Prison Pete

Saturday, August 27, 2005
  Editor on Vacation.
[Editor] I am on vacation. New posts will resume in about a week.
  Meal Economics.
I have decided to type on the bed now. I can fit the typewriter on the six inch wide shelf at the head of the bed. Now if I could just find a place to put several feet of legs.

I just gave out four pieces of carbon paper to the alleged inmate law clerk. I say "alleged" because he is still going to the GED classes. He uses the law library typewriter which never has any ribbons and a little memory, but no LCD screen. Carbon paper is the only way to get any output from that machine. It is getting a little out of hand in terms of me giving things to other inmates.

Tom now has one of the higher paying jobs, and they only take twenty percent of his wages to go toward the fines he owes. He ends up with slightly over $9.00 each commissary. Bill by way of comparison only had $2.80 available to spend.

Since they are getting up to six meals every two weeks from me, we all agreed last commissary that they would buy a box of rice each, four servings, to cover the four bean meals. This past period, Tom used two bags of rice for a meal with some other inmates.

Last night, Bill still had one bag of rice left and Tom was out. I ask Tom if he wanted just the beans since he no more rice. He said yes, just give him the beans. Well I realized one bag of rice is not all that big a deal, so I kick in a bag for him.

When it came time to fill in the commissary sheet tonight I asked Tom if he was getting a box of rice. He said he owed all his money out. The point is he borrows bags of chips etc. and ends up having to pay this all back.

Bill actually asked if there was anything else he should buy. He only has the $2.80 and he values me providing the meals. Tom did end up telling me he got me the box of rice. I guess he does not get it: the rice is not for me, it is for him. I even mentioned to him that if he wanted to use a ramen noodle package instead of the rice that was okay with me. The jailhouse name for the ramen noodles is "crack head soup" and they sell here for only ten cents a pack, so it would be half the cost of rice.

I know my parents would probably laugh at me and tell me, "See that is what we feel like, giving you money!" Part of the problem is that I can only spend $55.00 each commissary, not including stamps, and it does add up fast. I need to buy another $9.70 of stamps this week.

I need to proof and print a two page letter I entered yesterday to Mom and Dad and then get these three pages in the mail to you so for now that is all. [Time does fly, 9:40 PM and I am ready to print this last page.]
  Well I did it.
What is it? Well I guess that depends on what your definition of "it" is. Listening to Jack FM 92.9, they just played "I Love Rock and Roll, Put another dime in the record machine." Sounds good cranked up in the headphones.

My sleeplessness on this damn spring bed is continuing. I slept through 7:00 AM breakfast this morning. Only the third time that has happened.

But I did get out and do two hours of walking this morning. I really had to push myself to get out there. I did fifty-five laps in the first hour but just barely managed forty the second hour. The second hour was also a push too. I knew if I took off a couple days, like this Saturday and Sunday, I would begin to do the old "Why bother?" thing. I will get out for the one hour tomorrow.

This afternoon I had the privilege of seeing the doctor. Actually it is almost comical; except it is my health we are talking about. I enter the little exam room and before I can even open my mouth, the nurse starts talking. The doctor, of Asian heritage, does not say a word the whole time I am in there. Think of those scenes on MASH when Hotlips does all the talking for Frank Burns.

She starts right in saying that I was originally assigned a steel bed because that was what was available when I arrived, and since I had no medical need for one, that is why it was taken away. I explained how I did not have the steel bed till about six weeks ago during some moves when one became available and that it had solved my chronic back problems.

I explained that I had slept on a hard bed for the last nine years. You would have thought she personally had to pay for each steel bed. At this point the discussion was almost over and the doctor still had not said a word nor gotten up to examine me. I further explained that I had been prescribed 400 mg. ibuprofen tablets in the Fed and I did not like taking pills if I could avoid it. The Fed records where not in the file.

The nurse goes into the other room and finds the fifty pages or so that was sent by the Feds. I explain that that represents over nine years of medical records and I am not one to constantly seek medical care. She tells me to wait out in the hall for a few minutes, and then comes out to tell me that they will be taking back X-rays to see what problems I might have.

She also told me they were going to take another set of sinus x-rays, and prescribe an antibiotic for my nose. I reminded her I just had a set of x-rays done and she said they needed to get another set once I started to take the antibiotic.

This will be the third set of nose x-rays this year. I am not happy about that. I may soon begin to glow in the dark. It would appear that their solution for any medical problem is to x-ray. If you are smarter than the average inmate and realize that one should not be exposed to too much x-ray, you then do not seek medical treatment.

I purposely told the nurse that I was not looking for a bottom bunk, so that was not a reason for her tough stance. I say my back is actually hurting now, and that does not get any physical exam. How does one prove one is in pain?

That is my day so far. It is now 8:30 PM and I have filled out my commissary sheet. I am not ordering any extra candy or cookies this week.
Friday, August 26, 2005
  One is the Loneliest Number.
I know a lot of people do not like to hear me talk. Well I even bore myself sometimes. I am not the best at getting a grasp of the "delayed gratification" thing. I realize I do owe a few people letters, and so that is on me to write to them, and then they will send me a letter.

At this point I have not received any mail since Monday, August 1 and today is Wednesday August 10. That might not seem like much to all you lucky people in the free world, but I have no other contact with anyone worth talking to, or hearing from, at this point except via U.S. mail.

I will get some letters out tonight. [I never did get anything into the mail. I ended up diving into a novel.] I do wonder what has happened to all the people that expressed an interest in writing to me.

Even if you have changed your mind, drop an e-mail to the editor saying you are not going to write to me directly. I am lonely, and yes I am responsible for being in jail, but I can still feel lonely. End of pity party, time to move on.

Update: I never did finish printing this post yesterday, and in today's mail, Thursday I received TWO letters. I am now busily working at proofing three post, the one page of a letter I started yesterday and then typing a response to one of the letters I did receive today. One was from the editor, and the other from Mom and Dad.

What a difference twenty-four hours can make, I got the two letters today and now am happily getting stuff ready to mail out in the next four hours. I am printing this post only in a moment of feeling the need to be honest. Yes I got mail today and that certainly cheers me up, but I still should have been able to get some letters in the mail yesterday.

Shame on me!
Thursday, August 25, 2005
  Pet Projects.
When you read your news on-line, or by searching via Google for your favorite subjects you eliminate the possibility of forming a relationship between two different stories. I am of the opinion that there is yet to be a computer system designed that can think the way our human brains are truly capable of, provided we actually are willing to engage our brains fully.

I came across two different stories while I was reading the July 30, 2005 New York Times. On page A13, is a story that carries the headline:

"Lawmaker's Pet Projects (and Not Just Roads) Find Home in Transportation Bill"

It is my understanding that the bill is passed once every six years and is not really part of the normal federal budgeting process. It allows the distribution of federal fuel taxes. The total bill covers $286.4 billion. Of that amount all but $24 billion is allocated back to the states based on a specific formula.

The $24 billion is 'earmarked' for special projects over and above the money each state gets based on the formula. Some of the projects are of questionable value, and the amounts a particular senator or representative can get are based on his or her 'political' clout. The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, a Republican, Mr. Don Young, Alaska's only representative, managed to get $1 billion of the $24 billion allocated for specific projects in Alaska.

According to the Times: "About one-fourth of that money [the $1 billion] will be spent to build one of the biggest bridges in the United States, a mile-long, 200 foot high span that will connect Ketchikan, a town with fewer than 8,000 people, to an island that has 50 residents and a small airport."

My math says that works out to $5 million dollars per resident of this little island. I wonder what the toll would be. Of course they are going to pay back the money.

There are lots of other projects, and while Mr. Young certainly has received the lion's share, according the article each and every congressional district received an average $16 million. Perhaps you should write a note to your representative and see what projects he or she was able to get for your area.

According to the article Mr. Young managed to leave Washington before being questioned by the press. When he was asked last year about why so much money was ending up in Alaska, he responded, "This is the time to take advantage of the position I'm in." I wonder if he would tell who it was he was taking this 'advantage' of?

The senior Democrat on the House committee received $150 million, other senior members on the committee, $60 to $90 million, and junior members get $40 million.

I did talk about a relationship did I not? Well two pages further, the OP-ED page, is a story about the deadly, arsenic contaminated wells in Bangladesh. The opinion piece titled, "Bangladesh's Deadly Wells."

The important part of the story is the numbers. 12 million people currently use poisoned wells for their drinking and cooking needs. It is estimated that 50,000 community wells could be drilled deep enough to reach clean water at a cost of only $50 million dollars.

Let us see: a bridge to an island of 50 people for $250 million or safe drinking water for 12 million people for only $50 million.

My parents always told us kids while we were growing up was that money was not important. I know they were talking about building one's life around the need to have lots of money. It is certainly important how money is spent and what is the best value for spending those dollars. I am know there is not an easy answer to the question of how our, okay, your tax dollars are spent.

I think it would be pretty cool if we took a tiny $50 million from the $286.4 BILLION highway bill and paid for those new wells in Bangladesh. Then each time you pulled up to the gas pump and griped about the high price of the gas, you could picture some person across the globe enjoying a clean glass of healthy, non-poisoned water. Plain old wonderful H2O.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
  I Missed It and Didn't Even Realize It.
I have had a "No television" viewing pledge since I have arrived here way back on February 1, 2005.

The only time I have watched the television has been during the weekend movies that the prison shows. I have skipped quite a few of the movies and walked out after the first hour on others. We are not allowed to leave the television room except on the hour.

Saturday's movie was Alexander. It finally started sometime around 12:15 PM. By 1:00 PM I had enough and walked out. I do not enjoy watching the massive epic type movies on the 21" screen. It is nothing but a mass of bodies and fighting and you cannot really see what is happening. Give me the good old big screen for those movies.

For the last four or five weeks I have been watching the FX original series, "Rescue Me." It is based on the workings of a New York City Firehouse in a post 9/11 city. It is an interesting and fast moving show.

Well about two weeks ago I reminded myself that I was not going to watch any television and was getting fed up with sitting through the five minute commercial blocks. But I still plopped myself down in front of the show last week.

Today, as I was taking my shower and thinking about what I was going to do today, I was thinking I would go ahead and watch the show tonight. Then I am thinking that I walked two hours today and that only happens on Monday, Wednesday or Friday. Rescue Me is on Tuesday. That would mean I walked two hours two day in a row. That would be so cool.

Upon further reflection I realized that I had only walked one hour yesterday, and that it was Tuesday (yesterday). I was so busy reading through my New York Times that I did not even notice that last night was my one hour of television for the week.

The world did not end, I am still alive today, and truth be told I did not even miss the show until I was taking my shower after my two hours of walking today. Bottom Line: I am back on the wagon. No commercial television.

While we do have one premium commercial channel, HBO, and if there was a movie on there that I liked I would watch it, but for some reason, that occasion has not yet arisen in the six months I have been here.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
  I am so hopeless.
I received your letter today. It is already 8:00 PM and I just finished printing the six pages that I should have finished yesterday, but I funked out instead. A new stamp, cool. Yes, even your envelopes get my attention. I am lucky to have you as a friend.

I also received a two sided handwritten letter from Mom and Dad. They sent the extra $50.00 for the third shopping trip this month. I told them they could wait till next month, but I guess I should not complain. I just wonder if I am being clear in my letters to them.

They went on a day trip by chartered bus to Atlantic City and ended up with a $60 profit. They give out a debit type card these days, and apparently they will only cash out any amount over the $16 that is originally on the card. They mentioned something about Dad's card not functioning half way through. Technology gotta love it.

One of the biggest regrets I have is that I was not given the opportunity to learn to play the organ. I was certainly intrigued by the technical side of the instrument, would have had unlimited access to practice, but I am sure the thought never crossed my parents mind, or if it did they discounted the idea as something that I would never stick to.

Regarding their "Book Ban". I am not ranting about their objection to my selection of books. The fact that they have not said a word about it is what I have an issue with. Again I think this is a fault that is not conducive to good parent child relationships even at this late age. It falls under the "Let us ignore the issue and hope it goes away."

I am not blaming my parents for any of my actions, but I know that ignoring an issue is not the way to handle it. It is interesting and something I think I have hinted about a little in the past, but enough of this for now.

It is now 9:40 PM and moments away from the count. I was taking a walk around the dorm after finishing the second page of this letter. One of the inmates tried to ask Roger (of Frank and Roger) to listen to him read a section of a law and tell him what it means. Roger said he was busy and then the inmate caught me filling up my mug for some tea. Only one Coke today.

I ended up taking a quick trip to our law library and I found a case that he needs to look into that should answer his question. I love the logic of legal research. The thing is that the logic does not hold up in the application of it.

There is a book that is printed by one of the legal publishers each year. It contains the Penal Laws, Criminal Procedure Law and the Corrections Law. After each section of the law, they show a paragraph of each actual case that may have some bearing on the specific section. What is the definition of "is?"

Anyhow some of the legal books publish an annual update so you do not have to buy a new book each year. This one does not have that feature and it cost $150 to buy and will be out of date as soon as the NY legislature goes back in session. The most recent copy we have in our little library is the 2000 edition. They are now selling the 2005 edition.

You raise an interesting point about the possible validity of the Harry Potter letter. Do something just to get name in print? I agree with your comments, and the point I was trying to make was it is interesting to have someone willing to have an alternate opinion not that it is the truth. I might give an update to that post to clarify.

No need to mention when you send books. I am beginning to think I need to be realistic and perhaps read the first ten pages and then decide to keep it or donate it. Some of the books are really not anything I would enjoy and most of them will still be available to me in the library. So send a batch or two in the next few weeks.

Okay 10:00 PM time to proof and print the last three pages of this letter.
Monday, August 22, 2005
  It sucks to be blue in prison.
Well it is 2:00 PM and it is now officially one of those days when you know you are in prison, and life is not fair.

One of the other inmates managed to get a permit from medical for a hard metal bed. It turns out there were only two of us that had the solid metal beds and no permit. As luck would have it, the other person was Lofton, the same obnoxious inmate that I wrote about last week that thought he owned the recreation yard.

The end result was that the officer said since I had only been here six months and Lofton had been here for over one year he would get to keep his bed. The somewhat aggravating point is that Lofton is a pain in the ass the all the officers. The one thing I will admit is that if I was an officer, I might go with the inmate that would bitch less at me. I lost my bed.

Tomorrow morning I will be awoken at 6:00 AM and start the process of getting the official paperwork that gives me the right to a solid metal bed. The alternative is this wire and spring base that my three inch mattress sits on. This also makes it less comfortable to sit on, and forget about using the typewriter on it

That is my day so far. I did not do any writing yesterday but I have read all the way up to and including July 30, Saturday's New York Times.

I am going to work on getting some of the letters I need to get out. At this point I need to write letters to at least four different people. I am going to work on those and then do some posts. Will I be blessed with a letter from you today?

I am working hard at keeping myself together, but it is not easy. I have been hitting the Diet Coke pretty hard and have gone through four of the eight six-packs and am two cans into the fifth one as of now. Commissary does not arrive till next Tuesday, one hundred and forty-four hours from now. But who is counting?

At least I am still doing the walking. Today I was really hoping for some divine intervention and it was 9:00 AM and I was still lying in bed. I got up changed into my shorts, and went out and did forty-five laps in that first hour. I came in and had some water and went back out and even though I thought I was not moving all that fast, still did another forty-five. It seems that I am well trained to not dip below that number. I think it is pretty cool. Interesting, the song now playing in my ears, "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow."

Well it is now 6:00 PM and I was not the recipient of any mail again today. It has been ten days since my last letter.

I had half of an Italian beef sausage with two slices of American cheese for lunch. The alternate non-meat item for lunch was four slices of American cheese. I had Tom slice his sausage down the middle and traded him half of the sausage for two slices of cheese.

Dinner tonight was real garbage, and I decided to try and cheer myself up with a quick pasta and octopus meal. I have had that about one hour ago. I have opened my second soda of the day and already started on my bedtime Hershey Bar. Still feeling blue.

I need to proof and print what I have typed so far. I am fairly close to putting the typewriter away and getting into a book. I am hoping that once I finish printing the stuff I have finished, I might be energized to get some of the letters I owe done.

God, it sucks to be blue in prison. I guess that is all for now.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
  I Do Not Have 'Extra Time' (And that is a good thing!)
I recently mailed out a seventeen page handwritten letter to one of my new pen pals.

She had made the comment on her blog that she guessed I had a lot of extra time. [Okay a little honesty here. I have been working on writing on time for the entire month of July. The letter was written way back in the first weeks of July, and has been answered. I need to write back and that has taken me way too long to do already. I do not know if this will make sense to anyone else, and I would appreciate any feedback others may have. One last thing the response to my letter was four typewritten pages and over fifty pages of her blog postings. That was a very special response!]

The funny thing is that I used to think I was special and that the typical standards of time did not apply to me. I am not talking about my time in prison; I am talking about all the way back to high school.

I thought I was special, and time should be accountable to me. If something needed to be done by a certain time, if I did nothing else but work on that particular project, anything else that I should have also been working on (or paying attention to) was 'frozen' in time and would be there waiting for me when I was ready to deal with all the other issues that I was ignoring.

Well it has taken nearly thirty-five years including the last nine in prison to realize that no one in this whole wide world has any more time, extra or otherwise, than anyone else.

But this is not a bad thing. It should be a liberating concept. Why you ask? Let me see if I can give a few examples of how thinking others have more time than you do is wrong thinking and also what happens when you feel that you can have more time than anyone else.

The first thing to realize is that no one is promised more than the present minute you are living in. The future is just that. It may or may not be something you are there to experience. I am not being morbid, but given this premise, it is tough to argue that any person's time is more valuable than anyone else's time.

Each minute has exactly the same value and what we decide to do with it should be valued by anyone that we choose to spend that time on or with. And more importantly, we must be proud with what we are doing with our time.

I am awed by the number of people that have taken their time to read my ramblings. I am certainly honored by the people that have taken the time to send comments on what I write. Yes it may be easier for all you free people to drop a quick e-mail, and I have to type, proof and reprint all my writing on a very slow daisy wheel typewriter, but it still takes all of us time. I value my time and when I write stuff for the blog, or take time to type or handwrite a personal letter, I am doing so at the expense of doing something else.

Over the last month, I have been more stressed out than usual, and the best way for me to deal with this seemed to be to dive into the printed word. In the last month I have read over eighteen books, five in the last eight days.

I have kept up my walking schedule, one hour each day, with a second hour on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. My pace averages out to four miles an hour, forty miles a week. I have still taken a shower each day, eaten three or four meals each day, some from the chow hall, some I prepared and before I know it instead of daily letters to my editor he only gets two in fourteen days.

What happened he asks? Where is my daily fix of the trials and tribulations of Prison Pete?

Well I am still serving each and everyday in prison. And thankfully I get to count each day the same as the rest of the world. Sixty seconds in each minute, sixty minutes in each hour and lastly twenty-four hours in each day

I dive into a novel and finish it off in one day, well there goes my day. The main reason I wrote out the seventeen page letter by hand, was I started it after lights out, 11:00 PM, and I could not use the typewriter at that hour. I wanted to get it in the mail. I sacrificed at least two hours of reading and probably one hour of sleep to get the letter out.

I am not looking for pity or making it out that I am better than anyone else, I realize that I am giving my time to writing this letter, so I better make sure it is going to be worth the time of the person I am writing to, to read it. Since both my time and the recipient's time is of the same value, it should be worthy of both our times.

In hindsight, all of us can easily find time we spent doing (or not doing) something that we wished we could change. We can not do that. I think one of the things the internet has brought about is the ability for some people to waste other people's time by flooding e-mail boxes with useless messages.

Just because someone takes time to write something does not mean that it is worth your time to read it. One walk into the mega-bookstores will prove that no one could read everything written. That is why I am honored by the time people take to read what I am writing. I work at being sure what I write will be worth your time.

Remember, if someone spends some of their time on you, it means something to them, and is a valuable gift. You should feel honored that they spent the time. Please accept your time as being valuable too. Time is probably the one commodity that knows no boundaries as respect race, creed, color, sex etc. It is what it is. It is all we have. Each of us is in control of how we spend it.

Make time the gift it is and give it lovingly to those around you.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
  Now I See the Problem, So How Do I Fix Me?
The following article appeared in the special "Education Life" section in the Sunday New York Times (July 31, 2005):

How To Identify A Gifted Child

Discerning gifted children, long an imperfect science, is even tougher in today's label-prone culture. James T. Webb, a clinical psychologist and author of "Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults," explains what can go wrong.

Q. Parents throw the word "gifted" around. What does it mean, really?

A. Gifted comes in different forms and degrees. Gifted children excel in such areas as general intellectual ability, specific aptitudes like math, creative thinking, visual or performing arts. Most have I.Q. scores between 130 and 155. Above that range are the profoundly gifted -- a tiny fraction of the group. Over all, the gifted represent about 3% of our population.

Q. Why would gifted children be tagged as having psychological disorders?

A. Behaviors of many gifted children can resemble those of say, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Most teachers, pediatricians and psychologists aren't trained to distinguish between the two. Most gifted kids are very intense, pursuing interests excessively. This often leads to power struggles, perfectionism, impatience, fierce emotions and trouble with peers. Many gifted kids have varied interests, skipping from one to the other -- a trait often misinterpreted as A.D.H.D.

Q. You write that these misdiagnoses are common.

A: About a quarter of gifted children have their giftedness misinterpreted as a disorder and aren't recognized as gifted, another 20 percent are misdiagnosed. Among children referred to me with a bipolar diagnosis, almost 100 percent have been misdiagnosed, as are 70% of those with obsessive-compulsive diagnoses and 55% of those with A.D.H.D.

Q. What's a parent to do?

A. Parents should educate themselves about the characteristics of gifted children: intense curiosity, unusually good memory, a remarkable sense of humor, exquisite sensitivity to others and extensive vocabularies. And identify them early. Children's attitudes toward learning get set before age 10. Preschool and the early grades generally turn off gifted kids: they are told to stop asking so many questions and wait their turn. They need an appropriate learning environment. If not the seeds for underachievement are sown.

Have you ever read a novel and find a character's traits that seemed to match you to a 'T'? Well this article certainly describes me. I will need to get his book to see what the solutions are.

While I feel I have learned to deal a little bit with my giftedness, I still could use some more help. Prison is certainly not a place to appear too smart. I have learned that the hard way, in that it has at times made me a ready target for physical abuse. I am talking in prison. Before my arrest, I was always subject to ridicule growing up and never really did figure out the 'problem' until recently. The article mentions "trouble with peers." I was always feeling that no one liked me, and did not really have many close friends while I was growing up.

One of my closest friends through grade school, up to grade five, was the editor of this blog. His father was a teacher, and I have very fond memories of his dad's willingness to talk to me and answer my questions. At the time of course I was not identified as 'gifted' and since we are talking the 1960's, the A.D.H.D. label was not yet invented. So I was an oddball, but no one knew why. I think it was the way the editor's father would treat me that made me feel comfortable in their home. The way his dad treated me rubbed off on the way the editor treated me.

It was not until the beginning of the seventh grade that I was finally tested and found to have an I.Q. over 140. While I did spend the seventh through the twelfth grades in a private school geared to gifted children, it was overwhelming and I do not think I was able to take full advantage of all the resources that were available. The article mentions that attitudes toward learning are set by the age of ten, and by the time I entered the seventh grade I was twelve. Two years past the chance of being saved.

The article speaks to how us gifted types can often be misdiagnosed but offers little in the way of information to help children (and adults) deal with this misunderstanding and the frustrations that it leads to.

The misunderstanding I am referring to is the labels of bi-polar, obsessive-compulsive, and A.D.H.D. It is amusing now, how as a young child, my peers, (those lovely grade school years) could see that I was 'different'. According to the article I was part of a very small minority, "about three percent of the population." My peers saw that I was different, I suppose it did not help that I also possessed a large head for my body size.

Since I have had the 'luxury' of moving into a 'new neighborhood' on February 1, 2005, I was able to use some of the new skills I have developed through my six years of one on one counseling with the psychologist down at Club Fed. When it comes to relationships with others, it is certainly never easy to get people to change their perceptions of an individual.

While I was able to deal with a lot of my 'rough spots' in the counseling, most of the comfort I was able to feel was in being able to deal with the way staff and inmates treated me, not have them treat me differently.

Now that I had the ability to start with a clean slate, I was determined to not make the 'errors' I had made in the past. Instead of waiting for people to 'get tired' of my 'uniqueness,' I was able to deal with them up front and explain to them why I would do certain things. Instead of the usual isolation and ridicule, it has become a mutual joke when I start go off `the deep end,' so to speak.

A practical application of this was when four of us were playing Spades. Three of us had been here for a month or so and playing together, and I now had a newcomer as my partner.

The prison version of Spades usually has a few extra 'spades' added to the deck. Most times it is in the form of the two jokers and the two of diamonds which are all used as higher ranking spades than the Ace, King, and Queen of spades. In my opinion this waters down the thinking portion of the game and makes your hand more dependent on the cards you are dealt.

I like to use my brain when playing, keeping track of which cards have been played, how to throw down certain cards so that my partner will know what to play etc. This is more important when playing without the wildcards. It takes some convincing to play without the wildcards.

When a hand is done and I would start to explain to the newcomer, my partner, what he did wrong, the two other guys would be quick to start ribbing me and explain to the newcomer not to take me too seriously. I take the ribbing in the spirit it is intended, and work hard at not being too obsessive.

The 'new' Pete, now knows where my 'weak' spots are, ask for help from others to keep me on track and not go too far a field. This way I save my 'smarts' for times when they are called on by others, instead of always exerting my intellect and pissing everyone off. So far it appears to be working!
Friday, August 19, 2005
  I Got it Done, and Now I Am Pissed Off.
Well it is now 8:30 PM on Monday evening, and I have been sitting at the typewriter since 1:30 PM. This is the longest I have been 'working' in the last four weeks. Why am I pissed?

Well I finally finished a post on 'Time' that had at least three different drafts deleted, and more mental writing time spent on it than I care to account for. Why is it finally done?

Well the reason is simple; I sat here and got it done. I have all the tools and supplies I need. The new print wheel and official ribbons solved all the fuzzy print issues. All that is required for me to get back to printing out my writing is for me to sit down and do it.

Now that I have sat here and done that, I remember how it gets done. All the mental writing in the world does not translate into producing good old fashion hard copy.

Just because I might be a little smarter than the average, I still have to resort to the same process as every other human being. I have to actually sit down and put pen to paper, or in my case fingers to keyboard. You would think that the availability of my own personal typewriter, with multi-page memory, spell checker and plenty of carbon paper so as not to waste the ribbon, which I also currently have in ample supply would be enough of an incentive.

It is really. Actually since the only time I use the ribbon is when I do the final copy of a letter or post, the faster the ribbons go, the more writing that is being mailed out.

I have plenty to write about. I even came across a legal case from Florida, where else, that makes me almost feel bad for whining about my sentence. I did say almost. I also have a case that shows for sure justice is not blind, and certainly not fair.

Hopefully, I have recovered from the severe bout of laziness that I have allowed to plague me and the words will continue to flow. Place your bets as to if I will succeed.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
  Two letters in two days.
I have spent seven and a half hours at the typewriter today. The results are enclosed. Three blog posts, one of which has been in the works for way too long.

I am going to get back to my writing since no one else is going to do it for me. As always, I actually feel good about what I have accomplished, and need to keep the flame of inspiration burning.

Part of the time was that I also printed two cleaner carbon copies of the 'gifted' post. I am going to send a copy to Mom and Dad, and to my buddy Dave still doing Club Fed time.

I included a paragraph about you and your Dad in the gifted post and am not sure if you want to include it or not. That is why I made it a separate paragraph; just delete it if you want. I did get that nice warm feeling that always seems to come when I remember when I was a kid living in Long Island and the warmth I always felt hanging out with you.

I do not mean to imply that you were my friend only because your Dad said to be my friend, but he certainly was one of the few male parents I have any memory of from that period of time. I remember spending time in the church office with Mrs. Walker, the secretary, and Mrs. Pratt was always willing to share time with me.

Damn, those were the days. I am so glad we have been able to again share our lives with each other. Someday it might even be possible with me not behind barbed wire fences.

I had not finished reading Calulu's blog from her last letter to me. She has one crazy life and really does pour out a whole bunch of her life on her blog. I had just shut down and crawled into a hole. No wonder I have not been typing much.

Hopefully the flood gates will remain open. More to follow.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
  Are you sure?
Okay, so maybe sometimes it is nice to have the 'Are you sure?' option.

It is 6:00 PM and this is the first time the typewriter has been out of its box since Thursday evening. I still have to cook a rice and beans meal for three. I am still fighting the swollen sinus thing. The decongestant is working sometimes. I am also suffering from a lack of some emotional uplifting experiences.

I was reading about Stephanie Klein's blog in the NY Times Sunday Styles section. I did get a feeling of envy at her success. Upon some honest internal reflection however, I realize I have been slacking off over the last four or five weeks and really need to get back to what I was doing: typing every day and being sure to include enough prison stories to feed the voyeurs out there that love to read about my miserable life.

I had sub-consciously raised my expectations that I would be receiving some much needed emotional support from pen pals. While both Calulu and Annabel have been great and each have written multiple letters, and I do owe them both replies, I was hoping for more.

More what I am not exactly sure, (yeah a single wealthy female would have been nice) but I need to get back into the 'writer's mind set.' In the past I would simply put my thoughts on the page without expecting any specific responses. I loved getting the comments, but they were not required to get me writing.

I am in a new place, and therefore have to develop a new sense of how my environment affects me and use that information to allow me to be a functional human being.

The walking is taking a lot out of me physically, but instead of working with that aspect, I am allowing it to just give me the excuse to vegetate. True I have knocked off a bunch of books. But that has led to the drought in my writing. I allow the sense that well I do not have the six or seven hour time block I used to have so I put off the writing till the next day. This has got to stop.

I will work on setting aside smaller blocks of time with an obtainable output goal. Instead of the six or more pages, I will try for four. I have to get over the thinking that if I do not have enough time now to do it the way I want, I will wait until tomorrow. And we all know tomorrow never comes.

Just flipped over the page and realized that I never even got to the first point: Are you sure? I was figuring out what 'files' I had in memory and ended up accidentally deleting the first page of last Thursday's letter. Since I sent you my draft of that letter, I cannot even retype it. I hope you can scan it without too much work. I would rather not have that page come back in.

I am going to start cooking, and then will proof the second and third pages of the Thursday letter along with this letter.

I have managed to read a few more papers. Last Sunday's finally showed up on Friday! I have cut down the number of articles I clip. I need to go back over the ones I have clipped in the past and weed out the truly useless ones. I have not had a locker shakedown in many weeks and am going to regret it if I do not do a better job of cleaning up my humble home.

Off to cook, I shall return.

Dinner is cooked and eaten. I made the always filling rice, black beans, corn, onions, tomato sauce and jalapeño peppers. I have changed my cooking routine. I now wash the two hotpots before I start eating. Now all that is left is to wash my bowl. It is now 8:45 PM. I will type some more on this page and then should have enough time after count to proof the Thursday letter, and this one.

I appreciate all the movie lists you sent in. I have passed them around to a few of the more cultured inmates.

Funny, but I did not see any famous movie quotes in there that used the word "mother fucker" or "nigger." It is really getting to the point of me wanting to put a stake through the heart of some of the more vocal inmates. Not only are they loud, but they seem to think we all want to hear their grasp of the English language.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
  I Got Pills!
After four separate visits to sick call, and thirty days, I was finally issued a thirty day supply of decongestant.

While my current location is air conditioned, it appears they have forgone the use of air filters on the air intake vent. The system mixes in only fifteen percent fresh air, so eighty-five percent of the air that comes out of the ceiling vents is the same air that we already had in our dorm.

The end result of this for some of us is swelled sinuses. I have no problem while I am out walking each and every morning. As a matter of fact, I usually start the walk with my sinuses all swollen and after a half-hour, I can breathe fairly easily through my nose. Once I return to the dorm, there is a slow progression of swelling in my sinuses such that by 5:00 PM I can no longer breathe through my nose.

I had thought I was in a mild state of depression brought on by the slim hope of my last chance before the courts and the possibility that I may end up spending anywhere from the next five to fifteen years in this one location. This has proven to not be the sole reason for my malaise.

One of the other problems was my inability to get a solid night's sleep. I could not figure that out. I was physically tired at the end of each day, yet would find myself awake after only two or three hours of sleep.

I was cleaning up my locker and managed to come across the last of some decongestants. I have taken two of the 30 Mg. pills each evening for the last three nights and all of a sudden I was sleeping through the night.

Well I finally got enough pills to last me through this month; hopefully this will free me up to get back to my writing that has suffered a drought for the past month. The feeling of someone having taken a two-by-four to my nose each evening was more debilitating than I realized.
Monday, August 15, 2005
  It is the little things sometimes.
My current approach to writing involves creating drafts using carbon paper, instead of ribbon, on my Smith Corona WordSmith 250. Since this particular model has a four or five page memory, I am able to review the draft, make corrections then print a final copy with the ribbon in place.

The carbon paper, since it was the top sheet, would leave a glob of black 'ink' on the plastic paper guard as it was thread into the machine. When I would insert a clean piece of paper to make the final copy a black skid mark would appear on the top couple of inches of my page.

To clean the plastic paper guard required the removal of the platen (roller). I finally figured out that if I simply fold the top and bottom quarter inch of the carbon paper over and no more smudge marks.

Why am I bothering to write about such a minor accomplishment? Am I that starved for attention? Yes but that is not the real reason I am writing this somewhat trivial post. The point I am making is that it is very often not what a particular tool is designed for that is important, but how you can make modifications while using the tool to suit your individual needs that is the heart of the issue.

The single use ribbons cost fifteen to twenty cents per typed page. While this clarity is needed to enable the OCR scanning to read the page it is not necessary for the drafts. I can use one sheet of carbon paper at the cost of eleven cents to print out over twenty-five draft pages.

This raises one other point of person versus computer and which one is smarter. While the OCR software could not read the pages I printed with the carbon paper, even after only two or three uses, without giving a slew of errors, I (and most other humans) could still read pages after twenty or even thirty uses of the carbon paper.

The moral of this post? Be sure you fully explore the way you can use technology, and do not let technology use you.
Sunday, August 14, 2005
  Viva the Individual! (and at 10 years of age).
I have been clipping articles that highlight the power that each of us has as an individual. While our corporate, brand conscious, monolithic consumer society, in my humble opinion, plays to our need to fit in and belong to something bigger than ourselves, it is moments of individualism that we all need to be reminded of from time to time to show the true power each of us has at our fingertips.

The following recently appeared in the Letters to the Editor section of the New York Times:

To the Editor:
With the latest Harry Potter release is there room for a dissenting voice?
My 10-year-old son announced his intention never to read another Harry Potter book. 'Because, Mom, haven't you noticed? It's the same old thing- Harry Potter falls in trouble, Harry Potter learns a spell. It gets boring.'
Could I believe my ears? My son, a good reader, at last'. And I recalled (silently) a favorite quote from Vladimir Nabokov: 'Caress the details,' he directed. 'Read for the tingle, the shiver up the spine.'
When my son deposited his hardcover Potter collection in his school's donation box, he assured me: 'I don't want to keep these. They're not the kind of books you read twice.' Well, I asked, what kind of books do you read again? 'One with details,' he answered. Sorry, J. K. Rowling.
Kate Roth
New York,
July 14, 2004

While I have only read one of the Harry Potter books, and it is certainly a Cinderella story for Ms. Rowling, my question is at what point do her continuing novels of the life of Harry Potter stop being great reading and more of the same?

I think that point is different for each person, and I am certainly not advocating a Harry Potter boycott, but I do applaud the son of Kate Ross for deciding he has read enough of Harry Potter. That type of attitude would certainly open up the possibility for him to discover other authors.

That is one of the reasons I actually enjoy the eclectic mix of books that my editor sends me. I only recently was forced for the first time to pass on reading a few of the books and donate them directly to the prison library without reading them. They were all of the fantasy (as in alternate society type, gnomes, etc.) and that is one of my least favorite genres to read.

I will be digging through my clipping pile over the next few weeks and will post more of the individual spirit triumphs over simply going with the flow.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
  Right of Way.
One of the more disliked inmates here has decided that his use of the Rec yard should take precedence over any other inmates.

One part of the 'track' is actually two narrow paths cut into the side of a hill. This two-path approach continues along the far side of the track. In other words, two sides of the roughly rectangular yard have these single person width paths. I have always walked on the outside edge of the track, which is the path I measured out.

There is one inmate that I have mentioned that would run about seventy-two laps three times a week. He has decided to take off this month from running. When he rums, I walk in the opposite direction and I am easily able to let him pass by on the inside of me for two of the three times he passes me.

The third time we pass I make a wide swing off the path, and walk on the grassy part of the hill. It is an interesting challenge and makes me keep pace with his running. The point is that I am able to get into a rhythm and do not need to think about where the other runner is.

The other aforementioned pest of an inmate has taken to running one lap, walking one lap, and then lying on his back on one of the benches and doing some horizontal air bicycle pedaling before jumping up and running one more lap. Meanwhile I am out there huffing and puffing doing my laps.

If I happen to be walking in the opposite direction from his running, he refuses to yield and will go as far as to bump into me. If I am walking in the same direction he will brush past me.

My feeling is that if he was running a certain pace for multiple laps, yes he would have a right of way. But since I am power walking and he is only doing one lap, it is no problem for him to take the inside path and run around the slower walkers. The other inmates all give me the outside path to walk on.

Well, this all came to a head on Sunday. I simply decided I was not going to keep breaking my pace for his one lap bullshit.

The inmate spent several minutes with the officer who is the regular officer out in the yard, stating his case for right-of-way. Meanwhile the dorm was all abuzz with the growing conflict between the two of us.

Rule number one here is any possible tension between two inmates is a good thing as long as you are not one of the two inmates. In this case I have the larger cheering section. And that is all it is. No one really wants to lift a finger to help, and if it came to blows, so much the better. But actually offer any constructive help? Forget about it.

Later Sunday evening said inmate approached me in the cooking room and asked to speak to me. I said no problem. He started off by saying how he did not understand why we ware having this problem as he had always been so good to me since I came here offering me food etc. (That is why I never took anything from him, I knew it would come back to bite me).

To make a long story a little shorter, after he explained how he had the right-of-way on the track and I politely stated that I felt otherwise, it began to get a little loud, and he even mentioned that I was yelling at him. I took that moment to say the conversation is over; we will have to simply agree to disagree, and off he went.

When I went out to walk the next morning, I was pulled over by the officer and he explained to me that his opinion was that since I was power walking, I had as much right to the path as the other inmate and if anything, since he was only running the one lap, there was no reason he could not find a way to run without getting in my way.

Another unwritten rule is an inmate is not supposed to go to staff to solve their problems. It is against the inmate code of honor for inmates, according to inmates that is, and furthermore, it was really bad form for him to then approach me after he had found out that he would get no help from the officer.

Stay tuned for further details.
Friday, August 12, 2005
  Health Care.
In the interest of full disclosure, it was not a filling I lost the other day but a chuck of built up tartar.

I actually got to see the dentist today and he said it was a good thing to lose, but a bad thing that it was so built up. He did say I had one tooth that did need filling and he would put me on the list for both a cleaning and the filling. They are two separate lists and he was not able to give me any sense of when either of the two things would happen.

I was also taken out into the general population area today and had my sinuses x-rayed. Since I already got the decongestants, I am not sure if I will get to see a doctor or not. I might try dropping a note to the Nurse Administrator to see if she can check into why we do not have filters on out intake vent.

I finally went through a bunch of my clippings and sent a very fat envelope out to Mom and Dad last night.

I am feeling so much more alive with the less swollen sinuses that I will hopefully be able to make a real dent in the backlog of my to-do pile. I am trying gallantly to minimize the New York Times backlog and managed to read Thursday's (July 21) paper today, and have yet to receive last Sunday's paper.

I did receive Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday today. That means I should have twelve papers to read. That is not counting the fact that I have 'saved' all the Book Reviews, Week in Reviews and Magazine sections. Okay so I am a pack rat. We will not even discuss the six or more manila envelopes of my clippings. As I said hopefully some serious locker cleaning cam occur this weekend.

I got on the scale yesterday and am still over 200 pounds. 202 to be exact. Guess I am eating enough. Rats, I was looking forward to breaking into the 100's.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
  Four Aspects of Life.
In addition to the four universal needs, there are four aspects or parts that make up our "whole" self. They are the four aspects of our nature. When they are all present and in balance we are living in an optimal healthy state.

1. Spiritual Self: Spiritual self is not just about religion. It is about feeling whole and feeling connected to others and the world around you. Your spiritual self plays an important part in meeting your need for belonging.

2. Emotional Self: Emotional self directly affects what you think and what you do. All people have and experience emotions and feelings. As children, we begin with four basic emotions, sadness, happiness, anger and fear. Having and experiencing emotions is key to leading a healthy life. Your emotions help you meet your need for mastery.

3. Physical Self: Physical self includes your physical being, your body and what you do (your behavior). Your physical self is directly linked to your need for independence. You develop your physical self through being responsible, being a leader, and taking care of your body and your health.

4. Mental Self: Mental self is the engine behind everything you do. Your mental self is your thinking self and is critical for meeting your needs for generosity. When you feel happy and content and your thinking is healthy, you enjoy giving to others, sharing, and making others feel good through your generosity. A healthy mental self gives you a sense of wholeness in your life. Your thinking effects your emotions and your behaviors. Everything you do requires either a conscious or subconscious thought process.
  Four Universal Needs.
There are four universal needs of all people. To meet these needs people must have healthy and positive values and beliefs that guide them in meeting these basic needs.

1. Belonging: Everyone has a need to belong to a family, group, community, society, etc. Humans are social animals and have a basic biological need to be with others and feel close and accepted.

2. Mastery: In order to live one's life to the fullest people must feel a sense of mastery or achievement in the things they do. Through mastery we gain a sense of pride and accomplishment.

3. Independence: Everyone needs to feel a sense of independence which demonstrates that they are responsible people. Independence means having ability to get one's needs met, but not at the expense of others. It is not using people to benefit one's self. Independence requires people to be honest and trustworthy.

4. Generosity: Everyone enjoys giving to others in ways that makes them and the other people happy. Generosity is both giving and sharing of yourself (not simply the giving and sharing of physical objects). Each of these four universal and basic needs is present from the time we are born and continue to be present throughout our lives.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
  Defense Mechanisms.
Defense Mechanisms are ways people avoid dealing with truth and reality. When you become defensive, you are unable to recognize your problems and you have a harder time accepting that you need help. When you don't accept your need for treatment, your involvement in the program is superficial and you are likely to feel scared of being inadequate and unable to trust anyone.

Common examples of defense mechanisms are:

RATIONALIZATION. When you rationalize, you make excuses and justify your behavior even though you know what you are doing is wrong.

INTELLECTUALIZATION. When you intellectualize something, you are avoiding reality by trying to explain it away by using abstraction or theorizing. You avoid dealing with real issues and emotions and try to make something sound okay even though it may be wrong.

DENIAL. Denial is when you refuse to admit the truth about your crime or the problems you have. Denial is very common. Denial, simply put, is not admitting the truth. Denial has many levels.

RELIGIOSITY. Many inmates become overly religious after they are caught. We encourage you to develop the spiritual side of your life. True spirituality supports your being responsible in your life. Religiosity is using your religion or spirituality to avoid being responsible. Some inmates use their religion wrongly, making it an excuse not to involve themselves in treatment. They make statements such as, "I don't need treatment because I have been forgiven." Religion is not a crutch to avoid dealing with real life issues and problems, but is an aid and comfort to help you face reality. Use your spirituality wisely so that your treatment will work with your religion and your religion will be supported by your treatment.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
  Reality for me.
It is now 8:50 PM and I am just starting to type. I received both your letter and latest book shipment. Linux in Ten Minutes. Now if they would only perfect those paper-thin screens and transistors and you could ship me in a build it yourself computer.

I just got done filling out the commissary sheet and am within forty-five cents of the $55.00 limit. I am buying a few extra things to help carry me over the stressful period I am going through. As much as I do not want to acknowledge the reality, if I do not win this appeal, I am going to spend the next fifteen years here. If that does not affect my mood I must be dead.

Since I am not dead, I am in an emotional state that makes me feel like Wile E. Coyote is about to drop the two ton anvil on me. Unlike the luck of the Roadrunner, my odds of escaping certain death are many digits to the right of the decimal point.

I did some letter writing on Sunday and a blog post but never got around to proof and printing. Well there is always tomorrow. I am going to have to double check my math on the commissary sheet in a few minutes. Them I will type a few more lines and get this in the mail tonight.

I thought of how it would be interesting to hand the parole board the recent article about Robert Chambers. Hey he killed a woman, went to trial, served fifteen years, and screwed up in prison. I did not kill anybody, have now served fifteen years in prison, and you do not want to grant me parole?

This event is not even going to happen for another four and a half years. Even if they released me, I would be subject to a host of parole restrictions for a minimum of three years and all the way up to ten more. For the time being, reality for me really sucks, and diving into a novel is a great option.

Speaking of novels, did you catch the letter from the mom of the ten year old in the New York Times who told his mom to donate his Harry Potter collection to his school and she did not have to get him the latest book. There is a kid that seems to really not cave into peer pressure easily. Have you finished the latest Harry Potter book yet?

9:30 PM and time to check my math, be back for page two.

Well count is done; I did find two math errors on my commissary sheet, carrying errors, each $1.00, so I added four AA batteries, and four sticks of oleo.

I have celebrated the new hot pot. I cooked spaghetti for four on Friday and black beans in tomato sauce over rice for three on Saturday and Sunday. Since I did not eat all my American cheese this week, I treated Tom and Bill to two slices of cheese with the beans and rice both nights. Today I had pasta with clams. I use one can of clams, one can of mushrooms, and onions. I cook the pasta in one pot and simmer the clam 'sauce' for the thirty minutes or so that it takes the pasta to cook.

WNED is doing a special show on John Williams, the composer of movie scores. It is on at 10:00 PM on Mondays, and this is the second part on Williams. The show is called The Record Shelf. You could check the WNED.ORG website and see if it points to a website for this program. It is a mix of parts of his music and actual conversation with Williams.

Oh shit, I just realized that I put the paper for this page in wrong and have managed to type this page directly over page one. I am still working on the idea of typing out the draft double space on both sides of a page, then typing out the final copy single spaced and single sided. I did not set this page up double spaced, and now will have to reprint a draft of this letter, pages one and two. It is 10:15 PM and I better stop to reprint now. Just an example of how hard it is for me to wrap my attention around anything these days.

I have to get letters out to my new pen pals. Have you heard back from the new Tammie? Did the e-mail go through? Was it a 'true' comment? Could you send one more e-mail?

Now it is 10:45 PM and I am about to print page two. I am just going to make it before lights out.
Monday, August 08, 2005
  Another Week Here.
This is just a short letter to finish off another week here. I am sitting cross-legged on my bunk typing, and just finished printing four pages to Mom and Dad.

I actually received the new hot pot today along with six ribbons, two nice towels, two all-cotton gym shorts, and six pair of white crew socks. I wanted to make sure I got the letter out today to them thanking them for their fast response to my request. The package arrived right after our 4:00 supper, and Tom wanted to know what I was cooking tonight. I told him we would be waiting till tomorrow to break in the new pot.

I suffered my first rainout with my walking yesterday (only got 25 laps in), but was out this morning doing my one hour. Tomorrow is a two hour walk and I get to break in my new shorts and socks!

I did do some typing yesterday for the blog and meant to proof it and send it to you today. Alas when I fired up the typewriter tonight to type the note for Mom and Dad, I first cleared the memory forgetting that I had some drafts waiting for editing! Well, I have the carbon printed drafts so I will just have to reprint them.

I did receive a letter and month's worth of blog postings from Calulu today. I really need to get the letter out to Annabel. Hopefully I can get back in to the typing/writing groove this weekend. I certainly have plenty of typing to do.

Well they are about to call the count so I need to stop typing and will proof this little bit and get it into the mail.
Sunday, August 07, 2005
  Banned Books.
One of the other problems I'm having with Mom end Dad is they seem to be pissed at a couple of books I ordered a few months back. I say "seem to be" because they have not said anything specifically to me, but have ignored my last three request to purchase the C++ book.

My last letter to them, after they had said, "Have we missed anything?" had a list of five books, and the radio tape section. I had said that I would like some of the old time radio tapes, but only if Dad would also enjoy them. I would send them home after I listened to them.

What I got in the mail was twenty-four tapes, about five different series, and no books. No mention in any letter about why no books.

The two books that I think caused their dismay were titled "The Mammoth Book of Women's Fantasies" and "Sex in the South, Unbuckling the Bible Belt".

When I wrote out the order, I left off the word 'Fantasy' on the first book and used the second subtitle for the second book. I guess Dad actually read the order confirmation that Hamilton sent them and therein lies the problem.

The first book is about twenty or so different fantasies written by women. The second book was actually a sociological tome on the way the South has a double standard on sex. They were ordered for research purposes, but for now I guess they have decided to not to buy me any books!

I really was looking forward to the C++ book; the Linux Magazine had a tutorial on building a BIOS and I actually understood the code's purpose (it was C) and had hopes of being able to use that to try some sample programs!

Stay tuned, I will grab the bull by the horns and ask a direct question, and promise to not buy any more books that might be on their list of banned books.

10:15 PM and I have run out of gas. Let me proof and print. To be continued.
Saturday, August 06, 2005
  One of the problems I am going to be working on.
I was typing the draft pages singled spaced, and even though I had marked two corrections I missed them when I was running the text through the spell checker. Since I only have the sixteen character LCD window, I can hold down a forward arrow key and it scans the text beeping when it comes across a misspelling.

The key is I have to have my finger on the next typo I want to catch as the text scrolls by, or first use the find option then scan for spelling. I am really serious about getting the errors out! What I am going to do now is print the drafts out in double line format. This way I can really mark the corrections clearly. Then once I have corrected all the errors, I will reset line spacing to single space.

I had stopped typing your letter to type a copy of my rehabilitation program homework sheet. I printed out a few copies. A couple of the inmates are sending copies of this sheet to their lawyers. The counselor is quite serious about the need to really answer all these questions honestly and fully. Failure to answer to her satisfaction is grounds for removal from the program and then the parole board sees that as a refusal to take recommended program and basis for denial of parole. In my case that means serving the full fifteen years.

While I am not yet taking this program, it certainly is not helping with the funk. The other two pages I have included with the letter are really strange reading. They are not from some official treatment program book. I do not know if the current counselor wrote them or they have been around for a bit. Based on my past knowledge of how personally typed stuff is handed out in prison programs, these sheets are Ms. Lemon's own handiwork.

It is now 9:20 PM and I have printed out the two pages of your letter along with the other enclosures. I will continue to type till count time. After count time, I will proof and print and get this in the mail. I will continue this letter tomorrow. Tomorrow I only have to walk one hour and there is no commissary to interrupt, so I can get a whole bunch of typing done. I hate to admit but I do feel like I actually have gotten something accomplished and lifted my spirits a bit.

I did receive a letter from Mom and Dad today. They mentioned they had not heard from me and wondered what was up. I did send out two letters last week and their letter was sent out Wednesday so they probably got two letters by now. One was the request for an additional $50.00 for next month since we will have three shopping days.

I actually have managed to save over $100, including the $50.00 they sent for my birthday. My mail slowdown did mean that I did not need to buy any postage stamps on the last commissary order. I have been averaging around $50.00 per shopping day.

Have you triad the canned octopus? We have one they sell on commissary that is packed in soy oil. It is set up as a two serving can, but the combined nutritional info is 200 calories, 60 of which are fat calories and 28 grams of protein.

I mixed the octopus including the oil, with a small onion, and a small can of mushrooms. Added some garlic powder and adobo (which has salt in it but it is the only spice we can get) and then added about a quarter pound of spaghetti. That was lunch. Low fat, high protein end tastier than tuna in my humble opinion.

I would suggest you try it with some fresh produce, peppers, garlic, fresh mushrooms and heat the whole mix up in a hot frying pan. Use the oil in the octopus to cook. Add some angel hair pasta and that would be a great meal. You could use it as a salad, add a little balsamic vinegar and that could be a great carry-in lunch.
Friday, August 05, 2005
The isolation here is both physical, and psychological. My day-to-day world revolves around seeing the same 100 inmates, and ten to fifteen staff members. It is amazing how 'confining' and 'draining' that can be.

I have now been trying to get to see the doctor for over three weeks and will be signing up for sick-call for the fourth time tonight. I have been suffering from swelling sinuses for the entire month. The problem is definitely the 'air quality' here in the dorm.

I go out and walk, and by the end of the walk my nose is wide open and I can breathe through my nose without too much difficulty. By this time, (5:45 PM) I can just barely take air in through my nose, and trying to blow it is like hitting a brick wall. No air or other matter exits the nose. It is like a check valve allowing air in out not out.

Even the air in tends to be problematic in that while the nose is not stuffed up in the traditional sense, I get just enough post nasal drip to cause a cough or gag type reflex. This makes eating also a problem.

Once I obtain full sinus swelling, then the headaches start. It does seem to help if I am horizontal as opposed to vertical, so that leaves lying on the bed and reading as the only comfortable activity.

The medical problem is that for some reason they have removed the cute little two-pill packs of decongestant. The last time into sick call, the nurse gave me a handful of combination pills. They contain non-aspirin, antihistamine, and some decongestant. Since my problem is strictly the swelled sinuses, all I need is the decongestant. Maybe the fourth time will be the charm.

My parents. Yeah of course they are part of the funk. Besides the growing sense that they are not actually READING my letters, it was obvious by what they wrote that they were putting the clippings I was sending in the round-to-it pile. Then they never seem to get read. I am sending these articles to them to not only give them things I think they will enjoy reading, but also to show that I am actually reading each and every paper.

I know I have a rotten track record at following through on projects and I want them to know the money for the paper is not going to waste. They are actually penalizing me $25.00 a month for the cost of the paper. They are only sending me $100 a month instead of the $125 I was getting at Club Fed.

Here I do not have the option of earning any additional money, so I am really functioning on much less money. It is somewhat an arbitrary decision on my parent’s part, as opposed to an educated amount based on what I should be able to buy.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
  A Real Funk.
I have been working myself into a real funk and it is getting harder by the day to dig out of it.

I want to make it clear that you are the one consistent person in my life right now. While you have been caught up in this funk (less letters have been flooding your mailbox) it is strictly a collateral damage thing and not anything you are responsible for.

I think I mentioned in the last letter, I told everyone around me that while I had not heard from you in a while and I had asked you to hold off sending the books for a bit, you went and sent me ten anyhow, just to let me know you were still out there and thinking of me. You get the major credit for admitting same in your letter.

The funk is due to several things. The bitch is I can (and will in this letter) put my finger on most of what is contributing to this funk but am having difficulty digging out of it

Since it appears that I will not be getting a new typewriter (that is one of the efforts that has not come to a successful conclusion adding to the funk) I have gone ahead and rearranged the keys again. This time I made sure to keep the keycaps on the same row. It is amazing that even with the scramble, I still find myself looking down at the keyboard and even figuring out that the 'O' key is really the 'T '. Why do that?

I am at a loss to explain how my brain works, but it is past simple laziness. I do know which keys are which and can not only type faster but more accurately if I refrain from looking at the keys or the LCD window. For now it looks like I will need to change the keys around on a weekly basis.

I am going to write one last letter to Smith Corona to see if there is any chance left on getting this machine switched. I did receive yet another letter from them but it reads as if they just got one letter from me.

Regarding my pen pals, I am beginning to think the 'Yeah I will write to Pete' is just a ploy to get my name to find out my true identity. At this point I have written to the one address you sent for a female in Georgia, and I assuming the rest you gave them my name and address. To date, I have gotten two letters from Annabel and three from Calulu. I owe Annabel a letter back from one I received on July 18. I have written a letter to Calulu and am awaiting a reply from her. That is the sum total of the pen pals.

The one constant thing has been the walking. I am now working pretty much at a four mile an hour pace, with a five minute break on Monday, Wednesday and Friday before taking on the second hour. Even though the humidity was way up today, I still managed ninety-five laps.

Since I was able to add the second hour and have kept to that pattern for this whole month, my next hope is that I will begin to notice more energy during the day. At this point, between the funk and the walking, I am likely to jump in my bunk and spend most of the day reading. As a result, I have made a dent in the book backlog, but that has not led to much letter writing. Please hold off sending books for another week or so.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
  Now that is a Work Order!
Printed in the New York Times, and credited to Reuters, is the story of a work order that has been signed for Kellogg, Brown and Root, a unit of Halliburton, in May by the U.S. Army. The article carries a date of June 6, 2005.

This work order is worth $4.97 BILLION over the next year and is in addition to $9.1 BILLION already earned by the company. Crime may not pay, but war seems to be profitable to Halliburton.

The story is only one column wide and has 23 lines of type.

Meanwhile back on June 18, the AP reported that this same unit of Halliburton was given a $30 million contract to build a 220 bed prison for the terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

According to this article, "Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, criticized the deal, calling Halliburton the 'scandal-plagued former employer of Vice President Cheney."'

So there you have it you 'criticize' deals for $30 million but if it is for $4.97 BILLION not a peep is heard.

I have a couple of questions for the esteemed senator from New Jersey. Is Halliburton receiving all this taxpayer money okay or is it not? Is it just about getting your name in print and not having to back you words up with action?
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
  And the winner is....
The winner of the longest comment to this blog is a relative newcomer, Tammie. She had written a nice long note about how something I wrote brought back some pleasant memories.

I will not embarrass her by giving all the details.

I also received notes from Annabel Lee, Summer, Karen C. and Brian S. Thanks to all that let me know that you are reading what I write.

I have not been that purposeful in answering specific comments, but I will do so more often in the future. It is very helpful to my creative juices, (yeah, my ego too) knowing that some of what I write makes sense to others out there.

Since this is currently my only real contact with the free world, it is good for me to be able to get feedback. Positive or negative.

So keep those comments coming and know that my editor does send them all to me.

It might take a couple weeks before you see something show up on the blog, but I will at least acknowledge receipt from now on.
Monday, August 01, 2005
  Quick Note.
Well it is 8:30 PM and I am dropping this quick note along with short posts for the blog.

I managed to get another two papers read today and received three in the mail today (Sunday - Tuesday). That means a net increase of one paper. I did read the story on Lance Armstrong and his attempt to ride without the yellow jersey. Yeah it is old news but hey I still have to read it.

The American Film Institute recently ran a survey of the top 100 quotable movie lines. Last fall I actually got to watch the one they did on the top 100 movie songs. Could you PLEASE access their web site and send me a copy of the two top 100 lists. I would appreciate it.

I tried to type a post dealing with the issue of working on creating memories when previous actions corrupt the ability to enjoy the experience. I did type two pages, and decided it was a good brainstorming session but not something that could be edited into a post. I kept the draft and will work on it in the future.

Damn, I think one of my fillings just crumbled in my mouth. I need to type a request out to the Dentist. See how long this is going to take, hopefully I am not about to embark on the path of "We can not fill it, we will pull it."

View my profile
Contact Prison Pete
Contact the Editor
Blogroll Me!

December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010

December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009

December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008

December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007

December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006

December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005

December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004


Powered by Blogger


Emily Dickinson
Janet Evanovich
Ian Fleming
Jonathan Franzen
Robert Fulghum
Sue Grafton
Tami Hoag
Jean Shepherd

Johann Sebastian Bach
Virgil Fox
Benny Goodman
Vladimir Horowitz
Itzhak Perlman
David Russell
Lonnie Smith

Radio and TV Shows
All Things Considered
Capitol Steps
Fawlty Towers
Fresh Air
The Infinite Mind
Jazz After Hours
Jeeves and Wooster
Pipe Dreams

Media, Publishers, Networks
Augsberg Fortress Press
Hamilton Bookseller
NY Daily News
NY Newsday
NY Times
PC Magazine
WNED Buffalo, NY

Helpful Organizations

Federal Bureau of Prisons
NY State Court of Appeals
NY State Department of Corrections

Typing with a Dvorak keyboard
Fastback Book Binding System
Who links to me?