Thursday, November 16, 2017

Do you think you're a bad ass ?

I'm feeling generous - I've had a good week, meeting with terrific people, spending time with my wonderful family - so, even though I don't owe you anything, Mr. or Ms. Badass, I am going to give you a valuable gift. Are you ready?


Here is my present - THE TRUTH - that no one else bothers to give you because they really don't care about you. Frankly, I don't that much, either - hey, we're talking about truth, and the truth is, I don't even know you -  but, like I said, I'm feeling generous today.

Why is your life fucked up?


Since we are talking truth here, let's be honest. Your life is NOT the way you want it to be. You are not in a relationship or, if you are, it is not the way you want it to be. You can't trust or respect the person you are with. Whatever. You KNOW this is not what you want. You don't have the job you want. Maybe you don't have any job. You don't live in the neighborhood you want. You aren't making enough money for the lifestyle you want. I could go on but you know what I am talking about.

Perhaps you had a bad childhood - your parents were abusive, absent or addicted to drugs. You went to schools with teachers who didn't care, lousy facilities, old textbooks. No one gave a damn about you.

I understand all of that. I'm sorry it happened. Honestly, I am . That sucked. I'm sure it was hard for you.

Since, we're being honest, though, answer this question:

Did you make it better or worse?

My point is that  you can screw up your life by doing something huge like armed robbery where the gun goes off and you accidentally kill someone and go to prison for 20 years. You can also screw up your life by making 2,356 small, stupid decisions.

Let me give you two examples:

Every week, I visit schools all around the country where I see students who are ignoring their teachers and texting their friends, having conversations with the person next to them. That's a decision you make.

Often, I talk to students who are making C's or worse in their classes and when I ask them about it, they admit that they are not studying, not doing their homework.

In both these cases, students tell me that the class is "boring" or it's "hard".

Whether it's in high school, college or at work, you are going to have to do some things that are boring and hard.  So, here is where the bad ass attitude comes in:

Why should I? You can't make me!

Nope. I can't make you. I don't even know you so I don't even care to make you. The TRUTH is that if you started out in a bad situation in life (and we already agreed that sucks) then you are CHOOSING to make it worse. Yes, it is not fair that you were born into a family with parents who did not have their shit together and no money and it is harder for you. That totally sucks but you have a choice every day and you are choosing to make it worse and thinking you are a bad ass.

Is being a bad ass really that useful?

Ask yourself, when you are making decisions on how to use your time whether it is useful to you. Maybe you think you are being "tough" and "showing them" and "damn the man". I would question that.

Let me give you a personal example. I am president of two companies. One does statistical consulting and the other makes video games that are pretty cool and teach math, social studies and English. I have four wonderful, beautiful daughters and one was UFC champion, acts in movies and has been in a couple of TV shows. Two of them wrote a best-seller together. I have a Ph.D. , was a world judo champion, published a book , Winning on the ground, and wrote a bunch of scientific articles. I'm sure I've done some other stuff I've forgotten.

If we met, we might have a lot of things to talk about - judo, start-ups, getting a Ph.D., teaching college, raising children - and often people I meet either in person or on-line talk about that and a good time is had by all.

However, there are those people I meet, both in person and online who start conversations with - "Your daughter got knocked out." or "You think you're so great."

Do you think that is going to be useful to you in any way? Erik Erikson said that "It is better to be someone bad than no one at all."

I have to tell you  this - being a "bad ass" is boring and not exceptional at all. You just go into my pile of "people who said stupid shit to me". I  can remember most (probably  not all, but more than you would think) of the people who donated 1 million grains of rice in the free rice contests over the years, to help the World Food Program, people who backed us on Kickstarter or the person I met at a tweetup who gave me good advice about soccer camps for my youngest daughter.

When I was young and winning everything in sight, practically every club I went to visit had some idiot who wanted to prove how tough he or she was by trying to beat me in practice. I can't tell you the number of people who tried to fight me outside. Some of them I did fight.

Know how many of them I remember? None.

My point is, that you think you are being a bad ass by being rude, insulting or threatening to people who might be in a position to hire you, give you an A, give you a recommendation for college, fund your project or whatever. You're not. You're just being stupid, hurting yourself, and not even being original. Next week, they'll have forgotten your name.

The only people you are impressing by being a bad ass are other people's whose lives are equally fucked up.

Build your future. Work hard. Learn. Don't act like a jerk.

The choice is yours.

You're welcome.



Sunday, November 5, 2017

Walk for Apraxia with 7 Generation Games & Ronda Rousey (plus the Balgrin)

I had a GREAT morning with some of my favorite people!
The Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America was having a walk to raise awareness and money for supporting children with speech disorders, right in our home town of Santa Monica so our  7 Generation Games team came out in support. Well, not Dennis, he had to dog-sit Chunk, who is hiding his face in shame in this photo since he and Ronda's other dog, Mochi, got in a fight and the little boerboel got the worst of it.



If you read My Fight/ Your Fight, you know why Ronda is holding a Hulk Hogan wrestling buddy as our mascot for the Walk to Talk. If you didn't read the book, go get it now!

We invited other people to join our team and we had a couple of takers from San Diego and a few more from Covina.

7 GENERATION GAMES IS IN THE HOUSE



After her speech, Ronda gave out medals to each of the kids, because each one is a star in their own right. If you want to hear her speech, check out the video at the bottom.

Have a computer? Do you care about math and history? Check out our FREE demos.


win screen with characters from Spirit Lake

I didn't have any real point here, I just like this picture


Several people have mentioned the would have liked to have heard the speech. Well, if you weren't in Clover Park this morning, here you go!



Thank you to Diana Sanchez, Project Manager at 7 Generation Games, for all of the photos and video

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

You're a creep. Die mad about it

First of all, I stole the line, "Die mad about it" from a woman on twitter, @beauty_jackson who, when people were posting reasons they used birth control for medical conditions said,

"I use birth control for sex, a human activity. I want sex and I don't want children. Die mad about it."

I found her attitude immensely useful for a variety of positions I have no intention of changing and that seem to make some people angry. I would like to pass on this advice to this group of people in general, and a particular subgroup, which is men who have been told that their behavior makes certain women uncomfortable or is felt by many women and men to be inappropriate.

I have witnessed this personally a few times and heard about it many more times, from both the men involved and observers. It goes like this:

  1. A man, let's call him Alf, makes some comment, physical gesture or touches a woman. He does this more than once to more than one woman.
  2. The women involved and/ or the witnesses tell people in authority - school principal, administrators, teacher, whoever.
  3. The authorities impose some sanction - put a note in his file, put him on probation, require him to attend some training.
  4. Alf is outraged. He points out that he has not committed rape, that not everyone in the building was offended, that he knows other women who are not uncomfortable with said behavior and DEMANDS that the action be retracted.

Let me explain something, Alf. You don't get to tell people if you make them feel uncomfortable or not. If you stand close to a woman and are touching her and she twists away, asks you to stop or takes your hand and firmly shoves it away, then tells you that you made her uncomfortable by doing that - don't fucking do it again. Don't tell her that Sissy Lou isn't made uncomfortable by it. First of all, for all you know, she is, unless she specifically told you otherwise.  Secondly, that's irrelevant. THIS woman right next to you told you she doesn't like it when you blow in her ear during matwork.

If one woman says she feels uncomfortable by your behavior in a judo class (or any class), that is bad enough but if multiple women complain about you, it is definitely not them, it's you. I've taught judo since I was a teenager - over 40 years. I've taught college since I was in my twenties, over 30 years. Women are embarrassed to complain. They don't want anyone to think they can't hang with the big boys in judo class or engineering school. It is RARE that a woman speaks up and if women have complained about you multiple times, you are a creep. We all know you. You are that slimy guy who makes remarks you think are funny but are insulting to women. You make comments about women's bodies while they are working out. If you wouldn't say, "Look at that nice ass" about the guy you are working out with, don't say it about a woman. If you wouldn't post up suggestive pictures of men in the locker room, don't post them of women.

So girls quit coming to practice. Sometimes their boyfriends or just other guys in general do, too, because they kind of feel like jerks for not speaking up. The other guys think you are a creep, too. They talk about you but no one wants to say anything to you, no one wants to be viewed as a troublemaker or a wimp or can't take a joke.

Well, almost no one.  Yeah, I'm that bitch who says,

"Cut it the fuck out right now!"

When you get all huffy and say,

"She didn't say she minded."

not knowing that she has actually said to me, privately, that she very much minded, but did not want to "cause trouble",  I'm the bitch that says,

"Well, *I* mind. Don't fucking do it again."

Yeah, maybe I'm a bitch but you're a creep. Saying you didn't intend to offend people and make them uncomfortable doesn't change the fact that a) you did it and b) you feel justified to continue your behavior because YOU didn't feel uncomfortable doing it, it was not intended to embarrass or harass people (which I don't believe, but it's irrelevant), and c) judo clubs, places of employment, public institutions all have the right to eject people who don't meet their standards.

Getting accused of harassment is kind of like a DUI. It never happens to most people but it's possible that it could happen to a person once as an isolated incident or mistake. If it happens multiple times, you got a problem and I will call you on your bullshit. So, yeah, you're a creep.

To Alf, and just to people in general who don't like me because I refuse to back down when I see something happening that I know is wrong, who think women should not speak up - I'm not changing.

Die mad about it.






Thursday, October 12, 2017

Arm bars, teaching judo to teenagers and me

Hey,  guess what I'm doing in Urbana, Illinois tomorrow?

Brief pause while you look for Urbana on Google maps. Okay, back now? Good.



Here's the details, or deets as my young people would call it:

Kokushi Midwest Judo
 122 W. Main St
Urbana, IL 61821 

Friday, October 13, 8 -10 pm

I'm going to discuss two things I know fairly well - armbars and teaching judo to teenagers.

Most judo clubs around the country have a large proportion of children 12 and under, a small number of adults 35 and older and an even smaller number of teenagers  and young adults. The exceptions to that tend to be clubs focused on national and international competition.

Gompers Judo is all students 12-17 years old and always has been, because we are housed at a middle school.

The first part of the clinic will be
  • A couple of conditioning ideas 
  • A couple of games
  • Teaching basics without getting banged up

The second part of the clinic will be:
  • Armbars from different positions
  • Transition to armbars
  • Combinations with armbars

The third, very short part, will be on organizing to maintain interest
  • Instagram!
  • How teenagers are not little kids
  • Using assistant instructors, both adults and teens
  • Extras - team dinners, trips and the box of things
The cost is $20 to 7 Generation Games. Each registration will pay for all of our games for a student at a low-income school


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Fight for the Cure - Riverside Girls Judo Tournament & Clinic with ME!

If you know me at all, you know I almost never do clinics because I am busy. In the last 10 days, I've been working in 3 states and 9 cities, so, it's damn near impossible to fit any more judo on my schedule than teaching at Gompers Middle School once a week.

However, Brian Money and the Riverside Youth Judo Club do such good work, I could not say no.  TOMORROW - yes, Sunday, October 1 - there is an all women and girls tournament in Riverside.



100% of the money raised goes to a local charity that supports people with breast cancer and their families. Registration is 7:30 - 8:30 for special needs and kids under 12, 8-9 am for teens and 8:30 - 9:30 for adults. The tournament starts at 10:00

Also, everyone who competed or volunteered in the tournament can attend a FREE clinic with me. Well, free if you competed in or helped with the tournament. Otherwise, it's $25.

  • The first clinic is for kids 6-12, from 3-4 pm - because this is kids, there will be games and immaturity . Most of the immaturity will probably come from me

  • The second clinic is for ages 13 and up (so, of course there will be arm bars) from 4-5pm

It says online in some places that the clinic is for females only, but, in theory it is for everyone. Since competitors get first crack, it may fill to capacity with girls only.

Either way, it should be a lot of fun. Anyone is welcome to show up and watch.


 When I'm not teaching judo, I make awesome video games that teach math and history and are fun to play. You should check them out. Some of them are even free. Whether you have a Mac, Windows, iPad or android, we've got you covered.


http://www.7generationgames.com/products/

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Randomest blog and a recipe for elk stew

Unless you know me well, you are probably unaware that one job I had while getting my MBA was teaching cooking lessons at the local community center, because, at the time, cooking was one of my few marketable skills. Programming had yet to become as in-demand as it is now.

Recently, my lovely daughter, Ronda, married someone who likes to hunt and the last time I was visiting her, she gave me a cooler full of elk meat. I made a stew with it and it was delicious. Healthy, too, since elk is one of the highest protein meats you can eat and it even makes your vegetables taste good.




Since it is the weekend and 1:15 am and I am done working, I thought I would give you all the recipe for elk stew. It is basically beef stew but with elk meat. 

For those of you who think I should stick to posting about judo, know this - if you are cutting weight, elk has less than half the calories of beef. You CAN have your steak and make weight, too.

Step 1: Shoot an elk.

Step 2:  Make a stew

Ingredients
1 lb elk steak
2 potatoes
2 carrots
1 onion
1/2 cup flour
1 cup rice
Pepper, salt & other seasonings
Beef stew mix
Olive oil

  • Cut the meat into 1/2" cubes
  • Coat in flour mixture with seasonings added. I'm big on using whatever is in the cupboard for stew, so I added salt, pepper, something called Grains of Paradise and another spice called Slap Yo Mama that I got from my friend James Wall, who has has judo clubs in Orlando, FL and Denham Springs, LA
  • Coat a pan with olive oil and brown the meat over medium heat
  • Chop vegetables
  • Put all of the ingredients except rice in a stew pot over high heat, including the rest of the flour mixture . Heat to boiling.
  • Once it's boiling, add the rice.
  • Cover and cook about 20 minutes. By then, all of the rice and vegetables should be soft.

It tastes amazing.

You're welcome.



 When I'm not giving recipe tips, I make awesome video games that teach math and history and are fun to play. You should check them out. Some of them are even free. Whether you have a Mac, Windows, iPad or android, we've got you covered.


dead guy in Aztech games

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

How Facebook Can Be Good for You

Supposedly, social media is making us all into self-absorbed depressed dirt bags. 


While trying to paint the most beautiful possible picture of our lives we simultaneously are depressed because everyone else seems to have this picture perfect life.

This may be the case for young people but for me it's rather the opposite. Facebook has been a great influence in getting me to chill.

Can you believe we've been married 20 years?
Unlike some of my friends, who seem to live there, I drop into Facebook maybe a few minutes a day, if that. As a consequence, I don't have a huge number of Facebook friends, and about every week I get a friend request from someone I haven't seen in 10, 20 or 30 years.

So, I see that kid who cried his heart out over losing a match at the junior nationals is now graduated from college, working as an engineer and about to be a father for the first time.

That kid in college who didn't seem to have any direction and struggled to study enough to graduate now has a good job, a mortgage and a wife.

People who I did not know were gay have now been married to someone of the same sex for years.

People change jobs, change spouses, change countries, change genders.

All of my friends, competitors and teammates from when I was young and one of the top athletes in the world are now like me, older, slower, greyer. No matter how much everyone drooled over him or her as a teenager, they are all old enough to be to be the grandparent of teenagers.

My point is that, good or bad, things don't stay the same, and you can't always predict who is on their way up and who is going down. Most of the "cool kids" seemed to turn out pretty middle of the road.

Overall, almost everyone I know has had it pretty good, whether they realize it or not. We all live in developed countries, safe from war, hunger. We all have friends, almost all have family, hobbies.

So, for me, anyway, Facebook is a good reminder to chill. It gives a condensed time line of people's lives and reminds me that whatever I am stressing about today I probably won't even remember 10 years from now.

P.S. Our Kickstarter campaign was successful and if you backed us, thank you very, very much.


 When I'm not ranting about life, I make awesome video games that teach math and history and are fun to play. You should check them out. Some of them are even free. Whether you have a Mac, Windows, iPad or android, we've got you covered.


http://www.7generationgames.com/products/

Thursday, August 31, 2017

How Do You Want People to See You?

As you may have heard, my lovely daughter got married this weekend. It was a beautiful wedding and she was very happy.

 

 She can write about that on her own website that should be up eventually. That wasn't what I wanted to talk about, or only tangentially.

I met a very brilliant photographer at her wedding and he said he'd like to take my picture. Not right then, though, he wanted me to think about how I would like to be seen. He said,

I want to take a picture that will make you cry.

I laughed at that because he obviously doesn't know me. For me to cry, pretty much, someone close to me has to die, and maybe not even then. When I say things like that, some people get outraged, which puzzles me because really, what's it to them. People I don't even know will say stupid things like,

"You think you're so tough! I bet I could make you cry! You're just an old woman!"

First of all, no, no and yes, what's your point? Why do people think calling me an old woman is an insult? It's just a fact. It's like pointing at me and saying, "You, you - you have ten toes!"

Anyway, I digress, more than this whole blog is usually a digression. In case you are wondering, the reason I don't cry about things is that I learned early on that no one cared. If you are rich or beautiful and you cry people rush to help you. No one was rushing around to help me so I learned to suck it up and figure it out. That's not self-pity, it's just a fact. Actually, sucking it up and figuring it out has a lot to recommend it as a lifestyle.

Would it be nice if I'd had people running around handing me tissues and worrying about my feelings? Yes, probably. I also think it would be nice to have wings and be able to fly over Santa Monica Bay. In either case, I don't spend too much time pondering the lack .

It was an interesting question, though, and I pondered it over the last few days. How would I like people to see me? Does it matter to me how people see me? Do I really want to be understood ? Maybe, sometimes for about a minute when I am talking to my husband about mortality and he responds with a recommendation for a Raspberry Pi book that focuses more on game programming than hardware. We have been married 20 years because I do not smack him at these times and just remind myself of his many positive qualities of which being a good listener is not one.

I'd have to say I am used to being misunderstood and it doesn't bother me. Randomly,  this week, I happened across a thread on the internet that had been up for years with people I had never met ranting about me. There was much vitriol about my conceit, insecurity, demand for attention, etc. because her blog is DR AnnMaria. Can you imagine having DR in your email? She insists everyone call her DR - and on and on for pages. I laughed pretty hard at that.

When I got my first email account, way back when, it was not out of the question to get your actual name - that's how long ago it was. However, AnnMaria was taken, so I went with Dr. AnnMaria which is what my students at the university called me. THIS came about because when the students asked if they should call me AnnMaria or Dr. Rousey I said,

"Call me whatever the hell you want. I don't care."

I found it really funny that people had nothing better to do than speculate about my personality based on my blog name and twitter handle, that were left overs from my aol account from 1990.

What about people that do know me, though? Don't I really want to be understood by them? Don't I want my children or good friends to understand why I made certain decisions or don't cry every time they get on a plane? That would be nice but I'm not sure how possible it is to understand another person 100% , especially if you grew up in a completely different time and situation. Like I said, wings would be nice, too. They know I love them. That's enough.



 It was a really interesting question, though. What about you? If you could have people see you for exactly who you are, what would that look like? And do you care?

I'd still like to have wings.



If you like to see what our family group text is like, you can get the Family Business Textbook if you back our Kickstarter, Aztech.$50 or more. You'll also get a game for yourself and sponsor a whole classroom. Part video game, part graphic novel, it teaches Latin American history and math. It's bilingual so you can improve both your Spanish and English!

Back our Kickstarter to beat the crowd and get your copy first!





Saturday, August 19, 2017

Why bother staying in shape after you retire?

In the title, I specifically meant after you retire from competition, but it could apply to after you retire from working as well.

I get it. You've spend over a decade of your life cutting weight, running sprints, doing two-a-day practices so you can beat the competition. Your knees hurt, your back hurts, for the love of God can't you just relax on the couch and drink beer? Certainly, you've earned it.

I can certainly appreciate that thought. I had a long week -finished a report due to a funding agency, flew to Bismarck, drove to Standing Rock, did a professional development workshop via Google hangout and a second one on site in Fort Yates. Now, I have a 70 mile drive to the airport, two flights to get home and a pile of paperwork to complete and another report to write before Monday.

I admit it. This morning, I did NOT get up and go to the pool. I slept in until 10 and then spent another hour in bed drinking coffee and catching up on Twitter. And yet, I'm going to head out in a few minutes and go hiking for an hour before I head to the airport. That daily exercise is why I am still, literally, at my fighting weight.  although, to steal a phrase from Brewster Thompson, that weight isn't "packed in tight" as it once was.

That's not the point. What is the point? Why, I have prepared this handy video to explain it.


Okay, heading to the state park and then to the airport. If you'd like to keep up on our videos, you can subscribe to the 7GenGames TV youtube channel.  My next video will be on how the worst days of my life now are better than the worst days I could imagine when I was young.

If you like to learn new things - which I'm assuming you do by the fact that you are reading this blog, you should also check out our latest game, Aztech. Part video game, part graphic novel, it teaches Latin American history and math. It's bilingual so you can improve both your Spanish and English!

Back our Kickstarter to beat the crowd and get your copy first!


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Secrets to success (and failure) learned from judo

Girl pinning with sankaku (triangle choke)


  1. To be in it for the long haul. Running a business is like coping with North Dakota weather. People come to the Great Plains and say, "I can survive when it's below zero." It's the fact that it doesn't get above freezing for MONTHS that wears them out. The same with training. I have seen lots of talented athletes fail because they did not have the discipline to train consistently. That doesn't mean you need to train equally hard every day or you never take a day off, but it does mean that you put in an uncomfortably high level of work, month after month. Year after year. Like judo, running a business means you have some times when you are winning everything in sight but a long time leading up to that when you are just banging away at practice and nobody knows who you are. Sometimes, you lose, you screw up, and you have to come back and work some more.  You move into a higher level of competition (or a new market) and need to claw your way to the top all over again.
  2.   Multi-tasking - since almost all of the years I was competing I had to be a full-time employee AND a mother of a small child or AND a full-time student. Now I'm doing software development, sales, data analysis and consulting on the side. I would tell Maria stories in the two-hour drive from San Diego to Los Angeles for weekend judo practices. I'd teach her new words. I'd read my textbooks in that long break between the preliminary matches and the finals and national and international events. I'd study manuals for new computer languages I was learning in airports waiting for a plane. To this day, I work in just about every setting. I'm typing this in my hotel and pretty soon, I'm going to head to Casper, WY and stop somewhere on the way to have lunch and to write a report to USDA.
  3.   Never stop learning.  No matter how much I won, I was attending training camps, visiting other clubs and working with my own coaches to constantly learn more. I'm currently taking an online course to improve my rusty PHP skills and I just spent all yesterday attending sessions at the Native American Education Conference. You never know so much that you can just stop getting better.
  4.  To cope with being tired (see #2) and keep on going - running a startup now where I have to sometimes work until 2 am to get bugs out, and then get up at 7 to go install games at a school is still not a piece of cake. However, after driving from practice in Los Angeles to San Diego, getting home sore at 11 pm and getting up at 5:30 am to run sprints up hill, I can handle it.
  5.  Not everyone has to believe in me - or, in the case of winning the world championships - almost no one has to believe in me. When I won, even my coaches were surprised. Some of my really good friends and family weren't surprised. Initially, I dismissed that as "But they didn't know that much about judo to know the odds I was facing." Not long ago, though, one of those people said, "No, but I knew YOU." When I started 7 Generation Games, it was the same way. Investors, accelerators, people in educational technology - all of the experts predicted we'd fail. I'm pleased to say we're still here when a lot of those people they predicted would succeed have faded into oblivion. It's still my family and closest friends who believed in me from the beginning and aren't surprised I succeeded.
  6. Learned about people - that a lot of people TALK a good game. I don't know if this is a good or bad lesson but it's true. Whether it's that they will help themseve, by showing up at practice when you need to train extra hard, or help you by funding travel to tournaments, you'll find a lot fewer people who put up than shut up. Whether it is people who promise to invest, purchase your product or tell their friends, you'll find far more SAY they'll do it than actually do. The last Kickstarter campaign we did, about four times as many people told me they backed us as actually did. For all of you people who did - I can't thank you enough, so thanks again.

It wasn't all roses and buttercups, though. The one place where I think judo HURT me was in never learning to ask for help. Judo is an individual sport. When you are on the mat, it's you  and your opponent. Your coach isn't going to help you, nor your teammates, nor the referee.

My late husband, Ron, once told me he thought it was unfortunate that the popular sports for women (at the time) were all individual ones - track, swimming, gymnastics and ice skating. He said he felt like he learned from basketball to be part of a team, to rely on other people, even if they didn't have the same level or the same skills. He said he learned, literally, to be a team player.

Not only is judo an individual sport, but it's a combat sport. You are supposed to be tough, not asking anyone for help.

You can't run a business very well like that, though. If you are going to grow, you need employees and investors. You need advisors. You need customers and not just to give you money (though money is great) but also to give you feedback.

So, overall, judo has been great for me, but it has taken me a long time to unlearn that "asking for help is being whiny".  It isn't. It's part of a successful business.

Speaking of which please help me out. We're bring out new games and you can help. Plus, you get cool stuff.


Click here to help or read more below. 
Aztech god king


And thank you.

From me, Maria Burns Ortiz  and the rest of the 7 Generation Games Team

When you’re doing a Kickstarter, you’re constantly reaching out to everyone you know – friends, family, acquaintances, people you sat next to once at your second cousin’s wedding, your local bartender, your cousin’s neighbor’s best friend’s aunt. And we felt like we’d done that twice already over the last four years. But then we thought about it and realized that reach out every two years isn’t really that annoying. And plus, how much have our networks grown since then?

We’re realized that we are SUPER excited about our upcoming line of bilingual games – which can be played just in English or as a bilingual English/Spanish experience – and they’re something we would back if we weren’t making them, so we decided to give it a go.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Kids Are Good For You

I'm hardly ever seen at judo tournaments any more because my company is taking up my life. I'm not complaining. I knew what I was signing up for when I founded a start-up.

So, agreeing to go on a road trip with 8 kids and 3 teachers, across California, Nevada and Utah was not in the schedule. However, we had promised that if they had good attendance at judo, kept their grades up and stayed out of trouble, there would be a trip for them at the end of the year.

I can't claim to know everything that defines a good person but I know damn well that one thing is you always keep your promises. 

One way in which I have found kids to always be good for me, both my own children and those I have coached or taught, is they pull me away from my desk.

"Sensei made us go out in nature"
I'm practically chained to my desk these days, and if it hadn't been for this trip, there is no way I would have gone hiking in Zion National Forest. Even if some of the kids did complain,

Sensei made us go in nature.

I believe they really did enjoy it.

If it wasn't for them, I would have stayed home working. Yes, now I'm a few days behind schedule and working 16 hour days. Yes, the trip cost more than was donated so I have to figure once again how to balance the budget when we are spending money to build really cool games that aren't out yet, but the cost for the developers, audio and art is still coming in.

On the other hand, I wouldn't have gone hiking in the mountains.





I wouldn't have been able to stand on this hill and look out at the northern rim of the Grand Canyon.

I wouldn't have driven to Salt Lake City to teach judo and met up with Dawn, who has been my friend since we were teenagers.

 


 Dawn was a significant factor in me winning the world championships in so many ways. First, there was the thousands of drills we did together. For years, we were in the  top 3 in our respective weight classes, training together for the U.S. Nationals, U. S. Open, Olympic Festival, world trials. When she didn't make the world team, I know it was a sore disappointment, but Dawn still came to practice every day, just to help me train. That's a real friend. There's a lot more, but my point is, if it wasn't for taking the kids to Salt Lake City, I wouldn't have taken the time to meet up with Dawn.

I wouldn't have gone to the rodeo.

 

I definitely wouldn't have gotten my picture taken with Miss Rodeo Utah. (At this point, you might think I'm going to make fun of beauty queens, but actually, she was a sweetheart and could ride a horse like nobody's business.)

Actually, for most of of these guys, it IS their first rodeo

I would never have gone to see BMX - which was crazy amazing - if I hadn't been with  these kids.


So, when you find yourself saying, "I don't have time or money to be doing this" ask yourself, really, what do I want time and money FOR?

Speaking of kids, by  the way, my own kids are amazing, but that is another post all by itself.

When you didn't have time for breakfast and your daughter brings you doughnuts





Friday, July 21, 2017

Life Advice to Gompers Judo Team

Guest Post by

Jael Hernandez

Gompers Judo Team Member


Me, between Las Vegas & Salt Lake City


Imagine working as a professional gambler and having fun while doing your job. Mike Landers, a professional gambler, came to talk to us today. He was kind enough to give the Gompers Judo club a game of chess to each of us along with other gifts.

Explaining the odds

He explained to us which games in the casino were not good to play because the odds were against us and no skill was involved. Our sensei, AnnMaria De Mars, was happy to see us learning about statistics.

Thank you, Bellagio & Mike for the lunch!

During lunch at the Bellagio, I had the chance to talk to him and even though he didn't want to be interviewed. I appreciated the opportunity to hear his words of advice.

"My tip for success is to be in relationships with people" Landers told me. "Be around the right people, people whose behavior is better than yours and you will drift towards the right direction."

He also told me to not be afraid to ask.

"If you know a winner, like Ronda Rousey, and she needs someone to mow her lawn, get over there and ask to do it." Although I only got to speak with Landers for a few minutes, he is a kind and wonderful man. His last advice that he told me is, "Being around a winner will rub off on you." His words of wisdom are not something to take for granted. I am thankful I got to meet him and talk to him today.

Speaking of games, Making Camp Bilingual is now available for iPads for only $1.99 from the app store for iPads


or buy it on the web for Mac, Windows or Chromebook

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Why You Should Watch Battle of the Network Stars with Your Kids

It's hard to find something the whole family will enjoy - at least in my family. There are some who love sports and some who are bored out of their minds watching any competition. A few years ago, my youngest was into watching High School Musical - OVER AND OVER AND OVER.  If I had to listen to "Get in the game" one more time I was going to pull an Elvis and shoot the TV.

Family members watching at our house ranged from age 2 to 61. Now the two-year-old just laughed at the dunk tank and then went off to do something else. My nine-year-old granddaughter liked the obstacle course the best. Everyone from nine and up liked seeing the stars they remembered from a few weeks ago (Fuller House) to a few years ago (High School Music) to more than a few years ago (Roseanne, Facts of Life).  There were a lot of exclamations of "Hey, I remember her!" which led to talking about "Remember when you were younger and that was your favorite show "  and "Yeah, Jenn and I used to fight over whether I got to watch my show or she got to watch her stupid old movies."  

Bringing back memories and talking with your children are too big benefits to watching the show - anything that has families sitting around reminiscing is good. Yes, I know that is such a mom thing to say but every mom has a sentimental side (yes, even me).

The MAIN reason you should watch Battle of the Network Stars with your kids


All that is nice, but the main reason for watching with your kids is the messages they hear from the coaches. Kim Fields and Lisa Whelchel were hesitant to compete in the swimming competition because they didn't look the same in a swim suit as they did 30 years ago. They talked to Ronda about people on social media judging your body if you are a woman, and now they are women no longer in their teens like they were the first time they competed on the show.

Ronda said,

"Strong is beautiful" ... and went on to tell them that no one should hold back on what they want to do in life because other people are judging how they will look while doing it.

As an older woman myself, as a mother of daughters ages 19-34 and grandmother of girls 9 and under,  this is a message we all need to hear.

Of course, I watched the first episode of Battle of the Network Stars because my lovely daughter, Ronda, was one of the coaches. Also, I'd been to visit her on set and the episode I saw had me laughing more than I had in years. The funny, silly and celebrity-spotting parts are important, I think, because, I can tell you, as someone who makes educational video games, to quote another childhood memory, "A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down."

In other words, your kids (and maybe you), need to get those positive messages about strong women and worrying more about what you do than about how you look doing it. However, they'll probably have more impact if those lessons come about naturally rather than sitting down lecturing them on following their own path and not giving up.

Both Ronda and fellow coach Demarcus Ware give a lot of positive advice to their teams who are very much not athletes - sometimes laughably not athletes - on just giving it your best shot and not worrying about your age or your level of skill. 

Get in the game. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Daughter Merchandise

So, Jennifer found the absolute dorkiest picture of herself she could find from her childhood and had it made into a blanket for me for Mother's Day.

I don't know WHOSE glasses she is wearing in that picture. It made us laugh and on top of that, it irked Julia who immediately sent a message to the family group text :

Best daughter? I don't think so!

Yesterday, we were at a game expo - E3, it was awesome - and they were selling t-shirts that said,

I can't believe I'm not an action figure already.

I told Ronda I should buy her one of those shirts and she said,

But, Mom, I AM an action figure already!

I told her that's what would make the shirt funny. I didn't buy it for her since she did not seem properly appreciative but the next day my cousin, Julie, sent me a message that she was at the store and saw this:

I am just putting the other two daughters on notice that I am expecting some daughterly merchandise for the next merchandise-supplying event.

Julia does the voice for Angie in Forgotten Trail, so, if we come out with some Angie merchandise, does that count?  These are the types of weighty issues that I ponder when I get my lecture written early.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

My Mom Thinks I'm Cool: Ronda Edition


I always think all of my children are amazing. Today is the Ronda Edition.  Sometimes, idiot people who don't know her say stupid things about Ronda. So, just you have an idea why her mom thinks she's cool  -

Ronda finished filming Battle of the Network Stars yesterday. She has been working 12-14 hours a day and then working out after the filming is over. She had lost her voice from coaching on the set and was so tired she could barely keep her eyes open.

She came by the house to have coffee (point number 1, visiting Mom on Sundays. You should all try it.) and autograph shirts and jackets she had donated for Gompers Judo fundraiser.


Three of our Gompers Judo students are dual citizens with the U.S. and Mexico and have been selected to compete in the Mexican junior national championships. I was concerned that one of them was too focused on cutting weight. So, Ronda offered to talk to her, called her house and spent the next 15 minutes giving a high school sophomore tips on having a healthy diet and still making weight.

She thought that people would be more likely to donate to the judo program if it was a personalized item so she gave me some of her favorite shirts and jackets, including one from Battle of the Network Stars and several from Reebok. We had to go through this twice because when she came to autograph things she said,

"Hey, I really like that one, let me switch!"

and she gave one to Julia because it was sentimental and she remembered it being her favorite shirt at Julia's age. The point, though, is, these were things she really liked and it was hard to part with, so she figured fans might be more likely to donate money to get one.

The second part of this is that we discussed what to do with the dozen items she donated. My niece, Samantha, pointed out that the only people who can win an ebay auction are people who have A LOT of money. We thought it would be nice if people who had supported Ronda through thick and thin had more of a chance. So ... we decided to contact 12 people who had always been there for her and tell them that if they would like to donate $500 they could get anything from one of Ronda's favorite jackets to a t-shirt that Marina made for her to a t-shirt that she made herself. Yes, it's not cheap, but it at least gives a chance to people who don't have thousands of dollars extra lying around, and it will cover the expenses for the rest of the year for team jackets, a team dinner and our judo road trip to visit colleges and train (we always combine the two).

On Tuesday, we are having my grandson, Cal, pull names out of a hat to decide who gets what. He is only two and can't read so you know he won't cheat.

Update: Cal pulling names at 5:30 pm Pacific Time on Facebook Live today, June 19, 2017. 

(Sorry for the delay. I got backed up with work and our Master of Ceremonies was taking a nap two of the times I tried to arrange it.)

Just so you know, four of our students who started with us at Gompers Middle School are high school seniors this year. 

Meet our high school seniors

Did I mention that Ronda started this program (it was her sister, Jennifer's idea, so props to Jenn who did her student teaching at Gompers)? Ronda taught here for free for two years and has donated a lot of her own money and time ever since. (Also, those mats above are from Swain Martial Arts , from Michael Swain, just to show Ronda isn't the only judo champion helping make the world a better place).

Just to give you an idea of how hard these kids from south Los Angeles work and how much they deserve your support, here is just a little bit of practice yesterday. Now, mind you, Friday was the last day of school and they STILL all came to practice after school and Saturday was the first day of summer vacation and they STILL all got up and were in front of the school at 8 am to drive out to La Puente for an extra practice. 


I'm assuming since you read this blog you are NOT an idiot, but next time you read something bad about Ronda, know that THIS is what she did on Sunday after working nearly 200 hours over the past two weeks.

And then, she took her family to brunch.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

I left it all on the field: Zero Regrets


You will never find me challenging the young adults on the basketball court.

I'm not joining the adult soccer league. For the love of God, my nineteen-year-old DAUGHTER plays in that league.

My friend used to play in the old-timers hockey league, up in North Dakota.
A lot of my friends compete in masters competition for judo.

Good for all of them but it's never happening for me.

Occasionally, my children, or other young people want me to go out and run with them, go a round of randori or some other stupid idea for when you are my age.

Forget all of that age is just a number nonsense.

This week, I was running around an obstacle course with my two youngest daughters, about whom it can be said that I am literally old enough to be their mother.


The next morning, Ronda called me and said,

Mom, are you okay? Do you need any ice or aspirin? Does anything hurt?

I told her I was fine, thank you, and I hurt when I wake up every day, but


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Here's what I do with my nine-working arthritic fingers - I make video games that teach math, social studies, English (and soon, Spanish). Get yourself some!




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it hasn't stopped me yet.

There are people who play technical judo and maybe they are out there competing when they are 60 years old, and, again, good for them.

If you ever read my book, (shock! you didn't? it's called Winning on the Ground) you'll know that the judo I do is a lot more physical. Years ago, when CBS sports asked Willy Cahill who to film, he said,

If you want judo that looks like ballet, get Robin Chapman (now Robin Chow). If you want judo that looks like a fight in a bar, watch AnnMaria.

So, now, I'm paying for it.

I don't feel sorry for myself, ever, but I'm not stupid, either.  Those years of two, three times a day practices, competing without weight divisions, despite injuries, took their toll. There is a reason you don't see a lot of former professional or Olympic athletes competing in the senior games.

Several years ago, I was at a judo clinic and a little kid asked 1987 World Judo Champion, Mike Swain,

How many times did you beat Koga?

And Mike had the best answer,

Only one. The time that mattered.

So, yeah, I don't feel bad about having arthritis, a knee replacement and a thumb reconstruction. I don't care about all the tendons, ligaments or cartilage that I'm missing. It was worth the price.

But don't ask me to run in your 10 K.


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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Perfect is the enemy of getting shit done

"Perfect is the enemy of getting shit done."



Karen Mackey made that comment this week and I told her that I was totally stealing that line. I see too many people, whether in judo, school or their career that are less successful than they could be because they make way too many excuses not to work that SOUND good.
  • I would work out but there is nobody my size.
  • I'd apply for jobs but retailers prefer that you do it in person.
  • I would work out but there is no judo class on Wednesdays.
  • I would do the extra credit work but I'm not sure what the teacher wants me to do.
It SOUNDS like you aren't working out, studying or working because you would prefer to do it a better way, but the reality is you aren't getting shit done.

Last night, I was on the mat in Sioux City, Iowa with over 40 people. White belts worked out with brown belts. We tried to pair everyone up by size but when that wasn't always possible, larger people worked out with smaller people. We did turnover drills, escapes, matwork combinations and transition drills. I'm sure it wasn't a perfect workout, but everyone got in a practice where everyone worked on specific skills.

A couple of weeks ago, at Gompers Middle School, the judo room was closed for the day due to smoke exposure - there had been a fire in an adjacent building and the school decided to not allow practice inside. So, we practiced outside in the soccer field. We did conditioning exercises. We did gripfighting drills . We used bungee cords and did uchi komis. We did uchikomi drills. Was it a perfect practice? No, but we got in drills and got in a tiny bit better shape.

So, yeah, the next time you say you are going to work out or apply for a job or study but you are holding off for the perfect conditions, just know that it may sound to you like you are going to do something even better but to me it sounds exactly like you aren't doing shit.
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 When I'm not ranting about life, I make awesome video games that teach math and history and are fun to play. You should check them out. Some of them are even free. Whether you have a Mac, Windows, iPad or android, we've got you covered.


http://www.7generationgames.com/products/

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Retiring from Sports: How Not To End Up a Thirty-Five-Year-Old Intern

I know some unhappy people who were pretty successful judo players (which I'd define as winning multiple medals at the international level).

In fact, when I look at the "also-rans", the people who almost made the Olympic or world team, the people who went to the Olympics and went out the first round, generally did better subsequently than the winners. Pure speculation on my part here, but maybe those people who were number two or three in the country realized that they needed a fallback plan and so focused on their academics or building a career during their competitive years.

It's not a complete separation. There are some people like Dr. James Wooley (who was on two Olympic teams), Senator Benjamin Nighthorse Campbell (who was on the 1964 Olympic team) and, I'd like to think, me, who have had athletic success and went on to have successful careers and seem to be relatively happy. There is also Dr. Gerda Winkelbauer , an M.D. and world judo champion from Austria. I believe Olympic gold medalist Sue Williams has a Ph.D. in Chemistry.

The key is really simple: Work on your Plan B while you are still competing

 It was 1978 and I was at the collegiate national championships. After I had won and we were waiting for the medal ceremony, I was up in the stands with my textbooks, studying because we had finals when I got back. Several feet away was another guy studying for exams. That's why my friend introduced me to James Wooley, because she found it hilarious that we were studying at the national JUDO championships. I found it odd that we were the only two who had brought backpacks full of books. I mean, it was the COLLEGE championships, no?

 The same year I first won the U.S. Open, I started my MBA program. The reason this was a good thing was because I got used to being the person who didn't know anything, whose job was to grade 85 of the same essay exam. Not only did I learn how to read a balance sheet, design a database system and write a business plan, I also learned to not be such a prima donna jerk (admittedly, that last part took longer).

 While I was training, for the world championships, I was working as an engineer at General

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When I'm not rambling on about judo and other sports, I'm making games. Please check them out. You can learn math, social studies, build your vocabulary.  Here are some free games and demos for you just because I am so nice.

http://www.7generationgames.com/demo/

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Dynamics, learning a lot about manufacturing and programming. So, when I retired from competition at 26, I had an MBA, a full-time job and several years of post-graduate experience.

You don't have to have a law degree or an M.D. When you retire. Steve Seck was successful as both a wrestler and judo player. He reasoned that teaching physical education was one area where both of those accomplishments would be valued. He got his degree in Physical Education while competing. Right after retirement, he earned a teaching credential and masters degree and he's done quite well.

 I tell kids all of the time,

 "Have a plan for competition! In the middle of the match is not the time to figure out what you want to do."

 The same is true of life. Have a plan WHILE you are competing and work on it.


I was extremely fortunate that when I was training at Tenri Dojo in Los Angeles there were several people who had been nationally ranked competitors, and  who were 5 or 10 years older than me. It was right in front of my face that their later success had very little to do with their success on the mat and everything to do with their preparation for life after judo.

Oh, and get some credentials. I get resumes from people that include what tournaments they have won, what teams they are on and I just shake my head. If you're applying for a job, you might put "4th degree judo black belt, 2004 Olympic team member" and, unless the job has something to do with armbarring people, that's it.

Get a degree. Get certified as an EMT or a real estate broker or something. Work a summer internship. Get a job in your field and start building your professional network.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Why People Don't Retire from Sports: A Cynical View

I'm about to say what some people might consider a mean thing, so if your feelings are easily hurt, read no further.

Recently, someone asked me why a certain person in their thirties was still heavily involved in judo. She said,

What's the point of spending all of that time doing something with no probability of paying any money that takes time away from your career?

My answer was that for many people who were elite athletes in judo, they miss being the center of attention, they miss being 'special'. They miss coaches, managers, officials treating them with respect, recognizing them, catering to them. Oh,you want water, let me go get that for you. They miss traveling on someone else's dime.



I have had a lot of people in their twenties work for me in entry level positions as well as a few teen interns. I like to think we're not jerks at our company, but the youngest people are generally those who know the least, have the least experience and because of that, get paid the least. They have the last choice of shifts to work because the other people were here first.  They generally aren't traveling on business because they don't know our business very well yet and schools want someone who can come in, install software, answer their questions and provide some staff training.


It's true in most sports and particularly true in a minor sport like judo, when an elite athlete retires, he or she goes from the top of the heap to the bottom of the totem pole.


When you come back from winning medals in Europe, Asia and South America and a boss asks you sarcastically if you were too busy to get a report in on time, it is hard to bite back,

"Don't you know who I am? Don't you know what I've done?"

Truthfully, your boss probably doesn't give a fuck what you've done in sports.
He or she just needs those figures to tell whether sales are going up or down, the graphic layout of the annual report or whatever else the company executives are focused on.

It's hard to go from somebody to nobody. It's hard to go from feeling like an expert to feeling like a complete novice.

So, sometimes people stay LONG after they should have retired. I remember when I was competing calling an athlete arrogant and our youngest U.S. Team member said,

"How can that guy be arrogant? I've never seen him win!"

That's when I realized he had been competing for several years after his peak and it was true, he hadn't won in a long time. What else could he do, though? He was in his mid-thirties and had never had a real job. So, he just kept working at temporary jobs and going to judo tournaments. 


Sometimes what happens with those same people when they are too injury-ridden and old to keep competing is that they continue the same pattern but




When I'm not teaching judo, I'm making games. Please check them out. You can learn math, social studies, build your vocabulary.  Here are some free games and demos for you just because I am so nice.

http://www.7generationgames.com/demo/



 as a coach. They get a job where they can get by and then all of their energy, passion and talent is put into judo where they can be a big shot.


In America, judo is a sport where you can reach a fairly high level with a modest level of talent. Don't bother arguing with me because the numbers are against you. There are millions of people in this country who swim, play basketball, football or soccer. To get to the top of that group, whether as an athlete, a coach or an administrator takes more effort and talent than to be a top judo player in the U.S. It's harder to be number 3 out of the maybe 300 people in your division who compete than to be number 3 out of 30,000. In some divisions, I'd question whether we could really find 300 people in the country who actually compete.


So, you have put out moderate effort and gotten to be on the podium, call yourself a national medalist or even national champion, maybe gotten to represent the United States in international competition. To get that same level of recognition in business, in academics, you're going to have to work really hard for a long time. You have to start at the bottom and you may be 10 years younger than your non-athlete colleagues. Not only do people not look up to you, but you are a thirty-five-year-old intern. Is it any wonder people want to stay in judo for life?


Yes. I still teach judo. In fact, I'm teaching this afternoon. However, it's not the center of my life it once was because I retired and went on to other things.

How to NOT be that thirty-five-year-old intern? That's my next blog post.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Four feelings I have never had: 1. Just Happy to Be Here

I'm reading a book, Devil at my Heels, by Louis Zamperini. It's a good book and he has an interesting story. He was a bit of a juvenile delinquent who became an Olympic runner and then was a prisoner of war during WW II.

When he writes about the Olympics (he placed 8th) he says how great it felt to take part, what a great experience it was. People say that the point of the Olympics, like life,is not to win but to take part. I competed for 14 years and I never felt that way for one second. Don't get me wrong, I made good friends, benefited from wonderful mentors, saw a lot of the world. However, competition wasn't necessary for any of that. I have made friends, traveled the world and had wonderful mentors as a student and in my career. I teach judo with some really good people.

However, the only point of competition for me was to train as hard as possible and learn as much as possible to beat as many people as possible as decisively as possible. I had zero interest in opening ceremonies, closing ceremonies or team uniforms (I gave 90% of mine away to people who helped me train).

Women's judo was not an Olympic sport until after I retired and I cared not at all because during most of my competitive career countries were boycotting the Olympics and I wanted to be champion of the whole world, not half of it.

My point isn't that Zamperini is wrong and I was right or vice versa. It's simply to me, it is a foreign concept - "happy to be here" paired with competition. I want my partying and vacations separate from beating people up. That's probably why I had a shorter competitive career than a lot of people I knew. Once I had reached my peak as a competitor, I was done.

It's like that slogan, "Join the army, travel to exotic locations, meet new people and kill them." I think the goals are contradictory,no?

P.S. I don't mean I have never had the experience of just happy to be alive or happy to be in a place. I have that a lot - when I'm with my family, at work, on vacation. When competing, no, it was all business.

P.P.S. In case you are wondering, the other three things I have never felt are:

2. The desire to stay home with my children full-time
3.  Competition with other parents or the need to justify myself as a mother.
4. Attracted to other women/ wanting to be a man - yes, I realize those are pretty much completely different things but I put them together under sex and gender because this is my blog, so there.

Will get to blogging about those when I get a minute but here is my synopsis.


  • If you want to stay home with your children and can afford it, good for you. It's not for me.
  • Don't compete through your children, you weirdo. Let them live their own lives and you live yours.
  • Who you have sex with or what you want to do in your own life is none of my business. And I don't check out the person in the bathroom stall next to me because I mind my own business.


P.P.S. If you are getting ready to comment about how I am a terrible person because I don't feel about these things the way you do, just know that unless you are a member of my family or a close friend I don't care what you think about me. So, maybe that should be a fifth blog post. Also, if you are a family member, why are you posting disagreements on my blog? Did you lose my number?
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 When I'm not ranting about life, I make awesome video games that teach math and history and are fun to play. You should check them out. Some of them are even free. Whether you have a Mac, Windows, iPad or android, we've got you covered.


http://www.7generationgames.com/products/

Sunday, April 2, 2017

There Isn't A Single Turning Point

Very seldom do I write or talk about my childhood, because, what's the point, really? A wise person once said ,

"There's no point in having the same thought more than once unless you enjoy having that thought."

Well, I definitely don't enjoy thinking about when I was young.

Last night, I went to a screening of American Street Kid - it's not widely available yet, but if you have a chance to go to see it - GO! A lot of what happened in the film was very familiar to me. So many of the people I hung out with when I was young are dead or in jail.



I'm still debating about the whole memoir thing. Jonathan Shaw, who wrote a couple of books about his life, including Scab Vendor: Confessions of a Tattoo Artist, was on our podcast a few weeks ago and he said,

You'll grow as a person, but it will probably hurt. And I just said 'probably' to be nice. 

Maybe. It sounds like psychotherapy but just talking to yourself (insert desired sexual innuendo here). I'm the kind of psychologist that computes statistics, I can tell you what percentile your depression score falls in relative to the general population. I'm not the one to come to for treatment for depression and helping you understand about its roots on your childhood.

 (People who suffer from depression, don't bother writing hateful comments. Yes, I'm sure depression is a serious illness. We already established that I am not a person with depression expertise in the previous paragraph.)

Foster homes. Juvenile hall. I don't feel I need to write out my autobiography or go talk to someone for $250 an hour so I can "understand my feelings" about my childhood.

A lot of things fucking sucked. Understood. The End.

However, Fidel Rodriguez, is very persuasive when it comes to getting people to do things to support youth, so I ended up speaking about my own youth at the Rise Up for Humanity conference, and putting some of those remarks in my last post.

One question I got asked several times was,

What was the turning point? Where did you turn that you ended up where you are and the people you were hanging out with ended up where they are?

 I had many, many odds fall my way. What if the YMCA had not allowed girls to join judo? What if the university hadn't weighted SAT scores far higher than GPA or even graduating from high school? What if I hadn't gotten a fellowship to graduate school? What if I had three kids by age 22 (I would have been married long enough)?

Judo helped. All of the people I knew who fell by the wayside seemed to have problems with self-esteem. It's hard to believe you are are a loser when you're winning all of the time, like I was.

Being good at math and programming helped. I didn't get into college because I was good at judo, but because I was good at math. During and after my competition years, I was able to get a job and make money because I was good at math, good with computers.

Not getting addicted to heroin helped. Don't shake your head like that's a given. That did in some of the smartest people I knew.

I'm not saying it was all luck. I worked full-time, went to college and trained at judo enough to win the national championships - for years on end. I was naturally pretty smart and athletic. (Don't give me any bullshit for saying that - I have a Ph.D. and a world championships. I'm not dumb and uncoordinated.)

So, lately I've been talking to people who work with incarcerated youth. Originally, we started out discussing the adventure games my company makes as a way to help them catch up with their math and language skills but after a while, the subject came up, how I'm being asked to speak at these youth conferences they would have barred me from attending when I was young. What the staff members tell me is that youth in their facilities need to hear from me. I think they want the youth to hear the message

Work hard. Don't get addicted to drugs. Get an education.

I think, though, it is just as important to talk to the staff and tell them:

There is no turning point. There is no time when you can give up on a kid as they are destined to be an asshole loser.  

I helpfully diagrammed my own path for you.


Born, I had the same odds of NOT being an asshole/ loser as anyone else. Right about the time I came into contact with you, those odds had plummeted. It looked like I was doing better for a while, then worse. Eventually, one good thing piled on another, and although there have been ups and downs, I'd say my odds are better than even now.

My message is that because you don't know when or what thing will make the difference, you have to keep trying different things all of the time. I know there are some programs that emphasize poetry and art, which is fine for some kids. Personally, I hate poetry, I suck at art but excelled at math and beating people up. Maybe you should get that kid who keeps running away to go out for the soccer or track team.

Still not sure on the memoir thing, but I'm thinking if  I really am going to be going out to speak to kids and staff, I may as well start writing it down.

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 When I'm not ranting about life, I make awesome video games that teach math and history and are fun to play. You should check them out. Some of them are even free. Whether you have a Mac, Windows, iPad or android, we've got you covered.


http://www.7generationgames.com/products/