Many people put $2 in an office pool each time the lottery rises above a certain number…say $100 million. Then, after many, many months of not winning, they start to question the practice. “Christ, I’m out $200 already with nothing to show for it. Maybe I should stop playing.”*

There are two major problems with that statement. First off, you do have something to show for it — hope! For the next several hours, you get the opportunity to fantasize about your instant fortune and the dreams it will finance.  That’s enough to make the expenditure worthwhile; even a double espresso can’t jack your spirits any higher.

Give yourself ample time to reflect upon your new life.  Being the selfless giver you are, you’d give half of it away to deserving non-profits. That still leaves you richer than Croesus.  Maybe you’d buy an island. Maybe you’d start a biker gang and buy everyone matching Indian motorcycles. Stretch your imagination: you’ve paid for the privilege!

Furthermore, each time you enter the office pool, you increase the odds of your group winning. The more tickets, the better.  Not just for you, but for everyone. So you’re helping others as you help yourself.

But the biggest reason to continue to play the office pool? Knowing what will happen the day you don’t play the office pool.  They’ll win, and you’ll be watching everyone celebrate while staring into the abyss.  This will lead to chronic depression, sickness, problem drinking, even death.  $2 not to contemplate dying alone in an SRO while your former office mates are driving by in their Maserati Sport Convertibles? Well, that’s the greatest gift of all!

Here are a few numbers that came to us while we were putting together this post.  We offer them to you with our compliments. Naturally, we welcome your generosity if they come in.

*Doing a quick search on “odds of winning the lottery” only confirms ambivalence as the rational response.  At any average of 180 million to 1, you have a better chance of being eaten by a shark**, knocked into the next world by a meteor impact, or being offed by flesh-eating bacteria. Still, you can’t win it if you’re not in it.

**Please refrain from swimming if the lifeguard is away from her station.

Moving slow? Feeling snarky? Having trouble getting started? Now that it’s back to “la course de rat,” you may well be cursing what society has labeled the worst day of the week. 

But here’s the good news: Monday is not the ungodly descent into Hades we’ve been conditioned to think.

A recent survey revealed that day-of-the-week stereotypes (i.e., “Monday blues”, “Wednesday hump day”, “TGIF”, etc.) were only pronounced when subjects predicted their moods for each day of the upcoming week.  Which means if you reframe today as “tolerable” or even “pleasant,” there’s every chance you can bury the Monday stigma and the angst it can cause.

So what’s Monday got going for it? First off, you’ve probably stored up a few more winks thanks to “no alarm Saturday” and “slept through church Sunday.” Plus, two days away from the office is a restorative in itself. That’s good, solid energy you can draw upon during the course of the day.

Then there are the remarkable stories you can spill to your work mates regarding your blissed-out triumph of a weekend.  Like how you piloted your 40-foot sloop to victory in the local regatta and then rolled sevens at the World Dice Championship. (And don’t forget the models.  Of course there were models!) Remember, everyone exaggerates his or her own adventures. Feel free to do the same.

Finally, Monday gives you the perfect excuse (“for christ sake, it’s Monday”) to drag your heels a bit before you tackle that inbox full of projects, deadlines, and ass-ripping notes from your churlish supervisor.

If you really want to really bitch about a day, try Tuesday. That’s when the work has backed up, the boss is getting testy, and the heavy-duty shit hits the fan. Yep, Tuesday’s the day you’re most likely to work through your lunch break due to the realization that you screwed around on Monday, and now you’re behind the 8-ball.

In fact, almost one in five employees will leave the office late on a Tuesday, as they work after hours to salvage the week after putting in a poor effort the day before.

So rather than predetermine that Monday is going to suck it big time, why not look at the facts. And then enjoy showing people your pictures from that Saturday evening rave, where the cops arrested everyone but you!

Enjoy your Monday.  You’ve earned it.


Anybody who tries to sell us a quick remedy for obesity, a fountain-of-youth formula, or a miracle cure for back pain is usually called a cheat, a charlatan, or a cur.

But is that fair assessment of snake oil salesmen? Not necessarily!

As it turns out, snake oil does have measurable health effects, assuming you’re using the authentic formula derived from the fat of the Chinese water snake. This fat is processed and refined into a concentrated oil that possesses high levels of EPA, an omega-3 fatty acid directly linked to a number of benefits for human health.

So while the term “snake oil” is derisively used to label fraudulent medical remedies or shady wheeler-dealers, the EPA found in the original blend can indeed loosen up stiff joints and relieve inflammation in various parts of the body.  It also has analgesic properties which makes it a popular balm following an injury or surgery, or during a chronic illness that causes constant pain. Used as a rub, this oil can also speed up healing of wounds and injuries.

Not only that, if you find yourself blowing a gasket without a good explanation, rub a small amount of snake oil on your temples, or apply it to your chest, and feel your mood improve.  And don’t forget the scalp! The traditional use of snake oil includes massaging small amounts into the cranium in order to prevent hair loss.*

But Caveat Emptor, as Carnival Bob always says. There are plenty of snakes in the world, but their venom doesn’t contain the level of EPA that will help cure your ills. American patent-medicine peddlers of the late 1900’s sold liniments labeled “rattlesnake oil”, but the oil of rattlesnakes has 1/10th the level of omega 3 that the Chinese water snake has.

*We’re also perfectly comfortable with male pattern baldness, as it provides a boost for sales of hats and sunscreens vital for the U.S. economy.


There’s an ancient proverb that states: “If your own house is not in order, how can you possible help another to tidy up theirs?”

So before offering a hearty handshake to a friend, colleague, or local law enforcement officer, we suggest you start with yourself first.

Clasp your hands together. Doing so is a great way to get in touch with yourself, get centered, and remember “I am here now.” There’s a reason your own two hands clasped together is the inter-cultural symbol of prayer and spiritual growth.

Try to pay attention to what your hands feel like. Grab a knuckle and study your wonderful opposable thumb, the keystone of humanity’s progress. Those hands are loaded with more nerve endings and wired with greater familiarity to your brain than any other part of your body.

When you explore what your own hands feel like you can learn things about your own body, your temperament, your personality. Are they hard and tense — or soft and supple? Warm or cold? Damp or dry? If they’re dry, you might enjoy reaching for one of the 5,000 commercial hand moisturizing products and see how that feels.*

Saluting yourself, adoring yourself and sparking the divine in yourself is a great way to start the day. So slap ‘em together, give your own hands a good shake and say “hello, adorable friend.”

*While we are not endorsing any particular hand cream, lotion or balm, we do recommend choosing one that’s unscented.

News conferences, state dinners, ribbon-cutting, photo ops…political leaders spend an inordinate amount of time stage-managing ceremonies intended to commemorate their successes.

Small wonder, since they wouldn’t have ventured into the business of pressing flesh and begging for votes unless they were eager for attention.  Yet their day-to-day activities pale in comparison to how much effort they put into planning their last rites.

Take John McCain.  He spent a full 8 months designing an elaborate ceremony to honor…John McCain.

As the New York Times reported, “He obsessed over the music…choreographed the movement of his coffin from Arizona, his home state, to Washington. And…began reaching out to Republicans, Democrats and even a Russian dissident with requests that they deliver eulogies and serve as pallbearers.”

Now we don’t want to cast aspersion on John McCain’s motives for this four-day tribute to John McCain.  He was a war hero and served the people of Arizona for much of his time on earth. And there is the thumb in the eye his ceremony is intended to administer to the current president.   (We can only imagine the services Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer are planning for themselves.)

The question is, why should a grandiose spectacle be reserved only for those who spend their lives courting the limelight?  Over-the-top memorials need not be the sole provenance of movie actors, senators, and members of the Catholic archdiocese.  The unsung heroes of this country deserve special treatment as well.  (Our definition of “hero” being anyone who puts up with various attention-seekers while going about the business of surviving this current age of unreason. Namely, all of us!)

So we encourage you to begin planning your personal requiem now.  Start putting aside a few bucks every week earmarked for “My Send-off.” Begin writing a set of instructions for your big day — or days — that specifies what you’d like to have occur. Fireworks, tap-dancing, power boat races: It’s all fair game. Swap these instructions with your best friend. Whichever of you goes first, the other will circle the wagons (loaded with plenty of food and beverages, since you’ll want to attract a crowd beyond mourners who actually know you).

Research the rules in your community for throwing a parade where your remains are the main attraction. A brass band helps attract attention; an ice cream truck is also a nice touch.  The parade need not stretch for miles; you can just have your pals walk your body up and down the street in front of your apartment.

As for the coffin, why settle for the standard rectangular box?  Better to be carried aloft in something that really represents your life. Have a custom wood-worker come up with something shaped like an airplane (if you’re a pilot) or a fish (if you’re an angler).  A life-sized Gibson Les Paul with starburst finish? Why not?

You may find that once you start planning this great event, you won’t want to miss it by being deceased.  So don’t wait! Have your funeral in advance, while you’re still alive to enjoy it.  “Playing dead” is way more fun than being dead.  At least, that’s what the ghosts in our life have told us.

*Don’t forget to give your loved ones something to remember you by.  In South Korea, many opt to compress their remains into gem-like beads which are then colorfully displayed at home.   

“I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking.” – A. Einstein

Sure, we all know the classic E=mc2. But did you know Albert worked with with fellow physicist Leo Szilard to develop a more energy efficient refrigerator (shown above)?

At the time, traditional ice boxes were being replaced with modern machines that ran on electricity. Unfortunately (for the people able to afford them),  they relied on poisonous gases like methyl chloride, ammonia, and sulfur dioxide as refrigerants.  When newspapers reported the death of an entire family in Berlin due to toxic fumes from a broken refrigerator seal, Einstein and Szilard set out to find a better solution to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

The need for irrational thinking helped them circumvent the standard wisdom of the day and use a heat source to provide coolant, with thermodynamics driving a combination of gases and liquids through three interconnected circuits.

Unfortunately, none of Einstein and Szilard’s alternative designs for refrigerators ever became a consumer product due to the expense of manufacturing them.*  It was the introduction of freon in 1930 that propelled refrigerators from death traps to non-toxic storage units for cold cuts, ice cream, and leftover Chinese food.

*The good news? Today there is renewed interest in their designs due to the impact of freon and other chlorofluorocarbons on the ozone layer. The need for alternative energy sources means humanity may yet benefit from the Einstein-Szilard Fridge. 


According to the market research group Nielsen, American adults now spend more than 11 hours per day watching, reading, listening to or simply interacting with media. 11 hours!  That leaves just 3 hours for meals,  2 hours for naps, and 8 hours for a decent night’s sleep.

The best way to combat and reverse this trend?  Put down the iPhone, lap top and tablet and go for a stroll outside! Not only will it help your visual system relax, it’s good for the rest of your body too.

As for missing your screen time, there’s an amazing show worthy of an Oscar, an Emmy, a Tony, and whatever award they give to blog sites right outside your door.  Whether you live in the city, the suburbs, a rural area, or on a flotilla somewhere off the coast of Newfoundland, the best entertainment is that which nature has provided.  (And by nature, we mean anything other than being connected to a  gadget at the expense of missing out on life itself.)

As if getting some fresh air and sunshine wasn’t reward enough, we’re happy to report the time outdoors will also reduce your risk of becoming nearsighted. A recent article published in the “Optometry Times” proves the more time individuals spend looking at their electronic devices, the harder their focusing system works, causing accommodative spasms and stress on their visual system. As a result, people are suffering from head aches, dry eye, and becoming myopic at earlier ages.

So head for the great outdoors! And while you’re out there, here’s a wonderful uplifting song that can instantly raise your serotonin levels to a brimming cupful should you sing it out loud in the company of strangers:

Zip a dee doo dah, Zip a dee ay,

My, on my, what a wonderful day!

Plenty of sunshine, headin’ my way,

Zip a dee doo dah, Zip a dee ay,

Mister bluebird on my shoulder,

It’s the truth, it’s natural

Everything is satisfactull,

Zip a dee doo dah, Zip a dee ay,

Wonderful feeling, Wonderful day!*

Granted, this ditty comes from the Disney film “Song of the South”, a movie that has been labeled “racist” and “backwards leaning” by those offended by its depiction of Uncle Remus as a slave on the plantation.  Disney defends “Song of the South” by saying Uncle Remus could leave the plantation freely, any time he wanted. The same as any of us can leave our jobs in the corporate slave trade, if we are willing to forgo a weekly check and not mind the stigma of having “time on our hands” instead of constantly checking our iPhones for important missives from corporate communications. So here’s hoping you have a bluebird on your shoulder, instead of a Galaxy Note 9 in your pocket.

As America continues to lead the world in racing from place to place, grasping at riches and attempting to stay busy for fear of missing out (on what, we’re not sure), we are reminded of an old adage that exhorts us to pause in our frenzy and actually acknowledge the moment we find ourselves in.

For that, we have a Mr. Walter Hagen to thank. The dapper Mr. Hagen was neither a Buddhist practitioner or a self-help author, but a seminal figure in the world of golf. His winning ways ushered in a world of riches for professional athletes, as he became the first to earn a million dollars playing a sport for a living.*

What he said was: “You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way. ”

Notice Hagen didn’t just choose roses to sniff. That’s a relief, as it gives us more opportunity to appreciate all flowers along the way. Jasmine, hyacinth, peony, wisteria: each deserves our undivided attention.

But why just limit your olfactory sense to flowers? To be truly awake and in the moment, we suggest you take a good whiff of everything that crosses your path.

We’re not just talking about the good smells either — a fresh-baked cherry pie cooling on the window ledge of Aunt Millicent’s kitchen, or that sweet huff of unleaded gasoline while you fill up at the Exxon station. Focus your nose on the questionable smells too, like a New York subway platform on a hot summer day, rotting fish left out to wither in the sun at the seafood market, even a freshly minted poop from your labradoodle Sadie. Such smells wake us up to the moment, and should not be pushed away just because we find them off-putting. They’re just as valuable in our ongoing education as the waft of evergreens in a forest or a demitasse of freshly made espresso.

And speaking of Sadie the labradoodle, you might notice just how devoted she is to smelling the world, whether it be a pant leg, a tree trunk, or a Goodyear steel-belted radial. Like all dogs, Sadie possesses up to 300 million olfactory receptors in her nose, compared to a mere 6 million in humans. And the part of a dog’s brain that is devoted to analyzing smells is, proportionally speaking, 40 times greater than ours. No wonder the cops are always walking a Labrador around the airport in search of the odd bag of cocaine.

So take your olfactory senses for a walk and get a whiff of everything. Though when sniffing fellow humans, be discreet. Some take offense if you get to close.  Even though it is only natural!

*Hagen once stated that he “never wanted to be a millionaire, just to live like one.” A fortunate man, he achieved both!

Who was the true author of American independence?

Many say Mr. Paine was the guy.  A radical writer who emigrated from England to America in 1774, his pamphlet Common Sense was read by every colonist questioning their fealty to Great Britain. No less a figure than John Adams was quoted as saying: “Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain.”

Yet despite playing the greatest role in moving the American people from a spirit of rebellion to one of revolution, he was later ostracized due to his  ridicule of institutionalized religion in his seminal work The Age of Reason.  In fact, only 6 people attended his funeral in 1806.  It’s tough being a truly independent thinker.

And so, in honor of July 4th, here is Thomas Paine, SuperOptimist Extraordinaire, ready to adorn your visage.*

*But please remove before lighting any sparklers, crackling balls, killer bees, or wizard’s hats.

As much as we all hope our plans amount to something, and we graduate to “the good life,” it can often prove to be a bust rather than a boon.

Why? Because once you’ve climbed those rungs of success, you’ll constantly be afraid that “the good life” will be taken away from you.

Here’s the antidote. Don’t just anticipate misfortune without flinching, fully embrace it when it arrives. See what you can make out of a bad grade, crap assignment, or shattered dream.

Then every lost wallet, dropped phone call, job dismissal, and broken bone will lose its ability to disrupt your life.  Suddenly, you’re able to feel at ease even when a shit storm arrives.  And they will, so be ready!