April Fools!

Tomorrow is April Fools’ Day. Many people enjoy playing tricks on family, friends, and co-workers. Are you going to play a prank on your family like switching the bags inside two boxes of cereal or sticking “googly eyes” on things in the refrigerator? Do you typically do anything for April Fools’ Day? If so, let me know!

Speaking of pranks, here are some interesting ones, courtesy of cnn.com:

  • Early 1950s – The BBC runs a “news” item about the spaghetti harvest in Switzerland.
  • 1985 – Sports Illustrated runs a 14-page story by George Plimpton about a Mets pitching phenom named Sidd Finch. The reclusive, skinny Finch has a 168-mph fastball (which he credits to meditations in Tibet) and a host of quirks including carrying a French horn at all times and wearing only one hiking boot while pitching.
  • 1986-present –Press releases for the [non-existent] New York City April Fools’ Day Parade have been issued every year since 1986.
  • 1996 –Taco Bell Corp. runs a full-page ad in several major newspapers claiming it has purchased the Liberty Bell and is renaming it the “Taco Liberty Bell.”
  • 2004 – TheNational Public Radio show “All Things Considered” runs a story about the post offices’ new ‘portable zip codes’ program. Based on people being able to keep their phone number even if they moved, the program was designed to represent “a citizen’s place in the demographic, rather than geographic, landscape.”
  • 2008 – The BBC runs a video clip of flying penguins as part of a story for its series “Miracles of Evolution.” The presenter explains that the penguins escaped the cold, harsh Antarctic weather by flying to the tropical rainforests of South America.

Enjoy the day!

It’s St. Patrick’s Day!

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, which is always a fun holiday that my family likes to celebrate. And like most holidays, it is big business!

According to the National Retail Federation, total spending for St. Patrick’s Day-related products and events are expected to reach $5.3 billion this year. More than 139 million people plan to celebrate the day, with average spending of $37.92 per person.

How do people plan to spend the day? According to the National Retail Federation:

  • 82.5% will wear green
  • 31.4% will make a special dinner
  • 27.5% will attend a party at a bar/restaurant
  • 23.3% will decorate their home or office
  • 15.2% will attend a private party
  • 15% will attend a parade

Let me know how – or if – you’re going to be celebrating the holiday. And no matter what you do, please be safe!

Have a great St. Patrick’s Day!

It’s Time For Some March Madness!

This Sunday, March 12, is known as “Selection Sunday.” That’s when the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee reveals which 68 teams have made the tournament, and which region (East, Midwest, South, West) they’ll play in. Then, starting next week, the games begin!

My husband is a big college basketball fan. People in his office pass around a bracket sheet listing the 68 schools; he then fills in the sheet and guesses who will progress through the tournament all the way to the championship game. I recently found out this is known as “bracketology.”

Are you filling out a bracket this year? Do you, or anyone in your household, watch any of the games? Which school do you want to win the tournament? Let me know!

I never realized that March Madness was such a big thing, economically speaking. Here are some interesting (and crazy) facts from wallethub.com:

  • $4 billion: Corporate losses due to unproductive workers during March Madness
  • $9.2 billion: Estimated amount wagered on the 2016 NCAA tournament
  • $8.9 billion: Estimated amount wagered illegally
  • 70 million tournament brackets completed in 2016 vs. 129 million ballots cast in the presidential election
  • 1 in 9,200,000,000,000,000,000 (that’s 9.2 quintillion!): Odds of filling out a perfect bracket
  • Two times: Easier to win back-to-back Mega Millions lotteries, buying one ticket both times, than it is to fill out a perfect bracket
  • 17.8 million: Number of people who watched the 2016 title game between North Carolina and Villanova (down 37% from 2015)
  • 17.5 million: Barrels of American beer produced each March (14 million barrels are produced in all other months)
  • 19%: Increase in pizza orders by fans after losses vs. wins
  • 9%: Increase in dessert orders after losses vs. wins

I hope your favorite team wins! Thanks, and have a great day!

Kids And Cellphones

Uh oh! My soon to be 11-year-old son has been asking for a cellphone. And my husband and I are not sure if we should let him have one.

To help make that decision I took a look at The Nielsen Company’s fourth-quarter 2016 Mobile Kids Report, which provided insights from parents of kids aged between 6 and 12, and found some interesting information.

According to Nielsen, 45% of kids had a service plan at 10 – 12 years old. The most predominant age when kids got a service plan was age 10 (22%), followed by 8 years old (16%) and ages 9 and 11 were tied at 15%.

The vast majority (93%) are on the same plan as their parents, and 72% have all mobile wireless services including voice, messaging and data.

There are many reasons why parents get their kids wireless service before they turn 13, such as the following:

  • Being able to get hold of their child easily: 90%
  • Child can reach out to the parent: 90%
  • Parent can track child’s location: 80%
  • Child has been asking for a phone for a while: 66%
  • Parent wants to get their child familiar with mobile technology: 65%
  • Parent has good family/shared wireless plan to cover additional lines: 62%

But, parents being parents, we still have many concerns:

  • The phone could be lost easily: 77%
  • Smartphones pose too much distraction: 72%
  • Children might spend too much time with their device: 71%
  • Lack of control of what content kids would see online: 68%
  • Children might not know how to use their phones responsibly: 67%

According to the report, the best ways to address these concerns is to include better safety controls and features to block inappropriate content (55%), better usage controls to limit access (48%) and better service plan options for children (34%).

So once a child has a phone, what do they do with it? According to Nielsen, the top activities include the following:

  • Text messaging: 81%
  • Downloading apps: 59%
  • Playing preinstalled games: 53%
  • Mobile internet/accessing websites: 53%
  • Live video calling: 46%

Wow, that’s a lot to think about. I’m going to discuss all these points with my husband before we make a decision.

What age do you think is appropriate for a child to get his or her own cell phone? What do you think of kids having phones? Let me know!

Thanks, and have a great day!