Listen and Reacquaint Your Passion

From the Publisher

With each New Year comes renewed hope for the future. Rife with excitement and expectation, we rejoice in blessings past and the opportunities ahead. What better time to consider some half-forgotten
interest or passion set aside? Last year I did just that. I reacquainted myself with a sport I was once passionate about—skiing.

I first learned to ski as high school junior, in 1973. I loved the sport so much that three years later, in 1976, I started a ski tour company. Through that enterprise I was afforded the opportunity to ski just about every week for the next fifteen years. Then, in 1990, as sometimes happens, life had other plans for me. Conditions changed to where I had to leave my passion for skiing behind.

Since that time, on occasion, I thought about getting back on the slopes. But that voice inside was always silenced by another one— the one reminding me of all of the reasons to put thoughts of skiing
back into the “memories” file. I no longer owned ski equipment or clothing, and, for that matter, I wasn’t twenty-two anymore, either!

But I suppose what defines something as one’s passion is the fact that it never leaves you alone. It persists in vying for your attention.

In my case, I was reminded every year, prompted by my good friend and ski partner from those early years, Del, saying, “We’ve got to go skiing this year!” Then there was the heartfelt desire to have my son
experience the same joy I had felt so many years ago; the wonderful sound of fresh-packed snow crunching under your skis and that feeling of flying. I really had no other choice but to try skiing again.

After a twenty year hiatus, last April, I went skiing again. And what a feeling it was! Even though I will admit I was a bit winded earlier in the day than I would likely have been twenty years ago, it really felt as if I had been skiing all along. My passion was re-kindled, only it was better because now I could share it with my son.

As this New Year unfolds, I implore you to identify some interest—some passion that you have, for whatever reason, pushed aside. Is it the piano? Is it a language; reading; writing; painting; or going back to earn your degree? Or maybe, it’s skiing.

Whatever voice inside calls, my wish for the New Year is that you hear it and be reacquainted with your passion.

Eric Johnson

Cloudy with a Chance of Kale

Market Fresh
The holiday decorations are put away (well, at least most of ‘em) and the house is looking rather Spartan. No more parties. No more cookies for breakfast. No more cocktails-every-single-night-of-the-week. Even our beloved farmers’ market is pared down to the basics now. It’s January, and the weather is often as gray as our moods.

Few things warm the spirit like a pot of soup bubbling away on top of the stove. Instant aromatherapy. And when it’s homemade and healthy, all the better. This month has me dreaming of kale, a hearty green that is also an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K, to ward off winter colds. It also happens to be delicious.

No doubt you’ve seen big bunches of ruffly-leafed common green kale year ‘round at the market; and it is a perfectly respectable vegetable for soups, stews, or for braising all by its lonesome. Come fall and winter, however, check out some of the less common varieties like the dark green, crinkly-leafed Tuscan kale–also known as dinosaur kale, lacinato kale, or cavolo nero (black kale).

Serve this comforting soup with crusty artisan bread from the farmers’ market. And maybe a glass of wine, as an homage to holidays past.

Stirring the Pot

–The following recipe comes together quickly for a weeknight dinner; but like any soup, it actually tastes better when reheated…so proceed accordingly.
–I’ve used canned cannellini beans for convenience here; but when you have freshly cooked beans of any variety on hand, by all means use them. And if beans are not on the menu, add some diced red- or white-skinned potatoes instead, and just cook them in the soup until tender.
–Kale stems are often discarded in recipes; but since they are edible (and simply require longer cooking than the leaves) I chop them finely and add them to the soup early on.
–Confirmed carnivores may want to stir in some cooked and crumbled Italian sausage. Soups are very forgiving, so add or delete ingredients, as you like. In fact, it’s probably a good day to multi-task by cleaning out your refrigerator!
— This recipe includes the rind from a chunk of Parmesan cheese as an optional ingredient. Whenever you buy a chunk of Parmesan, get in the habit of saving the hard rind; just store them in the freezer until needed. When you making soups, stews, or sauces—especially ones with an Italian bent—toss the rind (still frozen is okay) into the pot for added flavor.

Market Fresh

Tuscan Kale Soup with Cannellini Beans

  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) cannellini (white kidney) beans
  • 1 bunch farm-fresh kale (any variety), tough ends trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons California extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup water (or additional stock)
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary or other herb of choice
  • The rind from a small chunk of Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
  1. Empty the beans into a colander, and rinse well with cold water. Let drain.
  2. Remove the center ribs from the kale. Coarsely chop the leaves and set aside. Finely chop the ribs.
  3. Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the finely chopped kale ribs, the onion, carrot, celery, and pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened but not browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the drained beans, the chopped kale leaves, the stock, water, rosemary sprig, and the cheese rind, if using. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove and discard the rosemary sprig (it’s okay if most of the leaves have fallen off) and the Parmesan cheese rind. Ladle the soup into warm bowls. For added flourish, drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top of each. Pass freshly grated Parmesan at the table. Serves 4.

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

Skin Care Straight Talk

TWO WEEKS and NOTICE….Radiant, smooth, and blemish-free skin: New face creams are claiming big improvements in just 14 days. But do they really deliver? Miracle-of-the-month creams are nothing new, but real results in less than two weeks? I don’t think so. That’s what the latest skincare products are claiming but many advanced scientific skin researchers are skeptical. “Cell turnover takes 28 to 38 days, so it typically takes one month before you see real results and your skin starts looking better. To separate the hype from the real deal, I am going to give you some straight talk in skin care, where to buy and who to believe.

Aroma Therapy Products

While they smell good, feel great and have natural oils they will not stop the aging process. They are not strong enough and they just cannot deliver the nutrients or the scientific clinical treatments that improve skin texture.

Multi Level Marketing Companies Skin Care/Info Commercial Skin Care
There is a lot of confusion purchasing skin care products from multi level and mass marketing info commercials. The products are not what you think. These companies mass market to the public and therefore they can’t possibly create an effective product that will make a difference to the skin. While their products are nice, their product has to work for everyone; the product has to be gentle enough for every skin type no matter what age. It’s a One Size Fits All Skin Care. So that means no side effects no high potency anti-oxidants and no large doses of scientific advanced technologies = no benefits. They claim they have the same strong ingredients as professional brands from licensed skin care professionals or Dermatologists, but truly they can’t because to sell any advanced scientific products you need to be licensed with the state and/ or with a degree.

Drug Store Anti-aging Creams
Skin Care products that you purchase in a drug store cannot exceed a certain percentage of clinical ingredients. It is against state board regulation and the FDA. Even though products say they have Vitamin C or Glycolic acid, the percentages are so low your skin will never see a difference. It’s like purchasing a Retinol A product over the counter as opposed to a doctors prescription Retin A formula—it’s like night and day! So it is better to spend ten dollars more and purchase creams from your favorite skin professional for maximum results and benefits.

Department Store Creams

Despite what the department stores skin care companies claim they will never be strong or effective like a Scientifically Clinical Advanced Skin Care Product. While there are exceptions, like Dr. Perricone’s skin care, the real problem you face when purchasing in a department store is you always get someone different and has a different opinion about your skin, plus they are not licensed professionals. How do you know what they will tell you is the right skin care product for you? They are not trained and don’t know how to analyze skin conditions to give you what you need.

Stamps In My Passport – St. Maarten

One of the most overused clichés in our modern world is “sometimes it’s better to be lucky than it is to be good.” Regardless of your position on this saying, there is some truth to it. Recently on our trip to St. Maarten in the Netherland Antilles, I enjoyed a wonderful day made even more so by “luck.” It all started with a fairly major screw-up. I thought we had a superb plan, but it quickly turned sour. Let me tell you about it.

We were spending two relaxing weeks in St. Maarten at a charming guest house called “The Horny Toad.” (Please, no comments here.) The island is half Dutch and half French and is the largest of a collection of islands which include such notables as St. Barthelemy, Anguilla, Saba, and others. One of the pleasant diversions is visiting these neighbors by high-speed ferry. Each has its own individual character and charm. My story takes place on the island of Saba – our favorite.

Let me first get the boring details out of the way. While its neighbors are mostly flat with fine sandy beaches, Saba is more vertical than horizontal – rising to a height of almost three thousand feet from an off-shore depth of more than three thousand feet. There are no beaches – only jagged volcanic rocks. The total population is only eighteen hundred people, and making a living here is very difficult.

For those of you who are detail-oriented travel buffs, you may have read the fascinating tale of Saba and its roads. Briefly, before the 1930s it had none – due to the rugged, treacherous terrain. The official wisdom was that it was impossible to build any roads on this little speck of volcanic protuberance. Being frustrated by this thinking, a native of Saba – Josephus Lambert Hassell – took up this challenge. He studied civil engineering by correspondence courses and convinced a crew of locals to start building a road in 1939. By 1958 the entire thoroughfare to the airport had been completed. It is called simply “The Road.” There are two to four hundred foot drop-offs on one side or the other. Driving is not for the faint-of-heart.

Our plan was to hop the early morning ferry, take a cab up to the fairly level section at the top of the road called Windwardside, and slowly make our way down by paths and walkways we assumed would be there.

Now days of the week lose significance while lolling on beaches, and we inadvertently selected a Sunday for our adventure. Bad move. We climbed off our ferry, along with six or eight others, and scrambled up to the narrow flat ground, avoiding the signs which warned “Stay clear, falling rocks.”

Alas, our first major obstacle – no taxis. We stood there, two wayward waifs, wondering what to do next. Now it so happened that a yellow van with School Bus prominently displayed on its side arrived and disgorged about ten kids who were being loaded on to the ferry for a brief holiday on St. Eustatius, another adjacent island.

As the yellow school bus pulled out, the driver, a native of Saba saw us standing there and asked if he could be of any assistance to us. We described our dilemma and his reply was, “Hey, no problem. Get in the bus and I will give you a tour.” How could you refuse such a grand offer?

Our new-found friend’s name was Cyril. He was born in Saba and lived on the island most of his fifty some years. He claimed to know everyone on the island and went on to prove it as he greeted all the walkers and the knots of folks who were standing in shaded areas, enjoying the warm eighty degree weather and the cooling ocean breezes. Every car that passed was hailed with a friendly wave and a short honk of his horn.

He showed us the tiny airfield carved out of rock at water level and proudly told us it is the shortest commercial, sanctioned runway in the world. It certainly was shorter than most modern US aircraft carriers. He took us to the monument which had been erected in honor of the civil engineer who took on the impossible task of building these complex roads. Along the way he showed us pictures of his grandfather who had been working on them.

Best of all we stopped at his house and met his four-month-old dog – that is puppy – who greeted him with unreserved joy. Declining to join us for lunch, he dropped us off at a little restaurant overlooking a steep valley and told them to seat us on the patio. The food was delicious, the view, which fell off over one thousand feet, was breathtaking, and the birds and flowers surrounding our perch were delicate and colorful.

He pulled up just in time to take us down to our ferry to return to St. Maarten. If you ever get down into that area I strongly recommend visiting this little Dutch island, especially if you are a diver. The place is a pleasant oasis, but best of all the people are open, generous, and very, very friendly.

I’m glad we screwed up, chose a Sunday, found no taxis, and made other mistakes. They turned our adventure into one of the luckiest days of our trip. We met a fine citizen of Saba, and maybe best of all it gave me a story to tell.

Harry Hubinger is a retired engineer who operated his own company for twenty years. He first began traveling outside the United States on business, but these visits escalated upon his retirement. He has now traveled to 115 countries and continues to add several new ones each year. In 1998 he began writing his humorous and insightful articles for a supplement to a local newspaper. These stories, based on experiences most travelers could identify with, soon earned him a wide local following. In 2005 he published his first book, Stamps in My Passport—a collection of travel vignettes. Harry has lived in Danville for almost forty years and has volunteered with the Danville Police Department for the past seven. His wife, Barbara, is the detail chronicler of their trips. Her journals provide the background for Harry’s broader view. You can get his book at:

Green New Year’s Resolution – You Make a Difference!

Many people in the Bay area thought about the color green prior to the year 2000. Sure green lawns and trees were great, but they didn’t exactly paint the whole picture when it comes to sustainability. Ten years later, thanks to education and growing public awareness, consumers are now purchasing fuel-efficient cars, improving insulation and installing solar renewable energy systems in their homes. Many are also considering draught tolerant landscaping that requires less water and maintenance.

Looking back at how far recycling has evolved; sustainability doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. Homeowners today use curbside containers, which makes recycling painless. Most consumer-level products including TVs, now feature the Energy Star rating. From entertainment, to home improvement, it’s all about saving energy. There are new, greener products and services in every sector of the economy and more coming each week. In the big picture, these are all choices that count.

While we’re on the right track, there’s more to do. In 2006 we surpassed the earth’s ability to process and effectively deal with CO2 emissions by 13%. The earth simply can’t keep up with us. Many Bay area businesses are also making changes to help minimize environmental impact. Operations and purchasing policies are two areas of consideration. Return on investment is something business leaders and most board members always take seriously. For instance, just like consumers, businesses can realize savings and tax credits on renewables such as wind and solar. Installing skylights, newer heating, and cooling systems not only improves creature comforts and moral, but also provides financial incentives for businesses to invest. In addition to improving the bottom line, making these critical business leadership decisions helps to reduce CO2 emissions and lessen environmental impact for all. Businesses and consumers can both help reduce energy consumption while realizing return on investment.

Recycling, reuse of packing and shipping materials is also becoming common for many businesses. Trip planning is easy and helps us improve productivity and efficiency while reducing fuel costs and CO2 emissions. We all know what it’s like to sit in traffic for two hours. Small changes count.

Consumers can now look to retailers and service providers that keep a thoughtful eye toward the environment. By promoting sustainability through improved operations and investment, local area businesses can become green certified at the county level by working with the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). To promote green building, starting January 1, California State will have the new CALGreen initiative. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification takes residential and commercial buildings to the next level in design, energy, water and waste conservation, using third party, and value added performance standards.

A Native American tribe the Iroquois upheld what is called the Seventh Generation philosophy. Simply stated, this tribe urges the current generation of humans to live sustainably and work for the benefit of the next seven generations.

As we move into 2011, let’s all look forward to a greener, brighter, prosperous, New Year guided by a philosophy to continue making a difference. The earth will give it back many times over and future generations will thank you.

Dave High is a LEED Accredited Professional with Karbon Consulting located in Pleasant Hill. He can be reached at

New Coach a Smart Choice for Golden State Warriors

Golden State Warriors head coach Keith Smart is still probably best known for the shot that won the 1987 NCAA basketball championship for Indiana. Now, though, he is rapidly making a name for himself by leading our local NBA franchise to respectability and perhaps even a Western Conference playoff berth this season.

The Warriors stayed near .500 and trailed only the Los Angeles Lakers in the Pacific Decision for the first month of the season. The team is on track for its first playoff berth since 2007, and the head coaching change from Don Nelson, 70, to Keith Smart, 46, is the primary difference.

Nelson seemed to hang around last year just to set the NBA record for career wins as a head coach. He left the defensive coaching responsibilities to Smart and often seemed disengaged during timeouts and post-game media conferences. Before this season began the Warriors paid off the last year of his contract for $6.5 million and sent him off to his hammock on Maui. Nelson’s last three NBA stops (the Knicks, Dallas, and Golden State) all ended poorly. It is doubtful that he will coach again in the NBA.

Smart, on the other hand, has brought tremendous energy to the Warriors. “Before the season began I approached each player and offered my hand,” he said. “I asked each one if they would let me coach them this season to make them better. I told them it might get rough at times, but I emphasized that it wasn’t personal, it was all basketball. If they didn’t agree, we would have to find another place for them to play. They all agreed in the presence of their peers and so far everyone has lived up to his end of the bargain.”

Smart also seems to realize the importance of treating players like individuals. “Each day before I meet with the team I’ve already gone over the previous night. I’ve already asked myself ‘Who do I have to talk to?’ And I do it,” he told the Mercury News. “I could put it on an assistant, but that’s like telling my wife to tell my 14-year-old son exactly what it is that I want to say.”

Smart, who joined the Warriors prior to the 2003-04 season, has spent the previous seven seasons as an assistant coach with the club. Overall, the Baton Rouge, LA, native has served a total of 11 seasons as an NBA assistant coach and has amassed 21 years of experience in professional basketball as either a player or coach. Prior to joining the Warriors Smart spent three seasons as an assistant in Cleveland, where he concluded his stint as the club’s interim head coach over the final 40 games of the 2002-03 campaign, going 9-31.

The Warriors have a solid lineup featuring guards Monte Ellis and Stephen Curry, power forward David Lee, and center Andris Biedrins. The question for the NBA’s Bay Area entry this season will be depth and how well equipped Keith Smart is to guide a team of professionals through the 82 game grind. An elbow injury to Lee led to a 1-7 stretch in November, and Curry’s sprained ankle preceded a blowout loss to the Lakers. A look at the early returns when everyone is healthy, though, indicates that springtime playoff basketball is a distinct possibility for East Bay pro basketball fans.

Dirt Gardener – Pruning Roses

Q. I’ve heard two theories about pruning roses and of course, they have opposite approaches. One method suggests pruning severely to keep the plants contained and from out growing the area. The other way suggests moderate pruning to encourage root development. My roses are young bushes, less than three years old. Which approach should I use and when is the best time to prune them.

A. Roses establish themselves in the first growing season. In addition, our mild winters, allows the root system to develop and expand during the dormant season unlike other areas where the ground freezes. The roots develop on their own without any additional help. At three years old, your roses are quite mature. Thus, I wouldn’t be concern at all with the moderate pruning approach. Instead, I’d be pruning to contain the bushes to the desired area. This now leads us to the second part of your question, when to prune roses? My answer is year round. The classic definition of pruning is “To cut off or remove dead or living parts or branches of a plant, to improve shape or growth.” Hence, roses are pruned throughout the year not just in the winter months, as the cutting off of the spent flowers is a form of pruning. Roses are vigorous growers. Depending on the type, they can produce four to five feet of new growth annually. The winter pruning reduces this growth along with removing the dead wood and the rubbing and crossing branches. After each flowering period, you should remove more than just the spent flowers. It is at this time, you have the opportunity to reduce the lateral growth and the height, so they don’t merge with its neighbors or block the view of what’s planted behind them. The amount varies depending on how close the bushes are planted next to each other. This is an important point to remember. It prevents you from allowing the bushes to out-grow the desired space as you’re managing the growth throughout the growing season. This is usually over looked or forgotten. There is no exact date when to prune roses. Rather, it’s a period or window of time when the activity occurs. In the Bay Area, the traditional winter pruning season is from mid November through the end of February. The early season pruning is rarely done, as the bushes are still blooming then the holidays takes us away from the garden. By default, January and February has become the primary months to prune. Roses still can be pruned back severely in late March with the new growth emerging. The only drawback is that the first flowering period is delayed.

Some additional thoughts: January and February is an excellent time to transplant roses but I’d prune them back first. You need not delay pruning because the bushes are blooming, just pick the flowers and enjoy them indoors. After pruning, any remaining foliage should be stripped off, clean up all the litter under the plants, and spray them with Lime Sulphur.

The Best Gift in Any Season – Health

TOP 10 Exercises for Developing a Better Brain and Cerebellum

In a fascinating study published in the November 2009 edition of the Archives of Neurology, Dr. Patricia Boyle and her colleagues from Chicago reported that individuals who had overall greater muscle strength had a reduced likelihood of developing cognitive loss over a four-year period.

Researchers studied 970 men and women between the ages of 54 to 100 years old (average age of 80), with normal memory, testing their strength in nine different muscle groups. During the four year follow up period, 138 of these individuals developed cognitive loss. Interestingly, it was found that those individuals who ranked in the top 10% for muscle strength were 61% less likely to develop progressive cognitive loss compared to the weakest 10%. Additionally, stronger people, overall, experienced a slower decline in their mental abilities. Dr. Boyle noted, “We certainly think that it is important to be physically active and to work to keep our muscles strong. Good physical health is important for good brain function.”

As a practicing strength & conditioning coach for more than a decade, I have long advised my older patients to stay as physically fit as possible. Aside from the wonderful benefits of cardiovascular health, a regular exercise program can also help decrease depression and elevate your mood as well as ward off progressive cognitive loss. In addition, it is mandatory that individuals stay mentally occupied as they get older. I have always said, “What you starve will die. What you feed will live and thrive.” It is certainly true when it comes to brain function and cognitive loss.

In addition to crossword puzzles I suggest you add these top ten exercises into your busy schedules and watch the BRAIN Fitness happen – with your eyes closed!

The TOP 10 best exercises for training the Cerebellum.

Let me explain who the Cerebellum is…this little guy is called the “Little brain.” It constitutes just 10% of the total volume of the brain but amazingly, it contains over 50% of the neurons in the entire human brain. The cerebellum’s job is to modify and adapt movement patterns to improve coordination and balance. Incredibly, before any movement (even something as simple as bending over to tie your shoe) is even initiated, the cerebellum, through a feed-forward mechanism has already perceived the intended motion up to six times and fires down to contract the core musculature to prepare for the anticipated movement.

In our clinics we not only activate the body’s ability to burn fat, testimonies include losing up to 20 pound in the first couple of weeks, but also activate the bodies ability to develop a STRONG, healthy brain. You can accelerate the body’s ability to move while keeping your brain developing through these top 10 Brain Exercises.

1. Ron Kardashian’s Reach and Throw Exercise: Reach across body to grab your foot and then pull your arm back across body, simulating a throw over the shoulder.

2. Ron Kardashian’s Pick and Push. Act as if picking something up from off the floor; move to standing position, pushing hard up and across the body. End with hand over head – repeat.

3-4. Do both of these with eyes open and with eyes closed

5. Balance on 1 leg, then, alternate.

6. Balance on one leg and extend it out in front and to the side of you. (Increase time by a few seconds until you go to a 1 min hold.)

7. Use a stability ball to exercise.

8. Use a BOSU Ball. (Google it.)

9. Ping Pong. (Yes, good old-fashioned Ping Pong!)

10. Good old fashioned Speed Bag (punching in rhythmic form)

The Benefits of these Brain Based Exercises will improve:

  • Improved coordination, balance, & skill
  • Improved memory recall and speed of transmission
  • Improved learning skills
  • Improved emotional balance and control
  • Improved focus & determination
  • Improved blood flow to the brain, increasing neuronal metabolism, & neurotransmitter formation…thus anti-depressant effects (increased serotonin)
  • Increased feelings of joy & euphoria

This Christmas season don’t just get fit but get healthy. Brain healthy. Call us today to get your fitness program going. You will not only gain a better brain but a thinner body in less than 8 weeks—guaranteed.

Ron Kardashian

Ron Kardashian

Ron Kardashian is a life coach, fitness expert, educator, conference speaker, author, national television and radio personality, and NSCA-certified strength and conditioning coach. Kardashian was one of America’s first life coaches. In 1994, he founded Kardashian Life Coaching & Personal Training and has since inspired hundreds to reach their full physical, mental and spiritual potential.

Kardashian has been twice nominated as Personal Trainer of the Year. He has been an honored speaker for the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Considered a “coach’s coach,” he has empowered executives to operate at peak performance; personally, professionally, and most important , spiritually.

Ron also heads a 501 (c) 3 non-profit corporation that is relentless in its efforts of bringing optimal health to people of all walks of life. This organization’s mission is to fight obesity and related diseases on a global scale. Across the globe, Kardashian’s unique approach has garnered amazing results, making him a powerful, voice of change for professional athletes, CEOs, political leaders, and clergymen of every age, religion, and creed. Ron lives in California with his beautiful wife, Tia, and two children.

For an appointment or bookings you can reach Ron at:, or call 888.918.HEAL. Visit Ron’s website at

2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata: It’s a Zoom-Zoom Feeling!

How true that at some moment in our life we have wondered how nice it would be to cruise around in a little rag top and cut through mountain roads with the sun and wind in our face. My first convertible was a 1971 Jensen Healey painted “Ferrari” red. Boy, did I feel cool driving around in that little, rare convertible. I even bought ‘cruising’ clothes to wear while driving and accessories including cool shades that blocked bugs out from all sides.

While in 1989 the Oakland A’s rocked the World Series, Mazda rocked our world with the introduction of the MX-5 Miata. It’s hard to believe that 22-years have passed, but one thing is for sure, the MX-5 Miata continues to round the bases.

What once came only in a soft top, Mazda expanded the offering of the Miata in 2007 to also include a convertible hardtop. In roughly 12 seconds you will switch from fun-in-the-sun to the protection of a hard shell. In 2009, Mazda made substantial changes to the Miata along with some updates in 2010. The 2011 MX-5 comes to us unchanged, while remaining the world’s most popular two-seat roadster.

The exterior of the MX-5 has matured with rounder surface lines that have kept its design modern and exciting. Mazda describes the body shape as making the cockpit the widest portion of the car to deliver a roomier and safer design. Head and tail lamps are mounted inboard to reinforce the sense of density, while the front sports an aggressive face with a five-point grille. The soft top can be lowered or raised with only one hand from the inside of the car and secures in place with a central latch handle that requires just a simple turn of the wrist to lock in place.

The power retractable hard top is available in two trim levels – Touring or Grand Touring. One of the nice features of the hard top is that it stores in the same area as the soft top and does not consume any additional trunk space. The Miata looks as great with the hard top up as with it down. In fact, in the up position it presents itself as a cool little sports coupe.

The 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata is available in five trim levels: Sport soft top ($23,110), Touring soft top ($25,450), Touring hard top ($27,150), Grand Touring soft top ($26,710), and Grand Touring hard top ($28,550). All models come standard with a 5-speed manual transmission and are available with a 6-speed automatic transmission with overdrive.

The interior is compact and does not feel cramped. This could radiate from the mind set and expectation of driving a sport roadster. You expect small, so small translates into nimble and quick. The dash is simple with big gauges and highlighted with a silver trim bar that frames the four air vents from end to end. The center stack houses your typical radio and heating/air elements as well as the controls for the heated seats, and power outlet. Touches of silver trim follow through on the doors, steering wheel, and shifter. Radio volume, cruise control, and Bluetooth™ can be operated conveniently from the steering wheel.

Our test model came with the Premium Package ($1,650), which includes an alarm system, Bluetooth™ wireless connectivity, advanced keyless entry system, HID headlamps, Sirius radio, dynamic stability control, and traction control.

Performance comes in the form of a 167 horsepower (158 hp w/automatic transmission) 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with an aluminum block and head for lighter weight and structural rigidity. That may not sound like a lot of power under the hood, but let’s not forget the Miata is so light and balanced that it works just fine. In fact, it only takes the MX-5 6.5-seconds to go from zero to 60 mph. The engine is placed just behind the front axle to provide a better balance and weight distribution. It comes with traction control that can be turned off if you are interested in ‘drifting’.

Opting for the Sport A/T automatic transmission you’ll think it sweet to convert from auto to manual shifting mode including race-car inspired paddle shifters, which are mounted behind the steering wheel. With this action allowing you to switch gears up and down, all you will need now is a nice pair of racing gloves!

The 2011 Miata handles like a fun little sports car; longing for winding mountain roads. It’s a perfect blend of performance and handling. With an optional $500 Suspension Package, you cannot lose with a sport tuned suspension, Bilstein shocks, and limited slip differential.

Room for improvement:

  • A Navigation System isn’t offered

Cool Features:

  • Power hard top with easy open and close buttons
  • Remote keyless entry option

The 2011 Miata is constructed on a unibody that makes ample use of high-strength and ultra high-strength steel, boosting body force while simultaneously cutting weight. Standard safety features include anti-lock brakes, front and side airbags and a passenger’s airbag cutoff switch to carry, as I did; a young child, in a child safety seat. Optional safety items include dynamic stability control, and traction control.

In Summary – Is the 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata fun to drive? Well, my 2-1/2 year old son Chase thinks so! Exclaiming “Daddy, this is a fast car” and “Daddy go faster – go faster!” you will agree. Not only is the Miata the best sports car in its class, it is also a car that you can drive every day. Each generation has grown to become more refined and more exhilarating to drive. At starting just over $23,000 it still delivers a bargain package of performance, handling, and the chance to achieve your dream of driving your very own little red roadster.

For more information and a complete list of features and specifications go to

2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring Hard Top

Base price: $28,400 as driven: $31,300 (including destination and optional equipment)
Engine: 2.0-Liter 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 167 @ 7000
Torque: 140 foot pounds @ 5000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual transmission with Overdrive
Drive: Rear Wheel-Drive
Seating: 2-passenger
Turning circle: 30.8 feet
Cargo space: 5.3 cubic feet
Curb weight: 2593 pounds
Fuel capacity: 12.7 gallons
EPA mileage: 28 highway, 21 city
Wheel Base: 91.7 inches
Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
Also consider: Ford Mustang, Mini Cooper, Mitsubishi Eclipse, Volkswagen Eos

Peripheral Neuropathy, BE GONE!

Understanding nerve pain and how it can be healed naturally

What is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral Neuropathy is a condition in which there is damage to the peripheral nervous system, which transmits information from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. This can result in pain, loss of feeling, and inability to control muscles. As with any other condition, there is no “one size fits all” remedy for those suffering from this malady and treatment may vary depending on the cause and severity. However, many individuals find relief using natural remedies.

Peripheral Neuropathy is a condition that affects people in every walk of life. It is estimated that 20 million Americans and 60% of diabetics suffer from this disorder. There are hundreds of different kinds of neuropathy, the symptoms of which include burning, tingling, weakness, numbness, paralysis, and dull to excruciating pain – especially in the limbs.

Although many neuropathies have no known cause, neuropathy is often associated with another condition, such as: Diabetes, HIV, shingles, toxins, autoimmune disorders, neurological conditions, carpal tunnel syndrome, and malnutrition. Statin (cholesterol) drugs and chemotherapy can also cause neuropathy.

While medications can sometimes help with the symptoms, they cannot be relied upon to restore the health of the nerves. Most often the drugs that treat Neuropathy leave the sufferer feeling intoxicated and hopeless to lead a normal active life.

Understanding the Nervous System
Nerves carry the electrical signals that allow us to move, feel, breath, digest, detoxify, respond to our environment, and much more. Nerves are the electrical wiring of the human body. Plain and simple, if the nerves do not work the body will not work, in some capacity. It is also important to understand that unlike other tissues, the primary blood supply to nerve tissue is actually located WITHIN the nerve itself. So, if a nerve becomes impinged or compromised, so does the blood supply to the nerve. Without proper blood supply, the nerve does not receive the energy and nutrition that are needed for the nerve to heal itself. Over time neural impingement leads to a painful chronic condition called Neuropathy.

Natural help for Neuropathy sufferers
For the past eleven years Align Healing Center has been offering many natural therapies to soothe and heal painful neuropathies. In 2009 we began using Class IV Laser Therapy and the results have been outstanding! Class IV Laser Therapy allows the practitioner to stimulate healing within the nerve tissue by delivering the necessary energy directly to the injured area. During each painless treatment, laser energy increases circulation, drawing water, oxygen, and nutrients to the damaged area. Laser therapy is a photochemical process that is able to bypass the arterial “highway” that has been damaged. During Laser Therapy the infrared laser light interacts with tissues at the cellular level and metabolically increases the activity within the cell, 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. In other words, NO MORE Pain, NO MORE Numbness, NO MORE Tingling and NO MORE Burning! Depending on the type and severity of neuropathy we have witnessed patients begin to get relief after the first visit and with continued care receive complete relief long-term.

Dr. Niele Maimone, DC of Align Healing Center in Danville, CA has been active in natural health & wellness since 1999. For more information or to set up a consult call 925.362.8283 or visit