Prison Pete

Sunday, August 20, 2006
  See You in September.
[Editor] There will be no new posts until the first week of September. Enjoy the rest of the summer.
  18 Channels and Nothings On (Besides Sports).
WWF (wrestling) is a favorite Monday night TV watch around here. It is on the USA Network, which is one of the 18 channels they show here.

I guess it does not look so bad; sure, it is all fake and scripted, but everyone knows that going in. No drug test scandals. They just openly admit it.

The inmates recently voted to change our selection of TV channels, and as a result they added ESPN Classic. We now have ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Classic. The bulk of ESPN Classic seems to be old boxing matches.

I am no fan of boxing, and even more incredulous that anyone would want to watch reruns over and over again. But that is what the TV is showing on many nights. Although that will change a little bit now.

The drought of sports that my fellow brother inmates like to watch is over now, with the beginning of the pre-season football games. There was always such a pall over Club Fed when the basketball playoffs concluded, and didn't lift until that first pre-season football game. Of course one person's sorrow is usually someone else's joy.

It was easier for the good old county boys at Club Fed to watch the NASCAR races on Sundays when this mini sports drought occurred. But NASCAR is not even on the radar where I am currently residing.

On a related TV topic, I think you are right that it was Porky Pig and not Bugs Bunny who said "That's All Folks!" But I do have an image of Bugs sitting inside the Warner Brothers Logo, saying "That's all folks!" and pulling down a shade. Did he do it to prove how it sounded without the stuttering? Did he imitate the stutter? Both would be problematic in today's PC world. But than again everyone knows pigs do not really talk so who's to say how they should sound?

I am out of all sweet treats so it will be a long four days till commissary on Tuesday, but then again you are probably reading this on Tuesday. Whatever that has to do with the price of tea in China, I do not know.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
  Pictures of the real world.
Thank you for sending pictures of the real world. The damage you suffered from the tornado certainly was a mess for the trees and electrical wires but I am glad that your house and cars managed to escape unscathed.

You bring up an interesting question about the long power outage and thoughts of getting a generator. What is the price/performance level that makes the tipping point between going with the "permanent" whole house system or the somewhat portable gasoline powered generators? I would suggest that if it is possible to get a small natural gas one that it would be the better alternative. No messy gas cans, midnight refilling of the generator and if the electric is out in your area how far do you have to ride to get gas, since most gas stations do not have generators (I assume).

The peace of mind at having it be able to run on auto-pilot makes the most sense. What good would the generator do if there was a winter storm and you were away skiing for a few days? The electric goes out long enough for the pipes to freeze, crack, and then unfreeze and flood the house?

You would always say "if only we did not go away" etc. I think if you are going to consider some type of backup generator, the auto start and switch over sounds like the best.

I told you about how my parents ended up with the very high electric bill while they were away two winters ago. Their electricity went out (they have electric heat), pipes froze, electric comes back on, pipes break, and the pump just keeps on pumping and floods the house. Even worse was the leak was in a hot water pipe, so that this meant that their electric hot water heater was essentially constantly on. Well that is my three cents worth.
Friday, August 18, 2006
  Who is reading about my dreadful life?
I read with interest the AOL searches article that appeared on the front page of last Wednesday's NY Times.

While I realize they (and I am not sure who "they" are) were able to identify that woman, there still are two big unexplained leaps. The article states there were over 20 million search queries. So out of all those requests, I suppose sorted by the "confidential" id number, how did they pick out her group of queries?

Secondly, even with the mention of her last name in the searches, you would still need to be in contact with a local person that knows about her dog that pees all over the place.

I liked the blog search phrases you sent me. The "Prison Pete" ones would come mostly from people I told I had a blog and the name of it I would think. Or is it just a quick way to get to the blog if you lose a bookmark?

While I am thinking of it, I think if you type your name (or any other phrase?) in Google doesn't it tell you how many other people have entered that name or term? If so I would be interested in an occasional update of how many Prison Pete searches there are.

I appreciated you sending me the reference list for some of the blog activity. It is interesting that some are pretty specific (city, state) and others are just United States. Obviously, if I were out there searching, I would want my footprint to be the generic USA one. Do you know what the difference is?

The report by the domain names which showed the page views and visit length was interesting too. I wonder how many of the 0:00 visit lengths were readers checking for new posts or were others who ended up at the blog from a search engine?

I was wondering how much serious reading was being done if the average visit was under two minutes. I would rather see a few longer readers than a bunch of two or three minute ones. The number of people that actually take the time to read the blog, while certainly a small percentage of the visits, makes me feel a little better about the lack of comments.

I was trying to figure out if I had fifty people stopping by, why would not at least one or two leave a comment? If only fifteen out of fifty spent any time reading the blog and seven of those were under two minutes, then I do not feel so bad about the lack of comments.

However, let me state for the record that I certainly appreciate any time a person spends reading about my dreadful life, and thank you for your time.

Please feel free to stop by and read a page or two anytime and do not be afraid to leave a comment every now and then.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
  Promises, Promises.
I was not going to send a letter out tonight as I am having a problem keeping my eyes open. The nose is in full clog mode and I guess while I do not have a high temperature, lying horizontal does seem to be the position that my body is requesting most.

No letters have arrived from anyone but you and my parents in over a month. I am very grateful for your continued letters, and do not mind the Dear Diary format in the least.

But for the time being I need to catch up on all the other stuff you have been writing about and do not want to get off on a tangent of Pete's views of the world through romantic novels.

My record with the ladies has been on a downward spiral of late so perhaps I should just keep my suggestions to myself. But then again you never know when I might actually come up with a good idea or two. Yeah I hear you; you are not going to hold your breath.

It will be interesting to see if anyone writes to me about Farm Camp Lowy. I am finally over the expectations of anyone ever really writing to me, so go ahead and tell me all about the people who ask for my address and promise to write.

If you get a few letters in a row from me with strange water marks on them, or worse, red blotches from blood dripping from me, then maybe you could censor the letter promises again. But for now bring it on; I can take it.

BTW the only reason I even went to Farm Camp Lowy was because the people running it lived across the street from us in Brooklyn and my Mom was running a home baby sitting service and these neighbors had a three-year-old. I believe one or both of the parents were involved with Pratt Institute as teachers or other staff.

The camp when I went there was more of an upscale thing. You could go for one month or stay for the entire summer. It was certainly of the somewhat hippie-type influence (well it was 1969 after all), and I thought the year I went was one of the first years the couple was running it.

Anyhow I guess with the increased mobility of the upper middle class, locations such as upstate NY do not have the cachet of more exotic locations.

Well count time and lights out, more to follow.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
  I do not know if you notice any difference
but I am slowing down and working on one or two parts of my life at a time, instead of my usual thing of throwing everything at the wall and see what sticks. For example, while I am still not back up to full speed on the writing front, I have managed to stay up-to-date on the New York Times. Well almost.

I still am saving the Magazine and Book review sections. As soon as the newspaper is given to me at mail call I sit down and read it. I am also finding, much to my dismay, that by doing the crossword puzzle each day and looking up the tough clues, it is actually beginning to sink into the gray matter. I am learning new words and phrases, plus I am better able to see words developing when I have only two or three letters. Of course sometimes I fill in a wrong guess and it takes even longer to get my brain unlocked and into a different train of thought.

For example, I think I might finally have "Ich bin ein Berliner!" locked in. They like to use that phrase on a fill-in-the-blank basis. Okay so it is not quite locked in yet, as I still had to look at today's puzzle to be sure I had it right, but now I think it is locked.

Typus interruptus... It is already 9:00 and I have not taken my shower yet. An inmate who has been here about a week and is leaving in nine days stopped by and we started talking about music and computers. Okay, it was more me doing all the talking. I still need to learn to not be in such a hurry to put forth my various computer theories, but I am so starved for intelligent conversation that I fall too quickly into my old habits.

Then another inmate asked for my help with a time computation problem he is having. According to his figures they are beating him out of four months of jail time. The ironic thing is that Downstate Inmate Records wrote a letter to the NYC Department of Corrections saying they thought there was an extra seven days, and they agreed and he lost seven more days. Never a dull moment. He is lucky in that he has one of the new flat bid sentences, just like my 10 year fed sentence. In his case he was given a five year flat bid and will serve 85% of it.

I on the other hand must depend on the good graces of the parole board to release me after I serve the minimum five years. They can deny me that "privilege" and make me wait another two years, and deny me again at that point. In theory, unless I so something wrong I must be released on my CR date which is ten years, two-thirds of my sentence.

I am going to enclose a recent publication that details what (NY Governor) Pataki has done to the parole system. It is frustrating that some people are fighting to get murderers out who have served the same amount of time as I will have when I first face the parole board. Please send this booklet back to me. I will write more on this too.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
  Medical Woes.
Another long traveling letter. Your letter took a week to get here and only just arrived today. They do use a date stamp in the mail room, but who knows if they only stamp the letter when they decide to give it to me.

What is funny about the whole thing is the way we are both writing about the same issue of recent letters, and your questions in this latest letter were answered by me in letters you should have received a few days after you mailed your letter.

On the health front I got to see Dr. Weinstein on Monday and he confirmed that the CAT scan showed seven out of eight sinus cavities were inflamed and showed signs of infection. I sort of asked him why I felt so well if my body is carrying this infection. He said it was not always true that the body responds with a high temperature and other tell tale signs. As I was thinking about that I realized that since I have been dealing with the sinus problems for over eighteen months I have become acclimated to the condition.

I am now due for at least two more of those wonderful medical trips. The first will be to show off my medical marvel to an ear, nose and throat specialist. Depending on his findings, I will either end up going directly for major surgery or at the least a thorough cleaning of my sinuses. I am not sure exactly what that would feel like, but I imagine it would not be all that pleasant.

I am also awaiting the issuance of another 21 day supply of super antibiotics and am going back on the nasal steroid spray. Maybe this thing is what has been making me more tired than usual? Who knows? As the doctor says I will only realize how miserable I have been when the whole thing is cleared up.

I still have the colonoscopy to look forward to. So between that and the thought of more endless trips all chained up I am really not looking for much joy in my life on the medical front for a while.

I did find out that all my blood work came back fine. All levels were where they were supposed to be. Liver, kidneys, blood etc. I had the cholesterol numbers written down, but unfortunately I can't find the scrap of paper it was written on. If I remember correctly my overall number was 175 (<200 is goal) and my bad cholesterol was 110 (<100 is goal). I explained that the day before the test I pigged out on ice cream and fried chicken and the doctor said that could be a factor in the test. That was my fallback excuse and I did use it.

The other medical woe is the old lower back muscle spasms. They have been doing their little dance of joy on and off for the last couple of weeks. Other than all of the above I feel great for a man of my advanced years. (Ha Ha)
Saturday, August 12, 2006
  I am still awaiting the colonoscopy
and have not seen the doctor yet to discuss the results from the CAT scan and blood test.

I was going to razz you on how my request for a Maureen Dowd Op-Ed column from July 5, 2006 turned into a column by Amy Sutherland from June 23, 2006. It is ironic at the similarities between the two columns though. Me thinks I smell a rat, but more on this later on. Thanks for sending the Dowd piece.

Well it is time to jump into the shower before the rest of the dorm comes back from the yard. And I get to try and sleep all sticky and sweaty. Well I will be that anyhow, but at least let me get a couple of layers off.

Urg this is five pages better put it in for the extra postage so that it does not get held up.
Friday, August 11, 2006
  Drug Use in Sports.
Hmm I seem to have misplaced the spec sheet for your mountain bike. By the way, the new wheels for your road bike, are either of them the no-spoke type like I saw on Floyd Landis's bike? I forget which day it was, mountains or time trial.

Boy was I SHOCKED when I received Friday's paper. Landis used performance enhancing drugs the day he blew by everyone on the mountain? Who is to say his body did not somehow respond to the mental and emotional signals sent out by his brain to allow his body to respond the way it did?

As far as testing for excess testosterone, I bet you would find an excess amount in more than a few inmates here if the body compensates for lack of intelligence by producing more testosterone. HA HA.

I will be following this story for sure. As far as me not caring about the Tour de France, I admit I am certainly not as up on it as you are, but have been reading the daily articles and enjoyed the article in the NY Times Sunday Magazine on Floyd and his hip problems and how much of that is actual and what information they "leak" to fake out the other riders. See there is a mind game to this thing, maybe he just got his whole body to be in sync at the same time and that is the story.

One would think that knowing if you win that day you are going to be tested, you would not be stupid enough to use something that would show up in a test; then again, that is what he is saying is he not? Why would I use something knowing I was going be tested? Time will tell. Maybe this year’s race will be the one the drug screeners won?

And then Gatlin tests positive. I like his quote, "I cannot account for these results, because I have never knowingly used any banned substance or authorized anyone else to administer such a substance to me." Sounds like some wiggle room there. Gatlin says to his trainer, hey if I do not know what is in the drink or food you prepare for me, and I am not authorizing you to give me banned substances, but hey shit happens when I am asleep don't it.

Now Landis is saying maybe it was the alcohol he drank? The plot thickens. What's next? Tiger has had a "Six Million Dollar Man" arm that enables his amazing swings? And what about Michele Wie (the teenager trying to make the men's golf tour)? Maybe she is really a transsexual, or at this point a pre-op like some of the "boys" I met along my travels through the prison system? Urgh.

Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?
Thursday, August 10, 2006
  Jackass in a Hurry.
You mentioned that while you were out riding your bike yesterday morning you were almost run off the road by some "jackass in a hurry."

But was it not you who was stopped by the police for speeding just the other day? One of the things I wanted to comment on about your speeding incident was that first I was happy that you managed to avoid getting a ticket.

But is it fair that you did not get the ticket and had I been stopped by that same officer doing the same speed and been on parole, not only would I have probably gotten a ticket but it could have very well landed me back in jail? This is because any interaction with law enforcement must be reported to your parole officer even if you did not get a ticket.

Now with computers in cop cars it would not take more than a minute to get my criminal history which would certainly not lend itself to getting a break. Again, I AM NOT SUGGESTING you should have gotten a ticket, but just pointing out the Frandomness of not only the application of law but life itself.

It is very possible that the jackass that you encountered on the road would have been more than able to pass any road test with flying colors. I am not sure that even the proposed five year driver certification testing would make any major difference in this case.

I am only reminded of my bike riding days back when I was in St. Anthony's and I would ride to school from our apartment on Dekalb Avenue in Brooklyn down to Fulton Street and through what was then the major shopping area with all the big name stores. It was basically a nice long downhill ride past Fort Greene, a nice park with no side streets on my right as I rode the one way street. I used to use a nice loud metal whistle to "blow" both jay walkers and errant cars out of my way.

As I recall the last few blocks before the eight-plus lanes of Flatbush Avenue were slightly uphill, but I would usually be able to hit the lights and make it across Flatbush.

The one constant was the old #26 bus which ran all the way down to school. This was the bus I rode when not biking. It was not unusual to have to jockey around the bus as it pulled over to make its stops every two or three blocks. And then good luck trying to get past a stopped bus before he closed his doors and would nose dive right back into the path I was taking!

Once I was pedaling up the hill to Flatbush when a taxi that had just discharged a passenger on the right side curb decided to make a left hand turn onto Flatbush. He did not quite make it. Actually it was I who did not quite make it. I went head first into the taxi's left hand passenger side door.

This was before the days of helmets, although I seem to remember I used to wear my trusty old red construction hat. As I recall I survived the crash but unfortunately my front wheel was mangled beyond repair.

The ride along Atlantic Avenue from 88th Street in Queens through Bed-Sty and then along Flatbush Avenue to Fulton Street was even more hair raising and I did that many a day too.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
  Okay, I erred.
One should not promise things that you are not 100% percent sure you are going to follow up on.

Yes I did write I was going to continue your letter I started on Sunday, on Monday, but I was really wiped out Monday after work and did not do any writing at all. I apologize. I feel especially guilty because you made the extra effort to be sure I received a letter last week.

By the way, your last couple letters seem to contain a little more "humanness" to them. Now it may be nothing different on your part, just my head is in a better place. More likely it is a combination of something that we both are doing.

It is so nice and warm here that all the latex paint is sticky. You have to realize you could measure the overall thickness of the paint in eighths of an inch as opposed to microns, and when it gets hot for a few days in a row the latex seems to go back to its rubbery, sticky form.

I am typing this letter with a full belly. Yes, today was the wonderful bi-weekly commissary shopping day. I have had my pint of mint chocolate ice cream, two twelve ounce cans of Dr. Pepper®, and my three pieces of Banquet® southern style chicken. The box contains two breasts, two thighs (without the wings (or do the wings usually come with the breasts?)) and two legs.

I have mentioned one of the older guys here who has been in prison since 1988. When he was next to me before I moved over to the corner spot, he got me started on the chicken. I am not sure how but he seems to keep coming up with stamps (39¢ ones). The deal I had made with him initially was that I would buy the box of chicken for $4.02 and split it in half with him. So for the last three (or is it four?) shopping days, I have brought the chicken. Unlike the other inmates I do not dare try to keep the chicken; instead it is all eaten in one sitting.

I was going to skip the chicken this week because I would rather spend the $2.00 on something else, but I could not let the older man down. He does get about $10.00 every two weeks from his job here and could certainly buy his own box. But for some reason the way he gets the stamps helps stretch his funds.

One does not ask where he gets the stamps from.

So now I am ready for my third can of soda and than will mean I will be one short for the one-a-day soda treat. That was part of the problem yesterday. Through a combination of events I was out of all possible treats. I had no sodas or chocolate to munch on. Certainly it is not the end of the world, but without the ability to run down to the local 7-Eleven, I had to tough it out.
Monday, August 07, 2006
  Ribbon Rules.
You had mentioned sending me a magnifying glass a while back. Obviously it can not be glass. It can be either 2" x 3" rectangular or 3" round. I would prefer the rectangle. If you are able to send me one, please put in a separate envelope and mark it to the attention of the package room, magnifying plastic enclosed.

It is funny how the rules work around here. I was at the package room a few weeks ago to pick up my next supply of six ribbons. The woman officer working in the package room asked me for my six used ribbons before I could receive the six new ones. This was news to me. I had already received one shipment of ribbons here at the new location and did not hand back the old ones then.

I explained that I was never asked for the old ones and simply tossed out the old ones as they were of no use. When I checked the approved property list, I noticed it did say that we were supposed to have only one print wheel, "on an exchange basis" and the correction ribbon says "replacement only" but next to the ribbons it only says "max. of 6."

When I pointed this out to the officer as she was busily denying other inmates various items with the explanation that they should read the approved package items list, she told me simply, well that is the way it always is. I think I gave you the web site address for the DOC where you can see the rules for yourself.

Just the point that the rules are whatever they say, and you are not going to get anywhere fighting with them.

I will promise to continue this letter tomorrow and will be sure to answer all the items you so generously wrote about.

I have finished off all my sodas and chocolate so I will be treat-less till I go to the store on Tuesday.

One of the reasons for the lack of letters has been the heat. It is so warm in the dorm, that any movement leaves you sweating like a pig. Even now, with the sun down and the temperature down in the 80's, I am sticky sweaty, as opposed to dripping wet, typing this letter. I know you had to rough it for a day or so with out your electric. I guess we were sort of equal for a time there.

Actually I was a little ahead, I did not have to go out to get ice for my "cooler" and I could still read at night with my 25 watt personal lamp. Plus I do have a 6" personal fan.

I am glad you got your power back. What about the phone? I think you mentioned you had some sort of battery for you fiber optic connection? Hmm. This does not sound all that safe. Is the phone company responsible for getting the "light" to your house, so that if you did have a generator you would have phone service, provided the lines were still up?

One would think it would be a marketable product to have an emergency phone that is kept constantly charged, but if power goes out, you would only use the battery power to make calls. It would plug directly into the fiber optic connection, or do you need to have the multiplexer fully powered to split the signals etc. POTS may have been the PITS sometimes but it was certainly more reliable.

Another thing we have in common, clowns for bosses. Although our clowns do not really make me laugh too much. Hope things begin to look up one way or the other on the job front for you.

I have had my CAT SCAN and blood test, still waiting for the colonoscopy, but have not seen a doctor yet to get the results of the first two tests. Will keep you advised.

It is almost count time, so that is all the time I have to type for now.

I apologize again for not writing sooner but will continue this letter tomorrow.
Saturday, August 05, 2006
  It is already after 8:00 PM
and I am just starting your letter. This is not a good thing.

I received not one, not two, but three letters from you this past week and I have sent you nothing. That is not acceptable. But I have been in yet another funk and put off writing to you.

I am not sure who the culprit is, but I would bet it is the mail room here. I received a letter from my parents two weeks ago and it arrived in just two days. Your Friday letter was postmarked on the 21st so I guess there was just not much letter writing going on in that area on Friday. Although it did indeed make it in the mail on Friday, I did not receive it till Tuesday the 25th. Are they taking an extra day to read my mail? And only the letters from you? Paranoid?

Your original double stuffed letter did make it through along with the backup copy. They both arrived in Friday's mail. The backup letter has the newer postmark and was stamped on the 25th; the original fat envelope had the older postmark and I can not tell the date. I am sending it back to you to see if you can make any sense of it.

One of my recent mailings to you was delayed by our internal mail room as they weighed the envelope and held it up till I gave them a disbursement form for the additional 24¢ postage. Why they do not sell us the 24¢ stamps I do not know.

I am enclosing a copy of the form I have to fill out to pay for the additional postage. It would seem pretty obvious that it cost more than 24¢ to print and process the form, but the alternative is to put on two 39¢ stamps.

Why should I waste my money? I might as well waste some more of the State’s money. Lord knows they are wasting more than enough of it already. Sorry to all the hard working taxpayers out there. Given the choice I would rather be paying the taxes than spending them.

Not bad, almost a whole page on just sending and receiving mail. The only mail I did receive this week was your two (three?) letters.
Friday, August 04, 2006
  No Time...
I recently signed up for the ten week legal research course. While I know more about the law and legal research than I would normally have wanted, the only way to work in the law library is to have a certificate that you have taken the legal research course. There is no "advanced placement" test.

I decided to buckle down and take the class to give me the option of working in the law library at some point in the future. The class is scheduled for three hours (6:00 - 9:00) each Friday and Saturday night. This leaves me with very little free time on Fridays and Saturdays.

Starting with Friday, I work from 7:30 AM to 10:30 AM, and then depending on the workload, either continue at work or attend the choir practice at the chapel during the noon to 2:30 PM time period. Then it is back up to the chapel from 3:00 to 5:00 PM, and off to legal class from 6:00 to 9:00 PM.

Saturday finds me up at the chapel from 11:00 AM to 4:00 and then back up to the legal class from 6:00 to 9:00 PM.

Meanwhile back to Saturday's class.

It is taught by two of my fellow inmates and as I expected, I know as much and sometimes more than they are teaching. For example I was marked wrong on a test question that turned out to be a mistake by the inmate when he wrote out the question. It was a true or false question.

The statement read, "A Declatory Injunction is one type of potential relief available in the current court system." I said false. There is no such term, as they have taught the course so far. We were told of various types of injunctions and about a Declaratory Judgment, but no Declaratory Injunction. The inmate teacher eventually conceded the point.

While I do hold my tongue as much as I can, I still talk too much in the class. I try to let the other eight inmates answer the questions, but after a reasonable period of time I will give the answer.

I did get off one good joke last night. We were talking about the various steps of legal research and what you do after you find a particular case that may help you with you argument.

The next step is called "Shepardizing". And after the silence became unbearable waiting for another inmate to answer, I blurted out "Baaa...Baaaa." The great part is that the two inmates teaching the class and the officer in charge of the law library broke into instant groans. I smiled.

A little while later one of the inmate teachers commented that I must have been a real pest when I was a kid in school. I readily admitted that I was, and further commented, "It is not easy being me."

Many a truth is said in jest. It used to drive me crazy as to why I seemed to aggravate those around me.

I now understand that while I am certainly responsible for my own actions, I am not responsible for how others respond to me. I am only responsible for how those reactions make me feel. By admitting mostly to myself although I said it out loud that yes I was sometimes a pest, and further affirming that it was not easy being me, I was able to take a somewhat negative comment and give him something to think about in return.

The main problem with me being in the class is that I know 90% of the stuff cold. But I am still working on taking notes, being sure I learn it their way, but I am quick to point out the errors they make when they copy stuff onto the board.

I think I am doing okay; I make sure the other inmates get time to answer the questions, and I am sure about things that I point out and even admit when something I said was wrong.

Life goes on.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
  This past Friday I was awakened at 4:30 AM
and spent the day on the road with twenty other inmates heading to one of the Medical Prison Facilities for a CAT scan of my sinus passages. The trip took roughly two hours each way, during which we were all handcuffed, chains around our waist attached to the handcuffs, and another chain about 18" long between the cuffs on our ankles.

I am not sure if you can find a picture on the web (Google "Black Box & Handcuffs"?), but not only do we wear the handcuffs, but they put a black box between the cuffs that locks the cuffs in so that they are on the same plane. Kind of like the stocks of old except in this case instead of our arms being held apart, they are within six inches of each other.

This nifty little black box was allegedly designed by an inmate. I had seen these black boxes while in Club Fed, but they were only used on inmates that were subject to special treatment due to some type of rule infraction. Here in New York every inmate wears them anytime they are taken out of a facility. It is almost impossible to rest your arms in a position where one or both of your wrists are not pressing against the edges of the cuff.

Once we arrived at the medical facility we were placed in a large holding area that seats around fifty inmates and were relieved of all restraints with the exception of the handcuffs (minus the black box). We now get to "hang out" in this room for five to six hours while inmates from several different prisons see various specialists and get CAT scans. The room itself looks a like the scene in "Awakenings" (Robin Williams, 1990) with all those zombie-like patients aimlessly wandering around the room. Too bad they do not provide, or allow us to bring, a book.

By the time Saturday's class came along, I was pretty wound up. I did make it back from the trip on Friday just in time to make the law class (6:00 PM) and had my dorm officer get permission for me to be a half hour late since I needed to get something to eat.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
  It is already 9:30 PM
and I am just starting this letter. It will have to be a short one. I just finished proofing and printing the enclosed post. It is not a political rant, so please accept it as part of this letter.

Things here are about the same. I only received one letter last week, from Mom and Dad, so it was a slow week letter-wise.

I have managed to continue with my all papers gone by Sunday, and am backlog free as I write this. I managed to finish all four of the week's (Monday to Thursday) crosswords give or take a clue here and there. I needed to use the puzzle dictionary some, but I am certainly getting better at retaining some of the more obscure words.

The last letter I sent was delayed one day because they decided to check the weight and discovered it was over one ounce. I had to fill out a form for them to put the extra 24¢ on the envelope. For some unknown reason they do not sell 24¢ stamps here. I thought I could sneak one by, but no such luck.

I am off to bed and a good book. Another week is starting. Between Church and the law class, I miss three of the movies, and this past weekend I did not bother to watch the other ones that are on after 10:00 PM Friday and Saturday or the 7:30 one Sunday. They have not released any new movies in the last few weeks so the choices have been mostly older movies, but not old enough to be some of the oldies but goodies such as Animal House, MASH, Kelly's Heroes, The Dirty Dozen, etc.

The Tour de France certainly had some interesting twists and turns. By now you know who won, and I shall have to wait for the Friday - Sunday papers to make it in.

I am still a little confused why we get excited about an American rider leading even if he is on the team of another country? At least Lance Armstrong was on an American sponsored team.

By the way did you catch the analysis of Lance's performance as emcee for the ESPYS? He apparently told some off-color jokes.

Count time -- time to go.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
  Times Again.
By now I am sure most of you are pretty tired of hearing about my various attempts to read and stay current with the New York Times. I have been working on a goal of no longer sticking the paper in my locker and thus creating a pile of papers to be read later.

Over the last three weeks or so I have read each paper when it arrived and have also done the crossword puzzle. In the past I have ignored the puzzle knowing that I was going to clip it out and save it for later. All that did was give me a year's worth of un-done puzzles.

After I finish with it, I then pass the paper around to a few other inmates for their reading enjoyment and have designated Sunday as "clip it and toss them" day. This has been going well and I have managed not to put any papers on the already too big "to be read" pile in my locker.

How big was the pile in the locker you ask? This past Sunday I decided it was time to get rid of all the papers that were sitting around waiting to be read. I started off around 11:00 AM and by 7:00 PM had managed to go through over 30 papers! Many of those were Sunday editions dating back to April! (Yes they were all 2006, no 2005's.)

I still went through each paper page by page, read a few articles, and tore out a bunch to be used for future blog posts or to be sent out to Mom and Dad and a few other people that might find a particular article of some interest. I think I have an article or two for a few of my pen pals so they should watch their snail mail box for that.

The bottom lime is that as of this morning (it is still Tuesday here) I only have two New York Times in my cube. Last Friday's and Saturday's. Both have been read.

I did skip the Crossword in Friday's paper. At this point while doing the puzzles on a daily basis, I am able to work through Thursday's most weeks. The puzzles get harder as the week progresses. Even using the puzzle dictionary and other books, Friday and Saturday are still a challenge.

(Just had to go down to the ID room. I am due for two medical trips and they wanted to make sure that I still looked like the pictures they had on file.)

It will be interesting to see how long I can keep to this latest attempt to manage the reading of the daily paper. Stay tuned for further developments.

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