Letters to the Power Plant #92 — Another Day 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 ninety second letter I wrote.

1/8/04 – Another Day at Dell

Dear Sooner Plantians,

Since I wrote to you last, a couple of you have requested more stories about Gene Day.  So, I thought I would tell you the story about what happened another time.

This happened about 12 years ago when I lived on Sixth Street in Stillwater, and Scott Hubbard and I used to meet at St. Francis Catholic Church (which is right on Sixth Street) each day to carpool.  —  This was back in the days before we had “alternate work schedules”, so the operators used to get off at 3 pm, and we would get off at 4:30 pm.

I was driving home in the afternoon down Sixth Street and up ahead of me about a block I saw Gene Day pulling out of a parking space right in front of the Rockhouse Gym (down at the corner of Washington and Sixth.  I think it is a new bank now.) in his black pickup truck with the flames on the side (that you couldn’t miss).  So, I followed him a few blocks.  He turned into the parking lot of an Eye Doctor’s office, and I passed him and went home.

When I got home, I opened up the mail, and decided that I needed to go by the bank before it closed, so after about 10 minutes, I hopped back in my car and drove back down Sixth Street.

As I was coming up to the Eye Doctor’s office, I saw Gene Day’s pickup truck pull out about a block in front of me.  I followed him to Duck Street, where he turned into Simon’s Gas Station on the corner of Duck and Sixth (which I think today is a plant shop), and he parked his pickup in front of the garage door, like he was going to get his pickup inspected. —  I turned on Duck and went to my bank.

After going through the Drive Thru at the Bank, I went back to the corner of Duck and Sixth Street on my way home, and I saw Gene Day pulling out of the Gas station and head in the direction of his home.

The next morning when I arrived at work, I went by Gene’s pickup in the parking lot and noticed that his Inspection sticker was missing, so I knew he didn’t pass his inspection.

So, what I did was, I wrote the following on a sheet of Paper:

Private Investigator’s Notes for Gene Day:

Date:  5/14/91

3:05  Gene Day leaves work.

3:45 Gene Day arrives at Rockhouse Gym where he works out with a young college coed named Bunny.

5:05 Gene Day leaves Rockhouse Gym.

5:07 Gene Day arrives at Cockrell EyeCare Center  where he meets with a nurse in his pickup truck in the parking lot.

5:20 Gene Day leaves EyeCare Center.

5:25 Gene Day arrives at Simon’s Garage at the corner of Sixth and Duck and has them clean his pickup seats to remove the perfume scent.  While he was there, he tried to have his pickup inspected, but it didn’t pass inspection.

5:33 Gene Day leaves Simon’s Garage and goes home.

—————————————

Then that day I noticed that Gene Day was going to go get the mail from the front office, so I knew he would be walking back to the control room across the Turbine Room floor in a few minutes.  I put the paper on the floor in the Turbine room near the Unit 1 Generator, so it was pretty conspicuous and near where he would be walking and went into the control room, and waited for him to come in.

After a while he came walking in the control room, and when he did, he was laughing and came over to me shaking the paper at me, and said, “How did you do this?”

He told me that he had been working out at the Rockhouse Gym and he had met his wife who was working at the Eye Care Center, and that he did go to the Service Station and get his car inspected, but it failed because of some reason.  I asked him what he was talking about, and he said he knew I had put that there.  —  I said what I always used to say,  “Why does everyone always think that I did it?”

Well.  That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Your friendly Dell Programmer,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Programmer/Analyst III

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527

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Letters to the Power Plant #93 — Time 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 ninety third letter I wrote.

1/15/04 – Time at Dell

Dear Friends from up North,

I hope all is going well with you guys.  I learned that Alex Taybah has also left the building!  Gee.  People are dropping out like flies up there.  What’s the deal?

I often wonder why people would want to leave Sooner Plant when it is led by such cheerful and caring individuals.  There must be something else going on up there that I’m not thinking about. —  Oh wait!!  How about this….. (Since this might be one of the reasons I left)……

After working in a state of serene peacefulness for so many years one starts to feel guilty that other Oklahomans are not able to feel such love an affection from their workplace, so you begin to realize that it just isn’t fair, and you really want others to be able to experience the “Sooner Aura” of perpetual magnificence from the leadership.  So you get this overwhelming urge to leave so someone else can take your place!!!  That’s it!!  Isn’t it?

Well.  This week the big project that I’ve been working on has finally gone live.  It was a real big thing.  We had fliers put on everyone’s desk.  Manufacturing was told that they couldn’t use the time clocks for about an hour.

Everyone started using it on Monday morning, and away it went!!!  It was pretty exciting since I have been so engrossed in this project for the last several months.  —  We are in what is called the “Stabilization Phase” right now.  That means that I sit here and watch it run and make sure everything is working the way it is supposed to work.  So far that has been going well.

It looks like I might get an “Atta Boy” from this project.  Actually, the other day, I think my manager gave me the Dell version of an Atta Boy already.  He said something like.  “Uh Kevin, I see that Kronos Project went well.  That’s good.  Here’s a couple of other projects I would like for you to start working on”.  —  Whoo Hoo!!!  That’s an “Atta Boy” if I ever saw one!!!!  —  I’m just kidding of course.

I think we are all going to go out to some Restaurant that overlooks Travis Lake and celebrate this in a few weeks.  —  My manager told me I should take Friday off just to have a vacation day. —  I thanked him and told him I thought I ought to wait a couple of more weeks just to make sure everything goes well during the next Payroll in two weeks.

So Timekeeping is now being performed in a much more efficient and streamlined way at Dell.  Isn’t that great?  Payroll is happy.  Finance is happy.  —  Those people who have been pretending to work more hours than they really were —  They aren’t too thrilled, because now they won’t be able to cheat the system so easily.

Well.  It is the end of the day, and I think I’m going to go home at the regular time today, so I’d better say good night for now.  —  Let me know how things are going with you guys.

Your friendly Dell Programmer,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Programmer/Analyst III

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #94 — Dell Time and a Half

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 ninety fourth letter I wrote.

2/11/04 – Dell Time and a Half

Dear Sooner Plant and friends,

I realize it has been a while since I have written.  I feel like I have been in a time-warp working with this Kronos timekeeping application.  Finally we are getting to the point where I will pass this application off to support in a couple of weeks and start a new project.

Already people are trying to get me on their projects because I’m now known as the “Escalation man” because we had to do everything so quickly with this project, so we escalated everything.  That is, we had to do it faster than was possible to get it done on time.

Everyone is still happy with the application, and my manager gave me another “Atta Boy” last week since I solved a problem the program was having with load balancing across 6 servers so I got another High Quality “work” shirt from that.

The Kronos Company couldn’t figure it out, and the load-balancing company (F5 Networks) couldn’t either, and our own Network Services people kept saying there wasn’t anything wrong with their load-balancing stuff, so there had to be a problem with the program.  So, no one was going to fix it.  Well.  I just did what I used to do when I was an electrician.

I pulled out some blueprints, and then went poking around in some junction boxes, and checked things with my voltmeter, checking for any broken wires, sat back and talked to Charles Foster about movies we had seen (well.  I pretended to anyway), and voila.

I stumbled upon a solution.  —  Now everyone just stares at me all amazed.  —  Not because I solved that load-balancing problem, but because I spilled some soy sauce on my shirt when we went to eat at a Chinese restaurant for lunch.

So, things have finally settled down enough where I can write to you guys.

I was talking to the Kronos consultant today, and I was telling him about all the tricks we played on Kent Norris when a group of us went to work at Corporate Headquarters in Oklahoma City when we were on a team of 10 or so to work on the SAP installation.

Kent is on the list of people that get this e-mail, and I’m sure he won’t ever forget all the fun things we did during those 10 weeks.  Mike Gibbs and I were the two that were there from Sooner Plant.  —  It was so fun to play tricks on Kent because he just took them so well.

He was the only person in our group that didn’t come from a power plant, and didn’t quite know how to take “Power Plant humor”.  We had his boss, Wayne Beasley, Jack Coffman, and Bill Green all in on some of the “jokes” (for those of you that aren’t from the great company of OG&E, Jack Coffman is the Vice President, and Bill Green is the plant manager at Sooner plant).

So I was recounting a few of them this morning to the consultant, I think that may have had something to do with spilling the soy sauce on my shirt.  It’s hard to open up those little packets of stuff with your teeth when you are laughing so hard.  By the way.  My fortune cookie said, “You will accomplish more if you take time to have a fun weekend”.

I won’t pass on the Kent stories to you at this time.  I will give Kent time to respond if he has any objections.  Just in case he doesn’t want me to tell the story about when we went to the Mexican restaurant with his boss (Tony DeArmond), and we told the waiter it was Kent’s birthday when it wasn’t, and they made him stand up and wear a humongous Sombrero while the waiters all sang a Mexican version of “Happy Birthday” to him, while we all clapped and Tony DeArmond almost choked to death because he was laughing so hard.  He might not want others to know about that, so I’ll save that story until Kent says it is all right to tell you guys.

Note to reader:  To read more about how we played jokes on Kent Norris read the post Corporate Executive Kent Norris Meets Power Plant Men.

I was sure glad to have worked on that SAP team for those 10 weeks because Mike and I left to go do that the day after the “Arnold Fire of ’96” when half of the Turbine Room floor was just about burned away.  That fire was on August 1, 1996 and Mike and I left to go work in Oklahoma City on August 2 for 10 weeks.

Note to reader:  To learn more about the turbine room fire read the post Destruction of a Power Plant God.

So by the time we returned, you guys had already rebuilt the whole turbine room.  You guys did a great job.  They didn’t think we could finish that SAP installation in 10 weeks, and we did, and they didn’t think you guys could get Sooner all put back together in 10 weeks, and you did.  So, it all worked out for the best.

Well.  I guess I had better go do something about my shirt.  Someone may think that I’m into tie-dying shirts and ask me to make one for them.  I’ll write later.  Let me know how things are going with you guys.

Your friendly Dell Programmer, and Chinese food taste tester,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Programmer/Analyst III

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #95 — Dell News is Good News

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 ninety fifth letter I wrote.

2/23/04 – Dell News is Good News

Dear friends at Sooner Plant and Outlanders,

It is interesting that I just wrote to you guys about a week and a half ago and I happened to mention the “fire of ’96”, and lo and behold, not three or four days later, you guys have another big explosion at the plant.  —  I tell you.  That has to be about the 50th time that Sooner was lucky someone wasn’t killed.  I can think of about 3 or 4 of the times right here on my left hand.

I am just glad you are all ok. —  I am also reminded why I decided to go try a career in computer programming.  — Let’s see…  I think it was because I couldn’t take all that excitement every morning in those highly motivated morning meetings when we found out what we were going to have to work on that day.

No wait.  I couldn’t take all that anticipation wondering which restaurant was going to cater the Barbecue for the next Men’s Club.  —  No.  It’s coming to me. —  I think it had something to do with the way OG&E would pay for all my education no matter how much I wanted to take.  — Yeah, that’s it.  —  It wore me out taking all those classes.

I couldn’t stay with a company like that.  I never had enough time with my kids, because I was always taking college courses because OG&E kept reimbursing me for them.  I think they had around $100,000 lifetime limit for reimbursing you for education.  —  Actually, I think I was getting pretty close to that amount.

Down here they don’t do that.  They only pay for $3,000 of courses each year (outside of all the courses they send you to).  That way, if I want to take some college courses, then they will only pay for about 1 1/2 of them until the money runs out, and then you have to go begging your Vice President to pay for the rest.  This makes one hesitate a little bit before signing up for the next course.  —  But you know me.  I’m a glutton for punishment.

Anyway.  I heard that you guys are also on overhaul.  Gee.  Could that have been another reason I’m down here programming on the computer in this climate controlled Cubeville.

To tell you the truth, my e-mail archive was getting so full last week that I had to spend about 3 days cleaning it up.  I went through all the letters I have received from you guys since I came down here.  There were over 800 e-mails.  I went through them trying to decide which ones I could get rid of.  So as I was reading them, I started missing all those fun times I had working on the roof and inside those precipitators, all covered with either pigeon droppings or fly ash.

Boy.  That was fun.  But on Friday, we had to go to an I/T All-Hands meeting at some Performing Arts Center and listen to all the good news about Dell.  Then we had to go out to lunch someplace and eat Mexican food and go to a movie called, “Along Came Polly”.

So that took all day, and it got my mind off of how much I missed working all those long hours during overhaul, where your mind was brain-dead by the end of the day after working those 12 hour shifts dressed up in a fly ash suit and a full face respirator and rubber boots with a flashlight hanging from around your neck. —  Whewwww.  I just got the shivers.

I wonder where that cold chill came from.  There must be a little glitch in the air conditioning system or something.  I’ll call facilities and have them look at it.

When I was working in the Payroll department on that timekeeping application, I developed a new method for solving people’s computer problems.  Some of you may remember my technique of “laying on of the hands”, when I would just put my hands on the monitor, and then the computer problems would go away.

Well.  I have obtained two paper fans down here that have a picture of Elvis Presley’s face on them, and I have found that if I wave one of these Elvis Presley fans over the keyboard, the same thing happens.

So when I was in that team room in Payroll, I had one of the fans stuck in a harness that was taped to the door, so that when someone came in and said something wasn’t working on their computer, I would just grab the Elvis fan on the way out the door and wave it over their keyboard, and 9 times out of 10 their problem was solved.

This works especially good on what are known as “PEBKAC” errors.  PEBKAC stands for “Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair”.  So I would wave the fan like a wand, and voila, the problem would go away.  If the person asked me what was wrong, I would just tell them that they had a PEBKAC error, and that it shouldn’t happen again.

Well.  I better get back to work now.  I think my break time is over now.  —  How do I know?  Well.  This letter seems long enough, that’s how I know.  I don’t want to ramble too much in one letter.  If I did, this might be mistaken for junk mail.

I hope all is going well with you guys.  Let me know how you’re doing.

Your friend from Dell,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Programmer/Analyst III

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #96 — Springtime 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 ninety sixth letter I wrote.

3/15/04 – Springtime at Dell

Hello Sooner Plant Heros!!!

I just realized that another 3 weeks have gone by since I have written to you guys.  Boy time flies.  —  Well.  I’m completely done with that “big” project, and today I have started working on some smaller projects.  So, since I’m just beginning something new, I thought this would be a good time to stop and take some time to write to you guys.

Three weeks ago, you had just started an overhaul.  Since this was probably a 12 week major overhaul that you were doing, you should be done by now.  After all, it has been THREE weeks!  So, I suppose the unit is back online, and the Dumper has been put back together after the coal explosion, and you guys probably had an appreciation lunch for all your hard work.

I just got back from an Appreciation Lunch for the Kronos project that I have been working on (so I’m all stuffed with Mexican food).  I think that was about the 6th appreciation lunch I have been to for this project.  We had one 2 1/2 weeks ago, where we went to lunch, and then went to a movie.  We went and saw “Welcome to Mooseport”.  Which was an easy going funny show.

Then a few days later, we had to go to that place where you eat pizza in the theater while you’re watching the show, and we watched a movie called “Big Fish”.  That was quite a whopper of a story.  Our Vice President had us go do that one.

Then a Project Manager that bailed out on the project just when it was beginning to look really hopeless, took me out to lunch because I pulled the whole project through even though it didn’t look like it had a prayer of getting done on time.  —  I guess he felt guilty, so he took me out to a real nice restaurant.

So, in a way, we sort of have our own Men’s Club down here.  Though it isn’t nearly as exciting as the Men’s Clubs at Sooner Plant, where you get a ticket when you come in the door, so that you have a chance to win a prize from Wal-Mart when they call your ticket number.  —  Oh, wait, we did do that when we went to that theater where we ate all that pizza.  If they drew your seat number you would win a $50 gift certificate at some Mall.

I hope all is going well with you guys.  No accidents or anything like that.

I keep having these really weird dreams about Sooner Plant.  The other night I had a dream that I went to visit the plant, and instead of using a pickup truck to go up to the coal yard, you guys had a helicopter, and it would land right on top of one of the Fly Ash silos, so you didn’t have to go up the elevator or climb the stairs.

There was a whole lot of construction going on, like they were building a new part of the plant out in the field just out from the Maintenance Shop by #1 Boiler.  It was really strange.  I remember I was in the helicopter and Diana Brien and Scott Hubbard were there and Ben Davis was flying it around and he was dodging the new conveyor belts that were being installed, and we had tool buckets like we were going to fix something on top of the Fly Ash silo (though I was only there to visit).

It all seemed like a weird Sci-fi movie like Total Recall or something like that where the sky is all dark for no apparent reason.  When we got to the top of the Fly Ash Silo, Charles Foster was there with Andy Tubbs, and they came over to the helicopter, and started talking about what needed to be repaired, and I just stood there grinnin’ because I was so glad to see them, but they were so wrapped up in telling Ben and Diana what was going on that they didn’t have time to stop and say hello, so I felt all out of place.

Oh well.  —  I’m not an electrician anymore, so I don’t get to do all those fun things….  I was talking to a guy today at lunch about how I used to crawl around on the top of the Smoke stack to fix the grounding cables, and how you can see so far when the weather is clear, and there isn’t anything as far as you can see that is higher than you.  And when you lean over and look straight down the brick stack that is inside the concrete stack, it looks just like a big brick tunnel that is perfectly round, and goes so far that you can’t see the other end……  You sure can’t do that sitting here in this cubicle.

Note to Reader:  To learn more about climbing around on the top of the smoke stack, see the post Power Plant Blackbirds and Smokestack Jumpers.

There is no opportunity for the great thrill of drop testing the Stack Elevator around here.  Or (my favorite), climbing up to the middle beam inside the precipitator so that you can straighten out a set of plates and having to squeeze through those plates and beams to get down, and skiing down the steel support rod back down to the lower level when you are done without getting a rip in your fly ash suit or having your respirator knocked off of your face by a falling clinker.  Gee.  The best I can do for a thrill around here is spill my cup of ice water on my lap.

Note to Reader:  To learn more about climbing around inside a precipitator see the post Moon Walk in a Power Plant Precipitator.

Ok.  So I was ramblin’ again.  You know I learned from the best.  For those of you who don’t know.  I learned how to ramble from a girl in College in the early 80s named “Ramblin’ Ann”.  I used to be real quiet when I was a kid.  —  No really, I did…..  Maybe sometime I will tell you guys about Ramblin’ Ann, in case some of you don’t remember.

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.  I said in the subject line that it was “Springtime at Dell”.  I know because my daughter and son are off for spring break this week.  I couldn’t really tell by the weather.

We had snow 1 day this winter, and it was all gone by noon.  I think the temperature dipped down into the 20s two or three days this winter.  Now we’re back up in the 70s.  —  Well……  What good is ramblin’ if I don’t ramble about the Weather!!!!????!!!!  Ok.  I’m done.

I hope all of you have a good week.  Be safe.  Think of the Yellow Flag BEFORE the accident happens.  Lift with your legs and not with your back.  Where there’s a dusty dumper, there’s an explosion.  Change out the Boiler Feed Pump Turbine Coupling BEFORE it breaks during an overspeed test.  Sonny has REALLY retired…..Third time’s a Charm!!!

Talk to you later,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

____________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Programmer/Analyst III

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #97 — Dell-ivering Quality

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 ninety seventh letter I wrote.

4/9/04 – Dell-ivering Quality

Hey friends at Sooner Plant and “beyond”,

So.  I heard the big news yesterday.  I heard that the Illustrious Sooner Plant Manager has decided to throw in the towel and call it quits.  I wonder what changed his mind?  Has he had a change of heart?  Does his wife know about this?  I guess she knew it would come to this “Sooner” or later.

That reminds me of my mom.  A few weeks ago, my dad mentioned that he was thinking of retiring.  He’s going to turn 70 this December.  He was thinking that it was time to start collecting his retirement and relax a little. —  Needless to say, my mom talked him out of it “really” quickly.

I can still remember the dumbfounded look Mrs. Godfrey had on her face when we were having the big retirement party during the first downsizing and Leroy Godfrey was retiring.  His daughter stood up and said, “I can imagine that it must have been difficult to work with Leroy, but remember, I had to LIVE with him!!” (followed by cheers and uproarious laughter)

Note to Reader:  To learn more about Leroy Godfrey’s retirement party, see the post The Passing of an Old School Power Plant Man — Leroy Godfrey.

I suppose that’s the reason that Jim Arnold is still around.  Could you imagine what his wife must say whenever he mentions retiring?

Maybe Bill Green is just going to surprise his wife the day he retires.  —  I can hear it now:  “Honeykins.  Don’t you think you should get up and go to work?  It’s already 6 am.”  “Why no, my dearest cherub (I’m sure that’s what Bill Green calls his wife), I’m not going to work anymore.  I’ve retired.”  “Did you say you re……….AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”  Get Up Right Now and go find another job!!!  I don’t care what you do!  Go be a greeter at Wal-Mart!!!!

Anyway.  I realize that it has been over three weeks since I wrote last.  It only seems like a couple of days.  I’ve been in a time warp working on a whole bunch of little projects all at the same time.

I think I broke a record this week on the shortest project in the history of our team.  It lasted for about 4 hours.  Then it was cancelled.  That was quick.

Yesterday, the program manager that I had for the big Kronos project came by my cubicle and said,  “Boy, you are sure getting popular among the PMs.”  I asked her why and she said that everyone was trying to get me on their projects.  I think it’s because I like to do paperwork, and they think if they get me on their team that I will do all of their paperwork for them.

I understand that you guys are just finishing up with Overhaul.  I hope everyone was safe and no one was hurt.

Well.  I better get back to work.  This typing up paperwork on the computer is really an experience.  —  Whatever happened to “Writing Programs?”  Oh that’s right.  We do that in India now.

Your friendly Dell programmer,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Global Financial Systems I/T

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #98 — The Boiler Ghost

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 ninety eighth letter I wrote.

4/13/04 – The Boiler Ghost

Dear Friends from Sooner Plant and others,

Kelly was cleaning out our closet over the weekend, and she ran across some old papers from my former life at Sooner Plant.  She asked me if she could throw them out, so I sifted through them, and I ran across a piece of paper that was folded up and all stained with Fly Ash.  When I opened it, I found that it was a short story that I had written when I was on Labor Crew 21 years ago.  I had written it for Bob Lillibridge.

When we were on Labor Crew and we had to work in the Economizer tubes cleaning the caked up ash with Cross-cut saws welded end on end, we would climb into the small crawl space halfway down the tubes to spread the tubes from below.  Bob used to grab Ronnie Banks by the legs and Yell, “Boiler Ghost!!!”  Ronnie Banks had Claustrophobia, and it would throw him into a panic.  So I had written this story to Bob.

It went like this:

From the darkness of the boiler it came.

The Boiler Ghost, black, enormous, full of hate.

I watched with disbelief as it edged its way along.

Its eyes, red and piercing, with a stare of terror

It glanced first this way and then that.

As its eyes passed through me I was filled with

Such a terrible fright that I felt near the point of death.

The massive head hung down between two pointed

Shoulder blades vulture-like.

The most terrifying thing of all was the gaping mouth

That hung open.

It was full of such a terrible darkness,

So dark and evil as if it were the gates of Hell.

Just then I noticed its eyes had fixed on Bob.

Bob Lillibridge.

He was pressed against the wall by the piercing stare,

His mouth open wide as if to scream.

Eyes bulging out in utter terror.

Mindless with pure fright.

I tried to scream,

but felt such a choking force on my throat

I could make no noise.

With steady movement the monster advanced toward Bob.

Bob was white as ash staring into that dark empty mouth.

Smoke poured out of a flat nose on that horrid face.

It reached out a vile and tremendous hand

And grabbed Bob,

Who burst into flames at his touch.

In one movement he was gone.

Vanished into the mouth of pure darkness.

The Evil Ghost glanced first this way, then that,

And into the darkness of the boiler it went.

All was quiet,

The roar of the boiler told me I was safe once again.

Until the boiler ghost should decide to return.

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Programmer/Analyst III

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527

 

Letters to the Power Plant #99 — Working at the Speed of 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 ninety ninth letter I wrote.

5/18/04 – Working at the Speed of Dell

Dear Soonerites and beyond,

I can’t believe that it has been over a month since I have written to you guys!  It seems like a century!!!  I think the last letter I wrote was about “The Boiler Ghost” story I wrote for Bob Lillibridge.  I have been working on so many projects all at the same time that only now do I have about 15 minutes to write to you.

We like abbreviations here at Dell, and the projects that I’m working on now have names like:  CART, STAR T-DiRT, VIP, ISM, and I’m doing an enhancement to the Kronos Application that I worked on for so long last year.  I am also going to be working on an application called “Oracle Financials”.  I’m supposed to be their “Subject Matter Expert” (SME) on that some time in the future.  So I have been royally tied up lately.

There is some light at the end of one of the tunnels I am travelling through.  I am going to go to Europe on vacation next week for two weeks.  So I will leave behind all of my computers in my cubicle and let someone else deal with all this stuff for a couple of weeks.  I am looking forward to a vacation.

I am going to change teams in a week or so, so I worked out my vacation during the transition since my new manager won’t be expecting me, and my old manager will be glad to see me go (on my vacation, I mean.  —  He really likes me.  Believe it or not).

Actually, the manager that I am leaving is very sad that I am going over to the “other” team, because he enjoyed all those tricks I kept playing on him (no.  Honest.  He really did).  I think that’s why he insisted (actually, I think the word is “encouraged”) that I go to this other team so that I can gain all sorts of valuable experience learning new applications like Oracle Financials.

Note to Reader:  To read about jokes being played on others see the post Power Plant Humor and Joking with Gene Day.

Oracle Financials is like the Finance Module of SAP.  So you guys sort of know what I am learning.  This is like learning SAP all over again, except I am dealing with things like The General Ledger, and Accounts Payable, and stuff like that instead of Task Lists, and Bill of Materials and Work Orders like you guys use in the Maintenance Module of SAP.  Oh Boy!!!

I hope everything is going well with you guys.  I haven’t heard the latest news about how Sooner Plant is doing.  I suppose the Dumper is all reassembled, and dumping coal trains at a record pace.  During that downtime did they have the foresight to install PLCs to control it, or are they still using all those relays?

I had this weird dream a couple of weeks ago where I was standing in the Maintenance shop and there was this Maintenance Supervisor who worked at Sooner when Marlin McDaniel was the only A foreman, and he was telling me why he thought that every kid when he graduated from High School should spend two years in the military, and I was standing there trying to remember his name.

I’m sure all of you remember who I’m talking about.  The guy that went to Mustang Plant before he retired.  I kept thinking in my dream that his first name began with an “O”, but I couldn’t come up with a name that sounded right.  I thought it might be “Oscar”, but that didn’t seem to be it.

So in my dream I went through the entire alphabet in my head trying to come up with this guys name.  —  I know.  You guys are all jumping out of your seats yelling his name to me, but I finally came up with his first name.  “Orville”.

So then I tried to remember his last name, and I immediately thought that it was “Ferguson”, but somehow I thought that Orville Ferguson was a different guy that worked in the Coal Yard, who had the daughter that worked for Brown and Root doing construction building the plant.

So I kept going through the alphabet trying to remember his last name.  Finally I realized that the guy in the Coal Yard’s first name wasn’t Orville, it was Gerald.

Note to Reader:  To read more about Gerald Ferguson see the post A Power Plant Man Becomes and Unlikely Saint.

So, it was Orville Ferguson all along.  —  I just thought I would pass that experience on to you guys, because I’m sure the same thing happens to you all the time just like it does me.  —  Remember.  A few months ago I was so busy I couldn’t even remember my own name. — Honest.  I sat there for about 5 or so seconds trying to remember what my name was so I could log into my computer.

Well……..

Ok.  Have a good day.  Talk to you later,

Your Friend,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Global Financial Systems I/T

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #100 — Supporting Dell

After I left the power plant and went to work for Dell on August 20, 2001, I wrote letters back to my friends at the plant letting them know how things were going.  This is the one hundredth letter I wrote.

6/18/04 – Supporting Dell

Dear Sooner Plantonians and other noble figures,

I have returned from my vacation and I am happy to say that everything went well.  I was able to see the Pope, go to the top of a mountain and ride on trains, so I’m happy.

When I came back I found myself in my new group.  I am only here because the support team found out that I could cure computer problems by just laying my hands on the monitor or waving my “Elvis Presley Face” wand over it.

So I am now supporting a bunch of applications that I otherwise had no knowledge.  This reminds me of the week I first became an electrician.  I remember that I had only been an electrician about a week when people were all of the sudden asking me about different ways to wire their houses, and they were bringing ceiling fans in for me to rewire, etc. as if I was all of the sudden endowed with the supreme electrical knowledge of the “Good Ol’ Boy” Electrician.

That’s how this week has been.  I’ve been responding to trouble tickets all week and people have been calling me up asking me how to do things with all these programs that I hadn’t even heard of before this week.

So I tell them things like, “Have you tried turning your monitor around so that it is facing the back of your cubicle for about 10 minutes?  Monitors hate being put in time out and after doing that a few times, they will make sure that your programs stop messing up on you.”

I have even ordered a new headset so that I can talk all day on the phone while my hands are free to type, or twiddle my thumbs or pick my… well.  Whatever I might need for them to do. (I was going to say “teeth” —  pick my teeth.  What did you Think I was going to say?  Geez!).

I found out the other day that while I was away, our Vice President had an “All-Hands Meeting”.  They held it at some amusement park called “Austin Park and Pizza” or something like that.

Anyway.  The Vice President gave me the “Vice President’s Award for Customer Experience”, though I wasn’t there to accept it.  I am still wondering what it means that I win the award for best Customer Experience by going out of town for two weeks.  I guess when I left, everyone felt like I had given them some sort of a gift or something by my absence.

I heard they said a whole bunch of nice things about me, but I don’t know what they were.  That is sort of like when you die and people all of the sudden come out of the woodwork to say nice things about you, only you aren’t there to hear it.  I’ll let you know what they said when I find out.

I can only imagine what they said…..

“Kevin was always considerate.  He would leave us alone for days at a time without bothering us with needless rambling conversations about things that we really don’t care about.”

“Kevin on occasion would take a shower before coming to work, so that we would be able to freely breathe the air without hindrance.”

“Kevin would floss his teeth on the first of every month so that we would be able to look at him grinning after he told a joke that none of us understood, and we would see only his pearly whites instead of his previous month’s combined collection of meals.”

See what I mean?  All those nice things people say about you when you’re gone.

Well.  I see that it is beginning to get late and it is Friday, so I had better get ready for the weekend.  —  I’ll be in training all of next week (Learning more about Oracle PL/SQL), so I won’t be checking my e-mail regularly, though I will probably be looking at it in the evening.

Write and let me know how things are going.

On a serious note.  I heard that Diana Brien’s father has passed away.  I am sorry to hear that, though I know he has been suffering for a long time now.  My prayers are with her and her family.  I only met Diana’s father twice, and I found him to be a very kindhearted person.  He must have been a good father.  Just look at how well he raised his daughter.

Until I write again….  Work Safe.

Your friend from Dell,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

_____________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Global Financial Systems I/T

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527

Letters to the Power Plant #101 — Dell Summertime

After I left the power plant and went to work for Dell on August 20, 2001, I wrote letters back to my friends at the plant letting them know how things were going.  This is the one hundred and first letter I wrote.

8/3/04 – Dell Summertime

Dear Sooner Plantians,

I realize you guys probably don’t remember me anymore.  It has been about a month and a half since I have written to you, and like most people who leave the plant, after a couple of weeks you sit around trying to remember what that guy’s name was.  “You know.  That guy who used to sit there in that chair that used to read the dictionary for fun….What was his name?”

I have actually started a few letters in the past weeks, but I was never able to finish them because I was called away to some meeting, or had to go work on an application that all of the sudden quit working.

I am in an interesting position in my new job.  I have been learning all these new programs and how they run.  At the same time, Dell is opening new call centers all over the world, and I am the only one that knows how to program the timekeeping system, so I have to continue writing all the interfaces for those while I am doing my support job, at least until I can transition my knowledge over to another developer.

I’m sure a lot of you can relate to this position.  This is a lot like what happens when someone at the plant moves from one position to another and they still have to work on things in their old job because no one else knows how to do it.

Oops.  I just had two “ad-hoc” meetings while I was trying to write this letter.  Also Charles Foster just sent me an e-mail that I had to respond to, so now it is already 5:00 and time to go home.

Instead of just deleting this letter as I have done in the past, I will go ahead and send this to you so that you don’t think I have been totally ignoring you.

I hope everything is going well up there.

Let me know…..

Your friendly Dell Programmer and Support Person,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Global Financial Systems I/T

Dell Inc.

(512) 728-1527