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.
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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.

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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.

LESS THAN ORDINARY

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.