Who Wants To Be A Billionaire?

999 - Someone Broke the Powerball Sign

999 – Someone Broke the Powerball Sign

The Powerball jackpot is currently up to $1.4B and it continues to grow, such that it will easily be worth more than one and a half billion dollars by tomorrow night’s drawing. Maybe someone will win tomorrow night, but maybe no one will. No one has won Powerball since last November, but then I haven’t bought a ticket since then either, until yesterday. I bought one ticket, thereby increasing my chances of winning astronomically, but as with all things astronomical a billion or even a billion and a half doesn’t go very far in this universe.

Dan snapped this photo while we were driving him to the airport. After we dropped him off and were driving by it again, on the way home, I asked Anne that question that all lottery players ask each other, “What would you do, if you won a billion dollars?” Anne said that she would, payoff our debts, buy a new car and fix up the house. To which I responded, “What would you do with the other $999 million and change?” I don’t think that I could comprehend winning a billion dollars. It would be almost as much a curse as a blessing. According to a Forbes article on the subject, everyone who knows you now, will hate you after you win. It sounds like something that is best to avoid.

So, why did I buy a ticket and even infinitesimally risk this awful fate? I don’t expect to win, the odds are against it (1 in 292 million), but a lottery ticket is also a ticket to dream. When you dream about winning, you only think about all of the good things that will happen and not of any of the bad. All that money buys you fortune, fame and fun, not millions of solicitors trying to reach you all of the time. One of the best reasons to buy a lottery ticket occurred years ago, when a coworker was throwing a dinner party. He bought each guest their own personal ticket and presented it to them at dinner. It was a great parlor trick and greatly enlivened the dinnertime conversation. They say that the odds of winning Powerball are about the same as flipping an ordinary coin and getting heads, twenty-eight times in a row. Start flipping!

Big Men on Campus

Saint Louis Surrounded by Fall Colors

Saint Louis Surrounded by Fall Colors

The Mizzou football team stood-up and stood together and the University of Missouri president was forced to resign. They didn’t do this alone, they didn’t do this in a vacuum. They succeeded in concert with other collegiate activists. They are the successor sons of the Black Lives Matter movement that has gone nationwide and closer to home, sprang from our own Ferguson. They stand upon broad shoulders stretching back to before I was born, but this week they must have made all their parents proud. They certainly made me feel so. Such clear-cut victories for civil rights are rare enough and this one should be celebrated!

The Best Team in Baseball?

Red-crested Cardinal

Red-crested Cardinal

The Saint Louis Cardinals have the best on field record in baseball this season, but today their off field record took a few hit points. The New York Times is reporting and Major League Baseball has confirmed that the FBI is investigating the Cardinal organization for illegally hacking, wait for it, the Houston Astros. While, the Astros are also now in first place, in the American League, this was not the case, when this alleged hack occurred. The first indication of this hack occurred last June, when some Astros proprietary info appeared on Deadspin. The Astros complained to MLB, who in turn complained to the FBI and the investigation was launched. Let’s rewind the clock a bit here. According to the NYT, Jeff Luhnow had until 2011 worked in the Cardinals front office. He then left the Cardinals to join the Astros. While, with the Cardinals Luhnow had set up a proprietary computer network called Redbird, which was used to store personnel records, scouting reports, trade negotiation notes and the like. All of those business records that you don’t want disclosed. Then while working for the Astros, Luhnow and other former Cardinals execs that he had recruited created an analogues computer network there, called Ground Control. This is the network that was allegedly hacked. According to the NYT, unnamed Cardinals personnel used the old user names and passwords on the Redbird network, from the former Cardinal execs, to hack into the Astros Ground Control network. That’s right folks, someone didn’t change his password, even though he had changed his employer. The NYT goes on to explain that the FBI has gotten much better at attribution in these hacking cases and according to the article, the hack was traced to the residence of a Cardinals official. IMHO, everyone involved in this story seems to be an idiot.

Getting My Mean On

My Mean Face

My Mean Face

Harry, has for all that I have known him carries a 3” by 5” index card in his front shirt pocket. He calls it his mind, which when sometimes he misplaces it, we all joke that Harry has lost his mind. It is full of his to do and shopping lists and jotted down things to remember. For five years now, I’ve carried an iPhone in my pocket. Friends and fellow iPhone users call these handy little devices our hand brains, and because they are so good at thoughtfully informing our increasingly aged head brains, it is a wonder now that we could ever have existed without them.

In addition to my hand brain, I also carry my version of Harry’s mind, an index card. So, you could say that I am always of two minds. I do this, because work rules prohibit bring the iPhone into the office, so the old analog method persists. Someday though, the necessity for this dual brain system will disappear and my stack of unused index cards will cease to diminish and begin to gather dust and I will rely totally on my iPhone.

We picked the perfect week for our air-conditioner to die. Monday, Anne texted me, “Das AC is Kaput!” A serviceman had just tried to get it running again, but it appears that the compressor had locked-up. This is always a fatal condition for AC units. This pronouncement launched a frantic campaign to get a new unit installed, hopefully before the mercury climbs this weekend. We are currently enjoying a spate of nice weather. We had three contractors come by and bid, picked one, the same outfit that just did our furnace and then scheduled the install for Thursday. So far, the weatherman has been cool with all this.

“You have to get angry, you have to be MEAN! (Hits Gordon in the balls) You angry now?” – Patches O’Houlihan, Dodgeball

Well, since I’ve trotted out my mean face for this post, I better deliver. Actually, it is Dave’s mean face photo, but I stole it fair and square. Is that mean enough? No, I didn’t think so either. I don’t want to be mean to anyone who might actually read this post, so keep reading folks, because the minute this blog drops off your radar screen that’s when I’ll strike. Threatening the readers, that’s a little bit mean. I could be mean to some of the people at work, at least the ones that don’t read this blog, but lately, I don’t have much to be mean about. Frankly, with every passing day, they seem more and more irrelevant.

I know, Dennis Hastert, politician turned lobbyist, now revealed as a pedophile, I can get my mean on with him, except that the only crime that he has been charged with is trying to circumvent government surveillance. Hello, Uncle Sam, the Patriot Act was so last Sunday. I got it, FIFA President Sepp Blatter, I know I can be mean to him. What a scumbag. While, his house is burning around him, he gets himself reelected and then announces his resignation, but then forgets to name the date. Except that I’m an American, what do I care about soccer? Sorry, Carl, Jay, Rey and all you other readers. I just don’t feel like being really mean today. It is a waste of a great picture though. I guess that when I sat down to write this post, I really was of two minds. Wait, wait, I have an idea. I could recycle this photo whenever I do feel like being mean, then my mean could become a meme.

Hold Their Feet to the Fire

Don't Fall In The Fireplace!

Don’t Fall In The Fireplace!

“I have no more campaigns to run.” [Republican applause] “I know, because I won both of them!” – President Barack Obama

To my dear Republican friends, you are wrong, but I still love you, in spite of yourselves. This sentence could apply summarize President Barack Obama’s sixth State of the Union (STOU) address. It was an impassioned speech, a departure from the usual dry laundry list that these SOTU addresses have devolved into as of late. While his speech was overtly partisan at times, he also beseeched his Republican colleagues to join with him in the spirit of bipartisan cooperation. This is a plea that he has been making since he first came into office and it has consistently fallen on deaf GOP ears. Now that they control both houses of Congress, they will have to go through him, if they want to get anything done and he made it abundantly clear last night that he is not about to rollover for them, but rather he is fully prepared to hold their feet to the fire.

What does Bill Belichick and European central bankers have in common? They are both worried about deflation.

In addition to Republican legislators, another organization that should have their feet held to the fire are the New England Patriots. They are cheaters, plain and simple. Their latest scandal, dubbed deflate-gate, involves the leaked finding that 11 of the 12 Patriot supplied game balls to last Sunday’s AFC championship were under inflated, making them easier to pass and catch. The losing Colts later claimed that this was also the case in November, when the two teams last met. The Patriots were actually found guilty of cheating and subsequently penalized, in what was then dubbed spy-gate. They were convicted of filming the play signals of the New York Jets. They are also supposedly the reason that on field coaches now hold a card up in front of their mouths when speaking. This is done because it was suspected that the Patriots lip-read the opposing coach’s speech. Now everyone has to suspect and defend against this illegal practice. The list of allegations against Patriot’s head coach Bill Belichick doesn’t stop there though. The day before the Super Bowl both teams hold private practices on the field where the game will be played. Every time that the Patriots have won the Super Bowl, they were the second team to practice. In order to prepare for their practices, Patriot personnel were allowed to set up video equipment to tape their practice, while the opposing team was still running theirs on the field.

Toilet Talk

My inner 13-year-old is always struggling to get out, so when I read this week’s reprint of the Slate article by Forrest Wickman entitled, “A Brief History of Toilet-Based Animal Attacks”, there was no hope of containing my adolescent id. What precipitated Slate’s revisiting of this subject were news reports of a five-foot-long boa that had slithered out of a San Diego toilet earlier this week, but what I especially enjoyed about Mr. Wickman’s article was the following Times of Israel news report:

A man’s penis was bitten by a snake hiding in a toilet on Friday. According to an article in the Times of Israel, the man was sitting on the john when he was bitten and then “ran from the room in horror.” The man was rushed to the hospital where he was treated for “minor injuries.”

Less you think that dangers of snakes in toilets lie only in warmer more tropic climes than yours, Garrison Keillor on his Prairie Home Companion radio show sometimes warns of the danger of snow snakes in the upper Midwest. To prevent these snow snakes from biting you from behind, he hawks a safety seat add-on accessory for your toilet. This safety seat is locked, when not in use, to prevent snow snakes from sneaking into your house through the plumbing. When it is in use, the user is suspended a full three feet above the water, for their protection. I bet that that makes quite a splash!

While snakes attacking from toilets may grab all of the headlines they are not the only animal that attacks from below. Rats are common enough in the toilet bowls of one Seattle-area sewer system that the local government has posted a four-step method for dispatching the rodents. Jay, being a Seattle-area water professional, can you shed any additional light on this problem? I know that you normally do drinking water, but maybe you have heard about this too?

  • Stay Calm!
  • Keep the lid down so that it is unable to jump out.
  • Squirt some liquid dish soap in the toilet to help break the surface tension of the water. The soap degreases the oils on the rat’s fur so it cannot stay afloat in the water.
  • Flush the toilet! The rat will usually go back down the drain the same way it came up. You may need to flush multiple times.

I think that Wickman has overlooked the real danger here, which are not animals, but man himself. We encountered one such danger lurking in our Little Tokyo hotel room, last October. Yes folks, I’ve been sitting on these pictures since then. This toilet frankly scared the you-know-what out of me. I’ve never used a toilet before that also used an electrical outlet. Fortunately, we did not have any backup problems, if you know what I mean. The cute safety warning cartoons on the inside of the toilet seat did nothing to assuage my fear. I really do not need to have by butt burnt, while sitting on the toilet seat. Finally, the control panel for this toilet was more complicated than my first car’s dashboard. Come-on folks this is not rocket science. I did experiment with it, but since I’m of the school that one should either sh!t or get off the pot, it just seemed like a big waste of time.

Always remember to look before you sit. Let’s be careful in there!