Monday, April 30, 2012

Just Stay Calm

As Rink Rats begin year number three of our weekly blog and we head into the month of May, we stress the need for all to “just stay calm”.

The summer months are around the corner.  May is a transition month to the summer: college graduates begin to head out into the world of employment and debt, families plan their summer vacations, the Triple Crown, hockey and basketball playoffs highlight the sports world, and the winter clothes can now finally be put away.

But with the bills of Christmas for some of us still outstanding, the pessimism of our economy and political issues in this election year high, along with the Housewives of Orange County coming to another season end, many of us are uneasy and frazzled.

Yoga, a nice glass of wine, and even an evening of American Idol are of little help to ease this stressful state. Some of us try to comment on Twitter or Facebook our frustrations and ill feelings. But all we get in return is even more idiotic observations and suggestions.

May is a good time to take a morning walk before work when the air is cool and clean before the heat of the summer. Visit your library and find a good book to read, take a friend to lunch, tell your parents you love them, buy some flowers or plant a garden – all these are excellent methods for us to stay calm and relaxed as we head into the heat of the summer.

STAY CALM RECIPE: “Lemon Poppy-Seed Pancakes with Greek Yogurt and Jam”

Time: 20 minutes
1 1/3 cups Greek yogurt, more for serving
2/3 cup whole milk
4 large eggs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, more for frying
2 tablespoons honey
260 grams all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
12 grams baking soda (about 2 teaspoons)
12 grams kosher salt (about 1 teaspoon)
2 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
Jam, for serving.
1. In a bowl, whisk together the yogurt, milk, eggs, butter and honey. In a separate larger bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the dry ingredients and fold in the wet ingredients until just combined. Fold in the poppy seeds and lemon zest.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add a pat of butter to the skillet and swirl to coat. Working in batches, drop 1/4 cup batter into the pan. Cook until bubbles form on the surface of the pancakes, 2 to 3 minutes; flip and continue cooking until golden and firm, 1 to 2 minutes more. To serve, slather each pancake with a dollop of yogurt and a spoonful of jam.
Yield: 6 servings.
BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Martin Brodeur (40), Mike Dirnt (40), Chris Krich …famous football coach, Tim McGraw (45), Johnny Miller (65), Pete Seeger (93), Bob Seger (67).

LAW SCHOOLS FLUNK ECON 101 - "U.S. law school deans could do with a little Econ 101. Tuition at the likes of Yale and Stanford keeps rising faster than inflation, despite a dwindling supply of aspiring lawyers. And job prospects for graduates are getting worse. For all their sophisticated skills, legal educators still haven't mastered the law of supply and demand. ... While MBA and other graduate programs show signs of renewed popularity, law schools are still suffering. Applicant numbers have tumbled to about 67,000 for the fall 2012 class, the lowest since 1987. ... Part of the problem is the high price of legal education. Tuition has quintupled at private law schools since 1985, averaging nearly $40,000 last year ... Including living expenses, it costs over $230,000 for the three years required to earn a JD from Chicago's Northwestern, the school's website says."

WALL STREET WEEK - US stock index futures pointed to a mixed open on Wall Street on Monday after weaker than expected first-quarter gross domestic product figures left investors little idea which direction the US economy was headed in on Friday. Data on Friday showed U.S. economic growth cooled in the first quarter to 2.2 percent versus expectations of 2.5 percent, partly as businesses cut back on investment, bolstering the Federal Reserve's case that interest rates should be kept near zero at least though late 2014.

WAL-MART STOCK CRUSHED - "Wal-Mart's stock fell almost 5 percent ... accounting for about one-fifth of the losses in the Dow Jones industrial average, as investors reacted to a bribery scandal at the retailer's Mexican subsidiary and a report that an internal investigation was quashed at corporate headquarters in Arkansas. The New York Times reported on Sunday that Wal-Mart investigators had found credible evidence that the subsidiary, Wal-Mart de Mexico, had paid millions of dollars in bribes to support expansion in Mexico, where the retailer has one in five of its stores. Told of this evidence in 2005, top executives in Bentonville, Ark., shut down the investigation, The Times reported ... The fallout for Wal-Mart could be significant. A settlement of any sort would very likely include large fines by both the Justice Department and the [SEC]"

TICK-TOCK: SOCIAL SECURITY: BROKE BY 2033 - "Social Security is rushing even faster toward insolvency, driven by retiring baby boomers, a weak economy and politicians' reluctance to take painful action ... The trust funds that support Social Security will run dry in 2033 - three years earlier than previously projected ... There was no change in the year that Medicare's hospital insurance fund is projected to run out of money. It's still 2024. The program's trustees, however, said the pace of Medicare spending continues to accelerate. Congress enacted a 2 percent cut for Medicare last year, and that is the main reason the trust fund exhaustion date did not advance."

"The trustees who oversee both programs say high energy prices are suppressing workers' wages, a trend they see continuing. They also expect people to work fewer hours than previously projected, even after the economy recovers. Both trends would lead to lower payroll tax receipts, which support both programs ... Unless Congress acts - and forcefully - payments to millions of Americans could be cut."

SPORT BLAST: LONDON OLYMPICS LOOKING STRONG - "This past Wednesday, 100 days before the July 27 opening ceremony, the countdown begins in earnest for the world's biggest sporting event ... So far, except for a few glitches, the Olympic rollout has gone fairly smoothly, a showcase of British know-how and efficiency, officials say. Construction on several new stadiums is finished or nearly there, an extensive transportation plan is being refined, a massive security operation is underway and tickets have sold like hot cakes. But there's little room to take anything for granted here in one of the world's most densely packed and gridlocked cities, a magnet for tourists and terrorists ... And London's status as an expensive destination has been amply borne out by the Games' price tag, which started at less than $4 billion but has been marked up several times to the latest figure, a whopping $15 billion."

ANNIVERSARY – Twenty years ago this past week one evening I was driving home from teaching a class at 10:00 PM and noticed the streets were strangely empty of traffic, the air smelled of smoke. The Los Angeles riots were beginning, a strange and scary time to live in metro Los Angeles.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY – we begin our third year of weekly blogs. Any suggestions?

NEW SIGTARP REPORT: NO PROFIT? - Out overnight from newly installed Special Inspector General Christy Romero. Top findings: "It is a widely held misconception that TARP will make a profit. The most recent cost estimate for TARP is a loss of $60 billion. Taxpayers are still owed $118.5 billion. TARP's costs and legacies involve far more than just dollars and cents, and an analysis should not be focused alone on money in and money out. ... TARP legacies: Moral hazard and 'too big to fail'... TARP continues to be subject to criticism that TARP helped large banks but not homeowners. In addition, after 3½ years, community banks have an uphill battle to exit TARP because they cannot find new capital to replace TARP funds"

APPLE SCORES ANOTHER BLOWOUT - "Apple has brushed aside concerns that it could soon reach the limits of its soaring growth, with news ... that huge international sales of the iPhone enabled its latest financial results to once again top even the most optimistic Wall Street forecasts. The news gave an immediate lift of more than 7 per cent to Apple's shares in after-market trading, adding more than $35bn to the company's market value and reversing a two-week correction that had wiped 13 per cent from the price. ... Behind the latest surge in Apple's results was news that it had sold 35m iPhones during the quarter, ahead of most estimates. The 11.8m iPads also sold during the period were also at the top end of most estimates and 150 per cent ahead of the year before. .. Overall, the US computing and consumer electronics company said it had seen a 59 per cent jump in revenue to $39.2bn, with net income rising 94 per cent $11.6bn, or $12.30 a share. Wall Street had been expecting earnings of about $9.94 a share on revenues of $36.5bn."

DRIVING THE WEEK - Japanese Prime Minister Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda visits the White House today to discuss expanding Japan's role in regional security ... Obama and Noda hold a joint presser at 2:00 p.m. ... Mitt Romney campaigns in New Hampshire this morning and raises money in Boston this evening ... OWS plans protests in NYC and around the country on Tuesday ... Tons of critical economic data this week including ISM Manufacturing, construction and North American auto sales on Tuesday; ADP private payrolls on Wednesday; ECB rates meeting and initial jobless claims on Thursday; and the big BLS jobs report on Friday ...

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton head to China for key economic meetings Thursday and Friday amid rising tensions (more below) ... French runoff between Sarkozy and Hollande, which could be big for the austerity (Sarkozy) vs. growth (Hollande) debate in Europe, takes place Sunday along with big Greek parliamentary elections ... Per WSJ, CEOs of big banks meet with Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo on Wednesday to discuss exposure limits and other elements of Dodd-Frank ... Carlyle Group expected to price its IPO on Wednesday.

Next week, finally that restaurant review and our Jackass of the month.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
April 30, 2012

#III-1, 106

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Yoga Master

Twenty million people practice yoga in the United States. William Broad, a Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer for The New York Times, is one of them. Broad started doing yoga as a freshman in college in 1970 and has been practicing ever since.

"I can't imagine doing [my] job without it. It's an excellent means of stress management. Yoga helps me relax. And that's the thing that most yogis swear by. No matter how poorly you do it or how stressed you are, you're going to get this guaranteed de-stressing, relaxing, anti-civilization effect of yoga — which is wonderful."

Broad's new book, The Science of Yoga, investigates both the risks and rewards of yoga. Using the latest scientific research, Broad explains the benefits of yoga, while debunking the myths surrounding it and explaining why certain yoga moves can even be quite dangerous

"There are [poses] that really bend your neck a lot," he says. "The shoulder stand, the plow, those kind of things. You're rotating your neck around 90 degrees, and it turns out that there are delicate arteries that run through your neck called vertebral arteries. And if they get tweaked around too much ... and you're unlucky, you can tear the lining of the arteries, you can have clots, and you get up from that pose or you're in the middle of a pose — and those clots move into the brain, and you've got brain damage. Some people even die."

Those extreme injuries are rare, says Broad. More commonly, people hurt their lower backs, shoulders, knees and necks.

And some yoga poses can be extremely beneficial, he says. Scientific studies have shown that yogis have more spinal flexibility and show some improvement in cardiovascular health markers.

"There's been study after study after study that says you do not get your heart pumping in the way you do in aerobic sports like running, swimming and spinning," he says. "On the other hand ... yoga has this remarkable quality to relax you, to de-stress you. That means your heart rate goes down. That means if you're prone to hypertension, that lowers. There are all these wonderful cardio effects that come from the other end of the spectrum: the relaxation of the heart, rather than the pumping-up phenomena that you get from aerobic sports."

Broad says there's no consensus yet on how many yoga classes you need a week for maximum health benefits, but there is agreement that a little over a long time goes a long way.

"The benefits start to accrue," he says. "It's like putting a little bit of money in the bank every day or every month. The payoff comes as these things start to multiply."

Yoga also has emotional benefits, he says. It can enhance moods and increase sexual feelings and pleasure (so noted).

So get out your yoga mats and get into it, personally I will settle for a round of golf, a steam and a shot of Gentlemen Jack.

WWII ANNIVERSARY - Seventy years ago this past Wednesday, 80 Army Air Corps crewmen flew 16 B-25 bombers on a secret mission to Japan. The World War II attack became known as the Doolittle Raid, and this week, four of the five remaining Doolittle raiders will be gathering in Dayton, Ohio, to remember the mission.

BASEBALL ANNIVERSARY - To Fenway Park (Boston) on its 100th anniversary this past week as a ball park; the next oldest active are Wrigley Field (Chicago) 98 years, Dodger Stadium (LA) 50 years, Angel Stadium (Anaheim) 46 years, Oakland Coliseum (Oakland) 46 years, and Kauffman Stadium (Kansas City) 39 years.

It also would have been Tiger Stadium’s (also known as Navin Field and Briggs Stadium) 100th anniversary this past week. The Michigan and Trumbull site in Detroit was torn down in September 2009.

BUFFETT HAS CANCER; PROGNOSIS GOOD - "Warren Buffett said ... he has Stage I prostate cancer but that his condition 'is not remotely life-threatening or even debilitating in any meaningful way.' In a press release addressed to Berkshire Hathaway Inc. shareholders, Buffett, 81, said he would begin a two-month course of daily radiation in mid-July that would restrict his travel during that period, 'but will not otherwise change my daily routine.' Buffett said he received the diagnosis last Wednesday and had a CAT scan and a bone scan on Thursday, followed by an MRI on Tuesday.

"'These tests showed no incidence of cancer elsewhere in my body,' he said ... The American Joint Committee on Cancer says Stage I prostate cancer does not cause symptoms and often is undetected but becomes more frequent among men as they age. ... Berkshire's A share price closed at $121,310 per share, up $1,785 or 1.49 percent for the day. In after-market trading, the price of Berkshire shares fell $1,596, or 1.32 percent."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Herm Edwards (58), Meadowlark Lemon (80), Jay Leno (62), Elisabeth Rohm (39), Bobby Rydell (70), Jerry Seinfeld (58), Barbara Streisand (70), Uma Thurman (42).


eschew \es-CHOO\, transitive verb:

To shun; to avoid (as something wrong or distasteful).

“In high school and college the Vassar women had enjoyed that lifestyle, but afterward they had eschewed it as shallow.”

viejo, adjective

Like old, the adjective viejo can be used to describe things or people.

“Estos zapatos ya están muy viejos.”
These shoes are very old now.

“hacerse Viejo”
to get old

TOP LAWYERS: $873 PER HOUR – To ease the pain of the bar review: "The priciest lawyers in the U.S. are getting even more expensive, but those at the opposite end are getting left behind. Partners in the top 25% of hourly billers boosted their average price to $873 an hour last year, up 4.9% from 2010, according to a report being published [last week]. The country's lowest-billing partners struggled to keep pace with inflation, meanwhile. Partners in the bottom 25% charged an average of $204 last year, up just 1.3%, according to the report by TyMetrix Inc ... and Corporate Executive Board Co. ... On the whole, lawyers last year pushed through the biggest overall annual rate increase, 5.1%, since the recession, when many firms froze prices or scaled back increases to keep clients happy. The slow growth at the low end shows that clients who pushed back on legal bills during the economic downturn are continuing to hold the line"


I am an executive constantly under pressure from my job, my friends, my ego, and my hair color. How can I relieve this stress and pressure I place on myself?


Thirty Hours a Week and Still Over Worked

Dear Thirty Hours a Week and Still Over Worked –

May I suggest yoga; I find the following two positions especially helpful for ego and hair color stress:

Downward Facing Dog or commonly called Adho Mukha Svanasana; in this yoga position your hands and feet are roughly four or five feet apart. The hips rise up and you become very popular.

Relaxation or Savasana; yoga students practice savasana at the end of yoga class. In savasana, students learn to relax the entire body, as well as the mind.

Good luck and remember a mind is a terrible thing to waste.


Rink Rats

RINK RATS TMZ.COM – Seen this past week at a local fitness club a popular college administrator posing a Uttanasana. Note: she did not fall over. But we did notice some tears flowing.

SPORTS BLINK - "2012 NFL schedule announced" - NFL release: "The opener on September 5 on NBC (8:30 PM ET) will feature the defending-champion New York Giants hosting the division-rival Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium. ... NBC's Sunday Night Football will get underway on September 9 when the Denver Broncos host the Pittsburgh Steelers (8:20 PM ET) in a rematch of last season's Wild Card playoff thriller. ... ESPN's Monday Night Football doubleheader [on Sept. 10] will feature the AFC North's Cincinnati Bengals at the Baltimore Ravens (7:00 PM ET) followed by the AFC West's Oakland Raiders hosting the San Diego Chargers (10:15 PM ET). ... The 2012 season concludes on Sunday, February 3 when the NFL will crown a champion at Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans (CBS).

"Thanksgiving will feature an NFL tripleheader . The early game will send the Houston Texans to Detroit to face the Lions (12:30 PM ET, CBS). The late afternoon game will feature the Washington Redskins visiting Dallas (4:15 PM ET, FOX) in an NFC East showdown. The holiday concludes with an AFC East matchup as the New York Jets will host the New England Patriots on NBC (8:20 PM ET). ... On October 28 at London's historic Wembley Stadium, the league will resume its international series of regular-season games when the St. Louis Rams host the New England Patriots (1:00 PM ET, CBS). Then on Sunday, December 16, the Buffalo Bills will venture north to Canada for the fifth consecutive season when they host the Seattle Seahawks in Toronto at the Rogers Centre (4:05 PM ET, FOX).

"NFL Network will now feature 13 games - all on Thursdays - from Weeks 2-15 (excluding Week 12 on Thanksgiving night). The NFL Network slate will start on Thursday, September 13 (8:20 PM ET) with an NFC North showdown featuring the Green Bay Packers hosting the Chicago Bears."

--"Monday Night Football" schedule announced - ESPN release: "AFC Bengals-Ravens, Chargers-Raiders Division Matchups in Season-Opening Doubleheader on Sept. 10 ... Appearances by both Super Bowl teams - New York Giants at Washington Redskins (Dec. 3); and New England Patriots vs. Houston Texans (Dec. 10) ... Chicago Bears lead all NFL teams with three MNF appearances. Eight teams (49ers, Broncos, Chargers, Eagles, Falcons, Jets, Lions and Texans) have two appearances each."

Next week, restaurant review and year number three of Rink Rats begins (ugh).

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Jackson, Michigan

April 22, 2012

#II-52, 105

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tax Man

APRIL 17 – Tax day is this week, thank God for Turbo Tax.

A few stats for you: 24.9% of your taxes go for National Defense, 23.7% to Health Care, 19.1% to Job & Family Security, 8.1% for Interest on Debt, 7.9% Government Administration, 4.5% on Veterans Benefits, 3.6% Education and Job Training, 2.0% for Immigration and Law Enforcement, the remaining 6.2% for Science, Space Technology, Agriculture, Natural Disasters, and who knows what.

Amid an election-year feud over tax policy, President Barack Obama on Friday released his 2011 tax filings, showing that he paid $162,074 in total taxes on adjusted gross income of $789,674, an effective rate of 20.5 percent. The first couple paid $31,941 in Illinois income tax. Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, whose joint return also reported giving $172,130 to 39 different charities an additional 21.8 percent of their adjusted gross income. Their top recipient, receiving $117,130, was Fisher House, which provides free or inexpensive housing to veterans and military families receiving care at military medical facilities.  Mitt Romney has yet to file his 2011 Tax Returns.

2012 ELECTION – President Obama this week in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.: "This election will probably have the biggest contrast that we've seen maybe since the Johnson-Goldwater election [of 1964] -- maybe before that."

--Lyndon Johnson: 61% (44 states plus D.C.) ... Barry Goldwater: 39% (6 states)

THE MAP- "Campaign 2012-Road to 270: Obama defends typically GOP states in race to 270: President Obama begins his re-election campaign defending traditionally Republican territory that he carried when he won the White House four years ago. Republican Mitt Romney is looking to reclaim any combination of these GOP strongholds now in flux. ... The political spotlight will shine brightly again on Florida, and the Upper Midwest, especially Ohio. But changes in the nation's demographics will mean heavy attention paid to the Mid-Atlantic and Southwest. 'For a long time the map was static. I don't think that holds true anymore,' said Tad Devine, a senior adviser to former Democratic presidential nominees Al Gore and John Kerry. ...”

"Obama expanded the Democratic footprint on an electoral map that had changed little between George W. Bush's narrow 2000 election and 2004 re-election. Against McCain, Obama captured nine states that Bush had won four years earlier. Besides Florida and Ohio, Obama took North Carolina and Virginia ... There were victories as well in Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, New Mexico and Nevada. In Florida, unemployment tops 9 percent, tourism is slow to recover, gas prices are high and trouble persists in the housing market; all that works against Obama. But his team is aggressively organizing in the state, and his visit Friday was his 16th since taking office, more than almost any other swing state."


--UP FOR GRABS (104 electoral votes): Colorado (9), Florida (29), Iowa (6), New Hampshire (3), New Mexico (5), Nevada (6), North Carolina (15), Ohio (18), Virginia (13)

--LEAN D (56 EVs): Michigan (16), Minnesota (10), Pennsylvania (20), Wisconsin (10)

--SOLID D (186 EVs): California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington.

--LEAN R (32 EVs): Arizona (11), Indiana (11), Missouri (10)

--SOLID R (156 EVs): Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (65), Ellen Barkin (58), Bill Belichick (60), Gene Hasse …. Fourscore and never better, Ashley Judd (44), Jack Nicholson (75), Ann Romney (63), Maria Sharapova (25), James Woods (65).

RINK RATS TMZ.COM – We noticed this past week, on Foothill Boulevard no less, a distinguished member of the community getting his hair quaffed at SuperCuts. Yes SuperCuts. No hair color was used but they did use scissors instead of electric shears.

STUDENT LOAN DEBT a looming disaster? Mounting balances a threat to economy" -- "Move over, mortgages. Get out of the way, Greece. Another economic doomsday scenario is emerging. Student loan debt has reached about $870 billion, exceeding credit cards and auto loans, and balances are expected to continue climbing, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said last month. In February, the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys referred to a 'student loan "debt bomb"' and wondered if it was shaping up to become 'America's next mortgage-style economic crisis.' ...

"Sen. Dick Durbin ... is pushing legislation, the Fairness for Struggling Students Act, which would allow students who borrowed from private lenders for their education to wipe out that debt in bankruptcy proceedings, just as credit card borrowers and many other unsecured debtors may do. In 2005, Congress changed bankruptcy laws and made private student loan debts non-dischargeable in bankruptcy ... Others argue against allowing student borrowers to discharge their private loan obligations in bankruptcy court. For one thing, if lenders knew borrowers could escape repayment through bankruptcy, they might raise interest rates to account for that risk and lend to fewer people."

U.S. DROUGHT - "Drought condition spreads over USA: 61% of lower 48 states are 'abnormally dry,'": "The USA hasn't been this dry in five years. ... A mostly dry, mild winter has put nearly 61% of the 48 contiguous states in 'abnormally dry' or drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a weekly federal tracking of drought. That's the highest percentage of dry or drought conditions since September 2007 ... The drought is expanding into some areas where dryness is rare, such as New England. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, stream levels are at record or near-record lows in much of New England. ... Wildfires and brush fires have been common along the East Coast from New England to Florida in recent weeks."

WALL STREET WEEK - Wall Street’s bulls are no doubt happy to turn the page on last week, the worst of 2012 for the Dow, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq.
GOOGLE TO SPLIT STOCK - "Google has announced an unusual stock split that will effectively hand founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin lifetime control of the search engine they invented ... The decision to cement control for what Mr. Page called 'the very long term' marks what corporate governance experts described as a first for a big public company in the US. It will also result in a new class of Google shares trading on Wall Street. Under its first stock split in eight years as a public company, Google said it would issue a new share for each of its shares already outstanding.

"Such moves are normally welcomed on Wall Street, where a lower price per share is sometimes seen as an inducement for smaller investors to buy ... In a departure from normal practice, Google's new shares will carry no voting rights, leaving control of the company 'frozen' in the hands of holders of its existing shares. That is designed to leave Mr. Page, 39, and Mr. Brin, 38, with a firm grip on the nearly 58 per cent of the voting rights they control between them under a special class of shares."

AUGUSTA NATIONAL, FINAL THOUGHT - I consider the Augusta debate bizarre. It's as if the green jackets have reached a level of silliness that can only be compared to that of obstinate children. Would it kill them to admit a woman member? Certainly not, would it bust their bank to have to add a couple of ladies' rooms in the clubhouse? Heck no. But just like when a 3-year-old who won’t finish his dinner simply because you told him to, it's become a game of wills. The Augusta National members don't want what the place has always been about to change, and they certainly don't want to be told to change. They are wrong and they know they're wrong, but like most men, they can't bear doing the right thing when it's somebody else's idea. It's no different than stopping and asking for directions."

The outrageous, embarrassing part of this debate isn't that Augusta National continues to practice bigoted membership policies. It's that the powers that be in professional golf still associate themselves with a club that does so. What message does it send to the world about this sport when we hold our biggest, most prestigious tournament at a club that excludes people because of their gender? How do we even broach the subject of "growing the game" when this is the image we put forth? (Golf is losing participants faster than we can count -- most alarmingly among juniors, a group whose numbers are down 35 percent over the last five years, according to the National Golf Foundation). 

DRIVING THE WEEK - Senate expected to take up the Buffett Rule today in an effort to put pressure on the GOP to go on record in opposition to a measure that may be gimmicky but is nonetheless quite popular among voters ... Huge pile of first quarter earnings this week including Citigroup today; Goldman Sachs on Tuesday; Bank of America, Blackstone and Morgan Stanley on Thursday. Shares in Wells Fargo and JPMorgan tanked on Friday amid concern that the banking industry could falter again if Europe worsens and the U.S. recovery slips ... Carlyle plans to file for its IPO today with a conservative range of $23-$25 per share, according to multiple accounts (more below) ... House OGR has a hearing on the GSA spending scandal today at 1:30 p.m. ... Senate Banking has an Ex-Im Bank hearing Tuesday ... World Bank and IMF have spring meetings in D.C. Friday through Sunday

Next week, restaurant review, words of the month, Dear Rink Rats, and what’s up with yoga.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
April 16, 2012

#II-51, 104

Monday, April 9, 2012

Smile Tiger

He may be the best golfer ever, he has won more money than anyone playing professional golf, he likes the ladies, but after watching The Masters tournament this past weekend we can now include him as a Jackass. The Tiger antics are wearing thin: swearing, spitting, kicking clubs, pouting with that sour face, enough is enough Tiger. How about a smile like Phil, Bubba, or Freddie? We know you are hitting a golf ball like a robot, but deal with it.

Like Michelle Wie, I don’t think Tiger enjoys the game anymore. He just plays and pouts. Enjoy the game, you get paid millions of dollars playing it, how about a smile. For some reason I don’t think it is coming.

THE VOICES OF SPRING RETURN – Great to hear Vin Scully and Bob Uecker back broadcasting baseball this past week, the great baseball voices are fading away but these two remain. What will we do when they stop, listen to Mario Impemba and Terry Smith, the horror.

The Swami MLB 2012 Picks:
American League: Angels, Detroit, Tampa Bay, Wildcards: Texas, NY - Champs: Detroit
National League: Arizona, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Wildcards: San Francisco, Atlanta - Champs: Philadelphia

World Series Champs - Detroit Tigers

BULLETIN - "'60 Minutes' icon Mike Wallace dies at 93" - CBS News release: "Mike Wallace, the 60 MINUTES' pit-bull reporter whose probing, brazen style made his name synonymous with the tough interview, ... died last night. He was 93 and passed peacefully surrounded by family members at Waveny Care Center in New Canaan, Conn., where he spent the past few years. He also had a home in Manhattan. ... 'Without him and his iconic style, there probably wouldn't be a 60 MINUTES,' ... said Jeff Fager, chairman of CBS News and executive producer of 60 MINUTES. A special program dedicated to Wallace will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES next Sunday, April 15. ...
"On September 24, 1968, Wallace and [Harry] Reasoner introduced 60 MINUTES to the 10:00 PM timeslot, where it ran every other Tuesday but failed to draw large audiences. But critics praised it, awards followed, and after seven years on various nights, 60 MINUTES went to 7:00 PM Sunday and began its rise. It made the top 20 in 1977 and the top 10 in 1978, then became the number-one program in 1980 ... [During Watergate,] Wallace's interrogations of John Erlichman, G. Gordon Liddy and H.R. Haldeman whetted the appetites of news junkies who continued to tune in to see Wallace joust with other scoundrels. ...

"Wallace was also known for pioneering the 'ambush' interview, presenting his unsuspecting interviewee with evidence of malfeasance - often obtained by hidden camera - then capturing the stunned reaction. Two of the more famous exposes in this genre that used hidden cameras were investigations of a phony cancer clinic and a laboratory offering Medicaid kickbacks to doctors. ...

"Myron Leon Wallace was born in Brookline, Mass., on May 9, 1918. He attended Brookline High School and was graduated from the University of Michigan in 1939 with a B.A. degree in liberal arts. He became acquainted with radio at the college station and after graduation, a professor helped him land his first job as an announcer and 'rip-and-read' reporter for WOOD-WASH, a Grand Rapids, Mich. radio station. ... Wallace is survived by his wife, the former Mary Yates, his son, Chris, a stepdaughter, Pauline Dora, two stepsons, Eames and Angus Yates, seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren. At the family's request, donations can be made in Wallace's name to Waveny Care Center, 3 Farm Rd., New Canaan, Conn."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Tom Clancey (65), Hugh Hefner (86), Ethel Kennedy (84), David Letterman (65).

ROMNEY SCORES HAT TRICK - Mitt Romney won contests last week in Wisconsin, Maryland and D.C. further cementing his position as the all-but-certain GOP nominee. Rick Santorum pledged to hang on at least through his home-state of Pennsylvania on April 24th. Even if Santorum wins there, Romney is likely to dominate in delegates that day as Connecticut, Delaware, New York and Rhode Island also vote and all lean heavily to Romney. New York is the biggest prize of the day, with 95 delegates to 72 for Pennsylvania. Even Santorum's next chance for a big score-Texas with its 155 delegates -is followed shortly by California on June 5th, a Romney-friendly state with 172 delegates. Bottom line: Santorum can hope to keep Romney below 1,144 for a couple more months. But he has no path to 1,144 himself.

SQUAWK BOX - U.S. stocks are coming off their biggest weekly losses of 2012, and there’s little doubt that the markets will get off to a bearish start this morning as well. Stock index futures are sharply lower following Friday’s disappointing March jobs report, which showed the U.S. economy adding just 120,000 new jobs during the month, well below estimates.

DRIVING THE WEEK - Bernanke speaks tonight in Atlanta at 7:15 p.m. ... President Obama and the First Lady host the Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn this morning ... In the afternoon, Obama will host President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil for meetings at the White House ... Obama on Tuesday will push the Buffett Rule calling for minimum tax rates for millionaires during an economic event at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fla. ... On Friday, the President travels to Cartagena, Colombia, to attend the Summit of the Americas. ... On Thursday, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde speaks at Brookings.

Rick Santorum has a full campaign schedule this week but speculation that he will get out before the Pennsylvania primary continues to dominate Beltway chatter ... Romney meanwhile is buying up a ton of Pennsylvania ad time looking to inflict the death blow ... First quarter earnings season, which is not expected to be especially strong, starts Tuesday with Alcoa. Key market moving data will come in corporate outlooks for the rest of this year and whether top executives see a second half slow-down.

Next week, restaurant review, words of the month and what’s up with joga.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
April 9, 2012

#II-50, 103

Monday, April 2, 2012

Five Companies Working Hard to Change the World

Using the power of digital, these five companies have empowered citizens in need, rewarded innovation and created uniquely shareable tools that are key in affecting real change. Although they range in issues from education to sustainability, the one thing that all of these companies have in common is the drive and passion of those at the helm.

1.       Kaggle: hosts contests for data scientists. Companies that want problems solved post them, along with relevant data sets, on the site. Anyone can submit a solution, and each competitor ranks on a leaderboard throughout the competition.

2.      Recyclebank: gives the planet a rewards system using gamification techniques. Recyclebank rewards environmentally friendly actions with points, which are a monetary incentive to recycle. Gamification is the concept of rewarding non-game actions with points, scores or other rewards. Thanks to Foursquare, the popular geo-social network that has gamified exploration.

3.      Pencils of Promise: By adopting the pencil, both symbolically and literally, the Pencils of Promise builds schools and educates children in developing countries. It engages participants via online art auctions, killer website design and a social media strategy that dates back to the roots of Facebook.

4.      Wefunder: provides a platform that allows startups to hold fundraising with a crowd of investors. The firm drives innovation by giving startups the ability to go through formal funding series called crowdfunding.

5.      Reward Volunteers: is an app for volunteers to log time, share what they’re doing and earn rewards for themselves and the organizations they serve. Users clock in volunteer time so they can focus on doing more good and less on keeping track of hours. The more hours logged and activity shared, the greater chance both volunteers and organizations have to win cash and prizes.

THE BIG PICTURE -  "The west has lost in Afghanistan": " Five years ago the Americans were refusing to speak to the Taliban. Now the Taliban are refusing to speak to the Americans. That is a measure of how the balance of power has shifted in Afghanistan. The western intervention there has failed. As NATO prepares to withdraw from the country in 2014, it is only the scale of the defeat that remains to be determined. ... Afghanistan is quite likely to descend into civil war."

SCOOP - "The Story Behind Cheney's Heart Transplant Surgery": "Dick Cheney was sound asleep when the phone rang after midnight on Friday. It was a call from the cardiology department at Inova Fairfax Hospital; he was told to come to the hospital quickly - a donor heart was likely to become available within hours. 'His response was to say, "Sure. What time? Let's go,"' said Dr. Jon Reiner, Cheney's cardiologist ... About an hour later, Cheney was at the hospital preparing for heart transplant surgery. The surgery, which started at 10am Saturday was over by 5pm, about 17 hours after Cheney received his wake-up call from the hospital. 'The surgery went flawlessly,' Dr. Reiner told ABC News. 'It exceeded expectations.' Cheney is still in intensive care, but Dr. Reiner said his recovering has been 'dramatic' and that Cheney ... was already out of his hospital bed and sitting in a chair Monday morning. ... 'If you ask is it reasonable for a patient, like this patient, to consider [living] 10 years, yes, I think that's reasonable ... And good quality life."

UPDATE ON DICK CHENEY after heart transplant a week ago today: "The VP is doing very well. He is up and walking and spending time with his family. He has also been reading some of the thousands of cards and letters people have sent from all over the country. [On Thursday,] he surprised several of the people who sent messages by calling them personally from the hospital. He continues to be very grateful for the prayers and support and will hopefully be headed home soon. VP also watched the 'Politico Live' show at lunchtime today, and thought it was very well done."

CHINA EXPORTS TOP $100 BILLION - From the U.S. China Business Council Exports to China by State report to be released on Wednesday: "For the first time, total US exports to China have passed $100 billion with 30 states now counting China as one of their top three export markets. ... China is the third-largest US export market. As a buyer of US goods, China ranks behind only Canada and Mexico ... 48 states have registered at least triple-digit export growth to China since 2000, far outpacing growth in their exports to the rest of the world. Twenty of those states have experienced quadruple-digit growth. ... 10 states have at least doubled their exports to China since 2009, while three of these states- South Carolina, South Dakota, and Vermont-have more than tripled their exports to China in the past two years."

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Jackie Chan (58), Tony Dorsett (58), Vince Gill (55), Merle Haggard (75), Chris Meloni (51), Craig T. Nelson (68), Wayne Newton (70), Colin Powell (75), Marion Roach Smith …famous memoir writer, Billy Dee Williams (75).

Words of the Month:

chichi \SHEE-shee\, adjective:

Affectedly trendy.
From the French word that literally means "curl of false hair"; used figuratively in the phrases faire des chichis, "to have affected manners, to make a fuss"; and gens à chichis, "affected, snobbish people." Sometimes spelled "chi-chi."
disimular, verb
to hide, to conceal; to pretend
Sometimes you may want to hide your feelings. If so, disimular is the verb you need in Spanish.
“Has sido tú, no disimules.”
It was you, don’t pretend it wasn’t

SPORTS BLINK – It’s Showtime for the L.A. Dodgers, "A group led by Lakers legend Magic Johnson emerged Tuesday night as the new owners of the Dodgers, ending months of uncertainty for the storied but troubled baseball franchise. Johnson, who guided the Lakers to five NBA championships during the 'Showtime' era of the 1980s, is a partner in the group along with longtime baseball executive Stan Kasten and movie executive Peter Guber. The controlling owner would be Mark Walter, chief executive officer of Guggenheim Partners, a Chicago-based financial services company. Walter and McCourt met privately in New York on Tuesday, coming to an agreement only hours after Major League Baseball owners approved three final bidders. The winning group paid $2 billion for the team -- a record for a sports franchise -- according to an announcement issued jointly with previous owner Frank McCourt."

BROKEN WASHINGTON: BUDGET COMPROMISE GOES DOWN HARD - Simpson-Bowles-style compromise pushed by Reps. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) and Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio) went down 382-38. The measure would have instructed lawmakers to cut $4 trillion in debt through spending cuts and tax increases ... President Obama's 2013 budget proposal went down 414-0. ... This paves the way for passage of the Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) budget which will get quickly crushed in the Senate. All this means any serious effort at deficit and debt reduction will wait until at least after the 2012 election and perhaps will not be possible even then. This in turn means... well, nothing good. In the long run it means ... Greece.

CURRENT U.S. DEBT: $15.6 trillion
CURRENT U.S. DEFICIT: $1.3 trillion

NFL release: "The Super Bowl champion New York Giants will host the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium in the 2012 season-opening NFL Kickoff game on Wednesday, September 5 (NBC, 8:30 PM ET) ... NBC will televise the game at 8:30 PM ET and NFL Kickoff 2012 at 7:30 PM ET. Continuing a tradition that started in 2004, the previous year's Super Bowl winner hosts the NFL Kickoff game to open the following season."

Final Four-Championship Matchup: Calipari (and Kentucky) get Kansas again for title ," by AP National Writer Nancy Armour, in New Orleans: "John Calipari and his Kentucky juggernaut will face Kansas for the national championship on Monday night. That would be the same school that beat Memphis in overtime for the NCAA title in 2008, back when Calipari was coaching the Tigers. It also would be the same Kansas team that the Wildcats beat back in November. ... Top-seeded Kentucky (37-2) is back in the title game [after beating Louisville, 69-61] for the first time since 1998, when it won its seventh NCAA championship. Down 13 in the first half, resilient Kansas (32-6) needed a furious comeback against Ohio State [64-62] to reach the championship game, where it will play for its fourth NCAA title."

LOTTO UPDATE - "Lottery ticket-holders in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland each selected the winning numbers for the world record-breaking $640 million Mega Millions jackpot ... Illinois' winning ticket was sold in the small town of Red Bud, near St. Louis, and the winner used a quick pick to select the numbers ... The Maryland Lottery said it sold a winning ticket ... in Baltimore County. A winning ticket also was purchased in northeast Kansas ... Each winning ticket was expected to be worth more than $213 million before taxes, Lang said. The winning numbers in Friday night's drawing were 02-04-23-38-46, and the Mega Ball 23."

Quarter Deux - It’s a new month and a new quarter on Wall Street, with the market’s first quarter gains signaling a bullish remainder of 2012: Since 1950, the S&P 500 has risen for the year after every first quarter gain of 8% or more.  The S&P’s first quarter advance of 12% was its best quarter since the third quarter of 2009, and the best start to a year since 1998.

DRIVING THE WEEK - President Obama hosts Canadian and Mexican leaders today and holds a joint presser at 1:15 p.m. ... Wisconsin votes Tuesday and a strong Romney win would further cement his lock on the GOP nomination even though Rick Santorum has pledged to stay in till Romney officially hits 1,144 delegates. This could take awhile as May sets up better for Santorum with contests in Texas and other southern, more deeply red states. Romney should win easily in Maryland and DC on Tuesday ...

Top data this week including ISM manufacturing today, ISM non-manufacturing and ADP private employment on Wednesday and BLS employment and consumer credit on Friday. It will be a somewhat odd jobs day as U.S. markets, closed for Good Friday, will have to wait until Monday to react. ... On Tuesday, automakers report North American sales on and the FOMC releases minutes of its March 13 meeting.

Next week, Jackass of the Month and a restaurant review.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
April 2, 2012

#II-49, 102