Tuesday, February 11, 2014


It all began on May 3, 2010 and it has come to this, our 200th Rink Rats Blog.

I would like to thank Carrie L., Sula V., Linda M., and Karen B. our original followers and readers. Your support and commentary is appreciated.

Some viewpoints on these first 200 blogs: The discipline of writing is not easy, now I know why I never went to Law School. To write an e-mail, a note, a tweet, is nothing compared to an original piece in a blog. This writer has a long way to go.

Social Media is a nice platform to keep in touch with family and friends but a blog is a vehicle for facts, opinion, and commentary. My world these days is an endless flow of data; voice mails, e-mails, post it notes, tweets and links. To take a few hours a week to organize my thoughts and observations is welcome therapy and intellectual exercise.

So here is to 200 more Jack Ass of the Month, Education Chronicles, The Swami Picks, Driving the Week, and Sports Blinks. Your reading and participation is humbling and highly regarded.

How did you come up with the idea to start a blog, entitled Rink Rats?

Curious Reader

Dear Curious Reader:
When living in Ithaca, New York I played for a semi-professional hockey team called the Ithaca Stars. After the season ended every year we wanted to keep in touch so we formed a golf group, our name Rink Rats. This group was made up of Canadian and American former college hockey players. To this day we still keep in touch, our hockey days long over, but our friendship is never ending.

Go USA Hockey,
Rink Rats.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Jennifer Aniston (45), Geoff Ball …famous nephew, Carl Bernstein (70), Roberta Flack (75), Matt Groening (60), John McEnroe (55), Sarah Palin (50), Bill Russell (80).

FRIDAY (FEB 7) IS THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY of the Beatles touching down in New York for the first time. See a PDF of a story from the next day's Times, "3,000 FANS GREET BRITISH BEATLES: 4 Rock 'n' Roll Performers Hailed by Teen-Agers ... 3,000 Screaming Teen-Agers Greet the Beatles (Yeah, Yeah). http://goo.gl/P8RKWu

I remember those Beatle Cards.

DEFICIT TO FALL TO 3% OF GDP - The US budget deficit will fall to 3 per cent of economic output this year, close to the pre-crisis norm, the [CBO, Congressional Budget Office] said ... The non-partisan agency's report showed how the world's largest economy's strained finances have mended - at least temporarily - in a sharp reversal compared to the concerns over record deficits and soaring debt that dogged much of ... Obama's presidency ... CBO said the US budget deficit would fall from $680bn in the 2013 fiscal year to $514bn this year and to $478bn, or 2.6 per cent of the economy, next year. ...

But the CBO also chronicled a bleaker budgetary picture for the US over the long term, with estimates of US deficits over 10 years increasing by $1.4tn compared with its earlier projection. ... [T]he big fiscal questions - mainly driven by the rising government costs as the baby-boom generation retires - remain unresolved, and are likely to be handed over to Mr Obama's successor in the Oval Office after 2016.

FARM BILL PASSES - The long-tortured farm bill cleared Congress on Tuesday, ending a two-year struggle that split the old farm-food coalition as never before and dramatized the growing isolation of agriculture and rural America in an ever more urban House. Written off as dead just months ago, the giant five-year measure won final approval from the Senate on a 68-32 roll call and goes next to ... Obama for his signature. Throughout the whole drama, Obama has remained remarkably detached, almost a bit player. But Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and his deputy, Krysta Harden, will move to center stage now as they try to put the pieces in place before spring plantings, just weeks away in some regions of the South.

Whether the subject is cows, cotton or corn, the bill represents a landmark rewrite of commodity programs coupled with what proved in the end to be bipartisan reforms in the food stamp program. Factoring in cuts already begun during the two-year debate, the bill should generate about $23 billion in 10-year savings, but all such estimates are vulnerable to wide swings given the drop in corn prices since last summer.

TARP STILL HAUNTS THE TAXPAYER - More than five years after the financial crisis, some small banks are still sitting on taxpayer money. We find that roughly 80 lenders owe a total of about $2 billion disbursed under the U.S. Treasury's Troubled Asset Relief Program. Under the rules of the program, banks that don't repay the money soon will face a steeper interest-rate bill. The deadline has many lenders running to pay down their debt, while others unable to make the payment run the risk of failing. We note that at the end of last year, 28 of the 707 banks that received money under TARP had failed. Our story details the program's overhang and examines the predicament that many small banks are facing.

2013 VOTE RATINGS by National Journal:

--SENATE ... Three-way tie for most liberal: Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) ... Most moderate: Sen Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) ... Most conservative: James Risch (R-Idaho)

--HOUSE ... Seven-way tie for most liberal: Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Donna Edwards (D-Md.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Sam Farr (D-Calif.), Mike Honda (D-Calif.), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) ... Most moderate: Rep. Chris Smith ... Most conservative: Steve Chabot (R-Ohio)

JAY LENO'S last words on "The Tonight Show," after a 22-year run, as he embraced Gath Brooks, over applause: "Watch Jimmy. ... Honey, I'm coming home!"

APPLE BUYS BACK $14 BILLION OF ITS OWN STOCK - Apple ... has bought $14 billion of its own shares in the two weeks since reporting financial results that disappointed Wall Street, Chief Executive Tim Cook said in an interview. ... Mr. Cook said Apple was 'surprised' by the 8% decline in its shares on Jan. 28, the day after it reported lower iPhone sales than projected and warned that revenue in the current quarter might decline from the same period a year ago. Mr. Cook said he wanted to be 'aggressive' and 'opportunistic.' With the latest purchases, Mr. Cook said Apple had bought back more than $40 billion of its shares over the past 12 months.

Those purchases are part of Apple's previously disclosed plan to repurchase $60 billion of its own shares, Mr. Cook said. ... The revelation about the recent share purchases comes a few weeks before Apple's Feb. 28 shareholder meeting, where activist investor Carl Icahn is pressuring the company to be more aggressive with its $160 billion cash pile. Mr. Icahn, who owns roughly $4 billion in Apple shares, is asking shareholders to vote on his proposal that Apple buy an additional $50 billion of its own shares by the end of September, above its current plan.

INVESTORS IMPATIENT WITH CORPORATE EARNINGS - Investors this year are showing an impatience rarely seen during the record-setting 2013 stock-market rally, digging deep into corporate quarterly reports and often sending shares falling even if companies meet forecasts. Amid rising worries over soft economic data and the Fed ... some of the most recognizable names in American business have suffered large share-price declines following quarterly reports deemed disappointing by Wall Street ... The reversals have hit firms ranging from International Business Machines to Twitter ... and Yahoo ... underscoring the anxiety that has sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 4.7% this year.

Stock pickers said they were paying closer attention to the underpinnings of company profits, following a 30% rise in the S&P 500-stock index last year. Many seek so-called high-quality earnings they contend show companies have the capacity to adjust to future economic and market challenges. ... The shift comes as investors re-evaluate U.S. growth expectations after a string of disappointing economic data. On Friday, the government said the U.S. economy added 113,000 jobs in January, the second straight month the employment tally fell short of expectations.

COLLEGE HOCKEY PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 2/15, 7:00 P CT, FSD: #10 Michigan Wolverines (14-7-3) at #2 Minnesota Golden Gophers (19-4-5). A HUGE Big Ten matchup in Gopher Land, Minnesota has too much at home, 5 – 4.  Season to date (3-2).


Winter Olympic Medal Count: (1) United States 35, (2) Canada 29, (3) Germany 28.

(NCAA Women’s Hockey, Feb. 15) #6 Harvard Crimson (18-3-3) @ #6 St. Lawrence  University Skating Saints  (10-16-3). Can Coach Wells pull the upset at Appleton Arena, no but it will be close, 5 – 4 Harvard.

(Olympic Hockey, Feb. 15) The first big game of the Winter Hockey tournament, USA vs. Russia, we like Ryan Miller in the net and the US to ruin Mr. Putin’s day, 4 – 2.

(D-III Game of the Week, Feb. 15) women hoops; University of La  Verne Lady Leopards (12-9) @ Claremont Mudd-Scripps Republicans (18-3), the first place Republicans will be too much for the Leos, 59 – 45.

2014 Season to date (11-11)

DRIVING THE WEEK - French President Fran├žois Hollande makes a state visit to the U.S. and will travel to Charlottesville, Va. today with President Obama. Both will speak this afternoon at Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson, an early American ambassador to France ... Consumer Bankers Association holds a briefing at 10 a.m. on the state of retail banking ... NFIB survey at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday expected to tick down to 93.5 from 93.9 ... JOLTS report at 10 a.m. on Tuesday (a Janet Yellen favorite) showed a quit rate of 1.8 percent in November, a five-year high. Will that bullish signal continue? ...

Yellen makes her first big Hill appearance as Fed chair on Tuesday at 10 a.m. before House Financial Services. Markets will move on her outlook for the economy and the labor market. She's not likely to waver off the Fed's place to continue the taper unless the FOMC sees significant weakening ... Yellen continues her testimony on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. before Senate Banking ... Retail sales at 8:30 a.m. Thursday expected to be flat and up 0.1 percent excluding autos ... Industrial production at 9:15 a.m. Friday expected to rise 0.2 percent .. Univ. of Mich. consumer sentiment at 9:55 a.m. Friday expected to dip to 80.5 from 81.2

Next week: Words of the Month and another famous chili recipe.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
February 10, 2014

#IV-43, 200

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