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

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