Scary Day in Federal Prison

July 8, 2014

Scary Day in Federal Prison

Too hot for groundhogs, but I had some unwanted excitement here at the camp.

So, I live by myself in a pod where there are 4 rooms. I came back from lunch and my neighbor was being packed out to go somewhere. He did not know where he was going. I helped him pack. They took him away, and I went about my business. I went to work and came back. There were yellow quarantine bags outside my room, and there were people in my room sanitizing it. The doctor rushed me away and gave me an extensive physical. He wouldn’t tell me what as going on. Needless to say, I was freaked out. It turns out that my neighbor has some rare strain of shingles and has been put in quarantine. They gave me the physical to see if I needed to be in quarantine with him. That’s the last thing I needed.

Scary day in Federal Prison for sure. The good thing? I am a day closer to home! That is a comforting thought.

Andy Rothenberg

4th of July at FCI Petersburg

July 4, 2014

4th of July at FCI Petersburg

It goes without saying…I’d rather be at the beach that at FCI Petersburg.

I’m not, so I have to make the most out of what I have here. There was a three-point contest at 11 and a free throw contest at noon. I entered the free throw contest and did ok. I averaged around 65% and came in 6th out of 13 people. I haven’t shot in years, so I was pretty happy.

At 1PM there was a “peel off”. It is essentially a body-building contest. There were 9 contestants (Clearly I was not one of them). This was one of the strangest things I have ever seen. These guys oiled themselves down and did a presentation on the basketball court. They flexed and did about 10 different poses like you see on TV. There were judges that voted on it. So there were about 200 guys watching 9 guys get oiled and flex for them.  It was pretty weird.

At 4pm, I played in the annual 4th of July Bocce tournament and came in 2nd out of 12 teams. I won some Gatorade.

At 5:30, I played in the horseshoe tournament. We got eliminated in the first round.

We had a cookout after all this and ate bacon cheeseburgers, watermelon, corn, and had red velvet ice cream after.

Time to read some more of the book, “Flag of Our Fathers” till I fall asleep. Pretty good book about the conquering of Iwo Jima. A friend has been sending me history books, and I’ve been enjoying reading them. Coming in, I was not a heavy reader, but I have kind of turned into one here.

I’ve been slacking on my eating the last 10 days, so tomorrow I’m going to work out a little extra and get back on the proper eating routine again.

Days like today are uncommon in my routine, but it was a holiday, and I wanted to take a break from the rigidness of my daily routine. Tomorrow I get back to work.

One year from now I will be home rather than having to endure another 4th of July at FCI Petersburg. That thought helps comfort me.

Andy Rothenberg

Teaching From Federal Prison

July 4, 2014

Teaching From Federal Prison

People, understandably so, get nervous about the job market when they get out of prison. I hear people ask each other what are they going to do. The advice I give them is to start their own business. That is a scary thing for people to think about.

I am teaching a class in Entrepreneurship. I tell these people to pick up a lawnmower and go door to door. Your barrier to entry is a lawnmower. Get as many yards in a day as you can 7 days a week and SAVE THAT MONEY. Then get some hedging equipment or whatever the majority of your yards call for. You keep building up your services until you get monthly accounts and can afford to hire people to work for you.

Start a car detailing company. It’s the same principle as landscaping. Your start up is affordable and you again control your own destiny.

I then go through the process of starting up an LLC.

I feel that a lot of my students get it. With a little confidence, I think some will grab that bull by the horns.

Justin gave me some prison advice and told me teaching should be a part of my prison term. I really love teaching from Federal Prison! Never thought I would say that.

Andy Rothenberg

Arguments in Federal Prison

June 29, 2014

Arguments in Federal Prison

I see the silliest arguments in federal prison. More than once, I have seen people argue (almost to punches) over a TV channel. I saw two guys a week ago argue over the telephone about who was next. They argued for so long that one of the people could have already used the phone.

Matzo is a Jewish type of cracker. The Jews here are fortunate to have access to the Matzo. I love it. However, there are the Matzo wars. There are conservative Jews here, reform Jews (I’m reform) and Masonic Jews. Sometimes one group does not get the same amount of Matzo as the others, and I have seen major arguments over that.

The wildest argument was just yesterday and over the microwave. It was quasi broken, but all you had to do was bang on the side of it to get it going. Well, the people who live close to the microwave don’t really like it at 5AM when someone is banging on it. An upset person took the microwave and hid it under his bed. That was the wrong thing to do. The rest of the floor went ballistic and turned him into the camp administrator. Some prison advice follows: Don’t turn anyone into the camp administrator and do not hide microwaves under you bed. Justin prepared me well for this types of issues.

You know you are in for too long if you argue intensely over a TV, telephone, matzo, and a microwave. Arguments in federal prison can led to problems, like transfer to SHU, another prison, or loss of good time. Let’s maintain perspective, stay focused on our release, and what is truly important.

Andy Rothenberg


Happy Birthday to My Dad!

June 28, 2014

Happy Birthday to My Dad!

I give a big shout out to my dad today as he passed away almost 3 years ago. Today would have been his 66th birthday. Happy birthday Dad!

I’m down the home stretch now. I am 121 days in and have 79 days to go. I came in weighing 203 and weigh 187 now. When I get home, I probably will lose a few more pounds eating proper food. I am pretty excited where I’m at right now.

I’m not one of these people who came to prison and have some religious transformation. I’m just as religious now as I was 5 years ago and so on. However, I did pick up in the library the english version of the Torah and read it. It’s 400 pages and actually a good read for anyone no matter what religion you are.

It’s gotten hot here at FCI Petersburg which makes landscaping tough. After all they do pay me 12c an hour. That’s enough to make anyone hustle right? The prices in our commissary are normal like the outside, however, we only get paid 12c an hr. When people say how much they make, they say $56 or $27. They mean per month. You learn the value of money real quick in here.

Tough groundhog week. Only trapped 6. This is in part because be are making progress in getting them off site and also in part because it is so hot here. We pretty much have to trap one the same day as we set the traps. If not, they will sit in the trap overnight and die from the heat. After all, our goal is to trap and move, not kill.

Enjoy your Saturday!

Andy Rothenberg

Getting closer to the Halfway House

June 24, 2014

Getting closer to the Halfway House.

When I get released (waiting for official date now. My target is mid-September) I will go to a halfway house for a couple weeks. At the halfway house, I will be able to leave every day and go to work and be able to go home on weekends. It will be nice to go to my office every day and get back to the swing of things. After a couple weeks in the halfway house, I am able to go home for good (wow!).

I am not sure what the outside world will feel like as I will have been away from it for almost 7 months. I think that there will be a certain amount of acclamation that I will go through (I will report as I am going through it). As much as I feel like I am improving in here, I just want to make sure that transfers to the halfway house, and to my term of supervised release or probation. I have been very conscious of that since I’ve been here. I have been goal driven here, but it’s different than being goal driven in business. In here, I have personal goals and milestones. In the outside, I have projects that I can see develop and get rewarded that way. In my business, I can touch and feel (in a way) my progress and in here I really can’t (unless I was to gain gratification my touching my muscles or brain). Being in here has made me focus on the inside of me. While I will be still continuing to grow the inside of me mentally and physically, I now have another challenge…focus!

Focusing on the here and now has really been a theme of mine while in here. Focusing on my past and worrying about the future, would have done me no good in here. My next challenge will be to continue to focus on my future.

Andy Rothenberg

1 Groundhog trapped today!

Healthcare in Federal Prison

June 21, 2014

Healthcare in Federal Prison

Healthcare in prison is atrocious. Some helpful prison advice: Do not get sick or hurt.

Doctors in prison are few and far between. For example there is one doctor at FCI Petersburg that covers the low, medium, and camp facilities. There are 1,500 prisoners in each and 340 here at the camp. So, that is roughly 3,400 prisoners and one doctor.

Each place has Physician’s Assistants who can write meds. You can imagine how one general doctor (no specialties) and a few PA’s can help 3,400 people. They can’t very well or at all.

When you get sick, it takes days to get help. When you hurt your ankle, you are on your own. It’s horrific. I will say, in extreme emergencies, they will take you to the hospital. One guy had a heart attack on the track last year. It took 45 minutes to get anyone to help. Then the ambulance came. The process took an hour and a half and the guy died. He would likely have been saved if help came quicker. Just the other day, a guy passed out in our recreation room. I was there and people knocked on the doctor’s office and he came out and we told him what happened, and he said, “I’ll be there in a minute”. He went on to see several other patients till he finally got up and walked 30 feet to see what was wrong. There was a 90 year old man who was having chest pains and the PA said “ok, just see me after pill line” (approximately 30 minutes).

Medication here is terrible. The BOP (Bureau of Prisons) has a formulary as to what meds they can give out. They cannot deviate from this. If you need a medication off the list, too bad. If you need a different med, the PA has to track down the 1 doctor to get approval for the new med and then he/she can write the prescription.

There is one and only on reason for this. It’s lack of proper oversight by the BOP. In my opinion, the medical people here are people that have failed on the outside in their professions. It makes sense because why on earth would anyone take a pay cut to work on prisoners? It’s does not make sense.

Don’t get sick in prison. Don’t get hurt in prison. Don’t make the same mistake I made because you will wind up in prison.

Andy Rothenberg


Day 112 in Federal Prison

June 19, 2014

Day 112 in Federal Prison

I’m well over halfway through this tedious grind. I say tedious grind because that’s what it is. Yes, my positive attitude as well as my routine have really helped me through. Every single day is like the next and the next and the next.  A bit ago, I mixed up my routine to fit in some fun things like volleyball, more tennis, some softball etc. I just needed to break up the monotonous and have some fun. However, I still keep the nuts and bolts of my routine intact. If I may offer some prison advice do not deviate from your disciplined routine for too long. Before you know it you will be trapped in a state of boredom, sluggishness and become distracted from the obstacles that await your release.

The people really help my time pass. I still have the core friends here that I have spoken about before, but I feel like I am friends with a lot of people here. It’s amazing the people who come out of the woodwork when you have a stress going on in outside. People come out of the woodwork to be by your side. It’s truly awesome. Never ever have I been around such compassionate people. Obviously, a lot of it has to do with the fact that they are in a tough time of their life as well. If the prison system allowed I would keep in touch with many of them upon release.

Andy Rothenberg

NEW RECORD: *****trapped 6 groundhogs today********


Writing again from Federal Prison

June 17, 2014

Writing again from Federal Prison.

I am over 112 days in and still trucking along. As it stands now, I should have about 93 days left. I’m thrilled to be on the other side of halfway. I’d like to say the first 110 days went fast, but it did not. However they have progressively gone by faster than the previous day. I was reading an amazing book the other day, Man’s Search for Meaningabout a psychologist who went through the nazi concentration camp system and luckily was spared. As part of Justin’s prison advice to me he had suggested I read the book. Victor Frankl, the author, said as he went down his journey, his days went slow, but his weeks went fast. I am not by any means comparing what I am going through to that incredible man. My struggle in no way compares to his. I am simply drawing a parallel that my weeks do go by faster than my days.

Some of my readers may have noticed that I have not written for nearly two weeks. I continue to stay productive, however. I am reading, exercising, and doing the best I can to stay connected to family and friends. I have not done a great job managing my phone minutes this month. July cannot get here fast enough.

I look forward to writing more regularly as we advance into these summer months. Again I would like to thank everyone who continues to believe in and support my efforts to leave FCI Petersburg better than when I came in.

Andy Rothenberg

Viktor Frankl

Blogging from Federal Prison

May 30, 2014

So, I recently did an interview regarding my blog from FCI Petersburg. The reporter asked me questions like what inspired me to write it from federal prison and how was the transition to federal prison.  I’m going to share some of this with you because I don’t think I have.

My blog was originally intended to be written for my family and friends to track my progress from federal prison. They were all concerned about me, and this was a way to reassure them that I was ok, and working daily to achieve the goals I set before I left.

The topics of my blog come from really whatever the wind blows my way. In the beginning, it was the scene here and the adjustment, the food, books I was reading, etc. It has now morphed into the lessons I am learning from federal prison and the new perspectives I have gained throughout this journey. My perspective today is much different than day 1 or week 2 etc. I’ve calmed down. I handle myself in a more mellow way. I am maturing and growing into this prison term.

I look back at my transition and realize it could have been easier than it was. This was partly due to the fact I was being held accountable in a way that I did not necessarily agree with. Many prisoners say that, I know. Still, I expected a different outcome. Embracing a different reality—prison—took some getting used to.

I walked in here not only scared to death, but frustrated in my heart that justice on my end was not served. This coupled with the more important things such as being separated from my family, made it a real hard pill to swallow. For those reasons and more my adjustment took time. But I’m growing through struggle.

I put on a tough face in the beginning grinding day by day, almost second by second focusing mainly on constant running to try to relieve my stress. My thoughts rambled and I just tried to have tunnel vision to gut my way through and not to break down. Breaking down was inevitable. I did it more than once. I feel like each time I did, it made me stronger.

I’ve been in here over 90 days and I am sure I will continue to gain perspective. For now, I am off to run, to work, then work my way through a good book.

Andy Rothenberg