Try 1 month for $5

“Well I am going regardless of the weather.”

No, this isn’t an insolent teenager speaking, but rather my wife, Pam, who insisted on trekking the 400 miles from Billings to Hamilton, in a snowstorm, at night, to make sure her Billings Central Rams did not suffer a single moment of their state championship football game without photographic documentation.

Chivalry (quaint perhaps, not anti-feminist, but there, nonetheless) dictated that I drive her.

400 miles at 40 miles an hour leaves ample time for contemplation. I have never had a comfortable feel for the various coefficients of friction. I see an icy road, snow blowing frenetically, and I can’t tell where that tenuous connection between tire and glazed concrete snaps and we slide sideways into a semi.

Especially in a pickup. We took my all-wheel compact car, and a procession of pickups and every other iteration of vehicles blew by us at 80 miles an hour.

How do they do it? One particularly galling example was this boxy thing called a Honda Element, whose driver tailgated me viciously, then passed angrily in a tempest of swirling snow.

Our lives consist of a series of wagers, placed daily, based on our perception of percentages.

For instance, if you are a heavy smoker, you have around a 24 percent chance of getting lung cancer. That means you have a 76 percent chance of not getting lung cancer. We will leave all the other cancers and heart attacks out to avoid confusion. So more than likely you won’t get lung cancer.

We all calculate our percentages. I should probably become vegan and sell all my chainsaws. I should probably quit working 60 hours a week and give my blood pressure a break, but I want a 60-foot boat, not a 35-footer.

Sure, I bet, but I also hedge the bets. I shouldn’t drive in a snowstorm, but I drive slowly. I do yoga and lift and walk to offset the vocational assault on my cardiovascular system.

Just before Livingston, here’s the Honda Element lying on its side in the median. The tow truck driver is helping the driver climb out the passenger side door. I will confess to a degree of smug satisfaction when I encountered one of the passing pickups in a deep discussion with a drift a few miles later.

Yet probably a hundred vehicles roared past me, so only 3% lost their wager with the icy interface.

Imagine your life as a giant casino.

There is a table or a machine for seatbelts, diet, smoking, alcohol, drugs, driving habits, sleep habits, work stress, exercise, weight, chainsaws, extreme sports, you name it. (Genetics are considered a lotto game and aren’t included.)

How about you? Are you managing your risks or just gambling?

Subscribe to Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Dr. Alan Muskett’s second collection of Gazette articles, “True Enough,” is available at Billings Plastic Surgery (17th Street West and Poly Drive) and