Prison Pete

Saturday, December 31, 2005
  Request for tape.
Pastor Dean Weaver
Knox Presbyterian Church
2595 Elmwood Ave.
Kenmore, NY, 14217

Re: Request for tape of the 11:00 AM service, November 27, 2005.

Dear Pastor Dean,

I am an NY State prison inmate and have been listening to your Sunday morning broadcast for several months.

When I was first arrested, within two or three days I was visited by a Presbyterian minister, Rev. Paul, currently a pastor in Raleigh, North Carolina.

I have kept in contact with him over the years of my incarceration.

While I am a Lutheran by tradition and my dad is a retired Lutheran pastor, I have certainly come in contact with the outreach of the Presbyterian Church and am grateful for your Sunday broadcast. I am impressed with the activities and ministries I hear you talk about on Sunday mornings.

I was really moved by your sermon this past Sunday, about how each of is a member of a family, and that no family is perfect. As a pastor's kid, I certainly am aware how congregations can be a hotbed of backbiting and tension and your openness to take on this problem head on was very powerful to me.

Your willingness to admit that you personally might annoy a member at some point was also very open and honest. Tying this in to the first chapter of the Gospel lesson was also unique to me and I really enjoyed the entire sermon.

I am enclosing a check in the amount of $15.00. I would appreciate it if you would send a tape of this past Sunday's service to my parents. I have not had much contact with my brother and sister due to my incarceration and perhaps your sermon might be helpful in opening some communication between my siblings and myself.

I would like to contribute the rest of this check to the replacement fund for the 'borrowed' sound system from your youth group.

I have enclosed my parent's address on a separate piece of paper.
Friday, December 30, 2005
  Dear Pastor Dean.
December 15, 2005

Dear Pastor Dean,

I sent the following letter to you on November 28, but it was returned by the post office as undeliverable [Editor] because I mistakenly sent it to Kenmore Presbyterian Church, 2771 Delaware Ave., Kenmore, NY 14217.

I have asked a friend of mine to email the following letter to you and ask you to contact me at my address on the letter.

I am still interested in the tape of the sermon if they are still available.

If you would confirm that the tape is available, I will send the $15.00 I had originally tried to send you.

Thank you for your attention to this.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
  Now What?
I have been listening to the live broadcast of the Sunday morning service from a Presbyterian Church in Kenmore, NY. They recently had a $2,000 sound system used for their youth programming "borrowed" by persons unknown.

I had wanted to send a small donation in support of the funds they were seeking to replace the system. I wrote a letter to another Presbyterian minister down in Raleigh, NC, asking him to provide me with the mailing address for the Kenmore church.

He sent me the address, along with the Web Site address www.kenpres.org, of the Kenmore Presbyterian church. I filled out the paperwork that was needed for the funds to be taken from my commissary account and typed up a letter to the pastor of the church.

While I was working on this, I heard a great sermon by one of the Pastors, Pastor Dean Weaver, and included some additional money to have a cassette copy of the sermon sent to my Mom and Dad.

According to the information on the website, the address for the Kenmore Presbyterian Church is 2771 Delaware Ave., Kenmore, NY, 14217. The letter with the necessary funds was mailed out on November 29, 2005.

On December 10, I received the letter back, with confirmation that the check I had sent was credited back to my account. The envelope was marked in pen, "UAA RTS" and the red stamp with the hand marked "Return to Sender", "ATTEMPTED - NOT KNOWN."

At this point I am asking my editor to please email a copy of the letter to the web site (I am assuming that it is a valid web site address) and have the church send me confirmation by good old snail mail of their correct mailing address.

My question is why this letter did not have the usual "Yellow Sticker" that tends to be applied to undeliverable mail these days. In the good old days, even if the address was off a bit, as long as it was delivered to the right post office, it would be delivered by the post office since they were knowledgeable of the churches and businesses in their area. Now with all the computers, if there is something that does not 'fit' into the system, it gets tossed out.

There is a possible sinister problem here. Since all our mail from this prison is clearly marked as such on both the front and back of every envelope, are there some employees of the postal system that like to redirect properly address letters back to sender just for the 'fun' of it? There have been a few other inmates that have received mail that was properly address returned as undeliverable.

I have enclosed the original envelope so that the editor can verify that I did have the correct address.

The point I am also raising here is that the otherwise simple procedure of sending a donation to a church is now taking three different people and four weeks time to accomplish. Editor, please note if the address on the web site is as I have written it.

[Editor] The reason the letter was returned to Pete was because it was sent to the wrong Presbyterian Church in Kenmore, NY.

Pastor Dean Weaver is the Pastor of the Knox Presbyterian Church, which is also in Kenmore, NY, not the Kenmore Presbyterian Church. The address for the Knox Presbyterian Church is 2595 Elmwood Ave., Kenmore, NY, 14217. Their web site is www.knoxchurchbuffalo.com.

I did a Google search on "Pastor Dean Weaver" and figured this all out in about two minutes. Don’t you just love Google?
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
  I have not sent out a bunch of whiny letters
hoping that the things and letters I was waiting for would arrive "tomorrow," and before I know it a week or more has gone by.

You have been consistent with your letters and for that I am truly grateful. Please do not post the whiny stuff on the blog; I just wanted to let you know where my head is at.

To add to the emotional down mood, I did receive a copy of all the transcripts from the Federal public defender in Raleigh.

I had gotten the address from Reverend Paul, (just so you know you do not get all my requests) and he sent both sets up (Federal and NY State). That was actually more than I expected, but the emotional turmoil just the presence of the paperwork causes is crushing.

Not sure if you can understand but now would be a great time to have some professional head shrinkers around.
Monday, December 26, 2005
  I have been really feeling blue
and that has certainly resulted in the lack of any mail heading your way. I was expecting a bunch of stuff to happen over the last two weeks and none of it has happened.

I did get another shipment of books from you yesterday. THANK YOU. I also received your latest letter last Friday, and a letter from Calulu. That is it for the last seven days.

I was hoping to hear back from the church. My Dad had promised to send an new hot pot to one of the guys that I cook for, I was hoping for a letter from Annabel (she was going to write over Thanksgiving now postponed to Christmas) and I am still waiting for my monthly food delivery from Mom and Dad, mentioned by them in a letter, and last but not least the books that Bobbielou ordered for me.

I know the books are on the way, but the waiting is driving me crazy. I am going to be reading one of your books that just arrived. It is one from the Old England romance genre. There was also a basketball book in this shipment about one of the coaches for the Boston Celtics I think.
Sunday, December 25, 2005
  Merry Christmas.

[Editor] I did not get a specific Christmas post from Pete (maybe I'll get one in a week or two LOL), so for now I will jump in myself to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!
Saturday, December 24, 2005
  Puzzling mail delivery problem.
I am enclosing a puzzling mail delivery problem that I would appreciate your assistance on.

I had asked my pastor friend Reverend Paul in Raleigh for the address, and as you can see for some reason the post office did not like the address. The web site address is "www.kenpres.org". I am enclosing the original sticky note that was sent to me. I had tried to use alternate resources and as you can see it has not worked out very well.

It is somewhat ironic that between the time I asked for a copy of the tape sent to my parents and the letter came back, I had also received the letter from my Dad telling me not to contact my siblings. That comment was in relation to the mention by me of sending my brother a rewrite of his company web site.

I had sent a subsequent letter to Mom and Dad telling them to expect the tape. That letter also went out before I got the "do not contact" note.

I have not received any additional mail from Mom and Dad in over two weeks. So much for my Dad's pledge to write twice a week.
Friday, December 23, 2005
  I am so lazy.
It has not been easy to get one of the four tables lately to work on and I 'wait' till a table is available and before I know it, I am able to work my way out of typing anything.

I had another cube search today, and the only good thing was I have gotten down to fewer than fourteen papers. I have been listening to the last of Howard Stern and reading two papers each morning, but then I skipped reading any on Saturday and Sunday. So I read two this morning, and then received two in mail call.

I started to read the joke/rant you sent on proper programming format, but had to put it down. I do not know if you can understand but it was very painful. I am a programmer. I have not even seen much code in years, and to see it in the rant you sent and not be able to sit in front of a screen and write code. Damn. I really want to try and get that C++ book in and see what I can so with typing out some code and having you OCR it.

But that is a whole different kettle of fish. I had written to my federal public defender in Raleigh, NC and asked him for copies of my federal transcripts. He not only sent my federal ones, but also the NY state ones. So now I can develop yet one more shot at getting out of here. I did write a letter to the U.S. Appeals Court to ask what is up there.

PS Hope you are getting some relief! Maybe you could get a prescription from the doctor that more sex would be a preventative measure? Ha ha.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
  I am a cretin.
I wallowed around in self pity all weekend and did not even get a short note out to let you know I was thinking about you and was sorry to hear about your hemorrhoid problem. Ouch is all I can say.

I think I wrote you about the last time I had a much less serious problem, when I had sort of coughed my way into a small hemorrhoid. Surgery. Now that certainly does not sound like any fun at all. Maybe it will not be needed?

[Editor] I had the surgery about two weeks ago and am feeling much better. The procedure was done in the doctor's office using local anesthetic. I was a little tender afterwards and painkillers helped me get through the first couple of days. But in the end (no pun intended) it was not as bad as I thought it would be and I'm glad I finally had it taken care of.

I do not know if you have kept up with Calulu's blog, but she is currently on the 'strongest pain meds allowed' and it is only taking the edge off her multiple problems with her shoulders, elbows and wrists. She is going to need surgery to fix the problem and the recovery is at least six months.

She used some voice recognition software and was complaining it did not like her southern accent. I told her it should get better as she trained it. She used the software to dictate the two page letter she sent to me.

I also received a refund from Hamilton today for the books Bobbielou ordered. One of the books was out of stock. Sometimes the refund goes to the person that orders, sometimes to the recipient. I will have to get a letter out to her tonight also.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
  Selfish, Self-Centered, and Self-Pitying.
Go ahead; tell me what you really think. I certainly get many varied comments to the blog. (Oops, there go two more sheets of typing paper to a fellow inmate.)

Some people think this blog is fake, written by someone with an overactive imagination.

I have met very few inmates that are content to be in prison.

The animosity among inmates toward the staff and other inmates still surprises me after nine years. There is daily talk about hoping this or that staff member gets injured or killed. Most inmates spend each day talking about wanting to beat up on this or that inmate for real or imagined transgressions.

There are a few inmates that are at the top of the food chain and are able to get their needs met at the expense of other inmates. This can be something as benign as speaking down to another inmate calling him all kinds of names that usually included one or more 'four letter' words, like 'fucking idiot' as one of the more mild expressions.

Even if that is the expression being tossed about, it would usually be projected at full volume, (Think of a Hollywood depiction of a Drill Sergeant) and repeated four or five times in thirty seconds or less.

Then there is the removal of your personal property. It could be as simple as stealing some of the prison supplied clothing or a physical break-in to your locker and the removal of over $100 of personal property.

Then there are the officers that love to administer physical punishment just because they can, and not necessarily in any direct relation to an action of the inmate.

I know there are a lot of people who put themselves in prison, and I am including myself in this group. I have met some who certainly do not belong in prison.

Perhaps if you were to have a brother or other relative that had not 'whined about his conditions or pestered me for favors’ it is because he knows his request would fall on death ears.

Certainly one way I have seen some inmates deal with incarceration is to not write anything at all. Perhaps he might be one of the top inmates and is getting things from other inmates?

Two months before my departure from Club Fed, I left the clerk job I had in the Recreation Department. I was complemented by more than 75% of the inmates who were participants in the Hobbycraft program at how much better everything worked while I was there, and how screwed up things were since I left.

Some of what I write might indeed be whiny. I have received some uplifting comments. In particular, one woman, herself a former inmate, had commented about how my remarks help her remember what it is like on the inside and how much she has to be thankful for now that she is on the outside.

Yes, I do ask for things. Some of my requests end up getting posted and I am not sure if the full dialogue makes it to the blog.

One example was my request to my editor to send me food. I admit to a certain amount of overreaching expectations with this request. Having spent nine years in the federal system where having food sent on was not an option, I arrived in the New York State Prison System and was told that I would be in that particular location for over five months. That initial location had me spending over twenty hours a day in a cell by myself.

My parents came up to see me, and when they came back the second day of their visit they had brought a bunch of fresh fruit and vegetables. The officer that checked in the food made a comment that it was all such healthy food. (I now see that a lot of the food sent in is processed food and junk food.)

My parents were going to spend several months down in Florida, and my question to my friend was would he be willing to send me some food once or twice a month, with my parents sending the money needed.

The reason this made some sense to me was at the time I was within the same postal region as my editor and any package he sent would arrive within a day or two. I had assumed that when he went shopping for the family groceries it would not be all that much more work to toss a few extra things in the basket. I always did the food shopping when I was out in the free world. Well it turns out that my editor did not have anything to do with food shopping, it was a task that his wife took care of.

When I received the letter from my editor telling me he would not do the food shopping and how it was a task that he was not even involved in, I believe my response was, Hey no problem, I would not want to blow the sweet deal he had with his wife.

In fairness, I do ask a lot of things of my Editor. I had thought that they are mostly questions, and he is perfectly capable of telling me No. I might not be happy about it, and I take this public opportunity to apologize to my editor for any hissy fits, whining rants and other childish and unappreciative behavior I may from time to time exhibit.

I often received high praise from most of my work supervisors while in Club Fed. I am a strange bird. I have become comfortable with who I am. Yes, I might ask a lot of my friends, but I am also very giving. Even though I have limited resources, I share my carbon paper, typing paper, and typing and letter writing skills with many of the inmates here.

I have recently completed, at no charge to the inmate, an extensive legal filing. If successful, this filing will bring about his immediate release. The usual consideration expected for this type of legal assistance is in the $100 plus range.

By doing this gratis, I am risking pissing off the inmate that considers himself the jail house lawyer here. Mind you he has never gotten any positive results for any other inmate, which is the norm for most wannabe legal eagles, but that does not seem to stop them from fleecing their fellow inmates. Was it not P.T. Barnum who said something about a sucker being born every minute?

It is easy to take portions of my behavior and paint me in an unfavorable light. Hopefully, I listen to constructive criticism, and modify my behavior.

As far as my asking for things, unless you have been to prison, it is impossible for anyone to divine what I need and do not need. I have learned that it is good for me to express my wants and expectations. This is not being manipulative.

When I receive feedback to my questions, I might re-phrase my request to further explain the importance, modify the request to better meet what the other person is willing to do or drop the request altogether. That is what I hope happens most if not all of the time.

I do not have any problem if anyone wants to point out anytime I fail to behave in the above fashion. While I can not tell anyone how to feel, I can only ask that you not feel guilty about saying no. I do not have a problem with a negative response. I find that is healthier in the long run for any relationship.

Time to go and cook dinner. I will come back and proof and print the four pages I have put into the memory so far!

[Okay so it really took many days to come back and get this proofed and printed, but I think it has aged well.]
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
  Speed Read.
[Yet another old post, entered 11/30/05, proof and printed 12/08/05. I am down to only eleven papers. I have been working at keeping the papers moving.]

I was the recipient of the 'random' cube search last night and the officer took one look at my stack of papers and said 'You are not going to make me count those, are you?" I told him, "No, I know there are more than fourteen papers."

There were almost thirty papers. He did not make too much of an issue although he did make a note on the report that said I had to get rid of excess papers. I buckled down today and speed read through six of the twelve older papers I had.

The older papers are from October 1 to October 14. I have been keeping the 'current' papers under the limit of fourteen, but that was reached when I received three papers today (Sunday, Monday and Tuesday). I did come across a few articles that met the "must read" bar I set, but it is interesting how I was able to ignore a massive collection of article on the now defunct nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court.

Hey Editor, I did come across the article about possible medical issues to the male anatomy with the use of a traditional racing bicycle seat.

Tomorrow's goal is to finish up the remaining old papers. I still need to read at least one of the 'current' papers tonight, although current at this point is almost two weeks old!

[It took more than the next day but I will not let it get that bad again, I hope.]
Sunday, December 18, 2005
  Post Time.
It is 6:40 PM on Wednesday, November 30, 2005 here. [Now it is December 8, 2005 and I am finally proofing and printing out four pages that have been waiting patiently in the memory of the typewriter for some attention.]

I have lots to type but I am not sure how much will make it from the gray matter to the paper. I got out for one hour of walking today, and since it has become only a once or twice per week thing of late, I am now ready to crawl up into my bunk and take a nap.

The following sentence should be ignored by a certain Texas pen pal of mine. I will be cooking the almost daily black bean, tomato sauce and rice meal around 8:30 PM. I need a protein boost in the meantime. I mixed up a can of octopus in a honey mustard hot sauce to tide me over till dinner is ready. Told you not to read the sentence, but I bet you-know-who-you-are read it anyhow.

I received a letter from my editor today, which he mailed out on Monday, mentioning he hoped I had a nice Thanksgiving. By now he should have received my 'I've Been Spammed' post to explain my not quite ready for prime time holiday meal.

That is just one example of the time lag in the snail mail communication system. [Letting the drafts sit in memory for over a week does not help either.]

I just read that USPS first class mail postal rates are going up two cents for first ounce and one cent for each additional ounce.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
  Too Much Coke?
The forty-eight cans (eight six-packs) of Diet Coke last two weeks.

While there has been several two week periods where I have only drank thirty-six cans, this week is looking like a full eight six-pack period.

I finished the last of my ten chocolate bars I had purchased at the commissary prior to the latest one. That means I have gone from a one candy bar per day habit to ten candy bars over twenty-one days and will not be buying more than one or two candy items in the future.

There are two reasons for that change: one being the desire to limit "excess" calories with the decrease in my walking, and the second reason is the additional cost of buying extra cans of black beans, corn and tomato sauce so that I can have ten meals over the two week period.

Each meal is shared with one other inmate. He gets some goodies from home once a month, but I share my meal with him without cost to him. Just part of my bit to contribute random acts of kindness to other inmates around me.

In addition I am slowly building up a number of 'clients' for my free legal and prison system assistance.

I started off the typing today by typing two letters to the prison staff with questions two of my fellow inmates needed answers to.
Friday, December 16, 2005
  A tough time of year.
The enclosed posts were sitting in the typewriter memory for a bit and I finally got around to printing them out.

I hope the "Selfish..." one responds in a positive way to the recent comment by the individual who claimed his brother was in a maximum security prison. You had asked if any of the points mentioned might have led to my behaviors that landed me in prison.

I would like to answer your question not only by some of what I said in the enclosed post, but also by asking you some further questions.

I know we started our writing back a while when Reverend Paul sent me the website you had put up about me. I do not remember the date we started writing. How long have we been writing?

[Editor] It has been five years this month.

If you review my earlier letters and compare them with my more recent letters, do the more recent letters contain less "me" writing? I would hope that the amount of writing in my letters that talks about general things, or offers comments and concerns about things specific to you, has grown over the course of our letter writing.

While I realize I am sort of a captive audience, I certainly feel this is the most effort either of us has expended to firmly establish our friendship since I moved away way back in the 1960's.

I know both of us have 'worked' at this latest relationship, and I am hopeful that I have grown over the time. I still have many rough spots and hopefully will always be on the lookout to smooth those out.

This is always a tough time of year, and this year is looking to be the toughest in terms of the total isolation I am experiencing. I need to get cracking on making my Christmas cards, and that hopefully will keep my mind on 'happy' thoughts for a bit.

I have not answered my dad's latest letter, the one with the comment about not contacting my brother.

I did get a pen pal page letter from Bobbielou this Monday and sent her out a letter that evening. I have been spending most of my time reading, but have gotten out in the yard three out of the last five days for an hour of walking in the snow.

Well it is now almost 8:00 PM and I will print this out and then head off to the shower and start dinner.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
  Better Late Than Later.
Honesty causes me to admit that this post is being typed under guilt.

It is now 8:25 PM on Sunday and like most weekends lately, my plans to type each day of the weekend just has not happened. The soonest this might end up on the blog is Wednesday, and if I put it off until tomorrow then it would be Thursday.

The guilt is that I have not sent out much in the way of specific posts, and since I am never sure how much of my personal letters will end up being posted, the readers of this blog might not be finding anything new when they log on to see how I am doing and what I am up to.

There is certainly no shortage of things to type, and if I am diligent this coming week you will all see that, but I have been lazy and for that I am sorry.

We apparently are in the middle of a minor who-done-it and the consequence of this has resulted in the inability to prepare my usual hot meal of beans, tomato sauce and rice.

Tonight's dinner in the chow hall was chicken gravy served over a biscuit. The lack of any perceivable protein or flavor makes this a meal I do not bother to darken the portals of the chow hall.

Apparently one of our more creative inmates decided to add a large dose of salt to the five gallon drink container. According to an anonymous, certainly unreliable, source, the first inmate to drink the doctored punch proceeded to spit out the contents of his mouth all over the floor.

As a result of the screwing with the beverage by some yet to be identified (or framed?) inmate, they have closed the 'heating room.' This is the room where we are allowed to plug in our hot pots to heat our personal food.

So as a result of someone fooling around with state-provided food, those of us who were not even near the scene of the crime are being punished.

It should be noted that there is an official rule that states "can lids found outside the heating room will be considered a weapon" and any inmate found with a weapon in his possession will be written up. Under those guidelines I cannot legally open a can of tuna and mix up some tuna salad.

One side irony is that while the posted rules for our 'heating room' clearly state we are not to cook any food; they still sell us the pound of uncooked spaghetti.

I do have one of those envelope style packages of salmon that I could open up and make a salad with, but think I will just go with good old peanut butter and jelly for now.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
It has been a busy two week period with me 'lending' my fellow inmates various items.

The usual fee for lending something to an inmate is that he will pay you back two items on the next commissary. I do not do that, asking only that they replace what they borrow. There is never a shortage of entrepreneurs willing to run a store, and although it is against the rules, that like a lot of the goings on behind the fences does not stop them.

This week in addition to sharing eight rice and bean meals with a fellow inmate who has fewer resources than I, I have loaned out the following:

One 9x12 envelope. I actually lent this to an inmate who is one of my neighbors, and he promptly handed it over to another inmate. This other inmate was one of the inmates that I had a disagreement with during the summer about who has the right of way out in the recreation yard.

I guess I was able to practice some of that biblical 'love your enemies' philosophy, admittedly not with prior knowledge, and not that this person is actually an enemy at this time.

Two sheets of carbon paper. While the inmate seeking the carbon paper did offer to pay me for it, I declined. This obviously was not a loan but a gift. It is safer to not 'sell' things to other inmates because that is an offense that you can be written up for and there are plenty of inmates who take pleasure in ratting out another inmate.

I do not want to get into a position where I be viewed as the seller of things. I prefer to use selected opportunities to show that one can give without asking for anything in return. This particular inmate use to talk trash about me to other inmates. He has not done so lately. I do not expect him to be able to put the 'gift' of the carbon paper and the thought that he should not be so quick to talk trash together, but hope does spring eternal.

One inmate has borrowed two pounds of spaghetti and one can of octopus. Another three cans of soda. Two other inmates, one borrowed a can of octopus and the other a can of tomato sauce.

Then there is one last inmate that borrowed ten 37¢ stamps from me.

Most of these items were lent out in the past few days. The bi-weekly commissary will occur this coming Tuesday so most inmates are running low on food. I am glad I do not drink coffee, because that is certainly number one on the begging list. As long as what is being asked for is something that I can get by without and the inmate has paid back all previous loans I am willing to lend again.

Just another one of the ways I work on maintaining my individuality.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Just a short note to let you know I am alive and kicking (mostly myself) but that still has not resulted in me getting the work done.

I have finally cleared out all the older newspapers that were in my locker, and I am now down to fourteen, the legal limit. I will need to be sure to read at least two before mail call tomorrow as I will probably get Friday and Saturday papers then.

Now that I can see the light, I am going to work on getting down to a seven day float on the newspapers.

It is painfully apparent that I had managed to put most of my emotional self on the shelf. Between the writing to you and my penpals, the dancing around my past transgressions, and my continuing conundrum of the relationship with my parents, let us just say, Where is my favorite psychologist when I need her?

I had mentioned in a letter to Mom and Dad about getting a copy of my brother's website, and my thought that I would send a sample of my sharpened writing skills.

In his latest letter, Dad wrote, "Please don't do any corresponding to your brother or sister, either by name or anonymously. It will affect our relationships with them negatively. I am sorry this has to be mentioned but I must be forthright on this issue."

I am not really sure what that means exactly since my brother's address is now public information. But put this together with your latest remark about what about Christian forgiveness, and it makes for a real emotional mess.

Think of the issues involved. My dad was not only our Dad, a task he was certainly more absent from than present, but he was our spiritual leader also.

Yes you ask the right question: where is their forgiveness, how can they pray the Lord's Prayer, (forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us) yet apparently threaten and or hold my parents responsible for my actions as far as me maybe contacting them?

This is not at all anything you should feel guilty for bringing up and I need you to be my ears as far as what might appear on the web, but it is tough to deal in specifics as far as what I can and can not do or say to whom when neither my brother or sister have ever written to me.

My lack of adequate resources to discuss all the angles leaves me with little desire to deal with reality, and diving into a book is the option I have been using lately. I have read four novels in the last six days.

I am not going to go all the way down and hopefully I can dig myself out of the funk somewhat during this coming week.

Hope all is doing well on your end and your get to really enjoy the upcoming holidays. Maybe some of my ideas in the last letter will get you on Santa's good boy list.
Monday, December 12, 2005
  Saxophone Help.
On an unrelated item, be sure to try a couple different reeds on your new saxophone.

If you remember from my earlier letters, or do a search for reeds, you will find the major difference I found going down to a 1 1/2 or 2 from the 3 that was originally sent. It would have been much easier when I started if I had the lower number reed. Once you get the hang of it you could go up to the stiffer reeds.

Well it is 9:10 PM. I am not sure if I am going to cook a bean and rice meal or not. The fingers are starting to do their own thing on the keyboard and the spell checker if beeping its fool head off.

I hope some of this makes sense, and that you realize it comes from my heart. It is not a criticism of you at all, simply my attempt to hopefully share some of the insight that I have been able to honestly look at as a result of my years in prison, my six years of therapy, and a willingness to share. Understand that I can not come up with specific actions that I expect you to follow word for word; you need to run it through your own compiler.

By the way, the gangster wanna be is a twenty something white guy. For the record, his name is Myron Goldberg.

I have been sitting here typing for over two hours with my headphones on listening to Country music, and I just took the headphones off to get my pad from the locker and the 'dorm noise' was like the sound of nails on a blackboard.

I thank you for allowing me to share this time with you and to raise myself above the trash I am surrounded with twenty-four/seven. Off to proof and print.
Friday, December 09, 2005
  I want to thank you for all your recent mailings.
I do not know if you are being purposeful in sending what seems to be more frequent mailings or not. But it certainly 'feels' that there have been more envelopes coming from you lately.

I purposely used the word 'feel'. At one point I was attempting to keep track of the days I sent and received letters. Like a lot of the day to day type record keeping tasks, I have not kept up with that.

I am not keeping score. I know I mention from time to time when your letters seem to slow down, so I should certainly mention when I notice an increase.

Here is the question. Are you aware of sending more frequent letters? If yes, then it is a good thing I notice. If you are not aware of any change, it still goes to show how two people can have two different views of a common experience. That is the point of this letter.

I did type four pages of posts last night but after stopping to cook dinner at 8:30 PM, I did not have the emotional energy to come back and do the proof and print thing.

I was affected by the negative comment by the guy that allegedly has a brother who is doing ten years plus in a maximum level prison. I will work on my response to him over the weekend because it has triggered an entire range of emotions, and needs to be answered since you sort of chimed in on his comments. I will do it, but it is not something I can just sit down and type.

By the way, are you sure you sent fifteen books? I only received eleven. There was only one basketball book. If you did send the fifteen, then I guess some officer liked a couple of the books.

Maybe the next shipment you should label each book "Book 1 of 15", "Book 2 of 15" etc. That would seem to be easier than typing up a shipping list. They might just need a gentle reminder of what they are supposed to put into my brown bag for delivery.

I finished one of the romance books and the first half of the book the interaction between the male and female characters is based on each one misinterpreting the other's intention. They are both afraid to allow themselves to fall in love.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
  Had Enough.
I have mentioned the lack of a clear picture when the prison shows the 'in-house' DVDs.

I wrote a memo to the official in charge of that area and received a response that said the problem had been looked into and she had been told it was not fixable.

Today's movie was the 2005 remake of War of the Worlds.

I am setting a standard for watching these movies. Those films that depend more on visual as opposed to audio (dialog) will be movies I will not watch.

As someone that loved to sit in the front row of seats in the movie theatre, watching a movie that depend on visual images on a small, fuzzy television screen is not worth my time.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
  Romper Stompers!
I finally got a chance to break out my brand new size 11 6E (EEEEEE) boots.

We have received our second batch of snow and this batch was falling as I stomped around the yard, blazing a nice path in the six inches of freshly fallen powder.

It was so quiet out as I walked I could hear the wonderful 'crunch' of the snow as I walked. My kingdom for a pair of cross country skis.

Snow shoes are not needed; the boots can serve that function. They do a great job of trail blazing and within two laps I had a foot wide path all 'plowed.' That is where all those E's come in handy.

Special thanks go to Mom and Dad for procuring the boots for me.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
  I Got Spammed.
Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus, but the holiday grinch has made an early appearance here in my gated community.

Apparently the lucky turkey, and back-up bird (why do they need a back-up?) that were pardoned by President Bush, were the ones that were bound for our tables.

Since they never did make it, we were served the alleged roast turkey product that they serve throughout the year. It is even lower on the nutritional goodness and taste tree than SPAM.

It is the first time in the nine Thanksgivings I have been fenced in that I have not had real Turkey for Thanksgiving.

I made the mistake of eating the slab of flab and the wonderful combination of chemicals and other artificial ingredients reminds me I still have Asthma! I took a couple hits on my trusty inhaler.

I will be cooking some black beans and rice shortly!
Monday, December 05, 2005
  Thursday, November 24, 2005 Thanksgiving Day.
6:45 PM and I am just sitting down to type. Bummer. I need to stop waiting for the last minute.

This is the second attempt at writing. I took the typewriter out of its box and then put it back in. I was going to write out the draft of what I would be typing and pondered that for a few minutes, then went back to taking out the typewriter, and here I am working on the typed draft.

We had about six to eight inches of snow today. I spent the noon to 1:00 hour this afternoon walking in the yard all alone. Peace and quiet!

I did get a nice large envelope from BobbieLou on Wednesday, and will send her out something in mail tonight.

It will have to be handwritten since as you will see from the enclosed post I still need to cook some food because the promised roast turkey dinner they served at 4:30 was more like a turkey SPAM!

Even the County Jail served Turkey for Thanksgiving. At this time last year I was having my last holiday meal at Club Fed. It has now been one year since I left that place.

I am not at all mad, as the number one thing I have learned is that I can not allow another person to hold my emotions captive. Yes others can have an effect on how I feel, but then it is within my power to move forward.

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, and assume you got to enjoy a four day weekend. By the way, I think I forgot to mention that I did catch the bit of business news a few weeks back where your wonderful employer sold off a database product line.

It is an interesting time of year. It is hard to ignore the holidays yet I certainly have enough writing to do to keep my mind occupied. I know I have been slack on answering back your letters, but I will.

I also need to start creating the Christmas cards I want to send. I will need a few more than last year, and want to get them out by the December 10th so that I will get some back!

Well let me put this aside and see how much more I can type out for posting.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
  Latest on the Nose and the Lack of Fresh Air.
I have given up on any hope of receiving any assistance from the medical services department here. I had resolved to put up with the swollen sinuses, and the inability to get the proper pharmacological remedy.

In the midst of putting away my commissary this afternoon, I was told to go see the nurse. I asked one of the inmates near my bed to keep an eye on my groceries and headed over to the nurse.

On arrival I saw that the doctor was in attendance along with the nurse. The nurse flashed the report from my latest nasal x-ray, the fourth or fifth since January of this year. She said that they were going to send me out for a CAT scan to see what the problem was with my nose and to be sure everything was okay.

I mentioned to the nurse that I did not feel that was necessary since in my humble opinion the problem would be solved if they would be sure to feed more 'FRESH' air into the living area. I had no problem with allergies up to this point and that when I went outside to walk my sinuses actually became less swollen.

I am still sitting in the hallway during all this time. She then goes back into the 'office' where the doctor is sitting, in plain sight of me, less than ten feet away. They 'consult' for about ten seconds, and the nurse returns and says no that cannot be the reason, the humidity outside could be helping you feel better.

Well then why not see about increasing the humidity in the dorm? But exactly how much humidity is outside in 50° weather anyhow?

I um already concerned about the overall exposure I have had to X-Rays. Since my arrival in the New York State Prison System (12/30/04) I have had a chest x-ray, a full panoramic dental x-ray, and four or five nasal x-ray series, each one at least three separate images.

Then there were the four additional dental x-rays. Wait, I almost forgot about the three back/pelvis x-rays they took to see if I deserved the hard metal bed.

The only time I had any 'protection' from the x-rays was for the dental x-rays. You know the old lead apron thing. Yes it would be tough to use that for the back and chest x-rays, but certainly it should have been used for the nasal x-rays.

They had my medical reports from Club Fed, with the same report of my lower hack problems, so the back x-rays were not needed. Nor did they find out anything new.

In all the time I have had trouble with the sinuses, not one medical professional, and I use the word professional with lots of reservations, has taken a physical look inside the nose.

Nor, as suggested in the health pages of the New York Times, taken a culture of the mucus in my nasal area.

I am sure that the CAT scan would not turn up any great revelation and signed a form acknowledging my refusal of their recommendation.

I am going to take this opportunity to write to the Nurse Administrator, the person allegedly in charge of all things medical and see of I can not encourage her to work with the plant management staff to get more fresh air in here.

Stay tuned for further updates.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
  The Mail, One Last Time.
There is no more expectant time in prison than mail call. (For some, their release date is also important, but for others it may be too far off to worry about.)

Mail call is the one point in the day that we incarcerated types can receive some sort of positive validation of our self worth. It can also be the time of heartbreak and sorrow. Yeah those may be the extremes; every day does not have to be either one or the other. But some days...

Mail is distributed at 4:00 PM, Monday through Friday. With the exception of holidays. November has two: Veterans Day and Thanksgiving.

While mail is normally still delivered in the free world on Saturdays, we do not get mail on Saturday.

Mail is delivered to the post office from here sometime after 8:00 AM, Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. The last chance to send out a letter each week is Thursday evening. It is delivered to the post office, one hopes, Friday morning.

We still might get a letter in Friday's mail call, but the mail does not go out from here until Monday morning, and if Monday is a holiday, then it is Tuesday before the letter goes out.

Now imagine for a moment that the only way you could communicate with a friend or loved one was by the U.S. Mail. You had no cell phone, land line phone, no email, no direct personal contacts, no meeting at the local store. NO CONTACTS.

The only form of communication between you and another human would arrive in your mail box, once each day, and if you needed to get a message to someone, you needed to write it out, put it in an envelope and send it out. Imagine there was something that occurred on a Friday, it would not even leave your location till Monday morning and still need time to reach its intended destination.

One last combination. You do not get anything on a Thursday, and say no problem, maybe Friday. Well Friday comes and no letters for you. Now it is Monday before you can get a letter. Assuming you did get a letter on Wednesday, it will be Monday, five days, 120 hours, between the letters.

Think about that for a minute. Think about going 120 hours without any form of communication with another human being that actually cared for you. Think about needing to pass on some important news, and having to wait 120 hours before you were able to get confirmation back that the message was received!

Yes this is being a little obsessive. Guess I am specifically talking about feeling blue. Why would one care if it took a while to come down from feeling up?

The thing is you hope for mail Thursday and Friday, none arrives, and by this time you know it will be Monday, before you even have the possibility to get a letter. Overall that is a five day trek into the depths of bluedom, and that is why sometimes you see me 'looking' for the mail to help lift me up.

Now having spent way too much time on this subject let me state for the record, I know how hard it is to find the time to write.

So if you are one of those incredibly wonderful people that do write to me, or might be thinking of writing to me, do not worry about not being able to send lots of letters. Every letter I get is a great letter and the more I get the better.

I do not hold anyone individual responsible for keeping my spirit up, that is my job. You are welcome to raise my spirit when you can. I hope this is clear now.
Friday, December 02, 2005
  Proof That I Need to Proof.
While my ability to touch type has improved, it is not perfect. In a bid to expedite the process of getting some letters out, I decided to type out a letter to my editor last Thursday evening without going through the process of doing the draft first. I made a carbon copy of the letter.

After putting the original in the mail, I took a few minutes to reread the letter. I was appalled at the number of typos. The letter was only three and a half pages long.

Some of the following errors are not typos as such but just the wrong word or tense.

"Part of it is I have not being feeling..." s.b. been
"Let me get to your latest later." s.b. letter
"will I am sure... s.b. While
THanks for returning...." s.b. Thanks
...actually has something to caring to say to me ... (drop the to)
..sending unwanted mail to his with and that... s.b. wife
"Good how AIDS really has put a damper on random sex." s.b. God
...there is not way do I want..." (drop the do)
...but so have to...." s.b. do
I have been feeling emotional adrift." s.b. emotionally

There are a few more plurals that are missing and an awkward phrase here and there.

Need to be more diligent in my typing and remember that just because one has a spell checker, the writing still needs to be proofed by a human being. Mind over bits...

Hopefully my mind does not go to bits.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
  Lots to Write about, Stay on One Subject.
It is a few minutes after 5:00 PM, Monday, and I am just starting to write for the first time since last Thursday.

I have plenty to write. I have letters to write; Mom and Dad, Editor, two pen pals, one local church. I have plenty of stuff to put out on the blog; "Admitting I still need to Proof my Writing", " Addition to the Locker Door", "Follow-up for the Wanna Be Gangsta", "Latest on the Nose, and the Lack of Fresh Air", "One More Explanation of the Mail", "Gotta Love Those Country Music Words", and Lots more

I can certainly do a good job of lying around on my bunk and reading. Unless I sit at the table and type nothing gets written. And there is no denying that even in my most depressed state, writing helps lift my spirit, and I am not talking about just writing about being blue.

I do appreciate all comments to cheer up, and do not write about being blue just to seek pity. It is only through the lows, can I truly appreciate the highs. I am also working hard at devising plenty of alternatives for lifting myself out of the dumps. Besides I do know some people do enjoy hearing someone is feeling more miserable than they are. And then there is the 'Well you are in prison you are supposed to feel depressed' crowd I like to reinforce from time to time.

I know the act of writing lifts my spirit, yet I will resist taking out the typewriter. I sit (or more likely lay down) on the bunk and read instead. The thing with the reading is that I will more than likely be reading a novel as opposed to working my way through the New York Times. [Truth in Blog posting: I typed four drafts for post yesterday, Monday, and it is now 3:25 PM Tuesday and I am just starting to proof and print them out. I did finish a book between the time I stopped typing last night and 3:00 PM today. "Life Support" by Tess Gerritisen.]

And this just in according to Thursday's (11/17/05) New York Times, "Congress Tumbles Two Alaskan Bridges to Nowhere" Upon closer reading of the article all is not as it appears. One wonders if the last word in the title is now - here or no-where watch for upcoming post.

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