I actually hit the triple play on Friday. I received legal mail, a package and regular mail.
The package was the books from you; I already finished one of them. I had read the Jackie Collins, "Accident." But it was worth a re-read. Thanks for sending them through.
The regular mail was a Dick Blick Art supplies catalog. Never even had you look up any information on that one. I did finally receive all the catalogs that you sent the addresses for, so now I am all cataloged up.
The legal mail was yet another confusing mailing. There were actually two different letters in the same envelope. One letters says I can still apply for the Certificate of Appeallability. One gives me twenty-one days from the date of the letter. The other has no deadline but says I need to first file for permission to re-open my case, and then file for the COA.
I did do a little cleaning of the print wheel and platen on the typewriter. It seems to make a little difference. We will see when I do the print of this letter.
I made the rice and beans tonight for dinner. Friday we had the poor man's pasta, can of tomato sauce and can of vegetarian beans. I have been hitting the soda a little heavy this last two weeks. I am glad I had it. The receipt of the mail from the court on Friday while good news, still stirs up all kinds of emotional angst that the soda quickly becomes a good sauce [sic] of comfort.
I know but what about the chemicals, one does what one can with the resources available.
Speaking of resources, I came up with a new treat. One serving of instant oatmeal, mix in a package of hot cocoa mix. Chocolate oatmeal. I did mix the cocoa and oatmeal together and then added the hot water. It would appear to be better to first mix the oatmeal and water, then add the cocoa mix. You could probably get by with using a half of package of cocoa mix. We can buy the cocoa mix for only seven cents a pack. I will be ordering a few packs this week. If oatmeal cuts down on cholesterol, wonder if there is any in the cocoa mix so it ends up canceling each other out. It does seem to be a good mix between total junk food, a Hershey bar, and all healthy, plain unsweetened oatmeal.
It is 6:30 PM here. I did watch the first two movies this weekend, and one hour of today's movie. Friday was National Lampoon's Golddiggers
. Was certainly not a "classic" but since it was National Lampoon, I had pretty low expectations. There were a few scenes of naked female breasts. Not a total loss.
Saturday's flick was the Bogeyman
. Another case of why watch a horror flick on small screen. Today's flick was "Back in the Day
." A really bad black drama about living in the hood. It was like having flashbacks of my years at Club Fed
, in terms of the dialogue and mind set. I walked out of that one as soon as 1:00 rolled around. You are only allowed to leave the area with the televisions on the hour.
I did type two letters so far this weekend. One back to the court asking for confirmation of which letter is the one I should pay attention to, and one to Mom and Dad asking their assistance in obtaining the copies of the motions I have previously sent the court. It was a one subject letter. I hope they understand the urgency of my request.
I wonder what Monday's mail will bring? I only missed that one day of walking, and am shooting for between forty-five and fifty laps per day. It does take me just about an hour to accomplish that task. On Saturday and Sunday the yard closes at 10.00 AM (or maybe a little earlier) for brunch, so I have no grace time to finish up the laps. Saturday, I was only able to get thirty-nine laps in. During the week, there is a ten minute window to move from the yard back to the dorm, and I made sure I finished fifty laps on Friday before I headed in.
My "friend", Officer King has been gone for over two weeks. Maybe he is working in another area for a bit or just on a few weeks vacation. The lockers all around me have had their random shakedown so I am due for one. Hope it happens before he returns.
I have not looked at the NY Times in last two days, although I may try to read one or two after I am done with this letter.
I hope I hear from my parents soon about if they got Smith Corona to send the replacement or not. It figures I would be low on ribbons right when I am under the gun to type up court documents.
The first letter from the court is typed as received, the underlined word is actually in the letter and it does not make sense:
"In response to your letter dated April 23, 2005 inquiring as to the status of your appeal. Please be advised your appeal was certificate of appealability defaulted on March 4, 2005 for failure to submit papers in support of certificate of appealability. If you wish to have your appeal reviewed, you must submit a motion to reinstate the appeal along with a supporting affidavit and papers in support of your motion for certificate of appealability.
Papers, where are your papers? I think I sent you a copy of my April 23 letter. It is a pretty nice way to side step the issues raised in the letter by calling it an "inquiring as to the status of your appeal."
But wait there is more, the second letter follows:
"The Clerk's Office has construed the Notice of Appeal you filed following the district court's denial of your habeas corpus petition in the above referenced case, as a request that this Court issue a Certificate of Appealability ("COA")
.Please be advised that the Circuit Local Rule Section 22(a), a copy of which is enclosed for your convenience, has been changed. The new rule requires that in your application for a COA, you identify each issue you intend to raise on appeal. In addition, you must also include in your motion, with respect to each issue, facts and a brief statement of reasons showing that you have been denied a constitutional right. The motion will be submitted without oral argument. The Court will ordinarily limit its consideration for COA to the issues you identify.
You have 21 days from the date of this letter to submit a motion that complies with Local rule Section 22(a). The failure to comply with the Circuit Local Rule Section 22(a) may result in the denial of a COA.
Clear as mud. Where are the Marx brothers when you need them? Mind you, the copy that this letter says is enclosed, is not. I did get a possible correct copy of the rule today from the law library here, and it does say that if the clerks office did not receive a motion for a COA when the paperwork for the appeal is filed, at the end of thirty days, the clerk was supposed to send me a letter similar to the last one above. This is the crux of the matter since I never received the letter.
I am going to take a break for a minute and see if I can locate one of the cases I can use in this process in our ill-equipped law library. My kingdom for internet lookup!
Okay I am back; it is now 8:15 PM. I found some of the cases I have used in the past. I can not find one that might help; it is the tax fraud case
of the Helmslys or is that Hemsly? The hotel people. The Queen of Mean
I believe the wife was called. It you could find the dates that she ended up going to Federal prison that would be great I would then be able to look in the index of individual law books that have cases from around that time. The case I am looking for is not the federal case but the New York case that was actually dismissed because the feds went first.
So if you have the right spelling, and could possibly find the case great if not, the time frame of the trials based on an internet search, once you figure out the right spelling. That ever you can do quickly and send to me is what counts now. DO NOT SPEND TIME. If all you can do is confirm the spelling that is great. I am working under the gun here and not sure exactly what use the case law will have. The key thing is getting the copies of what I have previously filed with the court. Anything else is secondary. If you do not have time or talent to figure out my jumbled request simply move on to other things. NO SWEAT!
I guess that about covers things for now. I am going to P & P and then dive under the covers with a good book and read the rest of night away. Pipe Dreams
at 10 PM. Did I mention that last week was one of the all theater organ shows he does from time to time. I especially love them since they tend to be show tunes and contemporary music. He said of the 1,000s that were built in the pre-talkie days, only 50 or so remain.
One is actually located in a pizza parlor in Arizona! Now that is a great place to work.
Hope all is going smoothly and the bike
is now all outfitted
and you are getting some good rides in!
Nothing is ever simple in prison!
I am sitting on my bunk as I type this. I started to handwrite out a draft but gave that up. I am so starved for some emotional connection with fellow humans. It is a true that you certainly provide me with plenty of emotional support, and as always I am extremely grateful for all you have done for me.
I need to write a letter to my Mom and Dad. I am undecided whether to bring up past questions they have not answered, explain some of my disappointments with my birthday, or ignore it all and just send them the letter with the shopping list of things that I would like as they get time.
I still have not heard back from them about this damn typewriter. I did get a letter back from the vendor, saying sorry we only handle the first 60 days. How they got involved anyhow is a mystery to me. I had been corresponding with the manufacturer the whole time.
I am waiting for you to tell me is the way it has been printing is causing you any problems. I now know it is not the different paper. I am hoping it is the particular ribbon; as a matter of fact, I am going to type this with one of the last two ribbons, see if that makes a difference.
Hate to think I have already burned out a $35.00 print wheel.
I have been spending the last few days reading, I have finished a few books. I found one of the romance books and realized how much I missed reading something that contains the relationship stuff.
Just got rid of nine books. I have handed out another six or so on loan. Now if I can just burn through a few more of the Robert Ludlum books.
I am not sure if I have managed to convey the funk I am in. I am still holding my breath hoping the second letter I sent to the US District Court will send me some paperwork.
I am not up for fighting much right now. I know that is not a good attitude and I am not saying that there is anything you should be doing, or that you are not doing enough, it just has been a really hard couple months.
I was reviewing my files and realized I have now been writing letters about the problems with the typewriter since March 23. In the time that has elapsed, I have sent letters to four different locations and still have not resolved the problem. Frustrating to be sure.
Why write to me:
I am willing to be open and honest with anyone that chooses to write to me. I am looking to be able to use my upgraded people skills that have been honed through six years of one-on-one psychological counseling. I am hoping to be able to better deal with some of the specific questions that have been raised on the blog and establish an ongoing conversation of life's ups and downs.
Hell I do not know.
I will think on it some more and come up with an intro letter you can e-mail to those people that you feel should be let in on my true identity.
9:00 PM time to proof and print.
Well I am using a new ribbon, same light characters. DI dd put impressions on heavy. It seems to make a little difference, makes me think that I have worn out some of the characters on wheel.
If I am getting new typewriter, that would solve problem. If not, I will order a new wheel and hope that fixes problem. They say I am only allowed one print wheel. Not sure why they would care but I did see it mentioned in one of the directives. Ideally they do not care; I would continue to use this wheel for all the drafts. Then only use new wheel on letters for you to OCR.
Nothing is ever simple in prison!
I know many readers think there has been too much talk of food on this blog, but I thought I might give an update. I am not sure exactly what has been posted of late as far as the food and cooking goes so bear with me if some of this is redundant.
Unlike Club Fed
, I do not have access to microwaves. A recent rule change by the New York Prison
Department requires that all hot pots be made of clear plastic. If someone knows anything different than the following, please be sure to drop an email to the editor.
Currently there are two models of clear, five cup hot pots. One has a 300 watt element and will heat up to around 180 degrees. The second model has a 600 watt element and will heat up to 200 degrees. Both are made by the West Bend Company
. (If any one knows of a clear hot pot that will boil, that would be great.)
While you may be able to use 200 degree water for hot beverages (coffee, tea and hot chocolate), and some instant soups, you should try cooking spaghetti in non-boiling water.
I had started out cooking a half a pound at a time but have moved down to around one third a pound. Since I am currently cooking for three people, I do cook the whole pound. I am working with two pots. One holds the sauce, the other makes three batches of pasta.
It takes twenty minutes once the water reaches the 200 degree mark to cook one batch of pasta. Yes that means to do the whole pound takes over one and a half hours. Lot of work for a bowl of pasta.
There are two basic meals I slow cook. The healthy and the not quite as healthy but better tasting.
The last three meals, one healthy and the other two were... you get the idea.
The first meal was a real spaghetti meal complete with a can of Del Monte Spaghetti Sauce and 8 ounces of chopped pepperoni.
This meal was followed by black beans and rice. That much would be fairly healthy. But why stop there? I rounded up a can of evaporated milk, and sacrificed three quarters of a pound of American cheese and made a cheese sauce.
One of the other two people that I cook for likes hot food, the other can not take any heat. This meal occurred on Saturday, my birthday and I was feeling ambitious. I ended up making two different bean mixes. One was just the onions, black beans and corn.
To the other pot I added 4 medium size jalapeño peppers. I like hot food, but this turned out really hot. We also had a bag of corn chips to go with the meal. Usually I would throw some chopped jalapeño peppers in the bowl after I was done cooking.
This time since I was doing two different pots I put the peppers in from the beginning while I cooked the onions. My "I-like-hot-food" friend did not even break into a sweat while eating the food, yours truly almost lost a quart of sweat, all of it on my forehead.
Today's meal went back to the basic healthy stuff. Spaghetti, with a can of tomato sauce and vegetarian beans. This is truly a low fat, high protein meal, but has no where near any the eating enjoyment (TASTE!) of the previous two meals!
I have to be careful the funk is not going away all that fast.
I did do 48 laps today. Did not jump right into the shower. Bad move.
Read and slept till lunch. Ate their lunch; another bad move.
Finally took shower around 2 PM and then killed the next one and a half hours reading sleeping some more.
I have almost finished the book I am reading. "Delta Blood." The ironic part is that it is written in the years just prior to and through the civil war years. It takes place in New Orleans. I have not gotten back to "Killer Angels" but the names from there showed up in the other book. It is one of the few "romance" books I have to read.
I got my first pen pal letter today and she sent along several pages of her blog. She is certainly a very active and multi-faceted person. I was going to write a return letter to her tonight, but realized that would make two days in a row with no letter to you.
You get top billing.
My new sneakers just arrived on Friday, and I have already put 12 miles plus on them. In addition to the pen pal letter, I got a birthday card from my Godparents, and the Hitchcock catalog finally arrived. They sent it in a first class envelope.
They have the New Balance walkers I just got listed at $80.00. The boots I am used to wearing are only 99.95. I hope I can either get the state to buy them for me or get approval to spend more than the current limit of $50.00 allowed for inmate purchased footwear.
I am going to have to write them a letter first to see if I need to yet a larger size boot. The sneakers are size 11 6E, and my left foot must be the larger one, since my big toe is asking for a little more room. The question for Hitchcock is if the new Balance size 11 and the boot size 11 are the same. Have my feet gotten any bigger?
The catalog came in a 9" x 6" envelope. I was wondering if it matters in the scanning if you get the pages flat. Do the scan better without being creased?
I need to complete the Father's Day Card for my Dad. I have the design laid out, and have done the rough draft for it. It is another handcrafted creation like a recent birthday card. Not the same design, just the same style.
I think I might get a pad of heavier paper for future cards.
Just checked out the Sony radio and tape player combo unit. It does not do all that much better with the local - distant switch for FM radio stations. I am good to go with the generic radio. The Sony does have 30 presets for the FM. Sort of a little over the top I think.
I hope you are not having trouble scanning the letters of late. On closer examination, the impression level does not seem to give any clearer type. The carbon paper characters are all full formed. The problem seems to be the ribbon. Or is it the paper? I have started using a new ream which is not the same brand.
The question is am I just noticing the half formed characters? If so, is this particular ribbon at fault. If the problem has been happening for the last few weeks, and it does not screw up the OCR then I will order the same ribbons. If it is a problem I might have to just go ahead and order the name brand ribbons. Well let me know if it is a problem. I am down to the last two ribbons so it is pretty close to order time.
Got side tracked on the goings on for today. I started cooking at 3:30 PM and the simple version of dinner was ready at 5:30 PM. Just the pasta, can of vegetarian beans, and tomato sauce.
I think I will do two posts. The walking in new sneakers and the last three meals.
Let me do the drafts of those now, then do some proof and printing and see where I am time wise.
Well it is 9:30 PM and I am about to type this last page. Not my usual thrilling writing to be sure. Will work on that.
New Sneakers and No Bloody Socks.
I have been keeping to the walking each morning.
I have taken to counting the laps and am now able to do 45 - 48 in an hour. There are 12.2 laps to the mile.
I finally received the size 11 6E sneakers. They are New Balance Walkers
and are light and fairly comfortable. This is the first time I have had such fancy sneakers and I have to say they do make a large difference in my ability to walk at a fast pace and not get suffer from foot pain.
The boots I have been wearing were certainly comfortable but these sneakers go a little further to assist with the exercise. It does appear that my left foot is just a little bit larger, my big toe is asking for a tiny bit more space. I will go for the eleven and a half next time.
The person that gave them to me, made sure I knew that they cost the state $60.00. I suggested that I would be more than willing to go home and buy my own sneakers.
I finally got a catalog for Hitchcock Shoes
, the company that markets extra wide shoes for men, exclusively. I am going to check with them to see if they think I need to get a larger boot if the size eleven sneakers are tight.
There is certainly nothing like properly fitting footwear.
Letter from Mom and Dad.
4:30 PM here. Most of the suspense I mentioned in my last letter to you is gone. Just finished reading two pieces of mail. A birthday card and letter from Mom and Dad ($50 Postal Money Order enclosed). Your June 7 letter.
I think I will type the letter from Mom and Dad: Tue. 11:30 AM June 7, 2005
I have your letter of May 18 before me. I ordered the adapter and three decks of plastic cards from Choice. Hope you received them all. The 1-800 number I received was not the correct number (shoes)
Is something else from your letters that we failed to order - might have overlooked some request. Mom just cleaned up the floor upstairs (Dad's study) since you could not walk in without tripping on something. We put your letters in one place now.
We haven't heard from you in some time and are concerned that you are O.K. Please respond soon!
A $50 M.O. is enclosed for your birthday. Maybe you could have a little party with your pals.
How are you doing with your card games? We could send a book of card game. If we are allowed to let us know.
It is 80° and a cool breeze. A red robin has enjoyed our bird bath every morning, I change the water everyday.
We are shopping for our big weekly order and get 5% off for seniors. Will go swimming at the pool first. Went yesterday but had to leave the pool with the thundering and lightening.
We will be praying for you especially on your birthday.
Mother & Dad
(Mom actually signed Mother this time; usually I get M & D)
I am handwriting a draft on the bunk now and will get typing after the 5:25 count. (The AC keeps kicking on and off for some reason, and it gets very humid in here within minutes, make. it hard to breathe.)
It is tough to stop the tears from falling as I write this. Not sure if I should bother commenting on the above letter but the "birthday package" and possible visit are off the wish list. The rest of the M&M's will be gone soon. [As a type at 6:25 PM, one bag already gone only two left.]
I will probably dig out one or two of the last letters from Mom and Dad. [Never mind that] It sucks the total lack of any thought from them. They know I can only shop once every two weeks and that the day I shop is Tuesday. I have certainly written about it enough.
They also know I am not getting any extra funds to speak of so that I would not have had "extra" to spend before receiving the birthday M.O. Getting $50 put on my account today is sort of useless in terms of having "a party with my pals." I know I am whining but I need to be able to put some of these feelings down on paper.
I have no outlet. I am not sure what to write to the female whose address you enclosed, but I guess the first contact should be short and sweet. Will let you know if I get an answer.
I guess the Hamilton
order for that C++ book got misplaced also. Good thing I keep copies of my request so all I have to do is retype it.
I note the closing line of their letter that they will be praying for me. No mention of me calling. I think the last time I called home was April 20. That was another of those unanswered question about how often they would like me to call.
Hell with it, you do not need to hear more. Just hope you might see some parental do's and don'ts. I know you are already a great parent, but you might see something that might help you at some point.
Let me deal with your letter. First of all thanks getting it out this week. As you know by now from my letter which was already on its way to you, I had a lot on my mind these last few days, and as I predicted, it would probably all be answered at the same time. I was thinking Friday but Thursday is actually a little better. I could get something into the mail tonight. [The fourth bag of M&M's is almost gone] The answers were not all bad, thanks in large part to the information included in your letter.
It is still an emotional overload, which is part of the problem. I am not going to answer my parents tonight, but when I do it will simply be to thank them for the $50.00 and their card. I will enclose a duplicate book order. [I did just send the thank you for the power adapter, so they will have heard from me to confirm I am still alive. I had hoped for a visit, I could discuss my future needs, but now will have to do it in letter form.
Damn, I just pissed Tom off with my rapier
sharp tongue. It is a wonder I do not have athlete's mouth, from putting foot in mouth so often.
I know you do not want to handle email for me but I would appreciate you forwarding a letter to both Summer
. Now that they know who I am, I would like to give them some direct feedback of what writing to me could be, in a positive way. I am not sure if I will get to that tonight.
I am going to have to type a letter for one of the other inmates. He wanted me to sell him a ribbon, but since I only have two left, I want to try and be able to wait another week or so before I have my parents order another six. Maybe I could try eight this time.
Count just cleared, let me set up the typewriter and get cracking.
I want you to know that your letters, complaints and all, are still the true bright spot in my existence and your last couple short but timely letters are really appreciated. Just like the joke about how to keep a moron in suspense. Tell you tomorrow. With the mail being our only communication link, I often am that moron in suspense.
I am going to type this up and see where I am time and emotion wise. See what else I fell like tackling tonight.
All typed as far as draft goes. Well it is just after 7 PM and let me review your letter for some additional comments.
Thanks for the birthday wishes.
I think you answered one of my blog questions. As I understand it, the way people comment now is more like an email message that only you can see. There is no space or option for people to leave comments that other readers can see. If that is correct that sounds like a good option for now, perhaps what we can do in the future is go ahead and reprint a comment with my response so that people still can get a sense of some interactivity between themselves and the blog. We could label the comment as one received from a reader and not even include their contact information if they did give any.
That is why you are the editor I defer to your judgment. I have the working copy of the passage and can use it in my personal correspondence if the need arises. Ha Ha.
I sent you the vocabulary test
just out of habit to show others that I really do things. You have already read the results of my score.
Would appreciate the hold up of the books I would really like to read what you send. Another of those personal challenges. By the way, if you do not have them all wrapped already, the last few shipments have been really scant on the romance stuff. I could use some of that if you have any available.
NY Times Food Section: All I can do is drool. But to be honest I really prefer to get the nuts and bolts type of information. They had some good features when they would do the how it works features but since the hardware stuff changes so fast, and it may be a while before that is an issue for me, I am okay with the little info they now post in the business section.
We saw an "airline" version of Pulp Fiction
since I think it was R. The TV we watch movies on here is a little fuzzy and tough to see much detail in those nighttime scenes.
Tonight's New York Philharmonic concert is all American. Gershwin’s
Rhapsody in Blue is coming up at some point.
Let me look at my working copies of my last letters to see what you missed. Just looked through my pile of stuff I have sent you, too many pages to check and not in the mood now. You are off the hook. You asked what else and I can not think of any burning issues right now. I think I will print and proof this and see what that leaves as far as time. Would like to get the letter out to now.
Now 9:25 PM and ready to print this page. Going to try to get a short letter out to the person whose name and address you sent me.
Does Size Matter?
In order to give the appearance of being "fair and balanced", I cut out two articles from the May 27, 2005, New York Times.
The articles share two, two inch wide, twenty inch long columns. Both articles mention the payment of fines for wrongdoing, arising out of the violation of campaign finance laws.
One article occupies all but the last five and a half inches at the bottom of the second column. There are three large headlines across both columns for the first story:
"Treasurer of a Texas PAC Is Fined Nearly $200,000
Official of Committee Formed by DeLay
The three headlines, take up one and a half inches across both columns. If one did not look carefully, one might not even notice the other story.
The larger story deals with a finding by a Texas judge that a political action committee formed by United States Representative Tom Delay, the House majority leader broke campaign finance laws.
Once you read the story, it turns out that there was no mention of Mr. Delay in the court decision. He was not a party to the action and was not held responsible for the actions of the committee. Yet the headline clearly mentions Delay.
The second story has a bold print headline spanning the width of one column, the type no bigger than the size of the rest of the text on the page. The headline reads, "Jesse Jackson and Democrats Fined.
" This story does not contain a byline as the Delay story does, and is credited to the (AP).
According to this article, the amount of funds spent illegally by Jesse Jackson working with the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and the Citizenship Education Fund, was $450,000. The amount that the Texas PAC misspent was $532,333.00.
In the Texas PAC Case, "The judgment awarded nearly $200,000 to five Democrats who were ousted by Republican candidates...
In the Jesse Jackson case, the fines total $200,000 and according to the article $100,000 will be paid by Mr. Jesse Jackson and two groups that he worked with, and $100,000 will be paid by the Democratic National Committee.
I do think both stories are equally telling of the corrupt practices that are used by all parties during the election and neither story carries more repugnance.
It is a clear example of how news reporting can assign value to stories that you the news consumer might not agree with.
Ethics, what ethics?
It is 6:00 PM. Two papers, no letters. Not sure if the package guy has been here yet.
I just got done speaking to Daniels, who wanted me to write a letter to his lawyer about refunding part of the $25,000 retainer he paid last year. He had written a rambling diatribe that was likely to get him committed as insane, if anything.
I started to write my own take on the matter, and asked him if he knew the hourly rates the lawyer was charging. He then gave me a copy of the retainer agreement, which is better than using a gun to get $25,000 from a bank.
It clearly states that no matter what happens, the full $25,000 is earned and they will still bill Daniels for any additional hours once that $25,000 is used up. What a racket!
It took about ten minutes to convince Daniels that there was no point in writing anything to the lawyers since they had him dead to rights and there was no way they would be kind and give him back any of his money.
The really funny part is the agreement clearly shows that in his particular case the law firm knew they were drawing down on a charge card and that there was no way Daniels would be in a position to pay off the debt!
Ethics, what ethics? Take the money any way you can get it.
I have printed the enclosed blog post two or three times and think it might actually be error free? At least better the some of the other stuff. I have done some real editing, deleting parts, moving around a few words and letting it sit for a bit before I reread it yet again. As I type this, I am still going to draft print them each one more time to see if it is EPT, as in Error Proof Typing.
I had a tuna salad sandwich for lunch today. Really was lazy about it. Opened one can of tuna. I do have to use a manual can opener. Mixed in a little mustard and garlic powder. I was too lazy to chop up any fresh onion. I even fit the whole can on to one sandwich with two slices of American cheese. Usually I would have made two sandwiches but that was also deemed too much work.
I did treat myself to 5 bags of M&M`s (peanut) this week on account of my birthday. Two bags gone already!
In the past my parents have enclosed an extra $50 with the June allowance, not so this time. This does really suck, because I realize I am lifting up some pretty high expectations and they could all come crumbling down in one twenty-four hour period, forty-eight if the gods decide to give it to me slowly.
I am hoping for a visit this weekend from Mom & Dad. In the alternative I am wondering if they opted to send in a Birthday food package. I am also figuring I should hear something from my blog readers or you by Friday's mail call.
As I see it, I find out the blog has imploded in Friday's mail call around 4:00 PM, do not get any package, and then spend the first two hours of Saturday morning, waiting to hear my name called for a visit, and that does not happen. Yeah I know stop being so whiny. You would think after 9 birthdays in prison I would finally be able to treat it as just another day.
Time to take a piss break, print the blog stuff one last draft and then see what the spirit moves me to do, besides wallow in self pity that is.
Okay still not inspired to do much, I did finish off the Sunday NY Times from May 29, today. Not too much else, so I have given the post one final printing and made the last correction. Going to put the ribbon in and print all this stuff up.
I guess you might actually be reading this on Saturday, if it makes the trek in two days that is.
President Defines "Some".
The May 28, 2005, edition of the New York Times carried the story of President Bush speaking at the graduation of the latest class of Midshipmen [should that not be Midshippersons?]. At the United States Naval Academy on May 27, the president said: "Some of our men and women in uniform have given their lives in this cause and others have returned home with horrible injuries,
" he said. "America honors their sacrifice, and we will uphold the cause they served.
The article mentions that the graduating class was "nearly 1,000."
The president last spoke at the academy graduation in 2001. Ten Annapolis graduates have been killed in the fighting in Iraq since that time.
On the facing page to this article was the official (and unfortunately daily) listing of those service members killed in the war in Iraq. The total as of May 28 was 1,639 American Service members.
As a kid, we used to joke that a couple of something was two, a few was three and some was four or more. This usually came up when you were asking a friend for a few of his M&M's or other pieces of candy he was eating. Personally I think 1,639 are certainly more than some.
I think it is a dishonor to those people who have lost their lives in the war to be referred to as some.
I understand war is not a nice thing and people get killed in war, I do not see any reason to minimize the cost in human lives because it may make us uncomfortable.
The White House has been asked on some occasions, [some used here to mean certainly under ten!] why the president did not make a comment about a particular horrific helicopter crash, or other occasion when there has been more then a few [few meaning three as mentioned above] American casualties, and the White House response has always been that the president does not comment on any specific casualties, in order to not show any sense that one death is more important than the other.
Irony to me is how we are in the midst of some major corporate scandals and legal actions, caused by the leaders of those companies doing all sorts of actions to hide the bad news, the poor financial condition of the company from the public. Hiding the bad news does not make it go away or decrease its importance in making informed decisions.
Just a short note. I am typing this into the memory first, unlike the previous letter which was a "direct to ribbon".
I received the correct power AC/DC converter for my radio. My Dad placed the order on June 2, I am not sure why it took so long but at least I have it now.
I did not receive any mail today, maybe tomorrow? Or has the release of my identity caused the Blog to implode? I know, patience.
I do not know if I will see my parents this weekend. Probably not, but I am waiting to see if a miracle occurs. I will send a letter to my mom this weekend, asking here to comment on the idea of collecting the letters for my Dad. I do not if she or my siblings have already put some plans in motion.
I also wanted to mention that you might want to convert Father's Day to Parent's Day. You and the kids could pull a "surprise" inclusion of Mom in the day. I know you would not be able to find Mother's day cards, I presume you did give her cards already, but the kids could handcraft some cards. This falls on the idea of a "surprise" like this could go the extra mile and might really give her the boost you find so elusive. Just a thought.
There is something really strange with two of the radio stations here. WNED is the classical station, and there is also WBFU which is the SUNY Buffalo station. WBFU carries the NPR and other programs I am used to hearing. I think they broadcast on 89.7.
For some reason the signal from WNED is coming in on the same frequency as WBFU. Not sure if this is a solvable problem. Could you get me the mailing address for the two stations? Also if you could send me the web pages that show what frequency they each broadcast on and if they list the power of the signal.
We are closer to Buffalo, but maybe BFU is too weak? The thing is depending on who I twist the headphone wire (antenna) I can sometimes get the WBFU station but one tiny move of the wire and WNED comes in. It would seem that the fault is with WNED transmitting a signal that bleeds over other frequencies. Not a big problem to be sure but I thought I might write some letters and see what happens.
By the way do you remember reading Mat Miller's Op Ed column on May 28? "Honor Thy Teacher." He talks about a plan to really boost the salaries of the teachers in poor neighborhoods. The following quote caught my eye. "And there are environmental benefits, too; if a young couple thinks they could jointly earn $250,000 as teachers, we very well end up with two fewer lawyers.
I just finished reading May 28, (Saturday) New York Times. I did not receive the Sunday paper today so for the first time in a while I am back down to 7 days of papers. I did receive 3 of them yesterday. I have also cut way back on the articles I cut out, and actually am reading the ones I would normally have cut out in the past. This too shall pass? Perhaps, but I really need to find a damn groove. I think the raising of bar, in terms of holding on to every interesting story printed is a good place to start.
I picked up the Get Smart
book you sent in one of the last shipments, it is a thin book and I figured I could knock it out quickly. The whole first scene in the book is about his ringing shoe phone while in mid-town New York City. They describe how every one is looking at him as the ringing sound comes from his shoe, and then he finds a phone booth, complete with door to take off his shoe.
Today a kid reading the book would say "A shoe phone? That is stupid, everyone has portable phones and what the heck is a phone booth?"
Anyhow the whole thing is such a classic example of contemporary social commentary writing disguised as a novel, which read 40 years later, some parts still make sense, but other parts no longer make any sense at all.
Question: Typing a letter to Mom and Dad, my greeting reads, "Fear Mom and Dad." Freudian slip or typo? You make the call.
9:15 PM let me proof and print.
So much to do, so little time.
It is 5:45 PM on Monday, June 5, and I just got my bi-weekly commissary sheet to fill out. More importantly I got the latest postings from the blog through Thursday June 2, 1:29 PM.Summer
, I owe you one big apology, and am due the grief. I do still talk more than do. While I have started sending specific post, I am not always sure which parts of my letters get posted.
I am making some more changes on my approach to my writing. I was not always aware of the effort that the editor was expanding on my behalf, and even before he told me he wanted to stop doing the blog, I had made some changes in what I sent him.
(We interrupt to mention that as I type this, the radio just started playing "Let's Give Them Something to Talk About." Giving my name and address to those that might want to write to me certainly gives some of you something to talk about.)
I was pleased that the editor realized I could make changes that would reduce the effort he expended on the blog. In my life making promises to do "better" often where more style than substance. I have now taken on the burden of being sure what I send out is ready to go with minimum additional work needed.
It is only in doing this over the last few weeks that I have been overwhelmed with the amount of effort and "work" that is involved in turning out error-reduced work. I will not say error free at this point but that is my goal.
I did type several pages of the letter, the editor even got the first typed page, when I decided that if I am going to begin to cover some of my early years, why not it right. At this point the project would normally die; I become overwhelmed by the size of the task and am paralyzed into inaction.
I have just finished reading a boot "Blood Done Sign My Name" and as I think I mentioned, it is written by a pastor's son. I too am a pastor's son and have dreamed of writing a book. His book was twenty years in the making. I hope to cut down drastically on that time frame.
You will all be the guinea pigs for my rough ideas of what to include in the book, and so I will finally begin to answer some of the more personal questions that have popped up on the blog from time to time and basically been ignored by me as too much work to deal with.
It is precisely the support I have gotten from the readers of this blog that has given me the strength to make changes in the way I "work." Quite simply I am at a point where I have to put up or shut up, and not being one to be quiet, I will make sure the posts are worth the time all of you spend reading them.
Already I am in trouble since I need to complete my commissary sheet, proof and print six pages, and write a letter to the editor. I will stop writing now, do the commissary sheet, and hopefully include a beginning to Prison Pete, the early years.
Can he do it?
7:20 PM - He is back!
Okay the commissary sheet is complete, and I have printed out the three page letter that needs to be mailed today.
I do not know if I made it clear in my posts, but I have never been formally diagnosed with ADD. I do not believe the diagnosis was even available back in the 1960's when I was attending grade school. My report cards from those years are full of comments that point to the fact I could do much better work if I would only pay attention and put in a little more effort.
I was not so much rowdy or a discipline problem, but reacting to the school work with boredom and laziness. One of comments in the past has been about fine motor skills. Here again I was always one to color outside the lines and not be overly concerned about it. At least that is how I remember it now. I am sure many the parent has had a child that is more upset about not being able to get the crayon to stay within the lines; me, I was willing to accept a mediocre result.
It appears to me at this point that even at a young age I was aware that some things came easier to me than others. I was not willing to put in any extra effort when it was called for. I simply accepted that if I could not reach the goal, coloring inside the lines for example, on the first couple attempts then why bother. I accepted a less than optimum results.
While I am sure there where times that I would indeed put in some effort and got a better result than prior to putting in the effort, those times never became ingrained enough to become a rule for me to live by.
Even now with my heightened awareness that I can improve my abilities if I put in some "practice" time, I am still more likely to accept defeat, or not even start a project, rather than accept the possibility of the learning curve as the path that needs to be followed.
What I have found helpful is to be more aware of outside influences that I might latch on to that re-enforce this "do not bother with the effort, you know you will never get to the goal anyhow attitude." It should be pointed out that it may not even be the intent of others to sabotage your efforts; it is how I end up interpreting the information that counts. It is not what you say that counts, it is what I hear. And as any parent knows, those two things are not always one in the same. Life is never that easy.
While my parents have taken some heat in this blog, they have continued to be supportive of me throughout my incarceration. I know they love me dearly, and continue to do what they feel is best for me.
When I mentioned that I was getting some heat from the staff about the amount of newspapers I had, my mom suggested, in one of the letters, that maybe I could cut back on the number of days I get the paper. This would make it easier for me to keep up.
No, I wrote back, I am just going to work harder at reading y basis. One of the other things I am working, No, I wrote back, I am just going to work harder at reading them on a timelier basis. One of the other things I am working on is not being quite as obsessive with the amount of articles I cut out. Again this is a much different approach for me.
I now look at ways that I can change my behavior; to evaluate the goal of the task, see if that needs to be changed, as opposed to being abandoned. What steps within the task can be changed to more closely meet the needs of the goal.
In this case I already have well over 100 articles that I have ripped out of the paper because I think they might be good to write about on the blog. I am still getting the paper seven days a week, so that number is not in any danger of decreasing.
Since the overall goal is to get material to write about, and in all reality I have discovered completing four single spaced type pages a day is a realistic goal. Doing the math, saving ten or more stories from each day's paper, I will always be in a position of accumulating more and more articles than I could possibly use.
Now instead of be quick to tear out an article based on the first few lines, I will read the entire article, thus eliminating one reason to tear it out, so I can read it later. Once I have read the entire article, I then am more likely to decide that yes it was interesting to read, but is not "Blog Worthy".
By being more disciplined at keeping the actual goal in mind, keeping articles to write about, clearly evaluating why I was "clipping" so many articles, I was forced to admit that I was using the option of clipping an article to avoid spending the time to read it at that given moment.
Yes there may be some articles that I will have wished I kept, but that is really what the whole thing is about. I can not control everything in my life, and need to be more realistic about what areas I can control. Failure to let go; another area that contributes to my paralysis of inaction.
As the post on the blank computer keyboard, shows some of us will be lazy if we have the chance, and I am one of those types.
Okay let me proof and print the five pages of post I have typed in so far.
One last task to complete after that is a letter to my editor. Work, work work. Oh well it is now 10:00 PM and I am about to print this last page out. The letter to the editor is going to be a short one.
Just another rainy Monday.
When I awoke at 6:45 AM this morning, there was massive rumbling and heavy rain pounding on our steel roof. Sounds like a concert hall full of people clapping.
I climbed back into bed figuring that my 9:00 AM walk was a wash out, and off to dreamland I went.
I woke up at 9:00, the old sub-conscious kicked my tail awake, to find the sun shinning and clear blue sky.
I jumped down from my bunk, put on my sneakers and went out to walk. The clay-like soil absorbed most of the water and it was more than dry enough to walk. Rats.
Thought I would get a day off from walking but the inner exercise task master made sure I did not ease off on the little exercise I do get.
I thought of it first!
An article in the May 26, 2005 edition of the New York Times announced the arrival of a new computer keyboard.
This new keyboard has two distinctive features. One is that each key has a slightly different "weight" to it. "It takes less force to make the Z key register than it does the F,
" the article states.
The second feature is actually an omission. None of the 104 keys have any labels on them. That is right, the entire keyboard is blank.
The interesting claim made by the manufacturer, is that some users, once forced to memorize the keyboard, see their typing speed double.
I already knew that. Although I have put my key caps back in their proper place, when I randomly switched all the keys around, I found that for the first time in over thirty years I could indeed learn to touch type.
This further documents that there is more than one way people "learn." Some of us are willing to take a lazy person's approach to a task, even a repetitive task, rather than put in a little extra effort that would greatly increase our ability to complete the task efficiently.
I do have to say that this is by no means a new idea. My father has told me on more than one occasion that when he was being taught to type as a youngster, all the typewriters they were learning on had blank keys.
They started by looking at a layout of the keys at the front of the room and that was eventually removed. At that point they had to type strictly by having the keyboard firmly ingrained in their brains.
Yes folks, sometimes the simplest approach is the best for the brain to learn. Throw out all those typing programs and take some nail polish remover to the key caps.
I am working my way through a book of 1,000 crossword puzzles.
I started the book about 2 months ago and so far have completed 128 puzzles. In the past I would skip around the book finishing some puzzles, leaving others in various states of undoneness [great word].
Now I am doing them in order and finishing one before moving on to the next one.
Waiter, there is an anchovy in my pasta!
One of the major differences between the Federal Prison and my current abode, the New York State prison system, is the ability to receive up to thirty-five pounds of food from the free world each month.
One of my fellow inmates received 6 cans of anchovies on a visit last week. He was kind enough to give me a can. Today for lunch I cooked up about a third of a pound of pasta, added a tablespoon of margarine, some garlic powder and the can of anchovies and lunch was served.
It is certainly an interesting experience to be able to taste something that you have not had in over nine years. My taste buds were sending massive sensory overload messages to my brain. They did not understand this flavor that was registering as familiar yet at the same time a very distant memory.
It is now one half hour since I finished my lunch and I am about to go out and commit armed robbery and get the rest of the cans of anchovies sitting in his locker. (Not really, but there maybe some unsightly begging and pleading going on for an additional can or two. Shameless.)
OK, I did end up with one more can but as they say in prison, "Don't ask questions in the big house."
I have figured out that you can safely cook one third of a pound of pasta at a time in my little five cup, non-boiling clear plastic hot pot. Once the water reaches the two hundred degree mark, and you put the pasta in, it takes about twenty minutes. Patience strikes again.
I am playing beat the clock.
It is 10:00 PM. I have been "working" on and off since 11:00 AM.
I am going to start setting up my office at the tables after my daily walk and shower. I even managed to read one of the New York Times today. Sitting on the bed to read is dangerous. The difference between reading and falling asleep are just too close. Falling asleep wins.
Since I have enough supplies to actually set up a fairly respectable working desk, I am going to do that.
In addition to reading one day's NYT, I wrote a three page letter to Reverend Paul, I received his letter last Tuesday, so really needed to send the thank you to him for the books he sent. I also completed five pages for the blog and now this quick letter to you.
I will now be sitting on pins and needles waiting to see what, if any response I get to you giving out the address.
I am really taking the writing thing seriously, and hopefully you will see an improvement in my writing. Please let me know where you feel I need to spend more effort. I will pay close attention to your comments. I realize that I need to pay close attention. I often find myself skimming over a sentence or two instead of reading it critically for errors, style, grammar and spelling.
Also let me know if it is a real problem if the type runs off the page. It should not happen that often, only when I end up adding additional information during the editing. As long as a reprint the paragraph in full at the top of the next page can you deal with it? I would hate to have to "waste the ribbon and retype the whole page. But let me know what is needed and I will comply.
I am going to write a letter to Mom this week and see what she thinks of some of my ideas. I do not expect anything elaborate at all; it will certainly be a KISS project. And hey I can even type the text and you can scan that in, can you not?
Besides, despite the obvious downside of my infamy, maybe someday like the phoenix [actually had to go get the crossword dictionary to look that one up] I will rise from the ashes.
Thanks for being my friend, life is good with you in it!
So maybe I am a Pack Rat.
I am currently receiving the New York Times through the mail. I get all seven days, and I read through each day with an eagle eye for articles that I can use.
I have a few main subjects that I am currently gathering and then there are the miscellaneous ones. I would love to be able to scan these articles into a database, to have at my finger tips, but alas I have to be content with manila envelopes labeled with the particular subject of articles.
My problem is that I cut out a particular article and file it away, for what purpose? Sometimes a particular story will come back into the news at a later point and it will be of interest to see how the initial assumptions did not pan out in the long run.
Other stories deserve a passing note and then I need to move on. I am good at the gathering of the articles, but they have quickly become a large round-to-it pile that is going to get me in trouble with the staff for having too much newsprint in my possession.
For the rest of my Sunday afternoon, I will attempt to get the notes written to you faithful blog readers, and then toss the articles out and move on. Sometimes it is just so hard to let go.
I did write about two articles today and tossed out an additional two without comment. One of the articles dealt with professional athletes selling their uniform numbers to new players joining the team. It seems that some of the players end up being traded after purchasing a number, and then decide not to finish paying for the number that they no longer need.
The other article was titled "A Critic Takes on the Logic of Female Orgasm."
Words, what do they all mean?
I was recently sent a vocabulary test
to take, and I am embarrassed to admit that I thought I did better than the answer sheet said I did.
I actually just finished looking up the words I got wrong, looking to prove that the answers I gave were within the realm of possible answers. I have to further admit, that the search proved fruitless, and my answers were wrong, as confirmed by the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
The test is from a web-site, Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation
, and I took the test which has eight levels. I got five wrong on level seven and eight (out of ten) wrong on level eight.
I had thought between my reading, and crossword puzzles I would be able to ace the test. I knew I was in trouble with level eight, but thought I did better on level seven.
This also brings up another one of my "working" habits. I think some time ago, I posted some "new" words I came across in my reading of the New York Times. I might have also mentioned that I had dedicated a composition note book to new words, and would probably post my new finds on the blog.
After bombing on the vocabulary test, I took out my notebook and was surprised (okay not really) to find that my last entry in the book was dated April 3. I have now added three new words, two on June 1, and one more on June 3.
Yes this is Pete at his best. Start a long term project, stick to it for a few weeks, and then give up on it. Now let us see how long I can stick with it this time. My latest additions:improvident adj. not providing for the future.vagaries n. an odd or eccentric idea or action WHIM CAPRICE pellucid adj. extremely clear LIMPID TRANSPARENT
It is not that I have not been reading, it is more that I have not taken the effort to look up the words that I might not be sure of the meaning. It is not a case of not having the tools needed to complete the task; the dictionary is always within arms reach, as is plenty of writing implements, and the notebook to write down the new words. Let us see how long I can keep it up this time.
This is the plan. I come across a word I am not sure of; I look it up and then write out the word and its definition in the notebook. Once a week I should be able to post the words that I have come across that week. Simple. Yes. Can I keep to it, one of these days I will!
Contract, What Contract?
One of the most glaring areas of hypocrisy for our government is the topic of spies. The entire world knows that all governments want to spy on each other, yet if we catch one of our "citizens" passing information to another country, we are outraged and willing to put this person to death for his or her transgression.
The hypocrisy was pointed out in a recent Supreme Court ruling. According to an article in the New York Times, "A contractual agreement between the government and one of its spies is unenforceable in federal court because of the 'absolute secrecy' the government needs for its espionage activities, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Wednesday.
Let this be a lesson to all those freedom loving, democracy seeking foreigners that yearn to live a better life either by working their own way into our country or to help free their country by feeding critical information to us about their country.
The argument the government used in court to block the unnamed couple from seeking the court's power to enforce a contract that was suppose to provide lifetime financial support, was that "even the need to respond to the allegations of such a lawsuit posed a threat to national security be requiring an acknowledgment that an espionage agreement existed.
" What say it aint so, the great United States of America has spies. Boy would the rest of the world be shocked.
To add further insult to injury, in my opinion, the court cited as a precedent for this denial a post Civil War case, decided in 1876. According to the Times, "...the heirs of a spy who had entered into a contract with President Abraham Lincoln to infiltrate the Confederate lines for $200 a month filed a lawsuit contending he had not received full payment. The Supreme Court ordered that suit dismissed.
If I remember my Business Law 101 class, in order for a contract to even be considered a contract, each party must give some type of consideration (something of value) to the other party. It would seem that if you are a spy working on behalf of the great United States, you, the spy deliver you part of the contract and then the government has the option of not delivering on its part of the contract_
Guess if one wants to spy for the US, they should demand cash up front!
Maybe this was really all a ruse to shakedown the government; we do not use spies do we?
It is 9:15 PM on Sunday night
and I have not written one sentence to you yet. I am typing this letter into the memory; the direct typing is faster but not as neat.
I have been sitting at the table since around 1:00 PM. I did get the four blog pages typed and five letters to the various companies you so kindly supplied the address to, actually four are for the address you sent, the fifth one is for Dick Blick
. Here is hoping that the mail room does not deep six the envelopes on the way out.
I did type one and half pages to Mom and Dad, about the book "Blood Done Sign My Name
" that I finished the other day. I also mentioned about the unclaimed funds
information you found and told them to let me know if that one address for Avenue N was possibly the correct one. I will let you know if they find anything.
I am still fighting to get out of the funk I am in. I have tried to keep up with the day to day tasks. I have managed to walk every morning so far, read two New York Times yesterday, and do a few crossword puzzles and take a stab at the cross sums. I am going to finish off the Killer Angels
in the next day or so.
I am in dire need of some emotional uplifting. You are a real bright spot in my existence and I am not missing anything from you.
Part of the funk is the unanswered questions I have asked of my parents, how often to call for example, and the lack of a response to my order for the correct AC adapter for my radio, the kitchen utensils I asked for, and wondering if they are coming to see me this weekend.
I go through this every year, my birthday comes and I think that this is the year they will come visit me on my Birthday. I know it is a trek and a hassle for them but I guess the lack of an open dialogue is what hurts the most.
Well it almost count time so I will sign off now and come back after the count to proof and print.
Fortune Cookies actually give $$ fortune.
One hundred and ten people actually read their fortunes from inside the cookie and took the advice. The cookie listed six lottery numbers. The first five of the six numbers listed ended up matching March 30 Power Ball drawing. The winners were each guaranteed between $100,000 and $500,000 depending on the amount bet.
On the one hand the cookie was wrong about the last number, it showed 40, and 42 was the number drawn, but since the second prize is apparently a guaranteed amount, they might have made out better. The story does not say what the grand prize was worth (March 30 drawing), but they would have had to split that amount 110 ways.
The source of the fortune cookie was a Long Island City factory, and they said they send out the same combinations in thousands of cookies each day.
The moral of this story is to be sure to order Chinese take-out before picking your lottery numbers.
When the End is not THE END.
Okay this comes in really low on the scale of necessities of life but sometimes it is the little things in life that people like to do.
I was reading "Before I Wake" by Eric Bowman, Copyright 1997, G.P. Putman's Sons.
I had forgotten the standard prison rule of checking to be sure all the pages are in a book before you start reading a book. This was a hardcover book and in reasonably good shape so I assumed all the pages would be in it.
As with most assumptions, I was wrong! I got up to page 292 and discovered that the last page in this book was not the last page of the story. The last sentence on the page, "He pumped another cartridge into the shotgun chamber and entered.
" Then nothing.
I looked carefully at the binding and sure enough you could see there were indeed the remnants of some pages that used to be there.
This is just an example of how I accumulate things to do and they fester and multiply awaiting some action on my behalf.
I sent a letter to the publisher as shown in the book, but the letter was returned as "NOT DELIVERABLE AS ADDRESSED."
Here is the scavenger hunt task for today. If you have access to a scanner, and can find this book on your local library, would you please scan any pages past 292 and email them to the blog? Then the editor can send them on to me.
I realize this is certainly not a life altering need. I can live without the pages but I thought I would give it a shot.
This is just one of my "stumbling blocks" that clutter up my mind and locker. Now that I have submitted it to the blog, I can toss away the letter that got returned by the Post Office, and let the problem go.
That is the problem for me, letting go. That is also another entire subject to post on the blog.
I just got done typing the first page and when I hit the ESC to close the file the typewriter simply beeped at me. The reason was that I never put it in word processor mode. I had managed to type the entire first page without saving it to a file!
I am really in a funk and that did not help. I will now retype page one, and then maybe go on to page two.
I actually cleaned up my locker today, sorted a weeks worth of clippings, and consolidated my miscellaneous "to do" stuff into one place.
It is 5:30 here and I am going to type out the letter I wrote back on January 11, 2005. I have reread it and I think it is possible to go ahead and post it on the blog. If you do not find it blog worthy, then maybe you can email it to Summer
I have been meaning to send you a direct response to your comment posted on December 22, 2004. Unfortunately it got into the round to it pile and there it sat. [the letter was actually written back on January 11, 2005 and is finally being transcribed on June 2, 2005]
Holidays are always strange times in prison. You find yourself surrounded with men whom you would not be anywhere close to in the free world. A lot of my prison holidays were spent reflecting on holidays from years past with the hope of being free one day to celebrate them on the other side of the barbed wire.
I do not know if I made it clear in my posts, but I have never been formally diagnosed with ADD. During my grade school years, 1961-1967, I do not believe the diagnosis was even available. My report cards from those years are full of comments from my teachers that "Pete could do much better in _____ if he would only put in some effort.
I was not much of a rowdy or disruptive student. I was probably bored and/or lazy (my parents would certainly use the latter to describe my lack of optimum school performance) at various times depending on the subject.
You asked about handwriting and fine motor skills. Even at my deliberate best, my handwriting was never all that neat, and as my trusty editor and those poor volunteers that helped type some of my handwritten letters can attest, the quality goes down with the length of the writing. I was always the one in class who would color outside the lines.
After spending most of my sixth grade doing very little class work, which is another whole story, I was accepted into a private school where I would spend the next six years of my academic career.
I just spent the last three hours
working on typing the four page handwritten letter I had written to Summer way back in January.
The first thing that occurred I typed the entire first page without have this machine in WP mode.
Then I was so distracted I ran off the bottom on two other pages, and as I went to proof and print I decided it really is not all that good as written and just cleared the memory and a directly typing this note.
I realize it is Thursday and this will be the last chance to mail this week, but it just was not worth spending the ribbon on.
By the way, Tom has been receiving those travel brochures. I would have thought they would come from one central location but no, they do not. The funny part is that the staff ends up putting the brochure on the side to look at, and then calls Tom up later in the evening to pick up his mail.
They did confiscate one of the maps that came with the Sullivan county brochure to be sure he did not plan an escape!
I will continue to clear my head and get back to writing.
They claim they have fixed the air conditioner; it is cool in here now, but not the meat locker coolness it was. They still have several of the big fans on, and I am sitting working in a tee shirt. At least I am not sweating.
I did walk again this morning and did clean up the locker.
I sorted a weeks worth of clippings and managed to gather all the “to do” stuff into one convenient pile. Unfortunately, it has led to a slight sense of paralysis but I will nibble away at over the next three days and hopefully you will receive a nice large bunch typed stuff from me by next Wednesday.
It is almost count time and I am going to pack it in for the night.
Geek to Chic.
The New York Times has spoken. Gone is the Thursday Circuits
Section (all about computers). In its place is Thursday Styles
. Hmmm. Style over Substance, Form over Function.Style
is not even a weekly section. It is in addition to the Sunday Style
Section. In describing the subjects to be covered by this section the Times states, "It will also include reports on social trends, and coverage of fitness, skin care and shopping in stores and online
This first edition pleasantly informed me that while I have been out of the corporate work force, Casual Fridays are out.
The Business Suit is back. Damn, I missed the entire Casual Friday thing.
Then there is the riveting story of people making "fake" cell phone calls to chase away unwanted attention. We also are informed that our personal trainer may be crossing some boundaries you do not want him to cross.
Well, I guess the nerd is back in the closet.
They will have three pages devoted to computers in the Thursday Business Section so all is not lost.
The fact is they can probably get more money for "style" ads then tightwad computer companies.
Do Not Try This One at Home.
The following paragraph appeared under "Corrections" in the April 22, 2005 edition of the New York Times:
"Because of a computer malfunction, an article in Business Day yesterday about negotiations to resume American beef exports to Japan misspelled three names. The ambassador to Japan, who commented, is J. Thomas Sohieffer not Schaeffer. Japan's ambassador in Washington, who has met with American law-makers, is Ryozo Kato, not Rizzo. A political consultant who discussed the implications of the talks is John F. Carbaugh Jr., not Car Baugh.
Computer Malfunction? What? The reporter hit the wrong keys? The editor read article with his eyes closed? And what good is a computer if it "malfunctions" not once, not twice, but three times in one article.
Funny the errors are all on names, something the spell checkers are not always a lot of help on. To err is human, but to blame it on the computer is also human.
The Mother of all Mail Calls.
As many of you already know by now, mail call is the highlight of an inmate's day. It could be a highlight, if you do not get any mail well then it is just not that special at all.
The last day of May, the day following a three day weekend, certainly gave me one of my "biggest" mail calls. I received:
Four New York Times. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Monday.
Two Magazines. INC. and PC.
One large envelope containing one letter, two paperback books, three pages of jokes, and two sermons. This package was from Reverend Paul, a pastor I have been in contact with throughout my incarceration. He can always be counted on to bring humor and thought provoking issues for me to deal with.
One letter. Last and certainly not least, a letter from the hard working, frequently abused Editor; the best friend a person could have.
Of course the arrival of all that mail in one day means that I had better get cracking and issue the necessary return letters, to assure yet another letter from the two above individuals. I also need to get reading the papers since there is a concern on behalf of some of the officers here that I might have too much newspaper in my locker. The regulations allow for fourteen newspapers, but the New York Times is certainly more voluminous than most papers.
I could not resist starting the one book as it is written by a pastor's son. The book is titled "Blood Done Sign My Name" and is written by Timothy B. Tyson. I ended up reading till 2:30 AM and am up to page 138.
The book deals with growing up during the 60's and 70's as a white person in North Carolina and experiencing all the turmoil of the Civil Rights Movement. It is really tough to put this book down. I will be discussing it further once I have finished it.
I have managed to finish off two novels in the last week. "Deadly Pursuit" by Brain Harper and "The Exorcist" by William Peter Blatty. I am also reading "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara.
June, the month of great birthdays!
We still have no cool air conditioning. Even with the increase of the outside air, it is now 8:00 PM and I am typing on the bed, with the sweaty pits and all.
The great master plan of handwriting first, typing next and keeping the flow of information flowing lasted three whole days. I actually had an incredible mail day yesterday. I will detail it in a blog post to be included with this letter. I am slip sliding along and getting into my old habits of allowing myself to be overwhelmed by the tasks at hand.
I have been doing some reading, finished off the Exorcist, read some more in The Killer Angels, and a new non-fiction book that I received yesterday from Reverend Paul, written by a pastor's son about the racial climate in North Carolina in the 60s and 70s.
I made another step forward today in implementing some sort of organization so that I can be sure to accomplish what needs to be done each day. I am going to dedicate one of my brown folders to all incoming mail and keep the loose leaf paper in there also. That way I can pull out the file and do the drafts that need to be written.
I am not going to be overly obsessive, but am thinking what I need to do is to break down the work I want to accomplish, into easy to complete steps. Since it requires some effort to actually set up the typewriter, I am going to work on making the drafting phase of my writing separate from the typing.
I think I have told you in the past, I am the master at setting up grand plans and then losing interest with in a few days. I am going to get back on the draft writing track because that does make the most sense. I am able to make my ADD work for me instead of against me. I have some many little projects and each one at its own stage of progress that I am able to paralyze myself into inaction and accept a sense of being overwhelmed, thereby excusing me from any action at all.
For example, I did have a vocabulary building program in place. I had purchased a wireless notebook, covered it with the Macy's ad asking the question, "What inspires you?" I thought I did better on the vocabulary test than the answers show. I actually have not yet gone back to see what my errors were. The point is the last entry in the new words notebook was April 3. I put in two new words today:
Improvident; adj. not providing for the future.
Vagaries; n. an odd or eccentric idea or action. WHIM CAPRICE
I am going to cut out the card playing for a few days and work on establishing an organized, but simplistic, approach to the tasks I hope to accomplish while here. I have more than enough intellectual stimuli arriving on a daily basis, and if I am serious about my writing I need to be able to plot out exactly how much effort is involved in each of my "classes."
For example, I have about six or seven categories that I sort the articles I cut from the NY Times into. I have started accumulating two or three days of clippings before sorting them into the various envelopes and document folders. Well, the two or three days easily become five or six.
As I mention in the enclosed post I received four papers yesterday and one more today. I am really struggling with keeping up on all my tasks, since they all seem to require attention every day and that directly conflicts with my "round to it" approach to life.
I am accepting the realization that I will be a much more productive person in the future if I begin now to deal effectively with the way I spend each day. I am going to work back up to the basic schedule that enables me to feel a sense of progress and accomplishment each day. Even though I was up till 3:00 AM reading, I still was up at 6:45 AM, had breakfast, and was awake enough to make it out at 9:00 AM to walk for the hour. I think today was either the six or seventh day I have now walked. As my recent hiatus proved, I can easily go for days and not walk. But it is important that I do get some basic exercise, and one hour a day is certainly not excessive, but it needs to become a habit.
Today before I took out the typewriter, I went through my eight pocket folder and went through all the scraps, notes articles and other assorted debris to figure out what needed to be done to move all the "stuff" on to the next step. I will be working through that stack over the next few days. I had one clipping that was actually two different articles, one for my "writing file" the other side was one for my Dad.
Tonight I finally typed out the article for my dad, so I can now file the other article in the correct folder. It had been cluttering up the "to do" section of my "work" folder. I need to change my approach to life. I am in dire need of consistency. Now that we have ironed out a few of the stumbling blocks as far as the blog goes, I need to be performing at peak efficiency.
One of the projected outcomes I assume is that I will be able to let go of some projects that I think I might be able to accomplish. Learning to pay more attention to the Day-to-Day output of my life will hopefully lead to some surprising results!
Today might have been my twenty-ninth wedding anniversary.
11:30 AM here and I thought I would start typing what I have written to you so far and then take a shower, come back to proof and print. Since today is a holiday, we just had brunch, and I ate two burgers, two hot dogs, and some macaroni salad. I did get out and walk this morning as I have each morning since I started back. I need to not take a day off, since it is easier to not go out the next day. My feet are still getting abused, due to the lack of proper footwear, but those things that do not kill us serve only to make us stronger.
Well I took off writing yesterday [Friday], so nothing to type today. It has been an interesting thirty-six hours. I thought I might get one guy for the empty bed beneath me and instead I picked another guy as the lesser of two evils. Last night that move was cancelled and today my bunkmate is now Mr. Daniels. Yes, he is the same guy I have mentioned before. The one that I traveled with from Downstate. I am already being bombarded by many of the inmates about what a shit-head Daniels is and how I should give him hell. One of the wanna-be gangsters walked by my bed this evening while we were both on our respective bunks and banged on the bunk twice.
This is the issue I need to rise with Daniels. I never even speak to the "bed knocker" and now I am forced to let him know that I would appreciate him not knocking on my bunk when I am in it. The challenge for me is to stay neutral and not add to the harassment of Daniels but not come to his defense either. I am not toeing the party line as far as the other inmates are concerned, but that much heat I am willing to endure to hold on to as much of my own dignity as I can, without incurring any penalty that would cause me or my possessions any physical harm.
True there is a low risk of actual physical violence here, but the little stuff can still make one miserable. Garbage on you bed, general verbal abuse, and maybe some pushing and shoving type of behavior.
Befriending him is out of the question because he refuses to take my previous advice seriously and any move toward providing support would cause my immediate inclusion as a recipient of the harassment.
I have already heard that when Daniels was confronted about moving over here without asking me first, he claimed he did ask me and I said it was okay. He never did ask me, and when I confronted him about that he claimed he never said that. I then told him I heard him with my own ears ask the officers on the stage if he could move, he said no that is not the way it happened. I said which part of I heard it myself, did you not understand. This is one of the problems in prison, how fucked up things can get over the simplest issues.
The bigger issue is his presence forces me to behave in ways contrary to my current way of dealing with the world around me. I am willing to help others, not challenge other inmates that want to be tough guys, but with Daniels below me, he becomes a lightning rod for all kinds of negative attention I do not need or want.
Sunday night and the lights just went out (11:00 PM). I forget who gets credit with the saying, "If you want to keep getting what you are getting, keep doing what you are doing." It certainly is an appropriate phrase here.
Then there is the sense that it is not my problem, it is the other person's problem. Yes, this was a frequent excuse I gave myself to forestall any need to make changes in my behavior. It is an area that the book, "Your Own Worst Enemy" makes very clear. We "Smart" types tend to not want to accept responsibility for the areas in out life that are not as easy for us to control. In my case the bar is set pretty low. I am a wiz at working with mechanical things and designing computer programs, but work on a relationship no way.
To beat that poor dead horse some more, I spent years denying the need (and the ability) to touch type.
Now I am frustrated by my inability to become even faster and accurate. I have discovered a well entrenched "pathway" in me brain that as soon as I look at the keyboard or the cheat sheet taped to the typewriter, my brain automatically goes into an over thinking mode that takes three or four steps to hit a key. By looking away from the typewriter, the fingers begin to move at a much faster rate. The "sub-conscience" seems to take over and fingers move at a much faster and more accurate pace. Scary to be sure.
Obviously if I accept an overall "why change" approach to life I would not last long once I am released. (Now listening to a transcription of the overture to "Carmen" for pipe organ.) Without accepting the ability and power I have to change, I would be accepting as fact that my behavior would lead me right back to jail.
There are lots of reasons to change. It is a quandary for me that on the one hand we all have the ability to change our behavior and even knowing that, willingly accept an attitude that change is impossible. We each have been changing since the day we were born.
More areas where I have changed, some still ongoing, but still a change none the less. My letters to you are now all ribbon originals. I pay more attention to the output and am working on the ideal of delivering error free text to you. I am more willing to write frequently to you (daily?) than you respond to me. Yes, I do make occasional remarks about wanting to hear from you more often, but it is certainly not as much an issue for me. While someone just today made a comment about how I night sometimes talk too much, I take you at your word when you mention you miss hearing from me if I skip a few days in sending you a letter.
I have been fairly consistent about writing to you regardless of your response. I know I have made changes and accept that it is necessary to stay vigilant or back sliding will occur. I usually make two trips from my bunk to the table where I set up shop for my typing. One trip is for all the books, dictionary and thesaurus and file with paperwork is the first trip.
The second trip is for the typewriter and chair_ I will occasionally forget the dictionary and when the spell checker continues to beep at me, I am faced with the dilemma to get up and go get the dictionary or just leave the error and let you correct it. [gee who would have thought, dilemma, I thought delim... and was getting beeped at, dictionary no listing, tried alternate approach of using thesaurus but no luck under quandary or question, then finally tried di_- ah ha.] I am definitely making the effort to be as correct as possible to reduce your need to correct stuff I am (or should be) able to do.
Well that is the end of the eleven pages I had handwritten. It is now 2:45 PM on Monday. We will have a special count at 3:15, then dinner at four. I need to take a shower at some point, and then will proof and print these pages and add some more stuff.
Let me see what quick stuff I can add now to finish up this page.
One of the inmates was improperly using the universal weights today at 1:00 PM. I was sitting here typing the whole time and did not even know there was anything happening. They are going to close off the weight room for sure. The staff is now claiming that there is supposed to be only one person using the weights at a time so anyone that was in the room at the time of the accident will be going to the box for a bit. That has not happened yet, but still might. That way, the inmate that is now short one finger tip can not claim another inmate caused the damage and sue the prison for inadequate supervision.
Thanks for the addresses. That could probably be a standard procedure from now on. Even if you can make an initial contact, give me the mailing address and I will do any follow-up my self. 800 numbers do my no good. I can not call them at all. The only info I can use is the mailing address. I will be sending out follow-up letters today.
I do have a lot of books to read. I did read one of the novels in twenty-four hours and am almost done with the Exorcist. I am still reading The Killer Angels, but can not speed through that like I can some of the novels.
Yes we have a library. It is a ten by eight foot room with bookcases. The inmates that "run" it, Frank is one of them, have been know to rip up perfectly good books if they feel they do not need that particular book in the library! Up till now I have not had a problem with the twenty-five book limit, but do not want to leave it to chance that Mr. King will not strike again. I will read fast and furious for a while.
I would appreciate if you could hold off the books for a few weeks. I like to challenge myself to read everything you send. I have been pleasantly surprised on more than one occasion by reading a book you sent that on first glance I would not have read. If I have too many books, I will make arbitrary decisions that will lead me to not reading something I might actually enjoy. I will really dig in over the next two weeks to get rid of the back log. I did catch up on the New York Times.
Did you read the story about the charter busses that leave from Manhattan heading to the various prisons upstate. One bus was actually headed for here. Then there was the "round-up" of the sex-offenders down in Florida. Send them to prison for a paperwork violation? Good use of taxpayer's money? Good press though.
The other day when I stepped into the shower someone had left two pages from a porn magazine "glued" to the wall. It was a woman only and in one she has her legs spread with a dildo in her. Now I have been know to take care of certain physical needs while in the shower and was surprised to find that the addition of the pictures was actually a distraction to obtaining the release I was seeking.
The other thing I have noticed is that if I am reading sexually provocative writing prior, even many hours prior to, my shower, the release is all the "sweeter". The lesson here is that having come to depend on the written word so much, pictures are no longer very useful, and more importantly, it would seem that prior stimulation of the mind increases the enjoyment of the actual physical experience.
That is where I think woman are really difference. They do see sex as a payoff. Them paying off for being treated like a woman. They need to be warmed-up over a period of time and the warm-up stuff better not be a hug and a kiss before pushing them down on the bed. You really need to prep the mind before you get to the physical. Even if the attention is an after the fact "treat."
Even in here, I find that by doing some of the little things that acknowledge the uniqueness of the person, even the toughest break down. Car articles for Bill, stories on Puerto Rico for Tom, the Book Review for Frank. All these things add up to getting people to respect me and be my friend despite my warts and faults.
I am going to start printing this out. I was not going to see the movie, the remake of Precinct 13. But let me see how many pages I can get down by 6:00.
I did go to the movie and then got roped into a couple quick games of spades. Lost two out of three. Came back and have been working on my bunk since 9:00 PM getting rest of letter out. It is now 10:20 PM and I am about to print this last page. I will actually start the handwritten letter to you in a little bit.
Two letters in one day.
Wow two letters in one day, sort of. Day one still of the new approach to writing.
Because the brains around here could not figure out how to keep the air conditioner from pumping out cold air, they shut the whole thing off. It means that as I sit here to write, I am suffering from sweaty pits and mild trouble breathing.
I did nose around and according to one of the inmates who may actually know a thing or two; this building has its own boiler for heat and hot water in addition to the "chiller" unit. The system is under computer control and they could not get it to properly synchronize. Instead of doing some sort of manual override, they left the air circulation on without the chiller.
I still cannot understand why we cannot get enough of the cold air from outside into this three story room. If hot air rises, and the output vents for the system are in the ceiling, one would think that if it could get some of the cold air from outside in here it would cool off in no time.
The bigger problem to me is if that is not happening, what kind of "fresh" air do we get in the room? Currently we have 106 men in here, all who seem to take delight in either seeing how long they can go between showers, or enjoy the sport of gas passing at all hours of the day and night.
I have mentioned that the system allegedly takes in eight percent outside air. Even thought it is cool enough to wear sweaters outside in the courtyard, here I sweat and type.
We could certainly use two of the floor fans which are now at the front of the room, directly opposite the side with the doors to the hall and the doors to the courtyard, and place them by the doors to pump in the cold air. I have been told by some of the inmates that have been here for a while that this was done in the past. Instead we have six or seven fans blowing around the same stale hot air.
Four of the fans are mounted halfway up the wall in the four corners of the room. They are pointed down, and since hot air rises, these fans are essentially blowing the warmer air back down on us. The bottom line is I am very miserable and yet I must perform at peak efficiency in order to provide the quality product (my letters) you deserve.
I did make it out to walk today for the first time in about ten days. I came back hungry and was going to make some pasta and tuna with onion and mushrooms for one, but it turned out to be for three. I finished cooking, eating and dishwashing and then jumped into the shower.
By 2:00 PM I was at the typewriter and pretty much transcribed, proofed and printed the handwritten letter by 3:45 PM. Today was pizza for dinner. At 4 PM, I had one rectangular piece of pizza. I could easily eat three or four slices, but here one slice is the meal.
We played four-handed spades from 6 to 8 PM, and I basically did not do much for the remainder of the evening. I did complete my reading of the Saturday May 14, New York Times, and will work on the Sunday paper tomorrow.
The heat works against my full cup headphones, as the vinyl covered padding, which does a great job of keeping out the noise, does not breathe at all. I think I might have mentioned that before. Hopefully we will get the cool air back on soon. The officers do not have a separate area with air conditioning, so at least they also suffer along with us.
While it is too early to tell if I can keep up with the new idea of writing out in long hand, it did work great today.
There was one spot in the letter where I still had two words reversed while I was printing the ribbon copy. I was able to stop the page from being printed, manually go back and erase the two words and retype them in the correct order. I then restarted the printing and finished off the page. I am going to be vigilant and seek to produce near perfect letters.
I continue to slog my way through "Killer Angels
" and am now at page 103. I am going to take a break and read some more of it now and then return to this letter tomorrow. It is now 11:50 so tomorrow is only ten minutes away. I will probably read for more than ten minutes.
It is tomorrow, and then some. I woke up at some point last night, glasses on, light on, Killer Angels lying in front of my nose. Took glasses off, turned light off, and moved book to the shelf and went back to sleep. Not sure "Killer Angels" is good bedtime reading.
It is now 10:45 AM and I did go for the one hour speed walk, took my shower and am now contemplating a nap. Cheese, four slices, is the alternate selection for lunch today. That is what I will be eating. On Pita bread. The main selection is tuna. They do not give you any mustard; it really is just the cheese and the pita.
After lunch, I will set up shop and type this letter. [Best laid plans; I did more napping/reading this afternoon. Two Hours of card playing and it is now 9 PM]
That is about it for now.
PS. I did receive the books (twelve not ten) and your Tuesday letter today. Thanks for the books. I really need to get reading. I must have over twenty-five books in my possession now. Some are already read and I need to get them to the library. Some are reference, but there are still lots to read!!! Hopefully once air gets back on I will be able to read more. The heat is just so wearing. It would not be bad if we could get the nice cool air in. I know I am beating a dead horse.
In keeping with the think before I write plan, I will not add anything to this letter now, but will handwrite out my daily letters over the weekend, typing some each day and you will get it all by Wednesday?
9:15 Time to P & P.... proof and print!