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I’m dying, and it’s all NPR’s fault

The Missus and I recently celebrated another marriage anniversary, having destroyed the divorce pool our friends had going by quite a few years (if I can hold out for a couple more years I’ll win the jackpot, and I am totally going to win that jackpot).

As a reward for endur surviv enjoying so many years of agon horror blissful wedded matrimony, we decided to get ourselves FitBits.

(OK, the Missus is convinced I’m going to drop dead if I don’t get more exercise, and this was supposed to help put off that outcome. Which is strange considering the strychnine I’m pretty sure she’s been lacing my morning tea with (she has her own jackpot date in the pool, and I suspect it’s considerably earlier than mine…)).

The FitBits are great, once you get past all the data they are sucking up and phoning home to the manufacturer. So yeah, if you enjoy tinfoil hats as much as I do, then maybe “great” is a bit strong of a word to describe it.

But there are upsides. And one of those is the feature that is saving my life: the step tracking and daily goals associated with that walking. If I hit 10k steps a day, according to the FibtBit manual, I will live forever.

Immortality (and on top of that, looking pretty good too) is a pretty effective incentive, assuming most of that time is spent being single and looking fit (because you can be single and lonely or single and not lonely, and let’s face it, this culture is all about how good you look), so I’ve been pretty diligent in getting those steps in because when I hit that divorce pool jackpot I am gonna be rich AND look good!

Which is why I’m so upset that NPR has taken it upon itself to kill me.

That’s right, National Public Radio, you are really making me consider the possibility that Trump is right to want to cut off all your funding and redirect it to the Brown Shirts of America organization (welovehate.org, a 501c non-profit charity where, for tax purposes, you can write off your bigotry!).

Wait, I can hear you shouting, with more than a little surprise in your tone, NPR is good, how can you say it wants to kill you?

Two words, my loyal reader:

Pledge breaks.

What, that isn’t sufficient explanation? Seriously, it’s not obvious from just those two words?

Fine. I’ll spend more time sitting at a keyboard typing instead of getting in my steps, which means I’m adding you, loyal reader, to the list of things trying to kill me.

NPR is killing me with its pledge breaks.

Here’s how it works. I drive to and from work in a car. With a radio. And since I get incredibly anxious when there isn’t noise around me, I listen to the radio. And because I need to feel somewhat anxious in order to be motivated to move around and do things (also sometimes referred to as “functioning”), I counteract the soothing effects of radio noise by tuning into the news. That is, NPR.

It works great. The lizard portion of my brain is lulled by the cacophony spit out by the radio, but the sleep center is constantly stabbed awake by the onslaught of stories about all the terrible things happening in the world. And NPR strikes just the right balance of bad news and unbiased, level-headed commentary to keep me functional but not in a state. Unlike some other radio news sources.

(I’m looking at you, KCBS!)

But right now NPR is in the middle of a pledge drive, which means they’re going on and on about how important we the listeners are, how easy and affordable it is to pledge, how vile and guilt-ridden we should feel if we haven’t pledged yet, and matching funds and the like.

Which means I’m not listening to NPR.

I know, I know, they’ve got this thing called Pledge Free Streaming, which allows me to listen without the pledge breaks during the pledge drive, but I only listen in the car on my way to and from work, and I don’t have an unlimited data plan on my phone, and my state has a hands-free law, so risk of impending death aside, that just isn’t a workable option for me.

So because of pledge breaks you’ve stopped listening to NPR and now you’re suffering from a spike in anxiety that you’re afraid will kill you, you ask?

No. That is not how NPR is killing me. That’s far too obvious a play for an evil, left-wing liberal media outlet to use when trying to silence its own constituency.

No, their plan is far more insidious.

I have an AED strapped to my other wrist.

According to my FibBit and reports on NPR, my heart has stopped beating. Also, before pledge drive season, my arms were as smooth and hairless as a baby’s butt. Anxious Hair Growth syndrome strikes again, dammit. Also also, those 1980 steps? I haven’t gotten out of bed yet. Thanks, Obama, I mean, NPR.

You see, when I tune out NPR, I don’t turn off the radio.

I switch stations.

And because all the other news stations make me too anxious, and because the lack of NPR dials up my existing anxiety to 11, I turn to soothing, relaxing music.

Classical music.

The kind of music you swing your arm to, as if holding a baton and conducting the orchestra.

The arm your FitBit is on.

The FitBit that reads this ‘conducting’ as steps taken, therefore falsely incrementing your step counter so you think, at the end of the day, that you have attained those 10k steps when, in fact, YOU HAVEN’T!

That, that is how NPR is killing me. With pledge breaks.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get in some more steps. I think.

Would you like to support NPR and end its pledge drive early so Ian can drive to and from work at a relatively familiar level of anxiety? If so, click here to donate. Ian would appreciate it and NPR probably wouldn’t mind either. Just put “Give Ian some peace!!!” in the comment section so they know I sent you.

Better yet, don’t leave a comment. That might be seen as violating the restraining order they had issued against me after all the letters I sent and calls I made asking them to stop the pledge breaks…

I’m also thinking of a Walk-A-Thon sort of event where people can sponsor me. You know, hit x number of steps and you’ll buy a copy of my book. Or, conversely, if I don’t hit x number of steps you will return my book for a refund. If there’s enough interest, I’ll put together a cool sign-up sheet (that is, xerox the kiddos’ most recent walk-a-thon form from school with the school name crossed out) and let you, my loyal reader, make a pledge.

Call now, operators are standing by!

 
 

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Why I’m In Such A Hurry To Find A Parking Space

I wanted to blog about the unenviable state of parking lot etiquette in the United States.  It’s a crisis of horrific importance that needs to be addressed, honestly and dispassionately, but it turns out I don’t have the time.

And that, unbelievable as it may sound, is an even bigger problem than the shameful behavior displayed by Americans in parking lots (I’m looking at you, a-hole at IKEA this morning).

I am faced with a time-management crisis.

I work full-time.

I have two toddlers and a wonderful wife who has worn her sanity to the bone dealing with those toddlers while I’m at work.

I’m a writer.  As such, I have critique groups, writing to do, a small press I’ve founded, and for the last seven years, I’ve been a NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison.

I am addicted to reruns of T.J. Hooker, and have to watch at least one episode every night.

I won’t even bring up the lawn I have to mow and maintain.

(Curse you, Kentucky bluegrass!)

It has recently become painfully apparent that I can’t do all of this.

Quitting my job seemed like the obvious first choice for a solution.  But the missus was quick to point out some of the disadvantages: no income, no health insurance, and even worse, I’d lose an 8+ hour window each day where I don’t have to deal with my spawn, who seem to relish sucking the marrow out of people’s sanity bones.

(Yes, it’s a real bone. It’s in your arm somewhere, near the funny bone, I think.  Look it up.)

The missus can be a real killjoy sometimes.

Which led me to my second idea – ditch the killjoy and the tykes.  But there was just something about that idea that felt wrong.  I haven’t quite put my finger on what exactly it was, but the closest way to describe it is a horrible, burning void-like emptiness in my soul that manifested immediately after I considered this option.

Dashed inconvenient, that.

And as is obvious to anyone who has experienced the delight that is a William Shatner performance, T.J. Hooker is staying on the agenda.

With those three options off the table, I’ve sort of painted myself into a corner.  The area where I need to make a sacrifice appears to be my writing.

Oh, I won’t stop writing.  The kids still have a (reasonably) early bedtime, and some nights they even go to sleep when put down.  So I can, in theory, squeeze some words in there.

(That said, in the twenty minutes I’ve been (trying to) work on this entry, I’ve had to deal with crying babies twice, and they were put to bed three hours ago.)

Some of these writing commitments are huge time-sucks, and I’m not sure how I’ll address that, given the rapidly shrinking amount of time I have for writing.

OK, that’s a total lie.  I know exactly how I’ll have to address them.  I’m just not happy about it.

I’m going to have to choose.  I’m going to have to make cuts and sacrifices.  And unlike our current national debt ceiling crisis, there aren’t any tax revenue options on the table that can be used as offsets to help me scale back the cuts.

(Damn, I miss the days of the writing time surplus.  Curse my shortsightedness in not stockpiling some of those precious minutes then, when they were readily available!)

So I have to take a long, hard look at my craft and the activities that surround it.  Where can I eek out more efficiency?  What can I do to strip out the cost of fraud?  How do I determine which writing activities provide the biggest return on the time I invest in them?

It’s going to be ugly.  There will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth.  And once I’ve calmed the toddlers down, I will most likely cry too.

Maybe the pharmaceutical companies will come up with a pill for horrible, burning void-like emptiness in the soul.

A writer can hope, right?

What about you writers out there?  How do you fit the literary compulsion into your life?  Have you had to make cuts to this most beloved of entitlements?  Once the kids grow up, can you reclaim that time, or does it just get worse and worse the older they get?  Is selling your kids off for scientific experimentation still an option these days?  If so, how much does a two year old go for?

 
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Posted by on 20 July 2011 in Angst, Life, Other Blogs

 

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