Yesterday I was saying that my favorite astronaut, “Tami,” took one of  her first steps toward self-awareness. Will self-improvement follow? If I were a Vegas bookie, I’d offer 2-1 against. But I’ve made worse bets than that in Vegas and won. So I’m hopeful.

Her second step forward was earlier this week. We were talking about one of this week’s academic words, passive, and  I recounted something I’d read about how you burn more calories staring at a blank wall than you do watching tv. Boy howdy, that got the gears grinding.

“What? How?”

“Well your brain uses about 20% of your calories, so if you aren’t using it, it doesn’t need as much fuel. When you’re staring at the wall, your brain will at least start imagining and thinking about other stuff, and working and burning calories. Staring at tv? Not so much.”

One genius thinks he’s got the next great workout fad.

“So you could get buff just sitting around thinking real hard all day?”

“Burning calories is not the same as exercising muscles. And it’s only 20%.”


“Just watch somebody who’s been watching tv for awhile while they’re watching tv. They start looking like this…” And I start doing the slack-jawed, blank stare. I almost start drooling just for effect, but decide against it.

Most of them nod, and a couple share how their brother or sister started drooling “this one time, and didn’t even notice until she had to pee.”

Tami has the light-bulb over her head go on for the second time in a week.

“I look like that don’t I? Like in class here. That’s what I do, huh? When you get all crabby at me?”

A chorus of duhs follows.

“Well yes, I afraid you do do that from time to time in here…”

More howls from the cheap seats.

“But at least you haven’t drooled. Yet.”