If you don’t play the lottery, you are going to hell.

One of my prior bosses had a saying about the lottery: “Jason, it’s like buying life insurance. I play the lottery because if I don’t--and all these a.h.’s [he meant this endearingly] around here win without me--I’d kill myself.”

The last two office environments in which I’ve worked have had lottery pools, and it seems everyone participates except me. My lack of participation seems to baffle, and almost offend, those around me. They can’t seem to understand why I’d risk not sharing in that big (potential) payoff.

Odds vary among the high-payoff lotteries in this country, but a nice average probability to win is around 1 in 125,000,000. With a jackpot of $100 million, a single ticket’s expected value is about $0.74. If your ticket costs $2.00, the net value of this transaction is -$1.26 (note the minus sign). Using these odds and ticket prices, the lottery’s jackpot would need to rise to over $250 million before you have a net positive transaction value.

Therefore, if you’re given a choice between lighting $2.00 on fire and playing the lottery, it is indeed better to play the lottery. But I’d wager that buying a piece of pizza, for example, is a better use of the money.

The pressure to participate in intra-office lottery pools reminds me of the pressure exerted by religious folk ‘encouraging’ non-believers to believe. It’s a fear of hell thing, and a strikingly similar argument that goes something like this:
You should [play the lottery/convert to my religion] because it [only costs $2.00/only takes a prayer] and the consequences include [having to slog away at this job after your coworkers all retire to somewhere tropical/going to hell].

Playing the lottery is a small but losing transaction. Just like small wins add up over time to fatten your bank account, small loses repeated faithfully over time add up to drain it. Further, communal lottery pools are almost a form of harassment. Although on the surface they appear harmless enough, these pools are strikingly similar to being shaken down for protection money. Pay up, or you’ll work here forever.

Pay up, or you’ll go to hell.
My brother was kind enough to invite me to the OSU-Northwestern game (at OSU) on Saturday, and I have a couple observations: First, being in a contained crowd of 100,000 people is a bit intimidating. My architectural mind couldn't help but go through mental exiting capacity studies, and the sympathetic vibrations I felt as the crowd clapped in rhythm to the school song were the same type of vibrations that brought the Tacoma Narrows bridge down. My paranoid mind was sifting through crowd control techniques and scaling out the approximate size of a 767 using the tick marks on the field, as a precursor to guessing the damage that the stadium would take should the aircraft in question impact during the game (I figure about 30% loss).

The second observation I had, this being my first OSU home game, is that I like college football, at least in this environment, much more than professional football. It's nice to attend a game where the primary noise is the *crowd*, not the commercial, ad-driven hysteria that comes along with most professional sports.
Here's Max beating his dad at Battleship (we played the first two games with an 'open hand'). Now we're playing by the book, head to head, and Max gets it. And he doesn't like to lose. Ages 7 and up...ha!

Max beating daddy at Battleship.

Here's a small thing I've learned about adults and children: People who either (a) have never had children or (b) whose children are older (i.e., 10 and up) generally seem to have no clue what life is like with small children. Grandparents: you have forgotten. Parents of older children: you have forgotten. Don't give advice, don't act as if you understand.

Another thought: Young parents should only listen to the advice of other young parents--because nobody else knows. Mothers and fathers to be, don't listen to your parents. Listen to couples who have an 8-month old instead. The only people qualified to give this type of advice are those who are *currently* living with small children 24/7.