Monday, January 31, 2011

A Real Winter

As we now sink deep into winter I thought I would remind my Southern California readers how lucky they are living in a warm and relatively dry environment. This writer grew up in the Midwest and attended college at St. Lawrence University. St. Lawrence University is a private, four-year liberal arts college located in the village of Canton in Saint Lawrence County, New York. Founded in 1856, it is the oldest coeducational university in the state of New York. It has roughly 2300 undergraduate and 100 graduate students, about equally split between male and female.

This is a typical winters’ day at St. Lawrence:

7:00 AM outside temperature -10 degrees – dress in long underwear and multi layers to go out and start the car; first unplug the electrical connection to the battery that keeps the engine warm overnight and then pray the car starts.

12:00 Noon outside temperature 0 degrees – walk to class or to work, with the temperature it hurts to take a breath.

3:00 PM outside temperature 5 degrees – the warmest time of the day, the sun is shining but who cares your feet and hands are numb, your face feels like gravel and your nose is turning an odd purple color.

6:00 PM outside temperature is again 0 degrees – You are back inside but there is so much frost on your windows you cannot see out. A man resembling Jeremiah Johnson is giving the weather forecast for tomorrow; a heat wave 11 degrees tomorrow!!!!

9:00 PM outside temperature -8 degrees – now it is windy and snowing, they call this a white out – so you head to the Hoot Owl for a refreshment; a famous Hoot Owl custom, take your 10 ounce glass of beer outside, throw the contents into the air and watch it turn into beer snow in seconds, never hitting the ground.

And you wonder why real estate is so high in Southern California….

CHINA IS WORLD'S BIGGEST LENDER - China has lent more money to other developing countries over the past two years than the World Bank, a stark indication of the scale of Beijing's economic reach and its drive to secure natural resources. China Development Bank and China Export-Import Bank signed loans of at least $110bn (£70bn) to other developing country governments and companies in 2009 and 2010. ... The equivalent arms of the World Bank made loan commitments of $100.3bn from mid-2008 to mid-2010, itself a record amount of lending in response to the financial crisis.

--N.Y. Times "Business Day" front, "Wal-Mart Takes a Healthy Turn: A 5-Year Plan to Reduce Fats, Sugars and Salt in Food," by Sheryl Gay Stolberg: "Aides say it is the first time Mrs. Obama has thrown her support behind the work of a single company. The plan [is] similar to efforts by other companies and to public health initiatives by New York City ... Wal-Mart and White House officials said the company was also pledging to press its major food suppliers, like Kraft, to follow its example. ... Leslie Dach, Wal-Mart's executive vice president for corporate affairs, [said the] changes will be introduced slowly ... to give the company time to overcome technical hurdles and to give consumers time to adjust to foods' new taste ... 'It doesn't do you any good to have healthy food if people don't eat it.'"

FOURTH QUARTER STATS - The U.S. economy, fueled by gains in consumer spending, grew at a faster pace in the fourth quarter, raising hopes that it's on self-sustaining path, government data showed Friday. In its first estimate of growth for the final three months of 2010, the Commerce Department said gross domestic product rose at a 3.2% annual rate, faster than the 2.6% pace seen during the interval spanning July, August and September.

HAPPY NEW YEAR - The eruption in Egypt has dampened spirits in the Obama White House, where officials were having their best run in more than a year. "We're struggling to figure all this out," said a top official who spent much of the weekend on the crisis. Obama's closest aides have been enjoying three Rs: political resurgence, economic recovery, and a White House reorganization that most West Wingers applaud. But now these officials fret that new instability in the Middle East will 1) distract from President Obama's jobs-and-innovation message, 2) dim hopes for a breakthrough in the peace process, and 3) stall the economy if the revolutionary tsunami spreads to other Arabian states, driving up the price of oil. In a live special last night, CNBC warned of "economic contagion."

Those are the big-picture threats. More immediately, aides are debating how aggressively to prod President Mubarak to step down and/or get the ball rolling on free elections. Western diplomats are convinced Mubarak is UNLIKELY to survive in office. But stranger things have happened in that neck of the woods, so President Obama is being cautious, both to avoid a backlash if the U.S. is seen as trying to engineer a successor, and in deference to other Arab allies. "It's just a very tough line to straddle," a senior administration official said. "If [Mubarak] guts this out and stays, we're going to continue to need him and work with him, and he might not appreciate that we pushed. Bottom line, Egypt's destiny is Egypt's to decide, and we'll work with whoever emerges or is left standing."

Moreover, administration officials confess that they are uncertain who should replace him. "There's no horse to bet on," said a Democrat with intimate knowledge of the conversations. "There's no opposition leader to get behind." So the government now is trying to parse the leaders of the revolt, to build an on-the-fly Who's Who of potential post-Mubarak powers. The top official added: "There isn't a natural successor. And if we were to embrace a particular person, it does more harm than good. It's a classic dilemma for America."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Ernie Banks (80), Christie Brinkley (57), Don Cherry (77), Alice Cooper (63), Retief Goosen (42), Ina Garten (57), Former VP Dan Quayle (64), Roger Staubach (69).

NFL PICK OF THE WEEKSeason to date (7-14).


Packers Favored in Closest Super Bowl Point Spread in 27 Years - The Green Bay Packers are 1 1/2- point favorites over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl, according to Las Vegas oddsmakers, the narrowest spread for the championship game in 27 years. The Packers will be seeking a record 13th National Football League championship when the teams meet Feb. 6 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. ... 'Most of it is public opinion,' said Andrew Patterson, an oddsmaker for Las Vegas Sports Consultants. 'The Packers have been the hot team in Vegas for several weeks and this is the continuation of it.' The last Super Bowl to have a point spread of less than three points was played after the 1983 season, when the Washington Redskins were 2 1/2-point favorites over Oakland and lost to the Raiders 38-9. In the Super Bowl's 44-year history, only two other games had point spreads of less than a field goal. The 1981 San Francisco 49ers were favored by one point over Cincinnati and beat the Bengals 26-21. Nine years earlier, the Miami Dolphins were one-point favorites and completed an undefeated season with a 14-7 win over Washington. The favorite of Las Vegas oddsmakers has won 32 of 44 Super Bowls -- a 73 percent success rate."

--Rink Rats like Pittsburgh to win their record seventh Super Bowl, too much talent and too much experience, sorry GB.

--Super Bowl XLV takes place at Cowboys Stadium in North Texas on Sunday, February 6 (FOX, 6:30 PM ET).

COLLEGE HOCKEY GAME OF THE WEEK – Friday 2/4, #6 Michigan Wolverines (17-7-4) @ #11 ranked Miami of Ohio RedHawks (14-9-5), 7:35 ET, FSN. This CCHA contest in Oxford Ohio at Steve Cady Arena (Steve Cady, St. Lawrence ’75) should be a good one; the Wolverines are playoff ready and smell another run to the national title. We like Red Berenson’s team to win at Miami. Season to date (1-3).

THE KINGS SPEECH - Colin Firth's SAG award for playing a leader with difficulties speaking bodes well for Sarah Palin.

TOP FIVE STATES – the top five states in debt (all in billions): (1) California $22.5, (2) Texas $10.0, (3) Illinois $8.5, (4) New Jersey $7.9, (5) New York $7.0. Good luck to you all.

Next week, early Oscar picks.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
January 31, 2011

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