2018 Rich’s Ramblings:

Week 2 Results


Please scroll way down below for the second installment of my summer Vegas story.


None other than SweetMan had a shot to win week 2, and the rolled-over sidepool, if only Seattle could have pulled off the minor upset at Chicago last night.  (And, of course, if frogs had tails, then they wouldn’t smack their butts on the pavement when they hopped.)  Sadly for him (me), that did not happen, so we have a 5-way tie for 1st place in Week 2 between BrotherBruce, CiscoKid, MiserableJetsFan, PugMom2, and TheCheeseHead.  These five will battle amongst themselves for the Week 2 1st and 2nd prizes.  Since both PugMom2 and CiscoKid were in the sidepool, nobody picks up that prize, and we have another rollover to Week 3, with 570 bananas on the line.  Regular sidepool rules will stay in effect in Week 3, but if it rolls to Week 4 I will announce the special sidepool rule. 


As for old news, on the heels of a second strong week in a row, BrotherBruce broke the 5-way tie for the Week 1 2nd prize and has claimed that for himself.  While it is a bit early to get too excited about the year-end race, he is now 2 full points clear of the field.  For the many pool newcomers, you can check your status in the year-end race by clicking on Reports—Everyone’s Points—and then choose “Week 99”.


We only have a handful of people who have not yet paid…I will be sending out an email of shame soon, so please avoid that and let me know that the bananas are on their way if you have not yet paid your entry fee.  See below for payment instructions.


I just entered the Week 3 point spreads, so you can go make those picks.  Please remember to make your Thursday night game pick by 7:20 pm on Thursday, and then all the rest are due by 11:00 am Sunday (Eastern times).  


Payment:  Snail Mail

Please send your bananas (50 for the regular pool, plus an OPTIONAL additional 85 for a season of sidepools at 5 per week) to


Rich Sweetman

19 Hall Rd

Londonderry, NH  03053


Paula or I will send you an email to confirm that we got your check.  (If you want to play all sidepools, the total is 50 + 85 = 135 bananas.)


Electronic option:  PayPal

I’m not sure if this is still the case, but PayPal used to have some evil policies that make me pay a fee to accept a payment, unless you submit it in just the right way.  You can still use PayPal, but please be sure to follow these directions (I will refund your payment if I have to pay a fee):


PayPal directions to pay without fees for you or me:

1)      You must select ‘Personal’ as the type of transaction (not a purchase of goods or services), AND

2)      You must have at least as much $$ in your PayPal account as the entry fee.  If you fund even part of it with a credit card or with PayPal credit, I will be charged a fee.

3)      Oh yeah, the email address to use for payment is rich.sweetman@granitedolphin.com


I will send you an email to confirm that I got your electronic payment.


2nd Electronic option:  Venmo

Based on urging from my son and others, I have also set up a Venmo account.  You can use Venmo, my user name is rsweet4, or rich.sweetman@granitedolphin.com


Note…please be sure to send your payments this week.  The biggest bummer about running this pool is collecting late payments, so please spare me the pain of having to do so.  We are already have received all but a handful of entries via either checks or electronic payments, so thank you to all of those who have sent their entries by week 2.  I will not pay out any prizes until I have received all of the entry fees, so please don’t incur the wrath of your fellow pool participants by paying late.


Please read:  YOU are responsible to make sure the system received your picks

After you hit the ‘Submit Your Picks’ button, you will get a page that has the title “The Following Picks Have Been Received For PlayerName”.  Please print out this page, and verify that all the picks are the ones you meant to make.  The following (unfortunate) scenarios have happened in the past:


If you fill out your picks but do not hit the ‘Submit’ button, the system will not get your picks.  If you hit submit, but manage to lose internet connection before you get the confirmation page, then the system did not get your picks.  Finally, it is possible to accidently select the wrong team in the drop down box, so you might discover on Sunday that you mistakenly picked a team you did not mean to.  If you print out the confirmation page, then you will know (and have proof) that your picks are in the system.


Rich’s Las Vegas Adventure (Part I) (Keep scrolling for Part II)


I had quite a fun/exciting experience in Las Vegas earlier this summer...I'll post the story as a series of updates over the next few Ramblings. Here is the first installment...on a hot Vegas Tuesday afternoon, 7/17, I was in the audience of the US TV game show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”

It is a blast to be in the audience, and tickets are free. I have done it each of the last three years. They have a good comedian who keeps things interesting during breaks in the action.  You get to watch others compete, and even participate when the contestants use their "Ask the Audience" lifeline. Every audience gets to see several episodes tape, so it ends up being a fun 4 hours or so. If you like Millionaire and you are in Las Vegas in July/August, I highly recommend this!

One thing you get the opportunity to do as an audience member is take a multiple-choice test to try to qualify to be a contestant on the show. This happens early in the process, before you are seated in the circular studio to watch the show. The test is not easy...as on the show, the questions can be about anything (pop culture, history, geography, movies, etc). Also, you only have 10 minutes to answer 30 questions, so you need to be speedy to get through the full test. I just finished when they called time, and thought I might have a shot. I can say that test-taking strategies from actuarial exams came in handy here!

Later in the afternoon, during a break in the action, the comedian announced that 4 people in the audience of about 130 passed the test, and sure enough, I was on the list. The three (ahem) other nerds and I were instructed to hang around after the last episode to speak to Kristen, a representative from the show. She ended up doing a quick group interview with the four of us, and it seemed to me that none of us made a great impression, though I felt like I scored a point with one of the comments I made. She escorted us out of the building, saying they had our contact information, and they would contact us if they were interested (she didn't put it this way, but it was a definite "don't call us, we'll call you"-type-moment.) I got in my baking-hot rental car, disappointed that I did not make a more favorable impression.

As I was driving away from the studio, my cell phone rang...

"Hello? This is Rich." What do you suppose I heard on the other end of the line? (Let's do this Millionaire-style):

A. (Robo-voice): "Act now, and you can consolidate your student loans…"
B. "This is your wife, Paula. Our house in NH was hit by a power surge during an electrical storm, and all the electronics are fried …"
C. Long pause, then an irritating voice: "Hello? Helloooo?...Is this Doris??"
D. "Hi Rich, this is Kristen from Millionaire, I was just talking with you. Could you come back to the studio? My Supervising Producer would like to meet you."

Most of the calls on my cell phone are of the A or C variety, and B would come later that day. But happily, if you guessed "D, Final Answer", you are right! I whirled my rental car around, and in minutes was back in the studio.

I then had a great talk with Kristen and Eric, the Supervising Producer. After about 15 minutes, he informed me that he wanted me to be a contestant on the show! Needless to say, the disappointment from the rental car had entirely evaporated.  Woo hoo!

He was 'hoping' they could get me on this year, but if not he said that I would be called next summer to appear next season. I spent quite some time--perhaps an hour--filling out paperwork. When I left the studio I felt a bit uneasy about how long I might have to wait to get the call (I could picture waiting a whole year, getting my hopes up each time my cell phone rang).  However, on the positive side, he was clear that he was going to get me on the show, and most likely before they were done taping this season, which would have been August 23rd. Awesome! I assured him that I would have no troubles getting back to Vegas whenever they could get me in.

By now it is late afternoon. I visited with my Vegas friends Mark and Leslie (Leslie had just had a major surgery one week prior) to share the good news, and then headed to my hotel room to call Paula. This is when I learned about the lightning strike, so poor Paula was dealing with all sorts of trouble and strife back home.

As we were talking, at about 6:10 that evening, we were interrupted by another call on my cell phone…

Rich’s Las Vegas Adventure (Part II)

"Hi, this Ines from Millionaire. Has anyone told you yet that we want you to come in tomorrow at 9:00 am to be a contestant on the show?"

I laughed, figuring she really just needed more paperwork, and was pulling my leg. But after an awkward pause, I realized that she was serious. Whaaa??!?! This is definitely *not* their normal procedure, but they knew I was in town for the rest of the week, and they were willing to squeeze me in the next day, if I was willing to scramble. Yowza.

That night was a whirlwind, I had so much to do. First I had a long talk with Ines, going over her checklist of standard communications to cover when they call a contestant to tell them what their tape date is. She said I would be contacted by Marina, who would be my support person during the taping the next day. I then called Paula back; offered her absolutely no support for what she was dealing with (lightning strike), and added to her burden by asking her to send me a picture of my Social Security card. (She found it--thank you dear!)

Then sure enough Marina called, and we had another long conversation. Contestants are asked to wear their first outfit when they get to the studio at 9:00 am, and have two others in reserve in case they last more than one episode. There are several guidelines for what you can wear...no blue, because it blends in with the stage floor, and no logos of any kind. I told her I only had one shirt that might work (a funky Hawaiian shirt). She asked me to text her a pic of it, and said she loved it, and that I should wear that to the studio. (Marina was very helpful and supportive.)

Next, and importantly, I had to talk with my Las Vegas friend Mark, as I wanted him to be my "Plus 1" lifeline on the show. I needed him to drop everything (including caring for Leslie, who had undergone a total hip replacement one week earlier) and commit to what could be a full day at the studio. Thankfully he and Leslie were fully supportive, and quickly agreed to the commitment. Whew!

Next Mark and I headed to a Vegas Stein Mart (clothing store). We arrived there at 8:47 pm, and the store closed at 9:00 pm. As we were walking through the door, they were announcing that people needed to bring their purchases to the registers.  After some seriously speedy shopping, I had my two extra outfits.

Mark and I ate a late dinner, then I went back to my hotel room to iron my clothes and somehow try to quiet my mind and get some sleep. Remarkably I slept okay for about 5 hours, but woke up at 4:45 and couldn't get back to sleep. I had a good breakfast at my hotel (Red Rock casino), and fired off some text updates.  I picked up Mark at his house, and at 9:00 that morning, Wed 7/18, we report to the studio.  The very first thing we had to do was give up all electronics—they took our cell phones (and iPads, and even smart-watches) as soon as we arrived, not to be returned until after I was finished.  This meant I couldn't text updates to Paula, as I had promised, and I didn't even get a chance to warn her that I was about to "go dark".

Next I met my support person Marina, and the other contestants.  There were a grand total of eleven contestants (with our eleven 'plus one' lifelines) there to be taped that day, and we spent most of that morning together. Two contestants had sat through the full day of taping on Tuesday, and had not been picked. Therefore they were guaranteed the first two spots on Wednesday. The order for the remaining nine of us would be determined at random.

We learned that we would not get to watch each other compete…all contestants who have not competed are sequestered in a room (watching Season 15 and Season 16 reruns) until it was our turn to go out on stage.  It was fun to talk to the other contestants. They were amazed that I had been in the audience just the day before, as they all had known for several months that they would be on the show. Most of them had been studying and preparing in one way or another.

The next three hours flew by in a buzz of activity. Mark and I both had quite a bit of additional paperwork to fill out. Then Eric, the supervising producer, addressed the group of contestants to give us general strategy advice. He told us that from his perspective, the two most common mistakes made on the show were: 1), contestants not reading the question carefully, and 2), contestants burning lifelines early (just to "make sure"), even when they are pretty confident that they know the answer. Good advice, for sure.

We also met with a lawyer (remember the movie "Quiz Show"? There are some pretty interesting rules and regulations to ensure game show integrity.) Much of that had been covered in the reams of paperwork I had signed, but they had him talk through the most important items with us. We then went to the stage to get familiar with where we were supposed to enter and exit, and then how to stand at the podium. We all got a mock question to answer, to get a feel as to how things would look and feel under the lights.

Stay tuned for the final installment—Part III next week!  (As a side note, the new episodes for Season 17—heretofore known as “my season”, just started airing last week!)