Mark six, not seven - or five

June 22, 2005

Alert: I’ve noticed quite a number of people coming from nowhere to visit this very posting. Maybe someone could leave a comment and tell me what the hell is going on?

Lottery ticket
If you happen to play the lottery in Austria, the picture sketched above is what you’re confronted with (please, it took all my graphic skills to make that…I’m especially proud of those red squares). It’s a pattern filled with little numbers, and with a pen you’re supposed to mark six of these numbers and if you’re really lucky (which you very probably aren’t), you win money. Now, it doesn’t seem too difficult really, since almost anyone should be able to count to three (and you only have to count to three twice and voila…you’ve got six). Unfortunately, for some this is not an option.

When I entered my usual nicotine dealer today, naively thinking it would take only about ten seconds to get my beloved cigarettes, a woman in front of me had just finished filling out a pattern very similar to that one above, and the woman at the counter fed it to the computer. The ensuing hilarity is not made up, I promise. As the computer tried to translate pencil marks into bits and bytes, the screen displayed that the woman had managed to mark seven numbers in the first field, five numbers in the second field, and seven again in the third field! It took them about five minutes to resolve the issue, involving pondering over the problem of adding one number and scratching two others. This added to my impression that the woman in front of me was indeed not a member of the Royal Statistics Society, otherwise she would have known that it DIDN’T MAKE A DIFFERENCE! Maybe I should have told her, but I didn’t want to appear cocky, haha.