It was a decent day. I had a visit from mom, dad, McK AND Roz this morning. It was so good to finally see her. It made me want to start doing form practices with her. LOL I had suggested that they split the visit up, 2 at a time for 1.5 hrs each group but the pass clerk (CO Kenney) said it was going to be crowded and if the second group tried to come in halfway through they wouldn’t be allowed in because it would be too full. That was why the first group would leave, but I guess she didn’t think that through. And the kicker was that Jackson was up in visiting and for the first half his parents were there then they left and his brother and a friend came in…exactly what we tried to do but the CO wouldn’t us do it. So mom and dad sat on one side and McK and Roz on the other but I could really only talk to one pair or the other because with visiting full you couldn’t hear a conversation that was 4 feet away. Dad had an especially hard time. They really need to put some of the sound baffling that they have in the housing units and gym in the visiting room too. *sigh* It was a good visit though in spite of the difficulties in communicating with everyone. Roz caught me up on everyone in taiji. McK told me he should be starting classes at The Academy of Arts University, San Francisco starting this week. Woohoo. And dad told me about the Hulk, or Charley as the previous owner called their new motorhome. I didn’t get to talk to mom as much as I would have liked though. I hope the visiting facilities at whatever prison I’m sent to are better than here; bigger, warmer, quieter. Next weekend I hope I get to see Justin and we’ll see if any other visiting forms get approved this week.


Other than the visit today wasn’t much different from most any other day. It was really nice this afternoon at yard so I really wanted to just walk in contemplative silence but Michael (Teenwolf) had to walk and talk with me virtually the whole hour. He’s very impatient to get book 3 of The Magician’s series from me. Well, I’m just not done with it yet and I’m trying to savor reading it. LOL


Oh, today at yard the CO who is an older woman with a big grey ponytail and quite a taciturn attitude (smiling and joking one minute and yelling at the whole unit the next) told me in sort of a grandmotherly advising way that I’m not allowed to wear my watch to yard. She smiled the whole time which added to the passive-aggressive nature of her getting off on a power trip. I asked her why we weren’t allowed to wear a watch to yard and she said it could get broken. But we are allowed to take our radios and MP4 players to yard and they are far more fragile than my shock resistant watch. Oddly, NO other CO has ever said anything or even looked at my watch funny when I would wear it to yard so I’m guessing she just made that up in order to exert her authority over me for whatever reason. I’ll ask other COs tomorrow to see if there really is such a rule and if so, why…but prison is a Kafke-esque world of arbitrary and inane rules that are selectively enforced so I should expect that even if no such rule exists now, if I wrote a captain to ask, he’d say there was just to back up his CO.


Another example of an arbitrary rule that is selectively enforced is that not only are we only allowed 5 books, but we can’t share books. If a book belongs to one inmate, another inmate can’t borrow it to read it. James and RJ n cell 7 were written up this week because they had magazines in their cell with another iname’s name on them. So we’re locked up in our cells for 17.5 or more hours a day, we only get to go to the library once a month and we can only be in possession of 5 books at any given time and can’t share them with others. I could easily finish 5 books in 10 days, and then what do I do for the next 20 days of the month? Get bored, irritable and possible get in fights? Or maybe I could just borrow a book from someone, keep busy, keep out of trouble, and just maybe improve my mind. *rolls his eyes*


Yesterday was canteen and I had ordered 2 bags of Jolly Ranchers in order to do the “emergent property of intelligence” experiment. I believe I wrote about it earlier after listening to a Radio Lab show last weekend on Emergent Properties. How, for instance, a single ant doesn’t know how to build an ant nest but get a whole colony together and they just build it. A standard psych 101 experiment is to show a big jar of jelly beans to a class and have everyone guess how many there are. The average of all the guesses will be amazingly accurate. I hypothesized that statistically speaking the population in prison was the same as on the streets so the collective guess should be more accurate than the individual guesses. I was a bit concerned because there is definitely a higher percentage or mental illness and a lower level of education in here than in an average sample of the population outside but I stuck to my hypothesis.


In order to do the experiment I got the Jolly Ranchers, put a certain number in one of my tumblers and then went around asking anyone on A side that wanted to guess to write down their guess on a piece of paper along with their name so that if they were the closest guess I could give them the candy. They could pick up the tumber and look through the somewhat translucent white plastic to try and count but it was impossible to see them all and therefore to count them all. I wouldn’t let them open the tumbler either but they could shake it, count the ones on the bottom, feel it’s weight, etc. Over the course of 1 day I got everyone on A side who was interested to make a guess and there were 37 guesses. To start with no one guessed the exact amount, which was 51, but there was one person who guessed 50 (Kyle) and one who guessed 52 (Jacobs, my cellie) so they ended up splitting the “pot” of candy. Before I get to the statistical analysis I should comment that it was interesting how enthusiastic virtually everyone was. At first there were a few people who didn’t want to guess because they were suspicious of a “free” game where they might win something. You don’t get something for nothing, right? Especially in prison. LOL


Some were under the misconception that they had to “buy in” to make a guess but that would have been gambling. This was for intellectual curiosity, not for profit. Eventually, all those who were originally skiddish decided to go ahead and put in a guess and it was virtually everyone on A side.


So how accurate was the collective guess? It was 49.1 (btw, without a calculator doing the average of even 37 numbers wasn’t that fun. LOL) which means that out of 37 guesses only the 2 that won were closer. The average was in the top 5.4%. The mean: 49.1, median:57.5, mode: 35. One of the guys, Josh who talk with me about the reslts, suggested that the mode of 35 was because a full bag of Jolly Ranchers will generally contain 36 so a common guess would be 1 bag, or around 36. Plausible. Here’s the guesses in the order I got them: 52, 54, 56, 55, 67, 36, 50, 55, 69, 75, 75, 75, 56, 91, 24, 38, 48, 47, 35, 53, 42, 54, 45, 40, 43, 44, 74, 54, 40, 35, 35, 35, 57, 40, 41, 26. I have to say I was surprised at the high of 91 and low of 24 but even with that range the collective guess was very accurate. I’ve plotted a graph (without Excel Hahaha) of the numbers which looks interesting and I’ll mail it out to include here.


(image of graph)


I think I want to try again, maybe with M&Ms so the number will be higher giving more variation to the guesses. This can also be done with things like estimating weight but I can’t weigh myself to verify the true answer. Hmmm I’m trying to come up with another experiment that isn’t “guess how much candy is in the jar” to add variation to the methodology.