Stamps In My Passport: The Coriolis Force

Stamps In My Passport
While suffering through a formal scientific education, I was exposed to a vast number of astonishing, explicit truths that almost always manifested themselves in some mathematical formulas. Naturally, I believed them because I was told to do so by a teacher, but some of them were harder to swallow than others. The one I really had trouble believing was that when you flushed your toilet in the southern hemisphere the water spun in the opposite direction than it did here at home or at school. It was in the ninth or tenth grade when they first tried to sell me on this principle. I spent the next several months watching the water every time I flushed or washed my hands to make sure that it circled in the same direction; surprisingly, it did. They named this phenomenon, “The Coriolis Force.” I’ve never forgotten it, but it took almost thirty years before I could finally put it to the supreme test.

I was beside myself with pleasure. Barb and I were finally going to East Africa, with so many new and exciting adventures in store for us. All of the magnificent animals, an actual safari, Mt. Kilimanjaro, the Ngorongoro Crater—the list was endless, and I was ready. Even more important, I had a life-long question that I hoped to find the answer to. Does “The Coriolis Force” really exist?

The first test was done at the Nairobi airport. We had left Cairo on an absolutely cloudless day and followed the Nile River due south. The flight tracked the river for hours before the terrain changed from arid desert to occasional trees, then finally to the Rift Valley of Kenya. We were in the air for almost eight hours and by the time we had touched down, gone through customs, and cleared immigration, I found myself eager to find a restroom and test the hypothesis. My trip to the washroom was a success, and the theory proved to be correct— the water spun clockwise!

Stamps In My Passport

Sign in Mt. Kenya Safari Club that shows 00o latitude where you can place one foot in the Northern Hemisphere and the other in the Southern Hemisphere.

The second test took place at the Mt. Kenya Safari Club where we were lucky enough to spend a couple of glorious days. The grounds are beautifully manicured, and the guest cottages are out-of-this-world. On our first evening there, we enjoyed a long, seven-course meal in the main lodge and returned to our cottage to find a roaring fire in the bedroom fireplace and a hot water bottle between the sheets for our sleeping comfort. But the most spectacular room of all was the bath. It contained a huge sunken tub nestled up to a floor-to-ceiling glass wall, outside of which grew a collection of exotic equatorial plants. An ideal setting for my test. While the main lodge itself was a few meters to the north of the equator, my huge tub was located 100 meters south. Not wanting to waste the water, I luxuriated in the bath for almost an hour and then eventually pulled the plug. To my absolute astonishment and amazement, the water once again rotated clockwise.

The final and by far the most detailed experiment occurred about a week later in the Kenyan village of Nanyuki. An elaborate demonstration was rigged to illustrate this hard-to-fathom phenomenon. A shallow pie pan with a pinhole in the center was filled with water. Several small sticks resembling toothpicks were floated on the surface, and the plug covering the hole was removed. This test was repeated three times over a twenty-meter distance. When one walked ten meters into the Northern Hemisphere, the sticks rotated counter-clockwise as the water drained from the pan. The reverse was true when one walked ten meters into the Southern Hemisphere. And, lo and behold, when performed on the monument, which designated the actual equatorial line, the water did not rotate at all—it merely drained out.

My faith in science has been restored. I leave any practical application of the principle to you.

2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Edition

Its Diesel Quick!

Passing Lane

2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Edition

When it comes to sports sedans you might think of high performance V8 gas-burning engines. Well, Volkswagen has put a twist on it; how would you like a blend of performance and handling while getting 42-miles-per-gallon to boot? There is a catch; the power actually comes from a diesel in the form of a 2010 Jetta TDI Cup Edition.

In 2008, Volkswagen created the Jetta TDI Cup racing series for the purpose of generating exposure of its new clean diesel engine. As the excitement grew for a race-inspired version, VW decided to create a TDI Cup Edition street version for the 2010 model year. It appears their racing series created a buzz, and I was surprised at how many folks knew about the TDI Cup series. To identify this special edition, a checkered flag and “TDI cup edition” graphic runs across the bottom of the doors.

VW is probably the most successful manufacturer selling diesel powered sedans in the United States. The foundation of the 2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Edition is the proven Jetta TDI model. Modifications to create the Cup Edition include the same full body kit found on the TDI Cup race cars with an aerodynamic front bumper, side skirts, and rear valance. Also included are 18-inch “Charleston” wheels with high-performance tires, larger GLI brakes with red painted calipers, and the European-tuned sport suspension from the GLI.

The interior “Cup” highlights include Sport seats with Interlagos cloth, a leather-wrapped, multi-function steering wheel, and brushed aluminum door sills mark the interior. The 2010 Jetta is well equipped with standard equipment including: air conditioning, Bluetooth™ , Sirius Satellite Radio, AM/FM/CD stereo system with MP3 CD readability, eight speakers and an auxiliary input jack, cruise control, eight-way power front seats, and a three-spoke steering wheel with tilt and telescope. A touch screen located in the center of the dash operates the audio controls. Below the screen is an SD card slot as another way to play stored music.

Our test model also came with an optional rear wing spoiler ($499), power sunroof ($1,000), six-speed auto transmission with Tiptronic ($1,100), floor mat kit with trunk liner ($225), and a media device interface for IPod© integration ($100).

A quick run through of the rest of the 2010 Jetta sedan model lineup are: S, Limited Edition, SE, Wolfsburg Edition, TDI and SEL. The Jetta also is available as a station wagon: S, SE and TDI trims. TDI stands for Turbocharged Direct Injection and also indicates that the engine is a diesel.

Performance for the TDI Cup Edition comes from the same 2.0-liter TDI clean diesel engine used in the base TDI model. The 2.0L employs an electronically-controlled turbocharger and common rail-direct fuel injection to guarantee smooth acceleration and less tailpipe emissions. It generates 140 horsepower and 236 lbs.-ft. of torque, sent through either a six-speed manual, or an optional six-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG®) transmission with Tiptronic® control. Tiptronic allows you to run an automatic transmission in manual mode and in this case shift gears using paddle shifters located on the steering wheel. The non-diesel versions come with a 5-cylinder 2.5-liter, 170 hp engine.

Room for Improvement:

  • The front spoiler sits pretty low causing it to easily get scraped in dips or steep driveways
  • No navigation system is available

Cool Features:

  • TDI Cup series body kit
  • Great fuel economy – 30 City and 42 Highway (can go up to 600 miles on a single tank of gas)

The 2010 Jetta TDI Cup Edition’s safety list is extensive. In the inside, the Jetta comes standard with front, thorax, and side curtain airbags for both the driver and front passenger, as well as side curtain airbags for the rear passengers. Other mechanical safety features include Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS), Electronic Differential Lock, Anti-Slip Regulation, Engine Braking Assist and Electronic Stability Program®.

In Summary – The 2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Edition starts at $24,990 with a manual transmission. Not a bad price for a sporty diesel. The body kit truly adds to the racing theme along with the side stripes, aluminum trim, and optional spoiler. Both the front and rear seats were comfortable and the handling was confident and tight. I found the TDI Cup Edition to add just enough character to make this Jetta stand out in a crowd. As I think the Jetta is fun to drive; you’ll be driven to find out for yourself.

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

Passing Lane

2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Edition

  • Base price:  $24,990  as driven: $31,113 (including destination and optional equipment)
  • Engine:  2.0-Liter 4-cylinder diesel turbocharged
  • Horsepower: 140 @ 4000
  • Torque:  236 pound-feet @ 1750 rpm
  • Transmission:  6-speed manual (test car: six-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG®)
    Drive: Front Wheel-Drive
    Seating: 5-passenger
    Turning circle:  35.8 feet
    Cargo space:  16 cubic feet
    Curb weight:  3230 pounds
    Fuel capacity:  14.5 gallons
    EPA mileage:   42 highway, 30 city
    Wheel Base: 101.5 inches
    Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
    Also consider:  Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Kia Forte, Mazda 3i (note: these models are all equipped with gas engines, no other comparable diesel engine vehicles are available)

Climate at The Rouge: Mild and Breezy Fall Styles with a Chance of Being Beautified and Updated

A new season is unfolding and it brings great ideas and inspiration for new styles in make-up and new colors to try. The transition from summer to fall should be simple, effortless and fun. With cooling temperatures Fleur Visage Fall Cosmetic Collection is perfect to the trends that will make an impact on the clothes we wear. While green and the military influence is everywhere this season in clothing, don’t do the mistake of applying green eye shadow to go with what you are wearing. It is just too much. Wear colors that will contrast; like peach eye shadow combinations or browns, a soft coral lip-color would be a great look too.
As you can see, I admire creativity immensely. Ideas inspire me. To challenge the status quo is to look from a different perspective and think with an open mind and outside of the box. I have always been fascinated by the way current trends evolve, causing fashion to change. It’s not what we wear or the make-up style we choose, but also how we live, what we read, the foods we eat, the websites and blogs we visit and the music we enjoy. Naturally I consider all elements of style from clothing to nail polish to see “what’s in fashion.” Make-up is so personal with everyone choosing their own style, it can be challenging. In every sense, make-up is all about the lifestyle we live and the influences around us. Most women know what they want but they just don’t know how to get it. So that is where I come in. I help you achieve what you want by knowing the trends and staying very close to what you really need and want.  
Modern Vintage Eyes
Eyes are dominant this season with a fresh new smooth look. Matte colors are everywhere, so your fashionista chic style this season, think 1920’s vintage but with a modern, fresh look. To start, choose a neutral tone in a light vanilla matte to make the eyes look brighter. For definition and to frame the eyes, add a lush matte taupe eye color in the crease. Follow by applying a small amount of black gel liner next to the base of the lashes to give depth. This look is effortless, gorgeous and simple.
Fresh and Cheeky
Enjoy fresh looking, glowy skin by using face shimmers on the cheeks. Face shimmers this season is a must have. It makes the skin look smooth, vibrant with a beautiful sheen. Apply a nice rosey blush over the shimmer for a sweet and dewy complexion.
Softly Sheer Lips
Sparklingly soft lips are just a click away with this fall’s newest innovations in lip-options. From lightly pigmented tint glosses, to naturally lovely moisturizing semi-sheers—it is all about being real, so pucker up gals and smooth on some new scrumptious soft lip colors.
Enjoy coming in to The Rouge to view our special Fleur Visage Fall Collection of beauty options. We offer beauty updates of new fashion styles, ideas and fresh perspectives. With tinted lip-glosses leading the charge this season of course there will always be things that don’t vary, we call them “Things We Still Love” and they include Glossy Luscious Lips and Black Mascara!


The Dirt Gardener: Thanks for Asking

Dirt Gardener
Q. What is the rule of thumb for planting bulbs? I never seem to find my bulb chart when I need it. In addition, when is the latest that spring flowering bulbs can be planted?

A. The planting season for spring flowering bulbs begins around mid October when the warm fall temperatures have concluded. It continues through the end of the year: although, most of the bulbs planted in the ground are done by Thanksgiving. Spring bulbs are best purchased early as the selection is limited by the end of October. Freesias, Anemones and Rannuculus can be planted into February. Tulips and Daffodils planted after the beginning of the year produce flowers on short stems. Bulbs can be stored in a cool location until the optimum planting time. Because they sweat, store them in paper or mess bags. If they’re in plastic, release the moisture by opening the tops of the bag(s). The general rule of thumb for the planting depth is three times the vertical height of the bulb itself. The planting area should be generously amended with organic matter such as homemade compost or soil conditioner. The water needs to drain away after each winter storm; otherwise, they will rot. You also need to add a teaspoon or tablespoon of Bulb Food under each bulb. The amount depends on the size of the bulb. A second application of fertilizer is made after blooming.

Planting bulbs in containers is very popular today. I’d guess that more bulbs are planted in pots than in the ground. Container bulbs are planted in any of the many commercial potting soils or planting mixes available at your favorite garden center. If you are reusing a clay or terra cotta pot, you should sterilize it first to eliminate any of the over-wintering fungus. This is easily done by washing the containers in a solution of one part household bleach to nine parts water. Since the household bleach is an irritant, it’s recommended that you wear gloves. The pots are then air dried at least over night before planting. Ideally, you should pick a container that will allow the bulbs the proper room for the root development. Many times, they end up at depths that do not meet the planting depth guidelines and that is okay. This is especially true if you’re piggybacking or layering different types of bulbs in the same container. The commercial produced spring flowering bulbs have the nose of the bulbs at the soil surface. The planting depth in containers is all over chart so I’d pick a depth that seems reasonable. You don’t have to wait until spring to enjoy these containers. By adding pansies, violas, primulas or any of the other seasonal color, they can be placed on the deck, patio or balcony today.

Note: For information on all types of spring and summer flower bulbs, is an ideal reference source. The bulb guides are very good on the specific bulbs.

In addition, the following website has bulb-planting chart for future reference

Buzz Bertolero is Executive Vice President of Navlet’s Garden Centers and a California Certified Nursery Professional. His web address is and you can send questions by email at or to 360 Civic Drive Ste. ‘D’, Pleasant Hill, Calif. 94523

Open House or Virtual Staging: Yea or Nay?

Q. Tom, I may be selling my home soon; what is the honest truth regarding the effectiveness of my agent ‘holding a Sunday open house from 1-4pm’? I hear conflicting stories regarding whether the activity works to my benefit.

I understand how you feel; there is a great deal of inaccurate information out there in the real estate world. To be forthright, the vast majority of homes would and do sell without ever being held open on Sunday. In fact, by most statistical accounts, less than 5% of all homes sold nationwide sell as a direct result of a weekend open house. If every agent would provide a candid response regarding the effectiveness of open houses as it pertains to sellers, the practice would probably disappear. Case in point: if you asked ten agents how many of their last ten listings sold as a direct result of a buyer walking into an open house (unattached to another agent) and buying it, I doubt it would account for more than one or two sales. So, it begs the question: why are Sunday open houses so prevalent on the weekends? It’s because many agents have over-promised for such a long time on the actual effectiveness of an open house, it has resulted in sellers coming to expect this activity as part of a valid marketing plan. Since agents see this “face-to-face time” with potential buyers and neighbors as an opportunity for future sales, the practice continues every weekend in most communities. The policy I advocate: tell sellers the truth and allow them to make the choice.

Q. What’s going on with real estate commissions in today’s market? Are they going up or down?

Let me first affirm that real estate commissions are negotiable by law – a statement printed on every front page of every California Association of Realtors residential listing agreement. And keep in mind that when a seller agrees to an overall fee with his or her listing agent, the fee for the buyer’s agent (sometimes called the selling agent) is also set at the same time. Now to your question… commissions eroded a fair amount back in the heyday of real estate when it seemed like every other person you knew had a real estate license and competition for business was feverish. In today’s market, depending on the business model of the real estate firm you choose to deal with, the total commission usually ranges from about 4% to 6% of the purchase price. Once again, it can be whatever percentage you choose to negotiate but my experience is that you get what you pay for. A professional Realtor’s experience, knowledge & skill can provide a tangible return on the seller’s (and buyer’s) investment in the way of improved pricing, better terms, lower stress, less risk and fewer problems before, during and after the sale.

Q. A couple months ago you addressed the pros & cons of “staging” a home prior to coming to market. I just recently heard of “virtual staging.” What is it?

Virtual staging is a controversial concept whereby the pictures used in the marketing of the home are ‘digitally’ altered to show the home as it could be instead of how it actually is. Imagine a family room in a home with hardwood flooring, beautiful windows and custom lighting, none of which are there in real life! Realtor trade associations are now working out the necessary disclosure requirements of virtual staging so that properties are fairly represented by agents and sellers to the consumer. After all, no buyer likes to be surprised or be subjected to reading the ‘fine print’ of potentially misleading electronic marketing. This is an evolving issue with more to come later.

Tom Hart

Tom Hart

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

Market Fresh: Embracing Autumn

Market Fresh
Embracing Autumn

September at the Danville farmers’ market celebrates the best of both worlds. As early fall crops like apples and pears appear, we still have access to irresistible summer fruits like strawberries, figs, and melons. This is also an especially good time to load up on just-picked corn and vine-ripened tomatoes—sweeter than ever, with end-of-summer prices to please your pocketbook. It’s going to be a long, lonely winter without vine-ripened tomatoes, so I plan on getting my fill this month.

I am not one to graciously accept a gratuitous tomato slice in December (or during a lot of other months, for that matter). Spare me tomatoes grown in greenhouses or shipped from faraway lands. I cringe when I see them thrown into salads, tucked inside an otherwise respectable sandwich, or artfully arranged on a dinner plate “for color.” We’ve all endured those anemic orbs—tough on the outside and dry and grainy inside. Mystery produce trying to pass for the real thing. No thank you. I can wait.

The following dish is one way to capture the flavor of summer before it’s too late. Serve this as a side dish or light entrée, with plenty of good crusty bread to mop up the juices. Use the most flavorful tomatoes you can find—any color and any variety; they don’t need to be picture-perfect. And when possible, use a combination of green and yellow zucchini—the contrasting ribbons of color provide added visual interest.

Market Fresh

Zucchini Linguine with No-Cook Tomato Sauce
For the No-Cook Tomato Sauce:
1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, crushed through a press
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of crushed hot red pepper flakes
4 to 6 tablespoons California extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds assorted vine-ripened tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
about 1/3 cup coarsely torn or chopped fresh basil

For the Zucchini Linguine:
2 pounds small-to-medium zucchini or other summer squash, skin on
2 to 3 tablespoons California extra-virgin olive oil, as needed

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

  1. In a large serving bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon of the vinegar, the garlic, salt, and pepper flakes. Use a fork to blend in the 4 tablespoons of oil. Gently stir in the tomatoes and basil, to coat. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature at least 15 minutes or as long as 2 hours to blend flavors. Taste, adding more vinegar, salt, pepper flakes, or oil if needed.
  2. Rinse the zucchini well with cold water and pat dry. Trim off and discard the ends. Using a julienne peeler* or mandoline, peel the zucchini lengthwise, evenly working your way all around the squash, and dropping the strips into a large bowl. Continue peeling the firm flesh until you reach the seed core; discard the core. Peel all the remaining zucchini in the same manner. Gently toss the strips to separate them.
  3. In a large skillet, warm the oil over medium heat. Working in batches if necessary, add the zucchini and season lightly with salt. Using tongs, toss the zucchini gently to coat with oil. Continue cooking, stirring and tossing, until the zucchini is warm and wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a warm serving platter or shallow bowl.
  4. Pour the tomato sauce over the zucchini and toss again. Serve at once, and pass Parmesan cheese at the table. Serves 4 to 6.

* A julienne peeler is an inexpensive gadget to make matchstick-size strips of any length. You’ll find them in cookware shops and in the housewares department of many well-stocked supermarkets. Alternatively, use a potato/vegetable peeler to shave strips from the zucchini; then use a knife to cut each strip lengthwise into thin ribbons that resemble linguine.

This recipe adapts well to improvisation, so set your spirit free.

  • For variation, toss Zucchini Linguine with pesto instead of tomato sauce, perhaps adding a few toasted pine nuts or sliced almonds.
  • Serve Zucchini Linguine without the tomato sauce as a vegetable side dish, sautéed in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. Finish it off with a little fresh Parmesan, finely grated lemon zest, or minced fresh herb if you like.
  • For a faster, heartier dish, combine No-Cook Tomato Sauce with 1 pound of freshly cooked pasta instead of zucchini.
  • Toss in about 4 ounces of room-temperature fresh whole milk mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces; or tiny boccacini. The heat from the just-cooked zucchini (or pasta) will gently melt the cheese, adding gooey richness. If mozzarella doesn’t suit your mood, try another soft cheese like Italian Taleggio or goat cheese.
  • Vary the herb in the sauce according to whim: chopped fresh mint is zesty and refreshing; tarragon brings a decidedly French accent; cilantro makes me think Mexico—and prompts me to add a pinch of ground cumin, finely chopped jalapeño, and a handful of fresh corn kernels. And when you’re faced with picky eaters at your table, good ol’ reliable parsley adds color and subtle zip without causing them undue anxiety.
  • Onion lovers should seize this opportunity to add a bit of thinly sliced mild onion— or green onions—to the tomato sauce. Chopped sweet bell pepper is another tasty tidbit; ditto for pitted olives, capers, and anchovies.

Come to think of it, this might just be a good time to clean out your refrigerator.

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

Elastic Conscience

The secret to The Body Fat Cure.

“Ron, how do I lose the Fat?”
“Ron, how do I tone and firm my waist?”
“Ron, how do I lose weight, period?”
“Ron, how do I get myself back on track?”

Have you every asked a fitness professional or your doctor any of these top four questions? If so, you’re just like the billions of people worldwide who are suffering from some type of physical elastic disorder.

As a professional trainer and CEO’s life coach, I deal with the strongest of headstrong individuals. You’re not an exception to the rule if you think you are thick headed.

The Body Fat Cure.

Simply put, the answer to this question is in what I call “Elastic Conscience.” What I mean by this is where you get to a place in your life whereby you do well for a while but then, over several weeks, like elastic, you begin to stretch your thinking and say to yourself, “oh, just one of these cookies won’t kill me,” or, “that trainer does not really know my body; that coach doesn’t know everything.” Then, information begins to flow and your conscience has an inner identification or witness to what you hear. The slightest sign of compromise or “elastic conscience” needs to be shattered! Unsettled compromises lead to devastation in one’s life. However, a quote I have coined for years works:

Anything in life can be achieved successfully when it’s done repetitiously!

When life begins to invade your soul on levels where by you find yourself stretching the truth, it’s a subtle way for your spirit, soul and body to tell you that you’re beginning to dull your senses

The KEY: Catch It! Catch yourself and open your mouth and speak: “STOP. Body, you are going to achieve your goal and that’s not included in it! Mind, you are set on keeping your kids on a low sugar diet, so I’m sorry kids, but no late night eating. Body, stop thinking those thoughts. You know what real truth is!”

As you apply “self” to “self control,” you’ll be amazed as you watch your body refrain from the elastic conscience of life to a mind that is set to achieve anything you set your mind too—that includes consistent exercise and abstaining from foods that are high in sugar and fried. Sugar feeds cancer and hydrogenated oil make you fat and sickly.

Goal this week: ASSESS: What are the issues of my life that I have strong convictions about that I may be letting slip? What foods do I find myself eating? After you’ve asked these of yourself, bring them back into order. You’ll be glad you did and simultaneously be burning the belly fat!

Ron Kardashian

Ron Kardashian

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

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

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

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

Is Hope Enough to Sustain Bay Area Sports Fans?

The Sharks lost to Chicago this spring in the Stanley Cup Playoff Western Conference Finals. They’ve never won the Stanley Cup. The Giants haven’t won the World Series since 1954, when they were the based in New York. The Warriors last won the NBA Championship in 1975, and the A’s haven’t won the World Series since 1989.

The list goes on. Cal’s last Rose Bowl trip came when major college players still routinely played both offense and defense. The Raiders have been at the bottom of their division for years, and even our crown jewel, the 49ers, haven’t been to the Super Bowl since the 1994 season or even made the playoffs since 2002. Stanford points to its entrance requirements when it can’t compete well in football or men’s basketball.

So what sustains us? Why do we buy the jerseys, paint our faces, pay high ticket prices, call KNBR, get tweets on our smartphones, and stay up late to watch the ESPN highlights and get the West Coast scores before bed? Is the rare playoff appearance or odd deep run in the playoffs worth the frustration of regularly falling short?

Why do we put up with steroids, blood doping, cheating, disinformation, tape-delayed Olympic events, and often boorish behavior of high-profile athletes that we have to explain to our children? And based on the size of our market or what local owners are willing to pay, often our best professional players leave for greener pastures once they establish themselves as stars. Yet, for some reason, we keep watching.

According to the New York Times, some researchers have found that fervent fans become so tied to their teams that they experience hormonal surges and other physiological changes while watching games, much as the athletes do. The self-esteem of some male and female fans also rises and falls with a game’s outcome, with losses affecting their optimism about everything from getting a date to winning at darts, one study showed.

One theory the Times quotes traces the roots of fan psychology to a primitive time when human beings lived in small tribes, and warriors fighting to protect tribes were true genetic representatives of their people.

In modern society, professional and college athletes play a similar role for a city in the stylized war on a playing field; the theory goes as quoted in the Times. Even though professional athletes are mercenaries in every sense, their exploits may re-create the intense emotions in some fans that tribal warfare might have in their ancestors. It may also be these emotions that have in large part fueled the explosion in the popularity of sports over the last three decades.

”Our sports heroes are our warriors,” Robert Cialdini, a professor of psychology at Arizona State, told the Times about sports fans. ”This is not some light diversion to be enjoyed for its inherent grace and harmony. The self is centrally involved in the outcome of the event. Whoever you root for represents you.”

So there we have it. If Professor Cialdini is right, we almost have no choice. We root for teams representing our place or other important association, and we have visceral reactions to the results of those contests. Is that enough to sustain Warrior fans through one playoff appearance in 16 seasons, or Giants fans through years of anemic hitting since the departure of Barry Bonds? Apparently it is.

What do you think? Why do you root for your favorite teams? Do results matter, or do you identify with the old Brooklyn Dodger fan lament of “Wait ‘till next year,” almost no matter what? Is it the journey or the destination? I’ve set up a mailbox, (don’t forget the second ‘l’) to collect your responses for use in a future column. Maybe we’ll gain some insights as to why we do the things we do in the name of sport.

Business With A Handshake

Before golf became widely popular, business deals were sealed with a handshake after a round of golf. Salesmen who played golf were using an 18-hole round to entertain key clients and to solidify business transactions while on the course. Meetings were scheduled by making a tee time. Many members used their private memberships for business purposes.

Mark McCormack, founder International Management Group landed a colossal deal with non other then the King himself, with a simple handshake deal at the conclusion of a game of golf. The popular Arnold Palmer and Mark McCormack forever changed the world of golf on that fateful day. Sponsorships, TV contracts and corporate America jumped on board.

Today, young business men and woman are recognizing the value of knowing how to play as opportunities present themselves on a regular basis. You don’t have to be an expert to take advantage of the opportunity, but you need some understanding of the rules, etiquette, and how to get around the course in a timely manner. Many parents recognize the value of learning golf at a young age and send their kids to golf camps. Learning the fundamentals at a young age makes the game a lot easier later on. Many junior golfers come back and take a few lessons once they finish college because everyone at the office plays. I often see them quickly gain confidence with a few refresher lessons.

The PGA of America has introduced a wonderful program called Get Golf Ready and it is designed to teach new golfers how to get onto the course in just five days for only $99. I run that program at Boundary Oak and recommend it as a starter course for any adult new to the game. Graduation programs are offered after the five classes have been completed. For juniors, I recommend my Junior Camp which runs June through August. It is tailored for juniors of every level, beginner, intermediate and advanced.

My Corporate Golf Outings target employee and clients alike. Tailor-made for large or small groups, they include a group lesson or clinic, nine or 18 holes of golf and a meal. This is a great way to invest in your key people, and it’s local. Gather up your people in the office and come for a half day Friday or any day and I will bring them up to speed with how they can join the next company scramble and partake in the fun!

Often times I will take on a project where a person must learn golf and has a time line for a date with the links. Companies will often pay for them to learn golf so they can take part in the annual company golf outing. The challenge though is that golf can take awhile before you get the hang of it. People in general don’t do well under that kind of pressure with a game like this. The harder they try, often the more frustration the experience. Never the less, they must learn in a set time frame. My suggestion is to first read the summary of rules booklet. Next, private lessons with an emphasis on fundamentals while learning with five or seven clubs, instead of trying to figure out what all 14 are for. Then, mixing some lessons up, with time on the course (not just the range), and placing a greater emphasis on etiquette then performance. There is little chance that the golfer will achieve as high of proficiency level as they would like but they can learn how to behave and conduct themselves appropriately. Perhaps the later is more important anyway, rather than trying to become a decent player in a very short time. That can happen but it will take time and effort!

So, the next time you are invited to play a round of golf, join the company golf scramble, or just meet up with some co workers or friends, you too could be doing business and networking on the course!

Taking Chance: ALIVE Movie Review

Taking ChanceI consider myself a Patriot (yes, capital P). I don’t usually cry at movies. I didn’t even cry during Beaches or Terms of Endearment. Now I know that probably comes off a little hard core, but before you judge me, I want you to know that I always cry during the Star Spangled Banner or when the American Flag in front of a marching band goes by.

Taking Chance is a truly amazing movie. It doesn’t scream at you, it quietly gets under your skin. The films power comes from a simple word – Reverence. Yeah, I guess that one would have to be capitalized as well. Taking Chance tells a true story, adapting Marine Colonel Mike Strobl’s personal journal of his assignment escorting the remains of Lance Corporal Chance Phelps, killed in Iraq in 2004, to Phelp’ family in Dubois, Wyoming. Mike, who served in Desert Storm is now sitting behind a desk stateside and feels guilty for not requesting combat duty in Iraq. Living comfortably at home with his wife and children had been the choice. He often wakes in middle of the night and checks the KIA list. One night while Mike is perusing the list he sees a name listed from his home town. He volunteers to be Phelp’ escort home. It changes his life.

Director and Screenwriter, Ross Katz has done a brilliant job telling the story of one man’s coming home in death and another’s coming to life. It’s a delicate balancing act, keeping focus on both the mourning of Phelps and Mike’s personal journey, neither overshadowing the other.

Kevin Bacon, who plays Col. Strobl, is incredible. He does so much with just his facial expressions. Lean and chiseled, Bacon is the consummate Marine. Slow, deliberate and did I mention Reverent with his actions, Mike’s devotion lends the story great intensity, and his struggles lend it great honesty. This is probably Bacon’s best.

The film also shows how we honor our fallen heroes, a chore revealed in great detail. It is all very informative. From the time Lance Corporal Chance Phelps leaves the battlefield, packed in ice, to his arrival at Dover in the States, it’s an amazing journey. His body is cared for. His belongings are cared for. A new uniform was created especially for him even though it was a closed casket. No detail was left undone. We also see the custom of how the escort salutes the casket every time it is moved from one mode of transportation to another, all working to guarantee that what may look like a giant cardboard box being shipped cross country is truly a “pearl of great price.”

Don’t misunderstand; Taking Chance is no mere documentary about how military remains are transported. It is a story about grieving. It is a story about honor. It is a story of Americans at our finest. No political agenda—no “support our troops” platitudes—just Reverence with a Capital R from Dover to Dubois.

Once again, I invite and enjoy your comments at or look for my movie archives on