Monthly Archives: May, 2021

Letters to the Power Plant #66 — A Blizzard 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 sixty sixth letter I wrote.

2/14/03 – A Blizzard at Dell

Dear Sooner Friends,

I hope I’m not disturbing all of you.  I know how busy it must be, with the “mini-overhaul” and all.  I just thought I would write and let you guys know how things are going down here.

We had a blizzard last weekend.  It was all over the news that we were actually going to have a snow storm in Austin.  People all ran out to the stores to stock up on food and other accessories.

Some put on their snow tires and put bags of sand in the backs of their trucks so that they wouldn’t slip all over the road on their way to church on Sunday morning.  People put plastic over their bushes with little heaters so that their bushes wouldn’t be burned with the big freeze!!!

The kids were all excited, because they hadn’t seen snow since we visited Stillwater during the Christmas vacation.  So they were looking forward to Sunday Morning when they would be able to go out and frolic in the snow.

So early Sunday morning, just as the sky was beginning to glow, I peered out my bedroom window and looked out over the backyard.  As I began to search the frozen tundra for signs of white flakes, my eyes lit upon a piece of wood in the backyard that the dog uses as a chew toy.

To my great surprise and delight, there was a layer of white substance dusted lightly on the top of it.  As I glanced around at the grass, I couldn’t find any other signs in my backyard that it had snowed during the night.  Looking up at the rooftops of the houses around me, I could see that there was signs of snow on the roofs of many houses.

A little while later, I heard the sound of my son running down the stairs and to the window to get a look at the Winter Wonderland in our backyard.  He was happy to see that there was snow on the roofs of the houses, but he asked me why it hadn’t snowed on the ground.

I turned on the news and they were talking about how the snow storm had moved through the area last night.  My daughter called a friend of hers, and they said that they had been out playing in the snow that morning.  They had made a snowball by going around to their cars and collecting the snow off of the back windows until they had enough to make one snow ball big enough to throw at each other.

What fun I thought!!  On the way to church, I could hear the hum of the snow tires on the cars going down the road, and felt out of place, considering that I didn’t even have snow tires.

When we were sitting in Church during a moment when it was rather quiet, I could hear the sound of a truck driving down the road outside wearing chains on it’s tires to gain added traction while the blizzard-like conditions persisted.

There were many accidents reported on the news attributed to the snow storm, and I thought it must have been because when the flakes started to come down, people forgot where they were, and just stared up into the sky with an amazed look on their faces and their mouths hanging wide open, until they ran into the car in front of them on the freeway.

You guys know the look I’m talking about.  The blank stare with the “mouth wide open” look  You have all seen it before.  It’s the look that Max Thomas would have on his face whenever he walked into the control room after doing his rounds.

Come to think of it.  It’s the same expression that Max Thomas had when he was sitting in the break room drinking coffee or walking out to the parking lot to get into his car.  You know.  He would sit there with his mouth hanging open.

One time, I said,  “Hey Max,  you’re mouth is hanging open.” and he said,  “Yeah,  I know.”  I asked him, “Aren’t you worried that a fly is going to fly in your mouth?”  He said,  “Naw.  It doesn’t matter much anyhow.”

So I said,  “Max,  Why are your finger’s twitchin’ like that?”  (If you remember, Max would stand there, and his fingers would be twitchin’ like he was playing an invisible piano or he was unconsciously using sign language to spell out what he was daydreaming about).  Max said,  “Yeah, I know, I just like to do that.”

I think I had a dream once where Max was playing a piano and his mouth was wide open as he was bellowing out an opera in Italian (Something like “Oh Solo Mio”).  It was a strange dream, and I knew I was dreaming, because Max was wearing a tuxedo.

It’s strange how dreams are.  I mean, I can picture Max playing a piano, and I can even picture Max bellowing out an opera with his mouth wide open, but when I saw Max wearing a Tuxedo, I immediately thought, “Naw.  This HAS to be a dream.”  And I was right.

I hope everything is going well with you guys.  I’m doing fine down here.  —  Trying to stay warm and out of the blizzard conditions outside.  It’s supposed to be in the mid-70s today.

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

Kevin J. Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #65 — New Building 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 sixty fifth letter I wrote.

1/31/03 – New Building at Dell

Dear Soonerites and significant others,

Well.  Here I am in the new building.  Well.  Ok.  It’s not new, but it is for me.  —  Well.  Ok.  So I’ve worked here before with the Data Warehouse (which is not in a factory — Which my mom still thinks), but I haven’t worked on this floor.  Our team is on the 4th floor, which happens to be the top floor of this building.

When I look out of the north windows I can see the Manufacturing plants about a half mile away.  I can see all the trucks going in and out of the plants all day.

If I look real close I can see the Leprechauns taking their lunch breaks sitting outside under a tree (eating Keebler’s cookies).  If I look out the south window, I see a bunch of trees.  There is a hill between our building and Austin, so I can’t quite see the downtown.

This building is in Austin, but not close to the center of town.  We are on the north side of town, just 5 miles south of the building where I worked before.  —  The place that I came from was called “The Round Rock Campus”.

This place is called “The Parmer South Campus”.  Up the road where the manufacturing plants are is called “The Parmer North Campus”.  That just about makes up all the building in Dell in the Austin area (And this concludes your Geography Lesson from Austin for this week).

I haven’t written for 2 weeks, mainly because I’ve been writing to some of you who have been writing back to me, and so I have had my “Sooner” fix for a while.  The other reason I haven’t been writing is because all of my spare time has been taken up with evaluating a website for Dell.  It’s called www.books24x7.com.

It is a site where you can read books online.  They gave me a trial subscription to it for 3 weeks and wanted me to test it out to determine if it is something we would want to subscribe to at Dell.  I thought the site was great.

You can read all sorts of Programming and business books online.  Since I only had three weeks to use this site, I have been staying up late at night reading and reading, trying to read all the books I could before they turned off my subscription (which they did today).

So for the past 3 weeks I have been reading all the books I could find about programming video games, since my daughter Elizabeth and I are designing “The Power Plant Man!” video game.

Just to give you an idea of what it will be about, it will be played in 3 stages, in the first stage you can pick what type of maintenance person you wish to be, then you have to perform different tasks throughout the power plant while there are all sorts of obstacles that you have to overcome.  All the while there is an evil supervisor (who resembles Darth Vader) who keeps trying to find reasons to fire you, so if you do something wrong, he pops out from behind something and fires you and you lose the game. (Of course, you would save it often, so you don’t have to start all over)

Anyway, you complete all the tasks while avoiding the evil supervisor and his evil plant manager (who looks like the Emperor in Star Wars).  Then in Chapter 2, you find out that the evil supervisor and plant manager has received all the credit for your good work and they cut your salary and you have to pay more for your “benefits”, while the evil plant manager and supervisor receive bonuses for the good job you did.

So your task at this point is to destroy as much of the plant as possible as quickly as you can without getting caught so that the evil manager and supervisor will lose all their bonuses and be forced into retirement.

Then in Chapter 3, you will have to rebuild the plant and design it better than it was before.  You will have to rebuild a lot of the systems, coal-handling, boiler, Turbine, etc, and make it work properly.

The first part of the game is like an adventure game where you have to solve puzzles to repair the equipment (for example:  How to get parts when Bud the Tool Room guy, who won’t give them to you because he only has one left).

The second part of the game is an Action/Strategy game, where you have to set up stuff to destroy the equipment in a short time, while out-maneuvering the Auxiliary Operators who keep trying to operate the plant while you are trying to bring it down.

The third part of the game is more like a Sim City type game where you can design the plant how you want, but it has to work well enough to produce electricity.  You have to be able to produce enough steam pressure from the boiler to spin the turbine fast enough, which means you have to be able to have all the right systems in place.

You will be able to try something, and then modify it until you have a plant that works.  At the end, depending on the construction costs, you will have a cost that you will have to charge the customer for your electricity.  If it is reasonable, you win.

Most likely you will be able to play any chapter in the order you want.  So you could go straight to Chapter 3 if you want, or you could play Chapter 2 first.  However the player wants to do it.

I was going to throw in extra games in the first chapter, like an Air Hockey game, you can play against the computer when you take your break.  Also there will be one of those “push the blocks” around puzzle games in the warehouse when you have to go there to get a part, but boxes are in your way.  —  Stuff like that.

I’m working on doing the 3D graphics for it now.  That’s why I have been reading all the books.  I’m just about ready to start programming something in a couple of weeks.  In the next week or so, I have to bring Elizabeth up to speed on Visual C++, because most of the program will be written in that language.  As I get parts completed, I’ll send you guys a copy to test it.

It has been good to hear from you guys,  I’m glad things are looking up at Sooner (as well as can be expected).  I’ll write soon,

Your friend from Dell,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

Letters to the Power Plant #64 — Typical Dell Week

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 fourth letter I wrote.

1/17/03  Typical Dell Week

Hello friends from Soonerland,

It is nice to hear from some of you.  I’m glad everything is going so well up there.  —  No one has told me otherwise, so…. As always, I assume the best.

I suppose there are no overhauls coming up, and nothing has caught on fire lately, and management has treated everyone to a steak dinner for doing so well on your safety record.  —  Yes.  I remember those days with fondness.  —

Those nice brisk mornings in the Winter at Sooner Plant when the frost would light up across the coal pile as the sunlight would send it’s rays over the horizon.  —  It was days like that when the stack lights would go out and Charles Foster and I would take the elevator to the top and look out over the frozen lake while a blizzard-like wind would rustle through my hair.

And the musical stomp-stomping of Charles Foster’s feet as he tapped out a rhythmical tune as he struggled nobly to keep the frostbite at bay.  —  It was mornings like that that you never forget, though you may embellish them in your mind in order to hold on to your sanity — as you can see.

Sorry,  I slipped into a poetic mood there for a little while.  —  I think I’m out of it now.  —  Let me check. —  Yep…  No more poetry here.  —  I’m not sure what this is, but it definitely ain’t poetry.

Well.  We went to the Team-builder last Friday.  It was a lot like the one we had last year.  We ate a big lunch, and played video games and pinball games and stuff all afternoon.  There were a few new games this year that they didn’t have last year.

One of them was called “The Shocker”.  It looked like an electric chair without the cap that fits on your head, and you sit in it and grab two hand grips, and it starts raising the voltage on you, and the chair starts shaking.  The object of the game is for you to hold on as long as you can.

The longer you hold on, the more tickets you win.  Needless to say…. I could go up to the highest level without any problem.  Years of working around electricity and around Sooner Management has worn all the “Shock” out of me.  So, even though all my hair was standing up on end, and my lips were curled up around my nose, I could still hold on.

Then there was this one thing where two people stand on this platform, and the game tells you where to tap your feet on the ground, and then it plays music, and you end up doing a dance.  You have to tap the floor in different places at the right time to get a good score, and there are different levels of difficulty.

I didn’t try that game because after The Shocker, I was already doing dance steps as I walked across the floor.  I just stood there and watched other teammates make fools of…. I mean, take turns on it.

They would be hopping all around trying to hit different spots on the floor real fast, and they are too involved in the game to realize that they look pretty foolish doing what they were doing.  —  Anyway.  I didn’t think they looked foolish, but someone who wasn’t in the “team-building spirit” might have thought so.

Well.  This time next week we will have moved to a different building.  We have to box up all the stuff in our cubicles on Thursday, and magically, on Friday morning, all of that stuff will show up in our new cubicles in our new building.

The building our team is moving to is the same one where I was working with the Data Warehouse people, only on a different floor.  I’ll let you know what I think about it when I get there.

You may remember one of the more important things about that building.  All the cubicles are about an inch and a half shorter than the cubicles in this building.  So I can see over them easier.  Not to mention, it’s easier to throw things across the room.

You guys may know the feeling that I am experiencing today, knowing that I’m going to have to move to another cubicle.  It is similar to the day when Jasper Christensen told everyone that they were going to lock up the electric shop and the I & C shop and everyone was going to start doing all their work in the maintenance shop unless there was actually a need for them to go to those places.  —  Well.  Ok.  It doesn’t quite feel that hare-brained.

I get to take everything with me.  All my hardhat stickers aren’t stuck to the walls, they are just held up there by these special kinds of “cubicle pins” that don’t poke holes in your stuff.  —  The other building has a better cafeteria than this place, and a better exercise gym.

There aren’t as many restaurants down there as there are here.  I would have to drive farther to get to them.  I think at last count there are around 35 good restaurants within 1/2 mile of this building, and down there, there isn’t anything within 1/2 mile.

When they heard we were moving our whole group down there, they started building a Wal-Mart Supercenter and shopping mall down there, and across the highway, they are putting in a Lowe’s Shopping center, and they will be full of restaurants.  So I figure in about a year from now there will be a lot of restaurants in the area, just in time for when they move us back up here.

That’s how they do things around here.  We are in a perpetual reorganization.  I mean, the Dell culture says, “If you’re not reorganizing, then you’re standing still.”

Well, my manager invited my wife and I out to dinner tonight, so we’re going to the Macaroni Grill (now that’s an idea.  Managers inviting their direct reports out to dinner).

I better wrap up this letter so that I can leave early, so that I can go home and spiff myself up, so that I can go out and eat, so that I can gain some more weight, so that I can exercise more, so that I can lose that weight, so that I can be slim and trim.

Ok, I know it isn’t poetry, it’s rambling, as in Ramblin’ Ann-type rambling.  Can I help it if I have been inflicted with the propensity to ramble?  Well can I?  I don’t know, maybe I can.  —  I’ll try to stop…..  Let’s see.

I’ll say goodbye, and I hope to hear from you guys soon, and I hope you are keeping warm.  —  (Some of your cold air actually blew down here today).

I’ll talk to you guys later,

Your typical Dell Programmer, always in a hurry, and always ramblin’ about something,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #63 — After the Holidays 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 sixty third letter I wrote.

1/9/03  After the Holidays at Dell

Dear friends and former workmates from Sooner,

I hope everyone has recovered from the holidays.  I know it took some time down here to get back into the swing of things.  This week I’ve had one meeting after the other while people try to catch up with all the lost meetings from being gone for the last couple of weeks.

I think some people were going into “meeting withdrawals”, and couldn’t wait to come back to work in order to schedule meetings all day.  I have gone out to eat lunch every day this week for one kind of meeting or another.

I hope today I can skip the lunch and just eat something a little more — “manageable”.  I feel like I have been eating two full dinners (that is “suppers” for those who call “lunch” “dinner”) each day this week, and that is mainly because I have.

I do have a meeting right around lunch time today, so it remains to be seen if I can sneak away before someone grabs me by the scruff of my neck and drags me out to some elegant restaurant where the waiter comes up to you with a bottle of wine and a big grin on his face and says, “Bonjourno”!  Of course I always end up having to do the respectable thing and order one of the larger and more expensive dishes on the menu.

Well.  Since most people have been away from work for the last couple of weeks, our team is going to get together tomorrow for another one of those “team-builder” things.  We are supposed to meet around lunch time (who would have thought?) at a place called “Dave and Buster’s”.

That’s the place where we went way back when I was a new guy on the team, and I was still in Boot Camp.  It’s the “Adult Arcade”, where it’s like a grown-up Chuckie Cheese with pool tables and a bar instead of a singing and dancing rat like Chuckie’s.

Which reminds me.  We took our son (Anthony) to Chuckie Cheese’s last summer for his birthday, and we parked around back.  As we were walking around the building to the front entrance, I noticed that they had one of those black rat poison boxes by the back door.  You can imagine how bad the food must be in the restaurant when they think that the giant dancing rat will actually go out back for a bite to eat.  —  I thought that was pretty funny.

So, anyway.  If it is anything like the last time;  I suppose tomorrow I’ll be playing pinball all afternoon and shooting pool, and then I’ll have to drive back home through all the going-home traffic when we’re done.

I heard that we might actually have to do some “team-building” activities while we’re there, so I’ll let you guys know how it goes if they make us do some “fun-filled” activity that makes us (mainly, me) look foolish.  —  Of course, that’s not hard to do considering what I have to work with (meaning myself, not my coworkers).

I mean, just think what I must look like trying to play musical chairs (like we had to do for the “white elephant Christmas party).  Walking around the circle of chairs intently paying attention to where I am in relation to the nearest chair while also trying to concentrate on whether the music has stopped or it is just pausing between notes, only to sit down in a chair at the same time as someone else, and then trying to gain more territory on the surface of the seat in order to de-throne my competitor.  — That’s a pretty foolish sight isn’t it?

Oh well.  If it “helps the team”, then I’ll do it.  I’m such a team player.  Geesh.

Oh well.  I had a meeting yesterday with my manager, and he said that he was doing my performance appraisal.  (You guys know what those are).  Well…  They do them a little differently down here.  They actually write down things in the appraisal that are nice about the person.

Now, I know that this must seem odd, for those of you who lived through the era where your foreman wrote your performance appraisal and then had to send it to their supervisor, who had to send it to their supervisor, only to have it sent all the way back to the foreman to take out anything nice that they said about the person because they hadn’t documented it before the appraisal.

And then they had to adjust the numbers so that everyone had the exact same number because if someone had a better number than someone else, then, well, that just wasn’t good.  And then if they wanted to get rid of someone they didn’t like, they would just give them a little better number than everyone else and they would be promoted to foreman over at some other plant, and everyone at that plant would all be smirking and giggling as the poor unsuspecting plant obtained a foreman from “Hell”.

At least someone finally got wise at OG&E and decided to “Stop the Madness!”  —  Well.  Down here I have had two performance appraisals already, and I’m getting ready to have another one, in a month or so.  And so far they have been full of nice stuff.

I asked my manager after my last appraisal, “So,  Where’s my “Opportunities for Improvement”? (You know what that means.  An “Opportunity for Improvement” means that you flunked in that category).  If you want I’ll send you a copy of my next one when I get it.  Just to show you how they do it down here.

I hope that everything is going well with you guys.  Let me know what’s happening.  —  My daughter Elizabeth and I have come up with a name for the video game we’re going to make.  It’s going to be called, “The Power Plant Man!!!!”  I’ll give you more details later.  We’re still in the design phase right now, but it should be good.  As I finish parts of it, I’ll send you guys a copy so you can test it out.

Your Friendly Dell Programmer, Team-builder, Pinball player, and musical chair player,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

Letters to the Power Plant #62 — A New Year 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 sixty second letter I wrote.

12/31/02 – A New Year at Dell

Dear Friends from of Old (Not to be confused with “old” friends, meaning, you guys are old — even though most of you are — like me),

Now that I’ve cleared that up…..  It was good to see some of you the Monday before Christmas.  It was strange walking into the plant and seeing that hardly anything had changed.

Boy.  Things change around here so fast, it seems that every other day, when I walk in the building, I have to stop and look around just to make sure I didn’t show up in the wrong place.  I am grateful to Randy Dailey for giving me a bunch of “Be Safe, Work Safe, Cause I Love You Man” hardhat stickers.  I now have one on the wall of my cubicle!  I’m right proud of it too…

The phrase was: ‘Cause I Love You Man!

I’ll bet I’m the only guy in this place that has THAT hardhat sticker pinned to his cubicle.  —  I see people passing by my cubicle green with envy.  As well they should be.

There were two people that didn’t appear too happy to see me the other day (I don’t know why).  I’ll leave it up to your imagination who they were but there initials are Bill and Jim.  I didn’t see Louise, even though she was there.

The shorter of the two “unhappy” ones, was going to walk right by me with a big frown without even saying “hi”, but I stopped him and said, “Hi Bill, How are you doing?”  Then the other one was going to make some smart remark about OG&E leasing Compaq computers when Alex showed me that they were using Compaq, until I said that I was glad people are buying Compaq computers.

I said that because Compaq loses money every time they sell one, because they have to sell them for less than it cost them to make it, because they have to compete with Dell.  Who, by the way, makes money every time we sell one, unless you buy one the way Linda Shiever did the other day.

I left the plant around 9:30 on Monday and I made it out of Stillwater around 10:30.  There was already about 3 inches of snow on the road, and the traffic on HWY 51 was going about 20 miles an hour.  It sped up to about 40 miles an hour once I was on I-35, until we were in Oklahoma City.

There, the roads cleared up, and it was smooth sailing the rest of the way home.  I almost spent too much time at Sooner Plant.  If I had stayed much longer, I might have been stranded in Stillwater for a day or so.

Well.  This week there is hardly anyone at work.  I’m not sure why, but I suppose it has to do with the fact that everyone had all last week off, and we have a holiday tomorrow, so they all decided to take these two days off also.

Yesterday, my second line manager told us to go home early because there was a big storm coming and she didn’t want us to be stuck here.  So I drove home, and just pulled my car in the garage when it started to hail.  Whew.  That was close.

Then there were tornadoes all around and the wind was blowing, and I felt as if Oklahoma must have blown in from the north.  We were all right though.  The tornadoes were off to the south and the east of us.  —  Who ever heard of tornadoes in the middle of winter?  This IS the end of December isn’t it?

Today, that same manager told us to go home at noon.  So I will.  I was supposed to be planning my new project today, but I started doing it yesterday, and since there wasn’t anyone here, I didn’t have to go to any meetings, and I didn’t have to attend any “team-builders”, so I just sat down and not only finished planning the entire project which is supposed to take until February 14th, but I also completely finished it.

I wrote the whole program in about 6 hours of uninterrupted programming ecstasy.  Some times I forget how much I enjoy just sitting there programming something, because I don’t actually do that as often as you think.  I have to spend time collecting information about the requirements from the business people, and then we have to develop a plan for the project, and then we have to have team-builders, and then we have to have meetings to discuss “issues”, as well as other meetings to discuss all sorts of stuff.

So the time I actually have to sit down and do nothing but program is quite limited.  I would do it at night when there aren’t any interruptions, except that I’m usually too busy at home playing on the computer.  So I sent the project plan to the Project Manager yesterday afternoon, and told her at the same time that I had already finished it.  — She’s gone until after the New Year, so I haven’t heard back from her yet.

I hadn’t heard about Dan Ewy until someone told me at the plant the other day.  Hey.  Just because I’m down here, it doesn’t mean that I don’t care about you guys.  So, “Be Safe, Work Safe, Cause I Love You Man!!!!”  And let me know how you guys are doing.

The Programmer from Dell !!!!!,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

 Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #61 — Abbreviated Christmas 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 sixty first letter I wrote.

12/20/02 – Abbreviated Christmas at Dell

Dear OG&E Friends,

Well.  Here it is.  Our last working day before Christmas (for Dell I/T).  There is hardly anyone here this morning.  Yesterday we had a “White Elephant” Christmas party, where you bring a “gag” gift, and then you play a game to figure out what order people choose the presents (we played musical chairs), and then there are a bunch of rules about how you can take other people’s presents from them, but only so many times, and then you get to eat rum cake, and cookies, and drink sodas, to help cover up the smell of rum on your breath (as if that works).

I think I got the best gift of them all, which was a glass chessboard.  It is really nice.  The gift I brought last year was voted the “best gag gift”.  It was a book called, “Why I am a Baptist”.  It is an old book that I bought in a police auction way back when I was a kid in college (the first time).  This year it was again voted the “best gag gift” when the person that ended up with it last year used it as her gift this year.  —  There was only a handful of us there that knew where it had originally come from, since the teams have changed around a lot in the past year.

I was just given a new project the other day, and I’m supposed to spend the day planning it.  I sure am lucky that I had the opportunity to sit in on a few of Jim Arnold’s marathon outage planning meetings.  This has prepared me for the task at hand.

First I will make a list of all the things that I need to do.  Then I will start with the date that I am going to start the project and add all the tasks in the order that I need to complete them.  Then I will put down the amount of time it will take to complete each task.

When I have completed that, I will look at the ending date, and if that doesn’t meet the “required” end date, then I will adjust my “estimated” times to complete each of the tasks until I make it come out to end on the right date.  —  And as in the meetings with Jim Arnold, I will only put down the times that it will take to complete each task, if nothing goes wrong (because, of course, we all know that nothing ever goes wrong).  Then I will turn it in to my manager, and I will start the project.

It would sure be neat if they had something like the “Power Program” here.  They told me the other day that one of the programs I wrote back in November saves the company $57 million a year.  —  I’m not sure how, but that’s what they put in their CBA (Cost-Benefit Analysis).

Which reminds me.  I have been learning so many acronyms for things lately, it’s hard to keep up with them all.  My manager sent me an e-mail yesterday that said that I “need to make sure and include the LOE in a min-traceability matrix for the QLT package.”  —  Well….. Ok…..  I asked him if that meant that the EMEA validation with the DDW was SOL, and he said, “What’s SOL?”

I said, “Well, if you don’t know, I guess you’re just “SOL”. —  No.  I really didn’t say that.  I did have to ask him what LOE meant,  and he told me it means “Level Of Effort” (bing….. Like I should have figured that one out on my own, I was thinking that it meant “Loss of Energy”, or “Look Out Edith!!!”).

I asked him to give me an example of a “min-traceability matrix”, and he did, so that question is answered.  I think we have a website somewhere that has a bunch of Abbreviations and their meanings.  I should make that one of my favorite places.

My daughter and I used to come up with new meanings for the acronym WWJD (Which usually means, “What Would Jesus Do?”).  Since my mom’s name is Joan, and my dad’s name is James, we would come up with phrases like “Where Would Joan Dine?” or “Wah!!  Wah!!! James!!!! Drive!!!!” or “WereWolves Just Drool”.  I never did come up with new meanings for the acronym OG&E.  But I’m sure you can think of a few for me.

My team works with Customer Experience Metrics so we have all sorts of abbreviations.  Our first one is:  CE, which means Customer Experience (pretty neat, huh?).  Then we have MWD, which means

******SECURITY VIOLATION******** THIS PORTION OF THE E-MAIL HAS BEEN DELETED BY DELLSECURE—-IT CONTAINED PROPRIETARY INFORMATION.  ******SECURITY VIOLATION********

which we are going to change to MWD&R, which will mean

******SECURITY VIOLATION******** THIS PORTION OF THE E-MAIL HAS BEEN DELETED BY DELLSECURE—-IT CONTAINED PROPRIETARY INFORMATION.  ******SECURITY VIOLATION********.

You can see how we measure the experience of our customers.  We have a bunch of other Metrics;  STT, DTT, SDOTFTF, IFIR.  One of my favorites is the SDOTFTF.  It looks like a True and False Test.  Something Like:  “So Dumb One, True, False, True, False?”  But no.  It stands for:

******SECURITY VIOLATION******** THIS PORTION OF THE E-MAIL HAS BEEN DELETED BY DELLSECURE—-IT CONTAINED PROPRIETARY INFORMATION.  ******SECURITY VIOLATION********.

So you can see what kind of detail we go to to measure our customer’s experience.  —  I think it’s pretty neat.  It’s the reason Dell has the number one Customer Service rating of all the computer companies.

Well, I better get started.  If I don’t see you guys on Monday, December 23rd, then “Have a Merry Christmas”.  If I do see you on Monday, well…. “Have A Merry  Christmas” also.  And a Happy New Year.

Your friendly Dell Programmer,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile, esq. (which stands for “esquire”.  —  I only threw that in there because it was an abbreviation).

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #60 — Airplanes 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 sixtieth letter I wrote.

12/06/02 – Airplanes at Dell

Good morning Fellow Soonerites,

Ok.  So I’m not a Soonerite anymore.  At least I used to be.  Which is more (or less) than others can claim.  Anyway.  This morning when I walked into my cubicle, I found two pieces of paper sitting on my chair.  They looked like some kind of advertisement for Dell.  Like a brochure or something.

Upon closer look, one of the pieces of paper had a bunch of dotted lines and letters of the alphabet all over it.  On one side of the other piece of paper was a bunch of information about the new computers that we are selling, and on the other side was instructions about how to fold the other piece of paper into a paper airplane in 22 easy steps.

Ok.  I thought.  I can do this.  I sat down at my desk and (after turning on my computers and reading my e-mail and pulling up a database to see what kinds of data was there), I started folding and folding the piece of paper into an airplane.  Well.  One hour and 22 steps later, I finally had my airplane complete.  It looks kind of like a fighter jet.

So I thought, I wonder what I’m supposed to do now?  So I walked by the cubicles next to me, and those guys hadn’t showed up for work yet, and their airplanes were still just sheets of paper laying on their chairs.  So I came back to my desk and now I’m wondering if we’re going to have some kind of “Paper airplane” fight or something this afternoon.  —  You know.  Something to get us in the Christmas spirit.

I haven’t found the answer to that question yet, so my paper airplane is just sitting on my Desktop computer which is sitting on my desk behind my monitor next to my hardhat sticker that says that I’m a “Certified Operator of OG&E Industrial Powered Trucks”.  You know…  The red round sticker that you are supposed to stick on your hardhat to show that you can drive the forklift.

Note to Reader:  To learn more about hardhat stickers at the power plant, read the post  What Does a Hardhat Sticker Tell You About a Power Plant Man?

I never put those stickers on my hardhat, I just put them in my lunch box, so that one day when I’m working somewhere else, doing something completely different, I could retrieve all those old hardhat stickers and tack them up on the walls of my cubicle.

There is one hardhat sticker that I never received, because I was gone on overhaul or something at the time.  It was the one where it said something like, “Be Safe, because I love you man” (or something like that  — I’m sure you guys know the one I’m talking about).  —  Well.  I never had one of those, and I tried to get one for quite a while.

So I have a spot on the wall of my cubicle just for that sticker.  I figured that someday, somehow, I’ll get one of those stickers from somewhere, and that spot will be there waiting for it.  —  Well, enough rambling like Rambin’ Ann.

I thought I was doing pretty good there.  —  I was going from topic to topic, talking about how the paper airplane was sitting on my computer, then about the hardhat stickers, and then about how I was hoping that someone would mail me one of those stickers that I never got– oh, is that what I was saying? –, and then talking about how I was rambling like Ramblin’ Ann, which is what I’m talking about right now.  — So, I’ll stop and go to the next paragraph.

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.

Next Paragraph…..  Well.  Today is the last day before I go on vacation.  I’m going to Disney World as you may remember from my last letter.  I came to my cubicle this morning instead of going to the “Data Warehouse” down at the “other” building, because I thought that our team was going to have to move next week while I was out of town, and I was going to pack up my stuff and put them into boxes.

As it turned out, we will not be moving until some time in January, so I don’t have to pack just quite yet.  —  When we do move, we will be moving to the building where I’ve been working for the past 4 or 5 months.  Except that I’ve been working on the 2nd floor and we will be moving to the 4th floor.

We are doing that because our particular group has grown recently, and our upper manager wants us to all be together in one place.  Right now we are scattered all over the place.  Some are on the same floor as me.  Others are up on the 3rd floor.  Some are in the building across the way, and others are in the building that we are going to move to, which is where the Data Warehouse guys are, which if you remember, is not a factory.  It’s actually a much bigger building than the one that I’m in right now.

At least it has a lot more parking, so you don’t have to park real far away and take a shuttle bus to your car at the end of the day.  I think their cafeteria is better, so I’m not complaining. (You know.  —  The important stuff).

Hey.  Someone just threw an airplane into my cubicle, and I heard some snickering over the wall.  It sounds like my Vice President.  I’ve got to go.  The war has begun.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas.  I’ll try to drop by on December 23 to visit.

Your Friendly Dell Pilot,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #59 — Thanksgiving 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 fifty ninth letter I wrote.

12/02/02 – Thanksgiving at Dell

Dear Sooner friends (that are still there),

I realize it has been a couple of weeks since I have written, and I know you all must be wondering if I have forgotten all my friends from the frozen tundra of North Central Oklahoma.  Well.  I haven’t.  Actually, I went through Stillwater on my way to Alabama for the Thanksgiving holiday.

On my way back through town, Mike Vogle actually met me at Braum’s.  I thought that was a nice gesture to come all the way from Morrison to Braum’s just to visit.  I think I talked him into buying something while he was there, so he didn’t have to make the trip for nothing.  —  Actually, I just ran into him in line, and I said “Hi”, but I can pretend that he came there just to meet me.  That way, I feel like you guys haven’t forgotten about me stuck down here in “team-builder” land.

I have been put on another project, sort of part time between the time I’m at work, and the time I’m on vacation, and the time I’m not involved in some sort of team-building activity.  It is working with the Data Warehouse much like the project that I had earlier this fall.

After talking to my mom over Thanksgiving Break, maybe I should explain what a “Data Warehouse” is.  It is a database that holds all the data that the company generates.  It is huge and business people are always wanting data from it in one form or another, so there are applications that are made that use the data in the data warehouse.

I’m working on projects that take the Data warehouse and change it from running on Oracle to put it into Teradata, which is another kind of database.  —  Anyway, the reason I’m telling you this is because when I told my mom that I was going to start another project with the Data Warehouse next Monday, she said, “Oh No!!!  They are going to make you work in the factory again??!!!!”

When I asked her what she was talking about, she said, “They are going to make you go work in the warehouse again?  Why do they do that to you?”  —  I tried to explain to her that the Data Warehouse was not actually a warehouse.  It was just a big Database that is on a bunch of computers, and that I could actually sit in her house and dial up the Data Warehouse on my laptop and work on it while I was sitting in a lounge chair in the living room.

She said, “Well, Ok.  As long as you don’t have to work in a factory again.  After all that work you did to get out of that Power Plant.”  —  So I thought I would explain to you guys what a “Data Warehouse” is, just in case you think I’m having to barcode stuff and count inventory.  — Anyway.  That’s the way my mom is.  —  The funniest part about telling my mom a joke is watching her try to figure out why we think It’s funny.

Well.  Since I’m on a new Data Warehouse team temporarily.  I’ve had to learn a new set of team member names.  You may recall that on my last DDW team (DDW stands for Dell Data Warehouse), I had to learn all these interesting names like:  Azeem, Radha, Murthy, Venu, Sohan, Jichuan, Srinivasa, 2 guys named Ravi, Ragini, Liming, Devika, Mahesh, Kotamraju, Nanda and Venkat.  Well, the new team has the following new names to learn:

Sev Mattupalli, Subba Kondubhatla, Linh Liang, Galen Marumoto, Nagavalli Medicharla, Thuy Nguyen, Hemanth Rajashekhar, Radhakumari Srimattirumala, Sandeep Waghchoure, Arnoud Balat and Xu Weiqing.  —  I am not making any of these names up.

Anyway.  This reminds me that I better get back to work.  I need to work on memorizing these names, so that when I’m in a meeting with them I don’t mispronounce anyone’s name.  I would hate to call “Subba” “Bubba” instead, and I don’t think “Arnoud” would be too happy if I accidentally called him “Arnold”.

I especially don’t want to call “Xu” “Zoo” (Even if they do sound alike).  I have already made the blunder of calling “Radhakumari Srimattirumala” “Srinivasa Pokula” (who you may remember, I worked with on my last project).  —  Well, they both had the same accent —  I’m sure you would have made the same mistake.  — Geesh.  Ok.  —  I think it would have been easier if one of them had been named “supercalifredulousexpialidotious”  At least I would have known how to pronounce it the first time.

Well.  I hope everything is going well with you guys and I hope you enjoyed the holidays.  Next week I will be gone.  I am going to Disney World for a week.  —  Yes.  I need a vacation.  I need to take a break from the old grind.

Just think.  For a whole week, I won’t have to think about the Data Warehouse.  I won’t have to think about “Team-building”.  I won’t have to think about playing on my computer in my cubicle.  I will just immerse myself in the fantasy world of Disney World, and not think one bit about writing programs.  —  That is, if I don’t bring my laptop with me.

Elizabeth, my daughter, wants to make a video game.  So she’s been after me to write one for her.  — So I may take this opportunity to get some of that done for her.  —  Oh well.  A computer programmer’s job is never done………

I will be in Stillwater the weekend before Christmas.  Maybe I will be able to stop by and visit the plant on Monday the 23rd if I’m still in town.  I’ll try to get around to visit.  Down here, they give the entire I/T department the whole week of Christmas off.  So I don’t have to use vacation for that week.  I hope to see you guys then.

Your friendly Dell Programmer,

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 #58 — Ramblin’ 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 fifty eighth letter I wrote.

11/15/02 – Ramblin’ At Dell

Hey Soonerites,

I figured that since I had been here over a year, I would introduce some of my fellow coworkers to “Ramblin’ Ann.”  Those of you who know what I’m talking about wish you were here to hear the continuous blurby Kentucky voice of the Elegant and refined Ramblin’ Ann.  —  You know who I’m talking about.  The girl that came from a small town in Kentucky.  The one that insisted that she didn’t have an accent, or as she would say, “Aye dooooooonnnnn’t haaaaaaave annnnnnnnnn acceeeeeeennnnnnnttttttt!!!!!!!   Dooooooo Ayyyyyeeee?”

Yes.  My Dell friends were blessed with the story about how Ed Shiever was trapped inside the sand filter tank with me for two weeks, and heard nothing but the sound of me imitating Ramblin’ Ann echoing off the confined walls of the middle section of the tanks as we took out and put back in all those white plastic pieces.  —  That was in the days before “Confined Space Safety” where the relentless sounds of Ramblin’ Ann is considered “extremely hazardous” to your health.  —  Ed was never the same after that episode, and I used to regret that extreme punishment that he endured during those two weeks.

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.  My Dell friends just looked at me with a stunned look on their faces as I explained to them that “Ramblin’ Ann was this girl I knew in college that would start talking the minute you picked her up, to the moment you dropped her back off at her dorm.  (This was when I was in College many years ago).  She would have a continuous conversation that went something like this:

“I don’t mean to seem old fashioned or anything, but after all, I do come from a small town in Kentucky  And things are kind of different in small towns than they are in this big city of Columbia Missouri You know what I mean?  I mean that in the small town where I come from the postman would say to me ‘Hello Ann Bell, how are you doin’ today?’ and I would say ‘Hello Mister Postman I’m doin’ fine thank you’  He would call me Ann Bell, even though he knew I liked to be called Ann because he was trying to make me feel grown up and all and I would call him Mister Postman because I would be acting all grown up and it was a fun game, but in Columbia, the postman only knows that I’m Box 823, and he doesn’t say anything to me, he just puts the mail in the box and I know that he’s just doing his job, and it’s ok, you know what I mean?  I mean, I don’t mean to seem old fashioned or anything.  But what is funny is that since I moved here to go to school, my friends tell me that ‘Ann Bell, you have the funniest accent’ and I tell them that ‘Ayyyeeeee doooonnnnn’tttt have an accccccceennnnnntttt.’  Ayyyyyyeeeeee don’t  dooooooooooo Ayyyyyyyyeeee?  I know I don’t.  You know what I mean.  I mean, I might have a little acccccccceeeeennnnnntttttt, but Ayyyyyyyeeeeee don’t have muuuuuuuccccchhhhh of an acccccceeennnnnnnttttttt.  You know what I mean?  I mean.  I was in a class the other day and the teacher told me that I looked just like someone she knew once, and I told her that I just look like someone that comes from a small town in Kentucky, and that people that come from small towns in Kentucky look like a lot of people and that I probably just looked like someone she knew, and she said that she thought I did.  You know what I mean don’t you?  I mean, some places there are a lot of people that look like a lot of other people, and when you go there, you think that you must have been there before because there are people all over that look like people that you have seen, only these aren’t the same people.  You know what I mean.  I mean that it’s kind of like watching the Andy Griffith Show, because it is sort of like a small town in Kentucky, only it’s a small town in North Carolina instead.  But I figured that small towns in North Carolina must be a lot like small towns in Kentucky, and so the Andy Griffith Show is kind of like that.  You know what I mean?  I mean that when I moved here to Columbia, I thought, ‘Why, that person looks just like someone I knew in the small town in Kentucky where I came from,’ only I knew that it wasn’t because I knew that the person in Kentucky didn’t move to Columbia, because they weren’t going to move anywhere when I was leaving, and I had just left, so I thought that the reason they looked like them, was because people from small towns seem to look like other people some times.  You know what I mean?  I mean that the Bakery in this town is a lot like the Bakery we have in the town in Kentucky where I came from, only it is on a bigger street.  The Bakery looks the same inside, but when you step out of the Bakery, there is a big wide street here, and when I stepped out of the Bakery in the town in Kentucky where I came from the street was smaller, and people across the street could tell who you were, and you could even talk to them while they were on the other side of the street, because they were closer to you than they are here.  You know what I mean?  I mean that things seem farther apart here than they do there, even though I’m here, and Kentucky is far away, things still seem closer there.  Isn’t that funny that things seem closer in Kentucky even though I’m not even in Kentucky.  I mean, you would think that things here would seem closer, but they don’t even when I’m walking down the street here right now.  You know what I mean though don’t you?  I don’t mean to seem old fashioned or anything, but after all, I do come from a small town in Kentucky, and……………………..”

This is just a small sample of five minutes of a conversation that lasted for well over an hour once.

I hope I haven’t caused all of you to go into a comatose state reading this.  —  I know it took Ed Shiever a few weeks of walking around in a daze, and hitting the side of his head with the palm of his hand to try to knock all of that noise out of his ears before he seemed to be back to normal.  —  But we all know that after two weeks of this constant rambling while you are stuck in an echo chamber will have lasting effects on your sanity.  After all.  Look at me.  You know what I mean?  —  Yeah.  You know what I mean.

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 #57 — Dell and Dell Again

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 fifty seventh letter I wrote.

11/08/02 – Dell and Dell again

Dear friends from the Mid-Dellish Territories,

I know I haven’t written in a couple of weeks, and I apologize.  I have been working on some projects that have required all my time.  Even the time I would normally take to “Network”.  I have only a few minutes to type this letter, so if I have typos, it’s because I’m trying to type this as fast as I can and I’m not stopping to correct my mistakes.

I have a project due on Monday, and another one due next Friday, and I have about 3 more weeks left worth of work to finish them, so I am working extra fast.  —  I think they put something in our water here so that we keep working faster and faster.

Sometimes my fingers keep on typing even when I’ve left the building and I’m trying to drive home.  Then when I am eating dinner, I keep spilling the stuff on my fork into my lap, because my fingers keep dancing around all over the place.  —  I may not be getting a lot of exercise, but you should see the biceps my fingers have developed.

Anyway,  I have about 3 weeks, and then I have a string of vacations set up that will take me to the end of the year.  I have off most of Thanksgiving week.  Then I work for a week, then I take a week off to go to Disney World, then I work for another week, then I take a week off for Christmas, then it’s the New Year.  I can’t wait.

I hope everything is going well for you guys.  I suppose you have been getting the cold weather the same as us.  The other day, it actually dipped down into the lower 50s!!!!  Gee.  There were those confused faces again.  Those people who don’t own jackets were briskly walking into the building wondering why their teeth kept vibrating together.

Today, it finally warmed back up to almost 80.  — Well.  I can tell that Fall is finally here.  —  The Monsoon season is finally over—-I hope.   Anyway.  I don’t think I’ll have to mow my lawn until Spring, or until the HOA (Home Owner’s Association) comes by and tells me to mow it, just so it has that pristine “just mowed” look.

I don’t have any great plans for the weekend.  I’m just going to sit around and think about the project that I’m supposed to put into production on Monday.  I’ve tested it.  I’ve run it a bunch of times.  I’ve added all kinds of Error-handling code to it, so that it shouldn’t break.

So, of course, you know what that means……..  The whole thing will just not work for some unknown reason when it is put in production, just like Mr. Ed would quit talking when other people were around and Wilbur is trying to convince them that Mr. Ed really CAN talk.

Oh. Oh.  It’s Friday afternoon, and it’s almost 5:00, and I’m sitting in a guest cube by the Data Warehouse guys, and you know what that means!!!!

If I don’t leave now, I’ll have to take part in a bunch of conversation that I don’t understand either because they’re in a foreign language (probably Greek, since that’s one of the two foreign languages that I don’t understand), or because they are in Geek (since that is the second foreign language that I don’t quite understand. — Though I’m learning).  So —  I’m outta here.  Talk to you all later.

Your Typing Dell Programmer from a Typical Tiny Cubicle in the Temporary area of the Data Warehouse aisle of Dell’s Parmer South Campus,

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