Everyday Style – Beyond the Fitting Room

Swimsuit 1

Photo 1

Swimwear. This word strikes fear in the hearts of women every summer. Not anymore! This season, be ready for the beach, the pool or even your backyard hot tub with a few simple tips to help you discover your inner “bathing beauty” and take her out for a dip.

The savvy swimwear shopper knows how to flatter her shape…with very little fabric. That’s where strategy comes in. Playing up your assets is first and foremost, but we want to ensure that your “not-so-favorite” parts are attended to. So, if you have…

Small busts and a full bottom: Try ruffles or gathering—anything that will pump up the volume. Demi-cups or pads will give the girls extra oomph. At the same time, a skirted bottom will provide coverage and comfort when chasing little ones or playing in the sand. (photo 1)

Swimsuit 2

Photo 2

A bit of a tummy: A one-piece suit (photo 2) with ruching (gathering down the sides) or a tankini (photo 3) will take care of that. Color-block suits with a light color up on top, and black on the bottom or an empire waist suit (with a band under the breasts) will draw the eye up. The result: What tummy?

Swimsuit 3

Photo 3

Big “girls”: Support your bust with a sturdy halter that won’t let them down. Underwire could be your best friend or a band under the breasts will maintain structure (photo 4). Flimsy triangles are not an option!

Swimsuit 4

Photo 4

There is a swimsuit out there for everyone…maybe even two! The same suit you wear to the neighborhood pool party may not be the one you wear at a Mexican resort or on a Caribbean cruise. Just save the thong for your next trip to Rio. Trust me, it’s for the best.

Fitting room confidential:
A three-way mirror can really be annoying, but in this case, it’s a lifesaver. Take this opportunity to view yourself from the front and back. Move. Squat; bend; jump—all within the privacy of your fitting room where no one can see. The suit should fit your body in motion, as you will be when you’re wearing it.


Photo 5

Finally, ditch the oversized t-shirt or shapeless dress and spring for a coordinating beach cover-up—a tied sarong, a skirt, or a tunic (photo 5)—so many choices, and none of them are spelled “M-U-M-U”.

Gifted Hands – The Ben Carson Story: ALIVE at the Movies

Gifted Hands - Movie Review
Sometimes you just have to shout about something or someone good. Well, here’s my shout-out about Dr. Ben Carson, the man and Gifted Hands that tells his story. Gifted Hands is a Johnson and Johnson Spotlight Presentation that was originally aired on TNT. Thank you Johnson and Johnson! Gifted Hands is based on the true story of Dr. Benjamin S. Carson, Sr. whose lifelong journey led him to become Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

Dr. Carson had a childhood dream of becoming a physician, but he grew up in a single-parent home, with dire poverty, poor grades, a horrible temper and low self-esteem. Struggling to help her sons, Sonja Carson, Ben’s mother did everything in her power to help pull her family out of their circumstances. When kids at school labeled Ben the “Dummy,” Sonja got his eyes checked (yes, he needed glasses!), turned off the television and took the boys to the Detroit Public Library. They embarked on a journey of learning. Later in life the boys would realize that their mother, who had only a third grade education, could not read but that hadn’t stopped her from looking earnestly at their two mother-required weekly book reports.

Dr. Carson attended Yale and University of Michigan Medical School. At 33 years old he became the youngest major division director at Johns Hopkins. Early in his career he led a team that was the first to successfully separate conjoined (Siamese) twins. His list of accomplishments is incredible from bestselling author to winning the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

I was thrilled to see that one of my favorite actors, Cuba Gooding, Jr. was chosen to play the part of Ben Carson. Cuba is distinguished and versatile. He often shows his “chops” by taking on roles that are diverse and eclectic, as exhibited by his turns in both independent comedies and gritty dramas. It is rare to find an actor that will tackle both Men of Honor and Cool Running’s, yet both are worthy movies in their own right. Sonja was played by Kimberly Elise, herself a two time NAACP Image Award winner.

Once I had viewed Gifted Hands, I wanted to know more about Ben Carson, the doctor and the man. After 25 years he is still the department head at Johns Hopkins as well as having been awarded 50 honorary doctorates. He has also achieved the status of Living Legend given by the Library of Congress.

One of his most admirable accomplishments was founding Carson Scholars Fund which has awarded more than 4800 scholarships and is still growing. This man is not only a “Legend” he is a devoted husband, father and yes, son. His mother, Sonja is still alive and well.

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story is a wonderful movie that can be enjoyed by the whole family, but I have to warn you, you’ll want to hit the internet to see what else you can learn about the man with the gifted hands. As always, I enjoy your comments at chastings@rockcliff.com.

Legal Lines – Guardianship

Who is going to take care of my child if I cannot? That is the first and foremost consideration of Estate Planning for parents with children under the age of 18. This brings up the question of Guardianship. There are two types of Guardianships in California.

A Guardian of the Person is someone who is appointed by the Court to be responsible for the child’s physical well being. Parents typically nominate the guardian in their Wills. If there is no Will, the family member who wishes Guardianship will apply to the Court. Either way, the Court does an independent investigation, and makes the appointment. Interestingly, the guardian and the caregiver can actually be separate people. The guardian decides what is the best living situation for the child, which may or may not be with the guardian. For example, I have named my 22 year old daughter as guardian for her 13 year old brother. She may decide that he would be better off living with his grandparents or family friends, depending on life circumstances at that time. The choice would be likely be different at age 13 than age 16.

A Guardian of the Estate is someone appointed by the Court to be responsible for the child’s money. It is unusual for children to have or receive money in their own names, as most people hold funds for children in custodial accounts. It is also extremely undesirable; therefore most people leave inheritances to children in a Trust. If funds are held under a Court Guardianship, the Guardian must report to the Court each year, and the child receives the funds outright at when reaching the age of adulthood (18 in California). Going to Court is always expensive, eating away at the funds, which are limited to investing in Money Markets or CDs. Another point to consider: How many 18 year olds are capable of making good choices when faced with a large sum of money? It is important to be educated when making choices to protect your children. I’d be happy to discuss these matters with you.

2011 Jaguar XKR Prowling Power!

Passing Lane - Jaguar XKR

There are few times that a car rolls across my roadway that is too hot to let lay on the shelf. This review is just that. I had the opportunity to spend a week bathed in the beauty and power of the 2011 Jaguar XKR. We are talking about a car that is stunning in every way.

Jaguar, which was recently acquired by India’s Tata Motors, is continuing its efforts to bring us the sexiest and sportiest vehicles under one hundred grand. The 2011 Jaguar XKR is not only designed as a stunning work of art, it also has the power to accelerate to the league of pure performance driving wonders. The 2011 XKR is sleek, elegant, and ready to pounce at a moment’s notice.

For the 2011 model year, all Jaguar models come standard with Jaguar Platinum Coverage that includes 5 years or 50,000 miles complimentary scheduled maintenance, no cost replacement of basic wear and tear items, and 24/7 roadside assistance. Also, new is a special edition XKR175, 75th Anniversary Coupe with a limited production run of 175.

The 75th Anniversary Coupe offered only in Ultimate Black and with a less restrictive governor allowing for a top speed of 174 mph vs.155 mph. Aerodynamic enhancements to help distinguish this special edition includes red brake calipers – visible through the 20-inch “Kasuga” spoke wheels, new front and rear spoilers, rear diffuser, and side-sill extensions. Effects on the interior include charcoal leather accented with Cranberry stitching and piano black veneer trim, plus doorsill tread plates inscribed with “XKR175 – 1 of 175.”

The model lineup for the 2010 Jaguar XK consists of the following: XK Coupe, XK Convertible, XKR Coupe, XKR Convertible, and the XKR175 Coupe.

The XK series is designed by Ian Callum who previously designed for Aston Martin. This latest generation of XKs sports an Aston Martin flare for sure. The Jaguar XKR is built using an advanced aluminum architecture that creates a light, yet rigid and strong body. This helps reduce overall weight and optimize fuel economy. The flowing body lines rise up to voluptuous fenders that form the basis of the XKR’s powerful stance. The frontend of the XKR is cat-like, with the headlights focusing on you like cat eyes. The oval grille renders a nose and the lower spoiler vent and side vents, representing the mouth and fangs. The twin vents mounted on the hood completes the aggressive face.

From the rear the large hips are exaggerated by the outline of the small tailgate. The deep red tail-lights share space in both the rear fenders and tailgate. Chrome tipped exhaust pipes are fitted around a raised rear fascia. A rear spoiler is molded into the rear tailgate with an embedded third brake light. This is one beautiful sports car!

Sliding into the cool leather bucket seats is just the first step of becoming one with the cockpit of the 2011 XKR. The front seats hold you in place like a hand in a glove. The feel is a perfect blend of luxury and performance. You are surrounded by elements of wood, aluminum, and leather. At the push of a button the XKR engine roars and the shift control knob, trademarked as JaguarDrive Selector, raises from the center dash in preparation of being positioned to one of the drive settings.

On paper the XK series states it can hold up to four people. The reality is it is a two seater. My son’s child seat would not fit in the back seat. The rear legroom is a mere 27.6 inches – a fraction of a normal back seat. However, if you are buying an XKR its not about how many people you can carry, it’s about the performance. My XKR had heating and cooling front seats with the ability to adjust the front seat up to 16 different positions. The center stack houses a large LCD touch-screen that was not as easy to use as you might expect. The built-in navigation system worked fine and kept us on track. Adjusting the radio took a few more steps than I would have liked, but I did get used to the procedure. Despite the small hatch, the XKR actually has a very large trunk area.

Under the hood lies a 5.0-liter all-aluminum, 32-valve supercharged V8 featuring direct injection and 510 massive, wild horses with 461 ft lb. of torque. It maybe a carryover from the 2010 model but perfection is perfection. To say that the XKR flies when you press the accelerator is a true understatement. I had “one” occasion where I needed to accelerate quickly and the rush was more than exhilarating.

The XKR engine is the third generation 5.0-liter and the most advanced engine ever built by Jaguar. Even the naturally aspirated version in the XK produces 385-hp and 380 ft-lb of torque. The XKR Coupe can sprint from stop to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds, thanks to the help of a twin vortex supercharger system with twin water intercoolers. Mated to the 5.0-liter power house is an electronically controlled, fully adaptive six-speed automatic transmission with Sequential Shift ™, which allows you to manually shift by operating steering-wheel shift paddles. The transmission is designed to be maintenance-free with “filled-for-life” fluid.

Room for improvement:

  • Very limited rear legroom
  • Touch screen usability

Cool Features:

  • 510-HP Supercharged V8 engine
  • JaguarDrive Selector
  • Roll-over protection system deploys instantly (on convertible models)
    • Cat-like reflexes is how I would describe the suspension on the XKR. Both the XK and XKR models incorporate Jaguars Adaptive Dynamics active-damping system which optimizes handling agility and ride comfort. The system monitors body movement 100 times per second and wheel position 500 times per second. Also, automatically adjusts the suspension to provide the smoothest ride and best handling. The JaguarDrive control interface allows the driver to select from different driving modes including Normal, Winter, Track DSC, and DSC OFF. The result of all this technology and tech-talk is that the XK and the XKR feels like it can anticipate the road ahead, feeling solid and planted. The chassis is stiff, the steering is responsive, and the XKR maneuvers around corners with ease.

      The 2011 Jaguar XKR isn’t just fast, it is also incredibly safe. All XK models are equipped with front, front side, and thorax airbags. To help prevent whiplash, the front head restraint system is designed to protect against your head bouncing back in the event of a rear impact. Other safety features include adaptive cruise control and advanced emergency brake assist which uses radar to help calculate distance of approach to the vehicle ahead. On the convertible models, the hidden roll-over protection system deploys instantly if sensors identify a risk.

      In Summary – The 2011 Jaguar XKR is an icon in the automobile industry. Its ancestry began in the 1960’s with the XKE and was reborn with the XK series. The XKR is the ultimate model in the XK series and has a perfect blend of extraordinary performance, style, and luxury. If you are in the market for jet-rocket acceleration with tight handling and an incredible ride, the XKR needs to be on the top of your short list.

      2011 Jaguar XKR Coupe

      Base price: $96,000 as driven: $101,000 (including destination)
      Engine: 5.0-Liter 8-cylinder
      Horsepower: 510 @ 6,000
      Torque: 461 foot lb @ 2,500 rpm
      Transmission: 6-speed automatic with steering wheel mounted paddles
      Drive: Rear Wheel-Drive
      Seating: 4-passenger
      Turning circle: 36.51 feet (coupe) 37.39 feet (convertible)
      Cargo space: 11.7 cubic feet (coupe) 7.1 cubic feet (convertible)
      Curb weight: 4,034 pounds
      Fuel capacity: 16.1 gallons
      EPA mileage: 22 highway, 15 city
      Wheel Base: 108.3 inches
      Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles bumper to bumper
      Also consider: BMW 6-Series, Corvette ZR1, Nissan GT-R, Porsche 911 Carrera

Trivial Matters

We had our annual tournament at WPLJ in Walnut Creek in April. Since I did the questions, I have some I can use on you nice folks.

Here are this month’s questions:

  1. When hearing the Star Spangled Banner being played before a game, why did famous baseball flake Rocky Bridges say “I hate that song”?
  2. What 1977 war movie included in its cast 4 actors who were recipients at one time of Best Actor Oscars and who were they?
  3. Who wrote the lyrics to “Bill,” the famous song from “Show Boat”? (Hint: It was not Oscar Hammerstein
  4. Who played Vincente Minnelli in the TV movie “Life with Judy Garland-Me and My Shadows”?
  5. What was the name of the store on the radio show “Lum and Abner”?
  6. What famous couple bought the famous mansion Grey Gardens?

May answers

  • Judy Garland
  • “Happy” Felsch
  • “Happy Days Are Here Again”
  • Barbra Streisand
  • “Happy” Chandler
  • Garry Marshall

The first person to email or mail, no calls please, the correct answers to all of the above questions will win a $25 gift certificate at The Uptown Cafe in downtown Danville, compliments of Ben Fernandez!
Entries must be received by June 20, 2011. In the event of a tie, the winner will be drawn at random. Please email your answers to info@aliveeastbay.com, or mail to ALIVE East Bay, 199 East Linda Mesa Avenue, Suite 10, Danville, CA 94526. Employees and family members of employees of ALIVE East Bay are not eligible.
Restaurant may be changed without notice.

Market Watch – Time to Rebalance?

Investor optimism has greatly improved over the last two years and it is easy to see why. The world’s equity and commodity markets have enjoyed a dramatic charge upward since the darkest days of the financial crisis in late 2008 and early 2009. While such positive sentiment is by no means unanimous, optimism clearly has climbed and many investors have been chasing these strong returns by moving back into the equity markets and increasing exposure to hot investments like small cap stocks, emerging market stocks, precious metals and other commodities. This is hardly a surprise given the aforementioned strong period of gains. At that same time this new found comfort with so called “risk assets” may not be an entirely welcome development. I am still a believer in owning “risk assets” for the long term. However, I do think now would be a good time to see how the last two years of strong performance have changed the risk profile of your portfolio.

Markets are frequently most at risk of a decline when the majority of investors are feeling very comfortable. Changes in the level of investors’ optimism or pessimism towards the future can often be the cause of market volatility. When times are good the natural reaction to such strong gains may be to “let it ride” or even increase exposure to the things that have done the best. This can often times be detrimental to portfolio returns and risk level.

A good example of this was in the year 2000. If you recall, there was very high levels of optimism about the future of the stock market. We were in a “new era” where the old rules regarding stock valuations did not apply. This elevated level of optimism tempted many investors to increase their allocations to stocks even though the monumental gains in the market had already done this for them. The “New Economy” train was leaving the station and you didn’t want to get left behind! We could say the same thing about the housing boom and bust we have experienced recently. Prior to the bust, investing in housing became much too popular and it felt like the good times where never going to end. As we now know, the greatest boom ever in housing ended with the biggest bust ever. Presently, the love affair with precious metals seems to have gotten a bit too strong and, at this writing in early May, we are seeing a sharp correction in silver prices.

These examples illustrate the importance of reviewing your mix of assets from time to time. Rebalancing the mix back to an appropriate risk level will help an investor guard against being overexposed to asset classes that may have become overvalued. This is especially important at moments like now when we have had an extended run of positive returns in many types of investments. I do not advocate trying to time the market and I am not recommending you get out of top performers completely. My advice is to take some profits from the areas that have grown the most and reallocate those profits to the asset classes that have lagged.

Damien helps individuals invest and manage risk. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and a principal of Walnut Creek Wealth Management. These are the views of Damien Couture, CFP® and should not be construed as investment advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Your comments are welcome. Damien can be reached at 925-280-1800 x101 or Damien@WalnutCreekWealth.com.

Realtor Practices Have Changed. Thankfully!

Q. Tom, we are planning to sell our Alamo home. We have lived here for over 15 years so we have no recent experience working directly with a Realtor. My recollection from years ago is that the interview process used to meet and select an agent was tortuous in that the agents just went on and on about themselves, their companies and their marketing plans. What should we really look for in an agent this time around?

Great question! You’re right about the old listing interview process. When I first got into the business in 1989, agents were actually taught to talk endlessly for hours and hours about ourselves and our firms. Essentially, we tried to persuasively exhaust the seller into making a decision to sign a listing contract that night at the kitchen table. Thank goodness times and practices have changed. A professional Realtor should listen more than talk (how else could he/she understand what is important to you), be able to prove a recent track record of successful sales, exhibit strong negotiating and presentation skills, be organized and aggressive in their marketing approach for your home and possess a high degree of integrity as it pertains to representing your best interests. Also, your agent should be well versed in real estate contracts and risk management issues (we are in a highly litigious environment), be excited yet realistic about the saleable features of your home, convey the importance and benefit of pricing your home appropriately for today’s market and finally be someone who after you’ve spoken to for five minutes gives you a feeling of trust and dependability. I absolutely advise you to ask enough questions to verify the agent’s skills, successes and work ethic—remember, you are hiring them to protect one of your largest financial assets so don’t shy away from asking the hard questions that will confirm your best choice. The most qualified agents will, in fact, answer your queries completely and appreciate your diligence in understanding their credentials; the least qualified ones will appear uneasy and provide vague answers. So, get your checklist of questions ready and then trust your gut.

Q. How do you see the summer market shaping up – stronger, weaker or about the same as the last few months?

Right now it appears that the market is getting incrementally stronger which is a good sign for both buyers and sellers. A strengthening job market is not only adding to the number of prospective homebuyers but it’s also giving confidence to local homeowners that now may be a good time to ‘trade up’. Also, mortgage interest rates remain very attractive and some lenders are starting to relax stringent loan approval underwriting requirements. Home sellers whose properties are in above-average condition and premium locations are being rewarded with strong purchase offers from qualified buyers who recognize the long term value of investing in a great neighborhood that is nestled in an award-winning school district. If I’m a seller, I’d get my home on the market pronto because most buyers want to move in before the start of school in August. If I’m a buyer, I’d take the advice of my trusted Realtor and ‘step up’ with a strong offer if the right home in the right location at the right price pops onto the market. Keep in mind that our East Bay real estate market is far stronger than other regions of the state and country. Premium homes are actually selling fairly briskly and at what appears to be sustainable prices, too. As always, seek the best counsel available and get moving!

Tom Hart

Tom Hart

Tom Hart is a practicing Real Estate Broker and a partner at Empire Realty Associates in Danville. He is a Certified Master Negotiator by the University of San Francisco and a Certified Master Strategist by HSM Harvard Program on Negotiation. He is past president of the Contra Costa Association of Realtors (2005) and past president of the Realtors’ Marketing Association of the San Ramon Valley. Tom is in high demand as a speaker & trainer inside & outside the real estate industry.

On the Green – Wind Play

When tracking statistics for PGA Tour professionals, certain factors do contribute to higher scores. High rough, fast greens and wind are the three biggies. The higher rough puts a premium on putting the ball in the fairway and hitting greens. The high rough around the green places some element on luck. Catching a good lie can make the difference in whether the player can “predict” the way the ball will come out and what it will do on the green once it lands on it. Fast greens demand a more skilled player with better touch and imagination and being able to place the ball in position to have up hill putts verses the defensiveness of the dreaded down hillier. Wind, though, provides the golfer the challenge of club and shot selection and the great challenge of staying steady over the putts and controlling speed.

A 10 mile an hour wind can actually be fun! Playing a little more or a little less club while coming into the green or aiming a little more left or right to adjust to a cross wind. Into or down wind can also cause the ball to stop quickly or to release another 20 to 30 feet. You will also need to do this with the chip and pitch shot. Just don’t try to adjust to going into the wind by trying to get there by hitting the ball harder. This is a rookie error. The ball will spin more, climb up ward quicker and actually travel shorter. I think a 10 mile an hour wind usually causes me to take one maybe two clubs more so I don’t try to hit harder. By clubbing up it will actually cause you to swing more within yourself and help you maintain your rhythm and tempo.

Playing in more than a ten mile per hour wind say 15 to 25 is very challenging. I played for several years on the Australasian Tour and had to learn quickly how to play in the wind. Most of the tournaments played in Australia are in or around the coast. When the temperatures rose, the wind would pick up. Every afternoon round was usually played in up to 20 mile per hour winds. You would sometimes need three extra clubs in this wind just to get the ball to the green. I have hit four-irons from 140 yards before when that club usually would go 185 to 190. I also learned how to play “knock down shots.” For the more experienced player, this shot needs to be a staple in the bag for all kinds of situations. The knock down is simply a shot that flights low and bores through the wind. When the ball flies lower it is less affected by the wind. Mostly though, the good to average player should just remember to take PLENTY of club and swing smooth.This will keep the ball a little lower and keep the ball from flying way off line.

Finally, in the wind, you must have a good short game. Playing the wind on chips and putts is very challenging. The wind moves you around when putting and can actually push the ball around on the green. Widening the stance can help stabilize you so the wind doesn’t push you around and you can stay still. Remember, when the wind is up, so to will the scores be so pars become really very good. Hang tough, use your imagination and you might surprise yourself with how well you can do when others are struggling!

A Giants World Series Ring for Fans? Yes, If You Have an Extra $4,000 Handy!

SF Giants Fan Ring

SF Giants Fan Ring

In yet another element of their seemingly-endless World Series championship victory lap, the Giants are offering fans their very own World Series rings. Yes, any fan can have a version of the bauble that players strive for all their lives and that represents the greatest team achievement possible in baseball if they have the scratch and they don’t mind that it looks a lot different than the rings given to Giants players and staff members in April.

Balfour, the company that makes high school class rings and has also made championship rings for franchises like the New York Yankees and Boston Celtics, is manufacturing the rings for sale through the Giants website and Giants Dugout Stores. The 14-karat gold version with diamonds retails for $3,570 on the high end, the sterling silver version with cubic zirconium can be had for a mere $429. Both the Giants and Balfour say that sales forecasts and sales performance to date are proprietary.

SF Giants Player's Ring

SF Giants Player's Ring

The player rings were manufactured by Tiffany, and while their exact value is also a closely held secret, Tiffany is giving the person who wins the raffle for a player ring $5,000 to meet his or her tax obligations, which suggests that ring might be worth about $20,000.

According to Giants Retail Marketing Manager Megan Cooperson, the Giants’ program is the most extensive fan jewelry offering made in the wake of a team’s championship and was the result of the unbridled joy Giants fans displayed as the team won its first World Series since coming to San Francisco in 1958. “We definitely noticed fan reaction during the post season, and this offering is driven by that fan enthusiasm,” she said. Cooperson shared that at least one of the 10 karat gold rings with diamonds has been sold at the retail price of $2,370.

As for the difference between the player rings and the fan rings, Cooperson said, “The organization wanted the player ring to stand out as its own entity, but the fan ring to have its own personality.” Top Giants executives received official Tiffany rings, while lower level employees will have an opportunity to purchase a replica version of the Tiffany ring. Cooperson said the details of that program are not yet available.

Lacy Laborde, Balfour Director of Communications, said that the fan rings are becoming a growing business for her company. “We had a fan line for the Celtics when they won in 2008, but the Giants have done more with this than other teams.” Indeed, Jostens put out a fan version of the Boston Red Sox 2007 championship ring that did not have diamonds, along with a plain band that Off the Bench supposes symbolizes that a true fan is married to his or her team’s success.

“The Giants told us that they wanted to honor their fans. Giants fans are a big part of the franchise, and they wanted to do something special for the fans who mean so much to them,” said Laborde.

According to Laborde, the Giants played the main role in deciding what the fan rings would look like. They were interested in showing off the logo, the ballpark, McCovey Cove, and the championship trophy. Each fan ring is personalized with the owner’s name.

The fan rings, along with a jewelry line that includes cuff links, pendants and ear rings, will be available until Dec. 31. To view the line you can visit www.balfoursports.com/sfgiants or go to one of the Giants Dugout Stores, including the outlet at AT&T Park.

Dirt Gardener – Watering the Lawn

Q. When and for how long should I water my lawn? I’ve been reading that you promote a deep-rooted grass by watering infrequently but for twenty minutes to a half hour. My husband says he waters daily for ten minutes starting at six am. Who is right?

Ans. This is a tricky question, as both answers could be correct. The key factor in determining the correct answer is found in the soil profile. This is where the majority of the roots are found. With a round nose shovel, I’d make two perpendicular cuts in the turf. At the apex of the two cuts, lift the pie like section up exposing the profile. You should now clearly see the blades of grass, thatch, an organic layer between the grass and the soil along with the native soil.

Your two options are ‘A’, an infrequent watering schedule but for a longer period while ‘B’ has you watering frequently for a shorter period. For example, with Option ‘A’ you would be watering every five to seven days verses Option ‘B’ everyday. For Option ‘A’ to be viable, you need to see roots in the native soil layer. The lack of roots indicates you have a shallow rooted grass that requires frequent watering to sustain them during the summer months. The grass roots have no ability to access the moisture in the native soil so water stress occurs quickly. Option ‘B’ would then be the appropriate answer. Over the years, this has been an increasing problem with the popularity of soded lawns. It was less of an issue with lawns started from seed as the roots penetrated the native soil right away. Watering longer but less frequently is not going to solve the problem in any turf that receive six hours or more of direct sun per day. Aerating, removing the cores and then top-dressing the area is one method of encouraging the shallow roots to go down. This should be done twice a year for several years. Another method is with Liquid Thrive from Soil Logic, a liquid soil conditioner. Liquid Thrive is designed to break up clay soil, improve drainage and reduce compaction.

Neither of these methods are quick fixes. They take more than one season to be successful; however, they’re less expensive than starting over by installing a new lawn. I prefer watering turf and landscape plants during the morning hours from four to eleven am. You’re applying water on a rising temperature putting moisture in the root zone as the plants needs it and the air is calm unlike in the afternoon and evening hours. With Option ‘A’, Drought Defense from Soil Logic can also extend the days between watering. Drought Defense changes the physical nature of the water droplets along with changing a soil’s ability to absorb and hold moisture. When applied to the soil surface and watered in, it adheres to the soil particles where it will stay for many weeks. The captured water molecule is no longer able to evaporate, allowing moisture in the root zone to stay longer. Hence you’re able to water less often.