Financial Planning Week™ 2012

Financial planning encompasses much more than just investment management and it is not just for the rich. That is what Financial Planning Week™ is all about. The Financial Planning Association (FPA®) is excited to be celebrating the eleventh annual Financial Planning Week™, October 1-7. During this week, the FPA® strives to build public awareness of the financial planning process, enabling individuals to make prudent financial decisions to achieve their life goals and dreams. So what is financial planning?  Financial planning is the long-term process of wisely managing your finances so you can achieve your goals and dreams, while at the same time negotiating the financial barriers that inevitably arise in every stage of life. Remember, financial planning is a process, not a product.

The FPA® is a non-profit member organization that believes that everyone is entitled to objective advice from a competent, ethical financial planner to make smart financial decisions. We have one of the strongest chapters in the nation right here in our own backyard. Our local chapter, The FPA® of the East Bay, has a membership of over 350 local financial professionals representing some of top financial planning minds in the Bay Area. Our members demonstrate a professional commitment to education and a client-centered financial planning process.

The FPA® offers some excellent resources to consumers. Please visit and explore some of the free resources available that include: Find a Planner – The FPA offers consumers an easy way to search for a CFP® professional in their area. Ask a Planner – Use the Ask a CFP® professional hotline to ask a general personal finance question by email. Free Literature – The FPA offers a number of free brochures, guides and worksheets on a variety of personal finance topics. Career Center – The FPA provides a wealth of information for those interested in a career in financial planning.

 20 Ways to Celebrate Financial Planning Week

  • Balance your checkbook
  • Make a monetary contribution to your favorite charity
  • Start a savings account for a child, vacation or a gift for yourself
  • Help teach your children how to save and spend wisely
  • Get your estate in order: Create or revise your will and other estate-planning documents
  • Call your financial planner and share your appreciation for their service
  • Pay off a credit card
  • Get a head start on college — investigate college planning options
  • Establish an emergency fund
  • Evaluate your employee benefits and begin planning for open enrollment
  • Develop your holiday spending budget
  • Plan for year-end tax strategies
  • Purchase a session with a financial planner for a relative, friend or colleague
  • Give a relative, friend or colleague a subscription to a personal finance magazine
  • Invite a financial planner to speak at your workplace
  • Review your insurance coverage
  • Write down your financial goals and revisit them periodically
  • Start using personal finance software to help you better understand your money
  • Look up three financial terms that have baffled you and resolve to understand them
  • Talk to a relative about their plans for long-term care

Financial Planning Week™ is an excellent time to asses your own personal finances and to discover the value of financial planning. I strongly urge you to do one of the things on the list above and visit the site to take advantage of the free, objective content made available by the Financial Planning Association™. Happy Financial Planning Week™!

Damien helps individuals invest and manage risk. He is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional and a principal of Walnut Creek Wealth Management. These are the views of Damien Couture, CFP®. Your comments are welcome. Damien can be reached at 925-280-1800 x101 or

Significant Change in MLB Playoffs – Giants Bid Farewell to SRVHS Grad

As this is written in early August, the Giants and A’s have a good chance to be in the MLB playoffs in the same season for the first time since 2003. A major change in the playoff setup enhances their chances of getting there, but may dampen their chances of staying long.

From 1903-1993 only first place teams advanced to the baseball post season tournament. Until 1968 the team with the best record in the National League would simply face the team with the best record in the American League in the World Series. In 1969 each league separated into two divisions and those division champions would face in the League Championship Series with the winners going on to the World Series.

After a work stoppage canceled post season play in 1994, the top second place team in each league was invited to meet one of the first place teams in a three-division setup in a best-of-five Division Series beginning in 1995. Five of those wild card teams went on to win the World Series, proving that there was very little difference in being a division champion vs. a wild card qualifier.

That has changed. This season baseball has added a second wild card team and the two wild card teams will square off in a one game playoff to qualify for the Division Series. This gives teams finishing first a significant advantage, and according to University of Chicago economist, Columbia University professor and Society for American Baseball Research President Vince Gennaro, goes along way towards rewarding regular season excellence.

“The new playoff format rationalizes the postseason for MLB—it provides appropriate playoff advantages and disadvantages based on regular season performance,” said Gennaro in his Diamond Dollar$ blog. “Under the old format (1995-2011), it’s fair to say a postseason berth was a 1-in-8 lottery ticket to a world championship. In the new two wild card system, the teams with the best regular season will have a decided advantage.

“Since the two wild cards in each league will meet for a one-and-done play-in game, this cuts the probability in half that a wild card team will reach the final eight teams.” Teams assured of winning at least a wild card berth will no longer coast into the playoffs and will instead strive to win their division, perhaps leading to more compelling regular-season stretch drives.

As you pull for the Giants or the A’s this month, remember that now a division championship is far superior to a wild card berth, and that just making the playoffs could be a one-game-and-out affair for any second-place qualifier.

Schierholtz Complaints Lead to Trade

On July 18, San Ramon Valley High School product Nate Schierholtz made it known that he felt that his future with the Giants was limited, leading to a July 31 trade to the Philadelphia Phillies that netted the Giants outfielder Hunter Pence.

Schierholtz had been in the Giants organization since 2003, in the big leagues on and off since 2007, and was a member of the team that won the 2010 World Series. He also felt the only organization he had known as a professional had been jerking him around for most of his time in the majors.

“I think sometimes the standard of my play is different from other players,” said Schierholtz to the San Francisco Chronicle. “…I came in with the expectation to play a maybe a little bit more than we’ve seen. A weeklong slump kept me back on the bench for two months.”

Despite being the only player through July 31 to twice hit two or more homeruns in a game for an offensively-challenged team, Schierholtz was on the bench far more than he played. In 2009 Giants General Manager Brian Sabean told a group of season ticket holders, including this reporter, that the Giants did not see Schierholtz as an everyday player due to what they judged as insufficient power and an inability to get on base often enough. According to the July 18 Chronicle piece, manager Bruce Bochy said something similar to Schierholtz in a private meeting this spring.

So it was probably time for Schierholtz to move on. The Phillies ballpark is more favorable to hitters, and at 28 Schierholtz is in his prime baseball earning years. His contract is up at the end of this season, and it will be interesting to see if the Phillies offer him a new deal or if they non-tender him and Schierholtz becomes a free agent.

Between having two contenders for the new-style MLB postseason and a local favorite in a new home after a high-profile trade, Alive East Bay baseball fans will have a lot to watch between now and the end of October.

I’ll Have What He’s Having – That Bar and Grill

With the not-so-recent explosion of food exposure on television, dining out too often ends up with that “been there, done that” flavor — that is until you venture into That Bar and Grill in Danville. The bottom line is: If you haven’t been there, you haven’t done that!

The theme is dueling pianos, and yes, if you have never been to New Orleans, it is literally the coolest thing west of the Mississippi!

Owner / Operators Stephany and Ashley are everything that one can hope for with a newer enterprise. They are not the women behind the curtain but rather a hard working, hands-on duo that spend their valuable time tending bar and forging the ever-important personal relationships that living in a small town require. Being local themselves not only gives them the know-how but the drive to make sure that we will know them for a while.

The piano bar motif is the difference but the food is the comforting familiarity….with a twist.

That Bar just recently added “and grill” to remind all of us that beyond the place to go for any of your televised sporting events, brown bag beer specials on PBR, sing along entertainment, corn hole tournaments (call and ask), or goldfish races (also a good reason to call), they have food. Good food!

Chef Francisco Ruiz, formally of Blue Footed Booby Canoe Club and Fat Cactus, has done his work and done it well. This man never went to work, he went to school, learning tricks of his trade as he went along, finally entering an arena where he could flex his culinary muscle.

A few notable things set Chef Ruiz apart. First, with barely enough room in the small kitchen for him to spread his wings, he did his work in advance. (I know because I went and visited him there a month before they opened and he had the look and the sweat of a man who was serving a party of 300). He was already fine tuning each individual dish to fit into that illusive category of “different yet familiar.” That frees up his day-to-day to create specials at will—and create he does—one dish, one ingredient at a time.

  • Not just a kids menu, but a Little Rockers Menu
  • Not just fries, nachos and wings but Clams, Pizza Bites and Goat Cheese Dip.
  • Not just grilled cheese and BLT’s but Monte Cristos and Caprese.
  • Not just roasted chicken breast, ham steak and beef stew, but Scallops, Risotto, Ahi Tuna Steak and Ribs.

And Burgers? How about the eating challenge that has gained national notoriety—five pounds of melty, meaty goodness.

Fine dining flare in a relaxed environment with grill prices! Yes Please!

It seems almost silly to say, but sometimes you just want a good salad, and there’s nothing more dismaying than opening a menu and getting to choose between mixed greens or Caesar…blah!

My favorite lunch dish at That Bar and Grill is the Popcorn Chicken Salad with avocado as an ingredient, not just an “add-on.”

People are talking about That Bar and Grill and for good reason. The owners have their plan and execution in working order. They care and take great pride in what they do — and it shows. They fly in piano talent from all over the country and don’t try to get the expenses back on the menu. They are the Sam and Diane of Danville and quite simply put, if you have not been there before then you really must find out what everybody is talking about. This isn’t a bar and grill…It’s “That Bar and Grill.”

Sciatic Pain Getting on Your Nerves?

Exploring Class IV Laser Pain Relief for Low Back Pain and Sciatica

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

Mindful Exercise is Essential for Success

Here are a few of the ways Koko encourages mindful exercise:

  • The Pace Bar- even I can’t explain exactly why, but the Koko pace bar is absolutely mesmerizing and we all try very hard to follow it. No more racing through reps. No more daydreaming. Following the pace bar results in optimal time under tension for your muscles, making the most out of every rep.
  • Koko Points– They are little rewards at the end of each Smartraining session or ways we compete with ourselves and others to stay motivated. Bottom line is, the more engaged you are in your workout, the more points you’ll earn. Maybe even 1000!
  • Smartraining Form Tips– Available for every exercise, every workout, with a reminder about how important the right form is to your results.
  • Michael Wood, CSCS– The awesome Boston baritone of our Chief Fitness Officer has coached Koko Nation through hundreds of thousands of hours of Koko Cardio workouts, and we can’t help but pay attention! (Even our Louisiana contingent has grown fond of his “Yankee” accent, haven’t you?) Shoulders back? Arms pumping? Abs in? Always positive, Michael keeps us thinking and encouraged.
  • No TVs– No need for the distraction. We are too busy following the pace bar and listening to Michael.
  • Variety– Every workout is different so you never go on fitness autopilot, repeating the same exercises over an over without a second thought.
  • FitCoaches– They make sure you feel welcome, supported, and well oriented. Most importantly, they are your BIGGEST cheerleaders!
  • Spa-like Atmosphere– There really is nothing worse that trying to exercise in a giant warehouse full of equipment, noise and REALLY LOUD MUSIC. And let’s not even talk about the smell. Koko FitClubs are intimate, attractive, quiet and clean. Perfect for mindfully reflecting on you and your workout.

All this is designed to help YOU get and STAY STRONG!

A Natural Diet Will Enhance the Quality of Your Life

Everyone has to eat. Since eating, unlike smoking and drinking, can’t be totally avoided, the key to good health is the choices that we make about what we eat and how we eat it.

The closer one can get in their choices of food to what we humans evolved with, the better. Some are referring to this as the “Caveman Diet”, or Paleo Diet. Throughout human existence, vegetables, berries, nuts, roots, eggs and wild animal meats were the basic foods that were available. When I first studied “Caveman Diet,” I was happy to see that there is evidence that the caveman also cooked his food. This “Caveman Diet” is readily available on the Internet, book stores and nutrition stores.

Needless to say, processed foods are not a part of the Caveman Diet. Studies by the Price-Pottenger Institute in the 1930’s found that natural native populations became ill when given “foods of commerce.” After a few weeks of eating these processed foods they craved them, almost like a narcotic. I have not eaten processed foods for years and, when I unknowingly do, I become ill.

The benefits of an ideal diet are so wonderful that, once you overcome the craving, you feel so much better that it is more than worth it. To go back to what those around you are eating loses its temptation. I no longer have to even think about my weight. For years I suffered from arthritis due to old athletic injuries. Now that I carefully eat only natural foods my arthritis no longer bothers me at all. Dr. Colon Dong wrote the book, “New Hope for the Arthritic” in the 70s. He used diet to control the blood alkalinity plus the elimination of some very irritating foods. By doing so, thousands of people found themselves free from arthritis symptoms as long as they were on his diet.

Natural foods are not always a free ride, which is where taking care comes in. The dangers of dairy products were well documented in Milk-The Deadly Poison written by Robert Cohen. The problem with gluten products (wheat, barley and rye) is that they have not been around long enough for humans to efficiently process the quantities of these grains that they eat. To make it worse, the processing of these grains into flour eliminates most of the fiber and nutrients available when gluten products are in their natural state. In archeology, the Egyptian farmers were found to be of smaller stature and suffering from diseases not commonly found in the hunter-gatherer Egyptians. The main staple of the farmers was wheat. Essentially, the Egyptian farmers were poisoning themselves.

Some say that even cancer can be avoided or controlled through proper nutrition. In 1931 Dr. Otto H. Warburg received the Nobel Prize for discovering that low blood oxygen and low blood alkalinity were major causes of cancer. Many alternative medical clinics are now treating cancer by applying techniques that treat these factors. Increasing the pH of the blood to the alkaline side using the bodies own, naturally occurring, bicarbonates causes the release of oxygen being held by the hemoglobin. This can be accomplished with diet and with proper breathing.

There is probably more misinformation on the subject of nutrition than there is information. Remember the food pyramid most of us public school alums had to memorize? Until recently the food pyramid created by the federal government gave us requirements for proper nutrition that included dairy and grains. We now know that was a mistake. They still lump fruits with vegetables when the experts feel strongly that fruits should be limited due to the high amount of sugar found in them. Vegetables, on the other hand, are fabulous nutrition, especially when eaten raw or barely cooked.

My suggestions to readers of this column is to take responsibility for your own well-being by studying nutrition online or by purchasing and reading a book or two on healthy natural eating. Jack LaLanne, for example, had a lot of good things to say about what to eat and how to eat it. Set aside some of your Google time to read what some of the learned men I have discussed earlier in the piece have to say about what you should eat and how you should eat it.

I won’t kid you; there will be short-term cravings when you transition from the typical American diet to the natural, sensible eating recommended here. Chances are you will live a longer and healthier life of a higher quality of life if you dedicate yourself to nutritional eating. Feel free to drop me an email if you need someone to talk to about your cravings or if you have questions about what you should or should not eat. It will be my pleasure to help you.

Robert Brown, DDS has a TMJ and sleep apnea practice in Danville and thoroughly enjoys discussing holistic medicine. You can contact him at 925-837-8048, at, or visit his web site at


Making the Most of a New School Year

Yes, the summer did fly by all too quickly, as it always seems to do. The lazy days are winding down and there is a different excitement in the air: a new school year ahead! Now is the time for back-to-school shopping, early morning wakeups and a slightly less carefree approach to life. But one doesn’t need to panic about this transition. Here are a few ideas from a teacher on how you can make the most of your child’s year in a new grade.

Setting routines: While it is difficult to make your child go to bed earlier or shower at night in preparation for the early morning wakeup calls, start now. The longer your child has to adapt to the new schedule, the easier the transition for you, him and his new teacher. Those first weeks of school are emotional enough for students with so much change and information to take in. Adding new routines at home can be overwhelming. This overload takes on many forms in school such as falling asleep during class, irritability and a short attention span. When a student comes in adjusted to the early wakeup, well fed and ready to go, the difference is apparent.

Meet the teacher and stay in touch: I am always so excited when parents introduce themselves and ask for my email address. It shows me they are proactive and want to stay in communication about their child. This action puts us on the same team and is a fabulous way to jump into a new year.

Take a tour of the school with your child: Even if your child has been going to the same school since kindergarten and is now in seventh grade, it is always comforting to take a tour. Follow their schedule for switching classes and find your child’s locker. If your child is at the elementary level, take a look around the new classroom, meet the teacher together and scope out the nearest bathrooms (that’s always helpful for the little ones). A welcome back visit to school gets the excitement and confidence flowing for the year ahead.

Volunteer in the classroom: With many parents both working full-time jobs and single parents juggling packed schedules, volunteering in the classroom is difficult these days. However, if it is at all possible for you to take time even once a month to help out with classroom activities, it’s a rewarding way to stay informed. You can observe your child’s social and academic development, discover what skills they are learning, and touch base with the teacher. But perhaps the best reason of all: it shows your child you care. While there are usually more opportunities to volunteer at the elementary level, upper grade teachers may need help with large projects or field trips, so be sure to inquire.

Instead of the summer’s end giving your family the blues, focus on all of the positive actions you can take to make this school year a success.

Estate Taxes: Only a Temporary Fix

It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that everyone was joking that the incredibly wealthy needed to pass away in 2010 so that they could avoid any estate tax. But in reality, the 2010 “no estate tax safe harbor” didn’t really have an impact on the vast majority of us. However, we were, in fact worried about what was on the other side of 2010. The 2011 estate tax scenario was staged to result in a reversion back to the old estate tax regime. This meant that the estate tax exemption would go back to the $1M per person exemption which also had a top estate tax rate of 55%. This posed significant potential estate tax problems for many individuals and couples.

Luckily, in the waning days of 2010, Congress passed a bill allowing for a generous $2.5M per person estate tax exemption with a top tax rate of 35%. This bill relieved a lot of worries but was only a temporary fix that kicked the problem down the road another two years. This temporary fix is scheduled to expire at the end of 2012 and we are now faced with the same problems that we had at the close of 2010. Many clients are concerned about how to prepare for this scenario.

It remains to be seen what Congress will do in the face of the current estate tax law, which sunsets in a couple of months. They can choose to extend the current law, let it expire, or come up with a new estate tax law. No one can say with any certainty what action Congress will take but it would be wise to speak with an estate planning attorney to understand how the potential changes in the estate tax law can impact your estate plan and what your options are to plan around it.

Beauty News Fall 2012 – Fall into Some Beautiful Changes

While some of us girls approach the search for fall’s latest and greatest trends with a carefree attitude and sense of glee, there are some who embrace the process with a bit of apprehension. This season is stylish-minimalism with the occasional flash of retro. Rewind to 1950s early 60’s and you will find a lot of similarities.

Some girls have no idea how to apply make-up nor do they have time to research what is new and updated. Others will go to department stores in search for assistance, only to either find there are too many choices and give up, or come out looking like an overly-made-up-diva-princess-starlet!

With any season of change it is important to know that you do not have to change your entire look to follow the trends. Some of the make-up trends don’t work for everyone. You have to find your own style that suits you. This is why you go to a professional make-up artist that has their eye on all the trends so they can update you personally. Sometimes it can be as simple as a new lip color or one new eye-shade. Keeping it classy is key.

Fall 2012 Runway News

It’s time to trade in your summer time bronzers and pink glosses and refocus. Fall showcases an adult elegance, refined to let one’s true beauty show through. Colors are in sheer matte neutral shades and contoured in the softest possible way; skin looks bathed in light, like it has been “retouched” to perfection. On eyes, simple luminous colors and exotic natural tones share the scene with the subtle hint of sparkle thrown in. Bold, extended eyeliner – a key trend – looks great with the season’s stylish minimalism.

Eyeshades that are velvety smooth to the touch will flatter the eyes. The new Vitamin-rich smoothing formula in eye shades from Fleur Visage, smooths lines and wrinkles for a years-younger look. Minimalism roars back in ways that are anything but boring. Matte shadows in oatmeal, chestnut and sand (Earth Tones) help create a more natural effect, uncomplicated and simple.

Cream gel eyeliners are a new technology. Fleur Visage’s innovative gel-cream eyeliners are infused with deep dramatic pigments. Ultra-long wearing defines eyes without smearing, smudging, or fading and is waterproof. These are great for this season’s dramatic, lined eyes. For a more natural effect, apply a fine line very close to the base of the eyelash and extend upward at the corner.

Real World LipTrends

New Transforming lipsticks are here! They come in ten gorgeous colors. This hardworking, age-defying lip treatment works deep undercover to hydrate and dramatically smooth lips. Breakthrough technology restores youthful appearance over time as it provides lustrous, extended wear color, comfort and cushion. These lipsticks provide the anti-aging benefits every woman wants. Fine lines and cracked, dry lips are history.

The Rouge offers the most up to date trends in cosmetics and accessories for each individual needs.They will customize and put together a cosmetic wardrobe that fits your own personality and needs. Updates start September 5 through October 30th.

Trivial Matters – September 2012

Just some random nonsense while we try to outlast the hot weather.

  1. Two actors received Oscars for playing the same fictional character two years apart. What were the movies, name of the character and the Oscar winning actors?
  2. Dick Williams was the manager of the World Champion A’s in 1972 and 1973. Who was their manager when they won again in 1974?
  3.  We will miss Andy Griffith. We loved him as the sheriff of Mayberry RFD. In what state was Mayberry located?
  4. A creaking door would announce the beginning of the radio show “The Inner Sanctum” each week. Who was the sinister fictional host of the show?
  5. Who were the two different Vice Presidential running mates of Adlai Stevenson in his unsuccessful runs for the White House in 1952 and 1956?
  6. Who composed the lovely song “Days of Wine and Roses” and who wrote the lyrics?


 August Answers

  1. Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward
  2.  Jimmy Davenport
  3. Irving Berlin
  4.  Carroll O’Connor
  5.  Newscaster
  6. “Hot Stove League”


The first person to email or mail, no calls please, the correct answers to all of the above questions will win a $25 gift certificate for Restaurante Forli in downtown Alamo, compliments of Ben Fernandez! Entries must be received by Sep. 20, 2012. In the event of a tie, the winner will be drawn at random. Please email your answers to, or mail to ALIVE East Bay, 3200 A Danville Blvd., Ste. 204, Alamo, CA 94507. Employees and family members of employees of ALIVE East Bay are not eligible. Restaurant may be changed without notice.