I was running along the bay the other day, and there were three pelicans flying low to the water as pelicans do. One kept going up in the air and nose diving then coming up scooping water, and presumably something tasty to a pelican, along the way. It reminded me of a recent report on NPR about prisons in California, including one called Pelican Bay where apparently the most violent men end up. It was about solitary confinement, which is used surprisingly often, and for long periods of time. For me, about an hour in solitary might do me in. These guys are in solitary, meaning a little cell by themselves, for 23 hours a day, some for over a decade. That other hour they get to go to a concrete room by themselves to exercise.
Now one could argue about the humaneness of such punishment, but that will not be the driving force behind cutting down on solitary time. It will be money, because these fine little cells and concrete rooms come to about $70,000 per year. Which would be rent on pretty decent digs for the rest of us.
Anyway, the pelicans on the bay were so pretty. I wonder how the prison got such a nice name. San Quentin is a nice name too. Alcatraz sounds pretty prisoney to me, but its spectacular scenery sort of makes up for the name.
I was running on the treadmill the other day, which is like a runner's version of solitary confinement, and did 9 miles because it was my day to do 9 miles and I got out of work too late to run outside. I am quite thankful for my iPod in such situations. That day I listened to a podcast of This American Life (also NPR), then finished up with some raucous rock and roll. At one point I laughed out loud at This American Life and realized I laughed way too loud, with the under-headphones phenomenon. I like to think people were jealous of how much I was loving my workout.
I was running on the track this morning after my night shift and I had my iPod on this great app called Pandora, allowing me to listen to the radio. And yes, it was Morning Edition, NPR. When Democracy Now came on, though I admire Amy Goodman with all of my heart, I couldn't take the tragic truths of our world after a night shift full of human tragedy, so I switched back to my raucous rock. Some people find the track a form of torture, and though I do not condone torture of any kind, I actually LOVE the track. I think it is nostalgia for my faster days, and memories of spring finally being here after a long Wisconsin winter. And I nailed my 800's, exactly the pace I wanted, and each one a little faster than the last. It was a sweetly free moment in the sun.