Category Archives: Culture

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 re-crossed 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 #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 Presentation.

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 #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 #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 #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 #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

Letters to the Power Plant #39 — 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 thirty ninth letter I wrote.

06/11/02 – Vacation at Dell

Dear Soonerites, and others,

Finally.  I have a short week this week.  I have three days of vacation.  I’ll be gone from Wednesday until next Monday.  I have already turned in my Weekly Status Report, and I only have one more meeting to go to in about an hour, and then I’m gone.

Whew.  I will finally get away from this grueling work.  Boy.  A vacation at last!  I haven’t had a real vacation since 1997 before I started going to school.  As you remember, I used all my vacation to go to class.

Of course, as you can imagine, they really frown on people taking vacation around here.  When I’m gone, who is going to do all the Fun Committee activities for all the meetings?  —  Well.  I have passed that torch onto the other new hires, so I am no longer needed.  Also, there are all those mini-team-building activities that go on continually that require my attendance.  —  Well.  Too bad.  I’m just going to have to miss those this week.

I’m going to New Orleans.  I’m just going to lay around in the sun and drink beer.  — Wait a minute.   This is starting to sound like work!  That’s what I had to do last week!  Ok.  I’ll just lay around at the pool and think about all those fun times I had at Sooner Plant.  —  Oh wait, I did that too at my Manager’s house.

I also played pool (you know pool.  It’s a lot like Snooker, only easier).  I had to use our Manager’s pool cues since I didn’t have one of my own.  —  Yes.  Walt Oswalt never game ME a pool cue.

Note to reader:  To read about Walt Oswalt and pool cues, please see the post:  A Window into the Power Plant Man Bedroom.

So I told my whole team that I knew Walt Oswalt and Bud Schoonover.  They chuckled a little at a couple of stories I told about Bud.  I told them I needed more time to tell them about Walt.

Then I told them I knew Jim Arnold, and they all fell on their knees and bowed down and said, “We’re not Worthy”  —  At least, I think that was what they were doing.  Either that or they had had too much to drink, and they were loosing their cookies all over the Castle-like patio stones that decorated our Manager’s backyard.

I told our team about some of those “infractions” that I had done while I was working at Sooner.  I explained to them that I liked programming things, and they wouldn’t let me do any of that at Sooner Plant, so I had to think of SOMETHING to program.  But I assured them that now that I’m in I/T (That’s Information Technology), I don’t have to mess around, because I get to do that every day anyway —  program, I mean. (smile).

Well.  I’ve been learning everything anyone ever wanted to know about Databases, but were afraid to ask.  I have been learning SQL Server SQL, Oracle PL/SQL, Teradata SQL and ANSI SQL all at the same time.  —  Sounds like a bunch of Squealing pigs. SQL SQL SQL SQL.  Or a shopping cart with a squeaky wheel at Wal-Mart.

Anyway.  I won’t be writing at the end of this week, so I thought I would write today, just to let you guys know that I had been thinking of you.  —  Oh.  Talking about Wal-Mart, and thinking of you.  I had a dream the other night that I was in Wal-Mart and I saw Byron Hoeltzel there, and I said, “Hi Rudy.  Um, er.  I’m sorry I called you Rudy.  Isn’t it funny how quickly a person can forget a name?  I know you’re not Rudy.  I just can’t remember your name.  You’re…….”  Then I woke up in a cold sweat.  Funny how dreams are.  Calling “Byron”, “Rudy”.  I know better than that.  Geez.

Talk to all of you next week.

Your Friend from Down here at Dell,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile


Kevin J. Breazile

Customer Experience / Warranty Cost

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #38 — Team Builder 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 thirty eighth letter I wrote.

06/07/02 – Team builder at Dell

Dear Friends at Sooner, and Toby (not at Sooner) and the I & C escapees,

I hope all is going well with everyone this week.  I have been in Training most of the week.  This afternoon we are taking off a half day to do a “Team-builder”.  Our team is going to our manager’s house to “Team-build” in the back yard by her pool.

We are supposed to drink beer and do some other sorts of team building activities.  This sounds like fun, but when you read between the lines, this could be a nerve racking, hair-raising experience.

First of all.  We have to drive clear across Austin to the “Wealthier” part of town.  Then when it is over, I have to drive all the way back to “my” side of town.  — That in itself is a test of stress endurance and disaster planning.

A person attempting this feat will want to take the route that takes them past the most hospitals, and down the highways that have the most tow trucks stationed along the route.  That way, if the stress causes the driver to go into cardiac arrest, the tow truck will be close by, and the ambulance won’t have too far to travel.

This makes me think of the “Green Acres” song.  “Green Acres is the place to be.  Farm living is the life for me.  Land spreadin’ out so far and wide.  Forget Manhattan, just give me that countryside.”

Anyway.  Sorry for the transgression.  The second hair-raising, nerve tingling activity that we will have to perform during our team building activity is that our Manager has given us a questionnaire to fill out.  I have watched our team members merrily typing out the answers to their questionnaires on their computers, humming along as they gleefully typed their answers.  —  I, on the other hand, have struggled and stressed over exactly how to answer these devious, dubious and probing questions.

You see, there are questions like:  What is an Interesting event in your life?  — What can I say to that?  For 18 years I was an electrician at Sooner Plant.  I have had so many Interesting, life changing events during that time, how can I just choose one?

My first thoughts were, “How about the time that Richard Moravek and I got shocked in the elevator?  Or the time I got shocked in the T/R cabinet?  Or the time I got shocked looking for a ground?  Or when I was shocked by the vacuum line under the precipitator hoppers?”  All those were interesting events.

Note to Reader:  For more information about Richard Moravek, or being shocked, see this post:  Prolonged Power Plant Pause Before the Panic.

Then I thought, “hmmmm”, it was pretty interesting when I told Jim Arnold that  ‘He may be stupid, but I’m not.’ and it was pretty interesting when I asked Jasper Christensen if the Outlet side of the Hot end of the Air preheater could be hotter than the gases that were exiting the air heater, and he said he couldn’t say that.”  That was pretty interesting.

It was also interesting when I printed out a questionnaire on every printer in the company (including all the billing and check writing printers) and when James Harlow (the company president) called Ron Kilman to ask him who Kevin Breazile was and why did he do that, Ron Kilman didn’t know what to say. — That was pretty interesting.  — Especially after a beet-red-faced Tom Gibson told me never to do that again.  Then there was……..  well, you can see my dilemma.  So many interesting events.

Note to Reader:  To read more about printing out a questionnaire on all of the printers in the company read this post:  Power Plant Customer Service Team Gone Wild.

Then there is the question:  “Most serious infraction of the rules.”  First I thought, “Me?  Infraction of rules?  Never!!!!”  Then I remembered,  “Oh yeah”.  I suppose there was the “Birthday Phantom”.  That was kind of an infraction since the I/T department downtown spent weeks doing nothing but trying to track that down.

Note to Reader:  To read more about the Birthday Phantom see this post:  Power Plant Birthday Phantom.

Then there was the time when I changed the SAP logo to be a whirlpool instead of a ripple and it was sucking some unfortunate Business Support Supervisor down into it.  —  Some (who lack a little bit of a sense of humor) might think that was an infraction.

Note to Reader:  To read more about the Supervisor being sucked down into a whirlpool, see this post:  Hitting the Power Plant HR Cardboard Ceiling.

Then, of course, there was the above mentioned Printer thing.  —  I knew something was going to happen when the mail room upstairs was stacked full of replies to my questionnaire, and some of the responses were less than cordial.  — I think Jim Harlow thought that was an infraction.

Then there was the time I messed up the precipitator when I wasn’t even at the plant, but Jim Arnold needed someone to blame.  Bill Green still thinks that was an infraction.

What does my manager want?!?!?  — A novel?  She needs to ask more specific questions than this.  Something like:  “What was your most serious infraction the first week of April in 1999?”  —  At least that would narrow it down!!!!

Then there is the “Trick” question.  It is:  “What is your biggest pet peeve about Management at Dell?”  I know what I’m supposed to say to that question.  The obvious answer is:  “Management at Dell is so nice they make me want to Puke!!!  Where is all the slave driving?  Where is all the ‘Because I told you so’s?’ How can anyone manage if they aren’t going to tell you how to do every little detail of your job?”

Then there is the question:  “Interesting people you know”  I wrote down Bud Schoonover and Walt Oswalt.  Need I say more?

Note to Reader:  To read more about Bud Schoonover see this post:  Carpooling with Bud Schoonover.  To read more about Walt Oswalt, see this post:  A Window into the Power Plant Man Bedroom.

I miss all of you.  I wish I could be there, but for now, I have to go drink some beer by the pool.

Talk to you later,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile


Kevin J. Breazile

Customer Experience / Warranty Cost

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #37 — A Bit of Dell Trivia

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 thirty seventh letter I wrote.

06/03/02 – a bit of Dell Trivia

Hey Sooner Friends from Up North,

I was just reading about Databases, (because my new project requires me to learn this), and I thought I would send you a quick note to show you something I just read:

If I have 64 database tables that I want to join (That’s relational database lingo for those of you who don’t know), then the number of possible ways to join those tables is just about the same number of grains of sand it would take to fill up the entire universe with sand.  —  Yes.  It would take: 1.2 x 10 ^124 grains of sand to fill the entire universe with sand.  When you write that number out it looks like this:




Isn’t that something?

I thought you would want to know.



Kevin J. Breazile

Customer Experience / Warranty Cost

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527


Letters to the Power Plant Men #36 — Sunburned 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 thirty sixth letter I wrote.

05/23/02 – Sunburned at Dell

Dear friends at Sooner,

This has been quite a week.  I’m glad I have a long weekend to recuperate.  I have had to use my brain, and my back this week to accomplish all the activities I had to perform.  —  I’ll give you a run down of what my week has been like.

I know this won’t sound like much to the Sooner Plant Super Heroes who climb boiler walls like Spiderman, and Leap steam leaks with a single bound like Superman or rip your shirts open at the seams like the Incredible Hulk when Jim Arnold asks you to do impossible tasks, but for your average geeky computer programmer like me — this has been quite a week.

First, if you will recall.  I had a meeting on Monday in “The Board Room.”  —  That meant that I had to drive diagonally across the City of Austin during Going-To-Work traffic.  Which meant, I had to spent half of the weekend before, playing bumper cars at the carnival just to get back into practice.

Well, when I arrived at “The Board Room”, there was this big long wooden table that looked just like one you would see in a movie where all the old guys are sitting around looking at an even older guy at the end of the table telling them what to do. —  Only, there weren’t any “really” old guys there — except maybe me.

There were people from Japan, and Europe, and Malaysia, and ….  Oh yeah, from America.  We sat around for 4 hours and while all the other guys were discussing this and that (which I can’t say), I had my laptop out on the table, and I kept typing away, like I was keeping notes.

We can do that because we have mobile cards in our laptops that allow us to stay connected to the network even though we have to take our laptop with us, like for instance….. to the restroom.  —-  Anyway.  While I was in the meeting I did write a quick e-mail to Ray Eberle.

Then when the meeting was over I had to drive diagonally back across the City of Austin to Round Rock during Going-To-Lunch Traffic, which, even though it isn’t as crowded, the people that drive during Going-To-Lunch time seem to be a little more agitated than the Going-To-Work crowd.  —  Anyway.  By the time I was safely back in my cubicle, I was totally exhausted from driving to-and-fro, and sitting in the 4 hour meeting trying to look totally interested and busy at the same time.

The next day (Tuesday) was our I/T All-Hands day.  We broke up into teams with people we didn’t know and did a “Team-Building” thing.  Each team had to build a raft, and then we had a raft race.

In order to build the raft your team had to go solve certain puzzles and do activities at different places in order to get the parts to build a raft.  It was a lot of fun, and by the end of the day I was totally soaked, from the part where our raft fell to pieces when we were halfway across the pond on our second trip.  — It was rather fun.  — Nevertheless.

I wasn’t wearing my hardhat because I didn’t think I needed it.  Now I realize why I should have worn it.  —  It seems that over the years while I have been wearing my hardhat, the hair on my head has been quietly getting thinner and thinner.  —  I think this is the first time I have ever gotten a sunburn on the top of my head.  —  You know.  The part where the hair is supposed to protect it.

When I had finally limped home, I went in the house and put a bunch of Aloe Vera lotion in my hair to soothe the sunburn.  —  I wish Gene Day had warned me about these hazards!!

Well, Wednesday was a fairly quiet day.  I spent most of the day in my cubicle studying for my next project which is still in the planning stage, and moaning from my aches and pains, only when I had to move, which was about every 5 or 10 minutes to keep my legs from falling asleep.  So I sounded like this all day:  “Oooohhhhh, typetypetypetypetypeclicktypeclickclicktypetypeOooooohhhtypetypetypeclickdoubleclicktypetypeclicktypeOooooohhhhh.”

Then Today, we had another All-Hands meeting, with a much smaller group.  It was my Manager’s Manager, so we had only about 40 people there.  We had to play a game called “Jeopardy”, except that all the questions were about Dell.  Our team won one game and lost the final round.  Anyway, my brain is still sore from playing that, because we had to actually “Think”.

I was given an award for my “Outstanding Contributions to the Customer Recovery Team.”  They said that my Business partners said that I had helped them out so much that they wanted to give me something.  — I was pretty shocked, then I remembered that I had fixed all their computers, so now they think I am some great guy.

That’s kind of what I did at Sooner.  —  Of course, I never remember getting a $100 dollars just for doing something extra.  It seems I do remember being told that I was an Electrician, and it’s not an Electricians job to fix peoples’ computers.  — Anyway.  That made me feel good to actually get paid something extra just for “helpin’ the team.”

My last thought as I left the meeting was,  “What?  No Hardhat Sticker?”  —  You know.  No sticker saying that I was a “Boiler Rat”, or one that said that “I survived Sooner 2 in 2002?”  — Bummer.  Just a lousy Hundred Bucks?!!!! (I’m just kidding of course — I have to throw in that line for the DellSecure Program, so it knows that I’m “just kidding”).

I hope all is going well with you guys.  I hear that, at least in OG&E downtown, the Quality process is picking up again.  Is this true?

It’s been good to hear from you guys, keep in touch.

Your friend from Dell,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile


Kevin J. Breazile

Customer Experience / Warranty Cost

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527