Oakland Zoo – A History as Told by the Founder’s Daughter

My curiosity about the Oakland Zoo was sparked after reading the novel FREEIN’PANCHO by New England author Lloyd Prentice, telling a story of a boy growing up in the Oakland Hills in the 1950s. The crux of the story occurs in the pristine Oakland hills with a boy shortcutting to school through the Oakland Zoo when Skyline Boulevard was lined with shady groves and stables. I read the book presuming the Mr. Snow character to be fictional—but he was not—the Snow family founded the Oakland Zoo. Prentice, in his youth, had himself lived in the hills, had cut through the zoological gardens to school and placed his fictional cougar ‘Pancho’ in the storied zoo. While visiting his old East Bay stomping grounds, he attempted to meet Barbara Clark whose family founded the Oakland Zoo, ninety years ago.

The zoo’s founding fascinated me, and on a rainy morning I met Mrs. Clark for a delightful interview. She recounted how the zoo actually came about, and that their family home was on the zoo grounds where she lived during childhood.
“We lived in a Victorian house right in the zoo, the house is still there, and we heard the animals at night. There were groupings of cages; lions and bears were across the way, and cages for small animals like monkeys, and the aviary was on the hill; he even had eagles. I remember Simba, the lion…”

Barbara Clark’s grandfather Henry A. Snow founded the Oakland Zoo in 1922, and her father Sidney Snow brought it to fruition at its present location. Sid Snow was a well-known St. Mary’s football player and catcher for the Oaks Baseball team. By the time the East Bay Botanical and Zoological Society (EBZS) emerged, Sid Snow already had a following of dedicated people to help him realize his family’s dream; to provide Oakland with a small zoo with live animals. The community donated lumber, paint and supplies to build a new home for the zoo animals.

Sidney Snow and his father H.A. Snow were big game hunters, and in the early 1920s went on a two-year safari to Africa to capture live animals for the zoo. H.A. Snow, Sidney, wife Virginia and daughter, Sidnia, went to the Arctic in 1924, where they secured a polar bear for the fledging zoo. They ventured onto ice fields with local hunters, lassoed a male polar bear, loaded him onto small boats and then to a ship’s hold and sailed the massive bear to the Oakland harbor. The family was devastated when the polar bear, ‘Wrangle,’ sadly died in its specially-built new home.

The first zoo location was on Senor Don Peralta’s Rancho San Antonio, and later purchased by Ellis. A. Haines in 1857. In 1888 the land passed to Frederick C. Talbot, owner of Pope and Talbot Lumber Company, where he built a mansion and ran a cattle ranch. His schooners transported lumber, exotic woods and trees from all over the world in the ships’ holds. Talbot’s large mansion, on land that was later the zoo, burned to the ground in 1921. In 1932, under ownership of Norman De Veaux, Sidney Snow’s friend, the Bank of America negotiated that the property be held for public use as a natural history park by the City of Oakland. The City rejected the offer.

In 1935 Mr. Snow took possession of the 475-acre parcel and started building the zoo; two years later founding the Alameda County Zoological Society. Sidney Snow formed a Board of Directors and paid the mortgage and taxes out of operating revenues. The City of Oakland voted a budget of $4,800 per year in 1939 for the care and feeding of the animals.

Through Sid Snow’s tireless negotiation, the State of California State Park Commission, under the Joseph R. Knowland chairmanship, acquired the East Bay Botanical and Zoological Society. The Society, City and State approved the master plan, and in 1958 water lines, grading and fencing got under way, including an elephant house for the harmonica-playing Asian pachyderm, Miss Effie Oakland.

“My father picked up Effie at the Oakland docks and spent two nights with her to get her accustomed to the new place. When I walked my daughter Linda in the stroller from our house, Effie recognized us and pushed her buggy. My father had Rosie, a chimpanzee, and wanted to raise the two together. We took the donkey and cougar to Oakland parades. My father built a stand and the cougar rode the donkey; the platform had to be out of nipping range of the donkey’s ears! People loved them.”

The zoo, at 98th Avenue and Mountain Boulevard, grew to an arboretum and exotic zoological gardens with annual membership fees of $1.00 per year for juniors, $2.50 for individuals, and $5.00 for sustaining members. The East Bay State Park was dedicated on May 21st, 1950.

“We had Blanca, a Cappuccine monkey, Kiki, a de-skunked skunk, and a cougar and her cubs. In the early days I helped my mother collect the money at the gate—ten cents per person and 25 cents a car,” Mrs. Clark remembers.
Barbara Clark showed me framed movie posters on the wall, explaining that her father and grandfather loved animals so much that they produced two feature length films in Hollywood; “Cougar,” featuring Jay Bruce that premiered at the Capitol on November 3, 1930, and “Hunting Big Game in the Arctic with Gun and Camera,” a dashing adventure photographing animals in their frozen wild habitats.

We spoke about our own safari experiences in Africa and the thrill of being among wild creatures in their natural milieu. “I was on safari with my husband in the 80s, and a rhino approached our vehicle. The rhino looked me right in the eyes—just a few feet away,” Barbara shuddered.

The 565-acre non-profit Oakland Zoo offers many outreach programs; visiting ZooMobiles, Summer Zoo Camps, and exciting adventures for adults and children who want to spend a night on the wild side among 660 native and exotic animals. For $45 to $60 per person mini-groups of 15 can have sleep-overs in the Education Centre, snuggle close to the action and explore the zoo at night. Visitors are also invited to ‘Feast with the Beasts’ by bringing grapes, melons and apples for the herbivores, and see big cats eating dinner. Memberships range from $66 to $99 annual dues and receive discounted admission and the newsletter ROAR!

One of my favorite attractions is the meerkat dome; the territorial Southern African insectivores, named ‘lake cats’ in Afrikaans. In the wild, they live in clans of 20 or more—super colonies have as many as 50 members. The under two-pound hierarchal creatures live in veldt burrows, and while foraging elect a single guard sentry to keep watch with binocular peripheral vision. The endearing meerkats may evict non-members from the colony and loudly alert approaching predators, earning the Bushmen’s ‘Sun Angels’ moniker.

The Oakland Zoo is microcosmic of global wild habitat dwellings, offering regular excitement to both zoo keepers and visitors. In January, an 80-lb, six-foot baby girl reticulated giraffe named ‘Maggie’ was born to proud parents; father Mabusu and mother Twiga. This May, three baby river otters will make their zoo debut by venturing out of their night house after learning to swim.

The Oakland Zoo, under Executive Director Dr. Joel Parrott, is dedicated to the protection of all animals, as evidenced by the mercy adoption of the surviving tiger of the Ohio tragedy, and recently by transporting four sister tigers from Brownsville, Texas whose owners could no longer care for them. It is estimated that only 3,000 to 4,000 tigers live in Asian natural habitats, and double that amount as captive pets. With a generous FEDEX partnership, the quartette of tigresses was transported from Texas to Oakland Airport; crates were forklifted and trucked, two at a time, to their new zoo home. To keep the female wild cats calm en route, Calvin Klein’s Obsession, the tigresses’ favorite fragrance, was sprayed in the hold.

The four fabled fragrant felines were ready for their close-ups upon arrival at their new forever home—the legendary Oakland Zoo.

Visit: www.oaklandzoo.org, reservations: 510.632.9525, 9777, Golf Links Road, Oakland.

Foothills Of Diablo: A Photo Journal

Once upon a time there was a man who liked to tell stories with his camera. They were the best kind of stories because they allowed everyone to create their own, personal story, all from looking at the very same photographs. From his eye, mind, heart—the story travels—to your eye, mind, heart.

ALIVE | Foothills of Diablo by Tyler Hoffman

ALIVE | Foothills of Diablo by Tyler Hoffman

ALIVE | Foothills of Diablo by Tyler Hoffman

ALIVE | Foothills of Diablo by Tyler Hoffman

ALIVE | Foothills of Diablo by Tyler Hoffman

Herman Rarebell of the Legendary Scorpions

Herman Rarebell, known by fans as ‘Herman Ze German’, is a rock star with staying power—enduring fifty years of rock band business. He made his mark, not only as a drummer in the popular heavy metal band, The Scorpions, but also as a prolific songwriter of classics like Another Piece of Meat, Falling in Love and Passion Rules the Game, and as the lead lyricist for Rock You Like a Hurricane, Make it Real, Blackout, Dynamite and Tease Me Please Me.

Rarebell not only played drums but his songwriting skills were one of the band’s key ingredients that helped their music soar up the charts world-wide, making the Scorpions a leading Rock ‘n Roll band. Rarebell’s fluency in English was an asset to the German band as he penned memorable lyrics in English. Fans love singing along during their concerts.

The Scorpions rose to rock and roll royalty from relative obscurity in Hannover, West Germany during the late 1970s, and early 1980s. At this time, they already had a strong following overseas, gaining more popularity in the United States.

In a recent interview with Rarebell, I learned about his career, experiences and his new autobiography, And Speaking of Scorpions.

Scorpions in History
The Scorpions’ Winds of Change is considered by some to be the unofficial “theme song” for the end of the Cold war and the fall of the Berlin Wall. The wall was torn down in 1989. The following year the Scorpions performed a concert in Potsdamer Platz in the “no-man’s-land” between the East and West Walls. The band was featured in Roger Water’s production, The Wall. “That was a big highlight for me,” Rarebell said proudly. The concert was broadcasted globally and approximately 250,000 tickets sold for the concert.

In 1991 the band was invited to the Kremlin to meet Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet head of state and party leader. Just like in the movies, two black limos picked them up and they walked in on a red carpet, spending some eight hours with the former Russian leader. “Mr. Gorbachev was funny as he joked with the band and took the time to explain to us that real ‘Heavy Metal’ was when former Premiere Khrushchev pounded his shoe on the table at the United Nations in 1960.”

Herman related stories about Russia enthusiastically. “We were invited to play in a Rock Festival, everyone was there, and they were very warm to us. We played in Moscow at Lenin Stadium and they had about 260,000 Soviet rock fans cheering us on. The people hung on to every word during our concert as they thirsted for knowledge. We were simply trying to give something back to our fans who lived inside the Soviet Union. It was a mind blowing experience.”

Rarebell says his biggest reward is playing in a stadium or arena and seeing the eyes of happy people. He loves performing. “I am going to die doing this; I am still full of energy. I am blessed to be able to make a life of music and have great success; very happy with the path that I chose. We had to kick the doors down to get attention by ourselves.” As we conversed, Herman also spoke from his heart about his late parents, “I will always be thankful for their love and support and how they allowed me to pound on those pots and pans many years ago.”

The 1983 San Bernardino Festival was another Rarebell highlight. “We played for over a half a million people.” The band was flown in by helicopters because of the large crowds, “At that time the song ‘No One like You’ became a huge hit.”

Speaking of Rarebell’s autobiography, And Speaking of Scorpions, Pleasanton’s Michael Krikorian of HAMAK Productions, an audio-video company, co-authored and published the book. Krikorian toured with Rarebell on a whirlwind West Coast spin, which included a book signing event at Blackhawk’s READ Booksellers, and VH1’s “That Metal Show.”

Krikorian and Rarebell met through Rock and Roll Remembers, a fund-raising organization to help industry musicians who have fallen on hard times. Rarebell generously offered to help Krikorian and the new book was born.

Written for his fans, the book offers a true and humorous look at the Scorpions when they were at the top of their game, and how heavy metal conquered America. “No, not just fans in North America, as it’s already portrayed in the media because it’s written in English. It is for all fans. And since, it is for you, once you open this book, be prepared to have the most fun you can legally have anywhere in the literary world while you immerse in the Scorpion’s story. It is my gift to say thank you for all you have given me.”

Herman began his journey with the Scorpions in 1971, realizing his dream to become a real Rock Star. Born Herman Erbel in Saarbrucken, Germany on November 18, 1949, he studied piano and drums from age 12 after his earlier years of practice, banging on pots, pans and chairs. His father insisted on studying music at the academy with the hopes of playing in the orchestra, but Herman could only dream of being a rock musician. At a family event he played the drums during a break and told his father, “This is for me!”

During the 1965 flower-power period, he drummed for the Mastermen and in ‘68 played with FUGGS Blues. Hoping to get into a heavy metal band, he went to London in 1971 and lived there for six years. Michael Schenker introduced him to the Scorpions at London’s Marquee Club, joining them on May 18, 1977, remaining with the Scorpions as drummer-songwriter-composer for over 20 years.

I asked how music has changed and what he sees for his future. “The business of music has changed. Youth is fickle; they want a one-hit wonder and then move on. There is no staying power. It is like the X-Factor; they leave a job, sing on the stage, a flash, and then go back to the job. People buy one song on iTunes — they don’t want albums any more. If I sell a song on iTunes, I make all the money; I don’t pay the label anymore. It is no longer the label, it is the song.”

Knowing that he is a prolific songwriter and an avid Led Zeppelin fan, I inquired about his writing process. He explained that, “The lyric comes first. I play the piano and record the idea, then I give it to my producer and we share ideas for the final song. The producer is the glue.”

Herman co-created a Monaco Records partnership with Prince Albert of Monaco. When I asked about what he learned, he answered philosophically, “The biggest thing about owning a record label is that there is a lot of money to be gained and there is a lot of money to lose.”

Herman released his first solo album in 1982; Nip in the Bud. He was the only Scorpions band member to do a solo project while still remaining a full member of the band. When he left the Scorpions in 1996, he had already made eight studio albums, selling over 32 million—78 Gold Records, 30 Platinum and received the ECHO Award and World of Music Award. He was with the same label for 32 years.

In 1984, the Scorpions were named the first German hard rock band to play three successive gigs in front of 60,000 fans at Madison Square Garden in New York. As the band performed live, arenas and stadiums exploded with energy as the heavy metal music reverberated on their world tours. Their album Love at First Sting became one of the most successful albums in rock history with songs; Rock you like a Hurricane, Bad Boys Running Wild, and Still Loving You, which became an international Rock Anthem. The single sold 1.7 million copies in France alone.

The Age of Hard Rock Metal ended in the mid-90s, forcing Herman to do something new, and he reinvented a fresh format after the Scorpions days. His new band, Herman Ze German and Band released their Take it as it Comes album in 2010. His songwriter-actress wife Claudia Raab, former Seven Sins saxophone player, plays in his band and is a top songwriter. They currently live in England. Rarebell also tours with Michael Schenker, Temple of Rock and in May he will tour Europe. Slowing down isn’t in the cards for this vibrant rocker.

Herman performed live for The Art Meets the Music Project, featuring dancers and original paintings by Rolling Stones guitarist, Ronnie Wood and artist Ronald Muri. As he tells it, this was an enriching experience for Rarebell as it was a lot more than just a normal rock ‘n roll event.

And the beat goes on, as Rarebell studies the music market shrewdly, taking clues about hot trends in music. In discovering that there is not much rock-metal on the present scene, Rarebell states that, “Rock musicians are not forgotten, they just reinvent themselves to fresh audiences.”

For more information or for a copy of his book, visit Hermanrarebell.com. The book is also available at amazon.com

Special Spaces: Changing Children’s Lives One Bedroom at a Time

Special Spaces Inc, is on a mission—a mission to create dream bedrooms for children with life challenging illnesses. A child’s room is a place for them to find comfort and hope while coping with their unfortunate medical needs. One of the fulfilling attributes of being a designer is being able to share your passion in a platform that is beneficial to another. Being a part of something as rewarding as Special Spaces, Inc. is a true honor. Aside from being an interior designer at J. Hettinger Interiors, I am also a volunteer with Special Spaces, Inc., as a room designer.

I finished my first project and I could not be happier to work with the child that was selected for me. She is amazing, energetic and inspiring. Kaitlin was diagnosed with Leukemia/Lymphoma and regardless of this difficult medical situation, Kaitlin and her family are in high spirits and very excited about this room makeover for Kaitlin.

After speaking with Kaitlin in great detail about her “dream” room I discovered that she loves girly things, like pink and sparkles, but at this stage in her life she is looking towards the future and wanting a more grown up feel. Surveying her “likes” and “wants” made it easy for me to envision the finished product.

There are several steps to making this makeover a reality: meeting with the child and discussing their style, raising money, designing the room, purchasing the materials, and the grand reveal. The design of this space is very important. The goal is to design a bedroom that not only embodies Kaitlin’s style but to create a place that she adores as well.

Here are a few things to consider when designing for a child:
Designing a child’s bedroom can be tricky, considering how quickly children change their minds about their favorite color or new fascination, dependent on the latest children’s movie or cartoon on TV. It’s hard enough to keep up with technology, let alone the latest in interior design trends. But with a few thoughtful decisions you can set a plan in motion that will allow for the growth and change from infant to teen and not spend a fortune in the process.

Start by choosing timeless pieces, as opposed to mass-produced furniture, such as the type found at store like Ikea. Choose thrifted antiques that can stand the test of time and endure juvenile tendencies. These pieces can transition easily throughout the “likes” of your child’s design efforts. You can change the feel of the space by painting or staining that particular piece or changing the hardware.

Life stages progress quickly and a child’s room needs to be able to adapt from a crib to a “big boy” or “big girl” bed with a few easy changes. An extravagantly themed room can be easily converted into a subtle playtime getaway for growing children by simply changing the paint or wall coverings. Window treatments can go from fun and themed, to simple and sophisticated, by adding panels—without having to change the hardware. Rugs have an added benefit of providing warmth and interest while protecting floors from toys.

Allow your child’s input when possible. Odds are they will feel a sense of pride when showing off a room that they’ve helped create. If your child has a new passion for sports or ballerinas, embrace it. Let their imagination run wild—get creative with wall decals, creative storage and handmade elements to add to the theme of the space and the perks are that they are easily replaceable.

More then anything, have fun with this space. Don’t under design your child’s room because you are afraid that they won’t like it in a few years. It is important for children to feel like they have their own special retreat. Create a multi-functional space that they can nap, play and study in and chances are you will have one happy kid!

I am currently fundraising for my next room makeover for Special Spaces, Inc. (these rooms are fully fundraised by the room designer) and would really appreciate your kindness. If you would like to get involved by donating a dollar amount for the materials needed, make an in-kind donation, or if you’d like to sponsor a room please go to http://specialspacessanfrancisco.org/?page_id=190 . Scroll down and click on Naomie Wert’s donate button.

It’s simple and here’s an idea of how your tax-deductible donation can help with these makeovers.

  • $25 – I’ll buy 1 gallon of paint for the room!
  • $50 – My donation towards flooring!
  • $75 – Pick out some really cool fabric!
  • $100 – Lumber anyone?
  • $150 – Accessories galore – go to town!
  • $200 – Be creative and get what you need!
  • $500 – Furniture is always a wonderful thing!
  • $1,000 – I’m signing the closet wall!
  • $4,000 – I’ve got you covered…Just design!

Naomie Wert is an interior designer at J. Hettinger Interiors in Danville. You can see Naomie’s portfolio at www.jhettinger.com under or call 925.820.9336.
“Life isn’t about surviving the storm but learning to dance in the rain.”

Las Lomas Outdoor Classroom

Non-profit organization TLC for Kids Sports, sponsored by O.C. Jones & Sons, Inc., announced today that construction broke ground for the Las Lomas Outdoor Memorial Classroom. This is the culmination of a year-long fundraising campaign and school activities in honor of Gavin Powell and Matt Miller, two students who died last year while rafting in a storm-swollen local creek. “I am amazed that all our talking and designing and planning are actually taking shape,” said Senior Class Vice President Erin Donoghue. “For a long time I feared that we would not be able to make the memorial idea a reality so this groundbreaking is all that I could have asked for. Students are excited by the prospect of having a new outdoor area on campus. Now that they see work is actually occurring in the space they look forward to seeing the final product.”

Each year the seniors get together and share ideas for their annual Senior Class Gift. “When we thought of the Memorial idea we knew we had to do it,” said Donoghue, “None of our other ideas were special enough; nothing else we could do was a big enough project – a big enough statement—to accurately reflect the statement Matt and Gavin made on our class and campus. The boys left a legacy on every member of the Las Lomas community; our hope was to honor their legacy by creating a space that would ensure they are never forgotten.” And so the idea began to take shape for the Las Lomas Outdoor Classroom. The designs are even based on sketches that Miller did for a school assignment.

While the community has stepped up to support the project through donations and fundraising, the major cost will be covered by O.C. Jones & Sons, Inc. and their non-profit organization, TLC for Kids Sports. “As an organization dedicated to improving our local community and youth sports, we were eager to spearhead the Matt and Gavin Memorial Project. It’s a true community endeavor, with designs inspired by the students themselves,” added Kelly Kolander, President and CEO of O.C. Jones and TLC for Kids Sports. Additional major donors include Berkeley Cement, Inc. and Central Concrete Supply Co., Inc.

Construction of the Outdoor Classroom will include concrete pathways leading to a circular seating area. The 5,000sf area will be planted with native drought tolerant plants and include other quiet seating areas for the students. The entire space will be dedicated to “nature, relationships and education”; all things Miller and Powell adored.

O.C. Jones & Sons, Inc. and TLC for Kids Sports hosted a special Volunteer Day on April 28th. “The volunteer day allowed family, friends and fellow community members of Matt and Gavin to truly be an active part of the Memorial building process, which is really important,” said Kolander. There was a huge community turnout as people were anxious to lend a helping hand to the physical labor involved in the creation of the memorial. Earlier in the year, students remembered Matt and Gavin through various events and activities that included a funk dance party, tile painting, writing messages on posters and more. They also shared memories and ideas for the design of the memorial area. Everyone involved was excited as their collective ideas came to fruition with the actual construction of the outdoor classroom.

Many people may relate to Donoghue’s heartwarming reaction to the memorial. “I am comforted,” she said, “that there is a place at Las Lomas that will never forget Matt and Gavin. They were the two strongest individuals I have ever met, and I think our community will be thankful that these two boys will be continually remembered on campus.”

About TLC for Kids Sports
TLC for Kids Sports, sponsored by O.C. Jones & Sons, is aiming to improve our local communities and youth sports, one field at a time. This non-profit corporation partners with radio station KNBR 680AM, The Sports Leader, to hold special contests. The winners receive much-needed Tender Loving Care for their youth sports fields. Thousands of children are playing on safer and modern fields. Their vision is for every child involved in youth sports to play on a safe field that is also accessible for the physically challenged.

They are seeking out neighborhoods where fields and parks need some strong attention and rebuilding as many of them as they can. In addition, they reach out along the way to local sponsors, donors, public officials and volunteers to give everyone a chance to be involved and to exemplify a true community project.

To nominate a field, become a sponsor, or get involved, visit their website at www.TLCforKidsSports.org.

About O.C. Jones & Sons, Inc.
O. C. Jones &. Sons, Inc., founded in 1924, continues to build on its historic legacy as a leading heavy civil construction contractor and builder of athletic fields in Northern California. They perform paving, grading, excavating, demolition, synthetic surfaces, underground utility, environmental remediation, and emergency response for public and private clients. Their core markets are highway and airport construction; stadiums, athletic fields and parks; commercial; industrial; residential; and intermodal facilities. Visit www.ocjones.com

You Are Feeling Relaxed…Very, Very Relaxed and Calm

If you’re reading the newspaper, watching the news regularly, or looking for work—then feeling relaxed and calm may not be a mainstay of your diet these days. During stressful times, like the ones many of us are experiencing, it is important to develop “self-care tools.”

One self-care tool that I personally would find difficult to get along without is self-hypnosis. When I’m unable to sleep, one of my most effective ways of relaxing is practicing self-hypnosis. I teach many of my clients how to use self-hypnosis to assist in relaxing and getting a good night’s sleep. In addition to sharing self-care techniques, I teach clients how to use self-hypnosis as a supportive tool for propelling them toward their personal and professional goals.

Now, let’s get real here. When many of you hear the term hypnosis, you think about the eerie mind-control scenarios from Hollywood’s depictions. Or, if you’ve seen stage hypnosis, then you probably think of a guy with a pendulum telling you to quack like a duck. So let me share with you that stage hypnosis is for entertainment, whereas hypnotherapy is a powerful toolÉfor personal growth and positive transformation.

What is Hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is a way to relax and calm your mind, body, and emotions in order to enter a focused state where unhealthy habits and challenges can be explored. During hypnotherapy, you are given an opportunity to gain insights into your established patterns of behaviors, move through blocks, and head toward your personal and professional goals. Due to the imagination being activated, hypnotherapy is sometimes called “guided imagery.”

Think of your mind as consisting of two parts—the conscious and the unconscious. Your conscious mind operates within your awareness and on a surface level. By contrast, your unconscious mind operates outside of your conscious awareness and below the surface.

Hypnotherapy addresses your challenges and behaviors at a deep, unconscious level—below the surface—to address issues from the inside out. During the hypnotherapy process, I teach my clients how to relax into a trance state.
What Does a “Trance State” Feel Like?

Relaxed and focused states, sometimes referred to as trances, are natural occurrences that are often experienced in everyday life. For example, have you ever been on a highway and missed the exit? If so, you were probably experiencing a “highway trance.”

TV trances are also common occurrences when someone is focusing deeply on what he or she is watching. When children are in “TV trances,” they may not respond to hearing their names called because they are so focused and absorbed in whatever they’re watching.

Trance states in hypnotherapy vary in depth to fit my clients’ comfort and desire. I am trained in a method that is interactive and follows an Empowerment Model. Honoring this approach, I serve as a co-creative facilitator for empowering clients on their paths toward their goals—and they are always in control.

During a hypnotherapy session, clients are taught how to relax their minds and bodies deeply, without falling asleep. At times during hypnotherapy, some clients report that they feel as though they are in a daydream. Their concentration and awareness may become heightened, allowing them to notice sounds, scents, and visual images that are part of their experience.

And just so you know, many of my clients, after completing their first hypnotherapy sessions, express surprise at how poignant and inspiring their hypnotherapy experiences were (often with a grateful tear in their eye).

What is a Positive Suggestion?
A positive suggestion is a positive statement that relates to a goal. When someone is in a deeply relaxed state during hypnotherapy, his or her unconscious mind can become open and receptive to positive suggestions. A positive suggestion is often the opposite of the self-defeating behavior that the person wants to change.

For example, when clients come to see me with a goal to lose weight, they may want these positive suggestions (offered to their unconscious minds) after they are in a deeply relaxed state:

You savor the flavors of juicy fresh fruits and colorful vegetables.

  • You feel satisfied after eating small portions during meals.
  • You enjoy moving and exercising—and it feels great!

Finally, consider adding self-hypnosis to your “self-care toolkit.” Learn how self-hypnosis assists people in taking breaks from their hectic daily routines—to stop pushing, to let go, to become relaxed … hopefully…very, very relaxed and calm.
Join Trina and attend her upcoming Walnut Creek workshop for women and men: Managing Emotional and Compulsive Eating—John Muir Women’s Health Center: Wednesday, June 6, 6:30-8:30 pm. Cost: $40 (Includes Weight Loss: 2-CD set). Seats are limited — register today for this inspiring workshop: (925) 941-7900 option 3. For more info, go to www.TrinaSwerdlow.com & click on “Private Sessions & Workshops.”
Trina Swerdlow, BFA, CCHT, is a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, an artist, and the author and illustrator of Stress Reduction Journal: Meditate and Journal Your Way to Better Health. Trina has a private practice in downtown Danville. She soulfully shares her creative approach to personal growth and passionately supports her clients in reaching their goals. You can reach her at: (925) 285.5759, or info@TrinaSwerdlow.com.

Certified Clinical Hypnotherapy services in California can be alternative or complementary to licensed healing arts, such as psychotherapy.

A Lost Decade?

The last ten years or so have been widely referred to as the “lost decade.” In many ways this term does accurately reflect our economic and financial market struggles since the year 2000. We have experienced unthinkable terrorist attacks, painful stock market declines, ongoing wars in the Middle East, and the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. No argument here that the last 10-12 years have been an extremely tough environment for many Americans and a very frustrating and challenging time to be an investor.

Despite all these struggles, there have been some very positive developments over the last decade that may provide better economic growth ahead. One of the most important achievements during the last decade has been the extraordinary growth and maturation of the emerging world economies. Today’s emerging economies like China, India and Brazil have gone through a significant transformation the last decade. No longer are their economies totally reliant on exports. They are evolving into more self-sufficient contributors to world economic growth. This is being driven internally by the growing middle classes who now are able to buy all the nice things that we take for granted here in the U.S. Back in 2000, the Gross Domestic Product or GDP (a measure of total economic output) for the emerging economies of the world was only 60% of the U.S. GDP. Today, emerging economies GDP has grown to represent 130% of U.S. GDP.1

Another positive trend over the last decade is the incredible technological and productivity gains here in the U.S. This “tech boom” has lead to record profits for U.S. companies. We have also seen worldwide growth in the popularity of capitalism during the last 10 years. Technology has allowed the world to become smaller and more interconnected. For many around the globe the increased connectivity with the rest of the world has lead to a realization that capitalism and free-markets, although not perfect, are the best way forward. This in turn has promoted the fall of dictatorships and an increase in individual economic freedom for many people throughout the world. The end result is the most diversified global economy ever seen.

So maybe the last decade was not a total loss? Our investment decisions going forward are going to be greatly influenced by the dynamic changes taking place all over the globe, particularly those over the last ten years. Now more than ever investors must embrace a global mindset when making plans.

  1. Wells Capital Management, Economic and Market Perspective, 2-2012


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. Not all recommendations are suitable for all investors. Each investor must consider their own goals, time horizon and risk tolerance. Your comments are welcome. Damien can be reached at 925-280-1800 x101 or damien@WalnutCreekWealth.com”


A Mother’s Mysterious Death

I believe in numbers, probabilities and odds. How often do mothers of two boys go for a walk, at night, down onto a freeway and wind up dead? How often do drivers who might have struck a pedestrian fail to stop and just go sailing merrily down the road? Answers to both: Hardly ever.

But these are the questions more than five months after the body of 47-year-old Roma Bhatia, a mortgage consultant, was found on a Saturday night just south of the Bollinger Canyon Road overpass off to the side of the northbound 680 freeway. The cause of death was listed as blunt force injuries from being struck by a vehicle. According to the California Highway Patrol, it’s still an active and ongoing investigation.

The mother of two teen-age boys had been a victim of domestic violence throughout her marriage, according to court records, and had been embroiled in a lengthy divorce and child custody fight. She had also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder but had moved back in with her family in the months before her death.

For a number of reasons I wrestled whether to even write something about this case. For starters, I had done some work on the case for the victim’s side of the family right after the death. I canvassed for possible witnesses and interviewed some people at the hair salon where she was last seen alive. I just asked that anyone who knew anything call the CHP. It’s not like the movies where I worked on the case around the clock. In the real world, you do what you can do within a budget.

A bigger stumbling block to writing about it was my fear of the subject matter attached to the story: Domestic violence. But the reason not to write about something –FEAR– is probably why we should confront and examine the subject. It seems like domestic violence wants to be whispered about and kept in the shadows, or as embattled San Francisco sheriff Ross Mirkarimi supposedly labeled it, a “private matter.” Domestic violence also happens in the suburbs.

Roma Bhatia was last seen, about three hours before her death, walking out of the Fantastic Sams hair salon, 11040 Bollinger Canyon Road, about 5:15 p.m. She had paid $87.85 out of a $100 bill for a tint, cut and moisturizer. Her body was found about 8:20 p.m. and her husband apparently called San Ramon police looking for her about two hours later. She was quiet at the salon but mentioned that she was going to spend Thanksgiving with her two sons, stylist Tina Tran told me. Her youngest son had apparently given her a ride to the shop.

A major question though is: Did she really walk the 2.7 miles at night from the salon down onto the freeway? Her sister and friends are unanimous that Roma was not a recreational walker and would never even pass up valet parking. In the days after her death I had asked the Safeway store near the beauty parlor to preserve any video they might have had from the parking lot, in case it might have shown her getting into a vehicle. I don’t know if the store had any such video or if they turned anything over to the CHP.

Another troubling aspect, to me anyway, is that the husband never seemed to be in the public eye after the incident asking the public for information to help in the case. We all grieve in different ways I suppose. The CHP lost valuable time on the case because the investigating officer was off for five days immediately after the case due to scheduled time-off.

So the real reason I bring up this case is to humanize the victim and to keep the case alive. All mothers are special. She must have been a strong person to raise a couple of boys and suffer in an abusive marriage.



Spencer Elrod Services

Spencer Elrod Services


Beauty Bloom – New Surprises in Cosmetic Technologies

I love when new technologies improve our life, making it easier and less complicated. Here is a list of a few noteworthy items to hit the market to help you love applying make-up all over again.

“NEW” Gel Eyeliners
Remember how eyeliner pencils used to be so hard that it would hurt to apply them? Or you would have to hold the eye in order to put it on, only to look at yourself an hour or so later and it all faded off to a hint of a line? By the end of the day you looked washed out and you would wonder where all your make-up had gone.

No more worries because now they have invented Gel Eyeliners! We have them. They glide on oh-so-very smooth and effortless, then dry in 10 minutes for a waterproof long-lasting 24 hour hold. You can apply it very natural or beautifully bold. It is like no other pencil to date and comes in eight different shades. The perfect eyeliner with many benefits—we are obsessed.

“NEW” Super Wear Brow Definer
Some of us just can’t get our eyebrows to look beautiful and natural. We have used many different types of cosmetics, like eyebrow powder, waxy eyebrow tints, and eyebrow pencils, just to name a few. Eyebrow powders look natural but always rub off and smudge. Eye pencils are still wonderful and work very well but if you are looking for extra fullness, then the Super Wear Brow Definer may be the product for you.

The Super Wear Brow Definer is a new gel formula invented for utmost precision. It looks like a felt tip pen and dispenses a perfect brushstroke look. It defines effortlessly and fills-in brows for a more modern updated look with hours of extended wear. Designed for expert control and easy application, the quick-dry formula sets instantly, and won’t rub off or stray, as it delivers a lasting, natural finish that looks like your very own brow. Love!

“NEW” Pro Beauty Lip Primer
Have you had trouble with lipstick fading beyond the lip line and then going up in the lines of the lips? Most red lipsticks will smudge all over the lips making them look unkempt and messy. We have a new product to make your life easier and to hold lipstick in place. This new lip technology we have discovered will never allow lipstick to smudge or run into the lines of the lips. The lip-caring primer formula penetrates instantly, a patent pending technology that helps suspend pigments to create a soft cushion so lipsticks don’t move. For best results, apply the primer on first then your selected lip liner and, lastly, your favorite lip color. You will never have an embarrassing lip smudge moment ever again using this wonderful Pro Beauty Lip Primer.

At The Rouge, we are dedicated to giving you the best in knowledge and the utmost updated information in cosmetics. With our research of top-performing products we test market everything before we write about it. We welcome you to come in and see for yourself and try some of these wonderful new cosmetic technologies to improve your life and confidence.

Successful Careers from Mediocre Beginnings

Many famous and successful people, including musicians and composers, abound in our present day society. But many of these highly-thought-of, very accomplished people were not as famous and successful in their early lives as they became later. Many people who we admire and esteem today had very mediocre career beginnings.

It is surprising to note that when I was doing research for this article I found world renowned individuals represented in the fields of business, politics, science, medicine, sports and the arts including musicians and composers.

When we think of the gifted and illustrious composers of the past few centuries and even in modern times, most people would not have imagined they had hard times and unfortunate periods in their lives. Some examples of these famous people follow:

Musicians and Composers

Wolfgang Mozart (1756-1791) was a prodigy and wunderkind, musically gifted beyond belief. He was proficient on the harpsichord at the age of four and composing at age five. However, he was often restless and even dismissed as a court musician in Salzburg, Austria. Mozart struggled to support his family financially and was always in need of his patron’s commissions. He died at the untimely age of 35, destitute. It is said that his early demise was brought about by overwork and financial worries. In his short life he wrote over 600 compositions. Think what this output would have been had he lived a normal life span.

Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827) was one of history’s greatest composers. As a youth he was awkward on the violin, reportedly due to non-practice. He was described as an angry young man mainly due to his father’s browbeating and bullying. One of his teachers said of him, “As a composer he is hopeless.” Deafness is a tragedy for anyone but for a musician/composer it is catastrophic. Deafness changed Beethoven’s whole personality and he became “A miserable old grump.” Unbelievably he composed his later works when he was totally deaf. He evolved from his early inadequacies to become one of the greatest composers of all time.

Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) enjoyed tremendous acclaim and success, especially from his ballet scores in his later years. He was literally run out of town after the premier of the ballet Le Sacre du Printemps (the Rite of Spring) in 1913.” Le Sacre du Printemps provoked a riot – nobody was ready for this extraordinary portrayal of ancient fertility rites with savage harmonies and irregular pounding rhythms. “Le Sacre du Printemps is a primitive, ritualistic breathtakingly modern, and the most single influential piece of twentieth-century music,” according to Marcus Weeks in his book, Music.  Stravinsky’s life is a story of rejection to adoration and he was a champion of twentieth-century music.

Elvis Presley (1935-1977) was a true American Icon who came from being literally a “nobody” to an international box office phenomenon. In 1954 Jimmy Dean, who was the manager of the Grand Ole Opry, fired Elvis after just one performance. “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son,” said Dean. “You ought to go back to driving a truck.”  If anybody ever had to eat their words, it was Jimmy Dean!

Henry Mancini (1924-1994) award winning, Oscar winning, Grammy winning musician/composer/arranger was another success story that had a rough beginning. His daughter, Felice Mancini, writes, “My father was not a good student. He got D’s and occasional F’s and many C’s throughout his school years. But he seemed to shine when it came to music and got A’s on every report card. He was fortunate to have music available to him and teachers who recognized his gift.” Mancini’s greatest claim to fame was being a staff composer and arranger at Universal Studios. He was the first to introduce Jazz to television and film scores that made his work unique. His compositions became huge hits among some are: Pink Panther, Moon River, Days of Wine and Roses, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and TV theme songs, Mr. Lucky, Peter Gunn and Charlie’s Angels. Mancini also wrote and arranged for Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman.

Other famous non-musicians with dubious beginnings are:

Henry Ford, who had early failed businesses and went broke five times.

R. H. Macy had seven failed businesses before his department store empire.

Colonel Sander’s recipe was rejected over 1,000 times before a restaurant accepted it.

Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and had a failed first business.

Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”

Winston Churchill struggled in school and failed sixth grade. He was defeated in many elections before he was twice elected Prime Minister and a Nobel Prize winner. He was recognized as being one of the world’s greatest orators and Churchill was also a very prolific writer.

Overcoming obstacles early in life can often lead to successful careers. Having a positive attitude and preparing yourself for your future career is most important for success. Don’t be discouraged by early disappointments as the future may hold great things.

Mark your calendar for the Danville Community Band’s Annual Free Spring Concert, Sunday, June 17th, 3:00 at Community Presbyterian Church in Danville

Please submit your questions and comments to banddirector01@comcast.net

Visit our website at www.danvilleband.org for up-to-date information about the Danville Community Band.