Monday, June 27, 2011

Never Trust a Squirrel

The last month or so I have had a visitor every morning to my garden/patio. This creature (The Squirrel) is looking for his or her daily meal of bird seed that I place out for the birds in our neighborhood. I give him/her the benefit of the doubt and let The Squirrel have its meal but I inform him/her that they must share with their fellow neighborhood inhabitants. The Squirrel agrees and spends the balance of the day sunning and relaxing in the garden.

But when the new day comes Mr./Ms. Squirrel is back eating all the bird seed and keeping the birds at a distance. After repeated attempts of therapy, water spraying, playing Wayne Newton CDs (I know Squirrels hate Wayne Newton) and reading out loud Sarah Palin speeches. The same routine repeats every morning; The Squirrel is becoming a menace.

I have begun to correlate the Squirrel to other things or people who bother me these days: Consultants who say one thing to a client and then change their tune when they feel the client does not agree or firms that hire Consultants, when all they need to do is take advantage of the qualified people who work for them, or finally, firms who do not like what one Consultant advises them so they hire another one to tell them what they want to hear; Politicians (national, state, and local) who continue to show a total lack of leadership and intelligence when it comes to making the tough decisions of the day; Commercials during the network evening news – what is with our American society? Is everyone depressed, have allergies, have erectile dysfunction, can’t sleep, or have gout?

It all goes back to The Squirrel, if you can’t trust them, who can you trust?

CALIF., TEXAS ARE NATION'S TOP TWO ECONOMIES -- USA Today lead story, "Texas' economy takes a big leap: Industrial states were biggest losers," by Dennis Cauchon: "Texas became the USA's second-largest economy during the past decade - displacing New York and perhaps heading one day toward challenging California - in one of the biggest economic shifts in the past half-century. The dramatic realignment of the nation's economy was illustrated by North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia all overtaking one-time industrial powerhouse Michigan in economic size from 2000 to 2010. The economic winners of the last decade are states that focus on raw materials, government and senior citizens. The big losers are places that make things - industrial states and even California. USA TODAY examined each state's gross domestic product to determine how the country's economic output has shifted within its borders. ... Florida's share of the national economy grew more than any state except Texas as seniors took their wealth south."
--The top 10: Calif., Texas, N.Y., Fla., Ill., Pa., N.J., Ohio, N.C., Va. (Vt. is 50!)

THIS IS DODGER BASEBALL - Over the next two weeks, Bud Selig will face the defining moment of his career as Commissioner of Major League Baseball.... Commissioner Selig has rejected the Dodgers-Fox television contract, seized control of the Dodgers, and will sell the team to a responsible owner who will (with the grateful help of millions of my fellow left coasters) restore the team to its former greatness. Selig must act to prevent Frank McCourt from continuing to plunder the team. Selig must act before the team is saddled with even greater debt, while the team’s reputation can still be salvaged and the team is still marketable to a worthy owner....

How much have the McCourt’s managed to extract from the Dodgers? Well, if we ignore the debt the Dodgers took on so that the McCourt’s could buy the Dodgers but include the McCourt salaries, the McCourt’s have withdrawn from the Dodgers anywhere from $109 million (Frank McCourt’s estimate) to $141 million (Jamie McCourt’s estimate). The truth is, the real amount the McCourt’s plundered from the Dodgers may be more than $141 million – at the moment, all we have to go on is what each McCourt has been willing to admit to.

(In case you were wondering, during their ownership of the Dodgers the McCourt’s have paid not one penny in income tax.)

MOST POPULAR L.A. SPORTS TEAMS – Per Chris Dufresne’s Sunday L.A. Times article:

1. Lakers
2. Angels
3. Dodgers
4. USC Football
5. Chivas Guadalajara – yes you read this right

Oakland Raiders (9), Kings (10), Ducks (11), Mater Dei High School (17).

A sad state of affairs.

TOP STORY - "Historic N.Y. vote is a win for Cuomo, gay rights activists," by Reid J. Epstein: "New York on Friday approved same-sex marriage, making the Empire State the sixth and largest state to allow gays and lesbians to marry The 33-29 state senate vote is an enormous victory for first-year Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who pledged during last fall's campaign to push for gay marriage. It comes after an intense public and private lobbying campaign from a wide cast of politicians, celebrities and athletes, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former President Bill Clinton. Cuomo, whose two daughters attended the vote in the senate gallery, signed the bill five minutes before midnight after a victory lap press conference.

"It will go into effect July 24, and when it does, the population of Americans for whom same-sex marriage is legal will double. ... Of the 33 senators to vote for the bill, 29 are Democrats and four are Republicans. Of the 29 who voted against it, all but one are Republicans. ... Gay marriage is already legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C. It was briefly legal in California until voters passed Proposition 8, which is being challenged in federal court, and in Maine, where voters in 2009 overturned legislation signed six months earlier by then-Gov. John Baldacci."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Dan Aykroyd (59) Canada (144), Larry David (64), Richard Petty (74), Kellie Pickler (25).

OCS UPDATE – Email from GB reports all is well, picture included shows Heartbreak Ridge style of haircut. Seven more weeks to go, we are all pulling for you.

NEW ERA BEGINS – July 1 Dr. Devorah Lieberman begins her job as the 18th President of The University of La Verne. The University of La Verne is a private research university located in La Verne, California (about 35 miles (56 km) east of Los Angeles). Founded in 1891, the university is composed of the College of Arts & Sciences, College of Business & Public Management, College of Education and Organizational Leadership, College of Law, and a Regional Campus Administration that oversees nine regional campuses. It awards both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Many of their classes are taught at smaller campuses throughout the greater Los Angeles area.

The University of La Verne was founded in 1891 as Lordsburg College by members of the Church of the Brethren, a German Christian sect originating from the Schwarzenau Brethren. Historically, the Brethren are considered one of the "peace churches", like the Quakers and the Mennonites.

Both the surrounding agricultural community and the College were renamed La Verne in 1917. The College reorganized in 1977 as the University of La Verne. The school conferred its first master's degree in 1965 and began an adult education program in 1969. ULV awarded its first doctorate in 1979. In 1981, the University founded a campus in Orange County and has since opened campuses throughout southern California, including on some military bases.

ULV has (FY 2010) an Endowment of $62 million, an Operating Budget of $103 million, $97 million of debt and a credit rating of BBB+ by Fitch Ratings. The investment grades include bonds ordinarily bought by individuals and institutional investors seeking stable income and safety. BBB/Baa is the lowest rating that qualifies for commercial bank investments. It's a borderline group for which, in Standard & Poor's words, adverse economic conditions or changing circumstances are more likely to lead to a weakened capacity to pay interest and repay principal than for bonds in higher-rated categories. Student generated revenues account for 92% of the operating budget of the institution.

Fall 2011 Undergraduate tuition is $31,300, Room and board is $11,280. The average financial aid package is $27,624, average undergraduate student debt at completion is $31,112. ULV has a freshmen undergraduate class of 538, total undergraduate enrollment of 1,896 students, and graduate enrollment of 2,572 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 11:1. La Verne has 19 intercollegiate athletic teams participating in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

RR wishes Dr. Lieberman much success and watch out for those Squirrels.

Next week, we celebrate July 4.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
June 27, 2011

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