Sunday, July 24, 2005

I'm Convinced

Posts like this one have convinced me that anonymous posting on the blog should continue to be supported.



I'm a manager (GL) and I read this blog faithfully; and post here too -- anonymously. Believe it or not, retaliation is alive and well within the management community.

I find the blog useful in several ways: current news not available via official means, a sense of the "pulse" in the Lab, and as a means for venting in the face of senseless edicts.

I believe UC reads the blog but just gets defensive and blames the employees. If LM/UT isn't reading this blog and developing plans to win back the employees, they are missing a tremendous opportunity.

I support keeping the blog anonymous. Enlightened managers can gain a perspective not available through official channels (UC's filters). Employees have a way to blow off steam and/or offer constructive comments to improve LANL operations.

The fact that the blog is so public is unfortunate; and an indictment on UC. If UC woke up one morning and decided the employees weren't the source of all their problems, they might create an internal forum for healthy debate. If that were to happen, the blog might not be necessary. Until then, this is our only venue.

My vote, Doug, is to keep the blog alive and anonymous. There's lots of water yet to run under our bridge and retaliation is alive and well in Los Alamos (the Lab and the town).

There is a wealth of news available relevant to the lab without needing to reference another compilation on the blog. "Today's Headlines" put out by the Public Affairs office is pretty comprehensive and it is easy for a GL (or anyone else) to get on the distribution.

I am interested in what perspectives and other positive and useful things you have harvested from this blog. Please share your list of gems. My guess is that the gain does not justify the damage done, but would like to look at the data.

Damage done? By the blog?

As compared to damage done by Nanos and UC? Gary, I do believe that there is no hope for you. Call this and ad-hominum attack if you must, but you truly are a UC apologist.

The blog can be blamed, if you must, for bringing to light the misdeeds of an incompetant and abusive director, and by proxy, the University of California for supporting him. If that is damage, then I hope you also become damaged by the blog.
Don't worry, he has been. People have gotten to know him for who he is: a UC management apologist.
To Gary Stradling who said, "Please share your list of gems. My guess is that the gain does not justify the damage done, but would like to look at the data."

A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.
~ Author Unknown

Never has a quote been more relevant to one individual.
I am not overwhelmed by the flood of cogent ideas and insights in response to my posts--which are reasoned to the best of my feeble abilities. Come on guys, you can do better than that. This is supposed to be the arena of ideas.

I would not call myself a UC apologist, but a defender of Los Alamos National Lab as a critical national resource. That stance does not include ignoring faults of the lab, its organization, management, or staff, but is rather an appeal to deal with those things in a constructive way. So cut me a fair deal.
We'll be as fair to you as UC was to Todd Kauppila and his family. Fair enough?
Ok, Gary: Here's a fair deal. Your words make you sound like a UC/LANL management apologist. So either

1. everybody has completely completely misunderstood you, or

2. everybody has understood you perfectly.

I vote for number 2, above.
Here's a cogent idea Gary. We remove UC from it's role at LANL, fire all of the managers from division leader up and start over with a clean slate. There will be no more good ol'boys network handing out high paying jobs to friends and relatives and our work might once again become a priority.

You have to admit that you stir people up. Look what you hae done to this post. Eight comments, and nothing about the post.


This one is for you. Why did you include "the town" in your last sentence?

Larry Creamer, Retired
The Detoator Group
1944 - 2004
Gary Stradling asks, "I am interested in what perspectives and other positive and useful things you have harvested from this blog." I'm not the original GL, but may I de-anonymize long enough for a try at this?

Part of my job (on the "program," not "line," side of the lab) is to try to help get people queued up for certain of the change of station assignments in Washington. It has long been my perception that very few people actually want such assignments. When some opportunity comes along in an area that I watch, it can be very difficult to find someone who would take the spot if offered.

So imagine my surprise when an earlier thread included complaints that change-of-station positions were only available to "insiders." In my experience, it simply isn't so. Quite the contrary, we have to beat the bushes to find the people, whether insiders or not. Furthermore, the Washington agency that's getting the change-of-station person gets veto power on who goes. Frequently the routine is that multiple names are proposed and they pick the one they want. At the minimum, their perception of who's an "insider" doesn't match our own, and the latest one of these I worked on implied they were looking for an "outsider," whatever our own interests were.

What this mismatch between perception and (from my perspective) reality tells me is that we're not doing a very good job of "process." That is useful to know, because it identifies something tangible where we can try to do better. To this end, an offer: if you're interested in an eventual change of station, drop me an e-note or phone call at my lab address. (I'm not going to give it here, spammers being what they are, but I'm the Johnson in N division with a phone number containing the consecutive digits 04; look me up in the on-line internal phone book.) Serious inquiries only, please. I don't know of any current (7/25) change of station opportunities, but they tend to open up quickly and unexpectedly; having a list of interested parties available quickly is advantageous.

Clearly we need better "process" on this than a blog, of course, but it is useful to know there is an issue. Does this counterbalance the "damage done" that Stradling mentions? Probably not by itself; there really is "damage done" at least to our image to the outside world (GL got that right). But if other people are noticing, via the anonymous medium, things where they can make improvements or at least identify a previously unknown problem, then yes, there are grounds for anonymity. I'm with GL; leave the option open, we can filter the obvious flamage and look for the pearls -- although it would be nice to have more of the latter and less of the former.

Back to anonymous lurking.

-- Bill Johnson, nuc/rad program dweeb.
Larry is correct, we are paying too much attention to Gary. To address the main post specifically, the GL is right. UC has brought this venue on itself by stiffling debate internally. The blog will continue to be essential in the coming months. Another good reason to keep things annonymous is that signing names at this point might cause the new contractor to make lists of potential trouble makers. I believe that once UC is gone people will settle down and go back to their lives and will not feel the need to be so outspoken. But, why take the chance? If LM/UT wins the bid there will be an adjustment period but I think the blog will fade away. If UC wins the blog will go on indefinitely.

Signed, not a trouble maker, just fed up with UC.
It's clear to me now that Gary loves to grab the spotlight. Simply ignore
him, and hopefully he'll sulk away. It's not even worth attempting to argue
with him, as it will get you nowhere. His is a sad, sad, case. If he post
yet another time on this blog, ignore him completely. He feeds off of all
the notoriety.
This post has been removed by a blog administrator.
The previous comment was deleted because it had too many mispellings.

Too bad people who do not share your views don't have spelling checkers.
Sorry. I have a spelling checker, but didn't use it.
Doug- Ashamed, and sorry to not have met the high standards of your blog.

Again with better spelling:
Just be sure to not respond to his posts with thoughtful responses. Any specific answers on why allowing general anonymous ugliness here is good would seem silly to most outside readers. They would mock us and our shallowness would embarrass us. How dare he question the rightness of OUR CAUSE. Lets mock him, laugh at his warped personality and blundering ineptness. The public will know that OUR CAUSE is deep but hidden and they will be awed.
No matter who wins the contract, UC will not be visible, or palpable, to most employees, except as a "parent company" assisting during the transition. No UC benefits, no UC overseers, no UC performance measures, no UC employees on site. Los Alamos National Security, Limited Liability Corporation, will be our employer and overseer. Whose policies will obviously be determined in no small part by Bechtel National, Washington Group, and BWX Technologies. Look to the other NNSA sites these corporations run, or help to run, for examples and lessons.
Gary - The 'data' you seek is all around you in almost every person you pass at LANL. Until you pull your head out of the sand, you are likely to continue to get kicked in the butt on occasion. Where I once defended you, now I say you mostly deserve it. Just exactly why are you so anti-blog? Take a deep breath and answer while looking in the mirror please. To address your question, by far the most useful thing 'harvested' from this blog is the fact that it played a large, perhaps even pivotal, part in driving the worst director in the history of the national labs out of THIS town. An absolute good. That actual 'gain' far outweighs any of the exaggerated negative side effects you feign such deep concern about. Just a few months ago, you were in denial about the fact that Nanos was dead in the water yet you still question the reality that is alive and well around you on this blog. Will it be the blogs fault when your baby, RRW, goes to LLNL? Wake up! LANL simply cannot succeed in any meaningful endeavor with the corrupt management that has been encouraged to persist here. I am extremely pround of the fellow bloggers who point out the widespread and genuine problems with our present state of affairs. They choose to fight against the status quo that has nearly destroyed Los Alamos rather than cheering the latest fad of the PAD as falsely advertised by the PA office. Why would anyone choose the Google headlines of the PA office when they can put their hands on the pulse of the actual employees of the Lab right here on the blog? Since, in your own words, there are only 'a handful' of bloggers here anyway, why do you even bother to read and respond to this forum?
"Gary - The 'data' you seek is all around you in almost every person you pass at LANL. Until you pull your head out of the sand, you are likely to continue to get kicked in the butt on occasion."
Far more people come up to me and support my comments than otherwise.

"Why would anyone choose the Google headlines of the PA office when they can put their hands on the pulse of the actual employees of the Lab right here on the blog? " That would be like basing an evaluation of public health on an Emergency Room poll. It is good to be aware of the number hurting, but most of the community is at home healthy and well.
Hi, I'm an ex-lanl employee that happened across this blog while surfing for news on the lab. Have a few things I'd like to say.

One I agree that some sort of blog or forum community is needed, especially one that is anonomous. I left just after the shut down occured and was about to re-apply for a lanl position (was a contractor) when I decided that it was probably a good time to finish getting my degree. So any views I have will be related to the time at which I left. At that time I could easily see the direction the lab was heading and it scared me. I was constantly paranoid of screwing up on the job, even with all the assurances from the higher ups that we shouldn't worry about loosing our jobs over screw-ups. I was afraid to voice my opinion because even though we were told that our thoughts were important, our ideas were usually met with a very defensive stance by the admins and frequently bashed and labled as ignorant. Granted some were in my opinion but some were very good concerns that were shared by many at the lab and yet either it was put down or the answer was just one long run-around.

I was also afraid to voice what I felt even to co-workers because you never new who was a gung-ho supporter of the lab. Seeing that at the time the admins were trying to weed out the "mentality" problem of the lab, you didn't want to get labled as one of the people that had this "problem". Though I agree that the lab has many problems that need to be looked into and corrected, the manner in which it was done was horrendous. My manager even approached me to ask a bunch of questions about some comments I had made, (I was just basically worried about the direction the lab was going), and I told him that and he was professional and fair about it, but couldn't help answer any of my concerns at the time, only assure me that I was not alone with my concerns. But the fact that I was reported to my manager over my concern made me worry more about where we were headed. I then had no outlet to voice my feelings, the lab web page had a comments section but it was a joke, and getting news about the lab at their website was a joke as well. The e-mail thing was ok but I got swamped with a bunch of memos and other junk that finding any actual news was hard and time consuming.

Now to address Gary. I agree with you to a point. I came to this blog a few months ago hoping to see things had changed at the lab only to be met by the same feelings that co-workers had while I was there. But then I started to realize that most everyone here was of one mind so to speak. It made me wonder if this was just a small community that had banded together and didn't represent the lab as a whole. I feel that somthing similar posted on the lab's website might be more helpful to the employees especially if encouraged by the higher ups. Sure it'll be one big bitch session for the most part but the lab needs to know what its employees are unhappy about. Posters from outside the lab are also important, mainly because many at the lab tend to lose touch of reality and the world around us, I was one. In an isolated environment like the lab this can be easy to do.

Your analogy about the ER is good execpt for one problem. For it to truly reflect this blog then you would have to add the 10X or more people that are sitting at home bleeding to death because they are afraid of the doctors.
I'll bet far more people "went up to" Nanos professing some sort of support for his irrational policies than otherwise. All your retort shows is that unscientific polls are biased and perhaps that people at upper levels of management in Los Alamos cannot tell the truth even to each other. I've not met a single person who supports your position(s) - but then I don't work in the Ad bld. and my coworkers are not from PADNWiPe. We obviously live in different worlds. I am preparing for the long overdue departure of the people from your world. They have done enough damage to people in the one I live in.
You are right about one thing; biased sampling is a fact of life.

On the other hand, I do not expect people who only circulate their views anonymously to have the backbone to stand up and voice a dissenting view with attribution. Having a conversation with someone who has a contrary viewpoint does not bother me. I can respect a lot of different viewpoints. Often different viewpoints stem from different data sets.

What I cannot respect are people who anonymously try to pull down something valuable to me, or facilitate the destructive efforts of others. Vandalism and graffiti are not respectable.
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