Monday, August 6, 2012


Are you a Birder? Huh? What is a birder?

Birdwatching or birding is the observation of birds as a recreational activity. It can be done with the naked eye, through a visual enhancement device like binoculars and telescopes, or by listening for bird sounds. Birding often involves a significant auditory component, as many bird species are more easily detected and identified by ear than by eye. Most birdwatchers pursue this activity mainly for recreational or social reasons, unlike ornithologists, who engage in the study of birds using more formal scientific methods.

I going to admit a very deep dark secret, I am a Birder. Yes, I observe birds. Be it from my dining room window, to walking down the street, or just listening to their sounds from an open window while working. Why admit this, am I opening myself to accusations of being a nerd. Yes, because I look forward to the quiet time of watching hummingbirds, warblers, sparrows, playing golf the other day I saw a red-tailed hawk, or listening in the morning to the mockingbirds.

Daily we are surrounded by magnificent creatures and we should take notice. Your boss driving you nuts, take a break, go for a walk. All will be much better and in perspective.


I email all the time, writing a letter is now a thing of the past. But I feel my email skills are weak. Can you help me.


Poor Communicatior

Dear Poor Communicator:

The top five email pho pahs are: (1). Reply all, (2). use bcc, (3). too many large attachments, (4). spelling & grammar, (5). proper subject line.

Clean these up in your emailing and your communication skills will be much improved.


Rink Rats

POLITICS 101 - "Assets offshore raise Romney wealth questions”: "For nearly 15 years, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's financial portfolio has included an offshore company that remained invisible to voters as his political star rose. Based in Bermuda, Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd. was not listed on any of Romney's state or federal financial reports. The company is among several Romney holdings that have not been fully disclosed, including one that recently posted a $1.9 million earning - suggesting he could be wealthier than the nearly $250 million estimated by his campaign. The omissions were permitted by state and federal authorities overseeing Romney's ethics filings ... Sankaty was transferred to a trust owned by Romney's wife, Ann, one day before he was sworn in as Massachusetts governor in 2003, according to Bermuda records ... The Romneys' ownership of the offshore firm did not appear on any state or federal financial reports during Romney's two presidential campaigns. Only the Romneys' 2010 tax records ... confirmed their continuing control of the company. ...

"The use of offshore companies such as Sankaty is allowed under U.S. tax laws. They are typically set up as shell corporations by private equity and hedge funds to route investments from large foreign and institutional investors, such as large pension plans, into corporate takeovers. The money is used to provide equity and buy up debt. In turn, the investors gain U.S. tax advantages by passing their funds through the offshore 'blocker' corporations, avoiding a high 35 percent tax on earnings that the Internal Revenue Service describes as 'unrelated business income.' Set up in Bermuda in 1997, Sankaty served as Romney's partnership stake in Bain's Sankaty group, which invests in bonds, bank loans and corporate debt instruments. That first wave of Sankaty funds managed more than $100 million in investments in the late 1990s and early 2000s, according to a corporate analyst familiar with the funds. ...

"Since late 2003, Romney has left his financial decisions to ... a 'blind trust' overseen by lawyer R. Bradford Malt, a longtime Boston legal associate. The trust was set up under Massachusetts law, but it's not a federally qualified blind trust - which Romney plans to use if he wins the presidency. Romney does not oversee his investments under his current trust, but its general composition is made public and Malt invests according to Romney's political positions. ... Several U.S. Securities and Exchange documents from the late 1990s and 2000s depicted Romney as Sankaty's owner at the time, but when he ran for Massachusetts governor in 2001 and 2002, Romney did not list the company on annual disclosure forms required by the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission."

OBAMA "DISDAINS" ROMNEY - POLITICO's Donovan Slack: "Obama has developed a 'genuine disdain' for ... Romney that he never had for previous opponents Hillary Clinton or John McCain, according to an excerpt from 'Obama's Last Stand,' the third in POLITICO's series of ebooks on the 2012 race. 'One factor made the 2012 grind bearable and, at times, even fun for Obama: He began campaign preparations feeling neutral about Romney, but like the former governor's GOP opponents in 2008 and 2012, he quickly developed a genuine disdain for the man,' reporter Glenn Thrush wrote in the book, which will be released Aug. 20. 'That scorn stoked Obama's competitive fire, got his head in the game, which came as a relief to some Obama aides who had seen his interest flag when he didn't feel motivated to crush the opposition.'"

BUSINESS AND OBAMA: MARS AND VENUS - "Obama has repeatedly embraced three titans of American commerce, General Electric, Boeing and JPMorgan Chase, showering their chief executives with praise and adopting policies that benefit the companies. ... Yet these companies - from the C-suite to the rank and file - have shown little enthusiasm for the president. Top executives have repeatedly criticized his rhetoric and his policies or have declined to support some of his most significant proposals. Employees, in a contrast to 2008, have scaled back financial support for Obama's campaign. The president's relationship with GE, Boeing and JPMorgan offers a window into his sometimes-strained dealings with corporate America. He has for 3 1/2 years tried to nurture better connections to business, inviting top executives into his inner circle, promoting manufacturing and exports, and pumping money into a weak economy. But he hasn't always received a positive reception, with executives complaining about his tone and his policies".

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Ian Anderson (65), Sidney Crosby (25), Roger Federer (31), Angie Harmon (40), Dustin Hoffman (75), Garrison Keillor (70), Wayne Knight (57), Pat Methney (58), Pete Sampras (41).

SMALL BANKS STRUGGLE TO REPAY TARP - "Nearly four years after Washington bailed out Wall Street, small banks have yet to repay $11 billion of taxpayer money. Uncle Sam wants out and is threatening to unload its stakes in the banks at big discounts to new investors. ... Some stragglers would become financially unstable if they repaid their part of the $245 billion doled out during the financial crisis ... Critics said the government, having moved so fast to bail out the big banks, should be nurturing the smaller ones. ... [N]early half the 707 banks that received TARP funding have yet to repay their debt, including 164 that at last count had missed one or more dividend payments because regulators have restricted their operations"

WHERE IN THE WORLD - "Clinton on landmark visit to Laos," in Vientiane, the capital of Laos: "Hillary Clinton became the first US secretary of state to visit Laos for 57 years, on a trip focused on the damaging legacy of the Vietnam War ... US forces dropped more than two million tons of ordnance on Laos between 1964 and 1973 in some 580,000 bombing missions to cut off North Vietnam supply lines. Some 30 percent of the ordnance failed to detonate. All 17 of the country's provinces are still contaminated by unexploded ordnance and Laos remains the most heavily bombed country, per capita, in history."


Last weeks’ answer: 5). Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei

Which of the following was once an Olympic sport?

1). Tug of war

2). Beer pong

3). Dodge ball

4). Three-legged racing

5). Balloon racing

Answer next week

CORN PRICES EXPLODE AS DROUGHT DEEPENS - "A drought gripping the Corn Belt and more than half the United States has reached proportions not seen in more than 50 years ... jacking up crop prices and threatening to drive up the cost of food. Though agriculture is a small part of the U.S. economy, the shortfall comes as the nation struggles to regain its economic footing. ... About 55 percent of the continental United States is now designated as in moderate drought or worse, the largest percentage since December 1956 ... Corn is among the most valuable of U.S. crops, and its price has multiple economic ripple effects, reaching into food and energy markets ... Over the past two months, the price of a bushel of corn has risen more than 50 percent to $7.72"

ECONOMY DOWNSHIFTING AGAIN - "The U.S. economy is downshifting, even as the housing sector is finally showing signs of life. A report Wednesday showed builders broke ground for more new homes in June than in any month in nearly four years. But the upturn comes as several other pockets of relative strength for the economy have wavered. Consumer spending is sputtering, manufacturing growth has slowed, and businesses have grown cautious ... Most economists now expect second-quarter growth to come in much slower than the first quarter's tepid 1.9% pace, and they say that the outlook is darkening. This picture is putting added pressure on ... Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke .... Asked about the green shoots in housing, the chairman said they were clearly a positive. But he added that the sector still faces huge hurdles, including a backlog of homes likely to come onto the market in coming months, depress[ed] prices, and the difficulty people have getting credit to buy houses when they do come available".

DRIVING THE WEEK - Congress is out for five weeks of desperately needed rest and relaxation after failing to pass drought relief or take any real action on the fiscal cliff. And the economic calendar for the week is fairly light, so most of the action will take place on the campaign trail ... Fed may release its Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey this afternoon at 2:00 p.m.. The data are expected to show a continued expansion of lending and no new tightening of standards. Should they show the opposite direction it would be ... bad. ... Consumer credit at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday expected to show growth of $10 billion ... Jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. Thursday expected to remain at around 370K ... President Obama is in Connecticut this evening for a pair of fundraising events including one at Harvey Weinstein's posh Westport manse ... Manchester United prices its IPO on Thursday.

Next week, Jackass of the month and football season preview.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA

August 6, 2012

#III-15, 120

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