Prison Pete

Sunday, July 30, 2006
  Why the Funk?
Before any one of you feels responsible for the funk I have been in causing the aforementioned paucity of writing, rest assured it is not due to any one event. No guilt feelings allowed out there in Freedom Land.

The interesting thing to me is that I have been forced to deal with a few disappointments and while they were certainly coming from a wide variety of events, the overriding dark cloud found me fighting the ongoing battle of "do I still have any worth as a human being?"

I read of others getting lesser sentences than I, and I have to continually remind myself that like life, the justice system is not fair, and for some people that is a good thing, and alas for others that is really a horrible thing.

I had made an appointment with the mental health department and did get to meet with a psychologist, but I am too well to be treated by him. Unless I am in need of some of the various pharmaceutical concoctions they dispense here on a daily basis the bottom line is there is no time to see someone like myself who may just need some talk therapy once in a while.

Instead of sending out a bunch of whinny letters and raising my expectations that someone would be able to come to my rescue, I simply muddled through knowing that at some point I would see the sunshine again. Okay maybe not so simply. It has taken a while to bring myself up out of the darkness and taking baby steps is never one of my strong suits.

I am certainly not saying I did it all by myself. I have been blesses with people that do care for me. Each week (or two) when I get the summary of the number of readers of my blog, it is just one of the many things that help me move forward. One foot in front of the other, even when it is not as fast (or should I say instantly) as I want.

Life is certainly an individual experience. Each of us faces a multitude of challenges that affect us as individuals differently. Even the same event may touch two people differently. There are also some events that even thought two people have vastly different lives, can bring both people down.

For example, both the Editor and I celebrated our fiftieth birthday, and both of us had some unmet expectations for the day.

Life is certainly what you make it, and while I do not like to admit it, you sometimes have to muddle through some rough spots to get back to the sunshine. Not everything can be fixed instantly.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
  Death and Mayhem.
Well it is a Tuesday morning here where I am. It is probably Tuesday, although it may not be morning, where you are. Maybe it is already Wednesday ... no wait a minute it could still be Monday somewhere... stand by, or sit if you prefer while I check my Associate Press Stylebook to see if I can figure out what I am writing about.

It is around 9:00 AM here, means it is 2:00 PM GMT and another 12 hours later, at the International Date Line, where it would be 2:00 AM Wednesday (give or take an hour). That means if it is 9:00 AM where I am, it is no longer Monday for anyone else, but it might be Wednesday somewhere. Of course that also means it is 5:00 somewhere... Okay I know that is already the title to a country song.

Since I have the day off from work, I have decided to take the opportunity to get back up to speed with my writing. I have been working my way through a dark and slimy morass of feelings that had me feeling more down than usual. This led to paucity in my writing output. If things go according to plan, all you wonderful pen pals out there that have not received a letter from me in a while will soon have something directly from me in your snail mail box.

This of course could also turn into a false promise, as I could end up throwing in the towel and simply spend the rest of the day laying on my bed reading.

But I have some incentives to keep slogging away at the backlog of things I want to write both for this blog and to my pen pals.

The first thing is today is commissary day. I am off from work and can go pick up my food anytime after 10:00 AM. Since included with the food is a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream, I am going to wait until 2:30 PM to pick the stuff up. This means not only will I not have to deal with the hordes of inmates all trying to be first in line, but I have something to look forward to and to keep me typing away.

It is very warm here, and it is tough to keep from sweating even while sitting here in my cube, wearing my cotton shorts and a cotton T-shirt.

There is no air conditioning in the housing units here and the ventilation is not all that great. While I am currently lucky enough to have a corner cube with windows on two sides, there is still not that much air movement.

When I typed the title of this post, I was going to write about all the mayhem and death that was brought to my cube over the last two days as the New York Times from Friday, Saturday (arrived Monday), Sunday and Monday (arrived Tuesday), all carried in living color front page pictures of the destruction that humans are capable of bring down upon one another.

I will still write on the rapidly changing world we are all living in at a later time. But are you all not glad that I gave all the depressing world stuff a rest and instead shared my own personal life, which may well be described as hell from time to time.
Friday, July 28, 2006
  And Now....
Well it is now 5:10 PM. I did finish off a five page letter to one of my pen pals, and have completed my commissary shopping and put away the food.

I finished off the pint of mint chip ice cream. I purchase a seven piece frozen Banquet Chicken package, southern style. I had purchased a box last commissary for the first time.

One of my fellow inmates, who has been in prison since 1988, was willing to give me stamps for half the cost of a box, $4.09. He was on commissary restriction at the time and was unable to buy it directly. I did not really enjoy it all that much and was not going to buy it again.

But as soon as the inmate saw me with my commissary sheet he handed me another six stamps for his share of a box of chicken. I admit that I did not have the heart to tell him I was not going to buy any chicken this week.

I am allowing the chicken to defrost a little more. I ended up with one leg, one thigh and one breast piece. I have also had one twelve ounce can of Dr. Pepper.

At mail call today (3:30 PM) I was notified that I will be having a blood test in the morning and should not eat anything after midnight. That is not a problem but it figures my one day of eating a whole bunch of unhealthy foods, and BAM the blood test comes up.

Well if some of the tests come out on the high side I now have an excuse, and if they are normal, I would feel even better since it would be after loading up on the bad stuff. I figure I win either way.

I have finished the Monday NY Times Crossword Puzzle, and read some of both Sunday and Monday papers. Now let me see if I can get another letter out and then be sure to proof the four posts all before lights out at 10:00 PM.

I have a bunch of food posts to do but that will have to wait until tomorrow.

Let me get back to the letter writing. I will wrap this multi-part post up right before printing out the final copy to see how much I was able to accomplish today, an unexpected day off from the rigors of the fix-em up, and build it department.

It is now a little after 8:00 PM. I have typed out a one page letter to my editor along with three other posts. I am fading fast and am wrapping it up for the night. I will continue to work at my letter writing backlog so all my faithful pen pals will be getting letters over the next few days.

As Bugs Bunny always said at the end of his show, "That's All Folks."
Thursday, July 27, 2006
  Now Comes the Letter Writing.
At this point I have now typed out three drafts for posts. That is not including this one which I will end up updating throughout the day and will appear first on the blog.

It is almost time for my black bean lunch, and then I will start the letter writing. At 2:30, I will take a well deserved break and go get my biweekly commissary order. That ice cream is going to taste extra good since I have gone without my usual once (or twice) a day ration of chocolate over the last two weeks. I am not doing that again this time. I will be picking up a few Hershey's bars and 15 two ounce bags of M&M's (plain).

That is all for now. Lunch first then more letter writing.

Do any of the free metric services provide the ability to see the location that the various blog readers are from? Do you need the users to use valid email addresses to even be able to gather that stat or can the software figure it out just by tracing the connection. If that is the case how would you know the location if someone was using one of the wireless networks? Just wondering.

It is now going on 8:00 and I am fading fast. I have proofed and printed three of the four posts, and this letter is being typed live. So I will proof and print out the last post, which you should actually post first, and then take my shower. I will hand proof this letter and handwrite out a list of the articles I am going to be sending out parcel post tomorrow morning to Mom and Dad. Some of the articles have been kicking around since November of last year.

Will let you know how my medical tests come out. I may end up going out to one of them tomorrow. Wednesday is usually the day they run the outside medical trips.

Tomorrow could be a double whammy. Blood and urine samples taken at 6:30 AM and then spend from 8:30 AM or so until I return cuffed and shackled. Sounds like real fun.

I assume they will do the CAT scan first and that will only be a same day trip. Stay tuned for all the gory and hair raising details.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
  In the News,
In addition to the letter to you yesterday I finished off the Sunday and Monday Times. I had read Friday and Saturday on Monday. Tuesday's was read earlier this afternoon. I am working hard at not putting the papers on the round-to-it pile and so far it deems to be working.

By the way please tell anyone that to avoid any problems if they want to send me books they must have their first and last name on the return address unless it is mailed from a store or Amazon.com type thing. The address could be bogus I guess, but as long as it showed a first and last name it would pass the check-in procedure. Unless they are running address verifications? I do know a few guys have had to send out packages because they did not have the first and last name on the return address of the package.

Life is made up of incredible individual events. As I am typing this, listening to a syndicated radio program, Lia is the name of the host (http://radiolia.com/). She just took a call from a member of the Armed Forces (Airborne) who was on his way to see his seven month old daughter for the first time. He leaves for one month from Iraq and is heading back over there for another four or five months when the month is up. Talk about separation. It's all relative.

I agreed with the points that Senator John Glenn raised about past wars, but that does not mean we should not try to stop any war. Death in this country is so much about who and how. If you are a nobody or die due to possible negligence of big business (cigarettes or exploding car gas tanks). I think it is a shame to waste any one person's life and it sort of relates to the comment I made about reading the Civil War book. I took it out the other day and am starting it again from the beginning again. I really do like the book but why can we not learn from history?

It is kind of my view of spying. We get people in other counties to betray their country at the risk of their own life. Yet we are outraged if one of our citizens ends up spying for another country? I appreciate the old Spy vs. Spy in Mad magazine. I am not saying that nobody should spy, but it should be viewed more as a cost of doing business, not qualify as a capital offense. I still think that right or wrong that we, the USA, may be on any particular issue, we are in more trouble in the world today for our hypocritical positions in the world.

The NPR news today was saying that the Pentagon has decided to break up the huge logistics contract now held by the Halliburton division when it expires in 2009 and break it up into different areas. food, fuel, laundry etc. They are then going to add a contractor to watch the other contractors. Sounds like Halliburton came up with a great plan. They get the overseer contract, skim off the bulk of the money, and then when things go bad they get to blame it on the other guy who they will then replace to solve the problem and still rake in the bread.

I was talking to the head civilian today about some shelving he needs to mount his computer and printer off his desk. He mentioned that they are in the process of converting to a fiber optic network along with some dumb terminals on a few desks that will multitask off PC's in the hub area along with a network printer. It was such a tease to be able to talk computers! Let me at them.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
  Corner Cube.
I thought I had better send another letter out to you after the letter yesterday did not really mention much of what is new with me and I need to comment on your latest letter.

I was sorry hearing about your funk, but perhaps it is something to so with arriving at that fifty year mark. I certainly understand your frustration at nothing special happening on your birthday, how many years have I hoped for a special birthday visit or for the last two years a special food package. But alas no such luck.

I am glad you are enjoying your new wheels and are still seeing an increase in your stamina as you continue to ride. Maybe you should see if you could go for a mountain bike ride with our President. I am sure your new mountain bike is a fine tooled machine. How much does it weigh as compared to your road bike? What kind of rims/wheels does it have? I assume the bike does have some sort of shocks on the front and back? Maybe you could send me a picture and spec sheet?

I stopped by Medical today and signed the acknowledgement for my colonoscopy. I have a CAT scan scheduled for my sinuses and a full blood work-up scheduled for next week. By the end of this month I should really have a good idea of my physical condition.

The CAT scan and the colonoscopy are both done at either the city hospital or one of the other state prisons that has an extended medical department. I am pretty sure the colonoscopy will be done at the hospital. The day prior I will probably be in a medical unit for the "clean-out" phase. NOT.

The downside is that for the CAT scan I get to sit around in a holding cell with a bunch of other inmates all trussed up; handcuffed, waist chain and leg chain too. I'm not sure about the other procedure but I will certainly fill you in after all is completed.

It was nice to get the uplifting comments in your latest letter. I am such an emotional weakling and once I get a serious comment or two I feel so up. Not that your letters leave me down. But even though I know intellectually that I must be patient, that things take time and one must appreciate the little steps, emotional I still get too easily frustrated when comments are absent and the mail call does not carry any letters for me.

I moved out of the back row and into a corner cube yesterday. I am now sitting in my new cube facing west. I have two windows in front of me and another two windows on my left along the edge of the bed. It is kind of like sleeping on a screened in porch. It has been raining all afternoon and evening and it is very damp in here. I do get plenty of fresh air and if there is any breeze, I get it.

While it does cool off a little after 10:00 PM, lately it has been so hot in the dorm you sweat just sitting on the bed. I certainly miss the air conditioning from Club Fed. This is the first summer in ten years I have not had air conditioned sleeping accommodations.

Another advantage of the new cube is that I can now get the Country station in even with the lights on and the typewriter plugged in. I know some of my blog readers will be happy to hear I can listen to more country music. I can get the local Public radio station in a little clearer to the point that it is still not quite a stereo signal, but I can listen to the news, which I did this evening while finishing up the crossword puzzle.

The move also puts me on the opposite side of the dorm of the village idiot, although he brought over another inmate tonight to get the address for the Manhattan DA. I am the source of all kinds of useful info.

It is already rapidly approaching 8:00 PM.
Monday, July 24, 2006
  How to Train a Woman.
Here is something related to the subject of sharing thoughts on our personal struggles.

Did you notice the two letters to the editor printed in the Friday, July 7, 2007 NY Times? They were written in response to a column by Maureen Dowd which I did not read. As luck would have it I had already passed on the July 5 paper.

I still have a locker full of Sunday papers, but I have been getting rid of the other six days without putting them in the "to be read" pile in the locker.

The column was titled, "How to Train a Woman," and if you get the chance maybe you could send me a copy and I should probably use it as basis for a post!

One letter was written by a male, and in part says:

"I have been in a few long-term relationships, and find that the ones that soon sour are those where I feel the other person starts trying to change me." [Other person is presumably a woman, but he uses other person? strange]

The other letter is from a woman, an elementary school teacher. She writes:

"After many years of describing my students' conduct, an older, wiser woman said ’You cannot control someone else's behavior, but you can control how you respond to.’

That is something I have learned over the last six or seven years. Not that I always remember it. I still have ideas that my parents will be something different, but alas...

There are plenty of lessons my parents tried to teach me, but alas it took me throwing my life away and causing great harm to my own family for me to learn them.

Well, I was just gently reminded that it is almost 10:00 PM so let me put this letter to bed for the night.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
  Long Time No Post.
It is now 8:30 PM and I have been working on typing you this letter sine 6:30 or so. I started off pulling out all the letters that I have written since the start of May or so. That was the last time I made an effort to file all the letters in the various individual folders. The biggest stack is the letters written between you and me.

I ended up reading through a bunch of what I had sent out to you, both the letters and the posts, and it is still amazing to me how insightful, coherent and downright interesting some of my writing is. Some of it is also pure dribble.

I may be a little off base but is does seem you have been not spending too much time on what I have been writing to you. I am not expecting you to comment on every single thing I write, but I would appreciate some feedback once in a while even if you let me know you have read a comment or issue and would rather not go into it with me.

I do think I might just have some insights that might be worth kicking around a bit. I do not expect that anyone accept my thoughts as gospel, but it would be interesting for me if you would comment once in a while if you think I am misunderstanding a particular situation, or yeah, what I write is what is happening but my advice sucks. I can handle that. It is the silence that is baffling.

Kind of like our discussion about the relationship with you and your wife. We have not talked much about it lately, mainly (I think) because you have not mentioned much about it.

You have been a great friend and I feel we have been both able to grow through the letters we have written. I know there are still some questions you would like better answers from me, and I know it will happen at some point, and certainly respect your right to not go into certain areas with me, even if you have brought it up in the past, but I would appreciate it if you would just let me know where you are at on the various issues we discuss.

The other thing I am still having a little trouble with is exactly which letters you have received when you write. I can probably keep the most recent letters in a little better order and know if you are one or two letters behind when you write.

I have been so out of it lately, I am not sure what I had actually typed and what was just locked away upstairs in the gray matter and never made it on to the paper. That was part of the reason I had to go through the letters tonight. I had three files in the memory of the typewriter. I was not even sure if I ever got them proofed and printed. I did find what looked like proofed copies with a letter to you so I assume you did get them.

On the Access database project, one of the officers up in the chapel area made a big stink about me working on the machine and the Chaplain ended up having to meet with the Deputy Superintendent over the issue. The bottom line for now is that I am not allowed near the computer since I am not assigned as a chapel clerk.

The Chaplain claims that it had nothing to do with me personally. He did say that he would still like me to design the database and that after a month or so, I should prepare a proposal that he would take to the Deputy Superintendent of Security and get the approval ahead of time.

I would still like to see about getting some type of programming book and it does appear the machine has Windows 98 and the Access might even be the 2000 release. It would certainly be a good exercise for me to have to put the project down in writing.

This is one area that I really miss the Fed system. With the exception of institutional wide concerns, counts and other security problems like fight investigations or concerns that had the whole prison kept in our cells, the departments were able to deal with the inmates that worked for them (or the staff could use for one reason or another) as they needed them.

Here, both the Recreation and Chapel are staffed by civilians, and it is the officers that get to decide who does what. Same thing in Maintenance. We have two bosses, the civilian staff and the officer that is responsible for us.

Confused yet? Eyes glazed over and do not really give a shit? It just makes anything out of the norm that I might be able to do a major undertaking, and therefore raises the bar as to if the civilian wants to undertake the battle. On the other hand in the Feds I would not even get the chance to work on a computer hooked up directly to a printer.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
  Help, We Lost the Ice Cube Recipe!
When I left for work at noon on Friday I had checked to be sure that the ice machine was dropping a batch of cubes every 20 minutes or so, and it was.

When I returned from work at 2:15 a few of the inmates told me that the machine was not working and had not dropped a tray of cubes all afternoon and the ice box was empty. I knew that we were going to be running out of ice as it was quite warm and we had been using all the ice up and leaving the box empty a few times this week.

My first thought was just that someone had filled their five gallon buckets and managed to use all the ice. I could hear the water running over the tray so at this point my only thought was to unplug the machine and let it sit for a half hour and see if the rest did it any good.

I was on my way out to music practice and arranged with the officer and another inmate to plug the machine back in and see what happens. When I returned a 5:00 PM the inmate that was assisting me said that right after I left someone plugged the machine back in and took off the sign I had put up asking that the machine be left unplugged.

The machine had not dropped any ice and I could still hear the water being pumped over the ice tray and could feel a cool spot on the top of the machine on what should be the cold side.

It made no sense. Now you have to realize I can not see any of the interior of the machine and have no tools to remove the screws that fasten the top and front panels of the machine.

I asked the officer if he would allow me to attempt to remove the screws from the top of the machine and that if I could accomplish that I might be able to figure out why we were not getting ice. He gave his approval.

The only thing that I had that comes close to a tool is my toenail and fingernail clippers. It is against the rules to modify any personal property in any way. I was able to separate the handle parts from each of the clippers and using the handle from the fingernail clipper and the body of the toenail clipper I fashioned a crude t-wrench that allowed me to remove the four Phillips head screws. The front panel was not really screwed in and once the top was off, I was able to remove the front panel.

Now I am certainly not yet an expert on ice machine repair, but I let out a cry of delight and announced to the inmates watching me that we would have ice this weekend.

What I saw when the front cover was removed was a solid block of ice. What had somehow happened was that when the ice was at the proper thickness to be dumped, it did not get the signal, and so continued to run the water across the vertical tray. This now made clear why the machine felt cold on top, and I could hear the water circulating.

What we now had was a tray of 206 ice cubes attached to a two inch solid piece of ice. Once the machine missed the dump cycle, it just kept building the ice up till it was pushing on the framework and would never have dumped out. I knew that I was partially correct in my initial thought to try and leave the machine unplugged, but not sure if it would have melted in the half hour I wanted to let the machine rest. Those of you that remember (or still have) the single door refrigerators (non-self-defrosting), know what happens when the freezer compartment builds up all that ice.

I defrosted the machine by pouring hot water over the tray and then restarted the machine. In the process of babysitting the machine I discovered a way to force the machine to go into the dump mode, and so between the machine dropping the ice on its own and us catching it when it started to build up too much ice, I have managed to keep us in ice throughout the weekend.

First thing Monday morning I am going to bring up the spare machine we have in the shop and make sure I go over this machine with a knowledgeable expert to find out what parts need to be replaced to get the machine back in working again.

I freely admit that I had no idea what I was doing. As far as I can tell at this point I have done no permanent damage to the machine. Hopefully I have earned some valuable brownie points with some of the inmates. Others still want to say I did nothing special or was responsible for the machine breaking in the first place. Those are the ones that do not under any circumstances admit I might just be a little smarter than the average and willing to do extra for the benefit of others.

Meanwhile, I know I still have a good head on my shoulders and can figure out mechanical things without the benefit of any prior knowledge. I do know one important thing about sticking your hands and arms inside the working compressor area. Some of the copper tubing is very hot to the touch! And I have to admit that I have learned that the hard way quite a few times while reaching in to the box to make it dump a tray of cubes.

Time to go and check it again. Bye for now.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
  Any Casio Musical Keyboard Experts Reading This?
One of the benefits I am thinking of taking advantage of is the ability to own an electronic musical keyboard valued at less than $200. You must use it in your cube, and always with headphones. Since I have limited access to classical music via the radio, why not learn to play my own? Yeah right.

I am intrigued by the product blurb provided for the Casio CTK691. It says the keyboard is equipped with a standard midi player, and mentions "Synthesizer and Sequencer functions can be used to edit and create tones." Does this mean I might also be able to input my own midi file via the keyboard? I would not be able to have access to a computer to download files.

I am not sure exactly how it would work, but what I am wondering is if I was to put the four parts of a hymn into the keyboard somehow, could I then play it back like it was a downloaded midi file? Could I make changes if a note was wrong? I am certainly new to the whole electronic music area. I know that I can make the keyboard play different sounds.

Another question is can I put together more than one of the tones at a time. On the smaller Casio, even though they have many different sounds, you can only play one tone at a time.

I would appreciate anyone familiar with this particular model letting me know what the keyboard is capable of. Thank you.

If you have any knowledge in this area please leave a comment. If you would like to remain anonymous and not give a return e-mail that is okay, I will post any further questions to the blog if need be.
Monday, July 03, 2006
  Access to Access.
On Friday, I discovered that the "new" computer that the Chaplain's office just received had a working copy of Access (the Microsoft database software) and I would be able to design and implement a database for the chaplain's use.

The computer is running Windows 95 but I am not sure which version of Access the system has. The thing is that while I can usually figure out how the Microsoft software works from the on-line help, in this case some of the help files are not installed and I would also like to be able to implement some of the more advanced features via the macros and Visual Basic.

This computer is not hooked into any network nor does it have any access to the Internet. This is one step above the type of system that I has access to in the Feds in that it is hooked up to a printer.

The main problem for now is that my access to the machine will come in random 90 minute time segments so it will take a little time to get the initial project I am working on up and running.

I am wondering if anyone out there has access to an Access programming book. It does not have to be the most recent edition as I am sure that the version of Access is probably not the latest release.

So if someone has an older text out there that they no longer need maybe you could e-mail my editor and arrange to ship me the book. This way I can read up on the software and make the best use of my time in front of the computer.

I am not looking for the basic text that teaches about using the end-users features and design wizards. I need the ways that you can build the special macros and some of the possible Visual Basic routines you can integrate into the program. Thanks for any help in this area.

This will be the first time in over ten years that I am getting to sit in front of the computer and design a real live database application. I was just starting to look into Windows based software back when I was arrested in 1995. My experience up to that point was using a proprietary database program that was running in the DOS (the system before Windows) text based environment. This will be my first real Windows database.

Oh boy oh boy oh boy I am just a little excited. Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy.
Sunday, July 02, 2006
  June was a bummer month!
I finished off another of the books you sent in less than twenty-four hours. I managed to crank up the typewriter and take care of a few posts, and a few in-house questions I needed answers to.

I have been keeping up with the weekday papers. The Sunday issues are now being kept on a separate "to be read" pile. I managed to finish off Wednesday's crossword puzzle without any help from the puzzle dictionary! I can now usually finish Thursday with help and sometimes Fridays. I hope to some day do them all without help. Time will tell. Certainly doing them each day as opposed to ripping them out and collecting them is a better way to approach the goal.

This month has turned out to be emotionally a real bummer, finished off by the lack of visit from Mom and Dad. The funny part is some of this feeling is very much deja vu. That is when the emotional part of life sucks, I go for the mechanical and technical stuff which I am good at and does not really involve putting your emotions at risk.

Got to go check the ice machine - be right back.

The machine is now only dumping the ice when I trigger it manually. I will probably have to unplug it once I am going to bed else it will freeze over during the night!

Well it is already 9:30 PM and I still have one more note to type to my counselor. I missed an appointment with her on Friday. They usually highlight all the names of people in out unit on the daily call out sheet, but somehow they (an inmate) missed my name on the list of people that needed to see this one counselor.
Saturday, July 01, 2006
  New Skills.
I am picking up some new skills. One of the more interesting things I learned this past week is how our ice machines work.

While on the one hand you would think it would fill a tray up with water somehow figure out when it is frozen and dump it out. Nope. The ice tray is a 16 x 13 cube matrix that stays vertical in the machine. The refrigerant keeps this tray cold and water runs down it continuously. There is a sensor that knows when the ice is frozen, about a sixteenth of an inch sheet of ice that "attaches" the cubes together. Once that happens the machine reverses the refrigerant, putting the hot fluid against the tray and out pops 208 little ice cubes. The ice that has the hollow spot in it is ice that is made by this waterfall method.

The thing is that it takes a minimum of twenty minutes to create a tray of ice. The machines sit on top of real ice boxes. I say real only because they contain no refrigeration at all. They are simply insulated boxes. It can take over twenty-four hours to totally fill the box. That is if no one takes out any ice. Well, in the winter time, these boxes stay pretty much filled to the top.

We have finally had a few consecutive days of heat. This causes a run on the ice. The five gallon buckets certainly do not have much of an insulating factor and so the ice melts in them a lot faster when the temperature is in the 80's than when it is in the 40's and 50's. The point is once everyone starts taking shovels full of ice to fill their buckets, the machine can not keep up.

The interesting thing is all the misinformation about the machines. For example, there are plenty of people that believe that if they so not take any of the ice out for several hours, somehow the machine will then work faster. I have tried to educate my fellow inmates on the math. Every twenty minutes you get 208 cubes. So if you do not touch the box, in two hours you will have 1,248 cubes. If you take out 208 cubes every twenty minutes you will still end up with 1,248 cubes.

We get calls from the units that their ice machines do not work. We unhook them, bring them to the shop, hook them up, and plug them in and sure enough twenty minutes later you have ice. The machine is working fine. It would make sense for them to sell some type of foam cooler that would certainly make the ice last longer.

Wow almost a whole page on ice machines, are you bored yet?

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Emily Dickinson
Janet Evanovich
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