Monday, March 2, 2009

Going back to the old days, good times and missing old friends

Going back to the old days.....

Recently I was send an interview by Conan O'Brian. I can not remember off hand who he was interviewing, but the comments these man made were brilliant! He started off by saying that we live in a wonderful time in history, but nobody is happy. He said that sometime he thought that it would be good if we suffered another great depression. His thinking was that if we went back to the old days where we would be taking a horse drawn carriage, or walked to work we would probably be happier.

To back up his statement he went on to say that we have access to all of the technology, and information in the world but we take it for granite. Remember when we actually "dialed" a phone? We used to hate when we had to call somebody with two zero's in there number. Then we would call and the people may not even be home. The phone would ring and ring and ring and we would Wait. Think about that for a moment...We were actually using technology that created sparks to communicate with people. If they were not home we didn't send them a text, or left a message. We would call them back later if it was truly important, or we would talk to them when we saw them.

Another fine example that this man used was the opportunity to use the Internet while flying. As the plane reached altitude the flight attendant came over the intercom and announced that it was safe for passengers to use the Internet while they were in flight. So this guy was cruising around on the Internet for approximately ten minutes. Then the attendant announced that they were having difficulty with their WI-FI connection. The man next to this guy immediately uttered that not being able to access the Internet during his flight was BS! Imagine that. Apparently everybody on the plane, and the airline OWED this guy because he should have complete access to technology he found out about ten minutes prior.

Good Times....

I have never been a fisherman. I could never really see the point. Yesterday my neighbor talked me into going to Tucannon for the March 1st opening of fishing season. We hiked into a little picturesque lake. Lucky for us we were able to find one that was not clogged with avid fisherpeople (trying to be PC). MY neighbor went to one side of the lake and I decided to go the other side. It was quite. I started to get bored. Then I started listening. The white noise in my busy, hustled life faded away and I heard something that I have not heard in a while. I heard wind...and running water. I heard an occasional fish jump out of the water gasping for a feeble inspect that looking more appealing then my hook. I heard deer. Then I heard "Fish on!" Then a few cuss words as my neighbor lost a big bite.

In that brief moment in my life I think I understood what Emerson, and Thorough wrote about. I almost understood what Chris Chandless was looking for and eventually gave his life for in the book (and now movie) "into the wild" By John someguy (totally forgot his last name, but it is my moment). In that brief glimpse of life I felt at peace.

Will I every become an avid fisherman like my neighbor and Ty. Probably not. But it is fun to watch people obsess about things. Oh...And I like nature, and solitude.

Missing old friends

Recently two people that I admired and respected passed away. They were both men that the world is lacking now days. They took responsibility for their actions. They were always there to lend a hand to their communities, and never asked what they would get out of it. They never complained. They looked after my family even though they had families of their own. They were men of honor. They were hero's. They were veterans. They will always be my friends.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Theraputic Community

Recently I moved back into my old counselor position in a drug unit. It is formally called a "theraputic community", but realistically it is a drug program. No I am not on drugs, and this blog is not going to be about addiction. But I think the public in general could learn a little something about a theraputic community.

A theraputic community is a cognative behavioral modification program for addicts. In the prison setting we mainly focus on drug, and alcohol addiction, but you could be a drug and alcohol addict and not use alcohol. The main theme of this program is to provide and teach addicts how to live in a structred, caring safe environment. To basically teach them the the drug/alcohol induced life that they have built is not normal. One of the main ways that the theraputic environment is achieved is by holding each other accountable. The offenders like to call it snitching, but really nobody is telling on each other. You confront others behavior to the person who has to problematic behavior. Confronting a behavior would go something like this..."Hello Mr. A I noticed that you cut me off on the freeway. You also flipped me the bird as if it was my fault. Your behavior put me and my family members at risk. Out of care and concern I want to bring this to your attention." Mr. A would then say this..."Thank you for bringing that to my attention. I will get on top of that behavior."

It sounds simple dosen't it. That main problem with addicts, and criminals in general is they have a lot of criminal thinking errors. Dr. Samenow and Yolsch did a study on why criminals think the way they do. Through their study they found that criminal have a lot of general thinking errors. One for example is a lack of trust. Another would be "zero state" meaning I am me therefore I am. Or in laymans terms I am special and the rules do not apply to me.

But here is the point of this blog. Everybody has thinking errors! Have you ever been running a little late and pushed the pedal down a little hard to make an appointment on time. You probably thought "Oh I am not a speeder. I know the sign said 65 MPH, but I am late and I need to be there. They need me. Besides there are never any police around when you need them." You my friend just committed a thinking error. Now don't go writting yourself off just yet. The difference between how addicts think and how us "freedom lovers" think can be radically different. For instance. We we eventually get a ticket for going 75 in a 65 we go pay the ticket. The criminals most likely never had a license to begin with and probably have warrants out so they are not even going to mail their ticket in, nor go near a court room.

The point is we are becomming a society that does not want to confront behavior. We can confront behavior out of care and concern but we tend not to because the behavior has not effected us yet. We tend to think that we would be violating peoples god given rights or freedom. Most often we do not like it when people confront our behavior. But all we have to say is "Thank you. I'll get on top of that."

When I sat down to write this blog I had a really good point. The point of this blog has long since escaped my mind and I and thinking about practicing fiddle. So take from this what you may. Developing your character is a journey of truth.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dreaming about summer

This week we recieved our first big snow storm of the season. On one hand I am not enthused a bit about the prospect of driving to work everyday in foul weather, or riding in a van in foul weather. On the other hand Kylee is very excited about the snow! So I have to be involved in making snowmen, throwing snowballs, and making snow forts. But if you need to beat the winter blahs here are some ideas!

If you can beat 'em join 'em! It's only snow! Besides you will build memories, or fall and break a hip!

You could go camping with a buddy. I would suggest making a fort in your living room and camping out for the night.

You could have an awesome kazoo jam. Playing to kazoo takes no musical talent, so anybody can play. Have a fun family kazoo jam at your house tonight. You can find a kazoo at your local music store. They are about a dollar a piece.

You can get your teeth cleaned.

Go see a live music show! No matter what kind of music you are into your city is probably hosting a musical event. Check out your local community website.

By some fireworks and celebrated the forth of July all over again. Even though your city may have laws barring this I don't think that they would mind if there is snow on the ground. Remember this county was founded on one act of rebellion! Besides we need to remember our heritage and preserve our oral family heritage through story telling and celebration.

Try some archery! I would buy nerf toys and practice in your house.

Go to a local gym and go swimming. Or, dress up in your bathing suits and give your cousins nuggies!

Go bowling!

Spend time with good friends and family!

I hope this helps you out!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Everything I learned from inmates

So your getting a two for one deal. Basically I thought I should explain a thought in my last blog. Everything I learned in corrections I learned from inmates. It's true to a point, especially in corrections, but I did learn a lot from great experienced staff members. But I also learned a lot of great life lessons from offenders.
In corrections that are a lot of processes and policies that a correctional professional such as myself is governed by. There are proecesses for everything from getting a new pair of underware to how to address an envelop. One of the first processes I learned from an offender was how to process, and document legal mail. The offender was kind enough to tell me where the log book was kept, what key to use to unlock the filing cabinet that the logbook was kept in and exactly how to document the event. Another valuable tip that I learned from inmates was that cooking methamphetamines in your house with your children and your wife is apparently bad for you and could get you thrown in prison. Apparently, a lot of them are coming to this realization. I also learned that you can defraud that welfare system by divorcing your wife, but still live with her. Suprisingly your don't have to pay child support, but still have more rights then I do to see your children.
I learned a lot of house cleaning tips too. For instance, your need to take a shower everyday because your get smelly. If you get smelly enough your cellmate, or celly, does not like you very much and eventually people may beat you up. Accordingly if you stick towels in your toilet and flush it a lot of times it will flood your cell. You flood your cell the emergency response team will come. If the emergency response team comes one of two things are going to happen. Your are either going to be sprayed with pepper spray until you come to the cuff port and are put in hand cuffs, or the emergency response team will come in and place you in cuffs.
Needless to say I am being sarcastic. But, writing this blog makes me feel better about my career and lets me know that I have the best job in the world. Everyday is a new adventure with simple life lessons. I am just happy that so many idiots are in one place.

Joe Gunter

"Every good and nobel idea will be preverted by special interest until it no longer resembles the original idea nor accomplishes the intended goal." Boucher's law of cenceptual retrograde.

A wrinkle in time

OK...I have an assignment for all of you bloggers out there!

Are you ready? Here goes.......

If you had the chance...Taking all of the wisdom you gained as an adult...What moment in your life would you re-live?

For me it would probably be high school. I think I would go back with an entirely different attitude. I know I would probably talk to more girls. But then again, I haven't figured women out yet so why would that be different. I would stand up for myself when I got in trouble for my part in writing and distributing "The probing pinky preview", the legendary underground newspaper at my high school. All in all it was a good creative writing project. Besides Mr. Plotts look at me now. I"M A BLOGGER! I HAVE MY OWN BLOG WHERE I CAN SAY ANYTHING THAT I WANT.
I would definitely tell my friends to straighten up their act. But thinking about that I don't think it would make a difference. I would have tried harder with my academics, and spent more time studying. But really everything I needed to know about my career and life I either learned from my parents or inmates. Relationships and friendships I probably would not change because they are what made me the mentally functioning person I am today.
Looking back on it I there are some things that I would have changed. But the bottom line is I would have listened to my parent more, and made better decisions. But with the decisions I've made fate has brought me to the this moment in time. John Bytheway once said that life is like a football game. John may be right in his analogy. But I think life is like those choose your own adventure books we used to read in school. With every decision there is a path. It maybe good, it may be bad. But at least we are on the path.

Joe Gunter

"In relationships if each of you were the same, one of you would be unnecessary." Dave Ramsey.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Six quirks

My mother challenged me to write about my six quirks. I like being the guy who silently laughs when something funny is said, and others have a cranial rectal inversion. I don't really like turning the finger and examining myself. Funny thing is I often do. I am my own critic. So here goes. I will try to be as brutally honest as I can, and try not to rant!

Quirk #6- I hate sanctioned incompetence! Ok...This is probably a little to serious and ranty like. But I was always taught that if you work hard and are dedicated to your job that good things will happen to you. What I should have been taught was..."Hey, work hard millions on welfare are depending on you!". Or..."Work hard, your co-workers need a 30 minute smoke break and then want to come in an complain about how they never have enough time in the day to get their work done." Ok it is a little ranty. But it is a quirk. Heaven help me when I start supervising staff come January 1st.

Quirk #5 - I think what is called "country music" is a crock! The bottom line is this crap is pop music. It is designed by lawyers and corperations to make money. Although Garth Brooks first album was awesome I personally feel that he ruined country music for me. Then to sound like he is more "country" he mentions Chris Ledoux in one of his songs. Then that makes him bona fided country. But what do I know. I was sporting a mullet back then.

Quirk # 4 - I rant. I just do it personally, and internally. Sometimes it is out loud and often to the wrong people. But I rant. I admit it.

Quirk #3 - I like music. I am an avid collector of rare songs and sometimes instruments (thanks for the banjo mom and dad!). I think I always have music on somewhere. If I am in a situation where I can not have music on I have a constant song going in my head. Most often it is an annoying song and I want it to leave, but it is a song just the same. I call it the sound track of my life.

Quirk #2 - Really my only true friends are my siblings and my wife. Although I like to think of myself as a social person I don't have buddies that I hang around with and call on the phone. Some may find this odd, but I am OK with it. I am a father and a husband. I don't have time for hommies. This annoys my wife sometimes. She always tells me to go out a do something with my friends. But, I would rather do stuff with her. She is a riot. If you have ever met her you'd swear she would change your life.

Quirk #1 - Because I work in a prison and have in my own right become institutionalized I have a lot of annoying habits. For instance, I count everything. When we go to Wal-Mart my wife would ask me how many people are in the store. With in twenty minutes I would have a some what accurate count. On any given day we have exactly twelve forks, ten table knives, and ten spoons in our drawer. Another annoying habit is I always know where the exits are. When I am in public I am always thinking about "what-if" scenarios. What if a gun man comes in here and starts shooting? OK Joe you are going to make sure your family has exited the door on the right and are safely in the car. Then you are going to go back in the store and make sure everybody else is safe. Another annoying quirk...I hate to have my back to large groups of people, doors, or windows when I am in public.
Call it OCD, call it weird. I seem so normal. But over the years I have learned to control it when I am around my family and friends. I think it is because I know that I am in a safe zone.

OK...Quirk #1 - I'm a quirky dude! Aren't we all. That make us individuals. If we were all the same a lot of us would be unnecessary.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

As the last month of summer is rapidly coming to a close I realize that my vacation time this year was not very relaxing. Or rather, it was relaxing but it went by so quick I can not remember if I did relax.
Towards the end of July I started to have allergy attacks. After several rounds of medication to combat the problem I was finally relieved of my elements. Only to be shipped off for training at McNeil Island Corrections Center (MICC) (Pictured above) in lovely Stellicom Washington.

The Island

MICC started off as a federal prison in the early 1920's. It is the only existing prison to located on an island left in the united states. One other interesting fact about MICC, when it was still a federal prison, housed Charles Manson, and Machine Gun Kelly. The state took over the prison in the eighties. Now it the island has a medium security prison, the special offenders unit, and is a national game refuge. The island also supports approximately 30 DOC staff, referred to as "islander", who live on the island. The island also has a K-4Th grade school, a recreation building which houses a 3 lane bowling alley, and a fire station.
I was involved in a work study group developing the curriculum for DOC's Crisis Negotiations Academy. We stayed in what was referred to as "The Mansion". The mansion is the old superintendents house that was built in the 20's. It is a four level house with bats occupying the fourth floor. Other then the hour plus barge ride out to the island it is a beautiful place.


I was home for a short weekend then was off to the Washington Old-Time Fiddle workshop in Kittitas Washington. This year Kat and Kylee were not able to spend the week so I was solo. I had a lot of fun playing music with my friend and listening to other fiddlers. I was especially impressed with a fiddler by the name of Jeff Anderson. Jeff is a Minnesotan and plays Scandinavian music. He is an interesting guy with a lot of great tunes. I also enjoyed my class. I had the wonderful opportunity of studying with Kimber Ludiker from Spokane Washington, most recently from Boston Mass. She has won many fiddle competitions and is currently making a run at being a professional old-time musician. She currently is playing with a Celtic group who is touring the country. Be sure to check out her band any chance you get. They are going to be in Spokane on New years eve. She will be performing this Monday at Stateline with her brothers band the South Austin Jug Band. Definitely have to go see them.
About mid-way through workshop week I found myself at Boogie Man Music in Ellensburg buying a box full of kazoo's for a mini-workshop. On Thursday I was surprised by a visit from Kat and Kylee. The Kazoo mini-workshop which ironically was a good lesson in improvising was great. Kylee loved it and has not put her kazoo down. My world in now flooded with kazoo music. If only I had stayed at the workshop rather then buy kazoo's. What was I thinking.

The first of my problems

I was finally home had to do some wrenching on the truck. The seal in the rear differential was out and needed to be fixed. I could not justify taking it to a mechanic because the seal was only $11. So I decided to fix it myself. A couple of days later one of our washer hose broke flooding out laundry room. With a lot of work from our steam vacuum and a run to home depot that problem was resolved.


We left for the Gunter family camp out at Ensign Ranch in Roslyn Washington, We had a great time catching up with our brothers and sisters. Kylee loved the water slide and painting her bird house. We missed Jenny and Ty's family but were glad to see Dylan and Steven. We were sad to leave, but anxious to get home and get cleaned up!

Finally home...

Monday night I came home to yet another leak in the house. Apparently, our refrigerator has a filter for the drinking water system. I thought it did, but Kat kept insisting that it did. So like any good husband I kept my mouth shut and never thought about it again. Surprisingly the frig does have a filter (surprise, surprise). Stunningly they get clogged and you have to replace them every six months or they will leak. More mop up efforts and yet another run to home depot. Lesson learned: Even though I was right about the frig having a filter. Don't sweat the small stuff.

Working from home

As the expansion project at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center lingers on accidents are bound to happen. For example, yesterday an electrician tested the amphage on a panel box. The panel box shorted out and a 2000 amph arc destroyed the panel box leaving the expansion site without power for a couple days. This has been a blessing in disguise because I am now working on my Crisis Negotiations scenario from home.

Once again...Don't sweat the small stuff!

Parting shot...Throughout our lives will will often miss our childhood home. We eventually realize that it is not our childhome home we miss...It is our childhood.

Forever young, but with a touch of grey!

Joe Gunter