Tag Archives: gratitude

Happy New Year 2021

2020-2021

May 2021 Be a Year of Health, Wealth, and Happiness for All

2020 was a good year for me, since I accomplished a lot as I wrote about in a recent blog, Personal Progress in 2020, but I know that 2020 was not a good year for millions of others who may have lost their jobs or loved ones to COVID-19 and other illnesses or accidents.

My hope is that 2021 will be a year that provides us with more enjoyable events and activities that allow us to experience spectacular moments of happiness that fills out psyche with gratitude, peace, and serenity.

After all, quality of life is a matter of perception. May we perceive greatness in all events to brighten our days in 2021 and beyond.

That will be something to celebrate as we walk along a path towards a bright future!

Gratitude 2020 by Wayne T. Dowdy

No Turkeys

When the year 2020 began, I believed it was going to be a wonderful year, and as in other things, it is a matter of perception of whether it has or has not been a wonderful year. For me, I lived to fight many more days and continue to be thrilled and happy to be “here,” with here meaning Alive, alive and still Kickin’ after all these years, which is a miracle, indeed. For that I am grateful. Some things I wished to have been different but … I am not in control of life. I am happy to be a part of it.

I am Blessed by the Best!

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate the holiday, and to all of those who do or do not, please take a moment to reflect on the positive aspects of life today.  Personally, I begin with the obvious, my health, including all body parts that remain intact and fully functional; especially, my Eyes to See and Ears to Hear, as well as my mouth and fingertips to express what I want the world to hear and read.

The most import is Love

Of all things I am grateful for, the most important is LOVE, love from above and love from my many friends and the few loved ones who remain alive and in my life.  Should I list all things for which I am grateful, this blog would take more time to write than I have before posting it in time for people to read before Thanksgiving celebrations begin in America. 

I’m late according to my schedule but on time spiritually.

FROM THE INSIDE

Two days ago, I received a Corrlinks email from a person who shared his feelings on the holiday.  Here is what Chuck wrote, who is serving an excessive federal prison sentence:

“Greetings,

“I wanted to wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving,  and to remind everyone that this time of year is an excellent time to reflect on family & friends,  as well as community and the world.   We are in challenging times now and can often not see the beauty in others around us because of our situations.  To be thankful for what we have,  as well as what we have learned about those closest to us are experiences that should not be overlooked.  To see the trivial things that we otherwise might have missed because of the daily hustle and bustle of our hectic lives is reason enough to give thanks during this holiday.  Those smiles and conversations that arise out of the extra time that we spend because of our closeness are opportunities that may only come once.   So,  embrace them and cherish them … give thanks for them and the people that they originate from.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Peace,

Chuck”

Note:  if you would like to correspond with the author, his address is as follows:

CHARLES R DENNING, # 21317-045

USP TERRE HAUTE

P.O. BOX 33

TERRE HAUTE, IN  47808

TECHNOLOGY

In the original draft of Too Late for Torrick, I began by using the dictate function in latest update for Microsoft Word 2016.  Two reasons kept me from including a section titled, Positive Note; the first being something that a friend once said about using the talk-to-text function for sending emails.

He wrote, “I can’t get it to understand Southern.” 

The second reason related to the amount of time it would take for me to decipher the convoluted dictation, and my deciding that it would be best to wait to include the positive perspective of the Corrlinks correspondence in a separate blog and that proved to be a better idea because of the events that followed.

My plan was to include the convoluted dictation as humor; however, I will spare my readers and conclude with the blog my friend sent and authorized me to post on his behalf.  I also sent his blog into the prison system and received several favorable comments from those Inside who needed to read good news.

Positive Note

The devastation caused by COVID-19 from inside the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons did have a positive side, in that the courts intervened and ordered the release of hundreds of prisoners that the prison officials refused to release on their own initiative after given authorization to do so by the United States Attorney General.

A person who I have known for years and who wrote an Introduction to Unknown Innocence, recently wrote that he was granted his release because of the Court’s intervention related to his request for Compassionate Release because of the threat of COVID-19. 

He sent me an email and wrote, “Thank you for all you have done for me recently.  The daily stats helped me present my case.” That made me feel great and assured me that the time I take from my schedule to provide information and meaningful content to those on an approved Corrlinks contact list, is a worthy cause, for which I am grateful for being able to do.

On Monday, November 30, 2020, Jeffrey P. Frye, will be released because of his having a competent public defender who assisted him, and a federal judge who granted his motion and ordered his release. 

Miracles happen!  Never lose hope.


Leaving Shawshank (last blog from prison)

 by

Jeffrey P. Frye

In June 2020, two months into the national lockdown in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, I made a strong cup of coffee and took 10 sheets of paper and I sat in my cell and penned a Motion for Compassionate release to the court in Charleston, South Carolina. I cited the COVID-19 epidemic and its devastating effects on the inmate population, especially for people with my medical conditions of COPD, asthma, and hypertension… However, for somebody with my history, and given the fact that I was given 20 years for robbing seven banks (w/out wearing a mask), and given the fact that Judge Norton had actually whacked me with 7-20 yr. sentences (one for each bank), I figured it a stretch. But time and pressure sometimes make a jailhouse lawyer…so I fired off the motion anyway.  And in what has turned out to be the smartest move I made, I sent a copy to the Federal Public Defender in Charleston, Ms. Ann W., to ask her if she would represent me on this filing.

After about a month I had still heard nothing back from the court or the Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) on my case.  Nor had I heard from the public defender’s office.  I found this to be odd, because usually at least the AUSA would deny my filings in short shrift.  I waited, all while the outbreak back here for worse and people started dropping like flies.  I have a friend named Wayne T. Dowdy who had started sending me daily reports from the BOP’s website (bop.gov) of which institutions had cases and how many people had died.  When we came out for our hour on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I would write these down.  It was sobering.  The numbers were climbing all while the BOP told Congress and the media that it was getting better.

Enter Ms. Ann W, Esq.

The judge appointed her to investigate the validity of my claims.  I kept piping her info through snail mail, and filing addendums to my original brief, and asked her to amend these to my pro se filing if she thought it relevant.  In America, a lot of defendants have an incorrect assumption about public defenders.  They assume that they are the bottom of the barrel or lawyers who are just on their way to something better.  They also mistakenly believe (at least in federal court) that if they hire a high-priced lawyer that they’ll get a better deal.  Maybe these opinions have at least a little validity in state court but not in federal court.  In the feds, the public defender’s office is the best one to have because all they do is federal law, day in and day out.  Subsequently, they are the smartest lawyers in the pack; the best to have.

Ms. Ann W. is the cream of the federal crop.

After sending her a second addendum telling her how bad things were, she filed an amazingly excellent 20 page brief that used recent reports from the Department of Justice’s Office of The Inspector General (OIG), and from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that refuted the BOP’s claims. She blended this with my medical history, my new-found career as a writer, and a couple of character letters the info on the place I would live if the motion were granted (this is paramount). Then after she’d threw all these things into the pot, she stirred it using her own narrative of me and my life.  I have often commented that writing is like making sauce in that you throw in a bunch of different things and stir, hoping that the reader loves your creation.  And much like feeding people and the ones you love; you hope that the reader likes your sauce.  We, I am here to tell you that Ann W. makes a damn good sauce.  She also included something else that I found to be pretty cool.

She included you guys.  My blog readers for the last eight years and the people who have purchased my books.  How cool is that?  She also attached letters penned by the two people who have been great friends to me and that have been instrumental in my career to this point.  Steve Hussy, Owner of Murder Slim Press and Jonathan J. (a.k.a., Alexius Rex), creator and pilot of my website bankblogger.weebly.com.  Two people who have been very kind to me over the last eight years, and who, strangely enough, that I have never seen in person or even spoke to on the phone during these years. At the end of The Love Fest section of her sauce, Ms. W. listed my transition from the genre of “Hey look at the dumb criminal,” to the mainstream by mentioning The Life of Riley Book 1 (now available and seriously underpriced on Amazon). But in spite of her awesome brief (I’m almost out of stupendous adjectives to describe her work), there was still no word from the judge.  Until two days ago.

I was standing on the inside of my cell door staring out into the abyss of abject criminal nothingness while practicing what I refer to as “Anti-social distancing.” This involves me strapping on my MP3 and ear buds and pretending that the music is playing, even though it’s not.  This tactic prevents me from having to talk to my psycho cellie, the one whose face, head and neck are completely tattooed; the one that I have had to fight at 5am three frigging times in the last three months.

As I stood in my door feeling every bit the Nowhere Man living in my nowhere land, staring into nothing, while listening to absolutely nothing, I spied the back area of the staff offices open up and watched as my case manager hustled towards my cell with a sheaf of papers in his right hand. I found this to be extremely odd because most days, I couldn’t find this dude with a search warrant.  He walked up to my house and opened my cell door, and said, “The judge has granted your compassionate release and commuted your sentence to Time Served.  We have up to 14 days to get you out of here and on a flight to Chicago, all we’re waiting on is Probation in Illinois to verify your release residence, then you’re out of here.”

And just like that…this 12-year nightmare is over.  I’m going free.

Now it’s two days later and what should be extended joy and elation is only fear.  I have no money to speak of; No clothes; and until I can get to the food stamp office like a good liberal, I don’t even have any food.  At least here at Shawshank I had Cheeseburger Day to look forward to every Wednesday.  I was the guy who could write about Cheeseburger Day.  Now I don’t even have that anymore.  But in a few short days, you know what I will have?

Freedom.  A brand-new beautiful life.  A chance not to die here.

So, very soon I will be sitting in a terminal at Orlando International waiting to catch a flight To Chicago, where I will be met by my sister and brother in law with love.  I will have on my lap all of my possessions; a mesh bag with the hand-written copy of The Life of Riley Books 1-4, and two other books I have penned and not decided what to do with yet. Ironically, I will be wearing a mask.  Go figure.

I am not sure where my cool new beautiful life will take me in the coming years, but I do know one place that it will not.  To a bank.  Ever.  From now on, I will be doing all my banking online.

Jeffrey P. Frye

11/24/2020

murderslim.com

The Ex-Bank Robber’s Blog

bankblogger.weebly.com

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 ($9.99 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=

Eyes of Gratitude by Wayne T. Dowdy

Gratitude Drives this Post: Gratitude for Experiencing Sight.

I posted the original version of this essay on Facebook to help those who follow my posts and who are friends, to understand why the majority of my content concerns a photo or video I make for their entertainment. At the end of this post I will include another video from the Adventures of Wayne.

I hope you enjoy this modified version of the essay I wrote while in prison and used to reach beyond the walls, bars, and fences, lined with rows of razor wire, which held my body but could not bind my mind.

Reading this may help you understand my fascination with taking photos to post online and why I am quick to post images of nature and the natural beauty of God’s creation. I’m grateful for my eyesight:

EYES by Wayne T. Dowdy (excerpt from Essays & More Straight from the Pen).

Seeing the beauty of God’s creation thrills me because I realize how fortunate I am to do so. This story will help you understand why I feel that way.

The sun shined brightly on the day my older brother, Stanley, came home from school with a bright idea that he had formulated from something taught in his science class: recharge a penlight battery with a twelve-volt car battery. I think I was about six-years-old. He was close to eleven.

My mother or dad had left the car battery sitting on the carport. Time has erased my memory of exactly what I was doing when he summoned me to assist him.

“Come here,” he yelled.

In one hand he held two wire coat hangers; in his other one was a double “A” battery, the ones like you might put in a radio, clock, or small flashlight. He had straightened the coat hangers to use as leads: one to make the connection between the negative post of the 12-volt battery and the negative post of the AA, and the other one for connecting the positive sides of each battery.

When I got to where he stood on the carport, he said, “Take this, “and then handed me one of the straightened coat hangers.

He laid down his coat hanger and the AA battery to free his hands as he wrapped the end of my coat hanger around one 12 volt post. Then he wrapped the end of his coat hanger on the opposite post. “Now,” he said, “hold this tight,” having me to grasp one end of the AA to hold to the coat hanger. “When I say let go, you let go. Okay?”

I nodded in agreement. I held the coat hanger tight to the end of the AA as instructed, always wanting to impress my big brother. I watched him hold the end of his coat hanger to the opposite 12-volt post. And then he touched the AA with the opposite end of the coat hanger. My fingers burned instantly from the heat of the coat hanger and AA. “Let it–,” he said.
BOOM!

The AA battery exploded before he completed his instruction. Particles of the battery struck both corneas of my eyes. I screamed, blinded by tears, eyes on fire.

Stanley grabbed me by the arm and led me to the water hose attached to the spigot on the front of our brick house. He sprayed my eyes with water.

“What have you did to that baby?” my grandmother yelled, accustomed to me and him fighting on a daily basis; me getting beat up, usually, though, I did sometimes win when using a weapon. More stories.

My grandmother made him bring me to her for examination. She was in poor health and unable to hurry to me. After inspecting my face and learning about what had happened, she yelled for my sister, Brenda.

“Get the mineral oil and pour some in his eyes,” she said.

My Mother was en route from work when the incident occurred. It was about time for her to get home, so they waited for her to arrive. As soon as she pulled in the driveway, someone ran and told her what had happened. She put me in her station wagon and then rushed me to the Emergency Room at the hospital that was about ten miles away.

The doctor examined me as he used a solution to rinse my eyes. His diagnosis was external damage to the cornea and surrounding tissue, from particles of sulfuric acid and fragments from the battery casing. The prognosis was that I would be okay, to keep putting eye drops in my eyes for the next few days to prevent any infection.

The doctor said to my mother, “If y’all had not put the mineral oil in his eyes, he would have been totally blind by the time you got him here.”

Mineral oil neutralizes acid, whereas water only dilutes it. Diluted sulfuric acid eats flesh and tissue; especially, the tender tissue of a child’s eye.

Ironically, for many years my vision was better than 20/20. I could see two lines below the 20/20 line, which isn’t true today, almost fifty years later. However, my eyes still allow me to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, without glasses, except for reading.

I had written the above and thought this was ready for submission until I returned from the library to the cellblock where I live as a federal prisoner. Two chain link fences surround the compound, layered and lined with razor wire; several coiled rolls strung in-between the two. Back inside, I looked out the window and saw two mockingbirds fighting inside the compound, flipping and flopping on the ground. Seconds later, one took off and zoomed through a square in the chain link fence, then weaved between strands of coiled razor wire in-between the fences. Then it flew back and forth through squares in the fence closest to me; the other mockingbird hot on its tail. I watched the chase until both birds disappeared down the fence row.

Then I watched a gaggle of geese walk on the other side of the fence; some honking and flapping their wings. Two pair of geese escorted seven goslings, two adults in the front, two in the rear, protecting their offspring from other geese in the procession. I thoroughly enjoyed watching both events and knew I had not finished writing this story.

My feeling was confirmed later. It’s rare to look out the window and see deer. That night I watched six of them graze. I also have a fascination with great blue herons. The next evening I watched for maybe three minutes as one flew outside the fence and then across the compound, right above where I stood amazed.

After those events, I knew I had to write more. When I stand and admire the beauty of the trees and nature, beyond my reach, but within my sight, I feel grateful for having had a grandmother who told my sister to pour the mineral oil in my eyes. I know I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to observe the beauty of God’s creation for all these years.

Another Video from the Adventures of Wayne

Today

Moving slowly back into society, one day at a time. Nine months ago today, I walked out of federal prison after having served thirty-years and ten-days.

Today was a hot one that I was happy to enjoy as a free man, physically able to walk around, alone, without assistance, and without chains dangling from my wrists and ankles.

Before leaving a Twelve Step meeting today, I shared with a man I sponsor that, when I find myself disgruntled about my circumstances, I try to meditate on my favorite saying: “I complained of having no shoes until I met a man with no feet.” Then I become grateful for what I have and stop complaining about what I don’t have but want. I have all I need to survive, so Life Is Great!

BLOGS and MORE

blogging for dollars 2

by Wayne T. Dowdy

Originally posted July 7, 2017

[Update April 8, 2019: I am taking two online courses now to learn how to generate an income from blogging.  What I’ve learned thus far is that it takes money to update my WordPress and Weebly blogs with all the tools I need to monetize the blogspots.  I am accepting all personal donations.  Contact me by email to contribute: waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com, if interested.  Thanks!]

A friend read a few books and magazines on Positive Psychology and become a psychologist, at least, in his mind he did.  He does offer some periodic, beneficial advice.  In a conversation about my blogs and desire to increase the web traffic, he suggested I blog on more positive topics.

I learned a similar principle about writing when I took a writing course through the Long Ridge Writers Group, almost ten years ago.  Life contains enough pain and negativity for each of us; many read to escape the realities of life, or want to read things to make them feel good about themselves or their environment.

Doom and gloom feeds the news channels, so why doesn’t it work for bloggers?  Well, maybe it works for some.  Not me.  Actually, I don’t feel I write much doom and gloom in my blogs; however, I do confess that many are based on negativity.  Hey, to create lightning, it takes a negative charge.  Did I hear it thunder?

BLOG:  According to Mr. Google, a blog is a “regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.”

I write in an informal and conversational style.  I get a lot of local conversation based upon my blog content, unfortunately, my biggest audience cannot go online to click to “Like” or comment on my blog posts.  Hundreds of my readers can only read my blogs from the “inside view,” through TRULINCS, and cannot access the Internet because most prisons prohibit us from doing so.  (TRULINCS is the system Federal prisoners pay to use for emailing and phone services.)

HELP!  My fan base continues to grow but I need your help to make it grow enough to attract advertisers so the blog pays me instead of me having to pay to blog (I pay $0.05 per minute to type the blogs to send to my publisher/friend, who converts it into the proper format and posts it online for you to read).  Please share my link with others.  Thanks!

BLOGGING FOR DOLLARS:  In 2015 I wrote a blog titled the same.  I am still working on how to blog for dollars, but as stated, I do need your help to increase traffic/page views, because without the web traffic, advertisers will not want to pay to advertise on my sites.

Bloggers may use Google Adsense to attract advertisers.  If you are reading this on straightfromthepen.wordpress.com, you may see a periodic ad posted by different businesses.  I am not sure about the waynedowdy.weebly.com blog.

Maybe my publisher already listed the website with Google Adsense and I’m earning a few nickels to help pay the bills and I just don’t know it.  🙂

WHAT DOES BLOG MEAN?  The Internet Slang says, “BLOG means ‘Weblog, online diary.'”

A log of online posts/Web entries, I reckon it is, something burned into the memory of the deep blue web, where “WEblog.”

The Acronym Finder shows BLOG as an acronym for “Web Log,” “Better Listing on Google,” “Buy Locally Owned Group (Canada),” and my favorite, “Big Load of Gossip.”  Copyright 1988-2014, AcronymFinder.com.

With the help of one of my dear sisters, I investigated what a blog is because numerous people have asked me over the years.  I knew what a blog was and what it meant to me, since I have blogged for the last few years, but I was unaware of the actual meaning or if “BLOG” was an acronym for some mysterious online organization.

Now that we know the official definition for “Blog” (according to the referenced sources), I present a blog on my Independence Day at this facility (holiday events vary between prisons).

INDEPENDENCE DAY & GRATITUDE:  One blog a lot of people liked in the free society and on the inside, staff and inmates alike, is “Gratitude & More” (12/19/16).  I wrote it from a positive perspective, so maybe what my friend suggested is true?

I need to turn over a new leaf and let signs of a positive life flow from my fingertips.

Lightning flashes and then it thunders.

I began the day with instant coffee and watching videos on CMT and MTV-2.  I’d switch from Country music on CMT to Pop to Rap to Hip Hop, and whatever else MTV plays.

COUNT TIME:  at 10:00 AM, we were locked in our cells and then stood to be counted.  During the count, I listened to my antique Sony Walkman radio as I worked on math problems in preparation for the tests I’ll take to graduate WorkKeys next week.  Nineteen Eighty-two was the last time I worked on Advanced Math in college, and trying to relearn it has been a challenge, but one I have accepted and succeeded at handling.

After the count cleared and we were released from our cages, I stood around watching but not listening to any of the ten televisions, wondering why our unit hadn’t been released for chow.  Two and a half hours later, we got to go eat.

Any change in the regular routine creates drama in here.  The staff are “supposed to” follow a set schedule to let each cellblock out to eat.  The one I live in was supposed to get out fourth in the line of twelve listed on the Weekly Rotation.  The rotation ran awful slow or we didn’t get out in the scheduled order.  I had skipped breakfast and was ready to eat by the time the cellhouse officer yelled, “Main Line.”

CHOW TIME:  Over a hundred of us took off walking fast, like a bunch of hungry critters heading for the food trough, trying to outrun the others to get first choice.  I didn’t outrun everyone in this cellblock but I did outrun a few.  🙂

I stood in line for the noon meal and was happy to see peaches being served.  I love peaches, especially, Georgia Peaches, the two legged kind and the ones that stimulate the taste buds.

The serving line ran out of peaches with the person before me.  Peaches were replaced with watermelon.  I love watermelon!  I can eat half of a large watermelon by myself.  The Inmate Server put a tiny piece on my tray, one so small that the edible content would not fill a 12-ounce glass.  I did not feel grateful.

I still smiled and said thank you, as I customarily do, even when I don’t feel so thankful.  I try to be polite and treat people the way I want to be treated, not the way I may feel they deserve to be treated.

When I first arrived at this institution in 2004, I noticed ethnically-different, inmate servers, looking up to see who’s next in line.  And if the person was white, and not one who pays for larger portions, sort through the food to select a smaller piece while staff watched.  I experienced violent thoughts about using a serving tray as an assault weapon.  Not now, though.

I smile and say thank you and tell myself the person is trying to help me fight high-cholesterol I do not have, by finding a smaller piece of fried chicken or meat to give me and any other non-paying person.

THE HOLIDAY MEAL:  For lunch today, I had a chunk of beef so tough that a pit-bull would have struggled to chew it.  Tough or not, it tasted good and I am grateful to have had it to eat.

Too many people in the world, who are not in prison, did not have any food to eat yesterday and today.  Why haven’t we figured out how to feed everyone in the world or big cities in America?

I also had corn on the cob that I gave away, sour cream, baked potatoes, broccoli, and a tasty little apple pie, to go with the piece of beef and micro-watermelon slice.  Who but a whiny prisoner would complain about a meal like that?

Most people who paid for the meal would have wanted a refund on the terribly-tough, tasty beef.  Regardless of that, though, we got fed and filled our bellies, so I can’t rightfully complain, even though I did.

Prison is not supposed to be a pleasurable experience.  The meal we had was better than what millions of people around the globe ate that day.

GRATITUDE:  While sitting at a table eating, I suffered from Watermelon Envy as I eyed the peaches and slices of watermelon on the trays of my peers, their watermelon slices larger than mine.  A friend must have saw the look in my eyes and gave me his watermelon.  After eating it, I felt better before leaving, my belly full of gratitude for a moment.

Leaving the chow hall, I walked with a Mexican and African-American.  We were given a paper sack lunch for our evening meal: cold cut slices of various meat, a slice of cheese, four slices of bread, and pastries.

The African-American says, “I got two cinnamon rolls.  Did you get two?”

I peeked into my sack and only saw one.

The Mexican said, “Yeah, I got two of ’em too.”

I said, I only got one.  A cracker ain’t got nothing coming, I somewhat joked.

I returned to the cellblock and thought about the experiences during the meal and then remembered the premises I wrote about in Gratitude & More.  As I did so, I took everything out of the bag, then noticed I did have two cinnamon rolls.  The two packages were stuck together, which I didn’t notice when peeking into the bag.

GOD-SHOT:  I felt a God-Shot when I realized how things changed when I thought to be grateful for what I had, rather than complain about what I did not.  God gives me lessons each day.  I grow each time He does, if I learn what He wants me to learn.

It thunders when He speaks; oftentimes, it takes lightning to get my attention.

CONCLUSION:  I spent the latter part of the day studying more math and listening to music, periodically venturing out of my cell to look at the televisions.  Later in the evening, I went to the recreation department to walk the asphalt track and to print a draft copy of an earlier version of this blog.

Several of my peers ran the track, others screamed and shouted as they played basketball, softball, handball, and various other games.

Dark clouds filled the horizon and approached fast, pushed on by strong winds as a storm approached that caused the staff to close outside recreation.  Children cannot play outside when it storms; especially, those with a history of misbehavior and absconding from justice.  We rushed inside before it rained.

I did succeed at printing the draft and walking a few laps before returning to work more on this blog and read legal news on the electronic bulletin board.

While on the computer terminal, I watched the movie, Mr. Church, staring Eddie Murphy, in a much different cast.  After the computer kicked me off after 30-minutes, I watched the rest of the movie from my cell.  Some darn gnats or something kept getting in my eyes near the end of the movie when Mr. Church died.  I don’t know where those gnats came from.  🙂

My day concluded with a shower, talking with my cellmate, listening to the radio some more, and reading before counting off another day from the calendar.

All things considered, it was a good day.  I did something for the mind, body, and spirit.  What more can a person ask for in life?  Well, right now I can think of a few things I’d like to be different, but I will close without complaining.  We get what we need and things work according to God’s will, not Wayne’s.  Darn it!  However, the positive side is that if things went according to Wayne, I wouldn’t be “here” to entertain you with this blog.  Thanks for reading my writings!

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Note: I postponed writing the second eBook in the Fiction Crime Series, Guns, Drugs & Thugs.  Purchase Guns, Drugs & Thugs: Drug Store Spree in paperback or as an eBook at  https://www.amazon.com/Guns-Drugs-Thugs-Store-Spree/dp/1797068466/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=guns%2C+drugs+and+thugs&qid=1554732767&s=books&sr=1-1

Murder Slim Press also publised Guns, Drugs & Thugs: Drug Store Spree.  Another printed version is available in the magazine, Savage Kick # 9.

Purchase ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN ($8.95 USD) and UNKNOWN INNOCENCE ($12.95, USD) from your favorite bookseller; also available as eBooks from Smashwords.com, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.kindle, and many others.

Autographed copies available through the author.  Contact by eMail: waynedowdy@straightfromthepen.com