Sunday, February 28, 2016

Random facts about me you may not know

It's a Sunday afternoon, so I thought I would come out with a completely random post.

Feel free to add your own random facts about yourself in the comments.

I started a youtube playlist, 5 Minutes of Free Advice

When I have time, I add another video. There are 20 on there now. Topics are welcome. Julia suggested the topic "Advice to Julia's Future Kids" which is one of the more viewed ones.

I am being inducted into the International Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday. My lovely youngest daughter, Julia, and I are flying to Columbus, Ohio for the event.

I do a blog on statistics, business and programming. This week, I am doing a whole series ranting on how sick I am of that bullshit about consumers, employers and investors cannot find women and minorities in technology to support.

I also write a company blog for 7 Generation Games, mostly on startup life and with a Throwback Thursday post every week on what I was thinking about 2, 3 or sometimes 8 years ago. Maria had asked that I not swear on that one so it is updated less frequently.

In my spare time, of which I have none, I teach online courses for National University, which is a non-profit university started by a retired admiral.  Once a year, I teach biostatistics, epidemiology or advanced quantitative data analysis.

I'm teaching a course on factor analysis in April in Las Vegas at the SAS Global Forum. Then leaving immediately from there to fly all night to speak at the North Dakota STEM conference.

I'll be doing a judo clinic in Tulsa, Oklahoma in May. I almost never do clinics but I have known Dr. Martin Bregman since I was in junior high school, so I'm going to Oklahoma.

I make games you can download and play on your desktop. They're only $9.99 each and they WILL make you smarter. I'd write about how I know that to be true but I have to get back to making games.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Want to win at judo? Hit the road!

judo practice
I don't know you, but just based on probability, I'm going to recommend that you start working out more if you really want to win.


I'm serious, hit the road and start putting in some miles. Let me give you a super-simple running work out

  • Run a mile
  • Sprint uphill 50 yards
  • Jog slowly downhill
  • -- Repeat until you have done 10 sprints
  • Jog a mile home to cool down

Yes, I know all of the things you are going to tell me - that is a 25 minute workout if you aren't a particularly fast runner, and I assume you aren't since you are doing judo instead of track.  I know that judo matches are five minutes.

Here is something else I know - most judo players aren't in the best possible physical condition, and their cardiovascular training is a particular weak point. There is a lot of opportunity to rest in a judo tournament. The picture above shows my little angel, Julia, pinning someone. How much effort is that for Julia? Answer, not very damn much.

I cannot tell you the number of times I have seen relatively skilled judo players lose because they were just tired out.

The advantage of the workout I just gave you is that it starts with a warm up. I don't know you but I've coached for a long time so I'm guessing that if no one is watching you, you aren't out there running like you're being chased by the police. (Not that, I, personally would know how fast one runs when chased by the police, cough, cough.) It's more of a fast jog.

You run up hill because it is harder than running on a flat surface. Judo is bursts of hard effort, punctuated by kind of coasting, like pinning your opponent or tying your belt while the referee wags his/her finger at you and admonishes you in Japanese.

If you get 10 good attacks in during a match, you're doing better than most people.

Yes, it is probably not the best conditioning work out in the world, but guess what, I bet it's better than whatever you are doing for conditioning now, which is probably nothing on many days.

The other nice thing about my recommendation is that it requires nothing more than a hill. Even North Dakota has hills and it's one of the flattest states you'll find anywhere.

Conditioning workout number two

 If you happen to live in North Dakota and it's too cold to go outside - jump rope for 25 minutes. You'll probably have to start with five minutes and work your way up.

When I lived in Minnesota and it was way below freezing outside, I used to go downstairs to the basement of our apartment building where the storage units were and jump rope. It was boring as hell. Jumping rope is not my thing, but it is good cardio and it's better than running outside when it is 20 below zero. You don't need a fancy jump rope. I was broke and in graduate school and I'm sure I just bought a piece of rope for a dollar at the hardware store.

So ... you really want to win more matches? Get in better shape. You have no excuse.

You're welcome.

Feel smarter? You can show your gratitude by buying one of our games for yourself, giving one as a gift or donating to a school.

If you have gratitude but no money, you are welcome to download a free demo here.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Are you too old to begin competing?

I get this question occasionally,

"Am I too old to begin competing in combat sports?"

and I am usually tempted to just respond,


Actually, I think that is the right answer but that would make a very short post, so let me elaborate.

First of all, the correct answer is:


It is not true that the worst thing that could happen is that you might lose and be embarrassed. The worst thing that could happen is that you could get injured, incur some hospital bills and miss work. The insurance that the judo organizations insist you pay for as part of your membership is to protect THEM from being sued. Good luck with those medical bills.

If you have good health insurance and sick leave, then, go for it. If you have a family that depends on your income or you would be very hard-pressed to pay an extra grand in medical bills, then maybe you shouldn't compete.

Yes, the odds of being injured are not high, but I've been attending judo tournaments for 45 years and at least half of the time, someone gets injured. That might be one out of 300 or 500 people at the tournament, but that is still odds significantly different from zero.

There is some scientific evidence that suggests "weekend warriors", that is, those who compress most of their physical activity into the weekend, are at greater risk of an injury.

So ... if you really do want to compete, and you are not concerned about the minor but non-zero risk of injury, I'd say, go for it BUT be sure that before you do compete you get into good physical condition by training regularly during the week.

Personally, I quit competing when I was 26 years old, but that's a post for another day.

What I'm doing instead of competing 

Making games that make you smarter

Download a free demo here

Sunday, February 14, 2016

My life, explained in two Harry Potter quotes

As long as I can remember, people have gotten angry with me because I refuse to "go along", "just be quiet", "let it drop", "be like other people".

I was sent to the principal's office, suspended, expelled, sent to juvenile hall, put in foster care.

I also graduated college at 19, won a world championships, started a business to help people learn that is reaching more people every week.

One reason I will never write a biography is that many bad things happened and I don't want to revisit the past. I want to go forth in the future with the life I have made for myself.

The first quote from J. K. Rowlings :

“Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory.” 

If you didn't read the book, Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, Cedric Diggory was murdered just for being there when Lord Voldemort went after Harry.

Let me tell you a story ... many years ago, there was a judo official who molested athletes .... I was a teenager at the time and one of those athletes was a dear friend and one of the bravest people I know.  I know how this impacted her and she deserved a whole world better.

Many, many people in the judo organizations knew all about it. They did nothing for years. They lost the paperwork. They held hearings but didn't tell any of the female athletes that they were having those hearings, even though we were on the medal stands at the events where the hearings were held. They said things like,

"It will make judo look bad if this comes out, so we're not going to say anything because more good will be done because of all of the positive benefits of judo."
"There is no proof. Just your words and the written affidavits of all of those women."

There were also people who stood up. When the molester threatened to sue any women that spoke out against him, there were two attorneys who stepped up and offered to represent anyone who was sued, free of charge. Since truth is a defense in a slander suit, there were, of course, no lawsuits.

There was the woman who drove thousands of miles to appear in front of an ethics committee to look him in the face and say,
"You did this to me."
He did not show up.

There was a third attorney, who went with me as my witness, when I personally handed multiple copies to the ethics committee, including the new affidavit, written that year, so they couldn't claim to have lost them or not received them.

For every one of those people who stood up, there were dozens who did not. They took the easy way. He was "important" in judo and we were not. He could help select them for trips, funding, promotions. Initially, we were just a bunch of teenage girls doing judo and later people not that involved in judo. It was much, much easier to pretend it didn't happen, it wasn't that bad, we were exaggerating it. I was making it all up.

 I don't think those people got up in the morning and decided to be bad people or take the coward's way out. They tried to tell themselves those things so they wouldn't feel bad. They were just trying to "get along", "see the other person's point of view", "consider that it possibly wasn't true".

But it was.

The second quote is from the Sorcerer's Stone and I think it is not exactly correct. Dumbledore says

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” 

I think, in fact, it takes a great deal MORE to stand up to our friends. Our enemies already hate us and want to do wrong by us, we don't care about their opinions. Our friends are people who love us, whose good opinion we value. I would say, we have much more to lose by standing up to our friends.

So, why do it, then?

I don't have a quote from Harry Potter for this but from two far older sources. Matthew 16:26 asks

What good for a man to gain the whole world yet forfeit his immortal soul.

and the Delphi Oracle said,

Know thyself.

If you know the right thing to do and don't do it, one of two things happens. One, is that you live with the guilt. Most often, I see people convince themselves that the wrong thing is not so bad - and that is the real danger of it all as you begin to lose your soul bit by bit.

Sometimes, too, they convince themselves that the real problem is me and that if I would just shut up about it all that everything would be fine.

It's amusing to me that now that my daughter, Ronda, has gotten famous, people assume that everything I write and do relates to her.

Nope. I've been this way my whole life.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Do You Want a Tetris Life or Super Mario Brothers?

I was surprised by the number of people who responded in comments and on twitter that they read my blog NOT for judo but for the general rambling on life .

So ... just for you all ... here is what I have been pondering lately (and it even somewhat relates to fitness).

When I look at computer games (bear with me, this has a point), they can pretty much be divided into Tetris and Super Mario Brothers.

Tetris is a game that you cannot win. It just gets harder and then you lose. The end.

It sounds like it sucks when you put it that way but it is very popular. People like a challenge and they like to see how far they can get.

On the other hand, you have games like Super Mario Brothers series, which are possible to win. You win each level and, woo-hoo, you're done. Then, if you like, you can start all over and play again.

I realized lately that in my personal life as far as physical fitness, I have moved from a Tetris person to a Super Mario Brothers one, and that's perfectly okay.

One day, I was working at my desk and I realized I'm starting to get those flabby grandma arms. I had been working on this latest game for months, plus writing three grant proposals and I just was getting out of shape.

At first, I thought I would start with doing 10 push-ups and then add one more every day. By the time I got to 25, though, I asked myself,

What is the point of me being able to do 300 push-ups?
It's the same question I ask myself when I see someone doing a 100 mile race or a triathlon. It just doesn't look very fun to me. I understand that for many people the point is to challenge your body, push yourself.

When I competed in judo, I had a great time doing it. I really enjoyed the actual physical activity of judo. I loved matwork. I didn't mind throwing drills. I loved randori.

When I watch someone coming in all blistered from the sun and sea water after swimming 60 miles or something crazy like that, it just doesn't look like a good time to me. 

I'm at the age where I don't think things need to get harder and harder every day. In fact, I wouldn't mind if some things got easier. So, when I got to 25 push-ups, I stopped at that. I do 25 push-ups every morning now. Sometimes I might do 26 or 27 if I feel like it, but that's it.


I'm 57 years old and I can lift up a 40-pound grandchild in each arm.

Woo-hoo, I win at life.


All that talk of games make you want to play one?

Check out 7 Generation Games. 
 Fun, and they make you smarter !

Your Thoughts Are Welcome

I'll cut to the point - I'm wondering if I should keep blogging about judo and life. I've been writing this blog for 8 years now.  The posts on matwork even turned into a book, Winning on the Ground.

I'm really pressed for time these days. It is all I can do to make it to Gompers to teach on Fridays and  to fit in a few weekend activities with the students each year.

Tomorrow, we are doing the first school-wide beta testing for our new bilingual game, Aztech, which is our fourth game.  We've had a few beta test sites that were classrooms or after school programs but this is the first whole school roll out.

It was my lovely youngest daughter's last home soccer game, so we drove two hours to watch that, had dinner with her, drove two hours back and am now going back and forth between working on testing the install of our desktop games (works on Mac, Windows 8 & 10),  adding more math to the new web-based games (which also work on Chromebooks and iPads) and writing a grant for additional funding.

I'm sure almost everyone reading this has the same feeling of not enough hours in a day.

Ironically, I've actually been DOING more judo lately and blogging about it less. We went to a clinic with the fabulous Flavio Canto at Orange County Judo Training Center last month and this month I got to be part of the Grappling Summit in Morgan Hill (really pretty place I had never been). Of course, I taught transition to armbars.

I also started doing a youtube playlist on Five Minutes of Free Advice, partly because it only takes me 10 minutes, counting the uploading. Lanny and I did talk about athletes with unrealized potential in one of those.

So, since I ramble on about what I'm thinking about here, I thought I'd solicit your thoughts. Is 8 years enough? Should I just blog about judo? Should I give up both blogging and judo and try knitting?