When the Information Highway Was a Two Lane Road

White man sitting at computer

Before the internet, the information highway was a two lane road. If you didn’t have a chance to learn anything new in the last 15-20 years, where you even begin? If you went back just a few decades the world as we saw it moved at a much slower pace.

Even though Windows 95, with the first “mouse” came into some people’s lives in the 1990’s, the vast majority of homes did not have a computer. It was amazing! You could control a curser on the screen by moving this thing in your hand that was laying on the desk and click it to do things! Wow!! But there was no internet speed. You connected through phone lines. You had to “dial up” to surf the net, what little there was. The fun stuff hadn’t been created yet. Even when you could get online it was slow and you probably had a 486 computer and waited forever for a simple picture to slowly come in.

People knew NOTHING about what was going on in the next town let alone the world. We got a little bit on the evening news but young people weren’t watching it, we were hanging out at people’s houses, not hanging out in an app. Our lives were small. We called people on phones that plugged into a phone jack in the wall. The youth were clueless about politics. It wasn’t just the youth, either. People in general were clueless unless they heard about it on TV or read a newspaper. And it wasn’t that long ago. Everything changed so fast.

It took a long time before there was ONE computer in a home. Look what we have now. Too much information and no idea if what we learn is true or “Fake News” or if it comes from a person, a bot or another country that wants to do us harm. What can we believe? This technology keeps outpacing itself. Faster and faster everything changed as our computers learned to take over our lives.

Imagine for a moment that everything you learned because of using a computer – all of that knowledge – disappeared out of your brain. Vanished. Everything you learned, because you were connected to that technology was deleted. All of the people, your “friends” you’ve never actually met who “care” about you on Facebook, Instagram or other social media ceased to exist. The phrase “social media” would mean nothing. No shopping online. The thought of watching a movie on a computer would have you scratching your head. What would you be thinking RIGHT NOW if you had no chance to learn the things you have learned? Scary, right? You’d go into a panic if you couldn’t reach for your phone.

There is a reason I’m asking these questions. Jamie was locked up for 13.5 years. A couple months before he turned 22. He was locked up for 4 years before that from age 17-21. The year 2000. People weren’t spending their time with their face buried in a device. There were cell phones – to make phone calls. There were no screens on them and they weren’t connected to the internet.

So during all these changes, as a society we learned together and became connected to the world. We communicated with people all over the world. We learned how to access information through email, browsers, Google and a wide variety of apps. It’s easy for us to tap into this. We assume other people can tap into it, too.

In the past month I’ve had to stop myself when trying to explain to Jamie how to quickly find things on the internet through his phone. Simple concepts IF you know them. It’s like speaking Greek if you don’t.

“Type (such and such) in the browser.” I’d say.
“What’s a browser??” hmm

“Tap the Google app and do a search on…”
“How do you do that?”

“Did you get the links I sent to you in a message?”
“I don’t know how to find them. I saw them come up but I don’t know how to find them again.”

There many of these type questions. Can you imagine that the first computer you used is a tiny phone? You can’t learn how to use a computer on a phone. You can’t automatically know how it works. He couldn’t get links to work. I think now he wasn’t waiting long enough. How about explaining how to put phone numbers into contact information and calling people by tapping on their names instead of using their phone number? We didn’t get that far. It is hard to help him while talking to him at the same time.

I wanted him to read his blog – this one, but he said it wouldn’t come up. The same thing about hearing the music I recorded for the book. He said it wouldn’t play. That didn’t sound right. His brother gave him the wifi password. It turns out his phone is slow, or the Verizon connection using the free government phone with 200 free minutes is slow. I need to be able to connect with him online, video chat, go over things about the book. But I realized I first have to go back to the beginning. He has a lot to learn. He needs something bigger than a phone. I want to look for a used or refurbished laptop. Something that uses files so I can send him chapter files.

Jamie may be 36, but in many ways he isn’t. He doesn’t have the life experience of someone 36 and he needs to catch up with himself. There are many who have been locked up for longer than he was. There are people getting out of prison in their 60’s who have been locked up since their teens. Are they ever able to fill in the blanks?

He got through the prison years and his head is screwed on. I have to be confident he will be okay. But gaining wisdom through experience takes time and it often comes from your mistakes . Learning how to judge people and be wary of those around you – how do you teach that? It is a different America now and it tends to not be very friendly, especially in Southern States.

Jamie is in a completely different chapter of his life now – re-entry into society. The adjustment will take awhile, for both of us.

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I Don’t Write About Happy Things

 

males-2091701_640It is easy to write about happy things. Some people want to be entertained and read things that takes them away from daily life. Some look for new ways to do things hoping they find that magic bullet that will hold their interest for more than thirty days. Some are trying to improve themselves so they read every article on nutrition or exercise or mental well being. I don’t think we can be happy or well when so many in our population are being abused. Not every inmate is guilty. Many prisoners are innocent. My writing focuses on these points:

1. People are housed out of sight so we don’t have to think about them. We blame these people for all the ills of society. We turn a blind eye. We don’t want to let them back into our neighborhoods because media has taught us these people are to be feared because they want to hurt you in some way. We want to believe these people deserve what is happening to them and there are no  exceptions in our mind.

2. Incarceration, and for many it is not what you think. People develop their own ideas about the millions of peoples who are locked up. The government and the media have you brainwashed at this moment that all immigrants are criminals, drug dealers and lowlifes who deserve to have our wrath because we believe they are taking something valuable from us. It is a fallacy. Your life will not be one bit better with a 50 ft wall. We think it is true because that is what the media and government have told us day after day to justify what they do.

3. Understanding the role of the prison corporations in the lives of all incarcerated people – which affect you also. Very few understand the amount of money that is made or the importance you that the people remaining ignorant, No one wants to  know these things – until it affects them, and sometimes they contact me. “What do I do,” they ask? “You won’t believe what they are doing to my son. He needs insulin. They are refusing to give it to him.” Or, “My husband has a heart problem, and his cell is over 105 degrees, everyday. He has passed out twice and they won’t let him see the doctor.”  In my case it is the refusal to give seizure medication for epilepsy – and this is just medical.

The book I am writing is centered around the life of a man, Jamie Cummings, whose life has been taken from him since he was 16.  He is now thirty-five. My book, “Inside The Forbidden Outside” is about his life and his fight to survive until he is released – in 2023, if they don’t find a way to keep him and add years.  Yes, that happens.

14 million people are incarcerated every year to find permanent replacements for the 2.3 million who constantly fill the prisons, not counting the immigrant prisons.  That is a lot of people.  It is more than any country in the world yet we have only 5% of the world’s population – and 25% of the prisoners.  Incarceration makes some people very rich. The quality and strength of a society can be seen in the way they treat the incarcerated, the poor, minorities and the elderly. The US is sadly lacking in compassion on all fronts, because people won’t turn around and look.

I write to educate people because nothing will change until people stand up and treat each other the way each of us wants to be treated, if we were down.

You can easily find individual chapters to my book on this website.  Here are a couple to get you interested. They are not the 1st and 2nd chapter, but you will understand. Click the subscribe button to get on my monthly newsletter. Share it with your friends.  In it are articles, chapters and new music that has been written for the soundtrack of the book.

Looking Into The Crystal Ball

What Does It Mean T Be Alone

 

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What I am Learning From My White Grandchildren – Ted Talk

Interesting, because my own grandchildren are mixed.  Three are mixed with black, but two of them are mixed with, I’m assuming, African Black and one is mixed with Island Black.  One is mixed with the Hispanic race and four of them are mixed with all kinds of other countries, German, Irish, Welsh, English and who know with what else. Also, all of them are also mixed with Choctaw Indian.  It doesn’t matter to these children that some have dark skin and some have white skin and one even had pink hair.

The sad thing is that I have to fear for my grandsons who are black – not white – because there are people out there who automatically feel they are superior to them and could end up shooting them. 

If you are white and say you don’t care about skin color, do you cross the street if a black man is walking toward you, just on case he might try to rob you. Do you know what it is like to fear for your family knowing a cop will most likely not be charged with murder for killing your children.  As long as we have people who think their skin color gives them special privileges it will take a long time to raise enough children a better way to let those thoughts die out.

mixed race twins
twins  source credit: snoopes.com
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Early Morning Pain – Prison is No Place To Keep Love Alive

burning heart flame
photo credit:
revalationsofprofoundlove.com

Early Morning Pain by Sonni Quick   copyright 2015

December 10, 2009

(Sonni’s note: It is still December 2009 4 1/2 years ago, as I continue to read older letters. The sad thing is that it is a letter I could have received today. He was G5 then and he is G5 now. I’ve begun to wonder why it is that there are inmates in some states who are at different level security prisons, yet the offense is the same, or an inmate who committed a far worse crime than Jamie did yet he is in medium security prison where Jamie is in a maximum security. Is it something than an attorney can help with? I don’t know. It took a lot of letters for me to start to understand what it all meant – how hard it was. I knew nothing when I started writing)

I’m now G5 which is 24 hour lockdown. I’ve been back here going on four weeks. life in prison. I’m good in a way because I haven’t been in no trouble. However, I’m also doing bad because they won’t give me any of my property. All I have is sheets, blanket, tissues and a few bars of soap. I don’t have a mattress. They haven’t given me one yet. I’m sleeping on an iron bunk. My back is killing me. My cellie lets me use his every now and then. I have nothing to do. I just sit here looking at the walls. I can’t do any of my studying because I have no books. I no longer get to go to the Islam services. I’ll do all my studying when I get my books back. I don’t know when that will be. It could be a month or two from now.

Mom, in your last letter you asked me if I needed anything. I was going to ask if you would send me a few books. However, I remember saying in a letter she wrote that you are a nice lady and to not take advantage of you. It really hurt me that she would think I would do that to you., so it’s okay about the books, mom, thanks anyway. I know you told me all I needed to do was ask. I told Megan that it hurt that she thought I would do that to you. I would never do that to someone I love, or even someone close to a loved one. Mom, I think she has moved on with her life, so I just want her to tell me that’s all. I don’t want to hold her up if she wants to move on. I just want her to know I really love her. I understand she is having it hard by herself. I can apologize a million and one times but it won’t help bring me back home. I messed up, but at the same time it’s just as hard in here, having someone run your life. People you don’t know who are 5 or 6 years younger than you. It hurts mom, really, to have someone run over you just because they can. There is lack of humanity in here.  They enjoy watching you suffer.

Well, I love you mom but I’m going to end this letter. My cellie is an old dick and he’s telling me why I love Megan. He’s been down the same road. I love you, mom. Write back soon please please. TELL MEGAN I LOVE HER PLEASE PLEASE. THANK YOU.

Ask her if her flame for me still burns? If it takes awhile for her to answer please tell me. Then I know she has moved on. Thank you. Sorry it took so long to write back.

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Surviving Guard Brutality and Religion

(Sonni’s note: Prison Guard brutality. There is no other way to phrase it. If you get off on kicking people around, then being a prison guard is the right choice of a job for you.  I’m not saying that all prison guards are like that, but there are enough of them like that, and I have read enough experiences about the brutal way many inmates are treated for me to think it’s the norm not the exception. And it’s legal. So why not? Kick a little ass. Have some fun and not get in trouble? Why not?)

Hello mom, how are you?  As for me I’ve been through a lot in such a little time. But I’ll get to that later.  How was your trip to Maine with your mom to your family reunion? New England seems nice in the postcards you sent me.  Walking along the beach sounds like such a relaxing thing  to do.  The clear water and the salty smell of the beach.  Speaking of the beach, Melvin and I talked about how he like the beach in Hawaii. It sounds like such a lovely place to be.  He told me a lot about it.  At your family reunion, how was it, meeting so many people for the first time? Meeting people that were nine generations back all coming from the same man.  Were you nervous?  Did you get along?  It’s good to know your family and have roots. I don’t have those roots.  I don’t even know who my own father was.

I had a few letters from Megan.  She was telling me about when you were telling her I was a Buddhist.  She said, yeah, right.  So to get back at her I told her I was a Muslim.  I wanted to see how she would react to the statement.  I had to have a little fun with it.  She wrote saying that if I was a Muslim then we definitely can’t be together because she is WHITE and she EATS PORK!!  You know, I laughed and shook my head.  Mainly because she told me she was white.  What does color and race have to do with anything?  She signed her letter, Audri, which is her middle name, so I signed my letter to her, Roger, which is my middle name.  Wonder what she’ll read into that?  We have to find humor when we can. I study a lot of religions to have a good understanding.  It’s like going to school.  We study more than one subject to learn and get a good understanding of each subject.  I have a book I’m reading called, “Many Goals One Path”.  It’s a good book.  It gives basics on each religion.  I can see if that fits with the Nichiren Buddhism I’m studying.  Anyway, to answer anyone’s question, no I am not a Muslim.

Here is what happened to me.  Say, about a week ago,  I had forgotten my boots at the shower area.  I asked if I could check and see if they were still there.  Long story short, and officer who is a sucker for the women like most males, will do anything to get their attention.  This fool grabs me by the back of my shirt.  I asked him to let me go and he goes crazy and gets in my face talking shit.  I ask him again to get his hands off me.  Everybody is watching this, even his ranking officer.  He pulls on me and I asked him for a third time to get his hands off me.  He goes off again.  So now I’m pissed.  I tried to do things the right way.  So I sit my things on the seat of the window and as I’m about to go off, the lady he was with asks me to step back.  Knowing I’ve come a long way and I’m gonna lose that if I do anything, I step back.  The law gets in my face provoking me.  She asks again for me to step back.  I do.  The Stg comes and asks me to face the wall.  I do.  Guess what he did? Put handcuffs  on me! He told me he was locking me up!   I asked him for what?  He said, stopping traffic in the hallway.
SQ sm cages

I was placed in a small cage.  I started crying because I knew, just knew I was fixin’ to go back down hill.   I was sure I was gonna go to Ad Seg again.  Back to solitary.  However that officer came and got me out of lock up talking some crazy shit about 0 to 80.  I know he came and got me out, because he knew he was wrong.  Otherwise I’d be in lock up right now.  I’ve had a lot of trouble come my way.

(Sonni’s note:  Being a prison guard, like being a cop, changes you. You go into the job one way an become another.  Power over people and knowing you can get away with it.  It makes it so hard for those incarcerated who are trying to not get in trouble.  They just want to do their time and hope to have a good life when they get out.  Not everyone is a criminal in the sense of what we think a criminal is. During these years of knowing Jamie and trying to be there with him during the toughest times as best I could, it makes me angry when I see that it is the people employed by our justice system who are the ones who are committing the crimes. And there is nothing that can be done about it.  It is the perfect place for a person to work if he enjoys kicking people just for the sake of kicking them.  I’ve “watched” Jamie mature through his 20’s and now through his 30’s.  He is a product of his environment and the perfect example of what happens when there is no father and the mother has to work so hard to provide and no one is watching. He has paid with his life, and there is really nothing bad that he has done.  Being poor and black is his crime.  Mass incarceration.  Another form of slavery.)

When Melvin came we had a good visit.  We talked about a lot of different things.  Sports, politics, news. We talked about goals I have set.  We talked about him.  He’s been good friend.  Besides you, the only one I have.

 

Human Revolution

It’s 1pm and man is it hot!  The sun is really beating down on this place.  One of the dudes was playing with me yesterday and acted like he was going to bite me!  I stopped and asked him what the hell he was doing.  He told me, “Were all cooking in this hot ass place and I looked like I was done! I told him, just cause the skin is dark it doesn’t mean I’m done. Lmao!

I try to have a laugh here and there because things are starting to get real rough.  I get my G2 in 90 days and the road is starting to toughen up on me. It’s as if I’m being picked at.  Not just by officers but by other dudes in here as well. I don’t want to stay G4 and I sure don’t want to do all my time.  However, I won’t let anyone run me over.

I have a lot of stress on me.  I’m upset that I’m this close to home and no one is trying to bring my son to me. I’m trying to stay away from trouble but it manages to find me. I got into it with an officer. I was looking for my ID in my cell. We have to have it when we go to chow.  Well, this female officer slams my cell door shut! I called and called her and she kept walking.  So I called to the other officer.  He comes to the cell door and yells “What?!!” I tried to talk to him but just kept yelling over me, “Do you have a razor in your hand?” I tell him, “Fuck no” and yell back at him, “Why are you yelling at me?” He walks off. Well, as you probably know I did not get to eat. I was inches, just inches from going overboard.

These people don’t like to do shit. When they have to call for anything, like chow, service, shower or med appointments, and you aren’t out of your cell by the time they get to your cell they are going to close the door. They walk fast, closing doors just to rush people. You and I both know they will constantly keep coming at me no matter what.

How’s Ms. Patty and Ms. Carol doing.  Please tell them I said hello and ask them to chant for me? The road gets rough when you’re improving.

(Sonni’s note: When you try to change, obstacles come up to hold you down. You need a lot of determination and perseverance to do things differently – to react differently.  We’re wired to react a certain way after a lifetime of doing it that way. But it is often that these very reactions are what keeps us down. It’s common to hear the phrase, “It’s just the way I am.” We what we do but we except it as something we can’t change, even if it hurts us.  We react a certain way and wish we hasn’t. We might even tell ourselves that next time we will react differently but when it does happen again we react the same way anyway.  We can’t change these things about ourselves with wishful thinking.  It takes a lot of work and a lot of self reflection to understanding that the way we are, and the environment we live in is a direct result of all the causes we have made in our life.  For some it is easier to believe that things happen because something “out there in the universe had a plan for us”. That would be nice. Then wouldn’t have to feel responsible for everything.  But as you begin to take charge of your life and as you begin to make changes, it is the start of your “human revolution”.)

I received a visit from Melvin.  I really needed it We talked and chanted.  We had a good time, but he noticed that something was wrong with me.  I explained about how I felt not being able to see my son.  It really hurts me. It’s hurts bad when I hear others talk about their son, saying that he just turned this or that age.  Then I say my son just turned eight but I haven’t seen him in almost a year.  Lol, the jokes on me.

I read an article in the newspaper I’d like you to read it.  I have a copy of it but they probably wouldn’t let me send it to you. Maybe you could look it up.  It’s in USA Today on Aug 15, 2014.  The title is “Yep, Slavery is still legal” by Jim Liske. He’s the president of Prison Fellowship.

Did you hear about Gov Rick Perry? He was indited for trying to force the DA out of office. I hope he’s convicted so he can get a taste of what he’s putting us through.

Tell Megan I want to hear from her soon.  It’s been too long.  It’s not right!!

No One Knows What Happens When You Die

I don’t understand much about Christians. I really don’t plan on digging too deep because the Bible repeats itself. Also because it talks about sin, yet it has a lot of sin it. It tells you is ok to do things concerning your kids and your wife that are just plain wrong. Now a days people just pick the parts of it they want to believe in and forget the stuff they know is wrong. So why is part of it right and part of it wrong? Then they say that God says this or that when he didn’t. They try to figure out what God was really saying and it’s just  what they think it means. It’s screwed up.  So I feel this is something I will pass and not rack my brain on why this was allowed and that wasn’t. How so many people have been brain washed I just don’t understand. I’ve never understood. It’s not common sense.  They want you to believe stories actually happened that science says is impossible. They just want to say is a miracle. No, I can’t wrap my brain around that. I’ve tried but something always comes up. There are a lot of questions that could be asked but you won’t get an answer to all of your questions, of you’ll get the same answer but with different wording. Crazy. The Bible has too much sin in it for me to believe it. I don’t pay attention to what the Bible says is a sin.

When I got arrested there was no way I could blame anything on my cousin, the one who had the gun. I have my own mind so whatever was going on it is my fault. No ifs, ands, or buts.  A lot of people don’t want to be responsible for their own unhappiness. They don’t want it to be their own fault. Especially in here. They want what happened to be someone else’s fault. Many people don’t care about the actions that brought them unhappiness. They don’t take responsibility. My cellie tells me it’s all part of “God’s Plan”. Like God planned for him to be here. He’s 50 and he’s been here since he was 22. I don’t know what is wrong with this nut. Maybe it’s the only way he can deal with it.

No one knows what happens after you die. I’m not afraid of dying. But it hurts me to think that when I know that I don’t know my son yet and he don’t know me, either. It’s hard for me to understand when I speak to others about different religions.  It’s because each religion is different but they have some of the same people in their books.

photo-88_20140907231203244

I got my first two issues of the SGI-USA newspaper, The World Tribune and an issue of Living Buddhism.  Maybe they will help me with some of the questions I have about my life. Thank you. Everyone should treat people the way they want to be treated.  Christianity talks about that but I don’t see people really trying to live that way.  In this Buddhism you talk about it seems they take it more seriously. They tell you why you should treat people the way you wanted to be treated.  They don’t just tell you that you should do it. And no one thinks about when they are doing something.  They get caught up in trying to show off.  It’s always that this person or that person isn’t cool so let’s do something to them. They don’t think about what happens when they do that.  It’s  just like living for the moment and not caring about the outcome.

A lot of people are suffering in many ways.  Yes, I help others, but what about me?  I’ve wasted seven years of my life.  To be truthful, I don’t know anything.  Yes, obstacles. I understand that they keep you down.  Things happen that try to keep you from being happy. How do we get away from that?  I guess I got a long way to go.  There is a lot I need to accept.  Starting with the fact that me and Jamie will never have a real bond.  I have to accept that, which is why I let him live his life.  He’s happy, so good.  Writing won’t do no good.  You and I both know this.  I have come to learn to accept everything.  As I said before, my life is a waste, always has been.  So tonight I’ve learned to accept it all from day one.  I’ve learned a lot from you.  You’ve cared for me.  But I finally snapped and realized I’m not ready.  I’m not coming home no time soon.  I LOVE YOU SON.  Please give me some time to think.

(Sonni’s note 9/9/14:  It has taken  awhile for him to understand that his life has value.  There is a reason why he is going through this and that reason will make him a better man and father.  Nothing happens by accident.  It is always the effect of a cause. This past year has seen him make many improvements and come to a better understanding of who he is. His life is important. During the year after this letter was written, as he has studied the philosophy of life called Nichiren Buddhism, his attitude about his life has improved and he has gained a sense of his self worth and has determination to succeed, a desire to have a good life and be a father to his son. That does not mean that the obstacles stop and everything is a bed of roses.  What it means is that he has a better understanding of why things happen to him and is learning to make better decisions in his life so that the obstacles don’t govern how he feels about his life. Regardless if he is in prison, he still has the right and the ability to be happy.  I’m glad he came into my life. He will always be my family.)