No More GIGO, Please!

Garbage in, garbage out. I believe the term originated in reference to computer programming; the idea being that the quality of the any result is directly related to what you start with. (Another colorful expression that certainly pre-dates GIGO—one that my high school algebra teacher loved to say—is, “you can’t get a silk purse out of a sow’s ear!”)

So let me ask you. Where are you getting your information? Is it coming from that highly-produced, market-driven TV news? While some media companies work a little harder than others in at least attempting to be unbiased, it’s pretty obvious that most broadcast and cable TV networks lean one way or the other, with the majority of their programming reflective of a point of view skewed in only one direction. CNN, pretty much left. Fox, right. MSNBC, again, left.

And then there is the problem of timing and access. What if you are ready for a little “brain food” right now? Is your cable or radio station going to deliver what you want, when and where you want it?484541353

Even if you find a station that you like, have you “had it up to here” with what seems like enormous time-blocks of commercials? I think it’s something like nine minutes of advertising for every five of content. At least it seems that way.

Wouldn’t it be a pleasure to find a place where you could access information and commentary based upon your own criteria—either by the personality that you want to hear, or the subject matter that you are most interested in? A place where the content is original, and virtually unpolluted by commercial interruptions?

I have found an answer—with The Talk Pod, you can say “goodbye” to those canned, repetitive radio and TV broadcasts that give you so little of what you want (and too much of what you don’t want).

Talent-wise, this new site is packed to the rafters with the best of the best in their fields, covering everything from politics and sports, to entertainment, wine and weather… and everything in between.

The names are familiar, certainly to anyone in Northern California, if not to the entire country; Barbara Simpson, John Rothmann, Lloyd Lindsey Young, Bill Wattenburg, Stan Burford, Ed Baxter, Rosie Allen, Ken Dito, Joe Starkey, Malou Nubla, Elizabeth Kate, and the guys from “Flick Nation; Steve Wagner, Dennis Willis and Steven Kirk.

So long “GIGO.” Hello The Talk Pod.

Are Your Daily HABITS Serving or Sabotaging You?

Did you know that inspiration can get you started— but HABITS keep you going? Author Jim Rohn’s motivational philosophy reminds us that discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments. For this reason, he might ask us: “Who’s in charge of your life—do you run the day or does the day run you?” 179286030

Unfortunately, a lot of us probably feel that the days (and the needs of others) continually run us. And, let’s face it; we live in an intense time where stressful demands often come at us from multiple directions: kids, aging parents, spouses, clients, bosses….

So, when you think about your daily HABITS, would you say that they are serving or sabotaging your health and wellbeing? For example, when you feel stressed, how do you respond? Do you have a HABIT of reaching for any of these?

a) Salty, crunchy, deep-fried snacks
b) Excessive sweets (notice that “desserts” is “stressed” spelled backwards)
c) Another glass of wine
d) A cigarette
e) All of the above

Now, since stress is a normal part of life, it can be helpful to develop healthy HABITS that include using “self-care tools” to navigate our responses to the twists and turns of our days. Changing deeply ingrained HABITS is no small order; however, self-hypnosis, is one “practical tool” that I personally would find difficult to get along without.
In fact, when I’m unable to sleep, one of my most effective relaxation techniques is practicing self-hypnosis. I teach many of my clients how to use self-hypnosis to overcome insomnia and get a good night’s sleep.

Now, let’s be honest—when many of you hear the term “hypnosis,” you probably think about the eerie mind-control scenarios from Hollywood’s depictions. Or, if you’ve seen stage hypnosis, then you picture a guy with a pendulum telling you to quack like a duck. So let me share with you that stage hypnosis is for entertainment, whereas hypnotherapy is a powerful tool…for positive transformation.

What is Hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is a way to relax and calm your mind, body, and emotions in order to enter a focused state where challenges and unhealthy HABITS can be explored. Because the imagination is activated, hypnotherapy is sometimes called “guided imagery.”

Hypnotherapy addresses unhealthy HABITS at a deep, unconscious level—below the surface—to explore issues from the inside out. And just so you know, many of my clients, after completing their first hypnotherapy sessions, express surprise at how inspiring their hypnotherapy experiences were (often with a grateful tear in their eye).

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

For example, when clients come to see me with a goal to lower their stress levels, they are often receptive to these positive suggestions:

 I prioritize daily tasks and enthusiastically accomplish them one by one
 I feel satisfied after completing each task (and I offer myself positive strokes)
 I know that I am capable of reaching my goals (one step at a time)
 I eat healthy meals slowly and mindfully
 I enjoy moving and exercising—and it feels great!
 I take quality time for myself each day

So, if it feels right, call me and consider adding self-hypnosis to your “self-care toolkit.” Then, you can begin creating daily HABITS that serve—rather than sabotage—your success.

Finally, keep in mind that growing healthy HABITS is like gardening. First, we patiently remove the unwanted weeds. Next, we consistently water each desired seed. Then, before we know it, we find ourselves standing in the center…of a rich and colorful life!

Don’t Miss Trina’s Upcoming Workshops:

1) “The ZEN of Sketching,” for details go to and click on “Private Sessions & Workshops.” Join us for this CREATIVE FUN!

2) Save the Date: Workshop for women and men—Managing Emotional and Compulsive Eating—at John Muir Women’s Health Center in Walnut Creek: Thursday, Oct 16, 6:30-8:30 pm. Cost: $40 (Includes Weight Loss: 2-CD set). Seats are limited—register today for this inspiring workshop: (925) 941-7900 option 3.

Trina Swerdlow, BFA, CCHT, is a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, an artist, and the author of Stress Reduction Journal. She currently has a private practice in downtown Danville. Trina passionately supports her clients in reaching their goals. You can reach her at: (925) 285.5759, or

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

Back To School Beauty 2014

A new school year means a new you, but who has time for a mini makeover before class? Try these simple and easy beauty tips to totally switch up your look in 60 seconds or less!

Fabulous Eyes:

We all know eyeliner is the secret to instantly playing up the eyes, but who says it always has to be black or brown? Try using a rich navy to spice things up with an added new trendy twist.

Flirt Alert:

Switching up your lip color is an easy way to transition your summer beauty look into fall. This season soft nude peach tones, is the new pink. So trade in your rosy-hued pink gloss for a subtle natural gold coral shade.

Brighten Up:

Waking up for school can be rough. Fake a fresh-faced look even if you’ve been up all night cramming for a test by using a shimmery pink blush on your cheekbones. This is a quick way to get a natural girly glow without looking made-up. Make sure to smile so you can locate the apples of your cheeks, then apply the shimmer in an upward slant. It’s a great pick-me-up for the girl on the go!

One Hot Minute:

Tired of reapplying your lip-gloss after every class? Try out a fun new lip liner in a nude, berry, or soft peach and you’ll be well on your way to the perfect, long-lasting pout! Lip liners can last hours, while glosses can fade after eating and drinking. To apply: line and fill in your lips then simply add gloss.

Brows a-go-go:

When making up your eyes, look beyond just your lids and lashes. Eyebrows are actually the feature that frames your whole face, and with a little grooming it can go an extra-long way! If your brows are on the lighter or thinner side, try filling them in with a waterproof eyebrow pencil that’s a complimentary shade to your brow color. For blondes we usually suggest a taupe color, slightly lighter than your brows. For darker hair you’ll want to use a medium taupe color. You’ll be surprised at what a world of difference this quick trick makes, especially when taking selfies!!

You can also make an eyebrow appointment at The Rouge to update your brows perfectly and expertly before starting school. We are pros at brow shaping. We look at the shape of your face and wax and groom your eyebrows to work perfectly with your own individual face shape, and of course they keep your look extremely trendy and updated.

At The Rouge we offer make-up lessons for all ages and they are experts at eyebrow shaping. Whether you’re going to a new school, or just need a change, we will provide you with the most up-to-date trends of the season. We offer lessons Tuesday through Saturday for your convenience. Make it a great year and look your best, enjoy your beauty confidence and put your best features forward. You-go-girl!!

I Now Pronounce You…

I Now Pronounce you Rachael Ray’s cousin on her father’s side twice removed…

As a newly married woman, part of one of my many duties is to be the chef of our home. Now, even though I don’t mind this position it can be extremely demanding, and that’s something I just wasn’t ready for. Growing up I never cooked anything. My mom was like Gina Neely, my grandmother was like Paula Dean (pre-scandal), and my mom’s sister (my aunt/godmother) was the authentic Betty Crocker in the family, so I was pretty much covered when it came to food. My entire family probably could have been food network stars, so naturally when I married my husband he thought he was getting Rachael Ray. Here’s the problem with that… I knew how to cook, I just never tried it and of course I wasn’t going to tell him that. I never thought I would have to cook for a man who claimed all he needed was sandwiches and cereal, but just like anchovies on a pizza…I was wrong!

Thank God for my secret weapons, Pinterest and Fresh and Easy Grocery stores, because the two of them together for me was like cooking for dummies. So I have been using my aides to get me through these past few months of new-wife hood, but something went grossly wrong last week with the stuffed chicken I made. One more incident like that and I won’t be able to keep my Rachael Ray facade up for much longer. I mean my husband is bound to start figuring things out.

I can’t really explain why none of my first time meals (which is pretty much all of them) have never gone wrong before last week, but they just haven’t. So of course, like most prodigies my head got sort of big. The bigger my head got the more my husband expected. So at this point I’ve surpassed Rachael Ray in my mind and I’m feeling more like Bree Va De Kamp from ABC’s Desperate Housewives... that is until he told his father that I’m cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year and to bring the whole family. All I remember from that point on was lying on the floor as he was bent over me pressing a cold towel to my forehead and asking if I was okay. I couldn’t believe it; he had unintentionally unknowingly told the biggest lie ever to my in-laws, and it was all my fault. When I told Karma that she skipped some people I never mentioned my own name. This just can’t be happening! I just figured out how to fry chicken for goodness sake, now I’ve got to prepare a whole turkey?

Lesson one from this whole debacle: never forget what level of chef you really are. Just because a few meals turn out fantastic doesn’t mean you’ve skipped levels from novice to intermediate.

Lesson two: never believe what your husband says pre-marriage about what your duties as his wife will be. Just don’t believe the hype. He’s lying to you and the poor guy might not even know it.

Last, but not least Lesson three: find a support group where you can tell the truth and be yourself.

I have chosen you, our ALIVE readers to be my support group. So, now I’m not ashamed to say, “My name is Kristina I’m a recovering cooking con-artist. I’ve been clean for almost a week now (mostly because we’ve been eating takeout), but I’m here to declare that I may not be Rachael Ray, but through Pinterest and Fresh and Easy Grocery stores I’m like Rachel Ray’s cousin on her father’s side twice removed, and for this week I’m okay with that. Just don’t tell my husband.


Beyond the Fitting Room

Protecting the planet and looking chic are not exclusive endeavors. As women are becoming increasingly aware of their carbon footprint and animal cruelty, eco-friendly fashion is a trend that’s here to stay.
Here are some ways you can contribute to the environment and be super-stylish, too:

1. Shop at consignment shops. By purchasing pre-loved clothing, you can rescue good quality merchandise from landfills or being shipped overseas. You also have more options than regular retail shops because resale shops have a wider variety of styles. You’ll also find good quality garments—as opposed to “fast fashion” retailers like H&M and Forever 21—and you can extend the life of a treasure!AW14 Myrrhia Hi Neck Cardi- Brown

2. “Living with Less.” This philosophy, embraced by many Americans, results in the downsizing of homes and reduction of wardrobes, creating a less stressful lifestyle. Donating business attire that you no longer wear to organizations like Wardrobe for Opportunity ( will ensure that that your “power suit” is passed on to someone who needs a fresh start in life.

3. Save the animals, ditch the leather. Wearing faux-leather, or what we used to call “pleather” (plastic + leather) is no longer considered tacky. A vegan leather jacket uses synthetic materials sourced from petroleum, and is both cruelty-free to animals and costs less than real leather. And that’s cool. vegan hive-honey-colorblock-varsity

4. Host a clothing swap! Trading gently used clothing with girlfriends is the best way to ensure that the pieces you’ve “worn and loved” will have a good life with someone new. Chances are, more than one friend has been eyeballing that cocktail dress of yours for years. As Elsa sings in the movie, Frozen… “Let it go!”PraireUnderground_Fall2014_Figure_1025-Final-High

5. Recycle your clothes. Retailers like Puma, Levi’s, Gap, Patagonia and The North Face offer discounts or other perks. Inquire at local locations for event information.

Be well. Dress well.

For style tips and trends, read Carolyn’s blog at or follow her on Facebook (C2 style) and Twitter (shopwithC2style).




He Said/She Said with Robin and Shawn

Dear SSHS,

My boyfriend and I recently became engaged and are getting married in the fall. We love each other very much and agree on most everything except finances. We both have great jobs, but he’s a saver and I’m a spender. He complains about my shopping sprees, and I say he’s too frugal. Neither of us wants to change our ways, so how can we find common ground for the sake of our relationship?– Sophie L., Pleasanton462098043

She Said: Finances are one of the leading causes of trouble in a marriage, so good thing you’re catching this early. I highly recommend keeping your finances separate, splitting all bills evenly, and agreeing to a joint savings account where you each contribute a set amount each month. Treat that savings like another bill. Your fiancé can have his own savings account wherein he can place his money for that rainy day he’s worried about. But remember, don’t go crying to him if you come up short one month due to overspending. I Told You So is such an ugly phrase.

He Said: This definitely needs to be resolved before you tie the knot for the sake of the relationship. I suggest a long term financial spending plan that you both agree on and stick to for the long haul. Robin’s right, you should definitely share the cost of the necessities and splurge only after you’ve done your part, otherwise, your frugal fiancé may see you as a gold digger rather than a partner. You can’t expect your fiancé to put a roof over your head and food on the table while you line the walls of your closet with designer labels.

 Dear HSSS,
My husband “John” and I are new parents of a 3-month-old baby boy. John has moved into the guest bedroom, saying he needs his eight hours of sleep and refuses to help when the baby awakens in the middle of the night. He’s a great husband, but not the best dad so far. How can I get him to pitch in more?– Sleepless in Dublin

He Said: This is a very common situation that newborn mothers deal with. You’re married but feel like a single parent when it comes to your newborn. On the flip side, I hear a lot of fathers complain there isn’t much they can do with the baby in the middle of the night since they aren’t the ones breast feeding. Remember, the mother-baby bond is so much stronger at this stage than the father’s so often only a mother’s embrace will calm a crying newborn. Successful marriages are all about give and take so if your husband wants his full night’s sleep, ask that he step it up a notch and cook and clean more often, or give you a hand with your other duties since you now have the most time consuming and important job of all – MOM.

She Said: There are many things we don’t know about your situation, for example, are you nursing, back to work yet, etc. I’ll throw out some tips and you decide which ones apply. 1) Put the baby monitor in dad’s room. When the baby awakens, Dad can get up, bring the baby to you, and go back to bed. If Baby falls asleep with you, no big deal. 2) On weekends, nighttime duty is shared, or maybe you’re even given a break. Have a bottle ready in the fridge for Dad to manage easily. 3) During the day, you sleep when Baby sleeps and nobody should be expecting dinner on the table or a clean house if you’re alone on night duty. Keep in mind, having a new baby is wonderful but hugely stressful. Every baby stage is temporary, so don’t get locked into thinking this is the way it’ll always be. Just when you get this worked out, there’ll be something new to deal with.HeSaidSheSaidgraphic

Robin Fahr and Shawn “Shizzo” Alikian host Conversations and He Said/She Said seen daily on Tri-Valley TV, Channel 30. Send your questions to


Who is Saving Water?

If you have ever wondered why some Northern Californians want to break up the Golden state, take a look at the latest water conservation studies. I don’t know if the idea of breaking California into six states makes sense, but two…most probably yes.

The main issue would have to be water. Water is central to our very existence. It is central to growing food and to our economy as a whole. In this time when water officials are putting in draconian regulations of fines (up to $500!) for some water running into the streets and wanting us to let our landscaping die, pee sit in toilets, not shower as much and still raise rates, look at who is saving water and who isn’t. Tap Icon

The Central Valley is saving water 10% to 13% and it has cost the state $2.2 billion in lost farm production. 5% of the state’s farmland is being pushed out of production. The Central Coast is saving 10%…the North Coast, which gets the most rain, is saving 12%. The Bay Area is saving 5%. The North State is shipping water south to LA and San Diego, water usage is up…again…to 8%.

The South State’s only water supply is shipped from the east and north, yet it is using more water with clear knowledge that there is a drought.

If I sound angry… I am. The name of this commentary is Making Sense, but I’m not going to even try to address both sides here, because there aren’t two sides.

The south gets its water from the north and wastes it, doesn’t cut back and expects more, while state water officials want to turn neighbor against neighbor, snitching to authorities. I’m surprised they haven’t put a bounty out…a reward for those who snitch on somebody who is watering his or her lawn.

It was like this in the seventies when I first moved to Northern California from Southern California where I was raised. We didn’t give a damn about water when I was growing up and they still don’t down there. Since the 1970’s when the state knew there was going to be a severe problem, it hasn’t done squat. It has built a couple of water storage facilities to hold water to appease critics, but it still continues to flush water into the ocean in wet years and cry bloody murder in dry years. The governor’s idea of a “fix” is to send more water south.

This whole situation is ridiculous. I saw one analysis that said Southern Californians don’t understand the situation because they live so far away from the water supply. Well they had better start understanding. We in the north do understand and it may be why the state should be split in two. Six, maybe not so much, but a split in two deserves a serious discussion.

It would be nice if the water genie could just pop some water on us, but that’s not going to happen. To say that the state of California isn’t conserving water is only true because of one part of the state, the south. History pretty much tells us it’s not going to learn the conservation message until it is cut off. Make sense?

Ed Baxter can be heard along with over a dozen spoken word personalities at

2014 Ford Explorer: Explore This!

I love camping and have been setting up tents amongst the trees for the past 30 years, translating into three decades of collecting the camping essentials in neatly-packaged containers of the must-haves and might-needs. I must admit, when I started my wilderness adventures, I was less refined and my “required” necessities list was more simplified. I also could manage to load all of my camping gear in the trunk of my 1966 Ford Mustang. Well, times have changed. Space is the place and I need plenty of it when I begin to load up a vehicle to hit the trail.

Over the fourth of July, my wife and I were fortunate enough to acquire a 2014 Ford Explorer 4WD loaner from Livermore Ford-Lincoln located at 2266 Kittyhawk Rd in Livermore. Our Explorer was loaded with tech features and the power to take us wherever we needed to go. And yes, it also had plenty of room with 43.8 cu. ft. of cargo space behind the second row of seats or 80.7 cu. ft. with the second row seats folded down. We laid the seats down, loaded it up and hit the road. I spent over eight hours total behind the wheel and felt as if I were sitting in the comfort of my favorite recliner.2014 Ford Explorer

The Ford Explorer had held the title of being the best-selling SUV in North America due to its rugged reputation. As demands from SUV buyers changed, the desire to have truck-base sport utilities began to waver for the more vehicle-like feel of the crossover vehicles. After some debate, Ford recreated the Explorer a couple of years ago on its D3 architecture, morphing it into the popular crossover category that over-took the SUV market. Does it work? Boy does it!

The 2014 Explorer is available in four trim levels and in 2-wheel/FWD drive and 4-wheel drive: Base FWD ($30,015), Base 4WD ($32,015), XLT FWD ($32,900), XLT 4WD ($34,900), Limited FWD ($38,100), Limited 4WD ($40,100), and Sport 4WD ($41,675).

The 2014 Ford Explorer, in my opinion, is the best looking Explorer and SUV/crossover out there. It rides on a modified unibody platform shared with the Taurus and Flex that delivers a smooth and confident ride. The exterior styling is muscular and intelligent with hints of Land Rover design cues. The clamshell hood has wide-spaced Explorer lettering and flows into one of the best-looking Ford grilles. The front headlamps are positioned next to the grille and bleed in the front fenders in a tiered fashion upward and backward. It almost looks cat-eye like.Dominating softer surfaces along the side bodylines blend into masculine shoulders. The entire profile looks refined and sculptured. The Limited and Sport enhances its image with 20-inch wheels up from 17-in (Base) and 18-in XLT.

The cabin of the Explorer features space for seven passengers with its three rows of seating. The third row is suited best for children. All trim levels except for the base model come standard with SYNC, Ford’s Bluetooth-based system that allows users to command the Explorer to make, change, or request operations including setting a radio station or the cabin temperature. MyFord Touch replaces the conventional radio knobs with an eight-inch touchscreen.2014 Ford Explorer

Ford offers two engine options on the 2014 Explorer. The standard engine is a 3.5-liter V6 that generates 290 horsepower and 255 lb-ft. of torque. The V6 features direct injection and twin independent variable camshaft timing that Ford claims boost the fuel economy by around 20 percent. The FWD earns 18/25 mpg and the 4WD gets 17/23 mpg. The second optional engine is the EcoBoost 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that delivers 237 horsepower and 250 lb-ft. of torque. The 4-cylinder produces 20/28 and is only available in front-wheel-drive. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

Cool Features:

• Second-row Heated Seats (standard on the Limited)
• Adaptive Cruise Control (optional)

Safety on the 2014 Ford Explorer comes standard with AdvanceTrac® with RSC® (Roll Stability Control™), Safety Canopy® System side air curtain technology for all three rows, dual-stage airbags for driver and front passenger, tire pressure monitoring system, SOS Post-Crash Alert System™, MyKey® programmable vehicle key allows parental controls on driving speed, and SecuriCode™ keypad entry system. Available second-row inflatable belts offer improved comfort and protection for passengers.

In Summary

The 2014 Ford Explorer manages to fit in both the off-road and Broadway play roadhouses. In other words, the Explorer is the sophisticated interpretation of the SUV with both grit and bling. Beautiful and bold on the outside, soft-touch and high quality materials with high-tech features on the inside. Teamed up with efficient and powerful motors and tight suspension makes the 2014 Ford Explorer an excellent choice. I want to give a special thanks to Sara Schleske, Marketing Manager, at Livermore Ford Lincoln, for her assistance with our test drive.

2014 Ford Explorer XLT 4WD

Base price: $34,900 as driven: $42,020 (including destination & optional
Engine: 3.5-liter V6
Horsepower: 290 @ 6,500 RPM
Torque: 255 @ 4,000 RPM
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive: 4WD Drive
Seating: 7-passenger
Turning circle: 39.2 feet (FWD) 38.9 feet (4WD)
Cargo space: 43.8 cubic feet
Curb weight: 4,503 pounds
Fuel capacity: 18.6 gallons
EPA mileage: City17/Hwy 23
Wheel Base: 112.6 inches
Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles powertrain limited
Also consider: Chevrolet Traverse, Dodge Durango, Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9  and Toyota Highlander



Brass Bear Delicatessen

I am almost ashamed of myself… almost. Why you ask? Because this column should have been written well over a year ago. I pine over where I want to bring you every month. How can I use 650 words to allow you get to know me a little better than you did last month? We may never meet in person, but I consider us to be forming a very real, if not very one-sided, relationship. I love introducing parts of myself, which very few get to know, through the places I like to frequent, eat, celebrate, see and be seen. How then, in the name of all that is holy, could I only now be getting to Brass Bear Delicatessen in Alamo?

First, a couple of qualifiers. I will only refer to Brass Bear Delicatessen in long form. On occasion, around the house, I may be overheard yelling, “Let’s go to Brass Bear,” but that brevity does not follow me into public. Brass Bear Delicatessen earned its full name rights. Secondly, I am writing about my long time affair with the Alamo location. They opened a second in Walnut Creek, and I hear it is just as wonderful (why wouldn’t it be) but my frame of mind is, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Alamo is my home.

Let’s reminisce… Back in the time of dinosaurs and gas lamps, I was the assistant manager at Blockbuster Video (six- time Gold WOW Pin decorated). Tuesday mornings were my favorite shift. Yes, Tuesdays in the vid biz were “new release day,” but that’s not it. Tuesdays were one of very few opening shifts for me. I would sit at the manager’s desk doing the morning paperwork with one eye on the FOS Report and one eagerly waiting for the bright yellow Colombo Bread truck. As soon as (I think his name was Dan) would pull up, I was off. I would always ask what Sheida’s soup of the day was, but it didn’t matter. I was getting a quart and a fresh sourdough roll, and I would retreat back to my desk with no other thought in the world except the heaven I was headed to.

Mehran and Sheida Hamzeh have owned and operated Brass Bear Delicatessen since 1980. I haven’t done anything, except breathe, for 34 years straight, and not even all that well at times. They are like family to me. Their son and my brother were friends in school, and of course my Blockbuster days. Mehran still asks how my brother is whenever I see him. His wife asks after my kids now, and they both make you feel known just by their smile. This is our last stop before the ballpark every opening day for the A’s.

Their food is amazing because they care. Seriously, this makes a huge difference. They still make all of their salads by hand, daily. They make the soup at home. Slice their own meat and cheeses. Shred (not cut) the lettuce. Roll their own dolmas. They show up every day. They support Monte Vista (my alma mater) and reward a few students with the coveted counter job. They don’t try to be something they’re not. They decorate with hanging salami and teddy bears, because they can.

The name of this article is “I’ll have what he’s having,” and to truly live up to that standard, you must be having Brass Bear Delicatessen. It is so much more than a place to get a sandwich. It’s where you are reminded of the community that we are lucky enough to be a part of. My apologies to for not getting to this article sooner. I will double my visits to Alamo Plaza to teach myself a valuable lesson.
190 E Alamo Plaza, Alamo, CA 925-820-4798

Just Another Joe

OK. OK. I did it for Jack and did it for Tom. Now, Joe is asking for equal time. Everybody knows several Joes, which is not necessarily a good thing. But, what the heck. Let’s give him his due.

1. Who played Jedediah Leland, Kane’s former best friend, in “Citizen Kane?”

2. Ella Fitzgerald sang a song about a famous ballplayer in the early forties stating “we want you on our side.” Who was she singing about?

3. Ethel Waters sang a plaintive tune in the show “Cabin in the Sky” about her lay about, lovable husband. What was the song?

4. He was the information director and propagandist for the Third Reich. Who was he?

5. Bill Mazeroski is the only other hitter to end a World Series with a home run. Who ended the 1993 Series with a tater and for what team?

6. He caught for the 1946 World Series Champ St. Louis Cardinals, then went on to a 50 year career as a broadcaster of Major League games. Who was he?