Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Two Thousand Fifteen

It is our annual review of 2015, Rink Rats style.

2015 OVERPAID -- Johnny Depp Named Hollywood's Most Overpaid Actor: Johnny Depp is the new Adam Sandler ... when it comes to return on investment, that is, $25 million per picture.

MUSICAL CHAIRS - New Census estimates show which states set to gain, lose congressional seats: The Census Bureau released new state population estimates on Tuesday - and new population numbers mean new projections of which states are likely to gain and lose seats following the 2020 Census. If current population trends hold, six states are projected to gain seats, according to an analysis from Election Data Services. Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina and Oregon are projected to gain one additional district. Florida is projected to gain two, and Texas is projected to gain three.

- On the flip side, nine states are projected to lose one seat apiece: Alabama, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia. But take the projections with a grain of salt - if population trends shift even a little bit, California or Virginia could gain additional seats, at the potential expense of Florida or Arizona.

AND THEN THERE WERE SIX The next GOP primary debate will feature only six candidates, likely bumping Carly Fiorina, Rand Paul and John Kasich to the undercard debate.
Days until the 2016 election: 314.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST - Jerry Brown: Another energy conflict of interest: The Los Angeles County and the City and School Boards declared a 'state of emergency' that covers the massive Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility near Porter Ranch neighborhoods earlier this month. ... Governor Brown's sister, Kathleen L. Brown, former California State Treasurer and Democratic candidate for Governor in the 1990s, has been serving since 2013 as a Director on Sempra Energy, the parent and 100 percent stockholder of the Gas Company, according to Security & Exchange Commission filings...That means the Governor's sister is at the center risk for managing the raging ecological and healthcare disaster.

2015 BIG DOLLAR DEVELOPMENTS - Downtown $6.4B development juggernaut: San Diego's Centre City has more than $6.4 billion in 63 projects under construction, approved or under review - an amount equal to more than 40 percent of the 1,600-acre community's entire $15.5 billion in assessed valuation, according to Civic San Diego, the downtown planning agency, and the county assessor's office.

With this and the Inglewood development (with or without a stadium), Sacramento's arena development, Cupertino's new Apple campus, San Francisco/Oakland and so much more, it's a huge time in California real estate, and it's less focused on residential than previous booms.

Of course, being left out is the Central and North Valleys and even within these cities, where some of the greatest poverty resides.

2015 BEST BUMPER STICKER – “The more men I meet, the more I love my cat.”

STAR WARS DRIVES HOLLYWOOD OVER $11B - The record debut this month of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens,' along with blockbusters like 'Jurassic World' earlier in the year, have put the U.S. movie industry on track to crack $11 billion in ticket sales for the first time ever. The North American box office, which includes U.S. and Canadian theaters, is forecast to rise 6.3 percent to $11.01 billion in 2015, Rentrak Corp. said Tuesday in an e-mailed statement. That would surpass the current record of $10.92 billion set in 2013. While the overall number signifies health, studios with massive event movies are outperforming their rivals.

FINAL YEAR - Obama's agenda breaks through in 2015: This year's biggest policy stories include significant wins for the administration: Some of the accomplishments don't fit neatly within either party's ideology: Congressional Republicans worked with Democrats to overhaul the much-criticized No Child Left Behind Act, returning more control over public schools to the states. And lawmakers from both parties signed off on a long-sought deal for a five-year highway bill, and legislation that made permanent several business and family tax breaks.

CALIFORNIA DROUGHT - Damage from sinking land costing California billions: A canal that delivers vital water supplies from Northern California to Southern California is sinking in places. So are stretches of a riverbed undergoing historic restoration. On farms, well casings pop up like mushrooms as the ground around them drops.

Four years of drought and heavy reliance on pumping of groundwater have made the land sink faster than ever up and down the Central Valley, requiring repairs to infrastructure that experts say are costing billions of dollars.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Emperor Akihito(82) Tokyo, Japan; Mary Higgins Clark (88) Huntington, NY; Sandy Koufax (80) Beverly Hills, CA; Denzel Washington (61) Austin, TX;  Tiger Woods (40) Orlando, FL.

OP-ED OF THE YEAR -- "A year that seared -- in so many ways,'' by San Francisco Chronicle's John Diaz: " Perhaps it's only fitting that 2015 is about to finish as the hottest year on record, with temperatures hitting all-time monthly highs seven consecutive times through November. This was a year that brought the heat, in oh so many ways, good and bad."

2015 IN CULTURE - It’s been quite a year for the arts—from museums to movies. The best exhibitions introduced visitors to Mughals, migration and Renaissance masterpieces. Television confronted some of today’s harsh realities, from jihadists in Berlin to a harrowing crime in India. Politics, Paris romances and puppets were just a few of the rewarding and varied musicals that audiences were offered this year. At the cinema, moviegoers found emotional experiences in a multitude of genres, ranging from the intergalactic to the intimate. And with the music industry’s massive output, listeners simply can’t be blamed if they found it too hard to choose a favorite album—though Björk’s “Vulnicura” ticks our rock-and-pop critic’s box.

Top Television Show: “House of Cards”
Top Movie: “The Martian”
Top CD: “25” Adele

2015 YEAR IN NEWS - It was a year marked by brutal Islamist terrorist attacks—in Paris twice, in California, in the skies above the Sinai, and elsewhere. Russia opened a military campaign in Syria as the U.S. and its allies struggled to thread the needle between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Islamic State. Iran and the West signed a nuclear deal. Oil and commodity prices slumped, companies merged at a record rate, and, after we waited all year, the U.S. Federal Reserve finally raised interest rates. China’s markets wobbled and rattled the world. The pope came to the U.S. and, of course, it was the year that saw Donald Trump transformed from property tycoon and reality TV star into leading presidential contender.

SPACEX MARKS BIG ROCKET SUCCESS - Elon Musk's SpaceX marked the first flight of its Falcon 9 rocket since a June explosion in spectacular fashion when it succeeded for the first time in returning to earth a booster rocket that had deployed satellites into space. ... Amid deafening cheers from employees watching in the company's mission control room on Monday, SpaceX returned the first stage of the rocket to a launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida, around 10 minutes after it had lifted off. The mission was carrying 11 small satellites into orbit for Orbcomm, the satellite communications company. ...

SpaceX hopes that the ability to reuse rockets could help significantly to reduce the cost of space launches, which have been high partly because rockets were used only once and discarded in the sea. The rocket's second stage went on successfully to deploy all the satellites into orbit. The landing at Cape Canaveral - during which the rocket landed gracefully on a series of landing legs that had helped to slow it during the descent - marks SpaceX's first successful return of a rocket in reusable condition after three failed attempts at landing rockets on barges at sea.

DESSERT - The 10 best food cities in America, ranked: 10. Charleston ... 9.Washington ... 8.New York ... 7.Chicago ... 6.Philadelphia ... 5.Houston ... 4.New Orleans ... 3.Los Angeles ... 2.San Francisco ... 1. Portland.

COLLEGE CHRONICLES - Not only China's wealthy want to study in America: In 2007, just 2,500 Chinese students were enrolled at U.S. community colleges, which have become increasingly attractive to low-income or low-performing Chinese students who want to escape the pressure of the gaokao. Now (2015) more than 16,200, or 13% of all Chinese undergraduates in the U.S., are studying at community colleges in this country.

GRAPHIC OF THE DAY - US stocks are ending 2015 mostly flat, capping volatile year: Despite veering between record highs and the steepest dive in four years, the stock market is on track to end the year essentially flat. That means if you invested in a fund that tracks the Standard & Poor's 500 index, you have little to show for the past 12 months." Graph

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 1/3, 8:30 PM ET NBC; Minnesota Vikings (10-5) at Green Bay Packers (10-5), the winner wins the NFC North, Pack in overtime 16 – 13. Season to date (9-7)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Thursday 12/31, 8:00 PM ET ESPN;  The National Semi-Final, #3 Michigan State Spartans (12-1) at #2 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1). Tide moves on to Glendale, AZ. 30 – 24. Season to date (10-7)

COLLEGE HOCKEY GAME OF THE WEEK – Saturday 1/2, 9:00 PM ET, Roots; #16 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-4-4) at #17 Denver Pioneers (7-7-2). Irish win in Denver 4 – 3. Season to date (2-3).


(NCAA. Dec. 31) The National Semi-Final - #4 Oklahoma Sooners (12-1) vs. #1 Clemson Tigers (13-0), Sooners end Clemson’s perfect season, 40 – 32.

(NHL, Jan. 1) The Winter Classic – Montreal Canadians (21-15-3) vs. Boston Bruins (20-12-4), Bruins win in Foxboro, 3 – 2.

(NBA, Jan. 2) Orlando Magic (19-13) at Cleveland Cavaliers (21-9), Cavs win a laugher 106 – 80.

Season to date (112-68)

DRIVING THE WEEK – A toast to Guy Lombardo and The Royal Canadians: Where has the year gone????

Next week: 2016 Rink Rats Year Preview.

Until Next Monday, Happy New Year.

Tucson, AZ.
December 30, 2015

CARTOON OF THE WEEK – “Enough that we succeed”

Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas Wishes

My Christmas wish this year as in every year is happiness, health, and peace to all my family, friends, colleagues, associates, and students.

But I have some additional Christmas wishes:

A copy of the U.S. Constitution for Donald Trump, please read it carefully.

For our magnificent military whose needs are great and so varied: Military hospitals worthy of their service, adequate career counseling once military service is complete, a commander in chief who supports them and pursues military objectives with determination.

Rain, snow, rain, snow, and more snow for California.

Welcome to winter! It's the winter solstice: the shortest day, and longest night, of the year.


did the earth
shift.  Again
did the nights grow
short and the days

And the people
of the earth were glad
and celebrated
each in their own

Diane Lee Moomey


2 quarts apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
2 whole allspice berries
2 whole cloves
1 orange, thinly sliced

Place all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer on the grates of the grill or over a burner. Divide among individual mugs and serve hot.

Total Time: 10 min
Prep: 5 min
Cook: 5 min
Yield: 8 servings

AN ECONOMIC DRAG? -- Los Angeles could be Olympic winner and loser: Los Angeles moved closer last week to becoming the venue for the 2024 Summer Olympics when voters in Hamburg canceled its bid...... Mayor Eric Garcetti and other civic boosters are beginning to sense a real chance for Los Angeles to host the games for the third time, seeing it as a shot in the arm for a city still struggling to emerge from the Great Recession... After all, boosters claim, the last time the games came to the Southland, in 1984, they were a roaring success...but that was then and this is now....The city has become something of an economic drag on the state."

BORDER CROSSINGS - China surpasses Mexico in sending immigrants to California:

SYLLABUS - Kaiser Permanente plans to open a medical school. The New York Times:

SYLLABUS PART DEUX - Record applicants for CSU system: California State University received a record number of applications for the upcoming 2016 fall term, with more than 830,000 prospective students vying for a spot at the nation's largest public university system.
The total marked a nearly 5 percent increase over applications received for fall enrollment the previous year, according to university officials. The number of black and Latino students applying to CSU colleges rose about 25 percent each. CSU enrolls about 460,000 students across 23 campuses.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Phil Donahue (80) Boca Raton, FL; Chris Evert (61) Orlando, FL; Jane Fonda (78) Park City, UT; Samuel L. Jackson (67) Kapalua, HI; Al Kaline (81) Franklin, MI; Nancy Newman …famous photographer; Cicely Tyson (91) Atlanta, GA.

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – A thank you to Professor N. Gregory Mankiw for this excellent column in Sunday 12/20 New York Times:

“What should we do about the high cost of higher education? As we pick the next president, that question should feature prominently in the public debate. The economic prosperity of our children and grandchildren hinges on finding the right answer.

Today’s economy leaves little doubt about the value of college. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014 the median worker with a bachelor’s degree (and no advanced degree) earned $69,260, compared with $34,540 for the median worker with only a high school diploma. Over a lifetime, that difference accumulates to about $1.5 million.

Increasing educational attainment is also the best way to combat growing income inequality. Over the last 40 years, the wages of skilled workers have increased substantially compared with the wages of the unskilled. Most economists agree that a leading cause is skill-biased technological change — the tendency of new technologies to increase the relative demand for skilled workers. College is the main institution that can offset this trend by turning unskilled individuals into skilled ones.

Even those who do not attend college benefit when more of their fellow citizens do so. A person who becomes educated leaves the pool of the unskilled. Those left behind face fewer competitors. With fewer unskilled workers vying for the available jobs, wages at the bottom of the economic ladder are bid up.

Although increasing college attendance makes a lot of sense, both for individuals and for the nation, the financial hurdle to doing so is higher than ever. The College Board reports that published tuition and fees at a typical private, nonprofit college, adjusted for overall inflation, have increased by 70 percent over the last 20 years. What gives?

Three forces are at work.

The first is called Baumol’s cost disease. Many years ago, the economist William Baumol noted that for many services — haircuts as well as string quartet performances — productivity barely advances over time. Yet as overall productivity rises in the economy, wages increase, so the cost of producing these services increases as well.

Education is a case in point. How we teach and learn has benefited from some technological advances, such as PowerPoint presentations, online courses and the innovations of outfits like Khan Academy. But after 30 years as an educator, I am convinced that the ideal experience for a student is a small class that fosters personal interaction with a dedicated instructor. In other words, best practice remains the approach that Socrates used to teach Plato 2,500 years ago. But because society over all is now richer, today’s Socrates expects a reasonably high standard of living, and that implies hefty tuition.

The second force increasing the cost of education is the rise in inequality. Educational institutions hire a lot of skilled workers: It takes educated people to produce the next generation of educated people. Thus, rising inequality has increased not only the benefit of education but also the cost of it.

The third force at work is what economists call price discrimination. Businesses of all sorts have an incentive to charge different prices to different consumers based on their willingness and ability to pay. Movie theaters, for example, charge children less than adults for a ticket.

Colleges have increasingly followed this practice by raising published prices and offering more financial aid based on a family’s resources. I often joke that Harvard should complete the process by setting tuition at $1 billion a year. But that sticker price applies only to the children of Bill Gates. Everyone else gets a special price, just for you.

The impact of increasing price discrimination is clear in the data. That 70 percent figure for the 20-year increase in published tuition and fees shrinks to 32 percent for the average net price. The expansion of financial aid explains the difference. Yes, the 32 percent increase in cost is still sizable, but for those who qualify for aid, it is a lot smaller than is sometimes suggested.

So what should we do about the cost of education?

One approach is to make higher education a right. Senator Bernie Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, advocates free tuition at public colleges and universities.

Apart from favoring government-run over private colleges, the main problem with this idea is that there is no way to really make education free. The Sanders plan just shifts the cost from the student to the taxpayer. In light of the looming unfunded liabilities already on the government’s books from existing entitlement programs, mainly for older adults, creating a new one for the young seems problematic.

Another approach is to find better private mechanisms to finance higher education. Senator Marco Rubio, who is seeking the Republican nomination, wants to establish a legal framework in which private investors help pay for a student’s education in exchange for a share of the student’s earnings after college. In essence, the student would finance college
less with debt and more with equity. The Rubio plan does not let the student get away without paying, but it does help spread the risk from the educational investment.

Whether private money would show up for this is an open question. Investors may worry about adverse selection. Future poets might be willing to pledge a fraction of their incomes, while future bankers might pass on the opportunity.

Unfortunately, there are no easy answers here. We can hope that future technologies will significantly reduce the cost of college. If they do not, as is likely, we will need to find better ways than we have now to pay for a system that is increasingly valuable but also increasingly expensive.”

FORMER FIFA PRESIDENT AND HIS PROTEGE BANNED FOR EIGHT YEARS -  The FIFA ethics committee banned Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini for eight years for their role in a $2 million dollar bribe and other ethical breaches.

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/27, 1:25 PM ET Fox;  Green Bay Packers (10-4) at Arizona Cardinals (12-2), perhaps a preview of Round 2 in the NFL playoffs. Cardinals throttle The Pack  38 – 21.  Season to date (8-7)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/26, 6:30 PM ET ESPN;  Foster Farms Bowl: UCLA Bruins (8-4) vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-7), Pac 12 wins 40 – 28. Season to date (10-6)

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Our season has come to a close. Congrats to the Mount Union Purple Raiders (15-0) for their D-III Championship. A special congrats to the University of La Verne Leopards (8-2) for their SCIAC Conference title and to St. Lawrence University Saints (8-3) for their Liberty Conference title. See you next season!   Season to date (14-2)

COLLEGE HOCKEY GAME OF THE WEEK – Christmas break, no games scheduled. Season to date (2-3).


 (NFL, Dec. 24) Los Angeles Chargers (4-10) at Los Angeles Raiders (6-8), boring…Raiders win 24 – 17.

(NHL, Dec. 26) Dallas Stars (24-7-2) at St. Louis Blues (20-10-4), two of the best in the Western Conference, Dallas in OT 4 – 3.

(NBA, Dec. 26) Boston Celtics (14-13) at Detroit Pistons (16-12), we begin our NBA season with two of our favorite teams; Pistons win 92 – 88.

Season to date (108-67)

MARKET WEEK - It's a shortened trading week on Wall Street, with a half day of trading on Thursday and the markets completely closed Friday for Christmas Day. There are no economic reports due today, nor any corporate earnings this morning. Uniform maker Cintas (CTAS) and furniture producer Steelcase (SCS) will be out with quarterly numbers after today's closing bell.

Disney's (DIS) "Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens" broke the record for best North American box office debut with a $238 million haul. The new "Star Wars" film took in $517 million worldwide.

DRIVING THE WEEK – Grading, Shopping, Portfolio, Traffic, Cruz, Heartburn, Sore Throat, Detroit Lions, Post Office, Tree Lights...."Bah Humbug"

Next week: 2015 Rink Rats Year in Review.

Until Next Monday, Feliz Navidad.

Claremont, CA
December 21, 2015

CARTOON OF THE WEEK – Christmas Shopping

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Looking For a Job

Besides being the holiday season this is also that time of year when students in their graduating year are looking for a job. With a soon to be B.A., B.S., M.B.A., PhD, or J.D. degrees students are finding out about the cold realities of the job market. I cannot tell you how many students have come up to this writer in the last few weeks asking for recommendations, networking options, or referrals.

What do I say to students looking for that career? Be yourself, be patient, it takes a lot longer than you want to find the right career. You need passion to levitate over the obstacles you will face. And what I tell everyone is, do not be afraid to wash windows, nothing wrong with starting off with a job that is not the perfect job. Get some experience, don’t look around and complain about the job, but do the best job possible and show your passion to move ahead.

If you decide to be your best and bring passion to everything you do, you will find more greatness within yourself and far more opportunity.

At the same time students are looking for work the economy is changing, this week the Federal Reserve for the first time since 2006 has increased their Federal Funds Rate (the interest rate at which depository institutions; banks and credit unions lend reserve balances to other depository institutions overnight, on an uncollateralized basis) from a range of 0% to 0.25% to a range of 0.25% to 0.5%.

The rate hike is a small one, but it will affect millions of Americans, including investors, home buyers and savers. Savers should eventually see a little more interest on their deposits at the bank, but big banks didn't make any increases Wednesday. Mortgage rates will gradually rise.

With this interest rate change, inflation may again be a word we hear more often, and the dollar should attract even more value. What does this mean to job seekers, good and bad. Higher wages to workers will become a likely alternative but this will also force firms to rethink hiring of new workers. The higher dollar will make U.S. products more expensive, also influencing hiring. Another recession on the horizon? Not likely but an economic slowdown a definite possibility.

New projections show officials expect their benchmark rate to creep up to 1.375 percent by the end of 2016, according to the median projection of 17 officials, to 2.375 percent by the end of 2017 and 3.25 percent in three years. That implies four quarter-percentage-point interest rate increases next year, four the next and three or four the following. ...

That is a slower pace than projected by officials in September and much slower compared to earlier series of Fed rate increases. In the 2004-06 period, for example, the Fed raised rates 17 times in succession, an approach Fed officials don't intend to repeat. In September seven Fed officials believed the fed funds rate could rise to 3 percent or higher by 2017; now just four do. Ms. Yellen said the benchmark rate 'remains accommodative.' which is Fed jargon for a level low enough to stimulate economic growth.

The U.S. Federal Reserve ended seven extraordinary years of near-zero interest rates, with its decision on Wednesday to raise short-term rates a quarter of a percentage point. It was one of the most closely watched events on Wall Street in years, but even as the Fed nudged rates upwards, Janet Yellen, the chairwoman, made clear in her news conference that the central bank was in no hurry to push rates quickly back towards normality. The increase leaves unaddressed two riddles vexing investors: the health of the global economy, and how markets will react as U.S. monetary policy diverges from that of other large economies? Global stocks surged this morning, while selling in bond and currency markets was relatively muted. The big question surrounding market turbulence is whether the fallout will be transitory or the start of a wider disruption. American businesses fretted that the interest-rate rise comes at a time when a strong dollar is already sapping demand for exports and low energy and commodity prices are weighing on growth in the industrial economy.

A PILE OF JUNK - Junk bonds are headed for their first annual loss since the credit crisis, reflecting concerns among investors that a six-year U.S. economic expansion and stock-market boom are on borrowed time. The declines are rattling even seasoned investors, underscoring the challenges facing these companies amid a prolonged slump in commodity prices. Global stocks, however, started the week with gains after Friday’s strong U.S. jobs. We also look at how the market will face more pressures as the Federal Reserve starts raising interest rates, something the Fed is now expected to do in less than two weeks.

GOLDEN YEARS - The US middle class is already being reshaped by its ageing population, and older citizens are set to play a swelling role in the economy as their weight in the middle and upper income brackets mounts. New data from the Pew Research Center show that households aged 65 and over have been the biggest economic gainers this century, as well as since the beginning of the 1970s. ... The group has seen the largest move up the income ladder of any major demographic over the period, with the share of people aged 65 and over in the upper-income brackets more than doubling since 1971 to 17 per cent.

That still leaves people in that age group more likely to be lower income than the other demographics tracked by Pew. Separate projections by the McKinsey Global Institute to be released early next year show the ageing population's dramatic impact on future US spending patterns. Americans aged 60 and over are forecast to drive half of all US spending growth between 2015 and 2030. Spending by people aged 60-74 will rise by 3.2 per cent a year in real terms over that period, while consumption by people aged 75 and older will increase 5.1 per cent - well above the 2.4 per cent growth rate predicted for the population as a whole.

CHEMICAL MERGER - Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. announced last week that they have agreed to merge, fusing two of the U.S.’s oldest companies into a chemical giant currently worth about $130 billion.

The deal would reshape the chemical and agricultural industries and comes as sinking commodity prices and a strengthening U.S. dollar have pressured revenue at both Dow and DuPont. The combination was pitched as a way to help the companies find synergies before breaking up into three businesses down the road. Under the deal’s terms, shareholders of Dow Chemical will get 1 share in the new company called DowDuPont for each Dow share, while DuPont shareholders will get 1.282 shares for each DuPont share. The deal’s structure will give Dow and DuPont shareholders equal stakes in the combined company, excluding the impact of preferred shares.

TIME PERSON OF THE YEAR - Angela Merkel, "Chancellor of the Free World" - Short list: 2) Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of ISIS ... 3) Donald Trump ... 4) Black Lives Matter Activists ... 5) Iran President Hassan Rouhani ... 6) Uber CEO Travis Kalanick ... 7) Caitlyn Jenner.

NEW REPORT FROM CALIFORNIA BUDGET & POLICY CENTER -- Millions of Californians continue to struggle to meet their basic needs, even after several years of steady job gains. ...Nearly 1 in 6 Californians (16.4 percent) lived in poverty in 2014, the most recent year for which data are available, down slightly from a high of 17.0 percent in 2012, but still a full 4.0 percentage points higher than in 2007... Poverty remained widespread even though the state's unemployment rate declined from a high of 12.2 percent in 2010 to 7.5 percent in 2014.

MEDIA -- NPR talk-show legend Diane Rehm will retire from broadcasting next year, Rehm, the host of one of public radio's longest-running and most popular news discussion programs, will retire next year, ending nearly 40 years on the air. A retirement date has not been firmly established, but Rehm, who is 79, says she will end her eponymous program, produced by Washington public station WAMU-FM (88.5), after the presidential election in November. ... 'The Diane Rehm Show' ... is carried on 197 stations and attracts an audience of about 2.5 million weekly.

WILLARD SCOTT to retire – (I thought he was dead): Scott, who has been with the "Today" show for 35 years, first as its weather anchor and most recently for its daily Smuckers-sponsored birthday segment on viewers 100 years old or older, will have his last day on the show next week, on Dec. 15. He began his career with NBC in 1950, as a member of its page program.

GLOBAL WARMING INITIATIVE - Final draft of climate deal unveiled ... tough temperature target.  Le Bourget, France: It calls for keeping global warming 'well below' 2 degrees Celsius [3.6 F], and includes the long-term goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees [Celsius, 2.7 F is] a victory for vulnerable developing countries, which had pushed for a reference to a more ambitious target.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Bob Barker (92) Beverly Hills, CA; Ben Barnanke (62) Bethesda, MD; Tim Conway (82) Beverly Hills, CA; Dame Judi Dench (81) London, England; Pope Francis (79) The Vatican; Buck Henry (85) Woodland Hills, CA; Chris Matthews (70) Washington, D.C.; George Shultz (95) Palo Alto, CA; Dionne Warwick (75) Santa Barbara, CA.

GREAT READS - We asked some individuals to name their favorite books of 2015 - Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin: "The Conservative Heart" by Arthur C. Brooks ... "Dreamland" by Sam Quinones ... "Dare to Serve," by Cheryl Bachelder ... Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.): "The Great War of Our Time" by former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell ... "The Billion Dollar Spy" by David E. Hoffman ... former Indiana gov. Mitch Daniels: "The End of Doom" by Ronald Bailey ... "Superintelligence" by Nick Bostrom ... "The Wright Brothers" by David McCullough ... NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio: "The Global War on Morris" by Rep. Steve Israel ... David Gregory: "1944" by Jay Winik ... "The Road to Character" by David Brooks ... Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.): "Showdown" by Wil Haygood ... "The Crimean War" by Orlando Figes ... "Silence" by Shusaku Endo ...

... Charles Koch: "The Upright Thinkers" by Leonard Mlodinow ... "Permissionless Innovation" by Adam Thierer ... "The Tyranny of Experts" by William Easterly ... Theodore B. Olson: "H Is for Hawk" by Helen Macdonald ... "Speak Now: Marriage Equality on Trial" by Kenji Yoshino and "Then Comes Marriage" by Roberta Kaplan ... Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio): "The Wright Brothers" by David McCullough ... Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.): "Jack Kemp: The Bleeding-Heart Conservative Who Changed America" by Morton Kondracke and Fred Barnes ... Jim Webb: "Washington: The Indispensable Man" by Thomas Flexner ... "A Moveable Feast" by Ernest Hemingway.

HOT VIDEOS – “House of Cards'” ran a realistic-looking political ad during the Republican presidential debate

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/19, 8:25 PM ET NFL;  New York Jets (8-5) at Dallas Cowboys (4-9), Saturday football is back, Jets are playoff bound 27 – 17. Season to date (7-7)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/19, 3:30 PMET ABC; The New Mexico Bowl: Arizona Wildcats (6-6) vs. New Mexico Lobos (7-5), the beginning of 42 Bowl Games during the holiday season, we like New Mexico 35 – 31.  Season to date (10-5)

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Friday 12/18, 7:00 PM ET ESPNU; The Stagg Bowl from Salem, VA: #1Mount Union Purple Raiders (14-0) vs. #4 St. Thomas Tommies (14-0), The Purple Raiders have been #1 all year, they will end up that way, 32 – 24.   Season to date (13-2)

COLLEGE HOCKEY GAME OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/19, 7:00 PM CT HGTV; Arizona State Scum Devils (5-10) vs. #6 Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks (12-3-1), new DI program ASU plays with one of the big boys, Mavericks prevail 6 - 1  Season to date (1-3).


 (NFL, Dec. 20) Denver Broncos (10-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5), The Broncos are fading, Steelers win 24 – 17.

(NHL, Dec. 19) Montreal Canadians (20-9-3) vs. Dallas Stars (23-6-2), two of hockey’s best at midseason, Dallas continues the Habs losing streak 4 – 3.

Season to date (103-66)


Scuttlebutt - \SKUHT-l-buht\
1. Informal. rumor or gossip.
2. Nautical. a. an open cask of drinking water. b. a drinking fountain for use by the crew of a vessel.
Quote: “The scuttlebutt on the new position is hire someone internal.”

Acabar, verb - to finish doing something; to have just done something
Acabar in the meanings shown above is followed by de and the infinitive. The tense of acabar indicates which meaning is intended.
To talk about finishing doing something, you use acabar in the appropriate tense, followed by de and the infinitive.
Quote: “Ayer acabé de pintar la pared.”
“I finished painting the wall yesterday.”

Leegoal Plaid Dusting Microfiber Cleaning Slippers, $6.29 at Amazon

Clicker 2-in-1 TV Remote and Bottle Opener, $24.99 at Amazon

Universal Pillow Remote, $19.99 at Amazon

Next week: Holiday Notes and Holiday Movies.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA

December 17, 2015


Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Horror: Holidays at the Office

Once thought gone for good, the office holiday party appears to be staging a comeback. While these parties offer you the opportunity to socialize with your business associates in an informal setting -- make no mistake about it, they are business events! I've witnessed and heard many people commit career suicide due to their inappropriate behavior and conversation at these functions. Following are some Rink Rats tips to insure you utilize these business holiday events as a career enhancer -- not a career de-stabilizer!

1.         Office holiday events are really business events masquerading as parties! It is easy to be seduced into forgetting you are with business associates because the atmosphere might be lively, you are dancing to great music, eating delicious food and the booze is flowing. It is imperative to remember that regardless of the location and atmosphere of your party, the people in attendance are all related to some aspect of your career, i.e., they are your colleagues, clients, executives, etc. This fact doesn't change after the umpteenth drink. Therefore, avoid being lured into a false sense of camaraderie and familiarity. Do not behave in any way or say anything that you would not say or do in a professional setting -- no inappropriate comments or off color jokes.

2.         Don't even think about blowing off this party! Go to the office holiday party and work the room to the best of your ability. Although many companies (albeit, not all of them) suggest attendance at these events are "optional", your absence may be noted and erroneously mis-interpreted. The last thing you want to do is give the impression you are not a team player! Therefore, attend these parties, regardless of how "optional" they might have been advertised! Once you are there, use this party as a networking opportunity and do your best to make sure you say hello to as many people as possible. Even if you don't know some of the other attendees well, or you interact with them minimally, everyone can be wished a happy holiday season. If it is at all possible, make a conscious yet subtle effort to briefly interact with all the key players in your company. This might be one of the few opportunities you have for face-to-face interaction(s) with them.

3.         Dress appropriately for the occasion! The venue often dictates the dress code. If you are in doubt as to how formal or casual the party will be, make an inquiry. Every office has that person who always seems to know these things -- so a little bit of investigation will go a long way in saving you the embarrassment of being over or under-dressed! Additionally, office holiday parties are not the time to come slinking in with a ridiculously low-cut dress, nine inch high heels, or a skirt that is way too short! Casual attire does not mean dirty clothes, wrinkled shirts or ripped pants. Be certain you are aware of how formal the affair is and dress accordingly.

4.         Moderation is the operative word of the day/night! All behavior in moderation. Yes, you are at a party and I'm not trying to be a kill joy but the office holiday party is first and foremost a business function. You are not attending this event for the food, the music, the dancing, although they might be first-rate and should be enjoyed. Avoid overdrinking -- period. Nobody fondly remembers the next day the person dancing on the bar with a lampshade on his or her head, or the person vomiting in the parking lot. Conversation about business and your professional role specifically should be kept to a minimum. If you are asked about your work, keep your answer short and sweet -- nobody wants to hear the specifics of anything you are doing; definitely don't bore others with your achievements. Try to be authentic and compliment others - most people can pick out a phony person a mile away! And, always remember: “Beer and Whiskey, pretty risky, Whiskey and Beer, have no fear.”

Regardless of whether you love these holiday office parties or not, it is a smart career move to attend them and behavior appropriately. Use them as an opportunity to socialize with people whom you normally don't get a chance to relax with during the course of the year!
All success begins with relationships; use the office holiday party as a way to initiate and/or solidify your business relationships!

SECRET SANTA GIFTS - Let's face it... Sometimes it's tough to get creative when it comes to choosing a Secret Santa gift for your co-worker that won't get you laughed out of the building or arrested. It still doesn't give you the excuse to re-gift that box of drugstore candy that's been sitting in your desk all year. Whether your spending limit is $10 or $25, Rink Rats has you covered...

Sumbody Mini-Scrub Quartet
Give your Secret Santa something to scrub away all those annoying clients and passive aggressive supervisors with the Sumbody Mini-Scrub Quartet. Including two sugar and two salt scrubs in both gentle and stimulating exfoliation, these natural scrubs use solar-evaporated Pacific sea salts to draw out toxins and blend milk into their pure cane sugar and butters for the ultimate exfoliating and moisturizing one-two punch. $24.95.

Patchology Hydrate Flash Masque Facial Sheets Printed Edition
Have some co-workers in need of a makeover - Expect your co-workers to get in touch with their primal sides when they see your Secret Santa recipient unwrap this ultra-hydrating 5-minute sheet mask (which also just so happens to feature a leopard print design). Loaded with hyaluronic acid and Vitamin B5, this mask is perfect to hide a long day at the office before a night out on the town. Bonus if you get her to wear it in the office. $8 for single or $30 for 4.

Go Primal Schmelly Balls in Primal Spice
I mean come on, how do you not buy these Schmelly Balls just for the name? Seriously, these wooden balls smell deliciously of clove, orange, lemon and cinnamon essential oils and are the non-toxic alternative to chemical fragrances. Perfect for stashing in a car, closet, or ahem, under an offending desk, you will want your own sack of schmelly balls. $12.95.

NUGG Holiday Stocking Set
You certainly won't have to worry about wrapping your Secret Santa gift if you give this adorable duo of single-use non-toxic facemasks from NUGG. Including a deep-cleansing face mask and a hydrating mask, this mask set has your Secret Santa recipient covered for both pre and post holiday-party skincare. $5.99.

Juice Beauty Lip Moisturizers SPF 8 Trio
The only thing worse than sitting in an office all day where the drying heat blares continuously from the vents is trying to apply lip color to dry chapped office lips. No bueno. Give her the gift of softened, hydrated lips with the non-toxic Juice Beauty Lip Moisturizers SPF 8 Trio, which combines mineral sunscreen with organic plant oils, mango, and passion fruit, and comes in one clear and two sheer mineral tints. $15.00.

Laemmle Theatre Gift Card
The perfect gift for the movie fan, at the best theatre chain. $25.00.

EXIT PLAN - How do you get out one of those awkwardly dull conversations at holiday parties? One option is to have an agenda that you can describe honestly to someone. One expert notes that it is fine to say, “I want to move on because I promised myself I’m going to meet at least 10 new people tonight.” Another pointer is to avoid fostering false good feelings by lying. “It’s a mistake to say, ‘Let’s have coffee,’ when you have no intention of ever seeing the person again. Personally, I like to discuss faculty related issues that for sure will drive them away.

PARTY DRESS CODE - You just received your invitation to the company's holiday party. Get excited: It's time to celebrate a year's worth of successes and hard work with some free food and booze. But don't get overly excited: Put away your Jennifer Lopez-esque-sequined jumpsuit because this is not the occasion to shun the office dress code.

Yes, this is an opportunity to let loose with your coworkers and enjoy yourself. But remember, you will have to see those very same coworkers around a conference room table at your next meeting, so save yourself the embarrassment that a wardrobe malfunction or a nip slip will cause, and take heed with these tips for dressing for your holiday party:

1. Make sure your outfit is fool-proof. You will most likely be imbibing some holiday cheer, and you may even be dancing. Take this opportunity to ensure that your blouse is properly buttoned, or use double-stick tape to make sure that all that should be covered is covered.

2. Avoid super-short hemlines. That perfect LBD should cover your tush when you sit down. If you are wearing a short skirt or dress, keep your look demure by wearing a long-sleeved blouse or sweater on top, and tights underneath. No one wants to greet the CEO while tugging on their skirt like a teenager.

3. Beware of sheer fabrics. Celebrities make the mistake all the time -- learn from it. Check your outfit in natural sunlight and in bright light. There will be lots of photo documentation of this party, you don't want it to be of your new Victoria's Secret purchase.

4. Wearing white? Wear Spanx. No matter how opaque your pants may seem, under bright lights lumps and bumps can appear.

5. Think twice before donning that low-cut top. Your office may be casual, but no one wants to chat to their boss and wonder why they can't seem to catch their eye.

Our advice for dressing for your work holiday party is to keep your look conservative. Layer a blazer and a colorful scarf over that little red dress, and once you've arrived, you can determine whether or not your look is appropriate. Above, are some items that will ensure that you are not the topic of water-cooler conversation the following day due to less-than-judicious wardrobe choices.

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – PRIVATE PRESIDENTS MAKE A PRETTY PENNY: Columbia University President Lee Bollinger climbed from his position as the third-highest paid private college president last year to take the top spot in the latest Chronicle of Higher Education analysis. Bollinger made more than $4.6 million in 2013 and was one of 32 private college presidents whose salaries passed the million-dollar mark, when including bonuses and other compensation. University of Pennsylvania Amy Gutmann trailed Bollinger with a nearly $3.1 million paycheck, and Nido Qubein, who heads up High Point University in North Carolina, made about $2.9 million. While others weren't quite so fortunate, salaries are generally on the rise: Private presidents' median total pay in 2013 reached about $436,400, a 5.6-percent increase from 2012.

HIDDEN COLLEGE COSTS AND HUNGER: Nearly 80 percent of community college costs are due to living expenses like books, transportation, health care and food, and the burden is taking an alarming toll on students, a new report suggests. The survey of more than 4,000 students at 10 two-year institutions in seven states nationwide revealed that 52 percent are struggling with food or housing insecurity or both. One in five said they went hungry while in college - a problem most widespread among black students - and one in eight was homeless at some point. The University of Wisconsin's HOPE Lab spearheaded the report and its authors penned an accompanying New York Times editorial:

2015's TOP TWEETS -- One Direction leads the way on Twitter's list of 2015 tweets: One Direction members accounted for half of the 10 most [retweeted], including the three most popular. ... Obama nabbed the fourth spot ... with a June 26 tweet that hailed the Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage [@POTUS: 'Today is a big step in our march toward equality. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else. #LoveWins']

Other tweets in Twitter's Top 10 came from Saudi Arabia King Salman after his crowning, hip hop personality Kayne West ['Please: Do everything you possibly can in one lifetime'], actor Leonard Nimoy philosophizing five days before his death and Caitlyn Jenner ... [Most popular hashtags] included [#PrayFor Paris,] #JeSuisParis, ... #BlackLivesMatter after police shootings of African-Americans, ... #LoveWins after the Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage and #RefugeesWelcome as people fled the Middle East for Europe."

THE BOTTOM OF THE BARREL - Oil prices fell to their lowest level in seven years yesterday, triggered by forecasts of mild weather that point to tepid U.S. heating demand through the end of the year. The decline extended a rout from last week when OPEC opted to keep its production high. And this morning, Asian markets slipped, sending stocks of energy companies and raw materials producers sharply lower. Many investors are now betting that heavily indebted producers, having weathered months of low commodity prices, are now at greater risk of going out of business.

REAL ESTATE - GARCETTI'S HOUSE FOR SALE -Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's Echo Park home on the market for $1.65 million via LA Times "Hot Properties": "Designed by Daniel L. Dworsky and since renovated by Scrafano Architects, the 1953 post-and-beam sits on about half an acre and has views of the city, canyon and surrounding valley.”

Link to photo tour of Garcetti's home:

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Kim Basinger (62) Orlando, FL; Susan Collins (R-Maine, St. Lawrence University ’75); Kirk Douglas (99) St. Lawrence University ’39; Darryl Hannah (55) Santa Barbara, CA; Julianne Moore (55) Carlsbad, CA; Katarina Witt (50) Munich, Germany.

SPORTS BLINK -- Coldplay to Headline Super Bowl Halftime Show: Coldplay's halftime-show debut at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., follows the release its seventh album, 'A Head Full of Dreams,' [out today] The Super Bowl is to take place Feb. 7. Coldplay is likely to put tickets on sale for its North American tour soon after the show, given the big ticket-sales bump that the halftime appearance has given touring artists in the past.

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 12/13, 1:00 PM ET CBS; Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (10-2), it is that time of year for Cincinnati to fold and the Steelers to come on: Pitt wins 24 - 17 .  Season to date (6-7)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/12, 3:00 PM ET CBS;  Army Cadets (2-9) vs. #21 Navy Midshipmen (9-2), all hands on deck, Navy wins 40 – 20. Season to date (9-5)

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/12, 3:30 PM ET ESPNU; #2 Linfield Wildcats (12-0) at #4 St. Thomas Tommies (13-0) in the national semifinal: why the #2 Wildcats have to travel to #4 St. Thomas is a mystery? Weather will not be a problem forecasted 39 degrees and clear in St. Paul for Saturday. Linfield overcomes the travel to win one for the West, 38 – 28.  Season to date (13-1)

COLLEGE HOCKEY GAME OF THE WEEK – Saturday 12/11, 8:00 PM ET Root; #6 St. Cloud State Huskies (12-4) at #11 Denver Pioneers (7-5-2), St. Cloud is dominant 6 – 2. Season to date (0-3).


(SCIAC, Dec. 12) Women’s Basketball: #3 George Fox Bruins (6-0) at Claremont-Mudd Scripps Republicans (5-2): Can SCIAC compete at the national level? The answer is no, Bruins 70 – 53.

(NFL, Dec. 10) Minnesota Vikings (8-4) at Arizona Cardinals (10-2), The Vikings are banged up, Arizona prevails 30 - 17.

(NHL, Dec. 12) Washington Capitals (19-5-2) at Tampa Bay Lightning (13-12-3), Capitals one of the best in the NHL now, they win 4 - 2.

Season to date (97-65)

DRIVING THE WEEK - Facing a government shutdown at the end of the week, GOP and Democratic leaders have made little progress on finalizing a massive omnibus spending package they had hoped to introduce by Monday. ... While senior Republicans are confident they will reach an agreement on the yearlong funding measure at some point, it appears increasingly likely that no deal will be in place by the Friday Dec. 11 deadline, meaning a short-term spending bill will have to be enacted in order to avoid a repeat of the 2013 shutdown.

And without a compromise to present on Monday, members and senators have a tense week ahead as Congress rushes to complete its year-end work and depart for the holiday season. Senior aides in both parties say Republican leaders offered their Democratic counterparts a new funding proposal last Friday, but the latest offer produced no breakthrough and both sides continued negotiations through the weekend while making little headway. The two sides are hashing out policy riders covering Syrian refugees, environmental policy and oil exports, among other issues.

Next week: Career Services, Words of the Month and Holiday Movies.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA

December 10, 2015