Release from Prison Journal: Day 510-516

Sunday, January 4 through Saturday, January 10, 2015

My progress in the first full week of the year has been great. PrisonProfessor.com is nearly complete. We’ve made considerable progress with the redesign and I’ve added some new videos. I don’t know how long we will wait before we begin a coordinated marketing effort. I’m guessing we’ll wait until the early Spring. Before I invest money in marketing to drive traffic to the site, I need to ensure that the site is as good as it can be. I still need to build two landing pages, one specifically for defense attorneys and another landing page specifically for defendants. That effort will help me track conversions. I want to see what type of response I receive from several attorneys I’ll meet next week when I travel to Seattle and then Atlanta.

The writing responsibilities associated with building PrisonProfessor.com have caused me to fall behind on my running schedule. As of today, I’ve only run 44.34 miles on the year. According to my schedule, I’m supposed to be at 54.8 miles. I’m behind by 10.46 miles. That’s not good. I intended to run longer distances both yesterday and today. Carole interrupted my run yesterday morning with news that she had car trouble. Her car wasn’t starting. I had to abbreviate my run so that I could return home to help. Today I had to drive her to work, which meant I could only run five miles this morning. Her car is in the shop until at least Monday evening. That means I won’t be able to run a long distance tomorrow, either. So it looks as if I’ll continue falling behind in my running responsibilities for a few more days. More catching up to do.

Cary, a law student who will graduate from Stanford this coming spring came to visit me today. He is working on a project that describes people who make transformational changes in life. I spent an entire day responding to questions he had about my journey, from childhood to emergence from prison. It was the first of several interviews for the writing project he is striving to put together. Prior to attending Stanford Law, Cary had earned degrees from Harvard and Columbia, so he is a very impressive guy. He also is the producer of the award-winning indie film, Without Shepherds. I’m really glad to call him a friend.

Miles for week: 33.27

Miles for month: 44.34

Miles for year: 44.34

Weight: 167.5

Link to 2015 running log: Running Log

 

Release from Prison Journal: Day 507-509

Thursday January 1 through Saturday January 3, 2015

 

These first three days of the New Year were really wonderful. I worked from home, continuing to write new content for PrisonProfessor.com. I anticipate that this site will take another few weeks to complete. Since it’s a sales-oriented site, I have to think through every element of the presentation. It’s my hope that I’ll generate some traffic organically for PrisonProfessor.com, but the majority will come through advertising, I suspect. Because I’ll make regular investments to drive traffic, I devote dozens hours each week to the site’s development. I’m done with most of the writing. The work now is mostly graphical. But I intend to write new content regularly for the blog. Those articles, I hope, will yield more visitors from my intended audience: defendants and defense attorneys.

The big news of the first of the year is that Carole has persuaded me to change my diet. She has always been a disciplined eater. Now that she has so much knowledge about health, she is much more persuasive with her arguments about what I should eat. She has found scientific evidence that shows a link between gluten and dementia. Obviously, dementia doesn’t occur overnight. The science she has found suggests that decades of eating high-carb diets and gluten contribute to dementia. From the limited amount I understand from her, the gluten has a bad influence on the brain over time. Since I know that I won’t be running as many miles this year, I agreed to join her for at least one month. That means I had to stop eating pasta. Since pasta meals have always been my favorite, I feel like I’m making a huge sacrifice. I do it for her. I don’t know whether I’ll continue beyond January, but I’m committed to January.

Miles for week: 32.57

Miles for month: 11.07

Miles for year: 11.07

Weight: 167.5

Link to 2015 running log: Running Log

 

Release From Prison Journal: Day 506

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Today I am working from home. Since I achieved my running goal yesterday, I spent the morning with Carole. She scheduled herself to work overtime at her hospital today and tomorrow. We woke at 4:00 am, but rather than lacing up my sneakers and heading out the door, or getting in front of the computer to work, I visited with Carole as she got ready to leave.

I’m really impressed with Carole’s commitment to contribute to the savings goals that we set. We’ve come a long way together and we’re determined to make exceptional progress as a team in 2015. Today I’ll write specific goals that I am going to achieve in 2015. One will include building PrisonProfessor.com, the new business I’m launching.

Carole graduates with her master’s in clinical nursing this coming May. That accomplishment will free up a lot of time for her and we’re both very excited about the extra time that we’ll have together. Instead of studying, she’ll be able to enjoy her days off from the hospital as she sees fit.

All in all, I’m extremely grateful for the many opportunities that have opened for us since she picked me up outside of the federal prison in Atwater. We now own a home in the Bay area and we have a wonderful family as our tenants. We’ve built a strong savings account by living beneath our means. When I left prison I had a 0-0-0 credit score, but we’ve built it up to 725 since then. Together with our savings and our tax returns, we are confident that we’ll qualify for another mortgage that will allow us to purchase at least one more investment property in 2015.

Carole and I have been blessed with many income opportunities that will allow us to accelerate our progress toward stability in 2015. I’m grateful that we’re both in good health and that our loved ones are in good health as well. Carole and I are thankful for so many reasons. We’re looking forward to this New Year because we finally feel as though we’ll be able to make measurable traction toward preparing for our golden years together. One year from now, we anticipate a more relaxing life together.

 

Days since my release from prison: 506

Miles that I ran today: 0

Miles that I ran so far this week: 32.2

Miles that I’ve run during the month of December: 179.58

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 2,410.57

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: GOAL ACHIEVED

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: ACHIEVED

My weight for today: 168

Release From Prison Journal: Day 505

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

This morning I went outside, grateful that I would surpass the 2,400-mile running goal that I set before the year began. I purposely set a much lower running goal than during previous years because I anticipated that business and career responsibilities would interfere with my running schedule. Still, I expected that I would’ve hit the goal much sooner. I barely made it. Tomorrow I’ll be writing out my goals for 2015. Since I have even more business and career responsibilities now than I had in 2014, I will lower my running goal once again. I think that I’ll set a goal of running 2,000 miles in 2015. If I run the distances that I’ve been logging since I started to build PrisonProfessor, I may have a challenge even to run 2,000 miles. My weight will be a guide. I continue to weigh myself after every run. If my weight starts to creep up, I’ll force myself to run longer distances.

This morning I filmed two videos. I filmed one video for defendants and another video for defense attorneys. I won’t have the videos for another week, but I look forward to publishing them on the appropriate pages of the new website. After filming, I spent the rest of the day writing content and working through some design elements. The site is really coming along nicely. I think that we will have a great working version by next week. Once the site is all ready, I’ll begin writing new content for defendants. I’m continuing this effort of writing a daily blog that describes white collar defendants who could have benefited from this service.

Days since my release from prison: 505

Miles that I ran today: 10.7

Miles that I ran so far this week: 32.2

Miles that I’ve run during the month of December: 179.58

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 2,410.57

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: GOAL ACHIEVED

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: ACHIEVED

My weight for today: 168

Release From Prison Journal: Day 504

Monday, December 29, 2014

 

Katrina Parks, a film producer, gave me some great news today. I’ve been in contact with her since earlier this year, when my friend Shon Hopwood connected us. For those who don’t know, Shon is the author of Law Man and an incredible inspiration to many. After concluding a prison term, he earned his undergraduate degree and then went through law school at the University of Washington. Shon graduated from law school last spring and he now clerks for a federal judge in Washington DC. Katrina is making a film to profile the challenges that most people face when they conclude a prison term and return to society. She wants to film Shon and me to show examples of success that will contrast with the challenges that so many others face. From Katrina, I learned that she received a grant to film a trailer of the new film. I told her about my invitation to participate in a graduation ceremony at the Washington State Department of Corrections on January 15. The first group of men who completed our Straight-A Guide program are graduating and the prison invited me to attend the ceremony. When I told Katrina about it, she thought it might be a good opportunity to film for the trailer. I put her in contact with officials at the Washington State DOC, so we’ll see if we can make it work. I’d welcome an opportunity to get that footage from the trailer, as we would be able to use it to introduce our work to other prison systems. Katrina will use the trailer to raise additional funding to complete the production of the film.

 

Days since my release from prison: 504

Miles that I ran today: 11.2

Miles that I ran so far this week: 21.5

Miles that I’ve run during the month of December: 168.88

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 2,399.87

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: .13

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 10.33

My weight for today: 168

Release From Prison Journal: Day 503

Sunday, December 28, 2014

 

I’m enjoying this challenge of writing the daily blog for PrisonProfessor.com. This strategy should help me gain traction in spreading awareness of the business that I’m building. By April I will have written more than 100 articles. They will cover topics that include every type of white-collar crime. To gather my content, I visit websites like the Department of Justice press release pages, the FBI, and general news sites. That research leads me to cases. I read the cases. Then I write a synopsis with suggestions on what defendants should consider as they prepare. Once I have a sufficient number of articles on the site, I’ll begin investing financial resources on advertising campaigns with Google and Facebook. Those efforts should yield more visits from both defense attorneys and from defendants. I’ll be able to measure conversion rates. In other words, I’ll track how many of the people who visit PrisonProfessor convert into clients. It’s a long-term project, but I anticipate that I’ll succeed in building a business that contributes to our family’s stability. I intend to invest $50,000 in this effort. If I succeed, PrisonProfessor should yield sufficient revenues to become a self-sustaining entity. I’ll add content daily, but I’ll also promote the site with speaking events and social media posts. Together, all of these efforts will establish PrisonProfessor.com as an authority website. I look forward to the challenge, as I anticipate that the work will bring more clients.

 

Days since my release from prison: 503

Miles that I ran today: 10.3

Miles that I ran so far this week: 10.3

Miles that I’ve run during the month of December: 157.68

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 2,388.67

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 11.33

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 10.33

My weight for today: 168

Release From Prison Journal: Day 502

Saturday, December 27, 2014

 

Carole and I enjoyed the day in Newport Beach. The weather was magnificent. I ran on the path between the piers at Newport and Balboa, and Carole joined at the end. I really love Newport Beach and Orange County in general. Carole and I have been discussing where we will make our home. I’m partial to Southern California but she likes Northern California. I love the sunshine in late December, but the heat is sometimes too much for her. I had my shirt off and I even got sunburned. While walking on the beach, Carole and I talked about how our life was changing now that we’re approaching the end of her academic career. She is becoming more receptive to settling down in Orange County. We agreed to continue working really hard until her graduation in May. Then we will consider our resources and income opportunities. Together we will decide what is best for our family. My responsibilities with Prison Professor will require a lot of travel in 2015, so I suppose that I could live anywhere. I want her to be happy. We enjoyed our time together today on the beach and I think she warmed to the idea of settling down here. We’ll see how she feels next summer. After our walk we enjoyed a nice dinner at Mama D’s, one of our favorite Italian restaurants in Newport. We were home by 7:00 and went to sleep early, prepared to power through the final workweek of the year. I’m beginning to feel more confident that I will reach my running goal of 2,400 miles after all.

 

Days since my release from prison: 502

Miles that I ran today: 7.1

Miles that I ran so far this week: 46.91

Miles that I’ve run during the month of December: 147.38

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 2,378.37

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 21.63

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 6.6

My weight for today: 168

Release From Prison Journal: Day 501

Friday, December 26, 2014

Determined to make further progress toward my running goal, I set out to run 15 miles this morning. Now I’m within striking distance of reaching my goal, but I still have to run more than 28 miles. That doesn’t seem like much, given that we have five more days before 2014 ends. I’ll run each day until I hit my goal. But I’ve got a lot of writing and design and marketing responsibilities associated with PrisonProfessor.com. I feel equally obligated to devote time and attention to those tasks. Carole tells me that I shouldn’t stress so much over reaching the arbitrary number of 2,400 miles. “No one would fault you if you don’t hit the goal,” she tells me. I explain to her that I obsess on hitting the goal for myself, not for others. This commitment to set goals and then hit them carries over from the decades I served in prison. I needed a strategy that would restore some level of power over my life. In prison, the system takes away so much in the way of discretion and control over an individual’s life. I found that by identifying clear goals and then pushing myself to achieve them, I could restore a sense of efficacy. Even though more than 500 days have now passed since I concluded my obligation to the Bureau of Prisons, I still live by this strategy. If I don’t hit my goal I know that I’ll experience a deep sense of disappointment. So I’ve got to keep pushing myself. Running 15 miles felt great today. I won’t be able to run as long tomorrow, as I’ve got to complete a lot of writing. But I am determined to make more progress running, even if it’s only a few miles. Carole isn’t working tomorrow, so I’ll have to balance some time with her, too. Still, I’m going to make progress.

 

Days since my release from prison: 501

Miles that I ran today: 15.41

Miles that I ran so far this week: 39.81

Miles that I’ve run during the month of December: 140.28

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 2,371.27

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 28.73

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 6.07

My weight for today: 168

Release From Prison Journal: Day 500

Thursday, December 25, 2014

It’s my third Christmas in the world since leaving prison. Wow. Time is really passing quickly. From my journal, I see that exactly 500 days have now passed since I concluded my obligation to the Bureau of Prisons. I was still in the San Francisco Halfway house on my first Christmas in society, which meant I was still a prisoner. Carole worked that day, but I was allowed to leave the halfway house. I remember running a 20-mile distance that day in the rain. I was alone, but I enjoyed the time very much. Carole worked last Christmas, too. I spent the day alone in our home in Petaluma. At the time, I wouldn’t have thought that we’d be living in Orange County this year.

Carole was scheduled to work today, too, but the census at her hospital was low. She received a phone call at 5:00 am this morning with the welcome news that she wouldn’t have to work. It would be our first Christmas together. Since she wasn’t working, I decided not to run. We began looking for houses together on real estate websites.

We put plans in motion to purchase a second investment property around the time that she will graduate. Initially, we’ve been planning to purchase another home in the San Francisco Bay area because there is such a strong rental market there. But today Carole expressed more comfort in buying a home in Orange County. We discussed the pros and cons of buying a home for us to live in rather than buying a second investment property. I don’t know what we’ll do, but we enjoyed the morning looking at homes and townhomes in Irvine. Then we spent several hours driving around for a curbside look at the homes we liked. We also drove to Laguna Beach together for the first time.

I spent the afternoon working on my writing responsibilities. Then we drove to my grandmother’s house for a wonderful Christmas dinner with my mom and grandma. I’m so glad that Carole was able to join me. My mom made a great steak for me, and she also prepared black beans Cuban style, which I ate frequently while growing up. This was the best Christmas I’ve had in as long as I can remember. I’m very grateful.

Days since my release from prison: 500

Miles that I ran today: 0

Miles that I ran so far this week: 24.4

Miles that I’ve run during the month of December: 124.87

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 2,355.86

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 44.14

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: -2.77

My weight for today: 168

Release From Prison Journal: Day 499

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Today I received some great advice that is going to help me with the development of PrisonProfessor.com. I spoke with a successful Internet entrepreneur who runs three websites. One of them is well established, generating more than $10,000 per day in revenues. His second site is only two months old, but it’s gaining traction. The third site will launch on January 1. Since he has so much experience building successful Internet businesses, I knew that I could learn a great deal from him.

As we spoke about PrisonProfessor.com, he told me that I needed to give more thought to the concept of landing pages. Currently, the PrisonProfessor design shows a call to action for both defendants and for defense attorneys. The problem with that strategy, he pointed out, was that I wouldn’t be able to gain an accurate measurement of conversions. In order to really scale the business, I’d need to gauge how many visitors convert over to paying clients. That measurement will determine the amount of investment that I should make in marketing and advertising.

Based on our discussion, I realized that I’d have to spend more time redesigning the site’s layout. I don’t mind. I enjoy writing the content for this site, and I enjoy learning how I can become more successful. This business will require many do overs during the months to come. What exists today will advance.

I am going to write a specific landing page for attorneys. And I am going to write a different landing page specific for defendants. I will film a new video for each. Those landing pages will differ from the home page. In the spring, when I began deploying resources into advertising, I’ll direct visitors to one of the two landing pages. That will provide me with a better metric to measure conversions to sales.

 

Days since my release from prison: 499

Miles that I ran today: 13.4

Miles that I ran so far this week: 24.4

Miles that I’ve run during the month of December: 124.87

Miles that I ran so far in 2014: 2,355.86

Miles that I need to run in order to reach my annual goal of 2,400 miles: 44.14

Miles I’m ahead of schedule to reach my 2,400-mile goal by the end of 2014: 3.8

My weight for today: 168