Kill Your Television

There is nothing more detrimental to your life than your television.  It makes you fat, lazy, boring, and old.  The average American spends about four hours a day in front of the boob tube.  Most people have around six hours of downtime between work and sleep on any given day.  If you are spending the majority of that time parked in front of the TV, you are wasting your life.

These days, a good majority of people have jobs where they sit all day long.  For a lot of us, this is unavoidable.  That alone is making us fat and contributing to heart disease.  To add another four hours of sitting on your ass is just speeding up the process.  All of this sitting is just as bad as smoking at eating fast food every day.  It is killing you.  It is making you fat.  People complain about making it to the gym three times a week.  You don’t even need to do that.  Just stay off of your ass when you get home from work.  Keep moving.  Take a walk or do chores, it doesn’t matter, just don’t sit and watch TV.

Television makes you incredibly lazy too.  Ever notice how you can be watching a show that ends and you are too lazy to even see if there is anything else on?  You are literally too lazy to continue being lazy.  I’ve sat there watching infomercials because I was too lazy to get up and find the remote.  Try sitting around the house with the TV off.  You will barely be able to sit still.  You’ll keep getting up and looking for things to do.  With the TV on, however, you will probably not move for about four hours straight.  You might even sit there until you couldn’t possibly hold your bladder and have to run to the bathroom.

Some of the most boring people I know are people who could tell you about every TV show they watch and explain each and every plot line to you.  We all think that we are smarter than average and that we know what’s going on because we watch the news.  We are being brainwashed by advertising to buy things we don’t need.  When was the last time you bought something at the store?  Chances are you bought something that was mentioned on TV.  TV makes you incredibly dull.  Have you ever talked to someone about a TV show that they love, but you have never seen?  It’s boring.  You have no interest in what that person is saying.

Television ages you extremely fast.  Think about how many weeks have just flown by for you.  How many years have you wasted watching TV?  Every one of those days where you worked all day, then watched TV all night was a waste.  Sure occasionally there is something specific to your interests or a movie you would like to see, but that’s rare.  Too many people mindlessly watch TV every day and couldn’t even name the shows they were watching.  Your life literally flies by when you watch TV every night.  Think about the weekends you’ve spent in front of the tube.  You spend all week waiting for the weekend only to blow it all on the couch.

TV is a waste.  Get rid of it.  If you can’t, at least get rid of cable.  Limit yourself to a few hours a week.  Actually plan what you are going to watch and when so that you don’t mindlessly watch reruns of bad sitcoms every day.  Kill your television before it kills you.

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Ten great reasons to work in a cubicle

In an effort to be a bit more positive in life, I’m writing this.  Feel the excitement flowing from my vitamin D lacking brain.

  1.  You get paid.  This is why we’re really here.  Sure there are things like job satisfaction and recognition, but if you didn’t get paid for your time, you wouldn’t be sitting in that little carpeted room right now.  Plus it’s steady.  You get a paycheck every two weeks and it’s always the same.  Heck sometimes you even get a teeny tiny raise at year end.
  2. You get to stay inside on cold and rainy days.  Sure it sucks when you look outside to see a beautiful sunny day outside, then turn back to the glow of your LCD monitor, but next time it’s 40 and raining out, take the day off and drive around.  Take a look at all of the construction workers, road crews, mail men, park rangers.  They’re all freezing, wet, and grumpy.  Yes, we miss a ton of great weather, but we miss the crap weather too.
  3. You don’t have to deal with complete idiots.  Yes, this is debatable, but really in most offices, you have to have a pretty decent IQ and level of common sense to get the job.  There are a lot of dumber people out there than your cube farm buddies.  Want proof, go to a fast food place.
  4. That leads to; you don’t work in a fast food place.  Not much is worse than it.  I did it in high school and yes, it sucks.  Sure looking back now, it was nice to have no responsibility and just make sandwiches every day, but 7 bucks an hour doesn’t get you far and fry grease is pretty gross.
  5. It’s nice to have responsibilities.  As much as you might be bored in your job, you’re most likely pretty needed.  If you didn’t show up, what would happen?  Sure the work would eventually get done, but your coworkers depend on you do get your work done.  Plus the higher up you move, the more responsible you are.
  6. And along with responsibilities, it’s pretty cool to have a reason to dress a little fancy.  Sure there are tons of days where I would love to stay in shorts and a t-shirt for work, but it really does make a difference to dress professionally.  Look around, you feel like you fit in with a bunch of “grown ups”.  Kind of weird for someone like me who feels like they are still just a kid.  That and you can get pretty lazy wearing “bumming around” clothes all the time.  When I was laid off, it got pretty easy to just sit around in gym clothes all day.  That leads to less laundry, less showers, and down from there.
  7. You don’t work at night.  Well most of you don’t.  Working at night sucks.  It messes up your social life and sleep rhythms.  Having a day job is pretty kick ass.
  8. Free stuff.  Most office jobs come with a lot of perks that we forget about.  You get reduced insurance rates.  You might get holiday parties.  Maybe pizza parties.  There really are a lot of neat little things that you get for working under the halogen lights.
  9. You probably live in a city.  Living in a city is pretty sweet.  If it weren’t for office jobs, you probably wouldn’t be able to live in a city.  Now, I know not everybody works downtown, but a good portion of you do.  Remember the only reason the cool skyline is there is to make room for those sweet cubes.
  10. You’re not homeless or unemployed.  Both suck.  Sure you could be a glamorous hobo who rides in boxcars.  But most likely, you’d just sit in a shelter and listen to the crazy bag lady scream about her herpes all night.  Be happy you don’t have to do this.

Yes, working in an office can really suck, but there are some pretty awesome things about it.  Not to mention that you get the free time to read exciting blogs about cubicles.

On top of it all, you don’t have to work in an open-office.

Focus

 Sometimes it becomes incredibly difficult for me to focus on something.  I need to shut out every other distraction and just get into something.  I think this is why working on a computer can seem to just drain your time away from you.  If you have your email, a spreadsheet, your personal email, a website, and itunes all going at once how much time do you think you’re going to focus on that spreadsheet you’re supposed to work on?  About 1/5 the time.  Probably even less.

To really get into work, you need to close out everything on your computer, but the bare minimum required for your project.  I tried this today and it seemed to work.  I realized that I was able to get a lot more done in less time than usual without the distractions.  I also realized that I was less frustrated at the thought of working on a boring project because I could not see the tabs for the distractions in the background.

I set a time limit to allow myself to take a break from work, but I was not allowed to do anything else on the computer until those set breaks.  It worked very well.  My problem now is not being able to focus on this article I’m writing.  I have the email open and keep glancing down to see the little (1) that means I have a new email.

I guess who cares right now though.  I realized that I need to focus and become really good at my job as long as I have to be here.  I might as well enjoy myself and get some work done.  If I focus on what I’m doing it isn’t all that bad.  The worst part of working is when it is slow and I lose focus because of all of the other distractions.

I feel bad if I get off of my projects to follow those distractions and it is actually stressful to think that I’m wasting my own time.  I need to focus on work and set timetables for myself.  I can set specific times to take breaks and check out those distractions, but if I have them open it is too easy to lose focus often.

Even while writing this, I have checked my email.  This makes things difficult.  I’m going to make it my plan to write up a set list of things to do during the day and follow it.  I’ll add in breaks, but other than during those specific times, I will stay focused on my work.  This will make my job easier and more efficient.

This can really work for anything.  I realize that I get distracted easily and just need to keep it in check.

Quit Reddit

Today I’m starting an experiment for one month.  I’m quitting reddit. I’m interested to see how this will affect my life.  Ideally I’ll be able to come back to reddit occasionally without becoming a horrible addict again.   I’ve been addicted to reddit for over 4 years and it’s seriously affecting my life.

This is hard for me because on one hand, I’ve learned a great deal of useful things from spending my time on reddit.

On the other hand, I waste a lot of time on reddit.

It’s affected my work.  I get my work done, but I’ve found that work has become something I do to fill the void between redditing.  It should definitely be the other way around.  I also don’t look for new things to do or learn at work.  Instead of learning about my job, I go learn about something odd and most likely unimportant from reddit.

I’ve been redditing for the majority of my career and am wondering if it is why I’m going nowhere.  I just don’t try very hard because there is nothing about my job that is as exciting as what could possibly be going on in reddit.

Sure I’ll still spend time at work doing non-work related things, but I only have a few RSS feeds in my google reader and I can’t access facebook.

Besides work it’s affected my hobbies and other leisure time.  I like writing, but find that I sit down to write and open up a window with reddit.  I’m currently working on two books, but I constantly stall because I just have to quickly check out reddit.

Whenever I have some down time, I tend to pull out my phone and surf reddit.  This is getting to be a bad habit as I find myself surfing reddit more often than usual.  Especially in the bathroom and sitting on the couch at home.

It’s also affected my relationships.  I don’t really have many friends in real life anymore.  I just don’t make an effort to meet people or make time to spend time with my friends.  I think this is because I get the feeling of talking to people every day by coming on here and joining in discussions.

I find that I have trouble conversing with my girlfriend and the friends I do have because I feel like they can’t relate to my “reddit” self that I use to communicate on reddit.  It’s not that I feel like they are two different people, it’s that I feel like the “real” me is talking on reddit, while it’s just a fake me in real life.  It’s like when you are a kid and you feel that the “real” you is the you that hangs out with your friends at school, but the fake one is the face you put on for your parents and authority figures.  It’s a small difference, but it’s definitely there.

Sometimes I find myself thinking of things or talking to people and telling myself that I should post it on reddit.  This is kind of scary.  I already spend too much time thinking about other things while talking to people, I don’t need to add another.

I’ve learned a lot here, but I haven’t gotten any smarter.  It seems like there are million tips and ideas here, but not enough information to actually grow.  I think this is because everything is just a short read and then you’re on to the next thing.  It’s hard to keep enough of an attention span to really learn anything.

I know, this will be hard.  I know it’s not for everybody.  It might not even be for me.  I don’t want to give up reddit forever, but I need to do this experiment to prove that I can get by with out it.

I’m going to be keeping a journal and documenting what happens through this process.

I’m hoping to do some of the following:

Get more work done

Find new projects to work on

Write more

Work on my friendships

Work on my relationship

Learn something new

Talk to more people

Be happier

If it works, great.  If it doesn’t, oh well.  It’s just a month.

I’ll be back in a month to talk about my results.  And we’ll see if I want to come back or quit for good.

Backpacking

Tomorrow, my girlfriend and I are going to a hike in campsite for the first time!  We do plenty of car camping, but this will be more rustic.  I’m looking forward to it.

It will be great to get away for a couple of nights and enjoy the outdoors.  Plus it will be interesting to carry everything we need on our backs.  Usually when we go car camping, we have a big tent, big cooler, grill, extra blankets, chairs, and plenty of other stuff along with us.  This is fun, but will be nice to see how a minimalist trip turns out.

We were able to find most of our gear used on craigslist so we managed to save a ton of money.  Plus this way, if we hate it, we won’t be out much and can probably resell everything for about the same price.

Here is my super cool camping list:

Backpacks

Sleeping bags

Tent

Water filter

Camp stove

Fuel

Cooking gear

Pot/pan

Plates

Forks – plastic

Knives – plastic

Sleeping pads

2 flashlights

Head lamp

Water bottles

Small cooler

Day pack

Trash bags

Compass

Freezer bags

Rope/cord

Shovel

TP

Paper towels

Small towel

Knife

Watch

Lighter

Matches

Fire starter

Bug spray

Coffee cups

Duct Tape

Safety Pins

String

Bear Spray

Camera

Antibacterial

Chap Stick

Clothes to wear

Hiking pants

Dry fit shirt

Wool Socks

Underarmor boxers

Longsleeve dry shirt

Fleece

Rain jacket

Thermal bottoms

Thermal top

Boots

Hat

Gloves

Sunglasses

Food

4 steaks (two will stay in cooler in car)

6 potatoes

2 pounds green beans

6 eggs

10 strips bacon

Beef jerky

Almonds, walnuts, raisins, bananas

2 oranges

2 apples

Chocolate

Graham crackers

Marshmellows

Wine

1 pound cheese

Coffee – Starbucks VIA

Water

Gatorade

Beer/Pop in the car

First Aid

Bandaids

Guaze

Neosporin

Tums

Immodium

Excedrine

Moleskin

Probably too much stuff, but good for a first time out.  Have a good weekend.

Experience

When I was in high school I had an English teacher that was a little bit off.  We all joked that he was crazy, but really he had just done a lot of drugs and had some weird experiences when he was younger.  The majority of his classes would end with him rambling on about how he almost killed a guy while on acid.

One of the lectures that has stuck with me since then was about how we experience things.  He tried to start a controversial debate by saying that he had no idea that the Earth was round because he had never seen it from far enough away to know.  He said that just because someone else took a picture and made the measurements to see that the Earth was round, he didn’t fully believe it because he would have to take someone else’s word for it.

He went into a few other examples like how he didn’t even know if the sky was blue because he couldn’t see it right then.

This of course started a bit of argument with the students because we all knew that of course the Earth was round and the sky was blue.  As high school students, most of us didn’t get the point that we shouldn’t base everything we know about something someone else tells.  He really just wanted to get it through our heads that if we really wanted to understand something, we needed to experience it for ourselves.

Now almost ten years later I think I’m really starting to understand what he was talking about.  I’ve realized that I spend a pretty big chunk of my life on reddit and reading blogs and other things on the internet.  I’ve learned so much from doing that.  There are so many things that I feel like I have a complete understanding on, but really I’ve just read about someone else who has done them.

I’m starting to think this is a bad thing.  I’m realizing that I’m not experiencing much any more.  Most of the time I’m just experiencing text on a page telling me about something.  I’m not going to say it’s not interesting though.  I’ve learned a ton from everything I’ve read, but I’m definitely not an expert on anything.

For example, I read an AMA about a guy who hiked the Appalachian Trail a while back.  From that, I feel like I have a pretty good idea what it would be like to hike the Appalachian trail.  I know what gear to get, what kind of food to eat, even how it feels to sit alone in the dark and hear animals outside of your tent.  But I haven’t experienced it.  I’ve realized that I really have no idea what it would be like.

I’m starting to think that this is a big problem in my life and probably in a lot of other people’s lives.  What will happen to us when we’ve learned everything there is to know, but haven’t experienced anything because it’s all been on a computer, the television, or a book?  Does knowledge make up for lack of experience?

Is it even healthy to do this?

Imagine what it would be like to have to learn everything in life on your own without a users manual or an AMA or a blog about it.  Imagine what it would be like to only live in the moment and not be thinking about anything else.

I know this isn’t possible and I know that there are tons of things to be learned from others.  Hey, look at me, I lost a bunch of weight because I went online and read about the paleo diet.

It’s definitely something weird to think about though.  Tonight, when you are doing whatever it is you’re doing, realize that this is the first and last time that you will be experiencing that specific situation and you are the only person doing it right there and right then.

Go Camping

I went camping last weekend.  I like going on a fall camping trip or two because the weather is usually perfect at that time of year in Minnesota.  The leaves have changed too, so everything is very pretty.  The temperature was actually very warm for this time of year.

We went up to a spot along the St. Croix River.  We got there some time around one in the afternoon.  Luckily our camp site was unoccupied already, so we set up the tent.  Then we went for a hike on one of the “more advanced” trails.  It was pretty easy though.

The only weird thing was that it was also a horse trail, so the ground was very sandy and loose.  The horses must tear it up with their hooves.  There were leaves all over.  This made our walk pretty noisy as we had to trample through them the whole way.  There was no way we were seeing any wild life on that walk.

When we got back we hung out for awhile.  It was the perfect afternoon.  I didn’t even have to wear long sleeves.

While we were sitting there, two deer came walking by our camp site.  Luckily we were on the very end of the camping area.  There was no one else around to scare them away.  They just slowly wandered through the trees, probably looking for something to eat.

It was amazing to see how well camouflaged they were.  As soon as they stopped moving, I lost track of them.  At one point, I made a noise and the deer stared me down for a good five minutes before it started to move again.  It was tense, but I stayed still, so it kept on moving without getting scared.

We had brats and potato salad for dinner.  The food was good, but the brats got a bit burned because they were still frozen in the center.

We played a quick game of Scrabble after dinner, but that got interrupted by a short rainstorm.  Of course the rain stopped as soon as we put the game away.  We were tied at the time so we called it a draw.

The rest of the night was spent watching the campfire and finishing off some wine.  It was very relaxing.  The next morning, we had some greasy eggs and bacon and hot coffee before a short walk down by the river.  The whole trip was short, but extremely relaxing.

You might be wondering what this has to do with working in an office.  It doesn’t really, but I think we all need to get out and enjoy a bit of nature to feel better about the constant life of computers and cubicles.  This weekend was really easy.  All we needed was a tent, sleeping bags, some food and wine.

We’re not into anything too intense; we just were at a drive in camp site in one of the state parks.  These weekends are nice too because they’re pretty cheap.  The site costs maybe twenty dollars.  After food and firewood, we probably spent fifty.

Sometimes we all need to slow down a bit and enjoy some nature.  The best thing about this trip was the fact that we didn’t have a television or computer hogging our attention the whole time.

Oh and I apologize for the lack of posts lately.  Work has been busy and I’ve been suffering from a bit of writers block.