Bob Shell: Letters From Prison 2018 #3

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Bob Shell: Letters From Prison
 

 

Letters From Prison: Part 3, 2018

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Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

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Maybe my readers will be interested in what a typical day in prison is like. But of. course I’m not really in a prison. Virginia doesn’t have prisons anymore, they have “correctional centers.” The organization is no longer called department of prisons or something similar. It is now the lofty-sounding Department of Corrections and the state spends a billion dollars a year to run it. That’s right, billion with a “b”! The Department of Corrections is the single biggest item in the state budget. But the taxpayers don’t mind because we’re “tough on crime.”. So all that money has “corrected” me for ten years now. How do they correct us?
Here’s a typical day. They wake us up at 5:30 in the morning by yelling at us over the loud intercom and yell again in 15 minutes just in case we missed the first time. Then they make us stand up in our cells to be counted just in case someone disappeared during the night. Then we sit around doing nothing until about 6:30 when they open the cell doors and let us out into the pod. A pod is a big common room with cells in two tiers on three sides. So we go out into the pod and do nothing again until they call us to chow. Breakfast and other meals are served in the chow hall, a big room with metal tables, each with four stool seats permanently attached. The seats are round and hard, like sitting on an old auto hubcap. Breakfast today was waffles. Two frozen waffles with syrup, waffles we eat with a spork? Yep, a. spork is a plastic cross between a fork and a spoon that combines all the worst features of both. It’s like eating soup with a fork or meat with a spoon. Anyway with the waffles we had home fries (a scoop of semi-cooked potatoes) and cooked apples. Also a serving of oatmeal. Not surprising, since they spend less than two dollars a day to feed each of us. The idea that some people have that we get gourmet meals is wrong. Just after the Civil War the Federal Bureau of Prisons spent 75 cents a day to feed its prisoners, something like twenty dollars in today’s money! Some meals I simply can’t eat, so I eat food from the commissary. I’m very fortunate to have friends who send me money so I can buy commissary food, while many are not so fortunate and have to eat the state food.
Anyway, after breakfast we come back to the same boredom unless we have morning classes. I don’t have any right now, so I usually take a nap for a. couple of hours, then listen to music on my MP3 player and read. Right now I’m reading Climbing Mount Improbable by Richard Dawkins, one of the major exponents of atheistic Darwinian evolution. I think he’s wrong, but this is not the place to argue that.
Back to the story: After breakfast we return to our pod or cells to either join one of the regular card games, work on a jigsaw puzzle, play chess, or sleep until they lock us down for another count until time for lunch.
After lunch I go to our law library for more research on law. I’ve been doing this for ten years now and have. learned a lot about the law, and am now a “jailhouse lawyer” member of the National Lawyers Guild. I’m also taking a Microsoft computer class later in the afternoon. After all this I have to go to pill call and stand in a long line to get my medicine. The pill line is outdoors and we stand there no matter what the weather. Then dinner, back to the pod for lockdown and another count, and more boredom until 9:30 bedtime. Then the same all over again the next morning. That’s been my life for the last ten years, and for something that never happened! More on this later…..

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Mr. Shell is serving the 11th years of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click herehttp://tonywarderotica.com/bob-shell-letters-prison-2018-2/

 

Rongrong Liu: Emotional Fluidity

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Photo: Rongrong Liu
 

 

Photography and Text by Rongrong Liu, Copyright 2018

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EMOTIONAL FLUIDITY

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The first acquaintance with the word “schema” was in my psychology class. Referring to a pattern of thoughts that people use to categorize information, schema is like a tree. When thinking of emotion, our thoughts branch out to pleasure, anger, sorrow and joy. Then for joy it goes to love; for anger, it goes to rage; for sorrow, it goes to despair. All these pieces of emotions and expressions are collaged in this schema like puzzles.

Our mood is fluid. Happiness and melancholy present not in pure black and white, but they are constantly changing according to internal and external factors. Therefore, every one of these emotional puzzles are conjoined, from one stage to another. Several clones here are to make the clips sequential so that the 35 pieces of puzzles are not segmented. They together tell a story about a moody person. This is also the reason that I chose to use the long exposure technique here, just to intentionally blur out some of the facial expressions and create the “grey” emotional area. 

One interesting thing I notice about the human face is that eyes and mouth tells people’s feelings, however, eyes or mouth separately may express different emotions. One can be really happy and smiling, but his or her eyes don’t seem to be. What you see in one clip of the schema does not necessarily imply what you expect to see in the other clip. Same is our state of mind, and I guess that is the magic of schema.

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Portrait of Rongrong Liu by Lilibeth Montero

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About The Author: Rongrong Liu is a Junior enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2019. To access additional articles by Rongrong Liu, click herehttps://tonywardstudio.com/blog/rongrong-liu-looking-sexiness/

 

Karen Liao: Homecoming

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Photography and Text by Karen Liao, Copyright 2018

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HOMECOMING

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Throughout the semester, I have been exploring the topics of physical and mental health in different populations through my photos, and I wanted to bring all this together in a project involving a community most familiar to me—Penn. As students, we are inundated with demands of classes, activities, meetings and seemingly endless amounts of work. The competition can be fierce and, the environment can be stressful. With this, there has been increasing attention on the importance of mental and physical well-being of the Penn student body. It is essential for students to find relaxation in something away from the work, to provide relief and maintain well-being. This being said, everyone finds comfort in a different environment, activity, or interaction. My project explores each person’s return to his or her area of relaxation—their unique definition of home.

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About The Author: Karen Liao is a Junior enrolled in the School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2019. To access additional articles by Karen Liao, click herehttps://tonywardstudio.com/blog/karen-liao-fresh-perspective-photography/