Saturday, April 25, 2015

Half of conversations

Did you ever hear half of a conversation, say, someone talking on the phone, and wonder,

What the hell was THAT about?!

Lately, I have been involved in a number of those conversations. If I was a more boring person, I would give you the whole thing, but since I am not, I will just leave you with what you would have overheard on my end.

No, they didn't eat her body after she died! What the hell is wrong with you?

I am unsure of the wisdom of handing a saw to a child.

Eat as many of those chocolate balls as you would like.

The pool was crowded but the work out room was empty, leading me to predict that next week this hotel will be full of fat people with tans.

 I would like you to congratulate him for me on having a gold-plated set of balls.

Friday, April 17, 2015

And another thing .... more warning labels on people

Yesterday, I wrote a post about how some people should come with warning labels, and signs that you should stay away.

Today, I thought of two others:

  • If Bob is more interested in "your"  than you - run in the other direction because, as your mama can tell you, he is NOT your friend. What I mean is those people who want to come over and play your Wii, stay at your beach house, meet your friends who are popular or famous but can't be bothered to visit you in the hospital, pick you up at the airport or meet you for lunch - those people are just using you. When Ronda is staying in a fabulous suite at some five-star hotel there are dozens of people who have time to hang out with her. When she had knee surgery and needed someone to make sure she drank enough water, did her physical therapy and took her antibiotics, most of those people were nowhere to be found.  Despite the fact that they have very busy lives of their own, her sisters made it a point to be there, proving yet again my belief that the only people who are really "like family" are your actual family.
  • If the last 10 interactions you've had with Bob have all been "take", you need to kick him to the curb. All good relationships are give and take, and it evens out over time.  It doesn't have to be material things. For example, we recently had a Kickstarter campaign, and a few people tweeted out multiple times to their followers, blogged about it, sent out the link to everyone in their email list. It can be picking you up when your flight gets in at 1 a.m. It can be stopping you from making a really stupid mistake. Years ago, a teammate of mine insisted that I help her keep her very drunk friend trapped in the women's restroom. Drunkette was planning on sleeping with this really cute guy, but she also happened to be engaged to someone who would probably kill both of them. Plus, you shouldn't sleep around on your fiance (duh).
I am old, cynical and not surprised by much. My children are a little less jaded. There are many people who have asked far more than 10 times in a row for something, and I just quit returning their phone calls and emails. For example, one had asked for a donation to their organization (I gave them quite a bit), to speak at their events (I did - twice) and for MANY other things that I won't detail since my point isn't to publicly single out any one person.  I should also point out that none of these people are disabled, starving or asking me to donate to organizations like the World Food Programme.

After the umpteenth request from them for MORE assistance, one of my lovely daughters sent an email saying, 'Dr. De Mars has given you a lot of support over the past year. How about you back her project on Kickstarter?'

That was the last time I heard from that person. Now I am kicking myself that I didn't have her send the same email to a dozen other people.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Warning Labels on People

I was talking to Samantha the other day about someone who had a co-worker who was pretty much a psychopath. She asked why would a person choose to work with anyone like that and I said,

It's not as if people come with warning labels - which is an oversight, if you think of it, because there is not much that needs a warning label more than people.

Which got me to thinking, what would be warning signs to stay away from a person? Keep in mind what a warning label is - it tells you that there is an above average probability that a bad thing would happen if you use this product. Not everyone who smokes cigarettes will get cancer but the odds are not in your favor.

So, as a public service, here are my warning labels for people.

  1. Hangs out with unethical dirt bags. If you like Bob but he has more than one friend who is dishonest, lazy and/or cruel that is a warning those traits don't bother Bob so much, or he wouldn't have multiple friends like that. You have been warned.
  2. Treats certain people badly. Bob may be super nice and friendly to you but he is rude to his parents, spouse, assistant or students. This is the old parental advice, "If your date is nice to you but rude to the waiter he/she is not a nice person." You have been warned.
  3. Cheats in relationships. People can find true love and change, I've seen it happen, but it is not the way to bet. In particular, if someone cheats on YOU in a relationship, drop them and run.
  4. Anyone over the age of 25 who is unemployed living with his or her parents. Statisticians know that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. If Moochy has managed to get by to this point leeching off other people, when the Bank of Mom and Dad closes up shop, you are the next leech-ee .
So, those are my first four signs. Anyone else want to chime in?

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Value of Mean Parents

This morning, my sister and her lovely daughter took Julia to the gym to run three miles while I was still asleep. I did what I do every day, worked most of the day, including fixing a few bugs and recording an interview for the Red Man Laughing podcast.

While Julia was back, working on her pre-calculus homework, I got to thinking about how different this is from when Ronda was younger. When she was 11, 12 or 13 years old, I was getting her up every morning and making her run, driving her to judo every night. Part of the difference is age. When Ronda was 11 years old, I was 39. When Julia was 11 years old, I was 50.

Because I'm older, Julia has had to do more things on her own. Plus, she chose to play soccer about which I know only what I learned from watching the movie, Bend It Like Beckham.

Unfortunately, it is a disadvantage to not have a mean parent chasing you in sprints uphill.

Three reasons "mean parents" are an advantage:
  1. If you have a mean parent who makes you get up and run even when you don't want to do it, makes you practice drills when you want to watch TV, you get better at your sport.
  2. You get used to training hard and pushing past your comfort zone, so even when there is no one around to make you, it is still a habit.
  3. As you grow up, you realize that person who was pushing you who you thought was really awful at the time was really someone who really loved you and had your best interests at heart, when the people blowing smoke up your ass about your great talent did not. This is a huge benefit because, as an adult, you will need people around you who push you to improve and stay ahead of the competition. If you've been pushed by someone who loved you as a child when you are an adult, you are going to be able to have a better relationship with coaches, managers, agents and others who want you to do more than you feel like doing at the moment.
 Notice I said "mean" not "crazy".

I put this in the same post because I did not want people to misconstrue it. Here are some ways to know if you are crazy.

  1. If you have a child under 8 years old training every day of the year. They're A KID. You may end up with the toughest eight-year-old in the world. So fucking what? I won the world championships. Do you know who the toughest eight-year-old judo player in the world was when I was a kid? Yeah, me, neither.
  2. If you have taken a second mortgage on your home, quit your job, moved across country so your child can have a better opportunity training. Don't make grown-up life decisions based on your child's sport because what if they break a leg or decide to join band instead?
  3. If you cannot truly answer the question, "Are you doing this for yourself or your child?", unequivocally with, "For my child", well, I don't know whether or not you are a crazy parent but you are certainly a bad one.
What if you aren't in a position to be the "mean parent"?

 I am older now and I'm not so dishonest or stupid as to pretend that I'm in the same shape in my fifties as I was in my thirties. Plus, I have a company to run. 

I think there are still some things I can offer.  I still know what it takes to be a successful athlete and can let Julia know when I don't think she is doing it.

Although I can't get out and run up and down the fields with her or teach her ball handling skills, I can make arrangements for her to get those opportunities - I see a lot of summer camps in her future. Being very cognizant of the unhealthy atmosphere and the potential for abuse at camps, she'll be going as a day camper or we will be staying in the area while she's at camp - but that's a post for another day.

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Saturday, April 4, 2015

My mini-memoir

I worked late on the games last night, both updates for our current games and bug fixes in Forgotten Trail, which is under development. So, I got up at 11 am. I heard the phone ringing around 10, but I just turned over and went back to sleep.

This got me thinking about how differently I saw our lives during some of the years covered in My Fight/ Your Fight . Not that anything Ronda and Maria said was inaccurate, it was just a different perspective.

It's been said that

Working mothers talk about sleep the way starving people talk about food. 

What I remember most about the years when Ron was ill was how very tired I was all of the time. I had three children aged 8 years and under, a full time job as a professor, a husband in intensive care and a second job as a statistical consultant.

When we had moved to North Dakota, bought the house, enrolled the kids in school, we were counting on two incomes. All of a sudden, we had one, plus a mountain of medical bills.

So, I became the first and second income. Also, a de facto single parent, since Ron was in the hospital. Then, Ron died, and I was an actual single parent.

As a professor on the track to tenure, not only was I teaching classes and meeting with students, but also writing grants, conducting research, analyzing data, writing up articles for academic journals. Also, taking kids to swim practice, soccer practice, track practice and piano lessons. Also, teaching extra classes in the summer and overload (more than the normal number) classes for extra money. Also, writing grants and doing data analysis for clients. Also occasionally cleaning the house, cooking, correcting homework, going to parent teacher conferences, doing the income taxes, paying bills and all of the other general life stuff.

That's a lot of "also".

When I met Dennis, I weighed about 30 pounds less than I did when I was competing - and I certainly wasn't overweight as a competitor.

After we were married, I must have slept 10 hours a night for the first six months. I'm not kidding.

While you hear a lot of start-up CEOs bragging about getting by on six hours sleep or less,  while I might work sixteen hours a day, I make a real effort to get eight hours sleep a night. I don't have a huge house or a fancy car because I put a lot back into product development and marketing. The one luxury I allow myself, though, is a full night's sleep.

The book is good, well-written and a good story about a good person with a lot of good advice. Personally, I found it a fascinating example of what they say in family therapy, which is that the same family does not equal the same experience. Think for a minute of the experiences the youngest child in a family of twelve has versus the oldest child or the mother.

So ... that's my pondering for the day. Have to run to granddaughter's birthday party and then catch a flight to see my mom. Hopefully I can fit in watching Fast and Furious 7 with the adult family members before I fly out.

Random: If you like this blog, you might be interested in our company newsletter with articles by me and Maria Burns Ortiz. Email  to be on our mailing list and you can get edition 2 that comes out on Tuesday.

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Friday, April 3, 2015

Vantage Point on My Fight/ Your Fight

I'm in a bit of a unique position, with one of my children writing a memoir about her life, and the sportswriter co-authoring it being my other daughter.

Having read half of the book after the Fast and Furious 7 premiere last night, I have a few things to say.

First of all, My Fight/ Your Fight is a really good book. It's well-written and a good story. Sales have been impressive for a book that won't be out for another six weeks. I guarantee it will be a best seller.

Ronda was surprisingly honest about the boyfriends. Let me just say there is a reason I call them all Bob, except for a few I called Dick.

 Some people are portrayed as better than my opinion of them, while some come off looking worse, but those are just my opinions.

Second, reading through it, I'm struck by how your recollection of events is determined by your vantage point. So far, I have not found anything in the book to be inaccurate. However, there are events that other people might consider highly significant that she never bothered to mention, and other incidents that I wouldn't have mentioned but it was a big deal to her.

Third, and along the same line, I was amused by how much my view as an adult and her mother differed from Ronda's as a teenager.

I have promised not to give away details until the book is published. You can remind me to give my detailed opinion after it comes out.

I have also waived my right to sue them, which would be a pretty incredibly stupid waste of time since whatever I got would end up going back to them anyway when I die. Besides, it's a bad idea to piss off the people who will choose your nursing home.  

Well, I better stop now before I give anything away.


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