My Life as a Jailbrarian: Prologue

After talking recently about my time as a jail librarian I have decided to do an occasional post with some stories about my life in jail. This prologue is not a jail story. It is the story of how I ended up in jail in the first place.

I was living in Cincinnati, working at a market research firm and had just finished going to school at night to complete my MLS(Master of Library Science) degree when we got the official word that my wife would be transferred to Washington DC.   We knew it was coming. I didn’t think it would happen that fast.  As the move got closer, I started applying for jobs in the DC area. I had one really good phone interview while still in Cincy that, unfortunately, did not result in a job. A few days before the scheduled move I got a call to schedule an interview with DC Public Library so I headed east a few days ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, this meant being extremely tired and possibly ill from eating bad road food when I arrived at the interview. My boss at my old job said that the DC people broke the rules and asked her about my health. I looked that bad. Needless to say, I did not get that job.

Once we were officially residents of the DC area I started sending resumes to every local library I could find. I hit the road and personally visited the HR departments of both public and academic libraries.  One public library system actually sent my resume back to me stamped rejected and accompanied by a letter saying they do not accept unsolicited resumes. This system will appear again in later posts. That was fun. I rode the Metro around DC to the colleges there. I was on my way to Howard University one day. I got off the Metro and asked a woman who was headed to work at the hospital for directions. Along with the directions, she also gave me advice for walking through the neighborhood: walk quickly, don’t make eye contact and run if you hear gunshots. I never made it to Howard. As soon as we parted company I went right back to the Metro station and went back home.

I eventually signed on with a temp agency that works with librarians. I worked for a week at a fancy law firm near the White House. I enjoyed eating my lunch in the park with a view of the White House. I worked for a week at the World Bank. I have no memory of anything I did there. I remember being bored. I was also still applying for every job opening I saw. I eventually was called in for an interview with the state of Maryland. It was at the Department of Education working with Correctional Education as a technical librarian. I was offered the job. It was only a contract position, but it was better than temping, so I accepted. The same week I received a call from the temp agency. They had a job for me that could turn in to a permanent position.  I turned it down because I felt a guaranteed position was better than a possible permanent position. I have no idea where the other job was. I made the decision to go with the job with the state without details on the possible other job. This decision led to my 20 year jail sentence. Sometimes I regret making that decision.

Next installment:  A Visit to the Big House

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Running Out of Ways to Respond

I hesitate to write anything in regards to the Manchester attack last night. I’m not sure I have anything of import to add to the discussion and I don’t want people to think I am using the tragedy to get readers. It has, however, been on my mind today.

As a father I think about how horrible it would be to send my kid off to enjoy a concert and have it end in tragedy.  I think about the times my son has gone to concerts with friends and thank God he always arrived home safely.  I think about future events my kids will attend and pray that they will not be marred by terror and tragedy. I pray for those who lost family members in the attack.

I would rather not think about politics, but the takes are out there. People are once again using the tragedy to push a political agenda. I’ve seen several posts saying this is why we should not allow refugees in the country. Never mind that the suspect was born in Manchester. Somehow, the refugees are responsible. I’ve said it before and I will say it again. You can’t fight hate with hate and fear is exactly what the terrorists want.

There are once again positive stories from the aftermath. People in Manchester were taking in survivors. Cab drivers were giving free rides. Doctors were offering services for free. Many of the people helping were Muslim. If you look, you can always find the good even in the worst of times. I will try to remember to look for the good.

I will end with something I copied from a post after the Paris attacks and something I still believe today: Offer help to those in need. Don’t hate others because they don’t look like or worship like you. Don’t assume an entire religion can be judged on the actions of a few. Don’t let the terrorists make you scared to leave your house. Be vigilant, be aware, but don’t stop living.

Tater’s Monday Musings

  • I read two different books over the weekend that were written when the author was a teenager. If you ever want to feel even more like a failure, spend the weekend being reminded of people who have achieved more than you before they are out of their teens.  Sure, I have a good job and I now have a title, but I’m pushing 50 and I still feel like something of a failure when it comes to the career thing.  20 years in jail really hinders your job prospects even if you just work there.
  • I joked recently that I was going to write a book called The Power of Positive Negativity after I one again posted something negative only to be proven wrong. I feel like it is better to expect the worst in situations and be pleasantly surprised when things go right.  This weekend I did the opposite and posted something positive about a car buying experience only to have it go bad just a few minutes later. I’ve learned my lesson. No more positivity until after everything is done.
  • I might be biased because of my hate for the Washington baseball team, but  I watched the local coverage of the game yesterday and their broadcast team is horrible. Constant bad jokes that fell flat, making fun of a between innings activity and just a bad job in general. You are one of the best regular season teams in baseball(playoffs, not so much). Spend some money for some decent TV coverage.
  • I just wrote the check for my ticket to my 30 year high school reunion. How is that possible? I can’t be that old. Can I?
  • This is the end. I have to leave for work. Aren’t you glad this is the last bullet point?

Tater Takes on the Fall 2017 TV Schedule

I’m am one of the weird people who looks forward to the network upfronts every year to see what is renewed, what’s canceled and what’s new. The upfronts were this week. I will go night by night and post my thoughts. If you want a good grid, TVline has a good one.

Sunday: ABC has To Tell the Truth, Shark Tank and Ten Days in the Valley. CBS has Wisdom of the Crowd, NCIS: LL Cool J and Madam Secretary. Fox stays with comedy with Bob’s Burgers, The Simpsons, Ghosted  and Last Man on Earth and NBC has football.

Most of my Sunday night viewing is on AMC and HBO(Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley, etc) but we do enjoy Madam Secretary.  Otherwise, I will try Wisdom of the Crowd only because it stars Jeremy Piven(a charismatic tech innovator who creates a cutting-edge crowd-sourcing hub to solve his own daughter’s murder, as well as revolutionizing crime-solving in San Francisco.) and Ghosted with Adam Scott and Craig Robinson(a comedic X-Files) and football.

Monday:  ABC continues Dancing with the Has Beens followed by the new show The Good Doctor, CBS has Big Bang, 9JKL, Kevin Can Wait, Me Myself and I and Scorpion. FOX moves Lucifer to 8(weird) followed by The Gifted. NBC has The Voice and the Brave and CW has Supergirl and Valor.

Lucifer is one of my favorite shows. The move to 8 is weird. We also really like Supergirl. My wife and daughter like Scorpion. As for new shows – I think the only one I will watch is Gifted(set in the X-Men universe). I might give in and watch the new comedies, but I don’t think they will stick.

Tuesday: ABC has The Middle, Fresh Off the Boat, Blackish, The Mayor and The Gospel of Kevin. CBS sticks with NCIS, Bull and NCIS:Gumbo. FOX moves Lethal Weapon to Tuesday followed by The Mick and Brooklyn 99. NBC has The Voice, Superstore, The Good Place and Chicago Fire. CW has Flash and Legends of Tomorrow.

Tuesday night is always hard for us and the reason we need to upgrade to a DVR that allows for recording more shows. This will be complicated. At 8 we watch Flash and Lethal Weapon(best new show last season). My wife watches NCIS and I like the ABC comedies. Looks like NCIS and the ABC shows will watched on On Demand. At 9 we watch Legends, the NBC comedies and Brooklyn 99(the one comedy my wife likes) and I think The Mayor sounds good. More On Demand somewhere. 10 is easier. My wife watches NCIS: Gumbo and we all watch Chicago Fire.

Wednesday: ABC has The Goldbergs, Speechless, Modern Family, American Housewife and Designated Survivor.  CBS has Survivor, Seal Team and Criminal Minds. FOX is Empire and Star. NBC has The Blacklist, Law & Order SVU and Chicago PD. CW is Riverdale and Dynasty.

This night is even more complicated by the fact that I work until 9(I need to figure out how to be paid to stay home and watch TV). We really like the entire ABC slate. Speechless and American Housewife are two of the best sitcoms on TV. Survivor was the one show I watched live until I started working on Wednesday nights and is now the one I watch as soon as I get home. We also watch Riverdale and The Blacklist. So, at 8 we will record Survivor and one other show and watch the rest on On Demand. at 9 I will record the ABC comedies and will likely try Seal Team(because I am a fan of David Boreanz) and Dynasty(because I’m a sucker for a reboot), 10 is easy because we only watch Designated Survivor.

Thursday: ABC continues Shondaland night with Grey’s, Scandal and How to Get Way with Murder. CBS has football and then Big Bang, Young Sheldon, Mom, Life in Pieces and S.W.A.T. FOX has Gotham and The Orville. NBC has Will and Grace, Great News, This is Us and Law & Order True Crime(football from Nov 9-Dec 14), The CW has Supernatural and Arrow.

I still watch Grey’s and I don’t think I will be able to resit the Will & Grace reunion. We watch all of the DC universe shows so Arrow will be on the schedule. I will probably try The Orville(comedic Star Trek type show with Seth McFarlane) and S.W.A.T.(because my wife is a sucker for cop shows).

Friday: ABC has Once Upon a Time, Marvel’s Inhumans and 20/20. CBS has MacGyver, Hawaii 50 and Blue Bloods. FOX is Hell’s Kitchen and The Exorcist. NBC has Bindspot, Taken and Dateline. CW is Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Jane the Virgin.

My wife likes Macgyver and Hawaii 50 and I like Blue Bloods, so we will record the entire CBS slate. She also really likes Taken. Otherwise, nothing here for me. I still can’t figure out if all of these shows are here to die or if the networks are trying to revive Friday night viewing.

I won’t bother with Saturday because it is all encores and football. Use this day to watch DVR’ed stuff if you are boring like me and never have plans on Saturday night.

Mideason shows I’m looking forward to seeing: The 100, Black Lightning and iZombie on The CW. Shield and Alex, inc on ABC. AP Bio, Rise and Timeless on NBC. Amazing Race and Code Black on CBS.

To read more about the new shows go here for a synopsis on each one.

 

I am an Awkward Introvert and It’s Still Not Cool

There was a review in the newspaper recently(I think the Washington Post) for this book

Apparently it is now cool to be socially awkward. This is after the recent book Quiet and the movement that made people think it was cool to be an introvert. Suddenly, everyone was an introvert. The Internet was full if articles about introverts. People were sharing them declaring themselves an introvert. Based on the activity I saw on Facebook there are no extroverts on the planet. Of course, this isn’t true. I’m sure many of the people declaring themselves introverts were actual introverts I’m also sure many of the people were extroverts jumping on the introvert bandwagon. Blockbuster superhero movies, new Star Wars movies, new Star Trek movies, dreck like The Big Bang Theory, etc have made it more mainstream to like things that used to make you a nerd.  The above book now puts the socially awkward in the cool column.

Now, speaking as someone who has been a socially awkward introvert my entire life, I don’t buy the cool thing. Sure, some socially awkward nerds make it big and enter the cool category, but many of us are still just awkward people who tend to stand in a corner alone at a party. I don’t want to be an introvert. I would rather be someone who enjoys being with other people. I don’t want to be socially awkward. I would rather be someone who can attend a party or a social event at a conference and mingle like a normal person. I wasn’t cool in high school, I wasn’t cool in college and I’m not suddenly cool now because the socially awkward have been declared cool. I think my socially awkward introvert culture has been hijacked by people who have always been the “cool kids” and now are “socially awkward” or an introvert because that’s the new in thing.  This cycle will eventually end. It will once again be cool to be an extrovert and at ease in social situations and the cool kids will abandon us once again.

Trust me. Being me is not cool.

I’ve Had It With These Monkey Fighting Incidents on These Monday to Friday Planes

United has a man dragged off a plane. A flight attendant is in an altercation with a passenger after the flight attendant hits a woman with a stroller. Passengers fighting on planes.  This is getting out of control. I don’t get it. I’ve flown quite a bit. Short fights from here to Nashville or Louisville. Longer fights out west. Even a 24 hour trip to Zambia. I’ve never seen any of this happen on my flights. The flight crews have been either pleasant or at the very least blandly competent. There have been annoying passengers, but none that have inspired a fight. I have been on flights where the flight crew had to remind a passenger that they were holding the flight by refusing to take a seat, but it ended with the passenger taking their seat. I don’t know how things have gotten our of control, but I have some advice for flyers.

First, to the flight crews – I don’t now anything about your jobs so I can’t really speak to your experience. I can say, though, that most people who work with the public every day at some point would like to have a customer dragged out by security. It doesn’t make it an appropriate response. The only thing I can say is to be professional and not act in a way that will escalate the issues.

Now passengers:

  • Get to the airport early. No reason to be anxious from the start because you are short on time.
  • Start with the security line – know what to take out of your pockets before you get to the front of the line. Be ready to move through as quickly as possible. A bad security line experience can lead to angry travelers before they ever get to the plane.
  • Board quickly. Get on the plane, store your bags and sit down. If there are things you need out of your bags, take them out before boarding, not while standing in the aisle while others are trying to board.
  • If the flight crew says you need to check an item, check the item.
  • Bring entertainment – books, magazines, music. Whatever will distract you from the stress of traveling. I am an anxious flyer and this really helps me not to focus on the bad parts of travel.
  • Be aware of how your actions affect those around you. Kicked seats, seat reclined in to your lap, etc will not make for happy cabin mates.

I know that it is easy to blame the airlines for all of the issues and I agree that they need to start treating passengers better, but a lot of the issues can also be fixed by the traveler. Just be a decent person and think about how your actions affect others. Or take the bus.

Some Tater Quick Takes

I’ve tried several times to post recently and deleted everything because they were a mess. My reading has also slowed down lately. I don’t know if they are connected, but I think my time away at the conference this week is a needed break to clear my head. So, I will do some quick takes on some things that have entered my muddled mind lately.

  • I follow two different musicians on Facebook. They used to be friends and no now longer speak. One posted this week about his story of depression and anxiety. The other posted(without naming names) how terrible is to pretend to have these issues and blame your bad behavior on them. I don’t know the situation, but I do think it sucks for someone to assume they know if someone has depression and anxiety. You can still be mad at them for whatever they did, but accusing them of lying about a diagnosis is bad form. Here’s hoping I’m correct that neither one would ever read this blog.
  • I spent Tuesday on stage at a work thing as Master of Ceremonies. I’m not sure why they ever decided I was the best person out of the hundreds on staff, but there I was.  I get extremely nervous about this and never feel quite comfortable, but I will admit that I like the aftermath when everyone tells me how much they enjoyed it. They may be lying, but it makes me feel good. It’s a little hard to go back to being invisible after a day in the spotlight.  I’m still disappointed that they chose Ryan Seacrest over me to co-host Live with Kelly.
  • Next week I go from the spotlight to the crowd at the Maryland Library Association Conference where I will constantly be in a crowd of people. I am terrible at mingling or “networking” at these things so I will generally be found at the receptions standing awkwardly in the corner with a drink. I love the pub quiz on the second night because you spend all of the time answering questions instead of trying to make small talk. Maybe we should do multiple nights of pub quiz. Or maybe karaoke. That would also limit the small talk portion of the night. I would rather sing poorly in front of people than try to make small talk with strangers.
  • Monday is my mom’s birthday. A week from tomorrow is Mother’s Day. The first of each since my mom passed away. It will be a tough week for all of us. The distraction of the conference is coming at the perfect time. Or the worst time. I’m not really sure and won’t be until I live the week.
  • Finally, a peak ahead to what will be coming soon on this space – my reaction to the network upfronts when the TV