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 sixty 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.
3/21/03 – Down and out at Dell
Dear Sooner friends, and “significant” others (not in the sense of “significant others”),
Well. As you can tell by the Subject line, I’m a little “Down and out” today. You might normally expect this after having such good news in the last letter. Well. All next week I was going to be going to a training class for a programming language called C# (pronounced “See Sharp” — As in “See Robert Sharp Run”). Unfortunately, the class was cancelled.
I was really looking forward to sitting in a classroom and playing on the computer all week without having to worry about work or anything. I was just going to go to class and write programs and learn new stuff all week, and …. And… AND … well. I guess that’s what I’m going to be doing anyway except I’m going to be doing it in my cubicle instead. Gee. Thanks for cheering me up. It won’t be so bad after all. — I’ll just have to schedule that class for some other time. Boy, it’s amazing how, just talking about something (or rambling about it) can make a difference.
Well. As some of you have pointed out; You guys have an overhaul coming up the week after next. — When I look out the window to the southeast, I can see a fairly good size power plant sitting up on the hill. I was thinking of taking a ride over there during lunch some time, just to see if they are having an overhaul, and maybe ask them if they would let me stick my head in the precipitator, just so I could get a big whiff of that good ol’ lung stiffenin’ fly ash!
Boy!! That’s about as thrillin’ as hangin’ out with the smokers outside at the “smoker’s corner” of the building. — I think I told you once that there is a rule at Dell (and maybe a law in Austin) that you can’t smoke a cigarette within 50 feet of the entrance of a building. So they have these ash tray things stuck in the ground out away from the building so people know where to go when they need to smoke.
It’s funny, because way back when I was in college (the first time) we used to call the people that smoked, “smoke stacks”. Now I’m thinking about how the smoke stack (or the precipitator — which makes for a smokeless stack), is similar to someone smoking a cigarette. — It’s funny how that happens. Things like that seem to happen to me when I start rambling about things.
My manager came by my cubicle the other day and gave me a book called “Introduction to the Personal Software Process”. Just the title alone probably fills you with wonder and joy, as it did me. I started reading it today, and the first 4 chapters are about Time Management.
What a coincidence. I remember when I was at Sooner Plant and they were teaching some of the supervisors how to use Time Management tools (you know. That daily planner book they were using). I asked Toby once to show me how it all worked, because in order to go to school full time and work full time, and spend time with my family full time, I had to do something to manage my time, because obviously I was either a Masochist (a person that likes to intentionally hurt themselves — in case you were wondering) or I didn’t know diddly squat about how to manage my time.
So Toby helped me out, since “upper” (sometimes known as “up yours”) management didn’t seem like it was necessary to teach the people that were doing the (real) work how to manage their time. — Especially the ones that were “Trouble makers”.
The interesting thing about this book is that it explains how to do the same thing as those Organizer books with only a simple notebook. — Now that is interesting considering that Sooner Plant was spending a fortune buying monthly inserts for those organizers every year (if you included the consulting fees where you could call someone up and ask them questions about how to use your organizer). (They could probably hire another employee for the price they were paying for those inserts).
It kind of reminds me of those training modules that they bought for a half a million dollars for the new hires, when I could have written the exact same programs with all of your help in about 6 months, and they were already paying our salary. — I guess they have this idea that if they aren’t spending money on something, then they aren’t really serious about it. That’s kind of funny, because down here, we have the exact opposite view. Or maybe it’s just that they thought that we knew “diddly squat”!!!
Now with that positive note: Have a great weekend. I hope to hear from all of you soon at Sooner!
Your friendly Dell Programmer,
Kevin James Anthony Breazile
Kevin J. Breazile
Dell Computer Corporation