Monday, January 31, 2011

Eating My Words (And They Taste Terrible)

I was trying to remember what it was I said on Thursday. So I just went and copied and pasted it:
"Tonight I was out on the yard with Sausage and Sgt Archer (who was horribly sick and coughing all night, so don't blame me if I come down with it) and we had a pretty calm night. In between movements we sat around in the shack and listened to Sgt Archer cough and wheeze and groan and we offered homemade remedies. I gave him a pack of Theraflu I happened to have in my lunchbox. It didn't seem to help much. I told him to rub himself all over with Vicks and sleep in front of the vaporizer."

Yeah. Well, what I didn't put in there was when I told him I would beat certain parts of his anatomy with a large stick if he got me sick during my vacation.

It seems I'm going to owe him a beating. Just as soon as I have the strength to lift the stick, he's in for it.

Today is the first time since Saturday afternoon that I have eaten anything solid. Today is the first time I could focus my eyes well enough to type. And even this meager amount is kicking my butt. I have been awake for about eight hours out of the last forty eight.

But I am getting better. But oh so very slowly. So I'm going to make this short, if you don't mind.

According to the official calendar, today was both National Popcorn Day and Child Labor Day. I don't think we have to worry too much about child labor in this country any more. The lazy little punks don't even have to walk to the telephone anymore, let alone work for a living.

But then, I'm just feeling quite cranky.

Tomorrow is Serpent Day. I'm all over that. Tastes like chicken!

Except everything tastes like dirt right now, unfortunately.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Waiting To Breathe

It was my last day of work before my vacation started. I was in the 2-10 spot in 4 house thinking to myself "Okay, I can coast through this day and then I'm off. No big deal. I can get out of here before count time and be home."

And for the most part, that was how my day went.

Did some wing walks. We were all caught up on cell searches for the month so I didn't have to worry about those. Went down to dining and did some pat searches for awhile then walked around inside the chow hall.

So far so good.

One of the many (too many) Assistant Wardens came up into the bubble and hung out for awhile. Not on any kind of mission, it seems, just doing a routine walk through and killing time until he could go home. That wasn't bad.

Right after he left I was thinking about going to do another wing walk when Gums got up and said he was doing one so I decided to jump on the 'puter and clear out my email. I usually get about ten to fifteen emails a day on the system at work. 99% of them are complete garbage to me and I delete them sight unseen. I mean, what do I care if the fax machine in District 9 is broken? But they still send those out to everybody in the state, then another one later to say it's fixed. What a bunch of........ snap.

I'm going to be off for the next nine days so I figured any emails I could clean out of my inbox before I left would be that much less I had to deal with when I got back.

It's a good thing I went and looked. I'm in recert training the first two days off vacation.

Oh joy!

I have nine days where I can sleep in and then two days where I have to be up by six a.m. and in by eight. Nifty. Ah, well.

I was thinking "If that's the worst news I get, I'm okay."

Then Lt Gerber calls me and says "You have to go up to 1 house and relieve Miz Maybe. She's sick and has to go home."

So I toddle on up there and get her out of the house. Then I look around. There's no sergeant and it's just me and Chopper and Galahad in the house. And Chopper and I are both in the 2-10 slot. Oops.

I can't leave with only one person in the house, so I call Gerber and offer to stay late of he needs me. He says "No, I got it covered, I think. Maybe. If nothing happens."

Mr Peepers rolls in the door as Chopper heads out at 9:45. Me, I'm still waiting, wondering if I'm going to be here for awhile. I still can't leave. It takes three people to count. Two to count and one to open the doors.

Finally somebody rolls in from a house on B-side at 9:55. With five minutes to spare. Whew! Peepers takes over the bubble and I'm relieved! Yay! It was a close call.

So my vacation has officially begun. Nine glorious days with nothing to do but some woodworking projects and replacing the living room carpet with laminate flooring.

Oh boy isn't that going to be fun! Maybe I'll take some before and after pictures for you.

Let's check the calendar before I toddle off to bed, shall we?

Oh... crap. Well... Saturday is National Corn Chip Day, which isn't too bad. I like corn chips as much as the next guy. But Sunday is Escape Day. Oh man, I'm glad I'm not going to be there for that one! Yikes!

Missed Out On All The Fun

There was a time in the not too distant past, when if something went down and I didn't get a chance to get in on it, it pissed me off.

Especially uses of force.

It's not that I enjoy violence or anything. It's not. I'm actually a fairly peaceable person.

But if something went down and I wasn't in a position where I could at least try to get there and help it made me mad. Not at myself or anyone in particular, just in general.

If there was a 10-5 called and I was stuck in the comm room or in a bubble somewhere that I couldn't leave I would just run around in little circles and go "Yaaaaaaarg! Snap!" and other things like that.

Tonight I was out on the yard with Sausage and Sgt Archer (who was horribly sick and coughing all night, so don't blame me if I come down with it) and we had a pretty calm night. In between movements we sat around in the shack and listened to Sgt Archer cough and wheeze and groan and we offered homemade remedies. I gave him a pack of Theraflu I happened to have in my lunchbox. It didn't seem to help much. I told him to rub himself all over with Vicks and sleep in front of the vaporizer.

He just raised his eyebrow at me.

At any rate, I went off to do my Del Norte check after the movement. Just be-bopping along minding my own business, checking the fence.

Somewhere around zone 7 Uncle Scary drives up in the P-car and rolls down the window to shout at me "Why do we get to miss all of the fun? They had a 10-5 down in 10 house a few minutes ago and we missed it!"

Dang! But then the thought hit me "hey, I don't have to do any paperwork...... La la la....

By the time I hit zone 12 Kiss Fan drives up in the other P-car and tells me the same thing. Says it lasted about three minutes, which is a long time for a 10-5. Wow. Must have been a good one.

Then I get down to the sally port and Model A leans out the window and says "Hey! Did you hear they had a 10-5 in 10 house a few minutes ago? Sounds like it was a good one!"

I look up through the other gate and there's 10 house, not fifty feet away. I would have freaked if I had been in the sally port when they called that. Because even though I would have only been fifty feet away, I couldn't have gone. You cannot ever abandon the sally port. The only time that ever happens is if we have a tornado or something.

Apparently this little punk got mouthy and then got threatening and then shook a fist in an officers face and took a step towards him. Then it was on like Donkey Kong, as they say.

He got pepper sprayed twice and fought back and got banged up a little before they managed to get him under control. When I left all the adrenaline had worn off and he was crying about the pepper spray. I'll bet tomorrow he's going to be one sore critter and crying about that too.

Poor little punk. There goes his treatment program. I guess he can say goodbye to getting out of prison early.

So by the time I got back inside the fence again it was all over except the paperwork part, which they were still doing as I was leaving. I don't miss that part of it at all.

Yikes. Looks like we have a hat trick for tomorrow. A three-fer! Tomorrow is National Kazoo Day, Clash Day, Rattle Snake Round-Up Day.

I wonder if they mean clashing colors or the band? London calling.....

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

After wonder all night if I was going to end up writing about all of the little irritating things that happened this evening, my friend KP shows up at the comm room window and he drops this bomb shell on me.

He says (and I loosely quote the best i can remember):

"Do you suppose that we can draw a corollary between the increase in the safety of baby cribs and the increase in the prison population? Think about this.... When you and I were kids we were put in old wooden baby cribs that the sides slid down on. If you grabbed the sides it would pinch your fingers and hurt like hell and if you shook them hard enough they would tip over and dump you on your head.

We were taught that being behind bars was painful and you had to be good to get let out when you wanted to play.

But when Ralph Nader came along and consumer-safetied us half to death, they did away with those old wooden cribs and got these soft sided things that taught you nothing. Being locked away became a soft and comfy place to be.

Most of the new people coming into the system are young punks who never knew the harsh lessons that an old wooden crib would teach you."

By Gawd, if I don't think he's right. I think he's on to something.

And I do wonder if we put our heads together if we couldn't get a sizable government grant to do some research on the subject.

I can always count on my friends when the going gets tough.

Well, tomorrow looks like it's going to be quite the day. What with it being both Punch the Clock Day and Thomas Crapper Day.

I just hope it don't backfire on us!

Practically A Picnic

On paper, I was supposed to be the 3 house bubble tonight.

It didn't so much work out that way, pretty much to my relief. Ms. Archer was down there in the 2-10 slot and I walked down with Stubby.

When we got there Ms. Archer was running the bubble and she batted them big dark eyes of hers at me and said "You don't mind, do you Revvy?"

Oh heck no. Especially when she asks me like that. I don't think I could refuse her anything when she asks like that. Plus, she's somewhere around eight months pregnant and I wouldn't want to see her going up and down the steps in that condition. I was more than happy to let her run the bubble.

Not that I'm a chauvinist or anything. I just think it would be hard on her having to climb those steps as much as she would need to working the floor. I have no doubt in my mind that she would thoroughly dismantle any inmate fool enough to get within arms reach of her if it became necessary.

She's one tough cookie. And cute as a button besides.

So with her running the bubble like she was Captain of a battleship and Stubby out terrorizing the inmates on the floor it left me with very little to do. Between the two of them, I'm not sure which one the inmates are more intimidated by. Stubby teaches Defensive Tactics and knows the book by heart and gets to practice it several times a month. And he's damn quick for a little guy, too. He can get you in a hold and you won't even know it until you hit the floor.

I've been in a few mixups with him as my partner. He's a good man to have on your side.

I made sure that I did my wing walks and the stuff I was supposed to do. I took care of the tool boxes when they came in and out and fetched and carried for Ms Archer when she needed things. I think I justified my existence for the evening.

I was a bit worried when I came in, as it sounded like day shift had quite the time. Apparently some fool took offense to them trying to make him take his yearly TB test at medical and he ended up getting slammed all over the place. And I'm sure at one point while he was on the floor the nurse stuck him with the needle anyway, so it was all for nothing. And there was at least one fight, maybe two during the day. I didn't get all the details, but day shift seemed happy as heck to be leaving.

And as far as I can tell, we didn't even lock anybody up on our shift. If they did, I never heard it.

I hope the rest of the week goes like this. I'm on vacation next week. And that means I'm going to have to either do something interesting or find something interesting to write about for a week.

That should be a challenge. I have a couple of projects I need to work on. Hopefully the weather will be nice enough for me to be out in the shop then. We'll see, I guess.

So, what will tomorrow bring? Well.... tomorrow is Australia Day.

Well, that's cool if you're an Aussie. I wonder why they get a day of their own? Nothing against them, I'm just wondering.... Is there a Greenland Day? Botswana day? Antarctica Day?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I'm A Slacker!

Today I ended up doing almost the absolute minimum of work that one can do here in Raccoon City and get away with. I'm almost as embarrassed to tell the story as I am getting paid for it.


I come in today and Lt Twitch says "You have the mail run. Then you'll do the restraint check. It'll be an easy night for you."

Holy snap he wasn't kidding. The two cake easiest details on our shift and I get them both together? I'm wondering if I can drag them both out to last all shift.

Well, not the mail run. It has to be done first. But I always get in way early and the mail isn't ready until almost 3:30.

So I hang around Central and shoot the snit with the lads a bit. Drink a cup of coffee. Then I get the cart and drive it out to the admin building and go in and check if the mail is ready yet.

Nope! Back outside. Have a smoke. Wander around. Say "hey" to everyone still coming in and those leaving. Lean on the cart some. Go check if it's ready yet.

On and on like that for very nearly an hour. I'm not actually working, but I'm not technically fooling around either. I'm waiting for the mail.

Finally they get it all ready and I load the bags on the cart and drive slowly around the camp delivering the mail. I only had to actually lift the bags once to put them on the cart. As I go around, they come out of the houses and take them off themselves. The only time I had to actually get off of the cart was to open two gates. Cake walk!

I get done with that and Sgt Uncle T tells me that I am coming out to the yard for awhile and I get to go do the restraint check after second movement this evening.

No big deal. Went down to chow and when they called it, I went up to the top of the hill to watch and let St Francis work the door and do the pat searches. That messed him all up. He likes to work the hill and when he was a little late getting out there, I took his spot just to frost his cookies a little bit. It worked. Heh. Heh.

He likes getting under my skin so much I figured I'd get under his for a change. And it worked wonderfully.

So after all of the movements I go up to get the list and the bag that goes with it. The list has the names of everybody on our shift and spots for their personal cuff numbers, the cuff serial numbers and the number off the bottom of their can of pepper spray. The bag has two cans of WD-40 and some pretty nasty oily rags.

I'm guessing that this detail has a two pronged reason behind it. One is to make sure that everybody has their personal cuffs and pepper spray on them. And the other is that it gives them an opportunity to have their cuffs serviced once every three months.

And I actually did the service part. Anyone whose cuffs were stiff got a good shot of WD-40 and a good workout to make sure they move freely again. There are people here who have been here for years and never once used their personal cuffs on an inmate. Or ever sprayed anybody.

That boggles me. Even though I have been out of the Hive for over six months now, I have used my cuffs at least half a dozen times since then. I haven't sprayed anybody since then, but I came close twice. And I've only been here close to eight years and I am on my fifth (?) can of pepper spray now.

But I guess that's beside the point.

So I took off with my little bag and my little list and moseyed around the camp and managed to check off close to half of the people on the list before I got stopped by count time. I had covered all of B-side but about four people who were busy and most of A-side except for the same couple of people who were busy and had one house left to finish when Sgt Uncle T called me on the radio and had me pack it in for the night.

I spent the last forty minutes of shift sitting on an empty yard.

Man! If they'd let me do that every night.......

I'd be bored to tears in a week. It was fun once but that was enough, thank you.

Tomorrow is Opposite Day. Or not. It's hard to be sure.

Friday, January 21, 2011

I Should Think These Things Through

A couple of months ago, I was somewhere working with Sgt Homer and he talked me in to agreeing to be on the Institutional Fire Brigade.

I'm not sure how he did that, other than just asking me nicely and saying he was in a bind. The only two people on the fire brigade on our shift are Homer and Sgt McGiggles. So if there was a fire or even just a fire alarm and neither one of them was on shift, they either had to call one of them or the Fire and Safety guy at home and have them come in and check it out before they could clear the building safe again.

It was a pain. So I said "Okay, I'll do it."

Then a few weeks ago there was an application sent out through the email that I didn't see. A more formal application for fire brigade. Sgt Archer told me about it and printed me a copy. I filled it out and sent it in and promptly forgot about it.

I figured it would go the way that all the other training I had ever put in for went. They would say "Yeah! You'd be good at that! We'll get you scheduled for the training right away!" And I would never hear from them again.

The way I looked at it, occasionally applying for training worked out as a good way to keep the training people from bothering me for a few months at a whack. It has been a flawless system up to this point.

Up to this point.

Today I came in and the Fire and Safety guy was in the assembly room. He turns to me and says "Hey, you have been accepted on the Institutional Search and Rescue Squad."

I just raised a somewhat confused looking eyebrow and said "What?"

Apparently somebody thought that just having a mere Fire Brigade sounded weak or something so they changed the name to the Institutional Search and Rescue Squad.

That sounds like a heck of a lot more work than what I originally signed up for. I wanted to ask "Will we get our own helicopter, some climbing gear and maybe a couple of those inflatable Zodiac boats and cool jumpsuits with lots of pockets?"

Hell, I'd settle for a uniform that wasn't as flammable as a strike-anywhere match.

But I reigned in my combined enthusiasm/sarcasm (enthusicasm?) and just said "Okey dokey."

He said "The list has been approved, so basically you are on the team as of now."

"With no training?" I asked, knowing full well what his answer would be.

"Yup." he nodded. "We'll get you some training schedule here in the next couple of weeks."

Yeah...... That seems oddly familiar....

So I am officially on the Fire Brigade. Or the Institutional Search and Rescue Squad. Or whatever they are calling it this week. I know just enough that if they called me in I could look at whatever is ablaze and say officially "Yep. That thing's on fire. You should really do something about that."

I'm just too agreeable sometimes. I need to work on that.

So your lineup for this weekend is as follows: Saturday is a double header consisting of National Answer Your Cat's Question Day and National Blonde Brownie Day. Blonde brownies? Like Girl Scouts only younger or what? Who knows?

Sunday is a triple header with National Handwriting Day, National Pie Day, and Measure Your Feet Day. Measure. Your. Feet. Really.

And Monday is a day we have all been waiting for all year... Eskimo Pie Patent Day! Huzzah!

Yoda, I Am Not

I have been put in the position of .... not necessarily having to teach somebody how to do the job here but in one case needing to and in another case wanting to. It's been weird.

We have had two back to back groups of new hires come through. The class before is already off of OJT and are actually working on their own. This latest class is still on OJT and being shuffled from place to place, trying to see everything.

The other night they gave me one of the guys off of OJT for the comm room and P-car. He'd been in both places before but never got the chance to learn the job. Since he had to go from the comm room to the P-car at 4:00pm, I had just a little over half an hour to impart what he needed to do in both places.

And of course, ride out shift change at the same time. But I needed him to know what he was doing. One, he was going to be in the P-car with a loaded weapon and he needed to know where to be and how to react and where to go when they called. And two, he was going to be alone in the comm room for two hours and I really needed him not to screw anything up while I was gone.

Unfortunately he was a bit of a "know it all" and didn't listen to me a whole lot. A lot of what I said just went in one ear and out the other. It made me a bit nervous sending him out to the P-car. But smart me, I called Sgt Puddle and told him. he went through it step by step with the kid and then sent Vinnie out to ride with him for about twenty minutes until he knew the zones and the radio calls.

It was about the best we could do under the circumstances. Luckily nothing off the wall happened and he and the car came back with all of the shotgun ammo intact. When I switched out I told him if he had any questions about the comm room to call Sgt Puddle.

And the night went fairly smoothly.

Tonight we ended up with three OJT's out on the yard. Two of them were fairly young and one was about my age or so. One of the young guys just sat and listened and didn't talk much. I don't know if he was overwhelmed or scared or shy or just listening. The other young guy was outgoing and asked questions and joined in the discussions and seemed interested in what we were saying. And the older guy asked smart questions and seemed to listen to the answers.

Do I think I really taught them anything? Heck, I don't know. Maybe I imparted a few gems that might keep one or more of them from getting themselves or anybody else hurt. I sure hope so. All I can do is keep my fingers crossed and hope something sunk in and that they'll stay around long enough to end up being somebody you can count on.

You just never know.

Okay. January 21st is National Hugging Day. I'm not going to be doing any of that at work. Or at least I'll keep it to a bare minimum. But you guys out there feel free to pass out a few free hugs for the ones I'll be missing inside.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Security Issues

Security. That is our main concern.

Before we make the coffee.

Before we unpack our lunchboxes.

Before we decide to thump that #@&%*%!! inmate making all that noise over there.

We make sure that everything is secure. We check the keys, the doors, the fences, the gates, the turnstiles, the fire exits, and all of the equipment. When we shut a door or close a gate we rattle it to make sure it's locked. We check and double check and sometimes triple check.

Sometimes they are a little redundant and repetitious but we check anyway.

Don't want any of the little creeps getting loose and hurting one of us or, even worse, someone on the outside. The real citizens out there. Those are who we are protecting, even if they don't like us very much.

And it's a bloody good thing, sometimes that we do these checks. Tonight was a fair good example. Two things jumped out immediately that could have ruined my whole day. Maybe not so much, but they were alarming.

On my nights in the comm room I have to check the admin building twice a night. My first check through I found the records room unlocked. Oh snap. They make a big deal about that. Went and got Sgt Puddle and we made sure there was nobody in there before locking the door.

I think they just have inmate records in there, but I'm not sure. I've never been in there before and don't really care to know. According to Sarge there's lots of "Confidential Information" in there that I don't need to have access to.

As long as it's locked, I no longer care.

Then, on my turn out in the P-car I noticed that the gas company had been digging a hole outside the predator fence. In between the fence and the outer road where I drive. They had it all roped off with caution tape and the hole wasn't going towards the fence so I didn't pay it much attention.

Then on my way back around I saw something shiny so I shined the spotlight in there. They had left two shovels down in the hole. Jeez!

Let's see.... shovels. Hole. Prison Fence. Good idea or no?

Called Sgt Puddle again. he was getting tired of seeing my face at that point. Showed him the problem. he passed it on to the captain who called mental health and asked them to take care of it. The guy came out and got the shovels and took them back inside. I said "What were they thinking?" He just shook his head and replied "Frack if I know!"

Then, as I was hoping all the silliness had calmed down for one night, here comes the Watcher off the yard, heading for the evidence box, which is up by the comm room. Says one of the newer guys down in the Hive found a shank laying in D-wing. Looked like a piece of an oven rack or something. About seven inches long. Wrapped with a shoelace on one end for a handle. Sharp as hell. Nice.

On that note, I decided to retire to the comm room for the rest of the evening and not come back out, lest I find anything else. I knew that was secure because I had the key on my belt.

So tomorrow is National Butter Crunch Day. ??? Like Crunch-N-Munch or Screaming Yellow Zonkers or what? Normally I don't care for my butter if it's crunchy.

Hmph. We'll have to see about that one!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Apparently, There Was Some Confusion

Last night I was out on A-yard with The Watcher and Sgt Archer.

It was a good night until they made me run.


I had been up on the hill during dining movement, going back and forth as the houses let out for chow, just keeping an eye on the little darlings so they would play nice.

It was blue cold and windy and there was this thick misty evil fog that refused to blow away in the wind. I think it made everybody a little crazy.

Bad things come in the fog.

At any rate, I was freezing bits of my anatomy off in the wind and decided to move down the yard towards dining more and stand in the lee of the handball court so it would block a little of the wind.

Watcher saw me standing up there and decided that was a good spot and joined me. We were just chatting about this and that and all of the sudden he looks down towards the chow hall and says "What the snap?" (or something like that) and starts running for the chow hall.

I hadn't seen anything but I followed on his heels for backup. Sure enough, there were two idiots duking it out in front of the chow hall. He grabs his radio in one hand and his pepper spray in the other. I hear him call "10-49! 10-49! In front of A-dining!"

Now I didn't hear the next radio transmission because I was focused on helping get the fight broken up and getting them cuffed up. But apparently someone up in the control center misheard and called the fight in front of B-dining. Sgt Uncle T told me they all came running out of B-dining going "Where? Where?" And poor Sausage (who apparently didn't hear it at all) was standing out in front of B-dining going "What???" and looking at everybody running out of the chow hall.

Watcher and Mr Coffee and I had them both cuffed up and moved out of the area before anybody else really knew what happened. When Sgt Archer called Lt Twitch to give him the names of the fighters, the Lt said "There was a fight?"

Like I said, I think the fog affected everybody. I'm just glad it wasn't snatching people. I hate it when that happens.

Well, tomorrow is National Popcorn Day. I sure hope nobody brings some microwave popcorn out to the yard! I'll have to tell you that story some day.

Come Join The Team!

I was going to write about my night and how they made me run twice and how aggravated I was over that.

Instead when I got home I found this video in my in box from Sgt Little J and thought I would post it instead.

It's called "So you want to be a CO" and can be found here.

All I can say is that it just sums the job up pretty well. It was obviously made by someone who knows the job.

For all you A.A. Milne fans, tomorrow is Winnie The Pooh Day!

And who'da thunk it?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

There Is No Justice

Just a short rant here and I'll go back to sleep.

I was reading the local paper online, like I do every morning. Just to see if there's any names I recognize.

And I check the Obits to make sure I wasn't mentioned.

Saw a notice than one inmate I have dealt with in the past (a pretty large wobblehead) just got sentenced to 10 more years for beating up another inmate. I can see that. He beat him up pretty good. Broke his jaw and everything.

In the same article I saw another wobblehead of my acquaintance (smaller, but even crazier) was sentenced to 3 more years for throwing pee in a CO.

What the..... where is the justice in that?

If he were out on the streets and threw pee on somebody else he probably would have gotten ten years. But since he threw it on one of us, only three.

The staff member probably provoked him, anyway. And after all, we should expect that kind of thing. That's what we're paid for, right?

You probably can't really hear the sarcasm I just poured into those last three sentences.

But it was there, believe me.

Last year I heard a case of an ex-inmate punching a CO out on the streets. And because they showed that he knew the guy was a CO, he got sentenced to eight years.

But that was out on the streets. Not inside.


If you haven't noticed, that kind of things pisses me off just a little bit.

Okay, I'll slip back into my nap now.

Have a happy Hot and Spicy International Food Day and National Nothing Day tomorrow! I'll bring the antacids.

Running Late!

I was the bubble officer in the Hive tonight. And for a night in the Hive, it went pretty well.

We only got three lockups and none of our knuckleheads misbehaved.

In short, it was pretty boring. But for my Friday, I can accept that as a good thing.

There was a good bit of discussion as we had learned that Sgt Banty put in paperwork to be removed from his post as day shift Hive sergeant. Starting Monday morning the position is open. Who will bid on it? Who would even want it?

If I was a sergeant I wouldn't touch that spot with your proverbial ten meter cattle prod.

No Sirree Bob! Too many headaches. Too much activity. Too many supervisors. Way too much bullsnap for me!

I just had to add the word "bullsnap" to my dictionary. Whee!

At any rate, I had enough of the crap on day shift as a lowly bottom of the totem pole COI, I sure as heck wouldn't want it as a supervisor.

But some fool will want it and bid on it and most likely regret it.

Where was I ? Oh, yeah.

So when it was time to go home, the guys relieving the crew on the floor showed up and said "We haven't seen our bubble officer. We hope he's not sick or something."

I wasn't too worried. If he had called out, they would send somebody down pretty quickly.

Then Sgt Z showed up to relieve Sgt Miz P and said "I don't know where the bubble guy is. I hope they send someone down soon!"

Sgt Miz P acted like she wanted to wait and I told her to bounce. I could see a good long way up the walk and there wasn't anybody coming any time soon. There was no reason for her to hang around.

About fifteen minutes after she left the guy came puffing and blowing up into the bubble apologizing for being so late. Apparently one of his axles broke on the way to work and he ended up in a ditch about a mile down the road from the prison and he walked the rest of the way in.

I wasn't too worried about it. It's not like I was going to miss my train or something. Heck, I only live about seven miles down the road. And I figure if the guy put that much effort into getting there at all the least I could do is be gracious that he showed up at all.

So let's see what the weekend holds in store for us, shall we?

Saturday is Hat Day. That rocks. I'm all about hats. I hardly ever go anywhere without a hat of one kind or another.

Sunday is Hot and Spicy International Food Day and National Nothing Day.

I'm not so good on the hot and spicy food anymore. That stuff kills me. But if there's a reason to celebrate nothing I'm all over it!

And Monday, in case I don't cover it in time, is both Martin Luther King Day and Blessing of the Animals at the Cathedral Day.

Just imagine that, will you?

Friday, January 14, 2011

I Should Have paid More Attention In School

I was such a geek in school you would think I would have paid more attention to science. But I didn't, more's the pity.

Pardon me while I digress away from working in the prison for a moment. Something pretty cool has come to my attention.

Many thanks to my sister, Columbia Critter, who sends me interesting emails now and then and lets me know what is happening out in the real world.

According to some scientists who work in the Gamma Ray Burst Monitoring Team at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, large lightning strikes create antimatter!

First of all, let's see how many people out there even knew we had a Gamma Ray Burst Monitoring team? A show of hands?

Yeah. Me neither.

Anyway, they have been working with NASA and monitoring the Fermi Orbiting Gamma Ray Space Telescope.......

Another show of hands for anybody who knew about the space telescope?


Why didn't I know about all this cool stuff? Am I living in a hole?

Never mind.

Back to where I was. They have been watching large thunderstorms with this cool space based telescope and apparently when there is a significantly large enough lightning strike, it sends out a burst of electrons upwards into the upper atmosphere where some of the particles turn briefly into antimatter.

And they think that by studying this some day they can learn to create or harness the antimatter and turn it into a cheap completely clean energy source.

First of all, I think that is just awesome. The fact that it happens at all is very cool and the fact that someone had the idea to point this space telescope back at earth and look at thunderstorms and managed to find something potentially beneficial out of it is beyond comprehension.

I'm all for space research. I wish we were doing more of it. The problem with most of it is that so much of the stuff we discover about space and what happens out there seems of no real practical value at the moment. I'm not against research for research sake, but i would love to see something practical come out of it now and then.

And it looks like this has the potential to be beneficial to everybody.

And you guys in Huntsville? You Rock!!!

On a much sillier note, tomorrow is National Dress Up Your Pet Day.

I'm going to dress up my dog Daisy as a large sleeping lump of fur in the middle of the living room rug. She's a natural for that one.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

La Noche de los Ruidos Extranos

In case you were wondering and don't read Spanish (like me) that means: Night of the Strange Noises. I had to look it up.

In Latin it would be Nox Noctis Insolitus Sonitus.

Those things always sound way cooler in Spanish or Latin, don't you think?

It started off with our old friend Kermit. Always the source of a good laugh or at least a hearty roll of the eyes, our Kermit is. He's been with the department since Methuselah was in short pants and he still hasn't figured out how to work a radio or fill out any of the paperwork correctly.

Kermit always gets a radio with no mic so in order to answer it or call anybody he has to pull the radio out of the case and talk into it. It's a good thing he has never gotten into big trouble or needed help in a hurry. At any rate, when he does pull out the radio he holds it to his chest and talks rather than lifting it near his mouth. And nights like tonight when he's all bundled up for the yard, you cannot hear him on the radio at all.

Tonight I was out in the P-car and I heard him trying to get gate 12 open. I could just barely hear him and apparently the control center couldn't hear him at all. But Kermit's voice is unmistakable. He tried to call three or four times and then quit. I said to myself "Rather than speaking into the radio, he's going up to the comm room to get another one. Obviously, in his weird universe, the radio is the problem."

Sure enough when I drove back by, there he was coming down the steps sliding a new radio into his case. And I don't know if it was something wrong with the radio or something he was doing, but every time he keyed that thing up it sounded like someone was strangling a baby or a small cat. Or maybe the radio was haunted with the spirit of a banshee.

Either way it was extremely annoying.

Hilarious, but annoying.

Later on in the evening I went to do my security check of the Admin building and when I walked in I heard this odd cacophony coming from the top floor. It sounded like someone was trying to play the drum solo from "Inna Gadda Davida" with two hammers on a pile of scrap metal.

Thinking maybe maintenance was up there working on something, I trotted up the stairs.

And the freaking noise stopped.

And there wasn't a soul up there.

I kept looking around to see if Rod Serling was waiting in the wings somewhere.

Stupid haunted buildings.

Then just as I was leaving it started up again. Turns out it was the steam running through the old radiators up on the third floor. It would come and go in cycles.

There's two radiators up there. One was going "chucka chucka bing!" And the other was going "wompita wompita boom boom!"

It was kind of a cool noise and had a good beat to it and I'm really happy I don't have an office in that building. That would drive me completely batsh*t. Maybe it was the ghosts of those Fabulous Wild Men who were having a feast today. I dunno.

Tomorrow should be a doozy. It's Make Your Dream Come True Day and Blame Someone Else Day.

The second part of that is every day working at the prison. And the first part has absolutely nothing to do with working at the prison.

Maybe I'll dream about winning the lottery and blame someone else when I don't.

Yes, It Was Blue Cold

You know, one of these days something interesting is going to have to happen to me at work or this is going to turn into a blog about nothing more than the weather.

It's almost enough to make me bid back down to the Hive.

Almost, but not quite.

But yes, since someone did ask me, it was/is blue cold outside. I suspect he was a closet reader. The question caught me by surprise and what he asked me didn't sink in for a minute or two. I think the antifreeze in my brain was still a little slushy from the long cold walk from 2 house. Or, as I have referred to it before, the Land of Nod Where Nothing Ever Happens.

I think it was about 19 degrees when I left the house this afternoon. With wind gusts up to about 25 mph. Driving home it had dropped down to 15 on it's way to 9 and the wind is still gusting.

Blue as*ed freaking brr!

It was a bit humorous, though. I was the bubble officer in 2 house. Every now and then I would hear this weak cry and see some inmate with these big puppy dog eyes plastered to the sally port door, his lips blue and quivering as he scratched at the glass waiting for me to let him in the house. I'd look over at the window and say "What?" and their eyes would get just a little bigger and they would shiver and say "p-p-p-p-please let me in?"

It was just me and Tire Man and The Hungarian in the house tonight so we got to have a little fun now and then. No supervision.

There are times here when trying to have fun is an uphill battle. But we do try. However there are some people who take working in a prison way too seriously.

Those people just make this job harder for everyone. Me, I like larking about now and then. Makes the day go by just so much faster, it does.

Well, I didn't get to step in a puddle and splash a friend today. I suspect had I done so my friend would be frozen to the ground even as we speak. Probably a good thing I didn't, then.

Tomorrow is the Feast of Fabulous Wild Men Day. Once again, I have absolutely no idea what this means. I mean, I've known some fabulous wild men, but......

I'll have to think about that one some.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Like the Driven Snow

More like driving in snow, because that is what I did all night long. They had me schedule to work the Moon Room, after which I usually go to the yard.

So I dressed appropriately. And wore my brand new comfy black turtleneck under my shirt. Mmm... Warm as toast.

Lt. Pagliacci says "You're in the P-car."

Snap! Ah, well. Dropped my coveralls and my lunchbox in the comm room and headed for the car.

It was odd having to do that half of the job. Usually when I'm in the comm room Brother D gets out the car and checks out the shotgun and loads it and all I do is switch out with him for two hours so he can get a break.

Tonight I had to do all of that stuff and my two hour break was way too short.

The P-car has to stay in service until the laundry workers are all back in their houses after count or until 11:30. Whichever comes first.

Tonight 11:30 came first. Pfui. That really really sucked being stuck in that car that long.

And I really really needed a piddle and a smoke when I got out of that thing.

The snow started this morning. Just little tiny grainy stuff. Nothing to worry about.

By about 9:30 it was starting to stick and by 10:30 it was starting to get pretty slippery out there. I was worried that so many midnights shift would call out that they wouldn't let me go home. And I was worried that they would let me go home and I wouldn't be able to make it there.

I really don't want to end up dead in a ditch in this state. None of them are very respectable.

But they let me go and after a tedious drive I managed to make it back safely. Phew!

So nothing really exciting to write about. It was a long completely uneventful night outside the fence.

Well! Tomorrow should be fun! According to my master calendar it's National Step in a Puddle and Splash Your Friend Day.

Yeah. I can do that. Maybe. All of the puddles may be frozen tomorrow, though. I wonder if somewhere there's a National Pick Up A Frozen Puddle And Throw It Like A Frizbee day?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Good Friday

It was a good Friday. Not The Good Friday (whenever that is) or even an especially great Friday.

It was just a good Friday.

I got to work a 2-10 spot in 1 house tonight. They put me in Chopper's spot, since he was in training. And on Fridays not much happens in 1 house.

Worked with Miz Maybe and Galahad. Just the three of us. They knew the house and what went on so I tried to keep up on the small annoying stuff like wing walks and cell searches and going down to chow.

If they were going to make their monthly quota of cell searches for the month it meant that I should search two cells. Just to be contrary, I searched three of them.

After I went through the first cell and moved on to the second one, one of the inmates from the first cell came and thanked me for not 'trashing' his cell. I told him it was just how I did things.

But it got me to thinking. I've got three levels of cell search.

One is a casual search. Just a quick check through to make sure there isn't any major contraband or something really stupid laying around in plain sight.

In that search I will still look at, under and behind everything in that cell. I will upend their boots and shake them out. I will riffle through the pages of their books and shake out their clothes and leaf through all of their papers.

But when I am through 99% of their stuff will be right where they left it. Sure, they will have to refold their clothes and put a few things back in order, but for the most part it stays right where it was.

Now if I am sent in to look for something in particular, like a tattoo gun or possibly drugs, then I get a little more in depth. Everything comes out of wherever it is and gets gone through closely and it will end up somewhere near where they left it, but it will take them an hour or so to get everything back where it was.

Occasionally I get word like "There's a shank in there. Go find it."

At that time I start with the bunk. I pull the covers off of the bed and go through them an inch at a time. Then I do the same with the mattress. Sometimes even pulling the cover off of it. And they are a cast iron beeotch to get back on. The mattress then gets folded in half on the bunk.

Then every single thing they own is examined closely one piece at a time and every bit of it goes in a pile on the bunk. No two things that were together are left together. The only things left unopened are food items that are still sealed. And I check those very closely to make sure they haven't been cleverly resealed.

Every single thing is unfolded, opened, shaken, peered at, squeezed and examined with a fine tooth comb. Then piled on their bunk. That is a long tedious process.

Depending on how much property they have, a casual search can take ten to fifteen minutes. The intense search can take an hour or more. Those are a major pain in the butt. It goes faster if you have two people searching, but those cells are so small that two people can really crowd each other in there trying to search.

I never 'trash' anybody's property. I always try to be as careful as I can and not break or damage anything. Even if it's somebody that I can't stand.

Of course, if the offender is being a jackass about me searching his cell, then he's more likely to be the recipient of a more intense search than I originally intended. Hopefully it teaches them not to get stupid when someone wants to search their cell.

But then, as I have said so many times before, if they could learn from their mistakes I would be out of a job.

But the occupants of the three cells I searched in 1 house this evening were polite about it, so I was polite back.

It just made it an easier night for everybody in my book.

O-kayyyyy..... Wow. Hmm. I'm just sitting here shaking my head after looking at the calendar.

Tomorrow is National Joy Germ Day and Man Watcher's Day.

Okey dokey. Y'all have fun with that. I'll be over here....

And in case I don't get to mention it later on, Sunday is Play God Day and Monday is Peculiar People Day.

I'm really beginning to think that some of those peculiar people were the ones that made up this list. What do you think?

Mayhem In My Eyes

Tonight, as it was my regular yard night, I was out there with Sgt Uncle T and Sausage.

Man, that just wasn't pretty. They just don't get along really well.

Sausage is a compulsive chatterer and one-upper. I won't get into it too much. He's a nice guy and handy to have around but he just never never ever shuts up. Most of the time I can just tune him out and we get along okay.

Uncle T on the other hand, likes to run the conversations (which is cool with me) and he usually has some pretty interesting things to talk about.

But sitting in the shack between the two of them was driving me towards violence.

Partly accidentally and partly on purpose, Sgt Uncle T consumed half his weight in miniature Tootsie Rolls and got on a sugar jag and he was babbling like a mynah bird on crack just trying to drown Sausage out. It was like being on the road with Ted Nugent or Robin Williams.

Halfway through the shift i was ready to slaughter the both of them. I couldn't take it.

One of the phrases Uncle T likes to use when he wants to throw his (adjective deleted) weight around is "Shut the frack up!" He uses that when somebody disagrees with him or is in the process of saying something stupid.

It's his phrase and I don't use it. Especially to him.

Until tonight that is.

Finally I snapped and pointed a finger at his nose and said "Just shut the frack up for gawds sakes!" And when Sausage started to laugh and say something I said "You shut the frack up, too! You idiots are making me crazy!"

Then I jumped on the cart and drove around the yard for awhile. I didn't even care if I hit anything. Actually, if something had been stupid enough to get in my way, it would have been toast.

I finally had to come back and make sure Sgt Uncle T hadn't slipped into a diabetic coma from all the sugar he'd eaten. I called him nine kinds of a fool for doing that and threatened to thump him a good one if he put me through that ever again.

My head is still throbbing, for criminy sakes. It's going to be a long winter.

Well! Finally a day I can get into! Tomorrow is Old Rock Day! And I don't care if they mean something besides old Rock-n-Roll. That's what I'm going to read it as. Tomorrow I'm rocking!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Gift? A Joke? A Threat? What???

I was walking out to go home the other night. St. Francis was walking with me, as we had parked pretty close together. Just shooting the breeze about the night and cutting up like we always do.

St. Francis drives a medium sized pickup truck. As we got up to it, I noticed that there was something in a paper grocery sack in the bed of his truck, partially covered with a somewhat nasty looking towel. Heck, I figured it was something he had put in there.

St. Francis throws his belt in the front of the truck, then looks in the back and says "What the heck is this?"

I had no idea, and told him so. Like I said, I thought it was his. So he dumps over the bag and out rolls a deer head, antlers and all. He jumps back and says "Yaaaah! What the hell?"

Of course, he looks at me. I say "Hey man, I don't hunt. It wasn't me!"

We look a little closer. Severed deer head. Maybe a four-pointer. Tongue hanging out. Definitely dead. Yup.

He picks it up by one antler and says "Somehow I don't get a real secure feeling from this. Do you think it's a message?"

I, of course, immediately think of "The Godfather" and say "Maybe it's a threat. Or a warning."

Well, that does nothing to make him feel any better about the whole thing. I figure "My work is done here" and I toddle off to climb in my own truck.

Checking the back thoroughly first, though.

As I'm leaving he's standing by the side of the road waving that deer head at the cars going by yelling "Hey! Look what I got!"

I swear, spending an entire shift with that man is like living through a Bugs Bunny cartoon. I always count my blessings when I don't get a piano or an anvil dropped on my head.

Oh Lawsy. Tomorrow is Bean Day. I guess that means that I'm not going to be spending too much time in the shack tomorrow. Those boys and beans don't mix well. Not if you want to keep on breathing, anyway. Phew!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Like A Big Dog

There was something about dogs today. I'm not sure what brought it all together but it all happened at once.

Sausage and I were down in front of B-dining patting down the offenders as they came out of the chow hall. Now, when the yards are closed and they are on controlled movements (like meals) they are supposed to stay on the sidewalks and off of the grass. Anybody on the grass is out of bounds and will get yelled at if nothing else.

Anyway, there we are pat searching and minding our own business when this inmate comes running back down to the chow hall across the grass and runs right towards us. I'm just about to chew him out and maybe even cuff him up when he stops right by me and starts babbling like he's gone completely cuckoo for cocoa puffs.

"Man, there's a b-b-big d-d-dog up there. I can't go up there, man. I'm scared to death of d-d-dogs, man. You gotta let me talk to Sarge, man. I can't be around no d-d-d-dogs, man."

He goes on and on for a bit like that. Stuttering and pointing and rolling his eyes like Scooby Doo when he sees a monster. It was pretty comical there for a minute then I'm starting to think maybe he's on something and hallucinating.

Then I see three women walking down the walk and one of them is holding the leash on a good sized golden retriever. And it hits me. They are doing some program called "Canines for Convicts" or something silly like that. Somebody thinks that learning how to train dogs will help the inmates cope with life or something. Or maybe it will teach the dogs how to cope with inmates. I dunno.

When the dog comes into view this guy moves closer to me and I'm beginning to think he's gonna wrap himself around my leg. His teeth are chattering like a pair of those wind-up teeth you can get in the joke stores and he looks like he's going to wet himself.

It was all I could do not to laugh myself silly.

I tell the guy "Just wait a second and they'll go past then you can go to your house."

He's still babbling like a parrot on crack. Hokey smokes. Even if somebody came down the walk with a ventriloquist dummy covered with spiders I wouldn't freak out that bad. Sheesh!

Anyway, they go past and the guy runs for his house like his pantlegs are on fire.

A few minutes later an odor hits my nose that smells just like I have stepped in something a dog left on the sidewalk. Phew! I check my boots. Nothing. But man is it strong!

I think "Wow! That dog must have really had to go! That's awful!" I see Sausage over there waving a hand in front of his nose and making a face.

Then inmates start coming out of the chow hall complaining about the odor. I step inside and can smell it pretty strong in there, too. Yuck!

It's like someone flew over us in an airplane and pelted the camp with fresh dog poop. We never did actually find out where the smell was coming from. We never found a backed up drain or anything to account for it. And apparently the one dog we did see never left any deposits we could find.

The only theory I heard that made any sense was from Sgt Uncle T. When I came in to work something over on the other side of the highway was on fire. It looked like a pretty good sized blaze and there's lots of farmland over that way. I'm thinking maybe somebody's manure shed went up in flames. he suggested maybe either the fire or the act of putting it out made that smell and it just blew over here.

Whatever it was, I hope it all burned up tonight. That was pretty awful. Bleagh.

So there was no real trivia involved today, but there was a bit of humiliation. Captain Jabba came driving up on his cart and when I stepped out of his way he hopped off the cart and said "Don't worry. I wouldn't have run you over. You aint no out of bounds post!" and breezed on into the chow hall.

Okay, I guess I had that one coming.

I wish he would have done that tomorrow instead of today. Tomorrow is Bird Day and I would have shown him my bird proudly.

Monday, January 3, 2011

I Get To Wondering Sometimes

I really do wonder about how we do things here in Raccoon City. Sometimes I wonder if we're just eaten up with the stupids, sometimes.

I got to be the Education/Library officer tonight. Education runs all day, off and on. I come in and instead of relieving the education officer, we count together and make sure we both agree on the numbers. We have to count inmates in classrooms in two separate buildings.

Then we both sit there and chat for an hour while the rest of the camp locks down for count. And then as soon as count clears, he leaves.

I sit there for another half hour, then release all the offenders to chow.

Why not start them a half hour early, then release them back to their houses before count? Doesn't that make sense?

There I go, trying to make sense again.

And here I am, responsible for 100+ inmates when I can't see any of them unless I wander up and down the stairs and between two buildings. And if anything happens in that other building, there's at least two locked doors and a gate between me and them.

Just not well thought out, in my book.

After I clear education I mosey over to the library. Another do-nothing post. I suppose I'm actually there to protect the librarian if anything should happen. She's a nice lady.

But once again, there's nothing for me to do but read a book and make sure nobody's fighting or anything else starting with "f" between the shelves.

For the most part I don't do a blessed thing until it's time to close the library at 7:45. Then I call they yard and get permission to release them back to their houses.

I guess I shouldn't complain. I spent over half my shift sitting on my duff reading a book and talking to the librarian. At least I had time to leisurely eat my dinner instead of having to wolf it down in ten seconds and run off to do something. That was cool.

And after the library closed I got sent out on the yard where Yay! Sgt Uncle T was back from vacation! He was a little miffed because Sausage got himself pulled off the yard for an outcount. It left him with St Francis and a Noob, who nobody really knows yet. Uncle T seemed glad to see me.

I got to hear the whole Fear And Loathing On Vacation story about how all of his kids and grand kids came to visit. It definitely wasn't "A Christmas Story" if you know what I mean.

Dang! Today was Festival Of Sleep Day and I was awake through the whole thing! I've been gypped!

Tomorrow is Trivia Day and Humiliation Day.

Okay, I can do trivia. It's what I am. Not big on humiliation, though. I'll have to pass on that, thank you.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Not So Unlucky After All

For an Unlucky Day, this one wasn't too bad. I guess the list meant it was going to be unlucky for someone else.

That works for me.

Sgt Archer came in and worked the yard with St Francis and I this evening. That was lucky.

I didn't have to do the Del Norte walk or the count-relief tonight. That was lucky.

Dinner was awful slop so it went amazingly fast. That was lucky.

And I didn't drive the cart once so I didn't have even a chance of hitting anything with it. I consider that to be pretty lucky.

And when the power started going off and on in various places and when the steam line broke over in the admin building I was nowhere near and didn't have to do anything about it. I just got to go home and let someone else deal with it. Got lucky again.

Nobody escaped and none of us got hurt.

Lucky lucky lucky all the way around.

You just can't beat that for a Friday night. Especially considering the tornado sirens were going off all over the place right before I left for work.

So, besides being New Years Day, what is tomorrow?

Let's find out.

The list says that the first day in January is both First Foot Day and Z Day.

I don't have a clue what the First Foot thing is all about, but the Z Day is for anybody whose name begins with "Z".

And I know a certain Z who just recently made Sergeant. Tomorrow is his day. Happy Day, Z!

Think I'll go make a few Z's myself now. Happy New Year, all!