January Ramblings

* I have a new buddy here. He's a psychiatrist, a white-collar offender, who's actually pretty normal. That distinguishes him from all the other psychiatrists I've known who were successfully suicidal. We were recently discussing our lives at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp, and I asked him what percentage of the folks he observed here everyday were crazy. Of course, his response was, "What do you mean by crazy?" So, I narrowed my question to what percentage needed to be medicated. He responded, "Easily 50%." That was about what I thought, but I failed to ask the obvious follow-up question regarding which half I fell into, as ignorance is still bliss. Now, I've written before that I thought the inmate population here was on average less crazy than the typical church congregation. With all due respect to the churches I know, that still seems about right. What?...I said "with all due respect."

* C. S. Lewis in his classic book Mere Christianity describes God's incarnate and transformative power this way: "Imagine yourself as a living house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently, He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably....[You see,] He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of....You thought you were [being] made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself."

* The federal government, or at least 25% of it, was shut down for most of the month. Prison workers reported to work as normal here, but their pay was deferred until after the shutdown. I noticed no difference in the morale and work ethic of the staff here. For example, the officer in charge of the garage came to work as usual, played solitaire on his computer for 80% of the day and took smoke breaks for the remaining 20%. The inspiration of our business as usual attitude slightly improved my own morale and work ethic, although Freddy noticed no difference.

* If you visit Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp between now and the first week of March, chances are you will meet the officer in charge of visitation this quarter. He is intelligent, competent, friendly, professional, and polite. I truly wonder why he's working here. Maybe it's a candid filming of Undercover Boss. Now that would be cool!