing the Stack Elevator around here.  Or (my favorite), climbing up to the middle beam inside the precipitator so that you can straighten out a set of plates and having to squeeze through those plates and beams to get down, and skiing down the steel support rod back down to the lower level when you are done without getting a rip in your fly ash suit or having your respirator knocked off of your face by a falling clinker.  Gee.  The best I can do for a thrill around here is spill my cup of ice water on my lap.

Note to Reader:  To learn more about climbing around inside a precipitator see the post Moon Walk in a Power Plant Precipitator.

Ok.  So I was ramblin’ again.  You know I learned from the best.  For those of you who don’t know.  I learned how to ramble from a girl in College in the early 80s named “Ramblin’ Ann”.  I used to be real quiet when I was a kid.  —  No really, I did…..  Maybe sometime I will tell you guys about Ramblin’ Ann, in case some of you don’t remember.

Note to Reader:  To learn more about Ramblin’ Ann see the post Ed Shiever Trapped in a Confined Space with a Disciple of Ramblin’ Ann.

Well.  I said in the subject line that it was “Springtime at Dell”.  I know because my daughter and son are off for spring break this week.  I couldn’t really tell by the weather.

We had snow 1 day this winter, and it was all gone by noon.  I think the temperature dipped down into the 20s two or three days this winter.  Now we’re back up in the 70s.  —  Well……  What good is ramblin’ if I don’t ramble about the Weather!!!!????!!!!  Ok.  I’m done.

I hope all of you have a good week.  Be safe.  Think of the Yellow Flag BEFORE the accident happens.  Lift with your legs and not with your back.  Where there’s a dusty dumper, there’s an explosion.  Change out the Boiler Feed Pump Turbine Coupling BEFORE it breaks during an overspeed test.  Sonny has REALLY retired…..Third time’s a Charm!!!

Talk to you later,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

____________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Programmer/Analyst III

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #97 — Dell-ivering Quality

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 ninety 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.

4/9/04 – Dell-ivering Quality

Hey friends at Sooner Plant and “beyond”,

So.  I heard the big news yesterday.  I heard that the Illustrious Sooner Plant Manager has decided to throw in the towel and call it quits.  I wonder what changed his mind?  Has he had a change of heart?  Does his wife know about this?  I guess she knew it would come to this “Sooner” or later.

That reminds me of my mom.  A few weeks ago, my dad mentioned that he was thinking of retiring.  He’s going to turn 70 this December.  He was thinking that it was time to start collecting his retirement and relax a little. —  Needless to say, my mom talked him out of it “really” quickly.

I can still remember the dumbfounded look Mrs. Godfrey had on her face when we were having the big retirement party during the first downsizing and Leroy Godfrey was retiring.  His daughter stood up and said, “I can imagine that it must have been difficult to work with Leroy, but remember, I had to LIVE with him!!” (followed by cheers and uproarious laughter)

Note to Reader:  To learn more about Leroy Godfrey’s retirement party, see the post The Passing of an Old School Power Plant Man — Leroy Godfrey.

I suppose that’s the reason that Jim Arnold is still around.  Could you imagine what his wife must say whenever he mentions retiring?

Maybe Bill Green is just going to surprise his wife the day he retires.  —  I can hear it now:  “Honeykins.  Don’t you think you should get up and go to work?  It’s already 6 am.”  “Why no, my dearest cherub (I’m sure that’s what Bill Green calls his wife), I’m not going to work anymore.  I’ve retired.”  “Did you say you re……….AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”  Get Up Right Now and go find another job!!!  I don’t care what you do!  Go be a greeter at Wal-Mart!!!!

Anyway.  I realize that it has been over three weeks since I wrote last.  It only seems like a couple of days.  I’ve been in a time warp working on a whole bunch of little projects all at the same time.

I think I broke a record this week on the shortest project in the history of our team.  It lasted for about 4 hours.  Then it was cancelled.  That was quick.

Yesterday, the program manager that I had for the big Kronos project came by my cubicle and said,  “Boy, you are sure getting popular among the PMs.”  I asked her why and she said that everyone was trying to get me on their projects.  I think it’s because I like to do paperwork, and they think if they get me on their team that I will do all of their paperwork for them.

I understand that you guys are just finishing up with Overhaul.  I hope everyone was safe and no one was hurt.

Well.  I better get back to work.  This typing up paperwork on the computer is really an experience.  —  Whatever happened to “Writing Programs?”  Oh that’s right.  We do that in India now.

Your friendly Dell programmer,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Global Financial Systems I/T

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #98 — The Boiler Ghost

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 ninety 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.

4/13/04 – The Boiler Ghost

Dear Friends from Sooner Plant and others,

Kelly was cleaning out our closet over the weekend, and she ran across some old papers from my former life at Sooner Plant.  She asked me if she could throw them out, so I sifted through them, and I ran across a piece of paper that was folded up and all stained with Fly Ash.  When I opened it, I found that it was a short story that I had written when I was on Labor Crew 21 years ago.  I had written it for Bob Lillibridge.

When we were on Labor Crew and we had to work in the Economizer tubes cleaning the caked up ash with Cross-cut saws welded end on end, we would climb into the small crawl space halfway down the tubes to spread the tubes from below.  Bob used to grab Ronnie Banks by the legs and Yell, “Boiler Ghost!!!”  Ronnie Banks had Claustrophobia, and it would throw him into a panic.  So I had written this story to Bob.

It went like this:

From the darkness of the boiler it came.

The Boiler Ghost, black, enormous, full of hate.

I watched with disbelief as it edged its way along.

Its eyes, red and piercing, with a stare of terror

It glanced first this way and then that.

As its eyes passed through me I was filled with

Such a terrible fright that I felt near the point of death.

The massive head hung down between two pointed

Shoulder blades vulture-like.

The most terrifying thing of all was the gaping mouth

That hung open.

It was full of such a terrible darkness,

So dark and evil as if it were the gates of Hell.

Just then I noticed its eyes had fixed on Bob.

Bob Lillibridge.

He was pressed against the wall by the piercing stare,

His mouth open wide as if to scream.

Eyes bulging out in utter terror.

Mindless with pure fright.

I tried to scream, but felt such a choking force

On my throat I could make no noise.

With steady movement the monster advanced toward Bob.

Bob was white as ash staring into that dark empty mouth.

Smoke poured out of a flat nose on that horrid face.

It reached out a vile and tremendous hand

And grabbed Bob,

Who burst into flames at his touch.

In one movement he was gone.

Vanished into the mouth of pure darkness.

The Evil Ghost glanced first this way, then that,

And into the darkness of the boiler it went.

All was quiet,

The roar of the boiler told me I was safe once again.

Until the boiler ghost should decide to return.

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Programmer/Analyst III

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527

 

Letters to the Power Plant #99 — Working at the Speed of Dell

After I left the power plant and went to work for Dell on August 20, 2001, I wrote letters back to my friends at the plant letting them know how things were going.  This is the ninety 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.

5/18/04 – Working at the Speed of Dell

Dear Soonerites and beyond,

I can’t believe that it has been over a month since I have written to you guys!  It seems like a century!!!  I think the last letter I wrote was about “The Boiler Ghost” story I wrote for Bob Lillibridge.I have been working on so many projects all at the same time that only now do I have about 15 minutes to write to you.

We like abbreviations here at Dell, and the projects that I’m working on now have names like:  CART, STAR T-DiRT, VIP, ISM, and I’m doing an enhancement to the Kronos Application that I worked on for so long last year.  I am also going to be working on an application called “Oracle Financials”.  I’m supposed to be their “Subject Matter Expert” (SME) on that some time in the future.  So I have been royally tied up lately.

There is some light at the end of one of the tunnels I am travelling through.  I am going to go to Europe on vacation next week for two weeks.  So I will leave behind all of my computers in my cubicle and let someone else deal with all this stuff for a couple of weeks.  I am looking forward to a vacation.

I am going to change teams in a week or so, so I worked out my vacation during the transition since my new manager won’t be expecting me, and my old manager will be glad to see me go (on my vacation, I mean.  —  He really likes me.  Believe it or not).

Actually, the manager that I am leaving is very sad that I am going over to the “other” team, because he enjoyed all those tricks I kept playing on him (no.  Honest.  He really did).  I think that’s why he insisted (actually, I think the word is “encouraged”) that I go to this other team so that I can gain all sorts of valuable experience learning new applications like Oracle Financials.

Note to Reader:  To read about jokes being played on others see the post Power Plant Humor and Joking with Gene Day.

Oracle Financials is like the Finance Module of SAP.  So you guys sort of know what I am learning.  This is like learning SAP all over again, except I am dealing with things like The General Ledger, and Accounts Payable, and stuff like that instead of Task Lists, and Bill of Materials and Work Orders like you guys use in the Maintenance Module of SAP.  Oh Boy!!!

I hope everything is going well with you guys.  I haven’t heard the latest news about how Sooner Plant is doing.  I suppose the Dumper is all reassembled, and dumping coal trains at a record pace.  During that downtime did they have the foresight to install PLCs to control it, or are they still using all those relays?

I had this weird dream a couple of weeks ago where I was standing in the Maintenance shop and there was this Maintenance Supervisor who worked at Sooner when Marlin McDaniel was the only A foreman, and he was telling me why he thought that every kid when he graduated from High School should spend two years in the military, and I was standing there trying to remember his name.

I’m sure all of you remember who I’m talking about.  The guy that went to Mustang Plant before he retired.  I kept thinking in my dream that his first name began with an “O”, but I couldn’t come up with a name that sounded right.  I thought it might be “Oscar”, but that didn’t seem to be it.

So in my dream I went through the entire alphabet in my head trying to come up with this guys name.  —  I know.  You guys are all jumping out of your seats yelling his name to me, but I finally came up with his first name.  “Orville”.

So then I tried to remember his last name, and I immediately thought that it was “Ferguson”, but somehow I thought that Orville Ferguson was a different guy that worked in the Coal Yard, who had the daughter that worked for Brown and Root doing construction building the plant.

So I kept going through the alphabet trying to remember his last name.  Finally I realized that the guy in the Coal Yard’s first name wasn’t Orville, it was Gerald.

Note to Reader:  To read more about Gerald Ferguson see the post A Power Plant Man Becomes and Unlikely Saint.

So, it was Orville Ferguson all along.  —  I just thought I would pass that experience on to you guys, because I’m sure the same thing happens to you all the time just like it does me.  —  Remember.  A few months ago I was so busy I couldn’t even remember my own name. — Honest.  I sat there for about 5 or so seconds trying to remember what my name was so I could log into my computer.

Well……..

Ok.  Have a good day.  Talk to you later,

Your Friend,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Global Financial Systems I/T

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #100 — Supporting Dell

After I left the power plant and went to work for Dell on August 20, 2001, I wrote letters back to my friends at the plant letting them know how things were going.  This is the one hundredth 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.

6/18/04 – Supporting Dell

Dear Sooner Plantonians and other noble figures,

I have returned from my vacation and I am happy to say that everything went well.  I was able to see the Pope, go to the top of a mountain and ride on trains, so I’m happy.

When I came back I found myself in my new group.  I am only here because the support team found out that I could cure computer problems by just laying my hands on the monitor or waving my “Elvis Presley Face” wand over it.

So I am now supporting a bunch of applications that I otherwise had no knowledge.  This reminds me of the week I first became an electrician.  I remember that I had only been an electrician about a week when people were all of the sudden asking me about different ways to wire their houses, and they were bringing ceiling fans in for me to rewire, etc. as if I was all of the sudden endowed with the supreme electrical knowledge of the “Good Ol’ Boy” Electrician.

That’s how this week has been.  I’ve been responding to trouble tickets all week and people have been calling me up asking me how to do things with all these programs that I hadn’t even heard of before this week.

So I tell them things like, “Have you tried turning your monitor around so that it is facing the back of your cubicle for about 10 minutes?  Monitors hate being put in time out and after doing that a few times, they will make sure that your programs stop messing up on you.”

I have even ordered a new headset so that I can talk all day on the phone while my hands are free to type, or twiddle my thumbs or pick my… well.  Whatever I might need for them to do. (I was going to say “teeth” —  pick my teeth.  What did you Think I was going to say?  Geez!).

I found out the other day that while I was away, our Vice President had an “All-Hands Meeting”.  They held it at some amusement park called “Austin Park and Pizza” or something like that.

Anyway.  The Vice President gave me the “Vice President’s Award for Customer Experience”, though I wasn’t there to accept it.  I am still wondering what it means that I win the award for best Customer Experience by going out of town for two weeks.  I guess when I left, everyone felt like I had given them some sort of a gift or something by my absence.

I heard they said a whole bunch of nice things about me, but I don’t know what they were.  That is sort of like when you die and people all of the sudden come out of the woodwork to say nice things about you, only you aren’t there to hear it.  I’ll let you know what they said when I find out.

I can only imagine what they said…..

“Kevin was always considerate.  He would leave us alone for days at a time without bothering us with needless rambling conversations about things that we really don’t care about.”

“Kevin on occasion would take a shower before coming to work, so that we would be able to freely breathe the air without hinderance.”

“Kevin would floss his teeth on the first of every month so that we would be able to look at him grinning after he told a joke that none of us understood, and we would see only his pearly whites instead of his previous month’s combined collection of meals.”

See what I mean?  All those nice things people say about you when you’re gone.

Well.  I see that it is beginning to get late and it is Friday, so I had better get ready for the weekend.  —  I’ll be in training all of next week (Learning more about Oracle PL/SQL), so I won’t be checking my e-mail regularly, though I will probably be looking at it in the evening.

Write and let me know how things are going.

On a serious note.  I heard that Diana Brien’s father has passed away.  I am sorry to hear that, though I know he has been suffering for a long time now.  My prayers are with her and her family.  I only met Diana’s father twice, and I found him to be a very kindhearted person.  He must have been a good father.  Just look at how well he raised his daughter.

Until I write again….  Work Safe.

Your friend from Dell,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

_____________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Global Financial Systems I/T

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #101 — Dell Summertime

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

8/3/04 – Dell Summertime

Dear Sooner Plantians,

I realize you guys probably don’t remember me anymore.  It has been about a month and a half since I have written to you, and like most people who leave the plant, after a couple of weeks you sit around trying to remember what that guy’s name was.  “You know.  That guy who used to sit there in that chair that used to read the dictionary for fun….What was his name?”

I have actually started a few letters in the past weeks, but I was never able to finish them because I was called away to some meeting, or had to go work on an application that all of the sudden quit working.

I am in an interesting position in my new job.  I have been learning all these new programs and how they run.  At the same time, Dell is opening new call centers all over the world, and I am the only one that knows how to program the timekeeping system, so I have to continue writing all the interfaces for those while I am doing my support job, at least until I can transition my knowledge over to another developer.

I’m sure a lot of you can relate to this position.  This is a lot like what happens when someone at the plant moves from one position to another and they still have to work on things in their old job because no one else knows how to do it.

Oops.  I just had two “ad-hoc” meetings while I was trying to write this letter.  Also Charles Foster just sent me an e-mail that I had to respond to, so now it is already 5:00 and time to go home.

Instead of just deleting this letter as I have done in the past, I will go ahead and send this to you so that you don’t think I have been totally ignoring you.

I hope everything is going well up there.

Let me know…..

Your friendly Dell Programmer and Support Person,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Global Financial Systems I/T

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527

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

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

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

Dear Soonerites and associates,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your friendly Dell Programmer,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Global Financial Systems I/T

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #103 — OSHA at Dell

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

9/2/04 – OSHA at Dell

Hey Sooner friends, and friends of Sooneridians,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Safe!!!

Your friend from Dell,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Global Financial Systems I/T

Dell Inc.

Letters to the Power Plant #104 — Quick Note from Dell

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

9/17/04 – Quick Note from Dell

Dear Sooneridians and friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh.  I can’t help it…..

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

Your friendly Dell Programmer,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Global Financial Services I/T

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527