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A view of the Milky Way from Colorado. —Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Rant & Rave: Stealing Money and Turning Off the Lights

A scam to steal lottery tickets, and the beauty of a darkened sky—here's what we're ranting and raving about this week. 

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Rant: Scam to Steal Lottery Winnings

About once a month, I tell my husband that I’m going to start buying lottery tickets because the siren call of a life-of-leisure seems most appealing. Sometimes I do; more often I forget about my vow the next day. When I do remember to stop at the gas station to purchase a game, the effort of scratching off a ticket or two is a shot of pure adrenaline…followed by an appalling moment when I realize I didn’t win and just wasted some hard-earned cash which could have been saved to speed up my dreams of early retirement. (Don’t get me wrong: I love working as a journalist but I am also keen to sleep in as often as possible in one lifetime.) I console myself with the knowledge that last year, Colorado Lottery sales pumped some $130.1 million into programs, which include Great Outdoors Colorado and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

I’m not alone: Colorado Lottery 2014 sales logged in at $545 million ($362 million were for scratch games) and more than $336 million in prizes were paid. That’s dandy, but it seems like some folks in Mesa County hoped to tip the odds of winning in their favor: The Daily Sentinel reports that four people face charges for “allegedly taking customers’ winning Colorado scratch lottery tickets, telling customers they had not won, and attempting to cash in the winning tickets themselves.” An undercover sting involving $5,000 of winning tickets exposed the alleged scam. If you think you were ripped off, contact the Lottery Criminal Investigation Unit (1-800-999-2959). As for me, I’ll be triple checking my tickets…if I ever remember to buy them.

Rave: Hey, Colorado, Turn Off the Lights

Tonight, shut the lights off in your house and sit on the front porch. Take a look at the night sky. The moon will dominate, but in coming weeks, you’ll be able to see the Pleiades cluster and the Bull. Or maybe not.

Most likely, the night sky will be overwhelmed with light pollution from a streetlight, a passing car, your neighbor’s house light, and so on. That’s expected in a city, but some Colorado towns are seeking ways to keep themselves in the dark, an effort I can support. The Denver Post reports that Durango has a light-control ordinance and Westcliffe has earned a dark sky town designation (one of 10 other towns around the globe with the same bragging rights). Larger metropolises, including Denver, are trying to decrease light pollution for new outdoor lights.

Why should you care? Just ask any parent who’s tried to put a toddler to bed when it is light out how important dark rooms can be.

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