Saturday, December 27, 2008

A week passed by

Seems the sleep study people lost my results. I'm just assuming that since I called them asking for my results and they went, "You seriously haven't gotten them yet?" and then still haven't called me back for a week.

Meanwhile, I'm still falling asleep at work and can't do anything to correct it that I'm aware of. From the couple people I've spoken to about it, I seem to exhibit a few symptoms of narcolepsy, a mild case for sure, but one that's affecting me nonetheless.

So yeah, bad night last night, up for 23 hours straight, falling asleep for most of it, started out in the upper 60s and ended in the lower 20s. A 40 degree drop in about 6 hours. You know, now that I think about it, it couldn't have been in the 20s. It wasn't cold enough, and it kept raining, not snowing. It was probably in the middle 30s.

Anyway, then I had trouble with some inmates not following orders, and so I wanted to dish out some relatively mild consequences, but my House Sergeant wasn't interested in it. I'm not sure if he did anything, but when he saw that I was getting frustrated at my standing, he told me to leave and go help some other officers outside the cell house. That wasn't really cool, and kinda exacerbated my frustration.

This is not to say that I was actually frustrated, just a bit annoyed. I was also not feeling well, being up so late and having so much caffeine in me that my heart rate was pumping at about 105 bpm, as opposed to the normal 60.

I hate to blame my inconsistencies and personal failures on something external like caffeine and lack of sleep. I really "should" have better self control, but I really "should" not anything. Should is merely hoping. I'll just not get as frustrated at my coworkers from now on.

I'm going to do some Tai Chi now (getting into it after watching a few videos. Makes me feel awesome.).

Also, if you want a good movie to watch that'll make you cry and give you long emotional nightmares, go see "Seven Pounds" with Will Smith and Rosario Dawson. It's fantastic.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Proclamation to the World #1

I, Chris Jensen, hereby declare Ubuntu Linux 8.04 to be inherently superior to Microsoft Windows in... every way but one. And the one failure of Ubuntu is not Ubuntu's fault. It is the fault of every single one of us for not using it.

I find I must go into more depth. You see, I built a computer for my brother for Christmas. It's a sweet rig and didn't cost me a fraction of what it would have to buy it prebuilt. Was a great project and I want to do it more often.

So now that we have two computers and a playstation in the house, I wanted to network them all together, or at the very least, connect them all to the internet simultaneously. I ended up buying a Linksys Router. Horribly expensive for the performance, but that can't be helped (well, it could have, but I was in a bit of a rush to get things set up.)

Our internet has been nothing but trouble since I hooked it up. We are dropping packets and losing data transfer all over the place. You can't even browse the internet because so many times a website will wait for a server to respond, but the information was simply lost because of something stupid. It was incredibly frustrating, seeing download speeds up to 1 Mbps from a direct connection, to 30 kbps with a routered connection.

I did a speed test with the router in Vista. 5000 kpbs download speed (eh, not bad) 61 kbps upload. For anyone reading who is not familiar with the terminology and relativity in data transfer speeds, let me just say that 61 kbps upload is about as pathetic as your old dial-up modem. I'm not paying for cable internet to get dial-up speeds. That's just ridiculous.

So, in my frustration, I decided to just reboot the computer and give it a rest. I missed my dual boot prompt, and it automatically booted Ubuntu. I figured, eh, what the heck, why not use it for awhile, see if I can get the internet to improve through that mess of foreign programming.


Ubuntu autoMAGICALLY configured everything. My internet works perfectly, the chat room I moderate has a steadier connection, and the only hiccups are due to momentary blackouts in the router (which is pretty standard unless I were to install a homebrew firmware onto the router, which I'm not sure is necessary).

All of this is to simply say, everyone should use Linux. The only reason it isn't as popular as Windows or Mac is because it lacks a lot of support. You can't play high-end games with it and there are a few minor issues with things like Flash Player and Java. The more people that use Linux, the more developers will say, "Hey, there is a market available to us that would make us more money if we simply did a little work to port our software over to them!"

And best of all, most versions of Linux are free. Most software for Linux is free. Thinking about buying Microsoft Office? Don't bother. Open Office has nearly all of the same features (and some that Office doesn't have) and is completely free.

Friday, December 19, 2008


One of those days. I'm incredibly bored, don't want to do anything, but don't want to do nothing. I finished building my brother's computer. Now he has a recording studio taking shape in his bedroom. He has a synthesizer and a mixer board and a few microphones and now the computer where he can start recording and mixing. We still need a few things to make it all come together completely, but for now, this is working well.

I didn't do half of the things I wanted to this weekend. My sleep schedule got all messed up and I slept for 12 hours last night. I should have been in bed two hours ago so I'd get enough sleep before work but I've just been sitting here, eating a pomegranate and other various fruits, and now I'm digging into a tub of ice cream that I really don't like.

Night before last I saw Mannheim Steamroller live in concert. They really aren't a group to see live. They're great to have on in the background at a christmas party, or maybe while you are doing chores, and they're fun to hum along to, but live? Naw, they put me and Laurie asleep. I didn't ask Curtis what he thought though.

Nevertheless, they were quite good and they had some impressive light shows. The notes were all perfect and it was like listening to a recording. Absolutely flawless in technique, but some minor flaws in composition (why in the world anyone would think playing Feliz Navidad in half-time is beyond me. An 8-measure jingle should not be stretched out for 3 minutes.)

So, all said and done, I'm quite blah today. Now I just have to wait for Curtis to get out of the shower so I can get ready for bed.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Writing news and pictures

I started brainstorming at work the other night, because the first book I wrote (finally came up with a title, two years after writing it. "City of Eden." if it's not already taken...) is really hard to understand if you aren't in my head. So I had to come up with something to make it readable (since the one guy I got to read it said he hated it. I give him credit for honesty.).

Well, then I wrote a quick little ditty about a cowboy with a magical revolver who fights King George. I realized, it would fit perfectly with the old book, and so I decided to make a two parter extravaganza to fill out this mythos that is the very bizarre setting of the book.

Here are some pictures of my notes.

I made a bubble web of character/gang interactions, then another page of slightly more detailed interactions, and a timeline of events between the two books. Spoilers in those pictures, by the way.

Also, today I got my hardcopy of my NaNoWriMo book. The first thing I did was find a ton of spelling errors. Go me.

You'll notice the blank space on the right page (below) where I couldn't think of a name of a sedative that would kill a baby. I might write one in for fun. Or maybe just put in the word, "RAINBOWS!"

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


cranberries, raspberries, grapes, pomegranate, and some mixed nuts.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I have a problem

I'm not sure if this is a seasonal thing or something I've just grown into, but every so often, I drive my friends away. I did it last year with my girlfriend, right about this time of year, nitpicking, only seeing her faults, loathing the time we spent together. She said I changed, and I thought she was just being an idiot.

Well, it's started happening again, this time I definitely know something is up. I've started picking fights with my friend Laurie and pointing out faults and making issues out of things that are rather unimportant. My patience is not what it normally is and I find myself frustrated more often than usual.

I'm fairly certain this is a seasonal thing, combined with the fact that I don't see the sun anymore (working all night, sleeping all day) that's just getting to me. A few days ago I felt my first depressive episode since April. That's... that's a record for me. I've never been so great for so long. I mean, living in Wyoming was a drag because you only got 3 months of good outdoor time and sunlight. So that was about 3 months of feeling great. Now, it's like 10 months of feeling great and 2 feeling a little down. Which is loads better, but it still puts a strain on my relationships and coworkers.

For instance, tonight at work, a new girl was calling the wrong person on the radio, delivering standard messages about inmate movement. The thing was, she had been told before what the codenames are, and she said she could handle it, then she repeatedly calls out the wrong codename over the radio. This back and forth had absolutely nothing to do with me or my post tonight, yet I found myself getting frustrated at her all night.

Now, in my mind, my frustration is totally justified. This was her fourth night at that post, her fourth night making the same mistakes. She's only been working here for a week and a half. However, by my fourth night, I had the radio down, or at least, I asked and double checked my codenames before I used it. So, part of me says, "give her time" and part of me says, "why isn't she good enough?"

And I seriously do this for nearly everyone I meet. I pass judgments on people and size up my expectations of them, and it is totally unfair. I have no justification for this besides my own subjective reasoning, which is obviously askew since I only tend to be bitchy like this during the winter months.

So, Laurie, I'm very sorry. I know I have a problem. I have never worked on it before, so it'll be a rough time, but I'm going to try and keep my head on my shoulders this winter.

And to anyone else that incurs my wrath, just pretend it's all some really bad joke. Laugh it off and give me space.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Dance, Dance, Dance

Haruki Murakami is perhaps my favorite author. I generally don't have favorites in authors, bands, directors, game companies, because someone always makes a turd at some point, and I just gravitate towards the good things I see. I guess, though, that that was an hold quirk of mine, and admittedly, I've moved away from it. AFI, Pink Floyd, and The Seatbelts are my favorite bands. Christopher Nolan and David Fincher are some of my favorite directors. I don't really have a favorite game company, though I would have said Square-Enix a few years ago (they seem to be producing turds lately).

Anyway, it comes back down to Murakami. He could write prose about vomit and diarrhea and I would be intrigued. In fact, he does write about vomit for at least a page in Dance Dance Dance.

The way I decided he's my favorite, is simple. He always leaves me wanting more. His books are weird as hell, the characters are more colorful than a field of flowers, and things are always coming out of left field when you least expect it, making your stomach churn with excitement.

Dance Dance Dance is probably my least favorite of his books (I dunno... I'm still digesting the plot and trying to figure out the ending), though to be fair, I've only read Kafka on the Shore and Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. I swear I had Norwegan Wood or Wind-Up Bird Chronical laying around somewhere, but apparently not. Those are next on my list of reads.

Anyway, only problem with reading Murakami is that it's hard to find other people that read Murakami. Maybe it's just the places I live and the people I interact with. Still, can't discuss the finer points of the books with anybody, which makes the after-party real lame.

Friday, December 5, 2008


I just did 30 pushups. IN A ROW!

This summer I tried to do the 100 pushup challenge. I got to week 3 and got tired of it because I wasn't making any noticeable progress (my first day I did 21 pushups and was too exhausted to do anymore. My last day I did 22...). Of course, that was following their workout regimen which, I should have known wouldn't work for me. I've never made progress when other people have pushed me. I dunno what it is, seems like my body just needs a little more recover time than other people or something along those lines.

One thing that happened to me that convinced me of this:

My senior year in high school, I went out for the track team. I only went to one meet (music concerts conflicted too often with track meets) and I was last place in the 400 meter sprint. Now, first off, I never wanted to do the 400, and I mildly suspect I was put there by the coach as humilation because I sprinted the 100 and 200 better than his son, the supposed "star athlete." It's most likely not the case, but it makes me feel better.

Anyway, after 2 months of track practice, I couldn't run a full mile to save my life, and I wasn't improving my times at all.

Fast forward one year. Summer time, after my freshman year of college. I got so bored at home without anythign to do or any friends, so I decided to start running every day. Within a month I was running a full mile. My training regimen that I made up from day to day was pretty much "okay, today I'm going to run one block, then I'll see how I feel." and then I'd keep running if I felt okay, and I'd stop if I felt too worn out. Lo and behold, I was improving at a remarkable rate.

I have a few little examples of things like this that just lead me to believe that I will improve faster and safer if I do what feels right rather than what "experts" believe will get me the best results.

Now if only I had the ethic to exercise more than once or twice a week. Specifically, if I had the ethic to do cardio more than once a week (I weightlift several times a week at work).

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Getting back into things

So, while I was writing the book, I would go to work every night and as soon as I got bored, I would go, "What should happen next in my story?"

Now that I don't have a particular story to write, I just find myself going... hmmmm... well now I'm bored. and then I promptly fall asleep (which may or may not be due to the narcolepsy I might or might not be privy to.).

Because of this, I've gone back to contemplating Taoism and my role in the universe and how being a correctional officer fits into all of that.

To sum up, there is Yin and Yang. Yin is "negative" and Yang is "positive." They are largely relative and depend upon circumstances to understand in most cases. Now, the Yin Yang symbol is a circle, with the half white half black interior and litlte bits of white and black, you know what it looks like.

Now, the circle is special and misunderstood in Western culture. The traditional Chinese belief is that there are no opposites, just differing manifestations of a concept. For instance, hot and cold are not opposites, they are simply both a form of temperature. Big and small are not opposites, but forms of size.

So, with simple material examples, it's pretty clear cut. But what about concepts? Where do Justice and Crime lie? Where do Punishment and Righteousness lie? Where do Restriction and Freedom lie?

Now, part of my job as an officer is to restrict the activity of inmates. On my end, I am enforcing Justice. A Yang attribute. On the inmate's end, he is experiencing restriction. A Yin attribute. Since the Yin and Yang are present, there is harmony as the opposites complement eachother.

However, it is in our natural state to strive for our desires. Desires can be good or bad, yin or yang, depending I guess on the nature of the desire, and the means you use to achieve the end.

So what does it mean when an inmate strives for freedom? Suddenly, I am no longer enforcing Justice, but I'm imposing restriction, and he is striving for freedom, and then we've flipped sides. But wait, what if I'm still enforcing justice, a yang quality, and he is striving for freedom? Then we have to yang's and no yin! That creates conflict! Of the most universal proportions!

Now, another thing that throws a whole wrench into the equation: The I Ching states that the gua "Meng" is about education. Alfred Huang says on the matter, ", for example, should be used to lead the ignorant to the right path. Punishment should not be employed. A norm of proper behavior should be set up. It is important to be maganimous [sic] to docile minority tribes and to educate them in the way to establish harmonious families and help their descendants sustain their families."

So in one sense, simply administering punishment to people is not "steadfast and upright" as Huang would say. It is not the correct way.

So... what then? What solution is there for me to realistically strive for? What can I do as a person to improve the live's of those that I interact with, and at the same time bring harmony to myself?

There are many officers that I work with that deliberately harden themselves, cut off their empathic response to those around them simply because they have committed a crime. They are completely... lifeless and downright despicable sometimes. It's like, they can't handle the possibility of actually having concern for other people, so they become total assholes.

Now, for me, getting too involved hasn't been a problem, and I doubt it will be. I simply treat the people like human beings and give them what they are allowed to have and no more. However, this leads to me being complacent, as I found last night as a person was half-way attacked not two feet away from me last night. She wasn't hurt, but I froze up, completely locked out of what I should do and how I should react. Honestly, I was in the perfect position to take him down and cuff him (and it was perfectly justified.), but I didn't even think about it until after he took off running.

That was also the first time... I think ever that I've had such an adrenaline rush.

So, to review: Yin Yang and adrenaline. Connected?