Prison Pete

Friday, August 10, 2007
  Meanwhile, 5:00 7/26/07.
Rats, no letters today. I have spent the last 90 minutes or so reading Wednesday's NY Times.

An update on the fan issue. I gave my fan to my neighbor to stop the bullshit about how I broke his fan. On the positive side he did pay me back the two jars of peanut butter he owed, one of which was supposed to be returned two weeks ago.

This whole episode is exactly why I should not bother with another inmate's property. I can not tell if he is really holding me responsible for the fan no longer working or not. In either case, this is another example of how you can live without something. Yes it is warm, and the fan does add some relief, but in the bigger picture I no longer have to listen to the ranting about how his fan is broken.

My next decision is whether I will bother trying to fix his fan tomorrow, or just switch the motors and wait for my new fan. Life is full of options. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

As I type this draft, my fingers are not cooperating at all. Bummer. I would still like to type some more posts but at this point I think I will take my shower, make some dinner and then start the proof and print process. At this point I have completed nine double-spaced pages of typing.

I do note that our much glorified professional sports teams seem to be having a string of negative publicity of late.

The National Basketball Association has a referee that is being implicated by federal authorities for betting on basketball games that he officiated.

In the National Football League, the quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons is facing federal charges for running an illegal dog fighting operation. I find it ironic that he is in a sport where doing bodily harm to your opponents is a goal of many players and applauded by fans, and where we are finding out that yes, having your head smashed on a regular basis may indeed lead to lifetime illness and disability. That is okay, but to have some dogs fight one another, that is really a bad thing.

Do not get me wrong, I am not supporting or in any way encouraging dog fighting. I am a pacifist for all living creatures, okay but yes I do eat meat. In any case, Mr. Vick appears to have broken the law. The only thing I take exception to is the outrage over him using dogs to fight one another. However, two grown men, (or women) in a ring beating each others brains out is okay.

This is just more fodder for the ongoing posts I hope will generate a broader discussion and perhaps educate others of the state and operation of our American legal system.

Next we have the great American pastime, Major League Baseball. There appears little doubt that Barry Bonds has used "performance enhancing" drugs, but Bud Selig (also the answer to 51 across in Wednesday's crossword puzzle) will attend as many games as he is able until Mr. Bonds ties Hank Aaron’s record. Mr. Selig said he was doing this out of respect for the tradition of the game (whatever that means) and the magnitude of the record.

I guess it does not matter how you break a sports record, just as long as you break it. And if you do happen to bend (or break) a few rules along the way, please do not get caught and embarrass the rest of us. Did I not just read somewhere that Mr. Bonds is facing federal charges for lying to a federal grand jury? Same as Mr. Libby. Wonder if the president will reach out and cancel any prison sentence he ends up with.

And last but not least, do I dare mention that a member of the Astana cycling team has failed a drug test and the entire team has withdrawn from the Tour de France.

Maybe that was not last; I note on the last page of Wednesday's NY Times Sport Section that there is some type of legal action taking place between two billionaires, Larry Ellison and Ernesto Bertarelli, over the America's Cup, "...the oldest major trophy in international sports.”

Yes, folks that is Yacht racing.

In one day's sports news, six pages long we have major scandals in five sports.But there is some good news. The New York Mets are in first place, and the Yankees (and their excessive payroll) are not.

Life goes on.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
  No Right Answers?
It is almost 3:00 PM and I just finished reading the previous post "So What Did I Start to Write?" As I was reading it I realized I might get a bunch of comments about what do I mean by writing "there are no right answers in life." That sounds like a possible cop-out and certainly might be taken by some as justification for my criminal actions. NOT SO.

For example, let us take the premise that you should not kill another human being. Easy to state for some. But then you get drafted into the military and you are taught to shoot at the enemy and kill them. Then let us carry it one step further and say you are now over in Iraq. Who is the enemy?

Another example: going over the speed limit. First response, everyone does it. Ten miles over is okay, but eleven, is that the no-no? Your child is having an asthma attack in the middle of the night and you are driving to the hospital. Can you exceed the speed limit or pass through red lights? What happens if you end up in an accident as a result of passing a red light? Who is to blame?

How much is too much when you take home some office supplies for personal use. I remember when I started working at my first corporate job trying to track down some supplies that were not in our usual supply cabinet. When I went to the person responsible, he said he knew about the shortage because it happened every September. The implication being everyone was taking stuff home for their kid’s school supplies.

How about the two hundred or so death penalty cases that have been overturned because DNA evidence proved someone else committed the crime? We thought we had the right answer on those cases, did we not?

On a more simplistic level, take the decision a parent makes to put in extra time at work. Is it the right thing to do? Hopefully the time pays off in the future in an increase in benefits, but what about the loss the child feels at mom or dad not being around?

Maybe sometimes it can be a good thing that the parent is not home, who knows. Some adults trace their success and self reliance to having to fend for themselves at an early age, while others might cite the same circumstance as reason for their inability to deal with life's everyday pressures.

Because of the war in Iraq, the president says we are safer today, but we can not roll back the clock and relive the last six years, can we?

Please do not take the leap that my use of this phrase is meant to exculpate me in any way for my actions that lead to my incarceration.
Sunday, August 05, 2007
  So What Did I Start to Write?
One constant problem is being able to move my thoughts and ideas from rattling around in this massive gray matter that is protected by a large skull and might occasionally be more useful than just a hat rack, out to paper. My usual choice is to spew my ideas out verbally. The usual result of this is a somewhat glazed look in the eyes of the listeners, if they are even bothering to actively listen.

While I am certainly blessed with this slightly upscale typewriter, I am still not actively using it to its full advantage. Today I will attempt to put the next eight hours or so to good use and type out all the things I have been attempting to send out to all you faithful blog readers using the old Vulcan mind meld. Based on the lack of any responses, I would have to guess that the mind meld thing does not work.

Here is an example of Plan 1, writing out my ideas in the old black and white marbled composition book.

On July 13, 2007, I wrote:

"Lisa Scottoline - Devils Corner -.Story wonderful but not perfect, love >> direct line.

Acknowledgments. 'Any fiction worth reading (or writing) comes from the imagination, and heart.'"

The first part of my notation was from the ending of the book where one of the characters who always were troubled by the relationship with her father is told that we end up loving people directly. It is a straight line, unconditional; if we allow their faults to impact our feelings of love, then we will never be satisfied. That no love relationship is perfect. As humans we all have our faults and to allow love to be tempered by these faults is a losing battle. In my mind this does not mean that if you love someone you allow them to constantly put you down or do physical harm.

I think we need to be able to look at the total picture. As a convicted felon, I find some comfort in this concept. I am not a dreamer. I do not expect anyone to ignore my past, but it does provide me with a modicum of hope that in the future I will be able to meet new people who will look at me as a total package. Will they be able to see a different person than the one who existed over ten years ago? Will they believe in the concept of rehabilitation and remorse? Can they see that I still have some value as an individual?

One of the major differences I will face once I am released, (and even now to some extent with the pen pal requests) is that anyone I meet can easily enter my name in Google and find out a bunch of information on me. True, any name can be Googled but luckily for most of you, you do not have the wheels of justice grinding out your life story. There have been numerous requests for me to discuss what crimes led my incarceration. While initially the blog was meant to be anonymous for a number of reasons, at one point I decided to give out my name and address to anyone who was willing to write to me.

Once this was posted, many requests were made for my name and address. Most of those requests never generated any letters. Obviously, duh, it did not take long for anyone to figure out if they wanted to find out my crimes, they could simply ask for my address. I receive copies of all comments to the blog from my editor, and would eagerly await the pen pal letters to come flowing in over the miles of razor wire that surrounds me. The razor wire is there to keep out the uninvited from partaking in all the good things us prisoners get.

Yes, several people have written. For some unknown reason, most of the responses I have received have come from Texas. In order to lessen the disappointment and lower my expectations, I asked the editor to not send me the comments that asked for my address. For some reason lately he has again been sending me the comments saying they would like to write to me.

One reason for not listing my crimes on the blog is to allow you, the reader, to decide how you would like to know me. I am surrounded twenty-four hours a day with the reality of incarceration. I hear more crime discussions every day than most people would hear in a year. I want the blog to provide a look at me in other areas besides being a convicted felon. How many people would like their entire life to be public knowledge?

I think that allowing those that want to know who I am to receive that information certainly proves I am not being sneaky or subversive in any way. I am not proud of my actions; I have accepted full responsibility for my actions.

It continues to amaze me that there are no right answers in life. As much as we would like to think otherwise, life comes at you, moving forward, like an escalator with no exit. A constantly changing smorgasbord of options. There are no "do-overs", no "wait a minute, I meant to take a left turn back there".

While several people have stated I should state my crimes, another who knows who I am says no. This "no do over" concept has been something I have worked very hard on to understand. Since you can not redo any of your actions, you better make sure what you do will be something that will stand the test of time.

One of my mantras while growing up was "It's not fair". This was usually said in a very whiny voice in response to some life event that left me feeling cheated. The response from my parents was to mimic this response back to me. I never heard, "Yes, life is unfair."

As a side note, I feel there is a big difference between what is said to a child by his or her parents and what he or she hears. That is why parents must be expert at two-way communications. They must be sure that the child understands what is being said. It is certainly not enough for a parent to feel comfortable that they have covered themselves and are able to say "I told you so" later on.

I have had some massive rehabilitation, in the form of six years of personal counseling with a psychologist. This therapy occurred while I was in Club Fed and only happened because the doctor was aggressive enough in justifying the time she spent with me.

Under normal circumstances, I would not have been eligible for the attention she was able to give me. That in itself should show that obviously I was fully participating in my counseling. I am certainly a very different person today than I was ten years ago.

I am in a place where my every action is subject to oversight and possible punishment. When I do start a pen pal relationship, I am taking a large leap of faith that the person I am writing to is who they say they are. I have no access to any type of verification. I have an address or maybe a post office box, but that is all.

In the meantime, if the person so chooses they can run Google on me and find out all there is to know about me. I do .not for one minute want to minimize anyone's pain and suffering at the hand of another human being. I feel that I not only understand that pain but may be able to offer some comfort and support too.

Letting go of past, painful occurrences is a powerful, yet frightful experience. I have learned that life is not fair, and although I might not always be on the good side of that unfairness, it is still something to be hoped for.

I do believe God gives us the opportunity daily to turn our life around. Jesus tells others, "You must forgive someone seven times seventy." He does not say you have to continue to feed yourself to the meat grinder once your hand is caught in the machine. Even if your religious beliefs (or lack thereof) do not match mine, just think of the awesomeness of someone forgiving you seven times seventy times. Then maybe you can become enabled to offer forgiveness to others.

I have let go of a whole bunch of painful memories. I have learned that life is worth living each and every day no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. Some days may be better than others; some days you might have to look harder for the blessings. Each day you are moving forward you can choose the direction, but it is always forward and that is a good thing.

It has been said that harboring hate only hurts the one who holds on to the hate. You can forgive someone of his or her actions and still not let them back into your life. That is okay. But holding on to hate does nothing to the person you direct the hate to. The act of forgiveness is more important to the one giving it. It frees your mind for happier moments in life that will come along.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
  It Is About Time!
It is about noon here, Thursday, July 26, 2007. I have an unexpected day off and thought it would be a good idea to spend the day writing posts for the blog.

There is plenty to write about but I am having difficulty getting started. I am now typing out a draft, using carbon paper to preserve the ribbon, and will then proof and print out the final copy.

I started (for the umpteenth time) to write out my thoughts for the blog in a notebook, then this morning another attempt at handwriting out a draft and that lasted all of five minutes before I ended up lying down on my bed and napping my way through the morning. Now I am just buckling down and doing it. [Note: It is now 7:30 PM and I am starting the proof and print. I have twelve double spaced pages to cover.]

Yesterday, I broke one of my cardinal rules of not working on other inmate’s property. We are allowed to have a small plastic personal fan that can clip on to the end of our beds. They tend to attract all sorts of dirt and eventually make a real racket or just stop working. I had taken my fan down to work and used the air compressor to clean out the motor. I applied some white grease and now my fan runs better than new.

I took my neighbor’s fan down and when I opened it up to blow all the dirt away I saw that this fan had already been toyed with by someone else. The wires were all haphazardly attached and not even properly insulated. I should have just closed it back up and returned it to my neighbor, but no, I went ahead and took the motor out and not only found the bad wiring but discovered that pieces of the motor were missing and had ended up in the bearings. As I am typing this I am getting all sorts of grief about how I broke his fan.

Tomorrow I am going to take his fan and mine down to work. Using my fan as the model, I will attempt to properly solder and insulate the wires. In the meantime he has taken the fan apart several times and has probably gotten it to the point where I will not be able to fix it. If all else fails, I am going to put the insides from my fan into his case and then I will need to buy a new fan. The now broken fan is not one he brought new; he purchased it as part of the prison underground economy in used, half-assed condition for a couple dollars worth of stamps. The new fan will cost me around $8.00.

I am working on a database solution for one of the officers in the food service area. He has been off for the past two days. Instead of being able to head over and work on that project, I will first need to solve the fan problem. The end result would appear to be that not only will I miss out on computer programming time, but I will be without a working fan for the next two weeks. Good move Pete.

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