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 



Monday, January 7, 2019

Rowdy Family Business Reality Show: What I was doing three years ago

 Searching an old email address, I came across this email sent 2 1/2 years ago when my lovely daughters and I were discussing a reality show.

Think Duck Dynasty Meets Silicon Valley with some very attractive real-life CEOs


The opening RouseyOrtizDeMarsTaylor group text begins


Mom: I'm in North Dakota, freezing my ass. 
Ronda: I'm doing a Sports Illustrated photo shoot from an undisclosed island location. Someone is currently painting my ass. 
Maria: Salt Lake City, pitching investors. I do not discuss asses. This is why I am the CEO
Julia: I'm in hell, commonly known as high school.
Jenn:  In 20 minutes, I have to go back to teaching middle schoolers about the constitution. Why are you people bothering me?

The series centers around Maria Burns Ortiz and AnnMaria De Mars, a daughter and mother who are the CEO and president of an educational video game start-up, with frequent appearances by younger sisters Ronda Rousey, a professional athlete, actress and entrepreneur and Julia De Mars, a soon-to-be college student and aspiring actress.

Maria balances three children aged 1-8 with a husband running his own journalism start-up and trying to cope with her unconventional extended family. Mom gave up the job as CEO to Maria because,

"Someone needs to wear a suit and not tell potential investors to go fuck themselves if they say something incredibly stupid. I am not that person."


Episode 1 has Maria and younger sister, Ronda, trying to convince the family that a reality show would be good for business. The first, literal, sign this may not be easy is the sign that hangs on Mom's office door, which reads "First of all, no. Second of all, no." When they enter their mom's office, she starts the conversation with,

"No."

They point out that they haven't even said anything yet, to which she replies that every time they come to her with that look it has been some crazy ass idea. Ronda wanted a monkey. Maria wanted to move into her own apartment when she was in high school because her sisters were annoying, etc.

They try Dennis, step-father and CTO (bit of back story on Dennis coming into their lives after Ron died makes him seem a sympathetic figure). He refuses to open the office door 

"Only if you don't show me on television."

One of the daughters asks,
"What if we just record you through the door?"

The sisters regroup to a coffee shop to plot and the final scene is a game design meeting in the conference room of the company offices, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Annmaria, with Dennis on Google hangout, is running through artwork, game mechanics and some esoteric coding and statistical details, with Maria adding information on the story line and characters. At the end of the agenda when AnnMaria asks if there is any new business, Ronda enters the conference room.

She says we need to discuss this reality show idea. Half the developers immediately find somewhere else they need to be. Maria and Ronda give a convincing 2-minute summary on why this would be good for the company and, as a result, help children everywhere get access to the games and a better education.

AnnMaria grudgingly agrees and the final scene has her saying to the computer, 

I'm going to regret this aren't I?  

Dennis answers from Google hangout - probably

So, whatever happened with the reality show? Well, we had a few discussions with producers but for the rest of the story you'll have to read the next blog post.