Tuesday, December 9, 2014


The holiday season is also the eating season; office parties, family gatherings, football games, and general relaxation give way to gaining weight and poor health habits.

Cheryl Strayed’s 2012 novel “Wild” coming to movie theatres this holiday season is a story of a woman coming to the end of her emotional rope who sets off to hike the 1,000 mile Pacific Crest Trail. With all the attention focused on this movie about setting off into nature to cleanse one’s soul.  It came to mind another way to “feel good” over the holidays.

The hometown walkabout: many of us are so wrapped up in our jobs, families, social media, and general B.S., how about getting out this holiday season and walking around your hometown. Walk streets you never have walked. Visit neighborhoods, parks, memorials, monuments, shops in your hometown. Get to know where you live. You might be surprised.

Venture out and meet your neighbors, where I live we have many little city parks and neighborhoods that I have never visited. Enjoy the winter weather, walk the streets of your hometown. You never know what you will find. Just ask Cheryl Strayed.

STAR TREK - Speaking of walkabouts our NASA space agency this past week tested out America’s new vehicle for space travel.
The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle is a spacecraft intended to carry a crew of up to four astronauts to destinations beyond-low Earth orbit.

Max speed: 20,000 mph (32,187 km/h)
Manufacturers: Astrium, Lockheed Martin
Current FY 2014 Orion Budget $2.7 billion.
Current FY 2014 NASA budget $17.7 billion.

HOLIDAY COOKIES – Peppermint Sugar Cookies
Makes: 52 to 60 servings
Prep 40 mins
Bake 6 mins to 10 mins
Cool 1 mins

Peppermint extract infuses these crisp, buttery cookies with holiday flavor. Choose between slice-and-bake swirls or candy-cane shape cookies.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
Red gel paste food coloring
Red decorating sugar (optional)

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar; beat for 2 minutes on medium speed or until mixture is light and fluffy, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Add egg and egg yolk; beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Beat in peppermint extract. Gradually add flour mixture beating on low speed just until combined.

Divide dough in half. Knead about 1/2 teaspoon gel paste food coloring into one of the dough portions (add more, if desired, for a deeper red color). Leave the remaining dough portion plain. If necessary, wrap and chill dough for at least 1 hour or until easy to handle.

Form dough into desired shape. For peppermint swirl cookies: Divide each red and plain dough portion in half for a total of four dough portions. Roll a red dough portion into an 8x6-inch rectangle on waxed paper. Pat or roll a plain dough portion into an 8x6-inch rectangle on waxed paper. Use the waxed paper and your hand to carefully invert the red dough rectangle on top of the plain dough rectangle; remove top layer of waxed paper. Starting from a long side, roll up dough using bottom layer of waxed paper to help lift and guide the roll. Pinch dough edges to seal; wrap in plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining red and plain doughs. Chill dough rolls for 1 to 2 hours or until dough is firm enough to slice. Unwrap dough rolls; reshape, if necessary. If desired, roll each of the dough rolls in red edible glitter or red coarse decorating sugar. Using a sharp, thin-bladed knife, slice rolls crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Rotate roll while cutting to prevent flattening. For candy cane cookies: For each cookie, on a lightly floured surface, shape a 1/2-inch ball of plain cookie dough into a 5-inch rope. Repeat with a 1/2-inch ball (1 measuring teaspoon) of red cookie dough. Place the ropes side by side and twist together. Form into a cane shape.

Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake in a 350 degrees F oven until edges are set (9 to 10 minutes for swirl cookies; 6 to 8 minutes for candy cane cookies). Cool on cookie sheets on wire rack for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool.

COLLEGE CHRONICLES - COLLEGES CUT TIES WITH COSBY: Comedian Bill Cosby, facing numerous allegations of sexual assault, resigned from Temple University's Board of Trustees on Monday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. It's a seat Cosby has held since 1982. The resignation comes after a string of severed relationships with colleges and universities. For example, the University of Massachusetts Amherst recently cut ties with Cosby, who served as an honorary co-chair of UMass Amherst's capital campaign. But one college is still backing the embattled comedian: Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga., where two of Cosby's daughters attended college and an endowed professorship is named after both Cosby parents.

ROLLIN' IN THE DOUGH: Football and men's basketball coaches get all the attention for extravagant salaries, but many private college presidents aren't doing too badly, either. Three dozen of them made a million bucks or more in 2012, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports in its annual analysis. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Shirley Ann Jackson tops the list; she brought in more than $7 million. The heads of Quinnipiac and Columbia universities both made more than $3 million, and the University of Pennsylvania president brought in nearly $2.5 million. Charles R. Middleton of Roosevelt University rounds out the top five with $1.7 million. The median salary, though, was a measly $400,000 - though that is up 2.5 percent from 2011. See the full list here: http://bit.ly/1oGj0kR

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Dick Butkus (72), Judi Dench (80), Kirk Douglas (98), Bobby Flay (50), Laurie Hill …Michigan State and Alpena, Tom Kite (65), Bill Nighy (65).

PAY TV -  You're Not Watching Sports Without Cable TV: U.S. sports fans are pretty much required to get pay TV, in large part because ESPN, the country's most powerful cable channel, has locked up the rights to the biggest sports leagues and events - or at least a portion of them - usually for a decade or more. A handy chart from MoffettNathanson analyst Michael Nathanson ... spells this out quite clearly ... Nathanson figures ESPN will pay $3.8 billion for those games this year, and $5.1 billion by 2017." With the graphic: http://on.recode.net/1ty7Vki

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/13, 3:00 PM ET, CBS: Navy Midshipmen (6-5) vs. Army Black Knights (4-7). Another college football season comes to a regular season end with Navy cruising over the Cadets, 42 – 20.  Season to date (8-7)

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – D-III Playoffs, Semi Finals, Saturday 12/13, 3:30 PM ET, ESPN3: #10 Linfield Wildcats (11-1) at #1 University of Wisconsin Whitewater Warhawks (13-0).  A blow out in cheese country, Warhawks 42 Wildcats 14.  Season to date (6-7)

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 12/14, 1:00 PM ET, CBS: Miami Dolphins (7-6) at New England Patriots (10-3), last gasp for the fish, I don’t think so: Pats 28 Dolphins 17.   Season to date (9-5)


(NFL, Dec. 14) Denver Broncos (10-3) 24 at San Diego Chargers (8-5) 27

(NCAA hockey, Dec. 13) #1 North Dakota (12-3-2) 3 at #11 University of Denver Pioneers (9-4) 4

(NHL, Dec. 13) Detroit Red Wings (17-6-5) 3 at Toronto Maple Leafs (14-9-3) 2

Season to date (76 - 62)

MARKET WEEK – The Dow is now within less than 90 points of 18,000 following its 33rd record close of 2014, while the S&P comes off its 48th record finish of the year.

Oil prices fell to a five-year low on Monday, after Morgan Stanley cut its 2015 forecast for Brent crude, citing oversupply. This is not a great time to be an oil producer. Extending a slide that began in June, crude prices have fallen by more than a third, and it's not clear how much lower they're heading. The drop has taken a multibillion-dollar bite out of the world economies that depend heavily on oil production. It's also created a windfall for countries, companies and consumers that use all that oil.

The Mighty Dollar: Currencies across the globe are tumbling against the U.S dollar, resulting in a widening gap between the expanding U.S. economy and struggling countries in Europe and Asia. Our story looks at how a surging greenback and falling commodities prices are delivering a windfall to American shoppers and confounding central bankers who are considering—or have already introduced—drastic measures. The fall in the price of oil, however, is reducing the effectiveness of provisions aimed at raising consumer prices. At the same time, Saudi Arabia now believes oil prices could stabilize at around $60 a barrel, according to people familiar with the situation. Meanwhile, the Bank of Russia acknowledged this morning that the tumbling ruble is posing a risk to financial stability, and President Vladimir Putin told lawmakers that the time has come to push back against the “speculative attack” on the currency. We note also that the euro has fallen to a fresh two-year low against the dollar.

DRIVING THE WEEK – –  Congress will likely pass a spending bill to avoid a shutdown on Thursday but there could be some seasick moments between now and then (more below) ... President Obama this morning hosts England's Price William ... Obama Monday afternoon tapes an interview for the Colbert Report at George Washington University ... NFIB small business survey on Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. expected to rise to 96.5 from 96.1 ... JOLTS survey on Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. expected to show openings up to 4770K from 4735K ... Retail sales at 8:30 a.m. Thursday expected to rise 0.4 percent headline and 0.1 percent ex-autos ... Producer prices at 8:30 a.m. Friday expected to dip 0.1 percent headline and rise 0.1 percent core ... University of Michigan sentiment Friday at 9:55 a.m. expected to rise to 89.5 from 88.8 .

Next week: Holiday movies and holiday parties – The Horror

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA

December 8, 2014

CARTOON OF THE WEEK –  Zachary Kanin

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