I read with interest a story in the Wall Street Journal last week that was titled “Go Ahead, Hit the Snooze Button.”
I love sleep. I love sleeping in even more. But I never use the snooze button. My wife, on the other hand, is just the opposite. I usually set my alarm to go off about 6:40 a.m. If I feel that I want to “sleep in” a little longer, I will just re-set my alarm for 6:45 or 6:50 before I go to bed. If I still do not want to get up, mostly because I am all snug in bed and do not want to face the morning cold, I will just lie there, hoping I do not fall back to sleep and then end up being late for work.
My wife is a snooze button abuser. I think that is something that she would admit, too. But she does things opposite of me. She sets her alarm earlier, knowing that she will be hitting that button several times before getting up. I must sleep like a log, because I rarely hear it and she gets up before I do.
Anyway, back to the article. The subtitle of the story was “Calculating the cost of workers who don’t get enough sleep.” I do not want to say that I fall into that category, but I am still one of those who don’t go to bed until midnight on most nights.
According to the article, the estimated cost to U.S. companies from workers with insomnia, who lose an average of 7.8 days of productivity a year, is $63.2 billion! In other words, this problem is caused by “presentee-ism,” which is people who show up for work but perform at below-average levels.
People waste 8.4 minutes online for every hour of interrupted sleep the previous night. I am pretty sure this has applied to me a time or two. The number of American workers who sleep less than six hours per night is 40.6 million, or 30 percent of the civilian work force. Guilty as charged!
Nine percent of Americans say that they are likely to fall asleep at an inappropriate moment, such as during a meeting. This has never happened to me. But I have witnessed this on several occasions, and not just in boring, lengthy staff meetings, either!
The article goes on to mention that those people who are exhausted from work and under tremendous pressure would rather learn about how to perform better on less sleep than how to get more. Interesting. I guess this is just a side effect from the “doing more with less” adage that many companies are adhering to these days. Yes, you can save money by slashing a 40-hour-a-week employee and giving those responsibilities to another person, but, aside from the bottom line, is it really a good idea?
I am not saying that companies do not have reason to trim the fat now and then, but when you have four employees and five managers, there is a problem. See the movie Office Space for a great example of this situation. Yes, once you start pushing too much onto a select few, the problems usually begin; morale and quality decrease, and then articles like this are written to explain the problem.
I don’t know. I was talking with a few co-workers the other day about getting older and how back in the day it was not uncommon for us “younger” folk to stay out until two or three in the morning, go to bed, and be at work by 8 a.m. The only reason that would happen these days is because of a restless or sick child, insomnia or some other odd instance.
But then again, there is always that snooze button …
**Stats used were provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Harvard scientists.
Nobody likes a sore loser.
It doesn’t matter who, what, why, where, when or how, we have all been taught to hold our head high, even in defeat, no matter how heartbreaking the loss.
A loss is tough, no matter the situation. We do not like to lose. But we all do come up as a loser every now and then, whether we admit it or not.
You win some, you lose some.
The losses I am talking about, however, are sports-related losses, and the athletes and coaches that have to deal them. Rather, how they deal with them.
Last week, after his team lost to the Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick refused to talk to CBS after the game, as is customary. The losing coaches have always made time for the post-game interview, although I am sure they would much rather just get out of the stadium as fast as possible, especially when that loss resulted in your team missing the Super Bowl.
Former NFL player turned CBS analyst Shannon Sharpe called Belichick out for his unprofessional behavior on the air during the broadcast.
“There’s something to be said about being gracious in defeat,” Sharpe said on the post-game show. “We’ve seen the New England Patriots five times in the last 12 years be victorious [in the AFC championship game]. We’ve seen the opposing coaches who lost come out and talk to our Steve Tasker.”
Sharpe goes on to say, “Bill Belichick makes it real easy for you to root against the Patriots. You can’t be a poor sport all the time. You’re not going to win all the time, and he does this every time he loses. It’s unacceptable.”
I could not agree more.
Belichick is no stranger to controversy. Aside from stiffing members of the media after losses in that past, he paid a hefty fine for a spying controversy that took place a few years ago. Just this year he was fined $50,000 for impermissible physical contact with a referee after a game following, you guessed it, a loss.
As many of you know, I cover the Kalamazoo Wings for this paper. The K-Wings, while a professional team and organization, are a few steps away from the National Hockey League, so to compare the ECHL and NFL is like comparing apples to popcorn. But what they do have in common is professionalism.
Since I started covering the Kalamazoo Wings, I have interviewed three head coaches and countless players, from both the K-Wings and the opposition.
Two of those three head coaches, Mark Reeds and Nick Bootland, stand out as how a professional looks, acts, and sounds. The third coach didn’t even last a full season in Kalamazoo, and I bet you can guess why (as well as other factors).
Reeds coached the K-Wings for four seasons, winning the UHL Colonial Cup in 2005-06 and falling short of a repeat performance the following year in Game 7 of the Finals. That is the year I started covering the K-Wings. I was in Rockford the night they lost. As the Ice Hogs celebrated on the ice, Reeds quietly, but professionally, talked to us reporters with grace, giving props to the winners for a hard-fought series. Bootland was a player on the team at that time. He also spoke with us and took the time to respond to our questions, even though we could tell that his disappointment ran deep. Whether they were angry, disgusted, or whatever they felt, they did not treat us with any less respect than if they had been the ones hoisting that Cup over their heads at center ice that night. Reeds is currently an assistant coach for the NHL Ottawa Senators.
Two years ago, the K-Wings were again in the finals, this time in the ECHL, and this time Bootland was the coach. Again, they lost. And again Bootland displayed the kind of grace and tact that you hope to see in a professional. And so did his players.
Reeds and Bootland have always stressed the desire to have not only great players on their teams, but also to have players who project the kind of attitude that the team and organization feel they build their teams around: professionalism and character. Win or lose, they are there waiting for us, are gracious to us, and, more often than not, thank us for being there.
Losing hurts. I get that. But as a professional, you have a job to do, win or lose. Maybe certain coaches and players should come to Kalamazoo to see how true professionals do their job. It could be a real eye opener.
What words make you cringe when you hear them? Are there some words that you could go without ever hearing again?
Lake Superior State University recently released its annual “banished words list” and has been doing so since 1976. What began as a silly publicity stunt for the little-known school has since turned into a New Year’s Day tradition.
According to their website, the school — which was founded in 1946 as a branch of Michigan College of Mining and Technology — was opened to make room for returning World War II veterans. W.T. (Bill) Rabe, then the university’s Public Relations Director, released his first “List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness” on New Year’s Day, because it was typically a slow news day and the story would get more press.
He was right.
People from all over the world now send in their suggestions for words, phrases or expressions that they would like to see banished from our lives … for good. After Rabe retired in 1987, the University copyrighted the list and continues it to this day.
The 38th annual list includes the following words:
Fiscal cliff, kick the can down the road, double down, job creators/creation, passion/passionate, YOLO (you only live once), spoiler alert, bucket list, trending, superfood, boneless wings and guru.
Other banished words/phrases from previous years include:
Git-Er-Done, holiday tree, I see what you’re saying, I’m just saying, you’re fired, your call is very important to us, vast majority and up or down vote. Obviously you can see that many of these came from specific time periods over the last 38 years.
I was glad to see the phrase “double down” on the list. I grew very tired of hearing every reporter and talk show host say “the Romney campaign is going to double down on that comment” or “Obama is going to double down on his request to raise taxes” all throughout the election.
I was also pleased to see that my least favorite phrase ever was on the 2006 list: hunker down. I hate it. I do not know why, but I have never liked it and I can bet I never will. And yes, people who know I despise that word, use it whenever possible when they are around me.
I would like to see anything related to the Jersey Shore, including Snooki, the Situation, JWOWW and the rest of the crew be banished, not only in word form, but also from television. How about award winners, who instead of thanking those that helped them achieve their “greatness,” use their acceptance speech as a political soapbox. I know that is a little off topic, but it drives me crazy nonetheless. Give it a rest already!
And finally, why not add the word compromise to the list, at least as it relates to our elected leaders. You know, the same leaders who vow during a campaign and in their acceptance speeches that they will work with both sides of the aisle to compromise on issues to help move our country forward, only to forget that they ever said that.
It is too bad that our country has to be at a place where compromise is supposedly wanted, but when it comes down to it, both sides only want what they want and to heck with everyone else. And has much as I would like to say it happens just in politics, that is sadly not the case. But yet, we keep supporting the same candidates who only work for themselves, so what can you do?
Oh well. We can hope that 2013 will be a year of compromise. But I am not “holding my breath” (which should be on the list as well, but isn’t). Maybe next year.
Birthdays! Some of us love them and will dedicate an entire week to celebrating the special day, while others hope and prefer that it just go unnoticed and treat it just like “any other day.”
In any event, I hope that everyone at least has cake, pie, ice cream, cookies, or whatever you enjoy on your special day. If not, tell me when your birthday is and I will celebrate with those goodies for you!
I love my birthday. Dec. 21. The day winter usually begins. I always thought that winter began on the 21st of December until I started noticing that calendars were showing it before or after that day on occasion. Oh well, I still claim that winter begins on my birthday, regardless of what the calendar says.
My brother Tim was born on Dec. 25, so he has the distinction of being a Christmas baby, which is another reason why I hold on to the idea that winter ALWAYS begins on my birthday, just so I can have the claim to having something “special” fall on my birthday.
Another interesting tidbit about my special day is that I share it with my sister-in-law Cheryl. Not just the date, mind you, but the year and the hospital too! We were both born at Sturgis Hospital about 12 hours apart on the same day and same year. Interesting, right?
As much as I love birthdays and the attention, this birthday was the one I have been dreading. It was a milestone, but not one that you would expect. I already had the milestones of becoming a teenager, climbing into adulthood, reaching the magical age of 21, and hitting the quarter century mark.
But this one was bigger and more meaningful, and one that I have both looked forward to, but yet fretted over, for many years.
And big surprise … I did NOT turn 40!
No, the milestone was not the one that most people fear most. I am not entering a mid-life crisis or anything like that, either.
I simply turned 39. The BIG 3-9. Yes, that is the age I have been dreading for the past two-plus decades.
The reason is simple. That is the age my mother was when she passed away from cancer. My siblings and I always talked about it as we each inched closer and closer to that magic number.
I don’t know if they really thought about it as much as I did. But we were all aware of it. We all want to live as long as our parents, especially if they live to a ripe old age. But when a parent passes away at such a young age, it kind of puts life in a different perspective.
I guess there was always a little fear in my mind that I might not make it to my 39th birthday. I mean, did my mom really think that her life would end at such a young age, especially with children that depended on her at home?
Now that I have reached that “magical” age, it has made me stop and think just how young my mom really was when she lost her battle. I think of my children and how they would react to losing me right now. I wonder about how life would change for them and my wife, without me being there. But most of all, it pains me to no end to think about not being able to watch my babies grow up and experience life and to grow old with my wonderful wife. I also think of my children in the respect that I do not remember much about my mom, so it is important to me to make sure we make the most out of each and every day.
As I celebrated my birthday, with my wife, daughters, friends and a few thousand others at a Kalamazoo Wings game last Friday, I was both at ease with my life but also mourning my mother, even after all these years.
All in all, it was a happy birthday. But now that it is over, I can begin preparing/worrying/agonizing for the BIG 4-0!
“And I’ve brought some corn for popping”: This time of year is bad for my waistline. Like many others, I tend to eat a tad bit more around the holidays. Well, to be honest, I consume a little bit more than a tad! But most of my eating does not happen at home, but rather at the office. Aside from the holiday goodies that co-workers bring in, such as cookies and candy, our vendors, clients and others graciously send in an array of edible treats for us to enjoy. From jars of assorted nuts, which are delicious, to boxes of candies and other gifts, finding a snack in our office around the holidays is never a problem. The real problem is not being able to STOP snacking. Just this week one of those large jars of nuts was placed at my desk, which is more or less the water cooler of the office. When someone stopped by to grab a few, I felt it was my duty to help myself as well. The jar is nearly empty after just a few days. Luckily we have another unopened jar still in the box waiting to take its place! If there is one thing I wish I could get for Christmas, it would be self-control. When I see snacks just sitting there, waiting to be eaten, I tell myself, “hey, it’s the holidays, live it up.” The guiltiest pleasures of all the yummy things we receive in our office are the tins of popcorn. If there is any variety of cheddar or white cheddar popcorn in that tin, I am like a kid in a candy store! We often joke that it would be nice if we received baskets of fresh fruit instead, how nice that would be. In the end, it doesn’t matter. If it is edible, we will eat it. Well, maybe except for figgy pudding. I still have no idea what that even is. But if it tastes good …
“Greeting cards have all been sent”: I have mentioned before how much I enjoy sending Christmas cards. It is a tradition that I personally started years ago that I picked up from my Grandma and Grandpa Wellington, who always sent out and received more cards than I can remember each Christmas. I added an annual “update” letter when I moved to Kalamazoo in 1996 and have dropped one in my cards ever since. I told my wife that I will probably be the last person on earth sending Christmas cards and I will do so until they stop selling them. That time may be coming. I noticed that many stores have slashed their greeting card sections almost in half, probably because of the popularity of the photo card. I also had a hard time finding Christmas stationery for my annual letter! Of course, I waited until the last minute to purchase it, but still, there selection was pretty poor. Those are the two items that I always venture out for the day after Christmas. I have a feeling, based on the pre-sale inventory, that I might come away disappointed this year. I have softened my ways regarding the photo cards, however. We do purchase a handful of photo cards as well, but they are sent WITH the card and letter. Otherwise, the picture is included in the letter itself. Change comes so slowly for some people!
Twenty years ago I graduated from Constantine High School.
It does not nearly seem possible that 20 years have gone by. But at the same time, it feels like a lifetime ago and in many respects it was.
When I walked across that stage to receive my diploma, I had no idea what was ahead for me. I could not tell you what I was going to do the next day, let alone five years down the road.
One thing I never thought about, especially coming from a small town, was if I would see or stay in touch with many of my friends and classmates. Most of whom I attended school with from kindergarten until our senior year. I thought it was just a given that we would remain in contact.
I was not the popular kid in school, but I was not disliked or shunned either. Everyone knew me and I knew them, but I was definitely quieter and kept to myself more, which is the total opposite of how I am today!
As with many of us, we all drifted off in our own directions. Some of us have stayed in touch in some way or another while others have not seen each other since graduation day back in 1992.
Planning for our 20th reunion started well over a year ago and I was excited about it. Thanks to the invention of Facebook, I have been able to reconnect with many classmates that I had lost touch with over the years, but to hang out together as a group was something I was looking forward to.
Being proactive, we created a “reunion committee” to discuss ideas and carry out the event. While I was pumped for the reunion I was not sure I wanted to be a part of the committee, but I reluctantly joined.
The group started out with gusto. Ideas were floated around; committee members were gathering names and address, calling locations to have the reunion, inquiring about catering and entertainment. We were working like a well-oiled machine.
Then it stopped. Communication stopped. Planning stopped. The reunion stopped.
We had a date set in late September, but as August was coming to a close, and with no decisions being made, we had to decide if having a reunion was even going to happen.
That is when I decided to take the bull by the horns, and with the assistance of another classmate, we set a new date and secured a location. We figured if we did not do it now, we never would. I took care of the DJ, catering, invitations and financial aspect of the project. Between the two of us, we were determined to make sure the Constantine Class of 1992 had its 20th reunion.
It was not an easy task, especially with the short time frame we had to pull it off. But I am proud to say our reunion, which was held a few weeks ago, was a great success. Several of us attended the football game the night before and went out after to enjoy each other’s company.
Before the reunion on Saturday, tours of the schools were organized so we could step back in time and roam the halls that were once our home for so many years. A special thanks to Superintendent Chuck Frisbie for taking time out of his Saturday to accommodate this for us.
At the end of the night two things struck me as I turned out the lights at the American Legion. After 20 years it was good to see everyone again. It was not like high school (which was one reason some of my classmates decided not to attend the reunion). There were no egos, backstabbing or whispering. There was laughter, friendship, fun and more importantly, new memories.
I understand why people prefer to stay away, especially if they do not have fond memories of their time in school. Like I said earlier, I was not a part of the “IN” crowd nor was I the sports star. I was me, for better or worse. But to see the faces and hear the voices of those that I spent so many years with was well worth it in my opinion. People change. I changed.
Which leads me to the other thing I thought about; my personality. How would things have been different if I was who I am now as compared to then. I am not the same skinny, quiet kid anymore. I think I surprised a few people that night, on and off the dance floor, which is kind of what I was hoping for.
The best moment of the night happened when a classmate approached me and said “I really wish we would have talked more in school. You are a really fun guy.”
I wish we had too. And I am a fun guy! We can’t go back in time, but we can move forward.