Prison Pete

Thursday, October 27, 2005
  Aluminum foiled again.
8:30 PM. Received your letter today. Yeah! I am going to start the draft writing now and then, just maybe, I can say all that I have to say.

Your letter was another one of those letters that really clicked. I am not sure if I am being clear but while all of your letters are appreciated, some really feed my soul an endless banquet of good vibrations. It may be just the time when I receive them? This one is five days late based on your latest post-vacation spurt of getting something in the mail so that I get it on Mondays. That does not mean you should continue to stretch the time between letter writing!

But I think it is more than that. Could it be based on me writing you a better letter? But then which comes first? My letter is better so you write a great letter, or your letter is great so I write better? Chicken or the egg, which comes first?

Hopefully by writing now as opposed to putting it off I can capture all the things I want to write. [It is now Sunday, 5:50 PM and I am starting to type. I did write up eleven pages Friday evening, but that was as far as I got.]

It is funny matching the letters to me and my letters to others. It is part of this isolation I feel that I still have failed to articulate. I have no other point of communication with the world at large except good old snail mail. Yes in the old days that was all there was, but now that I am limited, I do not think the rest of the world understands.

I am not complaining about my time in prison. In today's world with all the various types of communication at one's fingertips, the mail remains the lone method that does not allow for some type of rapid feedback.

This leaves me with two approaches in how I write. The first way is, I can write a really brief message about a subject, end up with one or two questions, and await a letter back with those answers to then tell me what direction I should go next.

I am currently taking this approach with my parents. I wrote out some really simple questions that I need answers for, to be able to choose the proper style/size boots. I had sent this out around the first of this month, I received back some answers on the twelfth of the month, needed to add another question based on the answers and sent it back out. Hopefully I might get those answers back by next Friday (10/21/05).

Then I still need to write a memo to the staff here to get a waiver to the rules that allow you to spend no more than $50.00 per pair of shoes. My wonderfully uniquely sized feet, 11 6E (yes that is EEEEEE wide) require special shoes and the one company that I have dealt with in the past, Hitchcock Shoes, sells the boots I need for $90.00 to $130.00.

The simple act of ordering shoes will take over thirty days. Ironically, I could have gotten a staff member at Club Fed to call the company directly, but there we were not allowed to order shoes from the outside. Here where I can order from the outside, there is no way the staff here would help you with getting answers!

The other method of communicating has me writing out several paragraphs (or even pages) and then find out I wrote something wrong in the beginning. With today's modern communication systems, one either is in a direct simultaneous link so that one party can actually interrupt the other person. If using email or talking to voice mail, you will leave a short message that the other person responds to, and a conversation can still take place. The latter may take at most a day or two to resolve, but certainly less than the month or more I am stuck with.

Another example of this time delay. I was lucky one day a couple weeks ago to receive the New York Times only one day delayed. I believe it was a Wednesday paper and it was here on Thursday. While I still have almost a month's worth of papers to read I was scanning this paper the day it came in and found an article that would really be helpful to a bunch of my fellow inmates. It was continued on to a second page and was not something that ends up neatly in an 8 1/2 x 11 size.

Unfortunately we do not have any access to a copier. I knew that my editor could access the electronic edition of the paper for up to seven days for free. After that there was a per article charge to reprint an article. I was very efficient and had four other inmates that wanted copies of the article give me stamped self addressed envelopes and put them together with one of my own and sent them off to my editor. It would get into the mail Friday, and with luck he would receive it Monday and be within the seven day window.

OOPS. That Monday was Columbus Day, no mail delivery. By the time he got home from work Tuesday, it was too late for the free access. I knew the rules; I did not expect him to pay the $3.95 charge to access the article. I did not delay or procrastinate, yet despite even my best efforts, "Aluminum foiled again."
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