Monday, July 27, 2015

William Myrl; Letters to No One (17)

July 23, 2015
Dear No One,
There is a problem. My music player is broken. Instead of complaining about the truly awful word processor in its email app, I'm going to have to complain about having to type this letter on the kiosk. The kiosk is a computer bolted to the wall in the pod, encased in slate gray plastic of terrible durability, sheathed in shiny Plexiglas. We have to log onto it to do all of our email and music stuff, and the logins are limited to twenty minutes, separated at 1 hour intervals, up to three times a day. If it were not so a few dedicated souls could lock the thing down all day. As it stands it is occupied virtually every minute of our pod rec.
My player stopped working with the last update, very sad. It flashes onto the boot-up screen but never actually manages to load the OS. I miss my euphonious noises. The problem may not be fixable remotely, in which case I will have a few months of silence and despite ahead of me. Woe and lamentations. Until then I am forced to click clack away in the pod, in the mornings or deep in the night when it is less crowded. The emails will be shorter, as I am not a profoundly skilled typist.
In other news, the rec supervisor is quitting, so all the things I’ve said about starting a band are moot moot moot. Last time we lost a rec guy the programs were all shut down for six months. I am not enthused. That job I mentioned; it’s odd. My friend Jack works as the clerk for the tailor shop. They make the suits and uniforms this place desires. He keeps the books. He was summoned to the job because they heard about his educated demeanor and soothing British accent, I presume. But he is a short timer, so they need a backup clerk. They usually hire in house for this kind of thing, but most of the people who work there don't know how to coax the fairies inside computers into making the lights go on. That or they have personality deficiencies that make them unlikely candidates. I know that I would be a master clerker, and the entry test Jack described to me is laughably simple. Make a memo, use excel... Everyone else will get first shot at it, naturally, but if they don't succeed I will have a chance to weasel my way in there. Is it still nepotism if we're not related and I'm better qualified than everyone else? He told me to keep this under my hat, which I have. Telling you doesn't count because we don't travel in the same social circles. I will know in a couple of weeks whether I have a shot.

William Myrl (17)

William Myrl; Letters to No One (16)

Dear No One,
Today is my birthday. As a general rule, I am not a fan of these. I am twenty-six now, and I was nineteen when I was arrested. It means I am closer to my release date, naturally, though still not close. Stronger is the feeling that another year is gone and I will not have it back. Again, the primary hardship of imprisonment is not any individual discomfort or experience; it is being deprived of the life you would have lived were you not in prison. Imagine if prison really were a summer camp, and you stayed there for years, or forever. Actually imagine it. People bring up the summer camp thing like it’s a desirable outcome. I’ve been to summer camp. Living there would be horrible. Anywho...
I sang a little this morning. The band room is the size of a large closet with a drum set in it. Jark and I went over there with first period movement, got with the group that actually belonged, and hung up our IDs like we were a part of that group. The CO (Corrections Officer) that patted us down doesn't keep perfect track of who's in the bands, and the rec supervisor was elsewhere. I have never auditioned for anything or sung into a microphone. Before I started up “Hallelujah” (Rufus Wainwright) my calf muscles started spasming. This has not happened to me before. I was literally quaking in my boots. It passed. I did the first stanza (I think calling them verses and choruses is a bother. Stanza and refrain for me) and I wasn't bad, I think. I know I could have done better. Jark did the beginning of “Demons”. Then the singer worked with us to back him up on “Rude”, which is a fun song. We made progress, but were kicked out early on account of not supposed to have been there. The rec supervisor was in a good mood, so he didn’t give us charges. (Unauthorized area, a 200 series, and therefore not that serious.) He gave us a bit of a talking to, and we went back to our housing. So kind of like summer camp, yeah.
My celly cooked me a birthday meal. Ramen noodles and sausage and cheese, (both the kind we buy on commissary and the kind we smuggle back from our trays in the chow hall.) It also has some kind of beef in it that he bought on the "holiday pack". It’s like shopping at a gas station. He doesn't have functioning saliva glands or teeth, so he tends to waterlog what he cooks and deride any regular food as dry. This meal wasn't like that, because he made it early in the day and expected that we wouldn't eat it all at once. He kept suggesting that I put more water in it before I reheat it. If I was reheating spaghetti, would I put more water in it first? Maybe you would. I don't know.
Jark talked to the bandleader at chow, doesn't look like we'll get in because it's too close to the performance. Also he's a ditherer who can't focus on the essence of things, but only the appearance of complexity that he desireth not. I’m going to try to catch the singer on the rec yard tonight to get his take on things. I’m going to chivvy him into coaching me regardless of whether I get in their group. It’ll be fun. He’s amenable.
BTW someone told me today that I might be recommended for a good job sometime in the next couple of weeks. Hush, hush. Tell no one.
So how about that Bill Cosby? It's a horrible story, and also educational. There is something called the halo effect. It refers to the tendency we have to see people as all good or all bad. First impressions are so powerful partially because they establish a default. It requires effort or extreme information to overcome that default impression. When a person we like does something we don't like, they are viewed less harshly than they would be if we hadn't liked them in the first place. It seems like common sense, and it is, but the extrapolations can take us to unusual places. Good people are all good, and bad people are all bad. Bill Cosby is a beloved and respected moral authority, and therefore we are less likely to believe negative stories about him. Is this a bad thing? The famous are more open to false accusation than average people because they are known by more people than the average person, and they have more reasons to be targeted. Attacking a famous person can give us a taste of fame, it can win us monetary reward. It does happen, false stories and claims, so shouldn't they be given the benefit of the doubt? Well, ideally, everyone should be given the benefit of doubt, and be innocent until proven guilty. Claims, however, must still be investigated. In Cosby's case, they were not. Accusations were ignored because Cosby was Cosby, and Cosby was a priori a person who did not drug women to have sex with them. Because of his public persona, he was, in many minds, immune to such claims until the evidence was overwhelming. Now, they want to take away his medals and honors. Now, when he is spoken of, it is only in reference to the scandal. He is no different, he has not changed, but his halo is gone. His shows are being pulled from syndication. Are they no longer entertaining? It is an attempt at correction for the victims who were so long ignored. A nice sentiment that misses the point. All good and all bad is not a realistic way to judge human beings. Cosby almost certainly committed the crimes he was accused of, though he has not yet been convicted by a court of law. That does not mean he wasn't funny, or that the things he said about pound cake weren’t true. I hope his victims find some solace in the proceedings to come, though what was done to them cannot be undone. The halo effect hits both ways. Bad things are all bad, like those two guys who escaped from a New York prison, like anybody who commits a serious crime and is committed. Even after they are released they will be watched, lose many of their rights, and a black mark put on all future job applications. They may not ever be whole people again.
Yours, William Myrl (16)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

William Myrl; Letters to No One (15)

Dear No One,
This confederate flag business is kind of silly. It is a symbol of slavery, of a failed revolt against our republic, and it has no business flying above a courthouse any more than it has business flying over a mosque. The confederacy lasted under five years, from 1860/61 to 1865, and yes I just looked that up. It is a tiny blip in the history of the US and in the history of the South. Having southern heritage and southern pride has nothing to do with confederate heritage. There is no confederate heritage because the confederacy was never a real country. You may have ancestors who died in the Civil War fighting for the south. You may also have ancestors who died in the war of 1812, or in conflicts with Mexico, or with Canada, for that matter. Canada used to do some damage. Do we have special flags and reenactments to commemorate those things as well? Where are they?
Why don't you fly state flags? They've been around longer. There's more actual heritage involved. If your ancestors were born in those eleven states during those five years, that counts as confederate blood. I guess. I don't know if happening to be born during the Civil War is something to wave a flag over, though. Summing up, the confederate battle flag has little to do with the South, and less to do with being southern. I'm glad it's being taken down, as it’s mostly a symbol of people getting confused about symbols. That being said, we're taking it down for a stupid reason. The only reason we should have needed to take it down was the eminently obvious reason that it should never have been flying in the first place.
The nine people who were murdered at a prayer meeting in a black church (I remain in the dark about why we can’t just call it a church), that was sad. It's also an example of what psychologists call an associative cascade. Something happens, the media puts a magnifying glass on it, people get interested, media magnifies in response to interest, and peoples’ interest grows in response to magnification, and on, and on. Now I would love to one day be the subject of such a cascade myself, but in general it results in a lot of folks missing the point. Mass murders are the perfect example. They capture the imagination and become immediate and long lasting national news. Remember Newtown? Hundreds of volunteers were recruited to deal with the donations as millions of dollars swamped a relatively well-off community and an entire warehouse was filled with plush toys. Who were the toys for? Human beings have all the right impulses in the wrong direction. Millions of American children go to bed hungry every night, and we drown Newtown in plush toys while they are trying to grieve.
Mass murders account for about a five hundredth of overall gun deaths. Most gun deaths occur by accident. I’m probably not making that up. I can't fact check because I don’t have the internet and the library is closed until further notice. Where are the candlelit vigils? Where are you Wolf Blitzer, when you might actually be doing something useful? Why is it that newscasters engage in awareness raising only about things everyone is already speaking of? 
We shouldn't be talking about the flag that idiot child was waving around before he shot nine people. We should have been talking about what he shot people with. It was a gun. You use guns to shoot people, BTW. Thousands of people die every year for no reason other than a gun happened to be within casual reach. This is a cultural issue as much as a legal one. Americans think guns are cool. When I was a teenager going through my Ayn Rand phase, I thought gun controls, like economic controls in general, were a violation of the sacred individual liberties. There are plenty of persuasive and coherent arguments in that direction, but none of them are relevant to any non-hypothetical world.
In reality, the more guns you have the more people will die. This is an empirical truth regardless of context. More guns mean more deaths. I’ll grant that the military and police forces need guns, though far less than they have, but the common citizen does not. Self-defense is wonderful, so get a ranged Taser. Get ten. At what point did action movies start guiding moral judgements? If you bring a gun into your home your children are more likely to be killed or wounded by that gun than by an intruder.
You may continue to believe that it isn't true, that you are the exception, but you will not be. When a vice president of our country can accidently shoot someone in the face during a hunting accident that is the time we need to settle for using bows. In many states, fireworks are more heavily regulated than guns. Think about that the next time you want to bring up your right to bear arms. Why are fireworks not protected also? TaySway have mercy on us.

Yours, William Myrl (15)

William Myrl; Letters to No One (14)

Dear No One,
Last year was not nearly so interesting as this one. There were no posters, no concerts, and no art contest. You're lucky I started writing you when I did, otherwise all of our communications would be about books and food.
Jark got an audition with Pariah today. He knows the drummer and walked over with him to their practice. It went well. The guys over there are experienced players who know all the jargon we don't. They put music to some of his lyrics. He was pleased. The plan is still to get our own group together for next year’s auditions, but while he infiltrates one group I am trying for another. So far, I haven't gotten to sing for them, but I have made headway with one of their members and been introduced to their bandleader. He gave me an ambivalent answer, but I am going to put some friendly pressure on the other guy to get me over there. If it doesn't work I may just crash one of their practices, or else sing to the guy in the chow hall. They are losing their lead singer in the near future, in all likelihood, and even if they weren’t, they could use another back up. I love singing, and ever since going to the rock concert I have wanted to do it more and more. This audition/not audition thing has me in a tizzy because of the limits to my effort. I can only contact these people by happening to run into them at chow or on the rec yard, and only the helpful one shares a rec schedule with me. Let’s call him Apostle. He can sing precisely, and he knows musical theory, he actually went to school to learn how to sing/coach others to sing. He isn't in possession of a very powerful voice himself, but overall he could hardly be a more convenient person for me now. Apostle is youngish, possibly thirty, and seems pretty gay but may not be. I met him briefly at the graduation, where I mentioned liking to sing. Later, I saw him on the rec yard and made a point of striking up a conversation. We talked a little about music then as well. It was a couple of conversations later that auditioning came up, with but a bit of prompting. He was quite confident he could get me in for that at least, so I don't know what the hold up may be. I'm worried that because I undersold myself to Apostle he in turn undersold me to the lead band guy. Bad play on my part. I’m going to correct that impression the next time I see him, hopefully tomorrow, if I have to belt out piano man on the rec yard to do it.
More on this later.
I went to church tonight. As one can't be on two religious pass lists at once, I had to get a ticket from someone who wasn't going. It's technically a charge, but so is wearing your ID in a fashion that is not immediately visible. They don't check, as a rule.
I go to practice my vocals, obviously. I sing along to everything, even when I do not know the words. I make word like noises over the phrases unfamiliar to me. No one can call me on it because its church, and half the people there say amen and hallelujah when it doesn’t make any sense to do so. It’s the perfect, nonjudgmental, practice environment. There were three men from an outside church who came to speak. One of them had not only been in prison, but had been in this prison. He knew one of the inmates at the service from their time together, and he made references to things that would only click if you lived here. He said that some of the same COs that would have never shaken his hand before now welcomed him when he came. It was because of the grace of god that they did. His sermon was energetic, and interspersed with songs that the "choir" couldn’t make heads or tails of. They stood awkwardly as he made his voice known. I followed when I could, but his diction and the acoustics of the chow hall where they hold service conspired against me.
Now I have returned, and the night is mostly done. I did some editing for M3 this morning and I went outside this afternoon. I will be watching Hannibal at 10. The luxury and wonder that are mine exceed all worldly bounds and reason. My celly is planning a fourth of July meal tomorrow. It’s going to be hit or miss, as his culinary prowess is somewhat limited. Given that my contributions are minor, I don’t ever complain about what’s given to me. I don’t want to offend his grandfatherly sensibilities either. I hope your life is as exciting as mine.
Yours, William Myrl (14)

Friday, July 3, 2015

William Myrl, Letters to No One (13)

Dear No One,
Let me tell you about Wicca. I joined the group well over a year ago as a means of qualifying for common fare trays. At the time they were a healthy and palatable alternative to regular meals. As I mentioned in an earlier letter; that is no longer the case. 
There are a number of available religious services; two types of Christian, three kinds of Muslim, and a few fringe items like Wicca and Asatru. My first day in the service they happened to ask why I had joined, and I said it was the service "least detestable to me" among those that were offered. I told them that I had gone through a big mysticism phase when I was a teenager and that though magic itself was not real, prayer and meditation had many perfectly empirical cognitive uses. There was some slight disagreement as to the whole, "magic isn't real" thing, but we moved on. Since then, I have stated more than once that I was an atheist, and yet they seem to have forgotten. It isn't a large group, the number fluctuates from 8 to 18, usually on the lower end of the range. If you aren't familiar with Wicca practices, it is a hodgepodge of source-less mysticism and salvaged religiosity invented in the 50s and 60s. As a Wiccan, you can believe whatever you want, and practice those beliefs in any manner that you choose, as long as "ye harm none", and you praise the goddess now and again.
We have rituals for the solstices and the equinoxes. The summer solstice passed last week, and we celebrated it when we met for group on Tuesday. We have a pentagram on a piece of paper, and elemental symbols (the Greek ones, not the real ones) on handkerchiefs. We all stand around the table and read off our parts. I invoked the god, which is different than evoking, apparently. The chaplain found us eight ounces of grape juice to fulfill the "cakes and ale" portion of our "rite". It was delicious.
I am distracted from this topic by the news. CNN is yapping about those two escaped prisoners again. The dialogue surrounding them, the blatant fearmongering, bothers me. They always emphasize how vicious these men are, how sociopathic and devious and deadly. Bitch, please. I know these people. I spent two years at a maximum security prison. Not the same prison, not the same prisoners, but I have known murderers, rapists, drug dealers, sex offenders, and bank robbers. That was practically a list of my cellies. I am the bank robber. I've eaten with them, played D&D with them, and worked out on the yard with them. Is everyone here nice and friendly? No, but they aren't all madmen either. Most crimes are highly contextual, and a person who commits a heinous act in one environment may be a model citizen in another. Murderers are the prime example of this. Most killers go practically their whole lives without killing anyone. In my experience it is petty criminals who are the hardest to live with, who lie and thieve and go home next year. I've known a lot of bad people, a lot of people I wouldn’t like to meet in the real world, but I would never talk about them the way Wolf Blitzer does. He was having an interview minutes ago where he kept asking questions like "Why are these prisons run like summer camps" and "How can murderers have civil rights?"
Hey Wolf Blitzer, fuck you.
Yes, I realize that you are asking what you feel to be "the people's" questions. But as a newscaster your job is to edify, not to put words in the "people's" mouths. So I would enjoy it if you acted like a newscaster and instead of a ratings finger puppet.
And the money, the manpower being spent on finding these two escaped criminals, it is horrendous. How many lives could be saved by these millions of dollars? Certainly more than are at risk from these two men. These guys have done terrible things, and they were put away for what was supposed to be forever. There was to be no redemption for them. There was to be no rehabilitation. They were thrown away and Wolf Blitzer is on television begrudging them their pod rec and ramen noodles. Prison is not a summer camp. The things I tell you about are generally pretty mundane, and no, we aren't being constantly berated or abused. Some expect these places to be some version of puritanical hell, and it’s not. But you aren’t allowed to step on the grass, and if you try to leave you get shot. It's as if he expects us to be locked in boxes and hosed off once a week for the sensitivity of the guards. Yes, we get to go outside and lift weights. Yes, there is a library and television and basketball. Yes, there is a microwave. But being allowed to walk around in a cage does not mean it isn't one. I am tired of hearing Wolf Blitzer wonder why we have so much freedom.
I need permission to poop. The reason I need permission is because a CO has to open and close my door, I can't open and close the door to my cell. I have to wave at the booth officer so he can flip a switch and I can reenter my cell. Sometimes, this is easy. At others, it requires several minutes of waving and calling, ten or more at the extreme. Then they can close it, as long as they don't wander off before you get in and the waving calling business starts over. Then you kick your celly out, then you can poop. The next bathroom break you take, stand in front of your bathroom door and wave at no one for three minutes before going in. If it feels silly to you, it feels silly to me. During lockdown, we throw a sheet up as a privacy curtain and go to town.
I promised to never talk about my bowels. I’m sorry.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

William Myrl; Letters to No One (12)

Dear No One,
Last night there was a concert, this has never happened before. There is a band room off of the gym, it's about the size of an average living room. I have never been inside. They hold signups once a year for bands. A very clique kind of game; you know who you know. I wrote a request to the rec supervisor to sign up for the concert. I knew about it early because I have a buddy in one of the bands. So we went, plastic chairs arranged at a slight angle in the gym, everyone already there, the band already playing. We were called late, as per usual.
There were two bands, rocky. The first group was a tad disorganized, and it had far too many singers, so many that some of them had to wander around stage when it wasn't their turn. They had two vocalists who didn't play instruments, and two who did. The only person who didn't get to sing his own song was the drummer. The acoustics and the people running the electronics, were not great either. The words were swallowed in the mess.
The second group was more professional and they did two original songs that weren’t terrible. There was a man playing the guitar trying to turn it into an actual concert, head banging and keeping his face in a perpetual state orgasm. He put the instrument behind his head at one point. He was surprisingly proficient, though no one joined in with his antics. After returning to the pod I approached Jark and told him we needed to start a band. It’s something we've talked about humorously before. We often harmonize when we draw. Now he said something to me. "Are you serious about this, champ? Because when Jark starts to do something, he does it." This is mostly braggadocio, but it is true that Jark is the most positively motivated inmate I have encountered besides myself. Now all we need is people who play instruments.
The chairs were used again the next morning for graduation rehearsals. It happens every year. The few classes that are offered inevitably have success stories. We dress them in blue gowns and pretend someone cares, the change this year being my own involvement. Ladies and gentlemen, you are in the presence of a proud, certificate bearing master of business software applications. It was roughly the same as the computer applications class I took in high school, by accident. According to our treatment plans, we have to sign up for school. The options are GED, janitor craft, and roofing and siding, and computers. Once you have taken a vocational course you are not allowed to sign up for another for three years. I am in the clear.
Anyway, graduation. We come to the gym in the morning, get handed a gown, get our name taped to the back of said gown, and take a picture in our garb as a single tassel passes from hat to hat for the photo. For nearly two hours we are there and Eor too. He drones on about what I have forgotten, and I am grateful when we can go back to the pods. The gowns have zippers, like loose and long wind breakers. We are expected back in the afternoon. In the later they go over the ceremony and we write our families’ addresses on envelopes for them to mail the tassels when all is said and done. Another band is in the corner, an R&B thing. They sing an uplifting song, or rather one meant to be so. That is all.
The main event, today, this morning, was a hoot. We all line up outside gym at seven thirty. We circle around so we can gear up. And then wait to go in, and then wait to go in. At 9:10, we go in. We are walking in the order that we practiced the day before. Graduation music is playing in the background, you know the sort I mean. We take our seats, and see the visitors on the other side of the gym. Families were allowed to attend. There are a lot of open seats over there. The principal gives a long talk that no one remembers. It contains all the platitudes you can imagine. It is a show that disgusts me not a little. This is the woman who has lost two out of four of her GED teachers, replacing neither. She has lost her second librarian, and shut down the library until further notice because she will not spare the tiny mote of caloric heat it would require of her to keep it running. She is a woman who is playing a part, giving a speech, making a show for the visitors. I’m not annoyed by this at the time. It required several hours to percolate through the hardboiled leather of my cynicism to where I actually feel feelings. How people say things they don't really mean, while still believing that they mean it, is something that is no longer confusing to me. I still do not like it.
The next speaker was some guy, I think. Then it was the woman who had run the W+L college course, a professor with a long line of credentials. She gives a talk about the limits of using economic metrics to value education for prisoners, though those do favor the exchange as well. She talks about human dignity as being something of infinite value, which is sweet but silly. From all that I have heard of her, she seems to genuinely mean what she says. Her smile upon seeing all the graduates enter rang true. The W&L class would never have happened if not for her earnest efforts to make it so. Two graduates also made words happen, sort of a valedictorian arrangement. One of them was ingenuous, nervous, unpolished, and oddly heartfelt. Jark was next. My dear boy. I told him after that it was exactly the speech their golden boy should have made. I couldn't have made myself say those things. My measureless disdain for their worlds and their ways would have, as a terrible light, shone through. Jark is my friend. I would and have gone rather far out of my way for him, would go yet farther, because there is a fire in him, a wanting so absent in others both within and without this ridiculous place. The value of such a thing is not infinite, of course, but it is quite large.
William Myrl (12)

William Myrl; Letters to No One (11)

Dear No One,
Today has been an odd sort of day, and also rather usual. Eor begged I help him with his tremendous map; sketching tiny city markers as he described what they should look like. As with most things relating to Eor. It began with a small request and gradually escalated into a big one. One morning helping becomes three doing everything while he actively dithers. I have only myself to blame, it's an avoidant personality check box. I find it easier to do things for others and resent them for asking than to tell them no. After I called quits I lay in bed and listened to music for a while rather than writing as I should have been doing. I bandied negative thoughts and felt impotent until closer to lunch time. I recall something one of my little brothers said to me one visit. He was giving me kudos for doing so much creative crap behind the fence and he said if he was in jail he'd spend too much of his time feeling sad to get anything done. There are a lot of hours in the day. Being melancholy is almost as much work as work when it goes on long enough. Over sloppy joes I was able to speak with a few people I like. Afterwards I was in a better mood, and I wrote a poem, which is what I do when I'm not up for any big boy writing. Seriously, poetry is easy. If you are a person who finds poetry painful or difficult, you are a person who should be doing something else. The exception: you want a masochistic hobby but you're not big on sports.
Afternoon, I did legs on the weight pile with two buddies of mine. One of them is pretty much my speed. The other one is 5 foot 5 and squats 400 pounds. It went on longer than I am accustomed to, and my cardiovascular system is batting zero so I almost threw up or passed out, I'm not certain which, shortly after we finished. My pod is on the third floor (each pod is two tiers) and the stairs were not my friends. My vision started blurring when I tried to lean against a wall on the second landing. My paleness was commented upon by another buddy on the way into the pod. The vestibule with remote controlled sliding doors was not my friend either. It took a long time to open. In the pod, I found a table and put my head down until I felt better. The little guy with the big muscles told me it had happened to him on leg day on numerous occasions, and that he had once laid down in the weight pile until it passed.
Dinner came, then church. Mind you, I am the atheist's atheist, but I go to church sometimes because I enjoy singing. It gives me a non-judgmental environment in which to do so. During the sermon, I went over my flashcards. I'm brushing up on my Japanese, a phrase that implies I know much more than I actually do. I finally got some story writing in from 8ish to 9:30, felt better about myself, and that's pretty much it. No drawing today. Typing this with my thumbs is annoying and hour hungry labor. It will be the last of my adventures until the morrow.
There is a song called Clarity by Zed, Foxes. A collaboration, I guess. You should listen to it. I had to get a power of attorney signed so my peeps can do businessy stuff (hopefully) on my behalf. Seven request forms, it took me, over the course of a month. Four different people, I had to send them to. When I saw the building notary and asked him about doing it he asked me what the inmate handbook said about it. The sixth inmate I asked had one. I looked up notary service and it said I should write a request form to the persons I had already sent them to and I would be ready to go in 24 hours. This bothered me. When I was at last called over to j-building, the man with a stamp asked whether there was a notary in my building. The seventh and final request form was returned with a response, the rest were not seen again. Mysteries that are not mysterious.
I know a guy who was taken to the hole (segregation unit) because he was too drunk to stand up for count. Hilarious for everyone involved. He may or may not return to this pod, his spot is yet to be filled. There was a bloody fight on the yard, and an ambulance was involved. The recreation schedule will likely be restricted again. This doesn't influence the frequency or seriousness of these incidents, but it does make the administration feel like they've taken action. I've been involved in one fight in my six years of paradisaical living, one in my life. It didn’t go well. You need to practice that sort of thing, apparently. It's a strange mindset to contemplate, almost an alien study. To many of my confreres, violence really is the answer. Factual debates can be settled by a physical altercation. Moral rectitude can be established by a similar means. Many of the people I like also feel that is the case. This is a cultural issue as much as an individual predisposition. There is a genetic component to violent behaviors, as there is to most things. This shouldn’t lead us to downplay the significance of what is essentially a form of operant conditioning. When resorting to a physical contest is rewarded and lauded by one’s peers, the behavior is likely to be repeated. The one fight I was in, for the record, helped my reputation considerably; incompetence notwithstanding. It was three years ago, on a different compound, and every once in a while it still comes up. Embarrassing. It was an unusual situation, to a degree, and I will fill you in another time.

Yours, William Myrl (11)