Prison Pete

Sunday, April 10, 2005
  Dear Mom and Dad,
1:30 PM here and I am trying out my new desk for typing.

There are three tables along the one wall in here, but they are taken up by card and chess players. They are not quiet players. The dichotomy of playing chess and using four-letter words and the catch-all favorite prison phrase "motherfucker" is not conducive to serious writing.

I have managed to fashion a desk using the one storage box each of us inmates are allowed to have under our bed and the box the typewriter came in. I tried typing while sitting on the bed in various positions and that has proven to be harmful to my back. For now, this seems like a good solution. I have my radio tuned to the classical station, opened a can of Diet Coke, and off we go.

I got on the scale today and it says 214. I have not used this scale before so I am not sure how accurate it is. I will give it another month and then check again.

I had my tuna for lunch today and need to begin to eat it on a daily basis. As much as I pick and choose when in the chow hall, I am not getting the right combination of protein.

I have finished reading the NY Times up to Monday. I received the Sunday paper (since it is now 5:45 PM and I am making the corrections, I also received Monday's paper at mail call today). I seem to be getting the papers on a two-day delay, which is not all that bad, and is much better service than down at Beckley.

I have gone through the stack of clippings and am enclosing a bunch that I hope you will find enjoyable. I will summarize them at the end of this letter.

The cotton underwear has been a real treat to wear. Yes, my life is so low that even 100% cotton underwear is a step up. The state-issued stuff is now at the bottom of the pile, only to be worn only when I forget to turn my laundry in. The inmates do the laundry right here in the building. They do white wash Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday; the colored wash is done the other days.

The trick is to be sure you put the whites in on Tuesday or to be sure you have three sets to make it till Friday. You fill a net laundry bag at 7:00 AM and it is finished sometime before 10:00 PM.

For a slightly higher fee, about $8.00 a month, your laundry is done first and soap is used (not a sure bet for non-paying customers,) and it is returned folded directly to you before noon. This is another one of those "hustles"; those with a certain job are able to extract a little extra money from some inmates. There were inmates that also did laundry in the feds, but I always did it myself. It's probably in my genes; do you think, Mom?

I just changed the batteries in my radio, two double AA's; they lasted about two weeks. That is one of the things I am trying to figure out, if it is worth it to spend money on the combination cassette/radio units since you can then order the AC/DC converter and save on batteries. Since you can not bring the radio out to the yard, the only time you use it is when there is an electrical outlet handy.

I brought an extension cord this past Tuesday, and it is already handy since I am using it to reach from the wall outlet at the head of the bed, top bunk, to my "desk." There is a two-outlet box at the head of each bed. The extension cord is the typical lamp cord with three outlets at the end. You could end up needing all those outlets. As of now I only have the light and typewriter to plug in, but next commissary I hope to add the fan. It costs just under $10.00. The main use of the fan is to be able to move the "toxic gases" that escape from some of the less civilized inmates.

The classical music station, in addition to carrying Prairie Home Companion, also carries Pipe Dreams, the pipe organ music show. I caught the last half hour of Pipe Dreams on Sunday. This station broadcasts the show from 9:00 PM to 10:30 PM.

The ironic part of listening to the show Sunday was that when the host, Michael Barone, signed off, he usually highlights a station that carries the show; and the one he mentioned Sunday was the West Virginia Public Radio network, including Beckley. He did mention the other eight or nine cities that they broadcast from. I think a digital radio will pick up some additional stations.

I am not sure, but perhaps I could get some additional NPR programs if I could get the college radio station from SUNY Buffalo. As of now I am only getting about three stations. With symphony broadcast at least two nights a week, Pipe Dreams on Sundays, and Prairie Home on Saturday, I have many hours of good entertainment to listen to.

The only problem is that I have to be sitting on my bunk for the entire time. This has turned into a good time to read the paper. It is impossible to listen to Prairie Home and read at the same time. I relax and do some of the crossword puzzles then too.

There is a major difference between my interactions with staff here as compared to Beckley. With the exception of the thirty painful minutes with my alleged counselor, I have not spoken more than one or two sentences with any other staff. I can go for the whole day and not have to even talk to a staff member. I am not bored at all and have some great things to fill my time.

I can use the typewriter pretty much all day and typing directly into the memory is really quiet. I am typing this letter directly into the memory, and will then type a draft using the carbon paper. I could just send you what I typed, but I want to sharpen my proofreading and overall writing skills. I will not be editing this letter in terms of structure, but as the final copy and draft showed in my last letter, there are some changes that need to be made. Since I am typing directly into the memory I am liable to bounce around a bit.

We have been getting a bunch of snow, and they are saying we will probably get up to a foot or so. The yard has no pavement and apparently poor drainage; so that when this last batch of snow melts, we are going to have a real mud pit for several weeks. That is not all that bad since the next couple of weeks I am going to need to get my appeal to the US Appellate Court finished.

The good news is that my denial was issued before the Supreme Court ruling. Maybe, I have a slim chance of getting the Appellate Court to tell the County they have to hear my motion on the double punishment issue.

I think it is good that I am going to ask the Appellate Court to overrule the District Court based on the new law created by the Supreme Court, as opposed to having to argue that the District Court was wrong. It may be hair-splitting, but I will take any advantage I can get. Now if I can only figure out all the specifics that go into submitting the paperwork.

Well, it is now 3:25 PM and I am going to type out a draft of this letter.

It is now 6:15 PM and I am ready to start printing the final copy.

Okay, it is now 6:55 PM and I am typing this directly onto the final copy.

It takes a while to print a full page, but I guess it is better than having all the mistakes that were in the first draft. If this was the court document, I would have typed another draft to be sure I made all the changes and did not miss any errors or cause some new ones, but if I did that now, this letter would never get in the mail tonight.

I need to get my shower in now so that I am ready for the 8:00 concert on the radio. Tonight is the LA Symphony. I am not sure what the program is.

How are you making out with the plumbing problem/broken pipe? Did you figure out the cost on your electric bill?

Oops, the ribbon was stuck. Still getting stuck, this is not good. Maybe the machine is overheating a bit; I better give it a rest.
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