Saturday, March 31, 2012

Getting My Hands Dirty

If you want to get something done in a hurry in Raccoon City, all you have to do is utter the magic phrase "The Major is pissed!" and it generally gets done pretty quickly.

And once again, third shift shows why we are always batting clean-up and for a good reason. We find the solutions and get the snit done.

Lt Beez calls me at 25 house and says "There's some stuff down in your basement. Broken brooms and stuff. It all needs to get hauled over and thrown in the trash compactor. It was supposed to get taken care of days ago and the Major is pissed. Will you take care of it?"

I said we'd handle it.

When I went down in the basement I saw about 25-30 broken brooms and mop handles taped together in bundles along with another pile of broken crud. It didn't look too bad. Then when I turned around I found a laundry cart (without anyone hiding in it)
loaded with more pieces of wood and metal pipes and about three hundred pounds of torn up floor tiles and chunks of drywall that needed to go out with the broken brooms.

Oh freaking joy.

The Lt said we could conscript a few inmates to push the carts over, but they were not allowed to throw any of that stuff in the dumpster themselves. So I took Tilt and a couple of inmates to push the carts and then Tilt sent them back to the house and we got busy.

When we had the first cart about halfway empty Tilt lifted one end of the thing to try and dump it all into the dumpster. He said "Watch out!" I said "What?" And a large handful of crap fell out and went right down the front of me.

Of course at that point the laws of laundry physics took over. The black stuff hit that white shirt of mine dead center. And the white stuff rolled down the leg of my black pants and all over my black boots.

I repeatedly said something that sounded nothing like "Oh snap!"


Afterwards I spent about twenty minutes in the bathroom trying to get at least some of that black crap out of my shirt to little avail. I finally managed to look halfway presentable again, anyway.

That's why I'm sitting here now well after midnight on my Monday evening or Tuesday morning as the case may be, doing a load of laundry as well as writing a blog post.

But we got the job done and Capt Strong (who used to be Lt Strong until recently. Congrats by the way!) did remember to say "Thanks!"

And third shift manages to do what day shift can never seem to accomplish. Once again.

So Saturday is going to be Bunsen Burner Day and National Clams On The Half Shell Day as well as National Pencil Day, National "She's Funny Like That" Day and Terri's Day.

Ya know? She is funny like that. Now that you mention it...

And just in case anyone was wondering, I didn't win the Mega Millions. So it looks like I'll be here a while longer...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ask And Ye Shall Recieve!

Yesterday my food holiday I listed was Spanish Paella Day. And I had no clue what a Paella was. But thanks to our friend Coup we will be clueless no more!

Chicken and clams and sausage and lobster and shrimp! And some other stuff just to hold those yummy things together. Here's the recipe:

The Ultimate Paella

Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence

Prep Time:
30 min
Inactive Prep Time:
1 hr 0 min
Cook Time:
1 hr 0 min
4 to 6 servings


  • Spice Mix for chicken, recipe follows
  • 1 (3-pound) frying chicken, cut into 10 pieces
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Spanish chorizo sausages, thickly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Spanish onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, reserve some for garnish
  • 1 (15-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and hand-crushed
  • 4 cups short grain Spanish rice
  • 6 cups water, warm
  • Generous pinch saffron threads
  • 1 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 2 lobster tails
  • 1/2 cup sweet peas, frozen and thawed
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

Special equipment:

  • Large paella pan or wide shallow skillet


Rub the spice mix all over the chicken and marinate chicken for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

Heat oil in a paella pan over medium-high heat. Saute the chorizo until browned, remove and reserve. Add chicken skin-side down and brown on all sides, turning with tongs. Add salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove from pan and reserve.

In the same pan, make a sofrito by sauteing the onions, garlic, and parsley. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes on a medium heat. Then, add tomatoes and cook until the mixture caramelizes a bit and the flavors meld. Fold in the rice and stir-fry to coat the grains. Pour in water and simmer for 10 minutes, gently moving the pan around so the rice cooks evenly and absorbs the liquid. Add chicken, chorizo, and saffron. Add the clams and shrimp, tucking them into the rice. The shrimp will take about 8 minutes to cook. Give the paella a good shake and let it simmer, without stirring, until the rice is al dente, for about 15 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, when the rice is filling the pan, add the lobster tails. When the paella is cooked and the rice looks fluffy and moist, turn the heat up for 40 seconds until you can smell the rice toast at the bottom, then it's perfect.

Cook's note: The ideal paella has a toasted rice bottom called socarrat.

Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with peas, parsley and lemon wedges.

Spice Mix for chicken:

  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture all over the chicken; marinate for 1 hour, covered

If it weren't for the onions which would give me vicious heartburn, I think I could eat my weight in this stuff.

Thanks Coup!

Wednesday is going to be Something On A Stick Day.

And ya know, when you have Something On A Stick, what else do you need?

Monday, March 26, 2012


Contraband. It's been the bane of prisons since day one. Inmates are forever wanting the things they can't have or aren't allowed to have in prison and there is always somebody somewhere who is willing and stupid enough to try and bring it in to them.

A couple of our main concerns are drugs, cell phones and cash money. The other two things they crave other than their freedom is sex and real edible food.

But I'm not going there. Not tonight, anyway.

We don't "search" the visitors when they come in. They have to take everything out of their pockets and pass through a metal detector before they are allowed in the visiting room. It's about all that we are allowed to do. So sometimes things do get through that way.

Though the other day a visitor was escorted off with the investigator and a couple of local deputies for questioning. Apparently there had been a tip of some sort that she might be bringing in drugs, but they didn't find anything on her. But then, without her actually being arrested, there's a limit on how thoroughly they could search her then, too. You never know.

This afternoon when we came on shift we all had to go through the visiting room and get searched ourselves. It happens now and then.

I bitch and moan about it and consider it an affront, but I don't take it personally. After all, it's people I know going through my lunch box and patting me down and I've taken part on the other end of a few staff searches.

And it seems like at least once a year someone ends up getting escorted out of the institution after being caught smuggling in something they shouldn't. We all shake our heads and say "Really? What a freaking idiot!"

We spend a good portion of each and every day searching the inmates and the buildings and grounds for contraband. They found a "shank" or prison made weapon in my house on Friday night while I was elsewhere. Usually what they find when they search is extra clothing and tattoo guns.

But occasionally they score something big and it makes us all look and feel good about our jobs.

And the search goes on.....

Tuesday is going to be National "Joe" Day (Hey, Joe!), Quirky Country Music Song Titles Day, Viagra Day (evil grin) and National Spanish Paella Day.

Whatever the snap a Paella is.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

On Why The Goat Danced

I just want to touch briefly and pay my homage to that wonderful bean, without which very little would get done in this world.

At least not early in the morning.

Between the building both inside and outside the perimeter fence there are probably a minimum of fifty coffee pots here in Raccoon City. Very few places you can go into and not get a cup of coffee at almost any time of day or night.

If I could corner the coffee market here I'd be rich. There's a handful of people who don't drink it, but a snapload of them who do.

Notice I made up a new word there. Snapload. I'm hoping it will catch on.

Even the inmates, or should I say especially the inmates are crazy about their coffee. The stuff they get in the chow hall at breakfast is weak and tepid, usually. It's barely even brown water. And all they are allowed out on the hill is instant, which they heat up in the microwaves.

I have seen inmates do some amazing, startling and sometimes disgusting things for a "shot" of coffee, which is about enough to make two cups. Won't go into a lot of details there. I'll let you just imagine.

But like I said the other day, we caught some little wobblehead spitting out his psych meds to sell for coffee. I've seen that happen more than once.

Of course why you would want even good drugs if they had already been in someone else's mouth is beyond my comprehension.


But I digress. I always bring in enough grounds to make two pots of coffee every day. I don't always drink that much but it's been known to happen. Especially if I have help. Tonight I sat in my office and drank the better part of a pot by myself, just because no one else showed up who wanted any.

That was fine with me.

In my younger years I could drink the stuff right up until I went to bed. It was nothing to brew up a pot after dinner, empty it out and set it up again for the morning. Nowadays I have to moderate myself and stop drinking it around 8:00pm if I want to get any sleep at all.

Getting old sucks, just in case you were wondering.

But it does beat the alternative.

Anyway, I just wanted to say a belated thank you to Kaldi the goat herder back in the ninth century who supposedly discovered the stuff. The story is probably a bunch of snapwash, but I like the idea of it.

Another new word there. Whoo hoo!

Three cheers for coffee!

While I'm here, I might as well give you the celebrations for tomorrow, eh?
Monday is going to be Make Up Your Own Holiday Day and Spinach Festival Day over in Chester, Illinois.

And when you get to make up your own holiday, what else do you need?

Go crazy with it!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Gotta Stay Flexible

Working in a prison can really test your mettle sometimes. Whatever the frack "mettle" may be.

Some things are set in stone and treated like they were Commandments handed down from the mount, eternal and unaltered for all time.

Then you come in after your days off and find they have changed everything.

To survive at this job you have to learn to go with the flow or you might get swept away.

Sometimes I get a little resistant to change and sometimes I don't mind it. Depends on my mood, I guess.

I have heard about some of the things going on down in the Hive which I don't like at all. Especially dealing with rec, which is what I used to do. In my mind, it's going to get someone off in a wreck and possibly hurt if they are not extremely careful.

And some of these things we had tried in the past and found out later that they were not so good of an idea, after all. But when I voice my concerns nobody listens. So all I can say is "Watch your a*s and cover your butt and be careful." It's the best I can do, I suppose.

But an occasional change-up isn't a bad break now and then. I got to start work early today and relieve one of the day shift Sergeants for an hour so he could go home. So I got to work a house I don't get to see anymore. Talk to different people for awhile. That was nice.

And since I started early they gave me the choice of getting an hour of overtime or going home an hour early. Since there was nothing going on in 25 house tonight I took the option and burnt out an hour earlier than usual.

That was a nice change of pace.

And it was a good thing that i was in a mellow and flexible mood, because I got stuck listening to Tilt tell these two long interminable and ridiculous jokes. They were horrible. And way too long to tell here.

Even though I was sorely tempted to smack that grin off of his face or travel back in time and drown him at birth both times when he was done I just turned and walked away, shaking my head.

He was lucky I'm so easy to get along with. I'm just saying.....

So Sunday is going to be Pecan Day and Waffle Day (and I'm assuming pecan waffle day as well), Old New Years Day (really?), Slave Trade Day (umm... what?) and Tolkien Reading Day (sweet!).

More pecan waffles over here, please!

Celebrating Quietly

After a four and a half year hiatus, my wife got her job back with the good old Umbrella Corporation and will be coming back to work here in Raccoon City again! Yeah!

I am stoked beyond all repair. Even though she is doing a pretty good thing with her online scrapbooking stuff, it will be great to have that extra paycheck coming in every two weeks. And I'll get to drop that $300.00 a month I was paying to keep her on my insurance.

And even more than just the money, it was something that she really wanted to do and it was making her sad and angry when things weren't happening. But she worked her butt off and got it done and was very very happy when she passed the physical and they said she could come back.

I was so happy I could have toted her off and married her all over again.

Anyway, that's my great news for the day. She gets to come back next week for "job shadowing" which is supposed to show the new hires what working in a prison is all about. But she already knows all of that so i guess she'll just be hanging out getting reacquainted with old friends.

The week after that she starts the Academy again. Since it's been over a year she has to go through all six (?) weeks of that all over again. Most of those classes are going to be exactly the same as they were the first time, nine years ago. Wheee...

I don't envy her that.

But hey! My baby's back at work! Whoo hoo!

On a lighter note (grin), Saturday is going to be National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day, World Tuberculosis Day and the National Day of Unplugging.

What?!? Unplug what? I don't think so....

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Just Imagining Things

I've written before about how this place is haunted. And it is. I've seen things.

I mean, how could you build a prison on the grounds of an abandoned mental hospital and expect it to NOT be haunted for criminy sakes? That's like throwing a sponge in a swamp and expecting it not to get wet. Don't be thick.

Some of the original buildings are well over 100 years old. And they are heated with steam, and you know how noisy that gets. The pipes clang and clonk and move around on their own all the time. It is never quiet, especially when the heat is running.

So I went down into the 10 house basement the other night, looking for something. I don't remember exactly what it was but I remember not finding it. I'd looked around some down there before but hadn't covered the whole place so i decided I'd go ahead and poke around and see what all was down there.

What it was, was junk, for the most part. Broken furniture and leftover stuff. Three whole rooms full of old files from years past, mouldering away in dozens of filing cabinets and probably being dined on by small paper eating critters. Bathrooms with all of the fixtures removed and used somewhere else.

I'd covered north wing and it was uneventful and I found my way into south wing. When I first opened the door I heard a noise like a piece of paper falling to the floor. I looked where it sounded like it came from and saw nothing.

Going from room to room I saw nothing (but more junk) but hear that same noise several more times, each time it got on my nerves just a little bit more. And each time I looked into the room that it sounded like it came out of, there was nothing.

By the time I had made my circuit of the wing and went back out the door the hair on the back of my neck was standing up and every time I heard that stupid noise I was ready to jump out of my skin.

I finally locked the door behind me and gave a shiver of relief.

I know it was just my imagination messing with me.

Even so, I don't think I'll be going down there again any time soon.

Frack That.

On a lighter note:
Wednesday will be Buddhist Day, Fragrance Day, Memory Day, Common Courtesy Day and National French Bread Day.

Thursday will be National Goof-off Day, As Young As You Feel Day, World Water Day and Coq Au Vin Day.

And Friday of course will be National Organize Your Home Office Day and National Chip and Dip Day as well as National Puppy Day and Near Miss Day and National Melba Toast Day.

Many excellent reasons to celebrate. Go wild!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Wild Postcards From The Edge (Part 5)

I have a few more postcards that have come trickling in the last couple of weeks but I had to make special mention of these two because they were different.

Someone actually went out and bought two postcards so these are the first I have gotten that weren't Japanese prints. I think because it took whoever the mysterious author was needed two to print their message on.

Other than the one in Klingon (which I had to Google search) this was the first foreign language set that I could actually identify, if not read, without help.

One glance at it and I said "Hey! That's Elven!"

They are written in Sindaran Elven and it's a song called "In Western Lands" written by J.R.R. Tolkien, of course.

Translated, it says this:
In western lands beneath the Sun
In spring, flowers rise,
The trees bud, waters run,*
And the merry little birds sing

There it is cloudless night
And shuddering beeches hold
The starry host, the white jewels,
On their branching hair.

Here at my path's end I am lingering
In deep darkness buried.
Beyond towers strong and high
Beyond all mountains steep

Above all shadows rides the Sun
And stars always dwell.
I will not say 'The day is done'
Or to the stars 'farewell'.

"The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" have been my favorite books for.... Well, Most of my life so far. And as a matter of fact I have just finished rereading "The Hobbit" and am on book one of LOTR right now. Because of seeing written Elven again.

And I would like to thank the sender of these two cards for making me just a little sentimental.

Tuesday is going to be Proposal Day and Festival Of Extraterrestrial Abductions Day as well as Atheist Pride Day, Bed-In For Peace Day, Kiss Your Fiancee Day and National Ravioli Day.

Hmm... Propose to and kiss an Italian Alien Atheist in bed for me while you're at it!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Make My Job Easy

Sometimes I have to laugh. Once in awhile you find out there is a problem of one sort of another and you have to resort to pulling an investigation and questioning dozens of people before you find out any of the facts.

And sometimes they fall right in your lap.

I was standing in between 10 and 30 house talking to Tilt and Chief. Miz Peanut Butter had just escorted one of my guys back up from medical and took him through the back door into the house.

Seconds later I hear her on the radio. "75 to T-5! 10-10 Delta Wing!" And she sounded a bit excited. I tossed my smoke and shot back into the house at a quick trot, wondering what the snap was going on.

When I get into the hallway she has an offender backed up against the wall and she hands me his ID card. She says "I caught him spitting out his meds into his hand. And when he realized he was caught, he swallowed them again."

I started to say something and he blurted out "It's true! I've been selling my meds for coffee!"

Oh really...... And oh yuck, by the way. It's bad enough to take someone else's medications but to take them after they'd already been in their mouth????

Double yuck.

I looked at Miz Peanut Butter and she looked at me and I said "Put cuffs on him."

Checked with the nurse, but I already knew what the answer was going to be. I dealt with him when he was in 9 house with the rest of the wobbleheads. Psych meds. Oh boy.

Somebody was going to be missing their daily buzz tomorrow. I just hoped whoever hadn't been taking them long enough to get hooked. Otherwise we might have another problem on our hands when he started coming down.

Called Lt Wyatt just to let him know what was happening. He'd already had enough going on. The poor guy just started on our shift from midnights and got involved in a use of force and got a good coating of pepper spray in the process. Darn my luck, I was outside a locked door and couldn't make it to that one.

So our little wobblehead got locked up and that violation will get him kicked out of the program and sent back to the wobblehead house where he belongs. I was getting complaints about the way he smelled, anyway.

That was just too easy. Wish they were all like that.

Well, with less B.O., anyway. You know what I mean.

So Monday is going to dawn bright and early as Poultry Day, National Chocolate Caramel Day and Swallows Return To San Juan Capistrano Day.

Sounds like a good day for dinner and dessert. Celebrate!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

When It Rains....

Just a quick note then I'm off to bed. It's been a busy day but most of that was before work. Did alot of running around and was almost late. I hate being late. That sort of made me grouchy.

Had a pretty good storm blow through this evening. Lots of tarantula downpours. Lightning, wind and hail.

That hail is what usually makes me nervous. Especially when it's almost 80 degrees outside. That means there's a good chance there might be a tornado somewhere.

It was bad enough that we held up all movement everywhere until it blew past.

During the course of that I discovered that there are places in 10 house that rain almost as much inside as it did out. The one I mentioned before, right in front of my office door is one of them. The office right next to mine is the other.

I poured five trash cans full of water out of the window during the course of the storm. Small desk sized trash cans, not the big outside ones. But, still.

Later on I had Meatball send me a couple of volunteers with mops to clean up the mess. They did a fine job without griping (which is always a plus) and hopefully kept some of the water from leaking down into the offices down stairs.

I didn't check all of the offices, because I haven't yet figured out which keys are which. So if they want me to check them they better tell me in advance. I'm not carrying 30 sets of keys around. Especially in a dang thunderstorm.

Anyway, I'm beat and I'm toddling off to bed.

Y'all be good, now!

Sunday is going to be Supreme Sacrifice Day (Oh lawsy, I hope not), Awkward Moments Day, Forgive Mom and Dad Day and Oatmeal Cookie Day.

But I will sacrifice one of the Supremes, if I'm forced to.

Friday, March 16, 2012


So I'm scheduled to work 25 house today. It's my day to be there. I'm just hanging around outside central kickin' rocks waiting for time to go to my house, as I always show up early.

About 3:00 Lt Sienna calls me and says "We need you to go to 10 house. One wing is locked down on tight house and we need a Sergeant over there to deal with it."

Okay, that's a big deal. "Tight House" is when they make all of the offenders sit in chairs in the dayroom all day long. Not talking. Not playing games or walking around. They get brown bag dinners and eat right there. Only one offender at a time can get up and go to the bathroom.

That's kind of a last resort sort of thing and they don't use it very often. It was explained to me that someone punched a hole in one of the classroom walls and nobody would 'fess up to the act.

When I get there I find out it's only D-wing South and they are not on tight house. They are on wing restriction. So, no day room. No microwave. No teevee. No phones.

And the reason for that is somebody poked a small hole in a brand new dry erase board that they just put up in one of the classrooms. A dent about a quarter of an inch across.

And Rolly showed me how it probably happened. He brought in the barbers box on it's cart, opened the lid and pushed it over by the board, right where they cut hair in the evenings. The corner of the box lid fits right into the dent in the board.

So somebody cutting hair bumped the box, which hit the board and put a dent in it. Most likely an accident. And most likely, whoever did it didn't even notice it.

When Rolly showed that to the caseworker, she just sniffed and said "I made my decision." and left for the weekend, leaving us to deal with it. So sixty inmates have to sit in their wing all weekend getting bored and pissed off because she was not adult enough to admit that she might be wrong.

And because they are going to have to sit there for three days getting bored and pissed off it's real likely that some one or two or several of them are going to cause some problems. And also considering that most of the staff in 10 house are in our 40's and 50's (or older) there's a good chance that one or more of us could get hurt.

All because someone got in a snit.

Since they decided that it was important enough to pull me out of my house because we "have" to have a Sergeant in the house, I waited for my relief who never showed up.

I guess it was only important enough on our shift. And I'm pulled out and down there again tomorrow.

I think I'll complain. It won't do any good, but I'll complain nonetheless.

So Saturday is going to be Submarine Day, International Astrology Day, Camp Fire Girls Day and Corn Dog Day.

Mmmm... corn dogs. With mustard. Yum!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Too Many irons In The Fire

Boy, here I was thinking "It's my Friday and it's going to be a nice sunny day and I get to work out on my favorite yard! This is going to be a great day!"

I even got extra people on the yard so everything was covered! Cool!

Well, it turned out okay, but it could have been better, believe me.

The Brute bid out of 10 house and went to 25 (so I'll be relieving him there instead, on different days), so I knew that there wasn't a 10 house Sergeant. But Sgt Moon was supposed to be in 30 so I wasn't concerned. He could watch both houses like I did on his days off.

But, no. Sgt Moon was out with E-squad somewhere doing something E-squaddish and mysterious. So I needed to cover 10 and 30 as well as the yard. Yikes. No Sergeant in 7 or 8 house, either. Oh, snap.

Fortunately Sgt Miz p was in 9 house and Sgt Major was in 6 in case I got into a jam. I knew I could count on them. I called and left messages in both places saying "Hey! Watch my back, please!"

So I'm out on the yard with Sausage and Tweedle and Porcupine and Tilt and everything seems okay. We are back on the evening yard schedule and the yards are open at night until we close them at dark. That goes fine and they get their yard time and nobody does anything really stupid.

I was a little nervous about having so many unsupervised houses, but I figured we'd handle any problems that came up one at a time.

It wasn't until after the yards closed that it got weird.

Suddenly I looked around and said "Where the snap are all of my officers?"

It took a minute to find them all. Sausage was up watching the med pass line. Tweedle was doing pat downs and the Del Norte walk. Porcupine was in 7 house writing a violation and Tilt was escorting a check-in to the Hive.

Just like that, I was alone on the yard. If anything bad would have kicked off right then we would have been seriously short of manpower. Sausage and Porcupine could have responded if I needed them, but that was all. At least I had them.

I guess it comes with being a supervisor. Worrying about what might happen and what resources I have to deal with whatever might happen.

And the way you can go from being hip deep in CO's to all alone on the yard in the blink of an eye is a little bit scary at times.

But we persevered and survived. Sausage ordered pizza and we sat outside and enjoyed the rest of the night in relative peace.

And it was my Friday and I was glad.

So here's the weekend lineup:
Wednesday: National Potato Chip Day, International Ask A Question Day, National Pi (3.14) Day and National Bake A Pie (round-ish, with fruit in it) Day.

Thursday: Buzzard's Day, Everything You Think Is Wrong Day, The Ides of March and National Pears Helene with Chocolate Sauce and Brandy Day.

Friday: Everything You Do Is Right Day, Freedom Of Information Day, Celebration Of Lips Day and National Artichoke Hearts Day.

Mmmm.... Now I'm thinking about celebrating lips! Yay!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Too Much Excitement

I had a feeling it was going to be one of those days and for once, I was right. Had to leave early to make some extra stops on the way into work and it threw my whole routine off.

But things were going okay until I hit the front door of the control center. Just walking in from the parking lot when I heard over someone else's radio "10-5! 10-5! On B-yard!"

For those who haven't been keeping track, that means "Officer needs assistance right freaking now!!!"

And through the fences I see people running from all sides. Oh snap. I didn't have a radio yet so I couldn't respond. Fortunately it didn't last too long and nobody got hurt.

None of us, anyway.

I thought to myself "This isn't a good way to start the day."

They had the mess cleaned up by the time I got inside and I moseyed on down to my house. My regular crew was there so I figured I was in good shape. Since I am over both 10 and 30 house on Sundays and Mondays I decided to go check 30 and see the lineup over there and my heart sank.

Annoying Dude got a bid down in 30 house and it was his first day down there and he was in the bubble. Basically in charge of the house. Joy. Along with him I had Kermit, Teacher and Tangina. I rolled my eyes and gritted my teeth and cursed whoever had done the staffing roster.

They must really hate me.

**long deep sigh*** Aww... snap.

I went over there and said "Hey, I'm here. Call me if you need me." and ran away, hoping that Fate would smile on me.

The next thing I hear is a Code 16 on 9 yard. GQ was on the yard and I was a bit mystified when he didn't state what form of medical emergency it was. He's usually right on top of those things. So I started trotting that way just to see if i could be of any assistance.

From the distance I could see the 9 house nurses cart on the walk and an inmate laying down in front of it. I thought the nurse was there checking him out.

Finally GQ gets on the radio and says "He got run over by the nurses cart."

Aw frickety fracking snap. I am so glad I didn't see that happen. Apparently she tried to stop and hit the gas instead and knocked him down. That was going to cause no end of paperwork. Luckily Sgt Miz P was there and Lt Chipmunk showed up with Sgt Major. I looked around and said "Looks like you guys have enough supervisors. I'm going back to my house."

I beat a hasty retreat before anyone really noticed I was there.

Not long after that Teacher got into a disagreement with an offender over in 30 house. Things got a little heated and I was afraid it was going to get ugly. At the last minute I realized that Teacher had said one thing and the inmate thought he meant something entirely different and was getting pissed off.

When I pointed out what was said and what was meant I could see a light come on in the guys head. He looked at Teacher and said "Oh. I'm sorry, man. I completely misunderstood you." Teacher actually apologized for not making himself clear and they parted amicably.

Whew! Potential disaster averted.

I went back to my house and was getting ready for count when I heard Tangina call another Code 16. She's not very good on the radio and when she stated the nature of the emergency she said "The offender is getting ill."

Now what in the name of snap does THAT mean? I pulled my coat on again and trotted over there.

When I got in the house I knew what the problem was. The offender is a real fragile diabetic and bottoms out quickly and hard. And when he bottoms out he has seizures. Hard ones. He was pale and sweaty and disoriented and twitching.

Snap! It's five minutes to count! Ran up front and told them to get a stretcher. Called Vinnie in the Control Center and told him we'd be moving the guy. Call the Lt and told him the same thing.

Started to run back to the wing then turned around and barked at Annoying Dude "Call 10 house and tell them I won't be there for count! Get someone to cover for me!" I think I scared him a little bit.

Normally the yard sends at least one officer to a Code 16 but this time nobody showed up so I rode up on the nurses cart with the guy to medical. I called and had them send out their porters to carry him in but they had already sent them back to their houses for the evening.

Sgt Archer had come over from A-side and he and I toted this 200 pound guy on the stretcher into medical. About the time we got him picked up he started seizing and swinging his arms around. I had to walk leaning back so he didn't punch me in the face. Not an easy feat, let me tell you. But we made it inside without me getting smacked and I was happy.

I managed to make it back to my house right before count cleared. I had just enough time to gather my stuff and turn in my keys and head out, happy that the night was over.

As I was walking out I heard Capt Wheelie call Sgt Major on the radio to come to medical. I'm guessing he was going to ask why none of the yard dawgs responded to that medical emergency and why the 10 house Sergeant had to ride up on the cart with the nurse.

I'd liked to have known the answer to that one myself.

But I was too busy getting out of Dodge before anything else happened. I'd had enough excitement for one night.

Tuesday I'm going to be on the yard, theoretically. Let's see what kind of day it's going to be?

It will be Jewel Day (so far, so good), Donald Duck Day (yeah), Earmuffs Day (I hope not), L. Ron Hubbard Day (Okay, he was a lunatic, but...), National Open An Umbrella Indoors Day (No, not pushing my luck) and Coconut Torte Day. Not a big fan of coconut, but I can live with that.

Sounds like it might be safe to celebrate. I'll risk it!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Stupid Storms

Stupid thunderstorms have made my power flicker on and off twice so I'm just going to wish you a happy Alfred Hitchcock Day and get the snap off of here before my 'puter gets fried.

Good evening.....

I Felt Kinda Nekkid

What with this mild winter we've had so far it's been a strange year. Usually we have to spend at least a couple of weeks bundled up in multiple layers and adjusting our duty belts to accommodate the insulated coveralls.

I think I brought my coveralls once this winter but never put them on.

Today was supposed to be somewhere in the low 60's so this afternoon I transferred all of my junk to a short sleeve shirt and decided to forgo the long johns.

I felt nekkid.

In a way having on long sleeves and a hoodie under my coat and the layer of long johns on made me feel like I was wearing body armor.

As if I was insulated from more than just the weather. If you get my drift.

Today I felt kind of exposed and a tad vulnerable.

I was comfortable..... But it felt strange not to be all bundled up.

I know in a couple of months I'll be complaining about how freaking hot it is, especially inside some of those houses. Very few places have any sort of air conditioning that works. Mostly we have to rely on fans.

The three bears would never make it here in Raccoon City. It's always either too hard or too soft. There's just no room for "just right."

Sunday is going to be Johnny Appleseed Day and Worship of Tools Day as well as National Oatmeal-Nut Waffles Day.

This weekend I think I'll be out worshiping some of my favorite tools.

And don't forget to set your clocks! Spring forward!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I Almost Had To Do Something

Jeez... This whole Sergeant gig is making me lazy.

Aside from the fact that I spent an entire week sitting in class and eating two meals a day as opposed to my usual one, now I have people who do the things I'm used to doing and it's making me crazy.

If I want to do something myself I have to jump in there and do it quick before someone else does it for me.

When I work 25 house one of the first things that needs to happen is the 25 yard inner perimeter check or "IP" as we call it. You check the fences and all of the doors and gates and make sure everything is secure. It's not a bad little walk and it gets your blood moving first thing on shift.

I was going to go ahead and get it done while everyone was getting settled in their wings. But before I even got my stuff set down in the office Miz Fawkes and Miz Slim both started out in different directions and took care of it.

I know... I know... It's their job. I was just trying to be nice and help out. Miz Slim is always so on top of things there that I rarely get a chance to do anything more than count. But sometimes it's a little frustrating. I am still so used to being the guy that does the stuff.

That is hard to get used to.

I did get to make a call earlier in the evening, though. Our ice machines in the house broke down and the offenders had no ice in the wings.

I know... Poor darlings, right? But it is hot in those wings and we try to make sure they have ice available when we can.

Someone had said when that happened last year we took some offenders all the way up to 1 house and got ice from there. heck, that's half the way across the camp? Why not......

I called Main Production and said "Hey, can we come and get ice right before you shut down for the night? That way you have all night for the machines to fill back up again." To which they replied "Hey, no problem!" And Main Production is only about fifty yards away from here, rather than a quarter of a mile.

Then I called the Lt and told him what we were doing and why. They kind of appreciate it when we call them with solutions rather than problems.

So... problem solved. Was that so hard?

Is this what I'm here for? Really?

Okey dokey, then.

If you need me for anything further I'll be out walking laps around the building.

Saturday is going to be Festival Of Life In The Cracks Day, The International Day of Awesomeness, Fanny Pack Day and National Blueberry Popover Day.

I'm all up into Awesomeness. And Blueberry Popovers, too!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I Don't Care For Surprises

Getting surprised while working in a prison is rarely a good thing. Even being caught unawares or nonplussed can be extremely bad.

As you can well imagine.

We often get lulled into complacency by the "business as usual" routine of the place. Especially if things have been going well and smoothly for awhile. We forget that things can go bad very quickly and all it takes is one slip-up to make everyone have a very long evening.

I'm not sure what exactly happened this afternoon. Whether someone saw something or someone or if somebody left a gate open of if a piece of clothing got blown into the fence by the stupidly high winds we had today.

But about 3:30, just as soon as I got to my house and got a pot of coffee brewing they called on the radio and said "The yards are closed. Return all workers to their housing units and prepare for a name and number count."

Aw...... snap. The only reason they do that is if they think there is a chance that somebody escaped. Empty out the chow halls and main production. Close down rec and education. Bring the entire camp to a stop and make sure that we can account for every single inmate that we are supposed to have. Somewhere around 2800 of them, I believe.

Chase them all off of the yard. Chase them into the house and tell them to get ready for count.

What? I said get ready for count, fool! I didn't stutter!

We counted our house and had everybody we were supposed to have, fortunately. Then it was time to sit back and bite our nails and hope that everyone else knew how to count. This was definitely not a time to have a math error!

Fortunately whatever had happened didn't seem to actually involve an escape. It seemed that we had all of our little desperadoes safely tucked away where they were supposed to be.

Whew! I've never been here during an actual escape and the couple of attempts that we have had always happened on my day off.

Let's just keep it that way, shall we?

While I'm here I just want to hand out props to Coupe, for catching a problem and nipping it in the bud.

We have a good sized population of Spanish speaking inmates. Many of them speak only halting English and some of them speak it much better than they let on. I don't speak more than a few words of it myself so I rarely know what they are saying.

Coupe however, speaks fluent Spanish from his days down in Central America doing something that he won't talk about. Our very own version of G. Gordon Liddy.

At any rate, he overheard one of the inmates from my house call another officer an "old drunk" in Spanish down at the chow hall this evening. And he waited until he got back from chow to address the problem.

I didn't know about it until I heard them down the hall speaking in rapid Spanish. They weren't shouting, but Coupe sounded perturbed and the inmate sounded apologetic. Rather than get into the middle of it, I decided to wait and see what happened. I figured if they got to the "Ricky Ricardo" tone of voice then I'd step in and see if I could lend a hand or a decision.

But they never got there so I let it run it's course. Coupe dressed him down for insulting an officer and gave him some extra duty to work off to pay his penance.

He'd been upbraided for speaking Spanish to the offenders before. Probably by someone who couldn't understand it either. Me, I figured if he could get his point across to the offender clearly and forcefully by speaking Spanish then I didn't care if he was speaking Latin or sign language. As long as there was no problem afterwards and I didn't have to get involved, then it was a good thing. I was fine with it.

And I wish we had more Spanish speaking officers. I wish I had a talent for languages. But aside from knowing a few colorful insults, I got nothing.

So anyway, good job Coupe. You handled that well and didn't make me do any work. Points for you!

This is what... Tuesday? Yeah. My new Friday. Wheee! It's taking awhile to get used to that.

So here's the midweek weekend lineup:

Wednesday: National Crown Roast Of Pork Day, National Be Heard Day, National Math Day and Cereal Day.

Thursday: Be Nasty Day, International Women's Day, Nametag Day and National Peanut Cluster Day.

Friday: Panic Day, Barbie Day, Get Over It Day and National Crabmeat Day.

Remember! Don't eat cereal and drive!

At least, not at the same time...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Apparently They Are Expecting Change

Since we have had so much turnover lately it seems like there are changes in the wind.

A new Warden. A new Major. New Captains and Lieutenants. New FUM's and caseworkers. Not to mention that passel of new Sergeants wandering around like puppies looking for a bowl of milk.

And everybody new wants to step into a spot and say "I want to change things! I have plans!" So they set about fiddling with this and that and moving things here and there and churning out mighty memo's outlining what the future will be like.

They all approach it a bit differently. Some of them will point vaguely towards the sky and try to paint a rosy mental picture of what their future utopia will be like. Others will just say "This is how we did it in the place I came from. I'm the boss and this is how we'll do it. Or else."

We'll all sigh and go about our jobs and wait for it to pass. Those of us who have been around for awhile know that actual change in the Department of Corrections comes with the same gringing speed as continental drift.

No matter if it is a good idea or not, there is someone further up the chain who will always say "Nope. That's not gonna happen. Some inmates grandmother will be offended and we'll get sued. Put it back the way it was. We have been doing it this way since 1706 and we are not going to change it now."

And after a month or two of turmoil and dissension things will go back to the way they were. And we can go back to doing our jobs the way we have been doing them for years. It may not be the right way and it may not be the only way or the best way, but it's the way we've always done it and that's not going to change drastically any time soon.

They added a couple of new lines in our yearly performance ratings this year that have already caused some comment.

1. "When attempting to affect change offender's behavior uses positive reinforcements."
2. "In behavior and attitude, encourages offenders to adopt a commitment to the reentry process, modification of their behavior, and successful living."

Those lines seem to be leaning more towards a "kinder and gentler" form of incarceration. Or as we put it a "Hug-A-Thug" mentality.

Now I'm not really all that warm and fuzzy a kind of guy, even outside the fence. I'm more of the kind of guy they point to when all the fuzzy stuff doesn't seem to be sinking in and say "Behave yourself or Sgt Rev over there will spray you and plant you face down in the concrete and drag your sorry butt down to the Hive for a few months vacation."

Hey, we all have our strengths. Mine is being a misanthrope. It works for me.

And that's probably not going to change any time soon.

So... Tuesday.

Tuesday will be National Frozen Food Day, Namesake Day, Unique Names Day, US Snowshoe Day and National White Chocolate Cheesecake Day.

Now there's a holiday I can sink my teeth into!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I Got Who???

Ever since I got promoted I've been wondering who I was going to end up as "mine". If you are a regular housing unit Sergeant you have the people that work for you in that house. If you are the yard Sergeant you end up with your yard dawgs and a few extra people, like medical and food service, etc.

If you are a "relief" Sergeant like me and Archer and Banty, then you get all of the utility officers.

Things have been kind of up in the air with who we were going to get. Most of my people actually got assigned to someone else for the annual rating fiasco, which was fine with me. Poor Watcher got stuck with a bunch of midnight shift people who he never worked with and will play hob trying to catch up with to get them to sign their ratings.

Since I didn't get assigned anybody, I thought I got off pretty easy. But I kept on checking now and then just to make sure they didn't sneak anybody in on me at the last minute.

Bloody good thing I kept checking.

Tonight was my first night back at work and, as usual, I logged into the computer just to make sure my list was still empty.

To my immense surprise there were two names on my list of employees!

I looked at the names.

And then I looked at them again.

And I thought some.

And I looked at them again.

Finally I admitted defeat and said "Who the frack is that???"

I had absolutely no idea who these guys were.

Poking around in other places in the computer I found the orders placing them on third shift and making me their supervisor. Another file in a completely different program told me that they had transferred over from the camp up the road at the end of last month while I was out in training.

And one of them apparently hasn't had his annual rating completed yet. I'm guessing that since he was transferring whoever his last supervisor was just said "Frack it. Let them do it when he gets there." That's just typical.

I passed my questions about that to Lt baby Boy and he said he would ask the ladies in Personnel what his status was.

If I have to rate him for the year I hope he wasn't a complete screw up or a golden boy. Because either way he's going to end up getting straight 5's down the page. Just average. You passed. I don't even have a file I could look at. This guy is a blank page to me.

And I'm sure if I tried to call the prison up the road to get some input that I would get nothing. Nothing that would benefit my evaluation, anyway. And I couldn't base my evaluation on hearsay so it wouldn't do me any good to call.

What a joke, right?

What in the snap was I thinking??? I could have been happy.... Ah, well.

Monday is going to be Multiple Personalities Day, Casimir Pulaski Day, Fun Facts About Names Day and National Cheese Doodle Day.

And all of my personalities will have orange fingers....

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Week Of Supervisory Training

Wheee.... Well, that was fun. A whole week of going to bed too early and getting up too early and eating too much and sitting on my butt way too much.

That was just..... phenomenal. I got to spend a week of them telling me how hard and how much hassle being a Sergeant is going to be in the very near future.

And that was only the stuff they decided that I needed to know ahead of time.

Well, two months after the fact, but a glimpse of the future nonetheless.

I'll get to the picture above in a minute. Er... I plan to, anyway.

Days one and two were devoted to "Basic leadership Skills." A veritable smorgasbord of random information dished up to us by a very nice and engaging lady who managed to make this rather dry subject matter entertaining and informative.

If it wasn't for her, I would have slipped into a coma before the first break.

As it was, I spent alot of the time doodling on the graphics in the manual:

It was also a very good thing that both Drew and the Watcher were in the same class. We kept each other awake and alert and provided a measure of humor for the rest of the class. The instructor knew if she wanted a certain answer for a question she was asking she could look to one of us.

If she wanted a well reasoned but sometimes cautious answer, she'd ask Drew.

If she was looking for a more thoughtful and "deeper" answer, the Watcher was her man.

When she wanted the rougher gut-reaction and "don't do this" answer, she'd ask me. There always has to be at least one person in each class who gives the exact wrong answers. I usually volunteer for that position.

Anyway, the lady was wonderful. She kept us entertained and made us think for the whole week, which I'm sure was quite a feat. Even when we were all staring with mounting horror at sentences like: "Through analysis of the duties of the workplace, differentiate between technical and conceptual tasks and determine how to make the transition."

Yeah. They write like that. In some technical book factory somewhere for people with Masters degrees. Be darned if I knew, even now, what that means.

We learned about delegation and time management and giving feedback. And we took a self-assessment quiz that supposedly showed what our management style was.

I'm apparently an Amiable.

I don't see it, but there you are.

Days three and four were taken up by learning the computer system that we use for our annual ratings. Making that process interesting was a feat of superhuman strength. She should have been nominated for a Medal of Honor.

And today's topic was "Addressing Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation in the Workplace."

Don't think that topic wasn't keeping us on the edge of our seats with glee.

Basically it all boiled down to "Report It, Report It, Report It! Because if you don't you'll leave yourself open for a lawsuit."

Reporting good. Lawsuit bad. Got it.

So during the week Watcher and Drew and I spent a good part of the time playing class clown. We were all given name cards for our places at the tables. Ours changed on almost a daily basis. Mine went from my name to "Rev" to "Arf" to "Here To Nose Sat". The second to the last day mine said "Watchers Dad."

An old joke. After second break I came in and found out my name had been changed to "Watchers Great Grand Daddy." I gave both of them the universal sign of disrespect.

On the next break I was looking at Watcher and Drew (and most of the rest of the class) and realized how young they really are. It was kind of depressing, in a way. And I wondered aloud "Should I consider it at least mildly depressing that I've gone from being Indiana Jones to being his dad?"

When they hassled me about being old I chased them back into the building saying "We named the dog Watcher!!!"

Hey, at least for a second there I thought I was Sean Connery. That second was long enough to make me feel better.

Anyway, it was long and tedious and too freaking early in the morning and it's over.

Huge sigh of relief.

Until the next time, anyway.

One day off and then it's back to my regular schedule. So here's the schedule:

Saturday: I Want You To Be Happy Day, Peach Blossom Day, National Anthem Day and National Cold Cuts Day.

Sunday: Holy Experiment Day, National Pound Cake Day, Benjamin Harrison Day and the International Scrapbooking Industry Day.

Really. Scrapbooking Industry. My wife will be so tickled.....