Friday, February 26, 2016

Ditching Michelle Obama Leads to Boom

At Bozeman High School's cafeteria that is. The school system's food service ditched the cardboard for all diet dictated by Michelle (which her kids are not subjected to at elite Sidwell Friends school in Northwest DC) via the federal food lunch program, and is bringing in revenues to make up for the lost subsidy. The Bozeman Chronicle reports:
Food sales are up at the Bozeman School District’s food service, which has struggled financially since the federal government got stricter about healthier foods.
Total revenues last fall semester increased nearly $50,000, compared to the previous fall, Bob Burrows said Thursday.
Michelle Obama's dictates still rule the diet of our decidedly
non-obese middle school and elementary school students.
And that’s with no price increase for the third year in a row, said Burrows, who supervises the school district’s food service and 45 employees. He gave the Bozeman School Board an update this week.
“Traffic is up, revenue is up,” Burrows said. “It’s great.”
Bozeman High’s two cafeterias averaged 1,600 customers a day this fall, compared to 800 to 1,000 the year before, he said.
Last summer the School Board agreed in a rare split vote, 5-3, to let Bozeman High School drop out of the National School Lunch Program, while leaving the elementary and middle schools in it. 
The high school cafeteria was losing customers, which Burrows blamed on the Obama administration’s Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, which seeks to combat an epidemic of childhood obesity by placing strict limits on fat, salt and calories.
Almost double the customers in the high school's cafeteria? Everyone is happy except the for the proprietors of the local McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King nearby on Main Street, as many kids are now staying in school to eat nutritious and delicious meals. The Obamas are still meddling in my middle school child's life. They can't leave the White House soon enough.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

What's in a Name?

So Bubba Watson won the Glenn Campbell Los Angeles Open, uh, er, I mean the Northern Trust Open today. Way to go Bubba!

The PGA Tour is finishing a swing that headed down, up and then back down the California coast this last month (with a detour to Arizona), finishing at Riviera Country Club in LaLa land for the Northern Trust Open. The tournament's title and sponsorship are contracted and paid for by the eponymous international financial services company. Northern Trust provides private banking, investment banking and wealth management services. Its customers don't get a free toaster with a new checking account, but many do get access to a catered suite with bar overlooking the eighteenth green.

Andy Williams San Diego Open logo hat.
Times change. So do names. A few weeks back, when I tuned into the Farmers Insurance Open broadcast on the Golf Channel, I thought oh yeah, the Andy Williams San Diego Open. 

Last week the PGA tour's traveling road show moved up the the coast to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am, which once was the Bing Crosby National Pro-Amateur.  

The dropped tournament names harken back to a time when most early season PGA Tour events generated exposure and borrowed cachet by trading on the name, likeness, and talent of well known celebrities. 

Andy Williams was best known for his signature song, Moon River.

Williams jumped on to the sponsorship carousel when Tour events seeking promotional appeal and new revenue streams began taking on names that identified more than place.
The San Diego Open was founded in 1952, but hop-scotched around southern California for its first 16 years, never really finding a home. Williams came aboard in 1968 -- the same year that the tournament moved to Torrey Pines, and the combination of celebrity clout and first-class venue proved to be a real game-changer. The event has remained at Torrey ever since, and become one of the most successful on the PGA Tour – and no doubt that success helped to pave the way for Torrey to be awarded the 2008 U.S. Open, won by Tiger Woods in his memorable 18-hole playoff over Rocco Mediate.

Often there was a pro-am component to the celebrity named tour events. Celebrity pals, as well as accomplished athletes and notable politicians participated. Their star power drew attention and status, drove attendance, and attracted advertising and sponsorship dollars. 

1947 Bing Crosby National Pro Amateur program.
The granddaddy of them all was the Bing Crosby Pro-Amateur held in January/February on three courses on the Monterey Peninsula (in the oft-quoted words of Robert Louis Stevenson,  "the most felicitous meeting of land and sea in existence.").  
Crosby always had the Hollywood A-list stars like Jack Lemon, Dean Martin, Clint EastwoodPaul NewmanJack Nicholson, and recent stars like Bill MurrayGlenn FreyKevin Costner, Steve YoungGeorge LopezTom BradyTony Romo and Carson Daly all make the trip to Pebble beach for the Clambake.
In recent years you can add Justin Timberlake, Alice Cooper, Kenny G, Condoleezza Rice, Ray Romano, Larry The Cable Guy and Wayne Gretzky to that list.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

College Free for All!!

Back in the day when I was a college undergraduate a person could matriculate at an excellent in-state universty throughout most of these United States and pay annual tuition and fees of between a thousand and two thousand dollars a year. In well-managed states like Texas the tuition package was only a few hundred dollars per year. 

Most public university students could earn their tuition and then some by working a summer job. By continuing to work part time during the school year, with a modicum of help from parents or other relatives, many students managed to graduate entirely debt free. In-state students who did borrow had post graduation monthly re-payment schedules that were on the order of a car note or Con Ed bills -- not the condo or house size repayment burdens that many students carry today. Fueled largely by the free and easy availability of debt, the costs of attending college have skyrocketed over the years, much more so in some places than others. 

Bernie Sanders' response to this chain of events is to declare college should be free for all. 

Well, let's see how Bernie and his bleeding heart socialist pals from Vermont actually perform on controlling college costs, compared to, let's say, a collection of rugged individualists here in Montana.

According to the university's website, the typical on campus state resident at the University of Vermont has an annual budget of $31,000. That is 4.4 percent percent higher than last year when Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy for President, a timeframe when consumer prices in general have actually declined. Way to go Bernie and friends in Vermont!

2015-2016 Undergraduate Student Financial Aid Budgets

For students enrolled in 12-18 credits per semester.
Vermont Resident,
On Campus
Vermont Resident,
Off Campus
Vermont Resident,
At Home
Out-of-State Resident,
On Campus
Out-of-State Resident,
Off Campus
Student Fees$2,104**$2,074$2,074$2,104**$2,074
Average Loan Fees$82$82$82$82$82
Books & Supplies$1,200$1,200$1,200$1,200$1,200
Compare the Vermont costs to the costs of attending Montana State University here in Bozeman (University of Montana and Montana Tech costs are similar). 

Estimated Expenses

2015/2016 Montana State University Undergraduate Cost of Attendance

Undergraduate Resident Students

CategorySemesterAcademic Year

Undergraduate Non-Resident Students

CategorySemesterAcademic Year

Note that the non-resident costs at MSU are virtually the same as the in-state resident costs at the University of Vermont. Seeing as the skiing out here is so much better and affordable, it's no wonder you can't walk or drive through MSU's campus without noticing a surprising large number of Vermont license plates. I can imagine the dinner table conversation, "Mom, dad, let me go to Montana it won't cost hardly a penny more." FYI, Montana State makes a small profit on out-of-state tuition.

Given MSU's total annual costs of approximately $17,000 (I added an allowance to the MSU total for transportation/miscellaneous to make the two schools' totals comparable) the in-state cost of attending college in Montana is only slightly more than half the in-state cost of attending the University of Vermont. Over four years the cost premium of Vermont-style socialism adds up to between $55,000 and $60,000 per student.

Bernie papers over the causes of skyrocketing tuition by declaring college education free and proposing to tax financial trades (a tax that won't happen when people wake up and realize it is a tax on their savings plans, annuities, and retirement accounts).   

Should Bernie succeed in making college free we will be able to repurpose money I have earmarked for my three children's college education to join a country club, take a couple of cruises each year, and finance winter stays in Arizona. Sweet! Thanks!

Feel the Bern. Get stuff free. Vote Democrat. Elect Bernie!!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Bridger Creek Golf

Bozeman got some play on the Golf Channel today when Bridger Creek's senior golf instruction program was featured on the Morning Drive program. Launch the video to see some of the background scenery that we are forced to play against in these parts. Eat your hearts out!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Feel the Bern! Equality for All!!!

He's winning. I worked nine years as a caddie, toiled as janitor and dishwasher, labored in plastics, cardboard box and culvert factories, and then got my first college degree. After studying hard and graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and working hard for decades thereafter, taking plenty of unpopular positions and bucking trends, I have done better than most people in life. It's unequal -- unfair. Vote Democrat. Elect Bernie!!!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Up the Valley

From time to time at Along the Gradyent we mention places or things that are up the valley. Up the valley it is about three miles to the foot of the Bridger and Gallitan Mountain ranges. Going another mile or two to the end of the road and then literally climbing up the mountain slope lives one of our daughter's high school friends (I will call her Dot), whose home (with stable and pasture) yields incredible views. Sunday I shifted the Jeep into four wheel drive and motored up the snowy and icy switchbacks to drop our daughter off at Dot's for a biology study session. I took the following photos, up the valley. Click to enlarge.

Up the valley looking back down the valley. Gallatin Mountains on the left and Bridger Mountains on the right. 

North to the Gallitan Range.

South to the Bridger Range. Up here you better have your own snow plow (right).

Looking further up the valley to George Washington in repose. You can see this 
rocky outcropping from a distance on our hot air balloon photo (far right). 

 Dot's horse looks kinda like a Pinto.

Dot's other horse looks even more like a Pinto.

Meanwhile, back home at Chez Gradyent the deer came to play (and feed) along a hedge row.