March Madness - Part 2

Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. estimate that close to a billion dollars will be lost as productivity in the workplace dips during March Madness. (By the way--I'm not going to get in trouble for saying that, am I? It's not like saying "Super Blah Sunday," is it?)



It's all "madness," really. What I want to know is where all the hoopla is the rest of the year when employees are wasting time on other non-work related activities? If you've ever worked in a cubicle, you probably already know what I'm talking about. I know that coworkers I had over the years wasted time on more than just betting on basketball.

What you probably haven't heard are the statistics that point to how much time employees spend on the clock outside smoking. Let's be real, my smoking friend--you can't even pretend to be "on the job" if you're standing the mandatory twenty feet away from the entrance to your place of employment with a smoldering butt hanging from your lips. The guy who fell asleep at his desk looks busier than someone outside smoking.

According to research done by a Lansing, Michigan firm, the average smoker spends (or spent in 2000) about 39 minutes a day smoking at work. The numbers that EPIC/MRA worked up showed that, assuming an average wage of $13 per hour, Michigan employers lost $1.7 billion on employee smoking breaks. That's about twice the amount that will be lost nationwide due to March Madness. If Michigan accounts for roughly 3.5% of the money made nationally by individuals (a very rough estimate based on 1999 tax filings), then in 2000 companies across America paid about $47 billion for employee smoking breaks. That makes the money lost over March Madness seem like chump change.

Of course, this is all based on statistics and analysis that may not be entirely accurate. And more than the numbers could be off, too. Nicotine suppresses appetite, so it seems possible that smokers might not be breaking as much for lunch. Does that recoup for any of the time lost? I don't know--it's something to think about.

There are other less noticeable ways to skip out on work that you should be doing. Greg Kinnear, playing eccentric columnist Frank Navasky, says in You've Got Mail, "Listen to this -- the entire work force of the state of Virginia had to have solitaire removed from their computers because they hadn't done any work in six weeks." I guess that was before they had games like Diablo, Quake, and Power Pete, because I could never waste six weeks on solitaire, no matter how many burning monkeys there were. Later in the movie, Tom Hank's character, Joe Fox, discusses with his love interest another great detractor from productivity in the workplace.

Joe Fox: "'You've Got Mail'... Very powerful words."

Kathleen Kelly: "Yes!"

She probably should have pleaded, "Yes! Help me! I'm addicted to checking my inbox every half hour for your emails!"

How did this wonderful creation, the computer, end up being a figurative ball and chain that weighs us down, keeping us from reaching the heights of true productivity? The situation seems almost as dire as an old black and white horror show where robots (that's technology--like computers) have turned against their masters (uh, that's us), enslaving them and subjecting them to menial labor (that's checking your inbox for messages every few minutes).

Personal email, sports scores, instant messaging, jokes, flash games, online gambling, fantasy sports--these are just a few of the less scandalous activities upon which people frivolously fritter away their work day. For all you old schoolers, there are the traditional black holes into which fall those precious moments of productivity--personal phone calls, hanging out at the water cooler, walking around with a chart in you hand, and meetings. Yeah, don't try to tell me that meetings are productive--they usually aren't.

Let me get back to my point--where is the media when you really need them? Why can't focus be brought to bear on the real issues affecting the demise of the productive workday? I think Matt Lauer missed out on the real story while he was filling out his bracket.

Posted by Jeremiah on March 16, 2007 at 6:35


March Madness - Part 1

Posted by Jeremiah on the Ides of March, 2007. Beware!


Daddy Survivor Week draws to an end

I don't know what's tired me out the most this past week--taking care of the children all by myself (without Tamara, that is--sorry Amber, Nevila, Amy, and Jill) or posting a blog every day for the past week. I do have some sense of accomplishment, however, having chronicled to some degree a rather eventful seven days in the Jones household.

It is now, thankfully, coming to a close. To celebrate the last day of waking up with no Mommy, I cranked up the stereo and woke up the children with some Johnny Williams, including the theme song for Superman. Quicker than a speeding bullet, I had three super children zooming around the downstairs with capes and extended arms.

I couldn't escape another round of dishwashing. I put on my gloves and went to work while the schoolchildren prepared for school. After they were gone, I continued. I was glad to have Oscar the Grouch to keep Trevor company as I stood in the kitchen with suds up to my elbows.

I dropped off Trevor for the last time today, and he got to spend his day with Max and Caleb. He babbled to himself with the usual anticipation as we drove over to the Andros home, and, when we went in, promptly removed his jacket and shoes and went to see what kind of toys he could find. Before I could get out the door, Trevor was marching around playing a discordant tune on a little blue harmonica. When I said I was leaving, he waved and went on exploring the house.

I think the anticipation of Tamara's return lent me a little extra energy today, and, even though I was still congested and a little sore from last week's sledding mishap, I got out and played some volleyball. Two words: Go, Jane!

At the end of the day, with the children packed in the car, which managed to stay in (mostly) one piece, we zipped on down to T.F. Greene to collect Mommy and Abigail. Though everyone is relieved to have Mommy back with us, Abigail stole the show all the way home with her hearty chuckles and giggles as the children vied for her attention with waving stuffed animals and tickles and coos. Trevor did an exceptionally good job at getting her to laugh by bouncing his "bunny" on her tummy. (The "bunny" is really a creepy little stuffed rat with eyes that pulsate with an eerie red luminescence--and it makes some weird little noises.)

Margaret Culkin Banning wrote, "She never quite leaves her children at home, even when she doesn't take them along." So maybe it hasn't been that different for Tamara while she has been away in Utah at her grandpa's birthday celebration, but the rest of us sure missed her.

It's not easy being a mother. If it were easy, fathers would do it.

Posted by Jeremiah on March 13, 2007 at 10:29 PM


Rights and Responsibilities

The following are just a few thoughts from what I said to one of my children tonight as we discussed a situation that had arisen due to a poor decision.

We need to take responsibility for our actions. Admitting that we made a mistake is not the same as saying that we wanted something bad to happen. Receiving accountability for what we have done opens the way towards receiving forgiveness.

Although we need to seek for forgiveness from those whom we have harmed, ultimately, we must receive forgiveness from two sources in order to be at peace. We must ask God to forgive us our sins. We must forgive ourselves the sins that we have made.

God wants to help us. He loves us. He will help the sincere soul find serenity. We must believe that we will receive forgiveness when we ask for it. We must persistently ask God for forgiveness until we have enough faith to receive it.

Each child of God must love himself. If we do not have that love, we will not see ourselves as the offspring of our Heavenly Father, and we will not be able to detect the divine heritage that we each possess. I am not a bad person because I have made a bad choice. I can go to my God with confidence, for I am his child, and he loves me enough to help me onto the path to making the right choice.

Posted by Jeremiah on March 12, 2007 at 11:59-ish PM


Hungry, hungry hippos

Thank goodness for Hungry Hungry Hippos! That game has saved my sanity over the last two days. Even with the children behaving as well as they have, I still need to distract them every once in a while. They got dressed for church this morning and played while I got ready.

It seemed like all the children in our congregation had the wiggles today. During Primary closing exercises, it was next to impossible to get in a word over the babble of the small crowd of children that was in attendance today.

Trevor's eye looks worse, although I suspect that it is feeling a lot better. Anthony joked around the lunch table that Trevor wouldn't have to dress up for St. Patrick's Day because the bruise around his eye is already green.

Posted by Jeremiah on March 11, 2007 at 11:59-ish PM



Nice. I think being two parents is bad for my health. I'm definitely coming down with something. I had a nap today, and it didn't help at all. When I woke up, I couldn't clear the cobwebs.

At least the kids and I had a fun time today. We started with breakfast at White Trash 'R' Us, I mean, Denny's. It never fails to amuse me to see the waitresses' eyes pop out when I bring in all my kids, and today I only had four of them. They were so well behaved, I think mostly because they were so busy eating.

Then we went to Mart of Walls. Boy, you can have so much fun when you have endless opportunity to indulge your eccentricities. I can't wait until we all know how to set the alarms on the watches in the jewelry department.

Well, the laundry couldn't be put off like cleaning the dishes. I can't wear paper underwear--not comfortably, at any rate, I'm sure. Styrofoam wouldn't be much better either. As a man, I'm just glad to pull underwear out of the wash that's not been pinkified. The kids were really great with folding and stowing the laundry, and they were rewarded with orange-vanilla floats. Yummy.


Doing dishes

How many days can one man and four children go without doing the dishes? Just two, it would seem. There were so many dishes to do that I ran out of space to put them while they dried. I started on the dishes while the kids were still eating breakfast and was washing until well past nine. My plan of buying new ones to eat off of has been on the backburner until next week.

I'm making new friends at work. Here's a couple million of them that I popped in the spectrophotometer this afternoon.

Trevor had another fun day at a friend's house. Here he is with his friend, Jordan.


Red Eye

Wow. Stayed up waaay too late last night to check in on Tamara after she got in to her parents' house in Utah. I will be going to sleep much earlier tonight, I think...

My mom says that the kids are already suffering from IMM syndrome (I Miss Mommy), and she's probably not far off the mark. While the discipline hasn't yet reached Lilo and Stitch proportions ("She disciplines me real good.... Sometimes five times a day! With bricks... in a pillow case..."), it was meted out hard upon the heels of our arrival home this evening. I told the kids that Mommy isn't here to tell me that I can't send them to bed without dinner. The sad part is that they believe me.

Trevor was looking forward with anticipation to his stay at "Yaizah's" house today. He was calling her name before we had even gotten on our way. Eliza and Trevor had obviously had a good time, as they were only too happy to pose for me when I picked up Trevor this evening. (And Trevor got a nap. Yea!)

Thank goodness for our neighbor, Luci. She has taken on watching the school kids until Daddy is able to pick them up after work. Her apartment looks like it's been devastated by Hurricane Joneskids.

What good helpers I have, and not just when threatened with banishment without dinner! The girls are helping each other wash their hair. The boys are playing together and setting the table. And everyone is putting on smiley faces for Daddy's pictures.

Of course, they're still kids, and don't always have the sense to eat food that really is quite tasty. Tamara and I are both amazed that they aren't crazier about the tamale casserole that I warmed up tonight. Even the sauteed green beans with onions were a bigger hit!

I am happy to report that Trevor's head is looking better today. If only I could find furniture that is as robust as my children. I don't feel as sorry for the coffee table as I do for my little son, but I do hope that he can go a little easier to the furniture from now on.

Time for bed. Gotta get rid of these bloodshot eyes.

Posted by Jeremiah on March 8, 2007 at 10:39 PM

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Daddy's Cookin'!

Mr. Mom? That's me! Tamara and little Abigail left this morning for a week in Utah. Now I am running the show until she gets back. What kind of adventures await?

I have reached my goal for today--no deaths. Tamara has thankfully taken care of all the other particulars. All I had to do today was point the children in the right direction in the morning, microwave dinner, clean house, and make sure that everyone got to bed on time.

Everyone got to school, although I can't take much credit for that--Tamara was still here to help get them out the door. The dinner was easy. I took a container of enchiladas out of the freezer and warmed it in the microwave. Look at how happy the children are.

The dining room even looks pretty good still. See?

Ooooops. I forgot that there was one more thing--make sure that no one gets hurt. Yeah, that last one was going so well until Trevor ran into the living room, jumped onto the beanbag, fell off the other side, and banged his head on the coffee table. He put on a brave face for me, however, when I decided to document the damage.

I hope that things go better tomorrow. Right now I have to go upstairs and comfort Natalie, who is crying almost hysterically.

Something tells me this is going to be a long week.


Gay Feet

Over the last week my little family has watched two feature-length movies about penguins. Although one film was a documentary shot by some "slightly crazy" (their words--not mine) Frenchmen in Antarctica and the other was cranked out by computer, both spotlighted the intriguing life of the little tuxedo-wearing birds. My wife and kids all oohed and aahed over the fuzzy little baby penguins. We laughed at the funny gait of the penguins as they ambled over the wintry wasteland back and forth to the sea from their mating ground. Although the real-life birds couldn't dance or speak English, they just as ably captured our hearts.

What's the important difference between these two movies? I am not going to allow one of the movies to be seen in my home. I wish I had been more prepared before viewing the movie--because then my family would not have seen it in the first place. The movie, of course, is "Happy Feet"-- a movie geared toward children while somewhat subtly promoting homosexuality and disrespect for religious authority.

Wow! That's a pretty weighty accusation to put out on the internet where anyone could read it. I didn't want to believe that a major film studio could be brazen enough to put that kind of trash into a kids' movie. Maybe I hadn't heard right.

"Son, you can do this. It ain't so hard."

"Don't ask me to change, Pa, because I can't."

This dialogue between father and errant son takes place after the religious elders of the penguins have tried to get to the bottom of why Mumbles, the heterosexual leading man (or penguin), is so different. It turns out that he was just born that way, supposedly because his dad dropped him as an egg. While discussing Mumble's tendency to break out into dance instead of the traditional penguin singing, his father says, "It's just not 'penguin!'"

Okay, so I did hear it right, but is did the writers really mean to have Mumbles' bias for boogying be a metaphor for being homosexual? Maybe I'm reading into the script too much--I'm just sensitized to the "gay" thing because I'm a conservative who has had his voice on the issue of same-sex marriage squelched by an angry liberal minority. Maybe it's as simple as that....

But then my wife turns to me after the movie, and asks, "Was it just me, or....?"

And then, a few minutes later, as we walked into Walmart, some friends from our church knowingly asked, "Oh! 'Happy Feet.' Soooo, what did you think about....?"

Then I got online... wow! I began to realize that I had missed some of the innuendos. I had caught the false prophet's "I shall retire to my couch of perpetual indulgence. Okay ladies, who's first?" but had missed his implied f-bomb. (That would have been when I walked out with my family in tow.) Still, there's enough outright leftist propaganda that I want to ask, along with Jim, "Did they think Christians wouldn't notice? I suppose the creators just didn't care."

Now I've been working on this post off-and-on for four days. Let me just wrap up with this: Where was the mainstream media coverage of the darker side of "Happy Feet?" Why wasn't the homosexual agenda publicized so that parents could decide whether or not to take their children to see the film? Ahh. Just answered my own question.

Shame on Fox-Warner for engaging in deceptive practices in order to swindle me out of a few bucks. Shame on my for thinking I could trust a major studio. Well, one of us is wiser now.