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WHILE SNOW has been mentioned in local weather forecasts lately, nothing confirms that winter is here more than the news that Seven Springs has opened its slopes for skiing and snowboarding, which it did Friday. The initial snow-making began Nov. 23 in preparation for skiing on opening day and this weekend. Both the resort and its customers are hoping for a better season than last winter, when Seven Springs received only 64 inches, but that doesn't include 11 inches of snow that fell on April 23, which led to the resort to reopen for one day. In a normal year, Seven Springs receives about 130 inches of natural snow.

THE WEATHER didn't stand a snowball's chance in a hot place of dominating people's interest this past week -- not with Pittsburghers buying $2 Powerball tickets at a frantic rate. The jackpot was a record $588 million and at a CoGo's gas station on the South Side Wednesday -- visited by a Post-Gazette reporter -- people were arriving "in droves" for their chance at riches. That scene occurred around the country. As the Associated Press reported, tickets were selling at one point at the rate of nearly 130,000 per minute -- and never mind that people had more chance of being struck by lightning than winning the second-largest jackpot in U.S. history.

IF ONLY the fiscal cliff had snow on it, then it might be more fun to think about going over it, but the mere mention of the term inspires pessimism. Can Congress get its act together and avoid a crisis that would be bad even for lottery winners? Sen. Bob Casey, D. Pa., is trying. As chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, Mr. Casey will moderate a hearing on the issue this week. Witnesses will include Mark M. Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, and Kevin A. Hassett, senior fellow and director of economic policy at American Enterprise Institute. Good luck with that.

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