Archive for November 24th, 2013


ice storm

ice in Chihuahuan DesertDays like today are why I hate winter. It is grey and windy outside and I can see my breath inside. People have died in neighboring New Mexico.

It seems the only thing to do is pass the time it will take for this weather to change. I spend much of the day bundled in my jacket and sleeping under two blankets—anything to make the day pass faster.

The other day Alex King told me he has adopted much the same strategy. With gain time, he has earned enough early release days for him to be set free earlier in December, but the 31st is the soonest he can be released, regardless of what the computer says. So he sleeps a lot.

Even though I am here at Estrella Vista by my personal choice, I realize I have much in common with my incarcerated parricides. I spend much of my days in a single room with no human contact except by phone and the computer. My diet is simple. My time away from the computer is spent making sure my electrical supply is uninterrupted, my chickens are fed, and my personal hygiene is attended to. If it takes me a long time to answer questions, it is because I’m ducking your emails. If you want to intrude on my solitude, the best thing is to call. I don’t have voicemail, so I always answer the phone if I’m here.

But the biggest difference between me and my parricides is that I live this life of my own free will, while my parricides live theirs the way they do because they are forced to. They are told what to do and when to do it. I can receive phone calls whenever I want to. Parricides must reach out at their initiative to people on an approved list, and they must restrict their conversations to 15-minute stints. I can talk as long as I want, and calls can come from London and New York, as well as Des Moines and Terlingua and places even less interesting. I have a life of endless variety, while my parricides have regimented lives of endless monotony.

The lucky ones are taking classes. Austin and Nathan are completing junior college degrees behind bars. They have active intellectual lives. But they are restricted to what the syllabus for each class dictates. I, on the other hand, can pursue any course of inquiry the Internet opens up to me. So if you are bored or dismayed by my blinkered view, it is my fault entirely.

Last night it was driven home that everything—my education, my ideas, this blog—depends on my ability to generate electricity. The starter cord on the generator broke, and from 8:00 pm until now (4:00 pm) I have been without power. We had to drive to Alpine this morning to get a replacement cord. On the way, I had never seen the roads so bad, and we were stopped for an hour because of downed power lines. We saw two power poles snap before our very eyes. The cord cost five dollars and took twenty minutes to install, but we had to drive 120 miles through the worst weather imaginable to make it happen.

So my apologies for publishing this post so late… but it’s out now, by the skin of my teeth… and with thanks to my neighbor Bill.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Claude Thornhill performing “Snowfall”