Monthly Archives: November 2019

Happy Holidays from Wayne T. Dowdy

Photo by Evelyn Chong on Pexels.com

The politically correct phrase these days is Happy Holidays, I reckon. That’s okay. If that makes one happy, then that’s fine, but being the rebel I am at heart, I refuse to conform and will continue to wish people Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, or whatever, unless I know that doing so offends that particular person, then I will say Happy Holidays or nothing at all.

I can do that! That’s my right that I take the privilege of applying when my feelings conflict with what may now be deemed socially unacceptable by a group of others who decide how everyone else should live, think, feel, and conduct their lives. I do not wish to offend anyone, but …. I stand my ground!

This morning I remembered where I had been and decided to send a message to those trapped inside the federal prison system who need to know they are not forgotten and that there are people who still love and care for them, even if they have fallen from grace. My hope it that the words I wrote will help someone “out here” to realize all that they have in their lives to be thankful for, even if things are not going the way they prefer. Life goes on and there is always hope for better days! May you find it today.

The following message is what I sent into the prison system through Corrlinks.com, an email system provided to federal and some state prisoners, for a fee. When on the Inside, I spent hundreds of dollars to type and communicate with others and to post the blogs before my release on August 28, 2018.

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you who celebrate. The main thing I always tried to remember was my favorite saying, “I complained of having no shoes until I met a man with no feet.”

Here’s a blog I wrote that some of you may have already read, but it is just as true today as it was when I wrote it, other than I no longer have to deal with having walls and bars to keep me away from society. Today I am free and hope that each of you will one day be able to say the same, even those of you serving excessive sentences. Miracles happen! Never lose hope.

STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN
Topics From Inside For Change

GRATITUDE AND MORE, December 19, 2016

Last year on December 23, 2015, I posted “Plot to Stop Santa by Mr. D.” to add a little humor to the holiday season (read it on straightfromthepen.wordpress.com or waynedowdy.weebly.com and check out Santa’s militarized sled). This year I am writing along personal lines and will share some previous messages I sent out to those on my Corrlinks contact list. My hope is to create a sense of gratitude.

12/25/2011: On Christmas Day, I sat in my cell reading my favorite magazine (THE SUN). “Chow time,” the guard shouted.

I rushed to the chow hall. Inside, I sat at a rectangular table of four with three of my peers. One person stood to leave. Each of us exchanged Christmas greetings, wishing him a Merry Christmas before a 27-year-old youngster sat down to take his place.

The one who sat to the right of the youngster had just complained how the Cornish game hen was small. I had previously tried to maintain the attitude of gratitude at the table by commenting how it was good, though, it was smaller than those we had had in the past. It was still tasty. I simply agreed with the other guy about it being smaller than usual. I labeled it as a “Cornish Game Chick.”

That’s when the youngster sat down. “There sure are a lot of complaining people at this prison,” he said.

His words filled me with guilt. He had once told me that both of his parents were still in state prison. I realized his parents were probably doing worse than all of us at the table.
The youngster’s comment helped redirect the nature of our conversations toward what we were grateful for.

I shared my favorite saying by an author whose name I do know to give him or her their credit due (“I complained of having no shoes until I met a man with no feet.”).

I continued to express gratitude for the well-prepared meal; knowing we were all fortunate to have what sat before us, as we compared our plight to others incarcerated in state and other federal prisons, who probably wished they could eat as good as we were.

This is what we had to complain about: a Cornish game hen, black-eyed peas, which were really good; collard greens, rolls or wheat bread (I chose wheat bread); an individually packaged cherry pie, chocolate cup cake, and some other stuff I probably forgot. I ate my fill.

Each of us walked away feeling more grateful for the meal we had been blessed with because we had stopped for a moment to remember the less fortunate in life. Not only do I have two feet and nice shoes, I have a fat belly filled with gratitude. I hope each of you have a wonderful Christmas meal and feel fortunate for the freedom you share in a less than perfect world.

Sincerely,
Wayne


Along the same theme as above, I wrote this on America’s Turkey Day:

THANKSGIVING DAY 2016: Happy Thanksgiving Day to each of you. If you feel like you don’t have much to be thankful for because of the hardships life has thrown at you this year, stop to think of all you have to be grateful for; perhaps you have food to eat; two feet, two arms, shoes on your feet, and clothes to warm your body, a place to stay and be safe. Feel fortunate.

When I find myself disgruntled for having to wait for an hour in the commissary to purchase a few items, I try to stop and remember those who wish they had my problems, financially able to shop for a few items needed to maintain a decent level of living inside this prison. That makes me feel grateful for the opportunity, rather than disgruntled and agitated for having to wait as I listen to loud mouths shouting to the man next to them, disturbing the peace, killing the sound of silence.

Upon remembrance of the less fortunate, I find myself grateful for the simple things in life I often take for granted. Be thankful for those you have in your life who love and care for you. Happy Thanksgiving!


For those of you who follow me through other means of social media, you may have read the message below that I wrote after losing one of my brothers, Larry. I once had a mother, father, three brothers and two sisters. I am now down to one brother and two sisters.

In 1978 I lost Stanley, my older brother. In 1982 I lost my father, and then in 2016 I lost my younger brother, Larry, after having lost my mother eight months before him.

The loss of two loved ones in the same year was why I wrote what I did about “the hardships life has thrown at you this year”; including myself in the equation. I write to show we still have things to be grateful for in light of the hardships we experience as the cost of our love for others.

Some people lost their whole family and suffered tragic loss of limbs and even more severe health issues. That makes me grateful to still have family members who remain in my life. I am also grateful for my less-than perfect health.

The families of some prisoners abandon them because they go to prison. My family has stood behind me, even though my actions were unacceptable to them; my actions that landed me in prison. I am fortunate!


September 18, 2016: One of my two younger brothers moved on to the next phase of existence around 3:00 PM today. Larry was the most gentle and innocent of the four sons birthed by our Mother. Not that he was innocent; he wasn’t, but he was not driven by hate or anger and he never intentionally harmed anyone that I know of. Him and Jeff, the youngest of us, were never the rowdy type, whereas me and Stanley were hell raisers.

Larry was a kind and all around good person. It hurts like hell to know he is gone, but I do rejoice in knowing he no longer suffers from his illnesses. He lives without pain in some other place we all must go one day. Maybe he fishes from a rainbow, catching a few rays, as he surfs the ocean in pursuit of eternal peace. I hope he catches an abundance of love and happiness during his journey. No doubt, many here on earth loved and will miss him.

Ironically, he passed away on my ex-wife’s birthday. Our Mother passed away on the birthday of our son, Jonathon. For those of you who believe in God, please keep the family in prayer as we go through a difficult time. Thanks! Wayne


December 18, 2016: Yesterday my remaining siblings came to visit me. We had a good visit. Though each of us are grateful to still have each other in our lives, I sensed the emptiness from the unspoken loss of our loved ones.

Loved ones fill a space in our hearts that no one else can replace. God made that spot just for them, whether our memories and feelings are good or bad, that space is theirs. I am grateful to have been blessed with the love given to me by those, whom that power greater than myself, put into my life.

I am also grateful for my eyes* and other physical features that I use to write and send my words beyond the walls and barbwire fences that surround me at this juncture of my life.

Prison only confines my body: I refuse to allow it to consume my sense of being, or to rob me of my dignity and integrity. I am a man first and a prisoner second.

My mind and spirit are freer today than when I roamed the streets in 1988 before my arrest. God gave me a life worth living.

Better days are on the horizon. When I walk out of these prison doors, Straight From the Pen will come alive, more like straight from the keyboard.

In an upcoming blog, I will share a former prisoner’s inspiring story. Brandon Sample is one who proves people can leave prison and succeed in life, by beginning to build the path toward a better life while inside doing their time.

Miracles happen. Have faith and never lose hope. Hope keeps the world going.

___________________________________________________

  • I have an essay titled “Eyes” that I wrote in gratitude of my eyesight that I am fortunate to still have. It is an inspirational story available in ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN.
  • Purchase UNKNOWN INNOCENCE ($10.95 USD) and ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN ($8.95 USD) while the prices are low. Available in paperback at Amazon.com and other eStores, and as eBooks at Smashwords.com, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.Kindle, and other eBook retailers. Visit my Smashwords authors page today https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy.

Thankfulness and Gratitude from Inside

I Could Be Sleeping in the Woods

Thanksgiving Day in America always reminds me to be thankful for all I have in life today, which often involves remembering the not-so-good times in my life. That makes me grateful for today.

Today I am okay, even if life is not the way I imagined it would be for me by this time, when I sat in prison thinking of the day I would walk out the prison doors and into my new life, doing all I could to build a better one, as I started life over at the age of sixty-one.

One part of life I chose not to forget is the decades I spent behind bars and how much I disliked the prison experience. Because of that, I choose not to forget those who are held inside jails and prisons and other forms of detainment, all across America and abroad, whose situation helps me remember where I’ve been and will not return because I live a different lifestyle than I did before I went to prison in 1988.

WORKING MAN

When I am at work and feel disgruntled about the pay I receive versus what I feel I should receive for the hard work I do, I stop to remember the days I helped dozens of other Georgia prisoners dig lakes/ponds by using shovels, picks, and wheelbarrows, while a Dragline excavator* (heavy duty equipment) sat on a hill, unoccupied, and not used until the Health Department was coming to perform an inspection.

Health Department officials and auditors always give Prison administrators an advance warning of upcoming inspections.

During the last several years of my incarceration, I wanted to improve my education by going to college, but Congress had suspended the PELL grant for prisoners, and I could not afford to pay for a college correspondence course, while paying for having my books published, website built, and blogs posted.

The other day, I received a message from a Corrlinks client that helped me to remember what it was like on the Inside and how important it had been for me to continue my interpersonal-development by staying focused on doing positive things, such as continuing to learn; paying for a professional writing course that an education supervisor claimed was not educational (really), and thus refused to sign off on a grant approved by all other approving officials in the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (UNICOR).

I made sacrifices to pay for the writing course, with my inmate pay of $0.76-$1.45 per hour for doing various tasks; in later years, performing tasks a free citizen would earn six figures for doing. Anyways, ….

After reading his email, I wrote to request his permission to share it with the world. To me it is important for those on the “Outside” to know that many of those on the “Inside” seek programs to help increase their chance of success upon release from prison, so, here is one who does, Mr. Carter:

“On Friday, November 22, 2019, two days shy of the twenty-eighth-year anniversary of the day I was arrested and never saw freedom again, I got the second most exciting news of my life. I am beginning my journey through college for the first time. The Second Chance Pell Grant program being offered through UW-Milwaukee Area Technical College has accepted me as an eligible student to work toward a two-year associates degree in sciences or arts. For me, a man who has been locked up since he was 19 years old, this opportunity is next door to getting released. During my incarceration one thing is obvious to me; education is the foundation of change. People who know better, usually do better; usually. I have always wanted to better with myself since I was a little kid, but I never felt as though I had a real opportunity to do so. There were many opportunities when I was younger, I just never saw them through the storms in my life. Now that I have done everything possible to be a better person, better father, better son, better brother, better man, the storms in my life have subsided and I see life much clearer. I not only know who I am as a person, but what my passions are and what I want do with my life; higher learning is a key part to all that. This is an opportunity I will make the best of and enjoy doing. I just wanted to share this with all the important people in my life. Thank you all for being supportive, motivational, and inspirational. In one form or another you helped me get here. “

“Ivy Carter, @ Redgranite C.I.”

My best wishes for a bright future go out to Mr. Carter as he continues his pursuit of a better life and success upon release.

Throughout the years I learned that gratitude and happiness were an inside job. Today I keep that in mind and continue to be grateful for all things, even pain because the pain reminds me that I am alive. My faith helps me to believe that the pain will go away one day and that all will be well as I rejoice in the absence of pain as I drift into the next dimension.

Today I will relax and be thankful that I no longer have to dig in the dirt and mud while a shotgun boss stands guard waiting for someone with rabbit in their blood to take off into the woods and blast them.

Today, I do not have to sleep in the woods or try to outrun hound dogs in hot pursuit of me as I run for my life to escape the indignities of prison life, as I once did (I escaped from a Georgia prison in 1981, which I have written about **).

And so today, I am grateful that I don’t have to live like that anymore, and can enjoy life, even when the world isn’t working according to Wayne.

________________________________________________

* Dragline excavator

Description

“A dragline excavator is a piece of heavy equipment used in civil engineering and Surface mining. Draglines fall into two broad categories: those that are based on standard, lifting cranes, and the heavy units which have to be built on-site.”  Wikipedia

** Fence Rows and The Price of Change, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TG2WGFA https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/518476

“Fence Rows and The Price of Change” come from the writing collection, Essays & More Straight from the Pen, available in print and as an eBook. These essays captivate the readers attention to carry them through movie-worthy-events.

“Fence Rows” first appeared in the ICONOCLAST magazine, as did “Fences,” included as part of the essays in Essays & More Straight from the Pen.

Inside of “The Price of Change,” read about the event published by the ICONOCLAST, which concerns exciting scenes from a prison escape and other events behind the walls of prisons. Parts of this gripping essay may help the reader to see the devastation of addiction and yet give one hope of living to see a better day. The change came many years later at a heavy price.

Available ebook formats: epub mobi pdf rtf lrf pdb txt html

Purchase your copy today https://www.amazon.com/Essays-More-Straight-Wayne-Dowdy/dp/1502767503/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

The Phish Who Got Away

The veterans of today’s online wars don’t have to carry guns and ammo to protect us: they use keyboards and electronic equipment. I praise them, too.

The day after I posted “Happy Veterans Day” with a link to an article from Reader’s Digest about scammers/fraudsters, I received a Wells Fargo email instructing me to call a number if I hadn’t received my new debit card.

(Read the referenced articles inside the Reader’s Digest article to learn more about online scams: [Reader’s Digest published a great article that I read and shared on Facebook and Twitter because of all of the information contained about protecting online identity, by having links to other articles not included in the title, 13 Signs Amazon Seller Can’t Be Trusted. https://www.rd.com/advice/signs-amazon-seller-cant-be-trusted/?_cmp=readuprdus&_ebid=readuprdus10272019&_mid=309700&ehid=8fbcb9fd291744b840632983d832178c40787096 ])

I knew the card was just mailed that morning and suspected a scam. Being the investigative-type of person I am, I called the number to investigate: I was correct!

The speaker said they knew from the phone number what my bank account number was, so all they needed was the last four digits of my social security number.

I hung up, and immediately went online to my bank account that I use the two-step verification process on (my phone must be used in conjunction with the login information), and then turned off my card that was soon to expire (I was waiting for its replacement).

After knowing the card and account was safe, I called the bank number I knew was legit and reported the attempted phishing.

Well, this phish broke the line and got away to fight another day. I don’t reckon they liked my blogging about their scamming.

I stayed up late running various security scans and changing passwords to protect myself. Please read some of the articles in Reader’s Digest to enlighten yourself on how to identify the fraudsters who want to steal your money or identity. Don’t be lazy or so arrogant that you think you do not need to worry about some scandalous son of a bitch who wants to be you long enough to steal your funds and identity: it may happen to anyone.

The following excerpt came from one of the articles I sent out on Facebook and Twitter. It is 100% correct.

“MARVENT/SHUTTERSTOCK

“’If you receive a suspicious email from a friend’s email address, don’t reply, ‘Is it really you?’ because the fraudster will answer ‘Yes.’ If a suspicious email from your bank contains a phone number, don’t call it. Instead, look up the bank’s phone number in the Yellow Pages or Google it.’” —Mark Gazit, CEO of ThetaRay, a provider of big data analytics solutions.”

https://www.rd.com/advice/work-career/clear-signs-youre-about-to-be-hacked/

As I stated, I knew to call the bank phone number I knew wasn’t a scam.

Then I received my weekly updated email from Wordfence.com that told of a security issue with WordPress Email Subscribers & Newsletters.  Here are some excerpts. I posted the URL to the complete article for those who want to read the full report.

“Multiple Vulnerabilities Patched in Email Subscribers & Newsletters Plugin

This entry was posted in VulnerabilitiesWordPress Security on November 13, 2019 by Chloe Chamberland

“A few weeks ago, our Threat Intelligence team identified several vulnerabilities present in Email Subscribers & Newsletters, a WordPress plugin with approximately 100,000+ active installs. We disclosed this issue privately to the plugin’s development team who responded quickly, releasing interim patches just a few days after our initial disclosure. The plugin team also worked with us to implement additional security measures.

“Plugin versions of Email Subscribers & Newsletters up to 4.2.3 are vulnerable to attacks against all of the vulnerabilities described below, and versions up to 4.3.0 are vulnerable to the SQL injection vulnerability. All Email Subscribers & Newsletters users should update to version 4.3.1 immediately. Wordfence Premium customers received new firewall rules on October 14th to protect against exploits targeting these vulnerabilities. Free Wordfence users receive these rules on November 14th.

“Unauthenticated File Download w/ Information Disclosure

Description: Unauthenticated File Download w/ Information Disclosure
CVSS v3.0 Score: 5.8 (Medium)
CVSS Vector String: CVSS:3.0/AV:N/AC:L/PR:N/UI:N/S:C/C:L/I:N/A:N
Affected Plugin: Email Subscribers & Newsletters
Plugin Slug: email-subscribers
Affected Versions: <= 4.2.2
Patched Version: 4.2.3

“Email Subscribers & Newsletter provides site owners with the ability to create newsletter campaigns that site users can subscribe to. One feature of this plugin is the ability to export all of the site’s subscribers into a single CSV file containing first names, last names, email addresses, mailing lists the subscriber is on, and more. Unfortunately, there was a flaw in this plugin that allowed unauthenticated users to export subscriber lists and gain all of the information provided by subscribers.”

For the complete report go to https://www.wordfence.com/blog/2019/11/multiple-vulnerabilities-patched-in-email-subscribers-newsletters-plugin/?utm_campaign=Wordfence%20Blog%20Emails&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=79364920&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8BWZWGcayl7CmLA8_0ZOuqUMxFleAxNa1XzLNtcjmm_PWVISfoOeViJk0XBMmja4fUtyG9alUFRXA6PRL4cnymLjx62a0YXm_ZWbqwjxsINMHzwyE&_hsmi=79364920

In the words of a biblical writer, “Be Aware Lest Ye Fall.”

That time I got away by breaking the line before the hook set, and I have maintained heightened security measures since then, adding additional computer security programs to check for malware, spyware, viruses, and all sorts of various poisons used to attack and infect unsuspecting citizens.

Even with all of those measures in place, I know to remain aware, to keep updating computer program security features and processes, and to never get so relaxed that I think those hooks aren’t in the water waiting for some unsuspecting PHISH to come swimming by.

Happy Veterans Day

In America we dedicate this day to those who served and protected our country. I am grateful for those who have and those who do.

For more on Veterans Day click this: https://g.co/kgs/nYi9YG

Many of those who served now lay resting but are never forgotten. The man is the following image is one who was one of my heroes whom I wrote about in Labor Day and a Personal Memorial Day.

https://straightfromthepen.com/2019/09/02/labor-day-and-a-personal-memorial-day/ .

Today we have different wars and battles to fight, one being an invasion by online scammers who want to steal our identities and or resources.

I fight against those trying to invade my space on a regular basis through my websites and by phone calls. Because I need help, I pay and use free versions of antivirus computer programs on my PC and phone because I am constantly bombarded by scammers who want to be me. 🙂

Americans are prime targets of scammers but no one is safe from attack.

Well, maybe more like to want to see what they can steal from me.

Reader’s Digest published a great article that I read and shared on Facebook and Twitter because of all of the information contained about protecting online identity, by having links to other articles not included in the title, 13 Signs Amazon Seller Can’t Be Trusted.

Please read if you want to learn more on how to be safe in a world of scam artists.

The veterans of today’s online wars don’t have to carry guns and ammo to protect us: they use keyboards and electronic equipment. I praise them, too.

Informed Discourse Absent in Prisons by Michael Newman

The following is a complimentary post. StraightfromthePen.com expresses no view or opinion on the issue or comments made by the author, neither agrees or disagrees with content.

Breaking Free Poets

For more from Breaking Free Poets, visit https://breakingfreepoets.com/ and read About Breaking Free Poets by Michael Newman at https://straightfromthepen.com/writings-straight-from-the-pen-2/

Our society is in a collective moment of reckoning with the sins of our past- at least those of us willing to be honest are. Centuries of harm caused by colonialism, slavery, racial oppression and a western world dominated by the interest of white men have culminated into a barrage of modern-day resistance movements and widespread critical discourse on these themes.

One space where this discourse is distorted- if present at all- is within the walls of American prisons, especially male prisons. Here, the historical plagues of racism and misogyny are endemic; centuries of racial hostility manifest into extreme segregation, and a violently toxic masculinity poisons the seeds of any debate about women’s rights or roles in society.

It is predictable, even if ironic, that communities of people deemed expendable by society would exhibit the symptoms of the society’s most virulent illnesses. A vast majority of prisoners experienced adverse childhoods in poor, racially segregated pockets of America and many were also witnesses to, or victims of domestic violence. But like any guilty party, America attempts to bury the evidence of it’s most egregious sins, rather than confront them directly. But prisons aren’t burial grounds- not permanent ones, anyways. 19 out of 20 prisoners will eventually return to the society which deemed them unfit.
The lack of exposure to conversations about topics like racism and hyper-masculinity is just one more obstacle to add to the catalogue of stumbling blocks in the path to healthy reorientation and reentry to society.

Outdated and outright appalling narratives about women and ethnic groups are still dominant themes in prison culture. Over- incarceration and overcrowding in prisons has led to unsafe environments and the prioritization of security to the point of apathy towards educational pursuits, leaving little will to address issues like these, which derive from lack of exposure to informed discourse. From the correctional regime’s perspective however, information is the enemy- any force that would empower the population would also make them more of a risk.

If the system’s purpose is to administer “justice” on the behalf of the public, then they are doing a great disservice to the public by sheltering prisoners from intellectual growth with increasingly prohibitive measures. The lack of access to local resources like guest lecturers and volunteer educators leaves a prison population isolated from cultural debates and community engagement which could provide purpose for their lives. These are the types of discussions we need to have if we want to produce anything resembling “justice” within a prison, and build communities of formerly incarcerated people who are ready to make a better future for all of us.

Michael Newman,
co-founder, breakingfreepoets.com
mike@breakingfreepoets.com