June 28, 2017


* We have a one armed inmate here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp whose nickname is Quince. Think about it. (Hint: His nickname is not Veinte) 

* Legendary sportswriter Frank Deford recently died at the age of 78. In 2013 when President Obama awarded him the National Humanities Medal, he mispronounced his name as "DEFF-erd." That was even though the president had personally insisted that Deford be honored. Like everyone who read his articles, President Obama knew Deford not by his name but by his writing. Deford wrote for Newsweek, Vanity Fair, The National and NPR, but mostly for Sports Illustrated. I was unable to not read anything he ever wrote and subscribed to Sports Illustrated only because of him. Last month he told NPR's Tom Goldman that sports are part of our life--the second tier. "The first tier is eating, drinking and procreation. The second tier is religion, the spirit, music, art and the physical. Sports. It deserves to have as much attention paid to it, seriously." Inm...

June 23, 2017

There are many aspects of prison life not to like, but I can't imagine how difficult it must be for inmates with small children. One of the many issues confronting those inmates is how to explain where daddy is. For a while he can be gone on business or vacation, but that explanation only works for so long. Sooner or later, a difficult conversation becomes inevitable.

I've always avoided difficult conversations like the plague. My thinking was that, given some time, perhaps the circumstances creating the need for the conversation might change, making the difficulty magically disappear. As that worked for me 2% of the time, I incorporated it as a core value. When the conversations would become unavoidable, I would rehearse them, playing out how they might go in my mind. This exercise invariably created more intense stress than the actual conversation ever did.

Recently an inmate here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp got a first hand experience with this, when his 6 year old daughter was...

June 13, 2017

I've been a big fan of Ken Burns since his PBS documentaries on the Civil War and baseball. He was on a news program recently promoting his new work on the Vietnam War. Unfortunately, I have a 2% chance of viewing it, as PBS is near the bottom of TV interest here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp. During the brief interview, Burns must have used the word "binary" 10 times. Apparently the word, along with it's companion word "non-binary" must be co-words of the year for 2017 because they were also overused in a recent National Geographic cover story on gender and sexual orientation. Most of us know that binary is a computer language based on only 2 digits, 0 and 1. It's only recently hired a PR firm and become more in vogue in popular culture. 

To Burns and to many, binary clearly means "either black or white, not gray" and is clearly the wrong way to look at the Vietnam War. Who am I to disagree with my documentary hero who claims that a binary perspective is bad/shortsighted while a no...

June 8, 2017

The best leadership conference, in my opinion, is the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit that is simulcasted over the world for two days every August. It's well worth two days of your life. However, if you're too busy for that much self improvement, simply read on. I can assure you that none of the gems you'll read below will ever be covered at that conference.

The Bureau of Prisons is not exactly the crown jewel of the federal bureaucracy, but after 21 months of being here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp, I am continually amazed at the embedded culture of institutional dysfunction, dishonesty, and waste that goes on here. While I've never seen them in writing, as none of the real rules are ever written, here are the Top Ten BoP Core Values. Perhaps some of these can work for you or your organization, or not.

1. Protect thine own tushy at all costs.

2. If asked a question, answer it with a question.

3. If a question is from an inmate and #2 is ineffective, deflect the question with fe...

June 3, 2017

No sooner than I had written the post entitled "Soon," I was at work when my supervisor told me that I needed to report to the front desk of the Bastrop FCI immediately. The FCI is the low security Federal Correctional Institution, housing about 1500 inmates, with which we share about 70 acres, and is why our camp is called its satellite. Normally a camp inmate who has any need to be there is on a daily "Call Out" list and I wasn't on the list. As I was wondering why I was being summoned, my supervisor asked me what I had done wrong. That wasn't to tease me; it's just the way he thinks. No one here ever contacts him unless he's done something wrong, so that's his natural assumption. 

Upon my arrival, I was asked to wait outside in the sun. That's typical BoP protocol to remind me that I'm a felon and unimportant, so I waited. Finally an officer came out and said that I had a doctor's appointment and asked if I wanted to go. Apparently some inmates don't want to go, but of course I...

June 2, 2017

Sometimes a picture is worth a million words.

Charlotte Jane Rundle, born May 24, 2017, weighing 6 pounds, 14 ounces.

She's the smartest and most beautiful grandchild I've ever had.

Congratulations to Jana, Matt and Boone.

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© 2016 by Charles D. Jones