Fortune’s Favorite

The luckiest city? Really?

San Diego?

That’s what s survey by Health magazine concluded, after building a list of 100 American cities using a lens that Warner Brothers might envy. The factors included least likely to be killed by a falling object or to be struck by lightning, the most holes-in-one and lottery or sweepstake winners, and the lowest lottery and racing debts.

“Luck is basically our modern world’s magic,” editor-in-chief David Zinczenko said, according to Reuters. “People need to believe in luck because it allows them to give a name to the randomness of life, and when you name something, you have more power over it.”

Still. San Diego?

Nothing against the Southern California city. Any community that sits that close to Los Angeles without being pulled into the black hole clearly has something going for it. And after the last Chargers-Broncos game, I’m willing to believe that San Diego has something we lack (though I would have called it a defense and an offensive line, personally).

But the luckiest?

Give me leave to doubt.

Let’s face it. If there’s power in a name, there’s even more power in a definition. SoCal towns aren’t that likely to see a lightning strikes. Lottery wins can point at a lucky population – or at one that plays the numbers more frequently than most, such as Las Vegas  or Reno (also in Health’s top 10). Choose your factors and you’ve chosen your winner.

And if they’d chosen these factors, Longmont, Colo. might already be climbing the list:

* Most school days canceled due to weather. When you’re in grade school in Colorado, luck has everything to do with snow, especially when your homework is far from done. Bonus points if no “white stuff” actually fell, allowing you to stay home on account of chill.

* Greatest survival of bizarre accidents. Anyone can avoid falling objects, especially if there aren’t many elevations nearby for them to fall from. But to emerge alive from a multi-car accident that sends one vehicle through the wall of a video store? (Especially when a clerk just walked away from the area.) To have laundry catch fire and just happen to have a city worker across the way who has a hose out and can put it out before serious damage can happen? Now that’s luck.

* Most successful “pet bodyguards.” When domestic animals face wild ones, the result is usually preordained. So when a cow faces down a young bear (hello, Hygiene!), or a house cat stands its ground against a mountain lion (admittedly, from behind a glass door), you’ve got to believe something fortunate is at work.

I could go on. And that’s the point. Almost anyone can. If you’re fortunate enough to live in a city that’s not ravaged by plague or consumed by starvation, if your neighbor isn’t likely to come down with his friends and their automatic weapons tomorrow to take your stuff away, if you have family you can see on even a semi-regular basis – well, by global standards, that’s a pretty good start on luck right there. (A pastor of mine used to point out that anyone with spare change on the dresser is among the wealthiest 7 percent in the world.)

The rest is details.

So roll the dice. Throw the darts. Make your lists. It’s a harmless pastime, even if it is dividing the ultra-fortunate from the merely well off.

And if you ever happen to find a community where reporters with geeky tastes and blond wives win the Powerball at least three times a year – let me know, will you?

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