Sure There’s No Chance, but What If You Did Win?

First prize in Friday night’s Mega Millions drawing is now projected at $540 million. That’s up from the $463 million first projected when nobody won the big prize in the last drawing. That number is the total of all annuity payments if you take it over the years. If you take a lump sum, it’s only about one-third of that, once all taxes (not just the withholding part) are taken care of. One hundred eighty million dollars, net after all taxes, taken as a lump sum, is still pretty damned lumpy. So a question around the water cooler this week is: “What would you do if you won?”

In accounting, there’s a concept called a material difference. In the example above, if the prize was actually $179,999,999.99, instead of $180,000,000.00, the missing penny wouldn’t make a material difference and you could ignore it. The odds of winning are about one in 175 million. So, you probably don’t need a plan any more than I do. I don’t expect to win. That would be a sign of mental illness that would probably go unnoticed by friends and acquaintances given all the other signs I have scattered around. Nevertheless, I can afford it and it amuses me to think about it, so I do buy the occasional ticket, I do check the numbers and I do have plans.

So many people have grand plans for who they’d give money to. Me? I’d keep it.

I’d try my best to collect anonymously and I’d hire a PR firm to keep my name out of the media as much as possible. I’d much rather be rich than rich and famous. I’d move, of course. I’d get a new, unlisted, phone number, and hook my present phone number up to voice mail or an answering machine. I’d also pay a lackey to delete all the messages without listening to them.

I’d jump on the bed. When I was a kid, I liked jumping on the bed, but my mom yelled at me that I’d probably break it. I’m now big enough that I’d certainly break it, but jumping on the bed was fun, and even though I would break it, with $180 million in the bank I could afford at least one other bed.

I’d take the check to the ATM at my local branch bank, and deposit it. I’ve always wondered what the biggest transaction an ATM machine can handle is, and it would be my chance to find out.

My wife, Saint Karen (who has to be a saint to put up with me) always says if she won, she’d throw away all of her clothes and go shopping in a sheet. So, I would buy a sheet, and hire a limo with a uniformed chauffeur to deliver said sheet to her at her job. I’d call my boss and tell him I’m not going to be at work today because I’m rich. I’d call in rich every day until I stopped laughing uncontrollably every time I did it. I’d install a video camera near the entrance to my former job so every morning I could record people I used to know heading to work. Then I’d watch it if I felt like it. I probably wouldn’t feel like it, but it would be nice to know it’s there.

With oil prices what they are today, I’d turn up the heat a little and go for a long drive in my truck.

I’d most likely buy a new laptop since the “b” key on this one is ecoming unrelia le.

I’d announce that I’m thinking of running for some important public office, but I wouldn’t run, and I wouldn’t think about running either. I’d just like to make a few people nervous.

I wouldn’t buy a car that screams, “I’m rich,” unless it also screamed “and you can’t catch me.” However, if I won on Friday night, I would be at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Florida next week, my wife would have at least one much newer car than she owns, and I would own a handful of much older cars than I now have.

My new house would have to have a porte-cochere, an indoor pool, a hot tub and anything my wife wanted. A porte-cochere, in case you don’t know, is a covered entryway that allows you to drive your car to the front door in the rain, get out and go inside without getting wet.

I’d buy some more music because once in a while my wife says to me, “Don’t you have enough music?” and I say, “No.” I’m sure you’ll agree with me that seven-thousand songs aren’t really enough.

I’d go on a little trip designed to see all major league baseball teams and every major league baseball stadium this summer. I’d take four more trips in order to determine which waterfront restaurants I liked best on the east coast, the gulf coast, the west coast and in Hawaii. I don’t think I could accomplish the last four by the end of this summer though.

There must be something else I’d do too, but I don’t need to come up with everything by the drawing Friday night at 11:00. I’d welcome suggestions on what to do, but not if they include giving money to or investing money in the suggester.

Finally, I want you to know I’d throw a huge party: I don’t want you to think you’ll be invited: I won’t guarantee I’ll show up either, but I do want you to know I’m throwing a big party if I win.

Things I Know

If every man, woman, and child in the United States was in one lottery pool for tonight’s Mega Millions drawing, and if we won, we’d each get a little over one dollar, before taxes! If I win, I’m going to take the check to the ATM at my local bank branch. I’ve always wondered what’s the largest dollar transaction those machines will handle.

Which reminds me, I was going to say ATM machine, but that would be redundant. The M in ATM stands for machine.

Actually, Mega Millions tonight is so much money that if you’re the only winner, you can have your newly-hired flunky ask that the president of your bank stop by your house, pick up the check, and deposit it for you.  He or she will probably do just that.

If you’re ever down in the dumps, and need a little lift, go to Youtube and put the following three words, “dog,” “soldier,” and “reunion” in the search box. You’ll get about a zillion videos. Or, for both dogs, and beloved family members, try The videos may make you cry, but you’’ll feel a lot happier too.

Here’s a disturbing trend. When I bought my current shredder, it was powerful enough to shred most credit card offers and other junk mail without me having to open the envelope. I’ve had the shredder long enough for postal rates to go up substantially, but the credit card offers are getting thicker, and I now have to open most of them before shredding them.  I still don’t read them though.

The people who hold my mortgage confused me this month. Confusing me is such a small challenge that I don’t know why they bother. They sent me a statement telling me that my mortgage escrow was going up. I don’t like that, but it’s really no surprise. They also told me I have a shortage in my escrow account. That’s an annual event too because they won’t listen to me. I’ve tried, believe me. They included the shortage in the new monthly payment, and in the same envelope included a bill for the shortage. The way the whole thing is worded, if I didn’t pay attention I would have paid both. If I did pay both though, I probably wouldn’t have an escrow shortage next year.

Rue Britannica

The recently announced death of the print Encyclopedia Britannica reminds me I’m long-overdue for a confession. No, not my Easter duty, although that’s overdue too, but a confession of a different sort.

I haven’t worn a pocket protector since the Jurassic period when I found a girl willing to date me. I’m not a three-pen nerd like my friend Richard (not Feder) from New Jersey (not Ft. Lee), and now improved with an additional state. In my formative years, however, my recreational reading did include encyclopedias. Dictionaries too, I’m afraid. I even have my green CRC book of reference math tables around here somewhere. It’s with my slide rule, I’m sure: I can probably find both if I look hard enough. In case you’re wondering, of course, the green book has my name on the cover in gold leaf.

That is my confession. I was one of those nerdy kids who chose volumes at random, let them fall open where they would, and read articles, tables, etc., about whatever popped up. I read those articles whether I was interested in the subject or had even heard of it before the book popped open. And that’s important!

News reports suggested that the printed, leather-bound volumes of the Britannica became obsolete due to the Internet, particularly due to Google, and whatever search engines Google’s success haven’t driven out of business yet. That seems to be the case. I haven’t verified this independently, but I read that fewer than nine thousand sets of the Britannica sold in the last year for which figures are available. How many door-to-door salesmen could make a living on nine-thousand sets of encyclopedias?

The Internet is better at finding stuff you are interested in than the print version of the Encyclopedia Britannica ever was. Even Britannica still exists on the Internet. The world-wide web has its faults, though. Anyone can say anything, anonymously, without checking a single fact and without editing of any kind. So, if you want to rely on the Internet for information, you’d be smart to cross-check it with numerous sources. Directed searching is great on the Internet. Cutting and pasting are a lot easier for the fledgling elementary-school researcher than plagiarizing by hand ever was. You don’t even have to thumb through a bunch of pages to find stuff. Since you don’t have to thumb, you won’t come across anything interesting that you weren’t looking for.

That’s where the Internet isn’t better than an encyclopedia. If you can use it to surprise yourself as easily as you could use an encyclopedia, I haven’t discovered how yet. Even if you use a news aggregator to comb the web for all the stuff you’re interested in, it won’t find a single thing you might be interested in if only you were already aware of it. So the randomness of stumbling across something new, and interesting while browsing an encyclopedia is gone at worst or just invisible so far to me at best. That’s why I rue the passing of the printed Encyclopedia Britannica. I don’t roux its passing though because the leather covers would make the sauce I created using roux Britannica awfully lumpy.

Things I Know

Tuesday, not the day pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, is the real first day of Spring, so happy Spring everyone.

I was trying to figure out how to support the new chandelier for my dining room while I wire it, and attach it to the ceiling, so I did a Google search for instructions. The almost universal advice from all across the Internet was to get someone else to hold it. My problem is I’m tall enough and strong enough to hold the chandelier, and I know how to wire it: my wife isn’t, isn’t, and doesn’t. The bracket that comes with many ceiling fans has a hook on it that you can use to support the fan while wiring it, but the bracket that came with my chandelier doesn’t. Maybe I’ll buy a fan bracket, and see whether I can hang the chandelier on that while I wire it.

Speaking of brackets, for several years I’ve noted that March Madness now spills over into April. I’m going to take that trend even farther and set an example by being mad all year long. You may ask yourself if by mad I mean angry or crazy. The answer is both.

I agree with almost everyone else who said for Rush Limbaugh to personally attack law student Sandra Fluke was wrong. That being said, there is no constitutional right to go through life unoffended although a lot of people seem to think there is one.

I’ve spoken before about how I buy a hand tool, lose it, buy another one, and then find the first one (and then rinse and repeat), so it came as no surprise to me that I now own at least 26 screwdrivers. That’s not counting those little jeweler’s screwdrivers. I have two complete sets of those, one in a black case, and one in a red case.

The Mega Millions jackpot on March 20th is $241 million. I’ve read that many lottery winners squander their prize money. In the extremely unlikely event that I win $241 million, I’m going to try to squander it.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

How did you observe Pi day? You know, 3/14, the day that celebrates the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter which is about 3.14. That’s why it’s observed on 3/14 you see. I celebrated it with vanilla ice cream on top. Evidently enough people celebrated by going to to learn more about pi that when I tried, the page wouldn’t load.

If it were daylight savingS time, wouldn’t it also be eastern standardS time?

How can something be both new, and improved? If it’s really new, it hasn’t had time to be changed (in order to improve it) yet, has it?

Did you see the video on the Internet of two cute penguins on a Delta Airlines flight? Don’t those penguins have to be able to fit underneath the seat in front of their owners?

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

Can’t you be against the government paying for everyone’s birth control without calling anyone a slut or a prostitute?

Some ultra-conservatives are arguing that birth control shouldn’t be widely available no matter who pays for it. I haven’t talked to Bill Baird in a very long time, but wasn’t the issue of contraception settled in this country in the 1970’s? If you don’t know who Bill Baird is, look him up. He must be close to 80 years old and March 22 is the 40th anniversary of a US Supreme Court decision involving him. Baird is both a birth control, and an abortion advocate. I know people who agree with him on one, but not the other.

I agree with those who say that the personal attack Rush Limbaugh leveled on Sandra Fluke was wrong. Still, which amendment to the US Constitution is the one that guarantees that nobody will ever be offended? I missed that one.

Why do they call them ticker-tape parades, when they don’t even have ticker tape anymore?

Do dead possums ever play live?

Does the tooth fairy ever take somebody’s dentures by mistake?