Big snows come to California — finally — ahead of long holiday weekend

California skiers and riders are facing the best conditions of the season after recent storms dumped snow from Lake Tahoe to Mammoth Lakes, frosting slopes ahead of the long Martin Luther King holiday weekend. It was a warm storm, particularly for L.A.’s local mountain resorts, and San Bernardino Mountain operations were hoping that Monday’s rain would turn to snow on Tuesday. Still, Mammoth Mountain might see 3 feet near the summit, forecasters said, before the system clears out starting Wednesday, giving way to sunny skies and mild temperatures by the weekend. More important, the high pressure system that has hovered like a heat lamp over the state all season shows signs of finally budging, perhaps the most significant development to come out of the current system. Resorts hope that the lifting of the high pressure opens the door for a string of storms, much like the ones that walloped the state in early January last season. California road condition hotline: (800) 427-7623. Mammoth Mountain The big resort five hours from Los Angeles received a foot or more over the weekend at Main Lodge and 4-8 inches Monday, atop a base of 33 inches. The snow comes in the nick of time, as the mountain prepares for Olympic trials Jan. 17-21. The National Weather Service predicts snow through Tuesday, then clearing Wednesday and sunny and near 50 by the holiday weekend. Bear Mountain/Snow Summit: Rain was expected to turn to snow Tuesday, atop a two-foot machine-made base. As with the Sierra, the current storm is expected to clear out Wednesday, with sunny skies through the weekend in Big Bear Lake, two hours from Los Angeles. Snow Valley: The resort is closed until 9 a.m. Wednesday. Rain is expected to turn to snow on Tuesday, and nights are expected to be cold enough to make snow. The resort, less than two hours from L.A., hopes for good crowds by the end of the week, so that it can show off its new six-person lift. Mountain High: Closed Monday and probably Tuesday Continue Reading

Suburban 7: Seven places to see holiday light displays

It can be hard work to put up a holiday light display — especially if you didn't do it before the really cold weather moved in. But now that they're up, take some time to visit area displays that others have put up. Viewers can walk or drive through lighted areas, in some cases accompanied by music timed to the lights to enhance the experience. Bring your family, your neighbors or even the dog when you check out these holiday lights shows in the Milwaukee area.This neighborhood show consists of about 35,000 lights, all synchronized to music. It  was inaugurated by a fireworks display that attracted about 400 people. "While some displays focus on adding additional lights each year, I am more interested in making the experience better each year with the type of lights used and the programming," creator Jason Stark said. Stark said the display at S71 W16459 Glen Cove Court, Muskego, takes about 60 to 70 hours to set up. Visitors can tune to 87.9 FM on their radio to listen to the music upon arrival."I do most of the setup myself, although I have two great friends who have helped more and more the past few years, which makes things go a lot faster," Stark said. You can check out lights and music from 5 to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 5 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays throughout the holidays. This display is also a collection site for the Muskego Food Pantry."We collect nonperishable food and monetary donations that all go directly back to the food pantry to help those in our community, Stark said. "My wife (Jess) and my boys (Jacob and Matt) very much enjoy greeting the cars that come every night. They love to see how much money they can collect each night for the food pantry."See more photos on Facebook, at first lights went up for this display in 2007. that includes LED lights synchronized to music. The show, at 6235 S. 123rd St., Continue Reading

Universal resorts capture holiday magic with Harry Potter

For the Universal resorts in Orlando and Hollywood, Harry Potter is the gift that keeps on giving. Since the wizard cast his spell at the theme parks, interest, attendance, and revenue have skyrocketed. For the gift-giving season, Universal is hoping that new Potter festivities will make its holiday events that much brighter and generate even more crowds during what is already one of the busiest times of the year."We've wanted to do Christmas in the Wizarding World since the first land opened in 2010," says Mike Aiello, director of entertainment creative for Universal Orlando Resort. "The planets aligned this year." Christmas, he notes, is mentioned in many of J.K. Rowling's books and featured in the Potter films, so he and his team had plenty of source material on which to draw.Wizarding World fairies, for example, generate much of the light in Christmas decorations. They are featured in The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts, a new projection show that fills the castle in the Florida resort's Islands of Adventure (and at the counterpart Hogsmeade land at Universal Studios Hollywood) with Potter-inspired holiday imagery.Using high-powered projectors — Aiello says there are 24 of them embedded in Hogsmeade — that are precisely mapped to the dimensions and contours of the majestic castle, the show animates its façade, turrets, and spires. It transforms the structure into a massive, multi-dimensional screen and brings it to life with an inspired, compelling presentation.In one scene, fairies float decorations up to create a huge Christmas tree. In another, strings of lanterns line the building. Their flickering flames and the shadows they cast are especially stunning. For the show's finale, fairies bathe the entire castle in a glow of blue and gold lights (to much oohs, ahs, and applause). Hot butterbeer and cool projection showDisney has been incorporating digital projection technology into many of its shows — and even some of its attractions Continue Reading

Wall St. drifts before long weekend; consumer stocks up

By Caroline Valetkevitch (Reuters) - U.S. stocks ended little changed on Friday ahead of the long holiday weekend, though indexes ended a two-week streak of losses and consumer shares were strong for a second day. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also eked out record closing highs, and the S&P 500 posted a seventh straight session of gains, matching a winning streak from February. Helping the consumer staples index, Costco Wholesale rose 1.8 percent to $177.86 and was among the biggest drivers of the S&P and Nasdaq indexes. The warehouse club operator reported results Thursday. Trading volume, with just about 5.2 billion shares changing hands on U.S. exchanges, was the lowest of the year. The U.S. market will be closed on Monday for Memorial Day. "The market is almost eerily quiet. The only thing that tends to move the markets - at least recently - is political news," said Tim Courtney, chief investment officer of Exencial Wealth Advisors, in Oklahoma City. "For the most part, investors have come to a consensus that there's not going to be recession in the U.S. in 2017, and Europe is strong enough where they're not going to have a recession this year. So the big fear of a recession has been taken off the table." Earlier in the day, a report showed that the U.S. economy grew at a 1.2 percent pace in the first quarter, slightly more than the 0.7 percent estimated earlier. The higher reading was in line with economists' expectations. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 2.67 points, or 0.01 percent, to 21,080.28, the S&P 500 gained 0.75 points, or 0.03 percent, to 2,415.82 and the Nasdaq Composite added 4.94 points, or 0.08 percent, to 6,210.19. For the week, the Dow rose 1.3 percent, the S&P 500 gained 1.4 percent and the Nasdaq added 2.1 percent. The consumer staples index and the consumer discretionary index were both up 0.3 percent. The gains were mostly offset by declines in healthcare and real estate stocks. Ulta Continue Reading

Daily Checkup: Those on long flights should beware of blood clots in the leg

THE SPECIALIST An attending surgeon in the Department of Surgery at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Dr. Jennifer Svahn is a vascular surgeon specializing in the treatment of venous diseases from varicose veins and ulcerations to blood clots. Every year, Svahn sees thousands of patients with venous problems. WHO’S AT RISK If you have long holiday flights or drives ahead — whether to see family or take a break from family — it’s a good time to brush up on what you can do to prevent blood clots. “Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) refers to a clotted off large vein in the deeper parts of the leg, as opposed to the smaller vessels that are closer to the skin level,” says Svahn. “DVT is the medical condition that layman refer to as blood clots. Remaining seated and immobile during long flights or drives prevents the blood from circulating properly, thus increasing the risk of blood clots.” Celebrities ranging from Serena Williams to Regis Philbin have developed DVT. DVT undoubtedly occurs more commonly than it is diagnosed. “There are a lot of people walking around with clots that either aren’t symptomatic or have been misdiagnosed,” says Svahn. “For the average person on the street there isn’t a high risk — definitely less than 1%. The reason blood clots need to be taken seriously is that the clot in the leg can break off and travel to the lung — which can be fatal if not treated in time — and certain groups are at much higher risk than the general population.” Many underlying factors can contribute to your risk of developing DVT. “You are considered at increased risk if you have a history of prior blood clotting, a history of active malignancies or cancer, if you are pregnant or obese, or if you are on birth control pills, especially in combination with smoking,” says Svahn. “Long flights of eight or more hours put you at greater risk because some people Continue Reading

Yeshiva students and handymen make big bucks installing sukkahs, temporary tabernacles for the Jewish holiday

Call it a cottage industry. Yeshiva students and handymen are raking in a holiday bonanza by installing sukkahs, the temporary tabernacles that are a fixture of the Jewish Feast of Booths. The Hebrew helpers charge about $200 to build the wooden and canvas outdoor sheds, where Orthodox Jews eat their meals during the week-long holiday, which starts at sundown Wednesday. “It’s relatively good money,” said Mendy Schreiber, 28, who started his installation business 10 years ago. Schreiber uses a team of six amateur installers, mostly teens on break from yeshiva, to build hundreds of holy huts in Brooklyn and other boroughs every year. The calls for help start coming in right after Labor Day, said Schreiber, who is in law school in Washington, D.C. As a teen, Schreiber ran ads and got stores selling the temporary shelters to pass along his number to customers who needed installation assistance. Those odd jobs have ballooned into a seasonal business that now nets the father of two, originally from Crown Heights, approximately $30,000 in annual profits. “I get new calls every day,” he said. He’s not alone. There are signs posted all over Flatbush and Borough Park advertising the service. The business is so lucrative that one man from the Ukraine flies in for several weeks each year to get in on the action. As for Schreiber, his client list includes some religious rock stars: the Park East Synagogue in Manhattan, and Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, the Novominsker rebbe and the head of the Agudath Israel in Borough Park. It typically takes 1½ to 2 hours to put up the wood-plank shelters, which represent the temporary dwellings used by the Jews who fled Egypt during the time of Moses and spent 40 years wandering in the desert. The holiday commemorates that period and celebrates the gathering of the harvest. Some of the more elaborate sukkahs used by synagogues can take several Continue Reading

NYPD warns cops to be on the lookout for ‘Oceans Eleven’-style holiday-weekend bank heists

The NYPD is warning cops to be on the lookout for "Oceans Eleven"-style burglary gangs, who take advantage of long holiday weekends to knock off banks. In the remake of the 1960s movie, George Clooney — reprising the Frank Sinatra role — gathers a group of professional crooks who rob the Las Vegas Bellagio casino vault during a high-profile boxing match. New York isn’t Vegas, and the crooks aren’t as dapper as Clooney and his cronies, but the NYPD is warning officers to be "extremely vigilant" during holiday weekends like this one, when banks are closed on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr's birthday. The bulletin warns that sophisticated crews, who rely on look-outs and monitor police frequencies, use torches and drills to cut through walls, roofs and even tunnel through neighboring buildings to access the bank vault. When responding to bank burglar alarms, cops are instructed to search the perimeter and neighboring buildings and even if necessary call for the NYPD Aviation Unit to check out the roof from above for damage. Burglars may even purposely trip alarms to gauge policeNy response and strike after cops have left the scene, the bulletin warns. In April 2008, burglars took advantage of the Easter holiday and smashed through a wall of a storefront on Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach, Queens, tunneling into the neighboring Sovereign bank. The intruders drilled through a foot-thick layer of reinforced concrete to get into the vault, stealing an estimated $400,000 in cash and valuables from the safe deposit boxes, police said at the time. The latest memo is a periodic reminder to patrol officers that is unrelated to any active pattern involving bank burglaries. Such crimes are relatively rare, statistics show. Last year there were only three in the five boroughs, said authorities. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama retreat from campaign trail over long holiday weekend

For the past few days, President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney have been mostly out of sight if not exactly out of mind. Romney has been a little more accessible than Obama. But the best way to find the Republican candidate seems to be from a boat. Obama spent the weekend in complete isolation at the presidential retreat known as Camp David in the Catoctin Mountains of Maryland, about 60 miles northwest of Washington, D.C. He'll be there until Tuesday. Then he returns to the White House for Independence Day before embarking on a two-day bus tour of Pennsylvania and Ohio. The Romney clan - including wife Ann, five sons, five daughters-in-law and 18 grandchildren - is spending this week at his $8 million estate on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. The compounds where Obama and Romney are staying have similarities. They're both secluded, guarded by an entourage of Secret Service agents, and their nearest neighbors are some distance away. If Romney wins in November, he's got a ready-made 13-acre vacation White House. Romney and his family appeared briefly in public on Sunday as they attended worship services at a Mormon church in Wolfeboro, N.H. His lakefront compound recalls President George W. Bush's ocean-front getaway in Kennebunkport, Maine. As with Romney's estate, photographers prowled offshore in rented boats seeking images of the Bushes, including shots of the president at the wheel of his powerboat. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush had their beloved ranches, Reagan's in Santa Barbara, Calif. and Bush's near Waco, Texas. President Bill Clinton didn't own a vacation retreat and neither does Obama. However, Clinton often vacationed at Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. The Obamas also have vacationed there, as well as in the president's home state of Hawaii. For sure, there won't be much vacationing in the days ahead for either Obama or Romney as the presidential campaign heads into its final Continue Reading

Holidays can be nightmarish for people with eating disorders

KENNESAW, Georgia (CNN) -- The sweet smell of sugar cookies baking filled the air in Kris Shock's kitchen.  She pulled a tray from the oven and sat down with her 9-year-old son, Drew, to frost the treats. Then, Shock did something that might have been unthinkable for her a few years ago. She took a bite of a cookie. Shock, 36, of Kennesaw, Georgia, spent most of her adolescence and early adulthood struggling with bulimia and an addiction to diet pills. Long holiday seasons were always the worst, Shock said, as she dealt with the stress of trying to create a picture-perfect Thanksgiving and Christmas for her family. "I would be emotionally and physically exhausted come the New Year, and I would have no memories to show for it other than sheer anxiety," Shock recalled. "I would be acting out at every moment, whether that was using diet pills, taking laxatives or restrictive behavior, whatever I used to cope at that moment." Now in recovery, Shock approaches the holidays and all that tempting food with a bit of trepidation.  Watch more on coping with holiday eating challenges » "I always keep in mind that relapse is potentially possible if I don't do the right things," Shock said. "For me, that is being honest with myself, knowing that tomorrow I may have to pick up the phone and call a nutritionist ... or call my therapist." That's just what some experts recommend, including Cynthia Bulik, director of the University of North Carolina Eating Disorders Program. "For some people, the holiday season is filled with joyous occasions and wonderful food," Bulik said. "For other people, it can actually be quite a nightmare ... especially if you have eating disorders." Bulik is busy these days helping her patients figure out how to navigate all the stress-inducing holiday parties and family gatherings. She tells people with eating disorders, "Keep your support team on speed dial." Bulik targeted her advice to people who suffer from Continue Reading

Hamill: Easter brings long holiday dessert lines to Brooklyn bakery

It is Easter and He is risen. And so have the cakes, pastries and breads of Villabate Alba Bakery as customers wield umbrellas on a line curving from the door on 18th Ave. onto 70th St. in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, for holiday desserts. “I come in to Villabate from Massapequa for every holiday,” says Natale Lovoro, 53, his jacket blotched with rain after an hour on line Friday. “My parents come from here, and you don’t have a bakery like this anywhere on Long Island. None come close to the cannolis, grain pies, pastries, cookies, Easter cassata cakes. The bread — oh my God! — the semolina bread they make here. It’s worth every minute on line. This is an Italian mom-and-pop shop, and you can taste the family pride in every bite.” There’s the Alaimo family behind the mobbed counter, blue Villabate Alba T-shirts dusted with flour and smudged with a spectrum of colored icing. Emanuele Sr., 68, came from Villa Bate, Sicily, to New York in 1968 with the ancient noble skill of a bread baker. “I worked in an industrial bakery making bread for years, saving my money,” says the patriarch. “Then in 1978, I had the chance to open my first store down the block. I say to my wife, Lina, ‘I’m leaving it up to you. If you say yes we’ll have a business but no life.’ ” Lina rings up a holiday dessert order for $187.50, smiles, and says, “I said yes. My husband was right. I been working every day since. I worked seven days a week even when I was pregnant. When I was pregnant with Antonio, the doctor said my due date was the day before Thanksgiving. I said I can’t give birth until after Thanksgiving because I can’t take off on a holiday. I had the baby on Friday.” She laughs as the steady line of customers buys Italian cookies, Easter lamb-shaped cakes, egg-shaped cakes, bunny-shaped cakes, cassata cakes, 80 Continue Reading