Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Annual predictions (2014)

So my anxiously awaited predictions for 2014.

My predictions for Janurary 1, 2014 made a year ago:

Dow $14000
S and P ($1500)
NASDAQ ($3300 and a comeback for Microsoft)
Unemployment (7.1%)
Fiscal Cliff Will be solved before the Inauguration. Taxes and milk prices will go up for everybody.
Middle East Gunfire but no war.
Philadelphia Eagles New head coach, new quarterback, no playoffs. 
Life in General Higher interest rates, higher prices, life will be the same muddle but there will be some decent movies released this year. The hip people will leave Brooklyn, get married and move back to the Suburbs. 

Reality for January 1, 2014:

Dow $16577
S and P $1848
NASDAQ $4177 and Microsoft did well
Unemployment 7%
Fiscal Cliff Solved til the next round. Prices a bit higher. 
Middle East Gunfire but no war.
Philadelphia Eagles New head coach, new quarterback, they are in the playoffs.
Life in General: Higher interest rates, higher prices, same muddle, good movies. Hip people are still moving to Brooklyn and having babies. 

In other words, I did  anticipate an increase in the market but it beat my expectations. For regular joes, not a great year but not a terrible year. 

Predictions for January 1, 2015:

Dow $17250
S and P $2000
NASDAQ $4600 and Microsoft will do well again. 
Fiscal Cliff: Not a problem.
Obamacare: People will complain about it but it will live another year. 
Middle East: Gunfire but no war. Iran and U.S. better relations. 
Philadelphia Eagles will lose in NFC Championship game. A lackluster 2014 season.  Vick will get traded and have a decent year in the AFC. 
Life in General: Slow improvement to economy. Democrats keep Senate, lose House. Philadelphia will become the next Brooklyn.  Bridgegate will still be in the news. In the economy, it will be an okay year. Baby boomers will finally start retiring, helped by rising housing prices and the stock market. This will open up some jobs for the Millennials.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Pussy Riot is free

For lovers of liberty and good music across the globe, the big news this holiday season is that Pussy Riot is now free. The band that represents the new generations's music, idealism, and gumption is now free again to perform and enlighten us all with their thought provoking music. Looking forward to seeing them at the opening of the upcoming Olympics.

The kids are home for the holidays

One of the great pleasures of middle age is having kids who are normally miles away turn up for the holidays. Unfortunately, for the college and post college children, the expectations are different. The kids want to visit with their friends, go to a casino, do some post Christmas shopping and have Mom and Dad take them out to a few good restaurants. The parents are also supposed to give them  some cash for the next year.

Oftentimes parents have a different opinion on the matter. Parents want some help around the house, someone to wax the wooden floors and changed the tires for Dad. They also  want to show off the kids for the relatives and spend good family time with their grown offspring. Christmas Eve is often the first hurdle. The kids were planning on hitting the bars with their friends on Christmas Eve while Mom was hoping for good quality time decorating the tree.

Another expectation is that now, with the kids relaxed, parents can do a little harmless prying and see what the kids are really up to. Daughters, after a few molito's, will tell Mom all the ins and outs of  the new cute boyfriend they have been seeing. Daughters are often more revealing to their Mothers, although Mothers may sometimes wonder how their daughters maintain all these sex free relationships. She does watch daytime TV after all.

Sons, sadly are another matter. A son, suddenly on the sofa with a curious mother can resemble a politician involved in a scandal being investigated by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"So you have a new girlfriend. Where did you meet her?"
"Uh, uh, at school."
"Did you meet her in class?"
"Uh, uh, yeah I met her in class."
"What subject were you taking?"
"Uh, uh, Spanish."
"Is she Spanish?"
"Uh, uh, no."
"How old is she?"
"Uh, uh, twenty I think."
"So she is a junior?"
"Uh, uh, no she is a sophomore..."

Soon the parents are tired and exasperated by their charges and looking forward to when the kids go back home. To their homes. Miles away.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas letters

Recently a friend asked me for advice in writing a Christmas letter. Truth to be told, a really effective author should have successful children and take exotic vacations. One should plan one's life in young adulthood with the goal of one day being able to write a Christmas letter. A well written letter goes...

Well, here it is, another year. Back from Hawaii we opened up the shutters and saw snow falling outside of the boathouse and decided to share with you the joys of the year. 

Calvin is a partner now in the firm of Menagerie and Finch and now has three children warming the cradle. His lovely wife Anna is now in her third year of grad school at Villanova and is working on her dissertation on plant molecular isotopes. Cathy is back from her stint in Africa at the Oprah school. She hopes to get her degree in obstetrics this year from NYU. Her husband is now an assistant producer on CNN and got to visit her in Africa. Jane is an intern in Washington. We hope the Senator gives here a good recommendation because she is planning to go to the Kennedy School of Public Affairs this spring........

Here is the Christmas letter I am working on. Prudence being the better part of valor, I have not sent it out.

Another year and another Christmas season. I don't get out much these days. Occasionally an old friend dies and I get to go to a wake, but that is about it. The repairman said my washing machine is too far along to be fixed, so I should get used to the noise it makes and plan on buying a new one when it finally peters out. I am up to four prescriptions now, the pharmacy will give me a free colonoscopy if I sign up for a fifth.

Feeling I might be lonely this holiday, my friend is lending me her fish, Ulysses, for keeping this holiday till she gets back from Tahiti. She promised it won't be too much trouble as long as I keep my finger out of the bowl. I had some nice plants but the flowers all fell off and probably won't come back til Spring. Except for the Christmas cactus that is blooming now.....

At any rate, Happy Kringles!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Ugly Christmas sweaters

One term I keep hearing this December is "ugly Christmas sweaters". As far as I can remember someone, usually female, has shown up at work or at a holiday party wearing one of those things. Now, I have been told,  they are suddenly hip. In the Macon Georgia Baptist Woman's League they have Ugly Christmas Sweater parties. Do they  really have them in artsy hangouts in Brooklyn? Personally I think that if you came to an actual  hipster party wearing one of those you would be scorned upon. Probably they were hip last year but not now.

I wish I had an ugly Christmas sweater. Socks I have, ties I have, but not

Editor's note: I finally have an ugly Christmas sweater, well at least an ugly Christmas vest. There is a nice piece on the genre on Slate. 12/12/14

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Best states for education and business

Education Week has released it's annual guide to the best states in education. Earlier this year Forbes released its list for best states for business.

It's interesting to compare the two articles. States with low taxes, cheap labor and low teacher salaries are considered to be good for business and states with high teacher salaries are usually states that are bad for business.

Why?  Perhaps its because you are stuck in states with their infrastructure, energy costs, labor and environmental laws but you can always import workers from other states or abroad.

Christmas gets earlier this year

I notice Christmas came real early this year. Once Halloween was over, the Santa's and decorations came up in the stores. This weekend are the big Christmas parties and the tv stations are full of Christmas fare. I guess by December 15 it will all be over. By late December Christmas will be replaced by Valentine's Day decorations.