Saturday, December 31, 2011

No Milk (But There Was Cookies!)

10 house again. Hoo-rah. Spent most of the night in my office catching up on my reading and poking around in the computer.

That Brand New Shiny Sergeant Drew (grin, wink) sent me an email about some supervisory skill training the middle of next month that I didn't know about so I went and filled out a request to go. Maybe get a few of those required eighty bazillion hours of training out of the way early.

I don't know if they'll let me go. I don't even know what shift I will be on by then. There's been so much "wait and see what happens" lately! Aargh!

Sgt Banty called me from the control center and reminded me that I needed to see him before too much time had passed. Apparently I'd been on the list to go pee in a cup for the state for a couple of weeks but our paths hadn't crossed until tonight. I'd had plenty of time to study for the test. (grin)

As we were heading out Stubby came up and said "Hey! They have a whole plate of cookies in Central! A big one!"

Sweet! We trotted over and got my test out of the way then scooted over to Central to raid their cookies. Like I said, there was no milk, but hey! Free cookies! I scarfed a few (It's okay. I ate a salad for dinner so I was a good boy) and hung out and chatted for awhile before I headed back.

And the rest of the evening was pretty much boring. Read a little. Fiddled with the 'puter some more. Got up and moseyed around a bit. Some parts of the Sergeant gig aint too bad.

At least I had an office I could go to and shut the door when I wanted. Not too many places have that option. It was peaceful.

I got a call and Lt Sienna told me I was #2 on the overtime list. Already!?! Snap!!! But since I was 2:30 to 10:30 if they didn't call me by the time count cleared I was gone. And on my Friday, no less.

But I made it out. Yayyyy!!!! Let the weekend begin!

Whups! Almost forgot. Here's the lineup!
Saturday: New Years Eve, Unlucky Day, Make Up Your Mind Day, No Interruptions Day and National Champagne Day (of course).
Sunday: New years Day, First Foot Day and Z Day as well as Bloody Mary day.
Monday: Run Up the Flagpole and See if Anybody Salutes It Day, Buffet Day, Happy Mew Year For Cats Day and Apple Gifting Day.

Please celebrate responsibly. We're getting full.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Like Herding Cats

Out on B-yard again tonight. And they gave me Sausage, Kermit and Uncle Scary for my officers. Oh joy.

I actually think herding cats would have been more fun.

And my head is still ringing from their constant yakking. Between Uncle Scary and Sausage you'd think they invented the world. Been everywhere and done everything better and faster than anybody ever has or ever could. They've experienced so many things between them that I'm constantly surprised that they haven't left Earth for more exciting places yet.

But I'm sure the rest of the universe is already old hat to those two.

Once again, I couldn't get a word in edgewise.

And Kermit. What can you say about Kermit?

He has absolutely no social skills at all. He's abrupt and rude and in-your-face about everything. I had him out front of the chow hall down pat searches and every single one of them was almost a use of force. He treated each offender like they had a weapon on them somewhere and he was determined to find it.

I think the phrase "He manhandled them" fits him to a tee.

Several of the offenders looked at me afterwards and I just spread my hands like "What can you do? It's Kermit!" They just shook their heads and went on.

So, it felt good and bad to be on the yard. I know how to handle most of the things that come up and I know the daily routines. But that crew drove me to distraction.

It will almost be a relief to go back to 10 house tomorrow and hide in my office.

I still have no idea where I'm going or what shift I'll end up on. There are so many Sergeants shifting around right now that I'm going to wait and see what comes up on third shift.

For now I'll play The Waiting Game.

Later on I'll get bored and play Hungry Hungry Hippos. Then I'll feel better.

Friday is going to be Festival Of Enormous Changes At The Last Minute and National Bicarbonate Of Soda Day as well as Bacon Day, Falling Needles Family Fest Day and Relaxation Day.

I'll need a bicarbonate and some relaxation after today all right!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

No Crystal Ball In My Pocket

Well, I've been a Sergeant exactly two weeks now. Doesn't seem like it's been that long. I'm still surprised when I see that white shirt hanging on my closet door and I always startle myself by walking past a mirror. Especially with that immense sombrero of a hat on.

It's taking some getting used to. Even now when someone says "Hey, Sarge!" I'll look around in wonder and think "We have a Sergeant?"

Oh yeah, that's me.

It seems like a big part of the Sergeanting business is having information. There's never enough of it. And everyone seems to think I should have all of it at my fingertips. Now that I'm a supervisor I should know everything that's going on, at least in my zone.

Trust me, all I got was a new badge, a big hat, a new ID card and two days of unrelated training. Oh yeah, and the shirts. Can't forget about the new white shirts.

But they did not issue me a crystal ball. I don't know everything. I know the places to find out things, but I don't have all of the info necessary to run a prison stapled to the brim of my hat. The hat isn't quite that big.

But it's bloody close.

There was a phone call during mainline this evening. I wasn't close, so Sausage answered it then told me that an inmate from 8 house was going PC. That's all I got. Lt Farmer was across the room so I went and gave him a heads up that we would be locking one up.

He wanted to know the inmates name, number, and who was going to escort him to the Hive. As I went to find out he told me to also call Lt Baby Boy and give him the information. So I called 8 house and found out. When I called Lt BB, he wanted to know what cell he was from, whether or not he was packing his own property and whether or not he took any medications.

So I had to call back to 8 house again.....

It's a learning process. That's the kind of stuff I need to be able to find out quickly so I don't look like too much of a fool in front of my supervisors. I need to make a "Somebody is getting locked up" checklist in my head and get all of that together before I tell anybody anything.

I imagine there are a few other checklists I need to have made up as well.

Or I can just find me a miniature crystal ball somewhere and clip it to my duty belt between my keys and my pepper spray.

That might be easier.

By the way, a big shout of thanks to Sgt Smiley on day shift. He found an extra coffee pot in 10 house to replace the one I broke the other night. So now I won't get frowned at and it won't cost me fifteen bucks for a new one.

Yer a lifesaver, dude! Thanks!!!

So Thursday is going to be Pepper Pot Day, Tick Tock Day and No Interruptions Day.

Don't sneeze! (Sorry, it's all I had)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Really Crazy People

Back in 10 house again this evening. The Brute has the week off so they stuck me down there as a fill-in.

A very strange thing happened right after I got there. I was down in F-wing looking for something to read when I heard a voice behind me. It was Uncle T!

"What are you doing here?"

"I guess I'm working here with you!"

"Really?" (What the snap?)

"Yeah, when I came in Lt Baby Boy told me to go to 10 house, so here I am!"

I was bewildered. I wasn't complaining, but I was bewildered. He's assigned to the yard and they couldn't really pull him without a real good reason. And why they would send him to a house that already had a sergeant.....

But who am I to make waves? We went down to the office and drank some coffee and chatted for a bit. In the meantime, the yard guys were wondering where their sergeant was. And the confusion filtered up the chain. Lt Farmer called on the radio and Uncle T answered with my call sign, which was "T-5". When asked where he was he stated "Housing Unit 10".

A few seconds later St Francis called for T-5 and I answered and he got all confused.

By this time Capt CJ got into it and was demanding to know why there was no sergeant out on the yard and why we had two in 10 house. Lt BB backpedaled and said it was all a miscommunication and he was actually telling Uncle T that I was in 10 house, not that he was.

So Uncle T went back to the yard and we all had a good laugh about it. Apparently St Francis was scared to death that he was going to have to run the yard. Like he couldn't and hasn't done it a bazillion times before. But he's a big chicken when it comes to admitting that he knows anything at all. He plays that "I'm a big dumb doofus" card alot.

He's big and he's a doofus. But he's not dumb by any stretch of the imagination.

And so the night went on. I was lucky and unlucky.

Luckily Sgt Moon was in 30 house so I didn't have to worry about them. Unlucky because he wrote two violations and since he can't read his own, I had to go read them for him in that little oven of an office of his.

And while I was reading those violations, one of the "Security Aides" from CTC was trying to call me. CTC is where they keep the offenders that are way too crazy to be out in general population. I know almost all of those guys over there and they all know me, for the most part. They do get pretty crazy at times.

When I got to CTC they said that one of their offenders had made a remark about killing himself. So I trotted on down and it was old Willie. The story goes that Willie had been a cab driver years and years ago. A couple people had stiffed him on a fare and tried to run off. He followed them and killed them both and stuffed them into the trunk of his cab. He drove around with them in there for awhile until people complained about the bad odor and someone at the cab company opened the trunk. He was kind of busted after that. And already well on his way to being completely crazy.

So anyway Willie had remarked that he was going to kill himself and we were obligated to take him down to the Hive and put him on suicide watch. He was already pretty excited when I got there and got even more wound up when he found out where he was going.

And the more Willie gets excited the more he sounds just like that little Indian on "Go Go Gophers".
For an example of that if you've never seen the cartoon go here. Go Go Gophers.

Luckily someone else showed up for the escort and I had some more backup in case he went completely off the deep end before I could get him cuffed up. And we got him dressed and the cuffs on him and he went on his way without incident.

Then I got to fill out the Suicide Intervention form myself and run it up to central for the Captains signature.

Whew! That was more Sergeanting than I had done as of yet. Between Sgt Moons hot little office and the adrenaline dump when I thought I might have to wrestle with this big lunatic got me all hot and sweaty.

And the very last thing I did was to rinse out the coffee pot in the office. And broke it. Whacked it on the corner of the table and cracked it all the way down the front. Rats! So now I have to go buy a replacement carafe this weekend. The older guy on midnights with the Jimmy Swaggart hair is going to be really vexed with me until I get it fixed.

What a pain.

I would remark that this Sergeant business isn't all it's cracked up to be, but I know better.

So Wednesday is going to be Card Playing Day and National Chocolate Day. An annual flour fight festival, ''Els Enfarinats,'' has taken place in the Spanish town of Ibi in Alicante.
A spoof army dressed in full uniform and other bizarre characters engaged in a boisterous battle using flour and eggs as their weapons.
The 200-year-old event takes place every year on the 28 December to coincide with the Day of the Innocents, the equivalent of April Fools' Day.

How's that for a fun holiday tradition?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Two Houses, Nothing To Do

When we have a shortage of supervisors, they frequently make on sergeant over a couple of houses. Or sometimes three, with the yard sergeant picking up the slack in between.

Tonight I was both the 10 house and 30 house sergeant. I thought "Okay, between the two of them, they'll have something for me to do. Maybe I can stay busy and the night will go by fast."

Nope. Nada. Zip.

I walked down to the house with Punkin and he showed me where my office was. It had a desk and a computer and a coffee pot with a bathroom right around the corner.

He said "You have to help E-wing with 4:30 count and again at 10:00. And you help take them to chow at about 3:20 or so."

"And after that?"

"You help bring them back from chow."

"And then?"

"That's it."



And that's what I did. Pretty much all night.

I got up and prowled around a little but it was making the guys nervous. I went over to 30 house and checked on them but everyone was behaving themselves.

So I went back to my office and made coffee and fired up the computer. There was supposedly a tutorial on there about how to do the employee performance reviews that all the supervisors have to do. And the yearly reviews are due at the end of January so I figured I'd better get a handle on the process.

Ever sit through a PowerPoint presentation? Even in a class with 20 or 30 other people after the first ten slides your eyes start to get droopy.

Imagine doing that in an office all by yourself.

Now imagine that you are sitting through a PowerPoint presentation on a subject that you know absolutely nothing about and imagine that the presentation is 100 slides long.

One freaking hundred pages describing the employee performance review process from start to finish. Repeatedly and in great detail.

I'm lucky I didn't slip into a coma.

After every twenty pages or so I would get up and go outside in the rain to smoke and wake up a little. Walking around in little wet circles, listening to the rain spatter off the top of my hat.

The top of that hat holds an amazing amount of water, by the way. Enough that if I tipped my head the right way it would douse my cigarette. Found that out totally by accident.

The next night I get like this I'll flip through the presentation one more time and take some notes on some of the salient points. Hopefully I'll be a little more prepared when the time comes to actually do the rating sheets.

And some time next year they will send me off to supervisory training to actually learn how to do the rating plans properly.

Whaddaya wanna bet they show me the same PowerPoint presentation in the class?

Tuesday is going to be National Fruitcake Day and apparently nothing else.

You celebrate this one. I'll get the next one.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

They Are Giving me A Complex

If I though they were messing with my head bad before the promotion it's even worse now. None of the paperwork has me as a sergeant. I know it's only been a week, but come on!

Every time I look at the chrono to see where I am at next they have me scheduled in a COI spot. They always change it at the last minute. Last week I checked and I was 30 yard. Tonight I checked to see where I was supposed to be on Monday and they had me in the Control Center in Miz Twang's spot.

They are either extremely lazy or they are trying to hide me in reserve and hope nobody notices they have an extra sergeant or they are trying to yank my chain.

Or any combination of the above. I guess I'll call Sunday night and find out if they put me somewhere.

One of my gripes about being a COI was that we rarely got any real appreciation from supervisors. Of course there were some that went out of their way to say thank you now and then for just being there. But those were few and far between.

Just a simple "Hey, thanks alot, guys! Good work tonight." tends to go a long ways here. So I'm trying to remember to be supportive of my crew.

I had this conversation with ET out in the yard shack tonight:

Me: "I'm sure glad you and the Fireman were here tonight."

ET: "Why?"

Me: "You guys are the yard dawgs. You know what needs to be done. I don't get out on this yard all that much."

ET: "You work out here. You know what's going on. What are you trying to pull?"

Me: "I'm just saying I didn't have to tell you to do anything. You guys just did your job without me saying anything and I'm glad you're here."

ET: "What is this? Some sort of freaking 'People Skills' thing? Don't you pull that stuff on me!"

He was getting a bit excited and I kind of let it go at that point. I didn't want him to get over agitated and have a stroke or something.

I just muttered to myself "Well, THAT went over good..." and then I wrote myself a mental note to never try and compliment ET when he's been drinking coffee half the night.

**sigh** I sure hope this stuff gets easier.

Hey! Only seven days left to vote on the Story Site! Vote early and often!

And here's what the weekend is going to look like:
Saturday: Festival Of Latest Novelties, Christmas Eve and National Egg Nog Day.
Sunday: National Comic Book Day, Christmas, A'phabet or "No-L" Day and National Pumpkin Pie Day.
Monday: National Good Neighbor Day and National Pancake Day, Boxing Day, National Candy Cane Day, National Thank-You Note Day and Whiners Day.

Have yourself a merry little solstice....

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Dreaded Skit

I'd been enjoying the training, as I mentioned last night. It was fun and entertaining and the discussions were loud and spirited.

Maybe a little too spirited, as the instructor often had a hard time regaining control of the class. We were a boisterous bunch and he kind of had a small voice.

But it was a subject that was close to my heart. I really wanted a stake in helping make the new officers someone I could trust at my back in a dustup. Make them into officers that I could say "We really need to get this done." and be confident enough to walk away and tend to other things because I know it'll get done. That's important.

I completely forgot to mention last night (among other things) that I ran into Peggy Sue and lost myself in another one of those ultra-comfy squeezy hugs of hers. Heaven! That left me all blissed out for like twenty minutes. She's like..... The Earth Mother after quite a few mocha lattes. All buzzy and full of energy and alot of fun to be around.

As long as she's not pissed off at you, of course. Then it's a whole new ball game. Yikes! (grin)

Back to earth. Anyway...... (Whoo!...)

Despite the fact that I was sleepy and grumpy (and yes, a little Dopey as well) I enjoyed the class and learned things.

Until he said one little phrase right before we left for the day yesterday.

He said "We might be doing a few little skits."

And there went all of my enthusiasm. Skits. Really.

Are we at camp?

Skits.... Really?

I tried to talk him out of it, but there was no shifting him.

I said "When it comes to training, there is no bigger demotivational word than 'skit', I hope you know..." He was steadfastly holding to his training plan.

Come up with a performance objective for a post or task relevant to working inside the prison and come up with a short skit to demonstrate it.

Freaking...... really..... a skit.

I never perform well in front of a crowd. If I wanted to be an actor I would have gone to acting school. But I don't want to act and I don't want to know how to act so I don't know how to act. Actually.

If you just wanted to see me make a fool of myself open your eyes. I'd been doing that naturally for..... a long time now. Nearly half a century.

They already suspect I'm a fool. Don't make me get up in front of them and remove all doubt.

I can write, after a fashion. I can draw and create things with my mind and my hands. I often have a quick tongue and a sharp wit. I've even written reams of poetry and songs and once the most part of a musical. I can be quite creative at times.

Until you tell me that I have to get up in front of a crowd. Then everything in me turns to ashes and lead. My brain transforms itself into little more than an ornamental paperweight or a less than attractive but quite effective doorstop.

It's just not pretty.

Luckily someone else came up with an idea. We did it and I participated by saying as little as possible (which was good) and like in the interview I neither wet myself nor fainted nor died so I guess I can chalk it up as a win.

But I didn't like it.

So now I am a certified Field Training Officer.

And just for irony's sake I'll go ahead and mention the ten minute discussion we had on why they really don't want Sergeants or other supervisors as FTO's. Since I was the only Sergeant in the room I got eyes rolled at me a few times during that one.

KP leaned over and said "Rev, you might as well just go home. They don't want you after all!"

To which I replied "Frack that. I've already been here for a day and a half! I'm staying!"

Most of it beat going to work. Except for the getting up early and the stupid skit part, anyway.

So it's back to work Friday for one day and then off on my weekend. To try and catch up on my sleep and try to get back on my schedule again. Hoo-freaking-rah.

And before I forget, we need more readers and voters at the short story site! I am losing to KP miserably! Help! Vote! Only one week left until the end! Aieee.........

Friday is going to be Roots Day, Festivus and National Pfeffernuesse Day.

Say that five times fast!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

To The Sleep Cycle!

Oy.... This week has my sleep cycles all messed up. Here it is only 8:00pm and I'm already yawning my head off. It's making me old before my time. Or possibly right after. I forget.

Ran into the Training Gnome the other morning while I was picking up my new shirts. (New shirts that fit! Yayyy!) Shook my finger at him and said "Any more of this surprise training and you and me are going to have some issues!"

He just laughed. Imagine that.

So after four years of trying, I'm finally going to be a Field Training Officer. What that really means is that they consider me (after I've been trained, of course) someone who can show the new hire officers what to do while working in a prison.

Not like I haven't been doing that already, mind you. It just means that I'll have a certificate and a little extra dingus to hang on my shirt pocket that lends me an air of legitimacy.

Whoops. Just a hint of cynicism poking out there. Sarcasm. That thing.... you know.

It's not that I don't believe in the program. I do. I think it has great potential and can be a good tool for helping new officers learn how to do their jobs and survive the probation period with all of their limbs and just enough brain cells intact.

And it can also be a helpful tool in weeding out some of those who don't need to be here in the first place. A few of those get through and once they get past probation it's the Devils Own Mother to get rid of them again before someone gets hurt. That takes an act of Congress sometimes.

It's a good program, like I said, if it's utilized properly. Unfortunately it isn't always. The OJT's get shunted off somewhere that we need bodies or used as extras to do some large search to look good on paper most of the time and not left with an FTO long enough to actually learn anything. The Captains and the Lieutenants tend to look at them as free staff and use them where they can to cover holes in the shift rather than trying to get them trained and that's a real shame.

And I'm enjoying the class so far. It's been spirited and lively and made us think outside of the box some. I'm just hoping that I am alert enough to be absorbing some of this information.

I want to be a good FTO like I want to be a good Sergeant like I wanted to be a good COI.

Did that last sentence make any sense? I keep looking at it like someone just wrote that in Martian or something.

Holy snap I'm tired.

And sometime in the next week or so they are probably going to move me to another shift.

If I drop dead of a heart attack let this be my witness. They did it to me. The swine!

Let me check the calendar for the first time in forever and then I'm off to bed.

Thursday is going to be National Date-Nut Bread Day, Ann & Samantha Day (?), National Haiku Poetry Day, Regifting Day and the Yule. Whatever a Yule is.

I can't even make that into a sentence. Dang!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Double Time Again!

There's a real downer for ya. One facet of getting promoted that really really sucked. Even though I worked a double just a couple of weeks ago it no longer counted and I was back at the top of the list again.

Of the five new promotees, only the Watcher and I are on third shift so that put us right at the top of the mandatory overtime list. And he, being the slick evil swine that he is, got himself immediately off the list by teaching a class on his day off. Grrr!

I'm kidding, of course. I tried to do something like that myself. They just didn't need any extra sergeants on my days off. **sigh**

I actually volunteered to work over last night. The training office called and said I was scheduled for some more of the surprise training on Wednesday and Thursday. I had no clue that was coming. Alot like the last class. If I hadn't worked over last night they would have snagged me tonight and there's no way I could work sixteen hours then try to stay awake for another eight hour class immediately afterwards.

Please do forgive me if I ramble a bit. I just woke up. Managed to get about three hours sleep after I got home this morning. Phew.


Well, i went in and stayed about five hours and went home. They had enough people and I was dead on my feet.

I have to be up at about six in the morning for training for the next two days. Yuck.


Good night!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I Chose The Lesser Of...

Sgt Banty was supposed to be in the control center tonight but he volunteered to go on an outcount so I got a choice when I came in.

Do I want to be the control center sergeant again or do I want to spend six hours in a state car driving half way across the state and back with a compulsive chatterer?

Oh yeah. I took the control center. Hands down. Besides, I had Stubby and Miz Twang up there! Please. Pfft!

Stubby had the desk and I traded back and forth with Miz Twang for the doors as needed. We worked together well (just like before) and got through everything just fine. I got to do a few vaguely Sergeant-like things.

Trying to work into it slowly.

Spent a bit of time printing out some policy that I'm going to need to brush up on fairly quickly. Our annual ratings are due at the beginning of the year and I don't even know how to rate them or who I am going to have to rate just yet.

So when the time comes (sometime in the next two weeks) I'm going to have to bust my behind to get them done in time.

Yikes! Study, study, study...

There was one sour note that I saw today. They warned us about sour grapes the other day when we all got promoted. And I noticed a couple of people who shot me snotty looks or wouldn't even look at me on the way out this evening. All people who had interviewed when I did.

Really? We were friends on Tuesday. Okay, whatever....

They'll either get over it or they won't. I don't really care either way but it did hurt my feelings a little bit. Ah well. We'll see what happens. I'm going to do my job the best I can and my entire ultimate goal is going to be exactly the same. To make sure that my crew gets to go home safely at the end of the night.

That's never going to change as long as I'm inside the fence. Period.

So on with the weekend lineup:
Saturday: National Maple Syrup Day, Asarah B'Tevet, and Wright Brothers Day.
Sunday: National Roast Suckling Pig Day and International Migrants day.
Monday: Oatmeal Muffin Day, National Hard Candy Day and the day For South-South Cooperation.

Can't they even get along with each other? Sheesh!

Friday, December 16, 2011

An Air Of Responsibilty

I had to laugh when I saw that picture. It was just too good.

The last two days I have gotten more congratulations than I expected. A few times I wasn't sure I was going to get my hand back. It felt good.

It's going to take me some time to move into this new role. Especially about not being the guy that does the stuff. That will be hard to do. I'm always the guy that does the stuff. Now I have to be the guy that watches someone else do the stuff. I'm just there for backup in case something goes wrong.

Tonight they put me in the control center. Not too scary. I've worked there before, I know some about how it runs. And I had Stubby and Vinnie there. They are the Pro's from Dover and they know their jobs inside and out. Between the two of them they know almost everything about running that place.

Stubby told me alot of things about being the Sergeant I didn't know. I probably should have been taking notes. Many of the things he said went in one ear and out the other just from the information overload.

But that's okay. Nobody expects me to know everything right away. I do expect that from myself at times, even if it's unreasonable. But we have some good people here and I can learn things from all of them.

Vinnie took me aside and said that I had developed an "air of responsibility" about me. And he showed me how that was both good and bad. It was good that I was stepping up and being a supervisor and trying to show my people that I was there for them. But it was bad in that I was trying a bit too hard and getting in the way. I stuck my finger in his pie and he let me know about it. Guess I was a bit too eager for validation. Just needed to take a deep breath and step back and let my guys do their job.

I'm just glad they were there tonight to handle things. I'd have been lost without them. They both did great. If I didn't say it before, Thanks guys! You made my job easy even when I was trying to make it difficult.

I'll get this. It's just going to take some time.

Friday (TGIF!!!) is going to be National Chocolate Covered Anything Day (sweet!), Underdog Day, Zionism Day, Barbie and Barney Backlash Day, and the feast of St Beoc.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hit By Lightning (Just Figuratively)

Well! This has been a long and trying day. Fun.... But long and trying.

I'd expected to spend my usual night up in the comm room. I had only been there for a few minutes when Lt Baby Boy yelled up the stairs. "Rev! You up there? Come on down! You have to go see the investigator!"

Aw, really? Now what? I haven't done anything! Heck, I haven't even written a violation in almost a year! What the snap... grumble.... grumble....

Trot across the street and all the way up to the top to the investigators office. He tells me "I'm busy. Go wait downstairs and I'll see you in a minute." Aargh. Okay, fine. Back downstairs I go.

Some other officer I don't recognize waiting down there as well. Then a few minutes later here comes the Watcher. Dressed in his training clothes. He'd been teaching the PR-24 baton techniques. And he says he has to see the investigator too. And one more officer I don't know shows up and is told to wait with us.

A suspicion begins to form in my mind. Hmmm....

A few minutes after that Captain Crane comes up and says we have to go down to the Personnel office. So we trot down there. The lady down there tells us to go back to the conference room and come see her afterwards so we trot back down the hall again. The Captain says "No, you have to go down there first, then come back up here."

Right. Okay, I'm starting to get a little aggravated at this point. Back down the hall we go again. She shrugs and gives us a piece of paper to sign that says we have been promoted to Sergeant and if we accept the job, sign here. Boink!

Yeah, I signed it. My mind in a whirl. I hope I signed my name and not something like "Yippee!"

When we get back down to the conference room we all sit down and Captain Crane asks "Do you all know why you are in here?"

I said "To mess with our heads?" He laughed.

Congratulated us all and shook our hands. We learned that Drew had gotten promoted earlier in the day so now he has like three hours of seniority over us. The dawg!

He and Captain Rogaine gave us all a pep talk. Then the Major came in and talked some more about what he is going to expect from us in the future. Then the Warden and a retired Captain came in and talked some more, congratulating and filling us full of advice.

I honestly only remember bits and pieces of the conversations. I do remember them all remarking several times that I was sitting there grinning like the Cheshire Cat the whole time. I just kept looking at that shiny new gold badge and thinking "Holy snap! I did it! How did that happen?"

When they finally let us go it was well past the time to go down to the training building to get new shirts. All I had was a badge and chevrons, so they said just to wear them on my blue shirt for the night. As we were down in the assembly room and I was putting my new badge on the Major came by with his dry cleaning and asked me "What size shirt do you wear?" I told him and he pulled a shirt out of his bag and said "Here! You can wear one of mine for the night!"

So I spent my first night as a Sergeant wearing the Majors shirt and scared to death that I might spill something on it. I ate my dinner and drank coffee with my coat on zipped up all the way.

And since I didn't get a hat and it was going to rain, I insisted on wearing my ball cap for the night. Sergeants and above wear Stetson hats and COI's wear ball caps. It threw everyone off seeing me in that white shirt with the ball cap on. Heck, I was hoping it would start a new fashion trend...

I survived the night. But my mind was in a buzz the whole time. Things are going to be very different. It will be an adventure, for sure.

On the way home I gave Sgt Uncle T a ride home and he gave me a painting that Miz T (aka NoisyFrogPond) wanted me to have as a congratulations present. It's a very cool portrait of and Indian with his face painted holding a lance and it will look very cool in my office. And I have the perfect spot to hang it in too.

So thanks, Miz T! I love it and it will look awesome in the Rev's Escape Pod!

On that note, I need to go to bed and hopefully get my mind to slow down enough to sleep.

Thursday is going to dawn bright and early as National Lemon Cupcake Day, Bill Of Rights Day, Cat Herders Day (wouldn't want their job!), and the feast of St. Urbitius the Hermit.

Wow. What was I thinking? What were they thinking? Wow.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Laser Cutter Explained

Years ago my wife and I worked for several different sign companies around the state and learned how to use computer cutters to cut vinyl lettering for signs. Even though it was work, it was fun and we had so much fun playing with it and designing our own stuff that we bought a cheap vinyl cutter and opened our own small company.

It's a Roland Camm-1 and it still works pretty good, even after close to fifteen years later.

When we moved up here to work for the state that business pretty much went by the wayside. The competition for sign work was too stiff and way too cut throat for our tastes, so we let it go but we kept the vinyl cutter to play with now and then.

Then about five years ago I ran across an ad for a laser cutter/engraver that worked alot like our vinyl cutter. But instead of a blade it used a small 40w carbon dioxide laser beam that could cut through thin wood (like 1/8" or less), paper, card stock, etc. It will also engrave on wood and certain other things of you set it up right.

The company sent me this tiny carved Aztec calendar about 2" wide done in wood with their laser that was just exquisite.

That's their website there if you can read it. Epilog Laser.

I wanted one bad. Wasn't sure exactly what I would do with it, but it looked like alot of fun. I'd think of something.

The problem was of course, money. The one I wanted that could do such amazing stuff was around nine grand and I don't keep that kind of cabbage stuffed in my mattress. So we had to settle for second or possibly third best.

We picked up a much cheaper Chinese made laser by scrimping and saving for three grand. And the company that we bought it from is now gone so we have to deal with the factory in China if we need any help.

That's not cool. Shipping alone is gawd awful.

Anyway, here's the one we bought.

It will cut and engrave, just like the other one, just not as well and the program that runs it is difficult to use and lacks alot of features.

My wife has been using it to cut out tagboard (like plain card stock) shapes for her friends on the internet who do scrapbooking. She also cuts out paper and other things. She is quite the whiz.

That black tube hanging down there is where the laser beam comes out. You do not want to put your fingers or any other bits of you under that thing. Trust me. I know.

Bits and parts of some of the shapes she has been cutting out lately. Some are large, as you can see, and some small and delicate. Usually our work table is quite covered with tagboard bits waiting to be mailed out all over the world.

Anyway, the laser uses three mirrors to focus the beam down into that little tube there. And because of the soot from cutting and the vibration of the machine, the mirrors need to be regularly cleaned and readjusted. It's a tedious and somewhat dangerous process involving having your hands inside the thing while it's running. It's real easy to get burned by the thing if you aren't careful. I have a couple of small scars to prove it.

Adjusting the mirrors involves lots and lots of tiny incremental adjustments that drive me crazy. The difference between cutting and not cutting can be as little as 1/32". And that's freaking tiny. My fingers don't normally do things that small.

Keep the jokes to yourself, people.....

So, that's the laser cutter. A sometimes fun toy that might pay for itself in another ten years or so. But, it makes my wife happy (when it's working correctly) so who am I to complain?

If you have any other questions, just ask.

On to other things. There's two new story sites that have popped up that deserve some attention. Both of them are brand new and just now growing and it will be interesting to see what happens.

The first one is The Obsessive Shadower. So far it looks like some sort of stalker stories. I think it has some real potential. Creepy, but fun. No zombies yet, but you never know.... (grin)

And the second one is FCC Short Stories. Looks like a few folks are having a competition. Only two stories up so far, but I like the looks of them. Hopefully they will have some more contributors soon!

P.S. One of the tales is mine. Can you guess which one?

And.... what else? Oh yeah. I went to "Trainer Skills Development" class this morning. Learned some skills in how to teach a class effectively. Organization, dealing with difficult students, class prep, etc. It was fun and informative. Becky is a great teacher.

I don't know if I will ever really become a trainer or not. It's alot of early mornings and extra hours that you don't get recognized for. And they hassle you about getting extra hours. But I figure it's just another bit of the enigmatic puzzle called The Rev that makes me so freaking awesome. (grin) Plus I had fun, even if I did have to get up early.

So, on with the calendar so I can hie me off to bed. I've been up since 6:00am and I am one tired puppy.

Wednesday is going to be National Bouillabaisse Day. Why we would have this on our calendars I don't know. It will also be Monkey Day (not FlyinMonkey, but we could pretend, eh?), and St John of the Cross Day.

I think I'll just stick to the monkeys. Probably gentler on the stomach.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Apparently I have training in the morning. Nobody knows what kind of training and I didn't get any advanced notice. Some manner of cluster frack.

So I have to get up early and be there by 8am. What the snap.

And now I have to go and try and fix our laser cutter tonight instead of in the morning like I had planned. That's probably going to take me hours. Pfui.

Tuesday is Ice Cream and Violins Day. Not separately. Together. Don't drip.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Can't Trust A Digital Thermometer

I was right. I had The Ick.

Spent most of the weekend so far as fuzzy as a cotton ball with my head full of snot and NyQuil. At times I wasn't really sure if I was awake or asleep. There seemed to be little difference between the two.

At one point last night I grabbed the digital thermometer and stuck it against my temple. About 30 seconds later it beeped. I looked and it said 101.0 . Yeah, that was about how I felt, all right. Knew I had a fever.

This afternoon I was feeling a little better but was still doing the hot and cold thing so I thought I would check my temp again. Another beep and..... holy snap! 103.2!

The room spun around me a little and I thought "I may need to go to the hospital!" But then I thought "Hey.... wait a minute! If I was running that high I'd be sick as hell and probably delirious. At least dripping with sweat. As it is, I'm just uncomfortably warm. Something is awry here all right...."

Got new batteries and put them in and tried it again. Beep! 101.2.

Reached up in the cabinet and got the other one that you stick under your tongue.

Beep! 97.3 .

Just went and checked it again. 99.2.

Apparently I'm some sort of mutant.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

We Almost Ran Amok

You know what? I have been fighting this sniffly head cold all week and it's finally kicking my butt. I've been sneezing and my nose has been dripping all night and now it's sore from blowing it over and over.

Took one night time cold capsule about 9:00pm and another after I got home and my brain is full of mush.

Sat here and typed for half an hour about working the yard and when I got done I said "This is all gobbledygook!!" and erased it to start all over.

Frack that. I'm going to bed.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Just Disgusted

We expect the inmates to act like idiots. It's a gimme. They're inmates and they're mostly stupid.

But every now and then a staff member will get a bug up their butt and make a fool of themselves and make themselves or all the rest of us or sometimes both, look bad.

I can think of a long list of staff members that I recall with a look of shame or a tinge of anger in my face. And quite a few of them still work there. Why, I don't know.

This latest contestant has seemed like he has decided to self destruct at any moment and try to take as many of us down with him when he goes. And before you even ask, I'm not going to name any names. Either you know or you don't and if you don't I'm not going to say. I'll just refer to him as John D'oh.

Last week Officer D'oh decided to tell a bunch of...... let's just say "untruths" about one of our supervisors. How he's incompetent and lazy and stupid and has no idea how to do his job. He apparently sits dumbly in the corner while Officer D'oh has to work and toil to do his job for him.

Keep in mind that this supervisor mentioned has been doing this job for somewhere around twenty five years while D'oh himself has only been here for about seven years.

And also keep in mind that this same Officer D'oh is the one that always has to be told repeatedly to get things done and won't show any initiative to do things on his own. Every day he sits on his butt and procrastinates in hopes that somebody else will get fed up and do his job for him.

D'oh of course, was bragging about this to a young female CO in order to make himself look more manly and professional at someone else's expense. And I guessed he imagined that it wouldn't get back to the supervisor, for some stupid reason.

So when it did get back to the supervisor and D'oh got called on it, he got mad and sulked and hid for the evening and then called in sick for three days so he wouldn't have to face the consequences.

Well, when he came in today he got another chewing on for running his yap and apparently went and tried to spread the blame around some more. It couldn't really be his fault, after all. He's the perfect officer! We should appoint him freaking king!

It seems that I too, am a lazy no good @%#*!##@!! and I never do any work and all I do is sit around all day and make poor D'oh do all my work for me. He apparently went and told that to the Lieutenant today. And once again, didn't seem to think it would get back to me.

When he said those things about our supervisor I said "What an idiot." And when he turned around and said those things about me I said.... a few stronger phrases.

So. I'm done with him. I used to consider him a fairly competent yet severely annoying friend. Now as far as I am concerned he is just another mouth and I plan on having as little to do with him as possible. I'm fed up. Done.

And I really shouldn't blog when I'm annoyed. It just doesn't work out well.

So I think I'll just stop now and drink the rest of my Chamomile tea and let my sleepytime meds work their way into my system and maybe take a few deep breaths and relax.

I got three more days before I have to deal with that snaphead again. I'll either ignore him completely or give him a piece of my mind. Either way I'll feel better.

So, what's Friday going to be? Lets find out....

National Pastry Day, National Salesperson Day, Weary Willie Day (no comment, think of your own!), and the day of St Juan Diego.

Go Juan Diego, go!

Oops... wrong story.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

For the last eight years I have watched our E-squad load up in their vans and drive all over the state to help search someone else's prison.

Nobody else ever came to ours to search in all that time. I never could get an answer for why from the old regime. I guess they never felt the need.

Well today they did it. Freaking finally.

About 6:30 this morning our squad along with the E-squads from four or five other institutions came in and searched our entire camp. I think they got done a little after 4:00pm this evening. Right around ten hours. And I believe somebody said there was somewhere around a hundred squad members there today.

All through the process and for all the rest of the evening the offenders stayed locked down. They only got a couple hours of open wing activity this evening after the squads had left. They didn't even get to come out for chow. Our Main Production crew made up somewhere around 9,000 sack lunches during the day and delivered them to the housing units. They ate breakfast lunch and dinner in their cells.

It was awesome. They sent the teachers and the librarians and the chaplains home. They kept the caseworkers and the rec guys and made them help search.

They locked up eleven or twelve inmates during the search. Mostly for just being stupid in a no stupid zone. They found one cell phone, a small bit of money, some drugs and a few razor blade melted to a plastic handle type weapons.

The general consensus among the staff is that we should do this more often, perhaps every three months or so. I heartily agree. Make this place a prison. A good show of force keeps them on their toes.

Anyway, I wanted to thank all of the E-squad folks who came in and worked so hard today. They all did an excellent job and I was glad to see them and will be even gladder to see them again.

Thanks alot, guys. Get some sleep. You earned it.

Thursday is going to be Take It In The Ear Day (Ummm... yick...), National Chocolate Brownie Day, and the feast of St Eucharius.

Put that in your ear and smoke it!

Freaking Tired

Well, here it is, twenty minutes after I usually give up and retire for the night and I just got out of the shower. Didn't get home until after 12:30.

I suspected it was going to be a bad day.

When I was driving to work I rolled my window down to bust off a chunk of ice keeping my mirror from moving. I hit the window button and the glass went shoonk! right down to the bottom of the door inside. Hopefully it didn't break.

So I turned around to go home. Ran in and asked Miz Rev to tape a piece of plastic up over the window hole and drove the van to work.

Things went okay from there until late in the evening. Had to put up with a few young punks fresh off the transfer bus with big mouths and crappy attitudes. Rather than make a deal of it and feed their gripes I just ignored them which pissed them off just a little bit.

Out on the yard with the Watcher and Silent Bob and Sgt BK. The BK stands for Billy the Kid. He wears his hat cowboy style and looks really young. It was the best I could come up with at the moment.

Anyway, we had a good time until right before 10:00 count when everything went south.

Some guy in 4 house decided he wanted to check in right before they locked down for the night. Had to hustle to get him to medical and down to the Hive.

Just as I was walking into the Hive with PC boy, they called a Code 70 in 7 house. A Code 70 is a fire or at least a fire alarm. They called it at about 9:59.

Got him dropped off and hustled across the camp to 7 house, since I'm on the fire brigade. They were evacuating the house and lining the inmates up in the yard to count them while we ran in and went from cell to cell, checking for an actual fire.

While we were doing that, they counted the inmates outside in the yard.

Just as we got the house cleared and the inmates run back inside, Lt Farmer points at us and says "All you guys are staying over. The Major is here and we have something we need to do. Let's go!"

So we all troop up to central and into the Majors office and he tells us we are going down to search the laundry. There was a tip that a large amount of money was hidden down there somewhere and we needed to find it.

Well, about 25 of us went down there and searched the place top to bottom. It was hot as heck. Many of us were still dressed for the yard with layers of clothes on since it was 30 degrees outside. It was also dirty and nasty in some of the places we searched. We all got hot and tired and filthy and found practically nothing. About seven dollars in loose change and a couple of cell phone chargers, but nothing significant.

And I'm sure the inmate workers in laundry are going to be pissed when they come back in next time. We made a mess of the place. Ah, well.

It needed to be done and it made us look good in front of the new Major so i guess it was worth it.

And I bet I'll sleep good tonight.

Wednesday is going to be National Cotton Candy Day, Pearl Harbor Day and Leggings day.

And that's good enough.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

That's Over With

I'm just glad that nonsense is over with. But at least I wasn't alone. Almost everybody I saw came out of there saying "Oh Gawd, I did horrible!"

So I don't feel quite so bad about it.

I only really know one person who seemed comfortable with how his interview went and I knew he was going to ace it.

So I'm guessing I know at least one of our new supervisors.

I'm going to relax now and go back to being one of the front line grunts and forget all about moving up into posher quarters in officers country. At least down here I know what I am doing and it doesn't take any special training to keep doing the same thing.

And I guess that's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday is going to be National Gazpacho Day and Mitten Tree Day, as well as Pawnbrokers Day, Miners Day, as well as the day of St Nicholas, who later became Santa Claus.

Monday, December 5, 2011

I Was A Nervous Wreck

I could have used some of those nerve pills. I think I did medium to awful.

They asked me questions about things I wasn't too sure about. Of course. I studied everything but that one topic.


Now I'm trying to wind back down again and go to work and enjoy our first snowfall of the year.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Hey Now!

Really. I have no idea what that picture is supposed to represent. I just put the word "hey" in my image search box and there it was...

"Hey, now!" is something that I say, usually to myself, when I'm startled or confused or nonplussed. I said it alot this evening.

There's a spot along the inner perimeter fence behind Main Production where the fence around the refrigeration machinery is only eight feet high. And since the razor wire is in two foot coils, that means it hangs down real close to the six foot level. Usually when I'm checking that part of the fence I walk all hunched over, since I am a shade over six feet tall.

I don't know if I got distracted and straightened up or bobbed when I should have weaved or what. Came to the end of the run to turn the corner and all of the sudden my hat was gone!

Hey now! I whipped around and there was my hat, hanging in the razor wire, waving in the breeze. At least it wasn't my scalp. I removed it carefully and luckily it didn't tear a hole in my new twenty dollar hat. For that kind of money, that sucker has to last me for at least a year!

And I spent at least half of the night losing my water bottles. I never did manage to drink a whole one before it would disappear. The water at the prison is extremely nasty and the only way I drink any of it is after it runs through a coffee filter. Otherwise I bring my own bottled water to drink.

We almost always have a golf cart on the yard and I usually leave my bottle on the cart so it won't fall out of my coat pocket. And every time I went to get a drink... Hey, now! Someone has run off with the cart and my bottle.

Warning! PG-13 Language and innuendo alert!

Sgt Archer is a big hunting and outdoor sportsman. He hunts and fishes and shoots things and even does taxidermy on the side. I imagine if you gave him a long rifle and a pair of buckskin pants he would disappear into the woods and never be seen again. Of course, Miz Archer would beat him silly if he tried that, but he'd think about it.

Anyway, he rummaged around in the shack and found a hunting magazine or Cabelas catalog or something and said "Ooooo.... hunting porn." Then he flipped it sideways like he was looking at the centerfold and said "Check out that beaver!!!"

I cracked up. The he drove off with the cart and my water bottle again.

Okay. Back to the Rated G stuff.

Things went mostly okay until we were about 75% of the way through our evening perimeter check when they called a fight at 6 house. Since I was the furthest one away I got there last and it was all done before I made it to the door. Sgt Archer was flying across the yard on the cart while I was running and all I could hear was him singing "I'm driving in my car.... I turn on the radio..." as he sped past. The nut.

While I'm still trying to catch my breath Captain CJ and Lt Poolio show up and a few minutes later they come back out and "appropriate" the cart and drive off with my water bottle.

Hey now!

So I walk all the way up to central and as soon as they go inside I re-appropriated the cart and brought it back. Fortunately I managed to get a drink on the way.

When I make it back to 6 house Sgt Archer comes out and tells me I'm going to help count and relieve until Anakin can go take care of the paperwork. Then he gets on the cart and.... well, you know.

Hey.......! Aw, frack it. I'll get something to drink when I get home...

Here's the weekend lineup:
Saturday: National Roof-Over-Your-Head Day, Earmuff Day, Skywarn Recognition Day, National Apple Pie Day and the day of St Francis Xavier. (not the one we have on the yard)

Sunday: Wear Brown Shoes Day, National Cookie day, National Dice day, and the day of St John Damascene, whoever he was.

Monday: National Sacher Torte Day, Bathtub Party Day (oh, boy!), National Ninja Day, National Turn Rev Into A Nervous Wreck Day, Repeal of Prohibition Day (I might need a drink!) and the feast of St John The Wonder Worker.

I can't wait for Monday to be over.....

Friday, December 2, 2011

My Preparations Are Complete

Ever since I started this nonsense about trying to promote I have been bombarded from all sides. Both by well-wishers that want me to succeed and others who think I have some secret esoteric knowledge that might help them get promoted as well.

If I took all of the advice I would know all of the policy by heart and walk in dressed like a Majordomo with medals dripping off of my chest and creases you could shave with and a packet that was about nine feet thick.

And the only real advice I have for anybody else is "Relax and be yourself and answer their questions to the best of your ability."

I'm sure I'm going to be battling my nerves to try and follow my own advice, come Monday morning.

But I got one more recommendation letter from Sgt Puddle this evening and as far as I am concerned, my packet is complete. With only one more working day before the interviews, getting anything else to put in there would be pretty much fruitless, anyway.

So I'm done. I have a pressed uniform and I will run it over one more time with the iron this weekend and put a layer of polish on my boots and call myself ready.

And if that isn't good enough for them, then I guess I didn't really need the job anyway. I've never been much of a "spit and polish" kind of guy and I'm not about to try and become something that I am not. After eight and a half years here they know how I roll (as Peggy Sue so aptly put it) and if they don't like that, then..... Frack it.

I will be who I am. A great man once said "I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam."

I'm not a big fan of yams, but you get the point.

I'm ready. Let's punch this munchkin!

Friday I'll be in the control center again. I'm hoping it will be a good and auspicious day.
It will be National Fritters Day, National Mutt Day, Special Education Day, and the feast of St Lupus of Verona.

Hmm.... Fritters

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Random Tumbling

I've been spending some of my free time on, just looking at other peoples photo blogs.

Of course some of the stuff I find there is pretty silly.

But occasionally one or two of them really make me wonder.

And in case you were wondering, nothing happened tonight. At least, nothing worth writing about. Or nothing that I will admit to, anyway. You know how it is.

Thursday is going to be National Pie Day and Eat A Red Apple Day, Civil Air patrol Day, Day With(out) Art Day, Rosa Parks Day, and the feast of St Gwrst.

Yeah, it's spelled Gwrst. Don't ask me how you pronounce it, either.