Friday, March 30, 2012

The Lottery

I just heard that the Mega Millions lottery is now offering a jackpot of 640 MILLION dollars! I have never participated in a lottery or gambled (unless you count driving on a near-empty tank), so I don't have much experience with it, but I do have an opinion on the subject. I don't how how to say this tactfully, so let me just say I consider the lottery to be a self-imposed tax on stupid people.

I understand how enticing it can be to think "what if", so you go ahead and buy a ticket. I think it's important to dream and imagine what things could be like if you had more money, but I don't think the lottery is the wisest way to achieve your financial dreams. I suppose many people are willing to part with a couple bucks if it gives them a feeling of hope. Apparently 640 million dollars worth of people are.

The problem with a lottery is that one person, or maybe a group of coworkers, are going to win an obscene amount of money, and that is great for them, but millions of others will just be heartbroken and even more short on cash than they were before they had the idea to try their luck.

The odds of winning are astronomical and you pretty much have better odds of  becoming a pro athlete, winning an Academy Award, dating a super model, or going back in time and beating out John Denver for the role of Gilligan.

This is what people think they look like when they gamble. 

This is what they really look like

The world paints a picture of sophistication and excitement when it comes to gambling but, the truth is, many of the lottery losers are already in poverty. I heard about a study on the news recently that said people making less than $13,000 per year, who were polled, regularly spent 9% of their income on lottery tickets. 

People freak out when they hear about CEO's or upper management who make millions of dollars off the backs of their "exploited employees", but you don't hear people complaining about someone who makes 640 times that as a lottery winner. At least the CEO is providing a product or service and employing people. The lottery only benefits one person and screws millions of others. 

So instead of wasting your money and false hope on the lottery, you should spend your efforts doing something more productive, like finding out how to get in touch with the winner and beg them for some money before they blow it all.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Nostradamus Casserole

I'm not much of a chef, but there are some dishes I'm confident making. I don't feel like I'm bragging when I say my mashed potatoes and scrambled eggs are better than most recipes. Another dish I'm good at making is one I call Nostradamus. I believe I may have mentioned it on my blog several years ago. It's a pasta dish that my kids always ask me to make.

I have only shared a couple recipes on Chaka's World over the years so it's probably time for another. Nostradamus is nothing fancy, it just consists of the following ingredients:

colored spiral noodles (a couple bags)
cream of mushroom soup (a big can)
lean hamburger (about 12 oz.)
peas (a small bag of frozen peas)
sliced olives (2 cans- cut up your own- I refuse to take part in the ultimate scam of pre-sliced olives in tiny cans that cost twice as much as a big can of whole olives.)
shredded cheese (American or mozzarella)
salt and pepper (a pinch, a dash, or whatever it takes)

Cook the hamburger while the pasta is boiling. Throw the bag of peas in the microwave for several minutes so they will be cooked when it's time to combine the ingredients. When the the noodles are cooked, drain them and immediately add all of the other ingredients and mix them together.

You might wonder why I'm not more specific about how much of the above ingredients should be used. I refuse to cheapen my recipe by reducing it to a simple formula that can fit on 3X5 card and be measured in cute plastic cups. The culinary arts are not a matter of following directions, but rather following your intuition. I never measure out my ingredients. I operate at a higher level than your average chef since I follow my innate feelings for what feels right.

Some people might ask "why I named a casserole after a famous French mystical seer who lived 400 years ago?". The answer is because he was so smart, he probably prophesied we'd be having it for dinner tonight.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I Can Relate

I love this picture. I can relate to this concept not only when it comes to cooking, but almost every facet of life.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Conspiracy Theories

When one hears the word "conspiracy theorist", it is usually used as an insult to describe a paranoid and gullible person. I don't consider myself to be a conspiracy theorist, but I do find that many popular theories have some merit. For some reason, the idea that the government or higher powers are keeping the masses in the dark as they are manipulating them from behind the scenes is a concept that I find very intriguing and entertaining.

Some of the more famous conspiracy theories you may have heard about over the years include:

Those behind the JFK assassination
The government's involvement in 9/11
The Illuminati and the New World Order
Roswell and other alien coverups
Subliminal advertising
NASA's moon landing hoax
AIDS as a man-made disease
Global warming as a political ploy
Elvis, Bruce Lee, and Bin Laden are still alive
Fluoride and vaccinations are dangerous
Bar coding technology is the mark of the beast
Big brother is constantly spying on us

Some of these ideas are more easily entertained than others. In an attempt to maintain what little credibility I may have, I won't tell you which theories I believe are legitimate. Many people who believe in these theories are immediately dismissed as being paranoid wackos. I'm sure there are plenty of people in that category, but I have become more open-minded over time. Maybe it's from watching so many episodes of the X Files.

My biggest concern is with powerful people who influence politics. I think another less mysterious word for that is corruption. I used to think that there was a big difference in ideologies between political parties and candidates, but I am starting to think they are all just puppets who do the will of the man behind the curtain. By the way, that's not the same person as the man upstairs.

Anyway, even if there are government coverups or secret societies doing things behind our backs, I'm not going to let that ruin my day, at least not until March Madness is over. (By the way I've heard that the Rothschilds and Rockefellers determine the winning team before the tournament even starts).

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Obnoxious Cartoons

Years ago I expressed my concerns about ugly cartoons in a post. Last week I was at Jiffy Lube having my oil changed and, while I was in the waiting room, they had the Cartoon Network playing. After a few short minutes, I not only reaffirmed my stance on today's cartoon characters being ugly, but also realized how obnoxious these programs are.

I'm pretty sure this pink dog was the cartoon they were showing. I don't know what the name of the character or show was, and I don't care to find out. I could have sworn the sole purpose of the show was to get on my nerves.

Sure, back in my day we had Captain Caveman yelling and Scooby Dumb and other dark spots in cartoon history, but the sloppy garbage I see the Cartoon Network put out these days just makes me sick. The animation looks so bad that even I could have drawn it. I'm not saying I expect cartoon programs to be directed by Roman Polanski, but it would be nice if there were more requirements to air an animated show on TV besides just movement and noise.

As soon as I noticed the remote control in the lobby, I quickly changed channels. I came across a program that featured vintage NBA games from the early 80's. I was surprised to find out that there are channels that can make a living with reruns of games from 30 years ago. I was actually having a good time reminiscing about the players I grew up watching until an older lady came in, saw that I was watching old basketball re-runs, and looked at me with an expression that said, "You can't be serious!"

My car was finished by this time, so I left, but I learned a valuable lesson. I had been critical of cartoons and felt they were beneath me, only to have someone else come in and give off the same negative vibes towards my program choice. I guess one man's treasure is another man's, or rather older woman's, trash.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I'm not going to pretend I know what it's like to be pregnant or to give birth. Some guys might be foolish enough to make comparisons to something they have never experienced themselves, but I'm not going to make that mistake. However, I do feel that I'm more in tune with the condition of pregnant women than most guys are. Maybe that's because my wife has been pregnant for a cumulative total of nearly 7 years.

Just this afternoon my wife gave birth yet again and I was reminded of what a miracle this process is. It's always amazing to see a newborn transition so quickly to life outside the womb and adapt to a new environment.

I've noticed that there is no equality when it comes to having kids. Some people struggle for years trying to conceive while others seem get pregnant from a mere seductive look from their husband. Some have easy pregnancies and hardly notice they are pregnant. I've heard of a show called "I didn't know I was pregnant" that features some of these cases. Others get sick the minute they conceive and experience difficulties their entire pregnancy.

My hat is off to women who are willing to undergo the changes to their body and in some cases put their life on the line to have kids. Fifteen years ago, my wife gave birth to two 8 pound twins. That will stretch your body out a little bit. Maybe I've seen too many alien movies, but I don't think I could handle anything growing and moving inside me let alone 16 pounds worth.

Anyway, I'm impressed with the sacrifices that women make when it comes to having children. They are troopers for putting up with all the discomforts and the outright pain and sacrifice that accompanies bearing children. This is yet one more reason that supports my theory that women are way cooler than guys.