October 30, 2017

* In the 'just when I thought this place couldn't get any more weird' category, it happened. Thankfully, it happened on the East Side, but it was witnessed by two credible witnesses. The 3'x3' shower stalls have plastic curtains, but they only extend down to about 12" above the floor. It's possible to see under the curtain, and my witnesses saw two feet in the shower, which seemed normal. Then they saw two feet and two hands (less normal), then just two hands (weird). The inmate in the shower, when questioned, claimed to be doing yoga. I just hope he washed his hands.

* Continuing with a plumbing theme, our crack Maintenance 1 team was repairing a toilet recently and removed the flush valve to try to determine why it wasn't working properly. The valve was clogged with pea gravel. I knew we had rust in our water supply lines, but pea gravel?

* My career as an unlicensed hair care professional has been artistically and emotionally fulfilling. However we recently experienced some hair care...

October 25, 2017

Just between us, Christian movies should be avoided. There's a reason most of them are free. The obvious exception would be Monty Python's The Life of Brian, one of my personal favorites in the genre.  In this movie is a priceless scene where Jesus is preaching the Sermon on the Mount. At the back of the crowd are some mentally challenged listeners who are having a difficult time hearing. During the sermon, their conversation, in delightful British accents, goes something like this.

"What was that?"
"I think is was 'Blessed are the cheese makers'."
"What's so special about cheese makers?"
"Well, obviously it's not to be taken literally; it refers to any manufacturer of dairy products."

Obviously, the listeners slightly missed Jesus' point, and the scene makes me wonder what we get wrong today. Much of what Jesus said is recorded consistently in the gospels. We play lip service to it, or we simply ignore it or wrap and repackage it in the flag or in capitalism. I'm reminded of those WWJD...

October 20, 2017

The main building at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp is a nondescript, metal clad, one story, 80'x160' building. It contains our housing areas along with our chow hall and kitchen, our library, law library, 6 offices, laundries, rest rooms and TV room. With the 'Open Concept' floor plan in residential living being all the rage on HGTV now, the sleeping areas must be on the cutting edge. The living areas are divided into two open bays which are about 28'x100', each originally designed for 42 to 48 people. Now they each house from 90 to 96, as our current population is 191.

I've written about the bunks and the lockers before, but there are other quasi-functional aspects which impact life in the unit. My first bunk assignment was an upper bunk next to the laundry, a small room containing 2 washers and 4 dryers, running 18-20 hours every day. Because of such use, they don't last long, and it's not uncommon for some to be out of service. Everyone has a mesh laundry bag, so if both washers are...

October 15, 2017

At some point in my teens, it became painfully obvious that the Methodists had more fun than the Baptists. The Methodists could dance and play both cards and pool, while all we had was a lousy ping pong table. They could go to movies and play yard football on Sunday and some drank more than Dr. Pepper, scandalous activities at our house. As I fully intend to have more fun when I leave Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp, maybe I should become a Methodist. My favorite line from the movie A River Runs Through It is "A Methodist is just a Baptist who can read and write." I know, if that's a requirement, it could be problematic. However, it may be merely an aspirational tenet. I guess I could always pray for some sort of Methodist affirmative action program for convicts who want to learn to write but also want to party, legally of course.

The Methodists trace their beginnings to a second floor room in Lincoln College at Oxford University. There John Wesley met with a group of students, including...

October 10, 2017

In 1919, Albert Einstein's three year old general theory of relativity described how gravity could bend light. One of the theory's practical applications was that the position of the stars would seem to shift when they were close to the sun in the sky because of its gravitational pull. In normal circumstances, observing stars close to the sun is impossible. But the darkness created in the afternoon of the 1919 solar eclipse let astronomers check the apparent position of stars near the sun against earlier measurements they had made in the night sky. The examination during the eclipse proved that the stars' position had slightly moved just as Einstein's theory had explained they should.

In 1919, the usually illuminating light from the sun had, in this case of scientific research, created a blind spot. Once the sun's light was blocked by the moon shadow, the theory could be tested and proven. I'm convinced everyone has a personal blind spot. It may be apparent to others who clearly see our...

October 5, 2017

As an inmate at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp, one of the places I hope to never see is the Special Housing Unit or SHU. It's a unit consisting of 12 cells which are roughly 7'x10' and contain a bunk bed, a small steel desk with an attached stool and a combination stainless commode and sink. Inmates from the camp are sent there for disciplinary reasons. However they could also be sent there because they have an infectious illness or for their own protection. One unfortunate inmate spend his first 28 days in the SHU because the Bureau of Prisons was confused about whether he should be at the camp or at adjacent low security prison. 

Upon arrival at the SHU, the inmate is issued an orange jumpsuit, a pair of boxers and socks, a t-shirt, mattress, blanket and 2 sheets. He is allowed to bring a few items with him, if he has them. These include a paperback book, a deck off cards, a Bible, Koran or religious book, 10 sheets of stationery, 30 stamps, an address book, a 4" toothbrush, a radio,...

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© 2016 by Charles D. Jones