Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Training to beat the world

Let’s assume you are over 15 or so. I just don’t believe someone at twelve or thirteen should be training to beat the world. Whether or not a person can win isn’t the issue with me. It is simply a moral issue that I don’t believe people that young should have that kind of pressure.

Quick fixes: Are you as in condition as you can possibly be? Most American judo athletes are not.  

1.    Get in better shape. Run! I hear the same refrain often, “But I run four miles a day on the cross-trainer”. “I do aerobics class three hours a day.” Honestly! You are doing the same workout as the stockbroker who wants to work off the calories from his martinis after work. I joined my college varsity track team. That was my running workout for judo. I set school records in the 1500, two-mile, three-mile and two-mile relay. (Don’t be impressed. My school was noted for academics, not sports. I was the “fastest of the smart people.”) If you are on a track team and running in races, you are pushed in a way that you are not jogging on the running trail. After college, I entered 10k races. I ran with people who were training for 10K, marathons or triathlons.  Other options are to have a friend come to the track with you and time your splits and your total time. Keep a record of your mileage and times and try to beat those each week.

2.    Lift! This is the same as above. Do more. Get stronger. It really is that simple. You don’t have to put together your own weight-training plan. I know people who pay hundreds of dollars a month for a weight-trainer. Some elite athletes work with volunteer weight trainers. Still others design their own training program. The specifics aren’t nearly as important as the fact that you are moving upward. Of course you will have cycles where you are easing up on the weights the few days before a major tournament. You will probably alternate between days when you do a lot of reps and others where you push for the maximum. However, if you are doing the same weight training program today that you were two years ago, I think you have a problem.

Other things being equal, if you are in better condition and physically stronger than your opponent, you will win. Since this is an area you have so much control over, it makes no sense to not do whatever you can.

Now to the judo part…. Comfortable and easy are two words that do not go with world champion.

3.    Your goal at judo should be to train harder than anyone else on the mat.
Be the first one there and the last one to leave. Don’t spend half an hour stretching and fifteen minutes doing conditioning exercises. Get there early and stretch. You already had a conditioning practice. Go every round. Try to get people who are bigger and stronger than you who you can go all out against.

4.    Guard against becoming a bully. If you can throw around everyone your size, then you need to vary your workouts so that you are not just drilling people weaker than you into the mat. That may mean working out with people bigger than you, but you want to be within reason. I am being a bit of a hypocrite here because several times, I entered tournaments in the 48 kg and Open divisions. I won both divisions every time, but I do believe that it was stupid moves like that which caused all of the injuries I had in my career. I fought through those injuries and won anyway. However, it is very possible that I would have had a longer career and won more if I had used better judgment. I would definitely be in better shape now.


This is my day job - making games that make you smarter

You can get all three games for under $20. They run on Mac and Windows. You'll learn and have fun.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Wrong Turns on the Road to the Top of the World

I came across a file with three blog posts I had written years ago and never published. I must have jotted it down in when I was stuck in an airport back before they had Internet everywhere, and forgotten about it.

Here is the first one.

NOT THAT YOU ASKED ME: It’s a long road to the top of the world and most of you are making wrong turns

I have read a lot of the advice about winning at judo lately, and I find that much of it does not agree with my own experience. Below are my recommendations for the road to the top of the world.

1.    Under age 10: Have fun! Learn stuff! If you do start judo at this age, it will help you later on if you get a solid technical base and someone has an eye out to bad habits that will be hard to break and cause problems later. For example, being in the referee’s position from wrestling may not matter at this age, but at 17 it will get you a broken arm – and it will be a hard habit to break if you have been doing it seven years.

2.    From 10-13: By this age, you need to start attending judo practice three or four times a week. Enter every tournament in your local area. If you can beat everyone in your age group, enter two age groups. Do not be one of those people who avoid a person who can beat them. In fact, stalk people who can beat you.  Follow this advice now and for the rest of your competitive life. What I mean by that is, try to fight those people who can beat you at every opportunity. If they are a year older, when they go up into the next age group, be sure you enter both age groups every tournament. Losing means you have a weakness and you need to find it and fix it.

3.    Age 14-17:
Make a commitment. Start doing judo at least five days a week, preferably more. Run every day. Start lifting weights. When you are young, try to go to a program for young athletes. A maximum weight-training program probably isn’t a good idea for most 14-year-olds.

4.    Age 17-20: 
By the time you’re 17, you should be working out at least twice a day, every day. Some days you can do conditioning and judo, some days will be two judo practices or two conditioning practices. In my opinion, anyone who doesn’t work out at least twice a day is not serious. In the last few decades, there has not been an international medalist from this country that I, and people like me, did not know their name by the time they were 19 years old. This doesn’t mean that they won the U.S. Open at 19 (although I did). It does mean that by 19, and usually years before, there was a buzz going around – “Watch this Pedro kid.” “There’s this little girl named Liliko out on the east coast, coached by her dad, have you seen her?” You should be training hard enough that you stand out from  the crowd.

5.    Age 21-30:
If you really want to win, the first priority every day of your life is getting your workouts in and making them harder. Here is where a lot of people fall down. They are training every day, sometimes twice a day, but they are not winning.


My day job is making games that make you more than ordinary. Check out Forgotten Trail and see what I mean.


Friday, May 13, 2016

Four daughters, a dolphin suit and a caged weasel

I was listening to the Moth podcast today - recommended by my daughter, Jennifer and well worth the time, by the way - and a man was telling a story about rowing across the English Channel in a bathtub.

He even wrote a book about it called All at Sea: One Man, one bathtub, one really bad idea.

Listening to it, I had a very good idea. He made the point that you could do something really hard like climb Mount Everest or circumnavigate and the British public will say,

"Pssh! That's not that hard"

(The above is how I imagine British people talk.) However, he says, climb Mount Everest in a dolphin suit or walk around the globe carrying a caged weasel and people will say,

"Woo-hoo. Amazing! Get that man a medal!"

(I may have paraphrased about the weasel, but you get the idea.)

I've been trying to get more attention for 7 Generation Games, particularly our new game, Forgotten Trail, which is really good and going to be even more awesomely good because it is online and we can update it easily every month.

So, here, I thought, is an opportunity. Find something difficult that people do, like kayak the length of the Potomac or hike the Appalachian trail and then do it with all four daughters, while one of them is wearing a dolphin suit and carrying a caged weasel. That should attract attention! We could trade off on carrying the weasel.

Actually, this may be a ferret

Now, I only need three things:

  1. An activity to do. It can't involve too much running - no 100 mile races or anything like that, because I had one knee replaced and just came back from seeing the orthopedist about the other. Also, I HATE cold weather so tobogganing and other ice related things are out. We could walk every trail in the Santa Monica mountains or swim a mile in every pool in the United States - the weasel will have to be on the pool deck. We could drive cross country and stop at the dumbest tourist attraction in every state - world's largest statue of a buffalo, Corn Palace and largest ball of twine, I'm looking at YOU!
  2. A dolphin suit.
  3. A caged weasel.
Oh yeah, I also need to get the daughters on board and engage a camera crew.

I left messages with two of the daughters:

Hey, I have an idea that involves all four of you guys, a dolphin suit and a ferret. Call me back!

Neither of them called me back, ungrateful little bitches!

The third one answered her phone and said (I am not making this up)

I'll call you when I get inside, Mom. The Uber driver is just dropping me at my house. I just got back from having the cat shaved.

This revealed two things to me:

  1. Uber will  pick you up from just about anywhere, and
  2. Said daughter already possesses an animal carrier and experience carrying it around with a live furry creature inside.
This is not the first time she has had the cat shaved. Last time, her youngest sister, on seeing a cat with a Mohawk on its head and pretty much bald everywhere else asked,

What the hell did that cat ever do to you?

Her sister replied,

She questioned my authority.

Now I know that readers of this blog have a wide range of experiences and creativity, so it would be greatly appreciated if any of you could provide me with:
  • A recommended activity for setting a record, doable by people with bad knees and an aversion to cold. 
  • A dolphin suit
  • A weasel or possibly ferret
 OR ...

You could just buy Forgotten Trail. It's only $4.99. 

Play it. It's more than an ordinary game.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

More than Ordinary

What's your podcast about?

That's a question we've gotten from everyone from family members to friends in the entertainment industry since Maria and I have been locked into my office for the past week recording our first nine episodes.

It's about self-improvement without all of the new age-y bullshit.

The podcast is about being more than ordinary in parenting, education, sports, careers and life in general.

We start out talking about our personal lives so that you know a little bit more about why we might have some insight into being more than ordinary.

As Maria commented in the first podcast, people often think they know us or our family because they read something on the Internet, followed us on twitter, or read a blog post or two.


There are a lot of our history and thoughts we keep to ourselves, but, since we think that it is reasonable for someone to ask,

What makes YOU qualified to talk about success, overcoming adversity, standing up for yourself, fighting stereotypes, setting goals, perseverance or any of these other topics? Why should I spend 15 minutes of my time listening to you guys? What experience do you bring to the table that I haven't heard a thousand times?

We'll answer that and a lot more - don't worry, we're not going to get all reality TV show over-sharing on you. I think you may find though, that, as the drunk girls always say, "You don't know me. "

(And no, I'm not drunk as I write this. That picture was from yesterday. I have not been drinking non-stop since then. Honest. )

Maria and I are big believers in taking risks, in giving up what you want now for what you want most. We're also realists.

It sounds great to say,

Follow your bliss! 

You know what else sounds great to say? "My bills are paid."

Also, "My house is clean." And, "Sure, we have enough money to go on vacation in Italy."

 So ... that's another podcast topic, things that sound good to say but don't go far enough.

If you'd like to be informed when our podcast is up, how to subscribe and other podcast-y things, email info@7generationgames.com

Another way to be more than ordinary - buy our games!

Have fun while learning social studies, math and increasing your vocabulary. If you're already amazing, share some of your mound of riches by donating a game to a child or school.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Podcasting as a strategy in world media domination

It may be that I have a face made for radio. (Listen to me on the radio here)

Regardless, one cannot have world media domination with just one channel. Hence, in our never ending quest to acquire minions - ahem, players for 7 Generation Games - Maria and I will be starting a podcast soon.

Topics we have planned include:

  • I'm not going to apologize because my child is smart
  • Anti-bullying: Teach your kid not to be a little asshole
  • Being women programmers in a brogrammer world
  • Running a startup is hard and other memos from Captain Obvious
  • Ask AnnMaria Anything
  • Parenting Like I Know What I'm Doing
  • 10 people I want to bitch-slap 
  • Making the world a better place through actually doing something
  • I'm offended that you're offended
  • What the hell kind of question is that? (Example: Do you know any actual Indians? Seriously? We're a spin off of a company founded on an American Indian reservation.)
  • The mind-bending craziness of working with school systems (Yes, I will send you again the form I sent you last week. It's not like I have anything to do.)

You might be wondering why, other than our natural awesomeness, we would want to start a podcast. 

It's been a bit frustrating that practically everything in the mainstream media is about how the world sucks - the water is poison in Flint, the schools are toxic in Detroit, kids aren't learning much in a lot of the country, April Fool's Day has come and gone and none of the candidates for president said, "Ha ha, just kidding, these are the real candidates." 

There doesn't seem to be a lot of interest in real concerns of real people like how to raise sane, healthy children in an environment that often seems to be working against you, what makes people keep fighting for success despite the obstacles and just exactly how do you get those holier-than-thou I would never let my child play a game on an iPad or eat a doughnut stop being so fucking annoying. You know, real concerns.

Send an email to info@7generationgames.com if you want to be notified when our podcast comes out - soon - or to suggest topics, guests or further steps in world domination.

Thank you in advance,

Maria and AnnMaria, Your Future Media Overlords