Tuesday, November 21, 2017


Thanksgiving week here in Southern California, temperature is forecasted to reach 91 degrees on Thanksgiving.

I excuse my theme of this blog to my Canadian readers who celebrated Thanksgiving in October.

What am I thankful for this Thanksgiving of 2017?

I am thankful for my family, friends and good health.

I am thankful for having the opportunity to play golf on November 22 in shorts and not snow mobile gear.

I am thankful for my students in ACCT 201, BUS 330, BUS 390, BUS 500D, and BUS 635 who provide me with challenges and rewards every day.

I am thankful for my colleagues associated with these classes, though sometimes seem very strange, who are totally committed to education and their students.

I am thankful for Big Red.

I am thankful for the California Legislature writing legislation to outlaw “reply all email” in the State of California….if this were only true.

I am thankful for my father and step mother whose spirit and love of life are a constant wonder to me day in and day out.

I am thankful for not working for Darth Vader.

I am thankful to Spectrum Cable for having NHL Centre Ice.

I am thankful for teaching assistants.

I am thankful for rhubarb pie.

I am thankful for still being a Detroit Lions fan, football fans know what I mean by this.

I am thankful for Mozart and Frank Sinatra.

I am thankful for not being a banker.

Finally, I am thankful for having limited writing ability, but still able to share Rink Rats with my small community of readers.

OUT AND ABOUT – Rink Rats reader Joe Zanetta, recently returned from a visit to Vietnam, where he reports a wonderful trip and he is sure to return in the near future.

OUT AND ABOUT PART DEUX – Nephew Patrick Pugliese recently had a sit down with former Secretary of State (1982-1989) George Schultz (96).

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – Top Five World’s Best Universities:

1). University of Oxford
2). University of Cambridge
3). (tie) California Institute of Technology, Stanford University
5). Massachusetts Institute of Technology

HARVARD YARD - The U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the use of race in Harvard University's admissions practices and has accused the university of failing to cooperate with the probe.

The Justice Department is investigating complaints that formed the basis of a federal civil lawsuit filed in 2014 in Boston, according to the documents. That suit alleges Harvard intentionally discriminates against Asian-Americans by limiting the number of Asian students who are admitted.

The lawsuit, brought by a nonprofit called Students for Fair Admissions, said the practices violate federal civil-rights law and asks a federal judge to prohibit Harvard from using race as a factor in future undergraduate admissions decisions. The suit is pending.

STUDENT LOANS SAGA - Fall behind on your student loan payments, lose your job.

Few people realize that the loans they take out to pay for their education could eventually derail their careers. But in 19 states, government agencies can seize state-issued professional licenses from residents who default on their educational debts. Another state, South Dakota, suspends driver’s licenses, making it nearly impossible for people to get to work.

As debt levels rise, creditors are taking increasingly tough actions to chase people who fall behind on student loans. Going after professional licenses stands out as especially punitive.

Firefighters, nurses, teachers, lawyers, massage therapists, barbers, psychologists and real estate brokers have all had their credentials suspended or revoked.

NO DEAL - Negotiations to form a government in Germany broke down, dealing a blow to Chancellor Angela Merkel and throwing the leadership and direction of Europe’s largest economy into doubt. Late Sunday, the small, pro-business Free Democratic Party broke off talks with Ms. Merkel’s conservative camp and the center-left Greens after four weeks, saying they had failed to produce the vision and trust needed to build a government among the three partners. The collapse leaves Germany with a caretaker government and Ms. Merkel without a majority in Parliament almost two months after her party’s worst general-election showing since 1949. The political gridlock—a novelty in a country long used to ruling coalitions, compromise and consensus—has thrown Ms. Merkel’s fourth term into question. The euro fell sharply in early trading Monday but later recovered.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Traci Attman ….famous San Francisco 49er fan; Joe Biden (75) Dover, Delaware; Tucker Lewis …..a wonderful heart and soul; Howie Meeker (94), Montreal, Quebec; Bill Walton (65) San Diego, CA.

MARKET WEEK - Don’t look now, but U.S. growth forecasts are moving higher. That’s helping to support U.S. stocks.

Projections for U.S. economic growth from two Federal Reserve banks have risen in recent weeks. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Friday forecast that gross domestic product will rise 3.8% in the fourth quarter, up from a forecast of 3.2% a week earlier.

A separate measure from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta forecast 3.4% growth last week. Research firm DataTrek noted that the rival forecasts are outpacing projections from human economists, who on average expect 2.7% growth for the quarter.

Even if the less optimistic Atlanta Fed model is correct, it would be the best quarter for the U.S. economy in more than three years.

The central banks’ forecasts are derived from statistical models that track incoming economic data, and are used by traders to gauge the health of the economy.

This should be a positive for U.S. stocks. Behind the rising economic growth projections has been better-than-expected data on the U.S. housing market and industrial production. Stronger economic growth has helped fuel the record run for U.S. indexes as companies benefit from stronger demand.

DRIVING THE WEEK - Trump holds a cabinet meeting Monday, which is expected to include a tax cut update from Treasury Secretary Mnuchin. He pardons the Thanksgiving turkey on Tuesday and spends Thanksgiving at Mar-a-Lago ... Senate Finance has a NAFTA field hearing on Monday at 10:30 a.m. in San Antonio ... Index of leading indicators on Monday at 10:00 a.m. expected to show a gain of 0.6 percent.

NYC MARATHON - For the first time in 40 years (1977), an American woman won the New York City Marathon: 36-year-old Olympic medalist Shalane Flanagan broke the tape at 2 hours, 26 minutes and 53 seconds, beating three-time defending champion Mary Keitany of Kenya by a minute and one second.

Flanagan made her debut at the NYC Marathon in 2010, finishing second with a time of 2 hours, 28 minutes and 40 seconds — at the time, the best finish by an American woman in 20 years. Before this year, she hadn't competed in the race since 2010.

But, the big news coming out of this years’ NYC Marathon was the successful completion of the race by Claire Marshall, La Verne MBA ‘16. Congrats to Claire for finishing the marathon in under five hours! We are proud of you.


NFL Football Pick of the Week – Thursday 11/23, 9:30 AM PDT, Fox: Minnesota Vikings (8-2) vs. Detroit Lions (6-4), last chance for the Lions to stay in the playoff hunt, we think they will. Detroit wins 27 – 20.  (Season to date 6-5).

College Football Pick of the Week – Saturday 11/25, 9:00 AM PDT, Fox: #8 Ohio State University Buckeyes (9-2) at University of Michigan Wolverines (8-3), Harbaughs frustration continues, Ohio wins 32 – 24.   (Season to date 7-5)

D-III Football Pick of the Week – Saturday 11/25, 1:00 PM EDT: NCAA D-III Round Two Playoffs, #8 Linfield Wildcats (9-1) vs. #1 Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders (11-0), Linfield has a second chance against the Crusaders, no such luck, Hardin Baylor moves on 40 – 30.  (Season to date 7-4)

SCIAC Congratulations – To the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Women Volleyball Athenas (31-5) for winning the D-III National Championship this past weekend against Wittenburg (27-3).

College Hockey Pick of the Week – Saturday 11/25, 7:00 PM CT (NBCSN): #6 Minnesota Golden Gophers (9-4-1) vs. #4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-3-1), Irish win this one 4 – 3. Season to date (4-4)

NHL Pick of the Week – Saturday 11/25, 7:30 PM PDT (Prime): Anaheim Ducks (9-7-3) vs. Los Angeles Kings (12-7-2), another brawl in La La Land, Kings win this one 3 – 2. Season to date (4-2).

Season to Date (86 - 62)

Next Blog: The questions students ask, Dear Rink Rats and Jack Ass of the Month

Until next time, Adios

Claremont, California

November 21, 2017

CARTOON OF THE WEEK – Spaulding, The New Yorker

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


The Raven
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
            Only this and nothing more.”

    Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
    Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
    From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
            Nameless here for evermore.

    And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
    So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
    “’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
            This it is and nothing more.”

    Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
    But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
    And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
            Darkness there and nothing more.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
    But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
    And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
            Merely this and nothing more.

    Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
    “Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
      Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
            ’Tis the wind and nothing more!”

    Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
    Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
    But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
            Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
    For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
    Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
            With such name as “Nevermore.”

    But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
    Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
    Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”
            Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

    Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
    Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
    Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
            Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”

    But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
    Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
    Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
            Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

    This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
    This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
    On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
            She shall press, ah, nevermore!

    Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
    “Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
    Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
    Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
    On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
    Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
    It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
    Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
    Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
    And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
    And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
            Shall be lifted—nevermore!

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Deidre Hall (70) Beverly Hills, CA.; Jane Pauley (67) New York, NY; Christopher Russo (58) New Canaan, CT.

POTUS ON THE ROAD - President Trump leaves Friday for the most consequential foreign trip of his presidency — a five country, 12 day tour of Asia. It's the longest visit to Asia by an American president in a quarter of a century.

The stakes couldn't be higher: North Korea races towards a miniaturized nuke that can hit American cities; China keeps propping up North Korea, stealing U.S. intellectual property, and forcing American investors to hand over their technology to Chinese state entities; and American businesses watch with horror as Trump flirts with blowing up the landmark U.S. trade deal with South Korea.

In the midst of all this, Trump will try to reassure America's treaty allies in the region that even as he's throwing trade relationships into flux he won't be the U.S. president that abandons the Asia Pacific and leaves American allies there vulnerable to Chinese domination. Trump wants to dramatically show his commitment to the region and to the post-WWII order that the U.S. built up in Asia. He'll visit several military bases and will flex America's military power.

The first two legs, Japan and South Korea, Trump will mostly address physical security, including a major speech at the National Assembly in Seoul. South Korea's President Moon Jae-in has invited Trump to visit the military base, Camp Humphreys. Administration officials expect the visit to the military base will highlight two things: that South Korea is sharing the financial burden of its defense and that President Moon, who campaigned as a liberal dove, is now fully committed to defending his country against an emboldened Kim Jong-un.

The final two legs, Trump visits Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, a free trade forum for 21 Pacific Rim economies. Finally, Trump attends the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in the Philippines.

CHINA LEADERSHIP - China's ruling Communist Party has voted to enshrine Xi Jinping's name and ideology in its constitution, elevating him to the level of founder Mao Zedong. Previous Chinese Communist Party leaders have had their ideologies incorporated into the party's constitution or thinking, but none, besides founder Mao Zedong, have had their philosophy described as 'thought,' which is at the top of the ideological hierarchy.

China revealed its Politburo Standing Committee, China's most powerful body, breaking with tradition by not including a clear successor to President Xi Jinping.

All members are ages 60 to 67.

MAGIC NUMBER - America’s retailers have a new target customer: the 26-year-old millennial. That age bracket, bigger than any other—numbering 4.8 million—is part of a generation radically different from its predecessors that is pushing brands to develop new products and overhaul marketing. Many millennials are on the verge of life-defining moments such as buying a house and having children. But companies looking to be part of that have run into a problem. “They’re much more of a ‘do-it-for-me’ type of customer than a ‘do-it-yourself’ customer,” says Joe McFarland, executive vice president of J.C. Penney stores. In response, companies including Home Depot and Sherwin-Williams are hosting classes and online tutorials to teach such basic skills as operating a lawn mower, tape measure, mop and hammer.

FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS - When weighing a big decision, is it safe to just go with your gut? Scientists, authors and motivational speakers (plus plenty of moms) have long touted the power of intuition—and many studies show that decisions made unconsciously, before the rational mind can get involved, are often better. But not always, says John Bargh, a psychology professor at Yale and director of the ACME (Automaticity in Cognition, Motivation, and Evaluation) Laboratory. The gut is good, for example, with complex decisions when the amount of information is overwhelming, but it can also push us to be impulsive. How to best use your intuition? We offer pointers—including to remember that it can be influenced by strong emotions.

HOLLYWOODLAND -- House of Cards' Ending With Sixth and Final Season at Netflix: Netflix is currently in production on a sixth and final season of House of Cards, the landmark drama that signaled its aggressive push into original programming. The final run of House of Cards, which stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright as ruthless and ambitious beltway couple, will debut its last 13 episodes in 2018. ... Official word on its conclusion, which has been in the works since the summer, comes at a problematic time for Spacey. The star and executive producer is embroiled in sexual assault scandal, with an actor alleging that Spacey made aggressive advances towards him when he was just 14.

MARKET WEEK – Investors are buying the U.S. dollar again, expecting a lift from an increasingly aggressive Fed and tumult in European politics, while those betting against the dollar have cut back their positions. After its longest slide in a decade, the dollar has bounced roughly 2.9% from its September lows against a 16-currency basket, powered by gains against the euro, yen and emerging-market currencies. The recovery is yet another in a series of financial-market surprises this year, and while few investors believe the woes are over for the dollar—still down 6.4% against the basket in 2017—even a temporary reversal could have widespread implications for asset markets.

DRIVING THE WEEK - Fed chair pick expected on Thursday ... House Ways and Means slated to release first draft of their tax cut bill on Wednesday ... Trump leaves for a 12-day Asia trip on Friday ... FOMC on Wednesday not expected to make any change to rates or outlook.

Senate Banking on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. has a nomination for Scott Garrett to lead the Export-Import Bank. This one isn't a slam-dunk because corporate America and some more moderate GOP senators despise this pick of an Ex-Im opponent to lead the bank ... House Financial Services at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday has a hearing on data security.


NFL Football Pick of the Week – Sunday 11/5, 4:25 PM ET, CBS: Kansas City Chiefs (6-2) vs. Dallas Cowboys (4-3). KC on a roll they win in Dallas, 40 – 30.(Season to date 4-4).

College Football Pick of the Week – Saturday 11/4, 1:00 PM ET, FSI: #8 Oklahoma Sooners (7-1) vs. #11 Oklahoma State T. Boone Pickens (7-1). State wins 35 – 32.   (Season to date 5-4)

D-III Football Pick of the Week – Saturday 11/5, 12:00 PM PT: #25 Salisbury Sea Gulls (7-1) vs. #14 Wesley Wolverines (7-1), a huge New Jersey Athletic Conference game. Wesley wins a tight one, 21 – 20.  (Season to date 6-3)

SCIAC Game of the Week (Women Volleyball) – Thursday 11/2, 7:00 PM PT:   SCIAC Women Volleyball Semi-Finals, California Lutheran SATS (15-11) vs. University of La Verne Leopards (18-8), Leos in a tight one, 3 – 2. (Season to date 6-3)

College Hockey Pick of the Week – Saturday 11/5, 7:00 PM CT (FSW): #4 North Dakota Black Hawks (5-2-1) vs. #7 University of Wisconsin Badgers (6-3), defense is the word in this game, Badgers win 3 – 2.   Season to date (2-2)

NHL Pick of the Week – Saturday 11/5, 7:00 PM ET (SUN): Columbus Blue Jackets (8-4-0) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (10-2-1), two first place clubs, Tampa in this one 4 – 2. Season to date (2-1).

Season to Date (76 - 52)

Next Blog: The questions students ask, Dear Rink Rats and Jack Ass of the Month

Until next time, Adios

Claremont, California

October 31, 2017

CARTOON OF THE WEEK – Walsh, The New Yorker

Monday, October 16, 2017

Out and About

We have been busy the last two weeks, traveling, visiting, eating, drinking, you know, Out and About.

A trip via Delta Airlines to the Ann Arbor / Jackson Michigan area to visit family prompted added visits to the Big House to witness Michigan State Spartans whack the University of Michigan, a visit to Dexter, Michigan and the boys who press the apples for wonderful apple cider, and a memorable Michigan fall sunset.

Prior to our trip a wonderful day of friends and terrible golf at the University of La Verne annual golf tournament for student programs at the University. Of course Rink Rats was there in spirit.

Finally, and certainly not least a lovely afternoon at The Raymond 1886 in Pasadena, California with two very famous alumni of St. Lawrence University. These women have won more alumni citations from St. Lawrence than you can count: Pris Schroeder ’56 and Lennie McKinnon ’58. We exchanged hockey and soccer stories, and more importantly caught up with our families and all the news from Canton, N.Y. Simply the best.

SUDDENLY SUSAN – Another discussion item regarding St. Lawrence is the announcement this week of Republican Senator Susan Collins (64) (St. Lawrence ’75) choosing not to run for Governor in her home state of Maine. She has decided to finish her Senate term to 2020.

Though Collins holds sway as one of the chamber's few swing votes, she also faces the frustration of watching her party constantly doing the opposite of what she'd like. ... In the latest Obamacare repeal effort, even after party leaders had written her off as an automatic 'no,' she came under unyielding pressure from the White House.

The discussion at our table at The Raymond was the timing fits perfectly into President Bill Fox’s contract at St. Lawrence ending in the 2020 time frame. Bill Fox has been a great leader, but we could see a possible Susan Collins presidency at St. Lawrence. Stay tuned.

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – On the outskirts of the University of Michigan campus, there's a sight that gives an instantaneous snapshot of how much the area has changed — a sensor-connected car steered by an Xbox controller roams the streets of "M-City" to test self-driving and other connected-car technologies.

Michigan is known for its auto industry expertise but experienced a steep decline a decade ago when Detroit — its biggest city — lost half its population as manufacturing jobs left in droves. Detroit is fighting its way back to build a burgeoning tech scene. Ann Arbor, only 40 minutes away, is taking a complementary path: It's harnessing the university's high-tech talent factory and the state's auto factory history to be at the forefront of next-generation vehicle development.

Self-driving car city: M-City is a public-private partnership in Ann Arbor funded by 70 members including major car manufacturers, chip makers, wireless and insurance companies. Every year, it receives about $1.2 million to research things like how humans will interact with self-driving cars and how cities will need to be designed for them.

Ann Arbor is also wirelessly connected using vehicle-to-vehicle communications technology called DSRC so that intersections and vehicle can communicate with each other.

2,000 privately owned vehicles are "driving" around Ann Arbor broadcasting messages back and forth 10 times a second.

McGuire said a few cars will be deployed on campus next month to research how students, bicycles and other cars interact with them.

TOMMY TROJAN - David Carrera, the University of Southern California's vice president for fund raising, left his position after an internal investigation raised questions about alleged sexual misconduct. This is the latest USC departure related to possible sexual harassment. Last week the medical-school dean, Rohit Varma, was removed over alleged harassment. And in July, Carmen A. Puliafito, Dr. Varma's predecessor as dean, was fired as a faculty member after the Los Angeles Times revealed details of his drug-fueled partying habits. But years before Dr. Puliafito became a dean, warning signs of his behavior and violent episodes were ignored. Read our Jack Stripling's report on what happens when those signs are missed.

I bet it has been fun times in the Human Resources office at USC.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to Eminem (45) Detroit, MI.; Mike Keenan (68) St. Lawrence ’72; Lindsay Vonn (33), Vail, CO.;  Michelle Wie (28) Orlando, FL.

SHARK TANK - At a few minutes after 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 1, 12-year-old Carson Kropfl logged onto his website, lockerboard.net.

He could hardly believe his eyes. “The website started blowing up,” he said. “It was super cool.”

The reason his website, his Facebook and his Instagram were lighting:  the season premier of ABC-TV’s Shark Tank was under way on the East Coast.

Carson and his mother, Carrie Kropfl, were the first guests on the two-hour show that would air in California three hours later.

Within minutes after 5 p.m., international magnate Richard Branson made Carson an investment offer he couldn’t refuse: $65,000 for 20 percent of Carson’s skateboard company.

“I see a young Richard Branson in you,” Branson said. “You’ve got a wonderful story. You are very articulate. Your product itself is great. We’d love you to give it a shot with us.”

Carson and his mother told prospective investors about the Locker Board, a mini skateboard that Carson designed a year ago. On his first day of middle school, entering the sixth grade, he had learned he had a school locker for the first time but his skateboard wouldn’t fit in it.

By trial and error in his back yard, he shaved down a succession of used skateboard decks until he settled on a design he could slip easily into his backpack and locker. The trick was finding just the right shape to make the mini board capable of kick flips and solid performance.

On Shark Tank, Carson rode up on a Locker Board with his skater friend Sierra Downer to make his pitch to celebrity investors. Branson outbid sports magnate Mark Cuban for a deal with the Shorecliffs Middle School student from San Clemente.

U.S. STILL SHORT ON TEACHERS - America is still short hundreds of thousands of teachers years after the Great Recession created a gap that has only widened since, according to a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute. Per the report, the number of teachers and education staff has failed to get anywhere near its pre-recession level and isn't keeping pace with a growing student population. Public education jobs are down by 128,000 compared to nine years ago, and with growing enrollment added on, the report estimates the country is short some 327,000 teachers.

JAPAN STOCKS HIT 21-YEAR HIGH - Japan still faces deep structural problems. Its population is aging and dwindling. China has stepped up its manufacturing game. Corporate stalwarts like Toshiba and Kobe Steel have stumbled. Investors appear to be looking at the bright side.

Japan's main stock index rose to its highest level in almost 21 years on Wednesday, buoyed by a broad rally in global markets as well as growing optimism about the Japanese economy. The surge came despite the continuing problems at Kobe Steel, a Japanese stock market stalwart. Its shares sank sharply for a second day after revelations that it had falsified data about the quality of aluminum and copper.

MARKET WEEK – The bond market is still playing a central role in the stock market's rise.
Corporate credit downgrades have dropped 42% so far this year, according to S&P Global Ratings. Meantime, the ratings firm says upgrades have climbed 10% versus last year.

This year’s decline is a sign that credit conditions are improving in corporate America even as the Federal Reserve lifts rates. If financial markets continue to be this tame in the face of steadily rising interest rates, cheap borrowing costs could add further fuel to the stock market.

Easy credit has defined the post-crisis recovery. The S&P 500 is up 14% this year, continuing to notch fresh record highs at a rapid clip.

Part of that support for the bull market comes from continued low rates in the Treasury market. Despite repeated calls for the yield on the benchmark 10-year note to rise, it's fallen 0.08 percentage points this year to 2.370% on Friday. The yield premium that investors demand to own corporate bonds over Treasurys has increased a bit in recent weeks but has remained historically low.

Some investors have worried that weakness in the oil and gas sector, which stalled the stock rally in 2015 and early 2016, could continue to impede the market's run if it further eroded those companies' credit. Instead, energy prices have largely stabilized this year, alleviating the stress in many parts of the oil and gas industry. That's helped lower the default rate among companies with speculative grades, many of which are energy firms. That rate dropped to 3.3% in August from 3.5% in July, S&P said in its report.

The environment has remained hospitable to issuers of junk bonds, which have sold 19% more debt this year than last year. Many companies have used the loose conditions to extend out the maturities of their bonds. The amount of debt maturing by the end of 2020 is down by more than a third, while debt maturing in 2021 and 2022 is up 10%, helping companies maintain strong balance sheets.

The lack of market volatility this year could all change, of course. Investors have taken in stride the Fed's plans to trim the size of its balance sheet and keep raising rates, but the market could turn more volatile at any moment. In 2013, for example, yields jumped sharply after the Fed signaled that it planned to curb its bond-buying program. The S&P analysts cited the Fed as one of the "risks on the horizon."

Plus, the political situation in Washington could upend markets as politicians seek to deal with geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, as well as an ambitious plan to overhaul the tax code.

But investors and analysts have called for rising rates and tighter financial conditions for years, only to watch them continue to ease. Equity investors hoping for further gains should savor this hallmark of the post-crisis recovery for as long as it lasts.

DRIVING THE WEEK - The House is out. The Senate needs to pass a budget to set the parameters for tax reform. Gonna be close ... President Trump holds a Cabinet meeting on Monday and will lunch with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and VP Pence ... On Tuesday, Trump meets with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of Greece and speaks on taxes at the Heritage Foundation's President's Club meeting .. Senate Finance members visit the White House on Wednesday ...

Senate Banking has a consumer data security and credit bureau hearing at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday ... Industrial Production Tuesday at 9:15 a.m. expected to rise 0.3 percent ... Index of Leading Indicators at 10:00 a.m. Thursday expected to rise 0.1 percent.


NFL Football Pick of the Week – Sunday 10/22, 5:25 PM PT, NBC: Atlanta Falcons (3-2) visit New England Patriots (4-2), Falcons will cover the spread but Pats still win, 30 – 28. (Season to date 3-3).

College Football Pick of the Week – Saturday 10/21, 7:30 PM ET, ABC: #11 University of Southern California Trojans (6-1) visit #13 University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish (5-1). Huge game for The Irish, they win a close one, 32 – 30.   (Season to date 4-3)

D-III Football Pick of the Week – Saturday 10/21, 1:30 PM PT: The game of the year at Maxwell Field, #21 George Fox (5-1) vs. #7 Linfield Wildcats (4-1), Linfield has too much fire power on offense, 40 – 28.   (Season to date 5-2)

SCIAC Game of the Week (Women Soccer) – Saturday 10/21, 7:00 PM PT: First place is on the line in this one, California Lutheran SATs (10-2-2) vs. University of La Verne Leopards (9-2-3). The Leos are for real this year, 2 – 1.   (Season to date 6-1)

College Hockey Pick of the Week – Saturday 10/21, 7:30 PM ET: #9 Providence College Friars (2-1-0) vs. #15 Clarkson University Golden Knights (3-0-1). They will be 3,000 strong at Cheel Arena for this inter-conference puck drop, though I hate to say it, Golden Knights win 4 – 3.  Season to date (0-2)

NHL Pick of the Week – Saturday 10/21, 7:00 PM ET: Pittsburgh Penguins (3-2-1) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (4-1-0), Lightning playing good hockey in the early going, 4 – 3. Season to date (1-0).

Season to Date (71 - 44)

ON THIS DATE – September 28, 1972, THE GOAL. What more can be said about Paul Henderson's heroics that has not been said time and time again? In the Summit Series against the Soviet Union.

He scored the game winning goals in game 6, game 7 and of course game 8. And he will be forever immortalized in hockey history as he scored on what is arguably the greatest hockey moment ever.

Next Blog: What student’s ask. Reminder Finder.

Until next time, Adios

Claremont, California
October 16, 2017

CARTOON OF THE WEEK – Trevor Spaulding, The New Yorker