Better TV Choices – LED, LCD or Plasma?

You’ve probably noticed that there are many new television products available in the market place. The marketing hype and tech jargon add many challenges when searching for a new TV. Without being overly technical, let’s try to clear up some of the confusion.

We have enjoyed high definition content for several years now with more programming coming all the time, including the new 3D. While there are no right answers to which type of TV is best, when it comes to getting green and reducing energy consumption, one flat panel technology clearly stands out above the rest. Enter LED TV!

The latest LED TVs are actually two technologies in one. Did you know that LED sets use LCDs to produce the television image, but also require advanced backlighting to provide an incredibly bright picture? In principle, LED TVs are quite similar to LCD TVs, but use much less power and feature state-of-the-art backlighting systems. This makes the newer LED panels very light weight, much thinner while they consume significantly less energy than the older LCDs.

The most common difference between LEDs and LCD TVs is the sidelighting used in most LCDs. This subtle difference accounts for less performance and increase in energy consumption when compared to LEDs. Generally, LCDs most typically use fluorescent tubes to provide their side lighting. On the surface, it may sound like LCD and LED TVs are the same, but this difference in light sources can cause a LCD panel to use 30% more power!

Plasma panels are the third type of flat TV. While they are also flat, similar to LED and LCDs, they are much heavier and use significantly more power. The underlying design principle is also fundamentally different in plasma TVs. You might think of the plasma TV surface as an array of tiny cells, very close one another. The cells are charged with gas, several chemicals, and the entire surface area is covered with glass. When voltage is applied to these cells, it causes them to light up. By controlling electrical energy to the cells, a full color image is formed on the panel. Plasma TVs tend to be the least expensive in up front, but they do come with a hidden cost. Plasmas consume significantly more power than LEDs or LCD flat panel TVs. Of course this higher operational cost will compound over time as utility rates increase.

Plasmas TVs are affordable, but use tons of power. LCDs are the middlemen, providing moderate value with some energy savings. When it comes to getting green, LEDs stand out from the crowd with big energy savings over the TV life cycle. Becoming familiar with the different television technologies helps make better-informed purchasing decisions. Ultimately, the choice is yours.

Dave High is a LEED Green Associate with Karbon Consulting in Pleasant Hill

The Fallen Heroes

Fallen Heroes
When an emergency 911 call comes in to the dispatcher, it is in most cases alarming, but our police and firefighters take it all in stride, as first responders, always getting the job done. The call can come any hour of the day or night, and within minutes, the police or firefighters are at the location of incident protecting their communities—always able, always willing, always ready to serve. We take it for granted that they will be there, on time, standing tall to protect us.

We may not always remember that the brave men and women who dedicate their lives to protect us place themselves in jeopardy almost daily. They are the law enforcement officers or firefighters, realizing in reality that they themselves could possibly be in danger, could possibly die in the line of duty on any given day—each incident cutting the odds closer.

Technology, intense training, stringent requirements and state of the art equipment, in most cases, has cut the number of deaths of officers and firefighters to the lowest in history, except for incidents of multiple losses in high-profile tragedies. In reality, about one hundred firefighters die annually in the nation in the line of duty; many die in accidents getting to and from fires, helicopter crashes and the most ominous of all, heart attacks. We mourn their deaths but may often forget those who are left behind. They are the families; mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, spouses and children—and yes, there are many children. They are the ones who get the call—the knock on the door, that their loved-one has died—the police officer or firefighter who gave their life in the line of duty; bravely, selflessly as a hero.

We can only imagine the day, when on March 21, 2009, four Oakland police officers answering a disturbance, were gunned down by a parolee. We can only imagine the dread when breaking news hit the airways that four of Oakland’s finest were down, shocking the sensibilities of Bay Area residents. We can only imagine when their families heard the news, heard that Oakland PD officers were down—then hearing it was their own husbands, their relatives and their fathers who were dead. The fallen heroes who met their deaths in the line of duty on that fateful spring day were: Officer John Hege, and Sergeants Ervin Romans, Mark Dunakin and Dan Sakai.

The horrific incident shocked Bay Area residents and sparked retired firefighter Tom Gallinatti to get involved, to add his efforts to other organizations that support families of Fallen Heroes and founded the organization Police and Fire: The Fallen Heroes that assists families in their hour of deepest need.

To honor and assist families of California Fallen Heroes, especially their children, Gallinatti founded Police and Fire: The Fallen Heroes, a 501 c (3) non-profit corporation;, their slogan “Serving Those Who Served.”

Gallinatti is a retired 30-year veteran of the Oakland Fire Department, who rose to the rank of Battalion Chief, assigned to the position of Director of Training and currently an adjunct instructor at the College of Siskiyous. The Fallen Heroes is committed to honoring the families of those law enforcement and fire service personnel who, in the performance of their duties, serving in a battleground workplace, paid the ultimate sacrifice while providing a secure environment for the community.

Their kick-off fundraiser this last April was very successful, The Fallen Heroes Celebrity Golf Tournament at Diablo Country Club attracted many golfers, among the celebrities; Eddie Money and Johnny Gunn who entertained guests, members of Tower of Power, Gregg Allman Band and Jefferson Starship. Ron Masak on Murder, She Wrote, Kathy Garver, ‘Cissy’ on “Family Affair, Jim Plunkett, Vida Blue, and Gary Plummer, the voice of the 49ers, added their celebrity status to the event. Tom Gallinatti also cinched a fundraising partnership with the Oakland Raiders, who gave a portion of their November 7th game to Police and Fire: The Fallen Heroes organization. In addition, Kinder’s Meats and Deli has partnered with the organization by providing food on many events and is a generous leading sponsor. Danville’s own Miss Teen California, 18-year old Ari Eastman and Captain Sully Sullenberger also give generously of their time and talent to this cause.

The celebrity golf tournament may not have been as successful if it were not for the many generous donors who provided for the event auction. Among the auction prizes was a Sicilian-style crab feed for twelve by Bay Area’s own leading chef Russ Belleci of Forli’s Ristorante in Alamo, and a Lunch for Four with Tony La Russa. The hot music items were Sammy Hagar’s guitar—‘the red rocker’ from the band “Chicken Foot” and Eddie Money’s signed Memphis strat electric guitar of “Baby Hold On” and “Two Tickets to Paradise” fame. Danvillian Randy Winn of the SF Giants donated his signed play bat and Talkin’ Baseball donated a Pete Rose autographed bat. For eager women bidders, Amy Davazante donated a “Pamper My Party” Home Spa event for six.

The Celebrity Golf Tournament, with 150 golfers and the kind assistance of Diablo Country Club’s Manager Larry Marx, resulted in the donation of $40,000 to the four Oakland Police Officers’ families. Hopefully, the future Celebrity Golf Tournament planned for June 13, 2011 will pay tribute to the fallen heroes and top off this year’s efforts by “Serving Those Who Served.”

Police and Fire: The Fallen Heroes organization is recruiting volunteers to assist in this worthwhile cause and is seeking the use of donated storefront or office space in Danville, San Ramon or Alamo, suitable for administrative offices, fundraising and volunteer coordination.

As the Police and Fire: The Fallen Heroes organization is in its infancy, there is a need for volunteers to lend their talents in marketing and computer skills to assist in making this non-profit successful to support the families of California’s finest; the Police and the Firefighters.

When I asked Tom Gallinnatti what he envisions for the organization he explained; “After an incident, when a police officer or firefighter loses a life, the investigation period is hardest on the children. I visualize getting the children to a change of scenery, a serene place—away from the glare of investigators and the media…”

“So, you foresee an emissary, an advocate—someone to comfort the children at the most difficult time?” I asked.

“I feel that this is where our organization can be effective, supporting the family, caring for the children in their difficult time…we are still working on how and where we are most needed…we must provide security for the loved ones, the ones left behind.”

Considering the scope and landscape of this massive country, and all fifty states—there are only about one hundred in-line-of-duty firefighter deaths annually, many dying in accidents to and from an incident, helicopter crashes and fire-related injuries—but 60% of deaths are from stress-related heart attacks. Among police officers who perish in the line-of-duty, the national numbers are also relatively small, considering the danger of the calls; 24 so far this year 2010 to October—Texas in the lead, followed by Florida and California. National statistics for 2009 show 124 police officers in line-of-duty deaths; four in Oakland and four in Lakewood, Washington when officers were gunned down in a coffee shop. A startling statistic is that 23% of police perish while answering domestic disturbances. Among police officers, the leading cause of death is by gunfire followed by motorcycle accidents. In actuality, considering the danger of the profession, research statistics show that there were 1,216 police deaths in California during the past century—for an average of 12 a year.

The nation’s deadliest, blackest day came on September 11, 2001 when we lost 60 members of the NYPD and Port Authority personnel, and 341 NYFD, 10 medics and EMTs—all fallen heroes who died doing their job and saving others. It is up to us, members of the community, to honor those brave men and women who have given their precious lives in the line of duty—the greatest tribute we can pay to their memory is to care for their children.

For more information visit

The Front Lines of Caring

Troops Direct Troops Direct is the vision made reality of Aaron Negherbon, a Danville resident of 20 years. His answering of the call to support our Armed Forces serving in Afghanistan has been heralded by military leaders, corporations and the public alike as truly unprecedented.

We asked Aaron about and its origins. “It began when one of my long time friends, fellow USC Trojan and Marine Corps Captain deployed to Afghanistan. Through the years, I have seen him off on multiple tours to Iraq and other theatres across the globe. What started off as a basic albeit 45 pound care package to my buddy resulted in his email of thanks that not only expressed his gratitude but also his intent to share the contents of my package with the other 200 Marines under his command.”

Unsure as to why his friend was distributing his supplies to his men in the field, Aaron did some digging and the news that he received from returning soldiers was shocking. “I was shocked to learn that soldiers are not provided with the necessary basic supplies such as body wash, toothpaste, energy drink powder (and much more) to keep them healthy and effective on the front lines. I had always thought that our military provided everything to our soldiers. It was then that I decided that I was going to change that.” Aaron does this not by serving the individual soldier but rather entire the Company or Battalion exclusively. For the uninitiated, that’s upwards of one thousand soldiers that TroopsDirect supplies at a time.

So Negherbon’s quest began with the goal of giving the Marines and the other branches of service anything and everything he could possibly muster. Negherbon reached out not only to friends and neighbors but also to the corporate contacts he had made through his 15 years as a business executive. In a matter of days, support for his mission was received with the energy of a tsunami, and TroopsDirect was born.

A look into Aaron Negherbon’s operation proves that TroopsDirect lives up to its tagline of ‘Support, Supply, Logistics’. “We communicate directly and only with Company Commanders at the smaller and more remote FOBs (Forward Operating Bases) on a daily basis. It’s often around midnight our time that I’ll log in to our email servers and receive updates on needed items and to confirm delivery of outbound parcels. We ask that the Captains plan their requests two to three weeks in advance to allow for transit times. We then prioritize items based on need. For example, where 200 units foot powder, 500 pairs of socks or 4,000 servings of Gatorade might go out on one of our normal weekly shipments, urgent items such as first aid items will go out as quick as the same day.”

“First aid items?” we asked. Negherbon recounted an urgent dispatch he received one night in July from a Medic serving in Afghanistan. “He sent me an email explaining that his unit was in a firefight that day which resulted in his stethoscopes being damaged and his supply of gauze, hydrocortisone and other items being severely depleted. The Medic continued to explain that military supply lines couldn’t guarantee an immediate resupply so he was reaching out to TroopsDirect. We started building a priority load out that evening which included everything the medic requested and then some. I later found out that our shipment arrived two weeks before the military supply lines delivered the same items.”

Aaron continued to explain how TroopsDirect functions. “I’ve established many trusted relationships and carry accounts with commonly needed suppliers. They arrange a rush delivery of the requested items by the pallet load directly to my home where we pack it, assign it our proprietary tracking code to ensure delivery and then the USPS truck comes by weekly to pick it up. We’ve done our research and with the exception of sending our packages directly via military cargo planes, the Postal Service is the fastest way to ship.” And TroopsDirect most certainly does ship. In only three and a half months a single Battalion received over one and one half tons of needed support with the average 24”x24” box weighing in at over fifty pounds.

How does TroopsDirect amass such a supply for our soldiers? “We rely solely on the financial and ‘in-kind’ support of individuals and corporations. I am on the phone constantly with Gatorade, Danner Boot Company, CVS Pharmacy and others, enlisting their support with merchandise. Furthermore, I receive calls and emails from individuals asking how they can help. I tell them to check out the site for the most updated needs list. We have an exclusive relationship with U.S. Bank where people can go online and donate as well. We had one local gentleman donate $5,000.00 to us recently which was a blessing, but went all too fast. Every penny goes to serving our soldiers and TroopsDirect is a registered 501(c)(3).”

So what does Aaron get out of this endeavor? “Nothing but knowing I’m doing my part to help our soldiers. It makes it all worthwhile when I receive a message of thanks from a soldier’s parent who heard about what we do, or a correspondence from a Colonel that states that TroopsDirect’s efforts are singlehandedly changing the manner in which his men are able to operate on the front lines of battle. In the end it boils down to this: If that one energy bar we provided makes a Marine Corporal more alert as he faces a threat or the sprinkle of our foot powder in the boots of an Army Private makes him run that much faster, then we are also increasing the likelihood that he will safely return home to his friends, family and especially his parents.”

Contact TroopsDirect via or at 877-97-TROOPS.

She’s All That

She's All That She's All That
She's All That She's all That

The San Ramon Valley chapter of Soroptimist International will host its seventh annual She’s All That one day conference on February 11th at San Ramon Valley High School. Soroptimist International is a global society of professional women devoted to the advancement and enrichment of girls and women through local service projects. She’s All That has become a highly anticipated event for “tween” girls in our area. “Teaming up with organizations such as Discovery Center, Impact Bay Area and Teen Esteem, the upcoming conference will have an expanded line-up of breakout sessions and classes” says Robyn Forman, Marketing Chairperson for 2011’s She’s All That conference.

The She’s All That conference started six years ago as a way to help middle school girls address issues most affecting their lives. Robyn says roughly 70% of the attendees were girls searching for answers or support. The other 30% were encouraged to attend by their mothers, but everyone gets something meaningful from the day’s event. 2011’s symposium will feature a new ice breaking exercise designed to make new friends chaired by Chris Howard, Talent Management Advisor for Chevron.

At She’s All That I learned skills for everyday life and I had a lot of fun too. It was like “cool school!” Nicole N, age 12

The first couple of years, moms had a hard time letting go of their daughters as they dropped them off for the full day experience. Organizers of She’s All That eventually offered classes for parents (primarily mothers) such as Who’s The parent, Teen Talk and What’s Eating You? The core outline introduces subject matter such as Self Confidence, Body Image, Straight Talk on Boys, Mean Girls and Cliques and Self Defense. Many of these sessions will be taught by professional counselors, psychologist and therapists. However, there will also be fun segments including hip hop dance, cheerleading, age appropriate make- up tips and making healthy snack choices lead by Soroptimist members and local community leaders. After constantly selling out the last several events, the upcoming She’s All That has expanded the attendance capacity from 300 to 450 participants.

She’s All That was an empowering and motivational event and I would really recommend all preteen and teen girls to attend it. Andrea B. 15
I had a really great time learning a lot of useful skills, like self-defense, cooking and laundry. It was even more fun because I got to attend with my friends!’….Hailey M., age 12

Robyn Forman, a Business to Business marketing consultant who owns her own company, says she truly believes this event makes a difference in the lives of young girls. “If we can’t reach these girls before they get to high school, it’s too late,” Robyn states. “They need to feel comfortable in their own skin and maybe one of our sessions will help them get there”.

“It was really fun and I liked the classes. I actually learned skills. It wasn’t boring like school. The classes also allowed us to do physical activities instead of just sitting in a chair listening to lectures all day. I especially enjoyed the self-defense class.” Kendall B., Age 12

Tickets for the 2011 She’s All That conference are $30.00, however free tickets are available for anyone who might need financial assistance. Information can be found at The full day program includes lunch for all participants. There is also a raffle sponsored by local businesses. Any net profits go directly to the host school and local non-profit organizations. As the father of daughters ages 11 and 13, I am encouraged by the material and content of the She’s All That forum and am overjoyed that both my girls are looking forward to attending the big event in February.

Is Passivity Holding You Hostage?

Is Passivity Holding You Hostage?Wisdom and life lessons are often delivered to us in unexpected ways…via various messengers. And, sometimes we feel sideswiped by a life lesson. Can you relate? I sure can.

During other times in our lives, we may receive messages that are delivered in the form of “gentle nudges.” The question is…do you stop and listen to life’s subtle messages and gentle nudges? Or, are you like many of us who frantically try to keep up with the crazy “outer demands” of life—while ignoring many of our “inner demands?”
Earlier this year I received a referral from a local medical doctor. His referral, Jan, was a thirty-five year old woman struggling with stress-related muscle tension (resulting in body aches) and emotional eating (resulting in excess weight).

During our initial sessions, it became apparent that Jan had a passive behavioral style. This soft-spoken woman smiled a lot although I sensed sadness behind her pale blue eyes. Growing up, Jan was the youngest child with a brother who often bullied her. She shared that even though she’s an adult now, she still feels overwhelmed by people who have aggressive personality styles. My heart went out to her. When I teach Assertiveness Training to clients I describe passivity in the following way:
Passive behavior focuses on others’ desires and needs, rather than one’s own desires and needs. “People Pleasers” who engage in passive behavior often find that their passivity can eventually lead to resentments due to unmet needs. People who behave passively often suppress their emotions. Emotional suppression can lead to anxiety, depression, as well as somatic (body) symptoms.

Now, back to Jan. After a few sessions, Jan received an opportunity to acquire wisdom from a “gentle nudge” in her life…in the form of a dream. Knowing that dreams often provide rich insights into what’s percolating in the unconscious, Jan brought the highlights of her dream to our next hypnotherapy session. Here’s how she described the dream:
I was meeting with a nutritionist. [Jan had actually worked with this professional a few months prior to this dream.] I felt happy that I was taking care of myself by getting input and developing a healthy food plan. The meeting was going great. Strangely though, I soon realized that my dog Winston was with me in the nutritionist’s office. [Winston, Jan’s dog, had passed away ten years ago.] In my dream, Winston wasn’t leashed, and he kept hijacking my attention by bolting out of the open office door. Each time Winston bolted and ran down the hall, he aggressively attacked a shy dog that belonged to one of the practitioners. I felt embarrassed trying to contain and reel-in my “out of control” dog—while in the midst of my “self-care” appointment.
When she was ready, I invited Jan to recline on my office couch so that we could begin exploring this colorful dream. After Jan was in a relaxed state, she visited her “Special Place”: a lounge chair on a warm beach. She’d relaxed in this nurturing setting a couple of times before during our previous hypnotherapy sessions (and loved it).

Next, I asked Jan if she would be comfortable telling her dream from the point of view of another character. She chose Winston. I suggested that she envision Winston joining her. A few moments later, Jan said that Winston was with her. I asked if she would be willing to give Winston a voice and to let him tell the dream from “first person.” I told Jan that I’d ask “Winston” some questions from time to time [my interactions are shown in brackets]. She was open to the process. Here’s Winston’s version of the dream:
Jan is meeting with some lady. After a few minutes, I let Jan know that I’m here. [And who are you?] I’m Jan’s dog. [Would you describe yourself?] I’m fuzzy and cute on the outside—but angry on the inside. I’m high-energy, sometimes playful—but very frustrated right now. And, since the door is open, I run out of the office and pick a fight with a “wimpy dog” that’s down the hall. Jan looks appalled and tries desperately to contain me. She is unsuccessful. I win!
[I acknowledge hearing Winston’s satisfaction and then ask him what his intention is.] My intention is to wake Jan up. Frankly, I’m pissed. She’s too nice, always trying to please everyone. It drives me crazy! I’m expressive and free—she’s not. I have “teeth”—she doesn’t.
[What are you afraid of?] I’m afraid that Jan will continue to ignore me. If I have to, I’ll get louder—otherwise Jan will keep getting hurt by others! [I thank Winston for showing up as a messenger and tell him that I think he is offering important information. Then I ask him, if you could make a request of Jan, what would it be?] I’m just trying to protect Jan. And, I’d ask that she pay more attention to me. Let the energies that I carry, come out to play and be expressed more often. I think Jan would be happier if I were allowed to come out more. Plus, I could let some of the bullies in her life today know that she has teeth.

Can you see how Jan’s dream is FILLED with vitally important information that mirrors the various power struggles that are clamoring within her? My subsequent sessions with Jan consisted of her exploring and integrating various characters in her dream—including her “inner nutritionist” and the “shy dog” down the hall. Then, Jan blossomed during the Assertiveness Training that I offered her. As a result of all her rich work, Jan’s stress levels (and body aches) decreased dramatically. Shortly thereafter, her unhealthy eating habits began to transform…along with the shape of her body.

In closing, you might ask yourself if there is an area in your life that is currently being held hostage by passivity? If so, call me. Together, we can explore ways…for you to enjoy more “inner and outer” balance in your life.
(Name and client details changed to protect confidentiality)

Trina Swerdlow, BFA, CCHT, is a certified clinical hypnotherapist, an artist, and the author of the 2-CD Set, Weight Loss: Powerful & Easy-to-Use Tools for Releasing Excess Weight. She is also the author of Stress Reduction Journal: Meditate and Journal Your Way to Better Health. Her CDs and her book are available from John Muir Women’s Health Center online store:
Trina has a private practice in downtown Danville. You can reach her at: (925) 285.5759, or To receive her free newsletter, “Trina’s Transformational Tips for Mindful Living,” sign-up at her site: (Certified Clinical Hypnotherapy services in California can be alternative or complementary to licensed healing arts, such as psychotherapy.)
Photo by Susan Wood,

Is Sciatica Getting On Your Nerves?

Exploring Class IV Laser Pain Relief
The condition known as Sciatica is one of the most common conditions that we treat at Align Healing Center. Some of the common symptoms of Sciatica are sharp pain in the low-back and/or buttocks accompanied by numbness, tingling, and aching or burning in the back of the legs. In severe circumstances, weakness in the legs may also be seen.

The Sciatic Nerve is large and travels down the back of the leg to the foot. The nerve is buried deep within the muscles of the buttock and leg making it difficult to treat with common physical therapy methods. The Sciatic Nerve is composed of several smaller nerves and originates from the low back. It passes under the piriformis muscle (underneath the main buttock muscles) on its way down the leg. Irritation of the Sciatic Nerve at any point along its path is commonly known as “Sciatica”.

Understanding Sciatica
Let’s talk about nerves for a moment. Nerves are the electrical wiring of the human body. They carry the signals that allow us to move, feel, digest, detoxify, respond to our environment, and so much more. Plain and simple, if the nerves do not work the body will not work. That being said, it is important to understand that unlike other tissues, the primary blood supply to nerve tissue is actually located WITHIN the nerve itself. So, if a nerve becomes impinged or compromised, so does the blood supply to the nerve. Without proper blood supply, the nerve does not receive the energy and nutrition that are needed for the nerve to heal itself. Over time neural impingement leads to a painful chronic condition called Neuropathy. The definition of neuropathy is a disease or injury affecting nerve cells. The common symptoms of Neuropathy include sharp pain, burning, muscular weakness, numbness or tingling either at the site of the nerve injury or wherever the nerve travels. The condition known as Sciatica is a form of Neuropathy that specifically affects the Sciatic Nerve.

How can Class IV laser help my Sciatica?
For the past eleven years Align Healing Center has been offering many different modalities to reverse Sciatic Neuropathy. In 2009 we began using Class IV Laser Therapy and the results have been outstanding! Class IV Laser Therapy allows the practitioner to stimulate healing within the nerve tissue by delivering the necessary energy directly to the injured area. During each painless treatment laser energy increases circulation, drawing water, oxygen, and nutrients to the damaged area. Laser therapy is a photochemical process that is able to bypass the arterial “highway” that was damaged as a result of the initial injury. During Laser Therapy the infrared laser light interacts with tissues at the cellular level and metabolic activity increases within the cell, improving the transport of nutrients across the cell membrane. This initiates the production of cellular energy (ATP) that leads to a cascade of beneficial effects, increasing cellular function and health. This creates an optimal healing environment that reduces inflammation, swelling, muscle spasms, stiffness and pain.

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

The New Patrick David’s Restaurant & Catering

Fine dining is a multi-sensory experience. New Patrick David’s Restaurant and Catering owners Al Sisto, Gary Mingle and Dana Dornsife understand that and have taken several steps to revitalize the restaurant and make it a choice destination for regulars and first-time visitors.

Sisto, Mingle and Dornsife have invested in restaurants in the past, and they understood what Patrick David’s was and what it could be when they took over operation of the restaurant and catering business on April first of this year. “First and foremost, we have retained Patrick David himself, one of the preeminent chefs in all of California, and someone’s whose vision and creativity in the kitchen are all but unmatched in the region as our Executive Chef,” Sisto said. “We also worked to retain the excellent staff at the restaurant and catering business, moving most of the employees to fulltime status and improving their benefit package.

Sisto, Mingle and Dornsife immediately capitalized on their assets by updated the physical plant and modernizing the kitchen. The result is an inviting dining room and bar served by employees with regular schedules upon whom visitors can count on seeing whenever they return. “One of our goals is to turn Patrick David’s into the Cheers of Danville,” Sisto said. “Guests like it when they come on their regular day and see the same server and the same bar staff. It’s also a great way for us to come to know and understand what the guest likes and have it ready for them when we know they plan to visit.” A special events calendar is part of the lure, including live music on Fridays, Sunday Brunch, and expert-led Tuesday wine tastings.

Sisto says the results have been gratifying. “Our wine business, for example, is up about 70 per cent, in large part because our servers are trained to help guests pair the wines to maximize the enjoyment of their meal. We use only the freshest ingredients in our food, which helps the wine accent the flavors as both the chef and the sommelier intend. That combination creates a more memorable experience and makes it more likely that guests become regulars.”

Along with the restaurant, the partnership also acquired Patrick David’s catering business. “One of the first things we did was to eliminate the old event center,” Mingle said. “That gives us more freedom to work with venue coordinators and other event planners to help achieve their vision at their location.

“Now, there are no limits to what we can do. Patrick’s creativity transfers seamlessly to the catering business and we’ve found that we can prepare and serve any food in any setting and make the timing work perfectly.”

Those interested in visiting the new restaurant at 416 Sycamore Valley Rd next to Coldstone Ice Cream in the Danville Livery can call 925-838-7611. Potential catering clients and event planners can get started by calling 925-855-4688. More information is also available at

Stamps in My Passport: Yugoslavia

Stamps in my Passport
Music soothes the soul they say – but it also excites, infuriates, stimulates, or sedates, depending on the tempo. Music is cross-cultural – independent of nationality. One can appreciate the rhythmic view of a composer’s effort completely, without words. Lyrics add to the enjoyment, but the notes must stand on their own.

Looking back to our two enjoyable weeks spent in Yugoslavia many years ago causes me great distress. Then the country appeared so united and filled with potential. The hard and difficult years of World War II and the structured restricted years under Marshal Tito were past. The Olympics held at Sarajevo had highlighted the beauties and delights of this wonderful country, and the future looked bright indeed. Then came the nasty conflict between the Croatians and the Serbians, and all the delight seemed to fade. I hear it is recovering slowly, but I have not seen it first-hand. My memory takes me back to the peaceful times.

Another couple had joined us in Dubrovnik. This ancient city on the Adriatic Sea with a harbor thousands of years old had put us in a mood to experience this vastly diversified country. We had visited other areas of Croatia and were now camped in the InterContinental Hotel near downtown Zagreb. Zagreb was then a prominent city in this united nation and was composed of a number of fascinating sights. We walked a great deal, enjoyed the culinary delights of the marketplace, took the funicular to the upper part of town, and wandered through St. Stephen’s Church.

Stamps-in-my-PassportAs we were on our way back to the hotel we spied the ornate and stately Zagreb Opera House set on a slight rise overlooking the lower portion of the city. It was a magnet we could not resist. We walked around the building admiring the architecture and the decorative yellow façade and soon found the front door.

Apparently there was a performance that evening and the ticket office was open, so we tried. “All sold out,” we were informed. “People from all over Europe come to visit our wonderful productions,” he told us with great pride. As we talked to the ticket seller my companion began folding and refolding a significantly-sized American bill. We explained to the agent that we were in town for just a night or two and perhaps he knew a way to get us seats at the opera. The agent’s eyes became transfixed on the greenback, and, as though hypnotized by it, his memory improved. He remembered a box with four seats and thought perhaps the owners were away, and it might just become available. The negotiations continued. Not any box, but a prime set of seats for the four of us in a choice location. The dialog ended with the agreement that we were to arrive at the ticket counter that evening ten to fifteen minutes prior to the eight o’clock p.m. start and search for him – only him. He would have the desired seats available in exchange for that well-folded American currency. We did just that.

The ushers, upon seeing the tickets, led us to the mezzanine, parted a set of plush, red velvet curtains, and showed us our seats in the elegant, if somewhat worn, mezzanine box. It was in the exact center of the main portion of the Opera House. Several hundred seats on the main floor lay below us, and the exceptionally steep balcony formed the roof of our box. Both to the left and right sides of our central box appeared similar enclosures. Placed in each of these boxes were four comfortable armchairs with a cocktail table properly positioned to receive refreshments. The furniture was elegant and delightful in an old-world way – slightly frayed but certainly hinting at past opulence. The house lights dimmed and in all its majestic glory, the performance began. We were swept up in the overture and the romance of this historic environment. The music itself was very familiar to us all, but the only recognizable words were “cigarillo” and “toreador.” Yes, it was Carmen in all her sultry finest with music by Bizet and the words, of course – the words were in Serbo-Croatian.

I have listened to Carmen many times since, both at home in my living room and at well-staged performances. But each time my thoughts and sadness go back to that wonderful night, and I smile to myself wondering how many people in this world have enjoyed the tale of this gypsy seductress and her soldier hero – in Serbo-Croatian.

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

2010 Dodge Challenger RT: A ‘70’s Muscle Car Reborn!

Passing Lane
Growing up in the 1960’s and 1970’s I was surrounded by “muscle” cars, with the desire to own or at least drive one. I was fortunate enough to talk my Dad into buying me one for $500 and teaching me how to drive and repair my 1966 hot rod. In later years, my Uncle Tony took me to car shows and hot rod events, introducing me to the one car that always stood out from the crowd; the Dodge Challenger, with its long nose and raised hips. Well, the beast is back and looking sharper than ever!

As of late, the domestics have been drawing on their heritage and brought back some wonderful memories in the form of modern designs and technologies. Dodge took its turn with the launch of the Challenger in 2008. Based off the foundation of its brother, the Dodge Charger, this reincarnated 1970’s performance machine is unmistakably recognizable as a Challenger with all of its design glory, and under-the-hood performance.

The 2010 Dodge Challenger is pretty much a carryover from the 2009 model year with the following exceptions: Uconnect ™ Multimedia packaged with Sound Group I and II (on the SE and RT trims). Steering wheel-mounted audio controls are packaged with Uconnect Multimedia and Uconnect Navigation. Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is now standard on the SE trim, and automatic headlamps and LED cup holders are standard and door handle lights are standard on the R/T.

Into the second year of its new life, the 2010 Dodge Challenger is available in three trim levels: SE, RT, and SRT8. The SE is a great choice if you want the hot looks of the Challenger, but with a more economical 3.5-liter HO 250 horsepower V6 that delivers 17 mpg in the City and 25 MPG on the highway. If you need a few more horses under the hood, the RT punches out 372 HP from a 5.7-liter V8 HEMI. True perfection of power is available from the SRT8 that cranks out 425 wild horses out of a tire burning 6.1-liter V8 HEMI engine.

All three engines come standard with a 5-speed automatic transmission. However, if you want to have a little; change that, a lot more fun, the RT and SRT8 both offer an optional 6-speed manual transmission with overdrive. On the RT it’s a $995 option and on the SRT8 is runs $695. Either way, it is worth the money. My weekly test drive vehicle was the RT with manual transmission and it multiplied the fun factor, ten-fold!

When Dodge’s designers began laying lines on paper, their intention was for the new Challenger to have a retro appearance that would tug on the hearts of those who once fell in love with the car. Dodge’s goal was to breathe new life into their icon by delivering a modern profile and high-tech features. The results are the 2010 Challenger with roughly the same posture of its 1970’s brother, yet with softer and cleaner lines. The Challenger offers the big, brawny stance that we connect to the American muscle car.

The Challenger adopted obvious styling cues from the original Challenger; however, with a larger stance than the original model. The Challenger has big, muscular lines that flow into a sea of curves and angles, delivering a sporty profile. One of the advantages it has over its cross town rivals, the Mustang and Camaro, is its larger size providing greater rear passenger space. One negative I have to add, was the visibility out of the rear window. Being quite limited by wide “C” pillars, it is a challenge to see anything out of the sides when exiting a parking spot or other tight area.

The interior of the 2010 Dodge Challenger is living large and comfortable. There is plenty of room for both the front and rear passengers. The dash carries on some touches of the original Challenger; however, but with a current appearance. I feel they could have done a little more to spark up the dash as it was all black. Perhaps a swab of color or two-tone effect would have generated a little flare. The center instrument cluster consisted of two large and two small chrome-ringed gauges with white faces, along with digital information such as outside temperature, direction, and radio station.

The center dash housed controls for the climate control, radio, Uconnect™ Bluetooth, and MP3 connection. The seats were large and comfortable. The center armrest area provided a large storage compartment and two cup holders with ring lights. The pedals on my RT where accented with chrome as were other parts of the interior.

Handling of the RT was surprisingly responsive for a large vehicle. The Challenger is built off of a modified Chrysler LX platform. The overall ride was smooth and confident as the RT rides on a set of 20” 5-spoke aluminum wheels and P245/45R20 BSW all-season performance tires. The performance-tuned suspension was relatively stiff. A bonus to the vehicle coming with the optional manual transmission was that it also came with a limited-slip differential to aid with traction and keep the car stable and in command of the road.
Room for improvement:

  • Wide “C” pillars block your side view

Cool Features:

  • Great exhaust growl
  • Cool retro-design

The 2010 Dodge Challenger earned a five-star rating for driver/passenger frontal crash and front and rear side crash test. Standard safety features including energy absorbing crush zones, reinforced safety cage, and front, head curtain, rear curtain, and side airbags.

In Summary – The 2010 Dodge Challenger is a blast from the past. All three trim levels offer power and performance. It offers a distinctive look that turns heads at every corner. The Challengers large size delivers the benefits of a large trunk and uncompromised rear seat capacity. This rear-wheel drive coupe provides a wealth of fun and the ability to take a step back in time.

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

Passing Lane

Specifications: 2010 Dodge Challenger RT
Base price: $30,860 as driven: $41,160 (including destination and optional equipment)
Engine: 5.7-Liter V8 HEMI
Horsepower: 372 @ 5200
Torque: 400 foot pounds @ 4400 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual transmission with overdrive
Drive: Rear Wheel-Drive
Seating: 5-passenger
Turning circle: 38.9 feet
Cargo space: 16.2 cubic feet
Curb weight: 4,041 pounds
Fuel capacity: 19 gallons
EPA mileage: 24 highway, 15 city
Wheel Base: 116 inches
Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
Also consider: Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro

Market Fresh: Giving Thanks

Market Fresh

Holiday entertaining kicks into high gear this month, as many of us gather for a traditional Thanksgiving feast. Unlike other holidays that drag us into debt, Thanksgiving celebrates the simple basics in life: nourishment, sharing, and gratitude. Preparing a thoughtful meal shows how much you care….about your friends, your family, and California’s bountiful resources.

I prefer to do as much of my Thanksgiving shopping as possible at the farmers’ market—where the food is fresh, healthy, and locally grown. I also know that my money goes directly to the people who grow the food we eat.

I’ll look for hot little radishes to munch as I cook; freshly-harvested walnuts and almonds to enhance everything from appetizers to desserts; plump raisins, dried apricots, and other dried fruits; just-picked lettuce; pure fruit juices; sugar pumpkins and crisp apples for pies; acorn and other traditional winter squash; artisan breads to serve as is, or to cut into cubes for homemade turkey stuffing; aromatic extra-virgin olive oil, sweet onions, celery, parsley, and garlic to accent that delicious dressing; tender young carrots; broccoli; Brussels sprouts; sweet potatoes; locally-produced honey; russet potatoes and Yukon Golds for mashing; beeswax candles and all other matter of fall flora, fauna, fruits, and veggies to make a spectacular yet affordable still-life centerpiece for my table.

While I’m at the market picking through a big pile of sweet potatoes, inevitably a perfect stranger will timidly ask me the difference between a sweet potato and a yam. Seriously—this happens to me every year. So here’s the answer for one and all.

Real yams are starchy, tropical vegetables—often a foot or two long—rarely seen outside of obscure Latin markets in the U.S. Forget about them; you’ll probably never see one.

What we see labeled as “yams” are actually a red-skinned variety of sweet potato. Sweet potatoes ordinaire have a gold-ish-color skin and flesh, and a drier texture inside, similar to a russet potato. The yam variety of sweet potato (such as the Red Garnet Yam) has dark, reddish-purple skin and bright orange flesh. All varieties of sweet potatoes are interchangeable in recipes, though most prefer the vibrant color and moist, creamy texture of the yam. So there it is. Spread the word.

Like so many modern families, there will be more than a few vegetarians at my table; and they will no doubt shun that perfectly roasted turkey. Rather than drowning my sorrows in a pitcher of pomegranate martinis, I’ll simply offer plenty of interesting seasonal sides and desserts that everyone can enjoy. No tofurkey here.

These are a couple of road-tested recipes that please vegetarians and carnivores alike. The ingredients can also be multiplied to feed a small army, if needed.

And as we give thanks for the bounty before us, let’s remember all the farmers who travel to Danville before sunrise every Saturday, rain or shine, to bring us the freshest and the best.

Market Fresh Mashed Sweet PotatoesMashed Sweet Potatoes with Orange & Ginger

This recipe adapted from chef and cookbook author Rozanne Gold contains no added fat—so you shouldn’t feel guilty if you mix in a couple of tablespoons of butter, a splash of cream, or a drizzle of honey. (Marshmallows are a whole other story.)

  • 6 red-skinned medium sweet potatoes/yams (about 3 pounds), scrubbed but not peeled
  • 2 California oranges
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons grated fresh ginger, to taste
  • Salt
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  1. Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot with enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, until very soft, about 50 minutes.
  2. Finely grate about 1 teaspoon of zest from an orange; chop finely. Halve and juice both oranges, straining out any seeds. (You should have about 2/3 cup of juice.)
  3. Drain the potatoes in a colander and rinse with cold water; drain again. Peel and cut into large chunks.
  4. Combine the sweet potato chunks, orange zest, orange juice, and ginger. Using a hand-held blender, puree until smooth. (Alternatively, let cool slightly and puree in batches in a food processor or blender.) Season to taste with salt and cayenne. Serve at once, or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Just before serving, reheat gently in a microwave or in a saucepan or double-boiler. Makes about 5 1/2 cups, to serve 6.

Brussel Sprouts
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts & Pomegranate Seeds
One of Thanksgiving’s most lingering memories is all the intoxicating aromas that emanate from the kitchen. Brussels sprouts smell divine when roasted in the oven—a welcome contrast to boiling them on top of the stove. This brilliant combination of colors, textures, and flavors was inspired by renowned restaurateur and cookbook author Donatella Arpaia.

  • 3/4 cup (about 3 ounces) California walnut halves and pieces
  • 1 1/2 pounds farm-fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons California olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Seeds from 1 medium pomegranate* (about 1/3 cup)
  • A small chunk of dry Monterey Jack or Parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the walnuts in a pan and bake, stirring once or twice, until lightly browned and fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees.
  2. On a large baking sheet, combine the Brussels sprouts, oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Toss gently to coat evenly, then spread the sprouts into an even layer.
  3. Roast in the oven, shaking the pan to stir 2 or 3 times, until the sprouts are nicely browned on the outside and tender within, 35 to 40 minutes. Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds over the top and toss to mix. Taste, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Transfer to a warmed serving bowl. If desired, use a vegetable peeler to shave strips of cheese over the top. Serves 6.

* Fresh pomegranates can make a mess when not handled properly; and airborne seeds can stain everything in sight. Cooking pro Paula Wolfert came up with this life-changing solution:

  1. Make a slit in the center of the pomegranate, large enough to insert both of your thumbs.
  2. Submerge the pomegranate in a bowl of cold water.
  3. Working underwater, insert your thumbs into the slit and pull the fruit apart into 2 pieces. Use your fingers to loosen the seeds from the white membrane within. The seeds will float to the surface—rinsed and ready to be drained and used.

The Danville Certified Farmers’ Market, located at Railroad and Prospect, is open every Saturday, rain or shine, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. For specific crop information call the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association at 1-800-949-FARM or visit their web site at