On the bright side -- OK, there is no bright side, but just stay with me here -- the thousands of Americans affected by the government shutdown have something the rest of us can only dream of.
The challenge for me would be to fill my free time with productive, life-affirming activities. So, as a dubious public service, here are 10 Things To Do While Furloughed:
More time for hobbies! Remember all those projects you wanted to get to around the house but pesky work kept getting in the way? Now you have time! So, go ahead and retreat into your man cave and work on that dartboard you've been pining for lately. You know, the one with the likenesses of Congressional leaders on it.
More time for family! Thanks to the shutdown, you can spend more quality time with your family! And how many of us long to work less so we can spend more time with our loved ones?
More time for family! No, seriously, I'm asking. How many?
More time for career planning! What better time to look for another job than when you have been inhumanely shut out of your current job and your spirits have been harpooned? Time now to polish your resume and track down references in hopes they still walk among the living. (One tip: your references might also be furloughed, so you might want to take it easy on the shutdown humor.)
More time for exercise! No more using employment and that "feeding my family" excuse for not losing those hideous 15 extra pounds. Time to go to the gym every day! Sweat, shower and stare at people you don't know! Every day.
More time to write personal letters! No, wait, that was for the shutdown in 1976.
More time for quality TV viewing! Yes, Breaking Bad is over, but take the time to reconnect with other great television drama. I'm speaking of River Monsters: Unhooked.
More time for reading! No more gobbling down your favorite book or newspaper while gobbling down your breakfast or dinner. Turn being furloughed into a golden reading opportunity! Finally, here's your chance to tackle Moby-Dick and shave 10 years off your life! Finally, here's your chance to leisurely savor your favorite hometown newspaper -- and yes, I know you're reading this online.
More time for travel! What better time to spend money on travel than when you don't know when or if another paycheck is coming! Imagine hours of complete relaxation lounging on a beach in Bermuda and the only care you have in the world is running out of rum, followed closely by bankruptcy.
More time to give to others! Let's face it: employment keeps us all from doing things for free. But here's a chance to volunteer at a soup kitchen, become a Big Brother or Sister, or get involved in politics. Because, as we all were taught, we can make a difference in Washington!