Monthly Archives: March, 2019

Letters to the Power Plant #40 — Back from Vacation 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 fortieth letter I wrote.

06/17/02 – Back from vacation at Dell

Hello Sooner Friends,

I have returned from vacation.  I had a fun and interesting time.  And as usual, while I was away, the typical things happened when a person misses an all-important meeting.  It seems that our Vice President had heard that I was the “PowerPoint King”, and so he has volunteered my services at the “AISD”.

Down here in Texas, they have these things called ISD’s.  That stands for “Independent School Districts”.  It’s more important what ISD you live in, than what town you live in for obvious reasons.  For instance, if you live in the Round Rock ISD, That means that you are a “Dragon”.  If you live in the AISD (That’s Austin ISD), then you are some other kind of mean or noble creature that does not refer to American Indians, Endangered Species, or Sissies.

Anyway.  My VP volunteered my services to the Austin ISD, so that I can teach all the High School and Middle School Children the fine art of “PowerPoint”.  —  I said, “Ok, but do you really want ME teaching them PowerPoint?”  If I teach the children PowerPoint, the teachers might make a rule against using PowerPoint at all commencement Speeches.  (Did you notice that Steven, the Dell Dude guy was using PowerPoint at HIS commencement address?).

Note to reader:  To learn more about my use of PowerPoint, you can read the following two posts:  (Can you do that?  Use two colons in a row?):

Power Plant Men Learn to Cope with Boring and Power Plant Final Presentation

Actually, I think I’m going to be teaching them more than PowerPoint.  I’m going to be teaching them the “Art of saying what you want without being kicked off the stage, at least until the end.”

No.  I mean.  I’ll be teaching them the other Microsoft Office products as well.  Like Access, which is a Database program, and Excel, and Outlook and Word, and of course “Solitaire”.  Especially in the more unfortunate schools where Solitaire has accidentally been left off of their school computers.

Note to Reader:  To learn more about Solitaire being taken off of the computers, see the post Hitting the Power Plant HR Cardboard Ceiling.

I will show all the wonderful children the fine art of recovering valuable information that up to this point has been unavailable to them, such as the database where their grades are kept.  I will show them where they can change the school districts Lunch menu, so they will be able to schedule which days they would prefer hamburgers, or a steak dinner, etc.

I’m supposed to go to a meeting on Friday about this.  It seems that I have been put on what’s called the “Core Team”.  So I figure we will get to pick and choose what we want, (unless of course, I miss that meeting, in which case I will be given all the stuff that no one else wants — or be elected “Leader”  —  So I’ll be sure to be there).

At least it’s nice to know that my Vice President has faith in my abilities.  I guess he’s gotten over the program I wrote that started snoring when someone stopped using it for 5 minutes.  He’s actually a great guy.

Of course, this forgiving and forgetting thing is throwing me for a loop.  Where did that come from?  It must be a new thing that was only invented last year.  Up until last August I never knew Management could forgive or forget something, (unless it was your overtime pay).

Hmmmmm.  I wonder if I can do that?  I’ll give it a try some time.  —  I wonder what Jim Arnold would say if I went up to him and told him I forgave him for all the rotten and terrible things he did to me and my friends, and then I gave him a big kiss right on the smackeroo?  —  Oh.  Excuse me.  That last thought was just a little too much.  I apologize if I caused anyone to loose their lunch ( I know I almost did).  It was purely unintentional.  (I’m sure).

Before I end this letter, I would like to publicly apologize to Byron Hoeltzel for misspelling his last name.  — I spelled it “Hoetzel” in my last letter (but corrected when I posted it online).  Silly me.  I should know better, after all.  I’ve seen my name spelled every which way.  —  Some of them I wouldn’t even repeat in public.

I’ll talk to you guys later….

Your friendly Dell programmer,

Kevin James Anthony Breazillllle

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Customer Experience / Warranty Cost

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

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Letters to the Power Plant #41 — July 4th 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 forty first letter I wrote.

07/05/02 – July 4th at Dell

Dear Friends from Sooner Plant,

It has been a couple of weeks since I have written, and I know everyone is wondering what happened to me. (as if anyone REALLY cares).  Well.  Last week I was in training all week.

No.  It wasn’t SQL training.  I have had enough of that.  I started my project this Monday using all my extensive SQL knowledge.  —  Last week I took a course called “Mastering MFC development using Visual C++”. (I know this sounds like a lot of fun, and all of you wish you could have attended.  But just in case you are wondering — MFC stands for Microsoft Foundation Classes).

It was an all week course, and was very intense.  I studied so hard for that class that I forgot all the SQL stuff I have been learning the last month.  Then this Monday when I came to work, I had to start forgetting what I learned last week, so I could start remembering what I learned during the last month, so I could do my job.

Everything turned out ok, after I sat and stared blindly at the computer screen for 3 or 4 hours, and then it all came back to me and left me at the same time.  Anyway, besides those first 3 or 4 hours, the rest of the week has been pretty good.

Of course, this has been a holiday week, and as you will notice by the date on this letter, I came to work on the day after July 4th.  I had vacation, I just didn’t want to use it for this week.  —  Anyway.  Today has been pretty quiet since most people are gone today.

My manager came by a little while ago (around 2:00), and told me I should go home for the day.  So I thought this would be the perfect time to write to you guys.  —  That is, after I finished my all important “Weekly Status Report” where I fill in all the important things I did this week.

For instance, I put in there that on Monday morning, I sat in front of my computer for 3 or 4 hours and forgot everything I learned from the previous week while I remembered everything I had learned from the previous month, so I could perform my present job.  (I think in computer terms that would be called “simultaneous uploading and downloading”, though I have heard “downloading” used for doing other things, that don’t usually take place in one’s cubicle — maybe a stall, but not a cubicle).

I should have known 2 weeks ago when the weather man said that we had a deficit of 11 inches of rain for the year.  —  I should have taken that as my cue to prepare for the onslaught that was about to occur.  —  Do you think I did?  —  No.

I didn’t even remember to wash my car before it all came down.  —  This morning on the way to work the weather man said that we now have a surplus of 4 inches of rain for the year.  —  Hmmm.  That means that we’ve had somewhere around 15 inches of rain in the past 2 weeks.

Of course, I think that’s only how much they could measure after their rain gauge overflowed into the street causing the storm drains to flood. —  You know, you would think they would get a larger rain gauge.

Anyway.  Needless to say, We have survived another drencher.  I think I’m getting used to eating seafood, (or at least drinking seawater).  I think the water from the ocean was evaporating so fast, and raining on Austin so quickly, that it was like one giant wave coming from the ocean.  —  That would explain all the fish lying all over the place.

Well, since we couldn’t go outside to have our Fourth of July team builder because of all the rain, we just had it in a large conference room at the other end of the building where I work.  —  We did all sorts of team-building activities that have been carefully researched and crafted to optimize our team-building experience.

First we ate lunch. (That’s always a good team-building activity).  Then we broke up into teams, and then we put a bunch of chairs into circles and turned on some music and played Musical Chairs!!!  —  Boy.  I could feel those team-spirit vibes just oozing from the boom-box as we all marched around in a big circle waiting patiently for the music to stop.

In case you don’t remember how to play musical chairs…. When the music stops everyone is supposed to sit down in a chair, only there is one less chair than there are people.  The person that is unable to find an empty chair, or is not big enough or aggressive enough to push someone else out of their chair, has to leave the game.  Then one chair is removed and the game continues until only the biggest meanest brutiest person is left sitting in the last chair.

Then you go play something else.  —  In this case, there was a ping-pong tournament, and a game of Pictionary.–  Both highly effective “Team-building” activities.  —  I know.  I can see all those wheels spinning in your heads now, picturing how great your next Men’s Club lunch could be, if only you guys could play Musical Chairs too.

Note to reader:  To learn more about Power Plant Men’s Club events, read this post:  Power Plant Men’s Club Prizes and a Story of Luck.

Believe me.  It’s more team-building than a person needs in one day.  —  Personally, I have found that sitting at Men’s Club eating Barbecue and asking the guy next to you to pass the napkins has always been a great team-building experience.  —  Oh.  We did have Barbecue too.  —  And smoked chicken.  —  Both great team-building lunch items.  They are good for conversation starters.  (But of course, all of you know that already).

Well, I had better go.  It is good to hear from you guys.  I hope everything is going well.  I hope Conoco stays online (for your sake).

Note to reader:  To see why Power Plant Men would be concerned about Conoco read this post:  What Coal-Fired Power Plant Electricians Are Doing at an Oil Refinery.

Your Friend from down in Austin,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Customer Experience / Warranty Cost

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #42 — Moving Around 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 forty second letter I wrote.

07/12/02 – Moving around Dell

Hello friends from even more North than last week,

Yes.  This week I have moved to a new building.  —  It is only temporary, but for now, I must brave the morning traffic on I-35 for at least 4 or 5 miles in order to go to work in another Dell Shangri La.  —  My partner Marvin and I have moved down south about 5 miles to another building for a few weeks in order to be close to the DBAs.  (That stands for DataBase Administrators).  That way when we have questions and stuff, they will be real close to come to our assistance.

So I have moved into a new guest cubicle in this other building.  —  It is a little like OG&E when you have to go to another plant to work, except that it’s not so far, and I still get to go home at night, and I don’t get a per-deum.

One thing I do get to do, is I get to work with a whole lot of new people that I didn’t know until this week.  —  Also, like OG&E, when you go to work at other plants, you realize that it’s like a whole other company at those other places.  —  At Dell, it’s kind of like that.

Except at Dell, it’s like a whole other “Country”.  —  For instance, the people that are in the cubicles around me, have last names like this (and I’m not making these up):  Danda, Srivangipuram, Jasti, Satish, Raaman, Shao, Challagolla, Singh, Kasaram, Liu, Khanjee, Pothukuchy, Pokkula, Kunala, Srimattirumalala, and Ahmed.

Their first names are a lot easier to remember than their last names.  They go like this:  Azeem, Radha, Murthy, Venu, Sohan, Jichuan, Srinivasa, 2 guys named Ravi, Ragini, Liming, Devika, Mahesh, Kotamraju, Nanda and Venkat.

I get the impression that a certain group of people with long names like to be DBAs, or at least, Data Warehouse Developers. —  And this is just the two rows of cubicles where I am.  — It’s worth the extra 10 minute drive to work in the morning, just to learn all those extra names.

I have spent the week programming away.  We were planning on going to see Men In Black 2 this week as a team builder, but we decided against that.  So instead we will probably be going out on a lake in our manager’s boat in a month or so after the flood waters subside.

Some members of our team felt that going to see a movie isn’t really an optimum Team-building experience because you just sit there in the dark watching a movie and eating popcorn and drinking cokes, and you don’t really interact with each other.  —  At least on a boat, we can play tricks on each other, and push each other in the water, and ski, and detach the rope, and all sorts of optimum team-building activities like that.

Besides, when everyone is wearing a swimming suit, you kind of naturally get in the team-building spirit anyway.  —  And I know you are all wondering, so I’ll tell you right now.  —  Yes.  I will put my laptop in a plastic bag to keep it dry.  — Of course.

I hope all of you had a wonderful week,

I’ll write later,

Your Friend,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Customer Experience / Warranty Cost

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #43 — Traveling 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 forty third letter I wrote.

07/19/02 – Traveling at Dell

Dear Soonerites and others,

I have spent this week working in my new location.  It has been a real experience in many ways.  Probably the biggest difference between where I’m working now and my normal workplace is that the cubicles are 1 1/4 inches shorter.  That means that I don’t have to stand as erect to see over the top of them.  I can easily see across the entire building by just standing up with my normal slouching posture.

Another difference with working in Parmer South (that’s the “campus” where I am working), is that I have to drive farther.  Instead of the easy 7 to 10 minute drive to work, I have about a 20 minute drive.  —  The extra 5 miles generally takes about 10 to 15 minutes because I have to travel on Interstate 35.

The 35 means that that is about the top speed you travel during Rush Hour (Rush hour.  Yeah right.).  Anyway.  Driving that extra time reminds me of the days when I would carpool to work with Scott Hubbard (and Toby O’Brien and Fred Turner, and Paul Mullon and Tony Mena).

Note to reader:  To learn more about carpooling with Scott Hubbard, read the post Hubbard Here! Hubbard There! Power Plant Hubbard Everywhere!

As you can imagine, we would talk all the way to work, and all the way home while we were listening to NPR on the radio, or Rush Limbaugh.  Those were fun days.  It’s amazing how much you can say in a 25 minute drive.

I have found that instead of filling my car up with gas every 2 1/2 weeks, I have to fill it now about every week and a half.  —  When I was working at OG&E, it seemed that I had to fill my car with gas just about every week.

Anyway.  I have heard some interesting conversations in my new temporary abode, as you can imagine.  I don’t want to go into much detail about it, but let me just say that I have heard a lot of conversations that I couldn’t understand because they were in a very different foreign language.  Since I speak every language in the world except “Greek” and “Geek”, my guess is that these guys were all speaking a Geekish form of Greek.

Dell is coming out with some new commercials, and I was watching them on my computer this morning.  I think you will like them.  Especially if you have grown tired of the “Steven” commercials.

These aren’t aimed at the regular consumer like the Steven commercials, they are geared more toward the    ******SECURITY VIOLATION******** THIS PORTION OF THE E-MAIL HAS BEEN DELETED BY DELLSECURE—-IT CONTAINED PROPRIETARY INFORMATION.  ******SECURITY VIOLATION********   Anyway, I thought Ellen and Dave were pretty good.

I hope everything is going well with you guys this week.  I haven’t heard much from “up North” lately.  I suppose that means that everything is going well.  No fires. No explosions. No buildings falling over in the middle of the night.  Gee.  If none of those things are happening, then what are you guys doing for fun these days?

So, who’s the next person retiring from Sooner?  Does anyone know?  Has George Pepple retired yet?  I have forgotten.

Your friendly programmer from Dell Land incorporated,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Customer Experience / Warranty Cost

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #44 — Rush Hour 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 forty fourth letter I wrote.

07/26/02 – Rush hour at Dell

Dear friends from Sooner Plant (and those less fortunate that have to work somewhere else),

Since I have been working at this other building, I have discovered a new culture that exists in Austin, and I suppose in other large cities.  I ran into this “cultural phenomenon” by “accident” the other day.

I was driving home on the freeway (I -35), and there was an accident somewhere down the road, so all the traffic had come to a standstill.  Which meant that instead of driving 15 miles an hour we were driving at 0 miles an hour.  Then I saw people getting out of their cars, and taking off their shoes and putting on flip-flops, and popping their trunks and putting on T-Shirts.

I wondered what was happening at first, but when people all around me started to take coolers out of the trunk of their cars, I finally figured out what was going on.   —  They were having a block party in the middle of the Interstate.

People were all tuned to the same radio station, and they turned their radios up real loud, and were sitting on the hood of their cars drinking, sunbathing and listening to music.  —  And all along, I thought this sort of thing only happened at Dell.  —  Now I know.

I went out and bought a cooler and some flip-flops just for the occasion.  I thought it would be great sitting on the hood of my car playing with my laptop in the middle of the highway. Now when I leave work, I fill my ice chest up with ice.  —  Which reminds me of something……  It’ll come to me I’m sure.

I get the feeling that some people drive around Austin during the day listening to the traffic report to find out where the accidents are, and they head in that direction, just so they can have a party in the middle of the freeway.  If you timed it right, you could be sitting in the middle of a traffic jam approximately 83 percent of the time  —  That’s just a rough estimate of course.

Anyway.  I might be able to tell when there is an accident up ahead by the frantic look in people’s faces as they drive down the highway with the eager look of anticipation as they fly by in their pursuit of “block parties in the highway”.  Come to think of it.  I think most of the people on the Interstate have that look of eagerness.  I almost think that some people are causing accidents on the freeway, just so that all those people behind them can enjoy a relaxing afternoon in the sun.

Well, so far I am about a month ahead of schedule.  I was originally scheduled to finish this project in the middle of October, based on the fact that I hadn’t had any experience writing these kinds of scripts and macros and stuff.  I have finished writing everything and now I’m testing them.

Now they figure I’ll be done around the first part of September.  That is still a month away.  I think I’ll finish before that.  —  They didn’t realize that I wrote a program that would write all my macros and scripts for me.

That was something I learned when I wrote that program for Mike Vogle when he wanted to take “Glink” home with him, so he could fill out his MOs at night.  That was way back in the days when we had dumb terminals and computers and smart, hard working foremen.  Now we have smart hard working computers and …….  well, I think it’s pretty smart to have the computer do the work, so you don’t have to.

Note to reader: to learn more about the the program I wrote for Mike Vogle read the post  Power Plant Men Take the Corporate Mainframe Computer Home.

Next Monday I am going to visit an Austin High School to meet the teachers that I will be teaching to use Microsoft Office.  If you remember, my Vice President signed me up to do volunteer work for the Austin School district.

He had heard about the now famous PowerPoint Presentation from my “going away” party.  As it turns out, I will mainly be teaching teachers.  —  It’s the “training the trainer” idea.

Note to reader:  To learn more about my going away party see the post Power Plant Final Presenation.

Evidently there are some teachers out there that have the attitude that “I’ve been doing it this way for 35 years.  I never had to use a computer before.  Why should I start now?”  —  Imagine that.  That sounds vaguely familiar, but I just can’t place it at the moment.  It’ll come to me I’m sure.

Note to reader:  To learn more about “doing it this way for 35 years”, read the post Bobbin’ Along with Bob Kennedy.

I hope everything is going well with all of you.  Everything is going well with me and my family.  I’ll talk to you later.

Your friendly Dell Programmer,

Kevin James Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Customer Experience / Warranty Cost

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #45 — The Dell Zone

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 forty fifth letter I wrote.

07/31/02 – The Dell Zone

Dear Sooner Plantians,

Even though it is early in the day, I have already had an interesting morning.  First, I did not have the regular “Freeway Experience”.  I decided to try an alternate route.  —  Yes.  —  Avoid all the traffic, see the country side.  Have a nice relaxing drive to work.

So, instead of turning left at CR 122, I turned right.  Then I turned right on HWY 79, and then another right on HWY 685, and then I turned left on FM 1825 and then after travelling around a number of nameless and numberless roads, I turned right on RM 734, which took me to the building where I am working.

I think it took a little longer than if I had done the “freeway crawl”, but I noticed that after I turned off of HWY 685, that I later recrossed that road, after winding around some curving roads in the countryside, so I think there may have been a more direct route than the one I took.

The roads here don’t run north and south and east and west like they do in Oklahoma, they just take off in whatever direction the road construction crew thought would take them closest to the nearest diner by lunch time.  —  I think if someone put a Diner out in a field in the middle of no where, some construction crew would probably build a road that goes right by it, then they would give it a name like:  FM 2334 (Remember that FM means Farm to Market.  Now you know why.  I think the same thing must apply to Supermarkets).

The county lines around here don’t run square with the world either.  They all run slanted like Sooner plant.  (If you remember the conversation about how the power plant is 7 degrees off true north, and so is Austin).  Well, I figured out why the counties are all slanted down here.  They line up with the coastline.  I looked at a map of Texas the other day (which down here is almost a weekly requirement like saying the Pledge of Allegiance) and all the counties in this part of Texas are sideways with the coast.  —  It makes sense to me….. Well, it made sense to them anyway.

When I arrived at work, I thought that maybe I had taken a wrong turn on one of those country roads, and ended up in a building that looked exactly like the one where I was supposed to be, only I had entered the Twillight Zone or something.  The parking lot was the same, and the security guard at the front desk looked the same, but when I arrived at my cubicle, I had this eerie feeling that something was not quite right.

I couldn’t place my finger on it right away.  I pulled out my laptop and slid it into the docking station.  I powered it up and went to the end of the hall and poured myself a cup of ice water.  I strolled back to my “guest” cubicle all the while with a feeling that something was different.

I sat in the cubicle and watched my computer booting up, and I looked around.  —  The lights were on.  I could hear the hum of the air-conditioner.  The poster in my cubicle with all the database tables all connected together with lines running everywhere looked the same, but something was different.

It felt just like I used to feel when I walked in the Electric Shop and Unit 1 was off-line.  You know something just isn’t quite right.  So I decided to ask someone about it.  I quietly called out to the surrounding cubicles, “Venkat?”  “Murthy?”  “Srinivasa?”  “Anyone there?”  “Kotamraju?” “Are you there?”  “Devika?” “Radha?  “Anyone?”  “Where is everyone?”

There wasn’t anyone around.  That’s right.  No Nanda, or Liming, no Ravi or his other brother Ravi.  No Jichuan, or Venu, no Sohan, Ragini or Azeem. All the cubicles around me were empty.

My first thought was, “Great, I went to the wrong floor, and there is an identical cube to the one I’ve been using with the same database drawing in it, and no people.”  Then I thought.  — “Is it Saturday?”  No.  Then I thought, “My gosh, they laid off the whole Data Warehouse.”

Not likely, especially since we sold more computers last week than we have ******SECURITY VIOLATION******** THIS PORTION OF THE E-MAIL HAS BEEN DELETED BY DELLSECURE—-IT CONTAINED PROPRIETARY INFORMATION.  ******SECURITY VIOLATION********     So my next thought was that everyone had gone to a meeting and I wasn’t invited.  —  Which is partially right.

It turns out that the Data Warehouse people are all having an “Offsite” today.  You know.  A “Team-builder”.  They had told me that yesterday, but I didn’t remember until I wandered the cubicles for 3 or 4 minutes.  — “Oh Yes, Of course.  A team-builder.”  — “Whew”  That was a relief.

I thought I was catching glimpses of Rod Serling wincing his face at me in the reflection in the windows, and the do-do do-do music from the Twillight Zone was beginning to run through my head.

So my next thought was.  “I know.  I’ll write a letter to you guys.  My old friends from up North.  That will settle me down.”  So that’s what I did.  But you already know that part.

Have a safe day,

Your Friend from do-do do-do Dell!!!

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Customer Experience / Warranty Cost

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #46 — Traffic Backing Up 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 forty sixth letter I wrote.

08/12/02 – Traffic backing up at Dell

Hello Friends from of old, —  not to be confused with “old” friends,

First of all, I would like to thank Donald Relf for driving all the way down here, just to visit me.  I was so thankful, I took him out for a steak dinner at the Outback Steakhouse.  Oh, and I suggested that since he drove all this way, that he might as well drive a few more miles down to San Antonio to visit his daughter (you know.  Since he was in the neighborhood).

We had a good time discussing all the new and innovative things that have been going on at Sooner plant, (since he had recently visited there to help with the “Towering Surge Bin Inferno”).  He said that Jim Arnold has just done wonders to the place.  He has Lifted up everyone’s spirits and brought back that wonderful family atmosphere that we used to have when Bill Moler and Eldon Waugh were our nurturing benefactors.  —  Well.  He didn’t use those exact words, but that’s how I understood them anyway.

Secondly, You all know that lately I have been driving on Interstate 35 to get to my temporary cubicle 5 miles south of my normal cubicle I call home.  Well, for some reason Fridays seem to be the worst day of the week.  I’m not sure why, but I think it probably has to do with the fact that Saturday and Sunday immediately follow Friday, and that seems to get the drivers in some kind of strange mood.

Anyway.  Last Friday the meaning of the phrase “Traffic is backed-up for miles on North I-35” began to take on a new meaning for me.  — Yes, I realize that it is normal for going-home traffic to slow down to 15 miles-an-hour.  I even realize that sometimes the traffic has to come to a complete stop (though, it’s hard for me to see how anyone can actually have an accident at that speed).

The other day, however, right after we had come to a complete stop, and I was reaching for the lever to pop my trunk to retrieve my ice chest, and change to my tee-shirt that says “Dude, you’re gettin’ a Dell”, the little white tail-lights on the cars in front of me started to turn on.

At first I thought.  Gee.  All those cars have a short in their “back-up” lights, because they are all turning on.  Then I realized that the cars were actually moving backward. —  So my hand moved quickly from the lever for my trunk back to the steering wheel, and my other hand moved over to the gear shift, and my eyes quickly glanced up at the rear-view mirror, as I too shifted into reverse.  I think we were all creeping backward down I-35 at about 2 miles an hour.

I saw the looks of some jealous drivers’ faces that were in the other lane going south, and I think at one point, we were travelling south faster than the southbound lane of I-35.  Those drivers in the other lane were having dreams of leaping over the barricade and getting into one of our lanes.  I could tell by the way they were salivating as they sat on their trunks drinking their refreshments and listening to the radio.

They even have these “supposedly” homeless people that walk down the freeway selling candy to stranded motorists.  It’s rather bizarre.  So you see, now when I hear that traffic is “backed-up” on I-35, I have a whole different vision of what is happening than before.

Thirdly, I have tried desperately to begin my paragraphs with words other than “Anyway”, so that’s why I’m saying “First of all”, and “Secondly” and “Thirdly”.  Anyway,  This is going to be another one of those marathon weeks where I have to go do a bunch of activities that are not exactly in my “job description”.

On Wednesday, I’m supposed to go with my team to a place called “Schlitterbahn”.  It is supposed to be the biggest water park in the world.  —  Yes.  We are doing another Team-builder.

I haven’t received another list from my manager of questions to answer like I did when we went to sit around her pool.  I’m still waiting to see what we are going to do at Schlitterbahn for 10 hours.  —  Then on Friday afternoon, we are going out to a big restaurant with our Vice President and having a “Happy Hour”, only it’s going to be for three hours.  —  So, I have to brush up my “social” skills again, in order to keep from making a fool of myself like I did at the last……Oh, well, that was nothing…..no really, it was nothing.

Fourthly, I can see that it’s time to get back to work.  I hope everything is going well with everyone up there.  It’s good to hear from you,

Your friend,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

CIA: Customer Experience, Integrated Services Model, and Ariba

–CIA, we work behind the scenes so you don’t have to–

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #47 — The Monday After 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 forty seventh letter I wrote.

08/19/02 – The Monday after at Dell

Dear friends from Sooner Plant,

Well.  I’m back to work after spending the weekend recuperating from my past week.  Last week, if you remember,  on Wednesday we had to go to the Schlitterbahn Water Park and then on Friday afternoon we had a three hour happy hour get together at this big expensive restaurant called “Cool River”.  — I don’t know for sure, but you can probably look up both these places up on the Internet, just to get an idea of what I have had to go through this past week.

I managed to get a sunburn on the top of my head again.  I guess I didn’t put enough sunscreen in my hair.  The water park had a bunch of Tube rides, so I spent the morning with my teammates, team-building as we sat in tubes going down rapids and getting stuck in eddies and twirling around and getting dunked and falling off our tubes, until we finally stopped for lunch.

Then we went to this other area of the park (by taking a shuttle bus), and they had this ride that they call “The Master Blaster”.  It’s like a log ride, except that you go on the ride in a two-man raft.  At different points along the roller-coaster-like ride, you are actually being shot uphill by water being blasted at you.

So your raft goes flying up these tubes as you desperately cling to the handles on the raft, then when you get to the top, you go falling back to earth while twisting and turning through the tubes, all the while, you have to hear your manager that is sitting in front of you in the raft screaming her head off while at the same time trying to maintain her cool composure.

This isn’t like OG&E where they supply you with earplugs.  —  It’s almost as fun as jumping on belt 10 and taking a ride up the “long belt” (which I wouldn’t suggest).

The only time I ever stood on belt 10 was when it had broke in two while it was full of coal, and we had to shovel coal off of it onto belt 11 all the way down the belt in the middle of the summer with the sun beating down on that galvanized oven (back when I was a summer help and I was getting paid $4.24 an hour).

Anyway, we recuperated from that by riding around this “wave” pool on inner tubes until we were so dizzy, we couldn’t remember why we were so tired.

When I was safely back at home, I put aloe vera on all my sunburned spots, which was just about everywhere my bathing suit wasn’t covering.  —  I had put sunblock on, but I think all the water blasting me everywhere, somehow washed it all off.

Then last Friday, our Vice President invited us out to eat hors d’ouevres (Now that’s one word I’m not sure how to spell, I always pronounce it “Horse Doovers”) and drinks.  Of  course I didn’t want to seem unsociable, so I drank a lot of Iced Tea and ate a lot of Horse….well….Snacks.

The snacks were actually more like a meal, so I ate a lot too.  I sat at a table with the Vice President, and my manager came over and told him a bunch of good things about me.  —  I think she did that so that I wouldn’t tell him stories about how she flew screaming through the water tubes a couple of days earlier, and I nearly busted my gut laughing so hard.

I’ll admit, after drinking so much, it was hard driving home.  I had had so much to drink, when I arrived at my house, I had to quickly run inside and head straight for the restroom.  You know how Iced Tea is.  It runs right through you, and when you have to drive across Austin in going home traffic, it is a long way between restrooms.  I made it all right though.

Last week we also had a staff meeting where my manager gave me a $25 gift certificate for coming up with a team slogan.  Of course, I feel like I should split this with Andy Tubbs, Diana Brien, Ben Davis, and Scott Hubbard, since they did help write the 600 other safety slogans that we turned in when we were still considered “electricians”.

We tried so hard to win the yearly safety slogan award so that we could have a pizza for our team.  We never won, because everyone was mad at us for winning the slogan every month.  I’m sure it was all that experience that helped me come up with a slogan for our team.

Note to reader:  To learn more about our team writing safety slogans read the post When Power Plant Competition Turns Terribly Safe.

The slogan down at the bottom of this e-mail isn’t the slogan I turned in.  Our team name is “CIA”, and I made a slogan that said, “CIA, We work behind the scenes so you don’t have to”.  I came up with the one at the bottom of this e-mail when we were at the water park and we were trying to figure out how to convince some of our teammates that the “Soda Straw Tube chute” ride was really an educational ride, not a “supersonic, water blasting, life-threatening event”.  For some reason, this slogan came to mind.

It’s good to hear from you guys, I’ll write later,

Your friend from Dell,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

CIA: Customer Experience, Integrated Services Model, and Ariba

When the Mission seems impossible, call the CIA!–

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #48 — Record Breaking 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 forty eighth letter I wrote.

08/23/02 – Record Breaking Dell

Hello Friends from Sooner Plant,

I had a dream the other night (not to sound like Martin Luther King), where someone at the plant had gotten hurt real bad.  I think it was George Clouse.

He was somehow thrown real far when he was being lowered by some kind of rope, and then he fell and banged into something and ended up being tossed about 30 yards where he landed on the concrete close to where I was standing.   I called for help on the radio, but no one came.  (Except maybe some other Dell programmers with long names).

Dreams are weird that way.  —  Anyway, you guys stay safe.  Watch out for each other.

I found Dell’s Safety Mission Statement sitting on a table in the cafeteria on one of those triangular cards that you find in restaurants to show you what is the special that week.  —  Anyway, it starts out like this:  “Dell Computer Corporation is committed to the belief that people are our most important resource.  Dell’s safety policy is to be proactive in maintaining a work environment that protects the health and safety of employees, customers, and the public……”

Then it goes on with a few more sentences about personal responsibility.  —  I thought you guys would like to hear that.  Just recently Dell’s factories reached 2 million man-hours without a major injury.  That’s pretty good considering how fast things are moving in there.

This past week we had an I/T All-Hands meeting.  We all got on buses and went to a “Performing Arts Center” where Randy Mott (our CIO) spent the morning giving us the scoop on how our company is doing.  It was fun watching the videos and stuff.

There was one day during this past summer when we produced 75,000 computers in one day.  —  That’s really making computers fast.  Especially when you consider that there are only 86,400 seconds in a day.  That’s getting pretty close to making one computer every second continuously.  That’s pretty fast.  It’s been calculated that we can do up to 2 computers per second if we had to.

Besides going to the All-Hands meeting, not much happened this week out of the ordinary.  Unless you take into account that I was able to get to work early this morning because I-35 was fairly clear.

There was an accident, but it happened north of where I enter the freeway, so everyone in that direction was stuck, which made it a breeze going to work.  When I saw that the highway was pretty clear, I quickly tuned into the “Traffic Channel” on the radio.

They told me that there had been an accident at the corner of HWY 29 and I-35, and if you were on FM 620 and were planning on going down FM 734, it would be better if you took HWY 183.  And there was some accident on HWY 290 that was causing traffic to back up on I-35.

It still amazes me how every street that has accidents has a number.  I sometimes think that if they quit numbering all these roads, that people would stop having so many accidents.  —  Maybe they’re all looking at the road map as they’re barreling down the road trying to figure out which number they are supposed to turn on to next.

Anyway.  Since this has been a rather normal week, I have been able to get a lot of work done.  I found out today that they are adding some stuff on to my project since I’m so far ahead of schedule.  I’m supposed to learn more about that on Monday.

Next week is going to be the same.  —  Except that next Friday during a “Quarterly Luncheon” with a group of teams, I’m supposed to give a “PowerPoint Presentation” about what we are doing to teach the teachers at the Austin High Schools.   I asked my manager if that’s what they really wanted me to do, and she said that it was.

I asked her if she had heard about my PowerPoint Presentations from the past, and she said that she had.  She said that someone from where I used to work had called the company and told them that I was not to be trusted when giving PowerPoint Presentations, and when they asked whoever it was if they were referring to the PowerPoint Kevin had given at his going-away party, that had already been posted on Dell’s Internal Website as a learning tool for giving uplifting and energizing presentations, the person hung up and didn’t even leave their name.

Somehow I can picture them waving at me now.  —  Let me pull that up real quick. —  Yep.  There it is…  Isn’t that precious?

Note to reader:  To learn more about my final PowerPoint presentation see the post PowerPoint Final Presentation.

Of course, those of you who missed my going-away party don’t have a clue what I’m talking about.  It’s probably better that way.

I hope everything is going well with all of you.  Remember to keep alert.  Don’t get hurt.  Lift with your legs and not with your back.  Watch out for the other guy.  And as the sign says:  “Always Wear Your Gloves”  (That is, when you’re doing switching).  —  I guess, now it’s “Always wear your gloves, your Switching jacket, your protective hood, and good quality work boots and safety glasses.”

I would go on rambling some more safety slogans, but it is Friday afternoon, and if I were to take attendance of the cubes around me now, I would find that there is:  No Venkat, no Murthy, no Srinivasa, no Kotamraju, no Devika, no Radha, no Nanda, or Liming, no Ravi or his other brother Ravi, no Jichuan, or Venu, no Sohan, Ragini or Azeem.  —  Sorry I couldn’t help myself.  That’s just too fun.

Ok.  Ok.  I’m going.  Write to you later.  Let me know how things are going.

Your friendly Dell Programmer from Austin,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

CIA: Customer Experience, Integrated Services Model, and Ariba

When the Mission seems Impossible, call the CIA!–

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #49 — Humor 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 forty ninth letter I wrote.

08/28/02 – Humor at Dell

Dear friendly Soonerites,

I heard a story today while I was sitting in my cubicle typing away.  Munavar told Vinod a story about how he and Phat had went to the movies the other night.  They said when they got there, who should they see, but Sumant and Rajarao.

Then I heard Mahesh one cubicle over from mine start chuckling.  He said, “I told you so”.  Then Vinod looked rather stunned, and Munavar walked off with a smile that reminded me of Leroy Godfrey right after he had pulled one over on L. D. Hull.

I thought I would relay this story to you guys so that you will be able to enjoy it as much as I did.  It was a knee-slapper, no doubt.  Somehow I was able to maintain my composure.

Today, I started working on the PowerPoint Presentation that I will be giving on Friday.  One of my teammates kept walking in my cubicle this afternoon to ask me questions, and he kept looking suspiciously at my computer screen and turning his head sideways as if something on the monitor would make more sense if his head was crooked.  I told him it would all be clear on Friday afternoon during our quarterly luncheon.

I’ll let you guys know how it goes next Tuesday.  I’m making this short because it is already late in the day, and the database is extra slow right now…… Hmmmm…..  How did that database get so slow?  Ray?  Do you know?  I wonder if it has the same problem that SAP has.

Note to reader:  To learn more about how I slowed down the SAP database read the post Hitting the Power Plant HR Cardboard Ceiling.

I’ll write later,

Your friend from Austin,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

CIA: Customer Experience, Integrated Services Model, and Ariba

When the Mission seems Impossible, call the CIA!–

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527