The American Civil War

One hundred fifty years ago, the American Civil War ended. The four years of battle that raged between April 12, 1861 and June 2, 1865 was the culmination of social, economic, and philosophic differences that had been simmering amongst the citizens of our nation since its inception, some eighty years prior.

Ohio's Tribute
Most historians agree that the cornerstone of division was the issue of slavery, but to a large degree, the reasons for the war were far more complex than that. The belief that the Union (North) comprised the noble, non-bigoted, “good guys,” fighting to end slavery, while the Confederacy (South), were the “oppressive slave owners,” fighting to preserve an abhorrent institution, is an inaccurate, overly-simplistic view of the war and the events leading to it. Unfortunately however, most Americans’ knowledge of the Civil War begins and ends with just that level of understanding.

For many, the Civil War is simply ancient history, having little or no significance to life in America today—but that too would be inaccurate. So, this month, in a superb feature beginning on page twenty-two, our own Lexi Greenberg—a bona fide Civil War enthusiast—does her best to entice you to want to learn more about it.

As recent racial tensions attest, in many ways, the cauldron of discord in America that led up to the Civil War still simmers, and the wounds inflicted on our nation have not fully healed. We owe it to the thousands who lost their lives on both sides of the conflict, as well as to future generations, to gain a better, more accurate understanding of how and why the Civil War occurred, and how it still affects us, today.

150 Years after the Divide

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.
– March 4, 1861 – Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address

The battle of Palmito Ranch in Texas took place May 12-13, 1865 – this was the very last battle fought during the American Civil War. One hundred fifty years ago, the gruesome, bloody and tumultuous four-years of fighting between the brothers (and sisters!) of one hugely divided nation ended; a period of history significant in the growth, collapse and creation of many American ideals. Yes, the significance if the American Civil War is immense, and for me, the number of casualties plays a large role in roping me in, but… what does it mean today?

Civil war bugler.

I have had numerous constructive discussions with my father and friends, and other people I encounter who also have a keen interest in the topic. This random, yet substantial, fact about me tends to throw people off; I’ve been asked if I was kidding on a few occasions. Honestly, it makes me think, “are you kidding?” when someone makes it clear that they have little-to-no interest in understanding and learning about this important, heartbreaking time in our country’s short history. I am constantly wondering, “How are people not absolutely fascinated with this?”

Looking back on my public school education, I’m not even sure I learned anything significant about the Civil War, aside from the key-notes; Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address and the Emancipation Proclamation being the most notable in regards to what I and all of my classmates learned in high school. I can only assume this attributes to my peers’ lack of interest on the topic,

Though the final battle was in May, General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Wilmer McLean’s house in Appomattox County, Virginia on April 9, 1865. This is the most commonly agreed upon date most people associate with the end of the war, but as I mentioned at the very start of this article, the last two-day battle had not yet been fought. Isn’t that interesting? Short answer: yes, yes it is!

What was it about?

When I talk to friends, colleagues or strangers (listen, I’ll talk to nearly anyone about it, okay?), the responses can be interesting to say the least. Coming as no surprise whatsoever, the most common understanding is, “They were fighting to end slavery!” I’ve heard someone say with a cutting tone, “This is literally one of the most boring topics. Choose something better to talk about.” I can recall the time a person once told me that it wasn’t actually that big of a deal, a lot of it was fabricated and blown totally out of proportion for “media purposes.” Personally, I love when people ask for fun facts because I get to share my personal favorite: the war started and ended on the properties of the same man. Wait, what?

Leather Gloves

Remember like, two short paragraphs ago, when I mentioned General Lee surrendering at the McLean house? Okay, well, here’s the thing: the first battle occurred on Wilmer McLean’s ranch in Manassas on July 21, 1861 – this would become better known as the first battle of Bull Run. So, close to exactly four years later, even after the man and his family moved, it was formally ended inside his home, in the parlor to be exact. He is credited as saying, “The war began in my front yard and ended in my front parlor.”


Old Stone House at Manassas Battlefield


Okay. At this point you might be wondering what I’m even going on about – why am I writing this? What is the point? As a future historian, one of my goals is to educate people about the civil war—whether it is general or complex information. Don’t worry; this will be a pretty general overview with primary focus on the loss accumulated because of the war. This, to me, is incredibly significant in recognizing the 150th anniversary of what many historians consider to be the nation’s greatest moral and political crisis.


The Numbers

With the first battle of Bull Run beginning there on the McLean farm, many thought that it would be a quick fight – over in no time. That sounds familiar and not archaic at all, doesn’t it? Well, obviously it was not. For the next four years the men and women, yes, I said women, would fight hundreds of battles and lose hundreds of thousands of American patriots. An estimated 2,213,363 American’s fought for their causes. With the Northern Union army, it is generally agreed that they were fighting to keep America united and, eventually, for the emancipation of African American slaves – the north considered their lives valuable. If you read more about this topic, there are a number of reasons given for those who signed up to fight in the Union army. The general consensus in regards to the Confederate army was that they were fighting to keep slavery alive in America – their livelihood depended upon it and it was their right as free Americans. These are the very basic ideals for the war coming about.

Wounded American Civil War soldiers

Wounded American Civil War soldiers

All totaled, we would lose two percent of the total American population because of this conflict. Interestingly enough, an updated estimate of the total number of deaths was released in 2012 by J. David Hacker, a demographic historian from Binghamton University in New York. For over 100 years the number was thought to be an estimated 618,222 total lives lost; 360,222 from the North and 258,000 from the South. Keep in mind that this number includes casualties of disease, injuries, infection caused from injury and deaths of prisoners being held captive, as well. According to various sources, for every four Union soldiers, it is estimated that more than one was killed or wounded during the war whereas casualties in the Confederate army were considered to be even worse – it’s estimated that one in three Southern soldiers were killed or wounded.

That number was considered pretty concrete for over a century following the war, but with the research painstakingly compiled by J. David Hacker, the new number was increased by more than twenty percent—he believes that the total of casualties actually lies somewhere between 650,000-850,000. Dr. Hacker referenced census records from 1850-1880 to put together a pattern of survival rates throughout the decades of turmoil in America. His research revealed that the period of 1860-1870 was approximately 750,000 men and women short of the normal survival pattern in the years when war was not waging. This new estimate provides even more reason to acknowledge the significance of this incredible moment in American history.

“If you want to argue that the conflict was very destructive, the 750,000 number could certainly suggest that,” Hacker says. “On the other hand, you could emphasize that neither army directly targeted the civilian population, that the number of civilian deaths was relatively low and that most soldiers’ deaths were not on the battlefield. Only when you add both sides’ casualties, which we don’t do for other wars, can you get to that total.”

Reaching Further than Anticipated

Points that should also be noted include just how much of the land in America saw battle activity throughout the duration of the war, as this may bring more understanding in regards to the number of casualties historians have estimated. Of course, all along the east coast and throughout the south, there are thousands of battlefields where blood was shed. Interestingly enough, there were battles fought out as far west as New Mexico. The Battle of Glorieta Pass first began at Apache Canyon on March 26, with the last encounter being at Pigeon’s Ranch on March 28, 1862.

War Memorial Wheeled Cannon Military Civil War Weapon Dusk Sunset

Our dear San Francisco even has historical ties to the civil war; though Alcatraz never fired its guns offensively, though during the war it was used to imprison Confederate sympathizers and privateers as early as 1861. The island of Alcatraz was ordered to be set aside specifically for military use in 1850 by President Millard Fillmore. When the civil war began in 1861, the island was equipped with 75 cannons lining the perimeter to start, later having a total of 105 as of 1866. Alcatraz Island was also used as arsenal storage in an attempt to prevent their inventory from falling into the hands of those that sympathized with the confederacy.

The Pacific Coast Theater of the American Civil War was the military operations for the Pacific coast as well as states and territories lying west of the Continental Divide. California, Oregon and Nevada were the states that took part; the territories of Washington, Utah and Idaho joined some time after the fighting began. While there were no direct meetings aside from the aforementioned Battle of Glorieta Pass, there was wartime activity as far west as the coast of Alaska, when the CSS Shenandoah, the second and last Confederate raider ship to enter the Pacific, fired some of the last shots of the war in the Bering Sea—too late to have any real impact, as the war had already ended.

You ask me if I will not be glad when the last battle is fought, so far as the country is concerned I, of course, must wish for peace, and will be glad when the war is ended, but if I answer for myself alone, I must say that I shall regret to see the war end. I would be willing, yes glad, to see a battle every day during my life. Now do not misunderstand me. I speak only of my own interests and desires…but as I said before, when I think of the pain & misery produced to individuals as well as the miserable sorrow caused throughout the land I cannot but earnestly hope for peace, and at an early date.             -George Armstrong Custer, in a letter to a cousin, written shortly after Antietam, October 3, 1862.

This barely scratches the surface of the huge impact yet short divorce this nation seems to have experienced with its own history and development, and how people began to view and hold America in their hearts. If you’re looking for a good starting point for more in-depth information about the Civil War, Ken Burns’ Civil War is highly recommended. Indeed, all of his documentaries are incredible but this one is especially poignant.

I hope this brief look has inspired some intrigue to explore the depths of this topic. Let’s try to keep a dialog going to ensure this critical yet tragic time is never glossed over or forgotten.

Rx for Better Living

Approximately once a month I receive an e-mail from a friend, casual acquaintance, or a family member who lives back East extolling the virtues and joys of life as it was back in “The Good Old Days.” We evidently had a life filled with food and other good things that were not anywhere near as expensive as they are today; we, according to the e-mails, were better people with higher standards of morality and behavior; and life was simpler and easier. The notes often end with the question, “Why can we not return to the idyllic life that was?”

I, for one, think that we can return to the simpler life that we experienced so many years ago. In order to place the return to a specific time frame, I choose to return to 1957. I selfishly choose that year because it was a dramatic year for me personally: I did my student teaching, then signed a contract to begin my professional career as a teacher ($4,450.00 per year, not per month); our first child was born; I bought my first new car; and, on the negative side of the ledger, my father died at age 60. So let us return to those halcyon days of yesteryear.

1957's Chevrolet

I will, of course, have to say a fond farewell to the computer upon which I am writing this prescription. I have yet to solve the problem of printing it if I do not use the computer. Of course, that will also mean no more Youtube late at night; no more, “I don’t know, but I’ll Google it;” no more e-mails (a mixed blessing which may save the Postal Service from bankruptcy); no more GPS (“Is that a left or right turn on Tice?”); no more “No, I did not save a hard copy, but I can find it in the memory;” and some folks will be all a-twitter at the thought of have to face a book made of paper once more.

Good-bye cell phone! (In my opinion this is one the three most insidious inventions of the human race.) Even our land lines will no longer have caller ID, and we will just have to guess at which charity, legitimate or not, is interrupting dinner. Without “Call Waiting” we will no longer have to choose between the President asking our advice about the Middle East or hearing about our grandson’s game-winning hit in Little League. (Sorry, Barak, but I’ll get back to you.) Remember also to get a long cord so you can go into the other room for private conversations.

There may be slight problem if you take any medication. Chances are whatever medicine we take was discovered, invented, or unearthed within the last five to twenty-five years, but we are headed for 1957. We certainly hope that no one will ever need surgery of any kind, but if you should, ’57 was not really a banner year. (One surgery that might have helped my father live past his 60 years in 1957 is the same surgery I had seventeen years ago. That too has since been supplanted by more modern techniques.)

On a more pleasant note, let’s take a peek at our 1957 television sets. We will be able to view CBS, NBC, ABC, the Mutual Network, and, if one lived in an urban setting, maybe two or three independents. These will, of course, be in black and white, on a small screen, and with no High-either-Fidelity-or-Definition. Should you wish to change the channel or volume, simply get up from the couch and turn the dial—what could be simpler.

Some of us will purchase new 1957 automobiles “loaded” with AM radio, heater, automatic transmission, and, if you are wealthy, maybe even air conditioning. Be careful of that steering column, however, it is a holdover from jousting days and is lethal in a head-on crash. Air bags? Are you serious? If you cannot afford air conditioning, simply roll down your window—the operational word there is “roll,” no buttons to push: Roll!

The environment? Safety? Comfort? Conveniences? Let us remember that there were no interstate highways then. We will need to change the oil every 1000 miles; tires will last as much as 20,000 miles. Our new 1957 model will, of course, have turn signals, but as we know, turn signals are, in Hamlet’s words, “More honored in the breach than in the observance.”

Should we decide that rather than driving, we will fly somewhere, those propeller driven planes will get us there—maybe a tad slower, and there are far fewer than in this ugly 21st Century. Cruise ships? Wow, you must really be wealthy.

And so, my fellow citizens, here is my prescription for returning to the “good old days” of 1957. This is all academic, of course, because a good portion of us are statistically long since deceased if we use 1957 as our standard. Maybe Charlie Dickens had the right idea in 1859 when he wrote:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness . . . in short, the period was so far like the present that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.                                                                                                         A TALE OF TWO CITIES

So here is my Rx: Take a large dose of 2015 four times daily—soon it too will be part of “the good old days.”

Flick Nation Review: While We’re Young

Until a “comedy” comes along and gives us more to think about than the last twenty dramas we’ve seen, we usually forget that it is always more powerful and memorable when we are able to experience true issues in the guise of humor. Perhaps this is why comic actors continually surprise us with their ability to nail dramatic roles—the comedy they have mined has already trained them to find multiple layers of meaning in a given context. The truth behind the joke is the steak behind the sizzle, and the best comedians—and writers—know this well.WhileWereYoung poster222

While We’re Young, the new film from writer/director Noah Baumbach, is a perfect example of the umbilical cord that connects comedy with sharp insight, and this metaphor is all the more apt because this film is definitely concerned with babies, not explicitly, but the birth of one is the catalyst for much of the story that follows. Because, as we all know, when a baby comes into the picture, everything changes, and not just for the parents, but for the parents’ friends as well. You know the drill: Two BFF couples find themselves surprisingly growing apart (it won’t happen to us!) after one becomes parents…especially if the other has decided not to have kids. What is left to talk about or experience together, when one couple is excited about Friday happy-hour and the other hasn’t slept in three days?

While We’re Young is about many things, and it moves quickly from one issue to the next. On the surface, it is the story of an aging Gen X couple, Josh and Cornelia (Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts) who become besotted with Jamie and Darby (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried), a young, new-millennium couple, after their former best-friend-couple, Fletcher and Marina (Adam Horovitz and Maria Dizzia) become parents and quickly disappear into their all-encompassing baby-reality, with their new baby-friends, and their important baby-events, and their maddeningly joyous new baby-perspective on life. Josh and Cornelia, while sticking to their plan to remain child-free, still feel they need to breathe some life into their, well, lives, and see their new in-the-moment, confident, and refreshingly candid (or so they seem) 20-something friends as bringing just the vibe they have been missing. The younger couple feel, well, I’m not sure what they feel, and certainly Josh and Cornelia don’t know either. This becomes more and more apparent as the film progresses; the veils of their misplaced admiration fall one by one, and laugh by laugh.

The secondary plot is the story of three male characters, who are all filmmakers—Josh has been working on a serious documentary for over six years, Jamie has aspirations to make a film of his own, and Josh’s father-in-law, Leslie (the always interesting Charles Grodin) is a cinéma vérité auteur famous for making probing, classic documentaries along the lines of D.A. Pennebaker and the Maysles Brothers. As the film moves towards its conclusion, the three men find themselves at ethical logger-heads, each with a singular idea of what it means to make true art, and what is honorably acceptable to achieve that artistic vision. Essentially, one thinks the ends justifies the means, one thinks the means justifies the ends, and one is just pissed off that he has to choose between the two. The moral questions that arise are juicy, and very much a window into the generation gaps that exist today. For there isn’t just one anymore; the old emblem of the long-hair vs. the crew-cut is hopelessly outdated now. There is no such thing as a “teenager” if everyone seeks to live like one.

Along with exploring universal questions regarding aging, While We’re Young is very insightful about the way we live and age now, the way we deal with these issues at this particular time. That this movie is firmly in the moment can be seen in the juxtaposition of the three filmmakers. Only a few years ago, this story-line would be a clear indication that the director is ultimately making a statement about himself—perhaps an artist confessional, an existential cry of pain, or a barbed screed against his critics. But, these days, making a film is ubiquitous in our culture, and Baumbach slyly uses this trope not as a means to deconstruct himself, but as a razor-sharp metaphor for a society where everyone seeks to be the center of the universe.

While We’re Young doesn’t really take a stand for or against any couple or lifestyle or ethic, but it isn’t entirely neutral either—it scratches its head trying to ponder the choices and views of the younger couple, to be sure, but it also looks unflinchingly at the Boomer/Xers whose general age Baumbach shares. Like all great humorists, he wisely skewers hypocrisy no matter the age, lifestyle, or even ethical philosophy of his characters. But, though Baumbach is often flabbergasted by their beliefs and actions, he is never overtly mean to them, and he never condemns them. What really comes through is his mostly sweet and non-judgmental new-millennium acceptance, while still holding space as an equal-opportunity satirist. It is a delicate balance, and While We’re Young admirably maintains this poise throughout.

Baumbach has a great ear for dialogue, and is deft at extracting humor from banter that isn’t “trying to be funny.” It is a rare filmmaker who can communicate intense subject matter through a comic tone, and While We’re Young is Baumbach’s best effort to date. It further explores the neurotic, bittersweet territory of his previous films (The Squid and The Whale, Margot at the Wedding, Greenberg) yet goes deeper, provides more laughs, and nails the cultural zeitgeist confidently and unapologetically. While We’re Young is a serious, timely drama wrapped within a witty New York comedy; in the end it is simply very smart, observant, and—like life—both unnerving and funny, often at the same time.

Official Trailer “While We’re Young” A24 Films


The Music of Spring

Composers though out the ages have written about the changing seasons but spring has especially inspired many to write beautiful music. Spring, a season of renewal, rebirth and regeneration inspires feelings of romance, hope and love and expressed through music, these emotions come to life.

Spring is Here, from the musical I Married an Angel by Rodgers and Hart, 1938, It Might as Well be Spring, from State Fair by Rodgers and Hammerstein,1945, and Younger Than Springtime, from South Pacific also by Rodgers and Hammerstein, 1949, are just a few examples of memorable spring songs of the modern era.

Close-up detail of piano keyboard and flower in monochrome

Two very famous pieces of classical music exemplify the music of spring. The first one, The Four Seasons, is a piece written during the late Baroque period, from 1600-1750. “The use of the term, Baroque, stems not from music but from architecture. The root of the word means abnormal and grotesque. Now, in present-day usage, it means finely structured,” wrote Ethan Mordden in his book, A Guide to Orchestral Music.

The Four Seasons (Le Quattro Stagioni), considered a musical masterpiece, was composed by Antonio Vivaldi. A prolific composer, he became renowned for his concerti in the Baroque style. He completed the work circa 1725. It is written for solo violin, string orchestra and harpsichord.

Written in four sections: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter; each section is a separate concerto in the form of the Italian concerto. The sections within each concerto are fast-slow-fast. In the first movement or section, the music mimics natural sounds of birdsong and weather effects. The soloists imitate the bird’s chirrups, trickling streams, passing storms and a repeat of the birdsong. The second movement is suggestive of the slumber of a goat herder and his faithful dog. The final movement is a dance of nymphs and shepherds. This concerto is an early example of program music where the music depicts a scene and tells a story.

Composer, Antonio Vivaldi, (1678-1741) one of the most renowned figures in European classical music, was born in Venice, Italy. His Father, Giovanni Vivaldi, was a barber who became a professional musician and was employed as a violinist at Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Venice. It was from his father that young Antonio received his early training on violin. Vivaldi was ordained a Catholic priest (he was known as the “Red Priest” because of his flaming red hair) but instead he chose to follow his passion for music. Vivaldi was known as a virtuoso violinist who wrote over 500 concerti, over 40 operas and 90 sonatas, among others. He wrote many concerti during his 36 years in charge of the music at the Ospedale della Pieta orphanage for girls.

The Rite of Spring (Le Sacre du Printem) by Igor Stravinsky, (1882-1971), was a monumental break though for 20th Century composers the world over. Stravinsky subtitled it, Pictures of Pagan Russia.
The Rite of Spring is a barbaric spectacle portraying fertility rites in pre-historic Russia. The music is characterized by continual changes of rhythm with accents on traditionally un-accented beats, very harsh dissonances and brusque orchestration. The piece was premiered in Paris in 1913. On opening night the audience was appalled by the music and a riot ensued; the audience became rude and hostel. Today, this music is not only accepted but admired and often used as a model by contemporary composers.

Stravinsky was born in Russia and in his early career was known as a romantic Russian nationalist. He studied for one year with the famous Rimsky-Korsakov. Stravinsky eventually settled in Paris and absorbed much of the Parisian lifestyle. He was invited by Serge Diaghileff, impresario of the Ballet Russe, to compose music for his ballet company. Later, in 1939, he moved to America where he spent the rest of his life.

Stravinsky’s different periods of composition, representing various styles of music, dominated his composing career. Perhaps no other composer reached so far for new horizons. “Never a copycat—he never sounded like anyone else…where extravagant individualism is a minimum requirement, Stravinsky stands out,” wrote Mordden.

Mark your calendar for the Danville Community Band’s Annual Free Spring Concert, Sunday, June 14, 2015 at 3 p.m., Community Presbyterian Church in Danville. For information call 925-372-8420. Please submit your questions and comments to Visit our website at for up-to-date information about the Danville Community Band.

Well Traveled

Summer’s coming and that means time for vacation! You’ve got your passport, reserved the kennel for Rover, stopped the mail, notified your bank, got the neighbor kid to water the tomatoes, made your reservations, booked the car/plane/train, packed your bags, made your list, checked it twice…PHEW! Preparing for vacation is exhausting.

But all the preparation in the world means nothing if you haven’t prepared the most important thing of all: You!

Livermore, California wellness experts, Dr. Anita Haque and her certified fitness trainer husband, Don Parker, know all too well what happens when people forget about preparing their bodies for vacation. They’ve seen it dozens of times – people heading out of town unprepared for unusual physical conditions or situations, and then getting sick or having a terrible time, and then needing a vacation from their vacation when they get home. Picture3 copy

“People save their money for years to take the trip of a lifetime, and they prepare for months in advance,” says Haque, “but because it’s vacation, they think all the prep is in getting out the door, and they ignore that their bodies need to be prepped too.”

So Haque and Parker created the Healthy Travel Docs program, where would-be travelers consult with the duo, generally six to twelve weeks in advance of departure. Since I’m going to Italy at the end of the month, I decided to make an appointment and was super impressed with this dynamic duo, who obviously practice what they preach.

Alive Magazine: Why did you come up with this?

Healthy Travel Docs: Over the years we’ve had several patients and clients seek health advice from us prior to going on vacation, hoping to be in better shape physically. But more often, we’ve seen people after their vacation complaining of more health issues that they didn’t anticipate. We figured if we could come up with a system for people to prepare for conditions or situations physically before they went away, then they could actually avoid some of the disasters we hear about when they return.

AM: What do you mean by disasters?

HTD: Don actually did get a call from a very overweight client who was going on a major walking vacation. He told her it wasn’t going to be easy but if she worked at it every day for three months and came in to see him every week, she’d be ready for it. This poor client felt it was too much work to prepare, so she went off on the walking vacation anyway, without the prep. Sadly, the complete and sudden change in lifestyle without easing into it, proved to be too much for her.

AM: What would the regular traveler get out of coming to you?

HTD: We start with a detailed questionnaire to find out exactly the type of trip they are taking. How are they getting there? What will they be doing while they are there? Will they be at a higher altitude or engaging in waters sports like scuba diving that will affect their breathing and lung capacity? What types of foods will they be eating? How much walking or relaxing will be involved? What is their current health status and what specific goals do they want to accomplish? Then we develop a specific plan for their situation, which may include a specific training routine to get their body ready, or it may include some chiropractic work to help mobilize joints and promote flexibility. It also includes a plan with some simple steps and tricks they can do during their trip to maximize their energy and vitality such as improving their breathing for water sports. Vacation prep almost always includes specific tips for dealing with over-eating, detoxifying when necessary, avoiding aches and pains from sleeping in a different bed, and best ways to travel on a long plane ride or road trip. We make a plan to stay in shape and avoid putting on 10 pounds during a cruise for example, without feeling restricted during the trip. And in case they do suffer a “cramp in their style” such as a pulled muscle or issues from eating different foods, we are only a phone call or email away to offer advice and support so they can get back to enjoying their vacation.

AM: Who tends to take advantage of your Healthy Travel services?

HTD: Our clients are all ages and come from a variety of backgrounds. We’re just as likely to see seniors preparing to enjoy a special walking tour or cruise as we are the weekend warrior who wants to get the most out of his three-day weekend. We also have people who are regular travelers for their jobs and need tips on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle while they are not home. The truth is, even if they’re simply lying on the beach, playing golf or riding an ATV in the desert, their bodies are most likely being put through more than their “regular” lifestyle, and they can really benefit from specific tips and advice to help them feel as great as they can.

AM: Why is this important?

HTD: People save all their lives for a dream vacation, and they get so busy preparing to get away, wrapping up things at work, getting the house ready, finding a place for their pets, having someone water their plants or check their mail that they forget about getting their bodies ready for a change in their everyday routine. Travel is supposed to be a blast but it isn’t enjoyable or as enjoyable if you are feeling uncomfortable in your own skin from not knowing how to deal with the changes that you will be dealing with. Even a simple weekend away with excessive food and alcohol can cause quite a bit of havoc if you don’t know a few simple things to do to avoid the aftermath.

AM: What are some of the benefits you’ve seen in patients/clients?

HTD: Some of the major feedback we hear from our clients is that they were able to do more than they thought they would physically and report coming back home with more energy and not needing a full week of rest and detoxification to get back to feeling like themselves again. Also, it has helped people in a very simple way by implementing very simple things that they didn’t know about before and that they can continue doing when they return. Overall, it brings on a happier and healthier trip and homecoming!

AM: What types of things have the most impact on health when we’re traveling?

HTD: Most people forget about the changes their bodies go through when they’re traveling such as:

• Being uncomfortable from the method of travel whether it’s a long plane ride in an uncomfortable seat or a long road trip.
• Eating more than usual and then having an upset stomach or constipation and not knowing what they can do naturally to avoid it or stop the symptoms.
• Drinking more than usual and not having a solution that can help them avoid missing the next event or being lethargic or in bed on their travels.
• Sustaining injuries from being more active, playing hard, doing water sports, adventure-seeking, etc. making them incapable of doing what they really want to do on their vacation.

AM: What is an example of a vacation “gone wrong” that the Healthy Travel Docs might have helped avoid?

HTD: A great example is a trip to Las Vegas where “living large” and going all out can wreak havoc on the body and therefore the trip itself. For example, someone who may be indulging in more alcohol may want to plan on drinking extra water with some lemon and ginger before they step foot out of their hotel room to keep from getting sick. We can also help you deal with the after affects of a heavy night of partying by having a banana ready and using the spa facility for a 10-minute sauna session to sweat out the toxins. Another tip for the Las Vegas weekend is to eat energy boosting foods such as berries and broccoli since sleeping may not be high on the priority list. Adding alkaline water and other alkaline foods can also help someone stay alert and keep the party going without too many negative body ramifications. Even adding a few quick stretches with some deep breathing can help keep the day going and prevent body ailments.

AM: What about seemingly harmless vacations, such as family reunions or going home again? Do people benefit from help before going on those kinds of vacations?

HTD: Mental stress is probably worse than the physical stresses of vacation as mental stress usually leads to physical changes too! That’s why someone who may be more anxious, nervous or mentally stressed before a vacation would benefit from tips involving a simple five minute breathing and stretching routine designed to calm the body and mind. Sometimes a quick preplanned exercise routine can help diminish stress or be an outlet. In addition, certain foods can help with stress, so pack a calming herbal tea and add specific music to your playlist that will be soothing to the mind. There are even certain spices such as cinnamon and turmeric that can help with mental stress too, and they’re easy to pack.

AM: So when we come home, what’s the best way to get back into the swing of things?

HTD: We abide by the 80/20 rule: Eighty percent of the time you’re being mindful of what you eat and drink, you’re exercising regularly, and doing all the things you’re supposed to do. The other twenty percent, live it up. Weekends should be celebrations. Works for us.

I’ll say. I’ll have whatever they’re having. Happy (and healthy) Trails, travelers!

About America’s Healthy Travel Docs
Dr. Anita Haque is a practicing Chiropractor, Certified Fitness Trainer and Wellness expert. Author of The Chiropractic Way to Health, A Healthy Back Pack, A Healthy Spine! and Exposed! 10 Secrets to Health & Happiness, Dr. Haque focuses on educating her patients and community on natural health and wellness. Her main focus is strengthening the body while correcting spinal issues. She and her husband, Don Parker, certified fitness expert and personal trainer, help families get healthy naturally through Chiropractic care, exercise programs, natural weight loss programs, rehabilitation, massage, and nutrition. For more information, visit

Don Parker, ACE Cert. has always been an advocate of health and fitness. In early childhood, he discovered weight training which soon became his passion. After receiving personal training certifications in affa and ACE, Don left his job in corporate America to follow his dream of helping others with their fitness and training. He started at 24 Hour Fitness where his clientele grew rapidly, allowing him to open Lifestyle Fitness in Northern California in 1999. He and his wife, Dr. Anita Haque, in conjunction with Haque Chiropractic, work together to enhance the wellness of their clients and have developed exercise videos for those who suffer from back pain and want to lose weight. For more, visit

Healthy Travel Docs Quick Tips:

1) Get over jet lag by resetting your sleep cycle as quickly as possible. Stay up until it’s bedtime in your new time zone. If you do wake up too early, try some dry red, tart cherries or some warm chamomile tea. And try counting your breaths rather than letting your mind wander.

2) Motion sickness can be minimized by gazing at a stable object and keeping stomach-gentle foods on hand like ginger and Kombucha tea.

3) European vacation with lots of walking? Leg strengthening exercises combined with uphill intervals on the treadmill will build stamina.

4) Keep sugar down by ordering cocktails without the simple syrup.

Just in case you need it: Hangover Cure

12-18oz of fresh clean water (preferably alkaline)
1 cube of ginger
1 lemon
Dash of cinnamon
Dash of cayenne pepper
4-6 drops of liquid Stevia or ½ tsp of honey

Blend all ingredients together or grate ginger into water and add the rest of the ingredients, mix and drink down!

It’s the Pits!

Spring has sprung, and the farmers’ market shines like a rainbow. Every aisle, brilliant with a kaleidoscope of colors, is also perfumed by the intoxicating fragrance of just-picked produce. Life doesn’t get much better than this.

One tiny bite of a locally-grown strawberry should convince you those Mexican imports found in so many stores are never a bargain at any price; and only a poor imitation of the real thing. And while some produce-lovers obsess over the arrival of summer’s vine-ripened tomatoes and tree fruits like nectarines, peaches, and plums, it’s difficult for the rest of us to think beyond what is in season right now.

And right now features California’s early stone fruits—the ones in season for such a brief period of time. The ones people in some other states consider little more than an urban legend.

Although it’s sometimes difficult to think about eating California apricots and cherries any way other than out-of-hand, occasionally we are blessed with an abundance—like when the price of a flat at the farmers’ market is too good to pass up—and we are suddenly motivated to expand our horizons. Apricots are hardly a challenge, for homemade pies, tarts, jams, and chutneys are perennial favorites, and a delicious way to savor that sweet-tart taste during the months ahead. The same applies to juicy little cherries.

Cherry isolated on white background

If preserving is not your thing, however, consider making a fresh salsa or relish. You and your kitchen stay cool, the time investment is minimal, and the rewards are huge.

I enjoy serving either of the following as a light appetizer, paired with a dab of soft California goat cheese slathered on homemade crostini, or tucked inside a lettuce cup or a crisp leaf of red or green California endive. These recipes also add delicious pizzazz to plain grilled chicken or pork.

Keep these “quick fixes” in mind when planning menus for your Memorial Day weekend. And just about any other day of the week.

Bing Cherry Relish with Fresh Mint
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon local honey
2 cups Bing cherries (about 12 ounces), stemmed, pitted, and coarsely chopped
1 small tart apple, skin-on, cored and cut into a ¼-inch dice (about 1 cup)
2 green onions (scallions), sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons thinly sliced or chopped fresh mint leaves
1 small garlic clove, crushed through a press
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
Fresh black pepper

In a medium bowl, mix together the vinegar and honey until blended. Add the cherries, apple, green onions, mint, garlic, salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Toss gently to mix. Taste, adding more salt, pepper, or vinegar if needed. Use at once, or cover and refrigerate for up to 6 hours. Makes 1 generous cup.

Two-Apricot Salsa
8 ounces firm-but-ripe farm-fresh apricots, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 green onion (scallion), chopped
1 jalapeño or serrano chile pepper, seeded if desired, finely chopped*
2 tablespoons finely chopped California dried apricots
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Dash of salt
1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or mint

In a medium bowl, combine the fresh apricots, bell pepper, green onion, chile, dried apricots, lime juice, and salt. Toss gently to mix. If made in advance, cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Just before serving, stir in the cilantro. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

*If you like things spicy, leave the seeds intact and add them to the salsa. For a milder flavor, cut the chile in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds before chopping. To avoid the risk of an unpleasant burning sensation, wear rubber gloves while working with chiles, or wash your hands immediately after handling them.

Homemade Crostini
Baguette (long, narrow French bread), cut crosswise into slices 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick
California olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay the baguette slices flat on a baking sheet and brush the tops lightly with olive oil. Bake until golden and lightly toasted at the edges, 7 to 10 minutes. Let cool. Use at once, or store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

The Danville Certified Farmers’ Market, located at Railroad and Prospect, is open every Saturday, rain or shine, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. For specific crop information call the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association at 1-800-949-FARM, or visit their web site at This market is made possible through the generous support of the Town of Danville. Please show your appreciation by patronizing the many fine shops and restaurants located in downtown Danville. Buy fresh. Buy local. Live well!

Hydrangeas and Caterpillar Control

Q. I had a horrendous caterpillar problem last year. Can I use a systemic insecticide to control them much like I do with Aphids?

Caterpillar of the Giant Peacock Moth, Saturnia pyri

Caterpillar of the Giant Peacock Moth, Saturnia pyri

A. Systemic insecticides will not control chewing insects like caterpillars, or beetles. They do a wonderful job with Aphids, Mites as well as other sucking insects. These insects feed on the plant juices and also ingest the insecticide, which then controls the population. With chewing insects like caterpillars, these chemicals have no affect. You first need to be diligent in watching the host plants for the first sign of the problem. The caterpillar and worm season begins just after Memorial Day and extends into the early fall. Petunias, Geraniums, Flowering Tobacco and Tomatoes are the primary host plants for worms. In addition, there can be several batches of the same problem during the season, so the host plants need to be checked weekly. I wouldn’t spray until there’s a problem or, you could just pick them off the plants and dispose of them. BT (Bacillus Thuringiensis), is an organic solution that gives the caterpillars or worms a fatal case of the stomach flu; however, it doesn’t work immediately so you have to be patient. Spinosad is another organic solution that will kill the caterpillars on contact and provide some residual control. Captain Jack Dead Bug Brew by Bonide is one of several products. Both of these solutions are widely available. In summary: Be diligent, monitor your plants, and react when necessary.

Q. My hydrangeas grow into beautiful plants each year but do not flower. What do I need to do to encourage them to bloom? I tried 0-10-10 in the past with no success.

A. The failure of Hydrangeas to bloom is not a fertilizer issue. Pruning too heavily causes the lack of flowers or sparse flowering. This tends to be a problem with mature plants in older neighborhoods. Hydrangeas bloom on the second year wood. When the bushes are pruned severely, all the flowering wood is removed. Many times this is the result of inexperienced gardening services. They can maintain grass well but their horticulture is a bit shaky. The Hydrangeas will flower next year, even if you trim the plants lightly this year.

Note: For those looking to replace or plant new Hydrangeas, you can avoid this problem with the Endless Summer varieties. The Endless Summer Hydrangeas bloom on both old and new wood. You get the wonderful flowers every year, whether or not your gardener trims it at the wrong time or too vigorously. Available at your favorite garden center is the standard variety or the lace cap variety, Twist and Shoot.

Buzz Bertolero is Executive Vice President of Navlet’s Garden Centers and a California Certified Nursery Professional. His web address is and you can send questions by email at or to 360 Civic Drive Ste. ‘D’, Pleasant Hill, Calif. 94523 and on Facebook at

Have Americans Become One Big Bad Experiment?

In my book, WHY, The Question That Could Save Your Life, I point out how our leaders have become demagogues. Their goal appears to be motivated more by greed than by serving the people, wanting to own the electorate for their gain. One such ugly conspiracy is the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into our foods without proving their safety. Since their introduction in 1996, diseases resulting from inflammation have severely increased. Several years ago the World Health Organization declared that inflammation is the number one cause of death in humans.

One company that makes absurd profits over our suffering is Monsanto. Because our leaders have all but deserted their first responsibility, to protect us, executives from such companies have been appointed to high positions in the FDA and the EPA. I could write volumes on this subject, but I will proceed to describe the mechanism by which GMOs cause inflammation.

The cells of genetically altered foods have had DNA from sources such as bacteria injected within them to create a new cell with new abilities. In the case of Soy, 94% of United States soy has been altered to be resistant to herbicide called Roundup. Then, to further insult us, Monsanto makes Roundup.

One mechanism by which severe damage can be done with GMOs occurs in the digestive tract. Within this tract exists 80% of our immune system. When a dangerous germ, severe irritant or allergen enters, our immune system immediately reacts to defend us. A GMO is not recognized as normal in our digestive system and an immune response occurs in a similar manor as if it were a germ. The resulting inflammation takes place and the host gets to enjoy the damage many times without feeling it.

Don’t think that avoiding soy or corn saves you from suffering. Soy and corn products are found in many processed foods and, worst of all, in baby formula. We know that inflammation causes diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s; but what about the increase in autism? In addition, many of the auto immune diseases are exacerbated by chronic inflammation. In my book I have a chapter on a much under-funded science called Epidemiology. Epidemiology is under-funded because there is no financial profit in its findings, and those findings may actually cause losses. This field could quickly identify foods that are related to diseases.

America now leads all the developed nations in sickness. Could it be that one reason is that GMOs are illegal throughout Europe and many countries?

You might ask why a dentist specializing in TMD and Dental Sleep Medicine is writing on this subject. Let us not forget that, unless something has radically changed, the head is still connected to the body.

Kick Your Plantar Fasciitis

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is an irritation and swelling of the thick tissue (plantar fascia) on the bottom of the foot. The plantar fascia is a thick fibrous band of connective tissue originating on the bottom surface of the calcaneus (heel bone) and extending along the sole of the foot toward the five toes. The plantar fascia helps hold up the bones on the bottom of the foot, creating the arch. When this fascia becomes inflamed it makes walking painful and difficult. The pain is usually felt on the underside of the heel and is often most intense with the first steps of the day. Plantar fasciitis is commonly thought of as being caused by a heel spur, but research has found that this is not the case. On x-ray, heel spurs are seen in people with and without plantar fasciitis.

Risk factors for plantar fasciitis include:
• Foot arch problems (both flat foot and high arches)
• History of low back pain or sciatica
• Tight Achilles tendon (the tendon connecting the calf muscles to the heel)
• Obesity
• Running, extended amounts of driving or repetitive stress to the foot or leg
• Sudden weight gain

What treatments are available for Plantar Fasciitis

Western medicine typically treats Plantar Fasciitis with oral and/or injectable anti-inflammatories. These may temporarily reduce the pain associated with Plantar Fasciitis but they do not treat the cause of the problem, and by no means heal it.

Long term correction of Plantar Fasciitis is a two step process.

First: Heal the Damaged Fascia
Ending the pain caused by Plantar Fasciitis requires stopping the cycle of inflammation. Class IV laser therapy is an excellent method for this, because it is presently the only modality that can both reduce inflammation and heal tissue simultaneously. Laser treatments at Align Healing Center are done with the K-laser 1200 a Class IV Laser. This laser does not cut or burn but is gently absorbed by the tissue. During Laser Therapy the infrared laser light interacts with tissues at the cellular level, increasing metabolic activity and improving the transport of nutrients across the cell membrane. This initiates the production of cellular energy (ATP) that leads to a cascade of beneficial effects, increasing cellular function and health. This creates an optimal healing environment that reduces inflammation, swelling, muscle spasms, stiffness and pain. As the injured area returns to normal, function is restored and pain is relieved.
Second: Correct the Foot and Gait Mechanics
This involves rehabilitation of spine as well as the arch of the foot. Arch rehabilitation is achieved by utilizing specific insoles and/or specific taping of the foot in order to re-establish proper motion of the arch while walking, then specific strengthening and stretching exercises are used to rehabilitate of the musculature of the foot and lower leg to ensure lasting results.

At Align Healing Center we are having great success treating plantar fasciitis, sciatica, shoulder and neck pain, migraines, arthritis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel, post surgical pain, sports injuries and more; even if it’s long-term residual pain. Even ar¬thritis and degenerative disc disease sufferers can see long term benefits from this treatment without any of the negative side effects experienced with the long term use of medications.

Dr. Niele Maimone, DC is the founder of Align Healing Center in Danville, CA. To set up a complimentary consult call 925.362.8283 or visit for more information.

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