Monday, August 12, 2019

I may not be at judo today, but I haven't forgotten the lessons I learned

I said over a month ago that there were three reasons that I am not as involved in judo as I once was and it is very fitting that it's taken me this long to get around to the third one.

There are people in judo I really think the world of their knowledge not just of sports but of life. Yet, despite the best of intentions to make it to judo practice or to tournaments, it seldom happens.

I haven't been doing much judo lately because I've being doing other things

Sounds pretty obvious, doesn't it? Often, when someone disappears from our judo, jiu-jitsu, mixed martial arts or other club we wonder what we did wrong, how we could have kept that student. Sometimes, we look at it as a failure on that student's part. If they only had more discipline, were more motivated to be in good physical condition, they'd still be coming to practice.

Over the years, I've seen a good number of students get into ivy league universities, medical school, dental school or clinical psychology graduate programs. Some students went out and started their own businesses.

If it wasn't for Facebook, I wouldn't ever see or hear of them again, and vice versa.

As for me, I haven't been at judo because I've been making games and building a company. In the past couple of years, I have been in Chile, Australia, Trinidad and Tobago and Belize, for research and for marketing. I've been in so many states I've lost track. 

Just because your team is out of sight, doesn't mean you're out of mind

I can't speak for all of those former students, but purely for myself and my children, I would say experiences at judo have been super impactful on my life.

One thing I learned from judo is that failure is never permanent and neither is success.

Our company has had a lot of successes, gotten a fair amount of funding and produced twelve games (check them out, they are educational and cool) .

We've had a good month overall, but today I learned that we hadn't gotten two proposals funded. I've never gotten turned down twice in the same day before, and this comes on the tail of having lost out on a contract last month.

Why am I telling you this? Don't I want you to think I am totally amazing all the time so you will invest in my company or download our games to make you smarter?

I'm telling you because that's another thing I learned from judo.

You never grow by being the big fish in a small pond

When I was a kid, I won almost all the tournaments all the time. I was the toughest green belt girl in the Midwest. Then, I went to the senior nationals for the first time and lost. I came in third. I went to the collegiate nationals for the first time and came in second.  Soon, I was winning the nationals, so I went to Europe - and lost and came in third in the British Open and Tournoi d'Orleans. Soon (although it never seemed soon enough), I was winning tournaments in Europe, Asia and South America.

There are people who I'm sure had more talent than me, but they stayed in that comfort zone and they are still undefeated in Duluth, Minnesota.

The contracts we missed out on were bigger, more of a risk for us. We came close, though. Although Maria pointed out today that close doesn't pay the bills, I did learn from judo that if you are close and you keep working, you'll get there.

I may not be at judo today, but I haven't forgotten the lessons I learned

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Sunday, July 21, 2019

Let the young people run judo

I said there were three reasons I am not involved in judo as much as I used to be - and here is the second one ...

We need to let young people run judo

First of all, I can't do nearly as much as I did 30 years ago. I have nowhere near the strength or speed. Yes, I have plenty of knowledge, but, especially for a lot of throwing techniques, you need SPEED to show how it should really be. You need to be able to BEND to get low enough to show how a throw should be done. I cannot do that nearly to the extent I did when I was young and neither can any of those other older instructors - they just don't admit it.

Years ago, I went to Valley Judo to watch a practice. Sus Kono is the head instructor there. He had Ross Nakamura, who was probably 16 years old, run the warm-ups. Then, he had Jason Uno, who was in his twenties or so, teach seoi nage. Then he had Ross give his take on seoi nage.  Giorgio Gazzani, who was around 18, ran the randori session.

At the end of the practice,  I said to Sus,
"That was great, but some time, I want to come back and see you teach."
He smiled and said,
"You just did."
Valley Judo Institute has grown amazingly since that day and I am not surprised.


We need to put younger people in front of the room

It always seems such a waste to me when I go to a club where I see six or eight young black belts and one (old) person is doing all of the teaching. How are these young people ever going to learn to run a practice, teach a class if we don't let them?

When we put together the instructors for Judo Con, we made a deliberate effort to have most of the sessions led by people under age 50. In part it is to give them practice in being leaders. Also, though, it's because I, and the other people who put this event together, really want to see and hear different ideas.

There's an old saying that,

If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten. 

I'm not saying an old dog can't learn new tricks, but heck, all the young dogs HAVE is new tricks (new to them, anyway).

People my age had our chance at running the judo organizations, running judo programs. Eventually, we should step aside and let the younger people give it a shot. Maybe they'll do a better job than us. I hope they do.

Think about this now, the people who say,

"I'm going to do judo until I die." 

To whose benefit? I didn't quit judo. I just agreed to start teaching again, once a week, in the fall.  I'm not saying you have to bury your judo gi in the back yard. However, there is that whole mutual benefit and welfare thing. Maybe it is to the mutual benefit if you step back and let other people step forward. You had your turn.

 Let the younger people give it a shot.


Maybe at first they won't be as good as you. They'll learn. Eventually, hopefully they'll be better.

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Saturday, July 6, 2019

Mean people: One-third of the reason I'm not around judo much any more

Every now and then, I run into people from judo who say,

"Hey, we never see you around any more? Why is that? What happened to you?"

I wrote this years ago for a project on the Spirit Lake Dakota Nation, and our Country Manager for Strong Mind Studios, our company in Chile, came across it recently. (If you read Spanish, check it out.)

Nothing happened to me. I do run a practice or a clinic now and then, but it is true I am not nearly involved as much as I used to be.

There are actually three reasons I'm not around judo these days. One is that I choose to be more selective about the people I am around. My lovely daughter, Ronda, made this comment about earning quite a bit of money.

There are really only two things money can buy you that really matter to me.

One is the freedom to choose how you spend your time and the other is the freedom to choose who you spend it with."

While money may expand that freedom, I think most of us have more of those freedoms than we take advantage of. I've decided to make better choices. The post below gives one of the three reasons I'm not around judo organizations in particular.

By the way, if I haven't seen you lately, I may think that you, personally, are awesome. There are two other reasons I'm not around judo much lately, so, hopefully, I'll get a chance to post about those soon.

How do you say, "Mean People Suck in Dakota?"

Native Americans are noted for their generosity. People give feasts, presents, time and attention to one another. Once you become a board member, you will be giving of your time and talents to the community. Good for you! That is why you were elected or appointed. There is a reason it is called public service. I am going to assume that you are doing a fine, even an outstanding job. Unfortunately, I have seen people like you get burned out and discouraged by mean people. You can learn what to do through experience, your own or other people’s. Try to learn through other people’s experience whenever you can. It is less painful.

As a board member and consultant to boards, on and off reservations, I have had my experience with generosity, and with its opposite — meanness.
Most of us think of the common definition of “mean” as small-minded or not treating people decently. There is an older, related definition, though — stingy or selfish. You will come to learn as board member that your children are correct.

Mean people really do suck.

Avoid Mean People

For some people, no amount you give will ever be enough. For example, I had someone send me an email on Christmas — demanding an answer. His question wasn’t an emergency. He just wanted me to drop whatever I was doing on Christmas with my family and answer him because he wanted me to do it. What did I do? I made Christmas cookies with my daughters. (Well, actually they made them, but I ate them so that counts as a family activity, right?)

This person will probably speak out against me at the next board meeting and say that I am unresponsive. That’s okay. If people you serve as a board member don’t believe you should be able to have any time to yourself, not even on Christmas, then those people lack generosity and are probably not the type of people you want to associate with.

Other people demand 100% agreement. You can vote on the same side as them 99 times out of 100, but that 100th time, when you vote with the opposition, they are outraged and the next thing you know, they are trying to get you recalled.

Decisions about Mean People

 Sometimes mean people can sound almost reasonable. (Imagine this said in the most whiny voice possible … )

“I called you because you are on the board. People like you are supposed to be providing a public service. If you did not want to help people out why did you run for the board instead of letting somebody who is really committed have that seat?”

Notice the person doesn’t even acknowledge the fact that it is 11 p.m. on Saturday night.

You are on a board to serve your community but you don’t owe any one person or even the whole community your entire life. If this was a regular job, you would have holidays off, sick days and not be expected to work 24–7 . If you can, simply do the best you can and don’t give these people another thought. Turn off your cell phone after 10 p.m. and go back to baking Christmas cookies. Odds are, the majority of the people you serve appreciate your efforts and appreciate how generous you are with your time, and they, in return, are not overly selfish in their demands.

If you are in an organization or on a board that consists of mostly mean people, consider quitting and going somewhere else. Maybe that sounds like quitting — well, it is quitting, I just used that word, didn’t I? In the book, “Business as a game” one of the best chapters has the title, “Never play with a stacked deck.”

One way mean people take advantage of others is by playing on those very ethics, the generosity that motivates you to give of yourself, the perseverance that makes you unwilling to give up. If you find yourself the minority in a group of mean people, there is no win for you. They will keep demanding more and more from you than is reasonable to expect you to give. As Erich always says in his ethics courses, you can’t change other people, you can only change yourself.

Walk away. Left behind you will be a whole group of takers, each trying to get the others to do more for ME, to please ME, to agree with ME. Can that group ever succeed? No.

Does this mean that you are letting down people in the community who you could help? No, again. Someone with your willingness to give of yourself for the good of the community will be welcome many places. Find one of them and leave the mean people behind.

When I gave a very frustrated young man this advice, he protested,

“But, Dr. De Mars, that way, won’t the mean people win? And won’t I lose?”

I asked him,

“Do you really think so? What exactly do they win? What exactly do you lose?”
Think about it.

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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Getting ready for your first competitions

Someone asked me on Instagram my advice on how to be ready for her first competition and since it is a good question, I thought I'd post my suggestions here.

Get in better physical condition

We're not talking the Olympics here and since you are just starting to compete, I'm going to assume that you could improve your conditioning a bit. In this, I find the old saying to be true:
"The best is the enemy of the good. "
People say they can't work out because they can't get to a gym, don't have a partner, blah blah blah. Here is my suggestion for anyone who wants to be a little bit better. This is IN ADDITION TO GOING TO JUDO PRACTICE AS MANY DAYS A WEEK AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN.
  1.  Every morning, first thing when you get up, do 10 push-ups and 10 sit-ups. If you can't do 10, just do as many as you can. Do it EVERY DAY. It will take you 30 seconds.
  2. After a week, make it 12 push-ups and sit-ups. If you didn't start at 10, just add 1 to what you were doing.
  3. Add 2 more every week until you get to 50, then just keep doing 50 every day. The point is to be stronger than you were, not the world push-up champion. You will find you get faster at doing them so eventually it will take you a couple of minutes to knock out your 50 push-ups.
  4. Run. Get out and run around the block. If you live in the country, run to your mailbox or wherever is about a quarter mile. Do that every day for a week. Next week, do it twice without stopping. Keep increasing until you get to a mile. Now, do that every day and just try to get faster each time. Set a stopwatch when you take off and check it when you get back.
  5. If you live somewhere it is not safe to run outside, do jumping jacks or jump rope for two minutes without stopping instead. Next week, make it four minutes. Keep it up until you are going for 10 minutes straight. Do that every day.

The three reasons why I recommend this

First, a lot of people in this country can't do 15 push-ups, much less 50. Most people can't run a mile without stopping. If you have this level of conditioning, you are going to be more fit than most new, recreational players. If you lose, it won't be because your arms got tired or you were winded.

Second, there are zero excuses not to do these exercises. You don't need a gym or any equipment. You don't need a ride anywhere. Because of that, if every day you get up and do them, you are telling yourself that you are serious about winning and improving.

Third, setting a goal and accomplishing it will make you more confident. When you go out to compete, along with training in judo, which your opponent did as well, you have the added benefit of knowing that you actually went above and beyond. You'll know that you are stronger and in better condition than you were a few months ago. You'll have thought about this competition daily, when you didn't want to run or do those push-ups but you did anyway, so you'll be less freaked out when that day comes.
Independence Rock in Wyoming

The way to get anywhere is to start

I'm in North Dakota right now. We drove almost 2,000 miles through several states to get here. Sure, it would have been faster if we drove and there may have been a more optimal time of year or a better route. The point is, we got here and the way we got here is that we left our house and just started driving. Eventually, we arrived.

So .... start.  Now.



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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Is mall walking still lame if you do it in Australia?

When I was young, I was training three times a day - judo, running and weightlifting. Occasionally, I would run indoors at the University of Minnesota field house around the baseball field. There weren’t many female athletes back then, so I got a lot of stares. Most days, though, I ran outdoors, below-zero weather or no.

At the time, my parents were living in Illinois and in the winter they went mall-walking for exercise. An hour or two before the stores were open for business, while the employees were getting ready for the day, the doors would open for senior citizens and people with disabilities to walk through the mall, including the stores, to get their daily exercise. I was never going to be that lame.

Today, I went mall-walking and it wasn’t even an accident. I planned it.


 Oh, the humiliation of it all!

If it returns a little coolness level at all, yesterday, I went to a wildlife sanctuary and fed wallabies and a pandemelon which is an animal I did not know existed until yesterday, and which spell-check refuses to recognize.  I went yesterday because I knew today was supposed to be cold and rainy. I decided I could go to Phillips Island when it was warm and sunny and go walking in the mall today for exercise.



Speaking of which, I read a book by a European author who said,

“Americans call walking hiking because it sounds so much cooler and more athletic. I am a hiker, now, I am no longer a walker!”


So, yeah, I actually went walking around the wildlife sanctuary and then the mall and today I am mall hiking.




My point, and I semi-have one, is that as we get older, the same type of exercise might not be appropriate. I have had my thumb and my knee replaced in the last decade. For those people who say,

“I’m 80 years old and I still do judo.“


Well, good for you.



I feel no need to pretend I’m 25 any more or that I don’t have a job that requires me to spend 8-10 hours a day at a desk.


If I did judo today the way I did forty years ago, I would definitely break off several pieces of myself.  I don’t get up and do 50 push-ups and 50 sit-ups first thing every morning. On an ambitious day, I might do 25 but I’m just as likely to say, “Oh, fuck it” and take a shower.

(To be clear, I take showers on days I do push-ups and sit-ups, too. I’m not stinky. I just take them after.)

I know Dave Roman just recorded a podcast on adult judo students. His main point was that you need to treat them differently, and that is true.

You need to treat yourself differently as you get older as well.  Most of those people who are still on the mat past 60 are doing a lot of standing around and a little bit of teaching. I think that is perfectly okay. In fact, I think it could benefit judo a lot if more people let the younger black belts teach and went mall-walking instead, even if that is in Australia. That,  however, is the topic of another post.

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Monday, May 6, 2019

Who pretends to hate successful people? (and why I seldom ask Ronda for anything)

Credit where credit is due, I owe this epiphany to two people - comedian Kevin Hart, whose autobiography, I can't make this up, I highly recommend , and two-time judo Olympian, Pat Burris.


AnnMaria in judo gi

I was a teenager and had just won the U.S. Open. It was the second time I had made it to the finals and my first gold medal at an international event. I'd also won the junior nationals, senior nationals and collegiate nationals that same year.  It was a good year.

Pat said to me,

"About now, people you have never met are going to start trying to pick fights with you and you are going to have to learn to ignore them."

I thought he was nuts. Why would someone I didn't know want to start trouble with me? That didn't make sense. Still, I listened to Pat because  he was OLD - like, he would be 30 in a few years so he obviously knew stuff.

He told me that random guys would get in his face and try to start shit with him (not wise, if you know Pat). He eventually realized that people were doing it to get attention. He explained it to me like this,

"If you are on the podium, on the Olympic team, the best player in the country, people at tournaments are looking at YOU. So, anyone who is around you gets attention. Random Joe from East Nowhere Dojo starts a fight with you and you kick his ass and people don't know who that guy is but they think he must be somebody because the best judo player in the country is fighting with him."

Random fact: Judo used to be a much bigger deal in this country, but I digress, even more than usual.

As I said in my last post, Ronda gets this 1,000 times over.

What does this have to do with haters, Kevin Hart, or Ronda?

In his book, he writes about everything he had to do to learn to be a comedian, about  driving for hours to New York City after working selling shoes all day, sitting in clubs to listen and learn.  After he had made it, he had lots of "friends" and relatives who wanted to add his name to their TV shows or other project they wanted to pitch.

The part that stopped me is where he talked about how THEY were trying to profit off of HIS work without doing any of it.

My husband has cautioned me against ever reading anything anyone says about Ronda on the Internet.

You see, we know her. We know that she is incredibly hard-working, intelligent, talented, kind, honest and generous. She has her faults, as does anyone, but her good qualities vastly outweigh those.

Why do random people who have never met her pick any error she ever made and bring it up over and over instead of her myriad of successes? Why do people take quotes out of context and make her out to be less of a good person?


Very few of these haters are actually haters. They are just like the people Pat Burris and Kevin Hart pointed out. They are trying to use her hard work, fame and name to get attention for themselves. Every time someone uses her name in a headline about how she isn't or doesn't or shouldn't be X they are hoping for clicks on it so they can benefit off of her years of hard work building a name for herself through actual accomplishments.

I don't want to be that person, which is why it's very seldom that I or any of the family ask Ronda for anything, even for charity (although this auction for Gompers Judo is an exception) and if you look at our company website she only comes up when it is something particularly relevant.

Last six blog posts from 7 Generation Games website

7 Generation Games blogs this week

For many people who post diatribes against someone successful, on the Internet or in print, they don't believe a word of it,  it is all about using THEIR hard work in developing a following, THEIR accomplishments that draw people's attention to get some measure of recognition for YOU when all you have actually done is throw mud. (Not you, the reader, of course , because you are a person of exquisite taste and education reading this blog.)

The other day, I asked Ronda how she dealt with it  She knows who she is, what she has done and what motivates he haters of successful people. She said,

"Mom, you always say that success is the best revenge. Personally, I think apathy is the best revenge and I never think about those people AT ALL. "

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Saturday, May 4, 2019

Who hates strong women? A lot of people act like they do

For much of my life, I have had haters who I have never met. My daughter, Ronda, has the same thing, times one thousand.

Who hates strong women?

There are four types of people who either hate strong women, or pretend they do. Two of those particularly hate strong, successful women. The other two are poised to tear down anyone successful. They are equal opportunity haters.

Type 1: Women who gave in and gave up

Nice women who have played by all of the rules they've been told or imagined hate women who break those rules. These are the women who have bought into the belief that they have to fit into some kind of mold because they are women. They hate us because we show up their excuses for the bullshit these are. 

It's not specifically women who chose to be stay-at-home moms or "half of a couple" that I particularly have issues with. Some women that is what they wanted to do and we get along fine. That life choice doesn't appeal to me any more than being an architect or a classical cellist, but hey, you do you.

The women who hate on people like me are those who use their gender as an excuse, and deep down, they know it. 
  • "I can't have a career because it would be unfair to my children. I care about my family too much to do that."
  • "I'm not going to be one of those man-hating feminists competing against men."
  • "I was going to go to college / compete internationally / found a company /write a book - but then I got pregnant."
  • "The odds are stacked against women founding a company. The degree of sexual harassment is toxic. Men are 50 times as likely to receive investor funding." 
  • "I couldn't speak up in that meeting because the men wouldn't listen to me."
When someone like me or my daughters comes along, gets married, has children, wins medals, earns degrees, speaks our minds and writes books, they are FURIOUS.

Who do we think we are? 

Didn't we get the memo saying we can't do these things? What if the people who they have been telling for years that they owe them, or they deserve pity because of all these foregone opportunities start to wonder why if these women could do it, why couldn't they?

These are the same women who will be writing angry tweets and comments that I am 'not a woman-supporting woman'. They are the ones who  say I am blaming the victim when I say that when a man touches you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable you should tell him the first time that you don't like it and don't do it again and the second time tell him if he doesn't take his fucking hands off of you that you'll break his arm/ tell his wife/ sue him for every dollar he ever earned.  (Obviously, I'm not talking about rape or child abuse, which is a completely different and tragic thing, but rather the guy who stands too close, puts his arm around you etc. If you can't tell the difference, you are part of the problem.)

These are the women who whine that, "You don't understand what it is to need a job, " or "It's easy for you to say."

Then they see that I was this way when I was a widow with three young kids or that Ronda was like this when she was completely broke or that Maria had the same attitude when she was starting out as a journalist.

 If we need to speak up, demand the opportunity to train, call people on their bullshit when they say women have equal access to funding, appear on a hundred TV shows to get sufficient exposure, we'll do it. When these women DON'T do it, they've left it for us to do.

It's not that we enjoy being the designated bitch in the room nor that it is any easier for us but we choose to be bitches that get shit done instead of a do nothing bitch.


Types 2 & 3: People who feel threatened

Ronda has a good saying about those people, "I'm not going to diminish myself to make you feel bigger."

Generally speaking, people who are comfortable with their own talent and accomplishments have zero issues with anyone else's success. I was going to call this type, "men who feel threatened" because there are men who hold on to being a man as something that makes them superior.  There are men who, from the looks of them, couldn't beat up the average house cat, putting down female martial artists and athletes as, "She couldn't beat the 54th man on the roster."

I once got into an argument with my grandfather who insisted women couldn't have union jobs because they were too weak. I pointed out that he was over 60, I was 20 and could lift way more weight than him. I offered to go to the gym, lift weights and prove it. He just shook his head and insisted that I could not possibly be stronger than him because I was a woman.

Men who have little to feel proud about except some imagined male superiority hate strong women because they challenge the one thing these guys suppose they have going for them. It's the stereotypical guy in his mom's basement posting on the Internet that some woman is ugly or not talented when the truth is he doesn't even have dreams as good as her real life.

Weirdly, though, there are men (and women) who are plenty successful but they can't stand anyone being MORE successful than them, like life is a competition. So, even if they make $200,000 a year or are a world champion, they get angry because why is SHE making more money, why did SHE get that job? From my personal experience, it seems like women and people of color get more of this vitriol, maybe because they have had to overcome more obstacles so their success is even more of a threat. Still, these people seem to be equal opportunity haters in that they tear down anyone successful.

If we're honest, though, I think most of us feel a little envy from time to time. A while ago, I started making an effort when I hear of someone else's success to eliminate any thoughts on whether they had advantages I didn't or if I could have done that or anything else and just think, "Good for her!" or "I hope he is happy about that."

It actually makes me a slightly happier person than thinking about it any other way.

As for the fourth type, the pretend haters, they are a special case so that will have to wait until the next post.


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Sunday, April 14, 2019

The Judo Advantage: The thinking person's judo book

I don't have time to read much these days that isn't technical books on things like PHP and I read The Judo Advantage because it was by my friend, Steve Scott. I would have had to come up with some excuse not to write a review if I hated it,  and I'm a really bad liar, so I'm relieved that I can honestly recommend it.



Who this book is for


I can think of four types of people who would like this book a lot.

First, coaches who have a more analytical approach to judo. I don't coach competitors any more, but when I did, this was totally me. When I saw everyone losing to a specific technique, say, sankaku jime, I would go home and work until I came up with a counter to it and my players wouldn't lose the same way again. I never could understand why other coaches didn't do this and their players lost the same way over and over.  This isn't to say the book is all discussion. I loved the section in Chapter 8 on using the head as a third arm and the section on combinations in Chapter 6.

Second, the competitor who has an intellectual approach to judo. That doesn't mean necessarily the player with the most education or highest IQ and it doesn't mean  that those competitors don't work out hard physically. Again, this was me when I was competing. I was always watching my own matches (once videotape became available), planning matches, analyzing why people won and lost. This doesn't mean I wasn't training my ass off, because I was, but the thinking about judo part and looking at it from every angle was yet one more tool to help me win. At the same time, I knew some highly educated people that just went into the dojo and did 1,000 uchikomis and ten rounds of randori and never got any smarter about why they were not able to throw their opponents.

Third, the older adult judo players - and by this I don't mean only senior citizens, but really, anyone who qualifies for masters divisions. These are people who have to show up at work on Monday and aren't doing the competitive circuit but they are interested in judo as an intellectual challenge as well as a physical one.There are a ton of people who love to talk about their ideas about judo. This book is for you, not only to give you more fodder for those discussions, but to enjoy when your friends aren't available and you still have judo on the brain.

If you are one of those people who talk about judo with your friends all the time - why person A is going to beat person B, what happened in the tournament last week and why the same team is going to win again - this is your book. 

So, am I saying  that this is "just a book for brainiacs"?  Well, no, I am saying, those people will LOVE The Judo Advantage.

The fourth group of people, though, are those who maybe don't read a lot of judo books, emphasis on the word "read" here and they probably aren't reading this blog. If that is you, though, mad props to you. If you are recommending this book to a friend who fits that description, my advice is to tell him or her to start in Chapter 3. That is when it gets really practical. Tell your friend to skip to the parts with lots of pictures. I don't mean this in a derogatory way but in dead seriousness. Those are the most pragmatic chapters of the book and the ones of most interest to people who don't care about theory but just want to win. Steve probably thinks you should read every chapter, but hey, if you buy the book, you can do whatever you want.

I liked this book a lot because, like Winning on the Ground (hey, I had to mention my own book on matwork here somewhere!) it's a book I wish I had both as a competitor and when I began coaching. I didn't live in an area where there were a lot of experienced coaches around when I started in Alton, Illinois.  Back then, I had a couple of judo books that I used for new ideas for techniques and to learn more outside of class. The Internet and youtube didn't exist back then!

So, Jimmy and I tried to write the book we wished we'd had when we were younger and it is pretty obvious from reading The Judo Advantage that Steve Scott did, too.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Wrestlemania is over. Now it's Judo Con and Back to Work!

It's 6 am in New York City and Wrestlemania finished several hours ago. My lovely daughter Ronda was the main event in a sold out stadium of something like 86,000 people.

It was fun except for the part where Ronda got bruised up a bit. The outcome may be scripted but the bruises, bumps and stitches are real.

People kept asking me questions about whether I was a big pro wrestling fan and whether I understood what a big deal Wrestlemania was and a lot of other questions that I had difficulty answering because I am a terrible liar due to lack of practice. Finally, Ronda got exasperated and said,

"My mom doesn't know a fucking thing about wrestling but she loves me, so she's here!"

Which was exactly the truth. Massive apologies to everyone who asked about Judo Con. I do love Ronda but every time I have to take off sets everything back for days.

So, now it's back to work. These games aren't going to make and sell themselves.

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Judo Con is November 8 and 9 in Riverside, CA. 


We'll send flyers out in the next few weeks. I was waiting for a few people to confirm whether they could present before making the flyers, and this trip to New York set me back a few days, as did a couple of weeks in North Dakota visiting schools and programs around the state, but that's another story.  We're aiming to have presentations from a dozen coaches/ instructors and I have ten confirmed so far.

A few of the confirmed presenters for Judo Con : Serge Boussyou, Kathy Hubble, James Wall, Ross Nakamura, Brian Money and Steve Scott. As always, the main focus will be on making judo clubs bigger and better - how to be a better instructor and how to get more students. We try to bring together a diverse group and not have just the same people giving you the same ideas you heard the last six times you went to a camp or clinic. Note that list has people from four states and two countries. There are a couple more people I need to reach out to in the next week or so as I get time.

Each day is a mix of about 3 hours on the mat and 3 hours on sessions like Marketing Your Judo School (you do NOT want to miss that one, trust me). There is a also a lunch round table and a couple of hours of directed coaching each day.

Because of the facility size, and because the intent is to have a lot of interaction, the registration is limited to 75, including the presenters.

I really do have a lot more to say about Judo Con, as well as Steve Scott's latest book, which is on my desk at home half-read, but I need to get a couple of hours' sleep before I get up and get caught up on work emails, proposals and two presentations I'm supposed to be giving at tech conferences in the next month.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

The three kinds of coaches

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve had a visitor, Miracle Kim Sandoval, here for the past three weeks who is an elite boxer from Chile. I know nothing about boxing but I called around and got some recommendations and went to a few clubs. We would have gone to more, but as I said in the previous post, four hours a day to take someone to practice, wait for practice and come home is really more time than I can spare on a regular basis.

It’s only been possible to do that for three weeks because I’ve been able to work during the practices. Being able to work anywhere is like a super power of mine.

I run a company that makes educational games, like our cool augmented reality app for kids, Math: The Universal Language.



So, here is what I have learned


There are people who love the game, people who love the player and people who love money.

I took Kim to Hayastan MMA several times where the coach, Roman Karmazin is a former world boxing champion. I’d also like to point out that when I asked Gokor Chivichyan and Gene Lebell if they could formally invite Kim to the US to train to help in arranging her visa, they didn’t hesitate to do so. Good people.



When we first arrived, Roman Mitichyan (yes, weird they have the same name) interpreted for us and warned me that Coach Karmazin doesn’t speak much English, but I told him that was no problem, neither does Kim. Random fact, Roman Mitichyan his amazing - he speaks English, Spanish, Armenian and Russian, as well as acts and sells real estate.

Roman Karmazin loves boxing. He spent hours helping Kim improve her form and even invited her outside of class to the park to give her a conditioning workout.

There are some professional and aspiring professional fighters in the boxing program at Hayastan but there are also just people who really like boxing. Everyone was super nice and welcoming, even though most of them were easily  twice her size.

Our next stop was Wild Card Boxing. Ronda recommended them as a place she was sure no one would behave inappropriately toward Kim. Let’s face it, she is very young and very cute and in some clubs that can make you very vulnerable. I have no problem with smacking someone with a chair if it is warranted but I’d prefer not to have to do it.

The coach we met at Wild Card, Sammy, clearly loves boxers, as do most of the other people I met there, from Freddy Roach’s nice sister and all the other people at the front desk to every trainer I spoke with in the gym.

The first day, they had Kim jump rope and shadow box for about 20 minutes and once it was clear she was pretty good and serious, Sammy worked with her extensively for the rest of the time she was there. He talked about his own experience being an Olympian from a small country in Africa.

The next time we came, he started working with her immediately. The entire atmosphere was super-focused and professional. We were mostly there when the professionals practiced, just because it fit in with my schedule.

Our third gym, which will remain nameless, charged me $100 for an hour of training that was pretty much the same as Kim received anywhere else. Now, that may be the going rate but I would point out that the other gyms did NOT charge that because it is pretty clear Kim is not from a situation where it’s feasible to pay that kind of money. It may be because that was the only gym that knew me as “Ronda Rousey’s mom”. At Wild Card, I was just some random lady that walked in with a boxer from Chile and at Hayastan, I have known Gokor since he was a teenager and Gene since I was a teenager.

The other gym was also professional as far as the level of training, although less gritty than Wild Card. Someone commented that at Wild Card “you can smell the sweat” (you could prefer that or not, depending on your taste).

It would have been more convenient for me but I really can’t afford thousands of dollars a month for someone else’s kid’s training. I still need to finish putting Julia De Mars through college.

Both Ronda and Maria pointed out that there is no money in women’s boxing so the gym was most likely not interested in Kim as a potential money maker for them.

All three gyms told me the exact same thing about Kim - that she has a lot of talent, trains her heart out and has potential to qualify for the Olympics and maybe win a medal. Having had some experience with judo coaches, I would have been skeptical if it was only the third gym that said that. I’ve found for $100 an hour, coaches usually tell everyone their kid has talent.

 They all identified the same strengths and weaknesses and areas she needed to work on.

Kim liked all of the gyms a lot.

Roman is what you think of as a Russian Olympic athlete - very serious, hard-working but also very good.



Sammy is also very hard-working but he is more personal.

In the end, I told Kim that I think coaches are like boyfriends or girlfriends. While a minority are abusive or toxic, most coaches are good for certain people and not others. If Kim was my kid I might pay the $100 to save driving 2 hours, but probably not. I’d want someone more personally invested., but if I was really driving 80 hours a month, I might change my mind about that.

Here is the thing - there is no right answer here. My own coach, Jimmy Martin, told me straight out that he wanted me to win because it made him look better as a coach. That was fine. I wanted me to win, too. As long as we were aiming at the same goal, we didn’t have to be best friends. When I had my knee replaced , I didn’t give a damn whether the orthopedic surgeon gave a damn about me or not. For other people , a personal relationship with a coach is important.

I think this is probably true in every sport. Some people love judo, some people love judo players and some people are in it for the money (not so much in judo, but there are some.). You just need to find what works for you.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Do you have any idea how lucky you are to be doing judo in the US?


Whenever two American judo players get together it is required for them to discuss “what is wrong with judo” and contrast the support in the US with other countries.

Let me tell you a story about a young lady, Kim (The Small Miracle) Sandoval, who has been staying with me for the past three weeks. She is a boxer, from Chile. Despite having only turned 17 years old this week, she has had 24 fights already. She has won 21 of them. Her losses came from a woman who is 60 kilos (she’s 48), a woman who was in her 20s that she fought when she was 15 and in the finals of the South American championships.


So, she is young, she is talented and she is throwing everything she can into boxing. She even is on a modified home-school program so she can do well academically and train three times a day.

The support she receives from the Chilean government is - nothing.

She is in the U.S. because I bought her plane ticket and let her stay at my house. Although I am one to support people, I cannot spend four hours every day driving her to practice, waiting for her to practice and driving her back. I run a company that makes educational games, like our cool augmented reality app for kids, Math: The Universal Language.

I took her to three gyms here in Los Angeles and they all said the same thing, that she has a lot of talent, heart and physical ability. They all agreed that she has a good shot of making it to the Olympics.

Two out of the three clubs were willing to let her train at a very low cost, since she has no money to pay. One of the coaches went out of his way to meet her and give her extra training on his own time.

What she really needs is a sponsor to buy her a few plane tickets to come up here a few times a year and train. She could also really use some help getting to tournaments. She can’t even afford to go to boxing tournaments outside of Chile. (If you are going to ask why Ronda doesn’t fund her, just stop. If you are asking that question you obviously have no idea how much Ronda does to fund various charities and causes. It’s a lot.)

Despite her obvious work ethic and talent, no one was interested in helping her all that much.

Two of my daughters pointed out the obvious - there is no money in women’s boxing, so anyone who is helping her is just doing it out of the goodness of their heart.

Which brings me back to judo.


Most of us in judo in this country have parents who pay for us to attend tournaments. If you are very talented, there is usually someone in the country who will step up and pay for expenses your family can’t afford. For me, it was Frank Fullerton and Bruce Toups. Thank you.

Most successful competitors in judo in the U.S. have gotten support from individuals. Lynn Thursby is just one person who has been very influential in providing financial support. There are others but I’m not sure it would be okay with them to give their names, so I won’t.

Sadly, to me, most of those competitors seem to take it for granted. “Of course you should fund me. I am winning medals for this country. And the National Governing Body should fund me MORE.”

While the second part of that statement is probably true, the first is not. We, and I include myself in this, are all lucky to be doing judo in America where a sport that has minor participation and almost zero probability of making much money can still get sponsorships for our top athletes. It may not be as much as you would like and it may even not be as much as you deserve, but keep in mind that there are a lot of countries where no matter how good you are, you will get nothing .

I was nowhere near as nice a person as Kim when I was her age. I was dedicated, but not as dedicated as she is at that age. My mom was supportive but not as supportive as Kim’s mom is. To be fair to my mom, I was the middle of five kids, where Kim is the youngest of six, so it’s a bit easier for her mom.

Still, by the time I was her age, the Chicago Yudanshakai was paying my way to the national championships. Thank you.

Every now and then, I stop and am grateful for the opportunities I have been handed. Yes, I worked my ass off but so do other people around the world and they don’t all get the opportunities to train and compete that we do.

We are lucky.



Sunday, February 10, 2019

Do what you can. Life lesson 1,012 learned from judo

World judo champions are a small club and I don’t fit in. Let's look at what some other world champions did post-competition

  • Mike Swain - owns a company that sells mats
  • Jimmy Pedro, Jr. - sells mats and runs a judo club
  • Kayla Harrison - competes in mixed martial arts
  • Yamashita - something judo with the IJF

Okay, I’ll be honest. I’m so not in with the cool crowd that I have no idea who won medals or what most of them are doing. Travis Stevens got a silver in the Olympics (I think) and now does judo and jiu jitsu clinics. Some guy in Canada got a silver medal a while back, I only remember he was nice because - Canadian  - and I think he does something with their national sports program.

Then there is me. After the world championships I went off to get a Ph.D. , specializing in Applied Statistics and Psychometrics. I’ve founded four companies and spent most of my days writing software, meeting with investors and potential customers, writing budgets or writing up results of quasi-experimental designs for grant reports or academic journals.

It’s not that I don’t like judo or think it’s a good thing for people to do but I’m pretty busy. You don’t see Bill Gates out on the mat, now do you? (No, I’m not Bill Gates but I’d kind of like to be, except I’d like to not be a guy and keep my kids.)




 This IS my day job. Check out Making Camp Premium for your iPad/ iPhone  or Google Play or on the web. You’ll learn about the Ojibwe people, brush up on your math skills and other useful knowledge like synonyms and idioms. Get it for yourself, your kids or donate to a school to help other people’s kids.


I’ve gone from doing judo every day and twice a day on weekends to once a week and now only a few times in the last year. 


Occasionally, I’ll wonder for a moment if I wasted all those years. Maybe I would have been better off taking more computer science courses, learning more about algorithms, practicing not telling people to go fuck themselves if they pissed me off (still not one of my better skills). Perhaps I really WOULD be running a business the size of Microsoft if I’d put my energy into that instead.

Oh, and don’t start with the “Look what great friendships you made.” I only like a few of you people and I haven’t even talked to you guys recently because I’ve been in Chile and my phone was stolen. (Yes, I owe a lot of phone calls to people now that I just got back.)

When I think about it for more than sixty seconds, though, I always realize that there is a great deal more I learned from judo than how to transition into an arm bar. 

DO WHAT YOU CAN

Some of this came about because I did NOT have the advantages that “kids these days” swear they need of just doing judo full time. Since I was working full-time during my competitive years, there were a lot of times I couldn’t be at the best judo club, or sometimes any judo club. I learned to do what I could.

  • Can’t get to practice? Get up and run sprints in the morning before work.
  • Can’t get to practice? Lift weights at the gym near my house.
  • No one near my size/ age to train with? Ask the guys at the Naval Training Center to run matwork drills on them over and over.
  • No one really interested in training seriously at the club? Ask each person if they’d mind taking 25 falls for in a line so I can get in 200 throws.
  • Injured my knee and can’t do standing technique? Do dumb bell curls and exercise to build up my hands and arms for gripping and chokes. Do sit-ups. Do matwork drills.

I don’t remember anyone ever specifically teaching me this. I think I just figured it out through necessity of wanting to win and being in a lot of situations that were suboptimal for making that happen.

HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO LIFE?

I’m writing this on a flight from Santiago to Panama City, after which I have to sprint to catch my connecting flight to Los Angeles. I’ll be spending 19 hours in planes and airports, none of which have wifi. What would be the optimal thing to be doing right now? Working on the new game we have under development for which my part is behind schedule. Unfortunately, the first thing I’d need to do is pull the changes from the other developers on the team, which I cannot do because of the whole no wifi thing.

So, what am I doing? Well, other than this blog post (seriously, it didn’t take me 19 hours), I’m writing up several lesson plans for the new teachers’ site we’re creating to go with our games. To do that, I’m playing the games that have an offline version, taking screen shots and writing the lesson plans, so when I do get back to Internet connection land, I can slap in some links and boom! have three or four ready to go with an hour .

Before I left, I downloaded two books on Wordpress and one on virtual worlds on my iPad and packed a book on game design (yes, an actual book on paper) so I can read up on some areas that will help with the various projects I’m working on.

What I learned from judo is not only that winning is a habit but also that WORKING TOWARDS winning is a habit. Even if conditions are far from the best you could hope for, there is always something you can do to be pushing forward towards your goal if you just cut the woe is me crap, find it and do it.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

No, a stolen iPhone isn’t a brick: How thieves access your data

Maybe you’ve heard that a stolen iPhone is nothing more than a brick. Stop and read this. It may save you whole lot of grief and panic.
Perhaps you feel as if your data is safe.
  • You have a password and it’s not 123456.
  • You have find my iPhone.

Allow me to burst your bubble by telling you what happened to me and why it could have been WAY worse. Also, turn off Siri right ###ing now. If you cannot bear to part with it, turn it off when locked. Go to Settings , then Siri and Search. Turn off answering when locked.

HOW THIEVES ALMOST GOT AWAY WITH EVERYTHING

On Thursday, when I got of the subway I noticed the side of my bag was unzipped. I didn’t see my phone but my credit card and money was still in the pocket so I didn’t think I was robbed. I just figured I’d thrown it in with my computer. When I got home, i emptied my bag and still couldn’t find it. I used find my iPhone and saw it was 7 miles away. So, I put it in lost mode.
Keep this mind, the thieves had my phone for an hour at most before I noticed and locked it.
After I contacted people from my office and made sure I hadn’t left it there,I erased it.

HOW SIRI IS YOUR ENEMY

In the meantime , the thieves had gotten into my yahoo email and my Facebook  page. How did they do that?
Because when you get your phone and you don’t disable this, Siri will answer hi when your phone is locked. Say,
“Siri, what’s my phone number? Siri, what’s my email?”
.... and Siri will tell you.
So, now the thief has your phone, your phone number and your email. TURN OFF SIRI NOW!
I never would have thought the default setup would have such a huge security flaw.

It gets worse.

Now the thief goes to yahoo, enters your email and click “Forgot my password.” They have the reset sent to your phone and then they reset the password .  Guess what? The default is that messages show up on locked iPhones so they get the message and enter a new password. Now, they have your email and your password and your phone.
Next, they go to Facebook and log in using that email. They say that they have lost the password and have the password reset code sent to your iPhone or email they have stolen.
Now the thief has your email, Facebook, phone and phone number.
By this time, it had maybe been a few hours, I had figured out what they were doing ERASED  my iPhone using the Find my iPhone app, deleted the yahoo email from my Facebook and changed the phone number on my yahoo account .

WATCH OUT FOR PHISHING EMAILS CLAIMING TO HAVE YOUR PHONE

This is where disaster really could have happened. So, I’m back in the office on Friday trying to do a million things plus reset my password on everything , handle things that come up every day with two companies in two countries and in one of my company accounts I get a message from “Find my iPhone “ . It looks legit . It says we’ve found your iPhone. It gives the model of iPhone , storage , how would a thief know that ? If you think about it , duh, they have my iPhone . But I’m thinking someone jacking iPhones on the subway certainly doesn’t have the skills to create something  this professional. So, I click on it.  Nothing happens. Thank God for my internet provider that strips out malicious code .

What this was supposed to have done was take me to a page that asked for my Apple ID and password to prove I was me. I might have done it, too. I’m staying with my ISP for life now.
After I switched phones,I got the same message in a text to my new phone number. I can only guess that either a) they were still logged in when I changed it or b) they searched for me on Google.

!!!!! These were not some gifted thieves. There are actually SERVICES that do this for them ! Want to get the Apple ID  and password of a person whose phone you’ve stolen? Send them all of the info you have and they will create the rack email and text messages !

EVEN IF YOUR PHONE IS DISABLED,THEY STILL HAVE YOUR SIM CARD

They can (and did) swap that into another phone so not only can they use that phone to make calls and send text messages, charged to you, of course, they also will receive any calls, messages or FaceTime intended for you. If you have not disabled charging to your phone, they can charge any premium services to it and this will show up on your phone bill. When I thought of it two days later,Dennis disabled the account with ATT and he got a message that it was now disabled on a Huawei phone which is not sold in the US but very popular in Chile .

HERE IS WHAT I DID WRONG BEFORE MY PHONE WAS STOLEN

  • Obviously the Apple default is a huge security flaw. I should have disabled Siri as I never use it and also disabled messages showing on lock mode.
  • Ironically, I had the yahoo account on my Facebook account thinking it gave me EXTRA security. I hadn’t really used that account in years .
  • It was possible to reset my yahoo account from a phone, so if someone had my phone they could get access to my email.

HERE IS WHAT I DID RIGHT

  • I had a second email account that could NOT be reset from a phone. I used that to lock the thief out before they thought of removing it.
  • When I changed the password and phone associated with my email and Facebook I picked “Log me out of other devices” so if they were logged in somewhere else they couldn’t just change it back.
  • My phone does not allow purchases so even when someone had my SIM card they could not use it to buy anything. We turned this off with ATT years ago.
  • None of my bank information is written down anywhere ,  not passwords, accounts,  SSN, nothing . I memorized them. Logins for things like that Software I bought five years ago and the license are written down , or for that stupid forum on blogs. These are not used for anything important .
  • Any information that might be important is recorded like this:
  • Password- same as for that computer we used to have in the living room
  • Had an Internet service provider that stripped out the script on the phishing email and saved me from a huge mistake.
  • Called ATT to block the number so no one else could use the SIM card
  • My social media accounts are not connected. Getting into my Facebook doesn’t allow you access to my Instagram, Twitter or anything else. Whenever Facebook asks to connect to anything I say No.
  • There is very little information in my social media profiles and some of what has been put there automated by Facebook is wrong. So,if anyone was hoping to use the information they got for identity theft they are out of luck .

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO NOW?

  • At the very least , this second, disable Siri when locked and turn off notifications when locked.
  • Turn off purchases from your phone.
  • Turn off resetting your password from a phone .
  • Disconnect social media accounts form each other so if someone has one account they don’t have all of them.

And for the love of God quit believing that bullshit that a stolen iPhone is no more than a brick!

Support my day job! 

Learn Native American history, math and English all at the same time. You can play it on your iPad, the web or on your phone (if it isn't stolen).

Friday, January 18, 2019

Producer #3 : The Ronda show all about Ronda and did I mention Ronda? Ronda!

When we left off our story I was writing from a plane flying TO Devils Lake and I had just concurred with producer number 2 that I was not involved in enough bar room brawls to make a reality TV show with him.

 Now I’m on a plane flying FROM Devils Lake. I have two things to say about North Dakota
1. The people are nice
2. It’s fucking cold.


Now that you know the two most important facts about North Dakota, on to the rest of the story.

When we met with Producer 3 we mentioned that the first producer was only interested if we could promise to have a lot of screaming fights, preferably where we ganged up on Ronda and brought up anything from her past that could be embarrassing. I jokingly said there was nothing embarrassing because all my children are perfect.

Producer 3 ,
“Ronda will be in the show, right?”

We said sure, our initial idea was to film in Tobago and she would come for a couple of weeks. She’d be in about one-fourth of the episodes. Ronda plays a lot of games and drops in from time to time with ideas for games. She occasionally sits in on a game design meeting. Of course she drops by my house or Maria’s a few times a month.

This is Tobago at night. It's a beautiful place

This is Tobago during the day. That is Julia. Not Ronda.


Producer 3,

“Can you get Ronda to teach judo or workout in the show?”

I said we’d have to ask but I didn’t see why not. Maybe we could film something at Gompers Middle School if they gave permission and if not, I have plenty of friends with judo clubs .

Producer 3 to software developer walking by, 

“What do you think about Ronda?”

Developer:

 “I’ve only met her once in a game design meeting.”
P3:
“What kind of person do you think she is?”

Developer:

 “I guess she’s nice. She brought us doughnuts.”

Maria:

“I brought the doughnuts.”

Later ...


We find out that Producer 3 has told a network that Ronda will be in every show.

Me: “Why would you tell them that?”

P3: “I’m just spinning it. Everyone does that.”

Me: “You mean lie?”

P3: “I’m sure when the show gets picked up Ronda will want to be in every episode.”

He proceeds to tell us that no one is interested in a reality TV show without Ronda in it. Maria points out that is obviously not true because the only reality shows there are  on TV are ones without Ronda in them. There  are TWO shows about baking cupcakes and, because it’s apparently a separate genre , a third show about baking cakes! There are shows where people clean houses,  buy old stuff and bid on storage units. It’s hard to believe traveling all over North and South America making video games is less interesting.



So, we pass on Producer 3.



Games ARE interesting and can be really artistic- speaking of which , AzTech Games won best artwork at the ED Games expo.

You can get a sneak peak at the newest release of AzTech: Meet the Maya here before it is available to the public next week.


Monday, January 14, 2019

Reality TV Show Producer Number 2: How many bar room brawls do you have in an average month ?

Writing this on a flight to Denver and then changing to a little puddle jumper for Devils Lake , North Dakota where I will land at midnight. Surprisingly, all the rental cars in Devils Lake are reserved but the Spirit Lake Casino, like any casino I’ve ever heard of is open 24 hours a day so they are very kindly sending someone out to the airport to pick me up in the shuttle they use to bring employees to work.

After meeting with Producer #1 who said our family needs a few more addictions and dysfunctional relationships,  I had a talk with producer number two. He had two names, neither of which I remember so let’s just call him Bob-Bob . The business associate who connected me with Bob-Bob is a really straight up honest guy and also quite successful. He pretty much ordered him to give us the straight scoop and only work with us if he thought it would be beneficial,

Bob-Bob was hilarious. He’d worked on some shows you’ve probably heard of and he said, 

“My speciality in reality TV is drama. We put people in situations where drama is likely to happen and if it doesn’t we create it,”

I asked him how exactly he did he do that and he gave me an example from one of his shows.

“We brought these people together who really didn’t like each other - but nothing happened. So, we put them in our vans and drove them all to a bar. Still boring. So, we tipped the bartender to give them free drinks but still nothing was happening. Finally, we bribed the bar owner to keep the bar open after hours and after 2 or 3 am when we’d been plying them with free drinks for hours, some fights broke out and people calling each other names and bringing up some pretty awful stuff from ex-friends that we could use.”

I told him, 

“ You know, you aren’t making yourself look so good here, Bob-Bob .”


He laughed and said,

 “I’m just telling you the truth. It’s a living. The people on our shows, they don’t usually have much talent or education or connections. Yeah, maybe the show makes them look bad but it’s more money than they’d be making doing anything else and no one is making them do the show . I’d like to see a show about a functional family and successful people who like each other. I think if I pitched it to my network they’d say it was not our kind of show but I think other networks might pick it up.”



Bob-Bob and I had a nice conversation but we both agreed he wasn’t the type of producer we were looking for, although he had some great stories and I would totally invite him to a party.

As for the other networks he recommended, we never did get around to contacting them because we went through meetings with producers three, four , five and six and we are really busy running a company (you can read how awesome that is going here).

In fact, I have the opposite of an Instagram life, where people post pictures and make it look like their life is so amazing. Often I don’t post the awesome stuff going on, either because I’m just enjoying the moment , or I don’t want to impinge on people’s privacy or I am just too damn busy making shit happen.




Tuesday, January 8, 2019

My Life Needs Better Writers (or, what happened to our reality show)

Yesterday, I wrote about our first idea for a reality show. I thought it would be amusing to go through some of our discussions with producers.

The first conversation went like this:

Producer: How many children do you have? 19? 20?

Me: What? No. I have four. All daughters. All wonderful.

P: Any addictions? Alcohol? Drugs? Sex addiction?

Me: Um, well, we drink wine and sometimes a martini. But no, none of us have ever been arrested for DUI or in treatment or anything like that.

P (incredulous): NONE of you? Out of six people?

Me: Well, actually, I think that's pretty typical.

P:  Dennis isn't having a sex change, by any chance, is he?

Me: No!

P: Are you considering whoring Julia out to hip-hop stars?

Me: NO! What the fuck? She's 17 years old!

Me: Look, here is my idea. We make video games and we want to open an office in the Caribbean because we think that would be a good market. Tobago is absolutely beautiful. We can have the show cover a game from start to finish, where we have to come up with the design and Maria and I, who are the least laid back people you ever meet, hire our crew from the island and have Julia I-can't-get-up-before-noon as one of our interns. Trying to get a game done on schedule is drama and tension in itself but add in starting with a new team and cultural differences and I think it will naturally get to the point of me wanting to kill people. I am sure I can set up teaching judo at some of the local clubs. Hopefully it will help them and I'll need it with the stress. Ronda says she'll drop in for a fourth of the episodes, lend advice on game design and testing, party with the locals and try to keep the peace.

Producer: I'm going to give you my honest opinion. This show will never sell. Your family is too boring. You don't have a million kids. You aren't little people. You have successful children and you all love each other. No one wants to watch that. They want to see people drunk and puking, screaming at each other, crying, talking about their addiction. They want to see a family that is a dumpster fire so after they watch it they can feel good about themselves.

We talked to six producers and I actually thought all of them were pretty good people but for various reasons, we didn't end up doing the show. Three of them passed on us, two of them we declined and one was mutual.

As for this particular producer we actually had a very nice, funny discussion. This was one person's honest opinion. I appreciated the honesty although I disagree.

from the north woods to New York City

Our family is not boring. We just need better writers

I think if you can make a show about people losing weight where standing on the scale is drama, if you can make a show about baking cakes and another about cupcakes and ... well, I think you could make an interesting show about us.

Take today, for example. Maria gave a talk about making games in DC at a conference with 1,200 kids - which still went on despite the government shutdown and the fact that she rewrote her talk at 4 am. It was great, by the way. Then, she was mobbed by kids wanting to play our games.

Ronda was doing a live wrestling show in Orlando. She travels so much that I actually had to look it up on the internet to what city she was in.

Julia took off for London where she is going to be living for the next five months.
The last time we'll all be in the same place until June


I went into the office to work on a proposal for a new game, discussed the design of a game in progress, tried to figure out how to renew my visa for Chile, came home and taught an online class on biostatistics with all kinds of technical glitches, then created a video on exploring data.

Okay, well, my day was not that exciting today, but there have been other days in the past year when I've climbed a mountain to see the condors, went hiking in the driest desert in the world, watched hoop dancing at a pow-wow, been stuck in a hotel during a blizzard in North Dakota. Every year, I'm everywhere from the north woods to New York City. I'm scheduled to be in four states and three countries in the first five months of this year - and that's only what has been confirmed as of the first week in January!

Let's face it. I don't care who you are or what you do, much of your daily life is pretty mundane. (Unless you are working with Producer #2 .) You get up, have some coffee, take a shower, drive to work, go to a meeting, read your email, eat a sandwich. The winning competitions you didn't enter (strange, but true), laying on a Caribbean beach or heart-felt discussions with your children about life are just a fraction of that. Even Harry Potter and Hermione spent most of their time studying, sleeping and eating.

Speaking of sleep, I have to get some.


Buy Parenting Like I Know What I'm Doing , by me and Maria Burns Ortiz for only $1.99