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We are thinking about giving up television.

This is a big step, because I LOVE television. If a set is on, my mind immediately locks up and Iím drawn to it like iron to a magnet. But despite that, I am envisioning a reality where my television watching habits will become severely curtailed, perhaps even eliminated. And it's all Randy Pausch's fault.

Randy Pausch is the Carnegie Mellon University computer science professor who died of cancer at age 47 in 2008. But before his death, he became famous for his "Last Lecture," an Internet sensation in which he talked about "Achieving Your Childhood Dreams." (Google it.) Last fall, on a vacation drive to the East Coast, we listened to the book Pausch wrote after giving his speech. The gist of the speech and book was a cliche that we've all heard before: Live life to the fullest, because it doesn't last long.

Cliche, yes. But even though Pausch knew he was dying, he was full of optimism and hope and he gave the message a freshness that resonated with me. Underlying the basic live life theme, there was a more practical, hands-on message. Living life to the fullest, Pausch said, meant managing your time so that you spent most of it doing the things that were most valuable to you.

All my life thereís been a bunch of stuff that Iíve wanted to do. On that list are writing a book; learning to play guitar; building furniture; and becoming and staying fit. All have been attempted and Iíve had varying degrees of success. I built a bookshelf about 15 years ago; and Iím in reasonably good shape. But the excuse for not fully committing to any of those things has been ďI donít have the time.Ē

After listening to Paush, I took a fresh look at how I was using my free moments. On the evenings I didnít work, I was sitting for at least three hours in front of a television (often falling asleep an hour and a half into the session.) Twenty-one hours a week.

So I started to wean myself off it slowly. Now Iím watching about 8 to 10 hours a week. Thatís still quite a bit, but itís gotten to the point where I think I could quit altogether, and save about $100 a month on cable television bills; $1,200 a year. Thatís a new bike!

My wife is on board, too. With the cutting cable costs thing, not the new bike thing (sheíll come around). Weíre not the only ones. According to an Associated Press story that ran in Mondayís Daily Herald, the Nielsen Co. started labeling families without cable or satellite television as ďZero TVĒ homes. The number of those households grew from 2 million in 2007 to 5 million this year.

Weíre not quite ready to give up TV completely, just like how, even though we want to lose weight, we have ice cream in the freezer. But just like we canít eat ice cream for supper, weíre not letting TV strangle our time.

I still havenít started writing the book, but I have been exercising more. And as soon as this winter ends, I expect to be spending some evenings cruising around on a bike, instead of watching reruns.

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