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Friday, December 31, 2021


Da Bull!

Editor’s Note: As Edward Jones is the financial advisor of this daily online publication, permission has been granted to [p2p] to republish certain data to our readership. 

GUEST BLOG / By ANGELO KOURKAFAS, Edward Jones Company-- In 2021, the world returned closer to normal, but the pandemic continues to pose unique challenges. Even though there were a few market twists and turns, the year gave investors the best of both worlds: plenty of upside, with most major indexes achieving strong double-digit returns, and limited downside, with infrequent and short-lived pullbacks. 

Supported by a strong economic recovery and very accommodative monetary policy, the S&P 500 reached an impressive 67 record highs this year, the most since 1996 (which continues to hold the 50-year record) and 2022 is likely to prove more challenging, but the outlook remains positive, in our view.

The economy grew at its fastest pace in nearly four decades 

Powered by massive fiscal and monetary stimulus, a vaccine rollout and pent-up consumer demand, U.S. GDP likely grew about 5.5% in 2021, the fastest pace since 1984. With the benefit of strong household consumption (70% of the economy), economic activity reclaimed its pre-pandemic peak in the second quarter, a remarkable achievement considering the depth of last year’s recession. 

Household finances emerged from the crisis in better shape than they went into it, courtesy of government support and a rising stock market and home prices. Spending on big-ticket items surged, pushing goods consumption well above its pre-pandemic trend. On the other hand, spending on services is still trying to recover amid the ongoing pandemic. 

Unemployment declined from 6.7% at the beginning of the year to 4.2% in November, achieving in one year what took almost four years in the last expansion (2014 to 2017).1 As the year ends, there are increasing signs of labor market tightness. Job openings exceed the number of unemployed, and policymakers are not convinced the more than 2 million people who have left the workforce will return. 2022 implications – Growth will likely moderate from this year’s rapid pace to about 3%-4%, but this is still above the 2.2% average over the last decade. 

Even though the stimulus will fade, consumers saved a good portion of the government income they received, and further jobs gains will continue supporting incomes. A full return to normalcy, though difficult to time, is likely to unleash pent-up demand for services such as travel and entertainment. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2021


Designed by Jakarta’s Architecture studio Andramatin as a reinterpretation of Dutch colonial manor houses, the home creates contrasting connections to the Bandung, Indonesia site's sloping gardens through a series of sunken pools, ramps, and bridges. A huge cement roof protects the glass-walled residence from heavy equatorial rainfall and direct sunlight. 



Dezeen is an online architecture, interiors and design magazine based in London. It was founded in 2006 and the Times of London calls it one of the top 50 websites you can’t live without. Dezeen was also named to Time Magazine’s Design 100 list of the most influential forces in global design. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2021


Rendering of planned replacement of Terminal 1 at San Diego International Airport. Construction is underway, with the completion of the first 19 gates by 2025. (San Diego County Regional Airport Authority image)

GUEST BLOG / San Diego Union Tribune: Reporter Lori Weisberg.

As part of a public service, the San Diego Union-Tribune has granted responsible bloggers the rights to repost content during the pandemic era. PillartoPost Daily Online Magazine thanks the U-T for helping us to also spread good news. 

Construction started this week on the long-planned replacement of the 1960s-era Terminal 1 with a new 30-gate facility, along with planned airfield improvements of Terminal 1 at the San Diego International Airport, a $3.4 billion. 

In addition to adding 11 more gates, the project will feature much-improved food and retail concessions, a 5,200-space parking garage, and a baggage handling system that will be able to process up to 2,000 bags per hour during peak periods. Also part of the redevelopment is a new three-lane airport access road from Laurel Street and North Harbor Drive that airport planners say would remove 45,000 vehicle trips per day from Harbor Drive. 

The airport bond sale drew especially strong interest from investors, who placed more than $7.7 billion worth of orders. The high demand, said airport officials, helped bring the interest rate down to 3.34 percent, a record low for Airport Authority bond sales, officials said. 

The first 19 gates in the new terminal are expected to open in mid-2025, and demolition of the old terminal would follow. The additional 11 gates should be ready by late 2027. 

Monday, December 27, 2021


Photo by Sandra Dibble.

Sandra Dibble is a veteran and tireless reporter, who covers the border and Mexico for The San Diego Union-Tribune and more recently the Voice of San Diego. The prolific newswoman was born in Egypt, raised in Europe, the Middle East, and the United States, and has spent much of her career writing about international and multicultural topics, including crime beyond belief. 

If any San Diego journalist deserves a Nobel Prize for a career of dedicated to San Diego-Tijuana border issues, human conditions and rights journalism Sandra Dibble (photo: left) is her name. 


Click Here to read “Border Report: A Tale of Two Tijuanas.” 

Sunday, December 26, 2021


 When Christmas Day falls on a Saturday it creates a three-day holiday event: Christmas Eve on Friday; Christmas Day and a bonus Christmas Sunday. To share this extra Christmas here are a few “still in the spirit” items for us to enjoy. 

Let's face it few of us received a Christmas card from the royals or the ex-royals for that matter.  So here's what we missed from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex: Harry and Meghan Windsor and the kids:

Closer to home, here's a Christmas card that you and I paid for out of White House pettycash.  It's a card from Joe and Jill Biden.  It's our first Christmas as a nation with a normal President.  And, Dr. Jill is a great First Lady.  And, there's nothing wrong with having nice folks leading the nation for a change.  Yes, his eyes are closed at the picture snap.  Who among us hasn't done the same thing? eh? Relax.

How cool would it be to wake up Christmas morning aboard the International Space Station and be part of an astronaut team that has a sense of holiday style.   Nice pajamas!  Clockwise from left: Jessica Meir, Luca Parmitano, Dr. Andrew Morgan and Christina Koch.  Jessica is Jewish but she's into celebrating all the holidays.  She's wearing Hanukah socks (trust us) for the occasion.

When sixth grade teacher Mr. Friedley suggested I go help paint the Nativity Scene for Sherman School's holiday extravaganza I knew right there I'd never be a singer much less a member of the Vienna Boys Choir.  But, every Xmas morning I have my own tradition: jump in the shower and sing "O, holy night," the best carol ever.
And, before you get your XXL sailor suit in a snit there has been a Vienna Girls Choir since 2004.  No word, however, has been heard if a Transgender Vienna choir is in the works.  Stay tuned.

Below: The Vienna Girls Choir with Choir Master.

After failing to locate the exact location of Santa's village on the North Pole, NASA today sent the multi-billion dollar Webb Telescope (below) off into space on the off chance the jolly ol' elf might be flying in from another planet.

Santa took time from his busy schedule avoiding NORAD radar to land aboard the USS Carl Vinson, a 5,000 sailor-filled aircraft carrier currently deployed overseas. Santa was a bit overwhelmed that the sailor on his lap asked for a new Chevy truck, but he said he'd check his inventory and see what he could do.

Darn it, this was the year we were planning to take in the Christmas Parade of Lights at Navy Base Guam, but our invitation to decorate our boat was lost in the mail. There's always next year.

That's it for now.  Gotta get back to my best ever box of legos present that Santa left under the tree last night.  Looks like we'll be at this until next year.  Let's hope the Vatican doesn't add a new building by then.

Saturday, December 25, 2021



The whole enchilada about fruitcakes by Roy Blount, Jr. From Garden & Gun magazine CLICK HERE 

The article below is reposted with thanks from Originally published under the title “The Magnificent History of the Maligned and Misunderstood Fruitcake.” 

GUEST BLOG / By Jeffrey Miller, Associate Professor of Hospitality Management, Colorado State University--Nothing says Christmas quite like a fruitcake – or, at the very least, a fruitcake joke. 

More about TV host Johnny Carson’s classic fruitcake joke. CLICK HERE. 

A quip attributed to former “Tonight Show” host Johnny Carson has it that “There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other.” 

It’s certainly earned its reputation for longevity. Two friends from Iowa have been exchanging the same fruitcake since the late 1950s. Even older is the fruitcake left behind in Antarctica by the explorer Robert Falcon Scott in 1910. 

But the honor for the oldest known existing fruitcake goes to one that was baked in 1878 when Rutherford B. Hayes was president of the United States.

No proof whatsoever
that former Civil War
hero and President
Rutherford B. Hayes
 hid a slice of fruitcake
under his tunic. 
What’s amazing about these old fruitcakes is that people have tasted them and lived, meaning they are still edible after all these years. The trifecta of sugar, low moisture ingredients and some high-proof spirits make fruitcakes some of the longest-lasting foods in the world. 

Fruitcake is an ancient goody, with the oldest versions a sort of energy bar made by the Romans to sustain their soldiers in battle. The Roman fruitcake was a mash of barley, honey, wine and dried fruit, often pomegranate seeds. What you might recognize as a modern-style fruitcake – a moist, leavened dessert studded with fruits and nuts – was probably first baked in the early Middle Ages in Europe. 

Cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg were symbols of culinary sophistication, and these sweet spices started appearing alongside fruit in many savory dishes – especially breads, but also main courses. 

Before long, most cuisines had some sort of fruited breads or cakes that were early versions of the modern fruitcake. Fruitcakes are different in Europe than they are in America. European fruitcakes are more like the medieval fruited bread than the versions made in Great Britain and the United States. The two most common styles of fruitcake in Europe are the stollen and panettone. 

British and American versions are much more cakelike. For over-the-top extravagance, honors have to go to a British version that crowns a rich fruitcake with a layer of marzipan icing. 

Fruitcakes came to America with the European colonists, and the rising tide of emigration from Britain to New England closely mirrored an influx of cheap sugar from the Caribbean. Sugar was the key to preserving fruit for use across the seasons. One of the favorite methods of preserving fruit was to “candy” it. Candied fruit – sometimes known as crystallized fruit – is fruit that’s been cut into small pieces, boiled in sugar syrup, tossed in granulated sugar and allowed to dry. 

Thanks to this technique, colonists were able to keep fruit from the summer harvest to use in their Christmas confections, and fruitcakes became one of the most popular seasonal desserts. Fruitcakes were also popular due to their legendary shelf life, which, in an era before mechanical refrigeration, was extremely desirable. 

Then, of course, fruitcakes aren't for everyone

Fruitcake aficionados will tell you that the best fruit cakes are matured – or “seasoned” in fruitcake lingo – for at least three months before they are cut. Seasoning not only improves the flavor of the fruitcake, but it makes it easier to slice. Seasoning a fruitcake involves brushing your fruitcake periodically with your preferred distilled spirit before wrapping it tightly and letting it sit in a cool, dark place for up to two months. 

The traditional spirit of choice is brandy, but rum is also popular. In the American South, where fruitcake is extremely popular, bourbon is preferred. A well-seasoned fruitcake will get several spirit baths over the maturation period. 

Credit for the fruitcake’s popularity in America should at least partially go to the U.S. Post Office. The institution of Rural Free Delivery in 1896 and the addition of the Parcel Post service in 1913 caused an explosion of mail-order foods in America. 

Overnight, once rare delicacies were a mere mail-order envelope away for people anywhere who could afford them. Given fruitcake’s long shelf life and dense texture, it was a natural for a mail-order food business. 

America’s two most famous fruitcake companies, Claxton’s of Claxton, Georgia, and Collin Street of Corsicana, Texas, got their start in this heyday of mail-order food. By the early 1900s, U.S. mailrooms were full of the now ubiquitous fruitcake tins. As late as the 1950s, fruitcakes were a widely esteemed part of the American holiday tradition. A 1953 Los Angeles Times article called fruitcake a “holiday must,” and in 1958, the Christian Science Monitor asked, “What Could Be a Better Gift Than Fruitcake?” But by 1989, a survey by Mastercard found that fruitcake was the least favorite gift of 75% of those polled. 

Haters and disrespect aside, fruitcake is still a robust American tradition: The website Serious Eats reports that over 2 million fruitcakes are still sold each year. 

ABOUT THE CONVERSATION The Conversation US aims to unlock knowledge from experts, helping to bring facts into the public discussion and to counter misinformation. We give away our journalism for free. Your donation helps us reach readers across the country and the globe. The Conversation US, Inc. is a tax-exempt public charity under 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. All donations made are fully tax deductible. To donate CLICK HERE 

Splash with bourbon and you'll change your opinion of fruitcakes forever.  Shown below is a sample from one of the most famous fruitcake makers Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana, Texas.

Friday, December 24, 2021


Holy season in Israel

New York's Rockefeller Center with 900-pound Swarovsk star atop Christmas tree.

Looking like a Van Gogh painting it's Christmas in Casino Square, Monte Carlo, Monaco

Downtown Lerwick, Shetland Islands, UK

The Vatican

Home sweet Nome, Alaska for Christmas

Above: Colored coconut Christmas tree in Guam.

From the Associated Press  CLICK HERE

Wednesday, December 22, 2021


Lloyd's of London headquarters, 1986.


Barajas International Airport, Madrid, 2006

Pompidou Centre, Paris, 1977

Tuesday, December 21, 2021


Forty-eight pictures of the sun taken for a year by Jesus Pelaez of Burgos, Spain in the same place once a week and at the same time. The highest point is the summer solstice and the lowest point is today the winter solstice. 

This image is called the solar analemma. For more info CLICK HERE. 


By Trevor Spaulding

Making the holidays happy one cartoon at a time--New Yorker style.

Above. By Lisa Donnelly

Above. By Christopher Weyant

Below. Franklin Modell
What happens when Detective Kranz volunteers to be Santa at Macy's: "I know you weren't a good kid all year, so don't tell me otherwise."

By Roz Chast (below)

By Kim Warp (below)

Above. By David Sipress

Monday, December 20, 2021


National Archives spreadsheet of newly released previously secret or withheld JFK murder investigation files.

Founded in 1934 by President Franklin Roosevelt, The National Archives and Records Administration is back in the news. 

This independent agency of the United States government charged with the preservation and documentation of government and historical records has just released 1,500 documents relating to the assassination of President John. F. Kennedy. 

The National Archive is also tasked with increasing public access to those documents which make up the National Archive, which is headquartered in College Park, MD. The newly released JFK related files* can be accessed CLICK HERE. 

*Learn what role Sylvia Duran played during Lee Harvey Oswald’s visit to Mexico weeks before JFK’s murder. CLICK HERE.


Feb. 1961: President John F. Kennedy talks with John McCone at the swearing-in ceremony of McCone as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Standing in the background (L-R): Senator Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson (Washington); Glenn T. Seaborg, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC); and United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. Cabinet Room, White House, Washington, D.C. McCone served in that capacity until 1965. 

Sunday, December 19, 2021


Illustrated by Alex Ross  

GUEST BLOG / A short story by Rex Stout, which originally appeared in the January 4, 1957 edition of Collier’s Magazine

 Chapter 1 

I'm SORRY, SIR,” I said. I tried to sound sorry. “But I told you two days ago, Monday, that I had a date for Friday afternoon, and you said all right. So I’ll drive you to Long Island Saturday or Sunday.” Nero Wolfe shook his head at his colleague Archie Goodwin. “That won’t do. Mr. Thompson’s ship docks Friday morning, and he will be at Mr. Hewitt’s place only until Saturday noon, when he leaves for New Orleans. As you know, he is the best hybridizer in England, and I am grateful to Mr. Hewitt for inviting me to spend a few hours with him. As I remember, the drive takes about an hour and a half, so we should leave at twelve-thirty.” 

I decided to count ten, and swiveled my chair, facing my desk, so as to have privacy for it. As usual when we have no important case going, we had been getting on each other’s nerves for a week, and I admit I was a little touchy, but his taking it for granted like that was a little too much. When I had finished the count I turned my head, to where he was perched on his throne behind his desk, and darned if he hadn’t gone back to his book, making it plain that he regarded it as settled. That was much too much. I swiveled my chair to confront him. 

“I really am sorry,” I said, not trying to sound sorry, “but I have to keep that date Friday afternoon. It’s a Christmas party at the office of Kurt Bottweill—you remember him, we did a job for him a few months ago, the stolen tapestries. “You may not remember a member of his staff named Margot Dickey, but I do. I have been seeing her some, and I promised her I’d go to the party. We never have a Christmas office party here. As for going to Long Island, your idea that a car is a death trap if I’m not driving it is unsound. You can take a taxi, or hire a chauffeur from the agency, or get Saul Panzer to drive you.” 

Wolfe had lowered his book. “I hope to get some useful information from Mr. Thompson, and you will take notes.” 

“Not if I’m not there. Hewitt’s secretary knows orchid terms as well as I do. So do you.” I admit those last three words were a bit strong, but he shouldn’t have gone back to his book. 

His lips tightened. “Archie. How many times in the past year have I asked you to drive me somewhere?” 

“If you call it asking, maybe eighteen or twenty.” 

“Not excessive, surely. If my feeling that you alone are to be trusted at the wheel of a car is an aberration, I have it. We will leave for Mr. Hewitt’s place Friday at twelve-thirty.” 

So there we were. I took a breath, but I didn’t need to count ten again. If he was to be taught a lesson, and he certainly needed one, luckily I had in my possession a document that would make it good. Reaching to my inside breast pocket, I took out a folded sheet of paper. “I didn’t intend,” I told him, “to spring this on you until tomorrow, or maybe even later, but I guess it will have to be now. Just as well, I suppose.” I left my chair, unfolded the paper, and handed it to him. 

He put his book down to take it, gave it a look, shot a glance at me, looked at the paper again, and let it drop on his desk. He snorted. “Phooey. What flummery is this?” 

“No flummery. As you see, it’s a marriage license for Archie Goodwin and Margot Dickey. It cost me two bucks. I could be mushy about it, but I won’t. I will only say that if I am hooked at last, it took an expert. She intends to spread the tidings at the Christmas office party, and of course I have to be there. When you announce you have caught a fish it helps to have the fish present in person. Frankly, I would prefer to drive you to Long Island, but it can’t be done.” The effect was all I could have asked. 

He gazed at me through narrowed eyes long enough to count eleven, then picked up the document and gazed at it. He flicked it to the edge of the desk as if it were crawling with germs, and focused on me again. “You are deranged,” Nero said evenly and distinctly. “Sit down.” 


Saturday, December 18, 2021


Shavi Coffee Roasters 

GUEST BLOG / By Jason Alexander, Contributor/Coffee Correspondent at Coffee Roasters on Zandukeli Street in the southwest side of Tbilisi, Georgia arrived very late in 2021, but we are very glad it did. That seems to be a pretty universal sentiment around here. Tbilisi isn’t famous for its coffee. Only a couple of places so far have been generally regarded as very good. Shavi, however, is extremely good. 

Ryan and Laurie McCarrel of Magnolia Film Lab and Fotografia gallery saw the need for finer coffee in Tbilisi and, with the support of their business partner Thibault Flament of Metis restaurant, they made it happen. Slovak roaster Jakub Sevcik works with Ryan to create light to medium roast; their lighter one is nearly Nordic. 

We had their batch brew the day they opened, and it was perfect: juicy, just the right inflection of acidity, complex. 

We knew we’d be back. 

They also have some tasty eats, sourced from bakers and producers in their own neighborhood of Vera: the bagels, for instance, are from Bagelin, and the quiche from Au Ble D’Or. And they offer banana bread and avocado toast, too. 

It’s encouraging to see a successful new venture after such difficult times, and we hope it is a sign of better days to come. 

 Shavi Coffee Roasters 

40 Mikheil Zandukeli Street 

Tibilsi, Georgia 

Friday, December 17, 2021


GUEST BLOG / By Jennifer Bowman, Nearly 2.7 million San Diego County residents have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, and the fully vaccinated rate outpaces that of the state. But high case numbers persist throughout much of the region, and there is no part of the county reporting what would qualify as low transmission. Go to website and hover over the map to see how each ZIP code is performing as of Dec. 8. To do that CLICK HERE  


Thursday, December 16, 2021


Controversial Bros' Restaurant in Lecce, Italy


Would you want to eat foam served in a plaster cast of the chef’s mouth? 

GUEST BLOG / By Randee Dawn, Michelin star is one of the most desired of all seals of approval in the restaurant industry. Earning one usually indicates a restaurant of the highest quality, indicating to diners that they're about to take a culinary journey that will tantalize the senses and fill the belly. But that might not always be the case. 

Meet Bros', which is Lecce, Italy's sole Michelin-starred restaurant. Everywhereist travel writer Geraldine DeRuiter was drawn to visiting the restaurant, having heard rave reviews and good things about one of the youngest chefs to receive a star, Isabella Potì, as she told TODAY Food in an email. The restaurant is also led by chef Floriano Pellegrino. 

Said DeRuiter: "I'm pretty used to experimental cuisine, and I've been to a few Michelin-starred restaurants," she said. "So I was anticipating something a little unusual and fun. I was not expecting a 4-hour hunger-induced fever dream." 

And yet, that's what she and seven of her friends got. As DeRuiter explained in a review of the restaurant that she published on her site Everywhereist on Wednesday (note: there's some vulgar language), those hours spent consuming 27 courses, "made me feel like I was a character in a Dickensian novel. Because — I cannot impart this enough — there was nothing even close to an actual meal served." 

For the remainder of TODAY’s article including a response from the restaurant CLICK HERE


Blogger Geraldine DeRuiter (left) stares in bemusement and one of the non-entrees served her husband during a recent 27 course dining flabergastment.

The Original Blog: 

Bros., Lecce: We Eat at The Worst Michelin Starred Restaurant, Ever 

Excerpt from the restaurant review what went viral: 

From Geraldine DeRuiter: There is something to be said about a truly disastrous meal, a meal forever indelible in your memory because it’s so uniquely bad, it can only be deemed an achievement. 

The sort of meal where everyone involved was definitely trying to do something; it’s just not entirely clear what. I’m not talking about a meal that’s poorly cooked, or a server who might be planning your murder—that sort of thing happens in the fat lump of the bell curve of bad. 

Instead, I’m talking about the long tail stuff – the sort of meals that make you feel as though the fabric of reality is unraveling. The ones that cause you to reassess the fundamentals of capitalism, and whether or not you’re living in a simulation in which someone failed to properly program this particular restaurant. 

The ones where you just know somebody’s going to lift a metal dome off a tray and reveal a single blue or red pill. I’m talking about those meals. At some point, the only way to regard that sort of experience—without going mad—is as some sort of community improv theater. 

You sit in the audience, shouting suggestions like, “A restaurant!” and “Eating something that resembles food” and “The exchange of money for goods, and in this instance, the goods are a goddamn meal!” All of these suggestions go completely ignored. That is how I’ve come to regard our dinner at Bros, Lecce’s only Michelin-starred restaurant, as a means of preserving what’s left of my sanity. 

It wasn’t dinner. It was just dinner theater. No, scratch that. Because dinner was not involved. I mean—dinner played a role, the same way Godot played a role in Beckett’s eponymous play. The entire evening was about it, and guess what? IT NEVER SHOWED. 

CLICK HERE for the remainder of blog. 

Interior of Bros Restaurant