1. Jeremy started his new job yesterday. He has his own desk, his own computer, his own telephone with his own private extension where I can call him and bug him at work, his own chair to sit on (actually, he never mentioned a chair - I could be making gross assumptions here), and a kitchen that he shares with everyone else, but it has an espresso machine, so it was worth mentioning. I am all kinds of proud of him right now, and I'm doing my best to restrain myself from asking him to let me come in and take pictures of him sitting at his own desk in his own chair and working on his own computer while talking on his own phone and sipping an espresso from the kitchen that he shares with everyone else. Instead, I sent him in to work today with two bags full of pastries to share with everyone else who shares the kitchen with him. Today's goal: Find the box in the garage that has our extra wedding pictures in it and unite them with some of those cute little wooden IKEA frames that I always have kicking around so that he can decorate his very own desk with pictures of his very own wife.
2. Although the weather turned rainy yesterday, it was absolutely beautiful this weekend. So beautiful, in fact, that when my brother-in-law suggested that we drive to the shore on Sunday afternoon, I immediately agreed. Unfortunately, it turned out that he wasn't being serious. That's alright, though, because by the time we arrived at the shore, most of the nice day would have been gone, and we would have wasted it driving. Instead, we went to Mondauk Common with two of the little cousins, and we played a miniature game of 3-on-3 of baseball using a tennis ball. I also demonstrated my skipping rope prowess to the little girls, and discovered that although I can still skip rope almost as well as I used to, my endurance level seems to have dropped. I used to skip rope for hours on end, but I think I only managed three or four songs before I was panting like a labrador retriever in July. I think I need to find a one-person jump rope and practice. It sure is good cardio!
3. I have really been enjoying the flowering trees in the Philadelphia area! Spring in Ottawa means daffodils and crocuses, and later lilacs and tulips. The tulips alone are worth the trip, and I recommend that you visit Ottawa sometime when the tulips are in bloom. In fact, Ottawa has the biggest tulip festival in the world, even bigger than Holland! But the flowering trees are new to me. The bright yellow forsythia. The various pinks of the magnolia, dogwood, and weeping cherry. The subtle glow of the red buds. It just feels like the sky is blushing. I took my camera with me to the park on Sunday, but none of the trees I wanted to photograph happen to reside at Mondauk Common. I did get a few pictures of a tree with white blossoms, but it's on my film camera, not my digital. I let Shannon use the digital camera, and I don't think she took any pictures of the white blossom trees. She did, however, take a fun picture of me hanging from a chin-up bar by my knees. I was impressed that I was still able to do that!
4. This article made me really glad that I am not a teenager in America today. Five teenaged girls in Ohio found a website with instructions on how to make real-life copies of the treasure bricks from Super Mario Bros, and put a bunch of them up around town. What creativity, I thought, what fun. I would totally have done something like that when I was a teenager. It's good to see teenagers having good, clean, creative fun instead of doing drugs and stealing CDs. But that's not what the police thought. The Portage County Hazardous Materials Unit and Bomb Detection Unit were called in to investigate these suspicious-looking boxes that had been spray-painted gold with question marks on them. The girls could be facing criminal charges. A word to the wise: If you are a terrorist and want to place bombs around a small, Ohio town, DO NOT paint them to look like Mario Bros bricks. Apparently, people will get suspicious. The two main things that were lacking from this article were a) photos of the offending bricks and b) a link to the website with instructions on how to make them. Even after wading through 27 pages of comments on the article, I was unable to find a link to the DIY Mario website. So, I'm offering a reward for anyone who can find me either pictures of the home-made Mario bricks or a link to the DIY Mario website. (Note: Prize is unlikely to have any monetary value.)
5. I think I am either subscribed to too many RSS feeds, or far too easily distracted by interesting stories. But I just have to share one more article in this post. This article discusses one company that has brought "positive work environment" to an entirely new level. Employees are locked out of the office at 5:00 pm and not allowed to take any work home with them. They receive monetary bonuses for taking at least three-week long vacations and for asking for help when they are overwhelmed. Everyone's salaries are public, and all employees work together on one, group, to-do list that anyone can add to. It's a fascinating approach, and not only are the employees happy and healthy, but the company is doing extremely well financially, as well. It reminds me a little bit of a conversation I once had with a manager of mine at a lodge where I worked in Colorado, although on a much more dramatic scale. We were lamenting the fact that we seemed unable to keep staff for longer than a few weeks, and the establishment was so desperate for staff that they would hire pretty much anyone who applied, usually not even bothering to call references. As a result, we usually had a lot of new people who didn't know what they were doing, and we ended up with several disasters like my paranoid schizophrenic roommate and her kleptomaniac replacement. We had concluded that if the lodge treated staff just a little bit better, put just a little more effort into the hiring process, and paid just a little bit more than the other lodges, that people would WANT to work there, we would have our pick of the cream of the crop of applicants, and we would save thousands of dollars on re-training staff, not to mention the money saved by not getting robbed by our own staff. It should be the very first thing they teach you in management school: Your staff are your best asset. Treat them well, allow them to take ownership of their work, and listen to them. Happy employees are good for business.