Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The meaning of life, oysters and alcohol

I've been working crazy hours for so long, sometimes I forget what year it is. It's been good, but busy. Business is growing.

You can read more about 7 Generation Games and our excitement here.

That's not what I wanted to talk about today. Rather, I wanted to discuss how to change your life when you feel that you are getting burnt out. This has something to do with judo but since it also has to do with advice about my daughter's fight coming up, ask me about that in January. (Cryptic, much?)

Many people feel as if the solution to burn out is to move to a tropical island, retire, take up knitting, have an affair with someone one-third their age or other dramatic flame out. Those things seldom turn out well.

I read a book on 100 things to do in your retirement and 96 of them sounded pretty lame to me. Teach a class - I already teach classes in judo, multivariate analysis and biostatistics - how is that retiring? Knit. Plant a garden. Take a painting class at the senior citizen's center.

 Write a book (done that)


 So, what is left? Actually, for those who don't have the time, money or inclination for an around the world cruise or becoming the oldest recruit in the Foreign Legion or bungee jumping, let me make a suggestion - modify your life in a moderate way.

For example, I decided I needed a new, fun goal and more time away from work. So, I decided to go on a quest to find the best oyster shooters in southern California. This combines three things I like - oysters, alcohol and going out with my husband. If bar-hopping was involved, I was willing to make the sacrifice for the benefit of research.

Day 1: Herringbone in Santa Monica. The oyster shooters are delicious and pretty cheap ($4). The service is slow.

Also day 1 : Casa Martin, also in Santa Monica - alas, no oysters of any type but they did have margaritas which were okay, and tortilla soup was good. There was also a table next to us with four guys from Australia who drank more beer per person than I had ever seen consumed at one sitting.

Day 2:  Blue Plate Oysterette, Ocean Ave, still in Santa Monica. I've walked by this place for years and they were always too packed for me to wait. Amazingly, today, they weren't full. The oysters are excellent but the restaurant only has a beer and wine license so no oyster shooters for me.

Also day 2: Water Grill - also on Ocean Ave in Santa Monica. The drinks were excellent an so were the oysters. Sadly, while one can get both oysters and alcohol at Water Grill, the combination of the two was not on offer.

So far, I have learned
... you can't trust the internet as to what restaurants serve oyster shooters,
... a good restaurant to go to if you have a cold and want soup,
.... Australians can put away the beer,
.... and, most importantly, not everything has a serious purpose.

(P.S., No one pays me diddly squat for mentioning them on my blog. Some have considered bribing me NOT to mention them.)
Don't be too serious. Download Making Camp on your iPad for free. Learn and play. It's all good.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Life from a different perspective

Last week, I was running late to a meeting so I parked at the last meter on the street in front of our building instead of across the street in the parking structure. When I came outside an hour later, there was a police car with its lights on, two cars that had smashed into each other coming around the corner - and my car! You know those accidents where one car hits another car that hits the car in front of it?

Well, this car came to a stop about 18 inches before where I was parked.

I hopped into my not-involved-in-the-accident car and drove off to my next meeting.
Lynnie the Guinea Pig
Lately, my guinea pig, Lynnie, hurt her foot. I thought it would just cost me $10 to get her nails trimmed. Instead, I ended up calling 7 different veterinarians until I finally found one that saw guinea pigs. In about half an hour, the vet took care of her and I left $200 poorer - which I'm sure many of my friends and family would be appalled I spent on a guinea pig. Yes, I could have drowned her, bought a new one at PetCo for $30 and given the other $170 for starving children or clean water or the Julia De Mars Patagonia Shopping Fund, but I didn't. She's a nice little Guinea pig and I like her and my grandkids like her. Now, she is running around like a brand new critter, so it's all good.

Next door to the one place I found that saw guinea pig emergencies (this is why I love LA - we have everything!) is the pet cancer center. There were some very sad people and some very sick looking animals. I was telling Eva, my granddaughter who came with me to the animal hospital, that is really a case that has no good outcome. You spend thousands of dollars and usually your pet dies before too long anyway. Your BEST case scenario is that you spend thousands of dollars and lots of your time caring for it and your pet lives, which still sucks because you end up thousands of dollars poorer. The people in this place didn't look unusually wealthy - just unusually attached to their dying pet.

Well, I had no intention of spending thousands of dollars on a guinea pig (sorry, Lynnie), so my worst case scenario would have been having to tell the vet, 'You'll just have to put her to sleep' , while holding my hands over my granddaughter's ears. I'd end up with a traumatized grandchild and a dead guinea pig. (This is probably the last time Maria is letting Eva run errands with grandma.)

When I dropped Eva off at her house, I parked behind Maria's car in the alley. I am not sure I was illegally parked but I'm not sure I wasn't either. After three minutes, I was back in my car no one had run into and on my way.

Driving home, I thought of how often I hear people in my neighborhood talk about  a 'bad day" and it goes like this:

    I had this meeting with an important client and the line at Starbucks was 20 minutes long. It was the drive thru so I couldn't get out and now I'm running late. A block from their office someone makes an illegal turn, I slam on my brakes and coffee spills all over my shirt! I get to the office and AS IF MY DAY CAN'T GET ANY WORSE - I run into my ex-girlfriend who looks at my coffee-stained clothes and sniffs, "Nice look for the pitch, Babe."

I hear this line a lot "AS IF MY DAY CAN'T GET ANY WORSE"  - and think,

    "Are you kidding me? Your day could be one hell of a lot worse."

Personally, I really do think quite often, "Wow, my day could have been a lot worse." I don't mean in the way where when you lose your job you think, "At least I'm living here instead of in a war zone and my legs haven't been shot off."

I mean in the way that probably happens to most of us every day. Someone easily could have hit my car - twice (that's it, I'm parking in the garage from now on). It could have been that the vet had to put my guinea pig to sleep. That coffee could have spilled all over me when I stopped at that light before the meeting.

I often remind myself, even on those running to meetings, going to the vet days,

    "You know, this day really isn't that bad."


You can play Fish Lake here if you have a Mac or Windows computer. Under 10 bucks and you can canoe down Rapids or hunt deer.

You can also donate a copy to a school or give to a friend.We've made about 100 revisions since our last update (for real) and all updates are always free to paying customers. It's only $9.99 . Less than ten bucks! 

If you think I'll just waste the money on guinea pigs and don't want to buy or donate our games, you can play Making Camp online here for free 



Saturday, November 5, 2016

Believing vs Wishing

When I was 15-year-old brown belt, I lost in the national championships to a woman named Linda Richardson. She arm barred me. I got third. I'm still pissed. Linda won the British Open that year, I think.

Actually, Linda was a pretty nice person, a very successful competitor and she had embroidered on her black belt the words:

Belief is strength.

I was thinking today how many people misunderstand that idea to mean that if you really believe hard enough that you'll win, that somehow in the middle of a match it will magically come to you and you'll triumph.

That's not believing, that's wishing.

A few years after I lost to Linda, I was 18 years old and in the finals of the U.S. Open. Diane Pierce, who had by then won the national championships at least six years in a row and also won the British Open, beat me by an arm bar. I'm still pissed about that, too, but at least she made up for it by giving me some very good advice at the time, and, years later, when I moved to Los Angeles and she was coaching, helping me a lot with my arm bars.

You might think, based on the fact that both of those losses were by arm bar, that I wasn't particularly good at matwork, lost a lot or was a sucker for arm bars. None of those things are true. I was pretty good at matwork, although I eventually got even better, and I lost very seldom.

The fact is that in both of those matches I was overconfident, because I did win a lot and both of those women were very, very good. After each loss, I tried to look at what they did that I didn't do. It was quite simple. They had been doing judo longer than me and they trained more times a week. Hours on the mat matter.

After each loss, I didn't go home and just say,

Oh, I know I can beat them, they aren't really better than me. I believe in me.

That's not believing, that's denial.

Instead, I practiced more often. I moved to Colorado Springs and then to southern California so I could have more opportunities to practice. Also, running along the ocean in San Diego is a lot nicer than running in the snow in Minneapolis or 100 mindless laps around the field house at the University of Minnesota.

I truly believed that I could beat both Diane and Linda eventually. It never happened. We never fought again. They both retired a few years after I fought them - Diane because she was much older than me and Linda because she realized there was no money in judo and went off to start a career. Although I never had the chance to beat them, that belief and the training it drove me to do led to me winning a whole lot more and at a larger scale than either of them did - because of losing to them.

We have several new students in our Gompers Judo program this year, just like every year, mostly sixth- and seven-graders. I noticed during the warm-up that a few of them had a hard time doing all of the push-ups and sit-ups. We did 20 jumping jacks, 10 push-ups and 10 sit-ups in a circuit. After a 10 second rest, we'd start again. For a lot of kids, 60 push-ups and 60 sit-ups in a couple of minutes is a lot.

I told them all that they should be doing exercises at home. I don't care if you don't have a gym membership, there's no place to do sprints and you can't jump rope or do jumping jacks because you live in a second-floor apartment. Everyone can do push-ups and sit-ups during the commercials while watching TV.

If you really believe you can be an athlete, a champion or just be better, you will get up and do those exercises.

Belief makes you stronger because of the way believing makes you act. No matter how old you are.

Learn the difference between believing, wishing and denying. 


This isn't a map to victory (sorry). It is from the game Forgotten Trail. Runs on Mac, Windows and Chromebook and teaches statistics and Native American history. Only five bucks!

What's that you say? I only have an iPad? I don't have $5 ? Well, then, get our free Making Camp app here.