Monday, April 30, 2007

How I came to work in the correctional field.

I've worked in a lot of fields, in all sorts of positions. Most of them I wasn't particularly suited for, but you've got to do something to pay the bills while you're in school. I've worked in radio, telemarketing, had sales positions of all kinds...

Car sales, for instance - I enjoyed the dance, the play between myself, the sales person, and my victim, the customer. I did not like being disagreed with however, especially by people who didn't know what they were talking about. I didn't enjoy the fact that I felt I was constantly in an adversarial relationship with everyone who came on the lot.

Customer: "I want that new $30,000 car. I want to put nothing down. I want to trade in my 1979 Chevy Nova with 500,000 miles and I want you to give me $2000 for it. I want to pay $250 a month and I'm not going to lease. That's my offer. Take it or I walk."

Me: "You know what, I have someone over here who might be able to help you. Here's Bob."

Bob: "...."

I'm not built for that kind of customer service. My wiring doesn't work that way. Oh, I'm fully capable of being nice, don't get me wrong - as long as the person I'm talking to is reciprocating the guesture. When you're in college though, and forced into a class schedule that you have to work around, you take what you can get.

Which brings me to the corrections field.

In the summer after I had graduated from college and gotten married, I was looking for a long-term job that would hopefully transform into a career.

It was the hip thing to do at the time. All the kids were doing it.

I wanted to avoid sales if I could. I wanted to avoid wearing a tie. I applied to, among other things, the Omaha Police Department and the Douglas County Correctional Center. I took some tests and waited. A few months later, DCC replied and said they wanted me, and the Omaha Police Department had me at #45 on their list (they were hiring 50 or so officers that year.)

I was worried about the cop job. There was a long probationary period. As a cop, you're held to a high standard of professionalism and work under a microscope on a daily basis. You're out there with the uniform and the badge...and you're a target. I was older than most college graduates and had a baby on the way. If I was a few years younger, single...I'd probably take the cop job -but I wasn't.

So I took the correctional officer position. I haven't looked back since -in fact I wish I had started working here years ago. If I'd started back in 1998 or so when I started taking college courses here in Omaha, I'd be at least a Sergeant by now.

The corrections field is the one for me.

We don't carry guns. We don't have batons. We don't have stun sticks, or tazers. Only one person in the building generally has access to chemical spray, and it isn't used often.

We have our hands, our feet and some damn fine people backing us up.

I have a job where I can go to work, hear people complain about things, and I get to say, "No." Sometimes I use even stronger terms.

I have a job where I get paid to charge into a cell where a feces-covered psychopath is waiting to hit me.

I have a job where I can pit my wits and observational skills against people who have been trying to get away with things their entire lives.

Granted, I work daily with people ranging from murderers to drunk drivers to child molesters to prostitutes, but that just gives me stories to tell around the dinner table at Christmas.

It's nice when you can have the mindset that you're actually looking forward to going to work each day.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Yet another reason for Jamie to stay out of the water.

Those things are aliens. Intelligent, and fast. I want to learn how to communicate with them, so they don't come for me in the night.

There was a lab where marine biologists were studying octopuses and other marine animals. Naturally, different animals were kept in separate tanks. Every morning, when they would come in, the biologists would find a few fish missing from their tank. The only clue they had was that the floor was wet.

Puzzled, they set up security cameras. The next morning, when they watched the footage.

What they found out was: The octopuses waited for the humans to leave, then crawled out of their tanks, across the floor, up and into the fish tanks, ate some fish, then crawled back to their tanks so they humans wouldn't catch them the next morning being where they weren't supposed to be.

Octopi can survive out of water for several minutes at a time. They can squeeze through any hole as large as their beak (the only inflexible part of their bodies). They can and will open jars to get at the contents within. They are (kind of) jet-powered, able to move through water by jetting water out of themselves. Oh, and the main way they communicate? By rapidly changing their skin color. They use that ability both for camouflage and communication.

Good luck learning their language.

Amazing creatures. It's been suggested that the only reason they aren't as intelligent as dolphins is that so much of their brains are dedicated to keeping track of their eight arms

Thursday, April 26, 2007

New Hearthstone Homes progress pictures

Looks like we have a garage floor. They also put the dirt back in after they coated the basement walls with the moisture sealant.

The big metal thing is the bracing for our basement daylight window. My escape hatch in case things go really bad.

The biggest drawback your basement has with a daylight window is that zombies can get in - only one at a time, though, so it's managable. Plus the window is small enough to secure, or you can just secure the top of the bracing.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Whoa. Changed things a bit.

I got really tired of having to work with the inflexibility of two columns whenever I wanted to do something with the blog. So I was up late last night and early this morning figuring out how to get a three-column template.

I found one that I liked, or at least I thought that I liked. Installed it, didn't like it.

Installed another one, couldn't get it to work.

Looked around some more, found this template, installed it and decided to settle for now. I don't want to waste a whole day on this, you know?

I cannot wait until I pick up Studio 8 or Adobe's CS3 and can teach myself some new tricks.

...well to be honest, ANY tricks. It's been a long time since I've done any HTML.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I'm not saying that private prisons suck, but... their eternal quest to cut costs and pull in a regular profit, sometimes things fall by the wayside. Things like safety and security.

Things like this happen.

Police in New Castle, Indiana are saying that as of 4:30 PM, they are stabilizing the riot taking place at the New Castle Correctional Facility. Fortunately, so far only two staff members have been reported as having been injured.

If a government is going to take upon itself the responsibility to dispense justice, it needs to take the responsibility of seeing that justice through. Government has a moral responsibility for not only regular citizens, but also the inmates of its correctional facilities.

Government should not pay private companies to provide cheap judge services. Government should not pay private companies to provide cheap police services. Government should also keep private companies out of the incarceration business.

The only reason a government would pay a private company to house inmates is because of the kickbacks that public officials inevitably get during the bidding and construction process of these private prisons.

Great video if you have 15 minutes...

Via: VideoSift

This is a fantastic 15-minute video of Michael Shermer (the founder of Skeptic Magazine) speaking on the subject of why otherwise intelligent people believe in stupid things. He touches on the subject of UFO sightings, religious icon sightings (a favorite of mine) and how, by establishing an expectation beforehand, we tend to see or experience what we expect to see or experience. Good stuff!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Wendy's comes through!

So I went with the wife to Wendy's on Saturday night. Hit the drive-through, ordered a #2 (double burger) with fries and a coke. We also ordered a baked potato with sour cream and chives for the wife, as she needs nourishment occasionally as well. Simple enough, right?

I knew there would be trouble as soon as the dude handling the order said, "You want that potato instead of the fries, right?"

"Negative. I want that potato in addition to the fries included in my combo."


So I pick up the bag at the window, pay the man, and we're on our way home. I'm looking forward to my imminent gustatory satisfaction. I open the bag....

No fries.

Jamie notices my crestfallen features and says, "No fries huh?"


"Sucks to be you. This potato is really good. Nummy nummy."

So I head over to Wendy's website, which makes Jamie roll her eyes and ask, "What are you doing?"

"I'm gonna get my fries," I reply.

"You're wasting your time."

So I fill out a customer comment form on the Wendy's site. Right HERE. I mention how heartbroken I was, how my wife made fun of me.

With my sense of duty satisfied, I finish my meal and forget any of this happened.

Today, on Monday, at 1:30 PM, I get a call from a guy on his cell phone who claims to be the regional manager for Wendy's in Omaha. He begins by apologizing profusely for his lackey's incompetence. He fawns over my politely-worded submission, letting me know how often he gets complaints that are somewhat...violently stated.

"Some people are just terrible, you know?"

He apologizes again and eventually, gradually, lets me know that I will be receiving a coupon for a free #2 (double cheeseburger, fries and a coke) in the mail shortly.

I am a happy man.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

May the fax set you free.

Correctional officials set a man free after receiving a fax someone sent from a grocery story which was thought to be, typos and all, a document from the Kentucky Supreme Court demanding this man's release. This is of course, Kentucky, so perhaps legal standards aren't quite as stringent.

Fortunately, Timothy Rouse was later captured at his mother's house.

I'm sick.

I hate being sick. Hate it, hate it, HATE IT!

Sore throat, headache, sinus pressure, runny nose.

I took a third of a bottle of Nyquil and two Tylenol PM but that didn't help me sleep much. Kept waking up with a dry mouth.

Didn't go into work yesterday, but I will today. Might as well be sick and get paid instead of being sick and not getting paid.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Went out to Hearthstone last night...

We had some addendums our building coordinator wanted us to sign. One had to do with the fact that we're now going to get radon testing done.

Due to Omaha's conquering of Elkhorn, our future address has changed to better reflect Omaha's numbering system; which is to say, it's not as nice.

While we were out there, we had the wonderful experience of seeing a potential buyer interacting in a calm and reasonable manner with our building coordinator.

Just kidding. This guy was a jackass.

He was upset that certain homes were walkout and others were not, and he let everyone know about it. He insisted that he was fully qualified to determine how a particular lot should be labeled and that he wanted to talk to the foreman to give him a piece of his mind. He was doing all this with his four children present. His wife was also annoyingly bitchy.

I hope they're not on my street.

Regardless, I was able to snap some pictures of the progress Hearthstone Homes had made to my lot, so here they are:

Owen adores dirt clods. It was difficult to pry him away from the huge piles of dirt sitting on our lot. He will be heartbroken when he finds out the dirt isn't going to stay.


I was reading a story today that suggested lowering the legal drinking age would possibly lower the troubles we are seeing with alcohol among teens. From the story:

McCardell, 57, president emeritus of Middlebury College in Vermont and professor of history there, says alcohol is and always will be a reality in the lives of 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds. Studies indicate that the number of college students who drink is slightly smaller than it was 10 years ago, largely because of increased interest in healthy living. But in the majority who choose to drink, there have been increases of binge drinking and other excesses. Hospitalizations of 18- to 20-year-olds for alcohol poisoning have risen in those 10 years. This, McCardell believes, is partly because the drinking age of 21 has moved drinking to settings away from parental instruction and supervision. Among college students, drinking has gone off campus and underground, increasing risks while decreasing institutions abilities to manage the risks.

I think that what Mr. McCardell has forgotten, or completely failed to realize, is that age is not important when it comes to responsible behavior. Either a person has the self-will and self-control to drink responsibly, or a person doesn't. Unfortunately, just as there are vast numbers of 18-year-olds that can't handle drinking responsibly, there are also vast numbers of 25-year-olds who can't handle it either. Not to mention the 35-year-olds. And the 45-year-olds.

If you haven't outgrown getting drunk by the time you're 35, then you're an alcoholic.

Setting an arbitrary number for inclusion into adult activities (entering a contract, drinking, entering the military, smoking, voting, renting a car) is foolish. It would be wiser for a society to allow individuals willing to conform to what is considered responsible behavior to somehow prove themselves able - at whatever age they can.

Perhaps we should take a page from the Australian Aborigines and their "walkabouts." At the age of thirteen they walk in the wilderness for six months as a rite of passage. They trace the passage of their ancestors, following their routes and re-enacting their heroic acts. Once this is done, they are accepted as an adult into their society.

The ancient greeks also had a good coming of age rite - the Dokimasia. When a young Athenian came of age to vote in Athens, he was brought before an assembly in his district and put to the question. His life and actions up to that point were brought up, talked about and examined. If a valid objection to his inclusion into adult society was found, the candidate had to find a way to overcome that objection and convince others that he could be treated as an adult.

These are unrealistic ideas for a society that is focused on handouts.

I'm going to go play with my kids now.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Internet is for Porn

I do not play MMORPG's any longer. They're way too dangerous to my I've never even tried World of Warcraft. This video had me rolling though, so I'll share it with my readers.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Please don't feed the homeless

Annoyed that the city's homeless population isn't dying off quickly enough, Lincoln today launched a new campaign encouraging residents and visitors to their fair town NOT to give money or food to "street people."

Giving money or food to "house people" is apparently still ok with Lincoln's leadership.

Posters, brochures and some "guerilla marketing pieces" will soon be seen around downtown Lincoln. The ads suggest that homeless folks will spend any money given them to satisfy their addictions, like their addiction to food.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Radon Gas! Run!

Just how dangerous is Radon Gas?

I've been warned by a concerned party (my mom) that Nebraska has a serious problem with radon gas. This concerned party (mom, again) was sure that radon was going to kill us all unless we took steps NOW to solve the problem.

This is an artist's conception of what the radon's assault on our family would look like. Notice my short arms. Both my children have longer arms than I do. This is a weird genetic flaw that can only be explained by radon attacks.

Hearthstone Homes gave us the option to have our own inspector check the site for possible radon gas. This would have been in addition to their own inspector checking everything out. We weighed the risks and decided to let Hearthstone Homes handle the inspecting.

If there's any evidence of radon after we move in, we'll have to get a system installed to deal with that. How much those are, I have no idea.

Here's a link explaining how to build a house that deals with possible radon buildup.

Monday, April 16, 2007

I'd say this police department has some problems.

Story from the Daily Report - read on!

Police Sgt. Patrick Welles got a call for backup one night in 2004 and told the dispatcher he was busy but would be there shortly. It turned out he was busy having sex with a woman in his patrol car, investigators say. The 12-year veteran was fired for conduct unbecoming an officer and other departmental violations, including misuse of city property.

But now the black officer has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit, claiming white colleagues on the Chattanooga force did similar things — or worse — and were allowed to keep their jobs.

A federal investigator with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission agreed Welles was treated differently. The EEOC reported that the police department ''had knowledge of white officers who violated policy and committed sexual offenses such as rape, masturbation in public, sexual harassment, domestic assault and various of other terminable or egregious offenses, but followed progressive disciplinary procedures as well as resignation or reinstatement for those not of the charging party's race.''

Welles, in his April 9 lawsuit, is asking for reinstatement and back pay, or at least $100,000.
An assistant in the Chattanooga city attorney's office, Kenneth O. Fritz, declined to comment, as did the white police chief who fired Welles, Steve Parks, and Parks' successor, Freeman Cooper, who is black.

Welles told City Council members at an appeal hearing that he had gone to a bar around 2 a.m. for a business check and picked up a woman who had just been fired and was arguing with her employers at the bar. Welles said he drove her to a secluded area, where they had sex in his car.

He said it took less time than a lunch break.

An internal affairs investigation found that while Welles was with the woman, he failed to back up other officers when a dispatcher reported a disorder at a business.

Welles' attorney, Stuart James, said: ''Regardless of the offense, when you see a pattern where white officers are treated differently, it raises a suspicion there may be discrimination because of race.''The lawsuit cites other cases in which white officers were allowed to keep their jobs:

— One officer, charged with rape on city property while on duty, was given only a 28-day suspension and is still employed by the department, the lawsuit says. The lawsuit does not specify the outcome of the criminal charges.
— A lieutenant was disciplined for sexual harassment of an officer — using a city computer to mail sexually explicit material to a female employee. But he was restored to lieutenant after an appeal, the suit says.

Shelley Parker, an attorney for the police department, said the lawsuit would be vigorously defended. Parker said he could not recall some of the examples cited in the suit that involved white officers.

Leamon Pierce, a black city councilman who voted to uphold Welles' firing, said an officer having sex in a patrol car is ''totally out of character for a police officer. Everyone who would come before the council, we would take the same action.'' The councilman said of Welles' contention that he wasn't the only one to commit such an offense: ''You can't justify a wrong with another wrong.''

I seriously need to sue someone.

The hardest part in suing someone is finding something good to sue about, as evidenced in this story from the Associated Press:

Three prisoners serving potential life sentences in Colorado say their lives have been threatened—by mosquitoes. The inmates at Walsenburg and Limon prisons sued, saying they were at risk of contacting West Nile virus or other diseases after they were bitten repeatedly by mosquitoes and suffered “the emotional and mental distress of whether or not each mosquito’s bite would result in death or serious bodily injury.” Stephen G. Glover, Alan Smith and Michael Freeman said the bites caused high fever, headache, neck stiffness and muscle weakness. “Each attack constituted bodily injury, which the (Department of Corrections) had the power to prevent, but consciously elected not to,” wrote the inmates, acting as their own attorneys. But the Colorado Court of Appeals swat down their case and upheld a lower court’s decision to throw their case out. Prison officials said no confirmed cases of West Nile virus have ever been found in the prison population, and inmates are provided mosquito repellant.

The problem with suing is that you have to A) target someone with the ability to pay you, and B) have enough of a case that you can overcome their better-paid defense.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

New house pictures!

As you can see, Owen likes his new house.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Amazing Pizza Machine

Odds are, if you're in Omaha and you have kids, that you've been to this place at least once. It's been open for about a year now.

The Amazing Pizza Machine

The buffet is similar to Valentino's Grand Buffet, only not nearly as good. Really, if you want to go somewhere and have a nice buffet dinner in Omaha, go to Valentino's or Ameristar - unless you have kids and a few hours to kill, in which case the Amazing Pizza Machine is fine.

I went there today to help Isaiah (Isaah? Jimmy?) celebrate his birthday. Owen was happy to be there. I took him on the go-karts, which he loved, and walked him through a round of mini-golf, which he was not as excited about.

He plays golf like I play hockey. Enthusiastically, but without much ability.

Birthday Party

I have been informed that I will be attending a birthday party today at the Amazing Pizza Machine. This means I will not be able to drive out to the house site.

On the plus side, I'm going to enjoy a semi-decent buffet.

On the negative side, I will probably be assaulted by many random children.

Friday, April 13, 2007

House progress

I'll do my best to get out to the Hearthstone Homes house site tomorrow morning and take some pictures of the progress they're making on our new house. The basement is dug, and there are a bunch of slabs that are up against the walls of the dirt pit.

Am I using the correct technical terms? Probably not.

Will the pictures be pretty? Yes, yes they will.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Google's new real estate tool is up...

Seriously. In a few years is the realtor profession going to have more than twelve members?

Google Housing

The site works for both rentals and sales listings.

Playing this game at the carnival always makes me feel sad

The dog whimpers and tries to scamper away, but the duct tape is too strong, and the dog usually hasn't been fed for a while.

Still, you can win a stuffed candy cane, so it's not like you can just walk away.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Shake it off!

Instead of mourning the passing of a once-funny (a long, long time ago) comic, let's take a moment to soak in a few examples of how an unfunny, crappy comic can be made funny and a pleasure to read! Courtesy of the Family Circuss!

Unfunny comics

So B.C. creator Johnny Hart died on Easter Weekend...

I came across a collection of his old work when I was a kid. Some of it was really funny.

Around the time Bush 43 got elected, Hart went all Zell Miller on us and I've resented him ever since. I am hoping his crappy, preachy, holier-than-thou, shove-Jebus-down-everyone's-throat comic strip will now disappear from my newspaper. The minute a funny person starts taking themselves and/or their religion seriously *in the context of their work* is the minute they stop being funny and just become plain obnoxious. He went from "comic strip" to "bully pulpit" about 8 years ago and would never have gotten published in the first place if he had been so sanctimonious at the start of his career. The only reason he got away with it in the end is because he was an old habit that died hard for a lot of newspapers and their audiences...

Not funny.

He was a skilled cartoonist, and he brought me a lot of laughs when he kept his observations to everyday topics. When he became "born-again" his cartoons simply stopped being funny. Any other cartoonist serious about their work instead of prosthelitizing could've gotten the Easter message across with a snarky comment about eggs or bunnies, but he had to get heavy-handed with the sacrifice issue. When I read his strip, I felt less that I was learning something through sarcasm or satire that made me laugh, and more that I was simply being preached to. That doesn't make for any kind of good comic, unless you're Jack Chick. His subtlety simply vanished, and it's a damned shame - he was good at one time.

Now all we need to do is to push the guy responsible for Marmaduke along with the guy responsible for Garfield off a nice, high cliff.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Easter Sunday

While I'm not a religious individual, family gatherings (for my family at least) are nice. Jamie's family is in our apartment right now, getting food ready to take to Jamie's grandmother's house for Easter dinner. Owen is excited, as any 2 year old with approximately 2 pounds of chocolate and 12 ounces of caffeine in his system would be. I think he will have a good time.

Logan of course, would have fun just about anywhere.

I enjoyed my hollow chocolate bunny. It was not as good as the hollow chocolate bunny I remember from Easters past, but really...what is?

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Special Ed is not for me.

My wife wants to go back to school to get a Masters degree in education. She is thinking that she wants to be a special ed teacher. My wife is a noble person. She is a much better person than myself. If someone asked ME to teach a special education class (or any class for that matter) this would be my response:

Yes that IS a picture of Neun.

From "Retardation,
A Celebration" narrated by Wilford Brimley:

Wilford Brimley: First of all, the retarded don’t rule the night. They don’t rule it. Nobody does. And they don’t run in packs. While they may not be as strong as apes, don’t lock eyes with them. It puts them on edge. It might put them on bezerker mode. Come at you like a whirling dervish, all fists and elbows. You might be screaming "No, no, no" and all they hear is "Who wants cake."

Friday, April 6, 2007

Some problems work themselves out.

Logan finished drinking his morning milk/formula combo bottle this morning, and put it in his mouth to carry about like a puppy.

I wondered if he was still hungry, so I filled a small bottle with some white grape juice and gave it to him. He reached for it eagerly.

He still had his big bottle in his mouth, however. The big bottle prevented him from bringing the little bottle to his mouth so he could enjoy the contents within! He tried for 2 minutes straight to get the little bottle into his mouth while he still had the big bottle hanging from his teeth.

Could not do it.

This makes him sad, and he cried.

Behold! The big bottle falls out of his mouth!

He quickly realized and capitalized on the fact that the little bottle would go in now!

He smiled at me proudly as I smiled back at this rank amateurism in the sustinence game.

Question: How do you know when it's time to pull dad out of the assisted living facility?

Answer: When you find a rat in his room. And it's dead. And it's lodged in his mouth.

Seriously, if your parents don't have long-term care insurance, you might want to look into getting them some.

Long-term care is expensive, and "The Man" frowns on chaining your parents to a stake in the backyard, even if you leave the hose on for their water needs.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

I saw a co-worker while I was shopping today.

I saw Scuba Steve at Wal-Mart today. He had a small, delicate-featured, beautiful child in his cart, so I said "Hey, how's the little girl?"

He insisted it was a boy.

"Whoops, thought you had a little girl."

My wife, as we were walking to the van said, "Well, I hope he's not your supervisor."

"Why?" I asked.

"Because you just blatantly called his boy, who was dressed in a boy jacket, a boy pair of pants and a boy pair of shoes, a girl," she replied.

"Oh, really?"

"Really. How could you have missed that?"

"Oh, I don't know...the whole color-blindness thing maybe?"

For those of you unclear on the concept:

Remember kids, when you could care less, you sound like an idiot to those of us who know better.

As promised - house progress pictures

Tractor was gone, so Owen didn't get to watch it push dirt around. He does so like tractors.

I believe my wife will be taking me to a Chinese Buffet for dinner in celebration of that most holy of holy days.