Prison Pete

Sunday, February 19, 2006
  Clean Clothes.
It is 9:00 PM and it has been a busy typing today for me. I received, well my 'client' received the answer from the Attorney General in yesterday's legal mail, and this morning I finished up a reply to their answer.

I did walk for two hours Monday and Tuesday, but knew I needed to get some 'work' done so I have been sitting at my 'desk' most of the day. In addition to the legal work, I typed out the final print of four pages of an unknown number of pages letter for an inmate that has a beef going with the chaplain.

He happens to be one of the inmates that works in the laundry so in return for working in his letter, he makes sure my clothes come back clean! My whites are almost white after three washes, and they even smell like they have been cleaned!

I type in about four pages and give him a draft to proof, and then print up three copies at one time all using carbon paper. That way I do not eat up the ribbon. Then I finally proofed the letter that has been hanging out in the memory of the WordSmith since Sunday! OOPS!

This evening I have been going over the parole case law. I have spent time (like the last twenty minutes) talking with Roger. I am possibly moving to be his Bunkie, and have become his sanity claus [sic]. He comes to me complaining about all the other inmates that drive him crazy. Well I have all sorts of roles to fill here. Meantime I still have not read any papers today. I took the Sunday paper out of the locker this morning and it is now 9:25 PM.

I have been thinking about the whole 'perfection' thing you mentioned. One example I thought of is looking at the way I can (Roger back for another 5 minutes) communicate. I can dash off a handwritten letter, type a draft letter, proof it and then print a final copy using either the ribbon (perfect finished product) or a piece of carbon to save ribbon. I have also typed directly using the ribbon and not typed it into the memory first.

You have received some of each of the above. Each letter still communicated my thoughts, but the look and 'feel' of the letters certainly varied.

I think one thing to keep in mind is that everything one does not have to be perfect, but one should have some areas that you hold yourself to high standards, but even in that area be willing to accept some variety depending on what life is throwing at you at the time.

It is almost count time, and I will need to proof and print this one pager. More to follow.

I'm now listening to "Arlington"...very touching lyrics... interesting take on veterans and war. Let me know if you look at the lyrics.

Of course there are other great lighter songs such as "Tequila Makes her Clothes Fall Off."
Saturday, February 18, 2006
  And They Were Skeptical.
The 'heating room' had been closed down since Thursday afternoon and by Saturday evening my body was screaming for some high protein food.

My three basic meals are Bean and Rice, Octopus w/ Pasta, and Spaghetti in Meat Sauce. With no way to heat things, the options are down to Peanut Butter and Jelly. Maybe I should have said option. There is American Cheese Sandwich. The problem is using the cheese will cut down on the cheese that I normally use on the rice and beans.

Well I decided to attempt to make a Bean Dip. One of the inmates that usually partake of the rice and bean meal was skeptical that I could turn out a tasty product. Oh ye of little faith.

First off I used the plastic slotted spoon as a masher and mashed two cans of the black beans (drained) and one can of vegetarian beans (drained). To this mixture I added two 'chopped' onions. Well as best as one can slice and chop on one's bed with a small plastic knife.

It is against the rules to be in possession of a can top outside the heating room. And with the heating room officially closed, I did not want to have an officer catch me with an unauthorized can top.

I then added four jalapeno peppers, but you can certainly omit this item if your palate is not into self destructive behavior. You must realize I am making this entire epicurean delight while standing on a chair and working on my bunk which is about five feet off the ground.

I then took a can of zesty flavored diced tomatoes, drained the liquid off (and drank it) and mixed them with a small can of tomato paste. I then mixed the tomato mixture with beans, and added five slices of American cheese which I cut into tiny pieces. This dip was split three ways and one bag of corn chips was used also.

We have decided to add this bean dip meal to our food rotation and will probably have it twice a month. The healthy part that is this is certainly a lower fat type dip to have around the house. I think it would be a good idea to make a big bowl of this dip and have lots of fresh vegetables ready to eat when you are looking for a snack. You could vary the cheese you use and if you used a brick cheese, you could grate it up. You could also use different flavored tomatoes and tomato paste.

Would make great munchies while watching TV or an after school snack.

Disclaimer: I am fairly sure that you do not have to make this while standing on a chair and working on the top bunk of a bunk bed. Also, you should not feel limited to using a plastic knife for slicing and dicing.
Friday, February 17, 2006
  I am positive that my current rosy view of life
is a combination of a few different things. One the phone call with my parents. They are ordering the books, two of which are programming. Two mailings from Bobbielou, the book from Reverend Paul. The books you sent were the start of the snowball. I am walking, eating lots of protein, and even figured out a way to get my underwear back a little whiter!

I am still waiting for a status report on my own appeal currently sitting around the U.S. Court of Appeals.

I have no doubt that keeping me on strong amounts of protein and caffeine is a contributing factor

I am not sure if it is a good idea for me to listen to Dr. Joy Brown show Monday to Friday, 10 PM to 1 AM. I have passed on some of her 'teachings' to you and it is good for me to hear problems of others, and how they might approach them.

It reaffirms my view that the human mind is a very complex 'machine' and if one goes through life with it constantly engaged in high gear as opposed to idling, all sorts of opportunities will rise up and need to be dealt with. If one stays in idle, which in my thinking includes allowing parts of one's life to stay in the same pattern (RUT), you are could be missing the best of what life has to offer.

I know more about myself now, and am painfully aware at how 'neglected' my emotional/psychological education was. I was always physically 'young' for my age, and remember my parents asking the pediatrician about the lack of any sign of puberty, during my early teen years. This conversation took place without me being in the office but I have a vague memory of the occurrence. It was always something of a joke that I would sing soprano in the school chorus.

I do not know if Bobbielou told you but she has gotten a copy of the 'Dancing Corn Dogs' book. I know I have mentioned to you that the book seems to be an instruction manual for how I work. I had asked my Dad to read it; he has a copy but as yet has not read any of it.

I would suggest you read it not so much for my benefit, but perhaps it might help with some of the school issues with your son. You had recently said he was bringing home B's instead of A's and you felt he could do better. I always heard that when I was growing up but it never involved any direct actions on the part of others to figure out what the stumbling blocks were. We do not all learn in the same way and some of us smarter types can be really stymied by the traditional educational system.

Back to Dr. Joy. It continues to amaze me how there is not always a direct match with the actual age of a person, and the emotional age. I have listened to nineteen year old women call in with kids) and a husband sounding like a thirty year old in terms of her 'understanding' of her 'problem' and 30 and 40 year olds, both men and women sounding like teenagers in terms of their expectation of what is possible in the relationship.

I know that I still have child-like reactions to some emotional situations. I have to laugh at myself at how 'happy' I was when after asking my Dad on the phone the other night if he was mad at me for something I wrote, and he said no, they were just so busy. I was happy.

And as I write this I am laughing inside at the picture of a forty-nine year old standing at the payphone and suddenly shrinking down to an eight year old. Now I know I am almost fifty, and I also know what my vulnerable areas are.

In the past at Club Fed this would be the areas I would review on a regular basis with Dr. W. I fully intend to engage in some sort of professional counselor once I am released so I have a ready resource for when I hit a bumpy spot.

It is too easy to assume that we are not able to effect a change in the way a particular person treats/reacts to us. There are certainly ways we can protect ourselves from some people. I am constantly toying with which people I can 'open' up with and who will put up with some of what to others might be silly or small problems but to me are large issues.

Dr. Joy is a firm proponent of marriage and comes down hard on both men and women that call about how they have found the most wonderful new partner and one or both of the current pairing is married. Separated is still married in her eyes. If you want to continue the relationship than you must not talk to the married person until he or she has been officially divorced for one full year.

I think the biggest gift you can give your kids is a strong sense of self, and the ability to seek answers to questions on why life seems to be throwing them curve balls that are difficult to deal with.

It is time to wrap this up and start proofing. I will continue along more road of my journey in following letters.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
  Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe.
While it is against prison rules to offer any legal assistance without approval of the Superintendent, sometimes some inmates find a way to be helpful.

It is a shame that you are not allowed to help others but if you were this week alone I would have typed up a power of attorney for one inmate, worked on one legal proceeding trying to get some good time that was taken from another inmate. He has been sitting around here for six months so far and up to another six months if one is not able to get the court to release him, but so far it looks like it might happen. The earlier release.

Then there are the two other inmates that could use help with denial of a chance at parole and forced to sit here another two years till they get another chance to see the parole board.

Then there was the couple of letters written to one inmate's lawyer that would have been needed to tell him there was an illegal fee of $1,000 charged to an inmate that was wrong so now that inmate is $1,000 richer. Maybe more good things will happen.

And if I was to help the above inmates, the memory typewrite, carbon paper, typing paper, highlighters and other office supplies that are provided by my parents would make the job a little easier. Yes, a computer and electronic legal research would be nice but you can still do some research.

So it is good that I have all the tools, and that I just might have been able to offer the help, or not. Did so, did not, did so. Now why is this tongue of mine so firmly planted in my cheek?

If you find the proceeding a little confusing, I am sorry but one must be careful what one is thinking and doing sometimes. Not that this last paragraph makes any sense.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
  Hello, this is going to be
one of those "gee I have not heard from you in a while letters so my mind goes a wandering" letters. [It is now Wednesday and I am just starting the proof and print. Yes I did get your Monday letter and will add more to the end of this letter.]

While I have not heard from you in the last two weeks, I have gotten other mail for a change.

I finally got a letter from my parents last Monday. This letter was actually four pages and written by Mom, for the truly unusual. It was my first letter from them in over three weeks and still did not answer all the questions that had been floating around in my mind. I decided I could not wait much longer and placed a call home.

No, Dad was not mad at me, they had the next shipment of goodies about to be shipped and Dad was mailing off the Hamilton book order, and another letter responding to my many letters was already in the mail. I did get the other letter on Thursday and needed to send out yet another letter that further explained an issue that it appears was not clear enough.

Then on Friday I received a food package that only contained five cans of tomatoes and two packs of the double stuff Oreos. No Cheese? No List? Now I was really puzzled. Did they send the cheese? Was it appropriated by staff?

If I wrote a letter it would not reach them before Wednesday and by then they may have already forgotten what they sent. The four bricks of cheese are worth enough that I needed to know if I was going to have to raise a little hell with the Sergeant. So I called,

Mom answered, and I told her I got the food but no cheese. She walked over to the refrigerator and said, "Yep, they are sitting right here on the shelf. Dad ran out of room in the box."

She asked if I could wait for them and I said whenever they sent it was okay. I just wanted to make sure that the cheese was not adopted by some hungry correction officer. I asked her if she put a list in the package so that I would know what to look for. She had, but the package room ditched the list.

Next thing my dad will get frustrated at the effort needed to send stuff and will give up.

I have already finished one package of the Oreos. I did give away three of the 36 cookies. Can you say Oink! [And as of 2:45 PM Wednesday, the second package of Oreos is gone. OINK OINK! All those useless sugar calories!]

Next I received not one but two letters from Bobbielou. The one I think I told you about arrived on Friday, and was a large brown envelope. It turns out it fell out of her car while shopping at Wal-Mart and one of the cashiers put it in the mail!

I also received a regular envelope last Tuesday. Finally this past Friday I received a recently published book of writings by a Minister that Reverend Paul likes. [And yesterday I received one of the two books Bobbielou has ordered for me. It was one of those used books via Barnes and Noble 'software.' Seems like a lot of work just to sell/buy a single book?] All in all it was good to hear from others last week.

I am in the middle of working on two parole appeals that have all sorts of deadlines and require me to do lots of reading of case law.

I have gotten back into the walking thing and walked every day for the last seven and three of those days were two hours! I have been plowing through the papers and just finished reading Friday! Hope to close the gap soon. Have decided to make walking top priority since it helps on both physical and mental fronts and it is too easy to skip. Paper reading is currently number two and then comes the legal work.

I have been cooking two meals most days and by the time I hit all the above mentioned items the day is gone. I even ended up "missing" a shower one day.
Monday, February 13, 2006
  Holy Defecation, Batman!
To err is human, to really screw things up you need a computer, and I have no idea what one uses to explain prison.

Sometime early this morning, an inmate decided to use a shower stall instead of a toilet, and left evidence of that fact. Following the 11:15 AM count, one of the officers in the unit made the announcement that this type of behavior would not be tolerated.

The law of unintended consequences then had the Sergeant decide to close our cook room and the room with the universal gym in it.

While it is against general prison philosophy for any inmate to be held accountable for any other inmate’s behavior, and it is not supposed to be permissible for an inmate to take action against another inmate, let us just say that is what they are looking for here. That is they (prison officials) are expecting us prisoners to take care of the poor soul that has the infantile toilet habits.

In the meantime I am hungry! Luckily I did not decide this would be the week I would use tea instead of Diet Coke, since you are not even able to use the hot pot and can not heat water!

Writing to the Superintendent would only make the lower level personnel angry and they would probably seek revenge on me by tossing my locker or other sneaky retribution.

So now I am unable to heat anything up!
  Four Hours, Three Movies.
As I have mentioned before, once you enter the back area to watch a movie, you are pretty much stuck there until the next hour tolls.

Friday night's movie was a Steven Segal movie, with some very unrealistic action scenes, but I did stay to watch the entire movie.

Saturday noon time found me again heading to the movies but alas this one was not worth watching as it was a very visually based movie which just does not show up clear enough on out snow stormed screen. The title was "Deep Cave" and I am sure it was a great movie when seen on a large theater screen.

Today's movie was a real torture to even sit through the first hour. The title was "Brooklyn Bound" and I think this is one of those direct to video films that were never seen on the big screen. It was almost like a documentary of the life of young people in the 'projects' of Brooklyn.

It was interesting that during the first hour the main supplier of the drugs to the local black dealers was a young Italian macho type, whose mother still was living in the mostly black apartment building. If I could have I would not have even waited a full hour to leave.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
  The only mail I received in the last two weeks
is the two letters from you and one from Calulu.

Calulu is the only one that has been a regular correspondent, and with her recent surgery she will be off the computer for quite a while.

The blog still is a way for me to vent some of my thoughts and keeps me humble. I do get occasional kudos when some of my opinions ring a chord with someone else. I would like to continue, and feel the blog gives me a vital forum for sharing my thoughts.

But perhaps a break is a good thing. I would like to understand more of the technical side of the blog, what you find as a pain, and perhaps we can come up with an alternative system.

I need to print out this last page and then go cook dinner. I will then come back and finish off my letter to Bobbielou.

Things to think about. Would it be easier if you were to broadcast a weekly (or monthly) email of my writings? We could maintain a web site with my past writings and have those interested enter an email address. That would certainly eliminate spam. Perhaps the web site would contain my address and anyone that wanted to write to me would have that option.

Since you have little trouble scanning my letters, the email would go out as I sent it, with any errors being strictly my responsibility. Again just random thoughts if you do want to have some sort of role in dissemination of my ramblings let me know all the negatives and let me get a better grasp of the problems.

I think there is a real market for designing a usage of the Internet that allows for tighter control and may also require the use of some brain cells. I think it was a wireless phone company that I read about in the NYT Business section that wanted to allow the downloading of ring tones or some other type of data to their phone.

No I know what it was. It was the ability of a web site to establish an instant live 'phone' call with a prospective customer. They wanted the connection to be automatic, and 'catch' a person as they were about to exit the site. The 'packaged' software available for this process was deemed to be unmanageable as the size of the module that would be needed to be loaded onto the user’s machine was too large. They designed a custom application and it was only five percent of the size of the 'package' software.

So there are my thoughts for now. Hope you are doing well and you did get to spend some time on the slopes.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
  More Books.
I received yet another random assortment of books from my hard-working, much appreciated editor on Friday.

Among this shipment’s titles was "Split Second" by David Baldacci. He is one of my favorite writers and is very good at using some of life's usual occurrences and having them be part of a sinister plot.

I started reading the book immediately, and with the exception of four hours of movie watching, I have been reading this book. I am now on 409 of 496 pages and will finish the book once I get the mail out, and the lights go out.

Well there is the typing of a few posts and a letter to a friend who happens to have red hair and a strong dislike for octopus. I believe her exact word was "Yuk"

It is now time for the 9:45 PM Count and then I will return for the old Proof and Print cycle.
  A Letter to Mom and Dad.
Just sent this along in case you are in the mood to post it to the blog. I thought it might be nice to show once in a while I do recognize all the things my parents do for me. And look no whining!

Dear Mom and Dad,

Hello. I have not heard from the rolling hills of Pennsylvania lately.

I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate all you have done for me. Today's activities include a lunch of octopus in honey mustard sauce, (monthly allowance) and letter writing and legal assistance for three of my fellow inmates.

Between the high protein lunch, a few Diet Cokes (caffeine for ADD) and the great WordSmith typewriter (memory and spell checker) I was able to help others with things that I do well.

We had a little snow over the weekend, and are now due for yet another warm spell. Drat. The way the heat in this place is currently working is that if the temperature is anything over thirty degrees we get to roast inside. I have been walking around the dorm in my shorts and a T-shirt! This is also a drag in the evening as using my nice thick, and comforting fake velour blanket works too well at keeping me warm and I end up tossing it on the floor.

There you have it, a quick look at how I am doing. I hope you are both well and that this warmer weather is also helping keep you heating cost down.

Friday, February 10, 2006
  Which Day is It?
On mail days, breakfast is served at 7:00 AM. The lights come on at 6:30 AM. If you choose, you are allowed to skip breakfast and remain under the covers till 7:45 AM.

If you are still under the covers at 8:00 AM, the officer comes around and pounds his night stick on your bed to let you know you are violating one of the few strictly enforced rules here. You are not allowed to be under your sheets or blankets past 7:45 AM.

This certainly does not stop any of us inmates from going back to sleep. We use a combination of coats and towels as blankets and off to sleep you go. At 11:15 AM there is a sit-up count. At this time you must sit up on your bunk for all of five minutes.

Lunch occurs at 12:00 and then you are free until 5:25 PM when the next count occurs. This one is also a sit-up count. Lunch and dinner (served at 4:00 PM) are optional.

So far today, I have skipped both breakfast and lunch. I cooked my own lunch of pasta and chopped pieces of a certain creature of the sea in a honey mustard hot sauce.

I washed all the items used in connection with creating this lunch and have been typing since 12:30 PM. I will be taking a break 4:00 PM as dinner tonight is three cheese ravioli and four ounces of orange sherbet for desert.

I will have to put on my state-issued greens for dinner. I am currently attired in my maroon cotton shorts and a T-shirt. It is very warm today, over fifty degrees outside, and the last pile of snow is reduced to a dribbling puddle heading toward a drain in the courtyard.

After the 5:25 count, I am free to do my own thing until 9:45 PM when the last count before lights (11:00 PM) out occurs. For this count you only have to be on your bunk, sitting up is optional.

Basically, the only two rules all day are be on your bunk at count time and wear your state-issued pants when going to the mess hall. You are allowed to wear your own shirt to chow. There is actually the third rule which is not to be under the blankets till after 9:00 PM each night.

Since the above is the mail day schedule, I should mention that the mail is handed out at 4:00 PM each day.

On non-mail days, the first meal of the day is breakfast and lunch combined. It is served at 10:00 AM, with the lights first coming on a few minutes before. You could stay under the blankets until 11:00 AM.

In addition to the mail day counts, there is an extra on your bunk, sitting up count at 3:15 PM. This is due to the fact that non mail days are visiting days. Visiting ends at 3:00 and they like to count to be sure no inmate managed to get out with his visitors!
Thursday, February 09, 2006
  First of all I hope it was clear
that I was only suggesting that you would tell your wife that you were willing to change your behavior for one month. February being the shortest month it makes the most sense to pick that. One of the basic facts of life is that if you want to keep getting what you're getting, keep doing what you are doing.

From what you have told me about her, I find some of her behaviors similar to the ways I would handle my life in the past. Even though I swore to myself I would be different than my dad and not work hours on end, I did. I think working excessive hours on a regular basis in my case was based on three assumptions. One being that perhaps I knew I was not getting done what I should be getting done in the normal eight hour work day. And how is that actually defined in a white collar job.

Having a low self-esteem, well you naturally want to have your peers and boss like you and think you are a good worker. Then there is the feeling if I just take a little more time I can reach this or that milestone. Regardless of the fact that you are the only one setting that milestone.

Then there is always the control issue, God forbid I let something go, take a little time off and they find out that someone else can do my job. Yes that certainly could happen, but letting the fear of that outcome overtake every waking moment on the job is not good.

Last but not least, it is certainly true that any supervisor worth anything in today's bottom-line-is-all-that-counts climate would be a fool to tell any employee they are working too hard. The only time users get away with using, is when there are usees around to be used.

Money is always a thorny issue. I assume if both of you lost your jobs tomorrow, where you would live and where your next meal is coming from would be a problem needing solving in an instant. It is interesting that with the lack of any long range financial planning by my parents, I tended to live in the here and now while my brother went on to live the 'good life' financially. Only goes to show that given the same life examples, two different results can occur.

Boy I am on a roll, I hope if nothing else you enjoy reading my dreamer's approach to a life, even though I have none to speak of (life that is).

On the spending money issue, the purpose of dates is not to see how much money you can spend, but provide a different environment for you two to relate to one another. There is a new country song, that just so happens to be playing now, that talks about a little kid emptying his piggy bank with a few cents and asks his mom how much of Daddy's time would that buy. I will see if I can send you the lyrics.
I received a letter from one of my pen pals the other day. It contained the following:

"Our group spent two weeks down there [Gulf Coast] manning the kitchens feeding the rescue workers and construction folks. They've barely scratched the surface of what must be done to return to normal. The beaches are still being dredged for bodies, we saw that during our trip and that the numbers of dead have been vastly underreported by the media. They are going through several hundred body bags daily but this information is being squelched by our government. I have to wonder why?"

Anyone else out there care to jump in on this issue?
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
  One of the thoughts
that were raised indirectly in your letter, just to give you an example of how my mind works, is that I am going to be mailing a letter to Bobbielou each Sunday night and Thursday night.

For better or worse Bobbielou has obviously taken an interest in my day to day well being, and it is probably a little passive-aggressive of me to not send her regular letters. I have written a few letters to her that were probably sitting in her 'office' when she made her latest comments.

It should certainly not be your responsibility to keep her personally informed of my personal well being. This is one of those relationship examples of how two people communicate. On the one hand if Bobbielou wants to know how I am let her send me a letter and I will certainly answer.

But Bobbielou's outlook is that her thinking of me on a daily basis is enough for me to know that she cares and I should send more letters. Neither position is inherently right. To involve you into the triangle is certainly not necessary. If my telling Bobbielou to cool the email excess somehow stepped on your toes as far as any 'relationship' you have with her than I am sorry for that.

I hope you understand how much of a dark tunnel I operate in and when you raise an issue that I feel I might be able to help with I jump at the chance. At the same time, when you voice your dismay in not getting enough sex, I do not sit down and write letters to your wife telling her to get with the program. Does that make sense?

I sort of hope we are not both 'fighting' for attention from Bobbielou, and if so hey you are the one that should win you are out there in the free world. If this whole issue seems to be the product of an over active imagination, then chalk it up to one of the by-products of being friends with a creative genius. HA HA HA....
  What Does Love Got to Do With It?
While doing a little station surfing on my radio I paused to listen to a man talking to Dr. Laura.

From what I caught of the conversation, the man's daughter was in the process of getting married. The daughter apparently already had a child, and this was her first wedding. The father was looking for support of his position that since the daughter had the baby before getting married he was not going to pay for or participate in the wedding other than showing up and sitting in the pews.

Dr. Laura applauded his position and said that this was a good way to teach his daughter that there were always consequences for her actions.

While reading "The Lonely Lady" by Harold Robbins, a husband and wife are talking about their eighteen year old daughter marrying a fifty year old man. The wife says the daughter is making a big mistake. The husband responds, "I do not know that, and neither do you. But if she has made a mistake, I will still love her and try to help her."

That is one way that LOVE is the thing that makes a real difference in a relationship.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
  I have been thinking about this letter
since I letter on Friday. I appreciate your openness. Sometimes that when life is handing you lemons, writing a letter to me at the same time, it seems issues seem to just cascade one right after another.

I am not saying that you dump on me, although there are usually one or two items that refer directly to me. Again I am not complaining. I do not want you to feel that you can not tell me exactly where you are at.

One of the questions I have is if some of my attempts to give relationship advice to you end up backfiring and cause you to concentrate on other negative things in your life and perhaps even aspects of our relationship that you are not comfortable with. I am not really sure if I am making myself clear but please bear with me through the rest of this letter and see if I can get all the tangled web of feelings I have out in a way that will make some sense to you.

First let me say only you know what you are willing to do. I can make various suggestions, and they are only that, based on what I think might be something worth trying, but by very definition, they are based on only my perception of what is going on in your life and my own experiences.

As one example of the differing perspectives we each bring to an issue, as of this coming March, it will be ten years, with the exception of two isolated events, that I have had any physical attention from a woman. I am excluding the few hugs from Mom and Dad on their visits.

The two isolated incidents were the last two hugs I received from Karen. Both occurred during my stay at the county jail prior to my sentencing for my federal charge. Since the rules of the jail would only allow visits from immediate family, Karen presented herself as my sister as opposed to my girlfriend. Visits took with prisoners fully separated from visitors and communication over phone handsets with the view of each other through a thick sheet of plate glass.

One time Karen had a couple of forms that required not only my signature but a notary. Karen had managed to get the jail to have me brought into an office where after I signed the forms, she asked the staff member if she could give me a hug.

The second time was when I had an asthma attack, was taken to the local hospital. As we (the sheriff deputy and I) were leaving the hospital at around 1:00 AM Karen asked the deputy if she could give me a hug. As we left the hospital parking lot, Karen was in front of us heading down the county road. The deputy commented that I had a nice looking sister, and was she married?

Okay, the emotional sores are now open. Damn.
Monday, February 06, 2006
  More Locker Door Postings.
"Are You Scary Smart?"
"Sorry, Mind Closed Until Further Notice"
"Be Yourself"
"Each of Us Has a Gift to Give"
There are only two types of days here in this prison. Mail days and non-mail days.

Mail days are usually Monday through Friday. Non-mail days are Saturday, Sunday, and New York State holidays.

There have been one or two days in the past year when we had a non-mail day schedule on a mail day. Having now completed a full year here, I can say it is really easy to simply ignore 'holidays.'

I did spend most of Christmas Eve and Day listening to the radio, and between the classical and Christian stations, I heard more of Handel's Messiah then even I could stand.

From 6:00 to 8:00 PM on Saturday, Christmas Eve, I listened to a live broadcast of Prairie Home Companion broadcast from Town Hall in New York City. One of the guests on the show was Odetta, a seventy-five year old woman who can still sing the blues. She sang "Mary Had a Baby" and "This Little Light of Mine." The show closed with everyone singing Silent Night.

I lay back on my bunk and closed my eyes, and transported myself to be with them in New York City.
Sunday, February 05, 2006
  Maybe pigs will fly.
It is type day. It is 1:00 PM and I have the intention of typing for the rest of today. I have plenty of posts, stuff to write to Mom & Dad, Bobbielou, Calulu, and you.

I have begun to dig myself out of a month-long depression that I have been struggling through. There was certainly not any one event that sent me sliding down and climbing out is also taking a combination of things to continue the upward motion.

There has been a major gap in my responding to specifics in your many letters over the last six weeks or so and I am going to work on that issue. I had an organized approach that had me placing all new letters in one place. I would then answer them and file a copy of my answer along with the letter in my accordion file. Over the last six weeks or so I seem to have accumulated multiple to do piles and each pile has at least one of your letters in it.

I have not forgotten two serious issues you raised. They were the reference to what happens if one of my parents gets sick or dies and the questions raised by the New York Times article you came across. The problem I have is that with no sort of on-site emotional support it is difficult to discuss those weighty issues.

As far as anything happening to my parents, at this point I am powerless to do much. Without even phone contact with my siblings, my only contact is with my parents and it is certainly difficult to get much honest information from Dad about current medical conditions, and Mom's hearing being what it is (or isn't) makes talking to her on phone almost impossible.

While New York State does take you to immediate family member's funerals, I have already decided not to go. You are taken by two armed correction officers and are kept in handcuffs which are fastened around your waist with chains, and leg cuffs that are like large handcuffs with an eighteen inch chain connecting your ankles together.

As far as the story in the paper goes, at some point I will gladly spell out the entire sorry tale, but I am not able to fully deal with all the emotions that would come up at this point. I am amazed at how far I have some in terms of recognizing my 'thinking' errors, and the harm I have caused by my actions. I am dealing with the difference between retribution and remorse, and the fact that I have no contact with my siblings, is part of the dichotomy I deal with each and every day.

I have been able to lift my spirits by relying on my own personal resources. I spent most of Monday reading five New York Times and then yesterday finished up the Sunday paper. I have been walking one hour every other day (or so) for at least the last week and yesterday did two hours, one of which was at the four mile an hour pace. [Went back out today 1/12 and did another speed hour.]

I want to put this into a post. I think my endorphin pump is activated by the scissors type action that only comes from standing upright and waking at faster than normal pace for extended periods of time. Something that laying on my bunk and reading a good novel does not seem to engage.

After reading so many papers, I know one reason for feeling so comfortable while my mind is tucked inside a good novel, reality sucks. The world seems to be going to hell in a hand basket. What ever that means.

One of the things I want to do is go through the articles I have collected and pass on my wit and wisdom and move on. Let me get started on that now, and see how long I can keep at it. Then I will add some more to this letter to cover things that do not get answered in posts.

I did type the drafts of all the enclosed yesterday and did the print and proof stuff Thursday. Maybe I will actually so some real work this weekend. Maybe pigs will fly.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
  I Really Do Read the Articles.
An article in the January 2006 edition of "Playboy" was a retrospective on Shel Silverstein. I admit to not being a big fan of poetry, but as I read this article I do remember attending a leadership training event over twenty years ago.

At one point the leader read a poem from the book "Where the Sidewalk Ends." As I read the article I remember being impressed by the poem and making a mental note to buy a copy of that book. The article reminded me that I never did get that book. I am now looking into getting some of his work.

One thing I did learn from the article, besides the fact that Mr. Silverstein was a frequent visitor of the Playboy mansion, ha was also the author of lyrics for "A Boy Named Sue."

I really think I might like to add this magazine to my list of regular reading material.

Another story of interest was an interview with Mark Cuban. I wondered if anything the billionaire owner of the NBA Mavericks had to say has any relevance to my life. Certainly we would seem to have little in common.

But despite the fact that one of the benefits Mark claims he likes in being a billionaire, not having to worry about how to pay for things (like his $41 million Gulfstream jet) I found two things that I could relate to. The first deals with his view of the current state of the stock markets.

So how does a man who reaped $1.9 billion for the sale of a company that he owned (Broadcast.com, $5.7 billion to Yahoo) have any credibility to poke holes in the very institution that brought him his riches?

Playboy asks:

"Playboy: In your blogs you talk about the stock market as if it were the world's biggest scam. Why?

Cuban: In a nutshell, I think the stock market is broken. It has become a collectibles market. Owning a share of stock that does not pay a dividend is not a whole lot different from owning a baseball card. The key to both is whether you can get someone else to give you more for it.

Playboy: What's new about that?

Cuban: Actually, there was a time when the majority of companies paid dividends. But in the 1990s the intrinsic value of companies didn't push the market. It was the ability of mutual funds and brokerages to market stocks. I don't have proof, but I am willing to bet that the stock market basically correlates to the amount of money spent on marketing by the mutual-find and brokerage industries. If you sell something hard enough, you create demand. In essence, the financial TV networks have become QVC for stocks. As long as you make it look good, you can find someone to buy it. I am trying not to be hypocritical, because I will buy stocks if I think they will go up. But that doesn't mean I don't think the stock market is broken. It's the ultimate Ponzi scheme. The stock market is the only time we give other people our money and don't expect to get any cash back..."

His comments raise two areas I would like to expand on, one the true value and stability of the stock market. The second is the comment, "if you sell [market?] something hard enough, you create demand."

I will be posting my take on these two issues as we go along, for now the point that I want to share is that in my opinion, is only by the free and open exchange of ideas and differing points of view can we make intelligent choices.

How do you balance Mark's assessment of the stock market as "...the ultimate Ponzi scheme." and the President's desire to replace part (or would that eventually be all?) of the Social Security System, with individuals investing their personal funds in the stock market.

Whose fault is it if an individual falls "victim" to some seductive marketing plan by a financial institution?

Both of these issues each deserve their own posts and they will be following shortly.

On a somewhat humorous note:

"PLAYBOY: According to Forbes, you are the 164th richest American, with 1.8 billion. How much money does one need?

CUBAN: It depends on what kind of lifestyle you want. If I were single, $2 million in the bank would do me fine. Having a family now, I probably would want more."

I do not know the demographics of the readers of this blog, but I would venture to write that there are not too many of you out there that have a billion or two lying around to support your lifestyle.
Friday, February 03, 2006
  Okay, I got thumped
for my nookie points suggestions. I was writing that with the audience in mind. You. I know that the best and possibly the only way to make love to a woman is through her heart. And no you can not reach it by putting an appendage from your body (hand, penis, tongue) between her legs.

You have not mentioned any attempt on your behalf to implement my hidden note suggestion. But I have another master plan. I hope you understand by now that if you want something different to happen in any relationship, the fastest way to cause that change is to change your behavior.

I have been ending my day listening to Dr. Joy Brown. They broadcast her NYC show from 10 to 1 AM. It is amazing the number of women that call and want to change the way the sex occurs in their marriage.

True a good portion want less of it, but Dr. Brown has a way of switching the dynamics around. Her prime relationship spicer-upper is the weekly date. This is to be a time when just hubby and wife go out someplace.

The place is not a movie, and each date should be different. Depending on which partner calls and what the complaint is she will suggest various combinations of which partner plans how many dates.

I am not sure how much you "ask" your wife for sex, but I get the feeling she is certainly aware you want more. Hamilton has a barrel full of $4.95 sex helper books. I will send you a sample list. But other thing I realized and I am sure you did too, is that there always ways for new things to happen in your relationship.

Instead of thinking about how you did not get time alone to clean your office, etc., realize you got to spend time with her, made her happy, and got some sex play too. The office and basement mess will still be there.

By way of comparison, I have certainly found that when I am feeling lonely and neglected, reading a good "feeling" (okay, cheesy romance) novel to feed my emotional side does wonders to lift my spirits.

Here is the idea. For the month of February, you will be responsible for planning one date a week. It can happen at any time and will involve something different each week. They can even be different lengths.

One might be a big deal, trip to NYC to see a play. Another might be a little shorter, what about a winter walk on the beach? How far are you from SUNY Purchase? They should have a varied schedule of art events.

At least one should be an early dating date. Camp is good. Find an old fashioned soda fashion type place, NON FRANCHISE, and take her out for burger, fries and malted.

Her part of the plan is that for the entire month you will not instigate, beg, plead or otherwise intimate that you want sex from her. You will allow her to take total control of when you will have sex. You might also make a pledge that in order for her to have a better understanding of how your body works, you will not take matters into your own hands so to speak for the entire month.

I would further suggest that you tell her she will even be in control of how far any given activity will go. You could give as an example that if she were to suggest that you two share a shower, that would not mean anything more. If she wanted to go for more be, it would only happen on her say so. You would also mention that if she wanted you to do something for her, that would still be okay and would not mean that she would have to reciprocate.

Think about the dynamic. Your task for month is to plan four dates that allow the two of you to be 'alone' with each other in different ways. While I am thinking those dates might just end up being followed by sex, it is not the goal.

The goal here, as I have heard Dr. Brown suggest to woman in the past, is to really let her be in total control of sex. Your willingness to not even take care of things yourself unless she ask you to do it with her, makes the statement that you really do love her and are willing to put her needs and desires first. At least for the month anyhow.

One of the books I received is of nudes over the last 100 plus years. There are women of all sizes and ages. There are a few of older wrinkled women. The comment made by one of the artist that took the picture was how the woman posing was obviously very comfortable with her sexuality and her body. How cool is that? A lot of the photos are of photographers' friends. Not professional models.

Sex has got to be one of the most misunderstood and difficult subjects for a couple to understand. We guys can not fathom any other guy complaining about our wife asking for too much sex. This brings me to the point that it is not really about sex, it is all about the relationship.

What I am thinking is you really let your wife see how she can give you pleasure physically, and in combination with the dates and perhaps the notes I suggested, you treat the month of February as a lab experiment. You will have to trust her and she will hopefully feel safe enough that she can take things as slow as she wants.

It sounds too simple, that by not asking for sex you might get more sex, but the main purpose is to perhaps let her make some new memories, pleasurable and safe about physical intimacy.

One of the phone calls was from a wife who actually wanted more sex than she was getting and was pissed off because she caught hubby looking at porn and jerking off. That was where Dr. Brown said the wife should tell hubby stop jerking off, and I (wife) will have sex whenever you want for one month.

I have modified that and merge it with other advice to suggest this master plan to you. One reason for you to tell your wife that you will place yourself entirely in her hands (very punnny) is to allow her to possibly understand how important the physical aspect of sex is to you.

I assuming that she might see how 'longer' you last if you share sex more often? Maybe not. But I know she is not stupid, and by giving her total control I am thinking she might not only become more comfortable, but will learn a thing or two.

Be sure you make clear that as part of this plan you agree to follow her instructions. If she wants a back rub, and then goes to sleep that is okay with you. I do not want you to give her too many examples of where she will take this 'power' you are giving her. You may find that once she really does feel in control, something new may come up. What could it hurt?

Damn, it is 9:00 PM. I still have to cook diner. I will wrap things up for now, and proof and print these four pages.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
  How Many R's in Correction?
I am going to work on being more thorough in my posts for the next few weeks. I have a number of areas I would like to pontificate on, and specifically want to explore putting more of how the broader issues I raise relate to where I am currently on the road of life.

The title of this post has been bouncing around in my gray matter for several weeks.

How many R's in CORRECTION? Retribution Revenge Rehabilitation Recovery Remorse Reconciliation

All of the above words are used at one time or another when it comes to discussing the purpose of the American justice system. The problem is that when you have such varied purposes, it becomes very easy to have any discussion on the subject hijacked and derailed by bringing up another R word.

In law, I have found that when one brings up a valid argument to prove that the government is in the wrong, they will very often respond with a totally different argument.

My simplified example, you are working on proving the existence of a fruit bearing tree in your back yard. You are able to produce pictures that show the tree, complete with fruit on its branches, fresh fruit from said tree and multiple third party witnesses to the fact that the fruit bearing tree exist.

The state, for whatever reason, has a vested interest in proving that no such tree ever existed on your property. They would launch into an argument that proves beyond a doubt that the sky is blue. They would prove the fact, complete with competent experts, glossy photos complete with circles and arrows and paragraphs on the back. The government would tell the courts that having proved the sky is blue it should now rule in its favor and declare there is no fruit bearing tree in your yard. The court concurs and there you have it, Justice at the very best.

What does this have to do with all the R words? When it comes to looking at the justice metered out to individuals, you will find that given a similar set of circumstances as respects the crime committed, the action taken against each individual will be different. Some of those differences might be due to the social position of either the perpetrator or the victim.

I have mentioned in the past the retired police office that was sentenced to not more than four years for killing the clerk at a local convenience store. The recent killings of two New York City Police resulted in the NY Governor Pataki calling a special session of the state legislature. The purpose of this special session was to increase the penalties for attacking law enforcement officers throughout New York State.

The increased penalties will not be applicable to the perpetrators who killed the policemen, but will apply to any future violence against law enforcement officers.

The question is which R are we applying to the retired office that by all accounts caused the death of another human being while horsing around with a loaded weapon, and which R do we want to apply to the killers of law enforcement personal?

How would you explain to the family of the convenience store clerk that not only are we not going to work on changing the punishment for all convenience store operators in the future, but your loved ones death is not really all that big a deal?

If one would take a poll, some might say that the R words they would apply to the retired policeman might be remorse and reconciliation. The ones responsible for killing the police, revenge and retribution, would probably be the top choices. Retribution is the one word that is clearly embodied in the application of the death penalty. (And how do we deal with those case that we later find out we have executed an innocent person!)

The recent execution of the former gang member in California is certainly a clear case where there was two separate groups competing for their own sense of justice.

Many people wanted to use rehabilitation and remorse to describe the former gang member, while others clearly were pushing for the revenge and retribution.

The final chapter of the issue found the man executed by the state of California, with many seeking a national forum by speaking out at his funeral services.

This is just the start of some tough questions I hope to raise and ask that you feel free to comment along the way.

Do you really want a legal system that is run on popular opinion? And you can be sure there are many aspects of popular opinion to be discussed

Should who the victim of a crime is have any bearing on the punishment?

It is important to understand that what I am writing about here is the punishment applied based on the same crime. For example there are different crimes related to stealing depending on the value taken. The higher the value taken, the longer the prison sentence. That makes sense.

But the system also allows two different individuals charged with stealing $500 for example, to receive two different sentences. If one was the perpetrator of stealing from a tourist in Midtown Manhattan he (or she) would probably end up with a harsher sentence than an individual that stole the money from a neighbor in one of the city's poorer neighborhoods.

Look at it from the standpoint of the victim, would you feel slighted if you were the one that got ripped off in the poor neighborhood? What about if the one that stole from the tourist needed money to feed his family?

One overall question that I would like you to keep in mind, can you begin to see how important it is to allow the free and open discussion of issues? Is the lack of any intelligent discussion a failure to educate ourselves so that we can look at different sides of an issue or are we failing to participate in the discussion due to apathy?

One other possibility. What about the laws and programs that might be good for others, but for what ever reason the issue does not effect you, so we do not care what is done. The old Not-In-My-Backyard excuse.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
I have been waiting all year for a letter from you and it finally arrived today. Yes, I do usually get your Wednesday letter on Friday, and as you can now see, Tuesday's letter gets to me Thursday.

If I get your letter on a Thursday, then I can mail a response the same day. But wait that does not really matter. If I get a letter from you on Friday, an answer hits the post office Monday morning and you get it Tuesday evening in time to send an answer on Wednesday. I guess it really does not matter; there will always be letters crossing in the mail.

I have still been pretty much in a vegetative state, and know there is plenty for me to do. It will get done, soon I hope. I almost put this letter off till the weekend, and there will probably be more to follow.

I am thinking I have sent you at least one letter that specifically thanked you for that letter you mailed to me the Wednesday before Christmas. I received it Friday before Christmas. My pastor friend down in Raleigh took the time to type out a letter Christmas Eve, and I received that the Tuesday after Christmas. Between the two of you I had a nice emotional connection with the outside world.

That is where my mind started thinking about your comments as to how your 'vacation' went. I was thinking of you the whole week as we to had rain and mud in the yard from a day or two before Christmas. I thought about how in one respect I am more in tune with the way members of the opposite sex feel as respects what makes for a strong emotional bond between two persons.

Without sounding too gay, wait a minute, rephrase that, without sounding gay at all, the friendship between you and I is certainly mostly in our head and heart. We can not get together for a few beers, a ball game, bike ride or other physical manifestation of our friendship.

Certainly I have made some changes in my behavior as respects our friendship and have been rewarded by a positive response from you. For example making sure that I spend more effort on cleaning up the posts I send you. I have also become a good reader (listener). Bobbielou seems to miss my letters, yet she has not gone to check her mail for a whole week. I am pretty sure that there was at least one letter waiting for her. It is just difficult to write to her without some feedback from her.

Yet as your Christmas letter showed, you did think about me and what you could do that would be meaningful to me. That was really cool. I did not even hear from my parents till Tuesday or Wednesday after Christmas. You certainly write me longer and more frequent letters than my parents do and I think that is a sign of the strength of our friendship.
  Is It On?
If you are reading this I guess it is. I had taken a little 'vacation' from writing stuff for the blog, and then my editor mentioned that he was thinking of making it an extended pause.

I have not received any letter telling me he has changed his mind, but I did receive a letter from Rev. Paul, referring to something that I think would have been posted more recently.

Since it may be possible that we are back to posting, that means I better get back to work and start typing, proofing and printing.

If on the other hand you are not reading this, then it is not posted, we are still on extended hiatus, and I have typed for nothing.

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