I Went to Prison for Good

On March 26th, 2019 I went to the California Correctional Institute, a supermax state prison north of Los Angeles.  I was there for cause – a good cause.  I was volunteering as part of a “Prison Entrepreneurship Program” that is an employment, entrepreneurship, and personal development training program that helps the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated to become successful, legal entrepreneurs and employees.  The program has been around for over 15 years with at least three different organizations in different parts of the country operating.  Graduates have an exceptionally low 7.5% three-year recidivism rate (compared to the national average of nearly 50%).

I was there for the entire day with about 50 other business leaders in a room with 65 inmates, or “Mavericks” as the program calls them.  In order to attend the event, the Mavericks had to apply to the program and complete all the coursework and attend all the classes.  Nobody who applies is turned down, but they must do the work in order to continue through the program.

Because I was just there for a single day I don’t know what all is involved in the coursework, but the Mavericks had spent months preparing for the day by learning interpersonal skills, public speaking, basic business concepts, writing a resume, doing practice job interviews, creating a business plan, writing their life story, and learning how to approach everything and everyone with a positive attitude and energy.

Continue reading “I Went to Prison for Good”

The Toaster Effect

Saturday, my wife Mary returned from a shopping trip with a new toaster. When I saw it in her pile of newly purchased merchandise, I innocently asked, “Did our toaster break?”

“No,” she replied, “I just thought it was time for a change.”

I quickly did the math in my head, and replied, “Okay, sounds good.”

I came to the conclusion that there were two good reasons why her purchase garnered an almost “Yes, dear” reply:

 1. She has put up with me purchasing about every new piece of technology in the house when the obsolete device usually worked just fine, in her view. She didn’t say a thing when, in just a few years stretch, we went from a VCR to DVD to HD-DVD to Blu-Ray. She also hasn’t complained that we currently have four different cameras we use on a regular basis.

2. I didn’t know how old the toaster was, but I was pretty sure we might have received it as a wedding gift 16 years ago. I haven’t kept up with toaster technology, but I would suspect, in that timeframe, someone has dreamed up some new features.

Later that day, I wandered over and took a look at the fancy new toaster she had purchased. It was stainless steel, which matched all of our appliances. The old toaster was white and matched the appliances in our old kitchen. The old toaster also had a single dial on it that only set the darkness of the toast.

The new toaster had buttons for different things that could be toasted, like bagels, frozen waffles, and of course, toast. I was pleased with the new purchase and glad she was the one who must have fretted over all of the different models at the store. The new toaster was a welcome new addition to our household.

That was, until the next day. Continue reading “The Toaster Effect”