Share Your Holiday Spirit by Volunteering

This year has been a time of economic hardship for many families. Money gets even tighter during the holiday season as parents try to balance regular expenses and buy gifts for their children.

As the Holiday Season approaches, many of us will enjoy the special pleasure of “giving back.” Volunteering has a meaningful, positive impact on your community by helping others and improving their well being. What better way is there to connect with your community? You can make a difference!

Volunteering is a great way to spend a day. It’s fun and it’s free. Your presence in community programs enhances the quality of life in San Ramon. A small contribution of your time can make a big difference.

Many organizations will be hosting food drives, toy drives and Adopt-A-Family programs. The Marines will be collecting Toys for Tots. The Rotary Club will sponsor their annual One Warm Coat drive. Consider volunteering as a Thanksgiving Food Drive Coordinator or at a local shelter.

San Ramon also offers several volunteer opportunities. City Lights Volunteer Program is designed to bring volunteers and City Staff together, in a partnership, to assure the success of our programs and services. Volunteer opportunities are available in the areas of: administrative support; special events; publicity; race volunteer; Senior Scholars; volunteer drivers; Senior Center garden; specialized recreation, coaching and more.

To register as a City Lights Volunteer or to receive job descriptions and a City Lights Newsletter, call the Volunteer Coordinator at (925) 973-3222. Information is also available for pick up at the San Ramon Community Center, 12501 Alcosta Blvd. or by e-mail at

It is my hope that your volunteering endeavors will not be limited to the giving season of the holidays. While there are certainly many opportunities to volunteer at this time of year, please think about giving back to your community after the holidays and throughout the year.

Together we can—Together we will—Make a difference—Make a better community, and be proud that we’ve made a Better San Ramon.

You may contact Mayor Wilson by email, at:

11/26, 5:00 – 7:00pm: Community Family Thanksgiving at the Alcosta Senior & Community Center.
Pre-registration required by 11/20. Anyone wishing to volunteer or contribute to this event should be a City Lights Volunteer. Call Nick Vitalis at 973-3254.

December 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 & 13: Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!) presented by San Ramon Community Theater at the Front Row Theater.
Tickets can be purchased at

12/05, 9:00 – 11:00am: Bah Humbug! 5K Run/Walk at Bishop Ranch #2. Start the Holiday Season off with a healthy fun run or walk through San Ramon. Info: (925) 973-2500

12/05, 8pm: A Day in His Life Starring Tim Piper as John Lennon & Featuring the band Working Class Hero. Spend an evening with Rock icon ‘John Lennon’ as portrayed by world-famous actor/musician Tim Piper.

12/02, 8:30am – 10:00am &10:30am – 12:00pm: Breakfast with Santa presented by San Ramon Arts Foundation. The San Ramon Community Theatre presents Santa, Mrs. Claus and the Elves with a variety of breakfast treats, a personal visit from Santa Claus and some special holiday entertainment. Info: (925) 389-7529.

12/12, Saturday, 10:30am: Children’s Home Society of California’s East Bay Council of Auxiliaries Present “STORYBOOK BRUNCH WITH SANTA”. A holiday event for children of all ages. Songs and Storytelling featuring Clayton Valley High School Drama Department, Jeanni the Magician, and a Special Visit for each child with Santa.
Tickets $15 Children 12 & under; $30.00 Regular Admission. San Ramon Marriott Hotel Tickets and Info: (510) 267-1860

12/18, 7pm: Community Chorus Holiday Concert at the Community Center at Central Park. Bring the entire family to this delightful holiday concert featuring multi-cultural holiday music and dance. This charming program is certain to entertain one and all. The evening will culminate with a special visit from Santa Claus himself. FREE admission.

12/19 at 2pm & 4:30pm – 12/23 at 11am, 2pm & 4:30pm: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. This pratfall-filled comedy, which brings to life the popular book of the same name, will delight preschoolers, while parents chortle with recognition at the antics of the exuberant mouse. Holiday treat for the whole family!!

12/20, December 20, 7pm: Messiah Sing-A-Long at the San Ramon Presbyterian Church (12943 Alcosta Blvd.). Four soloists will perform with an orchestra and you! The chorus is made up of those in the audience who wish to add their voices to the inspiring strains of George F. Handel’s Messiah. There will be free choral workshops on 11/16, 11/30, 12/5 & 12/14.


Danville Traditions

November has left its mark by painting our valley with warm autumn colors in the shadows of the mighty Mt. Diablo. As autumn has its traditional colors, Danville has its traditional events such as our annual salute to honor our veterans on November 11th, Discover Danville’s Spirit of Danville on November 12th, and the Danville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Lighting of the Oak Tree following Thanksgiving Day on November 27th.

Danville’s tradition of honoring veterans who served in the military in war-time would not be complete without our annual Veterans Day Celebration. All of our local veteran organizations participate in this capacity crowd event on November 11 at 11:00 AM. The event will be held at San Ramon Valley High School’s Performing Arts Auditorium.

Discover Danville’s “Spirit of Danville Shopping” will take place in downtown Danville, The Livery, and The Rose Garden on Thursday evening, November 12th. Purchase charity tickets ahead of the event, which will benefit San Ramon Valley Education Foundation (SRVEF) from your favorite school. Tickets to this great event are five dollars with one dollar going to SRVEF and four dollars going to your school. Enjoy shopping, discounts, and giveaways, wine tasting and free trolley rides between all locations. Parents can check out the Kids Night Drop Off service while enjoying the event. Check out

Make memories with your loved ones at Danville’s Lighting of the Oak Tree ceremony. Watch as Father Christmas and the Snow Angel sprinkle a little magic dust on the old oak tree and bring it to light. Warm feelings will quickly quell the cool air as local choral groups provide musical accompaniment and neighborhood businesses pass out hot beverages. Want to keep the magic going? Stroll downtown and enjoy refreshments, entertainment, and holiday shopping on the festively decorated streets.

Autumn signals a change in seasons and the Danville Council has a new addition. Last month, on October 13th, the Danville Town Council unanimously appointed Robert Storer to fulfill the remainder of the term of Councilman Mike Shimansky, who passed away on September 15. Robert, his wife Sandra, and two sons have lived in Danville for 20 years. In addition to serving as the President of a small corporation for the past 25 years, Robert is a property manager and builder. Robert has a great deal of experience in local government, having served on Danville’s Planning Commission since 2001, as well as service on the Heritage Resource Commission and Design Review Board, and as Danville’s representative on the Contra Costa Transportation Authority Citizen Advisory Committee. For the past 16 years, Robert has volunteered on the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Search, Rescue and Recovery Team and has actively participated on many local Boards and Committees. Please join us in welcoming Robert as the newest member of the Danville Town Council.

You can reach the Mayor at Visit to view what Danville has to offer.

American Legion Noon Lunch Meets 1st Wednesday, Vets Hall, Corner of Hartz & Prospect. Info: Doris Sidwell, 925-443-2085

Danville Farmers’ Market: Saturdays 9am – 1pm; Year-Round, Thursdays, 4pm – 8pm May10 – Aug 16. Corner of Railroad & Prospect St.

San Ramon Valley Republican Women Federated meets on the Fourth Tuesday of every month except June-August at Crow Canyon Country Club, Danville at 11:30a.m.
to 1:30p.m. Lunches are $23. Please join us to hear informative speakers on important issues! Info: Sonali @ (925) 314-9194.

Soroptimist International of San Ramon Valley meets 1st and 3rd Wednesdays each month at Crow Canyon Country Club, Danville, 12.15-1.30pm. Soroptimist’s mission is to improve the lives of women and girls locally and globally.

11/12, Thursday, 5pm – 9pm: Spirit of Danville Shopping in Downtown Danville, The Livery, & The Rose Garden, benefiting local charities & schools. Shopping,
discounts, giveaways, wine tasting. Includes free trolley rides between all locations. Info: 925-339-8330.

11/27, Friday, 5.15pm – 8.30pm: Lighting of the Old Oak Tree on Diablo Road Downtown Danville. Watch as Father Christmas and the Snow Angel sprinkle a little magic dust on the old oak tree and bring it to light. Local choral groups will provide musical accompaniment while neighborhood businesses pass out hot beverages. Stroll downtown to keep the magic going and enjoy refreshments, entertainment, and holiday shopping through the festively decorated streets.

12/09, Tuesday, 6pm – 9pm: The Alamo-Danville Artists’ Society (ADAS) Holiday Party & Community Art and Education Program (CAEP) Awards. The highlight of this evening comes after dinner when we present donation checks to local schools’ art educators. Free admission. 989 San Ramon Valley Blvd (Danville Congregational’s Social Hall).

12/10, Wednesday, 11am – 1pm: Senior Holiday Luncheon at the Veterans’ Memorial Hall. Enjoy a fine catered lunch with entertainment, and socialize with friends old and new. Pre-registration required.

12/12, Saturday, 9.30am – 1pm: Elf Workshop at the Veterans’ Memorial Hall. Goodies will be served while children create hands-on holiday crafts and get a chance to visit and take a photo with Santa. 2 sessions available 9:30-11:00 am or 11:30-1:00 pm. Pre-registration required at Info: (925) 314-3477.

NEWELL ARNERICH, Mayor of Danville

The Alamo Municipal Advisory Council

Supervisor Mary Piepho has announced that the following Alamo residents have been nominated to serve on the Alamo MAC: David Barclay, Ed Best, David Bowlby, Nancy Dommes, Janet Evans, Michael McDonald and Steve Mick.

The Alamo MAC will be an important communications vehicle and will provide Supervisor Piepho as well as the other board members a focused voice on a number of issues and concerns that Alamo residents may have. The MAC responsibilities will include parks and recreation, lighting and landscaping, land-use and code enforcement, public safety, transportation and other county services. The MAC must conform to the requirements of both the Brown Act and the county’s Better Government Ordnance. The following information was provided by the Supervisor Piepho’s office:

Mr. David Barclay has served as President of numerous Homeowners Associations including Alamo Crest where he currently lives. He has been active in school fund-raising and served as the Chair of the Oversight Committee responsible for implementation of a school bond. He brings great experience in land and fiscal management to the MAC.

Mr. Ed Best has been an Alamo resident since 1973 and been involved in a variety of community activities. Most notably, as Committee Member and chair of the Alamo Parks and Recreation Committee R-7A, San Ramon Valley Unified School District, Board of Trustees, Museum of the San Ramon Valley, Board of Directors, and has served as a past Board Member
for the Mt. Diablo Silverado Council Boy Scouts of America.

Mr. David Bowlby serves on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the Contra Costa Council. He is a former Planning Commissioner for both Danville and the San Ramon Valley. He brings significant Land Use Planning experience and broad knowledge of the County.

Ms. Nancy Dommes is currently an R7A member. She has also served on the Alamo Beautification Committee Zone 36. Nancy is currently Treasurer for the Alamo Community Foundation as well as been involved in a variety of school activities.

Ms. Janet Evans currently the Principal of Growth Strategies Unlimited and a former IBM employee, Ms. Evan’s served on the Alamo Roads Advisory Committee and graduated from the Leadership San Ramon Valley Program. She has received an honorary service award for her work with the PTSA. She is also a Board Member of the Jack and Jill of America Foundation, Inc.

Mr. Michael McDonald is a former City Manager and Chief Executive of a wholesale electricity services agency. He makes Roundhill Country Club his home and is a Contra Costa County Court Appointed Child Advocate. He loves golf and dogs.

Mr. Steve Mick has served on the Alamo Parks and Recreation Committee R-7A; the Alamo Beautification Committee Zone 36, Board of Directors for the Alamo Improvement Association, and is a current member of the Vietnam Veterans of Diablo Valley as well as being an active member on the Veteran’s Memorial Building Development Committee.

Contact Steve Mick at

Note: The Alamo Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) will be assuming the duties of some of the county advisory committees over the next few months. Please visit for up to date information on meetings.

Alamo Community Council Meets at 5:00 p.m. the 2nd Thursday of the month at Hap Magee Ranch Park – Swain House

Alamo-Danville Artists’ Society Meets at 7:30 p.m. the second Tuesday of the month at Danville Congregational’s Social Hall, 989 San Ramon Valley Boulevard, Danville

Alamo Improvement Association Board of Directors Meeting meets at 7:00 p.m. the Thursday after the 2nd Wednesday of the month at Creekside Community Church

Alamo Chamber of Commerce meets 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. the 2nd Wednesday of the month, Round Hill Golf and Country Club

Alamo Roads Advisory Committee meets at 3:30 p.m. the 2nd Thursday of the month at Hap Magee Ranch Park – Swain House

Alamo Rotary meets Wednesdays at 12:15 p.m., Round Hill Golf and Country Club, For more information call (925) 820-6847

Alamo Women’s Club meets the 4th Wednesday of the month, 1401 Danville Boulevard For more information call Nancy P. Combs at (925) 351-6999

Delta Nu Psi Service Sorority sends donated goods to our military people. For more information:

Hap Magee Ranch Park Joint Planning and Operations Committee (JPOC) meets at 5:00 p.m. – Please visit for date, Hap Magee Ranch Park – The Cottage

Alamo Danville Newcomers Club, For ladies who are new to the area or long-time residents who are interested in making new friends. Welcome coffee 4th Thursday of each month. Info: (925) 775-3233


Stress Free Holiday Parking

The holidays are hectic enough without searching for that elusive parking place. If you’re headed to downtown Walnut Creek, however, relax—help is on the way. City and business leaders are taming the holiday traffic Grinch with a multi-faceted program they’re calling “Stress Free Holiday Parking.”

The idea is to make it easier for people to get out of their cars as quickly as possible so they can enjoy all the area has to offer. Want to know where the parking is before you leave home? Check out the colorful Holiday Parking Guide at

New easy-to-read signs point the way to parking, and extra valets are being hired to ferry cars to nearby lots. There will even be special “crossing guards” during peak shopping hours at the intersection between Il Fornaio and PF Chang on Mt. Diablo Boulevard.

Once the car is parked, hop onto the Free Downtown Trolley (Route 4) that circles past shops and restaurants, the Lesher Center for the Arts and Walnut Creek BART (hint: the Trolley’s route is on the Holiday Parking Guide.) To make it easier for evening outings, the Free Trolley’s hours are being extended until 10 p.m. Nov. 27 – Dec. 12; until 11 p.m. Dec. 14 – Dec. 23, and until 10 p.m. Dec. 26 – Dec. 31. Sunday service ends around 7 p.m. And don’t forget! Many shops and restaurants offer free validation for City-owned garages.

To plan where to go and what to do before hitting the road, check out In addition to Walnut Creek, the jazzy new website highlights amenities and activities throughout the San Ramon Valley and central Contra Costa.

For those who dream of Winter Wonderland, “Walnut Creek on Ice” returns to Civic Park through Jan. 18. Back for its fifth year, the ice rink offers a bevy of special programs and classes, as well as everyday fun for all ages. It will remain open through Jan. 18. For hours and other information, go to at or call (915) 935-7669.

And what holiday season would be complete without the Tiny Tim reminding us of the importance of appreciating every day? Tiny Tim, along with Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future, return to Walnut Creek when Center REPertory Co. presents Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” at the Lesher Center for the Arts Dec. 10-20. Call (925) 943-7469 or go to

Here’s to a “Stress Free” season!

Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Performing Arts
Tickets: 925-943-SHOW (7469)
Thru 11/21: Witness for the Prosecution Center REPertory Company
11/20 – 11/21: Apollo, Fete for Three, Coppelia Diablo Ballet
11/27 – 11/28: The Christmas Ballet, 2009 Edition Smuin Ballet
Thru 11/28: Bad Girls of Broadway Nile Company, Inc.
11/15: All-Russian Delights Diablo Symphony
11/15: East-West Musical Bonanza Bay Area Performing Arts
11/17: Rethinking Wellness: Sleep Heals, Health Medicine Forum
11/29: Michael Essington’s Broadway: A Tribute to the Superstars of Broadway Broadway Dreams Productions
12/01: Celebrate the Holidays with the Walnut Creek Concert Band
12/03 – 12/05: Story of the Nutcracker Contra Costa Ballet
12/05: Suhaila Belly Dance Certification Performance Level 4 Suhaila International
12/10 – 12/20: A Christmas Carol Center REPertory Company
12/11 – 12/19: Whiskers! Galatean Players Ensemble Theatre
12/12 – 12/20: Singalong Down Memory Lane, Hero Theatrical Productions
12/18 – 12/20: The Biggest Gift Fantasy Forum Actors Ensemble
12/20: Voices of the Season…A Multi-Ethnic Celebration Voena

Walnut Creek Farmers Market
Every Sunday, 8 AM to 1 PM on Civic Dr. by Civic Park.

Walnut Creek Tennis Club (WCTC) for Adult Singles:
Tue/Thur nights. Sat/Sun AM. Free club and “drop-in” tennis.
2.5 – 3.5 level players. Rusty OK. Coed. All ages.

Bay Area Single Christians (BASC)
Free online social group for Christian singles, all ages. Many events (social, spiritual, sports) throughout the Bay area.

11/12 – 01/18, 11 am – 10pm: Walnut Creek on Ice will return to historic Civic Park. Info: (925)935.SNOW (7669)

11/21, Saturday, & 11/22, Sunday 10am -6pm: Semi-Annual Sidewalk Sale in downtown Walnut Creek (925)933-6778

11/27, Friday 6pm: Holiday Tree Lighting at Civic Park Sing carols and meet Santa Claus! Info: (925) 933-6778.

12/13, Sunday, 3pm: Sierra Chamber Society’s Concert featuring members of the San Francisco Symphony (C.P.E Bach: Trio Sonata in G Major, Ravel: Rhapsodie Espagnole, Beethoven: String Quartet Op. 18, No.6). Grace Presbyterian Church, 2100 Tice Valley Blvd. Info: 925-930-8880

GAYLE VASSAR, Community Relations Manager

Thanksgiving Blessing

November 2009

November 2009

Most Americans know at least a bit of the history behind our national holiday of Thanksgiving. Early American settlers in New England—the Pilgrims of Plymouth, Massachusetts—celebrated the blessings of a bountiful harvest, after having suffered through a brutal, severe first winter.

That first winter was so severe in fact, that nearly half of the group (46 of 102), perished. The remaining Pilgrims survived, in large measure, because of help they received from a tribe of Native Americans, the Wampanoag. Upon the welcomed arrival of spring, in a gesture of friendship, the Pilgrims invited their newfound friends, the Indians, to join in the celebration. While historians rightly point out that people throughout the world celebrated the harvest time long before this, as far as our American Thanksgiving tradition is concerned, this was the beginning. Since 1941, the third Thursday in November has been recognized as a national holiday, here in the United States.

One of our feature articles this month seems very well placed, in light of the fact that this is the month we celebrate Thanksgiving. We have the story of local Peace Corps volunteer, Randy Fish, as he serves in the small village of Dawar, Tanzania. As you read about Randy, and as you read his own words, my hope is that you will reflect upon the spirit of that first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts. You will learn from this story that the circle of hardship, blessing and thanksgiving is very much alive in this small, remote corner of Africa.

In many ways, Randy’s story illustrates a timeless and universal condition of the human experience; that in the midst of our most difficult and trying times, we are none the less, blessed. Regardless of status, circumstance or condition, if we will seek to love our fellow man, as God loves us, we will be blessed beyond measure in ways that defy description.

Get Your Beauty Glam On For the Holidays

Expert Eyebrow Shaping

Expert Eyebrow Shaping


This holiday season it’s all about eyes and sparkle. And you can’t overdue the sparkle – at any age! You just need to find the correct sparkle for you. For eyes, the best powder sparkle I have come across is in the shaker powder form. It does not crease or show the lines in the eyes and stays on all day and looks fabulous. It will brighten up any sultry, smoky eye look with a very updated touch of detail. How To Apply?: After you have applied your eye make-up, shake the sparkle powder into the lid of the compact, using a small round brush dab the sparkle powder on the eyelid. Do not stroke, just tap and dab. The eye should have an edgy style with a high sheen, wet eye look.

A solid foundation is the cornerstone to any beauty routine. Get the perfect foundation base by choosing a custom blended foundation. Custom foundations are great, because they allow you to have the perfect skin tone and look very natural, like you don’t have any make-up on at all. Before applying your base use a foundation primer for flawless skin smoothness. You want your make-up to look its best. We chose Ongriens Retexture cream with micro-spheres and lipids for optimum smooth glowing skin. Now’s the time to get the complexion of your dreams. Come in for a perfecting custom blend consultation, Tuesday through Saturday.

Recreate that natural flush of color to the skin by applying a soft-dewy shimmer pink blush. Sweetly sheer shades awaken any complexion. To update your make-up wardrobe simply sweep on a rosy blush shimmer tone to the cheek area and stoke upward. Soft pale pink shimmers work well this season and they look very youthful and updated.

Sparklingly soft lips are just a kiss away with this holiday’s newest innovations in lip options-from professionally pigmented reds to naturally lovely moisturizing semi-sheers. We have the latest serious sparkle lip-glosses and natural sheer sparkle lip treatments with super hydrating benefits. Come into The Rouge and we will help you choose the lip effect that suits you best!

It is fun to have your make-up and hair done for special occasions and at The Rouge we offer special event make-up for your holiday parties. We also include false eyelash application and high fashion trendy looks for that oh so special night out.

We look forward to seeing you so please book your appointments early and as soon as you know your event, we want to make your night a little more special and a lot more glamorous!

Theresa Taylor Grutzeck

Theresa Taylor Grutzeck

ALIVE Beauty Editor Theresa is the owner of The Rouge, Kiss and Make-Up Studio, 822 Hartz Way, Danville, 925.736.3900. Readers may e-mail cosmetic-related questions to her at


Sabean Shares Giants Course with Season Ticket Holders

On September 24 the Giants effectively fell out of the Wild Card race when Brian Wilson gave up a two-run homerun in the ninth inning, directly leading to a 3-2 Giants loss. That loss put the Giants four back of Colorado with nine to play, and ten games back of the Dodgers in the division race.

On September 25 Giants management and some of their most invested fans put that disappointment aside, turned the page to 2010, and followed through with a season ticket holder chalk talk which turned into a frank assessment of the Giants playing personnel, the team’s chances to acquire top free agents, and the organization’s plan to add offense to a pitching rich team.

Your correspondent has owned a piece of Giants season tickets since AT&T Park opened as Pacific Bell Park in 2000, but this was the first time my schedule and the Giants’ invitation matched up and allowed attendance at a chalk talk, which was remarkably frank. Here are some of the takeaways: San Ramon Valley High School product Nate Schierholtz has progressed
in the assessment of the organization, but doesn’t deliver enough power and hasn’t shown the ability to reach base often enough to be assured a regular job in 2010. Power hitting minor leaguer John Bowker, returning big money centerfielder Aaron Rowand, and the planned leadoff platoon of Eugenio Valdez and Andres Torres are all ahead of him, according to General Manager Brian Sabean.

The other San Ramon Valley High alum, Randy Winn, will become a free agent after the World Series and is unlikely to be pursued by the Giants.

The organization is ecstatic with heavyweight heavy hitter Pablo Sandoval (aka the Kung Fu Panda), but have convinced him that his current physical condition is not conducive to the grind of the 162-game season or a long career, and will put him on a closely-monitored nutrition and training program this winter.

Regarding Barry Zito and his marked improvement, Sabean said that he never believed Zito could live up to the seven year, $126 million contract the Giants lavished upon him before the 2007 season. In his first two seasons, according to Sabean, Zito was in less than top condition and was uncomfortable cast in the role of staff ace. In Oakland, Sabean noted, Zito was generally third in the rotation behind Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder. Now, Zito is again a third starter as Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain have established themselves at the top of the rotation, his conditioning has improved, and Sabean says he is more comfortable in his role with the team, leading to better results.

The trade in August where the Giants acquired former batting champion Freddy Sanchez from Pittsburgh for highly-rated pitching prospect Tim Alderson was discussed in depth. In the organization’s assessment, Alderson had reached a plateau in Double A. Former big league pitcher and current Giants executive Dick Tidrow evaluated Alderson on a trip to Norwich early
this season and felt his fastball had lost a bit, the rotation on his breaking pitches was not what it had been, and he was gradually becoming less athletic as he matured. This assessment led the Giants to make him available to other organizations in an attempt to move him while his reputation was still intact. As a result, Sabean and his team feel they got a great deal in acquiring Sanchez and plan to pick up the option in his contract to return next season.

Catcher Bengie Molina is unlikely to return unless he is willing to accept a one year contract. The Giants believe that 2008 first round draft pick Buster Posey is just about ready to be a big league regular, and that he has excelled in every challenge the organization has put before him, including two months at AAA this season. The Giants might be interested in Molina as insurance, but Sabean said he expected that some other team could well offer Molina a multi-year deal, in which case the Giants would probably not match the offer.

Finally, Sabean and his team discussed how they like to acquire talent. The best way, they say, is to develop players through the draft and the minor leagues, and with Lincecum, Cain, Sandoval, Posey and Schierholtz that has been successful. Trades can be painful because, as Tidrow mentioned, you have to give up something to get something. That said, Sabean did acknowledge that to acquire the hitters the Giants need to take the next step in the NL West, they might have to bite the bullet and trade some of their pitching.

Sabean told the group that he hates the free agent process, especially the fact that the acquiring team is paying a premium for what a player has done in the past without any guarantees regarding the future. The GM also noted that the very best players are more attracted to teams like the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels because of their recent track record, so the Giants are often faced with he prospect of overpaying premium players or settling for second tier talent.

The event showed that the Giants value their season ticket holders and are willing to give them a frank assessment of how the organization approaches its business. Those who were there should have a greater understanding of why the Giants do what they do and perhaps have more fun following the team’s moves this offseason.


To Give or Not to Give

I thought this might be an appropriate time to write about golf gifts and what to avoid when looking for something to give to the golfer in your family, workplace, or community. I grew up in a home with a family of five, three of whom were golfers. You might imagine that the two who avoided the links were often buying presents for dad, my brother and yours truly. Of course “it’s the thought that counts” and keeping that in mind is why one puts forth the effort to find something unique.

In our family, some presents were “hits” while others were not. Everything from golf clubs to golf posters, and everything in-between, ended up on a desk, wall or floor at our home. What can you give when nothing comes to mind other than the fact that the person you are buying for is or will be a golfer?

Anything that needs an accurate fitting, such as custom clubs should be given in some form of credit or certificate. For example, purchase a gift card from the pro shop or golf store or present a note wishing “Merry Christmas” and a new set awaits you is often perfect. However, hybrid clubs, sand wedges, putters and drivers are probably good choices but make sure the clubs can be returned, just in case the specs are off. I still think when giving a gift such as hard goods, like the ones mentioned above, it is a safe bet to give a certificate and let the person make the choice themselves. I always appreciated those certificates that allowed me to choose. After all, I knew what I needed. I recommend this when the person you are buying the golf gift for knows a thing or two about golf.

For someone new to the game of golf, a package of lessons is a great gift. Sometimes people go in the opposite direction and purchase equipment first and then lessons. I would not recommend this approach. A qualified professional Might be very helpful in leading the new golfer to what would be most beneficial regarding golf clubs after giving the person a few lessons. They can then better advise on what clubs the player should purchase or order and potentially help save money.

Lessons often times reveal what lies ahead. Buying a set of clubs that may or may not be used is a big expense. Not everyone who tries golf takes a liking to it. Lessons will be a fraction of the cost. Here is a thought, if the boss plays, have some co-workers chip in and buy a mini series of lessons. At $45 for a single private adult lesson, $125 for three private lessons or $250 for six, you can’t go wrong. (Junior prices are $40 for a private lesson or a series of six for $200).

Some other ideas that work are shirts, sweaters, balls, hats, shoes, outer wear that can be found around town. Some names that do very well with the experienced golfer are: Nike, Titlist, Callaway and Taylor Made. These brands do not disappoint. They are some of the best names in golf. Whether purchasing shoes, clubs or balls, you can’t go wrong here.

As for lessons, give me a call at 925-997-3683 or send me an email at and I can mail a gift certificate.

Enjoy your Holiday’s and Give the gift of golf.


2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid: The Sound of Silence

2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid

2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid

It’s 2010… well, for automotive model years anyway, and the idea of electric cars is no longer a futuristic vision. With each passing year, the existence of gas-electric and even pure electric vehicles unfolds into our reality, or at least begins to fall onto our list of choices. We are becoming more comfortable with paying for the option of having a car that is more ecofriendly and requires fewer visits to our local gas station. Each year, hybrid technology improves and the vehicles they propel become a bit cooler and more reliable. In the case of the all-new 2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid it is also fun to drive!

The Ford Motor Company has been showcasing its two hybrid sedans, the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan for a few years now. Both have undergone major changes for 2010. Under the skin the two cars are about the same with the differences found in sheet metal. The new second generation hybrid system is smooth and exciting to drive. When you start the Milan Hybrid it rings out a pleasant series of chimes – ding ding ding – to alert you that the car is ready to go. No engine noise, just the sound of silence.

The 2010 Mercury Milan from the outside is a bit more conservative in styling than its sibling, the Fusion. From the front you will see that the Milan’s new nose/hood is more rounded than its predecessor with the front bumper completely hidden behind the front fascia. The grille is all Mercury and the front headlights flow up into the hood area. The rear bumper is
smoothly integrated into the rear coverings that curve around and form the lower portion of the rear quarter panels, which creates a clean transition.

The proportions of the 2010 Milan, with its relatively low roof profile, help create a sporty overall effect. The real fun comes when you slide into the front seat and begin to admire the all-new electronic SmartGauge setup. In the center of the instrument cluster sits the speedometer with blackness all around. Well, that is until you open the door and enter into the cockpit of the future. The blackness is first replaced by light blue side wings with the Mercury logo and Milan name. Once you start the car the wings fade away and electronic video style gauges flow out from the center. It’s very cool to watch again and again. After driving to your next location, the distance traveled and fuel mileage appear on the left once the ignition has been turned off. Nice!

Of course there is more to the cabin than just the dash. Starting with the steering wheel, it is comfortably wrapped in thick leather and contains switches to operate the audio system, cruise control, cell phone, and voice commands. In the past, Ford has been knocked for placing too many hard surfaces in their interiors; now not being an issue in the 2010 Mercury Milan. The dash and surrounding touch areas are dressed in nice soft materials. The front seats are very comfortable and supportive and covered in a fabric made from 100% post-industrial recycled materials, which is found in other Ford models as well.

My test model was loaded with cool and useful features—many safety items—including rear back up camera, side and rear depth sensors, blind spot detection and plenty of air bags. The fun features included Sync—voice control system, navigation, Sony audio, moon-roof and satellite radio. Keep in mind some of these came as optional equipment, but it still totaled in at a lower price than an equivalent Toyota Camry Hybrid.

The 2010 Mercury Milan is available in three models: base ($21,180), Premier ($24,320), and the Hybrid ($27,500) sedans. The Premier comes standard with FWD and a 2.5-liter 4-cyclinder engine. You can upgrade to an AWD with a 3.0-liter V6 for $3,480.


  • The optional sunroof cuts into the headroom of the back seat
  • No push button start ignition


  • Blue-Tooth phone connectivity
  • Keyless entry key pad on door
  • Electronic video style gauges
  • Sync system
  • Capless fuel cap

The 2010 Milan Hybrid power system is a combination of a 2.5-liter 4-cyclinder engine and hybrid power plant that together achieves 41 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. The engine is mated to an automatic CVT transmission. It can drive up to 700 miles on a single tank of gas. I drove and drove and drove for a week and could only use up one-half of a tank.

In Summary—The 2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid is an incredible car with a lot of great attributes. The ride and handling are confident and make the car fun to drive. You will be hard to find a car in this category that has so many cool and safety features. If you are in the market and comparing it against the Toyota Camry Hybrid, you will find the Milan wins for both fuel mileage and trunk space. There is a price factor when buying a hybrid that has to be considered, but if you have gotten over that hump then I suggest taking the 2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid out for a test drive. It will pleasantly surprise you.

2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid

2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid

Base price: $27,500
As driven: $33,735 (with Destination and Option charges)
Engine: 2.5-Liter 4-Cylinder HEV
Horsepower: Combined HP 191 NET
Torque: 136 Pound-Feet @ 2250 RPM
Transmission: CVT Automatic
Drive: Front-Wheel-Drive
Seating: 5-Passenger
Turning circle: 37.5 Feet
Cargo Space: 11.8 Cubic feet
Curb Weight: 3729 pounds
Fuel capacity: 17 Gallons
EPA Mileage: 41 Highway, 36 City
Wheel base: 107.4 Inches
Warranty: 3 Years/36,000 miles bumper to bumper, 8 years/100,000 miles Hybrid specific components
Also consider: Honda Civic Hybrid, Nissan San Altima Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid
Future changes: Re-engineered for Model year 2010


It's a Change in Culture: The Fight Against Unforgiving, Invisible Invaders

I heard an insider’s view of the swine flu last week from one of our valley leaders. Ok, he called it H1N1, but names are hard to change, especially abbreviations with no connection to the real world.

Dr. Muntu Davis, the Deputy Health Officer & director of Communicable Disease Control and Prevention for the Alameda County Health Department revealed new steps that we all can understand. His message transcends the Swine Flu and asks you to start changing your reaction to all communicable diseases.

Many communicable diseases have lifelong consequences. We even lost a favorite “son” of Danville last week to just such a communicable disease: Mike Shimansky, a 20-year councilman, 30-year friend, mentor, coach and community leader, succumbed to meningococcal meningitis. It could have been you, as Dr. Mantu made it clear that most such cases are never traced to a cause or human carrier.

In the face of such ferocious bacteria, what can you do to prepare for such “unforgiving, invisible invaders?” It demands a change in culture. Yes, you should get a vaccination, but you can do so much more.

Don’t go to work sick. What does that mean? Well, with ordinary flu, most people stay home two or three days. If you have a fever of 102 degrees, you are definitely communicable. Sleep at home, or work at home (if you must work).

While you might stay home two to three days, you may actually be sick five to seven days! That is, your coworker may return to work when he is still “shedding virus” with every sniffle or cough or sneeze. So change your response to your co-workers. Try to keep six feet away. Wash your hands much more frequently-before eating, after eating, before preparing food, after preparing food, after your stop in the restroom, after you cough. You cannot wash your hands too often because most people inadvertently touch their hands to their eyes, nose, or mouth. In doing so, you just carried the disease inside your body!

Wash is not the same as “sprinkle.” Dr. Mantu recomments 20 seconds of hand scrubbing to wash those viruses away. When I volunteered at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, we had signs everywhere telling us to wash for time periods up to a minute. It’s not difficult, but it is a cultural change!

By the way, “Purell” and other disinfectants are fine only if soap and water are not available. Overuse, can affect your body’s natural build up of immunities against disease.

How fatal is Swine Flu? The children who contracted it and subsequently died also suffered neural or muscular problems (such as cerebral palsy). For those born healthy, their bodies should be able to fight off this new flu. Inexplicably, this new flu occurs during the flu “off-season” and hits those between two and 49 the hardest. That makes symptoms harder to recognize quickly.

Who should get vaccinated? In priority order: ages two to 26, those age 25 and over who have chronic medical conditions, and health care providers with direct contact to patients.

What kind of shot should you get? Nasal sprays are live virus and shots are not. So it is currently recommended that you get two shots (one for this season’s flue and one for Swine Flu), or get one shot and one nasal spray—not two live viral nasal applications.

If you are an employer, lead by example. Stay at home. Add extra waste containers, Kleenex dispensers, Purell, etc.

Mike may have appeared to have the flu. So how can you differentiate? How do you decide to “treat yourself” or run to the emergency room? It can be difficult to know. Certainly if you also
have shortness of breath, when crying does not generate tears, or when a headache is more severe than normal, play it safe and see your doctor.

Concerns? Please contact me at 925-275-2412.

The views of the column represent the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the council.

KAREN STEPPER, Councilmember of Town of Danville