Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Engaging in discussions related to the future of LANL

A comment from the


I am not aware of any LANL rule that forbids engaging in discussions related to the future of LANL. Perhaps now that Nanos is gone and his jackboot troops are on the run it will become permissible to use the blog for its intended purpose: identifying problems at LANL and helping to provide solutions to same.

It will be interesting to see if Bob Kuckuck reads this blog and takes some time to distill the comments and complaints into positive corrective actions. I think he means well, but I am concerned that his upline (especially Foley) will tie his hands and keep him from doing right by us.

Like prostate cancer, sometimes watchful waiting is the correct course of action.
6:19, Given the circumstances, I believe that colon cancer is the proper simile.
Well the past few years sure have felt like a colonoscopy, I think I agree with the latter.
It's time for Foley to go. Do you get it Foley, you are bad for the lab, bad for business and bad for morale. You lack integrity. Is Dynes really in charge at UCOP? I think not. It's obvious to me that Foley and his cronies are calling the shots. Sorry Bob K. You may have the best of intentions but I am afraid you are out numbered by the Foleyacracy.
agreed: FOLEY CAN GO AND THE SOONER THE BETTER.... His performance was appalling
The question of posting during work hours from LANL networks is an important one. I think the worst of the JackBoot era is past, but we are still under careful scrutiny.

In a professional environment you would expect a certain amount of leeway about what kinds of discussions you have during work hours at work facilities. Possibly even mediated by institutional resources like computers and networks.

On the other hand, Official Use policies of computer equipment and networks is pretty explicit, as are the rules about "political activity". The letter of "electronic communication" outside of LANL (sending e-mail, posting) continues to lean heavily toward the ominous "just don't do it".

I took a vacation day today to catch up on many things, including reading this blog. Despite being on my own personal computer attached to a commercial ISP which I pay for myself (some managers and workers may have subsidised high speed connections at home to facilitate 24/7 availability, etc) I felt uncomfortable posting here during work hours.

If nothing else I was reluctant to add to the perception the public (and UC and DOE) might have that we are all a bunch of lazy whiners wasting time and abusing government resources.

I have, at different times, been indiscrete in my use of the network and work hours. This has always been very casual and without intent to abuse or defraud. It was simply convenience (checking movie times or the location of a restaurant from work on a Friday afternoon, or sending my wife a love-note on valentine's day). I have also used my office telephone (local only!) to make personal calls which were best made during the day. There are policies in place that (barely) allow for this.

You can bet I have been very careful about that since the microscope came out. Not because I am afraid that someone is specifically looking for this and seeking to harm me with it, but more because the stakes are much higher today, both with management and oversight and with public perception.

I look forward to a day when LANL is again healthy enough to not only allow this kind of discussion but actively support it. In the meantime, we need to be careful about perceptions and very clear that we need and deserve a professional environment where we have the opportunity to engage in open, productive discussion among ourselves and with our management at all levels.
I predict a very grim future for Los Alamos National Laboratory. The scientific and engineering heart is being cut out of the Lab. Whole types of expertise will simply disappear; first in July and then later when the current UC contract expires. What is sad is that the current management doesn't seem to have a clue or care about what is "melting away". One would expect some dramatic action or at least some strong and encouraging words but there is nothing. Perhaps it is because they simply inherited it and never had to create it in the first place. I tried to get an appointment yesterday for retirement counseling in the June 7, 8 and 9 time slots - "sorry all filled, but we'll put you on the waiting list!" Soon all that will be left is an aging infrastructure, a "broken" support system (try and order anything lately?) and those individuals "trapped" here by circumstance or captured by tradition or habit. This was an almost "magical" place when I arrived in the late 1970's. What has been lost and is being lost just makes me blue. - a 25 years plus year TSM.
Upon re-reading my post about posting during work hours I might have given the impression that I am the same person who was "admonished" for posting at 9:47 on the thread that spawned this one. I am not. I chose not to post during work hours for the described reasons.

I was simply reinforcing the message that we all need to be careful, both about real misuse and the appearance of it. I appreciate Doug, for example, "explaining himself" when he has posted mid-day.. he has very good reason to avoid any appearance of impropriety.

I generally assume that anyone who posts during normal work hours is doing it "appropriately", but it is hard to tell what UC/DOE/NNSA and the public might think.

For the moment (era?) we do not enjoy the benefits of a very professional environment. Let's work with Kuckuck and any new contractor to get back there.
You waited too long, 7:52. I walked back to my office after the Kuckuck meeting on Monday, called HR, was was able to procure a June 7 appointment.
the retirement floodgates hae opened despite Dynes plea to stay and help us win our contract
Actually, 7:58, the retirement floodgates opened precisely *because* of Bob Dynes presentation. The majority of the audience saw through his transparent insincerity, and 100% of the audience saw Foley for what he is; a dyspeptic, crude, ill-tempered tyrant. Does that sound familiar?
hey I used "dyspeptic" first... find your own adjective. Ha ha... Yes I was being facetious. I assume he fooled no one. "WE" are still the bad ones and "THEY" are the good ones. And the contract is "THEIRS."
Sorry, both of you: "dyspeptic" is just not a strong enough word to describe Foley's unpleasantness.

dys·pep·tic Pronunciation Key (ds-pptk)

1. Relating to or having dyspepsia.
2. Of or displaying a morose disposition.
#2 works just fine.

I just wish I was old enough to get out now (sigh).
As an outsider to LANL but not DOE, the fact that LANL professionals are concerned that inconsequential use of web and computer resources could be used against them is most illuminating. It is quite telling...hard to believe that some of the presumably most valuable intellectual capital in the U.S. is paranoid with fear that a bureaucratic vendetta machine exists to punish or humiliate them for Kafkaesque infractions. Why would anyone want to work in such a place, except for extreme necessity? Makes me think that whatever LANL once was is gone, or fading fast. Can it be resuscitated by a new contractor? Rebooted with a new crop of staff? Who knows...meanwhile, NK and Iran prepare to join the nuclear club...and why? If nuclear weapons have no utility to nation states, why do so many nation states seek them? I think the reason is that they guarantee territorial integrity against incursions by other nations. Can Japan, South Korea wait? Will the EU ever assemble a community nuclear deterrent based on a joint UK-France arsenal? Seems like we need nuclear expertise and laboratories like LANL. Good luck, folks. I'm thinking things will get better but they won't be the same.
Outsider Patriot-

Thanks for the support, thin as it is in these times. Yes, the current air of paranoia is very real and very justified and very wrong for the country.

Unfortunately, if you look back to the Wen Ho Lee era and before, you will see this mood mounting.

I believe someone(s) in high places wants precisely this. Sadly.

Yes, this resource will be hard to replace/repair/reboot. It will not be the same.

Thanks for the observation.
7:54 -

7:52 here. I understand. I suppose if I were over 50 I'd be doing the same or considering it strongly. We will probably miss you...

On the other hand, those of us who don't have that option or don't feel we can take it should (my opinion) keep looking for ways to make some sense.

Despite Foley's dour nature and possible conspiracy-connections in the military, I'm *still* relieved to have Nanos out of my management chain.

Perhaps it is the relief one feels under interrogation when the "bad cop" walks out and the "good cop" comes in and butters us up...
the place is awash in inconsistent and stupid "rules" like 3 minute limits on phone calls of ANY kind, no personal calls on government phones even during lunch even with a calling card, being billed by UC for 50 cents for calls made (and yes you have to write them a check), treating "white out" as a hazardous chemical, no coffee pots in offices, etc. The list goes on and on. Stupid, insulting, bull that wastes more time and money than just letting workers do their work in some comfort. Micro-management is rampant with useless forms and charts and spreadsheets to track the most inane crap just so some team leader will have something to do. The new mania for having to QUANTIFY everything is ridiculous. You have to be able to assign a number to things that can't be ranked. Absurd.
re: posting at work. who cares? If computer users at LANL are allowed to surf the internet and have all types of spyware edposited on there systems, send jokes around via email, send religous rhetoric to everyone, make endless personal phone calls, etc I doubt that reading or posting to the blog is a problem. Another reason for anonymity just to play it safe.
Doug & fellow Bloggers -

What do you think of an open challenge (friendly) to our new director to read this blog and openly respond to it?

Am I dreaming that he would even (be allowed to) acknowledge this blog?

Certainly it could be risky for him to step up to this crowd of rowdies and not be prepared, get hooted out of the hall. But to meet the challenge well, what a coup!?

How about the director of Sandia or Livermore (since they are each playing the role of leading the LM/UT and UC/Bechtel bid preparation respectively)?

Our presidential debates (primaries as well) were not much of an example, but why would it not be possible for these "leaders" to be engaged in a public debate about the future of the DOE Labs?

I know that DOE and LANL are not "democracies" but they do (supposedly) exist in the context of a democracy. Why would public debate about the mission and management of this country's "crown jewels of science"?

Just a thought.
I'm afraid our new director would have to ask Foley for permission, and I am doubtful that the permission would be granted. In fact, I can almost hear Foley's answer now:

8:41 -

Get over yourself.

The inappropriate behaviours and use of resources you site are not that common, certainly not in the current climate.

I see a tiny amount of questionable e-mail from fellow employees and it is usually quashed gently but quickly. It has been years since I've seen the kind of abuses you imply here.

While all of the activities you describe might occur and might have occured more in the past, and perhaps even in unacceptable amounts in specific places, it is really inappropriate to make such a sweeping characterization.

Your tone is that of an outside detractor who wants to see us suffer.

Sorry, your characterization is an exaggeration.
oops, "cite"
I'm the poster referred to in earlier posts and welcomed the admonition and reminder regarding posting during perceived work hours. Had I been fully contemplating the appearance of misuse, I probably would've waited until after work hours.

I've actually tried very diligently to not post anything which would be considered slanderous or compromising to individuals or too revealing about myself or others though one never really knows what simple data points might reveal more than they intended.

I try to speak the truth, adding an element of common sense from a positive outlook. I try to recognize that for many who will remain at LANL, whatever LANL becomes is what they will have as their future and my hope is that they won't dread coming to work and that the work is meaningful, feasible, rewarding and fulfilling - not just to the employees but to the nation who foots the bill and I believe it's not a mutually exclusive expectation that both 'sides' of the equation can be satisfied.

Irritation and agitation are a predictable outcome from the frustration and while many posters and the workforce en masse have been told to stop whining and get back to work, there needs to be clarity that 'work' and especially the environment where it occurs may be vastly different due to factors not clearly understood or readily revealed.

I used to begrudge the suggestion that more money should be invested in the scientists; attraction and retention of the best and brightest. Now with what appears to be a mass exodus looming in the near future, I hope that LANL will still be able to offer something attractive enough to get the brilliant minds similar to those that have served the U.S. here in the past.

Regardless of what may come of the Lab or the conditions in which it operates, the final analysis is that employment is only a part of our existence and I try to remember that there are things which can't be devalued by poor work circumstances - family, friends, even our lovely New Mexico sunsets and other 'perks' which added to the reason many of us came here in the first place.
The guy is the Director of a national laboratory and has to ask for permission about what he can read and respond to? Now that's sad.

Why would an educational institution with the reputation of UC even want a person like VP Foley even working for them - in any meaningful capacity? I really do not understand that. Too bad he doesn't have a PhD - maybe they could have made him Chancellor of UC Berkeley just for the entertainment value.
9:30 -

Thank you for a very positive post here. As with the time of the Cerro Grande fire and it's aftermath, we all need to find a way to pull together, help eachother and count our blessings.

We did it with Cerro Grande, let's do it with this one... even if the devastation is deeper and more subtle at the same time.

Whether retiring or quitting or staying on, we are all neighbors, friends, coworkers.
To 5/18/2005 09:03:14 PM "I try to remember that there are things which can't be devalued by poor work circumstances - family, friends, even our lovely New Mexico sunsets and other 'perks' which added to the reason many of us came here in the first place."
to 5/18/2005 11:04:14 PM "Whether retiring or quitting or staying on, we are all neighbors, friends, coworkers."

I am proud to be your colleague and we do need to keep a proper perspective on this mess and a right sense of priorities in life.
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