Monday, March 28, 2011

Final Four

This is the week of four, with four more days in the month we have had a year’s worth of news peaking these last four days of the month: the Mubarak fled Egypt which is reordering Middle East power and affecting global security with subsequent events in Libya, Yemen and all through the region. It was March 11 – 17 days ago that we woke to the news of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, which this week still has ripple effects on the fragile global economy and terrible consequences for the Japanese people. Also this week the United States is in three hot conflicts at once, for the first time since World War II.

As of March 25 the U.S. federal government debt was $14.21 trillion or 97% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2010, ranked 12th in percentage among nations. There were four main creditors of this debt: (1) $9.4 trillion held by the U.S. public and the Federal Reserve 66.1%, (2) China $1.2 trillion, (3) Japan $880 billion, and (4) United Kingdom $240 billion. This is not including State and Municipal Government debt, individual and corporate debt. You think we have been living beyond our means?

Gas and food prices have never been higher, affecting all economies and especially those in poorer countries. Top four oil reserve countries: (1) Saudi Arabia 267 billion barrels, (2) Iraq 180 billion barrels, (3) Canada 179 billion barrels, and (4) Iran 138 billion barrels. Average reserves in years approximately 85 at our current usage. Where is my Hummer?

FINAL FOURS – The NCAA College Hockey Frozen Four is set for April 7-9 in St. Paul, Minnesota: East – Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, Northeast – Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Midwest – North Dakota Fighting Sioux, West– Michigan Wolverines.

NCAA College Basketball Final Four is set for April 2-4 in Houston, Texas: East – Kentucky Wildcats, Southeast - Butler Bulldogs, Southwest – Virginia Commonwealth Rams, West – Connecticut Huskies.

KENTUCKY FAVORED FOR FINAL FOUR MOMENT - AP: "Las Vegas casinos have tabbed Kentucky the latest favorite in an NCAA tournament full of upsets, and are hoping that Virginia Commonwealth ends its improbable run without a title. The Glantz-Culver line made Kentucky a 2-point favorite to win its semifinal game against Connecticut on Saturday night, and Butler a 2 1/2 -point favorite over Virginia Commonwealth. ... [T]he odds were 1,371-1 against VCU reaching the Final Four, said gambling expert RJ Bell of"

CREDIT CARDS DEBT STILL HIGH - NYT's Stephanie Clifford on pg. B1: "American shoppers did not shed their reliance on credit cards over the year-end holidays. While the average debt on credit cards in December decreased by 4 percent ... Americans still carried an average of $4,284 on credit card statements in December 2010, according to data released this week by the credit monitoring company Experian. The data offers conflicting versions of the economy's already mixed picture. While some consumers spent more during the holidays because the economy was rebounding, others were still unable to cover expenses without leaning on their credit cards. And while holiday spending also appeared to have been more robust than in the last several years, even more recent data has shown a bit of a slowdown in consumption this year."

- The Wall Street Journal calls Aspen, Colo., "the most expensive town in America": "Defying the national sales slump, Aspen's [home] sales are up. ... [T]he glitzy ski enclave is outpricing the Hamptons, Beverly Hill and Palm Beach. ... The average home price .... Has increased ... to $6 million in 2010 from $5.4 million in 2006."

PARAGRAPH OF THE WEEK - George Will, in his Sunday column, on Andrew Ferguson's new book, "Crazy U: One Dad's Crash Course in Getting His Kid Into College": "The college admission process occasions too much angst. America is thickly planted with 1,400 four-year institutions. Motivated, selective students can get a fine education at any of them -- unmotivated, undiscerning students at none. Most students love the schools they attend. And the admissions quest can have splendid moments. Last year, Wake Forest, a wonderful university with a stimulating application form, asked applicants what they would title their autobiographies. One, obviously a golfer, answered: 'Mulligan.' Wouldn't we all?"

TAX TIME: G.E. PAYS NO TAX - In a piece that may make things a big awkward for President Obama's top outside economic advisor, G.E. CEO Jeff Immelt, NYT's David Kocieniewski reports above the fold on A1: "[G.E.] reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States. Its American tax bill? None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion. ...

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Steve Ballmer (55), Warren Beatty (74), Jaime Evans …famous Redding, CA Mom, Gordie Howe (83), Elle MacPherson (47), Reba McEntire (56), Nancy Pelosi (71), Tara Pugliese ….is she 21 yet?, Gene Shalit (85), Twitter (5).

MEDIAWATCH -- COURIC DISCUSSING UNIQUE HYBRID ROLE: Katie Couric is likely to depart as anchor of the "CBS Evening News" when her contract expires on June 4. But she may continue contributing to CBS News while developing a syndicated daily show, and even after her show launches. "She potentially could remain a big part of CBS News," said an associate who described the negotiations on condition of anonymity. Her imminent departure from "Evening News" was first reported by Howard Kurtz of The Daily Beast.

Couric has "felt confined by the 22-minute box," the associate said. But she has transcended it with her @KatieCouric webcast, and by reporting pieces for "60 Minutes" and "Sunday Morning," where she might continue to appear under the new hybrid. The new deal would likely include her own production company. Couric's team is having similar negotiations with NBC - a package that would include contributions to NBC News and MSNBC while she develops - and eventually hosts -- a show through the network's syndication arm.

GREAT NEW BOOK – For Southern Californians especially interested in dry gardening; “Reimagining the California Lawn”, Carol Bornstein, David Fross and Bart O’Brien. Thank you LP for your recommendation of the book. Mr. O’Brien nationally known for his expertise in dry gardening represents the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont, California. The authors will be lecturing throughout the state in the coming weeks, here are a few of the local sites:

April 2: Native Sons Nursery, Arroyo Grande
April 9: Bellefontaine Nursery, Pasadena
April 16: Assn. of Professional Landscape Designers, West Hollywood
April 16: Descanso Gardens, La Cañada Flintridge
April 17: Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Claremont

JACKASS OF THE MONTH – Jessica Simpson who recently signed a prenuptial agreement with her fiance, former NFL has been Erik Johnson, the agreement will pay Mr. Johnson $200,000 when the couple become married, $20,000 per month for five years should they stay married and $1,000,000 after five years or marriage. We congratulate Ms. Simpson for her Jackass award this month and congratulate Mr. Johnson for being a very lucky SOB.

ELIZABETH TAYLOR IN MEMORIAM - Emily Yoffe remembers the actress walking into Ivy at the Shore in Santa Monica around 1990 or so. I was living in Los Angeles at the time and had lunch there with friends occasionally and it was perfectly normal for us to say, sotto voce, "Bruce Willis just sat at the table at your right." What you never did was obviously turn your head or openly look at the celebrities. Then Elizabeth Taylor came in for lunch. She was in her brief blond phase and she was escorted by her demi-celebrity hairdresser, Jose Eber. When Taylor arrived, everyone in the place dropped the pretense of being too sophisticated to stare. All conversation stopped, forks stayed poised mid-air, and everyone's eyes bore through Taylor. I was seated with an agent who said she'd never seen people act like this. Remarkably, this was long past the time Taylor was an active star or was regularly appearing in movies. But she had an enduring power to reduce everyone to a stunned fan.

Next week, our first year anniversary month begins.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
March 28, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Time

The first weekend of spring is here and in Southern California it is raining buckets, there are wars going on in Afghanistan, Libya and Central Africa, Japan is desperately trying to recover from the earthquake and tsunami, prices for food and gasoline are going up daily, drivers continue not to use their turn signals and Tony Villaraigosa is still mayor of Los Angeles.

For the first time since World War II, Americans are in hot conflicts in three different places - and this time, all three fronts are in Muslim countries. The U.S. military is showing its amazing range: roughly 48,000 troops remain in Iraq; 100,000 are in Afghanistan; and now five U.S. ships, with a total crew of about 1,000 sailors, have fired missiles at Libya. Today, U.S. planes are expected to enter Libyan airspace, and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned on ABC's "This Week" that Moammar Gadhafi "still has some surface-to-air capability, where he could attack an aircraft, including one of ours."

American consumers have long enjoyed a luxury that few others could boast: an abundance of affordable food. But with prices of wheat, corn and other staples soaring, some economists and scientists are wondering how long that can last. On Wednesday, the U.S. Labor Department reported that wholesale food prices jumped 3.9% in February ... the highest monthly increase in 37 years. Economists expect to see a similar uptick in what consumers are paying for food at retail when the Labor Department releases its consumer price index Thursday. ... Economists warn that such prices will probably remain high this year and possibly much longer, driven by a confluence of factors: the fall of the U.S. dollar, slowing growth in crop yields, political unrest in the Middle East, high crude oil prices and a revived interest in crop-based biofuels.

Despite all this bad news there are positive events to draw upon this first weekend of spring; the Los Angeles Marathon was an exciting event as always, your friends are still your friends and will always be there for you, Sarah Palin is not running for President (but beware in 2016), the NCAA basketball and hockey tournaments are in full swing, the Super Moon on Saturday night was a cool thing to see, the Southern California deserts are in full bloom and Tony Villaraigosa has only two years left in his term. So smile and think only good thoughts this first week of spring. Here are some spring pictures taken by Rink Rats this past weekend, to get you in an upbeat mood.

Spring Time in the desert. Rafael Nadal at Indian Wells.

PRESIDENT OBAMA on GUN CONTROL, in an op-ed in the (Tucson) Arizona Daily Star, "We must seek agreement on gun reforms": "Like the majority of Americans, I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. ... I believe that if common sense prevails, we can get beyond wedge issues and stale political debates to find a sensible, intelligent way to make the United States of America a safer, stronger place. ... First, we should begin by enforcing laws that are already on the books. ... Second, we should in fact reward the states that provide the best data - and therefore do the most to protect our citizens. ... Third, we should make the system faster and nimbler. We should provide an instant, accurate, comprehensive and consistent system for background checks to sellers who want to do the right thing, and make sure that criminals can't escape it."

PALIN WANING - Conservative intellectuals slam her -- Jonathan Martin and John F. Harris: "Sarah Palin has played the sexism card, accusing critics of chauvinism against a strong woman. She has played the class card, dismissing the Bush family as 'blue bloods,' and complaining that she is the target of snobbery by people who dislike her simply because she is 'not so hoity-toity.' Most famously, she has played the victim card ... Palin's flamboyant rhetoric always has thrilled supporters but lately it is coming at a new cost: A backlash ... from some of the country's most influential conservative commentators and intellectuals. Palin's politics of grievance and group identity, according to these critics, is a betrayal of conservative principles. For decades, it was a standard line of the right that liberals ... practiced the politics of identity-race, sex and class ... Matt Labash, a longtime writer for the Weekly Standard, said that because of Palin's frequent appeals to victimhood and group grievance, 'She's becoming Al Sharpton, Alaska edition.' ... Asked if the GOP would remain the party of ideas if Palin captures the nomination, [George] Will said: 'The answer is emphatically no.'"

Sarah Palin has shown no capacity to evolve, grow substantively, or expand her base of support. If she had spent her time studying education reform, like Jeb Bush - or developing a signature issue of any sort - a Palin candidacy would look much more promising. She resigned as governor in July, 2009 -- a year and a half that has been squandered, used only to make money rather than to reintroduce herself to the American middle.

BACHMANN HAS PATTERN OF FACT ERRORS - Jonathan Martin and Kendra Marr: "Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's suggestion Saturday that the Revolutionary War began in Concord, N.H., rather than Lexington and Concord, Mass., marks the third time in recent months that the potential GOP presidential hopeful has committed a puzzling gaffe about history and current affairs. Making her first trek to New Hampshire as a 2012 prospect, Bachmann told a GOP crowd in Manchester: 'You're the state where the shot was heard around the world at Lexington and Concord.' ... At a fundraiser Friday night on the New Hampshire Seacoast, Bachmann said almost the exact same thing, according to the Minnesota Post. ... Speaking in January to an Iowa anti-tax group, Bachmann claimed that the authors of the country's founding documents sought to end slavery."

The Wall Street Journal Asia editorial, "Nuclear Overreactions: Modern life requires learning from disasters, not fleeing all risk": "After a once-in-300-years earthquake, the Japanese have been keeping cool amid the chaos, organizing an enormous relief and rescue operation, and generally earning the world's admiration. We wish we could say the same for the reaction in the U.S., where the troubles at Japan's nuclear reactors have produced an overreaction about the risks of modern life and technology."

Record 5.9 Million Brackets in's Men's Tournament Challenge Game, surpassing last year's record 4.8 million - ESPN release: "More fans picked Kansas, Ohio State, Duke and Pittsburgh to reach the Final Four than any other teams. In those predicted games (Ohio State vs. Duke, Kansas vs. Pittsburgh): Ohio State was picked to defeat Duke 19.1 percent of the time; Kansas was picked to defeat Pittsburgh 25.3 percent of the time; 25.9 percent of participants chose Ohio State to win the national championship. An analysis of Second Round picks by the 5.9 million brackets finds: 57.2% of brackets picked #10 Michigan State to defeat #7 UCLA; 53.7% of brackets picked #9 Tennessee to defeat #8 Michigan; 46% of brackets picked #10 Florida State to defeat #7 Texas A&M; 99.5% of brackets picked #1 Ohio State over #16 University of Texas-San Antonio."

FED TO LOOSEN REINS ON BANKS - WSJ's Dan Fitzpatrick on pg. C1: "The Federal Reserve is expected Friday to free some of the nation's biggest banks from strict oversight ... The Fed will now allow financial institutions that have passed a fresh round of stress tests to run their businesses independent of crisis-era restrictions imposed in 2008. That will permit banks to raise dividends and buy back shares ... On Friday, banks that get the green light to boost dividend payouts will be able to announce those plans immediately. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. is expected to receive approval for a dividend boost and share buybacks ... Analysts also expect U.S. Bancorp, American Express Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. to be among the first institutions cleared from government restrictions."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Alex Ball …a few days late but Happy 21 years, Kenny Chesney (43), Bob Costas (59), Valtteri Filppula (27), Orrin Hatch (77), Elton John (64), Peyton Manning (35), Denny McLain (67), Danica Patrick (29), Bob Woodward (68) .

WORDS OF THE MONTHretrograde \RE-truh-greyd\, adjective:

1. Having a backward motion or direction; retiring or retreating.
2. Inverse or reversed, as order.
3. Exhibiting degeneration or deterioration.

“Retrograde motion, or retrogression, within the Earth's atmosphere refers to weather systems which move from east to west through the Westerlies or from west to east through the Trade wind easterlies.”

temer, verb

to be afraid

Teme al profesor.
“He’s afraid of the teacher.”

COLLEGE HOCKEY GAME OF THE WEEK – Friday 3/25, the NCAA final sixteen begin their tournament, this West Regional Semifinal has #3 ranked and Hockey East Champion Boston College Eagles (30-7-1) vs. #13 ranked and WCHA Runner-ups Colorado College Tigers (22-11-3), 9:00 PM ET, ESPNU. Jerry York’s BC Eagles are on a roll and should have no problem against CC Tigers. Rink Rats predicts these final four participants for College Hockey supremacy: East – Yale Bulldogs, Northeast – Miami University of Ohio Red Hawks, Midwest – North Dakota Fighting Sioux, West– Boston College Eagles.
Season to date (3-8).

NFL LABOR - AP: "One week into the lockout, the NFL and the players are drifting further apart. ... [P]layers ... said they consider a letter Commissioner Roger Goodell sent them ... an attempt to divide them. ... Goodell outlined the NFL's version of last week's proposal and told players: 'I hope you will encourage your union to return to the bargaining table and conclude a new collective bargaining agreement.' Players were upset by that line, particularly the reference to 'your union' - the [NFL Players Association] renounced its status as a union and says it is now a trade association, which permits the court actions under antitrust laws."

DIET COKE RULES - U.S. sales of Diet Coke overtook those of Pepsi-Cola for the first time in 2010, making the diet soda the No. 2 carbonated soft drink in the country behind Coca-Cola, industry data are expected to confirm Thursday. Occupying the top two rankings would mark a historic win for Coca-Cola Co. in its decades-old rivalry with PepsiCo Inc.

IN MEMORIUM – “Warren Christopher, Ex-Secretary of State, Dies at 85," by N.Y. Times' Robert D. Hersey Jr.: "Warren M. Christopher, secretary of state in President Clinton's first term and the chief negotiator for the 1981 release of American hostages in Iran, died Friday night in Los Angeles. He was 85 and had been ill with kidney and bladder cancer. ... Methodical and self-effacing, Mr. Christopher alternated for nearly five decades between top echelons of both the federal government and legal and political life in California. Among other things, he served as administration point man with Congress in winning ratification of Panama Canal treaties, presided over normalization of diplomatic relations with China and conducted repeated negotiations involving the Middle East and the Balkans.”

Next week, The Jackass of the Month and our month end financial updates.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
March 21, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring Break Madness

$110 BILLION JOKE - When one looks across the Arab world today at the stunning spontaneous democracy uprisings, it is impossible to not ask: What are we doing spending $110 billion this year supporting corrupt and unpopular regimes in Afghanistan and Pakistan that are almost identical to the governments we’re applauding the Arab people for overthrowing?

Now the people themselves have taken down those regimes in Egypt and Tunisia, and they’re rattling the ones in Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Oman and Iran. They are not doing it for us, or to answer bin Laden. They are doing it by themselves for themselves — because they want their freedom and to control their own destinies. But in doing so they have created a hugely powerful, modernizing challenge to bin Ladenism, which is why Al Qaeda today is tongue-tied. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.

BULL RUN - Investors mark the second anniversary of the current bull market on March 9: it was March 9, 2009 that the Dow, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq finished at their economic crisis lows. Now, with Mideast unrest and resulting oil price increases, many are questioning how much longer the bull run can continue.

Over that two-year span, the Dow is up 86.6%, the S&P 500 95.4%, and the Nasdaq 118%. The rich are getting richer and the middle class is fading away.

HUGE: BILL GROSS DUMPS U.S. DEBT - Bloomberg's Susanne Walker: "Bill Gross, who runs the world's biggest bond fund at Pacific Investment Management Co., eliminated government-related debt from his flagship fund last month as the U.S. projected record budget deficits. Pimco's $237 billion Total Return Fund last held zero government-related debt in January 2009. Gross had cut the holdings to 12 percent of assets in January. PIMCO is making a big bet that when QE2 ends on June 30, the bottom is going to fall out of the Treasury market. Should that happen, it is also a reasonable bet that everything will get hammered except for cash. So PIMCO's strategy for the first half of this year is 'go to cash and await developments”.

HOUSEHOLD DEBT CUT - WSJ's Justin Lahart and Mark Whitehouse on pg. A1: "U.S. families-by defaulting on their loans and scrimping on expenses-shouldered a smaller debt burden in 2010 than at any point in the previous six years, putting them in position to start spending more. Total U.S. household debt, including mortgages and credit cards, fell for the second straight year in 2010 to $13.4 trillion, the Federal Reserve reported ... That came to 116% of disposable income, down from a peak debt burden of 130% in 2007, and the lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2004. I thought the Orange County Housewives were the only ones who managed money poorly.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Ursula Andress (75), Jerry Lewis (85), Mike Love (70), Bobby Orr (63), Kurt Russell (60), Homa Shabahang …famous educator, Vanessa Williams (48), Bruce Willis (56).

STATE RUNNERUPS – Congratulations to the Anaheim Wildcats Pee Wee AA hockey team for their second place finish in the California State Finals. The California Heat beat the Wildcats 2-1 in an exciting final. Patrick Pugliese, goalie for the Wildcats, had a strong tournament. Joe Marsh keep this kid in mind for the Freshman Class of 2017.

MARCH MADNESS - Expanded NCAA bracket disturbs a perfect arrangement, the tournament bracket - a study in right angles and symmetry - has appealed to casual and hard-core fans alike because of its simplicity: 64 teams playing down to two over the course of three weeks. ... Over the summer, in an effort to generate more money in the form of additional television inventory, the NCAA decided to add three teams to what had been since 2001 a 65-team field. At first glance, the result means three additional games, to be played Tuesday and Wednesday nights. ... Should the extra results count in the pools? Do players have to complete their prognostications by Tuesday evening, rather than Thursday at noon? Should those four results be ignored altogether? ... Most are thankful that the NCAA did not expand the tournament to 96 teams.

BRACKET BREAKDOWN - The unveiling of the NCAA tournament bracket on Sunday included an unprecedented 11 teams from a single conference - the Big East - and the usual number of snubs and disappointments despite the increase from 65 to 68 teams. ... Before the start of the season, TBS, TNT and truTV joined CBS in signing a new, 14-year TV contract worth $10.8 billion. The games used to all be shown on CBS, with the network deciding which part of the country got which games. Now, the viewers can pick and choose from all of them. ... There were teams that surprised some people by getting in: VCU, UAB and Clemson. There were teams that surprised some people by getting passed over: Colorado, Virginia Tech, Harvard, Alabama and St. Mary's ... The Big Ten placed seven teams ... The Big 12 and Southeastern Conference got five teams each while the Pac-10 and Atlantic Coast only got four. The ACC list included the usuals, Duke and North Carolina, along with Florida State and Clemson, but not Boston College, which finished 20-12.

Our Picks – Final Four: East – Ohio State University, Southwest – Kansas, Southeast – Florida, West – Duke. NCAA Champ – Kansas Jayhawks.

COLLEGE HOCKEY GAME OF THE WEEK – Friday 3/18, the CCHA final four head to The Joe this weekend with a great opening matchup; #7 ranked Miami University Red Hawks (21-9-6) vs. #8 ranked University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish (23-11-5), 4:35 PM ET, FSN Detroit Plus. Though we at Rink Rats get a bit queasy when we pick The Irish, we have to in this game. Season to date (3-7).

THE SAINTS MARCH OUT – They gave their all but the St. Lawrence University Saints lost to the #3 ranked Yale Bulldogs in three games this past weekend. Joe Marsh’s team won game #1 on Friday night, 4-3, but lost the next two, 2-5 and 0-4. Yale now heads to an ECAC final four tilt with the Red Raiders of Colgate Friday March 18.

EAT FRESH – Subway is now the world’s largest restaurant chain, by number of outlets – passing McDonalds.

TOP FIVE – Wealthiest individuals in the world 2010:

1. Carlos Slim, $74 billion – Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
2. Bill Gates, $56 billion – Harvard University (dropped out 1975)
3. Warren Buffett, $50 billion – University of Pennsylvania
4. Bernard Arnault, $41 billion – École Polytechnique
5. Larry Ellison, $39.5 billion – University of Chicago (drop out)


I have never written to you before, but I really need your advice. I have suspected for some time now that my wife has been cheating on me. The usual signs; phone rings but if I answer, the caller hangs up. My wife has been going out with 'the girls' a lot recently although when I ask their names she always says, just some friends from work, you don't know them. I try to stay awake and watch for her when she comes home, but I usually fall asleep. Anyway, I have never broached the subject with my wife. I think deep down I just did not want to know the truth, but last night she went out again and I decided to finally check on her around midnight, I hid in the garage behind my golf clubs so I could get a good view of the whole street when she arrived home from a night out with "the girls." When she got out of the car she was buttoning up her blouse, which was open, and she took her panties out of her purse and slipped them on. It was at that moment, crouching behind my golf clubs, that I noticed a hairline crack where the grip meets the graphite shaft on my TaylorMade R11 driver. Is this something I can fix myself or should I take it back to the PGA Superstore?

--Concerned Golfer

Dear Concerned Golfer

Good catch, this could lead to more severe problems with your golf game. We suggest you seek therapy with your local PGA Professional. Perhaps a new shaft or grip is needed, but your PGA Professional is the one to count on. As far as the other problem you mentioned, it will work itself out. No worries.

--Rink Rats

TO EASE YOUR IRISH SOULS - Irish Coffee with Bailey's and Kahlua


• 3/4 ounce bailey irish cream
• 3/4 ounce Kahlua
• 4 ounces hot coffee
• whipped cream


• Pour Baileys and Kahlua into Irish coffee glass.
• 2 Fill glass with hot coffee.
• 3 Top with whipped cream and serve.

PART IV: GRANADA REPORT – Niece Alex B. is still feeling a bit under the weather so no Granada report again for this week, hopefully she will return next week, if not Rink Rats has a relative living in Redding, CA. who is willing to send reports from there.

Next week, the words of the month and political updates.

Until next Monday, Slán go fóill.

Claremont, CA
March 14, 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011

Spring Break

The holiday bills are all paid off (we hope), the cold winter rain and snow have long ago worn out there novelty, the couch is not as comfortable as it was in January, March Madness, April 15, the Stanley Cup playoffs and the baseball season are right around the corner, the “Keep Smiling” farewell tour is about half way through (I think there is a concert tonight), though it is rumored that the farewell tour may go on until 2015 and finally, the chia seeds are not quite ready to plant – what does all this mean, time for Spring Break! The college crowd heads to the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Daytona or San Diego; the OGs head to Boca, Phoenix or our choice Palm Springs.

So after lecturing for ten weeks the advantages of discounted cash flow and cost of capital it is time to head for the desert. Here are a few places in the desert Rink Rats recommends:

The Beer Hunter – 78-483 Highway 111, La Quinta: our theme here is “Old School” and there is not a better old school sports bar than The Beer Hunter. The golfer’s version of Gilley’s, The Beer Hunter has good food, numerous beers from around the world and plenty of HD televisions, a great place to watch March Madness or check out the local golfer studs after a round of golf.

Arnold Palmer’s – 78164 52nd Avenue, La Quinta: talk about old school, this is the place. Palmer’s is like having a drink in the clubhouse at Augusta or Oakland Hills. The food is what Arnie likes; mac and cheese, ribs, meat loaf and cobb salad. You could spend all your time looking at the pictures on the walls, also a great place for celebrity sightings.

Melvyn’s Casablanca Lounge – 200 W. Ramon Road, Palm Springs: now this IS Old School. To walk into the Casablanca Lounge is like being on stage with the Rat Pack. A Palm Springs institution you have to visit this place for a martini and take in the atmosphere. The piano bar begins at 8:00 every evening; you never know who you will run into at The Casablanca Lounge.

SPRING BREAK TREAT – Spring Break also means it is Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day. Here is an Irish recipe that is good for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack.

Sweet Irish Soda Bread

• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
• 2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
• 1 egg, beaten
• 1 cup buttermilk
• 1 cup currants
• 2 tablespoons toasted caraway seeds
• 1 tablespoon melted butter
• 1 tablespoon sanding sugar


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix well. Cut the butter and shortening into small pieces and add to the flour mixture. Using your fingers, work the cold butter and shortening into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg, the buttermilk, the currants and the caraway seeds and mix into the flour mixture until it is incorporated. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently until the dough forms a smooth ball. Place the dough into a lightly greased loaf pan. Score the top of the loaf with a very sharp knife. Brush the top of the loaf with melted butter. Sprinkle with sanding sugar. Place the loaf in the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Patricia Bigglestone… famous Tucson, AZ teacher, Alan Greenspan (85), Kathy Ireland (48), Larry Murphy (50), Chuck Norris (71), Mitt Romney (64), Keely Smith (79), Sharon Stone (53), James Taylor (63), Courtney Vance (51).

ECONOMY – The good, the bad, and the ugly:

Unemployment Rate Unexpectedly Falls to 8.9% [the lowest rate since April 2009, also 8.9%] ... The rate was 7.8 percent when Obama took office in January 2009. ... The so-called underemployment rate -- which includes part- time workers who'd prefer a full-time position and people who want work but have given up looking -- decreased to 15.9 percent, [also] the lowest since April 2009.

GOODBYE 30 YEAR MORTGAGE? - NYT's Binyamin Applebaum on pg. A1: "How might home buying change if the federal government shuts down the housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loan, the steady favorite of American borrowers since the 1950s, could become a luxury product ... Interest rates would rise for most borrowers, but urban and rural residents could see sharper increases than the coveted customers in the suburbs. Lenders could charge fees for popular features now taken for granted, like the ability to 'lock in' an interest rate weeks or months before taking out a loan. Life without Fannie and Freddie is the rare goal shared by the Obama administration and House Republicans, although it will not happen soon."

BREAKING: OIL HITS TWO-YEAR HIGH - Reuters/Hong Kong: "U.S. crude prices rose nearly 2 percent to 2-year highs last week as worries about supply disruption increased due to deepening unrest in Libya, while Asian stocks declined as concerns about the Middle East also weighed. ... U.S. crude rose 1.8 percent to a 2-1/2-year high above $106 a barrel as civil war brewed in Libya, while investors kept a close eye on top exporter Saudi Arabia, home to most of OPEC's spare capacity, where clerics forbid protests at the weekend.

DOW DOUBTS - WSJ's Matt Phillips on pg. C1: "It has been two years and one epic rally since the market bottomed in March 2009. ... The Dow Jones Industrial Average is at 12169.88, up 86% from its low of 6547.05. The difference between now and then is stark. ... Yet many investors remain skeptical about the market's strength. They worry that the economy isn't strong enough to stand on its own once the Federal Reserve ends its latest round of support in June, and they fear that high oil prices and inflation from other commodities may quash the nascent recovery and weigh on the market. And after such a blockbuster rally, a correction must be around the corner, the reasoning goes."

COLLEGE HOCKEY GAME OF THE WEEK – Friday 3/11, we are now in the heart of the NCAA DI hockey playoffs. This week we are in North Andover Mass. for the Big East quarterfinal between #14 Maine Black Bears (17-10-7) and the #9 ranked Merrimack Warriors (22-8-4), 7:30 PM ET, NESN. Merrimack is favored but we like the Black Bears to pull the upset in North Andover.
Season to date (3-6).

UPSET WINNER – A rookie trio came through again for St. Lawrence University's men's hockey team in game three of the Saints' ECAC playoff series at Princeton on Sunday afternoon and as a result the Saints will continue the 2011 season after a 2-1 win at Hobey Baker Rink. Greg Carey and Kyle Essery, the goal scorers in Saturday's series tying 3-2 win, scored first period goals and rookie goaltender Matt Weninger made a collegiate career high 48 saves, 24 of them in a hectic third period to protect the lead as the Saints won a game three elimination game on the road for the first time in program history. St. Lawrence improves to 12-20-5 overall while Princeton's season ends at 17-13-2.

Joe Marsh’s Saints will now travel to #3 ranked Yale Bulldogs this weekend for the ECAC quarterfinals.

CLASS ACT – Rick Comley ended his 38 year NCAA hockey college coaching career this weekend with the Michigan State Spartans loss to Alaska in the CCHA first round playoffs. Mr. Comley coached two NCAA championship teams; NMU (’91) and Michigan State (’07), a class act and a great coach, happy retirement.

NHL STARS FOR FEBRUARY - Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews, San Jose Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi and New Jersey Devils goaltender Johan Hedberg have been named the NHL 'Three Stars' for the month of February.

PART IV: GRANADA REPORT – Niece Alex B. is feeling a bit under the weather so no Granada report for this week, hopefully she will return next week.

DISCOVERY’S LAST FLIGHT – If you can try to follow Discovery’s last shuttle mission concluding this week. As a long term space nut I will miss these shuttle flights and the wild pictures from space.

Next week, the $110 billion joke and Dear Rink Rats.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
March 7, 2011