Thursday, June 29, 2006

Finito -- Good2Go

Doug, this will be my final post to the blog. I want to thank you so much for setting up "The Real Story". It's given everyone at LANL a chance to gain some deep insights into many different aspects of the lab; some good, but many not so good. And it's been very tough to read at times. In fact, I've known some friends and colleagues who had to go "cold turkey" off the blog because of the anguish that it caused them when they read it. Can't say that I blame them. But while the blog's signal-to-noise ratio has varied at times, this blog has served as a useful mechanism to radically changed my views on human nature, both of my own nature and of the staff that I observe at LANL. I hope it has done the same for many others who may have read it. We all have our little demons. For anyone who feels that I might have insulted them at times, I ask for your forgiveness and understanding. I'm no saint. Humans are morally fallible, which makes us a very special species.

Thanks for turning off the "Post Comments" buttons on the blog's final days. I was hoping to see the blog go out with some class. It seemed all too predictable that some blog nay-sayers might attempt to blast it with vitriolic comments during its final hours. It can now rest in peace with some measure of dignity. As far as continuing the blogging process, personally, I think it's time for the LANL staff to take a break. It's been a very long two years since this blog's inception. I think most readers now have a pretty clear idea about what has gone on and what is presently going on at LANL. It seems to me that it's probably time for some of the staff to begin thinking about exiting LANL or to at least let go of all the frustrations we've suffered over the last few years. Enjoy the warmth of summer. Kick back and have a cool one. Rest up. Harder days may be upon us, so at least take some time to savor the quiet before the next storm.

I'll leave with this final observation. I've been at LANL for many years. Most of the people who were here when I started have long since left or retired. As for me, I have stayed because I love Los Alamos. It is where I raised my kids. It is where I struggled through some very trying times, such as the destruction of homes during the Great Fire. It is where I wish to grow old and die. There could be no sweeter place to call home. My first introduction to Los Alamos came while I was still in college. In those days, I use to make hiking treks to Northern New Mexico every summer. I'll never forget one summer afternoon many, many years ago when I made a hike out to the Tsankawi ruins and was resting on a rock. I looked back at the beautiful Jemez Mountains and thought, "This must be paradise. I would love to live in such a place". Well, I eventually got lucky and found a job at LANL. In many respects, it's been wonderful. I've had a chance to work and meet and live with some of the most intelligent and stimulating people on the face of the Earth. God, I love this place!

However, there is also a flip-side (isn't there always?). During my working career both here and at other sites within government, I've been fortunate enough to observe other large organizations and watch how they deal with hard times and stress. In none of these other organizations have I ever witnessed anything like what I've seen at LANL. I'll be blunt about it. LANL is, without a doubt, the most dysfunctional organization I have ever seen. In fact, some industrial psychologist should come and visit with us for a while. I'm sure he/she could write a thesis about this place that would gain them a Noble Prize in human psychology. If you suspect that LANL is not quite "right", then I would be one of the first people to agree with you. It is a highly dysfunctional organization. Perhaps LANS can help make it a bit more functional over time. We'll see.

In closing, I would like to confess a few secrets about my handle, "good2go". It was carefully crafted to reflect the ambivalence I currently feel about working at LANL. When the RFP was announced, I began thinking that maybe the management of LANL would finally change for the better. Perhaps we were being handed a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to clean up some of our many management problems, and we would, indeed, be "good-to-go" for another few decades. However, if things don't improve, then the flip-side of this name begins to come to the fore. Perhaps, after many years, it might be time to leave LANL. In that respect, it would also be "good-to-go".

Take care, Doug. Strap up that leather motorcycle jacket real tight, point your head into the wind, and have a good time cycling off on your summer vacation. Perhaps some day I'll call you and we can sit down, reflect on the meaning of this blog, and down a cold one.

Till then, I'll remain, as always,


To "good2go": you have been one of the most thoughtful of contributors to this blog. Much of what you said in your farewell piece resonated with me. I used to live in Los Alamos, because of the beauty of the place (pre-fire) and some very good friends, but I left for the Valley, because of some of the OTHER people in Los Alamos who were not so nice to be around. I, too, had a great fondness for Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, but the Lab got to be harder to love when it became Los Alamos National Laboratory (with the benighted idea of Matrix Management), and then times got even harder, and then harder still, in the last dozen years.

I still hope for better times at the Lab, though I'm not so naive as to think that they will come in just a couple of years. In the meantime, best of luck to you, Doug. May you end each day on the bike trip with bugs in your teeth...from smiling and living well. And to older colleagues like "good2go" and my younger colleagues, I wish you all well in the time ahead.

Blogs away!

-Brad Lee Holian
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