Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pack Rat

I sometimes think I carry too much baggage. But then I always have.

Literally as well as figuratively.

I almost always get into work a little early and watch some of the other people come in. It surprises me when people walk in to do an eight hour shift carrying absolutely nothing in their hands. No food, no drinks, no snacks, nothing. Just themselves.

Sometimes I really envy those people the simplicity.

Of course that means that if they want to eat something, it's state food or something out of the vending machines. And if they want something to drink it's water or coffee or again, something out of the machines.

I don't drink that water at work unless it's run through a coffee filter first. That stuff will make you glow in the dark. And it tastes nasty. As far as I'm concerned, the entire water system for everywhere within 25 miles of this place needs to be dug up and thrown away and rethought and replaced. I don't know where this stuff comes from originally but it is sure nasty by the time it makes it to the tap.

And I've already made me thoughts on the state food well known.

So I carry in a lunchbox just a little larger than your average third world country. In it I carry:

Water- Usually 4 bottles, which I save and bring home to recycle.
Food- Enough for one good sized meal (since I only eat once a day) and a few snacks in case I get held over.
Cigarettes- Enough to hold me over a shift and an extra just in case...
Coffee and filters- Usually enough for two pots.
Extra lighter
Extra Pens
Tums and Tylenol- Because some days there just aint enough Tums and Tylenol
Change- A couple of bucks worth
Vicks Vaporub- In case there's something really stinky going on
Reading Glasses- because I'm old and I need them
Assorted office supplies- Like paper and white out and rubber bands, etc
Spare flashlight batteries

And probably some other stuff I can't think of at the moment as well. Pretty much all of the stuff I can cram into that lunchbox that I might need or have needed in the past. It's in there.

Obviously, it's a heavy lunchbox. Ask anybody, they'll tell you.

Do I need all of this stuff? Well, no. probably not. I could do without 99% of it most of the time. But I sure would feel almost naked without it. And it sure is handy to have around when I need something.

I've never been one for simplicity, I guess. I'll keep my baggage. I might as well. It has my name on it, after all.

So tomorrow is Meteor Day (hmm... and a big one passing by even as we speak. Yikes!) and Pay Day (Yippee!). It's also National Bomb Pop Day and National Handshake Day. Let's just remember to shake hands before we eat the bomb pops, okay? I get all sticky.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pain Management

I took a day off and went to see my doctor. I was expecting another cortisone shot and maybe a referral.

It's been a year now and my arm isn't getting better and I believe I have enough sick time saved up to hopefully get it fixed and recover.

Instead of giving me another shot the doctor has gone into 'pain management' mode until I can see the orthopedic surgeon. He's going to let the surgeon decide what to do next. That thought scares the crap out of me but I have to get this thing fixed or I'm going to end up crippled. I really really don't want surgery but it might be my only option.

I've started losing some sensation when I sleep on it or lay it on my desk too long playing games, etc and my elbow has started making this random clicking at times when I move it. And despite how small those clicks sound, each one is a unique little trip into the world of sudden sharp pain. Like someone just busted a needle off in my bone each time.

The doc wrote me a couple of scrips for pain meds. One that I've had before and a new one I'd never heard of. Wowie zowie. Let's suffice to say that I'll be sticking to Tylenol while I'm at work or having to drive anywhere.

Sure, my arm doesn't hurt right at the moment. But I suspect I wouldn't feel it if it were on fire, either. Good stuff. But not good for being at work. Nope.

I'm hoping that this will turn out to be a minor fix so I can be back at work quickly. Not that I love my job so much. I just get bored easily and being right handed and not being able to use my right hand to type and write and other things will make me get really bored really fast. I probably better stock up on new books to read before I have the surgery, eh?

So! That being said... I hope everybody stayed safe while I was away. Let's keep it between the ketchup and the mustard people!

Oh yeah. Tomorrow will be Camera Day. Just not inside the fence, right? This is also the feast day of Saint Cassius of Narni and marks the beginning of the wine festival in Haro, Spain. It is also the birthdate of Nelson Eddy (1901), Ray Harryhausen (1920) and Slim Pickens (1919). And this date marks the deaths of Fatty Arbuckle (1933), Jayne Mansfield (1967) and Bob Crane (1978). And I really had to dig to find all of that extra stuff, believe me.

Monday, June 27, 2011

One Head, Many Voices

Had one of those nights where they moved me around again. Joy.

Started out in the Moon Room doing strip searches. There's just nothing like starting out your day looking at a bunch of dirty sweaty stinky naked men.

Unless you are really into that sort of thing, then I guess it would be okay for you.

Me, it's not my thing so much.

I thought I was going to go to the yard afterwards but since we had a few extra people those evil swine Nook and Strangle took off and went home early. That meant we had to rearrange everybody and they stuck me on the front desk until 5:30.

In retaliation I started a rumor that Nook and Strangle are having an affair with each other. I don't think that their wives will be too surprised. And if you happen to see anybody, pass the rumor along! Either it will teach them a lesson or they'll go ahead and get engaged. Either way...

After I got done being thoroughly bored at the front desk I finally got to go out to the yard and wander around for awhile. That was nice, even if it was pretty muggy out there.

While I was out on the yard I thought I saw some positive improvement in one of our more severe wobbleheads, but it turned out I was wrong. There's this one little wobblehead I always referred to as "Stick boy". He's just a little bundle of sticks who is always talking to himself or... somebody.... who nobody else can see. he reminds me a bit of Michael Winslow. The guy who made all those crazy voices and noises in the "Police Academy" movies and in "Spaceballs".

I don't know if it's just voices in his head or if he sees real people like Russel Crowe from "A Beautiful Mind" or what. I've never really investigated that closely. But whoever it is, he's always talking to them. We always see him walking the yard by himself, talking under his breath. Sometimes it seems like it's a good conversation and he's happy. Sometimes, it's not so good. When he starts arguing and screaming at them, we usually end up locking him up.

Anyway, he's almost always by himself. But tonight I saw him walking out on the yard carrying his bible. He went and sat down at a table where some other offenders were having some sort of bible study group. I thought "Hey! Stick boy is coming out and relating to other people! He's joined a study group! Maybe he'll start taking a shower now and then! Wouldn't that be keen!"

But it didn't look like he was taking a real interest in the group. Most of the time while they were talking he was sitting sideways in his seat talking to somebody who.... well, you know. The rest of the group took it in stride and just ignored him when he was doing that. He would pay attention to them for a little while and then turn and start talking to somebody else and they would just go on without him until he came back.

Maybe it will help. Maybe it won't. They may just get tired of him and tell him to leave. I was kind of hoping he would come back to light on this planet at least for a little while. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. If they get him to shower once in awhile it would be an improvement. He reeks.

So Tuesday will be Paul Bunyan Day. Oh Lawd. I'm in no mood for tall tales. I get enough of those from Sausage! And apparently that's all it will be.

Blue oxtail soup, anyone?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Night In The Hive

I wasn't really sure I could come in today. I debated with myself about calling in sick.

But I decided to pull up my big boy pants and go on in to work after all.

They had me scheduled to work the Hive 2-10 in BG's old spot. Doing rec.

I just wasn't really sure if I could do that. But I did. I hadn't been down there for a shift in quite some time. I'd been down for a few moments, dropping off knuckleheads or their property, but not for an entire shift. And certainly not in that spot.

It was comfortable and uncomfortable all at the same time. I knew the job because I had done it for so long that I slipped right back into my getting things done mode and got things done. But I was extremely uncomfortable several times thinking about whose spot I was filling. To me, that will never be any spot but his.

There had been alot of excitement on day shift. Apparently some drug activity and fights over the drugs on B-side. They locked up fifteen (?) I think, during the day. Mostly from B-side.

I think it was a good idea that that big metal shank appeared and disappeared when it did. Do you think somebody knew this would happen? It sure looks that way. It might just be coincidence, but I no longer trust those inside the fence.

Big M was my partner for the evening and he helped me out with the things that had changed in my absence. There had been quite a few changes. I liked some of them and disliked some others. And it kind of galls me that some of the changes that had occurred since I left were some of the things I had been trying to get changed in the six years I was down there.

And the evil swine waited until I left to get them done. Don't that just figure?

Ah, well. The night went well and we got some rec done. Not as much as the Big Guy would have done (he was a machine), but enough. We only left them with maybe a round and a half to get done tomorrow and that aint too shabby.

And I managed to get through the night down there without having to bite my lip or slam anybody to the ground. I consider both of those to be a victory.

For some reason midnight shift has been calling out like crazy but I managed to make it all week without having to pull a double. It was bloody close, though. On Thursday I was number five on the list. If I hadn't been 2-10 tonight I would probably have gotten hit. Tried to volunteer to work a day this weekend to get me off the doubles list, but they were pretty solid so no takers there.

**sigh** I suppose that Monday I will have to volunteer so I can pick a decent spot to work in. Hopefully I pick a spot where I can stay awake and not have to do the Del Norte walk. What a pain. I hate working doubles. But it's been a good long time since the last one so I guess I'm due.

So Saturday will be Log Cabin Day. I don't know if they mean real log cabins or just the syrup. Maybe both. It will also be The Great American Backyard Campout.

Sunday will be National Chocolate Pudding Day. Yay! It will also be America's Kids Day and Descendents Day.

Monday is National Columnists Day, Decide To Be Married Day, "Happy Birthday To You" Day and Please Take My Children To Work Day. Whoever came up with that last one must be a friggin' genius!

Friday, June 24, 2011


I got some good props for doing pretty much nothing this evening.

Isn't that pretty much the way it goes? The nights you work your buns off nobody says anything. But one simple thing earns you praise and you sit there with your tongue in your cheek and say "Okay. Yeah. I did that."

Somebody heard a rumor (here we go with that again) that there might be something worth finding out on the yard and they were pretty specific about where it could be found. Sgt Uncle T and I went to look and, sure enough, there was.

A long rusty spike of a nail about seven or eight inches long laying in the grass by one of the light poles, right in plain sight. Like someone had dropped it there on purpose hoping one of us would pick it up. Which of course someone did.

It was big enough and hefty enough and still well sharp enough you could have easily killed somebody with it. Several somebodies. And nobody in their right mind wants things like that loose inside the fence. Especially staff. Brrr! It gave me shivers looking at it.

I was more than willing to take one for the team to get rid of the thing. If it meant doing paperwork, that was fine as long as that was no longer a threat to anybody inside the fence.

I stuck the thing in my radio case and went up to do my Del Norte walk. On the way I ran across Lt Chestnut, who was shift commander, and showed it to him.

"How much paperwork do you want on this thing?" I asked.

He looked at it with one eyebrow up and said "It just looks like nuisance contraband to me. Just make sure that it goes away, okay?"

"It will disappear, sir."

"What will disappear?"

"Nothing, sir. Just talking to myself."

Some shift commanders would have wanted a full detailed report with pictures and a map describing where I found it and a property slip and have it stored over in the evidence locker with all of the paperwork that ensued with that as well.

He just wanted it to go away. Hey, I could do that. I carried it with me on my Del Norte walk and, as I went outside of the sally port at the end of my walk, I tossed it into the pool in the creek that runs under the sally port. That pool is three or four feet deep and full of scummy water that's always full of debris and crud. That nail made a satisfying "plook" into the water and went right to the bottom. By the time anyone ever sees it again it will have rusted down to minute particles.

I took it to keep anybody else from having to do the paperwork. When I got back from my walk Sgt Uncle T had written an entry in my file about how professional I was for finding and disposing of the thing.

He ended up doing more paperwork over it than I did.

I got something for nothing. That just doesn't happen very often around here. I think I'll savor the moment.

So Friday I will be 2-10 down in the Hive. In BG's spot. Not sure exactly how I am going to handle that. Just wait and see, I suppose.

Friday will also be Museum Comes To Life Day. I'm glad I'm not Ben Stiller. It will also be Celebration Of The Senses (you got me), International Fairy Day (rolls his eyes), Take Your Dog To Work Day and Ugliest Dog Day.

Is this one of those 'dog days' of summer I keep hearing about?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ugly Rumors

It was my night up in the comm room, of course. And we all know nothing ever happens up there.

I was well into the shift change rush and Brother D hadn't made it up there yet so I was flying solo for the moment, trying not to get buried.

This one big goofy looking guy I always think of as "Squarehead" was up at the window turning in something or another and talking to somebody else as he did it. he was talking baout this and that and then I heard him say something like this:

"I heard a rumor that there was supposed to be a riot today. Supposedly a bunch of the white supremacist gangs were going to kick off a statewide prison riot at 6:22 this evening."

I thought "Oh snap." And I wondered what, if anything, they were going to do about that. Would they keep the yards closed and just give them a smoke break house by house? Would they call in E-Squad and have them standing by and call it a 'training exercise'? I wondered.

Then as time went by and I didn't hear anything on the radios and it seemed like nothing was going on (about 5:00 pm or so) I thought to myself "I do wonder if he mentioned that rumor to anybody? Surely he did."

But I called Lt Baby Boy and asked him if he'd heard anything about a riot. He just said "Naw!" So I told him what I had overheard. He said he would pass it along.

So about 6:15 when I swapped out with Brother D to go into the P-car I was a little nervous. If something kicked off there wouldn't be much I could do from outside the fence. Unless they managed to climb over the inner fence all I could do is watch basically. I kept my eyes glued to the yard (what I could see of it between the housing units, anyway) and watched like a hawk.

And 6:22 came and went and nothing happened. But I kept a close watch and an ear on the radio.

And nothing continued to happen.

I'm not complaining, mind you. I'm just saying.

I guess it was just a stupid rumor after all. Maybe they were just trying to make us nervous. Maybe they got the dates wrong. Or maybe our guys didn't get the memo and missed out on the whole thing. Who knows?

As long as nothing continues to happen, I'll be happy. That makes it a little harder to find things to write about, but I can live with that.

So Thursday (my B-yard day) will be National Pink Day. I think I'll let Chanel handle the celebration for that one. It clashes with my ensemble. And my eyes. It is also Let It Go Day and Public Service Day.

Maybe it would be a public service to let the pink go! Yeah!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Masochistic Tendencies

It was a bit dark and kind of stormy looking when I left the house. Nothing scary or severe looking. It just looked maybe kinda sorta like it might rain later.

The closer I got to work the darker it got. About a mile away from work it started raining. When I hit the front entrance I had to roll up my window. As I got out of the truck it lightened up some. I looked up at the clouds and thought "Hoo boy! What a night to work the yard!"

Right after I walked into the control center it started pouring down, lightning flashing everywhere and the clouds were swirling around. I thought "Any minute now the sirens are going to go off. This might get real ugly." Lt Chestnut looks at me and says "I had to move you to 30 house. Sorry, bud." My face fell. That place is hot as hell and it always smells like one of those cheap laundromats in the bad parts of town. "Unless" he said "You want to go to strips, then you can go out to the yard afterwards."

Without even thinking much, I said "I'll do that."

So I went and spent an hour in the Moon Room watching strange smelly men get naked.

Boy that is just more fun than you can shake a stick at, believe me.

And we had to hold them inside until the storm passed and they checked all of the fences to make sure nothing had blown down before we could let them out. Fortunately for us, since the bad weather was rolling in, they brought all the crews in early.

When we were done I checked out my 200 pound set of yard keys and grabbed my 100 pound lunch box and headed out for the yard. Got out there right before the yard closed. Just time to stick my lunch box in the shack and head for the chow hall.

There's usually only two of us out on the yard on a typical day and one stays at dining and the other goes up on the hill to watch the movements. Making sure nobody is fighting or trying to escape or any other foolishness up where we can't see it. St Francis usually goes up on the hill and for some reason he didn't. When I got there he asked me if I wanted to go which was real strange. Whatever he had in mind I didn't want any part of it so I went on up.

About halfway through mainline it started to sprinkle. I was just thinking "If it gets and worse, I'll duck under there or over there in that doorway so I can still see and stay reasonably dry." Just them Sgt Uncle T comes up on the cart and says "Come on! I'll take you to the shack! You can watch from there and make us some coffee while you are up there."

Hey, no problem. I can stay inside in the A/C and make a pot of coffee. Yeah!

About the time Sgt Uncle T gets halfway back to the chow hall it comes down a gullywasher of a rainstorm. A real toad strangler. A tarantula downpour.

I look out the window at all the inmates running for cover, either trying to get to the chow hall or back to their houses and I burst out in maniacal laughter. Ha ha suckers! I'm up here and dry and my lunch is right here! Whoop!

Of course it only rained for a few minutes and then the sun popped back out turning the yard into an instant sauna. But my last orders were to stay in the shack and watch from there and make coffee. Yeah, I could do that. And I sat in relative comfort for about half an hour and ate my sandwich and sipped coffee.

Once the yards opened things got a little hairy. We ended up locking up seven inmates off of our side for different things. Three outside workers who were apparently making rude comments at some women swimming in the river while they were out with their weed eaters. They were first. Then a check in from eight house. Then a fight at nine house that we had to run to. Two lockups from that. Then one more check in from 9 house to round it all off. Spent a good part of the end of the evening doing escorts and picking up property. Fun!

Yes, they made me run. That hasn't happened in awhile. My legs will be sore in the morning. The evil swine.

But we all survived. That's all that matters.

Wednesday (my comm room day) will be National Chocolate Eclair Day. It will also be Stupid Guy Thing Day. That just sounds promising, don't you think?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Key Player

Some people are deep. Some are shallow. And there are some people you just never know about. They just leave you shaking your head thinking "What the snap?"

We have a new.... Well, he's not new. He's been around for awhile. Maybe six months or so. Little guy, but not weak or frail. Maybe ten years older than me. More or less. It's hard to tell sometimes.

Many of us don't seem to know quite what to think of him. At first glance, I thought he was a complete idiot. Now I don't know. But then again, my first impression may have been right on the mark.

I've dubbed him the "Professor". He doesn't look like one, but his head is sure up in the clouds 99% of the time and definitely not on what he's doing. And we all know that especially in this line of work that is not a really good thing.

I know he thinks about things. I've had conversations with him that were pretty deep. I know that he successfully keeps bees and has for years and that takes thought and the ability to reason and plan things out. He's not just some brain dead turnip.

They made him the education and library officer this evening and I got elected to go help him count. That was a good thing. He'd not done it before and he would have screwed up count for days. Fortunately I had done education a time or two.

It went pretty good, from a glance anyway. We counted together and came up with the same totals and everything was good. But when he was calling in his count to the control center I realized that he had transposed the numbers from 9 house and the numbers from 25 house on his sheet. It's a good thing I caught that or 9 house would have had too many inmates and 25 not nearly enough.

But we got that fixed. No big deal.

Then one of the teachers and I tried to tell him how to do his releases after count clears. We told him four times and he wasn't understanding it. So I wrote it down and he still got it wrong.

I sighed, rubbed my eyes and told him one more time, slowly, in words of one syllable. He seemed to have it that time so I went back out to the yard.

Later on that evening we heard him call for Sgt Archer to come to the library. Sgt Uncle T and I were closer on our side and we got there first. The door was locked and we waited for him to open it. He came to the door and muttered something. Sgt Uncle T said "What?" and pressed his ear to the door while I stood there wondering.

He'd locked his keys in the bathroom and couldn't get out of the building.

After the library was closed and everybody, including the librarian was gone, he went in to use the bathroom and laid his keys on the sink. When he was done he walked out and snapped the padlock shut and realized the ring of keys was still on the sink inside.

Luckily I had a key to the library on my ring, but not one to the bathroom. So I ran him up on the cart to go get the librarians keys and bring him back. Sgt Uncle T stayed there and explained the problem to Sgt Archer and Capt CJ through the other door while they laughed.

I told the Professor on the way back that we were going to give him hell about this forever. He didn't seem to mind that too much and took the ribbing he got with good humor.

But in a place like this you never lay your keys down and leave them anywhere at any time. And he seemed to take it like it was no big deal. Maybe we should have been harder on him, I don't know.

I guess we just have to hope that when push comes to shove, and it will, that he will be there and not wandering off in some other direction.

Deep? Shallow? I can't tell. He seems to come and go in waves. We'll see, I guess.

So Tuesday, aside from being the First Day of Summer, is also Cuckoo Warning Day. That means if you hear a cuckoo then it will be a wet summer. Man, I sure hope wobbleheads don't count as cuckoos. We may all drown.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Skeleton Crew

Just the other day it seemed, we had CO's running out of our ears. Today we were down to bare bones and we really needed the extra people.

I thought it was going to be an easy night, like last Friday when they sent me to 10 house. Lt Strong said "Go do the mail run, then go to 25 house. You'll have an easy night over there."

Well, the first part of that plan went well. I fiddle-fargled around until the mail was ready and loaded it up in the little golf cart and took my time driving around delivering the mail. Of course getting to use a cart that had both good acceleration and good brakes at the same time was so novel I couldn't but have fun cruising around on it. I'd haul my buns down the walk screaming "Get the frack out of the way!" and watch the inmates scatter.

25 house is usually a fairly fun place to work. Except for the inmates, anyway. But 25 is often referred to as the "Estrogen House" because of the mostly female staff there. If you are a guy, you can easily find yourself outnumbered in that house. It's mostly a fun place to work but it's also a real good place to keep your pie hole firmly shut.

I'm sure you married guys will know exactly what I mean.

The house usually runs with four or sometimes even five wing officers, a bubble officer and a Sergeant. Tonight when I got there Sgt Homer said "It was nice working with you!" and left. They had pulled him to the Hive to cover down there. That only left four of us in the house. One bubble and three wing.

Tilt had E-wing, up on the 4th floor. It's the smallest wing, only having 36 inmates but it's kind of isolated and the stairs are pretty steep so they always put one up there. I told him "If you have trouble with any of them, push them down the stairs first. That way I won't have to run up so many dang steps!"

I had C and D winds on the 2nd floor. 59 inmates in one wing and 60 in the other.

Ruger was in charge of A and B wings on the first floor with 60 apiece. He's a good cat. Been a CO for years and if you need to know anything about hunting, fishing, boats or guns, he's your man.

Ms Drawl was in the bubble. Ruger had just bid into the house a few months ago but Ms Drawl had been there forever and she knew the place like the back of her hand. She's a funny woman. Imagine Ellie May Clampett with that gawd awful drawl of hers. Give her Granny's temper and a laugh like Woody Woodpecker. That's her. Entertaining as heck. Just don't piss her off.

Since policy requires that we have two officers at each count, it went like this: I went up and helped Tilt count E-wing. Then he came down and helped me count C and D. Ruger went and counted A and B, then traded places in the bubble with Ms Drawl and she went and counted them again. It was a pain in the butt.

Things went along pretty smooth there for awhile until about an hour after the yards opened. I heard a call on the radio for Sgt Uncle Buck to send two officers to 3 house. That was an odd and sort of off call so I decided to walk down to the gate by the big yard just in case something kicked off. I thought if nothing else I could step out and help watch the yard.

Then out of the blue they call and close the yards. At about 7:00 pm. All of the inmates are pissed off and asking me questions. All I could say was "I aint got a clue, pal." We got the yards clear and everyone back inside and they called a name and number count, like somebody might be missing.

Oh snap, I hate it when they do that! But count cleared and they ended up locking a couple of them up from here and there. And even though we had almost an hour of sunlight left, they kept the yards closed.

Don't know why they did that, either. It's a mystery. Or maybe the Captain was tired of riding around on the cart and wanted to go inside for the rest of the night. I don't know.

We did our little count dance for the third time at 10 pm as usual and then we all went home.

For a night when I didn't really do all that much, I'm pooped. Of course I did have to trot up and down the stairs quite a bit. maybe that was it.

So let's look at the weekend. Saturday will be International Panic Day. I belive I'll stay at home for that one. Sunday is World Sauntering Day. No moseying allowed! And Monday will be Ice Cream Soda Day. I'll bring the straws!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Expletive Deleted

As you may have noticed, I don't swear on here. I'm not exactly sure why, I just don't.

But there is an awful lot of that sort of thing going on at work. From both sides of the door.

Here I use words like 'snap' and 'frack' and 'efargulate' and other nonsense that I make up as I go along. I guess I don't really want to offend anybody who might be reading this.

In the Academy they teach us "If it feels good, don't say it." and "Don't sink to their level" and that using profanity is "unprofessional". And those statements are for the most part, true.

But sometimes you have to get under their skins just a little and rock them back on their heels to get them to calm down and behave themselves. There are times when being calm and cool and professional just doesn't cut it. In order to gain control of a situation sometimes you have to get in their face and shout "Shut the frack up and sit the frack down, snaphole!" And they will drop back in their seat, stunned. And once you have their attention you can go back to being professional.

And alot of these punks don't seem to realize that I have been doing this for awhile and anything that comes out of their mouth holds very little shock value for me. And they quickly learn that anything they say I have already heard and already have a snappy comeback for.

While I was doing my Del Norte walk this evening a couple of the knuckleheads started shouting obscenities at me out of the Hive windows. Ignoring them at first, I finally raised a hand and showed them the universal sign that they were #1 in my book.

They seemed to take umbrage at that and one of them made an unverifiable allusion to my sexual preference. I raised my hand again and replied "Go BLEEP a BLEEP, boy!"

This seemed to make him angry and he said "You can't talk to me like that!"

I repeated my gesture and my statement.

He said "I'll file paperwork on you, BLEEP! What's your name?"

And all he heard back was laughter as I walked on down the fence line.

I know it wasn't professional. But then I knew if he wasn't locked in a cell he wouldn't have the balls to talk to me like that to my face out on the yard. And false bravado is a refuge of the coward.

Later on in the evening I had to deliver something down to the Hive. On the way out somebody shouted out their window. I turned slightly and he asked me (how do I put this delicately?) to inquire as to the dimensions of one of his body parts.

I just waved a hand and replied "I don't have time for small talk!" and walked away. Someone in another wing thought that was pretty hilarious and was still laughing as I left. And the one who asked me the original question suddenly had nothing more to say.

So that time being professional worked just fine.

It's a fine line, sometimes. You have to know where and when to cross it and who with.

Friday (Yayy... Friday!) will be Watergate Day and Eat Your Vegetables Day. Pfui. How many of you remember Watergate? It will also be Dump The Pump (?) Day and the National Day of Prayer For Law Enforcement Officers. We need all the help we can get, sometimes.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Hearts And Minds Of Tomorrow

About two years ago (thereabout) before I had left the Hive, the head of training called me and asked me if I wanted to be a Field Training Officer. These are the people who take the new hires fresh out of the academy and teach them to apply what they learned in the books to life inside the fence.

I had my doubts. I'm impatient sometimes. I expect people to understand what I say and follow my directions and I get a little short when they don't.

Plus, I'm just weird at times. Well, only when I'm awake.

But at the time he was short of FTO's and needed the help and I said yes, I would do it.

Then I never heard from him again.

I kind of figured he read my blog and said "Well, we don't want that lunatic training our new people! They'd get all screwed up!"

Last week I got an email from him saying he's sorry he forgot about me, but was I still interested?

Against my better judgement, I said yes again.

And once again, I never heard anything back. Figured I was probably good for another two years of peace.

The other day somebody said "Hey, I just voted for you in an email!" Ummm... What? I didn't get an email about any voting!

It seems that they sent an email out to the other FTO's with a list of the new candidates for them to recommend them or not, as they saw fit. That's why I didn't get one.

But half a dozen people have said "I voted for you." during the last week. Enough to make me a bit nervous.

Do they really think that I'm the right person to be molding the hearts and minds of the next generation of corrections officers?

That's just freaking crazy.

But then when I look at some of the real lunatics we have working here, especially the ones who have been here since Adam was on OJT, I don't look so bad in comparison.

And tomorrow (Oops, today I mean) will be my eighth year anniversary with the department.

Holy snap! Have I been doing this for eight years already? Wow.

Well, as I told the head of training in my reply, I don't always know the right things to do but I do know most of the wrong things to do and I can point out a good bunch of those. Hopefully I can impart something that will keep someone from getting hurt, and that's my main goal.

I'll do my best.

That is, if I ever hear from him again.

Tomorrow... Uh, today.... Aw, frack it. Thursday will be the National Hollerin' Contest Day. I'm fetchin' my earplugs! It will also be Bloomsday, Fudge Day and Recess At Work Day.

In case you were wondering, Bloomsday is a celebration of 'Ulysses', the novel by James Joyce. It's named after the main character, Leopold Bloom, and usually involves lots of drinking and general merriment.

Sounds like a pretty good holiday to me!

Playing The Game

When the inmates are ostensibly behaving themselves we often have to be self entertaining. That often involves bad jokes and long winded b.s. stories.

But every now and then we like to exercise our minds. So we come up with games that we can play in our heads.

Heck, you could host the Superbowl in my head, there's so much extra space.

But I digress.

Sgt Uncle T came up with a game the other night. We started out with band names. Whatever name you picked, the next person had to come up with another name starting with the last letter of whatever you said.

For example, if I said "Aerosmith" then the next person had to come up with a band that started with the letter "h".

See? Pretty simple. Except when the pressure is on and everyone is looking at you. Then it gets hard. How many bands can you think of right now that start with "h"? And no fair googling it, either!

We got no internet access on the yard. Only our very own all natural brains.

Anyway, you go around and around until only one person is left and they win.

We went from band names to actors and actresses to movie titles. Uncle T, Sausage and Grasshopper were the last three. They played it across the yard, through central and the control center and out into the parking lot.

I left them there and went home.

When Sarge and Sausage walked out the door back onto the yard this afternoon they were still playing! Good grief! They finally quit after awhile and moved on to something else, thank goodness.

About 9:00pm this evening I went up to do my paperwork (I was on 30 yard) and I stopped on B-yard just to see what was happening. They sucked me into another game. Cartoon characters! Hokey smokes!

I hung in for about 15-20 minutes and it got down to me and Ritz and I stuck him with "Racer X" from Speed Racer. I left to go count 30 house as he was still trying to come up with a cartoon character that started with "x".

I may have won, but I didn't hang around to find out.

But there we were, your tax dollars at work.

At least we were exercising our minds.

So! Tomorrow is going to be Smile Power Day and Pay Day. Always something to smile about there! It's also Native American Citizenship Day.

Umm... could somebody explain that one to me real quick? I'm confused.

Maybe I'll just slide on over to the fact that it's also Nature Photography Day and avoid that whole issue altogether.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Plethora

Plethora \ˈple-thə-rə\ An excess or superfluity. A profusion or abundance.

Today we had a plethora of CO's. Started out with just Sausage and I. Then Lichen came out and said he was on the yard, too. That made three. When Grasshopper got done with the mail run we got him as well. Four. Finally Troll finished up education and they sent him to us as well. Five. Well, six if you counted Sgt Uncle T.

Six of us on the freaking yard? And nothing to count? Hokey smokes!

And with nothing really going on. Well, we had one code 16 on 9 yard. Seizures. The guy was sitting on a bench and sudden;y pitched forward onto the concrete and banged himself up pretty good. He came out of it long enough to get loaded on the medical cart and I had to ride up with him in cased he seized again. And he was still pretty wasted when we got there. I don't think he had a clue where he was. I had to hold him upright in the seat all the way to medical.

They locked up two or three out of 6 house but they did their own escorts.

In short, we spent alot of time wandering around and trying not to cross paths with each other too much. It got to be kind of a game to see who could go where and not be too close to somebody else and still cover as much of the yard as you could.

At one point Sgt Uncle T and I took a ride on the cart and looked at the brickwork in some of the older buildings. The oldest ones were built back in the late 1800's and the set after that in the 1940's. The newer buildings were put up in the 1980's, I believe. The older buildings are somewhat fascinating if you look at them closely. They exhibit alot of what is referred to as "Feature brickwork". This is a subject I know very little about, but am learning bits as I go.

Feature brickwork is extra stuff that they threw into making walls and things that are decorative but not necessary to the construction of the wall. Adding little ledges and 'ghost windows' that were never really windows to start with. Putting in designs in the brick rather than just laying them straight and flat. Things like instead of a square plain building, adding a round turret on either side or castle-like crenelations on the cap.

It seems like when they were building this place.... Well, not really this place. They were actually building a new mental hospital back then..... They put in more time and effort to make the buildings more attractive.

I don't really know much about architecture styles. But it seems to me I can see gothic and victorian styles as well as art deco.

I really wish I..... Or somebody..... Could be allowed to bring in a camera and preserve some of the really cool bits of those buildings before they all fall down. And we do have one that is preparing to fall and crush somebody fairly soon. Building 14 is, I think, the old firehouse, now a maintenance shop. The end wall is sinking and buckling. Some of the bricks are probably close to at least half an inch out of place and it looks like the whole end of the structure is fixing to fall right off.

I just hope nobody I work with is close when that happens.

Will they fix it? Probably not. I'm sure there's no money in the budget available. Will they tear it down before it falls down? I doubt that, too. Why tear down a building we are using? Will they pay out the nose when somebody gets crushed by the falling bricks? Probably.

It's sad to watch some cool history rotting away.

Tuesday is Flag Day and Pop Goes The Weasel Day. It's also Pause For The Pledge Day, Blood Donor Day and Family History Day.

Let's just hope the weasel doesn't pop before we're ready for it, eh?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Warning! This Blog May Be Illegal!

Well, I can add another state to my list of places I can never visit again. Pretty soon they'll be putting me on a boat out to sea because I'll have run out of dry land to stay on.

The state of Tennessee has just enacted a law that makes it a crime to send, transmit, post or publish on the internet or over a cell phone any image that may "intimidate, frighten or cause emotional distress" to any recipient.

Hoo boy, that's just wide open, isn't it?

I wonder if there's any images on the state of Tennessee's home page that would cause anybody emotional distress?

As a matter of fact, the act of the state announcing this new law frightens, intimidates and causes me emotional distress.

Do you think I have a case?

What is today? National Juggling Day and Kitchen Klutzes Of America Day. Oh yeah. Think I'll go cook something.

I wonder how many eggs we have?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Last Place I Expected To Go

Once again, I should have expected it. After writing that post last night about the treatment house and how little I thought of it anyway and how they sent that dangerous little puke there, guess where they sent me?

The treatment house, of course.

For the very first time. Oh, I'd been there once for about twenty minutes one night to relieve somebody and I'd passed through a couple of times but I had never ever spent an entire shift there until tonight.

I have issues. Personally I think the whole treatment thing is a joke. I seriously doubt that a single one of these knuckleheads is going to quit doing drugs or alcohol because of that program. And all of the treatment offenders I have ever had to deal with were snotty mouthed punks.

Sure, there may be one or two out of a hundred that are serious about turning their lives around if they get out. But we're still going to end up stuck with the rest of them when they fail the program.

And no, I didn't run into that certain offender. He wasn't in the same wing as I was. But I did run into another one that I had dealt with years ago back in the Hive. he was nothing but a loud mouthed snaphole back then and I'm sure he hasn't changed much. I told the regular wing officer to keep an eye on him. He's a meth head and a complete idiot. Another one of those that I'm sure I'll be seeing over and over again until one of us dies.

I walked right up to him at count time and said "I know you." He recognized me too and it didn't appear that he was all that happy to see me. I wonder why?

Well, I managed to swallow my issues and keep my opinions in check and we made it through the night without and problems. And for a Friday, that is a good thing.

Hopefully now that I got work out of the way for another week, I can get some work done around the house. Doesn't that just suck?

Saturday will be National Hug Holiday and King Kamehameha Day. It is also the day for the Belmont Stakes, Corn On The Cob Day and the Wicket World of Croquet Day.

Sunday will be Machine Day. Also Crowded Nest Awareness Day, Loving Day and the Orthodox Pentecost.

Monday will be National Juggling Day and Kitchen Klutzes Of America Day. Hey, that's me! I can't juggle, but I am a pure klutz in the kitchen.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Excuse me while I rant a little here. I hope you don't mind.


Okay.... That got some of it off my chest. Sometimes I just get a little fed up with the fact that these little snits have more rights that we do.

And I am really tired of "councilors" and "caseworkers" and "psychologists" who buy their sob stories and let them get away with anything with little more than a slap on the wrist.

We just got some idiot in today off of the bus. Supposed to be going to a 180 day drug treatment program. Last time he was here, about a year ago, he assaulted two of our staff (one who is a very good friend of mine) and they are referring him for prosecution for those assaults. My friend Z got kicked in the head and suffered a ruptured disc in his neck. He was in pain for months and is just now able to turn his head about 30% of the amount he used to.

This little creep isn't scheduled to get out for a few more years and if they find him guilty on these assaults he will be facing another ten to twenty years in prison. So they send him back here into a program with an open bay type living arrangement to get counseling on his drug problem. because some judge somewhere stipulated that he had to have it in order to get out early.

That is what that drug treatment program is all about. If they complete it, it looks better to the parole board and they might get an early out date.

Don't they imagine that in twenty years he will have forgotten all he may learn in this program? Why not wait fifteen more years and then send him? This punk has already proved that he's a dangerous snaphole and doesn't need to be out in the general public, let alone in a more relaxed setting like the treatment program.

Why are they putting more staff members in jeopardy?

And don't get me started about that little cockroach Shmelvin! Not long ago he racked up five staff assaults in one week. And they let him out early because he's "troubled". Every single time he gets locked up they let him back out again due to his "mental condition". Just last week they caught him and his cellie.... Well, I won't ick you out with the details, but the term for it is "Sexual Misconduct". They locked him up on Saturday. Anybody else would do at least 30 days down in the Hive. Today he was back on the hill again.


Sorry. Again.

Sometimes this job is really really frustrating.

I think I just need to take a chill pill and relax. Maybe drink a beer or something. I dunno.

Anyway, thanks for putting up with my little temper tantrum. Just needed to unload a bit of baggage. And I'm the only one awake here right now.

Maybe I should just go check the calendar. Friday (Yayy, Friday!) will be National Yo-Yo Day. Oh yeah. I got hundreds of yo-yo's to play with. It will also be Ball Point Pen Day and Iced Tea Day.

Sounds like a good basis for one heck of a party, eh?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Bigs Come Through and Random Missives

I had it in my mind that instead of buying one of those nice display boxes to put BG's flag in, I would design and make one myself. Everyone says that home made things are better. And I thought that it was one last thing I could do for my friend.

I had an idea in my head that I could incorporate one of the Folger Adam keys like we carry at work into the box. One or two of those and maybe a couple of cuff keys. Not completely sure how it will turn out, but I thought it might be cool if I could pull it off.

Going to the Folger Adam website I found that 1: I can't buy a key from them unless I am an authorized agent of a prison or jail, which I'm not. I guess it's a good thing they do that. And 2: Cut keys from them are $60.00 each even if I could buy one. Yikes!

Heading next to Ebay I found a few for sale. Starting at about $30.00 and up to over $100.00! Hokey smokes!

Then I went to the locksmith at work and asked him. He told me to see the Warden who sent me back to the locksmith again. That worked. Today he gave me an old unused key. To make it completely official and so there could be no security questions about it later, he ground off the serial number on the back and cut the teeth down until they were almost flat. So that way if that key ever fell into the wrong hands, it might slip into a lock but it would never open anything ever again.

It still looks cool and very much like one of our keys and I think it will do nicely. Now all I have to do is come up with a design that will do it justice. We will see, I suppose. It's going to take skills I don't quite have down yet to pull this off right.

I'll surely post a picture when I get it done. Have no fear.

Another thing I have been doing lately is kind of a morale building thing. I came across a listing of all of the printers all over camp. On occasion, when I am near a computer and have a few minutes to kill, I'll type up some random nonsense that pops into my head on a blank form and pick a printer at random to print it out to.

It's never anything bad or that (hopefully) nobody will be offended by. Just some silliness. That way the next person who grabs whatever is sticking out of the printer looks at it and says "What?" Hopefully it brings at least a brief smile to their face. You never know.

And hopefully also I won't get in trouble for admitting that. If anyone complains, I'll offer to buy the state a ream of paper to cover the expense. But I've already gotten a few laughs and sometimes we need those around here.

Thursday (My yard day) will be National Donald Duck Day. Oh boy oh boy oh boy! Man! You just cannot type in a Donald Duck voice, can you? Ah, well.

Wow. And for once, it seems that we only have one thing to celebrate on that day. Odd.

Almost Like being On Vacation

When I left last night they had me scheduled to work the front desk today.

Normally I would rather try to shove my elbow in my ear rather than work the front desk. It's boring as heck. And I'm not real big on being bored. Even on my nights up in the comm room I keep busy moving around and doing things. It just makes the nights go by faster.

But after roasting out on 9 yard last night and the ride in this afternoon (the a/c in my truck doesn't work so well, either) I decided it might not be so bad. Lt Chipmunk asked when I came in "You want to move? I can put you back on 9 yard or A-yard or B-yard if you want! I can move somebody!"

I stood there for a moment, letting the cool breeze of one of the very few working a/c units left on the camp blow over my damp brow and thought about it. Then I said "Nah. That's okay. I'll stay up here. No reason for you to shift people around for me." Acting, of course, like I was doing him a favor.

Let's see, of the known places without a working a/c unit at the moment.... 9 house. Medical. The Control Center. Education. 30 house. 10 house. And last time I was up there, 8 house. And no money in the budget to fix any of them. I was told that maintenance said the a/c in the control center was "not a priority". It certainly will be a priority if the computers and panels go down from the heat and nobody can get in or out...

But for the moment, the front desk had a/c and I decided to take advantage of it. There were a few small minded pimpleheads that called me names over that decision, but I paid them very little heed. Let them suckers go out and sweat. Don't mind me, I'll stay in here where it's cool.

I spent a good part of the night chatting with Vinnie and Ms Odd and The Brute. Hanging out front smoking or chatting through the chuck hole. The Brute made coffee all night long and wasn't skimpy about sharing.

Manning the desk on an average night on our shift involves very little actual work. I maybe "worked" for one hour out of eight total. Most of the time I talked with somebody or read a book I found stashed under the counter. Walked around in little circles now and the and drank coffee.

Like the title said, it was almost like being on vacation. Except I didn't build anything. That's what I usually do on vacation.

Once in awhile is nice. But if I had to do that full time I would go completely bat snit.

Wednesday (my comm room day) will be Name Your Poison Day. I think I'll name mine Albert. That has a nice ring to it. It will also be Upsy-Daisy Day, World Ocean day and Shavuot. This, in case you were wondering, is a Jewish holiday celebrating the day that Gawd gave the Hebrews the Torah on Mt. Sinai. I had to look that one up.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Night Of The Living Dead

For some unfathomable reason, I woke up at 4:00 am this morning soaking wet with sweat and feeling like I was in a toaster oven. We had left the a/c running so it was cool in the house, but I was still frying hot. The wife got up and turned the air down even more in an attempt to cool me down so I could get back to sleep. I suspect I subjected her to a good round of goosebumps before I gave up and got out of bed.

Thinking I surely must be running a fever, i got up and grabbed our little battery operated thermometer and held it to my temple. When it finally beeped I looked at it in shock.

97.2! What the snap?

How could my body temperature be so low if I felt so hot?

Holy freaking snap on a cold turkey leg, what was this all about?

It made me want to do my English Bobby imitation. "Ere' now! What's all this, then?"

It was a mystery.

I felt better and cooler a little while later but the whole waking up after three hours of sleep thing tended to make the day drag on just a tad.

And to top it off they sent me down to 9 yard to play with the wobbleheads. It got somewhere in the low 90's this afternoon with nine million percent humidity. It was so steamy and hot if I were a Vietnam vet I'd be having flashbacks.

The 9 yard shack has a/c but since the shack itself is only the size of a phone booth you freeze once you step inside. Mostly because if you're standing, it's blowing in your face. And if you sit, it blows right on the back of your head. And every time I stepped back outside my glasses fogged up. What a pain!

I was grouchy and hot and irritable and trying hard not to be grouchy and hot and irritable to everyone else and not having much luck.

And if this post ever had a point to it, it's completely evaded me. I have not a freaking clue where I was going with this.


I'll just go check the calendar and get out of here before I embarrass myself further.

Tuesday is going to shine bright and be National Chocolate Ice Cream Day. Not a big chocolate ice cream fan myself, but maybe I'll put a big blob of it under my hat to keep me cool.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A New Song!

My friend Greenghost sent me a song the other morning and I'm going to cheat and post it here. That way I can go to bed quicker.

After all, the only thing that really happened the last two days is when Sgt Uncle T ate a bug by accident. It was funny, but one of those "you had to be there" moments to really appreciate it. I about laughed myself silly at the faces he made for the next ten minutes or so.

Anyway, without any further ado, here's Can Of Fire by Greenghost.

OC Is A Burning Thing
And It Makes A Fiery Sting
Bound By Wild Desire
I Sprayed em with a can of fire

I sprayed em with a Burning Can Of Fire
I Sprayed em in the eyes
And The Screams Went Higher

And It Burns, Burns, Burns
The Can of fire
The Can Of Fire

I sprayed em with a Burning Can Of Fire
I Sprayed em in the eyes
And The Screams Went Higher

And It Burns, Burns, Burns
The Can Of Fire
The Can Of Fire

The Taste Of OC is bad
When I'm out my heart is sad
It makes You cry just Like A Child
Oh, But The Fire is Wild

I sprayed em with a Burning Can Of Fire
I Sprayed em in the eyes
And The Screams Went Higher

And It Burns, Burns, Burns
The Can Of Fire
The Can Of Fire

I sprayed em with a Burning Can Of Fire
I Sprayed em in the eyes
And The Screams Went Higher

And It Burns, Burns, Burns
The Can Of Fire
The Can Of Fire

And It Burns, Burns, Burns

The Can Of Fire

The Can Of Fire

I guess you can figure out which song to sing that one to. And I've been humming it all dang day long. Thanks to you know who....

So Saturday will be Old Maid's Day. It's also Donut Day (yay!), Audacity To Hope Day, Do-Dah Day (a salute to silliness) and Draw With A Pencil Day.

Sunday will be Festival Of Popular Delusions Day (like economists knowing anything), Apple II Day (remember those?) and Hot Air Balloon Day.

And Monday will start off bright and early being Teacher's Day and National Applesauce Cake Day (mmmm...), D-Day Remembrance Day, VCR Day and Daniel Boone Day.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I Am Not A Rock

I am not a rock. Or even Kid Rock or The Rock, either. Obviously.

The past couple of days my friends have been driving me to distraction. Coming up and giving me hugs and handshakes and asking "Are you okay?" And I've heard a thousand times "We were worried about you."

Nobody would leave me alone for more than about fifteen minutes at a whack. Just about the time that I would get lost in my own head good and proper one of my friends would come up and put an arm around my shoulder and the sun would pop out again.

It was maddening, in a way. But it also kept me together. I have some pretty awesome friends when it comes right down to it. If it weren't for them I wouldn't be okay.

The visitation for BG the other night was hard. And the funeral yesterday was even harder. My intentions were, at first, to show my respect for my friend and my support for his family and friends who were there. My thought, somewhat foolishly, was that if someone needed somebody to lean on, I could be there. Instead I was the one needing support. I just hadn't realized it quite yet.

I had been wracking my brains for something to do or say that would be a fitting tribute to my friend. But my mind has been mush and I couldn't come up with anything decent. I got to the point where I figured just being there was going to have to be enough. But I really hate being at a loss for an idea.

When I got to the funeral home yesterday the Honor Guard was there, like they were the day before. Looking somber and professional in their parade uniforms. Just seeing them always makes my throat tighten up a little and my breath catch in my chest. They were more than a fitting vanguard to send one of ours on their way. I could think of no higher tribute.

Sgt Strings, who is in charge of the Honor Guard came up to me and said "I have a job for you."

I was more than happy to do anything that I could. And I listened closely to what he told me. The man is a freaking genius. And I tried hard to keep the task in my mind as we went through the ceremony.

I'm sure BG would have scoffed at most of the ceremony. The slow sad country song and the scriptures read by some preacher who admitted that he didn't know him personally. But he had talked to several people, family and friends alike and had heard alot of things and remembered them. He talked about BG's love of history and antiques and old cars and his truck. And he said that several of his co-workers had described him as an "officer's officer." And that was so true. He was the epitome of a good officer. Always there, always on time, always doing his job the best that he could. That phrase.... an "officer's officer" hit me pretty hard and I lost it a little. I dang near bit a hole right through my lip.

If it hadn't been for the Watcher and Sgt Miz P and whoever that was sitting behind me I would have been gone completely.

When we left to drive to the cemetery several people said "Ride with me." I waved them off. "No, I got this. I'm good." I probably should have ridden with somebody. It was hard to keep my mind on the road and not run into the car in front of me.

I was still a bit shaky when we got there. Watching the Air Force Honor Guard do the flag ceremony made my throat go tight again. Once they had given the flag to BG's brother and we all saluted I remembered what Sgt Strings had told me. I patted the Watcher and Sgt Miz P and said "I have something I have to do."

As Kilts started playing a dirge on the bagpipes, (I think it was 'amazing grace', it's all sort of fuzzy) I stumbled up to the casket, nearly falling on my face, unpinned my badge and placed it on top of the coffin. Then I patted the coffin and whispered "Take it easy now, Big Guy."

How I got back around the little tent they had set up without falling I have no idea. Next thing I knew I was surrounded by uniforms and hands and voices and there was a sort of massive group hug. I was soaking wet with sweat and tears and I don't think all of them were mine. We held it until somebody said something that got a shaky laugh out of all of us and the tension broke a little.

The someone from BG's family (his sister in law? Not sure. I had taken off my glasses because they were hopelessly fogged up and couldn't see very well) came up and asked me to come up front. There, BG's brother Chester (his name isn't Chester, but I had gotten the idea that it was once so the name kind of stuck) came up to me and handed me the flag from BG's coffin. He said that BG would have wanted me to have it.

And I lost it all over again. That this man whom I barely knew would honor me by presenting me with the flag from his brother's coffin..... It was almost too much.

Perhaps it was too much, I'm not really sure. I don't remember sitting down but the next thing I knew I was on a chair clutching the flag and in the middle of another one of those group hugs that very nearly buried me.

The only thing I do remember very clearly is that at one point I was fumbling for my handkerchief and Miz Twang offered me the end of her tie to blow my nose on if I needed it. I laughed so hard at that I could have kissed her. I think I may have, I'm not sure.

And the next thing I knew I was at work wondering "How the hell did I get here?" Wondering if I had driven myself in and supposing I did. I had my lunchbox and my hat and my duty belt so I assumed that I had stopped home.

All through the night people kept calling and stopping by the comm room checking on me and chatting about BG and what a great guy he was. Most of the night is kind of a blur.

One of the great things about doing what we do together is the support system that develops around you. We have each others backs both physically and emotionally.

Both BG and I have a wonderful group of friends.

And I don't think either one of us could have made it this far without them.

So to all of the Big Guy's friends and to all of my friends I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Completely Drained

You could sweep up what remains of my brain in a very tiny dustpan right now.

I may write about the funeral tomorrow, if I'm ready for that.

Right now I'm just going to curl up in a ball and sleep.

It's been a very long day.