Prison Pete

Thursday, March 31, 2005
  A Quiet Monday Night.
Hey, I forgot I had started this letter to you. Saturday night's movie, "Friday Night Lights", was not much better than a high school football flick with Billy Bob Thornton. "Remember the Titans" it was not. It was like watching a music video: a new scene or camera angle every ten seconds; no character development and a very shallow plot.

It is 5:25 PM count time now.

So I got your latest letter today. As you know, I got your other letter last week and I presume your next letter will show up tomorrow unless it is returned to you. I did send a note to the local postmaster to change my address, but I am not sure how successful that will be.

I am now sitting at one of three tables that us hundred or so inmates share. Either this or write on my knees while sitting on my bed.

Maybe this will be neater. Fuck the "!"; today is not a good day to deal with any weighty subjects.

Hopefully by now you have gotten my previous letters on TB. I am not now nor have I ever been contagious in terms of TB, nor would I have ever subjected you or anyone else to exposure to a contagious disease. The positive TB test simply says I was exposed to it, and unless my immune system is otherwise impacted (like from AIDS) I will not ever develop the disease, and the six months of drugs I took way back in 1998 further makes the development unlikely.

Neither you nor I are guaranteed anything more than the here and now. I think I have mentioned the recent country tune about live each day like you are dying. So while at some point in the future we might have that anchovy pizza, maybe a ski trip or two, or at best build a company that really does make a difference in the world, living for that day in not an option for me. By that I mean that if that is what I do here, in prison, I would certainly die emotionally and maybe even physically.

Damn, even the paper does not want to tear properly right now. As I sit here writing, two guys are busy miming the rap tunes on their Walkmans (yes, we can have tapes, but they must be factory sealed) and a third guy is sitting here rolling out cigarettes from a can of tobacco and rolling gapers.

This is not meant to be a guilt letter and as of these last few sentences I am going to crawl back into my bunk and read for the rest of the night. I just wanted to confirm the receipt of your letter and I will write more tomorrow.

Do not worry about sending any books just yet. I am only allowed twenty-five in total and I need to be sure the ten you sent me at Downstate are not counted. So I will let you know when to send more.
  Skin and Bones.
I may not be able to get any memory in the typewriter. But I can have carbon paper. So my thought is that while I will usually do a handwritten draft and use plenty of pencils to edit, when I prepare the final copy I will do the original and make one copy.

I can also have non-permanent markers and highlighters so that I could highlight and make corrections on the carbon copy. That would not be as good as memory, but should be better than this chicken scratch!

This letter is still being written at way too stressful a level.

I will not be able to purchase commissary till next week, and the food here is very low on protein. Tonight's baked chicken was so small that if I did not eat the skin, all I would have had was bones to chew.

My nose is still suffering from sinusitis and the doctor said if the antibiotics did not clear the problem I might need surgery! Not a very pleasing outlook.

We just had the 5:25 PM count.

OK, it is clear that I will be here for a while. I will enclose the Web sites for PC, CFO, and Inc. If you could change these magazine subscriptions, thank you. If not, say so and I will mail them out. I am short of stamps till next commissary anyhow.

Well, we have certainly covered the colonoscopy. Enough said!

Ah, skiing. To ski, perchance to float on the white stuff. I have stuck the ski map you sent in your last letter on the inside of my locker. I am glad your boot fix is working.

I am not sure what else I feel like doing now. I might catch some air in the courtyard, read a bit, and then write some general stuff.

OK, it is 7:25 PM and I just showered. I am going to lie down and read and probably call it a night.

More thrilling Prison Pete adventures to follow soon!
Yes, I know the sacrifices you have made for me and I think you know that I am very appreciative of all your support. Hissy fits are not always under the owner's control, but I have been duly chastised and let us move on.

The ironic thing is that many times my requests are already on the way to me and you still get hassled about them. Hence the attempt to keep better track of what I ask so I only ask once!

Yeah, I know I have been locked up for almost nine years; you would think I could handle it, but one last time, the Feds (specifically Dr. W, boy do I miss her) taught me all kinds of coping skills dealing with life's ups and downs. Then I get tossed in a black hole with no access to any of them save the US Mail and your address.

OK, I think your postcard said my missing letter turned up. If it is the one I am thinking of, it was my move to and initial processing at Downstate.

I do not know if you have gotten any return-to-sender envelopes lately, but the zip code is not even an issue. They key in the first three or four letters of the last name of the addressee and the first four letters of the street. This is why they have begun to renumber the rural route addresses. The zip code only comes into play if they want to send an envelope to a local post office to see if they know who it is. But that is not usually done.

Once I had switched two digits on a PO Box for one of the guys at Club Fed on a letter going to a small town in North Carolina. In the old system, the sorters would have looked at the zip code, tossed it into the proper bag, and delivered it to the proper post office. At the local post office, an employee would hove seen the name and tossed it in the correct box, no problem. Another example of how humans can handle mistakes better than machines, even if machines do the repetitive tasks more efficiently.

Regarding Alisha's comments, this dual letter system should take care of part of it, and as soon as typewriter is picked, all others will be solved too.
  Mixed Up Mail.
I can see clearly now, the mail has come. I now see why portions of your letter did not make sense! I received it last Thursday, and in Friday's mail call I received two letters which were written earlier.

The two envelopes both had only the local bar code on them, so I am not sure why they arrived here after your more recent letter. Certainly your one should have reached me at Downstate by Friday or the Monday before I left, but who knows.

Obviously the delay of the Tuesday letter was unfortunate and would have done wonders for my sprit had I received it last week while still at Downstate, the fact that I did receive the books and postcard before I moved notwithstanding.

I had one pen from Downstate and it disappeared from this afternoon's New York Times reading session from 11:30 AM to 2:00 PM.

It is now 4:30 PM and dinner is done, so I have the rest of the night free. One count is coming up at 5:45 PM but that is it.

I am not sure if I will watch any TV tonight, but I should really work on my writing. I have a pile full of NY Times articles to deal with.

Speaking of the NY Times, I trust you saw the article on Lance Armstrong possibly trying to break the one hour distance record.

But OK, enough preamble - about your letter.

As previously noted, this letter surpassed unacceptable and traveled into WTF! They would have given me any mail on Monday even though I was packed out. I did not leave till Tuesday morning.

So why the letter did not arrive at Downstate till Tuesday is truly a puzzle. The fact that your more recent letter arrived here before this one is a further puzzle. The envelope did have double bar codes. OK, that is the receiving story!

Yes, I am terribly insecure and panic easily when I do not hear from you. The last few weeks have been extra stressful due to the lack of any support or comfort items available to me in the past. No therapist, no phone calls, Mom and Dad among the missing for several weeks, the denial of my appeal, and then silence from you.

OK, I know you are always there for me in spirit. I offer no defense and will try to be less whiny in the future. I guess that once I get some things settled here, my emotional state will improve. So enough about that.

Damn, as I write this I hear a typewriter click-clacking in the distance. Well, soon enough I too will have one!

I now have open access to phones. Unfortunately, it is only a collect-call system. I do not have your number on my list at this point. I think that the system charges an upfront fee of $3.50 or so, and then 23¢ per minute! Whether this would apply to your cell phone or not, I do not know. Obviously this system would prevent me from calling your work number.

Hang on - let me check with someone who might know about phones, i.e. a fellow inmate. Staff here is useless in terms of information of any importance.

OK, I checked with someone who regularly calls Long Island, NY, and he said it is about $7.80 for thirty minutes. That is the time limit for a phone call.

But I can place the call basically any time between 9:00 AM and 10:30 PM. There is a count each evening at 5:45 PM and 9:45 PM when being on the phone would be interrupted, but that is the story.
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
  Movie Night.
It is 7:30 PM Friday and it is movie night! They show videos Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights here. And they show R-rated movies too.

So my first chance to see an R-rated movie and it turns out to be some strange low-budget flick called "Evil Remains" (aka Tresspassing). It has a no-star cast, minimal plot, lousy dialog, and no naked female flesh.

I do not know if there is a web site for this movie, but I certainly can not think of anyone who would want to buy or even rent this video!

Well, let me see what else is happening here on a wild Friday night.
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
  Your Questions:
Hopefully you have gotten my thank you for sending the Supreme Court case (Hey I used two 37¢ stamps) and the books. I am fairly sure I have sending you "thank you's", if not the same day, then the next day after I receive them.

Maybe if I receive something in the Friday mail, my thank you does not get mailed till Monday morning and then you do not get it till Wednesday. But if you got the thank you's by now and I did not reply the same day, I am sorry. I hope I did not delay and it is the post office's fault. If not, I am truly sorry because I do understand all the effort you spend.

Also, I thought you would have known about my denial by the time you wrote your last letter, so maybe I am just way out of sync here. I do not know.

Regarding the letter from your "friends." Gee, I guess this is a prime example of the type of mass-mailing update letter that people rant about. But after reading all of their great travels, it does show how your words can have no relevance or warmth to some people you are sending them to. Yeah, specifically the part about their parties you were not invited to. I guess that shows how one should probably be more honest about one's address book, and not send some people the letter since it has no relevance to that relationship.

So you are using Firefox - is that one of the open source type browsers? I still remember all I could do with my good old DOS system and QPro4 data base. To have faster processors, more hard drive space, and ability to use great or RAM, I do not know why I need all the seven gazillion other programs out there. Yes, I did need some graphics software because I had to save copies of test certificates for reprinting when parts were built; but I was able to have that application on a Windows machine while the rest of the network was still all DOS text-based! Well, hopefully some time I will be able to put my code where my mouth is.

Yeah, my weight. I am clocking in at 214 and my cholesterol is way up 225 or so. So glad to hear of your weight loss; I am going to be there soon; not 160 to be sure, but maybe 180? I know I could be down to 200 in thirty days between daily walks and limiting my calorie intake!

TB - No misunderstanding. One of the gifts from my sixteen month stay in the County jail back in 1997-1998 was I was exposed to someone who had active tuberculosis! The result is my body now houses a ticking time bomb which can explode at a later date when my immune system might otherwise be compromised. Think poor nutrition, or worse, AIDS.

They have this drug you take for six months and it is supposed to further inhibit the TB bacteria from ever coming back. So now I am supposedly almost as healthy as someone that has a negative TB test, only I had to take six months of toxic, liver-assaulting drugs. That is where I am at. I have had yearly chest x-rays, but all they really do is confirm that my lungs are clear at that moment in time.
Monday, March 28, 2005
  Imminent arrival of my (soon to be purchased) typewriter!
I am awaiting the imminent arrival of my soon to be purchased typewriter. I am looking into a Smith Corona Wordsmith 250. It has a 29KB file memory with ninety day memory protection, a spell check with 50,000 words, and prints twelve characters per second. I can order a 15 pitch wheel for it, but first I need to check if it comes with it or if I need to order it. The catalog shows dual cassette ribbons for $8.75. I trust that means two per pack. Well, I am obviously still working on logistics.

I found an inmate here who already orders from Hamilton, so hopefully he will get the new catalog soon. My first purchase will be a dictionary and Thesaurus. Then we will be really cooking.

I know I have been spending more time writing day-to-day stuff of late, but I realize that I have really been on an emotional rollercoaster since November of last year. True, I am not sure why or if the minute details will be relevant in the future, but the few prison books I have read seem to either misstate the existence or gloss over it.

Also my thought is that as long as I have the basic facts, reconstructing the emotions and feelings of the experience will be possible. It could be that I have erred on the side of excessiveness, but with the lack of timely and constant feedback due to the medium of the message, i.e. U.S. mail, it is often after several weeks when I do get a letter back from you to find if I have adequately told the story, such as my response to your TB question.

I am glad you have saved the original copies of all my letters. I thought you had ditched them once you typed them. As long as we have files on CD and I get out while CD is still an available format, that sound good to me. Gee, what a wish; that I get out of prison while a particular media format is still relevant! Ha ha.

Burning my letters, albeit copies, hmm I wonder what that might excise. "Double, double toil and trouble..."

My "To Do" list was not meant to add any burden to you. You continually write in your letters about the need to check back and review my letters to see what questions you can answer. So I thought I would save you the agony of rereading my chicken scratch. Also I purposely labeled the one column "Go to Hell."

Sure, it seems to me that your ability or desire to do some of the things I asked was related much more to your time and availability and mood and not at all meshing with when I asked the request. So I thought that when you read my letters you get the full picture of why I am asking stuff and then down the road you can easily pick up a list and say hey, now I can do this or that.

Also, since I was keeping the list too you would no longer be barraged with multiple requests since in the past I have usually taken silence as "maybe he forgot" as opposed to he is too busy or is getting pissed at me again! So that was the idea of the list.

Now with typing more likely, it will hopefully take a large burden off you and place the responsibility on me for delivering finished and edited copy to you.

I was thinking about having Mom and Dad set up a "Prison Pete" Post Office Box if they are willing. Then if blog readers wanted to send letters to me, they could do that and save you printing and forwarding all that stuff. Also perhaps they might do some of the searching stuff too. Just a thought.
Sunday, March 27, 2005
  Discussing Hemorrhoids.
5:00 PM here and I returned from dinner to find a letter from you and you did not even send it. The promised five-day forwarding system works! I received your letter and last week's Wednesday and Thursday newspapers!

So I have just finished reading the letter from your "friends." That is literally what I just did; obviously I read your letter first, blog comments second, and then the letter. Oh, I checked the envelope and "ONE PHOTO ON LETTER" is marked on it. Great, there must be a limit on photos and this one in your friend's letter counts as one!

Looking at the envelope, I do see the postal bar code with my new zip, so it is actually forwarded by the U.S. Mail, not by the internal NY State prison system.

I am taking a break from my own letter to you to write a letter based purely on your letter to me. I am sort of puzzled by some of your questions on what I have received since I thought I mailed a bunch of stuff out by Friday morning and you should have gotten them by Saturday, but hopefully you got them Monday at the latest. As it is this letter will probably reach you by Monday or Tuesday. Argh!

Okay, before I get off track let me take on your letter. (My next door bunkmate is having a little tiff with another inmate and had his hot pot dumped out. I will hopefully keep mostly to cold food and bypass another "hassle point." Okay, enough preambles!)

I am glad your test with the pre-op prep from Hell gave you a clean bill of health. Congrats! The diverticulosis is now a constant problem, will get more sensitive, can go away, or what? You say you have to watch certain foods; does that mean never eat them, only in limited amounts, or it is okay to eat them sometimes and not other times?

I have had some bleeding myself of late and find it related to lack of exercise, poor diet, and stress affecting my ability to have nice, solid, regular bowel movements. I have lots of gas, thinking I have to shit but nothing comes out. I have had it two or three times in the past year, but as fast as it pops up it goes away.

Other than that, the one full blown hemorrhoid attack was back a year or so ago when I literally coughed myself into a hemorrhoid the size of my examining doctor's pinky (well that's how he described it) and after fixing the sinus congestion that was causing my cough and some Anusol, problem solved. I am not sure if the blood while trying to shit is a hemorrhoid problem, but due to it's bright red color I know it is not coming from too far up the "trail."

I did once have a case of food poisoning from eating raw clams. The only difference between your vivid description and what happened to me was the entire contents of my digestive system that did not choose to exit through my ass came up via reverse peristalsis. So you have my belated sympathy on your trials.

Yeah, I hope you did read my letter saying I figured you would not be in great shape to visit. Too bad it looks like it was a once in a lifetime chance (the visit, not the test)!
Saturday, March 26, 2005
We have three different places to find a toilet. There are two booths in the shower room, but I think I will avoid that area except when I need a shower. There are two others out the door and down the hall a bit. They are opened 24/7 but the shower room ones are closed from 11:00 PM to 6:30 AM.

As far I know we only get one roll of toilet paper per week; we get a new roll each Wednesday. I have to learn to not use it for my runny nose. I have taken one of my extra washcloths and the "state" soap with me to wash the toilet seat, and then I use two or three squares of paper to dry the seat instead of covering the entire seat with toilet paper. So hopefully by doing this, my roll will last me a week.

I have now been told by two different inmates not to argue with our counselor. She is apparently a bitch on wheels and the last inmate to argue with her got a beating and was thrown in the "box".

I have a whole pile of articles to start writing on and hopefully within the next few days as things settle into a routine I can start some more serious writing.

I certainly will deal with the questions Alisha raised. In the meantime, tell her for me she did not cross the line at all and that I appreciate honest criticism.

I would say that part of the lack of more input has been the lack of the typewriter and my inability to edit stuff a bit before I send it. The day-to-day stuff flows easily and needs no editing as to order or content.

So yes please stand by readers, I promise to take this blog to the next level soon. As a matter of fact, let me try and track down the typewriter guy now! Be right back!

I am still waiting for the typewriter guy. He is supposed to be in library, but took some time to make a phone call.

It is currently 8:40 PM and I have been basically writing since 5:00 PM. Gee, it is great to have no real life!

Damn, he is still not back in the library at 9:00 PM. Time to pause.

Now 9:20 PM and I am fading fast. I am not sure if it is general tiredness, a possible lack of protein, or just lack of food in general, but whatever it is, this is not prime writing. I am going to sign off now, climb up into bed and wait for the 9:45 PM count and then take a hot shower.

Yeah, a shower two days in a row! What a gift! One must learn to celebrate the little things!
Friday, March 25, 2005
  My Stamp Collection.
Since we are allowed to put stuff on the inside of our locker doors, I have decided to build a collage of cancelled postage stamps. Since I can no longer share them with my Mexican friends from Club Fed, I will use them. I can even buy scotch tape at this commissary. So do keep using the varied stamps and know they will be going toward my cubicle-less cube decorating. Some have family pictures, some have porno; me, I will have postage stamps. Just more proof of my individuality!

I will work on seeking more specific information over the weekend so my next letter to you should have even more details. Someone told me sixteen laps around the perimeter of our Rec yard is one mile. A little smaller than Club Fed to be sure!

I have to reread what I have written so far on these seven pages to see if I included all the good stuff so far.

Okay, I might have tried to share the following last night, but let me try again. Our shower area has four shower stalls and one shower room with six shower heads. It is referred to as the car wash.

Well as I take my shower in stall three (of four), the car wash, which is shielded by a shower curtain across the two-and-a-half foot opening, contains an unknown number of Spanish-speaking guys doing who knows what. I am sure to be able to supply more thrilling shower stories to come.

Mind you the shower stalls are the smallest possible and one cannot even turn around without touching a curtain or a wall. They are a double stall though, i.e. there is a second area with another curtain right outside the shower so one can slip on some shorts in privacy. But as I came out of the shower there was a guy bare-ass naked standing in the area; I am not sure what he was doing, but I shuffled out ASAP!

Great, I just realized that one of the two tabs on my locker doors is not fastened to the door. It wiggles and even with the lock in place, the doors open enough for someone to stick their hand in under the bottom edge.

Good thing I have hidden my government-issued disposable razor on the back of the top shelf. If it turns up missing I am in deep shit. Even if I buy an electric razor I cannot give back their razor. It is just a trap waiting to happen.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
  Outdoor TV.
The snow is coming down now as I look out into the courtyard. The guy directly opposite the table I am sitting at, who has been here five years and gave me some insight into the place last night, is currently taking a nap. I am beginning to wonder just how much time I will be able to "politely" use the typewriter. Then again, I suppose I could just become a bad ass and say tough shit!

So I have found the library which has a pretty good selection of paperbacks, plus we can access the main prison library by written request. We have a courtyard where smoking is allowed that is open from 8:00 AM to 11:00 PM, except for count and meal times. They actually have one of the three TVs out in courtyard, and as I write this there are inmates bundled up watching it. It's kind of like a drive-in movie theatre for Eskimos!

We have two indoor TV rooms that I have not stepped foot in yet; one is dedicated to sports and the other, general viewing. We get to watch current video releases on Friday nights at 6:00 PM and another on Saturdays at 1:00 PM and 6:00 PM. They apparently get R-rated movies here, so maybe I will catch some of them.

George, my 60-year-old cellmate from the other night, is also here. To say he is driving me crazy and totally in the wrong frame of mind is an understatement! Time to take a break; I'll be back in a bit.

It is now 5:00 PM. I got two NY Times last week and your letter at mail call today. My ever-present shadow George stopped by as I was reading your letter and noticed the NY Times and asked for the second read and sort of complained about me ignoring him all day. God, I did an hour of walking. He lost his coat in transit so he could not go out anyhow. Then I spent most of the day reading and napping.

Now 7:00 PM and I just finished my response to your letter. Oops, I missed the 6:00 PM news hour with George in the TV room. I did give him both of my NY Times to read at 4:00 PM after his whining, telling him I had enough to write to keep me busy and he might as well read them while I was working on getting this letter out.

I hope that this letter does go out in Friday's mail. I tried calling your cell phone last night but I only had your name on the visiting list, not your phone number! So hopefully by now you have figured out that I moved. If not, you should by Saturday or Monday at the latest.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
  The Arduous Journey.
Okay, let us see; the trip was a real gas! As you know, I packed up all my possessions on Monday afternoon. At 5:00 AM Tuesday, I was escorted down to the "draft" area with two other inmates from PC.

After waiting around for a couple of hours, I was fitted with some great jewelry. They wrap a chain around your waist which is attached to a pair of handcuffs.

The new thing this time is they also use what is called a "black box." This cute device was supposedly designed by an inmate and is intended to fit over the chain of the handcuffs so that the two cuffs are "welded" together. This arrangement was only used by the feds as punishment for those who were on discipline transfers or had escapes on their record. In New York State, everyone gets to wear them.

Then you are fitted with an ankle chain which is either attached to both your ankles or one ankle of yours and one ankle of another inmate. In two days of travel, I had a different "chain pal" each day. Try walking up the two or three steps on a Greyhound-style bus single-file with another person tied to your ankle by an eighteen-inch chain. It's a neat trick.

We finally left around 8:00 AM and headed towards western New York State. This was the first inkling I had that I was screwed, since I knew that we would head north toward Oneida, or west to Buffalo. The day quickly turned into the makings of a bad country song, something along the lines of "Sitting in a bus trussed up like a turkey, driving further west so my buddy can't see me, Oh Yeah, doing the jail house shuffle."

So we travel along the highway and actually pass Magic Mountain and finally pull into Elmira Penitentiary. Somewhere around noon we eat lunch; we are inside the walls of the prison but still on the bus, still cuffed and shackled. Try eating a sandwich and drinking from one of those little imitation six-ounce barrel-shaped bug juice containers like that.

One or two prisoners got off and several more got on. Another bus was also parked there having come down from Auburn that morning. We stay on the bus but the staff switches. With a new crew, the rules change from being able to talk to your neighbor quietly, to no talking at all.

Our destination was Auburn Penitentiary, where we arrived at around 5:00 PM. We did make one stop a half-hour from Elmira to exchange some prisoners at South Park Penitentiary.

We pull into Auburn, and the cuffs and other jewelry are taken off. We actually enter the "big house." It is a massive building that has four tiers of at least fifty cells long, and looked just like something out of an old prison movie. They use the ground floor tier as a holding area and we are quickly paired off into two-man cells.

Each cell is about five feet by seven feet. The cells consist of a bunk bed and the ever-present sink and toilet combo unit. We are fed a tray of hot food. I ended up being celled with the same person I was chained to all day in the bus. (He is sitting with me at the table as I write this) and we actually kicked around some "What is wrong with America?" bullshit for a few hours.

The noise and general depressive nature of this accommodation is hard to explain. Well, despite any of my usual creature comforts: books, snacks, or even a couple of blankets, I finally fell asleep sometime before 11:00 PM even with all the screaming. I woke up sometime later to find us in complete darkness with one lone radio droning on in the distance.

Morning arrives and it is confirmed that we will be leaving shortly. Thank God! I heard that inmates have gotten stuck in this place for a week. So I get chained up to a different person and we now take off for what is now known as Wende Reception Center AKA Buffalo State Prison.

We arrived at Wende around noon. The trip from Auburn was all country roads and a good portion on Routes 20 and 5. Then when they split 20 some more. Why we did not take NYS Thruway, since we certainly crossed paths with it several times, I do not know.

Well by 1:00 PM we are moved onto a minibus that seats about eighteen and we make a very roundabout trip that finally drops us at here around 5:00 PM. Before we started the trip, the CO/bus driver said the trip would take about two hours. How those two hours turned into four is the magic of prison. We did happen to have two guys on the bus who know the area, and they were freaking out at all the bullshit turns and double backs the driver took.
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
  My New Home.
It is going to take a few weeks to become acclimated and to discover all the rules and regulations, real rules and unwritten rules, and what benefits I may have available here in my new home.

I want to take a few days to be sure I do not write anything that in some way may piss my new neighbors off. But I will be writing uncensored letters to you to be sure you will not miss any of the gory details of my new home.

So far I know we have none of the typical Federal prison resources here; there are no jobs, no vocational/technical (VOTECH) classes, no musical instruments, etc. The only programs are one pre-GED class and one GED class. That is it. Anything else, you are on your own.

So I might look into buying an electronic keyboard since that would be silent (i.e. I could play through headphones) but I have decided to make that a lower priority. Top priority is food, clothes, typewriter, and legal work.

I am eagerly pursuing the typewriter and radio deal. I will hopefully nail them down later today. Once that is taken care of I will then be able to type everything. I might send you some handwritten notes too, but we will see how that goes.

It looks like I will pretty much have the ability to type from 8:00 AM till 11:00 PM. Since I will be typing on my bunk or on tables near other bunks, I probably should not start typing till noon. That is just one of those little things I was talking about. We are packed in here like sardines, and I already got criticized for being in my locker this morning.

The bad news is that even when I get my radio and cassette player, I can only use it by my bed or at the tables I am writing on now.

I went out to walk from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM. Snow started falling and there were about five other inmates also out walking. The yard is pretty large compared to the one in my last place and I will be able to do a decent perimeter walk in an attempt to lower my cholesterol.

Okay let me try again to describe our dorm. As I wrote last night, we are in a gym or auditorium room with nice high ceilings, two-and-a-half to three stories high. There are fifty-five bunk bed and locker combinations. One set, lucky number 55, is actually set into the corner of the room and is certainly the most private.

The rest of the fifty-four bunks are all along free standing eight-foot high walls in the center of the room.

The two end rows are single, as the outside perimeter is reserved for tables on one end and doors to the bathroom, shower room, and universal weight room on the other. The weight room could really be a nice thing for a weakling like me once I figure out when there is a free slot.

The building is totally air conditioned and while it could always break down, I am told it keeps the sleeping area comfortable all year round. They only give you one thin blanket, but you can buy another one. I am going to need that.

Luckily, they found my Flonase nasal spray. It got separated from me during my transfer.

We have at least one "chick with dick" here that at first look I thought was a female staff person supervising the cooking room; boy, was I wrong!
Monday, March 21, 2005
  My newest hell hole.
So much to tell and so little time to tell. This letter is sloppier than normal because the fucking CO's screwed up the point on this pen when they "checked it" while packing me up.

It is 8:15 PM and I have been here in my newest hell hole for three hours or so. To say the physical living arrangements suck would be too mild! I will have no job or program here, so essentially I have all my time to myself. And we get only two meals on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays.

Oh, where am I? Somewhere near Buffalo, NY. It took two days to get here! We took country roads to get here and saw nothing but farmland.

We are in a totally separate compound within the prison. We even have our own double barbed wire fence. Our dorm has the look of a cheesy high school gym or auditorium complete with a fifteen foot deep stage area.

The CO's sit on the stage and you have to ask permission to step onstage to talk to them. The bed setup is rows of seven bunk beds set against eight foot high partitions in the center area.

OK, I have one sixty-two year old guy that I ended up sleeping in the same cell with last night, and he is a can or two short of a six-pack! I just spent a half hour talking with him before I started this paragraph.

Damn, let's try again. My locker appears to be four feet high by three feet wide and two feet deep, stacked two high between each bunk. So you have locker/bunk, locker/bunk, etc. The two end rows, 1-7 and 42-48, have the luxury of not facing the center section, which is where I am; the bunk I am in is 18 upper.

We do have doors on two toilet stalls, but the shower is four stalls with translucent curtains plus an open area with six showerheads apparently dubbed "the car wash."

We have a "chick with dick" here who wears bras and all. Or so I have been told.

I have found one typewriter for $134 with 29Kb of memory. I will be getting the info tomorrow on some specific models that are already in here. So once I get a typewriter, at least I can type my appeals. Typing will have to be done prior to 11:00 PM, but I can even get a clip-on light to read all night.

I need to go try and shower, since I have not had one since Sunday morning and I am still wearing the same clothes since Monday. Let me go bathe and see if I have time to write some more.

Let me just mail this and take tomorrow to give you the "Dear Diary" details. I am mailing a short letter to Mom and Dad tonight giving them my new address. Hell, more tomorrow.
Sunday, March 20, 2005
  Nowhere to hide.
So OK, now it is 8:00 PM, and I have no bright ideas to write about. I am going back to reading the book. I am glad they made it here Saturday.

There are actually tons of thoughts swirling around in my head. Moving always wakes up all the could-haves, should-haves, etc. It's probably the worst part of the move.

I look in the mirror with my incredibly short hair and run my hands through it.

It is tough to hide from the realities of my life, sitting with a chain around my waist with my hands cuffed and fastened to the chain.

So that is what I will be doing tomorrow for many hours.

Starting at 5:00 AM, I will be left alone with no diversion, nowhere to hide, just me and my thoughts of my actions that have brought me to this place.

Well, goodbye till I land on my feet.
Saturday, March 19, 2005
  All packed up and ready to go.
Well, I am back. They would not let me take any open food containers so I donated a full bottle of mustard and hot sauce, along with a half jar of peanut butter. Otherwise all my worldly possessions are now in one large white plastic web potato sack.

I do not know where I am going, but between the prison phone number, the DOCS Web site, and my next letter, you should find out fairly quickly. I forgot to write down my cousin Bill's phone number in Georgia, but hopefully it is listed.

The rulebook says packages are forwarded, but tonight the CO said that they are returned to sender! So please see if you can call and leave a message for my parents to not send food till they get my new address. If by chance you have already found my new address, then I would appreciate you passing that on.

Presumably I will be there by tomorrow evening. I have stamps, pen, and paper so you will get a letter ASAP. So hopefully this time you will know where I am.

Vinnie said he had a typewriter with at least two pages of memory, so this should really put the screws to me in terms of delivering premium, scan-able, well written letters. My plan is to handwrite out some personal stuff, but otherwise the typewriter should be eating up a lot of ribbons.

I packed up all but one of your books, i.e. nine books packed. I am halfway through the one and I hope to finish it tonight. But there is no point in being too wide awake to sit on a bus with handcuffs on.

I did not get any mail today. They said they will forward mail for five days. If you have the chance you could file a change of address at the post office from here to the new place. Just a suggestion, take it or leave it. I did seem to have the fullest bag of about twenty inmates all being transferred. Well, I am going to read for a bit and then will write some more.
Friday, March 18, 2005
  On the Draft.
Well, it looks like the system wins again! By the time you read this, I will no longer be here.

I got the word at 2:00 PM today that I am "on the draft." That means that sometime in the next couple of hours, they will be taking me downstairs to inventory all my property and then return me to my cell. Tomorrow morning at 5:00 AM, I will be awakened and taken downstairs to board a bus or a van for shipment to points unknown.

I will send you a letter as soon as I can. I might be able to make a "free call" but there is no point spending money on a collect call.

You could probably call the prison and maybe they will tell you where I am. Do not worry if you sent a letter, according to more experienced inmates, the forwarding system works great.

So for now, I need to see if I can take my open peanut butter, etc. and how to pack my medicines.

The inmate next door, Vinnie, is saying I cannot take anything that has been opened. While I do not have much peanut butter, mustard, or hot sauce, it would be nice to have some stuff before I am able to shop at commissary.

Obviously, it is in Vinnie's interest to tell me about no opened stuff, and asking the CO when he comes around at shift change could be awkward unless they let him out first since he is a porter.

I will leave out some peanut butter and a can of OJ to have when they wake me up in the morning. Well, let me start packing in case they call me sooner rather than later.
  Missed Opportunity to Visit.
Well, here is hoping that you found anything more exciting than visiting a prisoner. I am assuming that nothing went dreadfully wrong with your medical procedure yesterday.

Yesterday morning they switched my cell to one of the lower level cells. There is no happy medium; upstairs it is too hot, down here it is too cold. I am sitting on a nice cold piece of steel, wearing a sweatshirt over my shirt and T-shirt and feeling chilled.

I did not do any writing yesterday due to the cold and the hope of your impending visit.

I received your ten book package yesterday (Saturday). I am not sure if that means they received it Friday or Saturday, but either way it is certainly a fast and efficient system. THANK YOU! Between my NY Times and the ten books, I should be good to go for quite a while.

I spent part of the after dinner hour tearing out any articles of note from the NY Times that I want to comment on or send to people that might be interested. I am enclosing the hockey dad letters just to get them out of here. I have pretty much read all the papers through Wednesday.

I have now played Gin Rummy for two days with the pre-op transsexual. The Spades players gave me some good-natured kidding.

It is very weird to say the least. She/he is a "performer" in drag shows and she/he even gets hormone shots every two weeks here in prison! I just thought I should let you know how your tax dollars are being spent!

So another week starts here in state prison. I am hopefully moving back upstairs to warmer rooms.

I never did hear back from the federal parole people to find out why they filed the hold on me, but at this point, I am not going anywhere so it does not matter.

Well, enjoy the two articles, and I assume I will be getting a letter from you sometime.

P.S. The cell switch is due to painting, so if they do move me back tomorrow, my cell would have been drying for thirty-six to forty-eight hours.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
  The Worst Meal?
Dinner tonight has to be the worst meal they serve. It is allegedly a salmon patty, and although it has a pink color, or should I say salmon color, it smells worse than the Fulton Fish Market on a hot summer day even with my clogged nose!

I ate the mixed vegetables and drank the hot chocolate. I gave away the rubber bread pudding, but no one wanted the fish patty or the scalloped potato. You know a meal is bad when you cannot give away the entrée!

So now I am contemplating when and what I will eat. I have two cans of mackerel left, plenty of tuna, and the onions are holding up nicely.

I have my second pack of Cracker Barrel cheese that I have not opened yet. I was sort of waiting for my nose to clear so I could really enjoy the full flavor of the cheese, but I am not sure when that will be.

I think I will go ahead and eat the mackerel now, and then have some peanut butter with the white bread I salvaged from dinner later on if I get hungry. So that should help keep me busy and awake through 5:15 PM count.

More thrilling drivel of the lackluster adventures of Prison Pete to follow. But for your own personal safety, do not hold your breath or build up your expectations of anything truly exciting coming anytime soon. This is a warning from the FDA.
  Origins of Prison Pete.
From the Editor:

Happy St. Patrick's Day. I'm sure Pete is wearing green today just like he does every day.

Michael is curious about the origin of bloggers' domain names. I am including the tag he proposed to track this.

The idea for the Prison Pete blog and the name "Prison Pete" came from Pete himself in a letter he wrote to me from Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Beckley, in Beaver, WV, almost one year ago.

You can read in the archives his original proposal for the blog, my first post to establish the blog, and Pete's first blog post from prison.

Pete was released from Federal prison in November 2004 after serving eight-and-a-half years of a ten-year sentence, and is now in a NY State prison near Buffalo, NY serving an additional five-to-fifteen year sentence.
  Your Postcard.
Now 4:00 PM Friday and the only mail today was your postcard. So I guess the NY Times only comes in Monday to Thursday. I did not get any last Friday either. Go figure.

Well, I did the shave, cell clean, and shower thing. I went downstairs for morning Rec and came back up ten minutes later. I read some more NY Times; I am working on Monday’s now, so I have Tuesday and Wednesday to work through till Monday mail call.

I did not do any writing yet, but hey the day is young. I did not go out Friday, and actually took a nap from 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM. I finished Master of Temptation, so I have now just started reading the fifth book.

The last time you sent books they came up around 1:30 PM from the package room. I am not sure if I might still get the ten you sent or maybe they did not make it here today. No problem, I do have plenty to keep me busy.

I am reluctant to lie down and read now, since chances are fairly good I would doze off and miss the count. That would not be good. So instead I am jotting down some more random thoughts.

I am glad the missing letter showed up, and by my count you should have received additional letters Friday and Saturday. You did not mention one way or another about coming up here Sunday, so I guess I will just keep my schedule open for you. Yeah right, like I have anything else to do or anywhere else to go.

My nose still insists on staying clogged and that’s not good. I am now starting day five of the antibiotic treatment. Then again, my sinuses are really torn up, so besides getting rid of the infection, maybe they need time to heal.

I knew ahead of time I was not getting the newspaper today, but as the CO put the postcard on my door, my first thought was, great, Mom and Dad are in Georgia and all I get is a post card. Then I realized it was from you.

So we had a two-inch square Post-It note and now a postcard. Maybe next week I will be letter-worthy? Just kidding.
  Pizza for Breakfast.
As luck would have it, breakfast this morning was actually special: a pizza!

It was the size of a regular Sicilian rectangle and covered with scrambled egg and almost-mozzarella cheese. That is the first time I have had anything like that.

So now I am off to shave, clean my cell, and shower. I almost forgot to take my morning antibiotic.

Busy, busy, busy!

Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit!
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
  Inner Turmoil.
Good morning. It is just before 7:00 AM here and I have been up since around 5:00 AM. I spent the last two hours reading Master of Temptation.

I wanted to document the inner turmoil I am currently feeling. Specifically for once I actually have all the resources I need to do what I say I think I might be good at: political and social commentary.

Yeah sure, I do not have a dictionary, thesaurus, or computer, but at my feet, literally, I have six days of NY Times with stories galore that are begging to be digested, explained, commented on and otherwise dealt with.

Several subjects actually have multiple stories, offering different perspectives, so that I can not even complain about needing additional resource material. I have plenty of paper, two pens, a pencil and certainly plenty of time.

I have food to munch on and am even looking forward to a shower today. So let us see how much internal discipline I have. The razor was just handed out, so I have shaving to do also.

In addition, I have the Supreme Court case to read and a few pages left to finish off Master of Temptation, the fourth of the five books you sent.

So today could be a very productive day and one that at the end of which, I could actually feel that I have not just passed the time, but grabbed life by the horns and used my talents and abilities to rise above my physical surroundings.

Of course the preceding speech could also be like the preacher scene in Blazing Saddles, where after he is done spewing his positive outlook stuff, the congregation responds "BULLSHIT!"

So I find myself really looking internally at the same old Pete.

If I was out on the street now and not off to go to work, I would probably justify running out for an expensive breakfast, make a run to Staples for very badly needed special office supplies to enable my creative juices to flow, and come back home to end up plunked in front of the TV or the computer doing anything but writing, all the while thankful that I have managed to avoid another opportunity to rise to an occasion and actually accomplish a task I am fully capable of doing, but hey why spend the effort.

Or having spent enough physical time getting the tools needed and a couple of good hours thinking of what I was going to write, I would put aside the task for another day.

Yes, that certainly would be the usual run of things.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
  Thursday 8:00 PM.
I played another two hours of spades. Vinnie got pissed off at me and threw in a hand, but I ended up winning the game anyway. We did lose three out of five tonight. but nothing was really all that exciting. Just good practice of my jailhouse people-skills, which is not much use on the street since I will hopefully never meet people like this again.

Tomorrow is "shave, clean cell, shower" day. I did not walk at afternoon Rec today, so I will probably walk tonight.

Let me review this letter for any questions or things to do. You do realize that means I actually reread these letters!

Well, I read the letter and guess what? Nothing for the wish list. I have included a fast-answer page. Just circle the answers that apply and return it with your next letter. This way you do not have to reread this chicken scratch.

I really need to work on the emotional factors that add to my already hyper letter writing. Obviously I can print clearly when I put in the effort, so why not do it more often?

I desperately need to get a dictionary and a thesaurus to help with my spelling. I really do not want to get so sloppy that I regress. I also notice that there are words in some of the NY Times articles that I need to look up.

Well, that’s all for now. I hope all is well as can be at your house.
I guess I am still operating in a wishy-washy mode and am fluttering from one thing to another.

One of the other inmates here eats two cans of tuna per day. He is about as tall as I am but not as heavy. At 38¢ per can, I guess I could do that too.

I am definitely not buying any more cookies; they are too easy to overindulge in. I still might do the candy bar thing, but I will have to see.

Hopefully I will get a fresh food delivery from Mom and Dad tomorrow and then I can start over with another thirty-five pounds next Wednesday. Or is it Tuesday?

I can still hear Fear Factor in the background, so the 5:15 PM count is still a few minutes off.

Let me go and finish some more NY Times because if I lie down to read the book now, I will be likely to nod off.
  Writing my own opinion pieces.
So, at this point I have more than half of Sunday's paper to read and now have Monday to Wednesday also. I will probably have Thursday's tomorrow, and then nothing till Monday.

I am going to have plenty of crosswords to work on too. I am thinking of forcing myself to write down clues and answers to the words I miss so that maybe someday I can do the end of the week crossword and Sundays also. I got one clue on Friday's and none on Saturday's. I did about half of Thursday's. I think I can do most of Monday to Wednesday's puzzles, but I will let you know next week.

I have taken to scanning the paper first and reading a few stories. Then I go back to the first page and basically read the entire paper. I skip a few stories in sports and business, but even there I at least scan the start of every article. I like to read the letters and op-ed pages in their entirety.

I have marked several stories to go back to and hopefully I will start writing my own opinion pieces. Two issues that have had multiple stories this week are Social Security and pension stories and Medicaid.

The Social Security stories include the President's take on Social Security and Arnold in California wanting to redo the state employees' pension plan. The Medicaid stories from NY and Jeb Bush in FL, so that gives me plenty of background to write some hopefully well-informed and insightful essays.

Time will tell if I can be disciplined enough to do it. I figure I need to do planning, rough draft, and first rewrite, which should be double-spaced and neat enough for you to send to a typist if it gets that far. If not, then when I get a typewriter you could send them back to me for a final draft.
Monday, March 14, 2005
  Foot Massage.
It is absolutely amazing how much I am indebted to you and my parents. I spent all day locked in a room but was able to munch on some cookies, read the NY Times and some musty love stories, and got a very nice legal case sent in. Now I will be able to sit down and write a paper about my life. So this puts me a leg up on a lot of the other inmates here.

It was pretty breezy last night, so there was actually cold, fresh air coming in the window. I was up fairly late reading and then had trouble going to sleep.

I remembered I forgot my baby oil foot rub. I have started giving myself a foot massage right before I am going to lie down and try to sleep. One thing about the NY Times is that it is not very easy to handle while lying down, so when I cannot sit up any longer, I pour some baby oil in my hand and vigorously rub one foot and then the other, about ten minutes per foot; then once I lie down, sleep comes on much more solid than I have had in a long time. I still do not sleep that long, but when I wake up, I feel much more rested. It is amazing!

I know I wrote about a story about teaching parents of premature babies the art of massage and there are all those books on how different parts of the foot relate to different parts of the body, but hey, skipping it last night was proof enough for me.

Oh, the deep secret part: I did the foot massage, got up and washed my hands and blotted off any excess oil, climbed into bed, read a very sensuous sex scene from a book, and then took matters into my own hand as it were, and even that was more intense than usual. I got up to turn off the light, came back to bed, and slept without the usual tossing and turning.

I do not know if I have mentioned it, but this is the first cell I have had in a long time where I cannot read without the light on, and I have to get out of bed to turn it off. So, I either have to, oh, never mind! You can probably figure out the combination I was going to write. I was just trying to keep the writing interesting.
  Typos in The Times?
It is 4:00 PM and I just had dinner. Vinnie, my goomba friend, gave me his four-ounce chocolate ice cream, so I had two desserts. Screw the cholesterol!

I got the Booker case today in the mail. THANK YOU! The stamps were pen-marked cancelled and it had no bar code. I like the 37¢ "basket" stamp you used.

I will have to slowly read and digest the case. But like all law, the first paragraph reads like it would be good for me, but judges will always find another case that says "Sorry, no soup for you!" You gotta love the law!

I have spent most of today working through my NY Times. Good, so much information. I am still reading Sunday's Times, now working on the business section. I received Wednesday's today, so it looks like I will be one day behind. I will see what I get this Monday.

It is so cool to find some typos while reading. One I think is not even a word. In a story on nannies in Sunday's paper, it says, "the evening when a nanny dandled one family's child, I assume it should be 'handled'? (Editor's note: 'dandled means to move (as a baby) up and down in one's arms or on one's knee in affectionate play).

The other was a story on Julliard College's Saturday school. "Ms. Job said she recently bought Alli a $14,000 bass violin, which he said was on the lower end of the price scale." The previous sentence states "Gail Job, whose daughter". So if is mother and daughter, who is 'he'?

Yeah, I know my letters are full of errors, but as we have discussed, there is a place for a separate editor after someone writes a piece.

So, I am going to spend the next couple of hours writing to you and if I run out of steam, I will go back to the NY Times. Tonight's Rec activity is going to be learning Pinochle.
  All the News That's Fit to Print.
OK it is 3:00 PM and time for shift change. Only three of us went out to the Rec yard today, and when the other two guys got cold, we all went in after only one hour.

I am now waiting for mail call. I have actually read most of Thursday's and Saturday's NY Times. I want to write an occasional post for the blog on sneaky Friday news that ends up in the Saturday paper.

For instance, this past Saturday, the government seems to have approved additional oil and gas exploration in the Alaska North Slope. I read that in an article on the last page of the main section. You can be sure they would never announce that on a Monday!

Well, the mail just came and it looks like I got a bunch of papers. I can see a CO station out my window and one of the CO's was certainly looking at the NY Times. Well, maybe they will learn something, HAHA!

I picked through dinner and am now going to mix some tuna.

I did get the Friday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday NY Times today, so I have plenty of reading to do. The Sunday edition is the early edition, and all the others are late editions.

So let me make some tuna and stay up for that wonderful count.

It is still Wednesday, now 8:00 PM. I spent another one-and-a-half hours playing spades.

I am now reading Friday's NY Times. Did you see the two letters to the editor about hockey dads? I thought of you as I read it. Hmm, maybe I should enclose them in case you missed it.
Sunday, March 13, 2005
  He/She His/Her?
We just had 11:45 AM count and lunch is due next. I am not sure if I am going to walk today or not.

I was just at one of those "good parts" in a book I am reading and was just about to jump into the fantasy; well, you get the idea, when they yelled up to me to get dressed. So I had to put the book aside so as to not 'waste' the unfolding scene. Yeah, I know life is tough.

Oh, in between the first trip to Medical where there was no staff, I taught the he/she gin rummy.

It is very weird sitting across from someone who talks and looks like a female, but you know is not. I definitely found myself wanting to be acting in the role of relating to a member of the opposite sex. Strange mind games to play.

On the one hand, it kind of makes me lonelier, not meaning that I want to be his/her boyfriend, but akin to eating discount ice cream and wishing you had Ben and Jerry's. That is all for now, its lunch time!
  Yes, prison food will kill you.
I just got back from a recall to the Medical department. They were following up on my positive TB test. Not bad, just 26 days or so later.

While I was there, I asked the P.A. if they checked my cholesterol when they did my blood work. Yes, they did, and it is back up to 218! See what eating prison food will do to you?

With my previous mackerel diet (without much exercise), my cholesterol dropped down to 175 or so. So now I am trying to figure out what I can eat to get it back down.

While walking to Medical, I was having those "Oh no, I got some fatal condition" thoughts. Then I figured, "What the hell, it does not matter that much any how."

Yeah, life looks pretty grim at this point, but at least I am not dead yet. But the downside is that the cholesterol thing is like a time bomb.

I'll live long enough to get out of prison, but by then I may be too sick to have any hope of any quality of life.

So that is the news from here this morning.
  Wish List.
Well, I just sent a letter to Mom and Dad. This letter is also a clear example of the prison emotional rollercoaster.

Two major problems fixed themselves today. I heard from Mom and Dad and got the New York Times. One would think that after almost nine years in captivity, I would learn to be patient, but while I have made some life changes, it is still very hard to be out of sync or out of touch with those on the outside.

But I know how lucky I am to have support from Mom and Dad and your friendship. I know that I ask a lot of you, but I think I am getting a little better on lowering my expectations.

I had an idea. I will enclose a recap sheet with all future letters.

You would then have a ready reference of all the things I ask, and you would be able to pick and choose what you want to do. Once a particular list has had a box checked for each question, you would simply mail it back to me and that way I would only ask each thing once.

The returned list would serve as my reminder of things I have already asked you and what you thought of each idea. Also, by sending the list back to me, you will only have a couple of things from my wish list to deal with whenever you have time.

Since the list will be a recap of a fuller request in the letter, there is no need to copy or otherwise document the slip. Just complete it and send it back at your convenience. I will keep a master copy to prevent multiple and whiny requests.

Let me see if this letter has any requests in it.

OK, so I reread this letter and I came up with two wish list items. I have entered them in the master log and let us see how this goes.

I do not know if you are still planning to come see me this Sunday or not. I think I made it clear that I do expect to move soon; it could still be another month or so. I really do not have a clue.

If you are having that medical procedure on Saturday, I am not sure how you will be feeling on Sunday. I will certainly be here Sunday, but just for drill, call Friday night or Saturday morning to confirm.

So, that is all for now. I am going to enjoy some chocolate milk, cookies, and Thursday’s news.
Saturday, March 12, 2005
  With the NY Times, plenty to read.
I played two hours of Spades tonight and won all the games with two different partners.

The pre-op transsexual was also playing. She/he is all excited about my New York Times. I would really like to talk to him/her about her life, but unless she shows up at outdoor Rec, that is not happening.

Anyhow, I have plenty to read now, so no big rush on sending more books. I still want them since I will want to be able to break up the news, but for now I will work on finishing at least one newspaper per day! I will see what I get tomorrow. Perhaps the missing Friday newspaper and maybe a Sunday? Stay tuned.

I will definitely need to see the full text of the Supreme Court ruling to see if I can get any help, but I doubt it.

Things are looking bleak on the appeal front. My chance of getting out while Mom and Dad are still alive looks dim. That is the part that really sucks. So, for now I will hope that I can get relief from the Appeals Court.

We did get a half pint of chocolate milk with dinner tonight. I saved it and will break open the Pete Rose fake Oreos and have a snack.

I am also working on the Thursday crossword puzzle.

I need to drop an update letter to Mom and Dad. I will write that and see if anything else needs to be added to this letter.
  Some Updates.
OK, if it is not the damn prison mailrooms, it is the post office itself. I finally got a letter mailed last Tuesday. Some lovely overworked keypuncher ended up putting zip code 18334 on the barcode. Oops. Dad forgot to put my PO Box on the envelope, so that is part of the problem too. So, now I have the Georgia address of Cousin Bill.

I also have a Wall Street Journal article on the Supreme Court decision. It is not the actual text, but the article does state that there is no retroactivity to the ruling. Bummer.

But there is a slim hope; it states that sentencing should go to a jury in the future and if the case is already in the appeals process, then it might be applicable. Hmm, I really need to see the actual ruling.

My current case, due to go to NY State Appeals Court, might get some weight that this is not judicial prerogative; I am not sure. It is not the best news, but slim hope is there.

Hey, now my appeal and Martha Stewart’s are in the same Federal Court, 2nd District. So, thanks to a mail screw up, my anxiety level was up way too high.

I also got two New York Times, last Thursday and Saturday. I am not sure why I did not get it in the morning with all the other papers, but I will see what the story is. The good news is that it is the local, not the national, edition. Hmm, I still wonder if I will get the Sunday paper too.

Stay tuned for more updates, since I have no letter from you to comment on. I will mail this letter out later tonight. Since I have now used my last five freebies, it is my turn to put the stamps on. So, till after dinner.
Friday, March 11, 2005
  Brainless idiot!
Okay, so I went out and walked from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM. There were five other inmates outside and two of them actually played a little handball.

When they cleared the Rec area, they piled a bunch of snow into one corner of the yard. It is about four feet high and I tried to stomp a path through it, but the CO called me a brainless idiot!

So, for part of the time I did figure eights in the twenty-four foot by six foot yard, and the for the last half hour I had the whole perimeter to myself, minus the pile of snow in one corner.

When I came back in at 11:30 AM, there was still no New York Times. I have no idea what is up. And still no address from Mom and Dad. So, let us see what might come in package delivery or mail call later on today.

The lack of both a counselor for toll free phone calls and the usual Fed access to the phone is really a drag. So, for now I am back to reading book four of five. Today being Tuesday, I did do the clean cell, shave, and shower thing.

If you do come to see me Sunday or whenever, you could bring some cash for the vending machines and buy me lunch. No anchovy pizza, but that day will come soon enough. They have a bill changer, but if you want to play it safe, a couple of rolls of quarters are the best bet. Just a helpful hint.

Remember, you need to arrive before 11:00 AM to be sure you do not get caught outside waiting till the count clears at around noon or so. The second day my parents were here, they could not leave the visiting room until 1:30 PM. The Sergeant doing the count that day is apparently a stickler for the dotting of i's and crossing of t’s. So, I am off to read.
  I Finally Got Some Drugs!
Well, it is 7:30 PM here and I just got done playing one-and-a-half hours of Spades. I thought I would drop a line to you but I figured I’d wait to see if anything more exciting happens tomorrow.

I did finally get my medicines today at 4:00 PM, right after dinner. So, I am walking back up to my cell balancing four pieces of white bread, my trusty water cup with lid, and a bag of drugs. Wearing my Bozo size 14’s, I trip up the stairs and bang my shin on the edge of the step. Ouch!

So, I get back to the room and I open up the drug bag and I have the following:
Forty-two 500 mg Amoxicillin, three times a day
One Flonase nasal spray 120 sprays
120 Pseudoephedrine HCI 30 mg, two tablets twice a day.

It is feast or famine. So far I have taken two of the antibiotic and one dose (two pills) of the Pseudoephedrine decongestant. By comparison, the Claritin contains 240 mg Pseudoephedrine. Even at the prescribed dose, the 30 mg tablets would be 120 mg vs. Claritin’s 240. I did not like the Claritin due to the fact it made me jumpy and seemed to make sleeping harder. So, in my mind less drugs is usually better than more. Unless, of course, you are trying to put yourself out.

The Flonase says not to use if you have an enlarged prostate. Great, let me check. Hmm, I am not sure. How does one know whether it is enlarged or not? I know, but seriously, I am passing on taking it. How something that is supposed to work all the way up in my nasal area affects something way down in the nether regions, I certainly do not understand. So, I’d rather go without.

I know the antibiotics should work. The last time I got antibiotics from Fedville, they only have me 500 mg two times a day for ten days. So, this current amount of forty-two pills should hopefully knock all those nasty little buggers to kingdom come.

I have been lucky that it did not turn into an upper respiratory infection, which is what usually happens to me. So I guess my immune system is doing some good. I am amazed at the "DUH" feeling I have. I have had basically too much carbs and fat today and very little protein, and my brain is like just functioning on half power maybe. So, I am going to hope for better food tomorrow.

The drugs were the only good thing that happened today. No letter from Mom and Dad. No New York Times. No other mail. No packages. Maybe Mom and Dad just sent the food like I told them.

The law library still cannot find the two cases from my denial or the Supreme Court case, and they said no way could they get me access to a typewriter. How the hell I am supposed to present a readable appeal is beyond me. I have no Jailhouse Lawyers manual either.

So, today goes down in the net loss column, but tomorrow is another day.

It is Tuesday and my reservation is in for a razor, so at least I can look forward to my shave and shower. Luckily I still have two and a half books to read.

Oh, yeah, I did manage to stay awake for the 5:15 PM count, too! Later.
  Responding directly to your letter.
One other thought: there might be a link to the full Supreme Court decision from an article on the New York Times Web site, but do you have to pay to access the article first?

Yes, Dad said he ordered the Times. I had told him to be sure to get the address to send changes to and to send it to me, but I never got it. I thought he said it would start this week, but alas, nothing came on Friday. For sure I should get something Monday. I wonder if he included Saturdays and Sundays?

I know part of me continues to write to you about how you can improve your home life, and the hopeless romantic in me still wishes that as the best outcome. BUT I realized the other day as I was reading the first of the five books you sent, that I may have neglected to acknowledge that you are the one living (or not living) with this crazy out of control lost soul. So here is a big hug and a pat on the back to say I am not ignoring the frustration and tension you feel in dealing with her.

I am sorry she is so lost, but I hope that sooner rather than later some semblance of order and peace will arrive for you. Whether she is part of the peace and order is something only you (to some extent) and she can determine. So I hope you realize that when I sound too much like it is totally up to you to make the thing work, I know that is not the whole truth. Whatever happens I am with you as best as I can be and I do appreciate how much you have shared with me.

Yes, you sent me a picture of Tammi from her blog. I really should give her a direct response, but for now if you have not already said so, tell her I hope she is feeling better and do not sweat the "Club Fed" heat. I am not exactly sure what that is all about, or even if it matters much. I only assume some ex-federal prisoner was claiming that the Fed places ain’t no club?

So I have now spent the last two hours responding directly to your letter. Dinner is about to be served and I will do some more writing later.
Thursday, March 10, 2005
  Prisoner catalog.
I saw a catalog of prisoner stuff that showed two typewriters.

The one for under $150 still had no memory, but did have a 12-character LCD with a 22,000 word spell checker. Those spell checkers tend to just beep if they do not like a word. The good part is they use a carbon ribbon and come with a separate correction tape. So that should really make both my letter writing and blog posting simpler.

I am thinking that if my source was right and I could spend up to $250, for that amount I could at least get one or two page memory. I will try and check further.

I hope you solved the problems at work fast and gave that lovely charming boss or yours some reason to remember how valuable you are and he better stop pissing you off. Hey, maybe my new friend Vinnie could have some friends of his pay him a visit! (HA HA THIS IS A JOKE) Although I seal my mail, your incoming letters are opened by the mailroom, so there is no need to respond to my Vinnie suggestion. There is no telling about the CO's sense of humor.

I am really in need of the Supreme Court decision. To date, the law library has not delivered it, and since I have received no mail from Mom and Dad, I assume Dad was unable to get it.

I would think you could just go to the US Supreme Court Web site and there would be a list of all recent decisions? If not, then I realize it means digging and searching and I still have no concept of the time involved. So I am asking for your help it at all possible.

Since my recent denial, the actual ruling is now sort of my last hope. I will continue to ask for this at the library, but they could not even get two cases that the Federal judge cited in denying my case.

I am desperately hoping that Dad ordered The Jailhouse Lawyers Manual before he left. I had mailed him the invoice from the last time he ordered, which had the phone number, but he need to check the price.

But hey, I just sit here and do my time! No dig at you. It is my parents that continue to baffle and confuse me.
  My two-pronged approach to the blog.
I thought I would separate out my daily whining and bitching and use this page to directly answer your letter.

I just came in from outside. I spent the full one and a half hours walking. The snow had just started falling when we got out, and by time we went in there was a pretty good layer; I would say at least one inch.

Yes, I did get your letter on Friday. The books actually arrived Thursday! Now that is fast! While I have not found any limit on books, I am sure that ten would be good and will save you some time and money. They will forward all packages so you will not ever have any returns, unless I happen to win release, which is not likely anytime in the next four months (more on that later).

Somewhere down the line, I think your "refused" books will be auctioned off in some sort of US Postal Service unclaimed property auction. The same goes for parcel post. We had a bunch of inmate's mail out large ceramic stuff at $30 to $40 postage each, only to have them returned to the post office with return postage due. The inmates each had to pay another $30 or so to get their package back, and then repackage and pay the additional $30 postage back out!

I do not know when I am going to be moved. On one hand I would love to get more settled soon and get on with music, typewriter, etc., but in truth, I have no control over it. Some guys have been here for three months. Then again, I am rapidly approaching one month already. So who knows?

I would only travel Monday to Friday, but the bad news is if they decide to ship me out on a Monday, I would be "on the draft" as they call it starting Friday afternoon. That essentially makes me incommunicado, so be sure you call to confirm I am OK to visit on Sunday.

Unfortunately, I will not be able to call you if I am moving. I think I might be able to get one last letter out, but even that is not for sure. They will forward all mail, so if I move, only the visitation would be an issue. Again, just call the day before and they will confirm if that is OK.

My very dry mouth waters at the thought of strapping on some skis. but $50 lift tickets! Damn, that’s 25% to 33% of my currently monthly income!

What about my two-pronged approach to the blog:
a) Letters to you for your eyes only? No typing just hold for latter and I will type.
b) Specific blog postings. I will draft one, make a second corrected copy neatly, and those you can farm out for typing.

The purpose is to enable us to maintain a pathway of communication totally separate from the blog and put the onus on me to put more effort into writing, both in terms of neatness and correctness, and to enable you to have less work.

Even if you think the day-to-day stuff is good for the blog, I can always rewrite stuff if you think a particular personal letter merits posting. Just send it back to me with your comments.

I do want to be more responsible for my writing. It is too easy for me to be lazy and just scribble away. While this might work to get my unedited feelings out and clearly gives you a more total picture of how and why I might be thinking and feeling a certain way, I am not sure this is always the best stuff for the blog.

Let me know if any of this makes sense.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
  Shoveling snow.
It is now Sunday evening sometime before 6:00 PM. Oops, I was asleep at the 5:15 PM count time.

Yeah, I was just a little tired. I shoveled snow for over a half an hour to clear a path around the outside of the Rec yard, and then I figured I might as well shovel as I walked, so I cleaned about 25% of the yard by tossing snow shovelfuls at the chain link fence. This was the first time I have shoveled snow in over nine years!

It was really nice powder. It would make for great skiing.

I played some gin rummy during afternoon Rec. Dinner was some overly hot (spicy) soup and one burrito done Chinese style, i.e. a crunchy shell like an egg roll outside, but with beans inside.

Ok, so now in addition to feeling crappy because of my continually clogged sinuses, I got yelled at by the CO when I came down for Rec.

I picked up some envelopes and am back in my room now. I am going to put this in the mail and go lay down. I even took one of those damn Claritin’s in hopes that the sinus pain may decrease. I am just feeling really down and crappy.

As I have said before, being sick (aches and pains) in jail is really a drag. No TLC available for sure! So, I risk nodding off before 7:00 PM, and then being up half of the night.

Oh well, that’s life here in prison.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
  Cleanliness is next to Godliness.
Well, it snowed! We are operating on a somewhat normal schedule. Breakfast was served and the CO’s are being held over for the next shift even though some new CO’s apparently made it in. We have not gotten our Sunday morning razors, but the three times per week cell cleaning is underway.

It is funny to watch how fast inmates turn on one another when they do not get what they are used to. For some reason, Vinnie, who has been dubbed The Porter, when he did not get out first thing this morning, he starts jawboning with another inmate who is out.

The CO just came around to ask who wanted to go out. We have not started the showers yet, so I do not know in what order things are happening. Usually "odd" cells would have gone outside this morning.

I can see the Interstate from my window and I do see some cars and trucks moving on it. The wind is definitely blowing and I guess it is still snowing, although with the wind, it is tough to tell how much is actually new snow.

The TV has been on all morning but it is impossible to hear any full sentences. It is strange, knowing a lot is happening but not having any access to see or hear what is going on. So instead I have swept, mopped, and scrubbed most of my cell.

I have probably now cleaned this cell more in the last twenty days than I did my FCI cell in one year! One reason is because it is mine, all mine so, yes, I am in control to live in cleanliness or muck and mire.

Also, as I know I have said before, there is no trouble finding cleaning supplies here (they come right to your door) and they are all in relatively good condition. So, yes, one’s habits are definitely related to one’s environment. Personal responsibility can be a strong motivating force. But one must also have the tools and knowledge necessary to accomplish one’s task.

So, for now I am going to read a bit. I am already on the third of five books. So, send the next ten this week if you can. You probably could send more than ten, but I do not want to push my luck. They actually have a file on all my packages and I have to sign for them too.

Well, we have gotten our razors, and I cut my neck to pieces! Now it is time for showers, and then I guess Rec. It is very gusty but, hey, I gotta go out and say, "I was out in the big blizzard of 2005!"

Ok, showers are about to start. I am number two to go, and then I guess Rec would be forty minutes or so after that. Later!
Monday, March 07, 2005
  Tears in my eyes.
Damn, between your letter, the blog comments, and the articles, I really am feeling life speeding by at 100 MPH and all I can do is sit here with tears in my eyes, hoping that maybe Monday I will get some antibiotics so at least I can stop the constant sinus pain.

Hey, I do not even want to think about my current legal situation or I will really feel like a piece of shit. Or, more likely, a bigger piece of shit. Well, here’s hoping your weekend was brighter than mine is looking now.

Oh yeah, still no letter from Mom and Dad. So, I guess I will not get more fresh food for another several weeks. Damn, let me stop writing this pitiful shit.

Well, it is now almost 1:00 PM. I had a lousy nights sleep. (Are we surprised?) But, now I am about to go out. There does not seem to be much wind, and the snow has not started falling yet, so let’s see if pounding the pavement helps with some of this useless stress.

By the way, I found another inmate that was awed by the prospect of getting to read some new books. More brownie points for me. Thanks for your efforts!
Sunday, March 06, 2005
  I was such a dope.
Your latest letter arrived just minutes before dinner. Meals are probably the only thing besides the shower that I have a two-minute window to accept or reject.

So, I went down to dinner having read just your letter (but not the blog comments). I gave away the fish patty, ate the hash browns and rice pudding, and returned to read the blog comments and then the articles you sent.

Maybe I should have used St. Anthony’s as an insanity defense! Although I was not aware of any student/teacher sex, once there was me and one or two other students in the backstage dressing room with our theater teacher, Nancy, buck naked. She was naked; not us.

But I never got any from teachers or students. It shows how oblivious I can be! But, I guess I was right in my feeling that everyone else but me was getting some.

I think I may have mentioned Allison, the beautiful neighbor girl I took to a dance at St. Anthony’s. I was 14 or so at the time. She thought it was cute to give me a poster of two rhinos humping, with the tag line, "Make love, not war!" She lasted as my date about fifteen minutes into the dance and became a St. Anthony’s student on the spot.

I’m pretty sure it was the first dance ever held at St. Anthony’s. I was the organizer. I know I did organize the first dance, but I'm not 100% sure if this is the one Allison went to.

Allison had a tall dancer-type body. I think she was trying to seduce me, but I was such a dope. Anyhow, shit, too many emotions flying around. This is one of those times my current life really smacks me in the face!


I finished only one and a half years of college before dropping out, got married, and was stuck in a dead-end job selling insurance door-to-door all before I turned twenty! Go figure that one out!

So, I think I will go read some and try and escape for a bit. I will certainly be doing a lot of writing this weekend and you will have a nice, fat envelope in your mailbox Tuesday evening.
Saturday, March 05, 2005
  Busy Friday.
Well, the busy Friday cleaning and shaving has been completed. I have shaved and showered and my cell has been swept and mopped.

I think my New York Times has arrived. There is a big roll of newspapers in "the bubble" that just came in from the outside. They actually deliver papers to each cell building in the morning as opposed to waiting for the afternoon mail. Now, if they will only hand them out.

I was just dozing off for my morning nap. Since I just showered, I passed up outdoor Rec. I will go out tomorrow afternoon. I was worried that I might not be able to keep up a fast enough pace to keep from freezing. Lame to be sure, but hey it’s my life.

Well, lunch is done. Not bad. It was cheesy macaroni and stewed tomatoes. I skipped the four slices of white bread and ate apple crunch for dessert.

There was a whole pile of newspapers and not one for me. Bummer. I thought Dad said today, but maybe not. Well, now I will have to wait till Monday to see if I get anything.

So, for the rest of today I need to put the clean sheets on my bed. i hope they ship up the pillow cases soon so I can veg out. See, I probably should have gone outside!

Well, tomorrow’s another chance! That’s all for now.
Friday, March 04, 2005
  Having a prisoner as a friend.
Your books and the fact that a letter finally arrived today helped lift my spirits. To be able to share my tuna fish with John tonight (and I even threw in a bag of M&M peanut's) is because in part of my support system. True, at this point that is mostly you and my Mom and Dad. But once I get my radio, typewriter, NY Times, etc. then it will be extended. Until that point PLEASE BEAR WITH ME.

I know I put myself here, but you must understand that your support has truly enabled me to grow and "thrive" to some extent because of all your efforts. The good news is that with a few possible exceptions (like you cannot send newspapers) NY State is going to make things a lot easier for you to send me books, letters, and even the visiting is simpler.

So now that you are just getting really tired of the system making your efforts difficult, it is actually getting easier. So see, cheer up. Things might actually be getting better as far as having a prisoner as a friend.

Oh, I know I have been remiss in my stories about your Dad, but I will write some specific stuff over the weekend. A lot of my recollections on the surface are not specific occasions as much as an overall feeling of his reaching out to me and his interaction with you, but I am assuming that buried deep are some of the specific incidents that nurture the warm feelings I have of your Dad.
Thursday, March 03, 2005
  Dropped the ball.
You said you think about the ski trips and the business plans we could have had. Well, I have also thought a lot about that. I think I previously mentioned that I wish you had mentioned the business idea a long time ago!

We both had plenty of opportunities to get the other involved in ski trips, etc., but for any number of reasons we would touch base and then drop off for a while. Karen was the one who got you over for dinner that time when I was in the apartment in Brooklyn post-divorce.

So now I am not going to drop the ball. I am willing (and able) to keep plenty of communication heading your way. The drop-off in 2003 shows what happens when each of us waited for the other.

For once I feel we have come too far to go back. My psychologist said I might be considered high-maintenance, but while I do throw a lot at you and you have picked and chosen to do some things, I am not keeping score.

The key to understanding human relationships is that I cannot make anyone do anything. So if you choose to do something and then get pissed off at the fact that you did it, well, it is not really my fault. This is meant to be a generic comment. Another Pete pearl of wisdom.

The point is life is all about doing new things. You cannot know until you do something what it will be like. The key is to be able to be open enough with the other person to say, "Okay, this is not where I want to spend time" and in a good healthy relationship there are enough other areas to pick up the slack.

So for example I certainly have fewer activities on my plate at this point than you do! But I still have the same twenty-four hours a day you do and how we each choose to spend that time says a lot about who we are.

For example it is certainly easier for me emotionally to simply spend my day reading fiction and vegging out in the world of fantasy. As a matter of fact this letter was signed, sealed and almost delivered at page six, but then I decided to open it back up and write some more instead of reading, although the mystery book is at a tense moment.

We both have put ourselves into this relationship and I think it shows it has evolved both of us to share both some deeply personal stuff and to even sound off at one another. As you know the one time (stand by - only one person wanted the cookies and John now asked for the tuna, so let me mix that up and get back to this thought.)

Okay, the "random acts of kindness" department is now closed. Where was I?

I still get antsy and paranoid when you don't send me a letter or even a short note for over two weeks. You also have an advantage since, except for that one short period, I do not have the luxury of a computer. And with my ADD, even when I ask you something in a letter, the odds are, given a few weeks, I forget too!

So let me make sure this letter gets out tonight.

Keep the faith. Life is full of possibilities and you and I will both be able to grab some of the good stuff soon enough.
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
  Blog style question.
As I was walking today I kept thinking about the blog. The one aspect that I have never really gotten is the ability to carry on a conversation with any of the readers.

BTW I have a style question. A while ago you said something about turning off the "anonymous comments" option, yet it appears that there are still anonymous postings. Or are these email responses which are not seen by readers of the blog at all?

You mentioned possibly doing some discreet address notifications. If you are really sick of the blog and/or just want to be totally out of it that is okay. I am willing at this point for you to float my name and address out there to one or two of the consistent posters to see what happens. It is totally up to you.

As I have said, if I do remain locked up for the next three to six months I will have access to a typewriter soon. If that still sounds like too much for you, that's also cool. I will still write to you as I do now.

As I said, I would actually prefer to have a little more control over what gets posted in the blog and thereby give me greater freedom to write directly to you as a close friend, uncensored. But I still think that at the very least we cold co-author a book about the blog and my time in prison and how you "worked" through it. Or not!

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