Monday, July 25, 2016

What I Learned at the Women's Judo Camp

In Denver airport on my way home from the women's judo camp. It was GREAT!  I totally did not expect it to be so much fun. 

Mornings were dedicated to kata and exercise. I had to work every morning so I'm just going by the schedule. That was the first thing I learned at the camp. If you want to go and you don't have three full days to devote to judo, that's fine. You can come for one day, two days or all three. If you can't make it some mornings because you have to work, come in the afternoon, or vice versa.

Afternoons, we focused on techniques for competition. I taught a lot about transition from standing to matwork, particularly arm bars.We played a lot of games and I even learned some new ones. 

Here is one example:

Put the group into two teams. One player from Team A gets a player from Team B in a pin. Four players from Team A surround the two. Now, four players from Team B have one minute to get their player free. 

My plane is boarding so here is the most important thing I learned - make decisions for yourself and don't judge based on rumor. 

I had heard for YEARS that the women's judo camp was all kata. I'd also been told many times directly that I would hate the women's camp, that it was full of people who were very prim and proper, that I would get in trouble for not having ironed my judo gi, not having the right color gi, not bowing properly, etc.

Those rumors are so widespread that while I was here, I kept getting text messages asking if I was really at the women's camp, because, as you probably know from reading this blog, I have a way of offending people in the least prim and proper circles, without any additional gi-ironing requirements necessary.

As I said, it was GREAT and nothing like I had heard. When I told Eiko that she asked,

"Who told you those things?"

I realized how stupid it sounded even as I answered, 

"People who hadn't ever been there. "

Judge for yourself. 

Also, practice your transition from standing to matwork, but that's another post altogether.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Be an anti-hoarder

Just arrived in Denver for the Women's Judo Camp that started tonight. You can still come in for a day or two if you are in the area. However, I happened to find this post on my iPad I had never uploaded.

Before and after cleaning under my bed
Years ago, I said to The Invisible Developer,

"Every month, I go through this house, bag up things we don't need and give them to charity or throw them out, and yet there is never any less stuff in this house. What does that tell you?"

He answered, hopefully,

"That I'm a good provider?"

Anyone who knows me well can tell you that I am the opposite of a hoarder. Where some people are gratified by bringing into their home things that they then don't use, I spend my spare time getting rid of things or using them up. This is a great idea.  

Getting rid of stuff you don't need is one of the easiest ways to improve your quality of life.

Let me explain why you, too, should become an anti-hoarder.

1. Using what you have will improve your quality of life.
I presume you bought whatever it is - perfume, stationery or an exercise bike - because you thought you would actually like that thing. Use it or lose it. I have a lot of perfume that people have given me and on my quest to use it up, I try to remember to put it on myself or just spray it around the house. Both my house and I smell great, which makes me happy. Other things I use include books that I've been meaning to read - making a serious effort to read these and learn more.

2. Getting rid of the clutter in your house gives you more space - for free! In Santa Monica, where I live, rental space goes for about $5 per square foot. So, if you can get rid of 100 square feet of stuff in your house, that is $500 a month or $6,000 a year. That might seem like a lot of stuff, but if you have a few boxes here and there you can eliminate that can add up to 100 square feet pretty quickly. Personally, I LIKE having some open space and it is way cheaper to get rid of stuff than buy a bigger place - and you don't have to pay taxes on the money you save!

3. Instead of buying more stuff, using the stuff you have will save you money!
Last night, we had dinner for 10 people. It cost me $4 for ice cream. Everything else was made using food already in the house and dishes we already owned. If I took 10 people to dinner at a decent restaurant in my neighborhood, it would easily cost $500.

4.  Getting rid of stuff you don't need makes it easier to find the stuff you do need and want. How much time do you spend looking for a shirt you like to wear, a book you want to read, that tool you need? How often do you just give up? If your house only contains shirts you like, books you'll read and tools you need, it will be a lot easier to find stuff. You won't have to dig through all of the junk.


When I'm not writing this blog, I'm making educational games that run on Mac and Windows. You can buy 3 for $20. Get them. Your cinye thinks you should.

You can also give as a gift or donate to a school. We've got your karma needs covered.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Write your own story - why does everyone have to be beautiful?

A while ago,  rambling on my other blog,  I wrote about The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf and how it didn't follow the standard script. There is one place, though, where I think the author did feel obligated to conform, for some reason.

The damsel is not a tiny little thing, like her sister. In fact, she likes to sit down and feast on roasted boar with the best of them. She falls in love with the good-looking knight, but he completely disregards her and falls in love at first sight with her sister, who is a social climbing jerk, but beautiful.

The damsel eventually recognizes that her knight is kind of a dork. I mean, who falls in love with someone just because they look good? If they did marry, what would she talk to this guy about? He'd just be riding off getting into sword fights for no real reason while she sat at home.

She falls in love with the dwarf and this breaks the spell he is under , turning him back into the not-bad-looking noble he really is and they live happily ever after.

Why is it that in every story when someone falls in love with an unattractive person 'for who they really are' there is some physical transformation and the beast or dwarf or frog turns into a handsome prince?

Not that I'm advocating inter-species dating here, I get the frog and the beast part. As for the ugly sister that turns into a beautiful princess, the dwarf that turns back into his real self - why can't he stay a dwarf?

This book was pretty good on the damsel side,though. Basically,

She wasn't particularly thin or beautiful but she was smart, loyal, kind and brave. He knew he was lucky to have her. He wasn't a white knight in shining armor. He was a farmer who loved her, respected her and was a really smart guy. They lived happily ever after. The End

I'd like a book to end, just once with,

She was ugly but had a lot of other good qualities so they got married and lived happily ever after.
I'm very serious about this because I think far too many people overlook inner stupidity/ jerk for outer beauty. Close your eyes and imagine Mr/ Ms Right Now as a 50-year-old with wrinkles, a receding hair line , a paunch and a bad back. Do you still want to hang out with this person?

If the answer is, "No", quit making the down payments on that ring and put your money in the stock market. If for some reason you do decide to marry them, for God's sake, get yourself an airtight prenuptial agreement so you come out okay in the eventual divorce.

When I'm not writing this blog, I'm making educational games that run on Mac and Windows. You can buy 3 for $20. Get them. Your cinye thinks you should.

You can also give as a gift or donate to a school. We've got your karma needs covered.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Why the women's camp is so important to me

Last week,  I attended an event for women developers sponsored by a software company.  The keynote speaker was male. This was an entire room full of very accomplished women invited to an event where a man got up and told the  audience how important diversity was - so they couldn't find a woman to speak in their whole 50,000 person company?

In my life, I have had plenty of experiences in judo where a women's team is coached entirely by men, a training camp with 80-100 elite women athletes is all taught by men.

Looks random but isn't - Today we were recording a podcast with an African- American woman , Qianna, who was Chief Operating Officer of a multi-million dollar tech company. She mentioned another interview where someone had suggested that after the election , it would be great if President Obama would go into venture capital funding. The host said,

 "He would make partner for sure."

Qianna commented ,

"That shows you the bar a black man must clear to make partner in a VC firm"

Are all of the partners in venture capital firms former presidents of the United States? I don't fucking think so.

( Subliminal advertising we do a podcast called More Than Ordinary - you can find it here or subscribe on iTunes)

Similarly, yes, I get invited to events to teach at clinics and camps that are predominantly but I won the world championships.

Does every man who teaches a class of all-women have a world or Olympic medal?

I don't fucking think so.

This post also makes clear why I'm so excited to be coaching at the women's camp this year.

I started judo 45 years ago - I was 12 - and women were seldom 'allowed' to compete.

When the Supreme Court ruled that companies could not pay women lower wages than men because "that is what women traditionally get paid" - I was 16 years old.

 When Title IX passed, I was 14. Title IX begins
" “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”"

A key point here is that for the first years I was in judo, allowing women to compete or participate was voluntary for everyone. Even after Title IX passed, since few judo programs operated at schools or universities, it was perfectly legal to tell women and girls they were not welcome - and plenty of programs did.

I was often told that I was not an appropriate representative for judo even though I won and I won and I won and I trained my ass off. Why was I not a proper representative? As it was told to me by very well-meaning older women,

  • We've just recently been allowed to be in tournaments. 
  • We don't want to upset the men.
  •  We don't want to feed into those stereotypes of being unfeminine. 
  • You need to dress more nicely when you come to tournaments. 
  • Don't swear. 
  • Have your judo gi folded properly. 
  • Act more respectful. 
  • Women need to wear a white stripe on their belts because we're not claiming to be equal to the men.
  • You don't want them to start thinking women judoka are feminists, now do you?

The first point, although it was true, is the one that made me angriest. Maybe it made me so angry BECAUSE it was true.  Women were 'allowed' to do judo and men had the ability to 'not allow them' to do judo. Many clubs did not allow women, either just saying it flat out, giving excuses like "We have no changing facilities" or by trying to beat the hell out of any women who trained with them until they gave up and left.

I do understand those women's perspective who were unsuccessfully trying to get me to behave. They had desperately wanted to do judo, done whatever was asked of them to gain access and now some little twit like me comes along and has the possibility of ruining it for them.

Thanks to those women, and others of my mother's generation, I have the luxury of the attitude of "I have a RIGHT to be here and I don't have to be nice to you people to prove that women should be allowed on the mat."

Thanks to the women of my generation (you're welcome) young women today don't need to give any thought to whether they need to fit some special standard for women just to be allowed on the mat.


The camp is July 22-24, 2016 in Littleton, CO.  The head instructor is Eiko Saito Shepherd, who has always been a hero of mine, but that's a post for another day.


Also, check out our games - running on Mac and Windows -

Are you on computer? Do you have $4.99 ? Check out Forgotten Trail. Do something productive!

Or, you can get all of our games here ...  Buy Spirit Lake &  Fish Lake and we'll throw in Forgotten Trail for free, because we're awesome like that.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Most Useful Life Lessons I Learned

There were many reasons I admired my grandmother. She was born on a little island in the Caribbean in 1900 and died at 99, having lived in three countries, through two world wars and the invention of everything from the airplane to blow dryers to the internet. What I always aspired to most was her level of unflappability. 

One of my lovely children sent this text today.

How to be a grown up at work - replace fuck you with ok, great
To which a second lovely child replied

I use my “fuck you -> ok, great” replace-a-lator 5000 a lot. Mom’s has always been a bit faulty and even more so in old age

Actually, while it may be that I have very little tendency to hold back if I feel inclined to tell you to go fuck yourself, that inclination has come less and less the older I get.

There have been a lot of milestone events in the past few years - my second daughter getting married, my youngest daughter graduating from high school, my next-youngest daughter appearing in movies and TV shows, a book authored by two daughters winning many awards.

My company, 7 Generation Games, survived its third year in business, which is quite an accomplishment for a start-up. We released our third commercial game and two more demos for upcoming games.

I don't want to make this sound too much like those Christmas letters where they brag about Johnny's discovering a cure for cancer while Janey wrote a poem that won an Oscar for best screen play. "Even those are normally for actual screen plays that are made into movies they made an exception for Janey because of her amazing talent." Oh, and here is a picture of our family on our summer vacation to the moon.

My point is that a lot of good stuff has happened that has caused me to stop and reflect, because, in my life, a lot of bad stuff has happened as well. If you're really interested in the bad stuff, you can listen to our first two podcast episodes, or you can just take my word for it

I'm getting to that age where more and more people I know have died - all of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers - the majority of the 'older generation' is gone now. I've also seen many people die far too young, of heart attacks, accidents, cancer and a few from suicide or murder.

I've seen a lot of people I care a lot about experience great hardships, everything from losing a child to losing a spouse to losing their ability to walk, hear, see or speak. There has been plenty of failure in my circle of friends and family over the years - divorce, bankruptcy, business failures, dropping out of school, losing matches or missing out on teams.

As I get older, I'm starting to dimly perceive the roots of Nanny's composure. When you get old enough to have seen a lot of lives played out and summed up, I think you learn a few things.

  1. The most certain fact about life is that it goes on. Whether you totaled your car last night or won the Nobel prize, in the morning you still need to get out of bed, brush your teeth, eat. No matter how great or rotten things are, life has a tendency to regress toward the mean. (Random fact: Did you know that the phrase "This too, shall pass" is not found anywhere in the Bible? Regardless, it is still fundamentally true.)
  2. Life goes on - until it doesn't. You never know. So, if you want to do something, whether it is visit a good friend, get a Ph.D., start a company, earn a black belt or tell your family you love them, don't put it off too long. Prepare for tomorrow, but not so much that you forget to live today.
  3. People have much more control over life than they think they do. I've been so blessed to have good friends around me my whole life and I have seen people overcome incredible challenges. Just don't give up and it's amazing what you can accomplish. You can be happy and have a good life in a million different permutations. It is really NOT true that you will never be happy unless Bob the Builder from shop class notices you and sweeps you off your feet. Nope. Not true. You can be just as happy being Mrs. Thomas the Tank Engine.
  4. People have much less control over life than they think they do. This might seem a logical contradiction to the previous lesson, but it isn't. Sometimes, things just happen. A tree falls on your house. Someone you love drops dead. The company where you have worked for 20 years goes out of business. You run into an old friend who tells you about an opening for the perfect job for you.
  5. In short, you have much less control over what happens to you and much more control over how you respond to it. Or, as gamblers say, what matters isn't the cards you're dealt but how you play them.
I think if you take these five lessons to heart, you, too, will be less flappable.
Also, check out our games - running on Mac and Windows -

Are you on computer? Do you have $4.99 ? Check out Forgotten Trail. Do something productive!

Or, you can get all of our games here ...  Buy Spirit Lake & Fish Lake and we'll throw in Forgotten Trail for free, because we're awesome like that.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

What are you people thinking? It's inconceivable

 This is the meaning of the word inconceivable (no matter how much you were steered wrong by the use of it in the Princess Bride) … when you cannot even begin to imagine something. 

There are times when, no matter how hard I try, I cannot imagine what is going through a person’s mind when they make a decision.

Take the recent case of the judge who gave 6 months in jail - of which he will probably only serve 90 days  - to a rich, white kid from Stanford who raped an unconscious woman.

This is not one of those he said- she said cases. There was DNA evidence. There were two eyewitnesses. He was caught red-handed (or red-penised) at the scene of the crime. The victim pressed charges and read in court a tragic description of how she had been raped at how the rape had affected her life. The prosecutor asked for a 6-year sentence.

Then, the judge, someone apparently intelligent and schooled in the law, comes to the conclusion, 

Oh, that wasn’t so bad. He’s only raped one unconscious person, as far as I know, and he swims fast, so let’s not give him any more than 90 days in jail.

To me, it makes absolutely no sense. Someone added up 2 + 2 and got grapefruit.


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Signs You're Hanging Out With A Sociopath

Since I'm still trying to convince Maria and my husband to have the next More than Ordinary podcast focus on relationships, I decided to write about it here until they come to see the error of their ways and go along with me.


First,  let's talk about less than ordinary relationships  These traits don't seem to change very often so I would be for requiring certain people have
Warning: I'm the person your parents warned you about

tattooed in a conspicuous place.

Since that has not happened, let me give you Mama AnnMaria's red flags that you might be hanging out with a dirt bag

Fake honesty

For example, I worked with a guy who was having problems in his marriage. In explaining what happened he said
I made a mistake. I was having an affair with this other woman. My wife found pictures on my phone and saw the charge for the hotel on the credit card. When she confronted me about it, I was honest with her
Okay, what is it with you people charging hotels? This is far from the first person I have heard of doing this. If you have to be bumping ugliest with some stranger, can't you and McCheatypants between the two of you come up with the cash to cover four hours at the Sleazy Slime Motel?

Anyway, what I told my co-worker, Bob Loosedick , was
What the hell, that's not being honest. She caught you dead to rights with nasty pictures and evidence from your MasterCard. Saying, "Yes, that is my phone that you took out of my pants pocket" isn't being honest, or not denying it and saying, "No, I'm not cheating, I'm studying to be a gynecologist."

You weren't honest. You were CAUGHT. There's a difference.

It's the same thing with these stupid women dating guys in prison who say,
He's an honest guy. He doesn't deny that he beat the old lady with a lead pipe to steal her Yorkshire Terrier to sell it for body parts to buy crack.
Honest would be not be stealing in the first place. Similarly, if after denying you committed a crime, then getting convicted with DNA, security camera, eye witness and dog bite scars as evidence, admitting you did it when going up for parole isn't honesty, it's strategy.

Yorkshire Terrier named Bob

Fake Remorse

Ogden Nash said that he'd

Rather have a rude word from someone who had done me no harm
Than a graceful letter from the King of England saying he's sorry he broke my arm

I've more than once had words with someone who thought their being sorry about some behavior should excuse it. You know when the time to be sorry about doing something that would hurt me is?  Before you do it. And then don't fucking do it.

Then, they whine about it.
How can you not forgive me? I feel so BAD about running over your Yorkshire Terrier and getting you fired because I lied to your boss about you being the head of an international sex slave dog trafficking ring.

Ok, let me get this straight. YOU did something rotten and I should be okay with it now because YOU feel bad. If the biggest concern in my life was your feelings that would make sense but excuse me instead if I am concerned about my veterinarian bills and finding a new job before I get evicted. Also, people give me dirty looks now at the dog park.

Tell me again just how you're feeling bad is supposed to be an improvement in MY situation that you caused?

Fake Appreciation

Watch out for people when your relationship is 99% one way.

If there is ever anything I could do for you ...  I hear that a lot.

Thank you so much for flying to Antartica and teaching judo to penguins for me.

Writing this, I thought of a couple of friends at whose request I have given thousands of dollars to charities and non-profit organizations they support over the years. In that same period of time, we have run two Kickstarter campaigns that they have not supported in ANY way - not backed us for $5, tweeted out a link, posted on Facebook, emailed to a friend, nothing. They've never bought a single one of our games, never donated one to a school. The cheapest game is $4.99 so it isn't as if it is a hardship on them. How hard is it to email a friend who is a teacher or a parent and say, "Check this out".  They aren't bad people, but they are kind of bad friends. They are just so caught up in their own 'crusade' that they never think of anyone else. However, thinking about this, I'm going to be giving that money to different causes next year. There are lots of really good charities out there. *

The people you really have to watch out for, though, are the sneaky ones that try to PRETEND that you are doing each other favors.

 "Here, I brought you back this postcard from my trip to Nebraska. I came over here personally to give it to you and talk to you about investing $9,000,000 in my chain of Marijuana Dispensary and Pasta Restaurants called Pot O' Spaghetti. Because we're such friends and all, that's why I bought you the glossy postcard even though it's 3 cents more expensive. Also, here is a piece of string I had in my pocket that you can use to hang the postcard up over your desk."

* P.S.  Random weirdness. There will be people who say to me, "I can't believe that you'd be so petty to quit supporting a charity because your friends never bought a $5 game from your stupid company."  I notice this happens to people (not just me) all the time - they can give thousands of dollars or countless hours to a charity and end up with people mad at them because they didn't give more or didn't give it for more years.