Prisoners are persons whom most of us would rather not think about. Banished from everyday sight, they exist in a shadow world that only dimly enters our awareness. They are members of a "total institution" that controls their daily existence in a way that few of us can imagine. "[P]rison is a complex of physical arrangements and of measures, all wholly governmental, all wholly performed by agents of government, which determine the total existence of certain human beings (except perhaps in the realm of the spirit, and inevitably there as well) from sundown to sundown, sleeping, walking, speaking, silent, working, playing, viewing, eating, voiding, reading, alone, with others. . . ." It is thus easy to think of prisoners as members of a separate netherworld, driven by its own demands, ordered by its own customs, ruled by those whose claim to power rests on raw necessity. -- Justice William Brennan, dissenting in O’Lone v. Estate of Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 354-55 (1987).

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


There is an ancient proverb: "Better to remain silent and thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."

I propose a modern revision: "Better to remain silent and thought a fool by a few then to start a blog and show your ass to the world!"

I knew when I started this blog, I was taking a big step outside my comfort zone and risked feeling, if not looking, foolish for some of the things I might end up saying, especially because I wanted this to reflect what I was feeling and thinking in the moment, not after weeks or months of reflection.

Well, it certainly didn't take long for me to start feeling foolish. Certainly my post about "My Biggest Fear" seems absurdly overdramatic now. Some of my other posts strike me as too glib and even petty, knowing what I know after just 2 days.

I knew my posts would sober up once I got here, and I probably should cut myself a little slack given my heightened emotions. I really wanted to capture my final week of preparation. Nonetheless, I still feel a little silly.

Remember the movie "The Game," in which Michael Douglas' character was the victim of a massive practical joke by his brother?

His world appeared to be completely unraveling: Near the end, as the tension was building he fell through a skylight into the atrium of a tall hotel or office building. Sure that he was plummeting to his death, he lands on a large inflatable cushion unharmed. His friends were laughing while he was completely disoriented.

That is how I felt when I first arrived. I assumed I was falling through the "rabbit hole" into this new bizarre world of strange characters and unreality. Instead, I may have found a place that is more real then where I came from.

This is a theme I have a feeling I will be returning to.

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