How to Eat an Elephant

TV Review of ‘For Life”

The answer to this oft asked question is, one bite at a time.

I understand the producers of the show want to grab your attention by showing as much drama in the opening as they possibly could. However, the fault one often makes is taking to big a bite and sacrificing credibility for to much incredulousness. Can all that drama be involved in one man’s life in a prison setting? Movie and TV producers would have you believe that there are riots and stabbings every day. Reality would be that prisons are monotonous and mundane. I don’t know that I want to be drawn back into that milieu. It’s not entertaining. Is it true, what goes on in prison? There’s an old adage that whatever story you hear, probably has happened somewhere, just not necessarily in the story your hearing. I was almost imprisoned for a crime I didn’t commit. I fled, and eventually they found who they wanted. I was also somewhat of a jailhouse lawyer, for my own purposes, and won my case in court. I also almost died in a prison hospital owing to the ineptitude of the prison doctors. So, yes there is a touch of everything going on. I would be remiss if I didn’t add, (and my upcoming 40th Anniversary wouldn’t even be a story if,) I didn’t include; I met a beautiful young lady who told me God could change my life. Those stories occur in prison as well.


Marsha Petrie Sue said …

“Every day is a new beginning. Treat it that
way. Stay away from what might have been, and
look at what can be.”

I don’t know who Marsha Petrie Sue is and I am not even going to hazard a guess. As to what she says, Easier said then done. Sure it looks good on paper but pragmatically it’s not always going to apply. I stretched out my arms one morning and my hands felt the cold, hard, steel bars of my jail cell. No amount of “staying away from what might have been” was going to change the reality of what was.

On the other hand if you quantify your morning routine with your measured weight and you can step off the scale happily satisfied that you didn’t destroy yourself yesterday by eating the brownies, the ice cream and a whole host of, oh wait a minute. You caved with the chocolate long john when you went to the office. I better take my blood sugar this very minute because you might not be so proud by the next paragraph. 127, okay, not catastrophic, we do have to account for the coffee you already have had.

My point is this, we make course corrections all the time, every day, even sometimes during the day. Navigating your life on platitudes off of Facebook can be very deceiving and disappointing. We are not all playing by the same rules or circumstances. Mary misplaced her glasses overnight and we were scrambling for a minute looking for them. I knew they were not on the top of her head, as they have been in the past, but all the known places where they could possibly be were not revealing them. Then by happenstance, as she carried on in her morning routine, voila!, there they were in a drawer not known to be their harbor.

Happenstance can be a big thing and it doesn’t get it’s fair share of recognition. There can be good happenstance and bad happenstance. But I have strayed to far off course and we are going to make a course correction right here in front of your eyes. We concluded our morning ritual by weighing myself on a more factual scale. It’s one of those scales that measure %’s of body fat, muscle, water, etc. and today’s official weight is 235.2

“Say it ain’t so, Joe.”

So said the little kid upon learning that the Chicago White Sox had thrown the 1919 World Series. He could not believe that his hero, Joe Jackson would do such a thing. And even though the White Sox were acquitted in a court of law, not so with Baseball Commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Joe and 7 of his teammates were banned from baseball for life.

Even legendary baseball icons Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays had been banned for their loose association with organized gambling.

Which brings us to the Cheating Houston Astros. There is no reasonable probability that baseball can redeem themselves without punishing the organizations to the fullest extent under the law. Kids from 6 years old and upward through the ranks of the game that pictures itself as the bastion for sportsmanship, fair play, honesty and integrity; cannot and must not allow the Houston Astros to go unscathed in their blatant attempt and efforts to alter the field of play in such a way as to damage the careers of others while they held the upper hand in advancing their own fortunes.

A complete Congressional Investigation should be commenced immediately at all costs to determine who was responsible and knowingly commenced in this cheating activity, to the detriment of all that’s honest and fair in this American Pastime. I am printing out this article and sending it to Congress, both the House And Senate and see who will be the most willing to undertake these proceedings. I’ll need a little help from you readers as well to send it to your representatives in Congress so that they too know the American People are as upset about this as anybody.

Public Releases should follow as well as Letters To The Editor of both print and social media outlets. If we accept this chicanery we may as well lay down and make no pretense at any form of outrage at any injustice because it will ring rather hollow.

I will be excited and anxious to see should any momentum gain steam.

John C Thomson

Sobsbsbbgbwhe little boaqvavvvvgy when the Chicago White Sox were accused of throwing the 1919 World Series.

A miscarriage of Justice

I am testing whether this link or any link can so long endure as long as there are links to link too.

No other story from the annals of criminal unjustice riles me more than the arguably worst case of misjustice than that of Patricia Campbell Hearst.

To begin with, on February 4th a group of prison advocates/activists broke into the apartment of 5′ 3″ Patty Hearst. Kidnapped her at gunpoint, beat her, raped her and tortured her. She was then coerced to join this ragtag group of social misfits as they stampeded their way through bank robberies and other crimes while she lived in constant fear of her life. If I today don’t have faith in our American Way it is because of this story right here. She would later be convicted of crimes committed by her assailants and sent to prison. That today she is able to have risen above the fray and now lives and breathes as a free woman is testament to a remarkable courage not seen in this country in a long long while. Click on the link (double link) from one blog to another for the rest of herstory. I can barely stomach the retelling of what bit I could muster of strength to tell.

A Moment To Pause…

Today January 27, 2020, we are buffeted about with so much to give us all a moment to Pause. The surprise and shock of the death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter and those of the Altobelli family.

Seventy five years ago, the remaining prisoners of Auschwitz-Birkenau were liberated.

We recognize International Holocaust Remembrance Day to commemorate and honor the lives lost to evil and the strength of those who stood up to confront it.

Never forget and Never Again!

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand

Today’s date is also the formal ending of The Viet Nam War.

Be Courageous and Never Shrink From Adversity

I was asked, what advice would you give your younger self. So, in your mind, transport yourself to a younger age, and then give that younger aged self, your best advice. Of course, the advice I am going to give my younger self is going to be with the expectation that he is going to face the same childhood I did. I now have the advantage of the wisdom I have gained from having come through certain adversities that to be able to do so with the best possible outcome would require what?

As you enter the ‘chow hall’ in the Terre Haute Federal Penitentiary at the top of the wall directly above the food steam tables, are engraved the words “THOU HAST BEEN REDUCED TO A LOW ESTATE” The words are chilling as you contemplate their meaning on your miserable life. You have just been sentenced to years in this prison and you are going to see that saying every day, 3 times a day, for the next 10, 15, 20 years whatever amount of time you have. You learn to bow your head just enough or cast a gaze across the chow hall as if looking for someone so as not to see those words again.

I learned to adroitly divert my eyes in quick time. I did not need a reminder to what my present condition was. Approximately a year after entering Terre Haute (January, 1973) I acquired a condition that left my kidneys 90% infected and as treatment would indicate I would be transferred to Springfield, Mo to the U. S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners. No doubt this was an exciting momentous occasion as I would be returning to the same prison where not only did I meet Mary, but also Jesus. It was very much a religious blessing in my mind. Before I transferred however, I again found myself in the ‘chow hall’ observing those same words “Thou hast been….” and relieved that I would never see them again, I hoped. But I noticed something that in all the year I had been eating in that same chow hall THAT, the saying did not end at the corner of the front wall but continued along the side wall, the part I never looked at. the saying continued “BUT AS GOLD IS REFINED IN FIRE, SO ARE BRAVE MEN BORN OF ADVERSITY.” Instead of cowering in my “my woe is me” state, I could have been encouraged to be BRAVE and COURAGEOUS. But I allowed my tunnel vision to keep me from seeing the larger hope.

So what would I tell my younger self, I would tell him to be courageous and never shrink from adversity. The End

Time for that 2nd Cup of Coffee

Having passed these last 3 hours at the computer I find I have more to say. I applied for a writer’s job at an online publication that reaches 1.7 million readers of which I am one. I didn’t actually apply for the job as much as I responded to the call for a daily writer. Being a pragmatist in such matters I suggested that my experience as an Editor of a prison newspaper probably wasn’t what they were looking for but hey, you never know. So I told them my story, and ya know, there’s a lot of people who know my story. I called WMBI Moody Radio the other day to inquire about a Bible that was being mentioned on the program I was listening too and told the girl I didn’t actually want to leave a comment but just learn some information. I identified myself as having been told by a prison school teacher that God could change my life and she immediately interrupted me and said, “I know you, you’re that couple everybody here at Moody talks about all the time.” Really, I didn’t know that. But yes we have called the station more than a time or two and just last week we were on Chris Fabry and had quite a conversation with Sara Groves so yes, I guess they do know who we are.

How much does Uber X cost in Chicago? $1.70 initial fare $0.95 per mile $0.20 per minute; At times of high demand rates may change; Minimum fare is $4.60.Cancellation fee is $5.00. Tolls are additional. Prices are shown in USD; Tolls & surcharges may apply Clearly this is an assault on those who live in the Suburbs and work in the city. My 3 workers had to take a cab and hitchhike this morning to get to work. Another reason for companies to move out of the city and to the suburbs where it is more affordable. With robberies at an alarming rate these days on the El it is really scary out there

. 8:36 am and I have lost my way. Surely what I should do when I wake at 4 is to try and go back to sleep at 5 without the coffee in between. I’m falling asleep at the wheel so to speak and will e retiring for a 2 hour nap, when I shall reappear as a comet from another galaxy. The End

This is the engine for the future, you’re probably never see this anywhere else.

You Can’t Go Back…

The saying, if it was C. S. Lewis, shows a deeper intent then what I mean’t to emphasize this morning. (5 AM) But it serves the same purpose. I was following two tracks actually. I scrolled down Memory Lane on Facebook, “You know You’re from Hazel Crest” and saw a few obits of people I had known growing up there as a teenager that I had not known died in the last 3 months of 2019. That kind of scrolling brings back more memories sometimes than you want to deal with in the wee hours of the morning.

The going back, I was thinking about had more to do with eating and the fact that I went to our apartment’s Pot Luck Meal on Monday. As some of you know, since mid September, I have cut out sugar, and bread and limited my meal intake to 2 a day in a modified sample of intermittent fasting. I lost 25 lbs. I had not been going to the pot luck’s because the choices of foods wouldn’t be in my category of selection but last night for a change I went. And I cheated myself. I’m not going to beat myself up over it and in actuality it may serve as a lesson for the future. People kept referring to the description of one who is on a low carb diet. I know what a carburetor in a car is but I do not know what a carb is nor do I want too. Canceling sugar and bread and 2 meals a day is what I did to lose the weight and I will be exacting that same practice as we continue. The pot lucks however, may be a thing of the past.

To the platitude at the beginning of this article, I have been working on changing the ending for the past 42 years. January 13th will recognize the date I Left Prison Behind in 1978. The ending seems more in sight now that I’ve scrolled down memory lane and seen so many who have gone before me. I feel the best I have felt in many a years what with the weight loss, but what is not visible is the pain I carry chronically owing to arthritis. I can tolerate the pain but its the fact that I know the inflammation it represents is taking its’ toll. I can’t say I experience the symptoms of Diabetes 2 and COPD because of the other maladies involved but I have those too. It’s like having several memberships in a League of Medical Journal patients with debilitating conditions. To become a member you actually have to have the condition before you will be accepted in to the club.

But Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina, When the prison school teacher told me God could change my life I had no idea what she meant nor understood what that change would entail or result in. That He did change my life is unquestionable, you didn’t know me. Not even Mary knew the man she was talking those words too. It was the God-changed man she married, not the one who stood before her on that day in May in 1972. I could have done better, but even there the saying talks about the ending, you don’t get a do-over. Each day is a new day for a better ending. The End.