Wednesday, October 30, 2013

No, Not Everyone Has a Price

If you find yourself justifying some behavior by,

"Everyone has  price  - "

Stop. It's just not true. Ronda has been disappointed (more than once) by "friends" of hers who have taken advantage of her success in various ways. Their explanation - "I needed the money."

I've often seen athletes and administrators in sports turn a blind eye to unethical behavior, even as extreme as molesting young athletes, using the argument that,

"This position, the money I make will allow me to help other athletes"

I've heard plenty of parents use the argument,

"I had to (fill in unethical behavior X here) because I needed the money for my children."

Maybe if your children are starving, that might be a valid argument but in no situation of which I've been aware was that the case.

Maria, Ronda's oldest sister, is a sports writer, and an excellent one at that. She could have written some tabloid type book and made money, but I know it would never cross her mind, and she'd be shocked if I brought it up. There's some thing more important  you need to give your children than money to buy the latest designer clothes and electronic toys, and that is a model of the type of person you want them to grow up to be.

There is something more important to give athletes than money, and that is an environment free from predatory coaches and corrupt officials.

There is something more important to give yourself than money, and that is self-respect.

Yes, you can't eat self-respect, but I've gone hungry before and it didn't kill me. And, as Carly Fiorina said,
"Once you sell your soul, no one can ever buy it back for you."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Bad Service is Profitable: The Case of Budget Rental Car

Bad service is profitable, that's why we see so much of it. 

Whether it is that your eggs were cold when the waitress gave you your food, or that you spent five hours sitting on the tarmac with no explanation, bad service is rampant.

Here is why .... the restaurant makes more profit if they have fewer people working. Of course, that means that you, the customer, have to sit there longer or get cold food, but, hey what's it to them. Maybe you won't come back, but if it you are traveling, it's likely you won't be back in that location soon anyway, so who cares. They'll just serve the next sucker.

Let me give you a recent example. I flew into Las Vegas, and thought I would just rent a car to save waiting in line for 45 minutes for a cab. I pre-paid for the car using Travelocity, so I thought that they would have a car for me - that sort of being implied when you PAY FOR SOMETHING that you will get it.

I showed up at 9 pm and there was a 40 minute wait to even talk to a person at the counter. They were saying they were out of cars. No problem, I figured, I had paid for mine in advance. When I got to the counter (finally), I was informed that my car, a white Sonic,  was being washed and to go wait in this parking space and they would bring it out in a few minutes. I waited there for 25 minutes. No car. (We're now over an hour wait.). I asked someone in a booth and he said they were washing it and even pointed to what he said was "my car", it would just be a few more minutes. After 20 minutes more standing in the parking space, I go back to the same person in the booth and tell him it is stupid for me to stand 45 minutes in  a parking space, I'm going to sit down and they can bring the car over to the bench. After another 20 minutes, someone brings up a white car and I start to get in. They say that's not my car. That's when I started yelling that I wanted to talk to someone who worked there. A tall redheaded man who was washing cars came over and asked what the problem was. He explained that the car I had been waiting for nearly  two hours for now had already been driven away by someone else. After about another 10 minutes, the manager shows up with a different car.

40+45+20 + 10 = 115 minutes

Does it strike anyone reasonable that I should wait nearly two hours for a car I had already paid for, 45 of it standing in a parking space? No. They completely screwed up and the only person who was not completely clueless was the guy washing cars.

I left my card. Did I get an apology? No. Nothing. And I'm sure their profits are higher because they don't have to have enough cars to supply everyone nor enough staff to provide service.

Here is where we, the buying public can make a difference. For your own peace of mind, I recommend that you never EVER go to Budget Rental Car at the Las Vegas airport. It will save you two hours of aggravation. I certainly will never use them again.

Also, if you are treated to this kind of abysmal customer service yourself, call them out. If bad service starts to actually hurt profits, companies will have an incentive to correct it.

I'm also emailing travelocity, where made the reservation. Again, maybe if they get enough complaints, something will happen.

If we keep accepting horrible service, then it will keep being profitable.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Why I Am Doing More Circuits

I've written about circuits a few times previously and the longer my career in coaching, the more of a fan of the concept I am.

In brief, in a circuit, an athlete does a set of one exercise after another, without stopping. For example, we do 20 jumping jacks, 10 sit-ups and 5 push-ups. Then, we do it again. And again. We do this for three minutes, take a two-minute break and do it for another three minutes.

We often start practice with these circuits, for a few reasons:
  1. It gets everyone on the mat and doing something at the same time. That makes it an easy way to get the whole class organized and paying attention.
  2. After a few weeks, it is easy for kids to see progress compared to when they started. They get in better shape and can do all of the exercises with little effort.
  3. In a very short period of time, there is a difference between the kids who have been coming, say for a month or two, and brand new beginners. It is clear that the experienced kids "know what they are doing" and they can generally do the exercises better than those who just walked in the door.
Reasons #2 and #3 make the class reinforcing for students who have been attending - they see their improvement compared to themselves and others - and are helpful in recruiting new students who see that their friends who have only been coming for a few months are ahead of them.

[Subliminal advertising - buy Winning on the Ground - the matwork book by me and Jim Pedro, Sr. ]

So ... I have decided to expand on circuits we do at the beginning of practice and do a "circuits day" when I get back in town in a couple of weeks. After we go through our usual exercise circuit, I'm going to have them do 10 turnovers (5 right and 5 left), then 10 throws, then 10 chokes and 10 arm bars. We'll do that whole circuit, then take a few minutes break and do it again.

I think doing this a couple of times a month will improve their matwork just like the exercise circuits improve their conditioning.

No, I'm not concerned about the fact that this circuit has very little in the way of throwing. Blinky (the other instructor who is there when I am traveling), focuses more on standing technique, so I focus more on matwork and it all averages out.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sometimes Delusions are All a Person Has

I used to be angry, now I'm just amused.

That phrase could have described my attitude ten years ago. Now, I'm more inclined to feel sympathy for the same people.

Think about a student in high school who is unattractive and not at all intelligent. Maybe he or she has a disability, or more likely, is just wading in the shallow end of the gene pool. Probably that kid comes to school with clothes that are out of style or don't match, and often makes comments that are off-topic or just plain wrong, like

"If you don't sit with me at lunch, I won't let you have this Donatello."

Do you bully that student? Make fun of him for playing with ninja turtle action figures during lunch break and thinking that is the coolest thing in the world?

No, if you're not a jerk, you leave that kid alone. You think it is too bad that his biggest accomplishment in life is that he has collected more turtles than you, and you go on to your next class. Maybe you even sit down and have lunch with the kid, because you are a nice person. You take the Donatello and glue it to the dashboard of your car.

Some people in sports are like that. Whether it is coaching youth hockey, running a local judo club or owning a gym, they are convinced of their own greatness. Sometimes they have an attitude that they won't "let" you train with them, share their coaching greatness with you/ your child unless you put up with their lack of punctuality, bring them muffins to morning practices, whatever. Some expect to be paid far more money than they are reasonably worth and are outraged that competitors (or their parents) can't see the value of it.

I've even had some of them threaten me with, if I didn't play nice with them, they wouldn't bring their players to work out with me, or put me on a committee or teach my daughter. None of them threatened to not give me a ninja turtle, but it wouldn't have surprised me.

I ran into someone, let's call him 'Bob' (because if you spell it backwards, it's still Bob), that I had known years ago, and I laughed, but in a sad way. Bob's delusions of grandeur used to piss me off, but now -- to put it politely, Bob had not "aged well".

I thought to myself,

You have a sub-par education, a lame job that doesn't pay much, you look like hell, and you think you're hugely important because a couple dozen people show up at your practices, and half of them mock you behind your back.

Thirty years ago, I would have said that to Bob's face. Fifteen years ago, I would have been drinking beer with the people mocking Bob behind his back.

Now, I just think to myself,

How sad is it that this is all you have in life to make you feel good about yourself. 

I've often heard that people who are brutally honest do it more for the brutality than the honesty. So ... I don't say anything.

Maybe those delusions are all that keep those people going. And how sad is that.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

What I think of you (honestly)

Occasionally, people feel the urge to write in the comments on this blog what they think of me, that I must be arrogant, why do I feel the need to mention what I am doing for a living, where I went on a business trip, etc. etc.

This is a bit puzzling since this is a blog, not the New York Times or someone's math homework assignment, and I write it for the following reason - because I feel like it.

It's like Ricky Gervais said on twitter, following someone and then complaining about their tweets is a lot like eavesdropping on a conversation and getting upset because you don't like the topic.

This is MY personal blog that I have written for years. So, one thing I think about you people is,

"What exactly do you think a blog is and what does "personal" mean in your language?"

I'm also really puzzled by why anyone would read one of the millions of blogs on the Internet, of the hundreds of millions of web pages and then complain that the content is not to their liking. Do you think I care? I really don't.

Please don't misunderstand me, if you think I named a technique incorrectly, or showed something that was wrong - and, like everyone, I do make mistakes and say your left hand should be grabbing the lapel when I really meant the right - please do correct me. I don't want to give the wrong information.

Also, if you have a question, like how do you transition from an upper four corner hold down to a straight arm bar (tate shiho gatame to juji gatame), please ask and I will try to answer it when I have time, especially if it is an interesting question I haven't thought/ written about. That is the whole reason I write this blog, just to remark on whatever has struck me as interesting that day.

For those who write lengthy, repeated tirades about me, or my daughter, or, less often, judo, and how we individually or in combination, suck. Here is what I really, honestly think about you ....

Today, I was driving to judo, after having accomplished quite a bit on our latest game, Fish Lake, that my company, 7 Generation Games is producing.  My youngest daughter is home for the weekend, I was going to pick up a student from Gompers Middle School who had called and asked for a ride to practice so he could get in some more work this week. I was just thinking what a wonderful, beautiful day it is. I must have accidentally cut off some guy in a truck as I turned on Lincoln Blvd. I didn't mean to and I didn't notice I did it. Suddenly, he swerved in front of me and slammed on his brakes.  I slowed down. He did it again.

Then, he stuck his arm out the window and gave me the finger.

When I was younger, I probably would have yelled back at him, but the truth is, I didn't really care. At the same time, my friend called me on my cell phone. I answered and talked to her about meeting her for lunch next week. (Yes, I have controls on my steering wheel so I was actually complying with the law about hands-free driving.) During the whole two or three minutes I was talking with my friend, the guy in the truck is gesturing at me and mouthing obscenities in the mirror.

Here is what I thought,

Wow! This guy's life must really suck that he spent five minutes just furious over something I did that was unintentional, didn't harm him in any way and that was done without giving him a thought.

And then I went on to have a lovely day.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

So .... I got arm barred

I got arm barred at practice on Sunday. I am not one of those assholes who believes that practice is a tournament. If you are working out with someone and they catch you, tap. The same thing if you are being thrown, take the fall. I think it is fine to turn out of it if you can, but doing something stupid like sticking your arm out and dislocating it is just that, stupid. So, no one wins practice because it is just that, practice.

Still, someone arm barred me and it would have taken an unreasonable amount of effort to get out of it. And I think he is only 13 (he might be 14 because he's in high school). He's been coming to practice at the West Coast Judo Training Center for five years and he's bigger than me now. The fact is, he caught me. At first, I wasn't sure whether to be upset that I was getting old and slow or proud that Nathan is getting fast and good. I decided to be proud.

Way to go, Nathan!

How is it possible that I don't have a picture of him. Nathan, do you hide when I am taking pictures for this blog, or what?

Friday, October 4, 2013

My view on building the perfect fighter

In the interest of maximum efficiency with minimum effort (or maybe just minimum effort), I posted my response to the Building the Perfect Fighter post about Ronda & me here.

I'm Ronda's mom (-:
Just FYI, I have three other children, including one who plays soccer, and I had to smile at your description of the little ones playing soccer.

You might be surprised to find that I am in complete agreement about hoping your nephew isn't a great athlete. It's a hard road in many more ways than you might suppose. I think being a good parent is helping your children reach their goals and be the best they can be.

In fact, being best in the world is what Ronda wanted to do and having been a world champion myself, I had an idea of how to help her succeed at that. One of her older sisters wanted to be a journalist - she writes for Fox News Latino, after stints at ESPN and Sports Illustrated. Another sister wanted to be a teacher and she is a wonderful middle school history teacher. The youngest sister is still busy being a kid - and playing soccer.

Oh, by the way, after I won the world championships, I got a PhD, started a couple of companies, including my latest, 7 Generation Games which makes educational games to teach math. We received enough grant money to give it away free to low income schools. And, I wrote a book on matwork this year. The answer to what people do in "the outside world" could be to apply that same drive to other worthwhile endeavors.

AnnMaria (bored in the airport on the way home from a long business trip)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Thank you thank you thank you

The AAU Judo Nationals was an absolutely amazing trip, from the nice staff and nicer facilty at Kansas City Embassy Suites  (from the fountains everywhere you might guess why it's called the City of Fountains)

to the historic sites that Mr. Gonzalez, the supervising teacher from Gompers Middle School insisted we attend, and which to my surprise were really quite fun and interesting

to, of course, the tournament itself, where our kids learned A LOT, had a lot of matches and came home with a lot of medals.

You can find more photos at the Ronda Rousey fan site, Armbar Nation, which helped raise money to send the team.

Thank you to Ronda who donated (literally) the shirt off of her back, to Jessica and Ryan of Armbar Nation for running the auction, to Kenny and Michelle Brink for running the tournament and being SO welcoming to us, and to Steve and Becky Scott for their years of support.

It was SO much fun for everyone, as well as educational.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.