Prison Pete

Sunday, March 19, 2006
  From the Stupid Consumer Department.
The article is titled, "Which Cut Is Older? (It's a Trick Question)." Why is it if we give fancy names to a new process it makes it sound so much better than it actually is?

The article shows two nice boneless steaks. One is nice and red; the other has the more traditional mottled red brown look to it. The point is both steaks were purchased on the same day and the pictures were taken thirteen days later.

The redder steak was in a "modified atmosphere packaging" which according to the Times is, "a technique in which other gases replace oxygen." The need for this new type of packaging is the elimination of the local butcher at the supermarket and the need to keep the meat that comes from the packaging plants looking fresh.

The article states that other "treated" meat was purchased at the same time but was left on the counter for three days and it was still as red as the treated package in the refrigerator. There have been some tests that show meat treated in this new fashion and kept at just ten degrees over the recommended temperature showed salmonella grew more easily.

So just to recap: we eliminated some local jobs in the neighborhood, pay more for this fancy packaging, may get more, not less, bacteria, and this is progress? By the way Cargill, one of those great monolithic "agribusinesses," is said to have sold 100 million packages for meat to be put in last year.

The justification for this new process, according to a study conducted at Oklahoma State University for the Cattlemen's Beef Board in 2003, said retailers lost $1 billion dollars because otherwise perfectly edible beef was turned down by consumers just due to the color. Wait and we have hungry people in this county? I can assure you that none of that beef ended up in the prison system, but that is another story.

So why not just educate the consumer, bring back the local butcher who knows what a good cut of meat is supposed to look and taste like, and put some of these agribusinesses out of business. My apology to any readers that may be holding stock in these same agribusinesses, but not to worry, there are plenty of stupid consumers out there and they will buy the 'REDDER" meat that has been atmospherically modified.

End of rant.

I will now deposit the two clippings used in these post into a facility trash can and no, I do not mean my locker!
Saturday, March 18, 2006
  New Home.
Well it is now 7:45 PM and I just finished cooking my dinner.

Yes, I actually cooked. We have one electric stovetop with four burners. It appears you get one side or the other; two meals can be made at one time. They just started changing the rules on the cooking. You used to supply your own pots. Now they have one large sauce pot, one cast iron frying pan (two sets) for use. The one sauce pot is so bowed on the bottom that it does not rest on enough of the burner to boil the water.

But the thin pasta I made tonight came out OK. I made a sauce of mushrooms, octopus, and jalapeƱo flavored diced tomatoes. First non-State food since my good-bye meal with Roger last Tuesday evening. This has been my longest stretch of eating only State food in quite a while.

I am 'missing' my smaller locker. I have a large locker the same size as my old one, plus this new smaller one. It is 16" x 16" by 2' high. Looks like it might just be the perfect place to keep all my writing supplies and other little things. I will be missing a much larger box that was under my bed and the bookshelf at the head of the bed. I am allowed a milk crate under the bed and that would seem to be a good place to put the dirty clothes, but alas the milk crate is also missing.

One other lifestyle change for me will be that my personal reading light must be off by 1:00 AM. I may be able to read further by the light from the outside lighting but that will be tested later on tonight.

I will endeavor to type on one issue each day and that would be stuff for the blog. The evening officer is keeping the noise down in here to a minimum such that my typewriter beep is the noisiest thing in the dorm.

I did manage to transfer with all my correspondence but was forced to toss out a whole bunch of articles I had accumulated. I did not lose anything in the move, and the only thing that broke was my feeding bowl. It was protecting my radio, which along with my headphones survived the move. Sometimes the bags 'accidentally' open in transit and the wonderful inmates who load and unload the busses occasionally help themselves.

I am going to end up with some sort of job, which will really suck as the new guys usually end up being assigned to chow hall. I went through all this already in the Feds. I already paid my dues.

I do have the option of a Protestant service, but note that the Catholic program includes a couple of days for Choir practice. Hmmm maybe time to do the Catholic thing again? Or perhaps work on a Protestant Choir. Yeah, when will I learn? But I will take it very slow, first chance to check things out will be this Saturday afternoon when the Protestant service is held.

URGH... faked out again. The radio station I found earlier is not a county station. It sounds like some sort of easy listening mix. Now I am really in trouble... NO CLASSICAL, NO COUNTY.

Well I will take things slowly but will further investigate how I can return to my old place. This location is not any closer for my parents and still too far away for you to visit. This place seems to have very little going for it.

As you can see I have lots of questions, and very few answers. Makes for an exciting couple of days. Hope your life is a LOT LESS like living on the edge.
Friday, March 17, 2006
  Name This Inmate.
So far I have had two cube mates in less than the forty-eight hours I have been here.

I have introduced myself to a few of my new neighbors, and while I am Pete, they are KB, Mugsy, Mean Mug, and one that seems to be a constant at any jail or prison, G Money.

So maybe I should come up with a better nom de plume. Comments anyone?

Who am I kidding? Well there have been one or two readers that have been on the inside and know what I am talking about.

This little blurb is just to sure amidst all the hundreds of more pressing issues, some of which will show up in the coming days, I can really divert all my potent brain power to something totally useless to my own well being.

That's all for now folks.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
  Well. This Is A First!
Last week I was told to pack up all my worldly possessions and be ready to move on to another facility. I will be writing more about this whole procedure, but I was limited to only four 'draft bags" not including one just for my typewriter. The bags are about the size of a fifty pound sack of potatoes.

Needless to say I quite easily filled all four bags. In the process of packing up I was forced to dispose of my extensive articles file. I had to pay extra to have fourteen newspapers and about ten books shipped. That left me with only one Sunday Times and three weekday papers.

While I settle in at this new place I have very little to do. Today I finished off the papers. So until the new ones catch up to me, and the box with the fourteen shows up I have NO NEW YORK TIMES that need to be read.

I did cut out a few articles, one for Mom and Dad, one for a Pastor friend in North Carolina, and let me see that leaves three. That does not include the Quote of the Day mentioned above. So I will comment on the one article that is not law or prison related and then toss the article out.

Must turn over a new leaf: no accumulating excess paper!
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
  This Postman Certainly Rings My Bell.
Each day the New York Tines print a "Quotation of the Day." It appears on page two. This one is from the last week of February.

"It's something wonderful to get a letter. The paper, the stamp, the envelope. It is not just a piece of paper. It is something sacred."
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
  Well Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore.
I have tried calling Mom and Dad but so far no answer. I am not sure if they meant to be home yet.

I am in Upstate NY. The significance of that fact is that is where I learned to ski many moons ago and it is such an old area that my mom also went there when she was 19 or 20 although she never kept at it.

I ran a scan on the FM stations and the only station that comes in is a COUNTY STATION. Later on tonight I will slowly step through each digital number and see if there are some other borderline stations.

There are ten double bunks and forty single cubes here. There is actually a four foot high, eight foot long metal divider between each cube.

I am in a two man cube now in a dorm. Within sixty days I am supposed to get a single cube. I did end up with the bottom bunk, although it is a springy thing and that will really screw up my back.

So tonight my bed will be up against one of the dividers and the other will be three feet away. It would really not be too bad at all if I live here and eventually end up with a single cube. There is something called an honor form that you apply for after being here sixty days. It is a privilege but I'm not sure how long the waiting list is for it.

I will sign up for sick call tomorrow to resolve my need for a hard bed, wearing my own boots, and it appears I can finally get the decongestant. The nurse was nice enough to give me three two-pill packs to hold me over till the morning!

On the medical downside, she said the dentistry here sucks. Her words: "I do not know why they are here!" Great, I need to start all over on the bottom of the list to get my missing filling done. I may end up toothless yet!

There are also no individual showers! I jumped in the shower as soon as I was able to throw my possession in the locker and there was one other inmate just getting in and he kept his State-issued white boxers on the whole time, so I did too. I'm not sure if that is how everyone does it here.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
  Moving Again.
Well the shit is about to hit the fan. I was informed at noon time today that I am due to be packed out tomorrow, and shipped out of here in two days. I do not know where I am going.

I am going to be up most of the night sorting all my papers and will probably have to ditch all your letters and my drafts to be sure I get to keep all the other correspondence. You may get a box from me depending on what they let me take with me. I will not bother shipping the books back although many in the last bunch are ones I would like to read.

Since the forwarding worked well last time if you do send a letter, just use my current address and it will get to me just as fast as if you waited to hear from me. I am going to try to mail a letter to Bobbielou tonight telling her she may be missing the next letter I would normally mail out on Monday and at this point I would hope to be somewhere by then, but I could end up in the box and then I have limited access to mailing etc.

I would appreciate it if you could e-mail Bobbielou letting her know I am moving and if by the time you read this you know my new location, give that to her. She had recently ordered a bunch of books from Amazon.com for me and perhaps she can still change the ship to?
Saturday, March 11, 2006
  Cruel and Unusual Punishment.
Over the last two weeks there have been rumors on top of rumors.

The base of all the rumors is that they are transferring some of the inmates here out. There has been no official confirmation of the pending move of any inmates and it is hard to figure out why or who the prison officials will transfer.

Most of the inmates here do not want to be transferred. I helped one innate file a petition with the court to stop his impending move. This inmate ended up leaving before the court had responded. Several more inmates left so far this week.

There have been various leaks and misinformation passed to certain inmates as to who is due to be transferred. So far my name has not come up as one to be transferred but who knows at this point what is going on. Two names were called today that surprised a few of the inmates that thought they had the inside scoop.

There has been no reliable official explanation as to what is happening or what options, if any, are open to those that do not want to be moved. Bill also left here this week.

I have decided to speed scan my New York Times backlog and have managed to get through two and a half weeks worth. My goal is to finish up the third week by Monday. I have torn out a few selected articles and will work them into some interesting blogs as to why one needs to at least look at the paper each day.

I still have plenty of books to read but have been making some headway. If you could hold on to them a little longer that would be appreciated. Hopefully this whole transfer issue will die down soon and I will remain here.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
  What the Duck?
Technology strikes again.

I have spent the last two hours typing some posts for the blog and a letter to my Editor. I had mentioned in my letter that I was typing directly into the memory without printing it out at the same time. The beep for the end of a line is the same as the beep for a spell checker error. By typing into the memory, the only beep is when I have a misspelling.

But like all good plans, as I was starting yet another post, the typewriter decided to show me it had a mind of its own. After a couple of possession-like actions, including a bunch of beeps, I turned the typewriter off, turned it back on only to he greeted by the words "NO FILES" when I went in to see what was going on.

Ever the optimist, I am again typing into the memory without creating a hard copy backup.

Such is life.

It is 2:00 here on Sunday. I will be taking a break in a few minutes anyhow and make some pasta and octopus for lunch. This morning we had some real food for brunch. Plain bagels with a 1 oz. serving of cream cheese. I managed to procure an additional bagel and so I had one with the cream cheese and the second with knockwurst and sauerkraut. That was at 10 AM.

We have had two good movies so far this weekend. I am going to watch the Sunday movie at 6:00 PM since I am listening to a special two hour tribute to Martin Luther King. The broadcast is from a concert held at the Kennedy Center in January. Odeta is now singing.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
  Saw II.
I did see the movie "Saw II" today and I do not know if you have seen either the first one or this one. I had not seen the first one. I generally do not like blood and gore flicks since they generally never really engage my mind. Silence of The Lambs was one of those movies that I did like.

While Saw II is certainly blood and gore, it does make a few social statements including one about truly living life and appreciating both our own life and the lives of those around us. Okay the county song "Live Like You Were Dying" does that too with a lot less blood and gore. Hey that would make a good post. I will get that one out this week.

I am out of my plain paper save the few sheets I am using for this mailing and have just opened up my last ribbon. Hopefully my resupply order will be in this week! I am going to print out the letter now so that I am sure to get it out tonight.

I should be able to at the least drop a letter in the mail the day I get transferred (if I get transferred) so unless you get one of those two possible letters assume I am still here. Otherwise I would probably spend the weekend locked in a cell and then after another day or so be transferred to the new location. But I should be able to get you a letter, alas it would certainly be handwritten. Heaven forbid!
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
  Parole Appeals.
Hello out there. I hope you are enjoying life as much as I am.

There is still no official word as to what is going on, but counting the four inmates that packed out today and will be traveling tomorrow, we have lost seven inmates in the last seven days. I just finished up an Article 78 proceeding on Bill's behalf with a stay request to prevent the department from moving him.

I got a letter from my parents from down in Florida. Dad drove the 1,100 miles in three days time I think. He just loves to be behind the wheel.

I am working on this letter at 9:15 PM. I have spent the better part (or is it the worst part?) of the last three days doing legal work for others. The downside of this is I am working on several parole appeals and in reading the denials and the confirmation of the denials I realize how hopeless the system is.

One inmate complained that parole failed to account for his accomplishments while in prison. The ruling stated that the parole board did not have to release an inmate just because he had a great record! So why bother?

Another point was that in the last denial the parole board failed to include any recommendations as to what an inmate could do to improve his chances at the next review two years down the road. Pretty much the entire appeal basically said that there was nothing the inmate could complain about because the parole board can justify any action they take.

So what hope do I have? I could end up dying in here if I was forced to do the full fifteen years. But that is the worst case possibility. When does the insanity stop?
Monday, March 06, 2006
  Four Movies, Four Days.
Well thanks to the President's Day we had four movies this weekend.

Friday night's flick was "Just Like Heaven" and it certainly gives meaning to the search for one's soul mate. In one scene the two main characters touch hands. At this point in the story, one of the people is a spirit.

I was reminded of the visits that occurred at the county jails. Many county jails have what is known as non-contact visits. In this setup, there is a solid glass window between the visitor and the alleged criminal. Communication is either through a grill or tiny holes in the glass or telephone style handsets.

During the course of the visit, it is common to see the persons on each side of the glass hold their hands to the glass in an attempt to have the affect of physical contact. I am not sure if anyone else who has seen this movie drew that same connection.

The other movies this weekend were "Half Light," "Flightplan," and "The Constant Gardener."

"The Constant Gardener" explores the possibility of the way business and government can work together for the good of only themselves.

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