Prison Pete

Monday, May 29, 2006
  Wanted: Village Looking for an Idiot, This Village Will Send You One!
This is a follow-up to a recent post about an inmate that was giving me a hard time. He has been moved to the other side of the dorm and still sneers at me when we pass. Why? Who knows?

After the 11:00 AM count this past Saturday morning, this same charmless individual made an announcement to the rest of the dorm that the inmates that were creating all kinds of noise by banging their lockers in his immediate area had better stop.

While I can not quote his speech verbatim, the message was that he was not going to stand for it anymore; he has another sentence after this one, and if the noise continued he was going to do something about it.

The kicker of this was he then added something to the effect that if anyone doubted him, they could check with 35 bed. Well guess who is in 35 bed. Yep, it is the humble abode of Prison Pete.

I was kind of surprised that he would use me as a reference. Considering this announcement was made in plain hearing of the officer, not only should he have been written up for threatening other inmates but he was implicating me in some sort of unreported disturbance. This is the kind of thing that could end up with both of us being tossed into the special housing unit while an investigation is conducted.

This also is clearly against the code of a convict, which is that you never air your dirty laundry in front of any staff member. I should point out that there is supposed to be a difference between an inmate and a convict.

I have yet to come across a convict who is not just looking out for himself most of the time and all the talk about respect and the convict code is a myth created to make “convict” out to be a noble designation, but it is just another way to say hoodlum.

One of the reasons he even attempted to sound like a tough guy was that our regular officer was out and the replacement officer would not be up on all the inner workings of the unit. Luckily for me the officer did not bother to investigate his claim that I could vouch for his tough guy status.

This is just another way that, as an inmate, you can never be sure of what is going to happen next. Things can crop up at any time that will change the reality you thought you had.

Alas, the title of this post is only a dream, since number one: no one out there is looking for an idiot for their village; and two; this particular idiot is also a guest of the State of New York in this gated community and by his own admission is apparently not going to be leaving anytime soon.

Our regular officer is apparently on vacation for a week or two but when he returns I am sure he will be able to move this unhappy inmate off into another dorm where he can complain to a whole new bunch of inmates.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
  A whole lot of nothing.
Yes, I did get your letter Friday, but ended up doing a whole lot of nothing most of the weekend.

Would you go ahead and send in another shipment of books. I have read most of the ones you sent in the last shipment. I was hoping to get through a few of the classics that I had taken with me, but I am still not up to too much serious reading. I still need to finish the Civil war book you sent and promise it will get done sooner rather than later, but in the short run I need some more mindless fluff to get my mind off the weighty issues I am currently dealing with.

I did get to meet with the psychologist (male) last week and unfortunately I am too well to be seen by him. If I needed some sort of medication then that would be a different kettle of fish. He said yes, sometimes if there is a lull in the caseload they might add someone like me who is obviously more "verbal" than the average inmate he sees.

Nothing was done by me about the CO's comments. It is not the language itself that bothered me. It is that this same alleged professional would be the first one to write up an inmate for talking like that to him. So much of the control of inmates is based on the way an officer treats us. If he is respectful to us, it is much harder for an officer to be criticized when writing up an inmate for being disrespectful.

Also, from a personal standpoint, the younger inmates certainly take this joking around by an officer as a license to act like jerks and then are surprised when they get nailed by the same staff member, or worse, when their stupidity causes consequences for the rest of us.

Apparently there was a problem with the 11:30 bedtime last night and as a result our toaster was taken away for a day or two. I did not realize it was missing until I had already cut my English muffin and ended up putting some butter on it and nuking it for 30 seconds. Yes it does come out soggy!

Well I still need to write my tirade to PC Magazine about them trying to soak me for the one year renewal for the same price they are advertising for two years. I wonder if I should not bother renewing since there are more and more product reviews and less computer theory, but there are always one or two things in each issue that gives me something to chew on.

Well off this goes. I do need to proof the enclosed post. I typed this letter directly; I am sure you can tell, but I first typed the post into the memory. I have just enough time to proof and print it.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
  Candy is a What?
I have been buying eight 2 ounce bags of M&M's (plain) and eight Hershey's bar w/Almonds.

Hershey's is running a promotion with eBay called "WrapperCash." I am devouring around eight of these bars every two weeks. I have no access to hersheys.com, and I was getting ready to send the wrappers out to my editor so he can use the 'cash' I am unable to benefit from. I suppose I could start posting the secret codes on the blog. One of two things would happen. If each code is truly unique, then it would be a race to see which reader would be able to use the code first. If the codes are not locked out after each use, than maybe many of you loyal readers would benefit from the 'WrapperCash.'

Well the main reason I started typing this post is that while I was reading the fine print on the inside of the wrapper I noticed the following disclaimer:

"Candy is a treat. Please consume in moderation."

Yes folks, on the inside of the wrapper, which you would certainly only see after you have purchased (and eaten?) the product you are told that candy is a treat. Talk about two somewhat ambiguous statements. Is there now going to be a FDA official definition of "treat?" And how does one define moderation?

Besides, Hershey's is not candy, it is chocolate an entirely different kettle of fish as far as any chocoholic will attest to. Then again, the wrapper just says that "Candy is a treat." It does not actually say that the thing contained in the wrapper is candy, now does it? See I have been reading and learning about the law and one has to always look for the loopholes. Of course when it comes to the legal side of my existence, maybe that is why I keep losing in the courts.

If you can read this paragraph, the editor has agreed to post the cash numbers for the three wrappers I sent him. If you are reading this but the numbers seem to be missing, well as I said, first come, first served and being the editor of this blog has to have at least one perk.

The numbers are:


There you have it, or maybe not. The three secret codes. Go for it.
Friday, May 26, 2006
  Did the Devil Go Down to Georgia?
I was reading the April 17, 2006 New York Times, and I came across two stories. While they are not directly related (one was in the National Section and one in the Metro Section) I found them to present an interesting dichotomy.

The National Section story, "People Stand, the Spirit Walks: Easter at the Georgia Dome." While the article is unclear as to the actual number of people that attended this four hour Easter service but the number is somewhere between 40,000 and 70,000.

There were people from all over the country at this service. The article noted one educator from Boston brought a youth group. The presiding pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, Bishop Eddie L. Long, said he was unsure how many members the church had. The article quotes him, "After 25,000, I stopped counting."

The second article, "Bittersweet Easter as Parish Fights for Survival." This is the story of St. Paul's Roman Catholic parish in Staten Island (That is a borough in New York City).

The parish does not even have its own church building, it having been demolished in 1963. They have been meeting in the school's auditorium/gym. The parish school serves 190 pupils, and the parish serves around 400 families.

One comment in the article certainly struck me:

"'Look at this. There people of all colors,' said Michael T. McVey, president or the parish council, pointing at the winding Eucharist line with its black, white, Hispanic and Asian congregants. 'There are people of all colors. Isn't that what the church is supposed to be, a place that welcomes all? We are this kind of church, and that's why it's so hard to understand why they want to get rid of us.'"

There you have it, in Georgia a service that has over 40,000 attendees and a church membership of over 25,000. In New York City, a congregation of 400 plus families, and the church is on a hit list of churches to be closed by the New York Archdiocese.

Where is the devil now, one might ask?
Thursday, May 25, 2006
  If I Stay?
Tomorrow I start my new schedule. The justification for not scheduling any work in the morning hours was that I would get myself up and go to the recreation yard and do some power walking.

In the interest of full disclosure, in the last four weeks I only made it to the yard twice. In fact over the last week instead of remaining awake and in the upright position, I was becoming a horizontal form of myself, covering myself in my state-issued coat (being under the blankets is not allowed during the day) and falling back to sleep till noon!

I have been sliding slowly into an abyss of non-engagement, and even requested an appointment with the mental health people here to get a check-up under the hood.

By Thursday, I knew I had to do something, and I volunteered to become the facility carpenter. This position recently became available because the inmate that was doing the job was transferred to another location.

Starting tomorrow I will be working in the maintenance department during the morning and afternoon hours. I figured since I was not out in the morning getting the exercise I told myself I needed, I might as well force myself to get out of bed in the mornings. At least now I will have to deal with the world in a vertical position five mornings a week.

The good part about this job is that there appeared to be no other inmate that wanted the job so I will be working mostly by myself. On Friday I fixed a desk drawer that had fallen apart. They have plenty of cheap particle board desks in the hallways around the prison. They are used as work stations for the correction officers. They are not treated with the utmost of care and the desks are frequently in various stages of disrepair.

If you have ever tried to repair these low cost desks, you know that once the particle board begins to disintegrate it becomes impossible to simply glue the pieces back together. I used some angle brackets and the drawer was better than new. I brought it back over to its home and discovered that the desk itself was broken. The reason the drawer broke in the first place was that the space where the drawer went was spread apart and the drawer no longer fit properly. After lunch I added some new angle brackets and now both the desk and drawer are functioning as originally designed.

I fixed it all by myself. Certainly not all that big a deal under normal circumstances, but alas I do not exist in normal circumstances. Fixing some physical property also did some badly needed repairing of my own self worth. Yes, prison the place where to take care of your whole self, you need to be creative.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
  Should I Stay or Should I Go?
I have been struggling lately as to who I am. My new location (just over two months old) has given me a new 'reality' to work with. I am not sure I can accurately portray the conundrum I am dealing with but the issue is do I resign myself to being a long term guest of the state or do I continue to seek some change in my current sentence through judicial intervention.

I am not writing this to have a pity party started. I am going to attempt to describe how my mind is dealing with the issues I am facing.

On the legal front I have come across some case law that would tend to lead me to believe that the court system has recently ruled on some of the same issues I have, and the outcome was certainly in the inmate's favor. However, I also know having read more case law than I care to remember, that the courts can still say, "Well, no, your case is not the same, so we do not have to rule the same way."

It is often said that a person that represents himself in court has a fool for a client. Unfortunately, at the legal point I am at, I am not guaranteed an attorney. Yes, if I was independently wealthy, I could hire an attorney, and that would probably give me a much better chance in front of the U.S. Court of Appeals.

If justice is supposed to be blind, and apply to each person equally, why I am 'forced' to present my case to the second highest court in the land without an attorney because I lack the funds to hire one? While money does not always buy better results, it certainly does provide a better chance for a favorable outcome.

Again, I am not seeking a pity party. I am only pointing out the truth that money, in this great country of ours, does certainly allow you to have more qualified assistance with the legal system.

The alternative is to give up my legal appeals, secure the best schedule to fill my days, and live in the moment of the day-to-day existence of being inmate number 04X9999.

Do I invest all the emotional energy in working of paperwork to the courts, only to be struck down?
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
  Scary times on the bike.
I received your letter Friday. Thanks. I guess you had my nice fat letter waiting for you when you got home on Wednesday. Ten pages of letters to you and not a blog post in the envelope. Yes, hopefully you can find some posts in the letter but I do understand you disappointment when there is no letter in an envelope that is addressed to you.

It is 9:20 PM and I have just finished printing out the four posts that I am enclosing. I apologize for waiting for the last minute to start your letter and as a result will send a continuation of this letter out in next day or so. The first two posts are more of a personal nature than usual so hopefully they will count as partial credit as part of a personal letter to you.

Yes I did send Mom one of my original hand made Mother's Day cards. I used a Tiffany ad from the New York Times on the cover of the card so it looked like one of those "a gift has been ordered for you" cards. I joked inside that there was no gift from Tiffany's coming so do not cut my allowance. I did go on to say that she certainly deserves a gift from Tiffany's and I wished her a happy Mother's Day. The card was mailed out on Tuesday, so I am pretty sure she got it on time.

I'm glad you had an enjoyable and improved bike ride with your fraternity brothers. Yes, we did ride bikes a lot as kids. I remember riding to Hale Avenue school many a day. And of course I was always riding over to your house, along and crossing Main Street. I continued to do a lot of bike riding in Brooklyn, and certainly there was more traffic and other dangers than in the suburbs of Long Island.

I think there is also an age/parent thing that kicks in that changes our perspective of what is safe for our children to do. Yet we had parents. Did they not care for our safety?

I certainly had some scary times on the bike yet I kept riding. I remember leaving Hale Avenue one time doing the standing up pedaling thing and making a left turn from one side of the street to the other and going flying over the handlebars as I slid out on a bunch of sand left over on the road. And all that riding was without a helmet! What were we thinking? Or not.

Life is all about a constantly expanding knowledge base. And a big part certainly is as us older types age, our mortality begins to really add yet another dimension to what we consider safe. Riding in a car without seatbelts? Other points to be blogged about.
Monday, May 22, 2006
  Rude Noises and Offensive Language, Amplified.
9:30 PM. Just a short note to let you know I heard from another pen pal today. She wrote about 100 words and sent 10 pages of her blog. She describes herself as 28 years old, 5' brown hair, brown eyes, way cute, loud, funny, and half my weight. I told her I was 210 pounds. You do the math.

I just finished typing four pages to her. Will see what happens. Still have not gotten any other letters from other pen-pals since the three in a row blitz three or is it four weeks ago.

I think the CO has finally pushed my buttons. The two officers on each side of the building have been using the PA system, which for some reason allows each officer to broadcast into both dorms, like a personal walkie-talkie.

On Wednesday between 8:30 and 9:45 PM the officers on each side of Harriman Dorm were using the PA to talk back and forth to each other. Besides making some gross sounds back and forth, The following quotes were also said:

"Thank You Bitch."

"Get the cock out of your butt!"

"Hey! Do not drop the soap!"

"I can't, you already took it. Peter is stuck up your ass."

"Talk about my wooden dick and I won't tell about the splinters in your mouth."

"Tell your wife I want my underwear back."

There were other things said but I can not remember them all.

I am going to type the above out a few times and see if we can get all the inmates to send in complaints.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
  Home Cooked Meals Behind Bars.
Breakfast this morning was a bowl of apple cinnamon oatmeal and two toasted English muffins with strawberry jam. It is now 3:00 PM and I just finished off my ziti with a red octopus sauce.

The ziti was made last night. The stove was not all backed up and I was able to cook up a pound of ziti while I browned some onions and mushrooms in the cast iron skillet. I then added a can of diced tomatoes, one can of tomato paste, and the water from the mushrooms. Oh yeah, and two cans of octopus.

I ate half of it last night and the other half was just devoured. Both bowls were liberally sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese. The diced tomatoes were from the Care package that Mom and Dad sent but the rest of the ingredients are all offered for sale by the commissary here.

The other menu modification I have come up with is pasta salads. In addition to the spaghetti and ziti, they sell a one pound box of small shells. I cooked up the full pound last weekend and then was able to make five pasta salad meals over the next five days. I left the pasta plain and added chopped onion and green pepper as I prepared the salad.

I would use either a can of tuna or octopus and then add garlic powder, oregano, mustard, lemon juice, and honey depending on the flavor I wanted. I bought two large green peppers two weeks ago and as long as I kept them on ice I was able to slice off what I needed to add a nice freshness to the salads.

I had purchased the eight ounce package of mozzarella cheese, but I am saving that for the anchovies that should be arriving this week in the package from Mom and Dad.

Another sign at how out of sorts I am, I broke my "no soda" pledge and purchased fourteen cans of soda two weeks ago: seven Dr. Peppers and seven root beers. The former has caffeine, the later is caffeine free. I lent a can to another inmate and he has not paid me back yet but I still have five cans of root beer left. I was going to have one can a day and obviously did not even drink that much.

I did buy a box of sugar and it turns out that adding just two teaspoons of sugar to my twenty ounce mug with one or two tea bags is more than enough sugar to make the tea drinkable. It is certainly less sugar than in the premixed drinks or soda.

So that is where my beverage intake has been going lately. I try to be sure to alternate a mug full of water between the teas since the doctor said that lack of water intake could also be a factor for my clogged sinuses. And that'snot funny. Ha ha.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
  And now back to me and more poor excuse of a life.
I returned from the law library last night already feeling down from the fact that while I had found another case that helped my case, I knew it would still not help.

The movie last night was "Flight 93." It was really tough to watch and I had to fight back tears from the start. Several of my fellow inmates laughed through the entire movie and one or two had to be told that this was based on a true event! Talk about clueless!

I really needed to have someone tell me they loved me last night and I almost called home. Somehow I was able to repress the urge to call home because while my parents certainly love me, it would be a crap shot as to if I would get the kind of reassurance I needed. I probably should not have watched the movie. Among other things it certainly reminded me of how transient life can be and we never know what the future holds, so be sure to celebrate today!

What I ended up doing after just sitting on my bunk for a few minutes were a couple of the Cross-Sums and then I pulled out the C++ book. It worked. If the emotional side of life is too hard to deal with, just slip into the analytical side of life. I wish I could try each of the examples in the text as I read along. It is certainly much easier for me to see what they are talking about, but this new challenge I have taken up should prove interesting.

I am reading the book all the way through so that I can get the entire concept of the language before I even write one line of code. Instead of doing little bits of code along the way, I will see if I can wrap my mind around the whole thing at once. I know I can do it; it is easier for me to get to try it as I go along, but this way I will be forced to do it the right way from the start. Proper planning, flowcharting etc. Time will tell if I can do it.

The bottom line of my "technical" diversion is that it worked a little bit but I still had some trouble sleeping. I was suffering from an unsoothed inner spirit.
Friday, May 19, 2006
  Summer Camps.
When I was a kid I only attended summer camp twice. The one time was for a week at Mt. Tremper while Dad was the chaplain for that week. I recall my brother and I got to stay in the cabins, but my sister was too young and stayed in the big house with mom and dad.

The only other camp was a month at Farm Camp Lowy. This was in 1969, the year they walked on the moon. This was while we were living in Brooklyn, and Mom was doing her babysitting thing. One of the parents had just taken over this camp and offered a deal for both my brother and I to go. It was for a month and was up near Deposit, New York as I recall. They had a lake and I learned how to sail using the Sailfish they had.

One time I was out on the lake with my brother and I sailed all the way up to the other end of the lake. This lake as I recall was surrounded by mountains. I think I sort of ran into a dead zone, as once I was in this end of the lake I could not catch any wind. They had to come out in the motor boat and tow us back. My brother had to lie across the front of the boat holding the tow rope while I was in the back with the tiller. He never let me forget how I got us stuck.

I wonder if the camp is still in existence. They only had two month long session. We had gone up in July. I fell "deeply" in love and demanded that my parents let me stay another month. That would have been the family vacation month.

Needless to say I did not get to stay, and who knows what happened to that crush? I seem to recall they had an annual reunion each fall in a hotel meeting room to allow all the kids to get together and bring each other up to date.

As far as the specialty camps, except in the case of a prodigy, I would think an ideal camp would be one that still has a number of different activities to entertain. To specialize at this point except if it was to bring a child up to speed, weight reduction, or remedial education for example, the ideal camp would allow your child to get to interact with peers that are into different activities and be able to try new things.

Hanging out with all computer nerds, for a few weeks, to the exclusion of meeting kids that like to paint, swim, boating, water skiing, mountain bike, etc., makes no sense to me. While your child might think he loves the theatre, it would certainly be better to let him spend a portion of the summer still learning about other skills and hobbies in an environment that is also filled with new kids to really help sharpen his people skills.

Just some ideas to keep in mind. While I agree it is better to be a master of a few trades than a jack of all, I do think limiting a child's exposure to all that life has to offer is not good for the child in the long run.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
  We had a "Retreat" yesterday for the Protestant community.
It started at 11:30 and went through till 3:30 PM. There was a group of about seven adults that were from a church near Albany.

It turned out to be all singing, with the exception of a half hour sermon at the end of the day by the youth pastor from the church. They had there own sound system and a really nice electronic keyboard.

Unfortunately, the keyboard player is one of those plays by ear types and plays mostly chords so that each song ends up sounding like the last. I enjoyed the spirit and certainly am impressed when any group of people is willing to spend their Saturday afternoon with a bunch of prisoners!

Speaking of music, it is so sad to see what has happened to a whole generation that went through school without any musical education at all. The young adults I am surrounded with can only deal with beats and maybe a sixteen note "melody" and the melody does not usually include more than two or three different notes.

While I am certainly a calmer and more understanding person than I have been, I am still frustrated by the lack of openness of our choir members to learn a song. We rehearse for two plus hours on Friday afternoon, and then another two plus hours before the 2:00 service on Saturday, and all that time is spent on one song.

Since we are working from word only sheets, and I can not pick out melodies without seeing the music, each time we sing the song it is different. I just asked Mom and Dad to send in some of the music I gathered while in the Feds so we will see if I can get them excited to learn some new songs.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
  The Dream is Alive.
I did go to sick call on Friday and picked up some decongestants as the nose has begun to clear up again decongestants seem to have some efficacy.

I spent a couple hours in the law library last night and am scheduled to go back up there tonight. I found another recent case where the federal court ruled that a New York inmate did receive ineffective assistance of counsel and in my humble opinion the harm is less than I am alleging.

It is both frustrating and exciting at the same time when you do legal research as you know even when you think you find a case that helps prove your point, the courts still can ignore it. That is just one of the reasons my emotions have been on the roller coaster, ups and downs lately.

I did send a letter to the U.S. Court of Appeals telling them I received the denial. I did not send them a copy assuming they could easily access it in their electronic filing system. I am assuming that they will then send me a letter telling me I have the twenty days to send in the motion for the request for the certificate of appealability. I hope they do not use the old one since I have been able to find some of these new cases.

One would think that the court would be bound to use their own opinions when making new decisions, but it is still mostly up to each party to do the research to say, hey wait a minute you let this guy get help and my case is like his.

Well if nothing else it will hopefully make for an interesting book once I get out. I wonder if I would ever be able to get a publisher to offer me an advance so that it would qualify me as being employed.

If the miracle occurs and I am released from my New York State sentence, I still have three years of "Supervised Release" with the feds to do. I could try to get credit for this time I served in NY but then again do not want to be too aggressive.

Well that is the dream outcome. Needless to say I am certainly not holding my breath but it still is making me quite unsteady emotion wise.

The only letters I did get this past week were the one I mentioned from my parents and yours. Since I have little social interaction here without word from the outside my life is pretty much mundane.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
  Rule # 26:
Radios, tape players, typewriters, and musical instruments are for use in cubes only, and must be used with ear phones.

I am obeying the rule, sitting in my cube, typing this letter to you and I have my ear phones on. I could not find anyplace to plug the ear phones into my typewriter so I figured I might as well plug them into my radio and enjoy the Sunday Big Band Show starting now on the single radio station I get.

Part of the reason for the posts only letters might be due to the funk I am in, and the lack of anything personal happening in my life lately. I know you have been busy, but the lack of any consistent incoming mail has sort of caused me to shut off emotionally.

This is not meant to be a criticism of the lack of your letters. It just has been a really dry month.

Another thing might be my concern about you posting something in a letter that I thought was not going to end up in blog. Not sure if that is really that much of a big deal.

In fact it is looking like I will not be including any posts in this letter, so please feel free to put any of this letter on the blog unless I label a paragraph as "No Blog".

I realize after re-reading my returned letter that I can write a nice reading letter. I also see that there are a few typos in the letter that I would normally catch if I was typing a draft first.

The problem is that lately I have not had all that much time to draft the letter, proof it, edit, and then reprint. It does take upwards of fifteen minutes to do the corrections and reprinting.

The one error that does really drive me crazy is typing 'so' instead of 'do'! That is just another of those faulty synapse things I think. I had a thought the other day that in theory I could type all my letters as if I had the Dvorak layout and then when you did the OCR you would translate it. Just kidding about that though.
Monday, May 15, 2006
  The famine has continued.
The only letters this week so far (hope springs eternal for Friday) was a two pager from Mom and Dad. That was their first letter in over a month. Urgh.

I will hopefully get some more typing for blog done this weekend, but I am also planning on spending Saturday and Sunday evening in the law library. I have to get this new motion done.

I note how the NY Times web site is going to keep track of the printed headlines for seven days. Now I see why you had trouble finding that article I asked you about. Actually I want to blog about the whole issue of how they need to use more generic article titles to help the search engines. Damn. What are the NY Post and NY Daily News supposed to do? Their headlines are usually quite creative.

Plus I remember the thrill of looking up old articles using the microfilm and not only seeing the actual article but the other stories of that day and the ads etc. All that flavor is going to be lost as we go to this generic text storage. Oh and now we get updated ads I suppose. So even if you are looking at an article from ten or fifteen years ago, the ads will all be today's? Boring.

One would hope you would have the option of seeing an article in original layout or text only format.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
  Happy Mother's Day.
I have suffered a relapse as far as my sinuses go and they are back to being as clogged as ever. I am not sure if the pressure sinus massage the doctor did is the culprit, but I did go for the nasal X-Ray today.

It was sort of freaky in that we do not have any X-Ray equipment on this compound so they shackled up eight of us and took us over to the nearby maximum security prison and we just hung out with the maximum security inmates waiting while everybody was x-rayed! It is quite a step up from my cozy days at Club Fed. Hearing them call out id numbers that started with 1988, 1990 and seeing men still in the forties spending their entire adult life in a cage. Anyhow it took over four hours for that little trip. The next time they calm me for a med trip will be for the colonoscopy. I am certainly looking forward to that, NOT!

For better or worse it is beginning to look like I will have to undergo the nose job. I am in constant pain and even the steroid spray does not seem to be able to clear up the months of neglect.

It is now 9:15 PM and I am fading fast. I was feeling so much better mast week. Damn. I did not get much sleep mast night. I am going to get this letter all signed and sealed and go bury my tired bones under my blankets. Sometimes the sinuses actually drain better when I am lying down.

I will hopefully type some posts over next few days.

I have been scanning the papers as they come in. I have three other inmates that get to read the paper before I do the article clipping and then several others review my 'censored' copy. I also have been working on the crosswords on the day I receive the paper. Monday, no problem. Tuesday, sometimes I need to look up one or two clues. Wednesday, I can complete with help from the crossword dictionary. Thursday and on, I still need to learn more to complete.

I did notice your illustrious former CEO made the front page of the NY Times, above the fold as they say. The Fed system is different as far as plea bargains go, and the story is correct that in terms of them pleading guilty without a sentence guarantee, they will probably do a large portion of the sentences mentioned. I wonder if they will end up at my former home?
Saturday, May 13, 2006
  Prison Pete School of Paralegal Studies.
Congratulations, you have passed the first lesson in the Prison Pete School of Paralegal Studies. The letter to the court you mailed for me has netted results. Alas the result was the denial of the requested Certificate of Appealability, but that was expected. Now I can file the request with the Court of Appeals to issue the certificate. If they agree, I still would need to have them issue a reversal.

The issue I am arguing that my plea bargain was not any real bargain. One of the other inmates here has shown me a successful ineffective counsel case in the same court. The issue in this new case is that the defendant's lawyer failed to properly research the criminal background before the plea bargain and had he done so the plea deal would have been a lower one since one of the convictions listed was more actually a lesser charge than was printed on the sheet. In my case my point is that one the deal was not such a great deal, and had my attorney properly acted on the possible double punishment before the plea bargain I would not have faced any time in New York.

I have thirty days to submit the denial to the Court of Appeals, and am not sure if I need to have the motion done in that time or can wait for the court to give me the twenty day warning? In any case I will need to start drafting up some paperwork now!
Friday, May 12, 2006
  Sorry Pete, it was only a joke.
Well you certainly got my attention with that opening line in your latest letter. The post office did the speedy service, maybe the delays on some of the other letters is here at my end. I first noticed the "Frederick" stamp and told myself it can not be bad news enclosed. But then I start to read the letter and I finally got to the third sentence before I realized that you were kidding.

I am in such a fragile state lately, that to be frank I still think you might find some reason to toss me by the side of the road. It is not that you can not express your concerns or fears of being my friend, that is something that I encourage you to do, and no, you do not have to watch how you start off your letters, I am just letting you know the "reader's response."

Now that I have sufficiently calmed down, but still on a serious note, it would certainly have been great to be at that Mets game with you. There are certainly many other times that one or both of us have said 'if only.' As I said in one of my recent letters, I feel we are both guilty of dropping the ball and I am committed to not letting it happen again. Our correspondence over these last few years has certainly giving us a renewed friendship and I look forward to many years of having you as a close friend.

As far as the Mets tickets, my ex wife was a die hard Mets fan, and for her birthday I purchased "weekend" season tickets. Part of the deal was that we were able to get an equivalent number of any playoff tickets on an every other game basis. The seats we had were way up under the top tier, which was a real problem for the Fourth of July fireworks, but good to be out of any sun and rain. Since regular season ticket holders get additional tickets in playoffs, our playoff tickets were in the top tier way out in right field. Anyway that is the story. I am sorry I did not take you to the game, although she did consider them her tickets and she got to keep them after the divorce.

While I also said that the cool part of being in business for yourself were all the perks you could get and write them off as business expenses, but alas that was just another of those dreams that never happened. I am a damn good programmer and problem solver, inventor, creative genius, but one lousy business person and also in the past (I hope not the future) not all that good at personal relationships. This even goes for Karen, although she always hoped I would become the person she saw I could be. Her love for me all those years has certainly become the bedrock that keeps me going now.

Like the song says, "Regrets, I have had a few."
Thursday, May 11, 2006
  You Sent How Many Books?
In addition to providing this wonderful blog, my friend has been sending me used books that he purchases from one of the thrift stores in his area. He will usually send me ten to twelve books at a time.

Sometimes when life got busier than the usual hectic pace his life is, he would simply drop a shipment of books in the mail so I would get something in the mail while waiting for a letter from him.

I readily admit that in most cases any mail is good mail when you are in jail.

When I received a bunch of books, I would go through them to see if there were any I would probably not read. The rest would be squirreled away in my locker or the box that we were allowed to keep under our bunk.

When it came time for me to move to my new location, I was shocked to find that I had stashed away over 100 books, mostly paperbacks that I wanted to read.

In addition while going through the paperwork I have in my archives I discovered over the last year I had donated over 77 books to the prison library. Most of those were books that I had read.

Bottom line: In the one year I was at that location, the inmate library received close to two hundred books to add to its collection. That is a lot of reading for the inmates there.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
  Shoot, it's the Chute and it's Moot.
Many of you know I have been steadily working on an appeal of my sentence. The issue is currently in front of the U.S. Court of Appeals.

After about fourteen months of sending letters, various motions and other legal papers to the court, they responded with an Order that stated upon review of my file it appears that I was missing a piece of paperwork that should have been done by the U.S. District Court at the time I originally filed my Notice of Appeal. Since the district court did not issue the proper order, my appeal was being dismissed until I got the proper order for the district court at which point the Court of Appeals would then take up my case.

The last line mentioned that, "Any motions pending prior to the entry of this order of dismissal are deemed MOOT."

In other words all the anxiety and work I have had and done over the last fourteen months has no value at this time. Just like as a kid when we played Chutes and Ladders, when you were within two or three boxes of that winning 100, you land on the box with a chute that takes you all the back to one of the first few boxes.

I have now gotten the proper order from the District Court (a denial of my request for something) and now I get to ask the Court of Appeals for the same thing and hopefully get a positive answer.

I also have an option on some ocean front property in Arizona. Both of these have the same possible outcome of being worth anything in the near future.

But there are still miracles and if I had to choose which one I would like to have the miracle on, I take the loss on the option for the property.

Stay tuned.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
  Something Nice about Wal-Mart.
One of my pen pals recently lost an envelope that was addressed to my humble secured location. The envelope fell from her car while she was doing some shopping at Wal-Mart.

When the envelope arrived, it had the following note:

"This envelope found in the Wal-Mart parking lot on 1/13/06. Sent it on in the mail - J.P. #88 Cashier"

Okay, the envelope did not take that long to get here, it just took me a while to type this public thank you.

Thank you J.P., Cashier #88!

Thanks to your thoughtfulness the letter did indeed make it to me and did not end up in the trash.
Monday, May 08, 2006
  The Village Idiot Arrives.
There is certainly no shortage of dumb policies and procedures in prison. One that had a direct effect on me this week was the way in which this particular institution deals with inmates that have a problem following the rules.

To be honest it is not hard to find yourself in violation of one of the rules. I am not sure if they post the rules on the web but you can look at www.DOCS.STATE.NY.US.

An inmate got into a 'fight' with another inmate and as a result he was transferred into our dorm. As a penalty for his transgression, he was initially on "Keep Lock." This penalty works great when you have inmates in their own individual cells. They are locked in and have their meals delivered to them. Since each cell comes complete with its own toilet, there is no need to let an inmate out of his cell.

We have cubes, and therein lies the problem. I am currently residing on the back row of cubes. This row has four single cubes and ten double cubes. The cubes are all the same size. The double cubes have bunk beds in them. My cube is in the middle of the row, with a double cube on one side and an aisle for an emergency exit on the other side. The miscreant in question arrived late one evening and took up residence in the lower bunk of the cube next to me.

He was fairly quick to diagnose my sinus problem as a highly contagious disease and out of respect for all the other inmates I should have myself quarantined. I tried to inform this fellow inmate that I was not infectious to others, that my problem was simply clogged sinuses, and that I was in fact under the doctors care. To this the inmate responded that he too had sinus problems and as such knew that what I had was not sinus problems. I decided there was no winning with this inmate and gave up trying to have any type of intelligent conversation.

The next step in the discipline process now has this inmate on loss of recreation privileges. This means he is allowed to go to meals in the chow hall, and to any assigned jobs and/or programs. The remainder of the time the inmate is required to remain in his cube.

The loss of recreation is not only for the big recreation yard, but also use of the two television rooms and cooking facilities which are in our unit. If you do not read, that leaves you with a lot of time on your hands with nothing to do. This inmate suggested, on more than one occasion, that out of respect (that word is so distorted in prison I need to do an entire post on it) I could take my newspaper and go out to the television rooms and read.

While there is a no noise policy in the dorm area, the television areas have no such policy and the noise level is usually at maximum. We are not allowed to take our radios out of the sleeping area. Instead of sitting comfortably in my cube listening to my radio and reading my NY Times I had to go sit out in all the noise because this other inmate got into trouble.

In an effort to not have the 'problem' escalate, I did in fact go out and watch the television for three plus hours both Tuesday and Thursday evening. On Wednesday I stayed in my cube to type a letter.

Even with my attempt to show some 'respect' by Thursday evening the inmate took it upon himself to start throwing water over the cube wall each time I coughed.

Under normal prison inmate rules, that is a gross violation of one's personal space and is usually met with force. Not responding to the water only leads to more water being tossed. This I know since I did not respond.

On Friday morning I mentioned to the regular officer (he had just returned from two days off) that when he did the cube moves that morning, would he please move the 'problem child' to another double cube. And it was done.

Now I can hear all those brain synapses crackling while you all say that sounds like the right thing to do. WRONG.

One of the most egregious things any inmate can do is go to a staff member about a problem with another inmate. In this case it seems to have worked out only because the inmate in question is a bully and as he was moving his stuff to the new cube, he sneered at me and said, "At least I am getting away from you!"

Well duh, why did he not simply ask to be moved in the first place? That would not have been a problem. The point is, if you are miserable, be sure you can rule over another inmate to prove you are a real man.

The bottom line is that putting inmates that are already suffering some lack of privileges in with other inmates is certainly not conducive to peace and harmony in the unit. While in the feds some inmates would be punished by loss of their commissary shopping, but they were not restricted in their movement about the compound.

If that was needed, they were sent to the special housing unit (SHU) and locked in their cells for the duration of their punishment. That makes more sense. But making sense is not something that happens much of the time in the prison setting.

It is now Sunday afternoon, I am listening to the radio and catching up on my letter writing, and no water is falling into my humble cube. I have no problem with the other 58 inmates in the dorm, and now that the problem child has been moved five cubes away from me, things are back to as tranquil as they were before he arrived to reek havoc.

Life goes on.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
  Answer is 1.2 Liters.
I met with the doctor today for a follow-up to my initial visit four weeks ago. He could see I was better, but still a little congested. He is still convinced I need to have a nose job, but he is willing to take things one step at a time and see what else can be done.

He did sign me up for a full blood workup including liver functions, cholesterol and prostate check. He noticed I will be turning 50 in a few months, and snuck in a colonoscopy. I am certainly not looking forward to that test.

While I have met many health professionals during my extended tour of government-funded secured locations, this doctor far exceeds anyone I have met in terms of personal approach to my individual (and actual) health needs. He states how much he enjoys working in this type of an environment.

He points out how all he has to do is come in and practice medicine. He does not need to answer to any HMO, worry about hiring and paying for the staff, and no need to worry about paying for the physical needs of maintaining an office.

My question is if this guy is so good, why are all the others such slugs? Money is not the answer in and of itself. We need to work harder at getting people to take jobs because they want to do the task and they are good at it.

The other issue is that even in a government-funded operation, you can find people that will do an excellent job. No need to privatize a government function to save money.

It would be a waste to take this doctor and put him in charge of hiring the other doctors, but one could certainly look at how he does his job and hire other doctors of the same caliber. As I think I mentioned earlier, he originally took the state prison job on a part time basis to help support the practice he had in the free world, where not all his patients could afford to pay.

He did mention today that he even has a side business that over the last four years has paid for his daughter's college, and this fall his son will be starting college. The side business is a small take out food operation.

While we try to figure out how to pay for all the health care us baby boomers are going to need in the coming years, why not just produce more doctors. Let them know they will make a good living. No, not all will be millionaires in the first few years. I know we are only hurting ourselves, when we continue to put a high price to obtain the basics of life.

Now you might say but Pete, he is an exception to the rule. Yes, I have already admitted that. But my question is, why? Why do we put up with less than what needs to be provided for a job to be done? Why are we so easily sold the notion that a private company can do things better (cheaper?) than the government does? (Can you say Halliburton?) Just look at the series the New York Times has done on the mess that the New York City Correction health care system is in.

Now I can hear some of you saying but you are writing about prisoners here. Why should they have great health care?

There are some sad facts of life about prisoners. One is they usually have not taken all that good care of themselves prior to their incarceration. Once locked up, the conditions of living in such a closed community, even simple colds, can easily turn into major epidemics. Not to mention that any communicable disease can be easily carried out to the surrounding community by the staff.

You can not just lock us all up and forget about us. Most prisoners will be released at some point in their life and you do not want to have to continue to support him (or her) because they are too ill to do any income producing work.

It is somewhat ironic that in my particular case the doctor is recommending very strongly that I get my nose fixed, and I am reluctant. He is just about saying that I have lived with the bad nasal passages and less than optimal functioning of my sinus system, for so long that I no longer even know what the 'correct' feeling should be.

Do you know how much mucus the average sinus 'system' produces on a daily basis? (If you are good at reading comprehension you know this one.) 1.2 liters a day. And now, according to my doctor, picture all that fluid lodging in the many sinus passages (with lots of great names that I could never remember) in the front side of your head. The doctor says I am too used to that feeling. I would feel like I lost pounds off the front of my head overnight if I get the proper surgery he is recommending. Stay tuned!
Monday, May 01, 2006
  Magazine Subscription Rip-Offs.
This is one of those things that tick me off, treating paying subscribers as jerks. PC Magazine just did this sort of thing to me.

I am on what they call automatic renewal. This means that when my subscription is up they send me a post card that says okay we have renewed you for another year at a certain price. Then out of my next copy of PC falls a card that says if you send that card back you can get two years for the price they just told me I would pay for only one year!

This happened two years ago, I wrote and complained and they added the second year to my subscription for free. But I should not have to ask for it. Now another magazine is doing the same stupid trick.

I am not talking about six months down the road they run a limited new reader special, although I do think the current subscription base should never have to pay more than the new readers on an annual basis.

Free copies are a great way to get new readers; even things like the New York Times new home delivery specials make sense once in a while. But the idea of using different marketing campaigns with some offering better deals than others at the same time is bullshit.

I do intend to write some posts on the whole stupid consumer and how we allow companies to get away with this crap.

I have cut out an article about the airlines lobbying Congress so that they can strip out all fees, including some of their own company specific ones, from the advertised price. The purpose of this is that when you do a web search for the cheapest fare you will find out only after you are committed to pay for the ticket what the true cost will be. Just like that small print in TV ads.

If a company resorts to that sort of bogus advertising, consumers should boycott the company.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Powered by Blogger


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

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

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

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

Helpful Organizations

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

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