Wednesday, November 28, 2012

POWER Ball: Investment or Burning Cash

My local gas station changed hands over the summer and became a CENEX. The new chain slowly added some changes like different options for getting your receipt and a video monitor that showed the weather and news headlines. A few weeks ago the video monitor opened and closed with ads for POWER Ball and the Minnesota Lottery with the news sandwiched in between. A new category was added to the "PAY" options buttons—Buy Lottery Ticket. Odd, I thought.

Last Sunday morning it all clicked. While filling up, a young man in his early 20s sauntered out of the convenience store part of the gas station. He was wearing a brand new Minnesota Lottery jacket complete with loons embroidered on the back panels. Guess what he was trying to sell me? A lottery ticket of course! CENEX must have a contract with Minnesota Lottery. He was putting on the hard sell. Now he was young so I was nice. I explained to him that I've never once in my life bought a lottery ticket, and I had no intention of starting now. Goodbye!

A lot of people must LOVE the lottery and the POWER Ball. They really get caught up in the fantasy of winning all of that money because "someone has to win so why not me!" That's great for them. I see buying lottery and POWER Ball tickets as throwing money down the toilet and flushing away. POWER Ball tickets are $2 each, and the pot is now up to $500 million.

Yes someone does have to win, but I won't win. I've only won two prizes in my life: a Civil War print that hangs nowhere in my house and a deck of cards for having the worst BINGO card on a 4-hour cruise across Lake Michigan aboard the USS Badger. Not a great track record.


If you love POWER Ball, get on out there and buy your tickets as the drawing is tonight. As for the local CENEX station and the Minnesota Lottery pushers, do you really have to do that? Maybe I need a bumper sticker that reads: "No Solicitors" so I can pump my gas in peace!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The X-Box Is Evil

The X-Box that resides in the basement is evil. This piece of hardware creates a noticeable rift and increases brotherly violence, name-calling, and general horrendous behavior exhibited on the part of my boys. I often wonder what life would be like if we did not have an X-Box.

Some may argue that the games played on the X-Box are evil. I would agree with that, but aggressive tendencies erupt even while playing the sport X-Box games. I resort to confiscating the controllers, but sometimes even that is not enough. The controllers hiding spots are uncovered so I have to take extreme measures. I've sent the X-Box to the airport for two weeks, hidden away in the trunk of our car. I've packed it up and physically taken the X-Box and controllers over to a neighbor's house for safe keeping. Friends have told me they've driven around all day with X-Box controllers tucked away in the car. Now I've had to resort to the utmost tactic—Welcome to 1974.

There was no X-Box in 1974. No cable or satellite TV. No DVRs. No laptops or home computers of any kind. No I-Pods or cell phones. In 1974 we made our own fun, read books, played outside, and hung out with our siblings. 

We're on day two of Welcome to 1974. The X-Box is out in full view along with the controllers. Most other post-1974 electronic devices have been confiscated or are off limits. This game is not very popular and I'm sure the boys will be desperate for the return of the evil X-Box and all of the devices. 

Did you know this came out in 1974?
A day of living in 1974 has resulted in getting the basement cleaned out; old appliances and junk hauled out of the garage and disposed of; closets cleaned out; the old globe pulled out; basketball being played on the driveway; and books taken off of the shelves. I'm not sure if the era of 1974 will even last until Monday but at the very least it gives the boys a taste of what life was like not too many decades ago. We get to spend some quality time together without X-Box induced fights and family yelling sessions. Welcome to 1974 has brought a few days of peace. I somehow survived 1974 and so will my boys.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bond. James Bond

50 years of James Bond films climaxed over the weekend with the release of the latest (and possibly greatest) James Bond flick, Skyfall. If you haven't yet seen Skyfall, what are you waiting for?

50 years of Bond, but only six actors grace this exclusive James Bond club. And I'm talking about "official, authentic" Bond films, no spoofs or TV shows. If you're a Bond addict like me and have seen all of the Bond films far too many times over the years (or even if you're only the occasional junkie), you must have a favorite James. Here's the list in case you've forgotten.
  • Sean Connery: The original Bond starring in seven 007 movies. Connery was the only returning Bond who came back to star in Never Say Never Again at age 53.
  • George Lazenby: A one-hit wonder with Her Majesties Secret Service.
  • Roger Moore: The overtly smooth 70s James who starred in seven Bond films including A View to a Kill with Grace Slick. 
  • Timothy Dalton: The late 80s star featured in only two   Bond films.
  • Pierce Brosnan: The late 1990s Bond who starred in four 007 flicks.
  • Daniel Craig: The current, unflappable Bond who plays James in his third box-office smash, Skyfall.

I'm partial to Sean Connery, but only because I've actually met him in a very American Bond-girl manner. A 20-something blond, the Bahamas, bathing suit, beach . . . a scene right out of a 007 movie except I wasn't a spy. Who is your favorite James?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

VOTE

I'm not posting about the energetic Paul Ryan pep rally I attended Sunday in a hanger at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. I'm not posting about all of the latest poll numbers that seemingly gravitate toward one party or the other by the hour. I'm not speculating on who will win the White House, if the Dems will retain control of the Senate, and if Republicans can hold the House.

I'm not taking a side on the gay marriage amendment or even the outcome of local school board races. I'll watch the election returns tonight with excitement and hope that the Presidential race will be determined by the wee hours of Wednesday morning.

I'm not turning the volume on the television this morning while I make lunches for the kids. I'm not listening to any more political ads. I'm not undecided on any candidate or ballot issue this election. I'm a decided voter and what I am doing is voting today—Election Day.

Get out and vote. Your vote does make a difference, and turnout is critical in this election. Your future does depend on it. Be thankful that you do have the right to vote for change or maintain the status quo if you desire. Just get to your polling place and VOTE!

To find your polling place:
www.vote411.org/enter-your-address

Friday, November 2, 2012

NYC Marathon Still On

The man-made disaster of the 9-11 terrorists attacks did not stop the running of the 2001 New York City Marathon. Neither will the natural disaster of Hurricane Sandy stand in the way of the 2012 NYC Marathon.

As the five boroughs of New York City, New Jersey, and other Mid-Atlantic states recover from the worst hurricane to hit in years, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg stated on Wednesday that the NYC Marathon will still be run on Sunday, November 4th. This decision was immediately labeled as inappropriate given the wreckage, loss of life, lack of electricity, and scaled-back public transportation left in Sandy's wake.

The marathon is set to start on hard-hit Staten Island where recovery efforts are still underway to locate missing loved ones. The Staten Island Borough President Jim Molinaro urged Bloomberg to cancel the race and not shift supplies or manpower from Staten Island over to the NYC Marathon. Molinaro said that having the race in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy is "crazy, asinine." If you look at the images coming out of Staten Island, Molinaro has a point. Plus there's the problem of transporting thousands of runners to the Staten Island start. The Staten Island Ferry is closed and the NYC subway system isn't fully up and running. Guess that leaves buses to transport the runners. Lots of buses.

I'm a runner, not a marathon runner. But I don't know if I'd feel right running in a race in the middle of a natural disaster. I've also lived through a few of Mother Nature's storms on the East Coast and know how difficult it can be to get a city up and running after a natural disaster. Nor'easters and blizzards are in a completely different category than the likes of Hurricane Sandy. It would be unfortunate if resources, volunteers, police, and power generators were taken away from recovery and clean-up efforts solely for the NYC Marathon.

The NYC marathon has been run every year since 1970 so race cancellation would historically loom large on Bloomberg. The main race sponsor ING is raising millions in disaster relief and is dedicated to helping communities hit by Hurricane Sandy. That's great and all, but is it really enough if you've lost your home, haven't had heat for a week, and your dog has gone missing in the aftermath of the storm? Is the running of the NYC Marathon really inappropriate given the destruction in and around NYC? Personally don't think I would run it and would instead spend the time volunteering to help in clean up efforts.

But New Yorkers are traditionally a resilient bunch who will overcome any disaster thrown at them. Some New Yorkers embrace the running of the NYC Marathon as something positive in the midst of disaster. Regardless the race goes on and so will the controversy surrounding it.

NYC Marathon cancelled by Bloomberg on Nov. 2.  A logical move given the circumstances. The marathon has not yet been rescheduled.