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Powerball Winner John LorussoA couple of weeks ago, the winning Powerball ticket was sold relatively close to where I live. Okay, not that close, but I’ve driven through the town before — that has to count for something!

And no, I wasn’t the winner. You can’t win if you don’t play and, well, I don’t play.

Anyway, here’s an excerpt from my local paper:

For two weeks, no one knew who bought the winning $15 million Powerball ticket at a convenience store in Ashford earlier this month.

The winner kept the news to himself until Wednesday when he showed up at the Connecticut State Lottery headquarters in New Britain to claim his prize.

John Lorusso, a regular at the Squaw Hollow X-tra Mart, said at the lottery headquarters Thursday that he had been waiting for his business partner to return from vacation before telling people he was the state’s newest millionaire.

I just felt it was right to wait,” he said.

Lorusso, 43, of Eastford, received his prize Thursday at the lottery headquarters.

He opted for the lump sum of $7,035,647.28. After state and federal taxes, Lorusso will get $4.9 million.

“I have more friends that I had before,” Lorusso said jokingly. He said he played Powerball twice a week for about three years. This year, he purchased a Quick Pick with the winning numbers 2-4-14-15-28 and the Powerball 23.

The drawing was Oct. 3, but Lorusso didn’t realize he was the winner until a few days later when he stopped by the store.

“They’ve got the sign up, `The winning ticket was sold here,'” Lorusso said.

Lorusso grabbed a printout of the winning numbers and brought it to his car where he compared them to the numbers on his ticket.

“These look a lot like the numbers,” Lorusso said he thought to himself.

He wanted to keep the news to himself until his partner at a commercial printing company returned from vacation.

He said he felt bad lying to them and stopped going to the store. Lorusso returned Wednesday night to explain himself.

“I didn’t want to lie to you guys anymore,” he told them.

Lorusso said he has no immediate plans for his money, but wants to be smart with it. He has denied his son’s request for a flat-screen television.

My first reaction was, that’s cool that he kept it to himself and waited for his partner to return from vacation.

My second reaction — how can they still call it a $15 Million Jackpot when he’s going home with just $4.9 million?

Talk about false advertising?!

I realize that in Powerball there is the option to take a lump sum upfront which cuts the whole thing in half (does Powerball roll the “left over” into the next drawing?), and then the government takes their cut, but touting it as a $15 million dollar prize when it’s actually less than one third of that seems a little… crooked?

Powerball’s website has the current jackpot amount in HUGE bold face at the top of their page — under it, the fine print which lists the “actual” cash value. So, as of today, according to them, $26 million is actually worth $11.9 million.

Um… Yeah, sure, that makes *perfect* sense.

Even still, just the $4.9 million should be a nice supplement to his income for the rest of his life. And really, if I were him, I’d go out and buy that flat-screen television.

1 1969

UConn vs. Maine Football

Last night, my wife and I went to our first college football game. I’d actually been to many games in the past when I was in University, but in Canada, well, let’s just say college football isn’t exactly the “event” it is in the States.

We happened upon tickets to the University of Connecticut’s home opener when my wife was offered them by someone at work earlier this week — and seeing as we’d never taken in the ‘event’, and the price tag was $0, well, how could we not take that up?

So off we went to begin another inexpensive weekend activity. Let me start by saying that this was no Jordan Knight concert, but it was still an entertaining night.

Parking wasn’t so bad — it was included with our tickets. Making our way through the parking lots, or more actually a maze of tailgaters, though, was a little foreign to me.

The idea of tailgating doesn’t really have any appeal to me at all, though it seemed to be more popular than the actual game. Connectiut is a funny place like that. We’re posers. The number of people “pretending” to be big college football folks is downright astonishing. We’re not Purdue. We’re not Michigan. We’re not Notre Dame. We have a modest sized stadium that was built a few years ago — and now suddenly we’ve got acres of tailgaters with their little tents set up and flags flying high.

Three years ago, before the stadium was even built, well, I’d venture to say many local high schools could boast crowds that rivalled Uconn’s crowds. That aside, being that Connecticut fans are classic fairweather fans, once they realize that beating up on teams like the Maine Black Bears (they shut them out last night; 38-0) week after week isn’t really all that much to get excited about. I can’t wait for the day that a team like Michigan agrees to come here — well, they’ll see where they stand. I’d venture to guess shortly thereafter, the crowds will disappear — kinda like they did with the Hartford Whalers.

The funny part, even dominating the game, by halftime, most of the crowd had left anyway. And honestly, most of the crowd hadn’t even entered the stadium until the second quarter. So, really, it truly was more about the tailgating and less about the game for most of the “fans”.

Okay, enough negativity. The real reason for this post was that I could not believe the mount of money some of these folks must’ve spent on their tailgating set-ups. Multiple gas grills, really nice tents, flags that go for no less than $50 each, and tons and tons of food. And don’t forget the alcohol. We’re talking probably over $200 worth of consumables per car. Seriously.

Now, I’m not from the school of no-fun, but all that, for a 4-hour (the parking lots open 4 hours before game time) party? I dunno, you have to think, the set-up time is maybe a half ahour, after sitting in traffic getting in for a half hour. Cut that party down to 3 hours now. Getting the grills going and food on the go, maybe another half hour. For me to set something that elaborate up — well, I’m going to want to use it for more than a couple of hours. Maybe that’s just me, but for that kind of money, it’s not worth it as far as I’m concerned.

Dive right in!  There has to be atleast $200 in it for you!

On the way out, I couldn’t help but take a picture of one of the dumpsters they have spaced randomly all over the lots. There was easily $200 worth of empties in each one. I’m all for free money, but I wasn’t about to dumpster dive — but it is something to keep in mind for those out there who are willing to get a little (or a lot) dirty. Really, you could walk out of there with $1000 worth of cans in a few hours I’m sure.

In the end, our night cost us $11 total. Two $4 sodas (cough! ripoff! cough!) and a $3 order of fries.

Not bad for the “event” of the week in Connecticut.

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They Might Be Giants - July 28, 2007 at the Mohegan SunSo, last night, my wife and I headed over to the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut for a free show by my favorite band of all time, They Might Be Giants.

They did a free show there last year and, while we had to stand in a line for 4 hours, it was good enough to have us head back again this year.

We stood in line for a good two and a half hours this time and had seats almost as good as last. In fact, the nice couple from Providence we shared a table with actually made the seats seem even better than last year.

While standing in line before the show, John Flansburgh (one of the two band members) quickly walked down the line handing out free stickers — and upon reaching me said, “Hey, nice t-shirt!” in regards to the 15 year old concert t-shirt I was wearing from their 1992 tour. I ‘sort of’ had a conversation with him. By ‘sort of’, I mean I just said “thank you” in response, but like I said, he was moving quickly and I wasn’t about to slow him down.

Anyway, what really stuck me was that *no one* in the line seemed to know who he was!?

Honestly, I’d think that if you’re the type that is willing to stand in line for hours on end to see a band as obscure as TMBG — chances are, you know exactly what John Linnell and John Flansburgh look like. You’d think anyway.

That experience was pretty cool. Not saying it’s one of those moments I’ll never forget in my life, or anything, but it felt pretty good.

Making the night even better, as we were seated, we were each given a signed copy of their newest album, “The Else“, which just came out earlier this month.

This worked out great as I’d not yet purchased the album (that saved me some coin), and the albums were both signed.

I’d always kind of wanted their autographs too, and checked on eBay every now and then for them, but it was never anything I’d consider paying a lot of money for. I’ve just always wanted to collect autographs of the people I liked from my youth. Silly, I know, but now John Linnell and John Flansburgh can join Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, and Bill Gates (I think his was done with an auto-pen) in my tiny collection.

The concert wasn’t as good as last year, as it heavily favored the new album full of songs that few people knew. But they played the standards you’d expect like “Istanbul”, “Birdhouse in your Soul”, and “Dr. Worm”. That last one I call a standard, but being an old-timer now, I think of it as a “new” standard.

They threw in a couple of old ones that I’d never seen live before like “Put Your Hand inside the Puppet Head” and “Letterbox” and one that I hadn’t heard since the 1992 tour, when I saw them twice, “Twisting in the Wind.”

Those three got some of the better crowd response. Or, more accurately, I thought so anyway — it was probably just the 30+ crowd that had actually heard those songs before they were re-issued on compilation albums — or owned them before CD’s even existed.

On the way home, we listened to the new album — not sure it’s a great one, but it’s definitely better than the last few they’ve released.

When I was a teenager, they were one of those bands where I could listen to the entire album through and through over and over again. That lasted for, well, I’d say their first 5-6 albums. Essentially, 1986 through 1994.

After that, for the next 6 albums, well, let’s just say I’ve used the fast forward button from time to time. That said, each album definitely has had at least two songs that would have fit seamlessly into their first group of albums, so they keep me coming back for more.

In the end, had I not bought a $25 t-shirt, the night would have cost $5 total. Two $2 sodas and a $1 tip. Not bad for a concert where you get to sit maybe 10 feet from the band and you get two free signed CD’s which just came out in stores at around a $15 each.

Now that’s a bargain Saturday night!

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BMW Z3 Damage

This weekend my wife and I were involved in an accident on the highway.

Cruising along with the top down in my ego-tag at highway speed yesterday morning, the car in front of us kicked a large truck tire re-tread into the air which struck the hood of our car.

Evidently swerving at high speed doesn’t quite work like it does in the movies. We spun around a few times across three lanes and ended up facing the wrong direction and tangled up in the three steel cord style of guardrail.

The great news, at first, having gone from 70 mph to zero in the span of less than two seconds, was that we were both okay. Not a scratch between us.

I have to credit BMW — the outcome should have been worse. In fact, I’d bet if we’d been in one of our other vehicles, it would have been worse.

Who’d have thought a convertible would be safe?

After the fact, the news got even better.

As we stood on the side of the highway watching a wrecker tug our car down from the tangled mess of guardrails and torn up asphalt and onto a flatbed it hit me: the last remaining relic of my time as a frivolous spender was gone.

And you know what? That felt good.

Sure, I’d just trashed a $50k car, that at one time meant so much to me, and one that I’d worked so hard to pay for — but since I started to control my spending, I’d realized that it was quite possibly my biggest financial mistake.

Even seconds before that tire tread was thrown into the air, the car was no longer the status symbol I’d originally thought it was, but more a symbol of personal embarrassment — a blatant sign of my former financial irresponsibility. As a result, in recent years, it rarely left the garage.

All in all, a good day in my financial quest.

On a side note, I feel I should give kudos to Drew Loethscher, Victor the tow truck driver, and the rest of the folks at Tolland Citgo in Connecticut. They towed the car and were very welcoming considering the situation. Definitely not the stereotypical gas station/towing company experience.

And so far so good on the Allstate front. I filed a claim online yesterday and a friendly claims rep called yesterday afternoon; though she apparently didn’t read anything that I had originally submitted.

Somehow, I think I’ll be explaining the situation at least 10 more times to them — though the police report could answer and verify everything I’ve already told them.

Here’s to hoping that everything works out on that end I won’t be added to the already long list of very dissatisfied Allstate auto insurance customers.

Can You Dig It?

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