Jugglers Don’t Get Paid Very Well

Jugglers don’t get paid very well – and sometimes the balls hit them in the head.

That quote is supposed to remind us of the dangers of trying to do too many things at once. Thirty years ago, I was working as an engineer in aerospace, and I swear that there seem to be as many parts in making a GOOD educational game as there are in making an airplane. (Somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000, if you want to know.)


At the moment, it is both the best and worst of times. Next week, I take off for a three-city, two state tour, visiting Kansas City, Belcourt and Fort Totten, meeting with school and government personnel. Some are interested in a seeing a first demo of Spirit Lake: The Game, while others are committed partners. Some were part of our pilot study, either as control or experimental group, and looking forward to gearing up for beta testing. Others are just joining us as test schools. Smack in the middle of that, I’m giving the keynote address at the 1st Annual Tribal Disabilities Conference. The title is “On the internet, no one knows you’re disabled”.

Home for two days and then on to Portland where as part of Oregon Day I am giving a talk on exploratory data analysis, showing the results of the pilot study for Spirit Lake: The Game.

In between all of that, I’m working on Fish Lake, our new game that involves fractions, Ojibwe, traveling with your tribe to better hunting grounds, and, of course, fishing. I’m simultaneously monitoring our databases to see that responses are being written to it as they should, making changes to Spirit Lake as our users and staff request them – “Hey, could you add more schools/ teachers to that drop-down menu on the first form”, obsessively testing every fix, and trying constantly to make our installation process easier.

If that wasn’t enough, there’s documentation and support, teacher resources like powerpoints and video clips that go with the game, pre- and post-tests aligned with the common core standards for math … and, well, you get the idea.

I’ve given up on prioritizing. I just work on as much as I can every day until I fall asleep. Every day, I should be saying a prayer of thanks that I have such wonderful, competent people working with me, so that the technical support gets done (thanks, Ernie!), site coordination is happening (thanks Erich), marketing events are going on around the country (thanks Maria) and my papers are actually formatted, video and sound edited (thanks Marisol), artwork magically created (thanks Justin and Danny) and code being written by someone in addition to me (thanks, Dennis).

Saying I’ve given up prioritizing sounds awful but it really isn’t. When you have hundreds of parts of the game that need to be done for it it be assembled, at the beginning, it doesn’t matter which you do first.

Having said all of that — on twitter today, someone posed the question,

“What would it take to get you to give up your job right now?”

After pausing to reflect, I answered,

“I can’t think of anything that would motivate me to give up my job right now.”

There will always be jugglers in the world.