September Ramblings

* The commissary at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp is closed for two weeks in September each year so that inventory can be taken. The commissary sells about 350 items and it was out of stock on roughly 30% of all the popular items when it closed, as the supervisors don't restock for weeks prior to taking inventory. I guess taking two weeks to count such a "huge" inventory is about right for this place. The Bureau of Prisons should outsource this operation nationwide to Wal-Mart or Amazon or any number of organizations with a basic understanding of retail. The same could be said for food service. Neither will ever happen, though, because of the prison workers union.

* We've been having weekly bunk, shower, laundry room, and general cleanliness inspections pitting the East Side against the West Side. After 6 weeks, I'm proud to announce that our West Side won the competition 5 to 1 and was awarded a "party" which consisted of 2 bags of popcorn. It may have been the best popcorn I've ever eaten.

* During the same period, we've also been having a terrible rat infestation on the West Side. My guess is that there is a significant correlation between these two events and that our rats have helped with the West Side cleanup. I'm sure they shared in the popcorn as well, hopefully toward the end of the line.

* John Le Carré has a new spy novel out, A Legacy of Spies, which I haven't read. But I did just finish his memoir published last year entitled The Pigeon Tunnel. At age 86 next month, he's my definition of the world's most interesting man. Of his work, he writes, "To the lawyer, truth is facts unadorned. Whether such facts are findable is another matter. To the creative writer, fact is raw material, not his task master, but his instrument, and his job is to make it sing. Real truth lies, if anywhere, not in facts, but in nuance."

* In the days following Hurricane Harvey, a signup sheet was posted for anyone interested in helping with disaster relief along the Colorado River southeast of Bastrop. I signed up, along with 50-60 other inmates. As expected, nothing ever happened. Harvey was definitely not a "ghost hurricane" but our cleanup efforts certainly were. All in all, our ghost cleanup was probably a blessing, as I can't imagine the secondary disaster of such a cleanup operation even remotely coordinated by the Bureau of Prisons.

* I occasionally get to read the Austin American Statesman here. It's not the best newspaper in the state, nor the worst either, as I'm from Waco. I may skip half the paper, but I always read the obituary page. It's not easy to summarize a life in a few paragraphs, but obituary writers usually do a decent job. All are written with love, some with sadness, some with celebration. A scant few are only factual. I'm not sure why I read about people I don't know, but they often seem like people I wish I had known. I love the pictures which are often 40+ years old, capturing the person in the prime of life. I like that idea, and may request a high school photo when my time comes.