Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring Training

Be it Lakeland, Clearwater, Orlando Florida, Tempe, Scottsdale or Goodyear, Arizona, Cabo San Lucas, Pinehurst, N.C., La Quinta, CA – it is that time of the year for Spring Training. Now Spring Training could be major league baseball preseason camps, it also could be spring break college students partying, or, in my case, a nice break from the rigors of winter work, time to recharge the batteries.

As middle age now becomes a definite fact of life and no longer an elephant in the room possibility, I find Spring Training to be a welcome and necessary part of my “life” routine. I need a break, without one I become a moron with bags under my eyes. Too be wise is a wonderful gift, too be wise and middle age is a blessing. I am truly living the way I wish. I enjoy my work, my family, my lifestyle. I have my health, yes I know, I could shed a few pounds but I feel good and the mind is sharper than ever (in my opinion).

It is a true pleasure to get up in the morning and know I do not have to work with ego driven bureaucrats. My work is what I make it, rewarding, simple and satisfying. How many people can truly say this? So as I head off into Spring Training week my major worries are an ugly golf swing, can the Red Wings win the Cup, and please let me continue to have such fun in life.


I am heading off into a spring break week and need a good (old school) cocktail for the pool. Can you suggest a recipe?


DEAR Parched:

Yes, I have an old school recipe for those spring break lazy days around the pool, on the golf course, or watching March Madness. I give credit to the Hoot Owl in Canton, New York for this recipe. I guarantee spring break bliss.



Planter's Punch is a classic rum drink that first appeared in print in a 1908 edition of the New York Times. Like other drinks, this has a disputed origin: one claim refers to the Planter's Hotel in St. Louis and another tells of a Jamaican planter's wife who concocted it to cool down the workers.
This recipe is just one version, others include combinations of curacao, bitters or other juices such as pineapple and orange. At some bars a bar punch mix is used to fill. Also, you can easily increase the recipe's volume and serve it as a party punch or you can go with the non-alcoholic Planter's Punch.

Prep Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes
Yield: 1 Drink

• 2 oz dark rum
• 1/4 oz grenadine
• equal parts sour mix and either pineapple or orange juice to fill
• club soda (optional)
• maraschino cherry for garnish
• lemon or orange slice for garnish

1. Pour the rum, grenadine and juice mix into a mixing glass filled with ice cubes.
2. Shake well.
3. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice cubes.
4. Top with club soda if you want.
5. Garnish with the lemon slice and cherry.


SPRING TRAINING READING: Alex Berenson’s “The Shadow Patrol”. A great read: John Wells returns to Afghanistan to hunt a possible leak in the agency’s station in Kabul, but finds himself facing deadly drug smuggling ring of US soldiers working with the Taliban.

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Last week marked the 3rd anniversary of the stock market’s post-financial crisis lows, popularly referred to in these parts as the “Haines Bottom” in tribute to the late Mark Haines’ amazingly accurate call on March 9, 2009.

The Dow and S&P 500 have doubled since then: the best Dow performer over that time is American Express, up nearly 400%, while Hewlett-Packard has the unfortunate distinction of being the only Dow stock down over that period (-3.5%).

YAHOO’S TROUBLES - Yahoo (YHOO) may be a stock to watch today, as Comscore reports the company lost web search market share for a 6 straight month in February. Its share is now at 13.8%, compared to 66.4% for Google (GOOG) and 15.3% for Microsoft (15.3%).

GOOD MONDAY MORNING - Want to get really angry before breakfast? WSJ reports that several MF Global executives who were in their jobs as the firm collapsed could get bonuses of several hundred thousand dollars under a bankruptcy court deal being worked out by former FBI director Louis Freeh.

BUSINESS BURST - "GE's Immelt sees long period of unstable economies , General Electric Co. will keep its focus on boosting its dividend and improving margins as it faces what Chief Executive Jeff Immelt expects to be an extended period of economic instability. 'We live in what most business commentators call a volatile world. I would argue that when the environment is continuously unstable, it is no longer volatile. Rather, we have entered a new economic era,' the head of the largest U.S. conglomerate said in his annual letter to shareholders. 'It could remain this way for a long time.' ... In the face of that uncertainty, the world's largest maker of jet engines and electric turbines aims to cut its costs and to reverse a trend of outsourcing manufacturing operations in order to run its factories more efficiently."

SAD ANNVERSARY: On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck the coast of Japan, causing a tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis. One year later, Japan is still reeling. As the overview on the New York Times Topics page sums it up, “The earthquake and tsunami led to soul searching in a nation already worn down by two lost decades of economic growth, a rapidly aging and now shrinking population, political paralysis and the rapid rise of its longtime rival, China.” Are prayers continue to be with our friends and neighbors in Japan.

5 SUPER TUESDAY TAKEAWAYS: "1. Win, no bounce, repeat ... Romney ... is likely heading into another bounce-free news cycle. [His] campaign and its backers had hoped to use a strong night to start making the case that it's time to wind this down, and his election night speech, delivered from Boston, was supposed to convey the aura of a nominee-in-waiting. But in the end, he underperformed. ... 2. It's time for Santorum to throw elbows at Newt Gingrich ... 3. Newt doesn't seem ready to leave ... 4. Ron Paul's time on stage is running short ... 5. Everyone now benefits equally from super PACs."

CURRENT DELEGATE COUNT - Romney: 424; Santorum: 212; Gingrich: 103; Paul: 45

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Alexandria Barbara Ball …our prayers have been said for graduation, Billy Crystal (64), Lesley-Anne Down (58), Mia Hamm (40), Mike Love (71), Mitt Romney (65), Darryl Strawberry (50), James Taylor (64), Andrew Young (80).

COLLEGE HOCKEY PICK OF THE WEEK – Friday 3/16, 7:00 PM ET ESPNU, in the first of two ECAC semi-finals the Harvard Crimson (12-9-11) vs. #13 ranked Cornell University Big Red (17-7-7). The Ithaca, New York club has been playing inspired hockey of late, we like Cornell to advance. Season to date (5-6).

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS – Cornell 4 Harvard 2, Michigan 5 Bowling Green 4, Boston University 6 Maine 3. Season to date (18-10).

THE FINAL FOUR: Our Final Four NCAA basketball picks – East: Ohio State, Midwest: Temple, South: Kentucky, West: Michigan State – NCAA Champs: Michigan State.

TWITTER PREPARES FOR IPO - "In just six years Twitter Inc. has become the world's digital soapbox, amassing more than 100 million monthly users ... Yet despite the service's growing influence on society and culture, the business behind it still has a ways to go until it's ready for an initial public offering. ... The company, whose members broadcast 140-character messages called tweets, spent most of its early life as a service that generated buzz but little revenue. Now Twitter is striving to mature its business to be fit for an IPO-and finding it has a long way to go. Twitter's ad revenue reached $139.5 million last year, eMarketer Inc. estimates, while ad revenue at Facebook-which is two years older than Twitter-was 22 times larger at $3.15 billion."

DRIVING THE WEEK - President Obama today will offer a "One-Year Progress Report" on the effort to gain energy independence ... Treasury budget out at 2:00 p.m. expected to show a $229 billion deficit for February up from $223 billion last year ... FOMC issues a statement on interest rates on Tuesday that is not expected to include any significant changes but may feature a more upbeat tone on the economy, making another round of asset purchases less likely ... Fed will also release results of its latest bank stress tests with the findings expected to open the door to bigger dividend payments and share buybacks (more below) ... Other significant data include Philly Fed and initial jobless claims Thursday. Be good to see claims continue to drop rather that stick around close to 400K. Consensus for this week is 355K down from 362K ...

Univ. of Michigan/Reuters consumer sentiment, out on Friday, not expected to change from last reading of 75 ... Primary calendar turns south on Tuesday with contests in Alabama and Mississippi that would seem to favor Rick Santorum. Romney, however, has shown strength in polls in both states as his two opponents divide the evangelical vote. ... Should Romney win one or both it would go a very long way to easing doubts about the strength of his candidacy ... Gingrich may have a hard time arguing that he should remain in the race if he can't win one of the two states in his home region.

Next week, 100th Rink Rats Blog!!! Oh my.

Until Next Monday, Slán agat.

Claremont, CA
March 12, 2012

#II-46, 99

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