CURRENT STATUS

If you have any questions for Andy about the prison system, what it is like, what goes on there, or anything, please leave the question in a blog comment and Andy would be happy to answer it. It keeps him occupied and allow us to learn about the system.

Also, for his friends, he would LOVE to get pictures of anything, so if you have his address, please send them to him, or if you would like to email them to the blog editor, you can do that and he will print out the pics and mail them to him.

He is now attending the class he must take before his release, and he will mention the journal entry memo they discussed that day in class.

Even if you don't know Andy, feel free to comment on his blog entries, which he gets and will respond to.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Books and TV, but no newspaper

Just another Saturday morning around here for me.  We got rec first thing this morning for a really short time.  I was only able to run about a mile and a half before we had to come back inside.  I’m at work now and it’s a little after 1pm.  I think I’ve been here since about 8:30 or 8:45ish.  I’ve pretty much just been reading all day.  I finished up a stupid detective/ who done it type of book. It really wasn’t even very good, but once I had figured that out, I was too hooked to set it down.  I hate it when that happens! 
Sorry to everyone for erroneously announcing June 25 as my projected hopeful release.  Obviously, that isn’t going to happen.  I think I’m usually pretty punctual, but this time I’m late!  Maybe I’m just finally paying everyone back for always showing up to the lake tardy.  (You like that reference, Momo?)  For the majority of you that have no clue what I’m talking about, Momo has never once been late when showing up to the lake.  He definitely gets the perfect attendance award.  

Anyway….I lament the incorrect release date of June 25th.  I always knew that date was the best case scenario, and I used it to keep my spirits up.  Now that it’s here, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal that it hasn’t materialized. The time I have left feels small now, and I still feel fortunate when I compare my time to a lot of the other guys in here.

Incidentally, it surprises me that missing Father’s Day doesn’t affect guys in here anymore than it does. I am speaking of the fathers, not the sons.  There are only 3 guys in my dorm that seem to even care that their kids are missing them.  The majority of the guys do have children.  However, I am unaware and unconcerned with the specifics of 95% of these relationships and can therefore, offer you no more insight than to simply guess that most of them are just deadbeat dads.
A few weeks back I gave one of the officers in here the URL for the Blog.  I debated for a while whether or not to share the info with her, or not.  It seemed she was very curious, and I ultimately figured “What the heck”.  There isn’t anything on here that is too personal, and I thought it would be unique to get comments from a different perspective.  If any JDCJ officials are reading now, please feel free to leave any feedback, or comments, or questions you feel are relevant.
Hey, when does college football start?  With NBA Basketball being over, there won’t be much going on with sports until then.  I very well could wither away and experience meltdown in here if I’m watching a college game from one of these dorm TV’s. The thought of it, even now, is unsettling.  What’s going on with all the conference upheaval?  No more Big 12 as we know it?  Or did they scrap the new plans?  I feel behind on the news.

  Kind of weird…with all of the news I’ve missed, the conference changes are the catalyst that have made me desire to get a newspaper subscription.  I believe it’s a combination of several factors, along with feeling like I need to get reacquainted with current events, that are now making me become re-interested in the news.  I also watched two television shows this week.  “Medium” and “Lie to Me”.  Both aired new episodes. Does anyone else like those programs?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Boredom, exercise, and thoughts of parole

It’s Sunday morning in here, and I find myself without much to say and with little inspiration to write.  Please don’t mistake this for me being in a bad mood.  I simply don’t know what to write about.  This will probably be short, but, at least, you’ll know what I am up to. Maybe a jolt of creativity will strike this afternoon and I’ll fill ten pages with mindless blog barter.  Who knows?

Yesterday, Saturday, went by faster than any previous Saturday for me.  I’m not sure why.  I definitely hope that the trend continues because, on consensus, Saturdays are the most dreaded days in here.  For me, there is just too much idle time which spurs me to start wishing I wasn’t in here.  I also tend to let my mind wander and try to imagine the fun things I’d be doing instead of exercising on a hard concrete floor or writing a blog from an uncomfortable steel stool/seat thing.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why the weekends drag on now, does it?

I spent a couple hours yesterday thumbing through “Men’s Health” magazines trying to find any and all exercises described that I can do in here without needing any peripheral equipment.  I came up with some stuff that was new to me, and I worked up a complete 7 day program.  I started it yesterday afternoon, but it was difficult to motivate myself to begin.  Nonetheless, I did begin.  After I finish writing here on the Blog, I’m going to make a nice concise chart, so I can record what I’m doing (sets, reps, etc.)   For the most part (in the real world), I’m not one of those people who walks around the gym with pen and note card in hand charting my workout.  However, in the spirit of keeping things interesting, I thought I would try it this way and see if it helps out any.  More than likely, I’ll get tired of messing with it and just move on. 

I just got back from lunch.  It’s barely 10:30am.  I’m not complaining, I’m just letting you know.  I was able to sleep late this morning.  I woke up at 8:52 am, which I think is just about the longest I’ve slept since leaving County.  For lunch I had a piece of meatloaf (the portion was generous for in here), some mashed potatoes, a piece of corn on the cob, and some beans.  I traded away my biscuit for an additional piece of corn.  I’ll have to say that it was all pretty tasty.  It really just felt like I was getting to eat a big breakfast.  It’s hard not to snack while just hanging out pointlessly here in the dorm, but hopefully I’ll be tided over until dinner which will probably be between 3:45 and 4:15 pm.  I plan on exercising today starting at 2 pm.

There is not a wealth of extra food floating around in our dorm right now.  It’s been 24 days since we were last able to go with the spend limit that is imposed on us at the commissary. 24 days is too long of a period to stretch our purchases and remain comfortable.  Is anyone going to starve to death?  Absolutely not.  Does it make inmates agitated for no purpose?  Absolutely yes. Does it cost the already cash deprived TDCJ system valuable additional monies?  Absolutely yes.  In a very small nutshell, I would compare the commissary system here to a fully stocked and competent convenience store that is only open to the public 4 days out of the week and for only half of the day.  The owner of the convenience store and his fixed costs are set and include his enormous monthly rent.  By limiting his hours, he is now only exposed to about 2/3 of his potential gross revenue.  Although there is probably more to this than meets my eyes, I do not think that it is a sound operating procedure for the commissary to operate as it does on this low security unit.  My gosh, I’m not sure where all my ranting just came from!  I still have food in my locker, so why am I worried?

I think I told you that one of my friends received news from his family that his parole was denied.  We do not get a timely notice in here on whether or not we have been granted parole.  You readers on the outside have much quicker access to the information than we do.  My friend was denied parole by the board around the end of May.  His family informed him via Jpay of the decision on June 3rd.   He still has not received word via the prison system of the board’s decision.  The official word via the prison system is relayed to us in here when we receive a lay in to visit the IPO.  The IPO then gives us a letter that indicates the parole board’s decision.  Not that it’s much consequence in my situation, since I have plenty of available communication with my attorney and family, but it appears that most of the guys in here have to wait over two weeks after the board has voted, to learn of their answer.  I’ll let you know when my friend is delivered his official denial letter, so that we can determine exactly how long the lag time really is.  Yes, I know that I think about math and numbers too much.  Sorry.  The boredom in here doesn’t help matters.

Another one of my friends is due to see the IPO tomorrow morning to learn his fate and parole answer.  His family on the outside has not pre-discovered his answer for him.  He has been to prison at least one time previous to now and I’m guessing he will not be granted parole.  I don’t even remember his charges or his background story, but I’ll let you know how things turn out once I know myself.

I met another guy in here this week that was recently shipped here from another unit.  He’s in here for a violation of his probation and a 3rd DWI. I’m not sure of his original charges or how they relate to the DWI.  He was originally arrested last July 2009 and received a 3 year sentence.  In November 2009, the parole board set the date as June 1, 2010.  He will be released sometime within the 60 day period following June 1st .  His reactions to his “any day now” freedom are very intriguing.  Keep in mind, he has no idea how long after June 1st that he’ll  go home.  Unless someone from the outside notifies him, he will be totally surprised when his name is called to catch train and go home.  To say he is extremely anxious is a mild understatement.  If he has family on the outside to check on his release status, I know that they will have some sort of advance notice, but I don’t know how much.

OK, now, this is too much jail talk. I’m even boring myself.  Someone tell me about an interesting summer vacation that you’ve already taken or about one that you might have planned.  Has anyone played golf lately?  I’ve been craving a round or two of golf.  They don’t even have putt-putt in here!

June 13th is the day I am officially proclaiming the heat to be a non issue.  I don’t know what the exact temperature was yesterday, and I not sure what it will rise to this afternoon.  I think it’s probably mid 90’s and pretty darn humid.  Point is, that it’s gonna get much hotter.  Maybe it will climb to high 90’s or low 100’s, but that’s it.  Also, the humidity factor should start improving in about ten days or so.  The heat has not been the death of me, and I am declaring victory over it.

Although I’ve missed my two dogs, the entire time I’ve been on vacation, I’ve really been wanting to see them badly for the past week or so.   I missed both of their birthdays at the beginning of last month, so I’m sure they’d like to express several not so kind words to me.  Actually, that’s not true at all.  They are still loving it on our farm.  They’re in dog heaven descended.  What more could you want as a chocolate lab?  Goats, chickens, stock tanks, and pickup rides must feel like Disney World.  Hey, my dogs get the fun summer camp, and I get the crappy one!  I am looking forward to being able to run with my dog, Tank, again on a regular basis.

As of last Thursday, the parole board had still not scheduled a meeting with my attorney.  I think that by this Thursday there will be a meeting scheduled, and I am going to be very happy to finally know that for sure.  It’s going to be a little weird.  Once there is a meeting scheduled, I will be able to determine almost an exact date as to when I will know my parole answer.  All the dates up to this point have been completely ambiguous, so my reaction to knowing a specific date is going to be interesting.  Hopefully, I’ll be nervous and stressed out.  Most any kind of different emotion would be nice to feel at this point.  More than likely, I won’t be stressed out, though. I think my confidence is up high enough to the point where I’ll just wait until the fat lady enters the building. 

I read that the ring finger of a female is shorter than her index finger, and the ring finger of a male is longer than his index finger.  Did you know that? Does everyone remember that he/she thing from Saturday Night Live named Pat?  What is the scientific name for not knowing the sex of a human?  Words that I use entirely too much in here and on this Blog are (amongst many others) definitely, hopefully, ambiguous, and really.  I really definitely need a thesaurus!

I think that’s going to wrap this up.  I’m glad I got the time to write and I'm glad everyone is back up to date with what’s going on. Thanks for all your letters and support, and I look forward to talking to you again.

BTW-How many calories do all these activities burn per hour?
1.    Running/jogging  (8 ½ - 9 minute pace)
2.    Sprinting (40 yard sprint, walk 40 yards continue, etc.)
3.    Walking (fast, but not speed walking)
4.    Jumping jacks

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

THE CRAWFISH BOIL

Thursday afternoon – The week has gone by quickly with very little fanfare.  Today your tax dollars are being spent to fund an employee appreciation crawfish boil for this unit and the handful of other units right around this area.  All the guards are talking about crawfish and the warden is wearing a shirt with a picture of a crawfish on it.  It’s all making me very hungry.
My mom has sent to me some of the brief replies that my closer friends have sent through her email, and I am glad to hear from each of you. Nice to know you are still alive.
It’s in the 90’s most everyday here, and the heat still isn’t too bad.  As a matter of fact, I’m just going to stop commenting on it unless there is some sort of significant change.
My grandfather is kind and compassionate enough to write me a few times each week, which I really appreciate.  He sent me a letter last week and asked me a question that I would like to address here.  In our recent correspondence, one of the topics we’ve hit on is the business planning that I’ve been doing.  In my letters to him, I explained a lot of the who, what, and when issues of my planning.  The other day he asked, “Why are you making this plan?”  I don’t think he was looking for the obvious answer.  I think he was asking more of a philosophical question ie, Why are you making this plan vs. going to get a normal job or choosing a different career path or becoming a professional pirate or whatever the infinite number of  other options might have been.  Some of you may be curious about this, also.
The answer isn’t complex.  Since I opened my own business in 1995, I have had thousands of ideas run through my head about ways to expand, improve, and be more profitable.  I have never taken the time to fully catalog these ideas.  I am not certain, but I would venture to guess that most of my friends probably think that I never plan for anything.  This, however, is very far from reality. Yes, I am spontaneous, but I plan for nearly everything.  There has even been a plan over the last five years.  Do I always make the best plan or strictly adhere to my plan? Of course, not.  Anyway, the ideas about my business opportunities and operations have finally become so vast, that in order to be effective and grow, it was mandatory to get some concrete designs in writing.  To conclude, I am making this plan in order to most efficiently facilitate making a significant amount of money and establishing a business that I can feasibly sell in three or so years. I hope this explanation helps.
That’s all I’ve got for now.  I plan to put this in tomorrow’s outgoing mail.  Thanks to all for your support, and I look forward to your comments.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Anoa and Sirdar


 Do you know what these two words mean?
 Tuesday 7:20 am – I’m not necessarily sure that anything newsworthy has happened between last Saturday and right now to comment on.  I’m pretty sure it hasn’t. On Sunday I was able to eat a bunch of BBQ’d brisket from the real world and that was definitely delicious!
I finished reading a book titled In Thin Air last night.  It was a factual account of the Mount Everest tragedies in 1996.  If you recall, in the spring of that year there was sort of a “Perfect Storm” that lead to the deaths of several climbers and guides all in the same 24 hour period.  I was somewhat delaying starting the book, because I thought it might be a little boring, but, to my surprise, it turned out to be an extremely intelligently written and riveting account of what happened on the mountain.  The author was on the expedition himself and escaped with no permanent physical injuries.  His descriptions of the mountain and his quest to summit it made me understand how a person could be drawn to attempt something so illogical and dangerous.  Does the book make me want to climb the mountain myself?  Absolutely not.  Pirates do not ascend mountains.  I would, however, like to build a bar at the top of Everest called “High Life” and install a gondola lift to transport my customers.  The opportunities would be enormous.  While reading the book, I also learned two new words that I really like. I hope you’ll like them, too. An anoa is a dwarf buffalo, and a sirdar is a lead Sherpa.  See if you can incorporate each of those words into a normal conversation today!
What is the phenomenon that dictates -- as soon as you learn a new word that you have never before previously heard, you will now hear it on a regular basis?  Is it a total coincidence, or are we just ignorant that the word is being used before we learn its definition?
As you can see, I seem to be lacking for substance in my writing today.  I think that it’s just one of those days when the wheels aren’t turning as quickly as they should be. I even overslept this morning and got to work a half hour late.  I think I already need a nap.
3:00 pm – I’m back in my dorm after a very non-eventful work day. I took advantage of the tranquility and wrote a couple of letters to a couple of friends that I haven’t talked to in a while.  Six pages to a girl….two pages to a guy.  They both keep track of the blog, but I tried to give them a little deeper insight in what I wrote directly to them.
I’m inspired by the prognosis of the blog.  I would love to get some comments from you now that we are back on track.  I still have plenty of time to write.
The weather has cooled off significantly this afternoon, so it feels great here in the dorm.  I’m going to work out now, and I’ll write some more tomorrow.
Thanks for reading. Your support is important and inspiring.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

DEATH IN PRISON AND PAROLE DECISIONS

It’s Saturday and I’m at work.  I didn’t plan on working today, but I was called out around an hour ago.  Given the choice, I would have taken the day off, but it’s really no big deal.  I probably won’t even work a full day.

I went to bed early last night and was probably asleep by 8:15 pm or so. That’s so not right for a Friday night, but that is what my weeks in here have corrupted to.  Makes you just want to tear up, doesn’t it?  No, not really.  It’s actually been pretty nice.  Sure does make for a peaceful Saturday morning.  I just wish I was able to also sleep until 10 or 11 on Saturday morning.  I’ve got my mind convinced that every hour in here that I’m asleep is an hour that I’m winning and that should even count towards my sentence.  So let’s see what the math on that works out to be.  If I sleep an extra 3 ½ hours each night that’s a total of 105 hours extra hours each month which is almost four and a half days.  If I’m in here for 66 more days it would be just short of 10 full days of extra sleep.  Ten days in here seems like a really long time, and I would be elated to sleep an extra 10 days off of my sentence.

This is a tough week to write about. I don’t know that anything new is going on at all.  I don’t think I mentioned it, but maybe I did…. A guy died here in the prison last week (Monday night , I think) after he was electrocuted from the wires of a tattoo gun that he had somehow made.  I think he was about 25ish years old.   I guess some people just truly do not have very good luck.

One of my friends in here learned two nights ago that he did not make parole.  With his back time from the county jail he had served ten months on a four year sentence for violating a protective order that his girlfriend had placed against him.  He’s a white guy about 40 years old.  He has 2 teenage sons from a previous marriage.  I know that he hasn’t been to prison before, but I am pretty sure he has a handful of other arrests.  There was apparently no violence involved when he violated the protective order, therefore, most of us in here felt he would make parole, but that didn't happen.   

This has made my friend that sleeps below me very anxious about his parole, to say the very least. He should be getting his answer back from the parole board very soon.  He is also in here on a four year sentence.  He has about a year total of back time and prison time, and his charge is for some type of assault against his girlfriend.  This is his second time in prison for the same type of assault.  The first time was against a different girl, and I think he received a two year sentence on that one and made his parole after seven or eight months.  Logically, it would seem to me, that he would not stand a good chance of making his parole, but as I have seen with my own eyes, the parole decisions do not follow a form of linear logic.

Let me point out that in no way, shape, fashion, or form do I condone or even perceive as trivial, what those guys did to receive their prison sentences.  I would normally not even associate with someone like that in the free world.  However, in here, there is a limited pool of potential friends to draw from.  This pool is narrowed quickest by race, followed by age.  IQ or common sense is probably the third mitigating factor.  As you can probably see, this narrows down the field quite a bit.  Most people in here are not judged by other inmates for the crime they committed. This definitely changes for crimes against children or sex related crimes, but none of those guys are in this prison unit.  Since everyone in here is in the same incarcerated predicament, we each receive a clean slate to start from in the eyes of the other prisoners.  Respect and your word each go a long way in here.

I actually had a guard go out of his way to apologize to me yesterday for the actions of another guard.  I found this to be quite amazing.  I’ve certainly never seen it happen since I’ve been in here, but I’m going to ask some of the guys that have been to prison before to see of they’ve ever heard of such.  I don’t think I’m focused enough right now, nor do I have the patience to detail the events of this story properly enough for you to appreciate it.  Perhaps I’ll save it for later.

One half of the Blue Comedy Convict Duo caught chain this past week and is being moved to a new unit.  He was denied his parole (family violence) and must serve about another year to completely discharge a two year sentence.  He was accepted into a fairly desirable program that apparently teaches much needed job and business skills, and all but assures its graduates of being placed into a job once they are released.  Coincidentally, the unit he is going to is only about 10 minutes from his home, so now his wife (the one he assaulted to earn himself this sentence) will be able to visit him more often!  Aren’t not-so-subtle ironies sometimes funnier than the softer ones?

OK, here is a weird thing to me.  I’ve been locked up since January 27th.  So far, I have yet to come across anyone in here that was locked up after that date.  Some of the guys in here have been locked up for around 20 months.  I talked to one guy last night that told me the last news snippet that he remembers hearing about before he was locked up (4th DWI) was Octomom giving birth.  I can’t even remember exactly when that was, it seems so long ago!   It always seems weird to me when I think about the fact that I was not even in jail last Christmas and New Years, but most all of the other guys were.  Anyway….I think it will feel even stranger once people begin to filter in that weren’t originally locked up until after I was.  Maybe not….who knows?   I’m guessing that better than half of our tank has turned over since I’ve been here.  Out of the original 57 people in here when I arrived, probably just over 20 are still the same.  Several have gone home.  Several have been transferred to ID units (long term units), and I think the rest have just been moved within this unit for a variety of reasons.

I only did ab exercises yesterday, as I needed a little rest.  I know my dorm did not get rec. this morning after I left, so possibly that means I’ll get to go run outside this afternoon.  I know I may be harping on this too much, but it is frustrating not to have any set pattern to plan upon for my running.  I think next week I may need to change things up. I think it’s been just over 2 continuous weeks of the exact same exercise routine for me.

The weather is pretty gloomy here today.  Very overcast, and it looks like it may rain anytime.  Probably doesn't suit you all out there for exciting outdoor weekend plans.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

RESPONSES TO COMMENTS - LACHSIS, KANADAI, SK, EARL, MARCS QUEEN, MAMAB, MARIA

I have received some new comments and had some that are a little older that I needed to respond to, so I apologize for the delay in responding, but I was very happy to finally have some new responses.  It makes my time in here easier knowing that you are all supporting me, and that you are still interested in what’s going on.

Maria -All the characters in here are definitely “something else” (to say the very least)! I suppose the cast has changed a little since my last letter.  I’m not sure that “Wilson” in here really looks like a volleyball. It’s more the concept, I think. In retrospect, he does look like what I think “Mr. Wilson” would look like from that old sitcom TV show Home Improvement with Tim Allen.  Do they air that show in Scotland?

Maria - Friday  was the name of a movie over here in the US about 10 -15 years ago (I think).  It was about a bunch of black guys who congregated around a barber shop. I don’t even remember the plot of it, but it was a funny comedy.

MamaB - I did learn that Coolidge drew all of the anthropomorphized dogs at the beginning of the 20th century. Thanks!  Those pictures sort of bother me.  They don’t scare me in any way, I just am sort of annoyed by them. I wonder why.  I’d love to write a play or book about my experiences in here, but I don’t know what the plot would be.  Right now, it just seems to be random stories.  I’m thinking on it, though.

MamaB -Wouldn’t fishing be great right now with all this nice weather?  There is one guard here that pulls me out of line every time I pass him because he wants to talk fishing.  It’s sort of funny.  He’s really a nice guy about 50-55 years old.  He’s not just real bright, but extremely sincere, nonetheless.  I think he is going fishing this weekend so, hopefully, he’ll have some good stories to share with me next week.  I’m still at a loss for how to reduce recidivism.  I agree with you that reform NEEDS to happen, but I have an inherent problem with doing much of anything that costs more money.  There are just soooo many guys in here that honestly do not give a damn.  I don’t know how you would help them.  Their family life has destroyed them from day one.  One thing that must happen is that the prisons must be more strict.  This place is a joke on a disciplinary level.  The guards should beat at least 2 inmates a day just to display dominance!  I am only saying this tongue in cheek.  I think the state needs to use the prison system more as a deterrent.  I’m just not sure of the actions they should take, but I think that is the direction they need to go.  I have actually shared this viewpoint with some of the rank here.  They all agree.  I also think that the state needs to incorporate some type of a 3 strike system like California has in place.

Mama B  – I know exactly what you mean about needing to visualize everything to have it be relevant and make sense.  I’m the same way.  It all transgresses to a fear of the unknown.  I don’t know how your son’s dorm is set up, but I can tell you that there are 2 phones in our tank of 58 guys.  There is never a line to use them and no one ever drops in on your conversation.  I feel bad when I have to ask my mom to do outside “projects” for me.  Maybe I should have hired a personal assistant before I came here.  I do have a good friend that is keeping track of my Facebook account, though.  If any one friend requests me, I’ll accept before I even get out.  Not sure about repayment to MFE.  We haven’t worked out any terms.  I’m pretty sure that 99% of the people who know me would watch out for the fact that I take care of my friends, so MFE shouldn’t have much worry.

Marc’s Queen  – My friend, Friday, was extremely fortunate.  His strategic chance encounter with the parole board member was monumental and probably life changing for him.  I hope he ends up alright.  I’m sure you’ve read by now that I was interviewed by Parole last week.  I did not receive your personal email yet, but I look forward to reading it soon.  Hopefully, the moderator can forward it to me and then I’ll respond right back.  Thanks for your patience.

Lachsis  – I’m glad you’ve kept up this whole time.  I really appreciate it.  I hope you can read my “Hey folks, that’s it…”  blog sooner rather than later, and once I’m out I’ll keep writing.  The stories I’ll be able to share in their entirety once I’m out, are going to tie all of this in together and really let everyone have a better sense of prison.  I hope your bf is doing OK.  I’m sure your relationship is extremely difficult right now and I wish you all the good fortune I can muster.  Talk to you soon.

Earl  – I had to read your comment a few times to make sense of it and to figure out who Earl was.  Obviously, I should have figured it out a little more quickly than I did.  How are things with you?  I’m glad you’re keeping track of things on here.  There have been a handful of times that I have needed to borrow your “Oak” when dealing with the apathy and ignorance that abounds here.
Each time it sort of makes me laugh.  I assure you that you’ll be the first to know about the fishing trip, and I will now officially call you out and state that I guarantee that I will catch a larger fish than you will.   Take care and I’ll talk to you soon.

Anonymous - Sorry for not getting back to you on your comment from a few weeks back.  It was not intentional.  I have a 3 year sentence with a start date of January 7, 2010.  My sentence will end January 6, 2013.  I am eligible for parole May 13, 2010.  Right now, my mandatory discretionary review “shortway” release date is May 27, 2011, but it should come down to mid Feb. 2011 once I progress in live class status and get credit for 36 days of back credit while I did work release while on probation.  My charge was 2nd degree theft.  I originally pled to  3rd degree theft and received 5 years probation and a $70,000 fine.  My probation was revoked when I got behind on my payments.  I then made a deal to serve a 3 year sentence and increase my fine to $94,000.  I was facing a possible 10 year sentence if I did not make a plea agreement.  My fine is paid in full now and I’m waiting parole.  I have no other charges or detainers and this is my first time in State Jail or TDC.
I get defensive when I go into the details of my crime, so for now, I’ll just say that I was definitely in a gray area on whether what I did was even criminally illegal at all.  Obviously the DA thought it was, and to his credit, I could certainly argue his side.  That being said, I can argue for it not being illegal, also.  In summary, I’m in here for white collar theft.

Anonymous  --  Well, what a small world!  I’m sorry your son and I met under such unfavorable circumstances.  Since you referred to your jail experience in the past tense, I am guessing that I know who your son is (twins??).   In any case, I think your experience as a parent was probably worse than what your son and I went through.  I can only imagine how your feelings of helplessness tugged at your heart.  I hope your experience is over.  If your son is on probation, make sure he stays on track.  If your experience isn’t over, then just try to hang in there.  No one that I was with in County had a long sentence, so I’m sure he will be out soon.  Thank you for your comment, and I really hope to hear from you again. 

SK  – Let me start by saying that you are not alone with your struggles and all the emotions you have right now are normal.  If you didn’t feel the way you did then you wouldn’t be human.  Did you ever send your son to a really awful summer camp on accident?  If so, then you’ve already done this once.  That’s all this place is for someone with such a short sentence.  He won’t like it, but he won’t be miserable, and he will be fed well.    If you see he has been transferred then put at least $85 on his books immediately using Jpay.com.  Send him a letter using Jppay.com and let him know there is money waiting on him.  This will keep him from having to wait 10 days to make commissary and will make his life much easier.
     My BP is now stone cold low again.  I’m almost embarrassed that I let myself stress out and it got so high.  It was anxiety driven for sure.
     Before I came to jail I heard many people say that once I was in here for a while then the time would start to fly by.  Well, excuse me for being a little skeptical, but I wanted to know exactly how long this mysterious little time warp thing was gonna take. No one could tell me.  All I got was a bunch of blah, blah, blah answers.  I will now answer the question myself. Two to three weeks in county jail and time will speed up drastically.  Time will not speed up at all during the intake process at Holliday Unit.  It’s not as bad as the jailhouse rumors lead you to believe, but it does go slowly.  Count on 2 weeks of that.    He will probably stay at the transfer unit throughout his sentence. (Lots of exceptions, but if he is “normal” then he’ll stay.  After 2-3 weeks at the transfer unit his time will really start to speed up in his head.  I’ve been at my transfer unit for almost 2 months and time is flying by.  It also seems like the weeks are still getting shorter.
     I do not like the cliché, “That which does not kill you will make you stronger.”  I think it is something frilly said by someone that was about to die.  What I can promise you is that on a scientific level, your mind and body will adapt to your situation and they will prevent your suffering from extending past a certain point.  Once your mind stops the suffering it will then rationally process it and begin a repair process.  The repair might take longer than you’d like, but it will happen.   So hang in there!  The hardest part for me was the anticipation and by now your son is past that.  Hire a parole attorney immediately and work to get him home.
     My motivation for this Blog was originally entirely self -centered.  I’m quietly egotistic and like to get attention.  I was scared of being deprived of all attention and simply blending into the crowd while I was locked up.  This did not make Andy happy or comfortable.  I had never blogged prior to this, but thought to myself, “Self, you have approximately one week to figure this bog thing out before you go to jail, or you’re screwed.”  I saw this Blog as a way to maintain my communication with the outside and keep on feeling as normal as possible.  I had heard that as a prisoner I should try to do my time on the inside, not the outside. (This means that you make a new life for yourself inside prison and forget about as much as you can on the outside.)  I thought this sounded crazy, so I decided to do the polar opposite and do my time on the outside.  I like it this way. I’ll be prouder once I’m out.

 Kanadai  --I’m glad you’re still here.  I find your comments very thought provoking.  I won’t even pretend to try and solve our justice system with regards to long sentences and “life” terms.  It’s out of my league.  I don’t think the US system of probation works well.  If I would have had to spend 30 days in jail at the beginning of all this, rather than try to do 5 years of probation, then we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.  I think the US needs to explore using more “shock” value sentences for first time offenders.  There seems to be no “deterrent” involved with our system and I think that, at some point, I’ll have to write 4 or 5 pages about my thoughts on this.  Does Canada have something similar to 3 strikes?  I look forward to speaking with you again.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

PAROLE HOPES AND THE TRILOGY

Everything is going just fine for me.  From the experience of a couple of my friends in here that received lay ins last night, it seems now as if parole answers are being returned just over 2 months from the time that we begin the parole process.   That puts me getting my answer around the end of June and, hopefully, getting out of here near mid July.  I guess that’s pretty much the timing I’ve been looking at all along, but it’s ,unfortunately, not on the really “good” end of the spectrum where I’d get out of here around the end of June.  Oh well, no big deal.  At this point, the end of June vs. the middle to end of July is almost the same thing.  My greatest anticipation now is not necessarily a release date, but rather for a positive parole answer.  Please continue to keep your fingers crossed!

I am sorry that there has been such a lag.  This blog is very important in helping me relay my life to my friends, and the new support from strangers that I’ve received through this site has been inspiring and nothing short of remarkable.  I apologize for the delay in some postings as I had priorities with my parole and the editor had some personal things he had to take care of.

I received another book yesterday from a friend to conclude a debaucherous  trilogy:  I Hope They Serve Beer in HellAn  A**hole’s Guide to Handling Chicks, and Die Happy- 499 Things a Guy’s Gotta Do While He Still Can.    This trilogy had made for some very entertaining reading and the books have become quite the hits here in my dorm.  Maybe I can rent them out or something!   A lot of you are probably suggesting to me right now that I should be spending my time more wisely and I, quite honestly, would agree with you based on the limited information that I have provided here.  Just keep in mind that I’m leaving out the monotony of my daily “homework” (business planning), 1 ½ hours of the same exercises as the day before, and the “normal” books that I also read concurrently.  It just seems to be much more fun to discuss and write about books concerning partying!

The last chapter of the Die Happy book contains a guide to help you complete your own “bucket list”. I am looking forward to completing my list over the next few weeks.  It’s kinda crazy how much of the 499 things that I’ve already done.  Maybe I should write my version of this book, too!

The prison would not allow the book Friday Night Lights  to be delivered to me.  The reason is that there is supposedly a racial slur on page 59.  Seriously!  Can someone please tell me what exactly is said on page 59?  I have 2 weeks to appeal the decision to the prison board..  I haven’t decided if I’ll do it yet.  I may write an appeal letter on sheer principal if I get bored next week.  If so I’ll let you know how it goes.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

THOUGHTS DURING MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND

Day 1 of Memorial Weekend  and Thoughts of the Past

It is around noon right now on the Saturday of Memorial Weekend.  I ought to be at the lake.  The fact that I’m not there is almost comically funny at this point.  If I over-analyze my situation, about the most relieving scenario I can create is that Memorial Weekend is my real punishment and that my prison sentence is mere context used to disguise the pain of me not being out on the lake right now! 

So, if I was free right now what would I be doing?  More than likely, I would have been out at the lake since about 10 am.   And…drink 1.   By this point, I’d have the boat loaded up with everything that needed to be on it including food, ice chests, clothes, and drinks.  Drinks 2 and 3.  There would probably be only about one or two of my friends that would have arrived at the marina because the rest of you are notoriously late. (You know who you are.)  Those of us who were there would have shared a drink with at least 2 boatloads of neighbors and already met a minimum of 6 new girls in bikinis. Drink 4.  From about 12:30 to 2:00 I’d send out about 100 texts trying to explain the location of the marina, the location of the boat, the gate code, the color of the boat, what time we were leaving, directions, what we still needed food and drink wise, and the fact that you shouldn’t bring ice to the lake because we would buy it at the marina. This would have been the same exact info that I had emailed out to everyone at least twice in the preceding week.  This hour and a half, Andy would be frustrated.  Drinks 5 and 6

At 2:30 all 16 people have finally showed up, even though only 11 were supposed to show up.  I never quite know where the extra people come from, but I love it.  That’s what makes it all so fun!  Drink 6 ½. (Half of it spilled.)  At this point, there are enough Jello shots on board to make Bill Cosby proud, and Lynchburg, TN is actually experiencing a shortage of J.D.

Memorial Weekend has begun!  Drink 7.  Everyone take a shot, or the boat stays in the slip.  3:00 pm - Hello Devil’s Cove.  Drink 8.  8:00pm - Goodbye Devil’s Cove.  Drinks 9-20.  We’ll be back early tomorrow to begin round two!

You have just experienced the hyper-abbreviated version of Memorial Weekend aboard “Silence Is Consent” in Austin, Texas. This, obviously, is the non -Tucker Max account of events.  Anyone reading this letter is invited next year.  Memorial Weekend 2011 will be May 28-30, 2011.

I’ve been dreading this particular weekend for a while because I genuinely miss being able to have a good time with my friends, but it won’t be too bad, maybe.   I know I’ll be home this summer and still have plenty of time to make it to the lake.  Who knows, maybe Labor Day will be the “new” Memorial Day. That sounds weird, I know, but I’m really reaching here and trying to be positive!

Hope all of you are going to have a good weekend!
 
May 30

Exercise and Chug- a- lugging on Memorial Weekend

8:15 am.  It feels like I’ve already been awake for several hours, but I guess it’s actually only been a couple.  In defiance of all things that are normal here in prison, we were actually let outside for recreation yesterday afternoon and this morning!  I played a bunch of volleyball yesterday, and did some sprints.  Damn, the sprints were rough.  If I could get daily or near daily outdoor recreation here, it would really help out a huge amount on getting better in shape.  I have gotten the impression from some of the officers that the officials here are trying to increase the number of times that we are allowed afternoon recreation, so I surely hope that is the case.

I don’t feel like I have much new information to share right now.  After I stopped writing yesterday, I can’t remember even how I passed the time.  I know I did business homework for and a half or so before going to sleep around 9 pm.  I had a good night’s sleep, but I did have a weird dream.  I usually don’t have dreams, (or at least I don’t remember that I do). This one was something about having an obstacle course type of race through a huge two story barber shop/ hair salon type of place and there was some homely looking girl behind me that kept banging her head on the floor.  I have no clue what this all meant, but feel free to psychoanalyze it at your will!

In celebration of the second day of Memorial Weekend I am now missing on the lake, I have decided to drink 26 bottles of water to congruently represent the approximate number of drinks I’m not having on the lake.  Truthfully, I wouldn’t have that many if I were really at the lake, but 26 sounded like a nice round number. So that’s what I decided to go with.  I just drank bottle #11.  Fifteen more sounds very painful!
These bottles contain ½ liter, or 16.9 fl. oz. of water.  1 gallon = 3.785 liters, so ½ liter = roughly 1/8   gallon, or  ½ of a quart. Twenty six bottles =13 liters = roughly 3 gallons of water.  That is too much water!  I am going to be miserable.  It is the equivalent of 36 twelve ounce cans.  Is that even possible?  I wonder if eating will make it easier or harder.  I just drank #12.  I also wonder what is for lunch because I’m already hungry.  The dining hall was, for some reason, closed for breakfast this morning, so 2 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were delivered to us as breakfast in bed.  I ate one of them and I’m saving the other to have as an afternoon snack along with some Doritos.    I also ate a small package of oatmeal for breakfast. Bottle #13. A pizza buffet sounds great for lunch, but I’m really going to go out on a limb and guess that will not be the menu.  Once we return from lunch, I’ll let you know exactly what I ate. I think it is getting close to lunch now at about 10:30 am, so I’ll say good bye for a while.  Bottle # 14.

It is 11:30 am now and I am back in the dorm from lunch.  The menu consisted of a chicken patty with gravy, sweet potatoes, pinto beans, green beans, 2 slices of white bread, and water to drink.  I had 2 servings of green beans, but didn’t eat the bread or drink any water.  It’s going to be hard enough to finish 26 bottles as it is, so I didn’t want to drink any extra water that didn’t count towards my total. Yes, I know that sounds silly, but please understand my boredom and work with me a little.

I am sitting here talking to “Code Blue right now, and he just told me a story about the time he drank 5 gallons of water in 2 hours.  He said that he ended up having to call 911 because he thought he was going to drown!  Wouldn’t that be the height of all irony, if I were to drown a landlocked death on Memorial Weekend?  I just hope the blog doesn’t end here and that I’ll be able to report back after my 26th bottle. Bottle # 15.


May 31

Memorial Weekend Stress Winding Down

I never did write anymore yesterday.  I ended up with 18 total bottles of in about 3 ½ hours and then the water started to give me a headache that lasted the rest of the day, so I stopped.  It doesn’t seem quite fair that I’d get a hangover from drinking water, but that’s pretty much what happened.  Lesson learned, and I am not going to attempt it again. (But isn’t that what everyone says for alcohol, too?)
I think it’s about 9:30am and I’m at work.  I got here around 7:00 am this morning.  There isn’t a lot going on because of the holiday, and none of the civilian workers or the high ranking officers are in the building. Theoretically, it should be boring, but I’m pretty much enjoying the peace and quiet right now.

Thank goodness Memorial Weekend is almost over.  If I can survive the next 8 hours, then I will have made it through without the Earth caving in, and the stress of missing it will be a thing of the past.  How did you enjoy your long weekend?  What did you do? I hope you had fun!

I am now going to say, “Welcome” to any prison officials that may now be reading with us and thanks to all of you again for all the support I’ve been afforded.  I’ll talk to you again very soon.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

THINGS GOING WELL

So...it's now in the evening on Sunday the 23rd. Everything is well for me here in Beaumont.  I had a relaxing weekend and I hope you did, too.  My dad came to see me yesterday and we had a "contact" visit. This is where we were able to sit at the same table with one another and have a normal 2 hour conversation.  We did NOT have to talk through a telephone with a piece of glass between us. Two hours is a long time to talk when there really isn't just one huge topic for discussion, but we BS'd the entire time, and I drank a COLD Diet Coke and ate some peanut M&M's.  Damn, they were good!
 
Both my dad and I are very anxious and optimistic about me being released soon, but there is still no further information to relay, as the parole board has yet to meet regarding my release.  If it were up to me, I would have had them meet last week, but unfortunately, I was not consulted about the schedule.  My attorney has let me know that he has completed the written and visual portion of his presentation to the parole board and I should receive a copy of it next week.  I'll be sure to let you know what my impressions are once I receive it. 

I finally acquired a pair of shorts in here last week and have been able to do my exercising in a lot more comfort because of it.  Actually, it made the working out elevate to a near "enjoyable" status.   Before the shorts, I was only able to exercise in jail pants.  It's starting to get hotter here, but it's still not too bad.  Over the last 2 days I have simply started exercising as the day heated up here in the dorm.  I guess the heat and the sweat feel justifiable when I'm doing physical activity.
 
I went to the commissary yesterday, and I'm all stocked up on food again.  I never really ran out from last time, but I was getting somewhat low.   I didn't need to buy any extra clothes (t-shirts and socks) this time, so I was able to get myself a lot more food.  That may be a little deceiving, for I am still buying mostly healthful foods.  I bought a mini bag of Doritos and Cheetos and two packs of cookies.  I'll probably end up giving half the cookies away or sharing them.  I'm continuing to eat tons of tuna as my primary "snack", and so far, it hasn't gotten old or boring.
My appetite for a variety of different foods keeps growing and I seem to crave spicy foods.  A guard gave me some jalapenos last week and they were excellent.  I also got a few wings from KFC and, needless to say, they were appreciated and devoured in short order! 
 
Last Wednesday afternoon, there was a fight/mini riot at our unit between two gangs (TS and Tongo Blast).  This caused the warden to place our unit on lock-down for about 48 hours.  If you recall, lockdown is where all movement outside of the dorms is supposed to cease (ie. we are confined to our dorms). I think, technically, we are supposed to stay on our beds the whole time.  Meals are brought to us in paper sacks and hand delivered to us inside of our dorm.  I like the lockdown time.  I get breakfast delivered to me in bed.  It consists of some kind of dry cereal (like Frosted Flakes), a couple of hard boiled eggs, a biscuit, and some prunes. To me, this qualifies as a superb breakfast. No joke!   During both days of the lockdown I went to work. The first day I slept in a little later than normal and went to work around 8:00am, when I was specifically paged to report.  I ended up working until about 8:30pm which was great, because I stayed in air conditioned areas and ate my meals from the ODR (Officer Dinning Room).   Food there was much better than normal! The second morning (Friday) under lockdown, I just woke up at the normal time and walked to work regularly. Everyone was supposed to have an officer escort as they left their dorm, but I didn't know this, and, for some reason, the guards just let me go .  Maybe they didn't notice.  I only worked for 8 or so hours, but I did get to go outside to do some work all by myself for an hour and a half.  It was hot, but it was both relaxing and rejuvenating to be outside and to do some manual labor.   
 
Anyway, about this fight/riot thing.... apparently a handful of Tongo Blast guys beat up a TS guy.  I think we were put on lockdown because of a potential retaliation or continued waring between the two gangs.  These gangs are a joke.  I didn't see any of the fight participants, but from what I have heard and observed, the whole thing was probably not what I would consider serious, in the least!
 
We got off of lockdown late Friday afternoon and everything has been normal since that time.  I still feel like my time is going by increasingly fast.  My short term goal right now is to look forward to another contact visit in 2 weeks.  If I set my sights on that, then the weeks will come and go with little effort on my part.  I'm still very upset over having to miss Memorial Day weekend on Lake Travis next week, but, oh well, I'll just pout and whine a little until it passes and try to keep my mind on something else.
 
I plan on writing a blog letter again midweek.  I'll use it as a break from my business planning, which is now occupying a couple of hours each day and even more on the weekends.  I think I worked for nearly 4 hours both yesterday and today on it.  Until I talk to you again, I wish everyone a great week!