Letters to the Power Plant #121 — Happy Thanksgiving 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 twenty 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.

11/21/05  —  A Happy Thanksgiving from Dell

Dear Sooner Plantians and friends,

It has been hard these days to find the time to write, but things are starting to ease up some.  I’m on vacation this week, so I finally have “some” time to write.  Notice that even though I’m on vacation I am still logging into work to check on things.

Old habits are hard to…..well….anyway…..I thought I would log in just to see what is going on.  I’m going to be in Stillwater this Wednesday night thru Friday night to visit my parents.  I think we will be staying at the Hampton Inn, since it’s about the only good Hotel in town.

I hope everything is going well with all of you.  I haven’t really heard much lately.  Is your new plant manager keeping you so busy that you don’t have time to write either?

We just went through another Reorganization / downsizing.  I’m still on the same team I was on last month when I wrote last.  Things are finally settling down so that I’m only doing two jobs now instead of three.  I’m still the Application Administrator of the Oracle Financials application.  That’s the program that is sorta like SAP, but only the Financial module.

So, how is it with your new plant manager?

I keep having strange dreams about the plant, but it has changed so much in my dreams that it has morphed into a sort of Dellish, Power Plantish, Universityish, Europeanish, 18 century villageish sort of mystical place.

I suppose you guys have those sorts of dreams too. —  Where you are going to work on some kind of a big piece of equipment (carrying the printout of your Task List), and being chased by some mythical creature that lurks in the boiler and comes out like the monster in Beowulf, out of the furnace to snatch unsuspecting hardhatted fellows.

Then you may stumble into a meeting room in order to have a one-on-one meeting with your foreman, only to find that all the meeting rooms are booked, and there isn’t anywhere to hide, so you go darting out of the room and find your self running down a cobblestone street in the dark trying to remember if you have already taken a clearance on the bowl mill, and whether or not Bill Robinson put the tags on the right one.

Then as you are climbing the ladder up the side of the bowl mill you hear a tap-tap-tapping coming from inside the mill and realize that some tinker is sitting on his three-legged stool tink-tink-tinking away at some wooden object outside the front of his shop where his family has been tinking for centuries.  And he is singing a song that sounds like the song that is sung by Intake pumps as they hum along.

And as you leap over the ash pipes by the Intake pumps and stumble and roll into the electric manhole because someone has left the lid off of it and didn’t put up a barricade, and fall splashing into the manhole since the manhole pump doesn’t work and water from Sooner Lake has seeped in and filled it up.

You know I watched a little open motored pump pump that hole dry one day.  It was the strangest thing to see that motor running under water.  Totally soaked with water.  That must have been some clean water.

Anyway.  You know how dreams are.  When you fall in the dark water of a manhole, you either get zapped by electricity and wake up, or you are suddenly transported to the top of the Fly Ash silo and the only way down is to walk the crosswalk across the top of the silos and make your way down the zigzag stairway since the elevator doesn’t seem to want to cooperate.

And as you walk down the railroad tracks into the dumper, you hear the pound-pounding of your feet on the metal hull of the dumper as you walk through it.  The deluge pump on the south side seems to be leaking water down the side of the dumper into the dark coal stained concrete.

As you follow the water down into the dumper and through the grid at the bottom, you crawl out through the hatchway at the bottom of the dumper hopper.  Rolling onto the floor you become drenched in the damp coal dust that soaks into your pores and heals your wounds, making you forget your cracked skull and bruised knees.

Following the faint dumper lighting, you make your way to Conveyor 2 and start the long climb to the surface.  As you climb higher and higher, you find yourself watching computers flowing by as the conveyor belt turns into rollers that swiftly and cleanly shifts computers this way and that sending them on their way to the customers waiting patiently at their door.

Where they eagerly open their computer boxes and madly assembling the monitor and keyboard and plugging it into the wall, connecting it to the generator that hums in the power plant, being spun by the steam that is made by the coal that came to the plant on the train that was dumped into the hopper and carried on Conveyor 2 up and up to the top of the stackout tower where it is dumped onto the coal pile.

Where brave men in their large yellow coal moving machines run like ants over the surface.  Packing and moving and packing again…..

Then the engineering professor points to the chalkboard with his long wooden pointer and his bushy moustache and eyebrows, and funny hat and glasses, and he says “that is the circle of life”.  And the crowd roars with applause, and the professor bows and the applause becomes more and more tinny until it is nothing more than a tink-tink-tinking sound that sounds like the sound of the tinker.

Or is it the sound of the footsteps of that horrible creature that lives in the boiler and comes out every now and then to snatch unsuspecting fellows in their yellow hardhats?  Creep-creep-creeping up on you.     —-  You know.  Dreams like that.  I’m sure you guys must have them all the time.  Or perhaps you “Live Them!!!”

Your Friendly Dell Programmer,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

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