Thursday, March 29, 2007

Blame Canada!

Can we please just make marijuana a legal substance and stop locking people up for possessing it?

From news:

A medical marijuana activist in Calgary was sentenced Tuesday to four months in jail for trafficking in marijuana, but the judge ruled that corrections officials must make sure he has access to the drug while behind bars.

Grant Krieger, who suffers from multiple sclerosis and has legal permission to smoke marijuana for medical purposes, had previously admitted to sending two packages of marijuana to Manitoba in 2003 and 2004.

Provincial court Judge William Pepler said Tuesday that incarceration is appropriate, but he is delaying Krieger's time behind bars until June to allow corrections officials to figure out how they will administer medical marijuana to him.

Pepler said although he recognizes that Krieger has a special constitutional right to receive marijuana to alleviate pain, the federal government has a program for people in Krieger's situation and Krieger must now comply with the law.

Judge whips it out in the courtroom.

From News For Jacksonville, Florida:

A pistol-packing judge made no apologies on Tuesday after pulling out a gun when a scuffle broke out in the middle of court proceedings.

Circuit Judge John Merrett said Friday began as just another normal day in courtroom two of the Duval County Courthouse until the father of an alleged child molestation victim decided to take the law into his own hands. He was there for a plea bargain hearing involving defendant 21-year-old Derrick McNeil, who has been charged with molesting a child.

However, in the middle of the hearing there was sudden chaos.

Merrett said he took out his gun when a brawl broke out near the bench. He said he never put his finger on the trigger or pointed the gun at anyone. He said he wanted to be prepared in case the fight between a child's father and a handcuffed defendant escalated.

"I had no idea what was going on," Merritt said. "I had just spoken to the father. I had just asked him if the plea agreement that the state had reached with the defendant was agreeable to him and he said yes, and I looked down and I see a blur and then there's all this going down there on the floor." He said the father was attacking the defendant. Bailiffs went to break up the fight, while the judge took action of his own.

"Since I didn't know what was going on or who was at risk, I thought it prudent to get my safety device out," Merrett said.

That safety device to which Merrett referred was his handgun. The judge said he kept it at his side and gave it to a clerk to lock up once the situation was under control. A police report said the father landed several punches and threatened to kill McNiel. It took five bailiffs to restore order. The reason Merritt said he became so concerned was that when the father of the victim jumped over the benches he ran and tackled the defendant in an area where the he couldn't see what was going on.

"Anytime someone's running towards the bench in a courtroom … it indicates they've had an emotional break of some sort," Merrett said.

Merret met with the father in his chambers and later ordered him released without bail, even though he was charged with a felony and two misdemeanors. Although Merrett, who has a license to carry a concealed weapon, and did not commit a crime, at least one attorney has called for a change in the rules that allows judges to carry firearms in the courthouse after what he said was a scary, real-life courtroom drama.

Duval County Public Defender Bill White questioned the safety of allowing judges to carry guns. He said he plans to talk to the chief judge about disarming the judges. However, several people at the courthouse on Friday told Channel 4 they believe judges should continue to be allowed to carry guns. "There's a lot of crazy people out there and crazy people are going to have guns, so why shouldn't judges have them? They are there because they are defenders of the law," said Arwen Bosico. "You never know who's going to show up in a courtroom and what they're going to do when they get there, so I believe it'd be OK," Len Taliferro said.

Do NOT litter.


The acting police chief and three part-time officers from a popular Long Island vacation spot were indicted Tuesday on charges they beat a tourist after he was accused of littering.
Samuel Gilberd, 34, suffered severe internal injuries, including a ruptured bladder, that required 10 days in a hospital.

Authorities promised that the indictments were the first phase of an investigation into police conduct in Ocean Beach, a village known for enforcing laws such as a onetime ban on eating cookies on public walkways.

"It was a police department gone wild. There was no control at all," Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said. The officers "acted as thugs in police uniforms."

Acting Police Chief George Hesse, 38, is charged with assault and unlawful imprisonment in the August 2005 confrontation with Gilberd, who still visits a urologist and is receiving psychiatric care.

A bouncer at a bar across the street from the Police Department accused Gilberd of littering and took him over to be cited. The officers dragged him into a room and kicked him in the stomach, said D. Carl Lustig III, the lawyer representing Gilberd in a federal lawsuit seeking millions of dollars from the village and the department.

Hesse's lawyer, William Keahon, contended Gilberd was intoxicated and suggested he hurt himself in a fall. "This is about a fellow that was drunk, on drugs, injured himself and now wants to sue," Keahon said.

Lustig did not dispute that his client had been drinking, but said medical reports showed his client had no drugs in his system.

The part-time officers were charged with unlawful imprisonment, reckless endangerment and hindering prosecution. They were identified as Paul Carollo, 46; Arnold Hardman, 51; and William Emburey, 42. All four men pleaded not guilty Tuesday. They remain free on bail. Emburey's lawyer, John Ray, said the confrontation occurred on his client's first night on the job. He said Emburey had nothing to do with the allegations and was charged only because it happened on his shift.

A week after the altercation, Gilberd was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, but the district attorney later dismissed those allegations.

The population of Ocean Beach, on Fire Island just east of New York City, swells from 138 year-round residents to more than 6,000 renters and day-trippers in the summer, when rentals can start at $10,000 a month. The village is nicknamed the "Land of No" because of odd ordinances such as the cookie ban. It was also the setting for last summer's ABC reality show "One Ocean View" about the island's singles scene.

The police department has two full-time members and 24 part-time officers.

Last week, five former police officers claimed they were wrongfully fired by Hesse, whom they accused of misconduct and mismanagement. In an interview with Newsday, Hesse would not say why he fired the five officers. Doug Wigdor, a former prosecutor representing the five officers in a wrongful termination lawsuit, claimed Hesse was "running the police department like a fraternity house."

Village and police officials have declined to comment on that federal lawsuit, in which the officers seek millions of dollars in damages and the restoration of their jobs.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Watch out for gopher holes.

According to the Des Moines Register:

A former inmate at the Oakdale Correctional Center in Coralville is suing the state and the Department of Corrections based on allegations he was injured when he fell into a gopher hole on the prison's grounds.

Alfonso McKnight, who was released on parole in 2006 and now lives in the Chicago area, alleges in court documents filed in Johnson County District Court that his injury was a result of the center's failure to properly maintain safe conditions in the recreational area. His lawyer, Robert Leyshon of Rock Island, said McKnight suffered a badly fractured ankle that required surgery. Leyshon would not elaborate on the extent of the mental anguish, disability, or other losses for which McKnight is asking compensation.

The only realistic solution for this serious, serious problem is to close the recreation area until such a time as a professional can be found that can solve the gopher problem once and for all. Hopefully the inmates will get recreation again sometime in the next month or so.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Retards in Kansas do something interesting.

Do you get evicted if you don't pay your rent?

From the Salina Journal:

MARION -- There'll be no free lunch -- no free anything - at the Marion County Jail. The county soon will begin charging inmates for their care - $11.75 a day at the minimum. A resolution passed this week by the Marion County Commission means the end of "free room and board, three squares a day" at the jail, said Randy Dallke, commission chairman. The charges will take effect after the resolution is published in the county newspaper, said Karen Selznick, office manager at the Marion County Attorney's office.

Marion County Sheriff Lee Becker said Kansas law allows him to charge for jail time. Currently, the bill is passed to taxpayers, who pay a little more than $18 a day to house a prisoner.
Prisoners will pay $9.50 a day for food, $2 for clothing, bedding and laundry and 25 cents for hygiene items. Plus, they'll be billed the full cost of medications and health care, and $25 to $40 an hour for transportation services.

"Hopefully we'll send a message that it's no longer a free ride," Becker said.

If all this sounds inhospitable, that's the point.

"If it gets expensive enough, maybe they won't want to come back and see us again," Dallke said. "We're trying to lighten the tax burden of taking care of people -- the repeat offenders," he said.

Inmates who work for the county -- a maximum of four hours a day -- will see a $5 reduction in the jail bill. Inmates who work for other employers through a work release program will be required to pay the county $20 a day to defray costs.

Dallke said the county will pursue payment "just like any bill. We'll send it to them and see if we get paid. If that's not the case, we'll have to take legal action to get paid in full." Sheriff Becker said collecting the debts could be a problem if civil judgments are required. "I don't see tons of revenue coming in, but anything helps," he said.

The sheriff felt stung recently when an inmate received Social Security disability checks while awaiting trial. "He's in here five months and getting a check every month while I'm paying all the costs of housing, feeding and clothing him. He will get paid until he's convicted and goes to prison," Becker said. "With this resolution, at least I will be able to recoup the costs to taxpayers on one side of it."

The sheriff's office has some precedence for charging fees. Already in place is a $45 fingerprinting fee charged those booked into jail. That fee is waived if the prisoner is not convicted. Last year, Becker said, the county collected $1,300 for fingerprinting.

The cost of care for each prisoner in the Salina jail is $47.80 a day, and that cost is borne by taxpayers. But Sheriff Glen Kochanowski said prisoners are charged for medical care. "When you charge, they usually have a justified reason" for demanding health care, he said. "It cuts down on the unnecessary trip to go see the nurse."

That health care charge was begun by former Sheriff Darrell Wilson. He said his fee schedule - $5 for a nurse, $10 for a doctor -- cut the number of prisoner medical visits by two-thirds.
Wilson, who now is executive director of the Kansas Sheriff's Association, said Marion County's room and board fee is unusual in Kansas.

"Not everybody agrees with charging prisoners," he said. "But most citizens paying the bill would agree if they've (the prisoners) got the money, why shouldn't they pay?"

I don't like this for non-convicted prisoners. If someone is arrested but has not yet been convicted, they are presumed innocent. As such, the burden is on the tax payer, as society's paying for a legal system, police force, and other expenses is the burden that they are to bear if they are to have such systems.

I believe that Spokane, WA tried this and it was found unconstitutional and all prior inmates were awarded a refund.

On the other hand convicted prisoners should be charged for as much as possible. We've got inmates who want to go see the nurse/doctor every single day if they can. I think if Nebraska law let us do this, it would be an extremely popular measure.

Friday, March 23, 2007

U.G.L.Y. You ain't got no alibi!

If you are a hot white women you can do just about anything. If you are a ugly black man, you might as well walk yourself to the electric chair. Don't believe me? I suggest that you spend a day in traffic court and see how the judge disposes of the tickets. Warnings for all the hot white women, large fines and lectures for the ugly black men for similar offenses.

Unless you get the angry ugly woman judge. Then it is hilarious to see the girls who are used to just acting cute and getting away with anything running into a brick wall. The whole 'You can't say that to me, I'm pretty' look is funny, especially when they get to spend the night in jail for contempt.

From the Daily Mail:

Good looks could help guilty defendants dodge justice, researchers at Bath Spa University have said. They reported that in an experiment jurors were more likely to convict suspects deemed ugly than those seen as attractive. The researchers came to these conclusions after asking 96 volunteers to read a transcript of a fictitious mugging case.

Half of the participants were given a picture of an attractive suspect, the others one of a supposedly ugly defendant. The script was the same in either case. The volunteer 'jurors' were then asked to decide whether the suspect was innocent or guilty. In the latter case they also had to decide on a sentence.

Analysis of the results revealed that attractive suspects were more likely to be acquitted, despite there being no extra evidence in their favour.

Sandie Taylor, the psychologist who conducted the study, said: "We set out to consider the influence of physical attractiveness and ethnicity of a defendant depicted in a photograph on mock jurors' decisions of verdict, extent of guilt and sentencing. "Our findings confirm previous research on the effects of defendant characteristics - such as physical attractiveness - on the deliberations of jurors. "Attractive defendants are, it seems, rated less harshly than homely defendants, so perhaps justice isn't blind after all. "People who are physically attractive are assumed to be clever, successful and have more friends - it is tragic in a way."

Dr Taylor said Ted Bundy, who murdered more than 30 young women in the U.S. in the 1970s, was a good example of a criminal who tried to use his looks to his advantage.

"He was quite an attractive person physically and he had the gift of the gab and that is how he lured his victims into his car and killed them in the end," she said. "He wanted to represent himself in court and I think a few people might have been duped by his character and how he came across. "The hard-core forensic evidence was against him, but if that forensic evidence hadn't been there, he might well have got off, because he was quite charming and knew how to work people."

The study showed that while the jurors were swayed by attractiveness, they did not let race cloud their judgment. Black and white suspects were treated equally. When black suspects were convicted, however, they were given longer sentences.

"It is interesting that being an unattractive black defendant only had an impact on sentencing and not on a juror's verdict of guilt," Dr Taylor told the British Psychological Society's annual conference in York. "However, it is a positive finding that neither black nor white participants showed a bias towards their own ethnic group."

She pointed out that in British law sentences are decided by judges rather than juries.
Previous research by Dr Taylor showed that gender can also be important in the courts.
Women jurors treat female suspects more harshly, especially when they think they might have used their looks to their advantage. Men, on the other hand, tend to give attractive women the benefit of the doubt.

The phenomenon, known as the 'halo effect', is thought to extend far beyond the courtroom, with looks affecting an individual's exam marks, job prospects and even ability to make friends.
"People are constantly making judgments of other people," added Dr Taylor. "That is the way we make sense of a socially chaotic world - we use stereotypes to try to make sense of it all."

Break a deal, face the wheel!

I used to work loss prevention on a contractor basis for a few stores, and I couldn't tell you how many little idiot teenage girls I'd catch stealing makeup. Then of course, they'd try to bargain with you in hopes their budding female wiles would work and you'd let them go.

From The Statesman:

Authorities have charged a department store loss prevention officer with seeking sex from a 16-year-old girl after he found her shoplifting, according to court documents. Ryan Keith Johnson, 26, is charged with indecency with a child, a second-degree felony, and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

An arrest affidavit said Johnson told the girl that she had enough merchandise to be charged with a felony and that, "If you have sex with me right now, your record will be clean" during the March 7 incident at Kohl's on U.S. 290 in Sunset Valley.

The girl then performed a sex act on Johnson in the loss prevention office, the document said. Investigators said in the affidavit that they later interviewed Johnson, who told conflicting stories about his encounter with the girl.

Authorities said witness interviews gave them enough evidence to charge Johnson.

I'll say this for the dumbasses out there in loss prevention, or corrections, or police work:

Never, NEVER, give somebody who likes doing illegal or stupid things the ability to get your ass tossed in the clink. Criminals always have another agenda at work; even silly little shoplifting teenagers love the idea of tossing "the man" in jail for a few years. The crazy biatches just love to see the world revolve around them for a while, and they get LEGIT victim status - they usually play the part anyway, so why not go for the gold?

In shorter terms: if the words "Have sex with me/give me a BJ/similar and I'll let you go" ever escape your lips, you've earned your jail time.

Stupid has its price, and it's often several years in jail and permanent sex offender status.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What new CO's learn not to do in their first week of training...

From the Miami Herald -

Gustavo Coronado, a Homestead prison guard, said he grew so tired of an inmate's advances that he had sex with her in her bunk ''so she would leave him alone,'' according to state agents.

They were unsympathetic, and arrested him Monday.

He faces a third-degree felony charge of sexual misconduct with a detainee or offender.

''Any sexual contact is an abuse of authority,'' said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle.

Coronado, 34, was linked to the December 2005 episode at the Homestead Correctional Institution by DNA from the woman's panties, says the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The guard, agents say, had an illicit, one-afternoon stand with a career criminal imprisoned for forgery, grant theft and burglary. The woman told agents she had been ''playing around'' with Coronado to get him busted for bad behavior. Flirting, she stole his pen on Dec. 30, 2005, proclaiming it hers. After other inmates left for lunch, Coronado demanded to see what was in her locker, agents say.

The rest of the rendezvous detailed in the arrest affidavit, which lasted ''between 30 seconds to a minute,'' describes the sexual encounter.

She first told her story to prison inspectors Cary Ryan and George Montenegro in January 2006. Three days later, she gave a sworn statement to FDLE agents Jeremy Rosenthal and Edward Royal. She also gave them underwear she said she wore during the encounter.

At first, agents say, Coronado denied he had sex with the woman. He did, however, volunteer a DNA swab. The results from that DNA test came back in November.

Later, he admitted he had sex with her, but only after she ''made sexual advances at him on a daily basis for approximately one month.'' The FDLE didn't say why it took four months to arrest Coronado.

''It's a shame, but these things happen,'' said Amos Rojas Jr., the FDLE's regional special agent in charge. ``We're going to aggressively pursue any allegations of criminal wrongdoing by a public servant.''

Sunday, March 18, 2007

How do you feel about charity?

Giving is important for a lot of people. Personally, I'd never feel comfortable just handing some panhandler on the street some cash. You never know what they're going to spend the money on. What would twenty dollars really get that person anyways? A few liters of vodka? A couple sandwiches from Subway? Some meth? An axe handle to beat you with?

I like to know where my money is going, even if it's a small amount.

I came across a program at that has an interesting approach to giving. It allows you to fund business loans for people starting businesses in third-world countries. With a minimum donation of twenty-five dollars, you can choose a business listed and help fund its development. If you're like me and don't have a lot of money to give, your money will have a lot more impact in third-world countries.

As the money is paid back, you get an email every time a payment comes in. Businesses you fund also post journal entries describing what they're doing with your money, how the business is going and so on.

Very interesting, check it out.

Don't we though?

I still have to start my proposal paper, which is due today.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Progress on the home

Signed the purchase agreement today.



On Friday we finished the "final selection" phase of the building process, where we cemented our option selections that would go into the purchase contract. That was fun. Since we've been in the Choice Studio about 5 or 6 times now we ran through fairly quickly, knowing exactly what we wanted.

Stuff like:
Finished basement
Trayed master bedroom ceiling
Double sinks in master and main bathrooms
42 inch kincaide maple cabinets with crown molding
Moenstone black granite sink
Black quartz island countertop
Tiled backsplash
16x9 deck
Whirlpool tub and a shower in the master bedroom
Cat5 cabling throughout the house
Garage door opener

You can really spend a lot of time picking out all these options you can't really afford. I'd estimate that my wife and I spent about...oh....9 or 10 hours wandering around in there, figuring what goes with what and how to maximize our dollar.

As many options as the Choice Studio has, there are quite a few options I wish that they'd include:

1) 3 car garage option - currently only available as a standard feature on their upper-tier homes...they should make it an option for the lower-tier homes as well
2) Jacuzzi pad/jacuzzi - how hard would it be to lay down a concrete slab adjoining the deck, hook up whatever wiring and tubing you had to hook up and offer a few spa types as an option?
3) Undercabinet lighting
4) Motion detector lighting over the garage door
5) Sprinkler system
6) Fencing
7) Maybe some different tiers of landscaping? For people who don't have a green thumb?
8) Sunroom option off the back porch instead of a patio?

It's not as if we could have afforded a lot of these options, but it'd be nice to look at them and say to ourselves, "Hey look at what we COULD have spent?"

Our house will be finished as early as September 19, 2007, if everything goes to plan and there are no problems. I'll wander on out there every week or so and take some new pictures of the site to post on here.

Moving sucks

Especially if you have crappy friends.

I had one person show up to help me move.


And he showed up an hour late.

"Got lost" he said, as he sipped his overpriced Caribou Coffee.

Stenneche? Thornton? Neun?


Neun says he set his alarm for 9PM instead of 9AM. Whoops, got me there Neun!

He's a crappy sniper anyways.

Time for a Jihad jump off a cliff in a 4-person van.

Next time we play BF2, it'll be done.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Financing a house

I wish that there was at least one other finance company working with Hearthstone Homes that did one-time closes.

Currently with Hearthstone Homes you get a $5000 discount if you do the one-time close with their preferred lender First Horizon, where you close when you sign the purchase agreement.

The problem I have is that they have that only that one lender available to do this one-time close, which means I can't really get a competing quote for the interest rate.

I am extremely interested in the interest rate we'll be offered.

Our the middle of our street.

So the wife and I finally went to our appointment at Hearthstone Homes today to put money down to reserve the lot of our dreams and get the process started on building our new house.

We've been looking forward to this for several weeks now. We called Hearthstone up a few weeks ago and asked which of the larger lots coming up for sale were flat lots.

Flat lots make mowing easy.

Flat lots mean you have no walk-out basement. Walk-out basements are virtually impossible to secure against either tornadoes or zombies, two of Nebraska's most menacing natural predators.

I will not have my family vulnerable to a possible zombie attack.

The Hearthstone saleswoman pointed out a few over the phone that sounded good. One lot especially perked our ears up, as it had no premium but was a flat corner lot almost twice as wide as most other lots.

We went out to the subdivision and walked around the lots that interested us - the one lot in particular. There's lots of mud out there. They just put in curbs a few days ago.

Our lot looked nicely situated. Almost twice as wide as a regular lot, and a little bit longer. It was on the corner of a cul-de-sac, which would be a great location normally, but worried me a bit because I'd have to mow a lot more grass than I really want.

The land looked a little too...sloped to be called a flat lot though.

She noticed this aspect of the lot first, as she slipped down the muddy slope of what would possibly be our backyard into what could only be called a crevasse. With the kind of determined effort normally only seen in a heroic epic and a handy length of rope, she was freed, wiped off, and we were on our way back home.

Despite this unwarranted attack by gravity, we still felt this might be the lot for us. The saleswoman had said it was a flat lot, after all. Perhaps when the construction dudes excavated our lot, they would put the dirt that was in our basement into our backyard - making it level.

We thought, as we were walking into our appointment, that we had a lot selected.

Heidi was very nice as she crushed our dreams like so much newspaper.

Not a flat lot, she said. It's a walk-out lot.


But she had another option, if we were interested, she said.


Well, there was a truly, really, honest-to-god flat lot just a little bit away from that other spirit-damping lot. It was also a large lot, it was also just one house away from a great deal of green space filled with trees and assorted foliage.

It was also discounted $5000.

I asked her if I could plant an apple tree in the green space and possibly release some ferrets.

She said nobody would know.


So on Friday, we will go in and make the final selections for the options for our house. We will sign the purchase agreement on Saturday. Our house should be built by September 20th of 2007.

Friday, March 9, 2007

I'm in Jail. What now? Part 2!

A few days ago, I posted the first part of this happy little jail guide. Here's the rest!’re still in jail.

Well, if you’re new to the whole seedy underbelly of our system of law enforcement, you’re probably a bit scared. Unsure of yourself. Worried about what might happen. You’ve heard stories, seen movies…

Relax, you’re probably not going to get raped. Unless you want to be.

Tip #5 – While rape does happen, it’s rare, especially in jail.

Prison is a different story, but there are enough folks in jail who want sex, any sex, that you probably won’t have to worry about being taken against your will. People who would never dream of a homosexual encounter on the streets often play that role in prison. These people are in high demand. People like Parker.

Just kidding, Parker.

There isn’t much sexual activity in jail at all, really, unless you count the female housing units. Female mods are hotbeds of lesbian activity. The C/O’s try to put a stop to…but it’s like holding back a stream of water with a sieve. I’ve talked to incarcerated females who are quite proud of their sexual conquests, and will gladly pointed them out.

“I’ve had her, and her, and her. Oh yeah, I had her last time I was in here. And her. She was pretty good.”

You can try to stop it from going on, but you can’t be everywhere at once. Sex happens.

I don't like where I am.

When you get taken to your first housing unit, if you don’t like it, don’t tell the officer escorting you. He doesn’t care. Don’t tell the officer in the housing unit, either. He also…doesn’t care. You have to follow procedures if you want to have even the slightest hope of getting something done.

Write a kite, kid.

Tip #6 – Ask for an Inmate request form.

Inmate request forms, or “kites” as they’re commonly called, are what you use to get, with luck, what you want.

Want something to read? Write a kite to the library telling them what you’d like to read. They’re usually pretty heavy on Grisham, Koontz and King. You can also request things like drawing paper, jigsaw puzzles and crossword puzzles.

Tooth hurting you? Write a kite to the medical department. They’ll get back to you sometime next year, but you might be able to get some motrin to help a little with the pain.

You can also use kites to ask questions. Questions about policy, when your out date will be, and to manipulate the system to get you out of general population.

Sometimes a housing unit just isn’t for you. Maybe you’re black, and nine out of ten of your fellow inmates in this mod are hispanic. Maybe you’re the only white guy in the mod. Maybe it’s your first time in jail and you really, really don’t want to be with all these tough-looking guys who look a little stabby.

Tip #7 – There are ways to get to a safer location

You have a few options.

The first option is to write a kite to the Chaplin asking to be put into the “God Mod.” Most jails have a God mod. God mods are housing units where the focus is on getting the inmate to turn over a new leaf through religious activity, usually Christian. There are multiple daily prayer sessions, daily sermons, religious activities and so on. In our facility, the God mod is the only housing unit to have a television with a VCR, which can be used to watch PG films. That’s nice when you’ve been stuck watching network TV for a while. The God mod is a very safe location and a pretty good place to wait out your time if you can handle the constant proselytizing.

The second option is to write a kite to the programs department indicating your interest in what they have to offer. Programs departments are your gateway to a great variety of places where you’ll feel a bit safer. Usually if you claim you need to earn your GED, or want to take anger management courses, or substance-abuse programs, they’ll put you in a housing unit where other like-minded folks are housed. These types of mods, although not as nice and not as safe as the God mods, are better than general population mods. The main drawback to these types of mods is the fact that you will be living with a number of uneducated, angry alcoholics who haven’t had a drink in a long time.

Two more options you can choose to write a kite to experience are suicide watch and protective custody (PC). If you’re going to get out in a few days (like people who are in on DUI charges usually do) then one of these two housing units might work for you.

To get onto suicide watch, just walk up to your nearest C/O and mention that life is getting unbearable and you’re thinking about hurting yourself. They’ll rush you to a medical unit to get interviewed and checked out.

Act emo. Mope a bit.

Suicide watch means you’re housed alone, usually in a medical mod with medical personnel around. You’re stripped naked and given a paper gown along with a suicide-prevention blanket. No TV, no recreation, no phone, no books. It can be pretty boring, but if you’re getting out in a few days, for some people it’s a better alternative to being scared.

Protective custody can be harder to get, but it’s less severe. You’re housed alone, you get all the things other inmates get like phone time, books, store items and so on, but your recreation time is usually trimmed down somewhat.

Usually you need a good reason to be placed into protective custody, like being a baby toucher. Baby touchers almost always end up in protective custody. Nobody likes a baby toucher. Even baby touchers don’t like baby touchers.

If you can come up with a good enough reason why you think other inmates might hurt you, it’s possible you can get in there. Have fun.

If you’ve read this and have any comments, questions or concerns, feel free to let loose. I love answering questions. Sometimes I’ll even give you the right answer.

Seriously, I cannot read this book. Do not ask me to read it.

If you have a mother who you had a good relationship with, or you're a mother, or you know someone who has a mother, or who is a mother, buy this book and send it out.

They will cry.

I can NOT read this book with my kids all the way through before choking up.

I know, I am weak.

I'm waiting for a criminal to donate his kidney, get out, then steal someone else's kidney.

Inmates in South Carolina could soon find that a kidney is worth 180 days.

Lawmakers are considering legislation that would let prisoners donate organs or bone marrow in exchange for time off their sentences.

A state Senate panel on Thursday endorsed creating an organ-and-tissue donation program for inmates. But legislators postponed debate on a measure to reduce the sentences of participating prisoners, citing concern that federal law may not allow it.

"I think it's imperative that we go all out and see what we can do," said the bills' chief sponsor, Democratic Sen. Ralph Anderson. "I would like to see us get enough donors that people are no longer dying."

The proposal approved by the Senate Corrections and Penology Subcommittee would set up a volunteer donor program in prisons to teach inmates about the need for donors. But lawmakers want legal advice before acting on a bill that would shave up to 180 days off a prison sentence for inmates who donate.

South Carolina advocates for organ donations said the incentive policy would be the first of its kind in the nation.

Federal law makes it illegal to give organ donors "valuable consideration." Lawmakers want to know whether the term could apply to time off of prison sentences.

"We want to make this work, we really do," said Republican Sen. John Hawkins. "But I want to make sure no one goes to jail for good intentions."

Mary Jo Cagle, chief medical officer of Bon Secours St. Francis Health System in Greenville, urged senators to find an allowable incentive.

"We have a huge need for organs and bone marrow," Cagle said.

But Melissa Blevins, executive director of Donate Life South Carolina, said any incentive would break the law and the principle behind donations.

"It really muddies the water about motive. We want to keep it a clearly altruistic act," she said.

Under the proposals, money for medical procedures and any prison guard overtime would be paid by the organ recipient and charitable groups. The state would also decide which inmates could donate.

Corrections Department Director Jon Ozmint said he believes inmates would donate even without the incentive.

"There are long-term inmates who would give if they knew a child was dying," he said. "They're lifers. They know they're going to die in prison."

More than 95,300 Americans are awaiting an organ transplant, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. About 6,700 die each year.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

I'm in Jail. What now?

At some point in your life, you may find yourself in jail. It is remarkably easy to find yourself in jail - it really doesn't take much. All that's required is:

a) a momentary lapse of good sense
b) an annoyed police officer or sheriff

Some people go to jail on a regular basis, and have learned the ins and outs of how the system works and how to behave. They've learned how to deal with an incarceration situation and how to come through the experience unscathed. You may know a few of these people. You may be related to a few of these people.

Most folks, however, do not have experience in a correctional setting. They do not know what to do, or how to act. Sometimes, through no fault of their own, these folks get hurt. This guide is for those people.

So you're in Jail!

The cops have just dropped you off at your local county jail and you're pissed. You've been wronged! You didn't do anything, dammit! You'll sue their asses and have their jobs! Screw the man!

Tip #1 - Your grudge against authority belongs on the street, not in here

The cops are the ones who did this to you, not the correctional officers. It serves no purpose for you to become agitated once you've been dropped off at the county jail. If you act in a way that a C/O construes as a threat to order in the facility, you could be:
a) put into an isolation cell to cool off for a while (keeping you from using the phone)
b) put into lockdown for a number of days (keeping you from using the phone)
c) put into intensive care, and then into lockdown for a number of days (keeping you from using the phone)

You'll be booked into the facility. Your fingerprints will be taken, your photograph will be taken. You will be interviewed by classifications personnel to determine your classification level. Do not annoy the classifications personnel. If you have no criminal history, and your charge isn't rape or murder, you'll probably get classified as a minimum security inmate, which is EXACTLY where you want to be. If you annoy the classifications personnel, there is a chance you will be classified as a medium security inmate, which is NOT where you want to be.

You will be interviewed by medical personnel. Tell them about any conditions you may have, and any prescriptions you may have. Be friendly and respectful. The medical personnel will determine whether or not you get your medication or special medical treatment.

You will dress in, giving your clothes to an officer to inventory and store, and getting jail-issued clothing in return. Be polite and cooperative. Do not be afraid to ask for a larger size item, or a smaller size item, if you feel what was given to you doesn't fit. You might be wearing these clothes for a while, so they should be as comfortable as possible.

Different jails issue different clothing. Typically you will be given a jumpsuit or pants and a shirt, underwear, socks and shower shoes. You will usually be given a towel, a cup, and an inmate handbook. Hold onto all these things, as you can be charged for the cost of those items when you leave if you don't turn them in.

You will be given a chance to use the phone. Most modern facilities have a free phone call system where you can make as many calls as you want up until the time you get taken up to your housing unit. Take advantage of this. Call mom and dad, siblings, aunts and uncles, friends, anyone you can think of who can come and bail you out. Pride at this point is stupid. Get the money you need to get out however you can.

So you couldn't get the bail money, eh loser?

Escorted by a C/O, you will be taken to your housing unit, also called a "mod." Hopefully you will be taken to a celled housing unit, where there are usually two inmates (sometimes more) housed in a single cell with a door that can be opened or closed, depending on the time of day. If you're in a really nice facility, you may even have control of your door.

If you're unlucky, you will be taken to a "dormitory-style" mod, with open bays and rows of beds. Prepare yourself for uncomfortable nights listening to snoring, smelling unpleasant odors, and hoping you won't have your things stolen while you sleep. If you're in a dorm-style mod, keep as much of your property as you can in your locker, or it will get stolen.

The housing unit C/O will tell you where your bed is. Go there, put your stuff away and get your bed ready.

Tip #2 Get along with other inmates

If you're in a celled mod, respect your cellmate, or "celly." Take whatever bed he is not in. Do not touch anything that might be his.

Some more hints to help you get along:

  • Keep to yourself, but do not isolate yourself. Mingle like you're at a party full of people who would beat you to death with a salad bowl at the slightest provocation.
  • Stay with your own race as much as possible. Often there are subtle racial issues in a correctional facility that you may not understand. Staying in the same general area as the rest of your race will often keep you from crossing an invisible social line. Don't cross that line. People get stabby.
  • Do not ask other people what they are in for.
  • Do not lie about your charges, people will find out what they are, and will probably be annoyed with you for lying to them. They might feel a bit stabby.
  • Do not gamble unless you fully understand the stakes - it sucks to give away your breakfast tray for a week because you lost a game of chess.
  • Do not borrow if you can help it, but if you do, pay your debts. Usually debts are paid back on a two for one basis: ie one candy bar today will cost you two on store day.
  • Watch whatever other people want to watch on television, do not get involved in television arguments.

Tip #3 - If a fight breaks out, get to your bunk or cell.

As a general rule, if a fight breaks out between two other inmates, move away from the fight as rapidly as possible without bringing attention to yourself. Do not bump into other inmates while doing so, or you may find yourself on the wrong side of defensive aggression.

Your goal should be to remain completely uninvolved in the altercation and to get on your bunk or in your cell, whichever is appropriate, NOW. If your cell door has been closed, stand by the door with your hands in plain view. Do not speak. Follow C/O directions immediately. In a fight situation, or "code," responding officers are usually high on adrenaline. They don't know if there are two inmates fighting, ten inmates fighting, or an inmate and one of their fellow C/O's fighting. If you are in the way, they will go through you to get to the incident. It is very likely that you will get hurt. So get out of the way.

Tip #4 You are vulnerable.

Be aware at all times that you may be assaulted at any time, for no reason at all, by another inmate. Regardless of how tough you are, or how skilled you are in a fight, you are vulnerable in a jail setting.

Be aware of your surroundings. Watch hands and body language.

If you think you are about to be attacked, get into a housing unit officer's field of vision. Help him do his job. Make some noise, bring attention to the situation.

If you are personally involved in an altercation, fight to live. Your strategy should be to protect yourself until correctional officers arrive to intervene and slam both of you to the ground. Do not resist responding officers at all, do not argue with them. They will win and you will get hurt.

It is entirely possible that you will get attacked from behind while standing toe-to-toe with your assailant. Keep this in mind and as long as weapons are not in sight, get your back against something solid.

If weapons are being used against you, run if possible. If running is not a possibility, back away quickly while holding the outside of your arms up towards your assailant. You will get cuts to your forearms but your vulnerable nerves and arteries on the inside of your arms will hopefully remain intact. If you have a chance, try to grab something to help you keep them from sticking something inside you...a chair, a broom, a fire extinguisher.

Pacifism is not an option if you are attacked. You will go to lockdown regardless of the circumstances of the fight. That's policy, so you might as well fight as hard as you can.

Tomorrow I will continue this guide, focusing on how to deal with correctional officers, how to make requests, programs that are available, and how to make your life a little more comfortable while you're waiting out your time, or waiting for your trial.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Let's build a house!

This is the house we're going to have built. It's a Hearthstone Homes Whistler model.

Next week, Jamie and I have an appointment to wander on over to one of their subdivisions and put $500 down on a lot. We've decided that lot selection is going to be crucial, as we made a mistake buying our current home - underestimating the resale value of a nice backyard.

Ninety percent of the buyers that came through our current home said that they liked our house - especially the 1750 square feet of space - but that the backyard was too small. Hearing that over and over again while you're trying to sell your house and move on with your life is extremely disheartening. Different people have different priorities they look for when they look at houses and it was just a matter of time before someone with similar views decided what we have is what they want.

We think we've picked out a nice lot. I'll post more details about it as we get them.

We found the Whistler to be Hearthstone Homes most impressive floorplan. For us it's better than some of their top-tier Tapestry floorplans that have somewhat dated layouts, such as the Monet. Open floorplans are much more appealing to us.

Here's the main floor:

And here's the upper level:

Originally, we were thinking we'd go with the Russell floorplan, mostly because of the kitchen. A "U" shaped kitchen is more efficient and (in my humble opinion) looks better. The Whistler, however, has so many advantages over the Russell that we felt it was worth the $4000 price difference. A few advantages:

  • A den - this will be a great place for her laptop, for my book collection, and will serve nicely as a general bill-paying and record-keeping room. She can sit in this room, do her bills and watch the kids playing in the backyard at the same time.
  • Walk-in closets in 2 of the kid's bedrooms
  • Upper-floor bathrooms have doors that separate the mirror/sink section of the bathroom from the toilet - this is nice for obvious reasons, making the bathroom use more efficient for the kids.
  • The master bedroom is huge. Seriously, you can't really get an idea of how much space you'll have in the master bedroom until you walk through the model. Will this be wasted space? Probably not. I'm sure Jamie will find a use for the space...especially when we have our third child and wants to keep him/her in the bedroom with us for nighttime feedings.
  • The master bedroom's huge walk-in closet is accessed through the bathroom. This means after showering, a certain unnamed person can go right into the closet and get dressed without coming back into the bedroom repeatedly and waking me up over and over again.
  • The landing when you come off the stairs to the second floor is nicely-sized. This will make it easier to move when you have to lug large items up there.
  • Laundry facilities on the top floor - an end to the mass migration of laundry all over the house.

The square footage we get - 3580 square feet including the finished basement - should solve any space issues we might face in the future.

Two problems I have with the Whistler:

  • No option to expand the garage - I really wanted a three-car garage, or maybe an option to make the garage deeper. Storage issues make this an important feature. I need somewhere for the snowblower, the lawn mower, the deep-freezer, general tool storage and so on. The basement might help with this - there's a sizable amount of unfinished space down there that might suit us. Hopefully there will be some room for a workshop and the deep-freezer.
  • L-shaped kitchen. Not that efficient, but the island we're putting in will help. Eventually, when we do the floors for the kitchen (several years from now) we think a batwing-shaped island will really make the kitchen stand out. Too bad that isn't an option. Hearthstone Homes should really look into different sizes and shapes for floorplan islands. Kitchens are important to many people and a little more variety would go a long way.

We've an appointment with a title company tomorrow to sign the documents that transfer the deed and so on to the buyer of our current home. We close on the 23rd. We'll be moving on March 15th to an apartment - I'll let you know how that goes.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Yes indeed.

Truly a mighty dump.

My son enjoys putting chocolate milk in his mighty dump on a regular basis.

Yes, rather juvenile.

We're all going to die from SNOW POISONING!

OK John Campbell from ABC affiliate KETV here in Omaha predicted yesterday that Omaha would be seeing three to six inches of snow on Thursday.

"Here's the rub though... the models are going gang-busters with the snow here. Using some equations, giving us 14 inches. However, I think that's definitely over doing it... I think we'll see a swath of 3 to 6 inches. 6 inch totals are probably a good bet here in Omaha and in Lincoln. Some spots around Omaha might end up with an inch or so more.
This is NOT three to six inches of snow:

This is also NOT three to six inches of snow:

Those were taken at about 10:30 AM. It's still coming down hard. The latest posting there on Mr. Wizard's blog, as of 11:29 AM, says there will be six to nine inches of snow.

There's at least six to nine inches of snow right now just in my boots.

Jamie rushed out to get to work on time. She was the only person in the office as of 8:30 AM. She forgot to grab more than a pop-tart to eat. Although the minivan is usually great for driving in snow, Jamie herself almost got into two accidents, and got stuck for 25 minutes on a hill behind some idiot. My wife's employer (who decided that raises for nobody but upper management made sense this year) has a strict "There is no such thing as a snow day" policy. Her immediate boss didn't even bother to try to make it in.

But Jamie is there.

She will probably be there all day.

And management has decided to "try to get some pizza place to deliver."


If I'm the upper-management guy for a multi-million dollar company that provides underwriting services and so on for California businesses, and although there's a BLIZZARD outside some of my 12 dollar an hour workers actually made it to work....what would I do? Try half-heartedly to order a few pizzas, knowing that it's not really sensible to go out to eat for lunch today?


I would tell everyone to sit tight and ask them not to leave for lunch. I would get my ass into my SUV. I would drive to a supermarket, restaurant, whatever is open - there are a few options that are fairly close to the building. I would spend a whole wad of cash on some food, something good. I would load all that food into my SUV and drive it back to my workers, who by showing up to work today under adverse conditions, are enabling my business to CONDUCT business. I would tell the workers that bothered to show up that my boss appreciates them, that I appreciate them, and that millions of illegal immigrant workers collecting unemployment in California appreciate them. I would tell them that food is on me as long as the conditions outside suck, and that if anyone felt they couldn't make it home, I would make sure they got there before *I* went home. After that, I would take the rest of upper management and go brush the snow off all my employees' cars.

But that's just me.

And now, a picture of my son looking smug.