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PostHeaderIcon Around Town

PostHeaderIcon About One in Three Can Give Blood

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It is inspiring to know I can offer support where and when needed, even being able to provide a critically life-saving gift for up to three lives saved in a donation of a single pint of my blood.  That is why I want to give.  The reward for me is that there is virtually no cost, a short reclining pause in my day, amid a comfortable room filled with other like donors, ordinary people of a generous spirit, making a difference for someone in need.

Every 2 seconds someone in the U.S. needs a blood transfusion of some blood product.  This equals a requirement for 44,000 blood donations every day or 5 million donations a year.  To extend a life for a child with leukemia, someone with hemophilia or an accident victim, a voluntary donation can make a huge difference in a life or death situation.

The American Red Cross, established in 1940, serves as the agency to accept only volunteer donors who are not paid for their benevolent gifts of donating blood.  The safe, sterile and confidential procedure includes a check of vital signs, temperature, pulse, blood pressure and finger-stick hemoglobin value.  All blood is tested for HIV, Hepatitis B and C, Syphilis and other infectious diseases before being used. 

Only 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to give blood, and of those 50% are loyal, repeat donors.  The gender of donors is almost equally divided at 50/50 for men and women.
Not all donations needed after natural disasters and crisis events involve a monetary gift, but even more precious in some situations is the gift of life-saving blood, given voluntarily. 

The plus side is that healthy bone marrow in a blood donor makes a constant supply of red blood cells, plasma and platelets, thus the body replenishes the elements given during the donation procedure within a short time.  The safe interval between donations is generally 56 days and future appointments may be scheduled at the time of your donation.
The requirements for donating include:  being healthy, no sickness or fever;  age: 16-76 years old;  weight minimum:  110 pounds.  A donor must be well-hydrated with a healthy iron level, a hemoglobin of at least 12 grams and carry an appropriate ID card.

Why do I want to donate blood?  Knowing it is the right thing to do, I want to help others who might be in need.  The feeling of accomplishment is shared with other donors as we join at tables in the hospitality area after our donations to enjoy complimentary snacks and beverages before saying good-bye to the friendly and helpful Red Cross staff.

Helen Keller inspired others in remarking “When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.”    
Walk-ins are welcome and appointments may be made by calling:  1 800 733-2767.  Locations are listed at 1 800 RED-CROSS and at www.redcross.org-- KRB

Karen Balch is a retired nurse, avid traveler, community volunteer and freelance writer. Reach her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Last Updated (Wednesday, 30 January 2013 00:05)


PostHeaderIcon Resolve to Get Fit with Gumsaba Boot Camp

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That looming…RESOLUTION.

Each new year, millions of us commit to some form of healthier living, whether it be an exercise program, weight loss or eating fewer sweets.

Sound familiar?

All good intentions aside, let’s be realistic. Do we really know what we want, and what exactly we are willing to sacrifice to keep our New Year's resolutions?

Many of us lose the battle of ditching our old habits year after year.

Why on earth would we think we might simply undo years of bad habits with one simple promise?

Gumsaba is here to help. We have womens, mens, co-ed and teen boot camps for a variety of fitness levels. You won't have to go it alone. We can help you reach your goals.

The first thing you must realize is that understanding the goal is the key to accomplishing it. If the goal is too big it may overshadow you.  The good intention of “running every day before dawn” might just become something we curse while hitting the snooze button each morning. If the goal is too broad, it’s all too easy to rationalize our “cheating” behavior. So where is the happy medium? What is the formula for success?

 Let’s get SMARTER.

Increase your success by paying attention to details of your life-changing commitment.

Make your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time bound, Educated and Recorded. Spend some time on it, you only get one life, and so many years to live it.  

Start your journal and write your name, the date and your SMART goal on the first page. Then, write a short term goal each month as you go. A great first short-term goal is to commit to tracking your progress daily in your journal! Make sure you reward yourself when you achieve each of your goals. Get a massage, a pedicure, whatever it is, do something nice for yourself.

Get started on your goals by working back from what you want. What do you want to have accomplished on 1/1/2014? Why do you want to accomplish your goal? The reason has to be more powerful than any excuse you have along the way.

Here is an example of a SMART GOAL:
“I want to lose 1-2 pounds every month this year, and I am going to reward myself with a massage each month if I accomplish it. To make it happen, I will commit to 200-300 minutes of light to moderate exercise per week. I am willing to sacrifice 1 hour of TV 4-6 days per week for my exercise program!”

Now, it's time to declare your goal. Studies show that when we put it out there we are more likely to stick to it. State your goals to those you need support from, tell your family, friends and co-workers. Post it on Facebook. Tweet it out. Write it on your hand if you have to.

Any goals you set can and will be amended as you go, but stick to the SMARTER RULE stated above. Good luck and don't fear failure, just take your goal one day at a time and adjust accordingly.

At Gumsaba Boot Camp we help each other achieve our lifestyle goals with the support of a like-minded, healthy community. Gumsaba was voted best Boot Camp in the East Bay by Diablo Magazine readers in 2012; we welcome you to try a free week. Gumsaba offers womens, mens, co-ed and teen boot camps for a variety of fitness levels. We can help you find the joy in your health and fitness so it becomes a part of your life, for life.

Classes are outdoors, rain or shine (with cover), and held every day but Sunday in Danville, Alamo/Walnut Creek and Moraga. Contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit our website http://www.gumsaba.com to sign up for your free week! Use promo code NOBLUES for your free week.-- MB


Last Updated (Friday, 28 December 2012 22:27)


PostHeaderIcon Spider On the Step: A Moving Tale

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A "Spider on the Step" was inspired by stories Gina Gotsill’s father told her about the pet tarantula he had growing up in South America.

"Peludo" or “hairy” in English, was her father's sidekick and accompanied him on many adventures.

Through the stories, Gotsill, an East Bay writer, grew up to love spiders, particularly tarantulas, and see them as gentle and harmless.

About  four years ago, Gotsill wrote a book about a young girl who finds a mysterious spider in a box on her front step with a note written in Spanish that she must translate. In the process, the girl discovers a new language and the truth about her new pet. She and her husband, designer Chris Gotsill, decided to create an ebook about the tale.

But the duo needed illustrations to accompany the story. Over last summer, the couple reached out to friends and family of children under 12. The response was enthusiastic and soon the Gotsills were delivering crayons, markers and paper to all the would-be artists, ages 6 to 11.

“I'm not an artist, but I remember how much I loved receiving brand new art supplies when I was a child. I think every kid is an artist -- I am always delighted by what children come up with when given an opportunity to be creative,’’ said Gotsill, who is also the author of   "Surviving the Baby Boomer Exodus: Capturing Knowledge for Gen X and Y Employees” with Ken Ball.

In addition, each child was paid for the drawings. “I really wanted all the kids to know I valued their time and effort and I thought one way to express that would be to give them brand new supplies,'' she said.

What came back to the couple were drawings from five children. Gina also did two illustrations herself. “I just couldn't resist. I guess I'm still a kid, too,’’ she said.

The book was published on Kindle and is available online. And you may have not heard the last from “Peloo,” as the spider is called.  “I've thought about doing more stories about Peloo,’’ she said. “Peloo Goes to Washington... Peloo Goes Home (to South America). One theme is emerging: Peloo is a little rambler.”  --KJB

Last Updated (Sunday, 16 December 2012 19:40)


PostHeaderIcon Nearly Two-ton Pumpkin Wins at Half Moon Bay

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Superstar grower Thad Starr, a 45-year old stay-at-home dad from Pleasant Hill, OR, cemented his growing legend by setting a new California State record with his 1,775-pound Atlantic Giant that dominated Monday's 39th Annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off on a picture-perfect morning in Half Moon Bay.

This was Starr’s third win at Half Moon Bay. “Among growers, Half Moon Bay is looked at as the Super Bowl of weigh-offs,” said Starr. “Honestly, the bragging rights probably mean more than the prize money. Plus, Half Moon Bay's Green Jacket’s pretty cool,” said Starr with his wife and two children by his side following the win.

He obliterated the formidable field of 50 heavyweight growers to take home $10,650 ($6 per pound), Half Moon Bay’s coveted “Grand Champion Green Jacket” and a “starring role” in this weekend’s Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival where his gargantuan gourd will be on display along with the top five overall from the weigh-off.

Starr’s grand champion mega-gourd will be displayed at the world-famous Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival, this weekend (Oct. 13-14 –– Saturday and Sunday) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Main Street in Half Moon Bay, California.

The Half Moon Bay Pumpkin festival began in 1971 with an all volunteer non profit group determined to raise funds to improve Main Street in downtown Half Moon Bay. 

For information on the festival, call 650-726-9652 or visit www.miramarevents.com--- KB


Last Updated (Tuesday, 09 October 2012 22:48)


PostHeaderIcon Vanity Party to Help Campers

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Danville-based Dr. Jerome Potozkin, a dermatologist who offers facial renjuventation, liposuction prodedures and dematolgical care and more, is holding a Vanity Party benefiting The Taylor Family Foundation.

The event is Thursday, Sept. 27 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  at his office at 600 San Ramon Valley Blvd. Suite 102 in Danville.

This year’s Vanity Party will help fund The Tyalor Family Foundation's mission to preserve the wellness and enhance the quality of life for children in Northern California living with life-threatening and chronic illnesses, developmental disabilities and youth at-risk through unique therapeutic experiences and support. 

The foundation holds more than 20 summer and weekend camp sessions at Camp Arroyo, like the one in the picture to the left, for children living with HIV/AIDS, skin and heart disease, colitis, diabetes, brain tumors, autism and other chronic and critical illnesses. To date, the foundation has provided more than 40,000 children with what is sadly often a once-in-a-lifetime camp experience at no cost to their families.

This isn’t the first time that Potozkin has donated time and services to help fund a worthwhile cause. In 2005, his practice held a similar party that raised $18,000 for Hurricane Katrina victims. In 2007, STAND against Domestic Violence was the recipient of more than $25,000 in donations.

Vanity Party guests should R.S.V.P.  by calling  925.838.4900. Only appointments for cosmetic injectables, including Botox®, Restylane®, Juvederm®, Dysport® and Sculptra® , will be available the day of the Vanity Party. Checks for services should be made out to The Taylor Family Foundation. New patients are welcome. Appointments are available for both women and men.

For more information on his practice, visit www.mybeautymd.com. -KB




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