Monday, June 29, 2015

Summer Gardening Chicago Style

One of Rink Rat’s long time readers and friends, Linda Prince MacKechnie writes us this week about her garden in Oak Park, Illinois. Linda is a Research Affiliate at The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

I have an organic plot with heirloom cultivars mostly.  Added some organic fertilizer/beneficial mycorhhizae/beneficial bacteria to the soil this year, plus mixed in some used peat potting media from work.  I've got a bunch of stuff in:

* Lettuce, arugula, and mizuna all do well.
* Spinach and Bok choi (or Pak choi) never do well - I can't get them in the ground early enough (due to spring access restrictions here at work - have to wait until the grounds people do spring tilling).  This year was a bit better.
* Tomatoes and peppers depend on the year - last year was good.
* Tomatillo seeds itself in like a weed.
* Summer squash (patty pan) does well, but the golden zucchini has been a bust (powdery mildew problems)
* Beets are generally a bust.  This year I bothered to soak the seeds before sowing and they are doing much better.  Apparently there is some inhibitor in the seed coat that should get rinsed out.  I soaked my seeds ~4 hrs prior to sowing.
* Radishes and turnips are the easiest thing in the world to grow anywhere.
* Carrots have been mixed.  This year is a good one, I think due to the really wet May weather.
* Onion and leeks (from seed) do well although I have to pull the leeks out too soon (for fall tilling) so they end up looking more like spring onions.
* This is my first year trying celery and a small, fast maturing cantaloupe-like melon; will keep you posted.

I don't use mulch, because I don't want to haul it in by hand.  I use weed cloth and it works pretty well.  I'll send photos if you really want to see them :)
I found gardening in California difficult.  Too hot in my south-facing patio and too much water (I didn't pay close enough attention).

Thanks Linda, great tips on gardening in the summer Chicago style.

SCOTUS - Mike Huckabee: I Will Not Accept Gay Marriage Ruling By 'Imperial Court'

 “Guided by my faith, I believe in traditional marriage." — @JebBus

From page 27 of majority opinion: "...The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection..."

The last two weeks should be a stark reminder of how far America has come and how far we have left to go.

The final passage of Justice Kennedy's opinion backing gay marriage across the U.S.

Small moments can change history forever. Had Ronald Reagan not nominated Robert Bork to the Supreme Court, this day may have never happened.

It was a 5-4 ruling: Men 4-2 against, Women 3-0 for. Another reminder of benefits of women in leadership positions.

@POTUS on #SCOTUSMarriage ruling: ‘All people should be treated equal regardless of who they are, or who they love’.

LOUSY WEEK IF YOU’RE A NEGATRON - [Last week] came very close to being the worst week of Barack Obama's presidency, and, effectively, the last: a possible repudiation from both Congress and the Supreme Court, from his own party, from a country struggling with the same racial tensions he's approached with a caution that's often come across more like muted fear. He would have been a failed president.

He would have been a failed promise. Instead, Obama finished the week in Charleston singing, really singing, and returned to a White House lit up like a rainbow that people who wanted to celebrate just felt drawn to. Hours after the partying stopped, they stayed late into the night, just sitting and staring at the building and thinking about how much had just changed.

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – FORMER RECRUITERS TAKE FOR-PROFIT TO COURT: Two former University of Phoenix recruiters who targeted military members filed a class action lawsuit alleging they were required to enter military bases "surreptitiously" to gain access to military personnel, including wounded service members. The former recruiters, who were based in Louisville, allege a host of other misdeeds by Phoenix, including training recruiters in high-pressure tactics such as "poking the pain" - using a potential recruit's insecurities about career and finances to get them to sign. They also say they were required to attend job fairs and charitable events in places like Fort Knox, Kentucky, to gain access to military members - even when such actions violated rules.

- Apollo Education Group's senior vice president of external affairs, Mark Brenner, said in an email that Phoenix intends to "vigorously defend itself against the fictitious allegations." Brenner continued, "Their false accusations and baseless legal claims will not distract us from delivering a high quality, career relevant education for working adults, including all those who have so admirably served our country in the military." The suit, filed earlier this month in Kentucky's Jefferson Circuit Court.

SUMMER TRAVEL SERIES, Part I - Ann Arbor, Michigan - For an amazing outdoor festival experience in Michigan this summer, head to Ann Arbor for the Ann Arbor Summer Festival. Beginning in June running through the summer the festival is ideal for American Roots music fans, with two outstanding shows at the Power Center featuring gospel, jazz, and rock serving as the centerpiece to the weekend. The festival is perfect for families with fun performances, activities, workshops, and screenings all ages can enjoy. But first, a little bit about the festival.

Since it began 32 years ago, Ann Arbor Summer Festival (A2SF) has become a major arts destination in Southeast Michigan, drawing more than 80,000 attendees annually over its four-week run. It’s a favorite community tradition and a summer highlight for Ann Arborites. This year’s festival takes place in downtown Ann Arbor and on the campus of University of Michigan.

The festival is an international multi-arts gathering that presents an eclectic mix of music, dance, comedy, film, spoken word, street arts and spectacle, and family entertainment. Their indoor, ticketed program is called the Mainstage. In 2015, this series includes nine ticketed indoor shows featuring stars such as the Indigo Girls, Ingrid Michaelson, and The Moth Mainstage, which is a live storytelling show from the makers of NPR’s The Moth Radio hour.

Something that sets A2SF apart from other performing arts festivals is that the programming is so broad. There truly is something for everyone! Over 21 nights, you can hear bands playing everything from jazz, rock, blues, indie acoustic, and gospel to West African, salsa, and samba. There are established and up-and-coming acts alongside kindie rock bands and marching bands. The festival works with community partners like the library and local museums to offer hands-on experiences in a KidZone. A2SF also specializes in large, outdoor spectacles, so you might catch a free acrobatic exhibition on the lawn or a one-of-a-kind attraction like this year’s massive, pedal-powered acrobat stage, The Cirque Mechanic Gantry Bike.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Larry David (68), Olivia Munn (35), Michael Phelps (30), United States of America (239).


Women’s World Cup: 1). Germany, 2). U.S.A., 3). Japan

Wimbledon: Gentlemen’s Winner – Novak Djokovic, Ladies Winner – Petra Kvitova

Season to date (59-24)

MARKET WEEK – HEADING FOR THE GREXITS?  In a fateful climax to five years of funding crisis, Greece has been cast into extraordinary uncertainty after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called a referendum on the country’s debt conditions over the weekend. At stake is Greece’s European identity, writes our columnist Simon Nixon. The government shut down its stock market and banking system this morning, and its central bank moved to impose capital controls. The latest decisions put Greece closer than ever to an exit from the euro and cast doubt over whether Athens can strike a deal with its creditors, denting investor optimism. European stocks have slumped and the yen has gained against the euro. Meanwhile, antiestablishment parties across Europe expressed their support for Mr. Tsipras’s risky decision to allow Greek citizens the final say next Sunday.

The euro fell almost 2 percent on Monday and European share markets looked set to eclipse big declines in Asia, as investors were spooked by the specter of a Greek debt default which forced Athens to shut down its banks to prevent a run on deposits. ... Adding to the gloomy backdrop, China shares dived another 7 percent, bringing the losses in the past two weeks to 25 percent, with the Chinese central bank's measures on Saturday to support the economy unable to calm jittery investors. ...

With the prospect of Greece being forced out of the euro in plain sight, the common currency fell as much as 1.9 percent to $1.0955, its lowest in almost a month. It last stood down 1.3 percent at $1.1020. ... U.S. stock futures dived almost 2 percent at one point to hit a three-month low, and last traded down 1.6 percent while Japan's Nikkei fell 2.6 percent. 

DRIVING THE WEEK – It's all about possible Greek fallout today ... Ex-Im officially runs out of time at midnight Tuesday but could come back later this year as part of other must-pass legislation ... President Obama today holds a working dinner with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff at the White House ... Jeb Bush is in Charleston, S.C. today ... Case-Shiller Home Prices at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday expected to rise 0.8 percent ... Consumer Confidence at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday expected to rise from 95.4 to 97.1 ... ISM Manufacturing at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday expected to rise to 53.1 from 52.8 ... June jobs report on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. expected to show a gain of 230K and unemployment at 5.4 percent ... Markets closed Friday for the July 4th holiday.


Stephen A. Smith of ESPN, is our Jack Ass Nominee for his latest act, he’s made a horribly out-of-touch joke about women’s soccer players not wanting to mess up their hair.   Stephen A. thought that terrible joke was so good HE HAD TO REPEAT IT TWICE TO MAKE SURE WE ALL HEARD HIM. And it’s just so funny, and so original, because of course when female athletes competing at the highest level of international competition in the World Cup, their first thought is their hair.  

At least that’s what Stephen A. Smith thinks of when he thinks of female athletes.
At this point, I’m fully expecting Stephen A. Smith to go on ESPN’s First Take at some point and debate the merits of women’s suffrage.  At the very least, I see another incredulous Twitter rant and forced apology in Stephen A’s future. Stephen A. Smith a popular choice for this month’s Jack Ass of the Month.

Next week: Summer BBQ and those who get it and those who don’t get it.

Until Next Monday, Happy Independence Day.

Claremont, CA

June 29, 2015


Monday, June 22, 2015

Seven Years and Counting of Quantitative Easing - Saving Accounts: Why Not?

Investment 101 tells us to stay away from savings accounts: low interest, low return and especially boring.

Savings accounts? Are you crazy? Boo, hiss. These days, savings accounts are only used as joke fodder for late-night comedians. Take the mom who wants to teach her kids the value of prudent financial management, for example:

For little Bobby’s eighth birthday, his mother takes him down to the local credit union to open a savings account. Figuring that all the grownups in his life would pour money into this new savings account to encourage him – without his lifting a finger — Bobby reasons that the offer is hard to beat. So, off to the credit union they go.

At his mother’s prompting, Bobby explains to the banker that he came to open a savings account. The banker gives a knowing glance to the mother and pushes the application form across the desk to Bobby. “Well, sir, this is your account, so you have to fill it out.”

Bobby methodically makes his way through the form, but pauses when he comes to the box that reads: “Name Of Your Former Bank.”

After a minute, he grins as he writes … “Piggy.”

Ba-da-boom! [Cue the clash of cymbals.]

If you’re like millions, you might think that savings accounts have no more use than old-fashioned, lame jokes.

Think again.

I used to stick my nose up at savings accounts too, until about twenty years ago a friend told me he invested in nothing but an old-fashioned savings account. He was a wise man of few words; so when he spoke, everyone listened — including me. Until his death, he lived frugally — but comfortably — on those savings.

My friend’s experience made me look at savings accounts with different eyes. Granted, he did this in the days when they paid interest rates with real numbers before the decimal point. That’s no longer the case, is it? These days the return you get on savings accounts barely moves the needle on the return scale. We often joke that banks use those accounts to challenge their IT people to see how many zeroes they can get into an interest rate, like 0.000001%.

Nevertheless, I still believe savings accounts are a viable part of a successful investment strategy. Why in the world would anybody think that? Well, first of all, there are the old standby arguments you always read when you do a search for something like “the advantages of savings accounts.”

The obvious advantages of savings accounts:

1. Liquidity - With most investments, there is a time delay involved in getting access to your money. But sometimes you need quick access to your funds.

2. Safety - Everyone knows that (in most cases) the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) guarantees up to $250,000 of your money in a savings account. Now, I know there is a cadre of people out there who believe the sky is about to cave in on us and that that guarantee is worthless; but for the rest of us, that guarantee makes a savings account as safe as anything you are going to get anywhere. And as Warren Buffet often remarks, “Rule #1 in investing is: Don’t lose it. Rule #2 is: See Rule #1.” For safety, it is hard to beat the savings account.

3. No hurdle to start - As Bobby’s story above illustrates, getting started with a savings account is both quick and easy. No minimums, no fuss, no conditions, no nothing — just “git ‘er done” and you’re in business.

The not-so-obvious advantages of savings accounts:

Now, as Tom Selleck used to say in “Magnum, P.I.,” “I know what you’re thinking.” We’ve heard this a million times, and by now those arguments insult our intelligence because they downplay the abysmal returns quantitative easing is causing us to endure. You are just writing this to get another blog out there, or who knows why. Wake us up when you have something real to say. How do I know that? Because I used to think that … until just under 20 years ago.

The hidden advantages of a savings account.

4. You don’t need to know anything - I often hear from readers who explain why they put off investing or (worse) have no plan to invest at all. Close to the top of their list of reasons is ignorance: They don’t know what to do or how to invest. I didn’t either, so I started by simply piling all our spare money into a savings account.

This is the age of the Internet and, if you want to learn, there are many places where you can learn how to invest, for free or for money. However, you don’t need to know anything to get started with a savings account. You can always reinvest what you have deposited there somewhere else, but it is almost impossible to get back what never got put in there in the first place.

5. You don’t need to take any risks - As pointed out above, a savings account is probably the safest starting point for any long-term investment strategy. It is the easiest thing in the world to move money out of a savings account into another investment vehicle when the opportunity presents itself. As an example, if the house next door becomes available and you want to buy it as a rental property, where do you put your funds as you scrape up the down payment? Your savings account would be a good start … if you were faithful and consistent to keep building it.

6. You buy time to learn - Ignorance is one of the biggest obstacles holding people back from being determined and consistent investors. Ignorance usually leads to this kind of statement: “If I don’t know what to do, I’m very afraid of losing my money.”

Well, if you start with a savings account, you buy yourself enough time to learn all you can about investing, until you are comfortable that you know what type of investing interests you, and then you can ease into that at your own pace — with the capital you have been saving all along!

7. Positive reinforcement - Nothing succeeds like success, they say. Instead of procrastinating out of fear and ignorance, when you start with your humble savings account, you see progress after a few months. Sure, it’s not a million dollars, but it is more than you started with.

Once we saw our savings account grow, it inspired us to see if we could do even better. It’s hard to put a value on this positive reinforcement, but for us it was invaluable. The biggest mistake people make is not following through with their investment plan. The instant feedback you get on your growing savings account can be a motivator to keep going, if that sort of things has meaning to you.

8. Reality is on your side - Reality? What reality? This reality: No matter what you invest in, for the first five to 10 years, the lion’s share of your nest egg consists of your own contributions.

When you make the decision to get serious about investing, you can take some comfort in the fact that you don’t lose a lot by taking a year or two to learn all you can about investing while you simply stash cash in an old-fashioned savings account. (In fact, you could think of that teeny, little bit of interest you lose as your school fees, which are cheap at the price, all things considered.)

But that doesn’t mean you should wait to open a savings account if you don’t already have one …

… because the biggest key to investing success, as many have pointed out, is simply to get started. And there is no easier and safer way to get started than to open a humble savings account. You don’t need to restrict your investing to savings accounts like my friend; but as a starting point to a successful investing career, savings accounts are hard to beat.

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – The University of California system may add only a few hundred students this fall, President Janet Napolitano says. Los Angeles Times:

THE ECONOMICS OF HEALTHCARE - As they cope with the federal health-care overhaul, the two biggest U.S. health insurers by revenue, UnitedHealth and Anthem, are seeking to buy smaller rivals in a merger scramble aimed at cutting costs. And in an usual partnership that reflects the tough economics of the prescription-drug business, CVS Health is paying $1.9 billion to buy and run Target’s pharmacies and clinics. The 1,660 drugstores inside Target locations will be rebranded CVS/pharmacy. The Obama administration, meanwhile, has been making billions of dollars in payments to insurance companies under the health law without being able to confirm just how much it owes each insurer, according to an inspector general’s report to be released today.

POLITICS 101 - New Q poll of Florida, Ohio, Pennslyvania primaries:

Florida: Jeb Bush 20%, Marco Rubio 18%, Scott Walker 9%, Ben Carson 7%, Mike Huckabee 6%, Rand Paul 5%.

Ohio: John Kasich 19%, Bush 9%, Walker 8%, Huckabee 7%, Paul 7%, Rubio 7%, Carson 6%, Ted Cruz 6%.

Pennsylvania (which is set for late April but considering joining the other two on March 15, 2016): Rubio 12%, Paul 11%, Bush 10%, Carson 10%, Walker 9%, Rick Santorum 7%, Chris Christie 6%, Huckabee 6%, Cruz 5%.

Democrats: Hillary Clinton clears 50 percent in all three states, with Bernie Sanders around 10 percent.

Days until the 2015 election: 134. Days until the 2016 election: 505.

SOCIAL STUDIES - 200 YEARS AGO: Napoleon met his Waterloo, defeated in battle in present-day Belgium on June 18, 1815.

--42 YEARS AGO: the WashPost ran its first story on the Watergate break-in, in the Metro section June 18, 1972:

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Erin Brockovich (55),   Olympia Dukakis (84), Beth Elmore ….famous  Green Bay Packer fan, John Elway (55), Pete Hamill (80), Toby Maguire (40), Carly Simon (70),  Brian Wilson (73)

TEN QUESTIONS - Rink Rats is starting a new by-monthly feature entitled "Ten Questions". We ask people of interest to Rink Rats some questions about their life.

This month Ten Questions to Michelle Graves. Michelle is a friend of Rink Rats and has recently graduated with her M.B.A. degree. She, in our opinion, represents what is the best about the Millennial Generation (1982 – 2004); the generation that now out numbers the “baby boom” generation and whose responsibilities are growing daily in managing America and the world.

1). Michelle tell us about yourself; where did you grow up, go to high school, college?

   I grew up in La Verne, went to San Dimas High School, and received my Bachelor's in degree in Psychology from Texas Woman's University in Denton, TX.  Before attending University of La Verne, I went to Cal Lutheran University to pursue my Psy.D. degree, but left after realizing counseling was not the job I saw myself performing every day for the rest of my life. My youth is quite boring as my life revolved around gymnastics and the 6 hours each day I spent at practice.

2). What was your major in undergraduate and graduate study, and why did you select your majors?

    Undergrad: Psychology, Graduate: Business.
I studied psychology in undergrad because I felt a strong tie to the subject and excelled in those classes. However, after actually working as a counselor I realized it was far too emotionally draining. Having parents who own and operate a small business, I felt business was always in my blood and felt "at home" in my business classes at La Verne.

3). You were an athlete growing up, what sport? Are you still participating in that sport?

     Gymnastics, and no I no longer participate. Not only is there no real professional career for gymnasts, but I had 6 surgeries which prevents me from doing basic activities.

4). How has sport added to the quality of your life today? Or not added?

      The sport really gave me so much, it is hard to put into words. I believe I am not afraid of hard work or failure because of my sport. I also feel that it has given me the ability to speak publicly, feel comfortable being judged, and excel in competition.

5). What is your career today? How do you see your career progressing?

   I am currently running the family business and working as a consultant for a small accounting firm. In the future, I would like to continue my studies, earn a Ph.D. in organizational psychology and work as a professor while consulting on the side.

6). How has education added to your life and career as of today?

    My education is the reason I am in the career I am in today. If it was not for the professors at the University of La Verne, I would not be working as a consultant, nor would I have the confidence to be a successful businesswoman.

7). What is your perfect summer vacation?

  My perfect summer vacation would be a two-week long trip to an all-inclusive resort in Bocas del Toro, Panama with my boyfriend :)

8). Who is your favorite musician and why?

   My favorite musician is George Strait because he embodies all that is country music. He is a real cowboy and stays true to his roots given all his fame and fortune.

9). What are you currently reading?

     I am currently reading James Patterson's 2nd Honeymoon, which is super exciting for me because I stopped reading for pleasure while I was in school.

10). Define happiness.

   Happiness is having close relationships with friends and family and a career that allows you to be both financially stable while maintaining a healthy personal life.


Women’s World Cup: 1). Germany, 2). U.S.A., 3). Japan

Season to date (59-24)

MARKET WEEK – Comcast-owned Universal's "Jurassic World" and the Disney-Pixar debut "Inside Out" grabbed the top two spots at the weekend box office, with $102 million and $91 million in domestic ticket sales respectively.

DRIVING THE WEEK – Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew participate in the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington ... IOSCO Chairman Medcraft speaks at the National Press Club today at 10 a.m. ... The Senate Banking Committee holds a briefing on its flood insurance review Tuesday at 10 a.m. ... Labor Secretary Thomas Perez speaks at a Brookings retirement event Tuesday at 1:40 p.m. ... FEMA officials testify at a Senate Banking flood insurance hearing Wednesday at 10 a.m. ... House Appropriations marks up a Labor Department spending bill Wednesday at 10:15 a.m. ... New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance testifies at a House Financial Services Committee terrorism financing hearing Wednesday at 2 p.m. ... House Financial Services holds a hearing on CFPB discrimination allegations Thursday at 10 a.m. ... Senate Banking holds a hearing on the impact of a Greek default Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

Next week: Summer Travel Series, Gardening tips from West Chicago, Illinois and the Jack Ass of the Month.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
June 22, 2015



Monday, June 15, 2015

"Operate Technology"

Time to open up and catch up on our Rink Rats Mail bag:

Dear Rink Rats:

My wife occasionally has to travel with her boss overnight to operate technology at meetings. She makes the travel arrangements. I noticed a couple of years ago that she booked one room with two beds. When I asked her about it she said it was for the purpose of cutting costs. She says this is a way that he is able to give her a pay raise each year. She claims she would never cheat on me, nor would he cheat on his wife of 33 years.

He is a frugal man, so I accepted that explanation. However, I recently came across an email that showed a room reservation for a single king-size bed. When I asked her about it, she said it was the only room type available, and that there is nothing going on between the two of them. She said there is plenty of room for them to stay on their own side of the bed. Apparently it wasn’t the first time this happened.

Should I accept her explanation? Your thoughts?


Moron from Glen Falls, New York

Dear Moron from Glens Falls, New York:

Are you kidding? I would ask your wife what she means by “operating technology”; time to get off the Space Shuttle and get real.



Dear Rink Rats:

What genres do you especially enjoy reading? Which do you avoid?
Also what books are currently on your night stand?


Max from Sudbury, Ontario Canada

Dear Max from Sudbury, Ontario:

I love self-help. I need self-help. I own them all. None are working. I enjoy short stories, because they are short. I enjoy biographies, history, and anything by Ernest Hemingway.
I avoid romance novels because I generally get angry at handsome men. I do not want to know about how to make crafts.

“Orr My Story” by Bobby Orr, always read a hockey book during the Stanley Cup playoffs. John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”, always like to re-read Nobel Prize winners. “Truman” by David McCullough, what Harry Truman accomplished in his life was simply amazing.



Dear Rink Rats:

Can you recommend a summer reading list.


Avid Reader in Claremont, CA

Dear Avid Reader:

Here is my summer 2015 reading list –

“The Fictional Woman” by Tara Moss
“The Royal We” by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
“The Wright Brothers” by David McCullough
“The Stranger” by Harlan Coben
“The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach” by Pam Jenoff
“Leaving Orbit” by Michiko Kakutani
“The Sixth Extinction: An Unwanted History” by Elizabeth Kolbert
An interesting list if I do say so myself. Enjoy.



SUMMER ATTRACTIONS - Teddy ... Roosevelt's home reopening after $10 million rehab, " in Oyster Bay, New York -  Sagamore Hill, the Long Island mansion that was Theodore Roosevelt's home and 'Summer White House,' is set to reopen [July 12, with public tours starting the next day] following an extensive four-year, $10 million renovation by the National Park Service ... Every one of the ... 10,000 books and dozens of 'trophies' from his hunting expeditions, were removed from the 28-room, Queen Anne Shingle style mansion and then painstakingly repaired and replaced exactly where he left them.

THE WEATHER CHANNEL  - “May was wettest in US records: On average 4.36 inches of rain and snow - mostly rain - fell over the Lower 48 in May, sloshing past October 2009 which had been the wettest month in U.S. records with 4.29 inches. ... NOAA climate scientist Jake Crouch calculated that comes to more than 200 trillion gallons of water in May."

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – STANFORD PRESIDENT STEPPING DOWN in summer 2016 to return to teaching and research -- End of an era for Stanford: Departing president transformed the school over last 15 years.  In his 15 years at the helm of Stanford, President John L. Hennessy has more than doubled the university's endowment, seen its undergraduate program displace Harvard as the most selective school in the nation and fostered a symbiotic relationship between campus brains and Silicon Valley.

BIG DAY FOR DEBT-FREE COLLEGE PUSH: Since two trios of lawmakers introduced Senate and House resolutions seven weeks ago "supporting efforts to ensure that students have access to debt-free higher education," the idea has certainly picked up steam. Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell said federal officials are talking and thinking about it. The Senate resolution has 20 co-sponsors to the House's 42, up from an initial three dozen combined. And the issue is popping up on the presidential campaign trail, too. In Iowa, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton said she wants to "try to move toward making college as debt-free as possible." Gov. Martin O'Malley pulled no punches, telling supporters in an email, "every student should be able to go to college debt-free." And Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced a bill to make public college tuition-free.

SYLLABUS - Nearly 90 percent of teachers say that poverty is a barrier to effective learning and 91 percent of teachers say they've spent their own money to buy classroom supplies. More than half said they've used their own money to feed students, a poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and Communities In Schools.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to:  Tim Allen (62), Jim Belushi (61), Michael J. Fox (54), Boy George (54), Eric Heiden (57),  William Hippler …famous Finance Professor,  Marvin Kalb (85), Dick Vitale (76)


Chicago Black Hawks win the Stanley Cup in 5 games.
Golden State Warriors win the NBA Championship in 6 games.
Women’s World Cup: 1). Germany, 2). U.S.A., 3). Japan

Season to date (57-24)


Bafflegab -  \BAF-uhl-gab\
1. Slang. confusing or generally unintelligible jargon; gobbledegook: an insurance policy written in bafflegab impenetrable to a lay person.
“Victor had no eye for shape or form…He judged the tone and rhythm of the plans by how the architects could sing their wares, what bafflegab they used.”

tormenta, noun
storm - Una tormenta means a storm, even though it looks rather like the English word ‘torment’.
La tormenta can also be used metaphorically, to refer to a storm, for instance in politics:
“La noticia provoc√≥ una tormenta pol√≠tica sin precedentes.”
The news caused an unprecedented political storm.

MARKET WEEK – Dinosaurs rule the earth again after Universal's "Jurassic World" debuted to with $204 million at the domestic box office this weekend, and a total of $511 million worldwide.

DRIVING THE WEEK – Jeb Bush announces his presidential bid this afternoon in Miami before heading to early primary states ... House GOP will take another shot at TAA but odds are low ... FitBit starts trading Thursday after an IPO it hopes will raise close to $500 million ... Industrial Production at 9:15 a.m. expected to rise 0.3 percent ... Housing Starts Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. expected to be up 3 percent to 1.1M ... FOMC announcement Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. expected to reflect better news on employment and growth keeping the central bank on track for its first hike this fall ... Yellen presser at 2:30 on Wednesday ... Consumer Prices at 8:30 a.m. Thursday expected to rise 0.5 percent headline and 0.2 percent core ... Index of Leading Indicators 10:00 a.m. Thursday expected to rise 0.4 percent ...

A last-ditch effort to reach a compromise between Greece and its creditors ended in failure Sunday, nudging Athens closer to defaulting at the end of the month. Representatives of the Greek government, including Minister of State Nikos Pappas, arrived in Brussels on Saturday with a new set of reform proposals from Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' government to present to the European Commission. By Sunday, the response was negative, as the Greek delegation left the talks after just 45 minutes, according to EU sources. ...

The two sides still disagree on budget savings worth €2 billion, or 0.5 to 1 percentage points of GDP, the spokesperson said. At this point in the talks, the Commission is operating as the central negotiator for Greece's international creditors, including the International Monetary Fund, which withdrew its technical negotiators in frustration last week.

Next week: Summer Travel Series begins and Ten Questions.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA

June 15, 2015


Monday, June 8, 2015

I'm from Boca

It is easy these days to escape reality: the social network, tweets, 264 television cable channels, faculty meetings, CSPAN, Housewives of Orange County,  the choices are endless.

But I found another escape from reality this past week. To save miles on my Ford, I decided to rent a car to travel the Southwest. When picking up the car I noticed the license plates on my rental were from Florida, “The Sunshine State”, Weeki Wachee, Da Boca Vista.

As always when traveling around the country especially in the land of Cracker Barrel restaurants, there is always someone who notices your license plates and strikes up a conversation.

So, while stopped at a McDonalds in Surprise, Arizona, a gentleman comes up to me in the parking lot and says, “What part of Florida are you from?” So I say “I’m from Boca.” Well, he begins to tell me he is from Cocoa Beach, is retired from NASA, and lives here in Surprise, Arizona. He ordered a Big Mac meal, by the way.

A very friendly man, he was quite taken back that I was from Florida, and I had just driven from Tucson, on my way to Las Vegas. We wished each other well and he went onward to a happy retirement in Surprise, Arizona and me to further unreality life in Southern California.

Perhaps my next Trust Department meeting I will wear my I Love New York t-shirt, or at the next Faculty meeting wear my Guns N’ Roses baseball hat; I will never know when reality ends and unreality begins.

BOB SCHIEFFER's last commentary, airing Sunday morning on his grand finale edition of "Face the Nation" (John Dickerson takes the baton next week): "As I prepared for this last broadcast as moderator of 'Face the Nation,' I thought back to when I was in the ninth grade and saw my byline in the school newspaper and decided right then I wanted to be a reporter. I got a chance to do that. When I was a young reporter I wanted to work for CBS because Walter Cronkite was my hero. And I got a chance to do that.

"After I was here awhile I wanted to be the moderator of Face the Nation -- and I got to do that and did it for 24 years. Maybe it's because I just loved the news but at the time, I thought every job I ever had was the best job in the world: going behind police lines, talking to cops, and soldiers, and then senators, and even presidents.

"I tried to remember that the news is not about the newscaster -- it's about the people who make it and those who are affected by it. I'll be honest, I'm going to miss being in the middle of things. But the one thing I'll never forget is the trust you placed in me and how nice you were to have me as a guest in your home over so many years. It meant the world to me and it always will. Thank you."

SENTENCE OF THE DAY -- Orin Kerr of George Washington University Law School, on The Volokh Conspiracy blog: "If I understand the history correctly, in the late 1990s, the President was impeached for lying about a sexual affair by a House of Representatives led by a man who was also then hiding a sexual affair, who was supposed to be replaced by another Congressman who stepped down when forced to reveal that he too was having a sexual affair, which led to the election of a new Speaker of the House who now has been indicted for lying about payments covering up his sexual contact with a boy."

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – PAY RAISE FOR PUBLIC COLLEGE PRESIDENTS: Public college presidents' median pay rose 7 percent between fiscal years 2013-14, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports in its latest annual survey. Two top officials raked in more than a million bucks - compared with three dozen private college presidents in the Chronicle's most recent past survey of those institutions - but the typical chief made just over $428,000. Rodney Erickson of Penn State, R. Bowen Loftin of Texas A&M and Joseph Alutto of Ohio State - all of whom have since left their presidencies - were the top three earners. (In fact, six of the top 10 are no longer at the institution that landed them on the list.) See how others ranked:

RECORD GIFT - Paulson's $400m gift to Harvard is school's largest ever, the gift from hedge fund billionaire John A. Paulson ... will permanently endow Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The gift tops the previous largest donation, a $350 million gift in September from businessman Gerald Chan to the School of Public Health to help fight global health threats. Harvard will rename the School of Engineering in honor of Paulson, who graduated in 1980 from Harvard Business School.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to:  Maria Aguirre ….famous Finance Executive, President George H.W. Bush (91), Tonya Carmon …famous student advisor, Gabby Giffords (45), Anna Kournikova (34), Prince (57), Tom Scali …famous singer, Nancy Sinatra (75).

U.S. RECOVERY STUMBLES AGAIN - GDP shrinks for the third time in 6 years as tough winter knocks the economy off course.

The U.S. economy contracted earlier this year as harsh weather and a strong dollar sapped demand for American goods, underscoring the choppiness of an expansion that has struggled to lift off.

Gross domestic product shrank at a 0.7% seasonally adjusted annual rate in the first quarter, the Commerce Department said. The agency previously estimated output grew 0.2% from January through March. The revision, which was near economists' latest estimate of a 1% contraction, showed how the world's largest economy remains vulnerable to shocks as it struggles to regain its vigor. The dip, expected to be short-lived, marked the third quarterly contraction since the economy emerged from recession in mid-2009.

The U.S. economy added 280,000 jobs in May, the best month of 2015. Unemployment ticked slightly higher to 5.5% as more people entered the job market.

Overall, the report marks good news at a time of uncertainty. In the early part of 2015, the economy had contracted and job growth suffered, due largely to harsh weather, a port strike and a strong dollar. But recent months have brought more positive signs.

WAGE WEAKNESS -   When U.S. unemployment rates fall, simple rules of labor supply and demand predict wages will go up. But a Wall Street Journal analysis of Labor Department data points to persistent constraints on worker pay, even as the economy approaches what the data say is full employment. The Wall Street Journal found 33 U.S. metropolitan areas where unemployment rates and nonfarm payrolls last year returned to prerecession levels. But even in those regions, pay raises typically were small as large numbers of former workers who had become detached from the labor force filled many of the available jobs.

HACKED OFF -  The U.S. may have been the victim of another data breach, but this time on a record scale. Officials suspect that hackers in China stole the personal records of as many as four million people in one of the most far-reaching breaches of government computers. It isn’t clear exactly what was taken, but officials said the information can be used to facilitate identity theft or fraud. The breach, disclosed yesterday, is the latest sign of the U.S. government’s struggle to protect its own data. It also brings to light a potential new fear: How safe is any information shared with the federal government?

BLATTER RESIGNS AT FIFA - Sepp Blatter (last weeks’ Rink Rats Jack Ass of the Month), the longtime president of FIFA, announced his resignation Tuesday, a stunning about-face that came just days after he celebrated his reelection and defiantly criticized U.S. law enforcement agencies leading a corruption investigation that has rocked world soccer's governing body. ... While it remains unclear what prompted Blatter's resignation, two people familiar with the case said Tuesday that Blatter remains a focus of the sprawling investigation into FIFA and that federal prosecutors hope to get evidence from those already arrested to secure further indictments. ...

In a short news conference in FIFA's Zurich headquarters, Blatter admitted no wrongdoing but acknowledged that he had lost the support of 'the entire world of football' and called for an election to select his successor. Blatter will remain president until a new election, and no date is set. Until he steps down, Blatter said, he will focus on imposing 'far-reaching, fundamental reforms' in the organization that oversees the world's most popular sport.

SPORTS BLINK -- The NFL and Yahoo ... announced ... a ... partnership that will ... digitally deliver the NFL's International Series game in London between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars on October 25 ... for free on any device.


Chicago Black Hawks win the Stanley Cup in 5 games.
Golden State Warriors win the NBA Championship in 6 games.
Women’s World Cup: 1). Germany, 2). U.S.A., 3). Japan

Season to date (57-24)

MARKET WEEK – Warning signals from a century-old stock-market analysis tool known as Dow Theory are sparking debate about whether stocks are headed for a fall. Dow Theory holds that any lasting rally to new highs in the Dow Jones Industrial Average must be accompanied by a new high in the Dow Jones Transportation Average - the 20-stock index that tracks some of the largest U.S. airlines, railroads and trucking companies. When the transport average lags, it can presage broader stock declines.

Right now, the Dow transports are sitting on a 6.9 percent decline for the year. They haven't hit an all-time high since Dec. 29. Delta Air Lines Inc. has dropped 13 percent, United Parcel Service Inc. 9.6 percent and railroad CSX Corp. 5 percent. The Dow industrials, by contrast, are up 0.2 percent, setting a record high as recently as May 19. The decline in transport stocks is especially notable, given how closely together the two indexes trade. Since 1900, the Dow industrials and Dow transports have traded higher than their average of the last 200 days in tandem more than 50 percent of the time.

DRIVING THE WEEK – Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA) debate returns to the House ... G-7 continues and President Obama will attend a meeting on energy and climate. ... Afterward, the President will hold a bilateral meeting with President Hollande of France. ... Later in the morning, the President will attend a G-7 meeting on terrorism with outreach guests. ... Later in the day, Obama will hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi of Iraq followed by a press conference before returning to DC ... Business Roundtable today announces its Q2 CEO economic outlook at 2:00 p.m. ... JOLTS survey at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday will offer another read on the strength of the jobs market ... Retail Sales at 8:30 a.m. Thursday excepted to rise 1.2 percent headline and 0.8 percent ex-autos ... University of Michigan Sentiment at10:00 a.m. Friday expected to rise to 91.4 from 90.7.

IN MEMORIAM - The death of Beau Biden, the former Delaware attorney general and the eldest son of the vice president, on Saturday has generated an outpouring of remembrances and pieces on his close-knit family. The New Yorker posted one of the most elegant on Monday evening, by Evan Osnos, a staff writer who wrote about the elder Biden for the magazine last year. "In a town where 'family' is often brandished as a political prop, the Bidens have never attracted a cynical reading," Osnos writes. "In their tragedy, their striving, their survival, and their improbable optimism, the Bidens are a deeply American family - a clan that, even as it edged into privilege, has never looked out of reach or out of touch."

Next week: Rink Rats begins its’ sixth year of blogging with Words of the month and Summer Reading.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
June 8, 2015


CARTOON OF THE WEEK – Charles Schultz, Peanuts