Tuesday, April 28, 2009

There is a 1 in 40 chance of winning Mega Millions

There is a 1 in 40 chance of winning Mega Millions, overall. The chances of winning the mega millions jackpot is 1 in 175,711,536 (so there is a 1 in 175,711,536 chance I will not be going to work tomorrow).

I'll turn it all into pennies, and swim in it.

So how is the overall chance of winning 1 on 40? Check out the chart below (courtesy of the NJ Lottery)

So say you only get the power ball, you would still win $2 - that means a $1 profit, not too shabby. While my eye is on the jackpot, I wouldn't turn my nose up at $250,000.

Mega Millions jackpots are usually, well, mega millions of dollars. Where does all the money come from? Mega millions of people. It is the largest multi-state lottery and is available in California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

Now if I win, I promise I will keep on writing (I'll have more time to blog while I'm lying on my island) but I will give out MUCH bigger prizes.

What would you do if you were a mega winner?

Click here for the winning numbers.

Monday, April 27, 2009

You cannot get the swine flu from eating pork

You cannot get the swine flu (H1N1) from eating pork, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.). But you can get it from other people. There are a couple of things you can do to prevent the spread of the disease, including:
  • Covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Strengthening your immune system with good nutrition and vitamins
How do you know if you have the swine flu? Symptoms of the swine flu include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. If you think you may have the flu, do not go to work, school, wherever... go to the doctor. Don't wait, just go. Drugs like Tamiflu and Relenza have been effective in treating the flu. According to U.S. health officials, seasonal flu shots do not prevent the swine flu.

What exactly is the swine flu? According to the C.D.C.:

Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen. Swine flu viruses have been reported to spread from person-to-person, but in the past, this transmission was limited and not sustained beyond three people.

For more information about the swine flu, visit PandemicFlu.org, or follow the C.D.C. on twitter @CDCEmergency.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

It's better to be bitten by a dog than a human

It's better to be bitten by a dog than a human because aside from rabies, the majority of germs in a dogs mouth do not effect humans, whereas all of the germs in a human mouth will get other humans sick. Not to say a dogs mouth isn't dirty, they eat plenty of horrible things, or that a dogs teeth wouldn't do more damage than a person's, but the risk of infection is significantly less for a dog bite than a human bite. Personally, I'd rather not be bitten by anything.

Pick your poison....

According to a reputable source (someone I know with EMT training) a human bite has a 100% chance of becoming infected. I happen to know this from experience. A friend of mine was recently bitten by a human on the PATH train (no lie). The biter was a drunk girl who was yelling and making a ruckus on the train. A male friend of mine told the girl to be quiet, as it was very annoying, and in reply she lunged at him, striking him repeatedly with her purse, and then decided to attack my other friend (an innocent bystander), and went Mike Tyson on her finger. No worries, the crazy cannibal girl was arrested...and the train is safe again. Thank you transit police. It was quite an ordeal, resulting in a trip to the hospital, a tetanus shot and an infected finger.

Friends don't let friends bite strangers.

Human bites are more common than you may think. They are the third most common kind of bite treated in emergency rooms (after evil cats and puppies), with 60% of bites occurring above the waist.

So what should you do if you, or someone you know, is bitten by a human? Here are a few steps to preventing serious infection:
  • Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water (or if you are somewhere that is not available, like a train station, hydrogen peroxide or alcohol)
  • If the wound is bleeding, apply pressure to help stop the blood flow
  • Bandage the wound to protect it from further contamination
  • Have the wound examined by a medical professional; it is very likely that antibiotics and a tetanus shot will be needed in order to prevent serious infection

For more information on the treatment of human bite wounds, click here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

More than 35 million Americans are hungry

More than 35 million Americans are hungry. Not just, I want a snack hungry, on the verge of hunger. Even worse, 12 million of these Americans are children.

Lets bring it home... according to the Poverty Research Institute, 1 out of every 5 New Jersey families cannot afford the basic necessities of life (food, shelter etc.) even though 85% of these households have one working member. Really? Sitting in my one bedroom apartment, fully stuffed from a Cheesecake Factory dinner, warm, clothed and healthy, it seems almost impossible to believe that 1 in 5 of the people in my state, my neighbors, could be unable to provide food for their families.

Unfortunately this is the reality, but it gets much, much worse. Check out these real-time stats from StopTheHunger.com. Just watch the numbers roll. One sixth of the world is undernourished - and a little more than that are obese. It doesn't make sense.

So right now there is a good possibility you are sitting in front of your computer, jaw a little dropped, and if you're in a position where you can provide food and shelter, feeling grateful for what you have in life.

How about doing something to help?

Fourteen world-famous photographers have banded together to form a coalition called “Photographers Against Hunger.” Each photographer has donated a signed an iconic print of Bruce Springsteen (long time supporter of the Community Food Bank of New Jersey). For a $25 entry fee, you are eligible to win one of these photographs. You can enter as many times as you want (hundreds, thousands of times! kidding, well unless you want to). Proceeds go to the to Community Food Bank of New Jersey. Check it out at www.backstreets.com/hunger.

For more information on how you can help the hungry in your backyard, visit the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.

Max Randall Branigan was born on April 22, 1991

Happy Birthday Max!

I tried to find a picture that correctly represented Max and his ability to make everyone around him laugh...I found something even better, a video...

Welcome to the adulthood! You can now legally vote, go to a strip club, get a tattoo (sorry Mom), get an unrestricted licence and buy lottery tickets. Yay for you!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hail can grow to the size of a volleyball

Hail can grow to the size of a volleyball. The largest one on record was 7 inches in diameter and 19 inches in circumference.

That's bigger than my head!

Where does hail come from? Hail usually falls during severe thunderstorms. Inside the Cumulonimbus clouds that make up thunderstorms there are strong updrafts of warm air and downdrafts of cool air. Water droplets get caught up by the updrafts and freeze in the high altitude. The frozen droplet then falls with the downdraft. The droplet can then be picked up by another updraft, giving it another coat of ice. Eventually, if the droplet travels up and down through the cloud enough times, it falls to the ground as hail. If for some reason you didn't follow my description (I did take Understanding Weather and Climate in college, but I clearly got nothing from the experience) here is a diagram:


According to the National Weather Service, hail causes one billion dollars (what!?) in damage each year. Tonight I was caught in a short hail storm, and I am amazed that I made it home without a dent in my car. The mini hail I encountered, while personally frightening (I'm not a fan of thunder or its accessories), is nothing like the hail in Tornado Valley, and could have been much, much worse.

For more information on hail, click here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

One hundred apologies, Mr. Centipede (and other bugs with good intentions)

One hundred apologies Mr. Centipede, I didn't know that you were only here to help me. It's true. While the common house centipede (with its venomous legs and hideous exterior) looks pretty terrifying, its actually something you want in your house. The creepy inch-long beasts feed on bedbugs (eww dead skin-eaters), termites (destructive monsters), cockroaches (overall grossness), silverfish (not even necessary) and ants (filthy food stealers).

Are that many legs really necessary...

If I had only known! Maybe I wouldn't have sucked him up into my Dyson (lies). Centipedes are one of the many bugs with good intentions. Yes, they creep us out, but they are the lesser of two evils. Another commonly killed do-gooder is the spider.

Spiders are another creepy crawler that get the vacuum. Arachnophobia, a fear of spiders, is the most common animal-based phobia. Yes, spiders can bite you and spin webs across paths and old doorways so you walk into them without knowing it, but your everyday house spider eats two of the most annoyingly terrible disease spreading wastes of life bugs ever...mosquitoes and flies. These two flying nuisances bring nothing to the table (and are the reason I own an electric tennis racket). So next time your about to kill that spider on your ceiling, be a gentleman and bring it outside, so it can continue to eat the other bugs you don't want around.

Of all the bugs with good intentions in the universe, there is one I hate/fear the most...the Cicada Killer.

Need I say more?

Cicada killers might look vicious, but male killers can't even sting, and females have to be severely provoked to. However, cicada killers eat a far more annoying bug, you guessed it, the cicada. All cicadas do is sleep for 17 years and then wake up and make vile noise all summer. So cicada killer, while you scare the crap out of me, I'd rather one of you than thousands of googly-eyed noisemakers.

This post was inspired by the centipede I found in my apartment. Ughh

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

There are over 30,000 McDonald's restaurants on Earth

There are over 30,000 McDonald's restaurants on Earth, and they serve approximately 47 million people per day - that could feed everyone in the state of New York twice in once day with enough left over for everyone in New Jersey (that's a lot of happy meals).

McDonald's can be found everywhere, in malls and shopping centers, chain discount department stores, airports and even hospitals (I lived across the street from a hospital that had a 24 hour McDonald's; we would walk over in the middle of the night and grab happy meals... such rebels...I'm surprised we were never stopped by security).

Don Gorske of Wisconsin has eaten 23,000 Big Macs in the last 36 years. He eats a steady two Big Macs per day, and weighs a mere 185 lbs (really? How is that fair?). Not only that, according to the 2004 documentary, Super Size Me ( I recently watched it on Hulu, which is like YouTube, on steroids) Gorske's cholesterol is at a healthy level (again, really? I eat salad like it's my job and mine is sky-high...maybe he is on to something).

A Big Mac is 540 calories and 29 grams of fat, which means Gorske consumed 12,420,000 calories and 667,000 grams of fat from Big Macs in the last 36 years (how is he not obese?).

I'm not a big fast food eater, unless:
  1. It's realllly late at night and I'm starrrrving
  2. It's really late at night and I've been drinking
  3. I am attempting to recover from a long night out with a dose of grease - nothing beats a sports drink and french fries to cure a hangover
I guess the key for normal people is to enjoy fast food, like everything else in life, in moderation.

That includes you, Grimace.

This post was inspired by Super Size Me, which taught me that eating McDonald's for 30 days straight with minimal exercise will, in fact, make you fat. Duh.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Easter Bunny does not lay eggs

No, the Easter Bunny does not lay eggs. Many wonder why is the Easter Bunny associated with Easter. The name Easter is taken from the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, Eostre. Eostre was associated with fertility, and was symbolized by rabbits and eggs (eggs are a common symbol of birth, and rabbits are extremely fertile, and can get knocked up with a new litter while they are pregnant with a first).

Eostre's feast was celebrated during the Vernal Equinox, just around the time of Jesus' resurrection. When the Anglo-Saxons converted to Christianity, the two holidays combined, and became Easter, bringing the symbolic egg and rabbit with it.

Regardless of why, the Easter Bunny is a fixture in the celebration of Easter, spreading chocolates, hard boiled eggs and bright marshmallow animals to children all over.

Have a happy Easter!

This post was inspired by Katie wanting to know why the Easter Bunny exists.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Passover in the U.S. lasts two nights because of the moon

Passover in the U.S. (and anywhere else outside of Israel) lasts two nights because of the moon. Back in the day, the Jewish people followed a lunar calendar, with each month starting with the new moon. Each month, someone needed to witness the new moon and then passed the word on to others that it was a new month. They didn't have 5 million methods of communication like we have today, so the news of a new month didn't always get there on time - celebrating for two days versus one insured that people outside of Israel got the right day.

And what is Passover you ask? Passover, or Pesach, commemorates the exodus of the Jewish people from 400 years of slavery in Egypt over 3,000 years ago (back, back, back, back in the day, believe it or not it's the year 5769 for the children of Israel). We have a very symbolic dinner called the Seder, which is filled with lots of symbolism...

...four glasses of wine...

and like any other Jewish holiday, way too much food.

During Passover Jews refrain from eating leavened bread (or anything that rises) for seven days, which means I won't be eating anything fun until Sunday (which is when I decide to embrace my Branigan roots, and break Passover for Easter).

For more information on Passover visit Judaism 101.

This post was inspired by Crissy and her questions about Passover.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

And the biggest cheese ball is...

Well, most accurate guesser of number of cheese balls, is MAVEN!

The actual number of balls in the barrel was 960 (as determined by serving size, and, no, they were not Utz brand).

Congrats to Maven for his guess of 700 cheese balls and his first Encyclopedia Branigan win. Treasure this moment.

Second place goes to amelia for her scientific estimate of 600 balls...

...third place is awarded to das boot for a guess of 427 balls...

...and last but not least, honorable mention goes to LJ who guessed 327 balls.

I would like to also recognize paulzak2 for his guess of 1,120 balls, which was the closest guess to the actual number of balls (unfortunately, due to complaints on previous contests the "go over and lose" rule was implemented).

Thank you all for your participation and keep an eye out for the next opportunity to win free stuff!