Whenever I participate in challenges or contests, I fantasize about winning the prize that’s being dangled temptingly above me. But in these situations, you shouldn’t get your hopes up too much, because if and when your hopes at the prize(s) are dashed, it won’t hurt as much.

The closest idiom I can think of for this situation is not counting your chickens before they hatch, but I can’t quite think of a proper modern equivalent, so we’ll stick with that one for now.

During the last two weeks, I took part in two contests with tantalizing prizes. The first competition was a week-long social media challenge hosted by Campus Activities that tied into its Social Media Week, with a Kindle Fire for the winner.

The challenge itself was composed of a variety of social media-related goals. These goals included posting a photo on the Campus Activities Facebook page, sending them a social media-related Twitter update, checking into five places in one day on Foursquare, scanning a QR code, creating a LinkedIn profile and, as a bonus, participating in a Skype call with Ms. Jennifer Keegin, the event organizer.

I didn’t win, but I received an Angry Birds flash drive, which was still a worthy prize. I mean, I do have a Kindle app on my Droid and I prefer print over eBook in most cases anyway.

The second contest was one that I was more excited about: dinner with Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. Ever since news leaked about a month ago that he’d be speaking here, I was looking forward to seeing him in person and hopefully meeting him. I heard about him here and there, and after hearing him on an episode of Chris Hardwick’s podcast, “The Nerdist,” from last December, I could not wait to see him geek out here at Binghamton.

When the contest to have dinner with him was announced — wherein competitors had to submit why they were a badass to the SA Programming Board’s Facebook page or Twitter and accrue the most ‘likes’ — I could almost taste the dinner I’d be eating while sitting across from Neil, but because of flaws, that chance was unfortunately snatched away.

One flaw was the management of the Facebook portion of the contest, as there were last-minute entries that received more attention than earlier entries. There was no separation between submission and voting periods; they were done simultaneously.

Another flaw was on my part, and it’s one that I’m kicking myself for. I botched my Twitter entry, a rookie mistake, so the representatives running the contest on Twitter never received my entry and gave the five opportunities from Twitter to other people. Brushing all that off, it was still a pleasure to hear and see Dr. Tyson lecture the packed Osterhout Concert Theater.

It’s never good to dwell on the past, like with these two contests. So I didn’t win a Kindle Fire. So I didn’t get to meet Dr. Tyson. These things do happen and the only thing one can do is look forward to something bigger and better, like someday upgrading from a phone eReader to a larger eReader, or actually getting to sit down to interview Dr. Tyson.

Hey, one can dream, right?