Goodbye For Now, But I Will Return.
Well, it looks like the correction option on this typewriter is not working, so here is hoping I can type this letter without too many errors. Still, it will be better for you Mr. Editor than having to have to type from my handwritten notes.
Okay, let us see if this typewriter works any better. We have to supply our own ribbons, correction tape, and type wheel. Yes, this one seems to be working better.
What words of wisdom to type first? I have so much to say and so little time. At least the typewriter forces me to slow down a little bit, and it certainly is neater then my high speed scribbling.
So here I am in Club Fed. They predicted scattered frost and sure enough, as I walked across the compound there were some patches of frost. Hey, every once in a while even the weather people can get it right.
I have been sort of stuck in my room lately so as to protect all my worldly possessions. Yes, I did buy a new lock for my locker, and I even paid for a custom-made piece of wood that fits on the lock to cut down on the ease with which one can jimmy the lock. But all that adds up to is a way to slow down those fellow inmates who feel it is more blessed to take than to receive.
Another temptation to stay in bed today was the nice, cool temperature. But once I dragged myself out of bed and was standing by the unit door waiting for them to call the move, I see that they are showing Kelly's Hero’s on TNT at 9:30 AM. That and the Dirty Dozen are two of my all-time favorite war movies. Oh, and let us not forget MASH.
So I have from now, 7:33 AM till 9:30 AM to type some stuff that hopefully will only need a little editing, and will make it on the blog sooner rather than later.
I am now just days to the door, but unfortunately it is just a door to another prison. The only thing I do know at this point is that it will not be a Federal prison. I will be going to either a NY county jail or a NY State prison. I am still awaiting word on my latest appeal, but if I do not hear anything on that before the end of November, I will be in transit for an unknown period of time. After I end up wherever it is I end up, I will hopefully reestablish contact with the real world.
So if you do not see any blog updates for a little bit, please don't give up hope, please keep checking back here, and eventually, with luck, I will return.
Final release clearance.
Well, barring a last-minute change, tonight is my last Friday night in Federal prison. I received my "final release clearance sheet" today at mail call. I also received what seems to be your last letter to be sent to me here at Club Fed. I am now listening to my last Music From The Mountain. Tonight he is featuring a group from Utica, NY.
According to the release form I received, I am to report to the Lieutenant's office at 2:30 PM on Tuesday. So it would appear that I am going to be dumped off at the regional county jail. I doubt I would be picked up so late in the day. The last time, the detectives had flown down from NY the previous day and picked me up in the morning.
I am going to try and travel with a few stamps, paper, and envelopes. Maybe you will even get a note while I am in transit? Who knows?
Yeah, I can write neat, but it is painful! But then again, it is less painful for you, the Editor. The other thing I thought of as I was reading your letter was, OK, you can type, so handwriting is not an issue, and even in a funk you push a few buttons and voila! Instant envelope stuffing! Not that there is anything wrong with that! Ha ha!
I have spread out my last meals of rice and mackerel in undisclosed, secure locations to prevent their capture by the locker terrorists!
I was lucky to get a "good" quality pair of headphones that I have even carried to the shower.
Tonight from 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM on NPR is a new program on Leonard Bernstein! Monday there was a broadcast of the opening of the new jazz facility at Lincoln Center.
Wherever I end up, I hope there is still an NPR station. I will miss some of the WV Public Radio programs, but as long as I can hear some signs of intelligent life, I can make it!
Well, it is now Saturday at 2:30 PM. I had been writing last night when my cellie needed to use the bathroom, so I ended up bumming around in the Day Area while the room became habitable! So now I will try to put the 7,000 different thoughts in my head down on paper!
The prison here has no purchasing control. Each department can buy their own supplies. So you have twelve to fifteen different people making trips to the local Staples store instead of using the Staples National Government Contract with products at half the store price, plus they deliver for free!
The Mobile MRI truck was in today, so we were locked in at 1:30 PM and just got counted at 2:00 PM. We will be locked in till after the 4:00 PM count. Actually it's not all that tragic, since instead of having over one hundred inmates screaming at the top of their lungs, it is nice and quiet.
Today I listened to the last of some of my favorite programs on good old NPR. This morning at 10:00 AM it was Car Talk. This afternoon the Houston Grand Opera presented The Barber of Seville. Now at 6:00 PM I am listening to Prairie Home Companion! It will take me through 8:00 PM.
The track at Rec is mostly mud, so we passed on the nightly walk yesterday. Lame to be sure, but my boots have a smooth sole and simply slip on the mud as if it was an ice pond!
Today's lunch in the chow hall was what they call "cheese steak." It is served once a month. Today's version consisted of shredded beef that had the consistency of shredded plastic grocery bags. It was the kind of meal that gives Philly cheese steaks a bad name. They did get the greasy part right however, and I must admit that the rolls were nice and soft! They no longer bake from scratch here. Most bread products are of the frozen bake-to-serve type. And sometimes it does actually come out right!
Dinner was my usual mackerel and rice. Since I no longer have a lock on my locker, I picked up a bag of rice and two mackerel from my undisclosed, secure location!
I know this is all over the place. So now I will relax and listen to the radio for a bit. More to come!
And still speaking of weapons.
It has been said that if we really want to solve the oil crisis, you would only need an Army tank without any gas in it, and within no time at all the tank will be moving. So weapons are not a real problem to acquire. The same holds true here.
There is a large percentage of inmates whose bodies are pretty much weapons-grade material. While I am certainly a non-violent type and have never availed myself of any type of weapon, one does not have to look too hard to see that there are things all around that could be used to cause physical damage to someone else's body.
For example while soaping up in the shower, you might notice that the "pin" of the piano-type hinge is sticking up about two inches. You better notice this, because if you were to throw your T-shirt over it, you might put a nice rip in it as you pull it off the door. But if you then look down to the bottom of the hinge, you will see that yes indeed, several inches of this metal pin are missing.
Out in the Rec yard, there are six-inch long plastic field-marking stakes, which have a two-inch disc on top. The stakes are hammered into the ground, and are normally used to tie a string to in order to make a straight line to lay down the chalk for marking the lines on the athletic fields. Yes, they are only plastic, but they are still spikes. And in fact this might even be considered an advantage, because if one were to "borrow" one, it would not even show up while going through the metal detector.
Then there are the boundary flags out in the Rec yard. They are on fiberglass poles much like the safety flags used on bicycles, but they have a six-inch metal spike with a metal strip across the top like the hilt of sword.
So while our headphones are designed for our safety, there are still plenty of WFID (Weapons For Inmate Destruction) available.
Speaking of weapons of destruction.
Since I was not there, thankfully, the following is what I have heard from other inmates and is subject to possible exaggeration and outright untruths.
Last Thursday evening at 9:40 PM the CO yelled "LOCKDOWN!" Now, the usual lockdown time is 10:00 PM, and even though it was only a few minutes earlier than normal, an early lockdown usually means something has gone wrong.
It appears that they found an inmate who had allegedly hung himself in one of the mop closets in another unit. I guess he did not use the cord from his headphones. I heard he was probably hanging there for over two hours.
Now as I said, I did not see the body and I have not heard anything about the event on the radio, so could it be a total fabrication? But one of the inmates who works in Medical, and thus usually has the straight dope on all things medical, said that it actually did happen.
The point is that even though there are only 1,600 inmates here, things do happen, that unless you see it with your own eyes, you can never be too sure it really happened. I do not know about anyone else, but to me it is all pretty freaky.
The inmate was supposedly an older person, and had only five weeks till he was going to be released.
Does this sound like a person who would commit suicide?
Books I am leaving behind but may want to repurchase down the road:
The Perpetual Prisoner Machine
by Dyer, Joel
by Abramson, Paul
and Pinkerton, Steven
by Seifter, Harvey
by Tocci, Ronald
My Father, My Self
by Goetz, Masa Aiba PhD
Raising a Responsible Child
by Ellis, Elizabeth PhD
Father, Daughter, Mother, Son
by Kast, Verena
Thinking With Your Soul
by Wolman, Richard PhD
The Pursuit of Pleasure
by Tiger, Lionel
Giving the Love That Heals
by Hendrix, Harville PhD
One man's (or woman's) great invention is an inmate's misfortune.
The following paragraph appeared in the December 2004 Inc. Magazine. On the page labeled "Five Ideas to Watch," idea #2 reads:
"Serving a Captive Audience. Headphones are headphones, right? Not in prison. Koss, the Milwaukee-based maker of audio headphones, has a model specifically designed for use behind bars. They are made from clear plastic so that prisoners can't hide drugs or other contraband in them, and include fewer metal parts that can be fashioned into weapons. The cord is also special, designed to snap in the event someone tries to strangle another person with it. Both the prison population and Koss' sales hit all-time highs this year."
I do not know if you have read any of my previous ranting about the crappy quality of the headphones that we pay S29.99 a pair for. Now I see, I was misinformed, as Rick would say. The fact that the plastic snaps in several different places and the cord shorts out and becomes disconnected from the jack is not because the headphones are pieces of junk and not even worth $5; these are cleverly designed safety features for my protection!
And here I though it was just something else to separate the inmate from his (or her) limited funds. Well, some hers [sic], Martha down at Camp Cupcake probably can spare a few extra dollars if her headphones break during the five months she is spending in her federally funded non-gated community!
Meanwhile, if somebody really wanted to cause harm, we each have at least one pair of work boots with indestructible, three-foot long laces, and a couple pairs of sneakers, also with nice long laces.
Okay, so it is 30 years later...
The following was written by the Headmaster of my high school as a recommendation letter to the various colleges we seniors were applying to. I thought you might enjoy reading this.
Over the several years Peter has attended this school, he has proven to be a good academic student with a natural flair for math and history. His academic work has not, it is true, begun to fully reflect his very great intelligence (Binet over 140) yet that intelligence has manifested itself throughout our institution in creative and infinitely helpful ways.
For Peter is the complete theatre person in our school. In its early years, when the staff was small and we lacked professional technical theatre people, Peter simply assumed (from the age of fourteen) all jobs relevant to those tasks. Peter had the keys to the school, Peter engineered the light and sound systems, and Peter purchased and installed the equipment our new institution was acquiring piece by piece. In between, Peter (who managed to be a full time unpaid worker as well as student) could always be counted on to take one end of a two-by-four, to rush on call to various offices and repair faltering audio-visual aids. It often reached the point that faculty would vie for Peter's services, and that administration would need to intervene to ask that they impose less upon his good will.
The good will has never failed to be present. Of limited economic circumstances, in a milieu of mostly surfeited students, Peter has never complained. He reflects perhaps his father's ministerial calling in that the only question of life he ever seems to ask is, "How can I be of help?" The help, always forthcoming, approaches, at times, an inspired technological genius. It flows from a bounty of kindness as well as a pure fascination with the use of carpentry, art and electronics to feed the world of illusion.
Nor has the academic mind been slumbering while the creative processes are deployed. Peter will turn up regularly as an articulate and concerned member of current events seminars and meetings. He listens keenly and translates the messianic ardors of his peers into the lucid pragmatism with which he views the world. The theatre technician would well become playwright, the printing machine expert would eventuate in a writer or publisher.
I would offer Peter as a solid student of great aptitude to any rigorous and cohesive academic community. His technical brio, incredible theatre know-how, and profoundly giving nature, however, commend him to such a community in which the theatre arts are a significant and professional part of instruction. For the truth is that Peter, a gifted, responsible and totally decent young man, has also already achieved an area of full professionalism.
B. F. T.
So he thought I might become a writer. Now, thanks to this blog and the various comments I have received, it appears I might actually be able to write some words that other people would like to read. It just takes some of us a little longer to find our niche.
Why so long?
Well, writing took too much work, brainstorming, drafting, editing, etc., etc., etc. Now that I can see the benefit of putting in some effort (think delayed gratification), all of a sudden things that in the past took too much effort, now are not only possible, but dare I say a joy to work on.
This is a major problem of a lot of prisoners and dare I say the free world in general. I had not gotten any mail from the blog for a couple of weeks, and when I called the Editor to get some sympathy for my loss of my stuff, he said he had been really busy at work, and that something had to give, and that something was his writing to me.
Now I am not complaining at all, because despite his overloaded schedule he still manages to keep up the blog postings, and that is great. The point I am making is that when his letter with the blog comments and a few other blogs finally arrived on Friday, my spirits got a real boost.
This was not exactly an instant recognition, but as I walked the track at Rec from 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM with my friend Mike, we talked the whole time about lots of different subjects. OK, so maybe I did most of the talking, but the realization came to me about how more upbeat I was after having gotten the letter and the latest blog comments.
What I felt I had discovered specifically was that while I may have a lot more readers than the few who comment, it does not negate the value of the comments. In my prior life before incarceration, I was more likely to expect all to appreciate my talents and intelligence.
Although, as many a poster has pointed out, a lot of my posts are somewhat whiny, I have come to realize that not everyone will be enamored with my intelligence and personality. So I realize that now as long as some "get it", that is a good thing. Some might say that I have become more realistic, grounded, etc., or as I joke to my fellow inmates, I have lowered my expectations.
The real truth is I have improved my self-esteem. I can draw support from within. However I also fully understand the concept of no man is an island. So along with this improved self-esteem is a conviction to seek out those that can aid in my existence and supplement and assist with my journey.
This search has become more fine-tuned than in the past. I can clearly see how even within this prison, I have indeed developed a support system where some six to eight people, including staff and inmates, can give me a boost when I need it, and each can do so in a different way.
On the outside, there are ten to twelve people who each have lent some sort of support to me over my journey, and each of them has done so in different ways. Even my parents, who may have taken a bit of whining (OK, more than a bit) from me in this blog have consistently been supportive of me throughout this journey.
The trick is to find the level at which each person can fit into your needs and you into theirs. I am not talking about someone who can con people into doing things, but an ability to be open and truthful with yourself first about your needs and wants, and then seek out those persons that can fit in where needed.
One of the most damaging aspects of establishing a relationship, in my opinion, is pushing others to provide "support" that they are uncomfortable with. A real world example would be the response to this blog. Some have vented extreme anger towards me, while others have inquired about establishing a wish list for me on Amazon.com. In between those two extremes have been a whole bunch of other expressions of support. So the point is that given all the same information, people have responded in many different ways.
If I were to seek all of my sense of worth from only one particular post, I could feel incredibly low or incredibly high. But taken as a whole, and using my own internal strengths, I can move along life's road with a stronger and healthier sense of self. The fact that I notice the boost I get from the comments shows me that by expending the effort to commit my thoughts to paper along with the incredible effort of time the Editor gives me, I can get something, but not everything, back.
Life is not easy to be sure, and each of us has our own sets of bumps along the way. One must be careful not to put too much of one's own values on another's life. What might be a speed bump to you as you look at someone else's problem might be a twenty-foot deep crater to that person!
I think that when one can truly understand where the other person is at and then respond with what you can do to help, that is when life will begin to move forward for both people. To carry the speed bump/crater analogy further, if even after listening you still feel the person's problem is only a speed bump, but it is clearly not how the person sees it, you might offer a "piece of the puzzle" needed to lift that person up.
So now if one can find a few more pieces, then all of a sudden the crater gets filled and life moves on. Life stalls when one person continues to tell the person that the crater is only a speed bump and I will give you the push to get over it, but meanwhile the person still feels like he or she is looking down at a huge crater.
One does not have to be the sole fixer of another's problems. I put forth the idea that by allowing the person to see the problem his or her way, but offering your response based on your ability to assist at that time; this will only serve to benefit both individuals in the long run.
This does not preclude the fact that on occasion one might still vent that nobody understands him or her, or that no one is willing to help. But life to me must be one of steps. Each step that I made in a forward direction, no matter how large or how small, is a good step. Yes, I have learned things like moderation and patience. The fact is that instant gratification is not always possible, and that is also sometimes a good thing!
One Man's Trash.
1:16 PM. Sitting on my bed looking out the window three stories up. Garbage is toted out of the unit and tossed into these large Rubbermaid-type "dumpsters." While the garbage is in large clear plastic bags, it is certainly not a pleasant job to go rummaging through it. You ask why would that be an issue?
Well, actually it is two issues. The first is the rule of one man's trash is another's treasure. Ah, that reminds me of my teenage years walking the streets of Brooklyn, NY. But that will be another post.
The sport we inmates around here call dumpster diving is practiced by a certain group of inmates hoping to find some treasure that they can then sell to another inmate. Certain group, you ask? Yes, certain they will find something.
Sometimes they are able to salvage stuff that was confiscated from inmates leaving the chow hall, tossed into the garbage can, and then when transferred to the dumpster, and as the dumpster is emptied into the trash compactor, the inmates responsible for that process have been known to pick out the goodies (nice run-on sentence).
Well, the second "rummager" (yes, this is a single inmate) is the Recycler. Since "they" know how many cans of soda they sell each week in the commissary and they noticed the amount of cans being bagged as recycles, the powers that be figured out they should have an inmate go through the trash bags and remove the cans.
It should be noted that each of the twelve units has a large garbage can marked as a recycle bin for all cans. The problem is that inmates choose to defy authority and continue to dump cans in the regular trash. The staff is not much better, since the aforementioned Recycler also manages to salvage a bunch of plastic soda bottles, which can only come from staff.
So even though every inmate knows we have a recycle program and most have seen the Recycler, wearing his yellow rubber gloves and his plastic glasses, digging through the trash, they do not make his job easier by tossing cans in the proper receptacle.
So here I sit, watching the leaves fall from the trees, every once in a while a gust of wind pulls a whole slew of leaves off the trees, and I watch a fellow inmate dig through trash.
This is just another example of how even in the simplest aspects, one is not always predisposed to assist a fellow inmate.
Yes, I do put my cans in the recycle bin!
No, Erotica Is Not All I Read But You Might Wish I Did.
Okay, so I am a little behind in my commentary, but I am good at putting stuff into the round to-it pile.
Actually I bring the following point up now to show that we need to pay closer attention to what really happens in Washington. I am not sure if we can put a link to the original article, but it appeared in the National Edition, April 29, 2003. Yeah, it really did sit in the round to-it pile a while.
But hey, here is my question. The article is entitled, "Former Domestic Security Aides Make Quick Switch to Lobbying."
The article points out how several of the aides to Tom Ridge that worked with him when he was first brought to Washington. But when Tom Ridge became the Secretary of Homeland Security, at least four of his senior deputies switched over to the private sector and became lobbyists!
Here it is eighteen months later and there have been hardly any follow-up articles written about the amount of tax dollars the various lobbying companies have steered to the various companies that have now become leading suppliers of homeland security. The closing quote by John J. Pavlick of Venable LLP sums it up perfectly:
"We're trying to help our clients avoid the land mines and find the gold mines in homeland security. The major defense contractors want to move into homeland in a big way. I'm very bullish on this."
His company represents Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and other government contractors.
Okay, so if we have all these lobbyists to grab those homeland defense dollars and Mr. Bush has tripled the budget for Homeland Security, why do we have an employment "problem" in the manufacturing sector? Who is building all this very expensive Homeland Security infrastructure anyhow? Sounds like Mr. Bush would be the first one to jump up and show how many jobs were created for Homeland Security and how much they pay.
Has anybody out there ever heard of the Carlyle Group? I do not have time to go into my thoughts on this company now, Recall is about to occur and I want to get this in the mail tonight, but here is a pop quiz to see if any of the readers of this blog care anything about the running, or is that ruining, of our country by the politicians in Washington DC.
Comment if you have info on them.
Hmm, I think I smell a rat.
The following story appeared recently in the New York Daily News: Martha stirs up book deal. Maybe she'll call it "Martha Stewart Living in Prison."
"The incarcerated domestic diva is shopping a book on her experiences at the federal prison camp in Alderson, WV, New York Magazine reports on its web site."
"Publishing industry sources told the magazine that lawyers working on Stewart's behalf have been quietly approaching book company executives about a memoir that Stewart would pen while she serves her five-month prison sentence."
"The initial word was that the work would be a "prison diary," but it might reach further back than that, sources told New York."
"Stewart's lawyers reportedly made their pitch during the Frankfurt book fair, just before Stewart began serving her sentence," the magazine said.
"Crown is emerging as a likely contender for the manuscript, and the final amount of the deal could exceed $5 million, according to New York."
GIVE ME A BREAK! Five million dollars for five months at a minimum-security camp! I have done eight and a half years in a medium security prison!
Let me see, at a million dollars a month, what would that be worth?
But have no fear my beloved readers of this blog, I will never forget you if I ever get a book deal. Those of you who have been reading this blog will get to see any actual book as it happens.
While I have not been to Camp Cupcake, I have heard stories about what goes on there from staff members who have worked there, and also from inmates who have had girlfriends that have served time there. From the stories I have heard, it will be interesting to see if Martha can tell the truth.
Basically, the word is that the women there are not exactly the "cleanest" living creatures, and apparently same-sex hookups are not at all uncommon!
So, will Martha be able to tell her gentle readers the truth, or will it be like the food products in her other books - sugarcoated?
Problems with the mailroom sending out my stuff.
I am really in a funk. I tried to get the first box of books out and the mailroom refused to use the much cheaper book rate! My funds are already really tight with the need to send out the boxes, and now having to pay priority mail rate doesn't help.
It turns out that I will be shipping out four boxes. Two will be books, which I will send to Mom and Dad. The other two boxes (which I know I cannot use book rate for), one legal paperwork, the other, my archives, I will send to you.
I got the three boxes I had in storage and went through some of the paperwork. Yes, I did find the letters written to Karen that were never delivered. So one box will be clearly marked LEGAL. Depending on what happens next in terms of when I might be free and if I will still need any of the legal stuff, we can then decide what to do with them.
On a much lighter note, I am enclosing an article about the Martha book deal. Hmm, five million dollars for a five-month stay!
I did get some more stuff typed for the blog and it is enclosed.
I have as of yesterday quit the caffeine so as not to detox while on the road.
I will hopefully give you one last call from Club Fed right before I leave here.
The books you sent are really giving me a chance to just read and veg out from the stress of not knowing what comes next.
So let me get back to reading my book now!
Today was my walking partner, Mike's, birthday, and we managed to be at the same place at the same time as I left the unit. I gave him his birthday present, consisting of one pint of butter almond ice cream, two freeze pop-style packages filled with a caramel-like substance, and a Hershey's candy bar with almonds. This way he could make his own sundae!
It was sort of drizzling off and on all day, and I asked him what he wanted to do about our post-4:00 PM walk. He had planned to make some wraps that he wanted to share on the occasion of his birthday, so he said let's go anyway and see what happens. Worst case, we would end up finding a corner inside the Rec area. But as luck would have it, by 3:30 PM the blue skies arrived and things were looking good.
Well, like they say around here, if you do not like the weather, wait twenty minutes and it will change. By 5:00 PM, dark storm clouds started moving in and a chilly wind was blowing pretty hard. We got to the Rec yard and managed to get the walk in without getting rained on.
Then Mike gave me two wraps to put in my coat pocket. One of them he asked me to give to someone in my unit on his behalf. I managed to not eat either of the wraps until we got back to the unit at 6:30 PM! I gave the one to the proper party and nuked mine up. It was a delicious combination of crackhead soup noodles, spicy sausage, pepperoni, and cheese! I also coked my usual mackerel and rice and ate about three-quarters of it.
Mike is due to leave in early 2005, and had been talking for the last month or so about giving up the walking. He wants to do some pushups and hit the bicycles. I always said that I understood, and that it was OK. But while we were walking today, Mike said that he would hold off changing his exercise pattern till after I left. So for him to actually say he would walk till I left, that was really nice of him.
The main difference on my part is being more patient and laidback with Mike. Originally we just started meeting at Rec to walk, and then later we began deciding ahead of time on which days to walk. While we do talk while we walk, I am afraid I still do most of the talking. But Mike has been very patient and is a good listener.
The point is that we are friends, we support each other, and our relationship has grown over time. As we walk, we are able to share our stories of life with each other. I have not tried to tell him everything at once, and I even sort of check if a particular experience is of interest to him. In other words, I might say, "Here is what I would like to tell you, do you want to hear it?" That has been new for me. As I said, I still do most of the talking, but I do make sure that I listen to Mike, and I encourage him with specific questions for him to share with me. And you know what, it works!
Also, as I think I have mentioned, a few inmates have asked my opinions of the election, etc., and another inmate asked me to spend some time with him talking about the stock market.
So without forcing myself on everyone indiscriminately, I have managed to have persons seek me out. True, not everyone in the unit thinks I am the greatest, and even those asking me questions are certainly not all in awe of my wisdom, but I now understand much better how life works. True, I still put my foot in my mouth on occasion, I still take a simple question and end up gabbing for a half-hour, but it is not a constant thing and I have even been known to apologize for talking so much.
Ah patience! OK, I think I will stop for now. It is 11:41 PM and I know this will not go out till Sunday night anyway, so let me see if I can slow down the pace while improving the readability. It's not too bad so far! Plus, if I stay up much longer I will drink another soda, and I really need to stretch them out. So TTFN.
Catching the positives.
I am not sure, but I think I may have another of those long letters in me.
I have already had three Diet Cokes since noon and it does definitely help my asthma. OK, it may also wire me a bit. I am going to force the "wired" to keep my brain functioning, but kind of like using downshifting in a car when going down a long hill, try to keep the writing slow and steady. Each letter will touch the line and I am writing one word at a time with both mind and hand. So if I can keep this pace, maybe it will not be such a chore to read, or at least will be less of a chore.
I had an interesting day today. I do find that when I "catch" the positives that are tossed my way, well, it does my soul good.
I met with my psychologist today. It is the next to last time we will meet. She has me penciled in for Monday or Tuesday of Thanksgiving week and then that's it. She has been approved for a transfer (yes, staff likes to get off this mountain too), effective January 2005. So it is a good thing I am leaving anyway.
We have been meeting every two to three weeks for six years. Thinking of this again brought to the forefront of my mind how over time one can make changes in one's life despite or because of one's surroundings!
So what follows are the good things I caught today. They were tossed out to me and I caught them and used them to help lift me up a bit. I could have and would have in the past missed some of them, or not assigned the weight to them that they deserved. So yes, I guess it is akin to "stop and smell the flowers."
Besides the general dumping of my thoughts, the Doc said that I had made much progress in lowering my previously too-high expectations of what life owed me.
As I have mentioned in the past, I know that I have always felt that I knew it all, and I would not have even tried to change some parts of my life. Also, to have someone notice that was very affirming.
I really cannot wait to get my mind out of here and try to stand the tech world on its ear! Let us get back to the K.I.S.S. system. Hey, I had databases running on 64K text-based CPM systems. Think what a text system could do now! Maybe GUI should stand for Guaranteed Unruly Interface?
Yes, I know video and audio are needed, but perhaps if we separate them a bit we could improve each instead of mixing all together and muddling the standard. Yes, there are some great graphics, audio, and video systems out there doing things never before possible. Hey, I love that yellow line for first down on the football field on the TV.
But maybe if we came up with more basic systems we could also develop a lower-paid but still skilled workforce, like the good old apprenticeship system. Yes, some of it is rocket science, but hey, one Rocket Scientist with lots of lower paid supplicants! Get the picture?
There is a special on NPR now talking about Senator Byrd, the beloved Senator from West Virginia, as a fiddler!
Well, it is 9:40 PM so I better get this in the mail.
After having my locker "cleaned out" recently while I was at the Library typing some posts for the blog, I finally got a chance to shop on Friday.
I tried to limit myself to bare essentials, and I still spent over $60. And I did not get the pack of pepperoni I asked for, or the AAA batteries that I forgot to put on my list.
So much for my thinking that I had enough money to last me the remainder of my time here. Rats. I have enclosed the receipt for my shopping so you all can get an idea of what things cost here.
I passed on some of my usual spices, Mrs. Dash and the powdered garlic, and also the jalapenos and the Garden Mix pickles. The new bowl was needed so that my morning oatmeal does not taste like mackerel along with the apple cinnamon flavoring. Although Oscar the Grouch would probably enjoy the flavor!
All told, the aforementioned locker cleanout netted the thieves over $100 worth of stuff.
The one saving grace was I was carrying my radio and good headphones with me, although they did get my backup pair of headphones and six four-packs of AAA batteries!
Oops, that was the other thing I forgot to buy, batteries. Usually I always make sure to have plenty of batteries. I just put in two new ones from the four-pack I had in my pocket, so hopefully that will hold me till Thursday when I can shop again.
Qty Description Price
1 6PK DR PEPPER $2.05
1 ICE CREAM PINTS $1.30
4 DIET COKE $8.80
1 CHILI SAUCE W/GAR $1.85
1 SALTINE CRACKERS $1.60
2 CARAMEL SQUEEZE SP $0.60
3 M&M PEANUT CANDY $1.65
3 HERSHEY'S W/ALMONDS $1.50
10 FILLETS OF MACKEREL $11.50
1 SQUEEZE MUSTARD $0.95
1 SUAVE SHAMPOO PR# $1.70
7 KF BUTTER POPCORN $3.50
1 SQUEEZE SALSA $1.80
2 KK MAC & CHEESE $1.00
1 QUAKER INSTANT OAT $3.35
3 STARKIST TUNA PR# $3.30
1 SERVING BOWL $3.15
1 NACHO CHEESE RICE $1.30
1 CHUNKY PEANUT BUTTER $2.20
1 CHILE CON QUESO $1.60
5 BROWN RICE RESEAL $5.00
1 FLOUR TORTILLAS $0.80
My last few weeks here.
So tonight I went for a walk with my radio, headphones, stamps, and eyeglasses. The only option I have for keeping my possessions is to carry them!
I carry my radio to meals, but I cannot fit my headphones in my pocket, so they stay in my locker. I am not sure if I will risk typing again.
Anyhow, the last few weeks here are going to be a drag. But on the other hand, it confirms that one really does need to cast the bright light of truth on the operations of prisons!
I am sorry that there are good people in here (both inmates and staff), but the system promotes "bad" behavior. True, I have a vested self-interest, but that does not negate the experience.
I am going to go find some candy and a soda or two for the rest of the evening.
Now it is 8:26 PM and Pipe Dreams is on. I thought I would see what random thoughts I have to write.
I am really getting pissed at the obvious stress building up, as my "release" date gets closer. I have still not mailed my stuff out yet. If I wait too much longer it could all end up trashed, but I know that and still I wait.
Well, the books that you have sent are all read, and I have found second and third generation readers for most of them. I thank you and they do too. Boy, they will miss me when I am gone.
Well, let me mail this before it is totally unreadable.
P.S. Prince Igor by Alexander Borodin is the NPR Saturday afternoon opera.
Dress Down Days. Union Fund Raising. A new idea.
The official uniform for the correctional officers in Club Fed is grey pants and a white shirt. If you wear a long sleeve shirt, you are supposed to wear a tie. Wear a short sleeve shirt and you can forgo the tie. Medical staff, Education staff, Psychology staff, and a few other areas do not have a specific uniform, but are not supposed to wear jeans or T-shirts.
Well, at least twice a year, the union sponsors dress-down days. If you are not going to be facing the public, meaning working in visitation or manning (or perhaps woman-ing) the front lobby, you can wear jeans and a T-shirt, provided you buy a dress-down ticket for around $3.50.
So if dress down day comes around and you see a whole bunch of staff in jeans, T-shirts, and sneakers, the ones still dressed up are either cheapskates are or going to face the public. As long as you are inside the fence, well, then we can change the rules. The money is used to pay for the annual Christmas party.
One of the jobs that are available to any staff member is shaking down the inmates as they come out from the chow hall. You are only allowed to remove one piece of fruit from the chow hall, so anything else that is found on your person is confiscated, and could cause you to get sent to the SHU (Special Housing Unit).
What, you might ask, does one try to remove from the chow hall? Anything that is not nailed down. And even the nailed down stuff if they can get the nails loose. Think of a five-pound bag of chop meat or extra donuts from the morning meal. Like I said, everything and anything.
A lot of carryout is done to make up for lack of selection in the commissary. (I started typing this on Saturday. We had an early Recall that ended my work afternoon at 1:30 PM instead of 3:00 PM. Tonight we had a "disturbance" in one of the units just as the doors were being opened following the 4:00 PM count. It is 5:45 PM instead of 5:00 PM. Such is the luck of me trying to get a good, solid time block to type. As I mentioned previously, this is what is known as being BOP
So the other possible fundraising idea is to allow the staff here to purchase a "day pass" to work the chow hall at Alderson. Yes, those of you who having been keeping track of the second most important federal inmate, Ms. Stewart, know that she is now residing at what the locals call Club Cupcake.
So for a price to be determined by the powers that be, whoever that may be, a Beckley Staff member would be sent to Alderson and get the chance to shake down Ms. Stewart as she leaves the chow hall, being sure she is not packing any ingredients to show her fellow inmates how to cater a party for twenty with only a microwave oven and 20 oz. Rubbermaid bowls.
Perhaps they could even have a bumper sticker and matching T-shirt, "I patted down Martha Stewart."
So there you have it, another way to raise the funds to help the staff here at Club Fed party on.
A happy staff is a good thing to have.
Am I being paranoid?
I finally got out to walk tonight, the first chance in a while I have had to walk/talk with my friend Mike. We are not in the same unit, so the only time I see him is on the nightly walks.
So I got to vent to him about the recent "cleaning" of my locker. Just to give you an idea, I lost a $20 calculator, $17 in stamps, over $10 in tuna and mackerel, $10 of condiments, a new $5 box of Tide (which would have lasted for the rest of my stay), and $6 for a new lock.
The next time I go to the store, I will be doing minimal shopping and will go more "rustic" in my eating. No spices or extras, just what I need to make it to my next store day, and hope that I do not get locked down.
I am not sure, but perhaps the break-in was possible retaliation for the blog? Am I being paranoid? Well, the staff was sort of "cool" to my loss. I am still not sure of cause and effects, just one of those things.
How come there is so little news about what goes on in prisons? And look what happens to the little bit of stuff I write. They wanted to throw me in the kitchen!
Mike got his "date" that he will be leaving and heading to his Halfway House. He has got his plans all laid out. I told him how happy I was for him and that how bummed I was not being able to plot my immediate future. But I do have hope, at least until the court rules, that perhaps I will be free soon.
In the meantime I have got to reorient myself to the "alone" model. My time will be spent reading and writing. So your mailbox will probably begin to get "stuffed" more frequently. Hopefully the writing will be the witty, interesting, and insightful ramblings you have come to expect.
Another "What Happened To This Story?"
I have the article, but unfortunately it does not show the date. Oops. It is from a column by Juan Gonzalez in the New York Daily News. The title is "Clear the air from 9/11
." It mentions how the EPA misled NYC on the air quality following the terrorist attack and the subsequent collapse of the World Trade Center.
Specifically, the article mentions that the Inspector General of the EPA revealed that White House officials rewrote EPA news releases to minimize health dangers. The question is: is this true? If so, why do these things appear only as a flash in the pan instead of being followed up on and remedies obtained.
Hey, Martha is doing five months for lying to the government and Bush accused Kerry of being a flip-flopper; what about rewriting the truth?
Was any of this in the 9/11 commission report? I do think Kerry would have made a better president, but I am all for going over the records by the Press, not the Madison Avenue advertising guys.
So what is the story and where is it now? In other words, was there a bending of the truth, were corrections made, and what safeguards were put in place to prevent a reoccurrence?
Money down the drain.
The Rec department purchased three sets of brand new "Magnetic Breakaway Superbases." Some assembly is required. It turns out you assemble the first base without the breakaway option even though they ship it with the parts to make all three "breakaway." The second and third bases are then assembled by attaching the proper shear plate. Your choices are: 6x4" - 200 lbs applied force, 4" square - 120 lbs. of applied force, 4x2" rectangular plate - 90 lbs. applied force.
The thing that really caught my eye was the warning that is printed on all three of the pages of the assembly instructions:
"WARNING: Be advised that sliding into a baseball or softball base represents a clear and present danger. Injury may occur. All players should be informed of the risks inherent in this sports activity."
Hmm, Tom Clancy now writes product warning labels?
This is just another example of buying overkill. You are not supposed to leave the bases connected to the magnetic base when not in use.
They sat out there all season.
The inability to get the in-ground fixture plug to be properly positioned on second and third base on the two ball fields left both bases not "connected" to the magnet. Anyhow, more money down the drain.
But as have I previously mentioned, the Rec equipment is not taxpayer funded. It is funded with the profits from the phone system and the commissary, so it's our money down the drain.
Too Good To Be True?
I came across an ad for Zoysia grass that sounds too good to be true. I wonder if anyone out there has tried the stuff.
The reason I ask is that you can order 50 plugs of this wonder grass for only $5.95 + $3.50 shipping. The ad claims the stuff needs very little water, fights weeds, and once you plant some, you can get your own plugs.
So while sometimes you need to spend a fortune to see if something really works as promised, this stuff sounds like it would be worth a small investment on a test basis. The web site is http://www.zoysiafarms.com/
This inquiring mind is doing some non scientific market research. Does anybody out there actually use this stuff, and if not, is anyone willing to give it a try and respond back.
This is just an example of what I do with my spare time. Since I have no Web to scan, I scan the newspapers that a lot of the inmates receive.
Well, it is 8:07 PM and we are still locked in the cells. Some fog rolled in around 2:30 PM and they started sending everyone back early. So by 3:00 PM we were locked in, and they counted us at 3:30 PM to 4:15 PM, and again at 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM so far.
The fog is still here, but I am not sure if that is the real reason for the lock-in. Certainly the extra counts are strange. They gave us a "dinner tray." Two packs of those six-cracker snack packs. One peanut butter, one sour cream and chives. One strange dessert thing. Chocolate with Rice Krispies with some chewy stuff inside. I ate all that and still no unlocked doors.
I am starving. I hit the 7-Eleven buffalo chicken with cheese sandwich. It is still frozen! But I am hungry, so I have taken three bites so far. Actually the roof of my mouth has freezer burns. There will be a whole bunch of complaints for giving us frozen food.
The real two bitches are my empty locker, no foods to be able to nourish myself, and I sort of have the shits. I am still hoping to get let out or it could be a long night. And then if we get fog in the morning, well, talk about going out with a bang!
So I ate breakfast and lunch in the chow hall and I hate the apparently empty calories. Yeah, I know, I am in prison.
I'm not sure if the mail was distributed yet. The CO has to slide it under the door, so maybe she was hoping to wait. Hold it, 8:26 PM and one letter just slid under the door. Rats, it is for my cellie! So I will have to finish this letter up, stamp it, and stick it out the door for the CO to pick up. This is going to be a long night.
Luckily, they did agree to sell me stamps since they were also stolen! So let me see what to write about.
I just took another bite of sandwich. It is still not room temperature, but not frozen. Now the sandwich is gone. Let us hope my stomach holds up till morning!
Where Did That Come From?
I have to admit to being spoiled. Yes, thanks to the hard work of the Editor, I did not really have to worry about generating enough words to fill the blog on a daily basis.
Well, he has used up most of the backlog of letters, and now is waiting for me to send him more of my witty, charming prose to post. I admit to not functioning well under pressure, and I apologize to one and all if there has not been something new on the blog each day.
Hopefully my currently up mood and desire to maintain the momentum we have generated will alleviate the problem.
I just found a postcard in a book I was reading advertising a sale at the Runner's Roost in Darien, CT. The sale was being held from 12/2 - 12/11/1994. Ten years ago. I wonder if the store is even still in business?
I know it is getting a little thin. Hey, it is 8:00 PM and I have been typing without a break since I started at 5:45 PM. Not even a potty break. I have not lifted my hindquarters off the chair. Not bad for someone that thinks he has ADD!
While reading James Patterson's book Cat & Mouse: the doctor in the story was also a rancher to make ends meet. His family tradition was that doctors should not get rich on other peoples misery. What a concept! It sounds like this would be a giant leap towards solving our health care problems.
Also quoted was Einstein's theory of insanity, or should we just label it a definition? Keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.
It reminds me of a Dilbert cartoon which talks about attempting to duplicate a marketing approach that would work like the prison system. Look at their repeat customer rate. Yeah, the inmates say, this time they are not going to catch me, right?
Four More Years.
Well, it's four more years. I thought that presidential elections were Federal holidays, but it seemed like a regular day around here. I thought there would be no mail pickup, but there was.
And tonight the financial report showed how the "war" stocks all closed up. Also the pharmacy stocks were up based on the belief that Bush will not allow the import of cheaper drugs. Time will tell if things get any better.
Fox News was gloating with Tom DeLay about the redistricting in Texas; five more representative seats in the House. There is a DA in Texas that is indicting some of the fundraisers included in that campaign! Mind you, I know the Democrats are not all lily white either.
It is Wednesday evening here, and I discovered that my nice, heavy sweatshirt is also missing! So I lost over $100 worth of stuff that I could have "converted" to commissary over the last few weeks so as to end up with some traveling money when I leave here at the end of the month!
My counselor is out till Thursday, so it will be another week gone as far as sending out my stuff. I have to send it soon or else!
I finished another book, one of the last five you sent that was "modern day" and USA-Recommended. That certainly lets one know it will not be too challenging. But it was an easy and comforting read.
I am sorry my handwriting is so sloppy. I think it is just the stress building up. I am going to try and type Saturday morning from 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM. My cellie usually sleeps in, so I will not lose what little I have left!
I will be diving back into a book now and disappearing for the night. I would like to send some comments to Annabel
, whose 125 page blog you just sent to me. Let us see if I can get up early Saturday.
P.S. Sorry your bookstore had so much trouble sending out the last batch of books. I am dreading getting my stuff sent out. The mailroom can be bastards when it comes to using book rate!
Signing my "release" papers.
Well, it is 9:00 PM, and I just got done listening to two great hours of radio. Fresh Air had an interview with George Carlin. He has a new book titled When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops
George Carlin made a comment about his "list" of bad words and phrases, which he made into a pamphlet and T-shirt. He was saying how a lot of the words came from prisoners. They seem to have a lot of time on their hands.
I had to sign a couple of papers today dealing with my upcoming release, or should I say transfer. According to the Case Manager, I will not be moved early. At some point I could end up at the Regional Jail awaiting pickup by New York State.
I was told I would be held in the County Jail till I got picked up, but they would not keep me too long if they were not getting paid for me! Nice system!
I also got a real bad feeling that I might have made an assumption that is incorrect. One form I signed today shows the name "NY State Department of Corrections" as having the hold on me. I might just end up going straight into the NY State system. That sucks!
So I was sort of feeling down, and along came mail call and I got your Tuesday letter and five more books. As I was sitting here in my room, two inmates came looking for books. They each got three books!
I need to send you a list of all of my magazine subscriptions so that I can eventually reestablish my connections.
I did have my counselor call the commissary to see if I could get special permission to shop before Friday this week. I was told that I could buy a lock and a bar of soap now, and the rest on my shopping day on Friday.
Bummer, now a two-hour special on NPR, a political show about the young lives of Kerry and Bush. I think I will dive into a book. I might write a little more later.
The previous few posts were all typed on Saturday and from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM tonight (Monday).
I came back from typing to find all my worldly possessions spread all over my bunk.
I thought I had pissed off the CO. No, I was robbed!
They got $30 in stamps, a $25 calculator, $10 worth of batteries; my $5.00 box of Tide; all of my soda (three six-packs), popcorn, rice, and oatmeal, all of it!
They even took the remains of my used soap and shampoo!
Luckily I was carrying my headphones and radio with me or they would be gone too and I would be really pissed!
So now I even need to borrow some soap just to shower!
The contents of my locker.
I thought that I would list the contents of my locker (i.e. all my worldly possessions) as I prepare to move on from this wonderful location.
Since I am still in limbo, I will not be able to take much of my worldly possessions with me. I have to decide what I want to spend postage on to send home, what to donate, and what to "sell" to other inmates.
It is against policy to give, trade, or sell anything of value to another inmate, but I know that if I "give" my stuff away to an inmate, like my radio and headphones, he will turn around and sell them when it is convenient to do so.
So while the books are either going be donated to the inmate library or sent home to form the basis of my personal library once I am released, some of my other assets will hopefully allow me to leave Club Fed with a few dollars to use once I get to my next location.
So maybe I have a few books over the ten-book limit. There have been numerous comments about my reading habits. The following is only those books that are currently in my possession. There are many more books that are making the rounds of other readers, in a storage closet, or have already been donated or sent home.
My locker is a two-door model with three shelves on one side, and the other side open from top to bottom. The locker is 24" wide, 36" high, and 18" deep. There is a panel that divides it in half vertically.
So here is a list of the books that I currently have access to. Some have been read, some have been partially read, and some are still waiting their turn to be devoured.
o Nine editions of the New York Daily News from various dates in the last three weeks. Yes, I scanned them all yesterday and removed the crossword puzzles and several articles that I thought might be of interest to others.
o Dragon Lance Tales, Vol 3 - Love and War
o Leave it to Cleavage - Wendy Way (Yeah, I know it sounds like a bad porno movie, but the plot is based on a bra manufacturer. Honestly. Do you think Wendy Wax is her real name?)
o The Man Who Died Laughing - Davis Handler
o Jerusalem Inn - Martha Grimes
o Destiny Unleashed - Sherry Woods (A USA Today best selling author, whatever that means?)
o Kissing the Bride - Sara Bennett
o Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman - Richard P. Feynman
o In Your Arms Again - Kathryn Smith
o Interview with the Vampire - Anne Rice
o Giving Birth to Thunder, Sleeping with his Daughter - Barry Holsten Lopez
o My Life in Court - Louis Nizer (1963)
o Never Kill a Client, a Mike Shayne Mystery - Brett Halliday (1963)
o Holy Bible NIV
o The Harper Collins Study Bible New RSV
o Webster's New World Crossword Puzzle Dictionary 2nd edition
o Webster's Crossword Puzzle Dictionary
o Roget's II The new Thesaurus (2003)
o Random House Monster Crossword Puzzle Omnibus Vol. 1 (1,000 Puzzles)
o MCM (an In One company) Catalog #49 (http://www.mcminone.com/) electronics/audio/video
o North Carolina DMV Driver's Handbook
o Slightly Sinful - Mary Balogh
o Hodge's Hardbrace Handbook Rev. 13th edition
o Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - John LeCarre
o The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Logic Puzzles - Norman D. Wills
o Murder, Mayhem & Mistletoe - Terrance Faherty et. al.
o The Pursuit of Marriage - Victoria Alexander (Not a how to/ it is a novel)
o Spiritually Correct Favorites - Chris Farry
o An Adventure in Prayer - Ben Johnson
o The New York Times Crossword Answer Book (list 2 - 7 letter words using 2 letters as a key)
o If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I doing in the Pits? - Erma Bombeck
o The Dogs of War - Frederick Forsyth
o 500 Great Irish Jokes - Jay Allen
o The Anastasia Syndrome & other Stories - Mary Higgins Clark
o Shadowlands - Richard Attenborough
o The Old Contemptibles - Martha Grimes
o Thunderbird - Susan Slater
o The New York Times Toughest Crossword Puzzles Vol. 7 (Yeah they are tough!)
o Don't Sweat the Small Stuff Workbook - Richard Carlson, Ph.D.
o The Edict - Max Ehrlich
o Thinking with Your Soul - Richard Wolman, Ph.D.
o The Purpose Driven Life - Rick Warren
o The Following Ian Fleming James Bond Titles: Moonraker, Live and Let Die, Casino Royale, You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me, Thunderball, For Your Eyes Only, Goldfinger, Doctor No, From Russia with Love, Diamonds Are Forever
Well, there you have it. I guess it is more than a little over the ten-book limit!
Actually I forgot to list the books waiting to be sent out which are sitting in a box under my locker.
Ready to do some typing.
Well, I brought the typewriter ribbon yesterday, Friday, for $6.25. Wow, that is almost three 6-packs of Diet Coke! Okay, like all the money and time you spent getting my handwritten ramblings typed is not a HUGE expense.
I recently found a copy of the Bottom Line Personal, a monthly newsletter that was lying around in the Day Area in my unit. The amazing part is that the issue is dated May 1, 1998. Not only is it way past the authorized three months we are allowed to keep publications of this kind (three weeks for newspapers), it was mailed to an inmate while he was at an institution in Memphis, Tenn. I guess it is like finding a message in a bottle at the seashore. It included this great stock tip, American Bank of Connecticut. It was selling for $58 1/2; I wonder what it is at now.
So here I am ready to spend the next four hours typing, and today the good old MRI truck is in the back area. So we will have an early recall, and that shoots the four-hour time block. And tomorrow good old Education is closed.
But enough excuses, let the blog writing commence.
Oh, regarding the comment about the link to Publicola
. Gun ownership? Yeah, that one surprised me too. Turns out that is one of the blogs that my friend the Editor reads. I am subject to plenty of ridicule from both staff and inmates, since I have never even fired a gun. As a convicted felon, I am barred for life from ever touching any type of firearm.
But I appreciate your comments questioning why certain sites are listed and linked.
Handling my needs.
As far as day-to-day prison life, I can say that while I do not have a diary or a photographic memory, I do have enough privacy to "handle" my needs here at Club Fed.
As I think I have told you, some highlights would be the once a week "late night" times when my current cellie goes to the TV room. This is prime time since it is quiet, no one is going to peek in the door or window, and it is two hours alone! Like yeah, I could really keep myself busy for two hours!
A quickie "release" can usually occur in the 3' x 6' semi-private shower stall. The drawback is the lack of quiet, since the doors are one-foot off the floor and one-foot from the ceiling. Luckily, they are off to the side, so you cannot look down into them from the top tier.
So while there is plenty of yelling outside the shower, once you can zone it all out, I have noted that lately, with the combination of the mind and the physical both being on the spot together, release is possible.
God, you think that life, as you know it is over. But other times, think alone in the bunk with a somewhat erotic book, and Houston, we have ignition!
So I am simply more aware of how distracting the environment can be. I do remember going over forty days without "doing" anything back in the beginning of my journey in the North Carolina county jails! I think that was the longest I have gone since first finding the pleasure of self-stimulation back in my teen years!
I do find that now I am certainly more excited by words than by pictures. So the fact is, there is NO case (for me anyhow) of getting started by physical attention; no female touch to get the engine started. I have been totally responsible for my own pleasure! I have stayed away from any "fantasy" involving the female staff members. I'm not sure exactly what the reason is, except to not engage in thought processes that will never happen. Most of my fantasies involve past events or future events, without a "known" person involved.
I am getting really bummed out just writing this, and am afraid I have not even said all that much.
Sorry, let me get this in the mail, console myself with some pepperoni and cheese wraps, and figure out what I need to buy from the store tomorrow.
Thinking about packing up.
It is Thursday, 8:15 PM, and I have Country music on. NPR is doing a fund drive, plus Thursday evening is Infinite Mind, and it is tough to write to talk shows. Of course the sad Country songs might just put me over the edge! I may be able to borrow the type wheel and will buy ribbon ($6) tomorrow and do some typing on Saturday.
No, I have still not done any packing yet! I will start listing my locker contents, how I got it, and what its disposition will be. Amazing how I arrived here over six years ago with only myself, and I now have boxes! Well, most of it is due to the generosity of Mom and Dad, and a certain shopper of thrift stores! So that should make for an interesting post.
I know the clock is ticking, but reading is still the best time spender for now, so as a result, the flow of letters to you slowed to a trickle! But I am ripping through those books! I am still walking each day, weather permitting, but we have had a few rainy days of late. The antibiotic worked wonders and I am now 100% again. I love it when the drugs work.
I saw the memo announcing the Christmas specials that the commissary will sell starting in November. I just checked, but there is no copy in the unit, but I will get the full list and type it for a blog post. I know two items were pizza sauce and Oreos! I'm not sure if it will be the little, six-cookie pack or a full, one-pound package. Hmm, I could take a full pack of Oreos to chow hall for breakfast, get mucho milk, and pig out!
God, there are too many commercials on radio, give me satellite radio! I am now listening to the Rock station, which picks up a syndicated show that stars Alice Cooper.
Country to Rock. Hmm, then at 9:00 PM, Classical Mind Warp. My cellie just came in from being out in the yard. It's 8:40 PM, and another hour till lock down.
So many calories, so little good for you.
Yes, there is a lot written in this blog about food. Perhaps that is because food is one of the few areas we can actually spend money on. And the other thing, as I have personally found out, is it is also an area one could actually improve one's physical, mental, and emotional states.
The physical aspect is proven by the weight loss and a decrease in the cholesterol level in my bloodstream. Without using any drugs, I lowered my overall cholesterol number from 206 to 187 in less than six months. That was mostly due to a change in diet and not much exercise. I have not had a test in the last year, and since my diet has continued and my exercise is up, I can only assume that my cholesterol is even better now.
While the commissary list is heavy on the non-nutritional junk food, I usually stay away from most of the junkier stuff. Okay, not all the way away.
I found it ironic that despite all the hate directed at McDonalds, their latest financial reports show a continued increase in profits. Not just increases in sales, but they have managed to continue to squeeze more profit out of the way-too-many dollars that we, okay, not me but the rest of you, silly weak-willed consumers hand over to Ronald on a way too frequent basis.
So I guess the outrage at the way mean old tricky Ronald has managed to empty your pockets and packed your waistlines and blood vessels has not really caused too much damage to good old McDonalds? Yeah, it is easy for me to sound so self-righteous seeing as the one area the fast food industry has not yet penetrated is the prison system.
Not enough disposable income? Well, that is not entirely true. We do occasionally get the overstock and post-dated discards from some of the fast food giants.
So I thought I would share a little lesson that I have learned about watching what you eat and saving those dreaded fat calories for when they would really count. I was thinking of a pint of Hagen-Dazs Chocolate Chocolate-Chip. Yeah, they did actually sell that here a few years back and I am glad they took if off the list. It was way too hazardous to my waistline.
So what with all te mackerel I may be feeding myself a little too much mercury (I will need to get that checked at some point) the average calorie/protein mix cannot be beat. You mix 3.25 oz. of pre-cooked long grain rice, 4.25 oz. of mackerel, a tablespoon of mustard and chili-garlic sauce, a dash of Mrs. Dash and dinner is served. So what do you have from a nutritional standpoint?
Product / Calories / Fat cal/grams / protein / carbs / cost
Rice / 350 / 12.5/2.5 / l0g / 79g / 50¢
Mackerel / 130 / 35/4 / 23g / 0g / $1.25
total = 480 / 47/6.5 / 33g / 79g / $1.75
For Comparison - Junk Food
Product / Calories / Fat cal/grams / protein / carbs / cost
M&M peanut candy / 250 / 120/13 / 5g / 30g / 50¢
1.74oz. jumbo Blueberry donut / 480 / 230/26 / 3g / 59g / 65¢
3.75 oz. Heavenly Trail Mix 10 Oz. $2.60. Contains: Peanuts (coated in "confection coating" dried pineapple, cranberries, almonds, coconut flakes.
I brought one bag at noon yesterday, mixed a bunch into my weekly pint of generic ice cream, and by 12:22 PM today (Saturday) it is all gone. The bag shows that there is supposed to be 9.5 servings per bag. So in just over 24 hours I have inhaled 9.5 times 140 calories = 1330, 80% of those calories are fat = 760.
Okay, all is not lost; the protein is 3g = 28.5 g. The point of the above is that I do not as a rule buy the trail mix. Is it good? Yes. Can I make it last a week? I guess not, and the bottom line is that it is not all that healthy. So just because it is "Fresh Start Natural Foods", it is not always so. True, it is the execution that is a problem. But even if the bag lasted a week, would it be any better for me?
The point I find with most junk food is that it does not take the place of the "meals." So even though I have inhaled the 1330 calories, I have not decreased the normal food I eat. So yes, in my humble opinion it is not just the number of calories you intake but where they come from.
Personally I find that if I do not get a bunch of protein, my brain seems to fire a little slower.
As I have mentioned in prior postings, eating in the chow hall on a regular basis provides for a diet rich in carbs and fat, but low in protein. So while the mackerel may not be the best thing for me in terms of possible mercury, in terms of cost and nutrition it is the best deal around for me.
There was mention on the radio recently that they have been studying the genetic link that exists in humans as far as the body's response to fat intake. That is that when the body is ingesting a high fat food source, it tells the brain that this is a good thing, so feed me more!
While it is not very scientific, I certainly find that my mackerel and rice meal is just the right amount of food and it leaves me satisfied. On occasion I have doubled up on the mackerel when I though I was extra hungry, and by the time I finish the bowl with only an extra 130 calories, I feel overly stuffed.
Yet eating more than one bag of M&M's (250 calories each) is no problem. So in my not so humble opinion, it is finding what types of messages your brain sends out as you eat various foods that is the key to keeping the body functioning at peak efficiency.
As I explain to people who laugh at me drinking a Diet Coke while eating a pint of ice cream, it is that I know I like sugar and fat, I just want to "save" them for the places in my diet where I can really enjoy them. Sugar-free chocolate? No thank you. Fat free cheese? Not. And let us not forget pepperoni!
So there you have it, the food world of a Federal inmate. Go out and enjoy some extra cheese pizza or a pint of Hagen-Dazs for me!
Why should I give it away?
It is 9:00 PM and I have mixed my dinner. I typed all the way through till Recall, and tonight that was 8:15 PM. I am going to send this off now, and then eat! I am hungry.
I need to get some more words to you, but I am having a real hard time pouring out emotional stuff. It is not that I do not want to, it is just easier to not deal at all with the real world.
I know that is unfair to you, and I will work to get a letter out to you over the next forty-eight hours, and some more typing too! I may be able to type some more on the electric. I will go halfway and draft out the stuff to type.
Did you get a letter from me asking about the website of Miranda
, the commenter about the "Beauty" series? By the time you get this, you will have met Annabel
. That should be interesting to say the least.
Thanks for the County Jail info. I currently have gray sweats, so I guess I will sell them here before I leave here. The white T-shirts are BOP
property. The commissary only sells gray ones. About the only thing I can buy here would be underwear, which you did not list, but I will assume I can have. The rest I will have to have delivered once I am there.
People have already started "bugging" me for certain things of mine: watch, radio, headphones, etc. None of this stuff will do me any good in the County jail, and I am not aware of what the property acquisition guidelines are for the Big House in New York.
So except for possible "sentimental" value, most of my stuff should be given away. The point is that I paid cash for all of it, and I could certainly use a few extra bucks to travel with to NY, so I will see if I can get some six-packs or mackerel for the last week or so, saving the actual cash in my account so I will have it when I travel.
The funny thing is that some people expect my stuff for free, but I know that given the chance, they will sell it.
So why should I give it away?
Try using a long carriage typewriter in a cubbyhole desk setup. Remind me that a diagonal line is the long side of the triangle! This only took twenty minutes to type. Good thing you are reading the cleaned up version! Manually operated typewriters without any erase function sure do make lots of mistakes. Now I know why they retired them in favor of computers - so one can make an arse of oneself so much faster and with more correctly spelled words!
Yes, I do read a lot, and devour "news" when I can get it. Currently, I am lucky to get copies of the New York Daily News, but I am the third or fourth inmate on the pass-around, so sometimes the news is two or three weeks old. For example, I was just reading about Rodney Dangerfield showing signs of improvement, oops, he is dead now.
I clip out the articles that I think others may find useful. I recently came across a review of a play that Mickey Rooney was doing with his latest wife. My Dad is a great old-time movie buff, and I thought the show might be of interest to him, so I sent the article to him. Two weeks later received a letter back, along with some of the pages from the playbill. Sometimes good old hardcopy printing is still the most efficient source for gathering information,
My INC magazine subscription mysteriously got interrupted and just started back up again. The November 2004 issue has several great stories in it. "It's Not Easy Being Green" talks about the struggles of running a green company and not becoming a mainline Fortune 500. Think of the Ben & Jerry's sellout. Also, in a monthly column, Norman Brodsky talks about the good side of company drug testing in his own company.
I also read Fortune, and keep looking for ways to pick up the crumbs or fill the cracks left over once the top corporations are done feeding on the masses.
I also receive PC magazine, Electronic Musician, and Weavings, A Journal of Christian Spiritual Life, published by Upper Room Ministries.
CFO Magazine is a "trade" publication directed towards financial types in the corporate world. They recently did a great article on "The Failed Pentagon Financial Reforms." The Department of Defense has over 3.4 million employees; number two on the list would be Wal-Mart with 1.5 million. In terms of budget and sales D.O.D. is $400 billion vs. Wal-Mart's $250 billion.
According to the article, "The D.O.D. has 4,000 systems, including 542 accounting and finance systems, 143 acquisition systems, over 210 planning and budgeting systems, over 665 human resources systems, and ironically, at least three systems to inventory all the other systems."
And let me not forget the Funny Times, a monthly tabloid format publication that summarizes all the humor that is fit to print. As far as I can tell, this is a true small business and is not owned by any of the big media outlets. Check them out at their web site.
Halloween Trick or Treat.
Well, it started out OK. The clock was set back, the sun was shining as we were called to breakfast, and the cinnamon buns were baked just about right. I had two cups of skim milk and then headed back to bed for my morning nap. Yeah, another lazy Sunday.
So we had the 10:00 AM Saturday, Sunday, and holiday standup count, and that seemed to go well. We were back out of our rooms by 11:00 AM. I puttered around for a bit and cooked some lunch, yes you guessed it, mackerel and rice.
I was thinking about watching The Exorcist at 12:30 PM on USA Network, but the one TV that was available was tuned to the FX Fear Factor marathon! So I went to my room, ate lunch, and did a few crossword puzzles. I double-checked at 12:40 PM to find that The Exorcist was on. So out I went to watch.
Cruising along, and then WHAM - the speaker blasts those dreaded words "Recreation Recall." This happened at 1:00 PM. The cause of this announcement earlier than 3:00 PM is usually the result of the children not playing nicely with each other in the sand box. So as the inmates came trickling back in, having been checked as they exited the Rec yard for any possible signs of being involved in the fracas, we were hoping that the rest of us would not suffer.
No such luck, and by 1:30 PM the CO blinks the lights and yells "LOCKDOWN!" So much for enjoying the movie. So they count us. This occurs at 2:00 PM and they have us stand up for it. Since it usually takes an hour to clear the count, well, let us say that it is now 3:40 PM and we are still locked in. True, we would have been locked in anyway at 3:15 PM, but now we will be counted again at 4:00 PM, the time of the usual daily standup count, and maybe we will get out at 5:00 PM.
They did announce a little bit ago that the outside Rec area would be closed for the rest of the day. So I guess that means we will be let out for the evening at around 5:00 PM. Stay tuned to see if we do get out!
Well, we did get out at 5:00 PM but outside Rec was closed as promised easier. So with nothing else to do, I wandered over to chow hall for dinner. That was a mistake. They called it Chicken Chow Mein. I will call it Not Worth The Energy.
So I am now listening to Pipe Dreams and as I hoped, they started off with Bach's Toccata and Fugue and are now playing music from Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera.
Yeah, I know that today is Halloween, and as noted, we already had the trick of the day, the afternoon lockdown, and dinner was no treat.
Just before coming in to listen to Pipe Dreams, 60 Minutes did the story about the lack of proper equipment and supplies for our troops in Iraq. See, I wrote about that earlier this week! 60 Minutes must be reading my mind.
Actually if my friend is able to link to the CFO Magazine article, you can see how shallow the 60 Minutes report was! The CFO article clearly shows the level of mismanagement and the sorry state of affairs the entire defense spending buys.
So why not name names and hold individuals responsible for their actions? We the people need to know where our tax dollars are going. OK, so you the taxpayer need to know, but I am still hoping to become a taxpayer soon! And besides my firsthand, all too intimate knowledge of the operation of this federally funded gated community, I am truly afraid to find what other evil lurks out there in the world of Federal spending! Where is the Shadow when we need him? I am not that old, but it is one of my Dad's favorite memories, as he keeps reminding me about the Good Old Days of radio!
So there you have it, another day at Club Fed. The last October day! Now starts the countdown to my exit, as tomorrow when I awake, it will be November 1!
I am not whining or trying to get one over on anyone.
Please understand that most of the early posts on this blog were taken from letters written by me to the Editor. They were written both as informational and as a way to vent some of the frustrations that I personally face here at Club Fed.
They are strictly my personal frustrations and I have learned that the act of putting them down on paper helps to clear my mind. I do not expect any specific change in my day-to-day existence as a result of this blog, and am gratified by all the positive comments I have received. I thank everybody who stops by once in a while to read my ramblings.
I am not sure if the following thoughts made it into a recent posting or not, but they bear repeating.
I realize that all the employees here at Club Fed have a job to do, and that I am certainly not privy to all that goes into doing their jobs. So certainly my ranting, ramblings, ravings etc., etc., are not only one-sided, but also are not based on the entire facts about any given situation.
Specifically, I would like to say that although I have certainly spent a lot of time relating my experiences with the Supervisor of Recreation (SV), the fact is that he did accept several of my ideas and suggestions and certainly gave me very valuable experience in learning how to deal with a job situation in which I might be in the future, with an equally (or dare I say worse) difficult supervisor.
The fact that I recently "retired" from my recreation clerk job, and am now a unit orderly with no specific job, and "someone" tried to have me assigned to the kitchen for my last sixty days or so at Club Fed has no direct bearing on the statements I have just made.
One might wonder how one can get any kind of care, health or otherwise, in a place where caring is not at the top of too many people's lists.
Well, as those of you who have read all of my blog postings know (and are bleary eyed to boot), some time last year we had that fire sprinkler "mishap." Well, just this week, they fired up the old hot air heating, and that was also the day I decided to see what it was like to spend the entire day in the Day Area watching commercials.
I say watching commercials, because that is what most of the daytime TV broadcast are made up of, a few minutes of a show and then off to a barrage of messages that all are geared to convince the viewer that his or her life is all #$%# up and they, the advertisers, each have the answer to the quest for the good life.
So here I sat, bored out of my mind, vegetating away. I must say I do not know how the thirty-plus inmates that do not have any assigned job can spend hour after hour just` sitting in front of the TV.
So the point of this rambling is that after spending all day breathing the polluted air, I managed to acquire an upper respiratory infection. After being sure it was not something my ever-vigilant immune system could dispense with on its own, I went to bed Thursday evening knowing that I had to be up bright and early Friday morning to go to sick call.
Sick call occurs Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 6:30 AM to 7:00 AM. That is provided there is no fog. Well, I am up before the Sun, and dressed and ready to go by 6:10 AM. The hitch is that you are not allowed to leave the unit till they call your unit for breakfast. They start at 6:00 AM and call each of the twelve units in order based on the previous weeks "cleanliness." This particular week we were seventh, which would mean we might not even be let out by 6:30 AM. Yes, the sick call does not start till 6:30 AM, but you need to get there early.
So as luck would have it this Friday morning, they were calling the units in a hurry, and by 6:15 AM they had already called our unit. This was a good omen. Well, I head directly to Medical, pass up chow, and find myself number two in line. This is really looking better.
They had made an announcement at 6:00 AM that today's sick call was for emergencies only. Even better, because to me, an asthmatic with a possible upper respiratory infection, coughing and having trouble breathing sounds like a pretty good description of an emergency. True, I was ambulatory, but so would everyone be else signing up for this sick call. Those not able to walk to medical, a heart failure, etc., would presumably merit a "house call."
So now all I had to do was wait till 6:30 AM and I would be granted an appointment card to see a PA (physician’s assistant). Yes, we do not usually get to see the one medical doctor we have on staff here. So it gets to be 6:35 AM and the RN (registered nurse) finally opens the door. The one person in front of me needed to see the dentist and was given one of the four or five dental passes given out each day.
My turn. I calmly explain to the nurse that I am asthmatic and I believe that I have an upper respiratory infection. Without any exam on her part, she says no, I am not going to see the PA today.
So I try proposal number two: I remind the nurse that I am assigned to the Chronic Care program and that I am asthmatic and having trouble breathing. The "chronic care" designation is applied by the BOP to any inmate that has a chronic health problem, and means that we get to see the PA at least once every three months for checkups. So one would think that this would move the RN (presumably a trained health care professional) to give me a coveted sick call pass.
She tells me she is not going to argue with me, and that if I expected to see the PA today, perhaps the Correction Officer in the housing unit could call and get me to see the PA. This of course makes perfect sense; since a correction officer has a much better idea of the level of sickness I am experiencing.
It is now about 7:00 AM and I drag myself back to the housing unit. The shift change occurs around 7:30 AM and then we have a census to be sure all the inmates are at their assigned job locations. So I patiently wait until the census is completed and then politely ask the CO to call Medical to see if they will accept me for sick call.
The CO was somewhat puzzled as to why he had to call when the nurse should have given me the pass in the first place. One should also understand that the veracity of any inmate's statements is always questioned, and I could have just been too lazy to get up early to go to sick call, and was trying to pull a fast one.
Well, my lucky streak continues and the CO does actually decide to call over to Medical. This is not a given, as many a CO would simply refuse to call over to Medical short of seeing blood gushing from some body part or the skin color matching the nice blue of the Crayola box. (What this means for those inmates with a dark skin color that are not spewing blood is left to the reader's imagination.)
So it is now around 8:15 AM, the earliest that I could get over to Medical without getting the aforementioned sick call pass. I get to Medical and find the waiting area packed with inmates, twenty-five or more. So I am truly puzzled as to how so many inmates could have gotten the passes when I did not. As far as I could tell, no one in the waiting area was spewing blood and most were sitting or standing up, and no one was passed out on the floor about to assume room temperature. Now comes the dilemma!
I had a 9:30 AM appointment scheduled for my tri-weekly psychology session that had already been postponed from Thursday. The reason for the missed Thursday was that at 9:00 AM they had called for a lock down census. This is when they literally lock all the doors in the institution that can be locked, and each work supervisor and housing unit CO makes sure that each and every inmate is really where he is supposed to be. These lock down censuses are called at random, usually one or two times a month. So even though we had the regular daily Monday to Friday census, this time they really meant it.
Since it takes at least an hour to clear a lock down census, I missed the appointment Thursday. So now I could sit in Medical for several hours and miss my Friday appointment also, or I could try and have my cake and eat it too.
I can see the comments now: I know I am in prison and what right do I have to eat any cake. Actually cake is a pretty big issue around here as some inmates make decisions as to whether or not to attend a meal strictly based on not only if cake is being served, but if it is the right kind of cake.
So meanwhile here I am, or is it there I was, standing at the sign in desk at Medical, having to make a decision about if I can take care of my physical and psychological well-being all on the same day. I decided to go for it!
I explain to the nurse that I have this 9:30 AM call out and I can wait in Medical for an hour (it is now around 8:30 AM) or go to Psych and see if I can get back sooner to Medical. She tells me to go ahead to Psychology and then come back. So off I go to Psychology (boy, I think I can finally spell psychology). I end up sitting around till 9:30 AM anyhow, and then spend a pleasant sixty minutes talking about my favorite subject, ME! (Kidding)
So I head back to Medical, and the waiting room is still crowded. I explain the situation to a third staff person, and this time get a positive comment that an upper respiratory infection with a side order of asthma is not a good thing.
He tells me to go ahead to lunch and come back at 12:30 PM and he would be sure to get me in to see the PA. So I go off to lunch and commissary (yeah, it was a busy day) and then head back to Medical at 12:30 PM. The good news is that by now the place is empty, and the PA sees me within ten minutes of my arrival. She gives me a fast exam and explains the bad news, that they do not have any cough suppressant/decongestant type medicines available. I knew this, and was only there to try and score some antibiotic.
The PA agrees that I could probably benefit from an antibiotic, and off I go back to the unit to return at 3:00 PM to pick up the wonder drug. The gods are really working on overtime now, because at 3:00 PM I arrive at Medical and my prescription is waiting.
So that is how I spent my Friday. It is now Monday evening. Having spent all of Saturday and most of Sunday resting in bed, and having by now received seventy-two hours of antibiotic, I am feeling better.
Thanks for asking.
There is something called "late night" available on Saturday, Sunday, and holiday eve nights. After they count us at 10:00 PM, either the top tier or bottom tier gets to go to one of the two TV rooms.
My cellie went last night and was out from 11:00 PM to 1:00 AM. At these times, the only one walking around is the CO, so it is two hours of single room status. Privacy!
Someone found one of the Penthouse Letters paperbacks, 300 pages of sex letters, some believable. So last night I had a date with Madame Palm and her five daughters!
The only other true privacy is in the showers. Although it is visually private, they are out in the Day Area, so noise makes for a distracting time. Across the road out of the Rec yard is the "sewage treatment pool", and I have sometimes thought about a short Sci-Fi story on cloning all the sperm that ends up there! Well, I do have lots of free time for my mind to wander. Think of the criminals you might get cross-cloning! Forget Ghostbusters not crossing the beams!
OK, back to more important stuff. Damn, it is 9:31 PM.
Could you send a short note to "CO Mom
" that I would love to email her and no, I do not hate individual CO's, I only question the system.
Well, 9:40 PM so off this goes. More to follow.
Reading the Bible.
Well, it is 8:00 PM and time for Selected Shorts on NPR. So I will lay back and listen for the next hour and then add some more thoughts and get this in the mail tonight. I'll be back in sixty minutes!
OK, 9:00 PM, the story is done, my cellie has taken a shit, classical music is on, and let us move on.
I went through two six-packs of Diet Coke by Sunday night, so now I have to ration the last two to last till noon Friday! I only bought four six-packs this week.
Damn, my cellie has the shits, so I am back out in the Day Area with all the noise, plus the transmitters in the TV's mess a little with the NPR signal. But hey, it is prison.
No fair, where is a sample of Miranda's blog
I watched Mrs. Doubtfire over the weekend just to really get my heartstrings yanked a bit. The first time I saw the movie in the theater I ran out with tears in my eyes!
By chance I picked up the Bible the other night. I had heard one of the pastors on the radio say that Billy Graham said he read one chapter of Proverbs each day. There are thirty-one chapters, so that gave him something to read each day every month.
So as I read the first six chapters, it continually mentions out of wedlock sex! Telling the man he must be strong, etc. Hey, that was written before color printing (Playboy), VCR/DVD (porn movies), and the internet, so SEX has always a hot-button issue. Then again, there was good old Bill and Monica!