May The Odds Be Never In Your Favor



Everyone’s talking about the Powerball. And why not? We all peed our pants when it hit the $500mil+ range. Now it’s set to double that.

Like, a WEEK later.

Where does this money come from? Oh, right. TICKET SALES.

What drives ticket sales up? HAVING A GIANT JACKPOT.

What’s bigger than the jackpot? THE ODDS AGAINST YOU WINNING.

I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t already know. The adage that “the lottery is just a tax on people who are bad at math” has its basis in reality. MoneyMiniBlog’s article entitled 24 Things That Are More Likely to Happen Than Winning the Lottery lays out that the odds of winning either the Powerball or MegaMillions is about 1 in 176,000,000. The next most likely thing to happen is, Survey Says…


That’s right. You’re more likely to be killed by a vending machine than you are to win the Powerball. And that’s during a regular playing period, not one with a billion dollar jackpot.

I’m willing to bet that most people don’t walk around in constant terror of being killed by a vending machine (because everyone knows it’s the ice machines you really have to watch out for)…

…but it’s more likely to happen than winning the lottery.

That people continue to play the lottery doesn’t amaze me. We’re people. We’re always ready to receive something for nothing, no matter how long of a shot it may be. In one sense, it shows the hope people have that even against mathematically astronomical odds, things might work out well for them. But to be honest, the lottery really pisses me off.

Who runs the lottery? The state. Where do the proceeds from the lottery go? To the state. Maybe it’s designated to go to education, or parks & rec, or one of other innumerable projects. What typically happens, according to a 2001 report by ABC News, is that the funds simply allow the slashing of those projects’ original budgets, the funds from which the government can allocate somewhere else.

What’s odd to me about this is that some people that play the lottery wouldn’t want to pay higher taxes in order to provide more money to the government for anything, be it education, roads, or welfare (the corporate variety is okay, just not actual people who might need it to survive, because it’s far more likely that they’re abusing the system and will leech off my money that I worked hard for and go get a job you bum illegal TRUMPTRUMPTRUMPTRUMPTRUMP), but will gladly fork over their hard-earned dollar for the chance to be the one receiving money for doing nothing.

Whether you play the lottery or not, whether you believe in welfare or not, whether you’re still reading this or not; don’t you see anything wrong with the fact that the U.S. has issues with supporting its poor, its hungry, its homeless, and sometimes even its veterans, but we have a game of chance with a jackpot nearing or surpassing A BILLION DOLLARS that comes directly from the pockets of United States citizens?

Then again, when was the last time the USA was the best at math?


2016: A Nowtrospective

In his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (which I’ve not read, btw), author Stephen R. Covey declares one of the titular habits thusly: Begin with the End in Mind.

Real original, dude. Begin your New Year’s post with a quote from a culture-saturating motivational book.

Hey, shut up. This is my post, and I’ll do what I want with it.


It’s with that idea in mind that I’m doing a New Year’s restrospective, not on the year that has just ended, but rather with the year that lies ahead.

You know this whole “New Year” thing is really a misnomer. It’s just another day. You can make changes at any second of any minute of any day of any month of any year. But hey, yaaaaaaaay inspiration! Tony Robbins, blahblahblah.




In 2016, I:

  1. Did All the Things I Set Out to Do.


I’m going to admit that this list is not a complete one.  In a book that I actually read this year called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (lotta Ste(v/ph)ens in this game, apparently), one of the things he talked about was not sharing your goals with everyone. The idea behind that is if you share your goals, dreams, intentions, etc., with everyone, you get a false sense of accomplishment just by laying out that list. I had always thought that spelling out your goals for others to see would make them hold you responsible should you start to slip or pull some much-needed encouragement when things get rough.

The flaw with that plan, besides weighing everyone else down with the responsibility of keeping your divergent butt on track, you’re also surrendering the active ownership of your goals to other people.

Nobody is going to do the work I need to do for me. Nobody else can. I know several people that would love to, have asked how to help, and offered whatever they have in order to help me. The answer is simple.

I have to do the work.

I’ve never been good at doing the work. In school, once I learned how to do something, homework was useless to me because I didn’t see the point. That was from elementary school. It took me many years and thousands upon thousands of dollars in student loan debt to understand the value of doing the work and seeing it turn into good grades, opportunities, and eventually my first published academic paper.

In another book I read this year–

Why isn’t this just the list of books you read this year?


–That’s not a bad idea. Maybe when I’m done waxing philosophical. On Writing by Stephen King. It’s an amazing read, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. In this guide, the creepiest dude in Maine lays it out like this: “Amateurs wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

On Writing and The War of Art have had a great influence on me this year, and what I took away from both of them was that the most important thing is to do the work. Reading these books, I felt like Bart Simpson at the chalkboard scrawling out line after line of “I will do my work.”

“I will do my work” doesn’t just apply to writing, though. I have many goals that I want to see fulfilled so I can look back on 2016 and be satisfied that I did everything I could to make those goals become realities.

One goal I had from 2015 was to read more. Now that the year is over, I’ll share with you the list of books I read in 2015.

  • On Writing – Stephen King
  • The Shining – Stephen King
  • V for Vendetta – Alan Moore
  • The Last Days of Video – Jeremy Hawkins
  • Button, Button / Uncanny Stories – Richard Matheson
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
  • Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk
  • Ready Player One – Ernest Cline (previously read)
  • Ultimate Spider-Man TPBs vols. 1-22 – Brian Michael Bendis
  • Ultimate X-Men TPBs vols. 1-12 – Mark Millar, et al.
  • Tough Sh*t – Kevin Smith
  • Carrie – Stephen King
  • In the Blink of an Eye – Walter Murch
  • Deadpool Kills Deadpool – Cullen Bunn
  • TMNT/Ghostbusters – Erik Burnham & Tom Waltz
  • Gotham by Gaslight – Bryan Augustyn
  • Superior – Mark Millar & Leinil Yu
  • Tales From the Script – Peter Hanson & Paul Robert Herman
  • The War of Art – Steven Pressfield
  • Dancing Barefoot – Wil Wheaton
  • Jaws – Peter Benchley
  • Y: The Last Man Deluxe Books 1-3 – Brian K. Vaughn & Pia Guerra

Jeez, there are sure a lot of comic books–

You read through V for Vendetta and tell me it’s not a novel that happens to have pictures. But sure. Not counting comics, I still read 14 books this year. I started more than that, but I’ve only included the books I finished. I guess that could be a subheading for my one-item list up there:

In 2016, I:

  1. Finished What I Started.
It's too good to use just once.
It’s too good to use just once.


I’m off to a good start. I finished this post.

Happy New Year, everyone.


Do the work.