I just finished Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley. I have collected some quotations from it that I liked and emailed them to mom but the closing lines where Steinbeck gets lost in New York and breaks down because he’s so close to home but can’t get there nearly made me cry. “And that’s how the traveler came home again.” I suppose I could intimately relate to his frustration at being so close but not being able to make it home till he got directions. I think I’ll re-read Travels with Charley at a later date to study his literary style some more. It is particularly applicable to my journal writing and he does such a good job of conveying a mood, a feeling, an overall impression. Aside from its instructiveness in writing style it was also a vivid snapshot of America 50 years ago, and an insightful comparison to where we are today. There are still racial tensions, there are still political divisions, modernization of daily conveniences is making life easier, metropolitan areas are expanding to even larger sizes and just as unrecognizable to someone who hasn’t seen them in a decade or 2. The more things change the more they stay the same? That’s me attempting to copy (unoriginally) some of the wit that Steinbeck displays. LOL

This weekend I listened to On Being on NPR, which I usually skip because it is predominantly a discussion of faith-based issues. This weekend Krista Tippett (sp?) interviewed a Harvard prof (who happens to be a Zoroastrian) about her research into implicit, subconscious bias/prejudice. It was a very engaging interview with many enlightening facts but the most tantalizing bit was when she explained her crowd-sourced research project. She had developed a questionnaire to gauge implicit bias and then posted it online to collect data. It is at implicit.harvard.edu (if I remember correctly, I need to take notes throughout the day of everything I want to journal about LOL). I would be very interested to take the test myself, but then to also give the test in here. I am virtually certain that there is a much higher level of bias/prejudice in here than the population at large. How do you think the COs would fare? Not any better I’d wager. *chuckle*

Then the question would be is it the environment that causes increased bias, or is it that those incarcerated (or who work in corrections) are just naturally more bias. I could probably get the test questions sent in for me to take, but I’m sure there is a scoring matrix that isn’t exactly public. That would be another interesting “experiment” to run on a prison population, though the population in housing unit 1 isn’t exactly average for NE Corrections I bet. Plus, is any kind of experiment on inmates ethical? They had informed consent with the candy experiments so I’d say that was ok. Testing for implicit bias/prejudice might be a little sketchier, and prone to potentially violent disagreement with the results. Hmmm

It was a pretty good start to the week today. We had a nice, though warm, morning yard. The meals were mostly gluten free so I ate well. I played some decent handball with George as my partner tonight at gym and we had “late night” in the dayroom (which means we were out till a whopping 8:30 LOL). Overall pretty good for another day in prison. The only bad thing was our meals were late all day, and have been since Sat. evening because our food is fixed in LCC’s kitchen and they’ve been on lockdown since 2 inmates escaped on Sat. That’s one downside to 2 prisons sharing facilities like D&E and LCC do. If the main one has issues, the other suffers collaterally. But late meals isn’t as bad as things could be; at least we’re not on total lockdown too. *smile*

They’ve recaptured one of the escapees whose apparent intent was to get out and get some revenge on the women who testified against him. Given that he had an over 150 yr sentence I can see how he had nothing to lose by trying to escape. Word from the library workers is that he had been going to the law library quite regularly until recently when his appeal was denied. I’d guess that losing his appeal was the trigger for his escape. Perhaps they should monitor inmate’s legal appeal status to keep a closer eye on them when their cases aren’t resolved in their favor. Just an idea for Frakes, the head of NE Corrections. Ha

Once things settle down around here again I think I’ll write the warden once more. He’s received the letter from Gary about the benefits of tai chi. Plus I was going through these life-skills videos that come pre-loaded on the MP4 player, things like “how to tie a tie” and “how to do a job interview.” One of them is titled “Your Better Life: 900 Reduce Stress” and it talks about ways to reduce stress, specifically: exercise (I walk over 2 miles every day at yard and play handball at gym), yoga (I do yin yoga for an hour every day in my cell) and TAI CHI. Yes, their own self-help materials say to do the exact exercise that I’ve been banned from doing. How’s that for consistent institutional logic? I’m also asking for a couple state Senators’ addresses and the address of the NET radio reporter who has been doing segments on the NE prison overcrowding and reforms. If I get denied again, they’ll be my next recourse. I’m nothing if not tenacious. *smile*


Oh another fun institutional occurrence has been the fall out in our housing unit from tactics used on inmates in the medical observation cells directly above us. For the past week Ron in cell 7 along with guys in cells above him have had their water turned off most of the time. Not only does this mean they are locked in a cell for 18 or more hours a day without drinking water, but it also means their toilets don’t flush (and if they’re lucky they’re warned before the water is turned off otherwise they find out when they can’t flush their urine or feces away). This is done to prevent the inmate in the medical cell above them from flooding his cell, but it seems harsh that they get collateral punishment for someone’s actions who isn’t even in our unit. Then to make it even more fun, I think it was Friday night, all the guys in the cells at the end of A side, 7, 8, 23, 24, started coughing and wheezing after lockdown. They had pepper sprayed some rowdy person up in a medical cell and the pepper spray came through the vents down into at least 1/4 of the cells on A side. It being after lockdown they couldn’t even get out of their cells or request assistance. At least Zach wasn’t still around as he had asthma and would have had a really hard time getting through the night breathing pepper spray, even second hand.