A Nice Evening / A Normal Work Day

05 Jul 2006

The burbs here inPittsburghare divided into roughly 88 local governments called "boroughs." Several of these put on their own fireworks displays each year, with my local borough being one of the larger, more fanatical ones when it comes to the pyrotechnics. Naturally (based on my blog's name), I appreciate this particular amenity immensely. As a bonus, our home directly overlooks the valley where the fireworks happen, so we never need to travel further than our own back yard to enjoy a spectacular view.

For this reason, we like to invite others over for the evening. Last night was no exception;a good time, as they say, was had by all.Good food, too -- my wife whipped up some pesto (easily harvested from our 30-some-odd basil plants), I cut up a watermelon, and our guests brought cake. I took it upon myself to coach the younger generation on the finer points of lighting fireworks (mostly harmless "legal" stuff -- quite a stretch from my bottle rocket days), and a friend brought over a perfect CD (by the band, The Ghastly Ones -- horror-themed surf music) to accompany the evening. (I'm looking forward to listening to that CD again when I can hear it better.)

It was nice to sort of escape normality for a day. However, it wasn't a complete escape. Yesterday began with a two-hour parade.On July 4, the main road of my neighborhood is blocked off untilnoon. There's a race at8:30 a.m.(which I don't run in since I run essentially that exact route every couple of days for free), then a two-hour parade from10:00tillnoon. I'm not sure why we attend, as it's the same old stuff year after year: at least 300 fire trucks and ambulances, all blasting their deafening sirens and horns at the crowd; state and local politicians throwing candy to the kids (more on this in a second); foreign war veterans who've never seemed to get over the fact that they were in the service once (still marching in uniform); high school marching bands playing either (a) one of the same three or four Sousa marches, or (b) whatever the latest pop song linked with Steeler football games is; and the innumerable kid dance troups.

It's a two-hour parade, but has no real floats; it's all just people walking down the street. The only moderately interesting parts of the parade are the Adopt-a-Greyhound people (because you get to pet those amazing dogs), the free orange juice people (because you get free orange juice), and the people on horses (because sometimes the horses relieve themselves on the street and it's funny to watch the guy in the golf cart attend to his scooping duties). The crowd itself provides the bulk of the entertainment for me. We had a drunk this year -- I mean a real textbook "town drunk"-type guy -- who took it upon himself to direct traffic for a while. Classic moments like that keep me coming year after year.

Anyway, a big highlight this year was Lynn Swann, a guy who may well be the next governor orPennsylvania. His sole qualification, however, is that he's a famous football player. So, I guess we're going the route ofCalifornia -- just get some "famous" Republican in there, and all of your problems will be solved. God knows, we have our share of the *infamous * here inPennsylvaniaalready. Last year's parade, for example, featured Rick Santorum, a Christian Right guy who's infamous for equating homosexuality with beastiality. A real crowd pleaser, that guy. But he was met with enthusiasm, as I recall. (Republicans sort of own the 4th of July.) (BTW, if you don't know who Rick Santorum is, just Google his last name. Even if you do know who he is, you might try this, as it's amusing.)

So, yeah, it was an interesting mid-week day off.And then I returned to work to see the world as fucked up as usual. Kenneth Lay is dead, I see. Boy, that bastard had it coming ...North Koreafinally test-fired their stupid missiles. Who knows what the hell they're thinking. Oh, and it seems the entire state ofNew Jerseyis now closed. What an embarrassment!And then the topper ...

You know, I've always been one of those guys who has played the office lottery pool faithfully. I'm not stupid enough to believe we actually have a chance at winning. But, on the extremely remote chance that we do, I don't want to be one of the idiots sitting here still working for the next 30 years when everyone else is retired. So, yeah, I kick in my five bucks whenever they have a pool.And then this new lottery "raffle" came around. They wanted twenty bucks a pop for a chance at a million dollars, plus a bunch of smaller cash prizes.

Twenty bucks? Are they nuts?!On the one hand, I feel like a dick for not having an extra twenty lying about. After all, that's no more than two trips to one of several high-quality all-you-can-eat buffets here in town, or about five awful lunches at a fast food joint. I do okay for myself, actually.My cash flow is excellent; only, it all flows in and then it all flows back out. It's one thing to toss in a fiver once in a while, but I had to take a pass at the $20 special raffle. The funny thing is, most people passed on this one as well.Only the owners (all of whom couldn't care less about $20, anyway), and a select few others kicked in.

Well, wouldn't you fucking know it ... They hit it for $1,000.Sure, sure ... the odds were much better for this special thing. And, getting about $100 apiece isn't really that much of a lottery-sized return for your $20. But, they did hit the thing. While I'm definitely happy for them, I guess I'm just stuck on that whole "What if?" mindset. What if they'd hit the million and I, for once, didn't kick in?

Original Comments

Below, are the original comments on this post. Additional comments may be made via Facebook, below.

On July 5, 2006, roxtar wrote:

On the other hand, those lucky bastids have used up all their luck. Never gonna win again. A lady of my acquaintance hit 5 out of 6 in Powerball one time. She tried to show me a copy of the winning ticket, and I literally ran away. After all, just because she used up all of her mojo is no reason to taint my mojo.

On July 5, 2006, Vica wrote:

I agree. I think that the available luck for the folks that won has been used up - and just for the baby prize money. Think of this non-participation as a method of saving your luck for the Big Payoff.

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