Friday, December 8, 2017

The Christmas Party Circuit

I feel like I have a Christmas party to attend every week this month. Oh wait. That's because I do. It's easy to suffer from fatigue and lack of enthusiasm around this time of year as you try to accomplish all of your shopping, go to work, have some me time, and on top of all that try to look good in social settings.

Holiday parties are the perfect way to get everyone together for some fun festivities. This year I am staying away from the Ugly Snowman and Secret Santa parties.

Here are some Christmas (excuse me, Holiday) theme parties I would like to attend:

The Worst Present Party – Instead of spending money to outdo your friends on the best present in a gift exchange, aim to have the worst. The problem, what to do with them after.

Scrooge Party – Sick of all the holiday music playing since October 1, 24/7? Take a break with a holiday party fit for a Scrooge with Chinese takeout, top forty songs, and no sparkling lights in sight.

Christmas in Vegas Party – Bring sin city to the holiday party with some poker and black jack games. And remember. What happens at a Vegas-themed party stays at a Vegas-themed party.

A Sexual Harassment Training Christmas Party – Perfect for this time of year, enough said.

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – The proposed Republican tax plan passed in both the Senate and the House of Representatives this past weekend. Analysis from the Joint Committee on Taxation found that the plan benefits the wealthy the most.

Ninety-one percent of households that make between $500,000 and $1 million a year would see a tax cut of at least $500 a year. In addition, households that make between $100,000 and $200,000 a year would see the largest decrease in taxes. The tax plan has all sorts of provisions that can and will negatively impact students and their families.

Families who work at colleges or universities are often able to send their children to those institutions for reduced fees, sometimes with no tuition charge at all. But under the new tax plan, that tuition waiver or reduction could be taxed as income. In addition, families that earn below a certain income level can claim a tax credit for their children who attend college, but the Republican tax plan would reduce the value of this tax credit.

There are also the changes that could affect graduate students. A Ph.D. candidate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimated that taxes on graduate students could increase by nearly 400 percent. Graduate students typically do research for faculty members or teach undergraduate students in exchange for free tuition and a living stipend. But the Republican tax plan proposes a tax on the tuition waiver and the stipend that graduate students receive.

The Republican tax plan is taxing people for money that they will never see. It is hard enough for low-income families to send their children to college, even with scholarships and stipends. Introducing these taxes basically erases any relief that these scholarships may provide and introduces additional financial burdens for students and their families to shoulder.

The tax plan perpetuates the notion that college is for rich people who can afford to go, instead of a place where people from all backgrounds can come together and learn from one another. By introducing these tax plans, Republicans will gravely harm the way that colleges foster an intellectual environment for people from all backgrounds.

New tax bill in a nutshell:
Jet owners can write off jets.
Teachers can’t write off school supplies.

INTERNATIONAL STUDENT ENROLLMENT DOUBLED SINCE 2008 RECESSION - A new report from the Pew Research Center finds that international student enrollment has skyrocketed since the 2008 economic downturn. Per the report, from 2008 to 2016, the number of new foreign students at U.S. colleges and universities increased 104 percent - "far outpacing overall college enrollment growth, which was 3.4 percent during the same period, according to U.S. Census Bureau.

FINANCE FACT - Number of people who go bankrupt every year because of medical bills:
Britain: 0
France: 0
Japan: 0
Germany: 0
Canada: 0
USA: 643,000

HOLIDAY SEASON BUCKET LIST - This holiday season, stuff your 401(k) as well as your turkey.

It’s a good idea to take a look at your retirement plan during the holidays. 2017 is drawing to a close and that means holidays, parties, turkey dinners, friends and family. It also means being busy making lists, juggling schedules and maybe even fitting in some holiday travel.

It may seem like we’re asking a lot to add thinking about your retirement to your year-end activities, but we believe there are some easy items to check off your 401(k) to-do list that will get you ready for the New Year.

1. Markets are up, check your risk levels
Stock markets have hit all-time highs this year. Good news, right? We agree, but make sure to review your holdings, especially if you’re invested in stand-alone stock funds. All-time highs may mean you may now be taking on more market risk than you’re comfortable with. If so, consider rebalancing your holdings by moving some of your money from stocks to bonds, or, to keep it even simpler, consider moving to a target date fund, which takes care of the rebalancing for you.

2. Look out for your loved ones
Holiday cheer is in the air, kids are home from school and the office is the last thing on your mind, for good reason. That said, year-end is a great time to review and update your account beneficiaries, especially if you’ve had a major life event like a marriage or a newborn child. It may also be an ideal time to check in with parents to make sure they’re on track with their retirement savings or spending.

3. Whip out the calculator
Not sure if you’re on track for retirement? Consider using an online calculator to give yourself a check-up. Retirement may seem far off, but it’s a good idea to make sure the road ahead is well-paved. Surprises are meant for gift boxes; we want to avoid them, when we can, in terms of retirement preparedness. And if you are close to retirement, you might want to do an extra check to see the potential income your savings could generate.

4. Take what you can get
Make sure to max out any 401(k) contribution that your employer offers to match. Taking advantage of this corporate perk is often a big part of your final retirement savings balance. What’s to lose when there is free money on the table? If you’re falling short, consider boosting your final retirement contributions of the year to meet the match level, if possible.

5. Add 1%, and pat yourself on the back
If you anticipate a salary bump next year, consider putting part of it aside by signing up for a future contribution increase. If you time it to coincide with a raise, you probably won’t even notice the difference in your take-home pay. And, when invested and compounded over time, those extra savings can get you to the finish line faster.

So this season, add yourself and your loved ones to your list and give your retirement a financial boost. Because who needs New Year’s resolutions when you’ve got a great retirement savings plan in place!

SHUTDOWN AVERTED ... FOR NOW - The House and Senate cleared a short-term spending bill that will keep the government funded through Dec. 22nd but a White House meeting between Trump and congressional leadership produced no break-through on a two-year deal, setting up a big fiscal cliff just before Christmas.

Democrats want a DACA extension, Republicans want wall funding. Democrats want domestic spending parity for any military spending increase. Republicans don't. The ingredients are there for a significant fight and potential Christmas season shutdown.

UP AND AWAY - The U.S. economy is headed into the final stretch of 2017 powered by one of the sturdiest periods of growth in its nine-year expansion, helping drive stock-market indexes to new highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average crossed the 24000 threshold, just 30 trading days after passing 23000. Consumer spending, home sales and business investment are among several recent indicators exhibiting strength, and investors are also cheering the prospect of more economic fuel in the form of tax cuts. The last two economic expansions derailed when asset prices overheated—tech stocks in the late 1990s and real estate in the mid-2000s. But investors aren’t fretting about that at this point.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) St. Lawrence ’74 (65); N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (60); Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) (81).

HOMELESS - Top homeless populations in US, source: U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.

1. New York: homeless population, 76,501; unsheltered homeless, 5.1 percent
2. Los Angeles: homeless population: 55,188, unsheltered homeless: 74.7 percent.
3. Seattle: homeless population, 11.643, unsheltered homeless, 47.1 percent.
4. San Jose/Santa Clara: homeless population: 7,394; unsheltered homeless 73.7 percent
5. San Diego: homeless population, 9,160: unsheltered homeless, 61.4 percent
6. District of Columbia: homeless population, 7,394: unsheltered homeless, 12 percent
7. San Francisco: homeless population: 6,858, unsheltered homeless, 63.5 percent

MARKET WEEK - The Dow industrials may have hit a new milestone but shares of U.S. industrial companies continue to lag behind in the stock market’s rally.

That may be poised to change. Analysts see a turnaround for industrials next year as a firming economy stokes activity on the factory floor and prompts businesses to ramp up investment spending.

S&P 500 industrial stocks are up 15% over the past 12 months, a robust advance but one that is six percentage points behind the benchmark.

Some weakness can be explained by a single stock, General Electric Co., which dropped 43% over the past year. The conglomerate will continue to grapple with its slowing turbine business and a broad restructuring effort. Throw out GE, however, and the group is still a full three percentage points behind, notes Thomas Lee, U.S. portfolio strategist at Fundstrat Global Advisors.

Mr. Lee endorsed industrial stocks Friday, citing among other things economic data that show corporate expenditures are poised to rise. Federal Reserve Banks in Philadelphia, New York and Dallas all show brightening forecasts for future business spending by manufacturers. A Friday reading on manufacturing activity remained sturdy in November.

The dollar is another big-picture reason to expect industrials to fare better. Industrial stocks tend to outpace the S&P 500 when the U.S. dollar is weak, since manufactured goods priced in dollars get cheaper for overseas buyers; this year the opposite has been true. For Mr. Lee, the discrepancy should revert, meaning industrial stocks could be overdue to bounce.

A wild card is the tax overhaul circulating in Congress. The Senate bill would lower the corporate tax rate starting in 2019. That time frame could prompt companies to boost investment next year, since such spending could be deducted against a higher marginal tax rate, according to economists at Barclays. The flip side is that capital expenditure implications might be less pronounced depending on the law’s final contours.

BUBBLE OR REAL? - The price of bitcoin reached new highs Thursday, jumping about 40% in around 40 hours and smashing through five separate $1,000-barriers to surge past the $16,000 mark. Even for the notoriously volatile virtual currency, the upward lurch was jarring, astounding outsiders and thrilling those who have piled in. The rally has been sparked by the collision of bitcoin’s sudden faddish reputation and the anticipation of institutional investors entering the market. That momentum persists in the face of ever-present hurdles. A hack that led to $70 million in stolen bitcoin raises security questions, while some big Wall Street banks are hitting the brakes ahead of the debut of the first bitcoin futures market on Sunday.

Bitcoin was the first cryptocoin currency ever invented. No one knows exactly who created it – cryptocurrencies are designed for maximum anonymity – but bitcoins first appeared in 2009 from a developer supposedly named Satoshi Nakamoto.

Because Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency to exist, all digital currencies created since then are called Altcoins, or alternative coins. Litecoin, Peercoin, Feathercoin, Ethereum and hundreds of other coins are all Altcoins because they are not Bitcoin.

One of the advantages of Bitcoin is that it can be stored offline on a person's local hardware. That process is called cold storage and it protects the currency from being taken by others. When the currency is stored on the internet somewhere (hot storage), there is high risk of it being stolen.

On the flip side, if a person loses access to the hardware that contains the bitcoins, the currency is simply gone forever. It's estimated that as much as $30 billion in bitcoins have been lost or misplaced by miners and investors. Nonetheless, Bitcoins remain incredibly popular as the most famous cryptocurrency over time.

Cryptocurrencies are just lines of computer code that hold monetary value. Those lines of code are created by electricity and high-performance computers.

Cryptocurrency is also known as digital currency. Either way, it is a form of digital public money that is created by painstaking mathematical computations and policed by millions of computer users called 'miners'. Physically, there is nothing to hold.

'Crypto' comes from the word cryptography, the security process used to protect transactions that send the lines of code out for purchases. Cryptography also controls the creation of new 'coins', the term used to describe specific amounts of code.

Governments have no control over the creation of cryptocurrencies, which is what initially made them so popular. Most cryptocurrencies begin with a market cap in mind, which means that their production will decrease over time thus, ideally, making any particular coin more valuable in the future.

SIGN OF THE TIMES - I understand that in 39 states the highest paid public employee is either an NCAA college football or basketball coach. The only thing crazier, is how much they're paid when they get fired!

GREAT BARNS - Legendary Appleton Arena, 130 Miner Street at St. Lawrence University. Great place, great history, don’t change it!

SWAMI’S WEEK TOP PICKS

NFL Football Pick of the Week – Sunday 12/10, 1:25 PDT, Fox: Philadelphia Eagles (10-2) vs. Los Angeles Rams (9-3), perhaps a preview of the NFC title game. We like the upstart Rams to win 27 – 24.  (Season to date 7-6).

College Football Pick of the Week – Saturday 12/9, 9:00 AM PDT, CBS: Army (8-3) vs. Navy (6-5), loser of this one gets to go to North Korea first. Army wins in a wild one 40 – 38.   (Season to date 8-5)

D-III Football Pick of the Week – Saturday 12/9, 3:30 PM EDT: NCAA D-III National Semi-Final, #10 Brockport Golden Eagles (13-0) vs. #1 Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders (13-0). An upstate New York surprise in this years’ tournament, can they beat the powerful Crusaders. No, 45 – 30.  (Season to date 8-4)

College Hockey Pick of the Week – Saturday 12/9, 7:00 PM EDT: #3 Clarkson University Golden Knights (13-3-1) vs. St. Lawrence University Saints (1-12-1). All is not well in Larry Land, Coach Mark Morris is coming under attack from alumni and local fans, NCAA is investigating the hockey program, stay tuned. On the ice they battle hard but Clarkson prevails 4 – 3.   (Season to date 5-4)

NHL Pick of the Week – Saturday 12/9, 7:00 PM EDT (CBC): Toronto Maple Leafs (18-10-1) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (16-11-3), Hockey Night in Canada is in Pittsburgh this week, Pens win 3 – 2.   (Season to date 5-2).

Season to Date (91 - 67)

ON THIS DAY - Former President George H.W. Bush is now the longest-living president in U.S. history at the age of 93 years and 166 days.

Bush on Saturday November 25 surpassed the previous record held by Gerald Ford, who lived to be 93 years and 165 days old before he died in December 2006.

Ronald Reagan, the third-oldest living president, lived to be 93 and 120 days, 46 days less than H.W. Bush.

Next Blog: Dear Rink Rats, Jack Ass of the Month and it is that time of year again, student recommendation letters.

Until next time, Adios

Claremont, California

December 8, 2017
#VIII-19-361


CARTOON OF THE WEEK – Peanuts, by Charles Shultz

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Thankful

Thanksgiving week here in Southern California, temperature is forecasted to reach 91 degrees on Thanksgiving.

I excuse my theme of this blog to my Canadian readers who celebrated Thanksgiving in October.

What am I thankful for this Thanksgiving of 2017?

I am thankful for my family, friends and good health.

I am thankful for having the opportunity to play golf on November 22 in shorts and not snow mobile gear.

I am thankful for my students in ACCT 201, BUS 330, BUS 390, BUS 500D, and BUS 635 who provide me with challenges and rewards every day.

I am thankful for my colleagues associated with these classes, though sometimes seem very strange, who are totally committed to education and their students.

I am thankful for Big Red.

I am thankful for the California Legislature writing legislation to outlaw “reply all email” in the State of California….if this were only true.

I am thankful for my father and step mother whose spirit and love of life are a constant wonder to me day in and day out.

I am thankful for not working for Darth Vader.

I am thankful to Spectrum Cable for having NHL Centre Ice.

I am thankful for teaching assistants.

I am thankful for rhubarb pie.

I am thankful for still being a Detroit Lions fan, football fans know what I mean by this.

I am thankful for Mozart and Frank Sinatra.

I am thankful for not being a banker.

Finally, I am thankful for having limited writing ability, but still able to share Rink Rats with my small community of readers.

OUT AND ABOUT – Rink Rats reader Joe Zanetta, recently returned from a visit to Vietnam, where he reports a wonderful trip and he is sure to return in the near future.

OUT AND ABOUT PART DEUX – Nephew Patrick Pugliese recently had a sit down with former Secretary of State (1982-1989) George Schultz (96).

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – Top Five World’s Best Universities:

1). University of Oxford
2). University of Cambridge
3). (tie) California Institute of Technology, Stanford University
5). Massachusetts Institute of Technology

HARVARD YARD - The U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the use of race in Harvard University's admissions practices and has accused the university of failing to cooperate with the probe.

The Justice Department is investigating complaints that formed the basis of a federal civil lawsuit filed in 2014 in Boston, according to the documents. That suit alleges Harvard intentionally discriminates against Asian-Americans by limiting the number of Asian students who are admitted.

The lawsuit, brought by a nonprofit called Students for Fair Admissions, said the practices violate federal civil-rights law and asks a federal judge to prohibit Harvard from using race as a factor in future undergraduate admissions decisions. The suit is pending.

STUDENT LOANS SAGA - Fall behind on your student loan payments, lose your job.

Few people realize that the loans they take out to pay for their education could eventually derail their careers. But in 19 states, government agencies can seize state-issued professional licenses from residents who default on their educational debts. Another state, South Dakota, suspends driver’s licenses, making it nearly impossible for people to get to work.

As debt levels rise, creditors are taking increasingly tough actions to chase people who fall behind on student loans. Going after professional licenses stands out as especially punitive.

Firefighters, nurses, teachers, lawyers, massage therapists, barbers, psychologists and real estate brokers have all had their credentials suspended or revoked.

NO DEAL - Negotiations to form a government in Germany broke down, dealing a blow to Chancellor Angela Merkel and throwing the leadership and direction of Europe’s largest economy into doubt. Late Sunday, the small, pro-business Free Democratic Party broke off talks with Ms. Merkel’s conservative camp and the center-left Greens after four weeks, saying they had failed to produce the vision and trust needed to build a government among the three partners. The collapse leaves Germany with a caretaker government and Ms. Merkel without a majority in Parliament almost two months after her party’s worst general-election showing since 1949. The political gridlock—a novelty in a country long used to ruling coalitions, compromise and consensus—has thrown Ms. Merkel’s fourth term into question. The euro fell sharply in early trading Monday but later recovered.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Traci Attman ….famous San Francisco 49er fan; Joe Biden (75) Dover, Delaware; Tucker Lewis …..a wonderful heart and soul; Howie Meeker (94), Montreal, Quebec; Bill Walton (65) San Diego, CA.

MARKET WEEK - Don’t look now, but U.S. growth forecasts are moving higher. That’s helping to support U.S. stocks.

Projections for U.S. economic growth from two Federal Reserve banks have risen in recent weeks. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Friday forecast that gross domestic product will rise 3.8% in the fourth quarter, up from a forecast of 3.2% a week earlier.

A separate measure from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta forecast 3.4% growth last week. Research firm DataTrek noted that the rival forecasts are outpacing projections from human economists, who on average expect 2.7% growth for the quarter.

Even if the less optimistic Atlanta Fed model is correct, it would be the best quarter for the U.S. economy in more than three years.

The central banks’ forecasts are derived from statistical models that track incoming economic data, and are used by traders to gauge the health of the economy.

This should be a positive for U.S. stocks. Behind the rising economic growth projections has been better-than-expected data on the U.S. housing market and industrial production. Stronger economic growth has helped fuel the record run for U.S. indexes as companies benefit from stronger demand.

DRIVING THE WEEK - Trump holds a cabinet meeting Monday, which is expected to include a tax cut update from Treasury Secretary Mnuchin. He pardons the Thanksgiving turkey on Tuesday and spends Thanksgiving at Mar-a-Lago ... Senate Finance has a NAFTA field hearing on Monday at 10:30 a.m. in San Antonio ... Index of leading indicators on Monday at 10:00 a.m. expected to show a gain of 0.6 percent.

NYC MARATHON - For the first time in 40 years (1977), an American woman won the New York City Marathon: 36-year-old Olympic medalist Shalane Flanagan broke the tape at 2 hours, 26 minutes and 53 seconds, beating three-time defending champion Mary Keitany of Kenya by a minute and one second.

Flanagan made her debut at the NYC Marathon in 2010, finishing second with a time of 2 hours, 28 minutes and 40 seconds — at the time, the best finish by an American woman in 20 years. Before this year, she hadn't competed in the race since 2010.

But, the big news coming out of this years’ NYC Marathon was the successful completion of the race by Claire Marshall, La Verne MBA ‘16. Congrats to Claire for finishing the marathon in under five hours! We are proud of you.

SWAMI’S WEEK TOP PICKS

NFL Football Pick of the Week – Thursday 11/23, 9:30 AM PDT, Fox: Minnesota Vikings (8-2) vs. Detroit Lions (6-4), last chance for the Lions to stay in the playoff hunt, we think they will. Detroit wins 27 – 20.  (Season to date 6-5).

College Football Pick of the Week – Saturday 11/25, 9:00 AM PDT, Fox: #8 Ohio State University Buckeyes (9-2) at University of Michigan Wolverines (8-3), Harbaughs frustration continues, Ohio wins 32 – 24.   (Season to date 7-5)

D-III Football Pick of the Week – Saturday 11/25, 1:00 PM EDT: NCAA D-III Round Two Playoffs, #8 Linfield Wildcats (9-1) vs. #1 Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders (11-0), Linfield has a second chance against the Crusaders, no such luck, Hardin Baylor moves on 40 – 30.  (Season to date 7-4)

SCIAC Congratulations – To the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Women Volleyball Athenas (31-5) for winning the D-III National Championship this past weekend against Wittenburg (27-3).

College Hockey Pick of the Week – Saturday 11/25, 7:00 PM CT (NBCSN): #6 Minnesota Golden Gophers (9-4-1) vs. #4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-3-1), Irish win this one 4 – 3. Season to date (4-4)

NHL Pick of the Week – Saturday 11/25, 7:30 PM PDT (Prime): Anaheim Ducks (9-7-3) vs. Los Angeles Kings (12-7-2), another brawl in La La Land, Kings win this one 3 – 2. Season to date (4-2).

Season to Date (86 - 62)

Next Blog: The questions students ask, Dear Rink Rats and Jack Ass of the Month

Until next time, Adios

Claremont, California

November 21, 2017
#VIII-18-360


CARTOON OF THE WEEK – Spaulding, The New Yorker

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween

The Raven
BY EDGAR ALLAN POE
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
            Only this and nothing more.”

    Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
    Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
    From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
            Nameless here for evermore.

    And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
    So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
    “’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
            This it is and nothing more.”

    Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
    But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
    And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
            Darkness there and nothing more.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
    But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
    And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
            Merely this and nothing more.

    Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
    “Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
      Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
            ’Tis the wind and nothing more!”

    Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
    Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
    But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
            Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
    For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
    Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
            With such name as “Nevermore.”

    But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
    Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
    Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”
            Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

    Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
    Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
    Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
            Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”

    But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
    Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
    Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
            Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

    This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
    This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
    On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
            She shall press, ah, nevermore!

    Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
    “Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
    Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
    Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
    On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
    Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
    It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
    Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
    Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
    And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
    And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
            Shall be lifted—nevermore!

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Deidre Hall (70) Beverly Hills, CA.; Jane Pauley (67) New York, NY; Christopher Russo (58) New Canaan, CT.

POTUS ON THE ROAD - President Trump leaves Friday for the most consequential foreign trip of his presidency — a five country, 12 day tour of Asia. It's the longest visit to Asia by an American president in a quarter of a century.

The stakes couldn't be higher: North Korea races towards a miniaturized nuke that can hit American cities; China keeps propping up North Korea, stealing U.S. intellectual property, and forcing American investors to hand over their technology to Chinese state entities; and American businesses watch with horror as Trump flirts with blowing up the landmark U.S. trade deal with South Korea.

In the midst of all this, Trump will try to reassure America's treaty allies in the region that even as he's throwing trade relationships into flux he won't be the U.S. president that abandons the Asia Pacific and leaves American allies there vulnerable to Chinese domination. Trump wants to dramatically show his commitment to the region and to the post-WWII order that the U.S. built up in Asia. He'll visit several military bases and will flex America's military power.

The first two legs, Japan and South Korea, Trump will mostly address physical security, including a major speech at the National Assembly in Seoul. South Korea's President Moon Jae-in has invited Trump to visit the military base, Camp Humphreys. Administration officials expect the visit to the military base will highlight two things: that South Korea is sharing the financial burden of its defense and that President Moon, who campaigned as a liberal dove, is now fully committed to defending his country against an emboldened Kim Jong-un.

The final two legs, Trump visits Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, a free trade forum for 21 Pacific Rim economies. Finally, Trump attends the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in the Philippines.

CHINA LEADERSHIP - China's ruling Communist Party has voted to enshrine Xi Jinping's name and ideology in its constitution, elevating him to the level of founder Mao Zedong. Previous Chinese Communist Party leaders have had their ideologies incorporated into the party's constitution or thinking, but none, besides founder Mao Zedong, have had their philosophy described as 'thought,' which is at the top of the ideological hierarchy.

China revealed its Politburo Standing Committee, China's most powerful body, breaking with tradition by not including a clear successor to President Xi Jinping.

All members are ages 60 to 67.

MAGIC NUMBER - America’s retailers have a new target customer: the 26-year-old millennial. That age bracket, bigger than any other—numbering 4.8 million—is part of a generation radically different from its predecessors that is pushing brands to develop new products and overhaul marketing. Many millennials are on the verge of life-defining moments such as buying a house and having children. But companies looking to be part of that have run into a problem. “They’re much more of a ‘do-it-for-me’ type of customer than a ‘do-it-yourself’ customer,” says Joe McFarland, executive vice president of J.C. Penney stores. In response, companies including Home Depot and Sherwin-Williams are hosting classes and online tutorials to teach such basic skills as operating a lawn mower, tape measure, mop and hammer.

FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS - When weighing a big decision, is it safe to just go with your gut? Scientists, authors and motivational speakers (plus plenty of moms) have long touted the power of intuition—and many studies show that decisions made unconsciously, before the rational mind can get involved, are often better. But not always, says John Bargh, a psychology professor at Yale and director of the ACME (Automaticity in Cognition, Motivation, and Evaluation) Laboratory. The gut is good, for example, with complex decisions when the amount of information is overwhelming, but it can also push us to be impulsive. How to best use your intuition? We offer pointers—including to remember that it can be influenced by strong emotions.

HOLLYWOODLAND -- House of Cards' Ending With Sixth and Final Season at Netflix: Netflix is currently in production on a sixth and final season of House of Cards, the landmark drama that signaled its aggressive push into original programming. The final run of House of Cards, which stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright as ruthless and ambitious beltway couple, will debut its last 13 episodes in 2018. ... Official word on its conclusion, which has been in the works since the summer, comes at a problematic time for Spacey. The star and executive producer is embroiled in sexual assault scandal, with an actor alleging that Spacey made aggressive advances towards him when he was just 14.

MARKET WEEK – Investors are buying the U.S. dollar again, expecting a lift from an increasingly aggressive Fed and tumult in European politics, while those betting against the dollar have cut back their positions. After its longest slide in a decade, the dollar has bounced roughly 2.9% from its September lows against a 16-currency basket, powered by gains against the euro, yen and emerging-market currencies. The recovery is yet another in a series of financial-market surprises this year, and while few investors believe the woes are over for the dollar—still down 6.4% against the basket in 2017—even a temporary reversal could have widespread implications for asset markets.

DRIVING THE WEEK - Fed chair pick expected on Thursday ... House Ways and Means slated to release first draft of their tax cut bill on Wednesday ... Trump leaves for a 12-day Asia trip on Friday ... FOMC on Wednesday not expected to make any change to rates or outlook.

Senate Banking on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. has a nomination for Scott Garrett to lead the Export-Import Bank. This one isn't a slam-dunk because corporate America and some more moderate GOP senators despise this pick of an Ex-Im opponent to lead the bank ... House Financial Services at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday has a hearing on data security.

SWAMI’S WEEK TOP PICKS

NFL Football Pick of the Week – Sunday 11/5, 4:25 PM ET, CBS: Kansas City Chiefs (6-2) vs. Dallas Cowboys (4-3). KC on a roll they win in Dallas, 40 – 30.(Season to date 4-4).

College Football Pick of the Week – Saturday 11/4, 1:00 PM ET, FSI: #8 Oklahoma Sooners (7-1) vs. #11 Oklahoma State T. Boone Pickens (7-1). State wins 35 – 32.   (Season to date 5-4)

D-III Football Pick of the Week – Saturday 11/5, 12:00 PM PT: #25 Salisbury Sea Gulls (7-1) vs. #14 Wesley Wolverines (7-1), a huge New Jersey Athletic Conference game. Wesley wins a tight one, 21 – 20.  (Season to date 6-3)

SCIAC Game of the Week (Women Volleyball) – Thursday 11/2, 7:00 PM PT:   SCIAC Women Volleyball Semi-Finals, California Lutheran SATS (15-11) vs. University of La Verne Leopards (18-8), Leos in a tight one, 3 – 2. (Season to date 6-3)

College Hockey Pick of the Week – Saturday 11/5, 7:00 PM CT (FSW): #4 North Dakota Black Hawks (5-2-1) vs. #7 University of Wisconsin Badgers (6-3), defense is the word in this game, Badgers win 3 – 2.   Season to date (2-2)

NHL Pick of the Week – Saturday 11/5, 7:00 PM ET (SUN): Columbus Blue Jackets (8-4-0) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (10-2-1), two first place clubs, Tampa in this one 4 – 2. Season to date (2-1).

Season to Date (76 - 52)

Next Blog: The questions students ask, Dear Rink Rats and Jack Ass of the Month

Until next time, Adios

Claremont, California

October 31, 2017
#VIII-17-359


CARTOON OF THE WEEK – Walsh, The New Yorker