Nov 9, 2007

Comment of the Week

I was just getting ready to post a note to the effect that there have been no comments this week which stood out in any noticeable way, when this one came in.

It's no Pulitzer prize winner, but it at least seems to capture the mood at LANL, as verified by my own observations made during a recent visit to the lab this week.

-Gus

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Schoenbauer's talk only had moderate attendance. This was strange when you consider the fact that he was here to tell us where NNSA is taking the complex in the very near future. You would think this subject would be front and center with the whole LANL staff and that the auditorium would have been so packed that they had to turn people away. The moderate size of the crowd was especially perplexing when you consider that a RIF is coming in the next month or so. The sheeple at LANL apparently continue to silently graze on the last tuffs of summer's grass, oblivious to the big winter storm approaching from the north.

Perhaps it's a sign that most of the staff have grown weary and jaded or maybe it's just further evidence of a welfare mentality which has overtaken most of LANL. I'm not sure which of the two is most true.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's a sign that many employees are pretty sure, based on solid considerations, that they are going to be fine, and therefore are just continuing to get the job done, as they are paid to do.

BTW, the "sheeple" thing is starting to get pretty old.

Anonymous said...

Indeed. The sheeple thing is getting lame.

It is interesting that Gussie said he was here this week. Doug Roberts was also here this week. He normally signs his own name and had his own blog of course. However, I find this to be an interesting coincidence.

Gussie Fink-Nottle said...

I agree, the sheeple thing is getting lame. I only posted the comment because it matched my impressions in one regard: folks at the lab that I spoke with this week seemed resigned and weary and tired of the continued funding uncertainty, tired of the information vacuum from LANS, and tired of how hard they have to fight the system in order to be allowed to just do their work.

It's interesting that Roberts was also at the lab this week, I'd like to have had lunch with him. Some day I'd like to get together and compare notes with him on comment submissions that perhaps did not see the light of day on "The Real Story". I wouldn't think they could have been any worse than the garbage that Pinky and I sometimes find deposited in our slush pile, but you never know; 2004 - 2005 was a pretty unhappy time at the lab as well.

-Gus

Anonymous said...

Doug, are you listening? Let's hear the impressions of your latest visit with LANL staff.

Anonymous said...

I think a large portion of the staff have either:

(A) Already left in disgust, or

(B) Completely given up.

When morale gets bad enough most workers begin to not care any longer, no matter what happens in their workplace.

Anonymous said...

Please, no more sheeple analogies. LANL is giving sheep a bad name!

Anonymous said...

Second, 10:24PM. At least the folks in my division are pretty much aware of the situation with a rather realistic (pessimistic) assessment of the future. And there is of course portion (C) of the staff: they still have funding, thus they are committed to their project(s). But there won't be a
(D) fighting to save their job/the Lab/whatever
because (A), (B) or (C) applies.

Anonymous said...

I do believe that we are just weary. We have the worst president and cabinet in my lifetime, we have the worst director and managers in my career, we have the worst policies and procedures in my career, so even Barney Fife looks competent at this point. Everyone in my organization is just resigned to our fate because talking about it or complaining about it does not change that this is terminal. And with the economy in the tank, there is little hope for another job somewhere else. We are not sheeple, we are beaten down, the color is gone from our faces (not kidding!), we walk to and from our desks with dragging feet, and resemble nothing more than dregs. We cannot even attempt a semblance of a smile during the day. Yes, we count our blessings for our families and moderately good health - but for how long? Everytime I turn around, I hear of another employee at the Lab who has cancer or some other horrible disease or is out on disability or reduced work schedule. THIS IS NOT A COINCIDENCE.

Anonymous said...

LANL has reached the 'every man for himself' stage. The ship is going to sink no matter what. At that point DOE, NNSA, and LANS are irrelevant. There may be a few clueless souls but the majority know the battle is lost so they are now working for their families not LANL. So what's the point of attacking irrelevant management anymore other than entertainment?

Doug said...

10:17pm,

By invitation, I spent the entire day last Thursday at a discussion about high performance computing, where a number of excellent presentations were given. I heard some very interesting talks presented by LANL staff who are working in the areas of HIV vaccine research and molecular-level modeling and simulation.

Technical staff from Sony Corporation were present, and they gave us in-depth information about the Sony Playstation 3 cell processor, and we discussed how that processor's new hybrid design could be used for high performance computing.

I gave a talk on a redesigned version of EpiSims that will run on multiple clusters on the NSF TeraGrid.

The entire day was spent in technical discussion, and there was not any mention of LANL's current economic state. I was impressed by both the quality of the work that was presented by the LANL staff, and by their dedication to that work.

Doug Roberts,
LANL, Retired, now
RTI, International

Anonymous said...

I'd like to add that the physical attendance in the auditorium has very little to do with the interest level in the talk or with how many people are viewing the presentation. The vast majority of the laboratory has the capability of watching presentations right at their desks on their computers.

Unless an individual really wants to ask a follow-up question at a presentation, there's no compelling reason to show up in person. The people at the lab can watch and continue to do productive work.

The vast majority of the employees I interact with on a daily basis are growing weary of the uncertainty surrounding our current situation, but continue to be hard-working and dedicated.

I find the continual references to 'sheeple' insulting.

Anonymous said...

When Mike has his next All-Hands meeting to explain the upcoming RIF you can bet that the auditorium will be completely packed. No one will want to rely on getting this info via an unreliable PC video stream.

Anonymous said...

You may find the reference insulting, 9:50, but the push back by staff against any and all of the management ineptness demonstrated by those players who have driven LANL to its current state has been negligible. The rank and file certainly have allowed themselves to be corralled into the slaughterhouse pen with a minimum of resistance.

Call it "dedication to work" if that is how you have to think about it. I call it cowardice.

Anonymous said...

"And there is of course portion (C) of the staff: they still have funding, thus they are committed to their project(s). But there won't be a (D) fighting to save their job/the Lab/whatever because (A), (B) or (C) applies." 11:07 PM


It's become painfully obvious of late who the 'haves' and 'have-nots' are at LANL because of the upcoming layoffs. Some of the 'haves' are staff with solid funding on direct-funded projects. However, a large portion of the 'haves' are those living off overhead. They are in management and support. These people will have secure jobs regardless of what happens with the budget because LANS will do nothing to make LANL more cost effective for TSMs working the direct-funded side of the house.

Anonymous said...

Doug's post shows there are still signs of life at LANL but, more importantly, signs of life after LANL. That's something that LANL's staff need to think about during these dark times.

Thanks for posting, Doug! Hope your outside job is going well for you.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the incentive for the voluntary RIF should be for NNSA to buy up the homes of those who want to leave LANL. I'm not sure that NNSA fully grasps just how much of a Company Town we have here. Then, again, perhaps NNSA just doesn't care.

There will be no buyers for homes in Los Alamos for a long time given the lousy situation at LANL. No one in their right mind is going to take the voluntary RIF when they know it will ultimately lead to their financial bankruptcy.

Anonymous said...

Jesus H Christ, 10:47. What planet are you living on? What part of "NNSA doesn't care what happens at Los Alamos" are you having so much trouble understanding?

Sure, let's have NNSA buy our houses. Then let's have them buy us all shiny new cars so we can drive to our job interviews in Albuquerque and Livermore. Then let's have them pay us per diem while we're out there looking for new jobs.

Yeah, that's the ticket.

Anonymous said...

Hey, 11:02 AM, you forgot to throw in the bit about a "3+3" TCP1 pension bonus for voluntary termination. Add that one into the mix with the other items you mentioned and we have a deal. Damn, this crack is good stuff to smoke!

Anonymous said...

I'll buy your house after you go into forclosure. It will still be more expensive then it should be for such a fun and exiting town. Yes, the burnt mountains are very pretty and the night life rocks. I'll buy it for 50% of what you still owe.

Anonymous said...

From 10:29

"Call it "dedication to work" if that is how you have to think about it. I call it cowardice."

Golly..since you are so brave, perhaps you will be so kind as to
1) Tell us all the neat stuff that you have done to "push back", and
2) Sign your name to your post.

I'll check back later to see how you've done.

Anonymous said...

11/10/07 11:02 AM

Go F*** yourself. This is not the whining drivel on daycare or welfare of northernnm. Many of the people who came to work at the lab bought houses in los alamos, and have been for the past two years trying to sell them. They can either a) sell them at a significant loss or b)keep the house.

The cause is :

1. Corporate greed
2. Incompetence
3. Pay for the war

So the poeple who came to LANL and chose to live in Los Alamos should bear the cost for this?

I think not

You are not only arrogant, but stupid, and insulting.

Anonymous said...

5:24 pm:

"Many of the people who came to work at the lab bought houses in los alamos, and have been for the past two years trying to sell them. They can either a) sell them at a significant loss or b)keep the house:

The cause is :

1. Corporate greed
2. Incompetence
3. Pay for the war"

WTF? What are you smoking (and I ask this not as a DOE clearance investigator, although they might be reading this)?

What corporation's greed caused your house in Los Alamos to decline in value?? Whose incompetence cauused you to buy a house in Los Alamos at an inflated price?? What war caused your house value to decline steeply??

Let me guess - you are politically liberal, drive a Suburu, and can't figure out why the world doen't work the way you think it should. (And - you didn't come to the mountains of Northern New Mexico to work in the nuclear weapons program).

Anonymous said...

Nope. I came to northern New Mexico to ski, and look down at the little people from surrounding communities. What else?

Anonymous said...

Gee 5:24 PM, if things are so bad, why are postdocs in B and C Divs buying houses in LA and SF? Sounds like they know something that you don't ...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 11/11/07 11:03 PM asks: "Gee 5:24 PM, if things are so bad, why are postdocs in B and C Divs buying houses in LA and SF?"

Could it be that they are stupid?

Anonymous said...

Postdocs are buying houses. Thanks! I'll stop worrying, then.

It's always good to get information about what the most clued-in people are doing! Yay!

Anonymous said...

(1) Nobody is at the meetings because everyone is working on their CVs.

(2) I know a number of postdocs that bought at the top. They are now starting to freak!

Anonymous said...

Post-docs are young and naive when it comes to financial matters. They have not yet witnessed the fear and pain of going through downturns in the business cycle.

On the bright side, the lab layoffs and coming recession will be a good learning experience for them that they'll not soon forget. They may even get to learn about bankruptcy from the inside.

Anonymous said...

I don't care whether they're "Post-doc" or "Post-op", my house for sale up there is equal opportunity all the way....I'll take anyone's money (still haven't forgotten the LANL mantra and been away for 8 months now)....

Anonymous said...

11/11 10:50 pm:

"Nope. I came to northern New Mexico to ski, and look down at the little people from surrounding communities."

So glad you've realized your dream. Of course, you do realize that actually makes you one of the "little people" - character-wise, of course. Not that you care.