June 26, 2019

* I finally tried some of the bathroom cooking here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp after confirming that the particular ingredients hadn't been sitting in someone's locker for 3-4 days. The corn tortillas with chicken, cheese, peppers and onions were good--not restaurant good, but I was alive the next morning. Unfortunately, I was still in prison. 

* Anyone not in a coma should know that we marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day this month. My deceased father-in-law, a B-24 pilot for the Army Air Corp, flew one of his 30-plus missions that day to bomb German gun emplacements at Normandy. He and his crew had to abort the mission because of cloud cover. So, many of those German guns were still in place when the first wave of American boys made amphibious landings on the Normandy beaches called Omaha and Utah. They were also supposed to be supported by Duplex Drive tanks equipped with inflatable canvas skirts. This state of the art technology allowed these tanks to float to the beaches af...

June 21, 2019

Cell phones are strictly prohibited here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp. Instead we have 6 Ronald Reagan-era wall phones. Four are currently working, which is as good as it gets. Inmates get 300 minutes of very expensive talk-time each month, with each call limited to 15 minutes. Before my experience here, a 15-minute phone call was an eternity. Now, I almost always have to say goodbye before I'm ready. It's a system begging for a workaround, and some inmates have come up with an alternative. Yep, you guessed it--a contraband cell phone. Now "some" is a vague word, and for my first 3 years of captivity, that meant 1 or 2 phones. Then for about 6 months, it meant 3 or 4. Now, "some" means 20 to 25. For all I know, I may be the only inmate here without one.

But, as the unknown farmer said, "Pigs get fat, but hogs get slaughtered." Most good things come to an end, sometimes an unpleasant end. That's what happened to 11 of my camping brothers when they were recently caught with cell phon...

June 16, 2019

I'm thankful that Blue Bell ice cream can be purchased in the commissary here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp. However, I don't have access to a freezer and can only shop on Wednesdays from 6:00-7:00am, not exactly the ideal time to eat a pint of Homemade Vanilla. And at a cost of 3.6% of my monthly salary, there are only rare occasions when I can splurge. Then I scarf down every spoonful and even lick the top, regardless of the early hour. 

However, in the American system of free enterprise, my desire to eat ice cream when I want is but another inmate's economic opportunity. That particular inmate works in food service and has access to the freezer. He can store my ice cream, and I can then eat it when a normal person eats Blue Bell. For this service, he gets a "scrape." A scrape is like a real estate broker's commission as it's transaction oriented. It's just like when we sell our home, and our broker gets a scrape off the top before we get the rest. Ice cream, if I want to eat it w...

June 11, 2019

After serving the British army in the brutal trenches of World War I, C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) went on to teach English literature at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities. He may be most famous for his Chronicles of Narnia series of 7 books, which I read to my daughter, Jana, when she was 6 years old. In 1942, when Britain was being bombarded by 400 German planes every night, Lewis was invited by the BBC to give a series of radio lectures on the central meaning of Christianity. The lectures continued until 1944 and were published as 3 books, then subsequently combined as Mere Christianity in 1952. When I read Mere Christianity recently, sadly for the first time, I was overwhelmed by Lewis' ability to humbly state a powerful, clear, and rational case for the Christian faith. While Lewis didn't consider himself a theologian, I consider him a genius, a 1-in-a-billion combination of logic, faith, and imagination who came to understand and live the Christian faith at the age of 32, when hi...

June 6, 2019

I don't remember hearing my dad ever utter one word of profanity. My mom said "damn" once when she burned her hand on something hot while cooking. Unfortunately for her, she said that within earshot of my dad and me, and she never heard the end of it. I imagine my parents would have cursed more had they raised more kids. I know I did, as we went from 1 to 2 to 3.

I probably shouldn't blame my kids, but my language has gotten more colorful with age. Sometimes I wonder about this evolution. I could say it's just the result of involuntary responses to the challenges of life, but that would imply I have a damaged frontal lobe, precluding a will free to choose a more intelligent response. So I shouldn't use that excuse, particularly since I failed to use it when I most needed it--at my sentencing hearing. 

Then I pondered if profanity might serve a valid purpose? Studies show that swearing can momentarily divert attention away from pain. It can also help us not get out of our car when cut off...

June 1, 2019

Jean Vanier, a French-Canadian who joined the navy just in time to miss fighting the Nazis in World War II, remained in the military for a few years after the war. It was then he became influenced by the writings of Thomas Merton, to "pray, read and contemplate." In 1962, he earned his decorate in philosophy from the Catholic University of Paris. After a couple of years of wandering and philosophizing, he visited the French village of Trosley-Breuil where he found a gloomy, horrible asylum for the mentally disabled. He was struck by the overwhelming atmosphere of sadness within those concrete walls. 

He seemed to be drawn to the asylum, and during one of his visits, encountered an inmate named Raphael Simi who asked him, "Will you be my friend?" So struck by the question, Vanier bought a dilapidated house near Trosley-Breuil, started the repairs, and invited Simi and another inmate named Philippe Seux to live with him there. He named the place L'Arche after Noah's Ark. 

Vanier died on Ma...

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© 2016 by Charles D. Jones