Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Stupidest Judo Question

It has been said that there is no such thing as a stupid question. Anyone who thinks that has never been a judo instructor. Also, as someone else said, if there is no such thing as a stupid question, what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they suddenly become smart just in time to ask a question?

I have been requested to stick to judo for a change. Today I just wanted to share with you the stupidest judo question I ever get.

"Do you think you could defeat a Ninja?"

The answer is,

"I would not fight a ninja. I would move out of the way and let him be stomped by my unicorn."

To which the questioner replies,

"There is no such thing as unicorns. You don't HAVE a unicorn!"

My answer to this being,

"Like YOU have a ninja?"

I live by the beach in Santa Monica. It's a beautiful place, home to aging yuppies and sun-burnt tourists. There are not hordes of ninjas roaming the place, and if there were, they would not be real ninjas but extras for some movie being filmed here for the American Film Market, and yeah, I am pretty sure I could take them. Most of them are off-duty waiters and waitresses from the Fish Co. anyway.

Second stupidest question:

"What if I attacked you? I'm a man. Do you really think a woman your size could beat me with your judo?"

"No, I'd shoot you."

"You can't shoot me. That's illegal. Besides, you don't have a gun."
"Well, technically, that's true, however, if you were dead it's not as if you could tell anyone I did it. And I could always plead self-defense. Besides, if you can hypothetically attack me, I can hypothetically shoot you. If you aren't really going to attack me, then I don't need a real gun."

Some people think I am a horrible person and no one who says such things should be allowed to be on the board of the United States Judo Association. However, it is a proven fact that having a sense of humor is related to a longer life expectancy. So, I can only conclude that those people who hold that view are going to die soon, leaving socially inappropriate people like me in control.

Now isn't that a thought scarier than ninjas?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


At left is a picture of me because my friend Laura said I should include a picture that did not look like it was taken by a guy with a cane and a German shepherd on a dark night.

In revenge, let me tell you a story about Laura, who was one of the many unwilling to pay me hush money. On her 50th birthday, while I slaved away on my laptop in the hotel room in the Bahamas, she was scubadiving with sharks. One would assume by 50 a person who would go diving with sharks would have the sense to do so inside of a cage - but not Laura! No, she is out there passing out fish to actually live, humongous, Jaws-auditioning sharks with nothing between her and them but a wetsuit!

When I pointed out to her that this was possibly not the wisest thing since the guy who said, "Floor it, Earl, you can beat that train. It aint going so fast."

She responded, "They weren't going to bother me. They had plenty of fish to eat."
NOTE TO SELF: Stay away from things with big teeth that have been known to eat people, ignoring all of Laura's arguments that this is not a rational perspective. Rational is clearly used here with one of its meanings with which I have not previously been familiar.

Continuing on the topic from my last post of things that annoy me are people who complain about their relationships. I know a number of women who could spend entire months going on about how every man she ever had in her life 'done me wrong'. I know plenty of men who fall into the same camp. My first solution is that they should form two clubs and then date each other, like sororities and fraternities on a college campus.

I can only feel sympathy to a point. I have decided that point is 21, for the reason that it is half of 42 which you should know, is the answer to life, the universe and everything. If you don't know, read the book. What book? Life, the universe and everything. It's a great book, by Douglas Adams, weren't you paying attention?

As for paying attention, for crying out loud, why are you complaining about the men/ women/ amphibians you have had in your life? You picked them, didn't you? It's not as if you were sold into slavery at age 13 and each progressive evil member of the opposite sex passed you off to the next one.

Yes, I do understand that people tend to repeat the patterns they experienced as children. However, I would think at some point after you have had a rotten experience with say, the fifth guy who is an alcoholic, you would write in your journal,
NOTE TO SELF: If he gets drunk and throws an object at me before the third date, dump him!

I have noticed that I post here with much greater frequency than in my corporate blog, which, if you are truly fascinated, is located here:

There is a reason for that. Our company blog is limited to socially appropriate postings which would not offend any clients or funding agencies. I have found that I have inappropriate thoughts far more often than appropriate ones.

Hence the discrepancy.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Those of you who think you know it all are very annoying

Those of you who think you know it all are very annoying to those of us who do.

I have seen this quote on posters outside the office or dorm room doors over the years many times. Each time, actually knowing them to be pretty bright people, I think the occupant of the room was only half-joking and I would think to myself,

"Well, you're rather impressed with yourself, now aren't you?"

I have now joined the ranks of the annoyed, a privilege I have earned by growing old and cranky. Here are some examples of the annoying people who have pushed me over the edge.

People who say,
"Having Ph.D. doesn't mean you're smart. I know lots of really stupid Ph.D.'s
First of all, I doubt the speaker knows lots of stupid Ph.D.'s. I am sure I know more people with doctorates than the average man/ woman on the street and I cannot say I know anyone who is stupid who has a Ph.D. I know people with doctorates who are arrogant, have the maternal instincts of a turtle, the moral fiber of a banana slug and the endearing social skills of a wolverine, but I don't know any who are actually stupid.

Phrased another way, this becomes,
"You think you're smarter than me just because you have a doctorate."
No, I think I am smarter than you because you just asked me if I wanted fries with that. The truth is, I never am thinking about whether I am smarter than anyone, unless they bring it up. I am usually thinking about how to best explain Repeated Measures Analysis of Variance to a group of graduate students, or how to add multimedia to our website and still make it accessible to people with low-bandwidth connections or ways to get someone in the family other than me to change the cat litter. I have yet to find acceptable answers to any of those questions, in case you are wondering.

Since you brought it up, though.... Just like everyone else with higher education, I went to college for years. During that time, I stayed awake in almost all of my classes, read the textbooks and didn't skip class to go to parties and get wasted (well, not very often, anyway). Do I think that means that I have a higher IQ score than someone who did not do those things. Well, in fact, research (some of it done by me) shows that higher IQ is related to educational achievement, but it is by no means a perfect correlation. It is, therefore, possible that you are smarter than me and I am just a harder worker, or a less heavy user of alcohol and drugs. Exactly why did you bring this up?

I will be fair here and say that it is true that many people I know with doctorates, M.D.s, J.D.'s , etc. had all of the breaks. They went to the best prep schools, had a trust fund that paid all their expenses in college, never had to work their way through school and were not one eyelash more gifted than the children of their family maid or gardener who never had that chance. Those people generally believe that they made it all because they are so brilliant and hard-working, and they annoy me, too. Not as much as they used, to, though.

The fact is, even if they were born with a silver spoon, they studied and they tried to find some useful life's work instead of becoming Paris Hilton.

The next-to-last group who have me really longing for, as my niece says, the power to smite people, are those who confuse the possession of some obscure fact or trivial skill for intelligence. These people seem to be all over, like chiggers, and have the same personal attractiveness.

They will casually interject into the conversation the exact date at which it was decided that Pluto was not a planet or the original Aramaic name for Jerusalem or (I am not kidding), say "It is a matter of physics - like e = mc-squared," - and then they actually give the VALUE of the square of the velocity of light in scientific notation.

Then they will look at you, wide-eyed and say, 'What, you didn't know that?'
NOTE TO ANNOYING PEOPLE: Knowing an obscure fact or two, or even fourteen, does not make you intelligent or educated. It just makes you annoying. Of course, you already knew that, which is why you are reading this note.

The last group of people who are really annoying are those who make comments like,
"What you have a Ph.D. and you don't know how to operate a cappuccino machine?"
"Your husband doesn't know his own parents' address and he has all of that education?"

This may come as a surprise to some people, but when my husband was taking his exams during his doctoral program in particle physics, "Where do your parents live?" was not one of the questions.

Furthermore, there were no courses in my doctoral program on cappuccino machine operation, although, I am fairly confident that, if I so desired, I could learn not only how to operate a cappuccino machine but how to design and build one.

However, I don't have time because I am too busy trying to develop the power to smite annoying people from afar.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Why would anyone give us money

"People, why would anyone give us money for this?"

Our former marketing director, Derrick, used to ask this question at just about every staff meeting. It was a good way to re-direct all of the Ph.D.'s in the room to the business at hand. Yes, there is an epidemic of autism. Yes, there are now 13 categories under which children qualify for special education services rather than eight. Yes, using templates that give each page a unique URL is preferable to frames. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Here is the big difference moving from being a professor to being in business. As a professor, you only need to know stuff. In business, someone must be willing to give you money for whatever it is you are doing. If you are a good professor, a good teacher, you try to put yourself in the students' place, imagining what they will find confusing, what will relate to their interests.

The truth, though, is that lots of professors come in and give the same lecture they gave for the last fifteen years and they do not get fired. Business is less forgiving. If you cannot put yourself in your clients' place and meet their needs, you will be out of business. The smaller business you are, the quicker you find yourself in that position.

In a way, business forces more honesty.

There are a lot of great things about being a professor - the constant push to learn more and stay current with all the knowledge being added to the world every day. There are so many great things, it is the one job I have had in my life I would think about going back to. I think about it, then I look at the salaries professors make and get depressed, remembering that is why I left in the first place.

Maybe I will become a judo instructor and open my own school. Why not? I was the first American world judo champion, and I have a Ph.D. I love teaching. Oh wait, martial arts school owners on the average, make even less than professors. (Did I mention I specialized in statistics in my doctoral program?)

A few years ago, I was at a software conference with a group of very brilliant people, all of whom had lovely homes, great-paying jobs and were there on expense accounts in this beautiful resort. One turned to me and said, "I feel like I'm living the American dream, but it's someone else's dream, do you know what I mean?"

Yes, I did.

One world championships, four degrees, a million dollars in consulting contracts, four children and I still don't know what I want to do with the rest of my life. My goal over the next six months is to figure out what I want to do when I grow up.

Business - judo - disability - education ..... I couldn't even come up with a simple title for this blog. Is it a wonder I am so confused?

On the other hand, I am just a huge whiner. A few years ago again, I was complaining to another mother about my children. One was on the Olympic team but was not keeping up with her high school homework. A second had just graduated from NYU but was constantly complaining about how her career was not where she wanted it to be a year after graduation and the third was in her junior year of college but not working. The other mother replied, "I have three daughters who are strippers. My daughters dance naked for a living. Do you want to trade?"

So, maybe, instead of having a mid-life crisis, I should just shut the hell up.