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Penkava: Death by bacon and ‘Bonanza’

Geesh, those experts can really put a damper on your lifestyle. Recently they came up with some new findings about life expectancy that are a bit disconcerting.

Now, usually I read these kinds of statistics and they don’t bother me at all. I mean, since I’m retired and not currently seeking a new career, knowing that Bering Sea fisherman or Pacific Northwest logger are the top two most dangerous jobs in America doesn’t really scare me … unless my wife subtly suggests that I take up industrial crab fishing or commercial tree topping as a new hobby. But then my problem is a lot bigger than a statistical study.

However, the experts have gone too far with their research this time. Now they are getting personal. What have they done? Well, they’ve examined two topics upon which my very existence depends: television and bacon. Let me explain …

A recent study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine has found that people who average six hours a day watching television will live 4.8 years less than those who watch no TV. In other words, for every hour we watch the google-box, our life is reduced by 22 minutes. You know what that means?

That means for every episode of “Cake Boss” I watch, I’m checking out 22 minutes sooner. Same for “Storage Wars.” And a rerun of “Leave it to Beaver”? That’s stealing 11 minutes of my life. Golly, Beav, what would Miss Landers say?

But it gets worse. Now there’s another study that tells us that for every piece of bacon, we eat we lose nine minutes of our life. Just think, something as innocent as Burger King’s Bacon Sundae or Jack in the Box’s Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger are actually quite deadly to our lifespan. And I hate to tell you this, but that last Triple Baconator you ate from Wendy’s just cost you an hour and 21 minutes.

But now we’re entering double-jeopardy territory. If you eat bacon while watching TV, you are losing minutes like crazy. Let’s say you’re watching “Swamp People” while munching on an Angus Bacon and Cheese Snack Wrap from McDonald’s. Let’s do the math:

One hour of TV: 22 minutes

One strip of bacon: 9 minutes

Total Life Lost: 31 minutes

But look on the bright side. I lived for an hour, but only lost 31 minutes. That’s a plus-29 in my math book. Whatever that means.

Oh, and one more study. Scientists say that sitting for more than three hours a day will lop off two years from our lives. So let me get this straight … If I’m sitting down watching TV while eating bacon, then I’m pretty much on borrowed time. And if what I’m watching is really stressing me out, then doctors say I’m losing four to eight more years of life. So much for watching “Downton Abbey.”

I thought it would be interesting to use my honed math skills and add up all the time that I am losing from my life. I computed everything and found out that I am really beating the odds, because I discovered that with all the time I have lost, I should have died somewhere in the 1650s.

I’m thinking that maybe all of this lost lifespan stuff is a bunch of hooey. I can’t imagine people dying from reruns of “Bonanza.” The Ponderosa seemed like such a healthy environment. And look at Kevin Bacon. He’s still alive. Plus, if bacon was so fatal, then why aren’t pigs extinct? Think about that.

So I guess I’ll just sit myself down in my Amish glider chair, grab a leftover Baconator, and watch a marathon of “Ozzie and Harriet” … unless the Alaskan king crabs are running …

• Michael Penkava is a retired teacher who taught for 35 years at West Elementary School in Crystal Lake. He is currently living life with reckless abandon: toiling on an icy boat deck in the Bering Sea, hauling up heavy crab cages as he fights rogue waves under the pelting rain in the fury of an angry Poseidon … all the while chewing on a strip of bacon. He can be reached at

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