WOOHOO! My keyboard arrived today so I can finally continue blogging. *cheer* Not only do I now avoid hitting the home key every other time I try to use the space bar but using the USB keyboard means that half my screen isn’t taken up with the on-screen keyboard. *big smile* This keyboard seems to be better that the one for the old MP4 player. It’s more sensitive so I don’t have to hit keys multiple times to get them to work. Over all I am VERY happy right now. LOL! Of course I still can’t sent this out as the kiosk that I have to sync with to send has been down for 3 days now. *sigh*

So where to begin updating all you readers (like there are any readers *chuckle*). The start of this month was the 2 year mark in my sentence. I only have 5 more till my PED (parole eligibility date) and 1 more till I’m over my mandatory minimum and can start earning good time credits, including the 191 good time that will reduce my TRD (tentative release date or “jam” date). The start of March was the anniversary of my arrival here at TSCI. I’ve settled in and made myself comfortable (or as comfortable as you can get in prison *chuckle*).

When I first arrived I had nothing to fill my time except reading, taiji and TV. Now I am actually too busy to even keep up with my magazines let alone read a book. But that’s a good thing, right? The first program I signed up for was MRT (Moral Reconnation Therapy). Even though I didn’t like the initial reading, as Gary said, it sounded like curriculum for a re-education camp during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. LOL! But once I started doing the exercises I decided that I could get out of it what I put into it so I could make it beneficial. After graduation, the teacher asked me to be a mentor for the program for my gallery. Even though I didn’t initially think the program would be worthwhile now every Wednesday I help others get the most out of it they can.

The next program I enrolled in is called 180-Reentry and it offers classes here through MCC (Metro Community College in Omaha). The first class was Employability Skills, resume writing, interviewing skills, etc. Black (from D&E) was in it with me and we had a friendly competition to see who could get the highest grade. We both got As but he made his resume 2 pages when the instructions said it should be 1 so he lost a point and my final grade was 1 point higher than his. *chuckle* Now I’m in the second MCC class which is a basic intro to MS Word, PowerPoint and Excel. LOL! I actually have taught the teacher some things she didn’t know. *smile* As the curriculum is written for Office 2010 and the computers only have 2003 most students have a hard time following the directions. I figure out the objective, translate the directions to 2003 and then act as the teachers assistant and help the other students. The teacher is grateful to have an assistant. *smile*

In Feb. I also started a 6 month program called Defy. It is an entrepreneurial training program. Cathrine Hoke, the founder, used to be a venture capital manager in NYC but after visiting a prison in TX she realized that most incarcerated people were entrepreneurs at their core. They just had bad risk management skills so they chose “businesses” that got them arrested. So she started Defy to transform their hustle. The program meets 3 times a week for approximately 2 hours plus it has a lot of homework. Having taken college courses it’s not so bad but for most of the guys in the program it is becoming overwhelming but if they stick with it I think it will be worth it. After finishing the inside curriculum we can continue with Defy when we get out and they do Shark Tank style business pitch competitions with grants for the winners. At our graduation this Aug. we do a pitch competition and the winner gets a $500 grant for their startup when they get out. I plan on winning. *grin*

I am also still an officer in Toastmasters. We are officially chartered as a chapter of Toastmasters International now and I am an International member so I can earn the official certificates. *smile* We are having our charter ceremony where we get inducted as officers for the next year. As the VP of PR I have been working hard to reach out to possible speakers that will come present to us but no luck so far. We are publishing our first quarterly newsletter this month but our (my) petition to be allowed to use the computer lab to produce our newsletter was denied so we have to use a typewriter and do manual cut and paste layout. I’m not looking forward to that but I’m lucky to have 2 guys who are willing to help. One has a typewriter and loves to make documentation (Michael McKenzie, the VP of Ed) and the other was a graphic artist and desktop publisher on the streets (David Neelands, the Secretary). I am more than happy to delegate, as a good leader should. *chuckle*

On top of all of that I’m also about to start doing woven beadwork as a hobby. There are lots of books with good project ideas in the library but I have to order the beads first and that’s proving complicated. The bead supply catalogs I have access to don’t have a good variety of colors and shapes so mom, McK and Colin are helping me by looking up beads online for me. Unfortunately, it is really difficult to describe the exact colors, sizes and shapes I need over the phone for them to find what I need. We’re getting there though. *smile*

On the personal side, I had a visit last weekend from Vithaya, my ex from Oakland, CA. Vithaya has transitioned to female since we broke up. It was very sweet of her to travel all the way from Cali to visit and it was great to see her. Mom suggested that she come last weekend because originally McK was supposed to work and she thought that would work out best. Well, McK ended up not having to work so he came too. I was confident it wouldn’t be awkward, and it really wasn’t. Vithaya even invited McK to come out and visit Cali. *smile* After the visit, while waiting to come back to our housing unit one of the guys from my gallery said “leave it to the gay guy to have the hottest chick in visiting.” When I told him she was my ex he paused, squinted and realized the situation. He kept looking at the picture that Vithaya and I took together and couldn’t believe it. Then he realized that my fiance, McK, was there as well as my trans-ex and he said “that’s some Jerry Springer shit.” HAHAhaha!

This weekend I am getting a visit from my best friend, Roz. I haven’t seen her since early Dec. or even been able to talk to her for much more than 30 min since then. Since she got back from Malaysia at the end of Jan. she has been exceedingly busy. There’s her job and regular taiji classes but now she’s doing lots of taiko drum classes and developing a new BFK (butterfly knives) form with Gary. She’s coming with her friend from UNL, Jane (my friend too), and my parents but I expect no one else will get to talk much as we will spend every available minute catching up. Plus, both of us are very chatty. *chuckle* Roz has to leave the US at the end of the year so I hope she finds time to come visit me some before then as I won’t ever be able to travel to Malaysia given the new branded passports and Interpol warnings that the US puts out any time a sex-offender tries to travel out of the country. 🙁

My mom and dad have been visiting regularly except for about 2 months where my dad was in the hospital and recovering from a burst appendix. It was pretty sudden one weekend but the surgery went well. The reason for the prolonged stay and recovery was that his GI tract stopped working after the surgery. That’s why they won’t release you until you’ve pooped so he was in the hospital for almost 3 weeks. He still has complications but they are slowly fading over time. They are supposed to lead an Airstreamers’ caravan through the Rockies starting next month as long as he’s fully recovered. On the up-side he has lost over 20 pounds. I don’t think he’d recommend it as a diet though. *chuckle*

Well, that’s all of an update I can do for today. I’ll write more now that I have my keyboard. *big smile*