Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Can You Hear Me Now?

I think there was something in the weather. Or maybe something in the water. The radios were all screwed up this evening. Half of the people were mumbling (we've talked about this before!) and the other half were screaming.

Kermit was one good example. He's half deaf anyway. Most of the time he can't hear his radio and the rest of the time he just doesn't listen. He tends to wear his microphone down on his chest and mumbles into it then gets pissed off when nobody can hear him.

He was trying to get through the gate to do his Del Norte walk. I was out in the P-car and all I heard was: "71 to Raccoon Station, open gate 12 please!"

And I could just barely hear him at all. A minute or so later he tried it again:
"71 to Raccoon Station, open gate 12 please!"

Then all of the sudden Captain CJ got on the radio (sounding really pissed off) and said:


And that came through loud enough that it almost set off the airbag in the P-car. Very nearly scared the snit right out of me. And that would have messed up the upholstery pretty bad.

What we figured out was that Kermit must have had his radio on channel 3. That will broadcast in the clear to any handheld radios but doesn't get picked up well by the base station in the control center.

But it took him changing radios three times before he finally managed to get one to work. And I'm sure the blame will all go to the comm room officer who issued him that first radio.

Hey, it's the way we work here in the wonder State of Confusion.

Tomorrow is supposed to be hot hot hot again. I thought summer was over.

That's what I get for thinking, I suppose.

Thursday will be Emma M. Nutt Day. It will also be Building and Code Staff Appreciation Day, Calendar Adjustment Day, Chicken Boy's Day and National No Rhyme Nor Reason Day.

And there you go!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Emergency Preparedness

I remember back, years ago, the first time I ever set foot in the control center. I was nervous and I had questions. Since this was the nerve canter of the whole place I figured they had the answers.

"What do we do if there's a fire? An escape? An earthquake? A power outage?"

"The answers are all right there in the big red book."

"Oh. Can I read it?"

"NO!!! Do not touch the big red book!"

"But... why?"

"Because something bad will happen if you touch it! DON'T TOUCH THE BIG RED BOOK!!!"

"Okay! Jeez! Don't have a litter of kittens. I was just asking..."

Even back then I thought that was a little extreme. And definitely paranoid.

After all it was marked very clearly "Emergency Manual". It was bright red so it would stand out from all of the other books. And it was pretty humongous. Bigger than all of the rest of them. It must have the answers that I wanted. And they couldn't answer my questions, but they said it was all in that book that I wasn't allowed to touch.

I wasn't back up there for many more years. Until just recently, anyway.

This evening I was poking around in some of the other books and found one marked "3rd Shift- Important Stuff To Know." I picked that one up and flipped through it. It had alot of the basic procedures down in pretty simple formats. How to do outcounts and releases, death notices, count, etc. I found out there is alot of things on the computer that I need to learn how to do and don't have access for. Gonna have to fix that.

One page that talked about releasing an offender from the institution told about the checklists and who to notify and how to clear him from the computer, etc. At the bottom of the page in big letters, surrounded by asterisks it said:

***Offenders are not allowed to be released in state greys or naked!***


Well, there goes my plans for the weekend.

Did I really need to be told that? What the snap ever.

When I finished flipping through the book Stubby said "There's more stuff down there in the emergency book if you want to look at it. I don't care. Some scary stuff in there."

At some point in the intervening years the manual had gone from one humongous book to two completely ginormous books. Volumes 1 and 2. Each about eight inches thick.

So, daring fate to make something happen, I dragged them out and thumbed through the pages. Between the two of them they covered almost everything you could imagine happening except and alien attack and the coming zombie apocalypse. Fires. Power outages. Earthquakes. Terrorist attacks. Riots. Violent deaths. Evacuations. You name it and it was in there.

It was all phrased in the repetitive legalese that they write everything in and you had to look real close to actually make any sense of it at all. Lots and lots of redundancies Tons and tons of notification lists. Who to contact in case of this and that. Contact numbers for everyone from all of the CO's to E-Squad, the Major, the Warden to all of the utility companies, hospitals, railroad lines, local and state law enforcement, the local and state media, state representatives, DOC hierarchy all the way up to the Governor.

And I hope I never have to look at that thing again. At least not in any sort of official capacity. I would much rather be on the inside dealing with the nuts and bolts on the ground than up there trying to sort it all out.

And guess what? I not only touched the big red book I thumbed through the whole thing and nothing happened! Paranoid twits. Sheesh!

So Wednesday (Comm Calm Room) is going to be National Trail Mix Day as well as Love Litigating Lawyers Day.

I'm a much bigger fan of trail mix than lawyers. Let's just say I know which one leaves a better taste in my mouth if you know what I mean.

Dang. That just doesn't sound right.

Monday, August 29, 2011

I Got Cocky And....

Boy I should have known better. I called the prison on Sunday evening to check and make sure I hadn't been moved. When I left Friday I was scheduled to be 2-10 in 6 house. Not a bad gig. I would have had to do some work there, but I can do that. I'm not against work on moral grounds or anything. I just don't want to get too cozy with it, if you know what I mean.

But when I called Lt Baby Boy said "No, I need to put you in the Control Center. Come in at the regular time and work there."

Well, you know, I can do that.

Then I started thinking. Hey, it's a Monday. No transfers. Shouldn't be anything I can't handle going on. Maybe I'll ask Sgt Puddle if I can take the desk! I think I can handle doing that 4:30 count. As long as somebody is watching in case I need some help, I should be fine!

And the more I thought about it, the more I thought "Yeah! I can do this! It's not that hard. Yeah!"

So when Sgt Puddle got there and found out it was me and Big'un up there, I gave him a thumbs up and said "Hey. I got this!"

I was pumping myself up, you see. Psyching myself up. And not listening to that little voice in the back of my head like an angry chihuahua that was saying "Stimpy! You Eediot!"

What I wasn't really aware of is the exact timing that has to take place in order for the 4:30 count to clear smoothly. You get pre-counts from several places: laundry, both dining halls, medical and education. So that you have a good portion of the offenders already accounted for before you call for the housing unit counts. And if they don't come in on time you have a very small window to get your numbers in order.

It's like being an accountant for a firm that has 200 employees and 2500 hundred customers. Somebody dumps the ledgers on your desk and says "You have 30 minutes to make these books balance. Go!"

Oh snap.

One of my pre-counts got called in late and I made a small math error because I got in a hurry and somebody else made an error and I ended up off by two.

Now, in a big office with 200 employees and 2500 customers, being off by two is no big deal. They would just say "Hey, that's close enough. Good job!"

But in a prison being off by two is a big deal. A real big freaking deal. I started running through the numbers again and I couldn't find it. Sgt Puddle jumped in and started looking and he couldn't find it either. So we started..... Well, I started panicking a little. He was cool and calm about the whole thing. We called a few obvious trouble spots, like education and Main Production for recounts.

Luckily he caught my screw up and one of the dining halls called in a different number and apologized for the mistake. He'd sent a worker to medical and medical had sent him back and he didn't know about it. Count was only about five minutes later than normal.

But it cleared. I was ready to start gnawing the desk by that time and thinking "You fool! You can't even balance a checkbook! What do you think you are doing?"

I had bounced in there like Tigger and came back out again looking more like Eeyore with my tail dragging and barely nailed to my butt.

Sgt Puddle was there giving me encouragement. "I've seen much worse. And hey! Count cleared! We didn't have to do a total recount, so it's okay! You did good!" He made me feel better but I suspect that if he hadn't been there I would still be sitting up there right now trying to clear 4:30 count. I dunno.

And Miz Twang came up there later and did the same thing. Bless her little onion-like bits. She made me feel almost competent. And she did brighten up my day. Considerably. If I was, oh.. twenty years younger.... Ah, well.

I learned a few more things this evening. How to put outcounts into the computer. Or part of the process, anyway. It's complicated. And how to reset the Del Norte lights, which is ridiculously complicated for absolutely no reason. And how to reset a faulty fire alarm that kept going off and going off and going off......... Stupid fracking thing. Not at all complicated, but extremely annoying.

And I got a few more compliments on my radio voice which made me blush.

I guess I'll keep this up until I feel that I could run this thing with a fair amount of certainty. That way if something happens and we have another night when there isn't anybody to run the desk I can step up and say "I can do that."

But I have a feeling that's going to be a good ways down the road.

I'm supposed to be up there again tomorrow. Transfer day. But I'm not taking the desk. Nosiree Bob!

Tuesday is going to be National Toasted Marshmallow Day. Yum! S'mores! It will also be Eid-Al Fitr and National Holistic Pet Day.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

(Mostly) Calm

It was my first time to work with Sgt Banty in the Control Center. In my mind, I still haven't made it up to him for bailing on him that one night. Or even admitted to him that's the reason I started going up there in the first place.

The night was fairly uneventful. A few things popped up on the side and I was more than happy to let Stubby handle them, as I didn't have a clue. I tended to my own knitting and kept up on practice count sheets and opened the doors and the gates and kept my eyes and ears open and picked up a few more tidbits here and there.

Made a few radio calls and behaved myself, though the urge to say something silly on the radio comes over me now and then. I like to play with voices now and then and some day I would love to call count as William Shatner or Popeye. But that would get me thrown out of there in a heartbeat so I'll behave myself.

What I try to do when I'm on the radio is drop my voice an octave and say things slowly and clearly. Kind of like one of those late night deejays on the radio. But occasionally something in my brain short circuits and I get a bad case of fumblemouth and I screw it up. Then once I let go of the radio key I smack myself in the forehead.

Ah, well.

Right before 10:00 count I made up my own count sheet and then compared it with Stubby's just to make sure I was doing it right and had the right numbers. Then i got to do the count over the radio but used his sheet because it looked neater than mine. They locked up two right before count and mine had scribble marks and erasures all over it. No big deal.

And I got a couple of calls during the night that said I sounded real good on the radio and I should consider bidding up there for six months or so. Thanks, but no. It's a nice change of pace for now and I'm glad to be able to help out and I want to learn it enough to help make count clear if they need someone in an emergency. But I would go nuts if I stayed up there all of the time. Just like being the bubble in a regular housing unit. I pace back and forth and get cranky and claustrophobic.

So..... No. Not right now, anyway.

Here's the weekend lineup: Saturday is Petroleum Day (keep a lid on it, okay?) and The Duchess Who Wasn't Day. You're on your own for that one!

Sunday is World Sauntering Day. Mosey on down! It's also Race Your Mouse Around The Icons Day, Radio Commercials Day and Crackers Over The Keyboard Day. (Hmmm...)

Monday will be More Herbs, Less Salt Day and According To Hoyle Day.

And there it is....

Friday, August 26, 2011

Here's Your Sign!

Tonight after the yards closed I was sitting outside the shack with Sgt Uncle T and we saw Sgt Major walking from 6 house all the way down to 30 house. I cruised off in the cart to give him a ride. First thing he looks at me and says "I hear you did a real boneheaded thing."

All I could do was nod. I knew what he meant. "Yeah, I did."

He kind of gives me this half smile and says "You'll make an excellent Sergeant."

"Man, I sure hope so, anyway."

After I ran him down to 30 house and back, all the while he is giving me Segeantly advice, he tells me to come down to the house when I can, as he has a story to tell me. So I get done what I need to get done and trot on down to the house later.

The offenders, just like us, have to get a TB test every year. If we don't take ours we get put on admin leave without pay until we get one. If the offender refuses he gets thrown in the Hive until he agrees to take one.

So one of the offenders from 6 house goes up to get a TB test done. Two days later, when he goes up to have it read, there's a brand new tattoo on his forearm covering the spot where he got his TB test. The nurse sees that and knows it wasn't there when he got the test so he gets a violation for tattooing on day shift.

Third shift comes on duty and hears about it and somebody goes to search his cell. Just because. And lo and behold, rolled up in a sock in a laundry bag with the guys name on it, is the tattoo gun. So he received a second violation.

Nine times out of ten, when someone gets a new tattoo, the gun gets immediately dismantled and stashed in different places so nobody gets caught with it. Sometimes they even just throw them away.

And this fool had four hours after he got busted with the new tat to get rid of the gun and apparently it never even crossed his mind.

Here's your sign!

That is why I never worry about losing my job through lack of customers. We will never run out of stupid people.

I am so ready for Friday. Scheduled to be up in the Control Center again with Sgt Banty and Stubby.

And what kind of day will it be? Let's check the Magic 8 Ball!

Friday is going to be National Cherry Popsicle Day. Okay, that's a good start. It will also be Daffodil Day, National Dog Day and Women's Equality Day.

Sounds like it might be a pretty good day.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Well, I Did It.....

I went ahead and put my name on the Sergeants register. I got an 86, which is a good enough score to get an interview, hopefully.

Now I have to get my stuff together and study up in case I get called for an interview board. I'll probably be so nervous I'll muff it. But if nothing else, it will be good practice.

Ran into the old Boss today. Not Peggy Sue, but the one after her. Told him I put myself on the register and he stopped and looked at me and said "Why the heck did you do that?" The only answer I could think of right off the bat was "I've seen some of the people who are talking about promoting. And I asked myself 'Do I want to work for that knucklehead?' And that's why I did it." He nodded and said "That's about the best answer I've ever heard! Good luck!"

So I need to get my uniforms up to date. Get my service stars sewn on. Find a tie. Or go buy a new one. Haven't worn my dang tie since the Academy and have no idea where it went. Didn't really care until today. Hate ties. Useless things. Pfui.

Fiddled around with that application, changing this and that. Almost got my dates messed up. Luckily I looked. Had an overlap of a month between two jobs and a gap between two others, like I had slipped off into limbo for a month. That would never have done. Couldn't remember the name of the Sergeant that was my supervisor at the other prison. I think I got it correct, but I had to guess. Only saw her one time in eight months there. She showed up after I had been there for six months and said "I'm your supervisor. I'm here to give you your six months rating. I haven't heard any complaints, so you get a 'Successful' rating." Then I never saw her again. Took me probably twenty minutes to remember her name. Sheesh.

Finally I got tired of dicking with it and went on and finished the thing. Sat there with my finger poised over the "Submit" button forever. Finally I called myself an idiot and sent the darn thing.

So that part's over with. I made the jump.

Now I just hope I can find the handle of the ripcord......

Tomorrow being Thursday, it's going to be Kiss-And-Make-Up Day and National Second-Hand Wardrobe Day. That should have been right after Thriftshop Day, don't you think?

Dang Gremlins......

I swear, them little sunzabeeotches were watching me. And they made something happen every time I wanted to sit down or started to get comfortable somewhere.

Pretty happy I didn't go to Control Center tonight. Stubby bid back up there in Miz Odds spot and tonight was his first night back up there in a few years. So he was probably a little rusty. And it was transfer day. Looked like maybe 15 or 20 of them rolled in on the bus right about 3:15 or so.

At least they got here early. What really screws us up is when they come rolling in at 4:00 or even 4:15, right before count time. That's when all the handles of hell snap off and count gets screwed up forever.

Or seemingly, anyway. I haven't been up there for it, so I don't know for sure. But it sounds painful.

Anyway, after the mail run, I went on out to the yard right before it closed then on down to the chow hall for count. It cleared pretty quick and things were going okay and we were shipping them in and out for chow.

Then I heard one of those "ASAP" calls that I always hate to hear. You never know for sure what is going on, if it will turn into something ugly or some kind of personal emergency or what. This one came form the new 30 house Sergeant, and he's a pretty level headed guy. He wanted the Lieutenant to call him ASAP. I moved away from the chow hall door and cleared away from anyone else in case I needed to run somewhere.'

And I was really hoping I didn't need to run anywhere.

Captain Skoal came out and grabbed me and told me to replace St Francis up on the hill watching the movements. he took St Francis on the cart and took off towards 30 house. A few minutes later I heard the call. "Code 70, 30 house!" Dang. Another one. Called Sgt Uncle T on the radio and told him I was going and headed off.

A Code 70 is a fire alarm, by the way. And since I'm on the fire brigade I had to go.

What it turned out to be was a broken sprinkler pipe. That set off the flow alarm and then the fire alarm. From the looks of it, some idiot jumped up and grabbed the pipe and tried to swing on it and it broke off, flooding the hallway.

They had most of the water contained and the main shut off by the time I got there. St Francis said he had it handled so I went back out to the yard right before it opened. Sausage was up in central doing pat searches so that just left me on the yard. At Sgt Uncle T's suggestion, I called 6 and 7 houses and had them send someone out when the yard opened for an extra set of eyes.

The yard opened at 6:00 and closed about 7:45 with no complications. Which was very cool. St Francis managed to stay 'busy' with the cleanup and his paperwork until dang near 9:30 when he moseyed back out again. In the meantime I had to go up to A-dining to observe the Ramadan service and Sgt Uncle T did the inner perimeter check.

Right about the time I thought I was finally going to get to eat my dinner there was another call. "Code 16, 9 house. Seizures!" Oh snap. Here we go again.

Rode down there on the cart and some wobblehead had fallen on the back of his head on the concrete and given himself a pretty good goose egg. Captain Skoal said he wanted pictures of it so Sausage had to go get the camera and meet us at medical. I got to ride up on the medical cart behind the wobblehead and he smelled really bad. Like, hadn't showered in a week or so bad. My eyes were watering by the time we git him there and I was more than happy to go someplace else.

It wasn't anything big. It was just a bunch of little things that all added up to me being on my feet most of the night and not getting to eat my dinner until about 9:00 pm.

All I can say is I didn't break anything, none of us got hurt and nobody escaped.

And I'm glad that day is over.

Wednesday (comm room!) is going to be Knife Day. Ooooh. That's not cool at all. It will also be Pluto Demoted Day, Vesuvius Day and Waffle Day.

I think I'll pick the waffles.

Monday, August 22, 2011

I Stuck The Landing!

"Be careful what you wish for. You might get it." -Anonymous Philosopher

I know. I asked for it. I could have just gone on and let someone else go up there and learn that stuff. I could have just waited and maybe someone else would have stepped up and decided that being in the Control center was what they really wanted out of life.

But so far nobody else really has. Ms Odd went to day shift. Ms twang is on light duty for a couple more weeks at least and Vinnie is out with a broken finger and hasn't been in for over a week. That leaves nobody but Sgt Puddle.

And now, me. Though I don't know anywhere near enough to run it by myself yet. Not even close. And it was a bit nerve wracking.

Everybody says "If you can do the numbers in the Hive, you can do this! It's the same thing!"

Well, it is and it isn't. For one thing, in the Hive they can only hold 175 inmates max. Last time I looked the whole camp had in excess of 2600.

One the few occasions I had been up there I had never really paid all that much attention to the count sheet. It just never really interested me all that much and I tend to get intimidated by numbers anyway. This time I tried to pay attention while Sgt Puddle was doing the 4:30 count and I was still pretty intimidated. Over 2600 inmates and at the time of the 4:30 count about 250 of them were somewhere besides in their housing units.

We had:
Some in Main Production.
Some in Education.
Some in Medical.
Some in Laundry.
Some in A-dining and some in B-dining.
Some out on jobs outside of the camp.
Some on outcount to the hospital.
Some out to court.

Fortunately for me (and all of us, really) Sgt Puddle has this count thing down to a science. He rattled through it like it was nothing and count cleared.

Then he looked up at me and said "You are doing the 10:00 count yourself."

Oh snap.

Once again, luckily for me (and for all of us), those numbers dwindled down to almost nothing by that time. All of the ones on outside work detail came back. Education and all of the food service areas closed down and sent their offenders back. Laundry finished for the night. One outcount came back. So that left me with little to account for other than whoever might be in Medical and the other outcounts.

I had my count sheet filled out and ready by 9:20. Medical always calls in their count early and he did and it was what I expected. 9:40, I'm doing good. My numbers match. At 9:42 Medical calls back and has to change their count. Someone sent up one with an accident report.

Aw snap. Erase... erase... scribble scribble... Okay, no big deal.

At 9:44 the Hive calls and says they got a lockup from 7 house. Oh freaking snap. Okay... erase... erase.... scribble... oops.... erase..... scribble.... scribble.... Re-add everything again just to be sure... All right you people, knock it off!

Call count at 10:00 and start chewing my nails. The time between I call count and the time they start calling in with their numbers is interminable.


Besides, I really needed to pee and I really really wanted a smoke. But since I was on the desk for this one I couldn't leave.

They start calling in their numbers. I have thirteen different places that have to give me the right numbers. One by one I answer the phone and mark them off with a red pen as I go. It takes for freaking ever. But they all call in what I want to hear.


As I get on the radio and clear count Miz Twang and Sgt Miz P, who are both on light duty, are standing at the chuck hole cheering. I couldn't think of a better pair of cheerleaders.

That was my first one and Sgt Puddle was there watching, making sure I wasn't screwing up. And he caught one simple math error that I had made earlier that could have messed it all up. But the system we have is designed to double check all of the numbers in two different directions so if they don't match you know something is wrong. They didn't and he found the mistake and I fixed it and we went on.

And one of these days I am going to have to get brave enough to do the 4:30 count by myself.

So, only about a hundred more things I have to learn how to do before I can consider myself an asset to the Control Center. And maybe someday I can keep things from getting screwed up some night and maybe.... just maybe..... I can step in and say....

"Don't worry about it. I got this."

Hopefully that night is a ways down the road.

So Tuesday is going to be National Spongecake Day. I hope it comes with some strawberries or something. It's also going to be Remembrance Day of the Slave Trade and it's Abolition and Valentino Day.

Go crazy with it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Hive Defined

In a regular cell in a regular housing unit there is one set of steel bunkbeds, a desk and stool, one small shelf, two footlockers, one sink and a toilet. All of these things except for the footlockers are bolted to the floor or the wall.

The inmates in the regular houses are allowed to wear personal clothes (with limitations, of course), they have food, fans, radios, television sets, personal shoes and boots, cigarettes, books and games. They are also allowed personal bedspreads and towels if they can afford to order them from an approved vendor. According to regulations, everything the offender owns must be able to be packed inside of their footlocker with the exception of their footgear and electronics. In actuality most of the offenders have so much crap it would take them two or three footlockers to pack their stuff if they have been down very long.

In regular housing units once the wings or yards are open the cell doors come open and they are pretty much allowed to come and go at will. They can go outside or move around the wing from cell to cell and visit if they wish. They go to the canteen and the library and the gym and to Medical and to work and the yard.

Cells in the Hive have two bunkbeds a sink and a toilet. Period. All bolted down, of course. They are allowed to have three pairs of state issued clothes only. They are allowed to wear only plastic shower shoes. They are also allowed a toothbrush and toothpaste, a soft tipped pen and a small amount of paper, stamps and envelopes, one comb, deodorant, soap, toilet paper, one bible or other religious book, one magazine and a towel and washcloth.

Pretty much nothing else. No electronics. No games. There's a few tattered books floating around but they get torn up pretty quickly.

Cells in the Hive are only opened if there are two CO's standing there together. Unless they are being released, they are placed in handcuffs behind their backs before they leave the cell. If they behave themselves and don't get into trouble, they are allowed to go outside on the fenced in rec yard one hour at a time three times a week. They are brought out three times a week for fifteen minute showers.

And unless they are getting a visit or seeing the doctor those are the only times they get to leave the cell. And, once again, they are in restraints the entire time.

There are several different reasons an offender might end up in the Hive.

Suicide Watch/Close Observation: If they have been observed exhibiting odd or depressed behavior or have written a note or expressed a wish to harm themselves they will be placed down there for observation.

AdSeg/DisSeg: Administrative Segregation or Disciplinary Segregation. If the offender has broken one or more of the rules they are placed in the Hive for a set number of days, hopefully to help correct their behavior. It's used as a punishment.

Protective Custody: Also known as "PC" or "Checking In". The offender has made statements or written a note stating that he is "in fear for his life" from one or more other offenders. They are placed down there for their own protection. This isn't really used as "punishment" but it ends up being the same thing.

Under Investigation: If there is a reasonable suspicion that the offender has broken the rules in one way or another but all of the facts have yet to be ascertained, they will be placed in the Hive until an investigation can be concluded.

There are several other reasons that they may end up down there, but those are the biggest reasons.

When you boil it all down, the Hive is a dumpster. That's where they stick the wobbleheads who are too crazy for the hill, the idiots who refuse to obey the rules and the little punks who haven't yet or will never grow up enough to fit into any society, let alone the prison population.

It's a prison inside the prison.

Strangely enough, some offenders prefer that kind of isolation to being out in population. The other night I had a few minutes to kill and I got on the computer and looked up a few old knuckleheads to see how they were doing. One of them that gave us quite a bit of trouble a few years ago was in the camp up the road.

He had spent seven years in prison. Approximately 2,555 days. Out of that time he had only spent 119 days in general population. The longest he had ever stayed out of Adseg was 62 days at one stretch. Violations, fights, assaults on staff, PC and Suicide Watch.

I remember when he first came to our camp. He was supposed to do a 120 day "shock" incarceration and treatment program. If he had laid down and done his 120 days, he would have been released on probation and been back on the streets.

Instead he got locked up inside his first week and since then has gotten 8 more years added to his 3 year sentence for assaults on staff. And away he went....

I have no doubt that one day they will send him back to us again for some reason or another and we'll get to get acquainted all over again...

Anyway, aside from my rambling, I hope this clears up any of the confusion about the Hive and answers at least a few of your questions.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Round And Round She Goes!

Well, my plans didn't work out the way I had expected them to. When I left yesterday I was scheduled to be an extra on A-yard. The Fireman was out and they had Mr Peepers in his spot and I was a third.

It was the first time we had extra people on a Friday in a long time. On the way to work I was thinking "If we have enough extra people, maybe I can just take the day off! I got things I could do at home. I'll ask when I get there."

That didn't work. As soon as I walked in Lt Strong said "I need you to go on outcount. We sent an inmate out to the hospital and now they need to move him up to The City for further testing. You and Nook are going."

Well, okay. I went and got transportation keys and a institution cell phone. I figured Nook would get the vehicle. While I was outside waiting, Cricket came trotting up and said "If you don't want to go, I'll go! I've never been on outcount and I need the experience!"

If it was okay with the Lt, it was okay with me. And it was, so we swapped places. Of course, I don't think Cricket was entirely honest about his reasons. Apparently he was supposed to work the Hive and he hates it down there and was looking for someone to trade with.

I don't mind it so much anymore. It still feels strange working down there now and I did get a bit misty and nostalgic when I went through one of the old rec log books in the drawer.

But working the Hive keeps you busy enough that you don't have a whole lot of time for trivia or reminiscences. And all four of us worked together to get rec and med pass and chow done as quick as possible so things went pretty smooth.

And I didn't have to spend my evening on the road or in the hospital or riding in the back of an ambulance which always makes me sick to my stomach anyway.

It's all good.

Like I told Sgt Z when he came in for midnight shift: "We didn't lose anybody. We didn't screw anything up too bad. We didn't break anything and nobody got hurt. It was a pretty good night."

And that works for me.

Here's the weekend lineup:
Saturday is National Radio Day, International Homeless Animals Day (Adopt a shelter pet!), Sandcastle and Sculpture Day and World Daffodil Day.
Sunday is National Spumoni Day, Ecological Debt Day, Senior Citizens Day and Poets Day.
And Monday will be Be An Angel Day and Southern Hemisphere Hoodie Hoo Day.

And while you are out prowling around the internet, go check out Tales From A Motel by my atypical friend Scott, who is an excellent storyteller! Go all the way back to the beginning if you get a chance! He has a very strange tale going here in parts that has kept me riveted for quite some time. I don't want it to end, but I'm dying to know how it turns out!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Hard Decisions

Ye Gads. It never rains but it freaking pours.

When I first started with the department I had aspirations. Dreams of doing things and going somewhere. Maybe E-Squad or Search Team. Maybe Sergeant or Lieutenant or maybe even Captain before I retired.

I quickly found out that E-Squad isn't my thing. Nothing against those guys. It just isn't my thing. And the Search Team is mostly nothing but an institutional joke.

And the pay raise from COI to Sergeant only adds up to about an extra $37.50 per month. Not a whole lot of incentive for the headaches that you inherit when you promote. And those stupid Smokey Bear hats they make sergeants wear....

Even someone who looks awesome in hats the way I do would have a hard time looking good in one of those things.

So I said for years that I was fine where I was. I could probably retire as a COI and be happy there.

Until today, anyway.

Rumor has it that they are opening up a bunch of new Sergeant positions before the end of the year. Lieutenant Farmer came down and was telling us about them and kept pointing at me and hinting very loudly at me. Enough that it was making me nervous.

After that a couple of other people, including Mr Toad who I don't really like all that much and I didn't think liked me either, said "You should go for it. I think you'd make a good Sergeant."

So now I'm thinking about it. I don't really want the headaches and I'm sure I'd spend at least six months on midnight shift, which would really suck.

The two things I said I would never ever really want to do.... Work the Control Center and promote. I've already committed to one and now I'm thinking about the other.

Where the hell is my mind?

I don't know. I've got some thinking to do. I'll probably go ahead and put my name on the register and maybe even go for an interview just to see how badly I do.

But I'll be a nervous wreck.

Tomorrow is Finally Friday (yay!) and it's going to be Potato Day, Aviation Day, Root Beer Float Day and World Humanitarian Day as well as Men's Grooming Day.

Men's Grooming Day. I sure hope that means they groom themselves.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Taking One For The Team

I made a tactical error the other night and now my conscience is making me pay for it.

When I came in Lt Chipmunk asked me if I knew anything about the Control Center. I said "I can open the gates and the doors and stuff. But I don't know anything about doing count or any of the computer stuff."

He said he didn't have anybody who knew what they were doing to work up there so he was putting one brand new guy and Bilderberger up there. Neither one of which knows beans about working the Control Center.

All I could see was a massive train wreck and I threw up my hands and said "No thanks. I'll go work 30 house where I'm supposed to."

Since Sgt Puddle called out they stuck Sgt Banty up there. He knows how to do count and has a fair grip on working the place but not the experience that Puddle has. Banty has only been up there a couple of times. Both counts cleared and on time, (thanks in part to the lovely Miz Twang who came up to help even though she was on light duty) but for most of the evening I heard repeated radio calls to have gates and doors opened and several radio calls that got missed altogether.

Anyway, I felt horrible that I had left Banty in that position. I should have gone up there and helped. But I wasn't aware of all the facts until it was too late.

So today I talked to Sgt Puddle and Lt Baby Boy and said to go ahead and start putting me up there so I can learn that stuff.

I really don't want to. It actually scares the crap out of me thinking that I might be responsible for making all of those numbers come out right. It is so easy to screw up in the Control Center and ruin everybody's day. That's why I have avoided being up there this long. Actually just thinking about it gave me the heebie jeebies.

But we are running out of people who know how to work up there. All it takes is for one or two people to call out at the same time and we could end up royally screwed.

So I'm going to do it. The best I can, anyway. Not bidding on the post, just willing to act as a fill-in when they need somebody now and then. As much as I like the crew up there, I don't think I'm the right person to be up there full time.

I'm just not the kind of person you want to be locked into a twenty foot square glass room with for eight hours, if you get my drift. Not all the time, anyway.

I figure if I can put aside my personal fears for awhile and avoid making one night go bad then it will be worth it.

Damn. I'm just a freaking prince, aint I? <-- Note, if you will, the sarcastic sneer on my lips.


Okay, now that my moment of self pity is out of the way, let's look at the calendar.

Thursday will be Bad Poetry Day (There once was a man from Nantucket...), Birth Control Pill Day (really?), Mail Order Catalog Day (Yay!) and Cupcake Day. Yum!

A Different Face?

My friend Greenghost who used to work with me down in the Hive sent me an email the other day and it really got me thinking.

It said:

"I was reading your last post and it really made me stop and think about myself ...past and present. Before I went to work for the state I was a very simple person. I went to work. I enjoyed good well made boots , cold beer and fishing. I was a timid person also. I tried to avoid conflict. Now don't get me wrong I didn't go looking for fights but I wouldn't back down from one. Then it happened. I got a job with the DOC. And after my time there it made me a very aggressive person. The things people cringe at.....I laugh. I try to find things that will get my heart rate up but can't. I find myself standing in rooms filled with people and hunting out all the exit routs and positioning myself in a spot I feel safe. My mouth opens at the most inconvenient moments and how I feel pours out or I should say what feels good pours out. I wish I could find something I fear. What I mean is I think we loose part of our human side after working there and our emotions just fade away. I would love to feel fear again. I know that sounds crazy. I watch people's movements differently. I listen to what others say and the way they say it. I don't like most people so I stay at home most of the time. People just piss me off. I still stand defensively I still talk with authority in my voice. And the worst one of all. My boots still sit by the front door."

I know exactly how he feels. Working here has changed me and my demeanor in alot of ways and not all of them good.

I no longer enjoy having alot of interaction with other people face to face and not at all with strangers. When I meet or see somebody that I don't know I start wondering if they are carrying a weapon and where they might have it. When I'm in a strange place I try and spot the exits before I can feel comfortable at all.

And I really, really don't like crowds. If I'm in a place and someone bumps into me from behind they risk getting their arm broken or their instep stomped on.

I'm alot ruder than I used to be. Of course, that might be just all part of getting old. I don't know. And sometimes I do it without even thinking. I was in Walmart one day and there was this punk teenager with his pants sagging around his butt cheeks. I just yelled out "Hey! Pull your damn pants up!"

And he did it.

And then he walked away really quickly.

I probably shouldn't have done that. But I spend all day doing it at work and it gets to be a habit. And that sagging thing with their hats on sideways really aggravates me.

As for my sense of humor......

Let's just say it was pretty twisted when I started and it hasn't really improved any.

I can't really say if I am "better" or "worse" a person that I used to be. But I am definitely a different person now.

So Wednesday (back in the comm room) is going to be National Thriftshop Day, National Medical Dosimetrist Day (you got me) and the Meaning Of "Is" Day. Which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Back In The Saddle Again

It felt a little strange putting on my uniform today. It was the first time I had worn long pants other than my flannel pj's in two weeks.

That duty belt felt like it weighed twenty pounds when I strapped it around my hips and when I added the radio and the set of yard keys I thought I might fall over.

Despite the fact that it was too hot and I was too broke to do anything much it sounds like I picked the right two weeks to take my vacation. There were several fights and a couple of 10-5's and a few uses of force and I'm sure if I had been there I would have gotten involved in at least some of that mess.

By the way, a big shout out to Miz T for thinking about me. I really appreciated the thought. I wouldn't have taken your money, but I was touched nonetheless.

With all the activity that had gone on I was a little nervous about what today might hold. I wanted to ease back into it slowly if at all possible. I sure didn't want to have to run my first day back. And, with that thought in mind, I almost had to.

They had just opened the yards for the evening. The offenders were still streaming out of the houses onto the yard. I was up by central standing in the shade of a tree where I could see a fair distance when I heard this radio call: "10-49! 10-49! Garble garble garble..."

A 10-49 is a fight, by the way.

It was like one of those stop action sequences they do in the movies to increase the tension of the scene. My eyes went wide and my pupils dilated. My heart rate jumped up. My hands went from resting on my belt to by my sides, arms slightly bent, ready to reach or run. I stood up to my full height and almost went up on my tiptoes and I took half a step forward to balance on the balls of my feet, trying to decide which direction I had to go. I started scanning the yard, trying to see somebody moving or running. I looked down the walk and saw Meanie about fifty yards away doing the same weird little dance I was.

All of that took place in the space of about two seconds. I couldn't see anything and I was just thinking about moving in one direction or the other and they finally managed to repeat the transmission "10-49! A-yard in front of 3 house!"

Aw snap! All the way across the camp and at least two gates between here and there. About the time I decided that my best bet would be to go through central, Sgt Moon called over the radio and said "10-6 the 10-49 on A-yard!"

That meant they had it under control and didn't need any more help. Whew! I was pretty happy about that. From the bits I heard both fighters got pepper sprayed and at least one of them got bloodied enough that he had to go to the hospital. Probably for stitches.

Not only did I pick the right two weeks to take off I picked the right side of the camp to be on when I came back. The little creeps on our side all behaved themselves and we got through the evening with nobody doing anything stupid.

I was pretty happy about that, let me tell you.

And I can tell from the way my legs feel that I need to start getting back on the treadmill in the mornings again. Sitting on my butt for two weeks did me no good at all.

All in all, it felt good to be back in prison.

I just had to see if I could write that sentence out with a straight face. I couldn't. Whew!

So tomorrow they have me scheduled to work in 30 house and I'm not at all thrilled about that. I don't much care for that house. But I'll survive. Hopefully, anyway.

Tuesday is going to be the National Bratwurst Festival as well as Joe Miller's Joke Day and National Airborne Day.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Final Days

Friday night. The last official day of my vacation.

It seems like it has lasted forever and been gone in an instant.

I'm sure the wife will be glad to have me out of the house again. I was upsetting her routines. Plus I was getting bored and eating more. Monday I can go back to just eating once a day and save us money on groceries.

Have I accomplished anything? No, not so much. Finally got my office back together. Got the floor in and most of my stuff back where I can find it. Still a few things I can't find here and there. And some wall space that needs filling, but I'm getting there.

Finished two books and started three more.

Brain Droppings by George Carlin
Cruel Zinc Melodies by Glen Cook

The Devils Guide To Hollywood by Joe Ezterhas
The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
The Mammoth Book of Humor by Geoff Tibballs

I always have multiple books going so I can have something to read depending on my mood at the moment.

I guess I could have planned this vacation a little better. I didn't have any money to spend and I'm out of useable wood down in the shop. I had a couple of projects that I really needed to get done and a couple I wanted to start on but, once again, no money and no wood.

For the most part of the time it was too dang hot to go outside and do anything anyway. The few times I went down to the shop I was covered in sweat within minutes. Even if I went down early of a morning or after the sun went down.

But I did catch up on watching "Bones" finally. I got interested late and kept asking my wife questions about what was happening so she told me to watch them all in order. Since I had time, I figured "Why not?" So, every night after dinner we sit down and watch a few episodes. I am now about midway through Season Four and about caught up.

Holy snap. What an exciting life I lead. It's okay... Don't be frightened. I'll slow down some and not scare you like that anymore. I promise. (rolls his eyes)

I really need to go back to work. Two more days. Phew!

Here's the lineup for the weekend: Saturday is going to be Blame Someone Else Day, International Left Hander's day and Garage Sale Day.

Sunday will be National Creamsicle Day, National Navajo Code Talkers Day and V-J Day.

Monday will be National Relaxation Day and National Failures Day as well as Best Friends Day.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Blogging To The Oldies Pt 9

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Listening In

Sometimes just sitting around listening is the best fun I can have at work. These guys will come off with the oddest stuff when they think you're not listening. Hell, I even overheard someone confess to a murder once. I made notes and turned them over to the investigator who supposedly turned it over to the police.

I keep a notebook in my pocket and will usually burn through a whole one in a month writing notes to myself. Here's a small sampling of the odd junk in my notebook from just the last couple of weeks:

"I just flicked ashes in your stuff..."

OK, I know that's not all that odd, but I wondered what "stuff" he had out that got ashes in it?

"I'm not a big fan of dick, thank you..."

That's funny, I had heard he was...

"He tattooed 'Game Over' on his eyelids and two days later he shot himself in the head."

Hmmm.... This is your brain on drugs..... any questions?

"I wasn't about to tell them the damn truth! I'm a criminal!!!"

And a rather pathetic one, at that.

"Just because I play games with the babies out on the yard doesn't mean I'm gay."

Yes, it does.

And this one was the best one of all. They guy who said this was in a cell all by himself. Suddenly he launched out with a whole string of profanity that lasted for several minutes and then he screamed:

"You know me..... You know I'm God....... So why in hell did I have to be circumcised?"

Oh, snap! I hope he doesn't try to fix that little problem himself. That could sting a bit.


There were times when I didn't have to do anything at all to be amused with my job. I could just sit there and listen. Good times. Good times.

Friday is almost upon us. **sigh** That means my vacation is winding down to an end.

It's probably a good thing. If I was home another week I suspect that my wife would poison me.

So Friday is going to be Middle Child's Day (hey, that's me!) as well as IBM PC Day, International Youth Day, Kool Aid Day, Sewing machine Day and Vinyl Record Day.

Remember vinyl records?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Blogging To The Oldies Pt 8

Friday, January 16, 2009


Ok, I admit it. I snapped. Just a little. But I did lose my cool there and had to walk out of the office. And of course, I had to let everyone know that I was pissed off. Sometimes you gotta. I started to open my mouth and I knew if I did, it wouldn't be good. So I slammed the drawer shut where I was working and walked (stormed, slammed, raged) wordlessly out of the office. I went and stood in front of the sallyport door and let the cold breeze coming through the cracks blow on my face. The Bubble Guy came over and looked and decided I'd say something if I wanted out and left me there. That was good. It was freaking cold outside.

A moment or two later everyone in the office dispersed and I could go in and finish what I was doing. And the stupidity subsided.

I know... I know. I'm always singing the same tunes.......

1) The job is difficult enough, why make it any harder? and
2)If we don't work together, the inmates win.

They didn't win today, but it was a close game. A photo finish, I believe.

It didn't start out too bad, at first. Just a normal friday. We were packed full, but we were going to kick out a few so we'd have some beds for the three day weekend. Then there was a 10-5 (officer needs assistance RIGHT NOW) call all the way across the camp. I was in the process of putting cuffs on an inmate to open the door and give him his meds when it was called. I almost tore his hands off getting them back. I had to go back and apologize later. Then we had to do three room moves to make room in C-wing for whoever was getting locked up from that one. They always go in C-wing after something like that so we can monitor their behavior. So we got that done and waited for the miscreant to be brought to the house. Some little old crazy dude who looks like he could have played an extra in "Deliverance". It didn't suprise me too much. I've been watching him and he just keeps getting more and more squirrely.

Anyway, that happened. Then Poop Boy was up to his old tricks again. Acting a fool and being a Richard. (I don't know him well enough to just call him "Dick") And more lockups and someone over in A-wing turned up with some awful contagious skin critters and his cellie probably had them too and they both had to go to medical and take a shower with some patented Critter-Kill'r soap and everything in their cell had to be bagged up and hauled off and if that wasn't bad enough, everyone had to keep arguing arguing arguing arguing arguing about every little thing and cutting each other off and not really listening to what was being said and just freaking arguing for the freaks sake of it and I finally had enough and had to walk out and cool off for awhile.

But I'm feeling much better now. Even if third shift was late getting in and I had to do med pass all the way til 3:30.

I feel better.

One more day on day shift. I can do this.


Hoo. That was not a good day.

When I have to drive all the way home to scream on the internet.... Yikes.

There just wasn't a whole lot of good times during my little jaunt to day shift.

But I'm doing much better now.

Thursday is going to be Presidential Joke Day (let's just leave it alone, please), and Ingersoll Day.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Blogging To The Oldies Pt 7

Friday, November 7, 2008

That's Not Funny.... That's Sick!!!

Ok, we had one of those moments today. If you weren't one of us and you didn't work where we do, you'd think we were a band of twisted freaks.

Well.... we are, but it comes with the territory.

There's an inmate (you know by now I don't name names) who is very disturbed and spends alot of time in our housing unit. He got placed on suicide watch by the head Pshrink lady today because he was in the cell laughing to himself and muttering strange dark things. We tried to tell her he does this all the time, but she wanted it done, so.... He gets stripped out and put in a camera cell with a kevlar smock and blanket.

Now, this guy has some serious issues, anyway. And the meds they are giving him seem to exacerbate some of those issues a little. The clinical term for it is "Hypersexuality". We tend to call him "Sir Whacksalot". Need I explain? I thought not.

So right after he gets put on watch they call down and say they want him taken to medical for a forced medication injection. Probably haldol or something of the like. I'm not sure. Usually calms them down for a day or two. I happen to glance up at the camera and there he is.... pulling one for the home team. Going to town. Shifting into overdrive. Oiling up the old baseball glove. Shaking hands with Mr. Happy. You get the picture. So did we.

The average "normal" person would go "Jeez!" and find something else to do. Not us. Oh Lord, not us. For some reason, this seemed to be the funniest thing we have all seen in several days and we had more fun adding commentary and bizarre sound effects. It was like a really twisted version of "Mystery Science Theater 3000" without the robots.

We're some really sick people here, sometimes. It's a good thing the Pshrinks don't come down to talk to us. I liken it to battle fatigue or shell shock. After awhile, even the most bizarre things don't seem to affect us the way it would normal people.

I told you once the things that amuse me at work were strange. You didn't believe me, did you?


I have done things and heard things and seen things in the last eight years that I would have never imagined. That most people never will imagine.

And I have laughed at things that would make a normal person piddle in their penny loafers.

It's probably a good thing I spend most of my time in this little room here by myself.

I'm just saying....

So tomorrow, Wednesday, will be Lazy Day. I'm hip to that. I have been mostly lazy for the last week and a half so far. It will also be National Duran Duran Appreciation Day (hey, I don't write 'em! I just report 'em!), Smithsonian Day, S'mores Day and the Perigean Spring Tides Day. Go figure.

Blogging To The Oldies Pt 6

Saturday, October 18, 2008

One of the Bad Days

Normally, on evening shift, we have four officers on the floor, a sergeant, and a bubble officer. Two of the floor officers do rec after six pm, and the floor officers take care of whatever happens later, which is usually not all that much. One evening well over a year ago, we had a really bad night...

There was one of our behavioral knuckleheads over in A-wing who had continued to be a major problem for us almost every day. He had some mild mental issues, but most of his problems centered on the fact that he was twenty years old and still thought he was immortal and loved being the center of attention, no matter what kind of attention it was. We get alot of those.

Right about the time we were getting ready to feed dinner, this nitwit decided he was going to go all out and start his crap again, just to piss us off. He started banging his head and tied a sheet around his neck and said he was going to kill himself and if anyone came into the cell he was going to kill them as well. Lovely.

Myself and one other officer decided we should stay out of it and try to contain the rest of the house and get dinner fed while everybody else dealt with the knucklehead. Not the best choice for me, as it turned out. They had six officers, two sergeants (including ours), two lieutenants and another officer running a digital camera while this idiot thrashed and kicked and spit and bit and they held him down and tried to figure out what to do with him. The lieutenants were running back and forth to the office calling the captain and the major and the warden and the duty officer and probably take-out pizza while they tried to find a solution.

Meanwhile, we tried to feed the house.

As we were getting ready to feed C-wing, the bubble officer opened the wing door and this foul stench rolled out. I send the food service workers back out, smeared a little Vicks under my nose and went in to investigate. It turns out that two of the idiots on suicide watch had smeared themselves with bodily excretions and repainted their cells with the same just for our amusement.

So we pulled those two idiots out and locked them in the showers and called for the inmate who does bio-hazard cleanup to take care of the cells.

In the meantime, we tried to feed the house.

They were still playing with the idiot in A-wing and we fed D-wing and B-wing and they finally let us in to feed A-wing by the time the worker got done with the cells. We managed to get the two stinky idiots back into their cells and were going to go back to try to feed C-wing when the nurse looked up at the observation cameras and said "Look at that guy in two cell. Is that blood?" I could have smacked her right then, even if it wasn't her fault.

So back into C-wing I went and opened the chuck hole in the door and saw blood all over the place. I told the inmate to come to the door and cuff up and he just went and sat down on his bunk. I had no choice but to open the door and go in. The cell was smeared and spattered with blood and there were pools of it on the floor here and there. I got cuffs on the guy and took him out to see the nurse. He'd gashed his wrist open and was leaving a blood trail everywhere he went. The nurse bandaged him up and we got him sent up to medical about the time they decided to take A-wing jerk out to put him in a rubber room somewhere.

Called the bio-hazard guy back. He hadn't even made it back to his house before we were calling him again. A few minutes later the major calls down and says the guy slashed his wrist with a piece of metal but he claims he flushed it down the tiolet and would one of us be so kind as to go and look for it? Nice.

My buddy was kind of all-in what with all the new paint fumes and the blood and all so I decided I'd go in and look for the piece of metal. With tyvek suit and double gloves on (which is a grand combination if you are trying to lose weight) I searched every inch of the cell, even feeling through the blood pools to find out what the guy had cut his wrist with. I even felt around down as far as I could reach in the toilet drain. Nothing. Turns out he had done it with his thumbnail. I offered to remove it for evidence but they decided that wasn't a good idea. Then I let the bio-hazard guy clean up the cell.

Finally, we got to give C-wing their dinner about three hours late. A few of them started to complain but stopped when they saw the look on my face. I would have happily pulled a few of them through the chuck holes like pipe cleaners right about then.

Right about shift change time, my buddy and I got to go up and do all the paperwork that ensued from the nights hilarity. This also included writing conduct violations for the two budding painters that we had to go back down to the house to have read. I think I got home about four hours late that night and the repercussions from all the paperwork lasted for weeks.

It was a hell of a night.


Heck of a way to celebrate the day after my birthday, wasn't it?

And I didn't half describe the chaos. The screaming and the kicking and the smell.

When I got home I took my boots off before I got in the house and dipped them in bleach. I kept a bottle of it by the back door then. I think I was up til about four in the morning after a 30 minute shower and trying to get my uniform washed.

Were I to get paid commensurate to the level of actual work performed and an added hazard bonus, I would have billed the state for about $500.00/hour that night.

I got caught up in nonsense last night and forgot to post anything. Sorry about that.

Today (Yikes! Tuesday, already???) is the National Polka Festival. It's also International Day of the World's Indigenous People, Veep Day and Tisha B'Av.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


I've had a few comments lately about my handle and how I got it so I thought I might take a moment in between coats of paint and 'splain it.

As a kid I never really had a nickname. My Mom called me "Tiger" way back before Mary Jane and Spiderman made the name cool. And I had a few names dropped on me by friends but luckily none of the ever really stuck. Mostly they had to do with "Pooh" (luckily that one is taken) and "Bear".

Anyway. Years and years ago (too many years ago) I found myself living in a semi-institutional setting (not an institution, more like a live-in trade school) that was somewhat isolated from society at large. We lived in large dormitories. Upon my arrival I noticed that there was a very clearly defined pecking order to the hierarchy and that most of the guys who were "somebody" in that hierarchy all had nicknames. I decided then and there that I needed a handle so I could get somewhere in this place.

Since I had gone through EMT training at another school I grabbed the name "Doc". It stuck and I actually got to practice my profession a few times when the guys did something stupid late at night when there was no nurse available. A couple of times it actually came in handy when it would take almost an hour to get an ambulance to our location from the nearest town.

So I hung on to "Doc" for a few years. Then a good friend of mine went through medical school and became a chiropractor. So he took up the handle "Doc" and I was left without a nick again.

Then some time in the late 80's I found a book titled "High Weirdness By Mail" by Ivan Stang. It was a compendium of nuts, kooks and weirdos who were all willing to send you very strange things through the mail for free or at least very cheap.

One whole section was on odd religions, many of whom would ordain you as a minister for free or a few dollars. I thought this would be great fun so I set about mailing out my name here and there.

Now, if any of you out there are overly or devoutly religious, I did not do this to poke fun at religion or belief in a supreme being or faith of any sort. It was more a social commentary about being wary of those who claim ordination. Just because someone claims to be ordained does not mean that they are spiritually blessed or even have any sort of actual training. It might just mean that they can address an envelope.

Hmmm..... A lot like my being on the Fire Brigade at work, eh? I got the title and the responsibility but no training whatsoever. But I digress.

In short, I not really trying to piss anybody off. But then if you are going to get your feelings all hurt by this then maybe you are too sensitive to hang out here in the first place.

In the space of a year or so I became a Minister, a Reverend, a Vicar, a Saint and a Pope. I got an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree and a few certificates and membership cards. And I had an awful lot of fun along the way.

So I went from being just a guy with a name to "The Reverend" to "Rev" to "Da Rev" and when I set up my very first email account back in the late 90's it was under "darev". And it's kind of stuck ever since.

Yes, I am an ordained minister, for whatever that is worth. Mostly the price of a few stamps. But not the kind you would want taking care of your soul. Heck, you probably wouldn't want me to watch your dog or your houseplants either.

I don't do weddings, baptisms, bar mitzvahs or administer the last rites. But if you need an introduction to the tinfoil hat crowd, I'm your guy.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Blogging To The Oldies Pt 5

Monday, August 17, 2009

Not What I Was Thinking

I leaned in close over the table and gazed at her through the smoke of my Liggett menthol light 100 cigarette. I could see something was on her mind, but the secret to dames is to let them tell things in their own time or they will balk on you like a mule. I figured when she was ready she would tell me.

In the meantime she was telling me things in other ways. Her eyes were saying that I was the man she wanted. And the way she shifted around in that cute little turquoise nurses outfit was telling me volumes about how fast she wanted to get started. I nearly grinned with anticipation, but I didn't want to seem to eager. I clenched my teeth on the filter of my cigarette harder to control my expression.

After a moment she shifted her shoulders coquettishly, gave me that "come hither" look and batter her eyes in my direction.

"So......." she said in that soft sultry voice, "do you want to?"

This time I did grin. I couldn't help myself. I have a soft spot in my heart for dames in trouble. She wanted my help and wanted it bad and I figured I could write my own meal ticket for this one.

"Sure thing doll" I said as I drew on my smoke one last time and threw it away. "Sure thing."

Then I said "But you are talking about doing med pass and I'm not. That's what really sucks about this whole deal."

Dames.... go figure.


That was back when our house nurse was pretty new and we were all getting to know each other. We'd actually flirt like that now and then.

**sigh** Now when I try to flirt with Sgt Uncle T like that, he just throws me out of the shack...


So here's the lineup for the weekend, if you must know.

Saturday is Wiggle Your Toes Day, Hiroshima Day, National Mustard Day and National Halitosis (bad breath) Day.

Sunday is Sea Serpent Day, Assistance Dog Day, Friendship Day, Lighthouse Day, Purple Heart Day and Sisters Day,

Monday is going to be Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Night ( I love doing that!), Happiness Happens Day and Odie Day (Garfield's Friend).

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Blogging To The Oldies Pt 4

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Real Bee Of A Day

Got stuck up in the bubble again today. I gripe about doing that alot, but I don't mind it as much as it sounds. It's a real pain in the butt, but it's a change from being down there on the floor. And there's one real perk to being up there. All the intercom switches have an "off" position. If there's nothing going on out in the wings and all the others are down in the office, I can switch the speakers off, even just for a few seconds, and all the noise just disappears. It's almost like I've gone deaf. It's very peaceful. And you can't get that when you're down on the floor. There's always someone talking or making noise or the radio's chattering in your ear. Even though I know the radio is my lifeline, there are days when I could do without it. I'd like to go work in a library some day. A great big one with stacks in the basement where the patrons aren't allowed to go. I'd work down there. Just me and thousands of books and peace and quiet......

It would probably drive me nuts.

This afternoon one of our knuckleheads on suicide watch decided he wasn't getting what he wanted so he covered his camera and barricaded his door with a foam mattress and put wet toilet paper over his cell window so we couldn't see in. Then when everybody got up to the door, he wouldn't respond so they waved and I opened the door. He tried to swing on one of the officers so they put him to the ground and cuffed him up. Then he proceeded to spit and try to bite until they put him on the restraint bench. He stayed there for close to an hour before the nurse brought him two shots, which I'm sure was the reason for the whole performance. He wanted to get high or buzzed or whatever you get from haldol and atavan. They put him back in the cell and took away his mattress and his blanket and left him nothing but a smock.

A couple of hours later he decided the shots weren't good enough so he started screaming and banging his head on a corner of the wall, making himself bleed again. They had to pull him back out and put him back on the bench and as the next shift came in and we were relieved, they were trying to find a rubber room to put him in somewhere. Hell, maybe that's what he wanted. Doesn't sound like fun to me.

When something like putting an inmate on the ground happens we call it a "use of force" and aside from the fact you actually have to wrestle an inmate and possibly get hurt, you also inherit about four hours worth of paperwork to go along with it. It's supposedly so we can cover our bases in case it goes to court and the state doesn't get sued. But they have gotten so anal about these reports that they take many times longer than necessary. It should just be one short paragraph stating: "Offender Joe Schmuck got stupid and I sprayed him and put him on the ground and Officer Lunchbox and I put cuffs on him." Instead what they want from us is this: "At approximately 7:14 am on 11-17-2008 Offender Schmuck, Joseph #5554123 in Housing Unit 5, cell A-13 stepped towards me and swung his right fist towards my upper torso. I blocked the offenders strike with my left forearm while issuing the offender a verbal directive to stop. The offender did not comply to my verbal directive so at approximately 7:15am I applied one one-half second burst of O/C pepper spray to the offenders facial area. At this time COI Lunchbox, Melvin entered the cell and we placed the offender on the floor of the cell. I controlled the offenders left upper arm with my left hand and his left forearm with my right hand while COI Lunchbox controlled the offenders right arm and we placed him face down on the floor of the cell. I placed mechanical wrist restraints on the offender and the Sergeant was called to the cell. At 7:20 am the offender was assessed by LPN Barbie Bandaid and at 7:25 am the offender was placed in the A-wing shower........." Blah blah blah ad infinitum. It goes on for hours. And everyone involved has to write the same report. And you can't just write one report and then change the names around for everybody else. OH Noooo.... That wouldn't be right. They all have to say EXACTLY THE SAME THING but they all HAVE TO BE DIFFERENT.

Sometimes I think we're morons to keep doing this.

Then I look at the inmates and I know why I keep doing it. And I look at my family and I know why I keep doing it. And I look at myself and know why I keep doing it.

But some days are harder than others.


Apparently I had a hard day that day. I've had worse before and since then, but not many.

And I wrote differently back then, too. I think I tended to rant more often.

I had issues. Still do, apparently.

Ah, well.

Friday is going to be National Mustard Day as well as International Beer Day and Braham Pie Day (Celebrated in Braham, MN).

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Blogging To The Oldies Pt 3

Criminally Insane II

There was once a young man in our house. An offender whose name I will not and cannot mention. This young man was seriously disturbed. He was so disturbed that I spent a month on Wikipedia studying nervous disorders and scrawled an entire notebook page of disorders that he displayed. And I didn't write down the symptoms of these disorders, just the names. An entire page. And I don't really write very big. This kid was messed up. He was fairly young, twenty-ish and was in prison for some sort of assault. I could see very clearly how this would happen. If you crowded him in any way, or if he even thought you were thinking about crowding him, he got extremely manic and paranoid and begin to lash out. I tried my best to work with him (as much as I was able to), to keep him from getting in situations where he would get into more trouble. Many times I had to be rather firm with him and even rough once or twice just to keep him from getting out of control. It took a firm grip on his attention and also his arm to keep him from shooting off on a tangent. We sent him off to the "hospital" more than once for whatever esoteric treatment they thought necessary. And sometimes he came back better. More than once he came back out of control. The last time he went and came back he was released back to his regular housing unit and we didn't see him for several months. I don't have alot of time to consider each offender, especially the ones who are not in my immediate care, but I thought about him occasionally and I was frequently glad that he was out of my house and doing okay. Then one day he came back. There was an altercation with another staff member that went rapidly out of control and there he was back in a cell in my housing unit, just as nutty as a fruit bat. Have you ever seen the movie "Sybil"? He didn't quite have as many people living inside of him as she did, but I'm pretty sure there was at least five people in there. Uncontrollable body movements, visual and auditory hallucinations, paranoia, delusions of grandeur, multiple personalities (who apparently didn't like each other very much), and a very thin grasp on any sort of reality. He was so disconnected from this planet that I would not have been surprised to see him actually levitating. If mind power alone could overcome the laws of physics, he could have flown. We kept him for awhile and then sent him off to the "hospital" again.
I just learned the other day that he's been released. I'm not exactly sure where, but he's out there somewhere. That's kind of scary.

This posted September 13, 2008. I don't know why I didn't out up a picture with this post.

Maybe it was because I couldn't find anything crazy enough.

As far as I know, that young man is still out on the streets somewhere. I really hope he is doing better than he was the last time I saw him.

Thursday will be Coast Guard Day, Chocolate Chip Day and Underwear Day as well as the National Twins Day Festival.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Blogging To The Oldies Pt 2

Criminally Insane

There's a place we all fear. Most people don't think about it much in the front of their minds, but the fear is usually there, just the same. In the old movies it was always the "Asylum for the Criminally Insane." Always surrounded by big fences and concrete walls and old gnarled up trees. Something bad always happened there and the place is always haunted. Like Arkham Asylum in the Batman comics. Just getting near the place you could hear the screaming and moaning and the closer you got you could just feel the crazy oozing out of the place. It was a place you would scare people with because everybody just knows once you go into that place, you are never coming out again. Local kids would dare each other to touch the fence and then run away as fast as they could. A bad place. A scary place. A place you never hope to go.

The place still exists. But they are usually alot cleaner and brighter and less scary, at least on the outside. They are either a hospital attached (if not inside) a prison or a prison attached to a hospital. They are an adjunct of each other. This is where we send those who are too crazy to be in a regular prison population. And if you've ever seen any even remotely realistic prison shows, you have to be mighty crazy to merit a place in this august establishment. I always say "riding a bicycle upside down underwater crazy" but that doesn't even cover it. Those people are old hat out on the prison yard. And what exactly do they do in these places? Truthfully, I haven't the foggiest. Sometimes inmates go there and when/if they come back, they are better for awhile. But just for awhile. Then in a couple of weeks or so, here we go again. They are out of control and in trouble and back in my hands again. And I have to keep them from hurting themselves or someone else. But sometimes....sometimes... they come back even crazier than when they left! They come back with the crazy just dripping off of them and foaming at all of the orifices and hand them off to us to deal with. And someone says "Mr. So & So is coming back from the hospital.. They say he hurt one of their staff so they are sending him back." Well now..... isn't that why we sent him there in the first place????

Do we really know that little about how our minds work?

Originally posted 9-12-2008.

Obviously I was having some issues with the wobbleheads back then.

So far I have done very little during my vacation. It's been too hot to go outside and work unless I get up real early in the morning.

And those of you who have been reading this nonsense for awhile know what kind of a morning person I am.

I need to mow my lawn and I need to cut a strip of wood to go from the carpet to the tile in my office. I also need to paint my trim and put it back up. But so far I have done none of those things. It's too dang hot and I'm too dang broke to afford any paint.

I am, however, getting caught up on my reading. That's always a plus.

Tomorrow is National Watermelon Day. Sounds like a plan. Some ice cold watermelon and stay the frack inside 'cos it's too hot.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Blogging To The Oldies Pt 1

The DaDimwit Code

Ok, Since you've asked for it. Guy and BA (whom I hope never meet or civilization is doomed) have deviled and chivvied me into revealing a deep deep secret. Never before have these secrets been revealed to the general public.
Not since the dawn of time itself have these words been put on paper for the common man to read. Usually kept deep in a locked vault four miles beneath Ft. Detrick, Maryland I have at great personal peril and expense brought to you:


Baby- An inmate who gives out or sells sexual favors. Usually "run" by a Daddy (who takes a large percentage of whatever the baby brings in.)

Baking A Cake- Getting it on. One way or another or sometimes both. Taking one for the home team. Often referred to as "Hoo boy! He's gettin' wallered out!" And the cell or place where it is happening is often referred to as The Betty Crocker Institute. I could have gone my whole life without seeing (or even writing) that.

Beat- Nothing coming. "You're beat. Go kick rocks."

Block- Where you from. Your crib. Where your homies hang.

Bullets- Not like they sound. Usually tightly packed packages of tobacco, lighters, papers and notes, often hidden in uncomfortable places. Made so they can be smuggled in to places where they aren't supposed to be, like the Adseg unit. I would imagine it's uncomfortable, anyway...

C- Coffee.

Cadillac- Any weighted object, like a bar of state soap or the end of a toothpaste tube, tied to a long string and slid under the door of the cell. The inmates use these to transfer tobacco, lighters, notes, stamps, food and even books and magazines between cells.

Chomo- A child molester. One of the most despised beings in a prison setting. Or anywhere else, for that matter.

Dead man's number- Any younger inmate with a short number. Usually a "recycled" number from an earlier inmate who has passed away. The numbers are kept on file until the person dies.

Demo- This could be anything. You have to take it in context to the conversation. A Demo could be a cigarette, a stamp, a lighter, a box of cereal or a chicken leg. Or anything. It's usually up to you to figure out what the hell he's wanting.

Door Warrior- An inmate who is ten feet tall and covered with hair when the cell door is closed but sniveling in a fetal position when it is open. We get alot of those.

Help Me Out- Bring me some tobacco and coffee and a lighter.

Info- An inmates name and number. Or telephone number. Or home address.

Kiester Bunny- An inmate who secrets bullets of contraband in those uncomfortable places. Sometimes you can tell just by the look on their face that something's "up". Not a pleasant situation to be in for anybody involved.

Kite- A note. You can "shoot them a kite" or "fly them a kite". Also known as a "Scribe".

O.G.- Old Guy. Anybody older than the speaker or who has been around for awhile. Sometimes used as an honorific and sometimes as a curse. Depends on what they think of whoever they are talking about.

People- Usually referring to family on the outside. Or someone who can do them favors, like sending money. If they aint sending money, or pictures or both, then their "peeps" aint doing them no good.

Police- Pronounced "Poe-leese". That's us. We's the police.

Punk- Usually referring to a "baby" but sometimes just used as a curse. Even worse than the way Dirty Harry uses it. A punk is someone who either gives it away for free or has it taken from them on a regular basis. Willingly, or otherwise. Not an enviable appelation.

Roll- A hand rolled cigarette. From thin "pins" to fat "yard rolls". Occasionally referred to as a "demo".

Shank- A prison made weapon. Usually a knife or sharpened piece of metal like a soda can wrapped in tape. Sometimes made from tools stolen from the prison work areas. Nothing you want to come into close contact with.

Sunglasses- A lighter. AKA a flintstone, a light, a flashlight, a spark or a flame. Anything to do with light used in a sentence is referring to a lighter or a way to light a cigarette.

T- Tobacco.

Top- Tobacco. Loose tobacco sold in boxes at the prison canteen. A regular cigarette bought in packs is known as a "tailor".

Wick- A twisted bit of toilet paper set smouldering. You blow on it to get a flame going to light a roll. Also known as a "west side". A handy way to cadillac a light to your partner, if you got a flintstone and he doesn't.

This is a short list of the words I hear every day. You'd think they would have figured out that I know what they are talking about. Now and then I repeat it back to them and they are just flabbergasted that I know what they just said. I guess I'm not as stupid as I look.

Note: This was originally posted on 2-2-09. I was looking for another post about the words we use rather than the ones the inmates use but I can't find it. Either I imagined that I wrote it or I put it under some stupid name I don't recognize. If I can't find it, I'll just write another one.