Monday, December 27, 2010

2010: The Best and the Worst Part Deux

Best Movie of 2010 – “Inside Job”, this crisis of finance capitalism as a great crime story.

Worst Movie of 2010 – “Yogi Bear”, this stinks Boo Boo!

Best Song of 2010 – “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum, not real country but a catchy song.

Worst Song of 2010 – “O Let’s Do It”, by Wacha Flocka Flame featuring Diddy, Rick Ross and Gucci Mane. Huh?

Best Weather Meteorologist of 2010 – Jackie Johnson (Plymouth, Michigan), KCBS-TV, Los Angeles, California, the best with high and low fronts.

Worst Weather Meteorologist of 2010 – Tomasz Schafenaker, BBC-TV, London England. A notorious nerd throughout Europe.

Best Party of 2010 – Any party at the University of Colorado, Boulder that Alex B. attends.

Worst Party of 2010 – Tea Party, its platform is explicitly populist and is generally recognized as conservative and libertarian. It endorses reduced government spending lower taxes reduction of the national debt and federal budget deficit, adherence to an originalist interpretation of the United States Constitution and has plenty of wacky candidates.

Best Politician of 2010 – Susan Collins, Republican Senator from the State of Maine, St. Lawrence University ’75. Finally someone in Congress who knows how to compromise!

Worst Politician of 2010 – Nancy Pelosi, Democrat Representative from the State of California. Just get out!

Best Alumni Director of 2010 – Beth Elmore, University of La Verne. On her budget it is amazing what she can do.

Worst Alumni Director of 2010 – Dewey Stafford, University of Phoenix. Mr. Stafford invited alumni to a “burn your paid in full student loan documents” party – no one showed up.

Best News Story of 2010 – Thirty Three Chilean miners rescued after 10 weeks underground, all safe and in good health.

Worst News Story of 2010 – (Tie) The continuing Mexican Drug Cartel war, to date in 2010 over 11,000 deaths, and the British Petroleum Gulf oil spill; killed 13 men, spilled 4.9 million barrels of oil and cost an estimated 20 billion dollars.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Ted Danson (63), LeBron James (26), Sandy Koufax (75), Frank Langella (71), Matt Lauer (53), Agnes Nixon (83), Donna Summer (62), Meredith Vieira (57), Jon Voight (72), Denzel Washington (56).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 1/2, Rose Bowl, 5:00 PM, ET, ESPN. #5 Wisconsin Badgers (11-1) vs. #3 TCU Horned Frogs (12-0). Wisconsin makes its first trip to Pasadena in 11 seasons, while TCU becomes the first team from a non-AQ league in the BCS era to play in the Rose Bowl. Both teams scored 520 points, tying for fourth nationally. While TCU boasts the stingier defense, Wisconsin racked up 201 points in its final three regular-season games. We pick the Badgers to win in Pasadena.
Season to date (14-3).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 1/2, St. Louis Cardinals (7-8) at Seattle Seahawks (6-9), 4:00 PM ET, Fox. This NFC Worst title game to decide who gets beat the first week of the playoffs. We like St. Louis to win in Seattle.
Season to date (6-10).

TOP STORY -- Census results to spark map fights, Tuesday's release of Census Bureau results ... marks the beginning of a season of politics in its rawest form, a time of ruthlessness, scheming and, above all, self-preservation. For the next year, ambitious and sharp-elbowed legislators around the nation will look to Machiavelli, rather than Jefferson or Hamilton, for inspiration as they draw the congressional maps that will begin and end political careers and determine the partisan makeup of Congress over the next decade. Some incoming House freshmen are already marked men and women-before they've been sworn into office. Some veterans are about to be brusquely pushed into retirement. A few members of Congress will be forced into head-to-head battles with colleagues in order to survive another term.

Lose 2: N.Y. , Ohio
Gain 4: Texas
Gain 2: Fla.
Gain 1: Ariz., Ga., Nev., S.C., Utah, Wash.
Lose 1: Ill., Iowa, La., Mass., Mich., Mo., N.J., Pa.

EARLY 2011 PREDICTION - As we dim the lights until the New Year. Rest up because 2011 will be a blockbuster. To name just a few hot agenda items: the run up to the State of the Union and the debate over spending cuts and possible Social Security changes; Treasury's attempt to get out of AIG and declare TARP a total success; the bitter debate over Dodd-Frank implementation, from debit card fees to derivatives; the emergence of a new Wall Street with less proprietary trading and tougher capital requirements; the start of the 2012 GOP presidential primary campaign and the continued rise (or precipitous fall?) of the tea party. And don't forget the huge forthcoming debate on restructuring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as continued fear that European economies could fall apart and the U.S. housing market could continue to struggle.

For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
~T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"

A happy New Year! Grant that I
May bring no tear to any eye
When this New Year in time shall end
Let it be said I've played the friend,
Have lived and loved and labored here,
And made of it a happy year.
~Edgar Guest (DCDS ’32)

Next week, our 2011 predictions.

Until next Monday, “Feliz Ano ~ Nuevo!”

Claremont, CA
December 27, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

2010: The Best and the Worst

Best Sports Story of 2010 – Zenyatta’s 19 race winning streak and the narrow defeat at The Breeder’s Cup in the race of the year.

Worst Sports Story of 2010 – Tiger Wood’s melodrama, what else is new about big time athletes.

Best Word of 2010Vuvuzela: the South African plastic trumpet that drove us all nuts during the World Cup Soccer matches.

Worst Word of 2010QE2, a stupid name for driving America further into debt and recession, for you non-economic types the word is not the ocean liner, but the abbreviation for the Fed’s latest round of quantitative easing, its purchase of Treasury bonds.

Best Television Show of 2010 – "Boardwalk Empire", this drama about the machinations – criminal, political, social, sexual – in Atlantic City during Prohibition.

Worst Television Show of 2010 – "Dancing with the Stars", has been entertainment and sports people dancing the waltz to “Do You Thing I am Sexy”.

Best Collegiate Story of 2010 – University of La Verne’s hiring of its’ first female President, hope springs eternal.

Worst Collegiate Story of 2010 – University of La Verne’s announcement it will borrow money to build a new dormitory, parking and relocate athletic fields. An unwise choice for a private institution struggling in a recession to borrow money instead of fundraising the resources first. Is there a need for this course of action or is it ego driven administrators trying to save their jobs?

Best Economic Story of 2010 – Facebook, its’ growing dominance on the internet and for creating a whole new generation of people without a clue.

Worst Economic Story of 2010 – Unemployment, the continuing high number of out of work Americans, even though corporations have billions of dollars in cash ready to reinvest in their businesses but fail to do so.

To be continued next week…

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Jimmy Buffett (64), Chris Evert (56), Jane Fonda (73), Steve Garvey (62), Paul Hornung (75), Jim Leyland (66), Susan Lucci (62), Kiefer Sutherland (44), Dick Wolf (64).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL PICK OF THE WEEK – Wednesday 12/22, the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl in Las Vegas Nevada, 8:00 PM ET, ESPN. #19 Utah Utes (10-2) vs. #10 Boise State Broncos (11-1), both schools already have won two BCS bowl games. On the downside for Utah, starting quarterback Jordan Wynn won't be able to play due to shoulder surgery, meaning backup Terrance Cain will get the call. That's not too bad, considering he's 9-1 as Utah's starter. It will be interesting to see how the Broncos react after dropping from a BCS bowl game to Las Vegas. The Utes (what is a Ute) are 15 point dogs to Boise State. Give the points and take The Broncos in Vegas.
Season to date (13-3).

SMALL COLLEGE PICK OF THE WEEK – Congratulations to Wisconsin Whitewater in winning their second straight D-III football championship. We conclude our Small College Football Pick of the Week with a 12-3 record, not bad. We begin a new pick of the week on January 3, 2011 with the College Hockey Pick of the Week.

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 12/26, New York Jets (10-4) @ Chicago Bears (9-4), 1:00 PM ET, CBS., it will be a cold one at Soldier Field but the playoffs beckon for both teams. The Jets are 2 point underdogs in this one. We like The Jets.
Season to date (6-9).

WEST WING MUST READ - "A hefty portion of the $858 billion tax package will benefit middle- and upper-middle-income Americans - precisely the demographic that felt neglected the last two years as the White House and Congress focused on the major health care law and on helping the unemployed and people facing foreclosure. These new tax breaks ... could pay big political dividends to Mr. Obama and other Democrats in 2012. ... The single most expensive component of the package - other than the continuation of all of the marginal rates - is a two-year adjustment of the alternative minimum tax, to prevent it from hitting millions more households. This would insulate couples with income up to $72,450 in 2010 and $74,450 in 2011 at a cost of $137 billion. ... Middle- and upper-middle-income Americans will also benefit most from the one-year payroll tax cut."

RELIGION - Have you been in a Starbucks lately, it is like being in one of those strip mall churches. Various denominations of preachers are in attendance, for $6.00 you get a cafe latte and your soul cleansed.

STRESSED OUT - Five most stressed out economies are: Nevada, Florida, California, Michigan, and Arizona. The index calculates unemployment, foreclosure and bankruptcy rates.

MORE FACEBOOK - I hope this Time Magazine Person of the Year award will finally get Zuckerberg the attention he deserves.

MORE ON THE BUDGET WOES - CBS's "60 Minutes" also focused on the state budget crisis last night: "It has gotten much less attention because each state has a slightly different story. But in the two years, since the 'great recession' wrecked their economies and shriveled their income, the states have collectively spent nearly a half a trillion dollars more than they collected in taxes. There is also a trillion dollar hole in their public pension funds."

And So This Is Christmas;
And What Have We Done?
Another Year Over; A New One Just Begun;
And So Happy Christmas;
I Hope You Have Fun;
The Near And The Dear Ones;
The Old And The Young.
John Lennon

Next week, our year end best and worst concludes.

Until next Monday, Felices Fiestas!

Claremont, CA
December 20, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Rink Rats Holiday Tips

HOLIDAY GARDENING - During the Christmas Season, many guests choose to give their hosts a beautiful Christmas cactus. Bright and cheery during the season, these beautiful plants don't always continue to be as radiant after the New Year celebrations. However with some TLC this does not have to be the case. With proper care, you Christmas cactus can thrive all year long and brighten many holiday seasons.

One of the first things to remember about the Christmas cactus is that the blooms do much better in a cooler environment. The plant can be maintained nicely at a moderate temperature, while still placing the cactus where it can get natural sunlight. Also be mindful of any nearby air ducts or fireplaces. The drafts of warm air are not good for the plant.

In like manner, it is important to remember that a Christmas cactus requires moist soil, unlike its desert cousins. The good old-fashioned finger test will help you to know when to water your cactus. When you find the first inch or so of the soil is beginning to dry out, water the plant thoroughly. Attempting to water the cactus on a regular schedule, such as once a week, will most likely not keep the plant healthy. Because the moistness of the soil will vary, depending on such factors as humidity level, lighting access, and how quickly the cactus is growing, it is important to check it on a regular basis and water accordingly.

While there is no need to add fertilizer to the soil when you first acquire the cactus, you may find it beneficial to add nutrients to the soil throughout the year by periodically adding a fertilizer blend that is recommended for blooming plants. This will help keep the soil rich in what the cactus needs to not remain healthy, but also to grow and thrive.

While natural light is good up to a point for your cactus, avoid placing it in direct sunlight. Over time, too much direct sunlight can actually brown the leaves. A better solution is to locate the plant where it can get the gentler rays of the morning sun, but be protected from the harshness of protracted exposure during the day. The smaller amounts of direct sunlight, coupled with indirect lighting throughout the day will result in a strong healthy plant that will yield more blooms next season.

Be mindful that it is important to repot your cactus as it grows. As with any plant, it needs room to grow and be healthy. Use a good quality potting soil mixed with clean sand. Be sure to prune the cactus as well. The pieces you prune may be in good enough condition to root and allow you to grow additional plants.

Toward the middle of October, increase the amount of time your Christmas cactus spends in the dark. During this period, the darkness will stimulate the production of blooms that should be open and vibrant in time for the holiday season.

HOLIDAY GIFT GIVING – Should you have an economist in your family or have someone who follows current economic issues, we recommend “Too Big To Fail” by Andrew Ross Sorkin. The New York Times reporter gives an accurate and entertaining review of how the US got into its current economic mess.

Give Rink Rats for the holidays, you can’t beat the price and the weekly posts are entertaining and informative. Rink Rats is offering a special, sign up by the end of the year (12/31/10) you receive a copy of the University of San Francisco “How To” Manual signed by Homa Shabahang.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Steve Buscemi (52), Tim Conway (77), Al Kaline (76), Ray Liotta (56), Brad Pitt (47), Keith Richards (67), George Shultz (90).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/18, the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl from Boise Idaho begins our Bowl Season picks. The Northern Ilinois Huskies (10-3) meet the Fresno State Bulldogs (8-4), 5:30 PM ET, ESPN. Northern Illinois is making its third consecutive bowl appearance for the first time in school history and is 2-3 all-time in bowl games. Even though the Huskies lost a heartbreaker in the MAC title game, they still have a chance to go for a school-record 11 wins. Fresno State is making its fourth straight bowl game and is in the Humanitarian for the first time since 2007. The Huskies are 3.0 point favorites. Take the points and Fresno State to upset The Huskies.
Season to date (13-2).

SMALL COLLEGE PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/18, for the sixth year in a row the Stagg Bowl (D-III Championship game) has the Mount Union Purple Raiders #2 (13-0) vs. the Wisconsin Whitewater Warhawks #1 (14-0). Talk about a rivalry in Salem Virginia. We like the Warhawks to win.
Season to date (11-3).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 12/19, New York Jets (9-4) visit Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3), 4:00 PM ET, CBS. The Steelers are 6.0 point favorites. The Jets will continue their decline, Rink Rats takes Pittsburgh and the points.
Season to date (6-8).

WELL DONE – Congratulations to the Bonita High School Bearcats for completing a successful football season (12-2). Though losing in the final championship game they represented the community well.

Dear Rink Rats:

I supervise three people at my work. This time of year I am always troubled on whether I should give a gift to the individuals I supervise. Should I just take them to lunch, buy them a gift, if so how much should I spend? These individuals work very hard for me throughout the year but I do not want to upstage other employees whom I work with.

- Puzzled Santa

Dear Puzzled Santa:

It is refreshing to see a supervisor care for their employees. Rink Rats recently had a similar question from an Associate Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer (just that title alone indicates this person is clueless). This individual expressed not knowing what the Holidays are or represent and saw no need for employee recognition. We say this person could not be farther from the truth. As a supervisor you should acknowledge your staff throughout the year not just during the holidays. Then for the season a simple gift of what you can personally afford is appropriate. But we stress recognition should be yearlong as a way of showing your appreciation to the staff.

Peppermint Holiday Cookies
Serves: 36


• 3/4 stick Crisco® Butter Shortening Sticks or 3/4 cup Crisco® Butter Shortening
• 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 2 tablespoons milk
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• 1 large egg
• 2 cups all purpose Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose Flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup crushed peppermint candy canes or 3/4 cup peppermint hard candies

Prep Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 35 mins

1. HEAT oven to 350ºF.
2. BEAT shortening, brown sugar, sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl of electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Beat in egg. Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Mix into shortening mixture at low speed just until blended. Stir in 1/2 cup crushed candy. Shape into 1-inch balls. Place 2-inches apart on ungreased baking sheet.
3. BAKE 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately sprinkle each cookie with about 1/4 teaspoon crushed candy. Cool 2 minutes. Remove to rack to cool completely.
4. TIP - To have enough crushed candy for this recipe, use 9 medium candy canes or 36 peppermint hard candies.

The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn't for any religious reasons. They couldn't find three wise men and a virgin.
Jay Leno

Somehow, not only for Christmas,
But all the long year through,
The joy that you give to others,
Is the joy that comes back to you.
And the more you spend in blessing,
The poor and lonely and sad,
The more of your heart's possessing,
Returns to you glad.
John Greenleaf Whittier

Next week, our year end best and worst begins.

Until next Monday, Buone Feste!

Claremont, CA
December 13, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

Be Careful Out There

On a recently completed a 1,400 mile, seven day auto trip through California it was truly amazing to again view so many different landscapes and scenery. But the seven day drive also further established to this traveller how many bad drivers there are out on the highways. Please bring back summer public education driver training, because whoever is training our drivers of today is not doing a good job.

Forget the law that forbids cellular phone talking while driving, it is still being done, along with texting, applying makeup, reading an iPad, listening to an iPod, watching a Pixar movie, eating and drinking. Do drivers use turn signals anymore? On a freeway when you are not passing anyone please be in the far right lane and let other cars pass, if you cannot drive the speed limit move into the right lane.

Message to the Obama Administration: forget the bankers and wall street who will always find a way to rip us off, go after these drivers: (1) anyone who drives and lives in Ohio, (2) mothers with students attending private schools who drive monster SUVs, (3) Arts & Science professors, (4) law enforcement officers (fine examples they set), and (5) anyone who drives a Kia (a menace to society).

While driving through California Rink Rats recommends these following places to stop and eat:

Margie’s – Paso Robles: great iced tea

Tap Room – Pebble Beach Lodge: the Rueben sandwich melts in your mouth, old school

San Francisco Deli – Redding: super French Dip sandwich

Black Bear Diner – Gilroy: grilled cheese to die for

Hog’s Breath Inn – Carmel: Clint knows how to serve a cocktail, “made my day”

Madonna Inn, Silver Bar Lounge – San Luis Obispo: great people watching, and what people it is like attending a bad wedding

MORE GENERAL MOTORS HELP - General Motors won't have to pay federal taxes on up to $50 billion in profit under an unusual provision of its government-funded bailout, giving the car maker an added boost as it returns to a publicly owned company. GM may use the $50 billion in so-called tax-loss carry-forwards to shield that amount of profit from U.S. taxes for up to 20 years.

CONNECTING THE DOTS - L.A. Times lead story, "Rumblings of inflation grow louder: Prices of a wide range of commodities are rising, and Americans are starting to feel it in their pocketbooks," by J. Huffstutter and Tom Petruno: "The effects are rippling from financial trading floors to local stores, forcing consumers to shell out more for everyday basics - a cup of coffee, a box of cereal, a gallon of gasoline. Those increases are being driven in part by short supplies of some crops and raw materials caused by poor weather in major producing regions and robust demand from emerging markets such as China and India. Investors and speculators also are pushing up prices as they jump into rising commodity markets. They are being drawn to these so-called hard assets to hedge against inflation and the risk of further devaluation of the dollar and other paper currencies. ... Raw coffee prices on commodity exchanges are up 60%. ... Retail food prices have already started to rise after remaining relatively flat for the first half of the year, said Ephraim Leibtag, an economist with U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service."

Holiday cheer watch: Google is giving all its employees a $1,000 cash bonus (and paying the tax on it) along with 10 percent raises to ensure they don't all go work at Facebook

MORE BE CAREFUL OUT THERE – First Greece, then Portugal and Spain, now Ireland, watch out United States in 2011. Europe is borrowing money to bail out countries that got in trouble by borrowing too much money. Forget what Ben Bernanke said on 60 Minutes, bankers are still gambling with your money: the winners – government (they keep spending), corporate executives (huge year end bonuses) and commercial banks (record profits), the losers – the American taxpayer (picking up the tab for generations to come) and corporate shareholders (why not profits distributed in dividends). Watch for at least five states to declare bankruptcy in 2011. It is not over, save your money.

CURRENCY WAR - "We're in the midst of an international currency war," Brazil's finance minister said recently. The world's biggest economies are combatants, and they all want the same thing: a weaker currency.

Japan, Taiwan and South Korea have publicly intervened in open markets, to make their currencies weaker. China has not been so public, but it's pretty clear that the country is keeping its currency artificially weak.

In the U.S., the Fed has kept short-term interest rates superlow and has printed more than $1 trillon to buy mortgage bonds — moves whose main purpose is to stimulate domestic spending, but which also tend to weaken the dollar's value against other currencies.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Larry Bird (54), Dave Brubeck (89), Dick Butkus (67), Andrew Cuomo (52), Kirk Douglas (93), Bobby Flay (45), Teri Hatcher (45), Laurie Hill …famous Spartan, Igor Larionov (50), G. Gordon Liddy (80).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/11, the last regular season week of the college football season has the Navy Midshipmen (8-3) vs. the Army Cadets (6-5), 2:00 PM ET, CBS. Navy are 9.0 favorites in the 111th renewal of this historic game in Philadelphia give the points and we pick Navy to win.
Season to date (12-2).

SMALL COLLEGE PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/11, the semifinals of D-III have the #1 University of Wisconsin Whitewater Warhawks (13-0) visiting #3 Wesley Wolverines (12-0) in Dover, Delaware, 12:00 PM ET, ESPNU. Rink Rats likes The Warhawks to win and head back to the championship game for the sixth straight year.
Season to date (10-3).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 12/12, Philadelphia Eagles (8-4) vs. Dallas Cowboys (4-8), 8:00 PM ET, NBC, the Eagles are 3.5 point favorites take the points and the Cowboys in this NFC East battle. The Cowboys continue their return to respectability.
Season to date (5-8).

SPORTS BLINK - @TigerWoods answers fans' questions on Twitter: (Do we care??)
--Favorite team to root for (besides Stanford)? "Lakers, Dodgers, Raiders"
--"Coming to America," or "Hangover"? "No movie compares to Caddyshack"
--Can he rock a full beard, or only the goatee? "I can barely grow a goatee"
--What does the man who can buy anything want for Christmas? "Stanford in the National Championship Game"
--Favorite course? "St. Andrews"
--Best pre-round meal and "in the bag" snacks/food? "During round I eat peanut&banana sandwich & almonds"

HOLIDAY MOVIES – Rink Rats recommends the following movies for your holiday viewing:

King’s Speech – feel good movie, well-acted
127 Hours – amazing since it is a true story
Slap Shot – still the best sports movie of all time
Nobodys Fool - Paul Newman at his best

Christmas gift suggestions:
To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.
Oren Arnold

Next week, holiday cooking and gardening.

Until next Monday, Joyeuses Fetes.

Claremont, CA
December 6, 2010