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Poem: "The Most Serious Occupation of Manhood" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "The Most Serious Occupation of Manhood"
This poem is spillover from the July 19, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] dialecticdreamer. It has been sponsored by [personal profile] clockworklady and EdorFaus. This poem belongs to the Shiv thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

Warning: This is the first meeting between Boss White and Dr. G, from Boss White's perspective, a couple weeks after Shiv gets out of prison. It mostly goes well, but naturally Shiv is freaking out about it. If these are touchy topics for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.


"The Most Serious Occupation of Manhood"


Boss White checked his calendar
to confirm the time of Dr. G's first visit.

They had spoken together several times,
and today Boss White looked forward
to meeting the counselor in person.

This was the most serious occupation of
manhood: meeting important people,
and taking care of his own.

The door opened, and Shiv came in
to the front part of the office,
pausing at Dymin's desk.

The secretary waved him through.

Shiv headed for the back part of
the office where Boss White sat
behind his big ebony desk.

The boy's hair was brushed
away from his face for once,
and still damp from his shower.

He had dressed up a bit, trading
his usual jeans and t-shirt for
steel-gray linen slacks and
a plain white dress shirt.

He fidgeted constantly,
starting to wipe his hands on
his slacks and then sticking them
into his pockets to play with
his popper phone instead.

That boy's improved a bunch,
Boss White thought to himself.

"Hey, boss," Shiv said.

"You look pretty good, Shiv,"
Boss White praised. "Where's your tie?"

"I don't have one," Shiv said,
starting to panic. "You didn't
say I had to wear a suit!
Just to look neat."

"No, a suit would be overdressed
for this occasion, but a tie is
appropriate," Boss White said.

He opened the drawer where he
kept ties and handkerchiefs as backup,
choosing a silk one with subtle stripes
of pale blue, gray, and white.

"You know how to tie this?"
Boss White asked Shiv.

The boy shook his head faintly.

"All right, come over here and I'll give
you a quick lesson," Boss White said.
He led Shiv to the corner lined with
viewscreens and flicked the display
into mirror mode. "We'll start with
a half-Windsor, which is easy to do
and looks good with most anything."

Boss White turned the boy to face
the mirror and stepped behind him.
Then he tied the tie, carefully explaining
each step as he went through the process.

"Thanks, boss," said Shiv.
"It looks really nice."

"That it does," Boss White agreed.
"Now take it off, and do it yourself."

"But you just put it on!" Shiv protested.

"You need to learn how to do this for
yourself," Boss White said. "Think of it
like a rite of passage. Most boys learn how
from their daddies, but yours ain't here,
so I'm pickin' up the slack for him."

His daddy's a waste of air anyhow,
Boss White thought. He'd caught a glimpse
of the man in Shiv's memories once,
and hadn't liked him a bit.

"Okay," Shiv said, tugging the knot loose.
He fumbled his way through the steps,
making plenty of mistakes.

Boss White reached out and
gently corrected each one, until
Shiv could tie a proper half-Windsor.

"There you go," Boss White said.
"I'm sure you'll do me proud."

Shiv gave him a look of helpless desperation.

"Yes, you will," Boss White said firmly,
backing that reassurance with
the faintest touch of power.

That helped. It surprised Boss White
how much Shiv liked telepathy, given how
aloof the boy was in other ways. He was
like the standoffish kind of cat that only
wanted to get petted in one particular place.

Shiv checked his datebook, leafing through
the important dates page and the daily planner.

Good to see him making use of that,
Boss White thought. He'll need it
to keep up with his new schedule
.

"We're on time," Boss White said. "Dr. G
should arrive in a few minutes. We'd best
head up to the front door, though."

They waited just inside the door,
which turned out to be a good thing.

When Dr. G arrived, his face lit up,
captivated by the ambiance of the jazz club.

Boss White put a hand in front of Shiv,
silently signaling him to give Dr. G
a moment to survey the space.

It also gave Boss White time to regard
the man he was coming to respect.

Dr. G stood just short of average height,
with a round, friendly face and
a mop of unruly blond hair.

He moved like a dancer, or
a bladesman, despite the hitch
that Boss White could see in his knees.

He wore a blue argyle sweater
decorated with gray diamonds
and a few random red ones, over
a white shirt and a solid gray tie.
In the crook of one elbow he
carried a bottle of wine.

Altogether an interesting combination.

"Welcome to Blues Moon. I'm Boss White,"
he said as he extended a hand.

Dr. G's handshake was warm and
confident, his mind politely concise
instead of spilling everywhere.

He feels like that fancy blanket Shiv
is so protective of,
Boss White thought.

"Graham Finn, and it's so good
to meet you face to face," he said. "Shiv,
nice to see you too, I've missed you."

"What's the bottle for?" Shiv asked,
as always curious as a cat.

"A little gift from our mutual friends,"
he murmured, offering the bottle.
Then he tsked. "They warned me
not to wipe off the dust, but I'm afraid
half of it has landed on my sweater anyhow."

Shiv muffled a snicker.

"The last time they sent a messenger,
he came with a bushel basket of Italian fruit,"
Boss White said as he took the bottle. "Now,
those were some mighty fine red oranges.
What I'll do with wine, I don't know."

"Neither do I," said Dr. G.
"I imagine that they accounted
for our inexperience, and sent
something that will go with
whatever you serve here."

"Likely so," Boss White agreed.
"Come on down to my office. We can
chat for a bit before Shiv gives you
the nickel tour, and I expect you'll
want a private meeting with him too."

"Lead the way," Dr. G said.

The stairwell from the jazz club down
to the business floor in the basement
was painted black with whitework of
musicians on the walls which Dr. G
openly admired as they went past.

He sees everything, Boss White recalled
from Shiv's descriptions of the man.

In the office, Boss White passed
the bottle of wine to Dymin, and
then the three men settled into
the comfortable sitting area
beyond Boss White's desk.

Shiv jittered and fidgeted and
near enough knocked over
the potted plant on the table.

"Relax, Shiv, this isn't going
to turn into an interrogation or
a fight," said Dr. G. "Did you
bring a stress toy with you?"

"Uh, yeah ..." Shiv said, blushing
as he showed Dr. G his popper phone.

"That's a good idea," Dr. G said.

"I bought him that after I saw
his little keyfob," Boss White said.

"Shouldn't need it," Shiv muttered.

"Why not?" Dr. G said, pulling out
a rubbery coil. "I brought mine."

"Mine too," Boss White said,
and revealed the white rock that
he kept in his pocket, which had
a hollow for his thumb to rub.

That hushed Shiv right up, but Dr. G
leaned over to look at it. "Oh, howlite,"
he said. "How is that working for you?"

"It's soothin' and it don't make
a racket," Boss White said with
a shrug, "so pretty good."

"I meant, that stone is very popular
with telepaths and empaths," said Dr. G.
"I know a few others who carry howlite.
Supposedly it calms, balances, and
protects against negative emotions."

He's an endless source of useful information,

Boss White thought. "Didn't know all that,"
he said aloud. "I just like the feel of it."

"Shiv, how are you doing in general?"
Dr. G asked. "Settling in all right?"

The boy dithered over that for a minute
before admitting, "Not ... really."

"What seems to be the problem?"
Dr. G said. "If you fill me in,
then maybe I can help."

Shiv clammed up.

"We've had some disputes
about assignments," Boss White said.
"I set him up with basic paperwork,
typing, simple project management,
inventory, and things like that. He
hates it. He fusses less about
the maintenance work."

"I'm not a paper-pusher," Shiv sulked,
jabbing at the poppers on his phone.
"I could maybe do the inventory, since
that has stuff I can pick up to check,
if I had a list I could actually read."

"So take snapshots of the items, or
find icons of them online, and then
add those to the text list," Dr. G said.

"Oh! Like my picture shopping lists,"
Shiv said. "Yeah, I might need help
setting it up, but that would make
the work a lot easier for me. Well,
except for the amount. That still sucks."

"Too much desk work and not enough
physical activity?" Dr. G said. "I can
see how that would frustrate you."

Boss White cleared his throat. "I won't
have him gettin' in trouble too soon,"
he warned. "So that means keepin'
a close eye on him, and keepin' him
out of easy reach of trouble, on account
of he hasn't got a lot in the way of brakes."

"Good as far as it goes," Dr. G said,
"but not if it drives him stir-crazy
until he makes trouble right here."

That's exactly what I've been
worrying about,
Boss White thought,
rubbing the hollow of his stone.

"Don't I know it," he said aloud.

"What's the problem with desk work?"
Dr. G asked. "Same as when we
tried to make an educational plan?"

Shiv gave a glum nod. "That's part of it,
if I try to do too much then I wind up
losing track of stuff," he said. "Plus it's
boring and I hate it, which makes it
a lot harder to keep my temper."

"Well, that's not good," said Dr. G.
He turned to Boss White. "I gather that
your goals are to make it easier for Shiv
to stay out of jail for at least six months,
and use that time to improve skills that
both of you will find useful later?"

"That's about it," said Boss White.

"Shiv, let's go over your schedule
and see if we can fix it," said Dr. G.

Shiv fetched out his notebook,
opened it, and handed it over.

"Oh, a day planner!" Dr. G said
as he took a look at the book.
"That's a marvelous idea."

"Boss gimme it, when I
first got out," Shiv said.
"It helps me keep track."

"Let's see ... our therapy sessions,
metalwork with Tolli, music lessons?
That's new," Dr. G said, looking at Shiv.

The boy smiled, ducking his chin.
"Boss got me a sax," he said.
"I stink at it, but it's kind of neat."

Ain't that the truth, Boss White thought.

"Everyone stinks at music,
for most of their first year,"
Boss White reminded him.
"I used to sound like I was
drownin' cats when I played."

"That's true of most new skills,
actually," said Dr. G. "Gym? I'm
told that a good lair typically has
some kind of workout space, but I'm
not seeing much on this schedule."

"We don't have the space here, so
a membership in Buster Hump's Gym
is a perk of employment," said Boss White.
"How often Shiv takes advantage of that
is up to him, within reason, as long as
he doesn't let himself run to flab."

"I'm no expert, but he's probably a bit
out of condition, still. His opportunities
for exercise were somewhat limited for
a long time," said Dr. G. "Shiv? You
want to cast some light on this?"

"It's a good gym, but I gotta take a bus
to get there," Shiv said. "Most days, I
don't have time because the desk work
takes up so much. I don't like making
the trip unless I've got a good chunk
of time to spend working out."

"Hmm," Dr. G said as he
twisted his stress toy. "Do you
like the gym itself, though? Is it
a decent place, with the kind
of equipment you need?"

"Well ..." Shiv hedged,
shuffling his feet. "We like it.
"I dunno if you would."

"Why not?" Dr. G asked.
"If there's a problem, I'd
like to hear about that."

"It ain't fancy," Boss White said,
thinking of what middle-class folks
typically expected in a fitness center.
"Used to be a warehouse before they
converted it, in fact, and it draws a lot
of blue-collar custom. But it's built solid,
and more importantly, nobody there
tries to mess with my people."

Shiv nodded. "It looks grungy,
but that's okay," he said. "It's got
a boxing room and a gymnastics room
with all kinds of gear. The mat room
has space for tumbling and sparring.
The weight training room is mostly
free weights and a few machines.
There's a crossfit training room, too,
but I haven't done much with that."

"Boxing room ... Wacker had
you on a workout program, with
a few lessons, didn't he?" Dr. G said.

"Yeah, that was nice while it lasted,"
Shiv said. "I kind of miss it."

"How would you feel about
trading most of the desk work
for gym time?" Dr. G suggested.
"It would get you back in shape,
which is good for your health and
your job; it keeps you off the street;
and you seem to enjoy it more."

"Please," Shiv begged. Then he
slumped in his chair. "But I don't
have a thrash coach anymore,
I'd just be goofing around."

"Maybe we can fix that too,"
Dr. G said, turning to Boss White.
"What do you know about the staff
at the gym, and their availability to
members for lessons or advice?"

I like how he thinks, Boss White mused.
He'd been banging his head against
this particular wall for two weeks
without much progress.

"If Shiv wants to buff up, then I'll
support that," he said. "Buster has
good people working for him, including
some general trainers, a thrash coach,
and one each for the major disciplines
like boxing and gymnastics. They'll help
set up a workout program for free,
but actual lessons cost extra."

"I'd like to have a real program
again," Shiv said wistfully.

Boy's gotten better, but he still
don't ask for what he needs,

Boss White thought.

"You pick a trainer and get that
planned out, then," he said aloud.
"I'll pay for boxing lessons if you like."

Shiv lit up so much, he even stopped
popping the little bubbles on his phone.

"Really?" he said. "I never had
gym lessons before ... well, not
that lasted more than a few days."

"Your coping skills are better now,
and this is something you want,"
Dr. G said. "If you run into problems,
tell me or Boss White before it blows up,
and we'll help you straighten things out."

"I'll try," Shiv said earnestly, which was
more than he did most of the time.

"Let's sketch out a plan, subject to
approval by the boxing coach," said Dr. G.

"Like what?" Shiv asked.

"You could take lessons and follow
those with a shorter workout on
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays
with a longer workout on Tuesdays
and Thursdays," Dr. G said. "That
would leave the weekends for rest.
What do you think, Shiv?"

"Yeah, I can do that," said Shiv.
"It's more than I could afford in prison,
though, so I don't know how much
my body is up for yet."

"We can leave that to your coaches,"
Dr. G said. "It's their job to assess
people's current abilities and goals, then
make a plan that safely moves from
where you are to where you want to be."

A smile flitted over Shiv's face.
"Okay," he said. "I like that idea."
He went back to playing with his phone.

"What are you doing for fun?"
Dr. G said. "I don't see any kind
of entertainment on here."

"What fun?" Shiv said.

Dr. G and Boss White both sighed.

Shiv needs more to do than
stir trouble with a stick,
he thought.

"You mentioned that you used to watch
for the new movies that you wanted
to go see," Dr. G said. "One option
would be to follow announcements of
upcoming films, check each Friday
to find out when they're showing here,
and make that a weekend activity."

"I don't know if I can afford it,"
Shiv hedged, looking away.

"You get a paycheck," Boss White said.
"Up to you how to spend that, but you
oughta have plenty for a movie. I
don't aim to cheat my boys."

"I think Shiv means that he hasn't
had much experience with budgeting,"
said Dr. G. "Shiv, did the prison cover
any of that in the Life Skills classes?"

"I guess," Shiv said. "I suck at school.
Stuff just doesn't stick well for me."

"Then I'll ask Dymin to show you how
to make a weekly budget," Boss White said.
"If she can teach Popgun, she can teach you --
and I expect you'll make better choices, since
you're already makin' good progress."

"I could ... maybe manage a week,"
Shiv said slowly. "All the other lessons
I got were months or years, and I just
couldn't hold that much in my head."

"Excellent," said Dr. G. "Give that
a fair try, and let us know how it goes."

"Budget work is useful to me too,"
Boss White added. "I'll count
that as part of your desk time."

"Great," Shiv said, grinning.

"For another idea, you might check
the nearest community center to see if
they have anything interesting," Dr. G said.

"I don't need another class,"
Shiv groaned, squeezing his phone.

"Not a regular class, I mean
one-time workshops on fun topics like
sketching or sleight of hand, probably on
the weekends," Dr. G said. "There may be
other things too -- flea markets, craft shows,
dances, whatever you enjoy doing."

"I like flea markets," Shiv said.
"I'm good at spotting bargains, and
I don't have much stuff yet. Most of
what's in my apartment came out
of storage for lair furnishings."

"Storage?" Dr. G said,
curiosity flaring like a torch.

No wonder Shiv tolerates him
so well,
Boss White thought.
He's curious as a cat, too.

"We own the little building next door
to this one," he explained aloud. "It holds
a selection of artwork and furniture that
folks can choose for any of the apartments
we own, like those above the jazz club."

"Do you ... need to see mine?" Shiv said.
He gave Dr. G an anxious look.

"It's encouraged, but not required,"
Dr. G said. "I'd love to see where
you live, but intruding there would
be rude if I'm not welcome."

"Why's it encouraged?" Shiv asked,
shifting back and forth in his chair.

"It helps me make sure you've got
a decent place to stay, and also lets
the justice department know that you
are holding together," said Dr. G.

"At least it's not probation," Shiv said.

"This isn't that intrusive. It's just meant
to make sure you have backup in case
things start falling apart, so somebody
can step in before it's too late," Dr. G said.
"If you play ball, you keep people happy
and relaxed so they don't bug you, and you
get perks. It's a bit like the point system,
only not that explicit. It's up to you."

Shiv needs to learn more about hospitality,
and he hasn't had much chance before,

Boss White thought as he listened to them.

He cleared his throat softly,
hoping Shiv would take the hint.

"Uh ... yeah," Shiv said. "I can show you
my place. I thought I'd just get public housing,
and the one I was assigned, I'm keeping for cover,
but Boss White gave me an apartment upstairs."

"I look forward to seeing it," Dr. G said warmly.

"Anything in particular you need from me?"
Boss White asked. "I've been around the block
enough times to have a fair idea what
the system likes to see."

His own superpower had given him
a good feel for Dr. G already,
and he liked the man.

"Primarily, to know that Shiv is
getting proper care and support,"
Dr. G replied. "Your readiness
to pay for boxing lessons, among
other things, has told me that much."

"Then I'll let Shiv take you on
that tour," Boss White said.
"I'd be happy to chat more
later, if we get a chance, but
don't put yourself out for it."

"Thank you," Dr. G said as he
stood up and offered his hand.
"It has been a genuine pleasure."

"The pleasure is mine,"
Boss White said sincerely,
enjoying the warm fuzzy feel
of the counselor's mind as
the two of them shook hands.

Shiv scrambled up, stuffing
his phone into his pocket. "Come on,
I'll show you around," he said.

As Boss White watched them go,
he thought, I do believe that boy
will be all right after all.


* * *

Notes:

Boss White (Dwayne White) -- He has mahogany skin, brown eyes, and short nappy black hair. A very thin line of beard runs down from his hairline in front of the ears and along the edge of his jaw, framing his face. He is cool, tough, and yet also suave.
Boss White controls the underworld of Omaha, Nebraska. He deals in drugs, gambling, and other organized crime. Despite being a supervillain, he is as mentally fastidious as most other telepaths. While he blithely abuses information gleaned from projected thoughts, he never enters another mind without permission, and he has executed at least one criminal telepath for mindrape. His people have included Antimatter, Barf-o-Whirl, Buttons, Shithouse, and Shiv.
Origin: While in prison, he was subjected to mad science experiments.
Uniform: On duty as a supervillain, he wears an ivory suit and hat. Off duty, he wears a charcoal gray or black suit and hat.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Gangster, Expert (+4) Leader, Expert (+4) Tough, Good (+2) Saxophone Player, Good (+2) Strategic Thinking
Poor (-2) Disadvantaged Background
Powers: Good (+2) Forcefields (Signature Stunts: Invisible Jail, Invisible Staircase, Shield Bash, Trash Compactor), Average (0) Telepathy
Good (+2) Minions: Ebonies & Ivories have 9 named lieutenants, each in charge of his own gang full of common thugs. Lieutenants typically have at least Good (+2) Gangster, a Good musical ability, one other Good, and one Average superpower. These include Lieutenant Brown, Faster Blaster (Zachary Johnson), and Popgun (Tyler Davis).
Motivation: To consolidate power.

Dymin Jefferson -- She has toffee skin, black eyes, and long straight black hair. She has big breasts and hips, sturdy arms and legs, but a fairly small high waist in between. Dymin rarely smiles, and gets downright hostile with anyone who tells her to smile. She grew up with her overbearing parents saying that all the time, and it drove her nuts. She enjoys taking care of people whom she respects, though. She loves historic documents, and sometimes volunteers at the library to work with them.
Dymin works for Boss White in Omaha, Nebraska. She has her own white wooden desk just inside the door of his office, where she can catch people as they come in. Her primary job is secretary; she keeps his schedule and his records. Her secondary job is bodyguard, just in case trouble comes through the door. Nobody really expects a secretary to be a badass bodyguard, but she is.
Origin: Dymin was working for a terrible boss when he tried to rape her. That didn't work very well. So then he tried to beat her. That didn't work either. She hit him back. That worked just fine. But then she needed another job, and the corporate world wasn't exactly hiring badass secretaries. So she went to work for Boss White.
Uniform: On duty, she wears secretarial clothes, usually a capery blouse and skirt in black and/or white with closed-toe pumps. She likes understated makeup and large but simple jewelry, such as hoop earrings and chunky rings. Off duty, she favors clingy sweaters and dresses that show off her hourglass figure. When she wants to be more discreet, she switches down to jogging suits -- with her trim waist concealed, she looks a lot chunkier.
Qualities: Master (+6) Logical-Mathematical Intelligence, Expert (+4) Assertive, Expert (+4) Secretary, Good (+2) Bodyguard, Good (+2) Historic Documents, Good (+2) Scat Singer, Good (+2) Strength
Poor (-2) You'd Look So Much Prettier with a Smile
Powers: Average (0) Invulnerability
Motivation: Take good care of Boss White.

See a full view and three-quarter view of Dymin.

* * *

"The search after the great men is the dream of youth, and the most serious occupation of manhood."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Blues Moon is a club owned by Boss White. This shows the outside of the building with the main floor and two layers of apartments. The smaller building on the right also belongs to the Ebonies & Ivories, used as storage space for artwork and furnishings which can be used in any of the apartments above the jazz joint. The basement contains the working part of the lair. The largest office below the lunch room belongs to Boss White. The one across from it is the guest room. The big corner office in the upper right is the patch room. They actually don't have an exercise room in their own lair; instead they have a group membership at a nearby gym. This is the stairwell from the basement to the main floor. Here is the layout of the main floor showing the jazz club and restaurant.

The two floors above the club have apartments similar to these. The hallway extends all the way to the back stairs. The central stairwell and elevator is instead a common lounge area.
On the lower floor, the front right "open" apartment is a flop room with multiple beds, which can sleep a total of 12 people. The front left "Mies" apartment is furnished normally, but not permanently assigned, used as temporary housing or extra function space as needed. Shiv gets the back left "standard" apartment, with the bathroom protected inside the bedroom. Popgun has the right middle semi-open apartment. On the top floor, Boss White has the back left "standard" apartment, and Lieutenant Brown has the back right semi-open apartment.

This is Boss White's office. Just inside the door, his secretary Dymin Jefferson sits at a white wooden desk, its front and side panels invisibly lined with ballistic panels. Here is the general sitting area near Dymin's desk at the front of the office. This is another part of the sitting area with some musical art on the wall. Boss White has a big ebony executive desk and library bookcase, again reinforced with ballistic panels, alongside a small sitting area with black leather chairs and an ebony coffee table. What looks like a corner window is actually a bank of sixteen viewscreens, often tuned to display a city view. On the wall not covered by the library bookcase hangs a large painting of a jazz band and their singer in a crimson dress.

Instead of a home gym, the Ebonies & Ivories have a membership at a local gym, built inside what used to be a warehouse. It's not fancy. The rough environment attracts rough customers, but the equipment is designed to take a beating. The concrete floors are on the lower storey, the wooden floors are above that. The weight training room has mostly free weights and a few machines. The crossfit training room includes many salmon ladders. The boxing room has lots of things to hit. The gymnastics room has old-school equipment. The mat room is used for tumbling and sparring.

Compare this with a typical middle-class gym that has lots of fancy machines and viewscreens all over everywhere.

Shiv's public housing building isn't particularly convenient but is a decent place, with 48 apartments. Several of these buildings cluster together. In some places they are divided by plazas which may be used for parking, market stalls, playing games, or other purposes. Elsewhere they are divided by parklets that offer picnic areas with tables and grills. Inside it has a meeting room, TV/rec room, laundry room, grill and picnic area. There is also a building office and mail room. Buildings with families have a play room for children. Some other buildings have a computer room, fitness room, tiny rentable offices, or other facilities. Shiv's efficiency apartment is 545 square feet with a kitchen, bathroom, and living room/bedroom. It has a Murphy bed which can fold up to make more space. A window in the kitchen opens onto the living room. The bathroom is tiny but complete. The end of the living room/bedroom has a big bay window.

Dress codes have gotten vague, but a dress shirt and tie without jacket would probably count as business casual or smart casual. It looks nice without being too formal.

Shiv's datebook looks similar to this one. It includes daily planner pages, weekly personal planners, monthly planners, a yearly calendar, important dates, goal pages, and to-do lists. Recent additions include budget pages, meal planners, a movie strip planner, and a list of movies to watch. Writing things down -- or illustrating them, in some cases -- helps Shiv to keep track of everything.

Shiv keeps his smartphone in a popper case. He has the black version.

Shiv has a pair of slim fit trousers in gray linen. Linen often has natural variations in color and thread which create a textured cloth. He likes the way it feels.

Neckties typically match the shirt, and the color may have meaning. Learn how to choose a tie. Customarily, fathers teach their sons about ties, and this can serve as a rite of passage. In the absence of a suitable father, another man may take over. Prior to Dr. G's first visit to Blues Moon, Boss White teaches Shiv how to tie a tie. The half-Windsor knot is one of many options. Although rated at 68% difficulty by Shirts My Way, the half-Windsor is more often considered an easy knot suitable for beginners. This is Shiv's tie. Boss White is wearing an Atlantic knot.

This is Dr. G's sweater.

Wines are customarily matched to foods, even soul food, although most people don't drink wine with soul food. The 2007 I Custodi Aetneus Etna Rosso is a versatile wine that goes with almost anything, making it an ideal choice for non-experts but still something rather nice. Learn how to pair wine and food.

Italy grows many fruits, particularly citrus, among which blood oranges are notable.

Bendeez are flexible office toys. Dr. G has the Caribbean Blue version.

A worry stone is a small rock, usually with a hollow for rubbing. Howlite is a white stone with soothing qualities. Boss White has a worry stone similar to this. Even people who know nothing about stone magic will often pick up something with relevant properties, just because they like the way it feels.

Business skills include project management, paperwork, and managerial tasks. Here is a worksheet for tracking your business skills. Many people find this kind of deskwork boring, which is bad for their health. There are ways to deal with a dull job.

Inventory is the stuff a company has to sell or trade, and somebody has to keep track of that. Some listings include photos and there are tracking programs that do too.

Illustrated shopping lists may be drawn, printed on paper, or managed with an online program using icons. These have a rich history, including this picture list by Michelangelo.

Displeasing children may be kicked out of preschool, after-school programs, school, and many other opportunities. Societies often discriminate against youth for developmental disorders, PTSD, foster care, or other reasons. This fuels the school-to-prison pipeline by alienating young people. Multiple aspects contribute toward society alienating teens through a broken social contract that spurs crime. Shiv has experienced so much of this that it's difficult for him to connect with society. Fixing this requires improving schools and other institutions. There are ways to engage youth and involve them in community activity. Here is a handbook on youth engagement.

The saxophone belongs to a family of instruments which includes tenor, alto, and soprano versions. Boss White learned on alto and now plays tenor more often. Shiv is learning alto and may switch to soprano. Currently he has a Weltklang Alto Saxophone in shiny silver with pearl buttons that Boss White found secondhand.

In order to have a healthy and happy life, people need fun, entertainment, relaxation, leisure and recreation. Movies can offer many of these. Without more wholesome options, people may turn to violence as entertainment. That definitely plays into Shiv's behavior. Here are some tips on finding good entertainment.

Choosing movies is easier with more information. There are websites for movie releases and recommendations. Learn how to pick good movies.

Physical fitness
is another important aspect of health. You can create a personal fitness plan. Professional trainers should follow the stages to design plans for their clients, especially beginners. Specific disciplines such as boxing have their own parameters for training. Shiv needs good guidance in this area, but given that, he's reasonably willing despite his lazy streak.

Local-America makes it very difficult for released inmates to rejoin society. In many ways, probation is designed to trap people in the penal system. Former offenders are often shut out of social safety nets such as food stamps and welfare, even though they have great need for support. They face countless bans on what they can do. In essence, once someone comes into contact with the penal system, it's a life sentence; some of this applies even to accusations, not even convictions. This greatly undermines people's willingness and ability to function as citizens.  The consequences of these bad policies are devastating to former criminals and society at large.  Because inmates have already failed at life in major ways, they need more support in order to do better; without that, the crushing burdens will shove most of them right back into prison. Look at the elements of successful reentry programs.

Terramagne-America makes concerted efforts to ensure that inmates have treatment for problems in prison, continuity of care after release, food, shelter, employment, relationships, and other basic needs.  They still offer early release for good behavior, variously with parole or voluntary support depending on context; and inmates who've served the full sentence are usually released without more than voluntary support, unless the state can show grounds of probable recidivism.  Violations of parole usually lead to non-prison penalties, except if a violent crime occurs.  Furthermore, there are fewer sanctions after release and more opportunities to earn back lost privileges; in Shiv's case, the debt to society is considered paid due to heroic behavior.  Participation in prosocial activities comes with perks both before and after release, which raises participation.  Of course, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink; many inmates, like Shiv, resist some or all of this. But at least they have options.

Public housing is theoretically intended to provide shelter for everyone, free or cheap. In L-America, many people are shut out of it, including former offenders, which leaves them vulnerable to homelessness. Subsequently, homelessness often drives people to crime. In order to lower recidivism, it is essential to remove bans and provide housing to inmates upon release. T-America does better in this regard; their public housing really is for everyone. There isn't always enough, but the big cities usually have plenty. They're also inclined to deal with problem behavior and divergent needs by separating tenants in clustered buildings so that one building houses families with children, another houses people with criminal records, people with a home business can get an office for it, etc.

Recidivism in L-America is ruinously high. Some states like California are worse; Nebraska is actually on the low end. Compare America's 76.6% recidivism rate with Norway's 20%. There are cultural and individual steps to reduce this tendency. Richmond, California -- which used to be a hotbed of crime -- has created a highly effective program that rewards former criminals for good behavior. Again, T-America does better than L-America. Shiv has a good chance of staying out of prison for a reasonable amount of time, because he has plenty of support.

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Comments
From: siliconshaman Date: December 5th, 2016 10:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Please tell me Shiv is learning to play Mac The Knife!!!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 5th, 2016 10:53 am (UTC) (Link)

Well...

I hadn't heard of that song before, but it SO fits. :D Feel free to prompt for it. The light/dark motif is a perfect fit for Tuesday's theme.
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