Some Stories that Caught My Eye

Lottery Winners Bad Luck
“Steve Granger, 53, of Henderson, N.C., won $900,000 in the West Virginia Lottery

“All of a sudden everybody knows your business, everybody knows what you have,” Granger says.

At a party recently, Granger heard someone say in an ugly tone, “There go those lottery people,” as he and his wife passed by. A man he hardly knew asked him to invest in a gold mine. “I went through a phase where everybody was grabbing me thinking I was going to give them luck,” he says.

Within days of winning a $41 million share of a Powerball jackpot in 2001, Patricia and Erwin Wales of Buxton, Maine, were sued by co-workers who claimed to be co-winners. The lawsuit was dropped, but lawyer Terrance Garney said a new beginning for the clerk and the lawn-maintenance man was “not an easy transition.” The Waleses were beset with requests by friends they didn’t know they had and by investment companies who wanted to handle their money.

They hired a team of lawyers to help them, and set aside $5 million for a non-profit charitable foundation that contributed $263,000 in 2005 to community and religious causes in and near Buxton.

Others have had difficulty with easy money:

• William “Bud” Post, who won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania Lottery in 1988, had a brother who tried to have him killed for the inheritance. Post lost and spent all his winnings. He was living off
Social Security when he died in January.

• Two years after winning a $31 million Texas Lottery in 1997, Billie Bob Harrell Jr. committed suicide. He had bought cars, real estate, gave money to his family, church and friends. After his death it was not clear whether there was money left for estate taxes.

• Victoria Zell, who shared an $11 million Powerball jackpot with her husband in 2001, is serving time in a Minnesota prison, her money gone. Zell was convicted in March 2005 in a drug- and alcohol-induced collision that killed one person and paralyzed another.

• Evelyn Adams, who won the New Jersey Lottery twice, in 1985 and 1986, for a total $5.4 million, gambled and gave away all of her money. She was poor by 2001, and living in a trailer.

Gerry Beyer, who teaches estate law at Texas Tech University, has written about people who come into sudden wealth – such as lottery winners, sports figures, actors and actresses – and how they end up losing it. Many don’t realize that if they spend their money, rather than investing and living off the earnings, “there’s nothing to replace it,” Beyer says.

Under an investment plan, the Nebraska Powerball winners’ $15.5 million, after accepting the lump sum and paying taxes, could produce a yearly income of about $500,000 a year. “

Scientists Claim to Find Lost Civilization NARRAGANSETT, R.I. – Scientists have found what they believe are traces of the lost Indonesian civilization of Tambora, which was wiped out in 1815 by the biggest volcanic eruption in recorded history.

Mount Tambora’s cataclysmic eruption on April 10, 1815, buried the inhabitants of Sumbawa Island under searing ash, gas and rock and is blamed for an estimated 88,000 deaths. The eruption was at least four times more powerful than Mount Krakatoa’s in 1883.

Guided by ground-penetrating radar, U.S. and Indonesian researchers recently dug in a gully where locals had found ceramics and bones. They unearthed the remains of a thatch house, pottery, bronze and the carbonized bones of two people, all in a layer of sediment dating to the eruption.

University of Rhode Island volcanologist Haraldur Sigurdsson, the leader of the expedition, estimated that 10,000 people lived in the town when the volcano erupted in a blast that dwarfed the one that buried the Roman town of Pompeii.

The eruption shot 400 million tons of sulfuric gases into the atmosphere, causing global cooling and creating what historians call “The Year Without a Summer.” Farms in Maine suffered crop-killing frosts in June, July and August. In France and Germany, grape and corn crops died, or the harvests were delayed.

The civilization on Sumbawa Island has intrigued researchers ever since Dutch and British explorers visited in the early 1800s and were surprised to hear a language that did not sound like any other spoken in Indonesia, Sigurdsson said. Some scholars believe the language more closely resembled those spoken in Indochina. But not long after Westerners first encountered Tambora, the society was destroyed.

“The explosion wiped out the language. That’s how big it was,” Sigurdsson said. “But we’re trying to get these people to speak again, by digging.”

The Keys to Happiness, and Why We Don’t Use Them

“It requires some effort to achieve a happy outlook on life, and most people don’t make it.”
—
Author and researcher Gregg Easterbrook

Psychologists have recently handed the keys to happiness to the public, but many people cling to gloomy ways out of habit, experts say.

Polls show Americans are no happier today than they were 50 years ago despite significant increases in prosperity, decreases in crime, cleaner air, larger living quarters and a better overall quality of life.

So what gives?

Happiness is 50 percent genetic, says University of Minnesota researcher David Lykken. What you do with the other half of the challenge depends largely on determination, psychologists agree. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “Most people are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

What works, and what doesn’t

Happiness does not come via prescription drugs, although 10 percent of women 18 and older and 4 percent of men take antidepressants, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Anti-depressants benefit those with mental illness but are no happiness guarantee, researchers say.

Nor will money or prosperity buy happiness for many of us. Money that lifts people out of poverty increases happiness, but after that, the better paychecks stop paying off sense-of-well-being dividends, research shows.

One route to more happiness is called “flow,” an engrossing state that comes during creative or playful activity, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has found. Athletes, musicians, writers, gamers, and religious adherents know the feeling. It comes less from what you’re doing than from how you do it.

Sonja Lyubomirsky of the University of California at Riverside has discovered that the road toward a more satisfying and meaningful life involves a recipe repeated in schools, churches and synagogues. Make lists of things for which you’re grateful in your life, practice random acts of kindness, forgive your enemies, notice life’s small pleasures, take care of your health, practice positive thinking, and invest time and energy into friendships and family.

The happiest people have strong friendships, says Ed Diener, a psychologist University of Illinois. Interestingly his research finds that most people are slightly to moderately happy, not unhappy.”

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2 Comments

  1. Jack's Shack March 2, 2006 at 6:43 am

    Poor money management has killed many people.

  2. StepIma March 1, 2006 at 8:18 pm

    I’ve always wondered about the lottery thing — can you win and not release your name, or do you have to make it public?

    It seems like some of the people are victims of their own poor money management (then again, so was M.C. Hammer), but a lot of other winners had issues that could easily have been avoided if their new wealth could have been kept a secret.

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