Moved up Dentist Appointment for checking my infected botched wisdom tooth removal because I didn’t want to go there in the evening. The dentist said the infection is going away. Not really sure I believed him since it throbs and acts generally painful whenever the pain pills wear off.
Worked on preparing specifications for a development project I am currently negotiating
Upgraded my last machine (the Powermac G5) to Mac Os 10.4 Tiger. Went off without a hitch. Set up mail.app as my default mail client so that I’ll be able to use spotlight to search my mail. It makes me mad that you have to have a .mac account to sync your filters and stuff between to mail.app installs. I have my own server, and a hosting account, I don’t need to pay apple a monthly fee for a crappy hosting service. Let me sync stuff via my own server if I want to.
Did some limited web searching on Japanese house loans and things like that because we begin negotiations on a house tonight. Still early stages and very likely that the deal won’t happen. The location of the house is quite nice though.
Started debugging a problem that appeared on a paypal integration I did for a client. Problems seem to pop up about monthly on that, and I’m unsure whether paypal is changing things or the client is changing things, but it is getting really frustrating.
Went to bed at 7P.M. because my tooth was really bothering me. Slept until 6 this morning, feeling quite a bit better though the tooth still hurts. I think my body needed that extra energy to fight the infection.
Try to finalize specification
Research the steps for a server upgrade I hope to do tomorrow
Write a script for UltraGirl to use to do some calculations automatically
After working here for more than a month, I am starting to recognize names, from inputting store orders and faces, from just being around, but not usually able to put the two together. I am also getting to where I can tell the new guys, not only by their names, but also by their orders. Different prison stores carry different products; we are particulary limited by the size of our store room. Joe requires our inmates to put all electronics, body-building supplements and unusual clothing items on a special order form, and new guys don’t always know that.
In this age, many are here for the crime of “identity theft”. Having worked in the bank for so long, I saw the other end: the victims. I guess it is a price we pay for convenience. When was the last time anyone checked your credit card to make sure it was you? Many stores now have self-check out registers where a machine makes the decision. I don’t really like self-check outs, but sometimes you have no choice. I believe it is ridiculously easy to perpetuate this type of crime, and agonizingly difficult for a victim to straighten it all out. I have heard. “But they aren’t really going to be out any money if they report it to their credit company or bank.” That may be true, but having spent a lot of time helping investigate such incidences I don’t have a lot of empathy for the perpetrators.
There is one guy I am getting to know. Joe and Carlos call him “Crash”. He hangs around the store window a lot and runs any errands the guys can think up, such as taking out empty boxes and trash. Crash is 26 and is currently serving his 5th prison term. All 5 have been for auto theft; he can tell you make and model of each car he has stolen. Crash seems nice and fairly harmless, but he craves attention. Once he stuck his tongue on a frozen pole, and once ate a pound of butter all on a bet. Joe and Carlos tease him, but are nice to him too. I like that.
Our minimum security prison is called a conservation camp. I’m not sure why, but here everyone works. A handful of inmates work in the camp, like grounds maintenance workers, kitchen staff, and several clerks, including my two. Most of the men work for the state Forestry Department, known informally as “NDF”. Officially they are fire-fighters, but in reality, fires are, for the most part, few and far between. The rest of the time, they work on projects in surrounding communities. I have seen them around town several times. The other day, I took my dog, Murphy for a walk. As we were returning home from the park, I saw some of the prison crew on an adjoining street working on trash clean-up I suppose. I waved a little in case some of them recognized me, and went around the block so I didn’t have to walk right by them. Murphy and I went straight into the back yard to check on Polly, the cat, and by that time, the crew members were walking through the alley in back of my house! This time there was no doubt they recognized me, a fact confirmed later that day when I went to work. We are told not to tell prisoners where we live, but all it takes is seeing a familiar car in a drive, or spotting the “store lady” walking her dog!
The guys all get paid once a month, with their wages being directly deposited into their inmate accounts. The big question is “Did my money clear?” It seems to take a long time, and lately, we have been having more “wish lists”, as Carlos calls them, than actual store orders. There are two main attractions about working NDF. First, when you are on a fire, the money is relatively good, for prison wages that is. Also, for every so many hours of fire-fighting you get a day off of your prison sentence. Carlos has done this before, and, for the most part, has no wish to go back to it. “The fire fighting is okay,” he says, “but its all the stuff you have to do to get to the fire.” Once, his crew was assigned to pick up garbage at the dump! Recently a bus full of NDF workers were dispatched to an area across the state to help sandbag a flooded area. They returned about a week later, exhausted. Jim, my youngest son, who has worked BLM fire-fighting for the past three years tells me he often works alongside prison crews on various fires. When I tell this to Carlos, he replies, “But he was on the right side of the fence.” True enough, thank goodness.
Joe has “health” problems that prevent him from holding a physically demanding job. I’m not sure what they are, but not apparently not very serious from the way he manhandles those crates full of store merchandise. I’m glad to have him in the store, whatever the reason.
to be continued
So, you want to learn more about prison life, do you? Well then I have a couple of suggestions: drugs, both selling and taking, identity theft, auto theft, possession of illegal firearms and passing counterfeit money, to name a few. OR you can just keep on reading my “UltraMom Goes to Prison” post series; in fact this is the recommended course of action.
In case you need “catching up”, UltraMom recently landed a plum job as Retail Storekeeper II at Calvin Minimum Security Camp To find out exactly how this works, please read “UltraMom Goes to Prison”. I go to work Mon, Tues, Thurs and Fri 1:00 P.M.ish to 6:00 P.M.ish. I say “ish” because sometimes I show up a little early and leave a little early, and sometimes I show up a little late and leave a little early, so it all works out. Time has made me more comfortable with the job and surroundings. Now when I arrive I confidently approach the gate, key on the ready. I stil use the pink, beaded alligator keychain. I have been using it long enough now that I am afraid if I change it I won’t recognize the prison keys. I unlock the padlock, let myself in through the swinging gate and relock it behind me. I walk about 50 yards straight ahead to the main door. Right inside the door is the area know as the “Rotunda”. There is a high counter there where the officer in charge has dominion. There are also several rooms, including the caseworker’s office/fax room, the “office’ where mail and other important things of which I can only guess can be locked up, the copy room and, most importantly, my bathroom. I don’t want to dwell on this, but to a woman “of a certain age” who has borne 4 children, an accessible, working bathroom is a highly prized commodity. Those who know me will appreciate this most, but after only a week or so, I can now walk directly to the store, usually without any confusion or wrong turns. It is rather complicated: in the door to the rotunda, turn right and walk down a hallway unitl I find the wooden door with a sign on it reading “Camp Store.” It used to have a placard bearing the name of the previous storekeeper who held the job for more than 6 years. This has been removed, and I was hopeful to see, for the first time in my life, my own name on a door, but so far, no such luck. On my way down the hall, I pass showers, and further down the hall are living quarters for C Wing and a small open area with a table that is usually the site of a lively game of dominoes or pinochle. Directly across from the store is the office of the camp commander.
I arrive at my domain, work my magic on a couple of locks and look around. Often there are store items on the floor, having fallen from their locations from the wooden shelves. “Guys walk down the hall and bang on the walls,” Carlos explained to me. “It doesn’t matter how we stack the stuff. It still falls off.” I walk behind my desk, fire up the computer and wait for Joe and Carlos to arrive. Sometimes they show up right away and sometimes not for 1/2 hour or so. Sometimes they arrive together and sometimes singly. I think sometimes they are eating lunch, and sometimes they just don’t know I’m there right away. Til they come I check around for unfinished business. Is there a vendor I need to call about damaged or missing items? Filing to do? Last resort, I begin reading through the manuals that detail important things about my job. This is rather boring, so I’m glad when the guys come in with the order forms for the day.
I am really lucky to have these guys; they are very good at their jobs. Joe, especially, goes above and beyond. He has made up itemized order forms to simplify the ordering process for our most frequently used vendors. Actually, the clerks pretty much do the ordering, but I listen carefully and sometimes give some input.
They also fill me in on any camp happenings or gossip, and sometimes there is a lot! The hierarchy of officers, along with varying ages and levels of experience creates a whole separate set of dynamics. The Lietenant, or Camp Commander is where the buck starts and stops. He has final (and primary) say on just about everything, and is very gung-ho. Next in line is the Sargeant, a tough, laid-back seasoned veteran, followed by the Senior Officer. The rest of the custody staff have the title “Officer” in front of their name. The inmates refer to them as “guards” much of the time, but I learned, when addressing one of them, that this is no longer a politically correct term.
I am getting pretty good at the computer entry stuff. At first, I made some errors. On one large shipment, I input numbers of cases rather than items, and after only a few sales, the computer showed that we were out of some goods I knew we had in abundance. I learned my lesson on that one; I “fixed” it, but not in the recommended manner. That also led to a pricing error, as the computer thought we had paid $40 for 2 bags of chips rather than 30 bags. Fortunately, Joe bought the first bag, and noticed he had been charge about $20. I teased him on his expensive taste! Now when I input a shipment I have the guys double check my numbers.
Jackson, my supervisor is a hoot. He is almost as new as I am, and sometimes has to correct a procedure he trained me to do incorrectly. What I really like about him is that he is imminently approachable and I feel I can call him at any time about any problem. His conversations are liberally sprinkled with “cool” and “awesome”. He even used those adjectives when I called to tell him about my big shipping input fiasco. If he can take such a light view of my mistakes, so can I. After all, what better way to learn than to have to fix a messup? Jackson ends each call with “Call me if you need anything.” “Obviously I do and will,” I reply.
Sometimes when we have a lull, I ask questions, and Joe and Carlos will tell me just about anything I ask. There really is a whole culture and society in this minimum security prison “camp.” Carlos informs me that he liked it better “on the yard.” This is a bigger prison with cells and more rules, not Scotland Yard as I always think of when they say that. “A lot of the guys here have never been to a yard, and they don’t know the rules,” he says. I think I understand; prison etiquette perhaps? Joe also came from a “yard”, and agrees with his friend. There are three wings in the camp and they each have a different level of privilege and security. A Wing is for the new guys, or “fish” as Carlos calls them. Limited TV watching and mobility. If they behave themselves, they may be moved to B Wing, and ultimately to C Wing where you can watch TV pretty much whenever you want. The beds are all bunks, and bottom bunks are much more desireable. Sometimes an inmate will opt to remain in a Wing of higher security where he has a bottom bunk rather than move to a top bunk in the next level. They call them their “houses”, and are rather possessive about them. Joe tells the story of when he was in a new prison. He was assigned bed B and his bunkmate bed A. Now A is bottom bunk and B is the top, but the other guy didn’t know that. Joe told him the letters stood for “Above” and “Below”!
This is quite a change for a woman who worked in a bank for 8 1/2 years in a little town in Idaho. Now I’m on the “other side of the law!” I’m still trying to find my niche in this close-knit town , and that isn’t always an easy thing to do. Instead of meeting new people in the community in my job, I am in a small storeroom with 2 prison inmates for 5 hours a day, but for now I don’t mind. And its giving me a lot of fuel for blogging!
UltraMom, the ‘Fish”
This was meant to be written on January 5, 2006, for such was the date of our very own UltraBob’s 30th birthday. I used to claim him as my son, but as I am clearly not old enough to be the mother of a 30 year old, lets just call him my “ward.” Yeah, that’s it, ward, kind of like Bruce Wayne (aka Batman) and Dick Grayson (aka Robin). After all, we used to do a lot of super-hero stuff back in the day, or at least it seemed that way at the time. I remember…………….
When I was first married at age 19, I didn’t even want to think about children, much to Udad’s dismay. I mean, face it, I wasn’t all that grown-up myself. The days passed with my husband milking cows, irrigating and operating farm machinery. I was busy feeding baby calves, feeding baby lambs, feeding orphan kittens and, of course, feeding us. After the feeding was the cleaning up. Now that I look back on it, why in the world did I, after a time, long for someone else to feed and clean up after? Someone who would totally depend on me……….someone who would be part of me and part of my husband whom I loved so much……..someone warm and snuggly and smelling sweetly of baby powder and baby shampoo………….why indeed!
When we decided it was time to have a baby, it didn’t happen right away, so we were overjoyed when it was apparent that I was pregnant at last. I have heard some women say they LOVE being pregnant, feeling that life grow inside them, feeling more alive and full of health than ever before. That is NOT me. For me, to be pregnant is to be throwing up. It got so bad the doctor gave me a prescription. I forget what it was, but several years later, it was taken off the market. Seems it could cause birth defects or something.
Fortunately, my baby boy was (and is) perfect! Not knowing what to expect with our first baby, and living so far (70 miles) from the hospital, and it being the middle of the winter, we went into Idaho Falls to stay with my parents when my due date drew near. As it turns out, I always have PLENTY of time to get to the hospital; not only could we have safely driven the hour and a half to the hospital, but we could probably have gone to dinner and a movie on the way.
We never went to Lamaze classes; we just lived too far away and had too much work to do on the farm for that sort of thing, so I wasn’t as prepared as I might have wished. I knew labor wouldn’t be fun, but it really HURT. Udad was very sympathetic and tried to be helpful. As the contractions came and went, I alternately told him to talk to me and to shut up as the mood dictated, but I was glad he was there. He was there, in hospital scrubs, for the birth of every one of our kids, not like the days of my parents where the dad was relegated to the lobby, pacing and waiting to hear if he was the father of a boy or a girl.
Robert Wesley McDonald was named after my father, one of the most amazing men I have ever known. Also pretty amazing was this funny little red-haired baby boy, who possessed all of the requisite number of eyes, ears, fingers and toes. But something wasn’t right…….is a baby’s skin supposed to be blue? My baby was having trouble breathing, and he was whisked away from me and taken to the OTHER hospital where they took all of the intensive care babies. I didn’t find out til later, but at first they thought little Bobby had holes in his lungs. The lungs were collapsed, and the x-rays showed dark shadows. Tubes were inserted, one under each armpit, and the fluid build-up was drained away from the lung cavity. No holes! He was soon breathing normally, on his own. I once overheard Bob telling this story to someone: “I was Mom’s little smurf baby,” he said proudly, “I was blue!” Last time I looked, the scars from the tubes were still there. Bet they still are.
When I was finally released from my hospital, I went to visit my new son. I didn’t expect to hear, “Do you want to take him home today?” Right now? Wasn’t he still too fragile? How would I know how to take care of him? Okay, I panicked, but I did take him. And I haven’t been sorry, at least not too often.
We stayed in Idaho Falls for a few days, and then we took him home. Where was the sweet, sleepy baby of my dreams? This baby cried all the time and smelled, not of baby powder, but of sour milk which he constantly spit up. It was the dreaded “C” word: colic. I really don’t know what causes a baby to be colicky, but I think part of it was my nervousness and inexperience. And the more he cried, spit up and refused to nurse, the more frustrated I became. In the hospital, Bobby had become addicted to a pacifier. To calm him down, the nurses taped a baby bottle nipple to a towel, and that was the kind he wanted. I tried the cute little “Nuk” pacifier, but the only thing that worked was the big, ugly, flesh colored bulby kind. He loved that thing, and if it fell or, more often, was thrown on the floor and I couldn’t wash it off, I would pick off what garbage I could get and shove the thing back into his mouth.
I don’t mean to make it sound like it was all crying and pacifiers; there were definitely snuggly sweet times also, and as the first grandchild on my side of the family, little “Bobcat”, as his Grandma Wesley liked to call him, got lots of attention. We read to him a LOT, and not just kid books. I think I heard it would make a child more intelligent, and perhaps it worked. He certainly was a smart little guy.
If I try, I can still hear his little first-baby talking voice. When he would stumble and fall, and if he wasn’t hurt too-badly he would say, in a sing-song voice, “Uh Oh Faw down!”
We once tape recorded Udad reading some nursery rhymes with little Bobby commenting on each one: “Funny sheep!” “He’s going to get that water, huh Dad?” etc. I was really sorry when that tape broke many years later.
Bobby never liked to play alone, and I was his companion of choice (and necessity) for block building, peek a boo, tag and “Going for Coffee on the Tractor”. I think I have written about this before, but an old, rusty tractor, the wheels long gone was our conveyance. He would sit in the driver seat, and I would have to perch on the wheel well, and, imitating his dad who went to the local café almost every day for coffee and conversation, he would “drive to Howe.” I don’t remember us ever actually getting there. Usually, he would have to stop to fix something or “gas up” with sticks and rocks. Come to think of it, no wonder that tractor always had to be fixed; no wheels, and sticks for fuel…
Bobby was really excited when Heather came along a couple of years later. I was too, for several reasons. I loved my beautiful little red-haired daughter who, unlike her stubborn brother, liked the cute little Nuk pacifier. And when she got a little older, she could take my place as playmate to the young autocrat. I remember the plastic tricycle Bobby had and Heather’s “Apple-Peel-Mobile”. They would ride around and around the kitchen table on those things.
Well, It’s getting late, and many of Bob’s childhood adventures have been recounted in other posts., I am so proud of the young man he has become, and slightly in awe of his knowledge and abilities…..okay maybe more than slightly. He has a delightful sense of humor, and is one of the biggest fans of my blogging efforts. Bob, even though we live so far apart, I appreciate the effort you make to stay in touch. I hope you know how very much we love you.
Okay, I guess I’ll admit to being your mother after all. Happy Birthday, Smurf.
UltraMom, the Caped Crusader