Unlucky At Luck

Typically, I don’t play state lotteries.  The odds are astronomical.

The only exception is when the potential winnings reach the $100 million-plus range, and I happen to be passing through some small town in a remote area at the time.  My reasoning is that the winning tickets always tend be purchased from a gas station in East Bejesus, so my approach at least gives me a reasonable chance of getting the lucky numbers.

Of course, I’ve never won the handful of times I’ve tried this technique.

But what if you did win — and then instead of getting cash, you just got an IOU?  That’s the unfortunate reality for some poor schmoes in Illinois.  They won $250,000 in the Illinois Lottery, but because Illinois doesn’t have a budget, state officials can’t cut them a check in the amount of their winnings — so they get a crappy IOU instead.  And with Illinois’ crippling budget problems, I wouldn’t be supremely confident about getting a prompt payout on those IOUs, either.

No word yet on whether the “lucky” winners bought their ticket in East Bejesus.

One Week To Go

A week from today, at 8 p.m. on September 7, the Ohio State Buckeyes kick off their 2015 schedule against Virginia Tech, and the college football season will begin in Columbus.  I’m feeling as excited as a eight-year-old who’s on the final countdown to Christmas.

Of all of the sports I follow, college football is my favorite.  I admit it — part of it is that, as an Ohio State fan, I’m fortunate to root for a team that consistently is good, and anyone whose team is coming off a championship season is bound to be excited.  Speaking from the bitter experience of Cleveland sportsfanship, it’s easier to follow winners than perennial losers.  But there’s more to it than that — college football, and college sports generally, is just more fun than the professional variety.  The players are younger and more excitable, and there’s an alma mater element that simply isn’t found in the professional game.

IMG_1815I know that some of my friends (and I’m thinking of you, here, JWR) will argue, quite correctly, that college football is just as much about generating cash as the NFL.  I concede the point, but I also think that, for all of the money and scandals and boosters and cheating, college athletics still is built on a hard kernel of simple state and school pride.  Anyone who grew up in Ohio knows what I mean.  We care passionately about the Buckeyes because it’s kind of what Ohioans do.  It’s a tradition passed down from generation to generation, and we want to hold up our end of the bargain.

The Big Ten Network is running an interesting program called Scarlet and Gray Days, about Ohio State’s training camp for the upcoming season.  If you want to get a better understanding of the deep connection between Ohioans and the Buckeyes, watch the first part of the first episode — it captures some of the gut-level feelings that members of Buckeye Nation know all too well.  And the rest of the show is pretty good, too.

Next Monday night can’t get here soon enough.

Do Dogs Smile?

IMG_6838I know there’s some debate about whether what humans might perceive as a smile is truly a canine expression of happiness and satisfaction — as opposed to, say, simply panting to cool off on a warm late summer day.  It’s hard for me to believe, however, that anyone who sees Kasey outside in her favorite spot, with an apparent ear-to-ear grin, could argue about whether dogs actually smile.

Lessons From A Rowing Mom

IMG_6707_2The people of Maine are different:  hardier, more outdoorsy, and seemingly closer to the land.  Kish has noticed that the women wear less make-up and tend toward a no-frills look, while the men have the kind of ruddy complexion that makes it look like they’ve just stepped off a sailboat.

There’s something about living in a rustic area, near water, that seems to encourage that laissez-faire personal attitude.  If you’ve got water and a boat nearby, there would be a lot of incentive to use it — and if make-up tended to run down your face when the fog rolled in, and fancy haircuts frizzed out and became unmanageable in the salt air, then make-up and the high-end ‘dos would likely hit the cutting room floor.

I thought about all of this on our recent mailboat run out to Isle au Haut.  At one of our stops we saw a mother rowing her very cute little girl across the harbor to a dock.  The Mom was an accomplished rower, and I’d be willing to bet that her daughter ends up as one, too.  That’s not a bad skill to pass down from generation to generation.

Searching For A Hangover Cure

Anyone who’s ever been much of a drinker knows how painful hangovers can be — and they’ve probably come up with their own theory about the best way to dodge them while still enjoying the simple, warming pleasures of a few adult beverages.

If you ask your friends what they do to avoid the dreaded hangover, you’ll find that people swear by all kinds of different folk remedies, with an almost religious intensity.  Never drink on an empty stomach.  Take two aspirin before going to bed.  Quaff lots of water while you’re out on the town.  One of our college friends contended that eating a plate of french fries covered with gravy was a sure cure, and another insisted on going out for chili dogs.  And then there are the assorted “next-day” remedies, ranging from munching dry Excedrin (to maximize its impact), to guzzling an entire pot of coffee (to allow caffeine to counter the lingering alcohol effects), to downing a large breakfast of pancakes (to soak up the remaining alcohol in your system), to sampling the “hair of the dog that bit you” (to start working on tomorrow’s hangover, today).  I’m a big believer in drinking lots of water, myself, and I am convinced that if you wake up with a hangover it’s too late to do much about it other than ride it out and swear you’ll never be so stupid again.

Now scientists have weighed in.  A study conducted by researchers from Canada and the Netherlands looked at 826 students (a perfect control group for hangover analysis if there ever was one) and examined their food and water intake, their alcohol consumption, and their resulting hangovers.  The study concluded that neither food nor water consumption had any impact on the severity of the throbbing next-day headaches and the listless, befuddled feeling that inevitably accompanies them — although those that drink lots of water feel better than those that don’t.  (Told ya!)

Instead, the study concluded, the only surefire way to avoid a brain-crushing hangover is simply to consume less alcohol.

What?  Drink less?  That’s no fun!  You know, pancakes sound pretty good right now.

You Can Never Be Too Rich, Or Too Thin

If you’re one of those “keeping up with the Joneses” competitive types, you may as well just give it up.  Some Russian megabillionaire named Andrey Melnichenko is spending $450 million on the world’s largest sailing yacht.

One of our friends once observed that if you’re measuring your self-worth by comparing your bankroll to others, you’re doomed to failure.  There’s always going to be someone, like Mr. Melnichenko, whose financial statement will  to blow you out of the water.  And in fact Mr. Melnichenko, whose yacht will weigh 14,224 tons, is worth about $9 billion — an unimaginably huge sum to most of us — but he’s only ranked 97th on the Forbes list of world billionaires.  (He’s also married to a “supermodel” unknown to me, by the way.)

So how do you complete with somebody like Mr. M?  How about in the creativity department?  He’s named his massive craft “Sailing Yacht A.”

RecycleArt

IMG_6653_2Somewhere along the Maine coastline, you will find Nervous Nellie’s Jams and Jellies.  It’s home not only to some great and inventive jams and jellies, but also to the sculpture of Peter Beerits — an artist who creates interesting pieces out of discarded odds and ends.

The area around Nervous Nellie’s is chock full of Beerits’ work, including pieces organized into an entire Old West town, complete with jail, general store, and a saloon with card players.  The artwork has a certain fascination to it, because Beerits obviously can see through the current condition of an object to its ultimate, artistic realization — where a rusted top of an outdoor grill becomes the shell of a tortoise, or an old washtub serves as the legs of a goat.  It’s all quite in line with Michelangelo’s purported statement that his sculptures were always there, lurking inside the block of marble — he just was able to see them, and then could chop and smooth away the unnecessary stuff.

It’s cool to see what most of us would consider to be junk reused, and reimagined, into interesting pieces of art.

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