Gardening for Mind and Body | Print |  E-mail
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Wednesday, 20 June 2012 10:40

By Mark Underwood

It’s long been known that gardening is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and connect with nature in a tranquil environment. Just taking a walk in a garden can help improve your mood. This is why gardens are often an integral part of retirement living communities – so older adults can easily interact with the ever-evolving landscape as the seasons change.

Gardens can keep you grounded, quite literally by forcing you to slow down and smell the roses. When you are doing repetitive garden tasks like weeding, digging, pruning, and pushing wheelbarrows around, you also benefit from low impact exercise.

Research has shown that whether you are caring for flower gardens or fruit or vegetable gardens, you may be doing more than keeping your plants healthy and productive. You may be improving your brain health.

It’s been found that gardening has a positive influence on the mind. In studying two gardening groups, the first in their 60s, the second group in their 70s, it was concluded that both groups experienced cognitive benefits from gardening. These studies found that 36 percent of 60-year-olds and 47 percent of 70-year-olds had lower risk for dementia than those who didn’t garden on a regular basis.

Gardening has also been shown to improve your mood and alleviate stress.  No matter how big or small your garden may be, the sights, smells, and sounds of being outside simply watching your garden grow, can give you needed relief from stress.

Stress reduction has been studied in the Netherlands by comparing reading indoors with 30 minutes of outdoor gardening. The gardeners reported they felt less stress than the people who took time out to read during the same time frame. The sensory experience of gardening can also help improve depressive symptoms.

Keep in mind that gardening for pleasure is good for downgrading stress, but only if you’re not too invested in the outcome. Gardening is only as stress-free as you make it. If you’re constantly worrying about whether your new plants will thrive or produce the best looking flowers and best produce in the neighborhood, you won’t gain healthy benefits that many people experience when they “play outdoors.”

If you plant a garden, you’ll also likely gain nutritional benefits from the fresh food you’ll glean from your own endeavors. But even if your garden plat is focused on flowers instead of veggies, it’s been shown that people who garden tend to eat healthy.


Mark Underwood is a neuroscience researcher and president of Quincy Bioscience, focused on the discovery and development of medicines to treat age related memory loss and the diseases of aging.

Question of the Week • 06-20-12 | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 20 June 2012 09:58






CV Adult Education Spotlight | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 13 June 2012 13:47

By Paula Evans

Have you ever wondered how we know that heart disease is the number one killer in America?

Medical coding is one of the primary ways that data is collected for medical research. Coders translate medical diagnosis into electronic data so that health care providers are reimbursed and statistical data is collected.

This data is used for a wide range of purposes like tracking diseases and helping Administrators determine if a hospital’s facilities are being used effectively and if they are adequate for the needs of the community. Understanding coding opens up a new way to understand the world around us.

In recognizing the growing demand in the local medical industry for qualified Medical Coders, Castro Valley Adult and Career Education is offering two sequential 8-week Beginning and Advanced Coding courses.

• Beginning Coding: Learn the foundational skills of a Medical Coding Specialist who assigns a universal numeric code to each symptom, treatment, diagnosis and medical procedure for the purpose of payment, notifications and statistical data. Fridays, 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., July 13-Aug. 31.

• Advanced Coding:  This course takes the precision skills of coding to the next level adding specific rules and compliance issues for each specialty area of medical codes.

Instruction includes the use of ICD-9, CPT and HCPCS coding books. Upon completion of both sections, students are prepared to take national certification. Fridays, 8:30 am-2:30 pm, Sept. 14-Nov. 2.

Students who take the Coding courses may also take Medical Billing, Insurance & Office Procedures to enhance valuable knowledge that add to their complete package of skills and competitive edge for employment.

Other medical training courses offered by Castro Valley Adult to consider include Medical Terminology, Anatomy & Physiology, Clinical Medical Assistant, Administrative Medical Assistant, Certified Nursing Assistant and Home Health Aide, and Pharmacology.

If you are not sure which medical career path to take, consider attending the free Medical and Computer Information Night from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 21 in Room 16.

For detailed information on the educational programs and services offered through Castro Valley Adult and Career Education, call 510-886-1000, visit us in person at 4430 Alma Ave., Castro Valley, check our website, or visit us on Facebook.

Van Halen Rocks Oracle Arena | Print |  E-mail
Tuesday, 12 June 2012 14:50

By Trevin Smith

ll my life I have been a huge fan of the ’80s hard-rock era and made fun of by my peers for it. Especially by my Grunge-era, Nirvana-worshiping older brother.

However my ace, the one band I know is better, Van Halen proved to everyone at their recent Oracle arena show that when it comes to rocking, having a good time and making music, all other bands are simply pretenders to the throne.

In a two-hour set, a rebooted Van Halen, including Wolfgang Van Halen on bass and the mighty David Lee Roth on the mic, busted out the hits that ruled Van Halen’s career.

“You Really Got Me,” “Ice Cream Man,” “Ain’t Talkin’ ’Bout Love” – they were all there alongside nearly 20 other hits mixed with a few new songs from their new album “A Different kind of Truth.”

David Lee Roth brought everything Sammy Hagar never had, that swagger, sex appeal and even mystery with a hint of danger, being that you never knew what was going to come out of his mouth next.

Unlike younger bands 25 years his junior, Roth slipped and slid on his own wooden dance floor on the stage, pointing to the audience and prancing in skintight leather pants while doing countless splits and kicks. That is true rock star right there.

My only problem with the show, besides “Jamie’s Cryin’” being absent from the set, was their opening act, Kool and the Gang. Nothing against old school funk, but I felt like the duo were an odd matchup. I noticed very few young people were at this show, perhaps as a result of this.

However, long after I had collected my jaw off the floor after Eddie’s “Eruption” solo, I came to the conclusion that Van Halen can put on an incredibly fun concert, minus the jaw pain.

Question of the Week • 06-13-12 | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 13 June 2012 14:32




Adopt-A-Pet • 06-13-12 | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 13 June 2012 14:46





La Honda Music Camp Celebrates 51st Anniversary | Print |  E-mail
Tuesday, 12 June 2012 13:52

By Marvin Bowerman

Hayward La Honda Music Camp celebrates its 51st anniversary this summer as it looks forward to welcoming in grades 6 through12 to a challenging and fun experience devoted to developing fine musicianship.

Up to 300 participants will have the opportunity of studying under music directors from Bay Area colleges, universities and schools in a residential camp that runs from July 28 to Aug. 4.

Camp highlights include Band (concert band and wind ensemble), Full Orchestra and String Orchestra, Small Ensembles (all combinations), Jazz Bands (five levels), Jazz Improvisation (three levels), Jazz Piano, Vocal Majors, Music Theory, Vocal Music (all-camp chorus, jazz choir), Master Classes (all instruments), Conducting, Composition, Latin Jazz and Electronic Music.

Recreational activities will include arts and crafts, swimming, equestrianism, canoeing, softball, archery, climbing tower, dances, zip line and hiking.

Regular online tuition is $725. Certain discounts and some scholarships will be available for families with financial need.

For full information or registration visit, or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or call 510-537-4871. The camp is a non-profit organization.


Appraisers Struggle To Keep Pace with Market | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 06 June 2012 08:53

By Carl Medford, CRS
Special to the Forum




A few years ago, flying from Nairobi, Kenya to Entebbe, Uganda we crossed over Africa’s massive Lake Victoria. Skies were clear with the exception of a large, solitary black cloud hovering over a corner of the lake.

It seemed odd, but, having seen storm clouds before, I didn’t think much of it until the Kenyan seated beside me, in his rich accent, asked, “You know what that cloud is, don’t you?” My blank look signaled to him I had no clue, so he explained. “That’s a swarm…” he stated, “…of Tsetse flies.”

I spotted a similar cloud in Castro Valley last weekend… of buyers.

Just a few short months ago, potential homeowners were able to visit long lists of homes; and, while poking in closets and opening drawers, ask, “So how far under asking price can we go on this one?”

Those days are now just a faint memory of the way things were — completely overshadowed by the new reality.

Pulling up properties for one of my buyers last weekend, I expected to come up with a list of about 20 possibilities. I was shocked to find… three. As we visited all of them, we noticed similarities: all had prices higher than any of the local comparable sales, each had open houses, an offer deadline was specified for every one and there were vast amounts of cars jockeying for parking spaces in front of them all.

Inside, the numbers of buyer wannabies reminded me of the lines for food samples at Costco on a Saturday afternoon.

As explained in previous articles, we’re firmly in a seller’s market with limited inventory and swarms of buyers. Following the laws of supply and demand, prices are going up as multiple offers pound in on almost everything. Way up. So much so that appraisers are having an extremely difficult time keeping up with the new reality.

As a result, we’re seeing record numbers of appraisals coming in low. It’s a tricky situation: appraisers, with memories of the last market boom, are reticent to get blamed for signing off on higher prices.

On the other hand, the market has turned and higher prices are the new reality. In fact, appraisers with consistently low valuations are actually keeping the market from growing as quickly as it could.

It’s a catch 22 scenario and, until we get some kind of resolution, this new real estate reality is giving everyone involved massive headaches.

Next Week – Appraisals Part 2 – Record Numbers Of Low Appraisals Spawning



New Buying Strategies

Carl Medford is a licensed Realtor with Prudential California Realty in Castro Valley and a licensed general contractor. This article is sponsored by the Central County Marketing Association at


Adopt-A-Pet • 05-23-12 | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 12:32




Question of the Week • 05-23-12 | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 12:26





Banks Busy Sniffing Out Mortgage Fraud | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 11:38

Real Estate Reality

By Carl Medford, CRS
Special to the Forum

Back in the “good old days” when money flowed freely and all you had to do to get a loan was to pass the mirror test, lender fraud was rampant.

While there is plenty of blame to go around, and none-stated-income loans being the chief culprits, extra credit goes to loan applicants who, due to ethnicity and a poor command of the English language, couldn’t even read the loan documents. They had to rely on others who were all too often willing to bend things a bit to make the loan work.

The good news: Those days are gone. And, many of the perpetrators are actually in jail — enjoying a well-earned break from the business of generating less-then-honest loan applications.

The bad news: It’s made loans substantially more difficult to obtain and process.

Not willing to be burned again, banks have undergone a steep learning curve. But learn they have. In fact, if anything, they’ve over compensated.

Left to deal with the chaos caused by fraudulent loan applications and consequential collapses, they are going about things very differently than they used to. In the past few years, they’ve worked hard to find potential fraudsters and weed out problems before they hand out a loan. And, if they suspect any foul play, loan applications instantly go from full speed ahead to dead in the water.

It used to be that banks performed only a few fraud checks on a small sampling of loans. Not only have they increased the number and types of checks they perform, they now examine every single loan in detail. According to David Montoya, inspector general at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, increased scrutiny is the only option they have. “If we let the money go out the door,” he declares, “We’re pretty much chasing the wind.”

So, scrutinize they do. Drawing on extensive web-based databases, they look for information ranging from whether or not you are currently employed, what your salary might be, where you actually live and more. They search for judgments, liens, other properties you might own and the like.

The IRS is even getting into the act by electronically wiring your past tax returns directly to potential lenders.

Bottom line: Don’t try to embellish incomes or hide extra expenses. With so many methods for sniffing out incorrect info, if you try, banks are making sure that the only one ending up burned… will be you.


Carl Medford is a licensed Realtor with Prudential California Realty in Castro Valley and a licensed general contractor. This article is sponsored by the Central County Marketing Association at


A Rod and the Hayward P.D. | Print |  E-mail
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Tuesday, 22 May 2012 14:43

By Thomas E. Lorentzen


“Character calls forth character.”



We do not know what fosters the alchemy of art, but we do know an act of art when it appears.

This is what happened in the life of a Hayward policeman named Rod Pierce (also an acclaimed athlete at Hayward High and Chabot College).

He was a person who had earned the admiration and respect of his family, friends and his professional peers at the Hayward Police Department.  His life was recently ended in a tragic accident on Crow Canyon Road at the age of 45.

After the accident medical professionals at Eden Hospital tried to perform miracles to save his life, but they were in vain. In the immediate days after the accident, the honored men and women of the Hayward Police Department stood vigil at the hospital, displaying artistic hues of loyalty, love and respect for their fallen colleague.  The palpability of their emotions, often hidden behind the necessary mask of their difficult profession, was poignant in the expressions upon their faces, the sincerity of their hugs, and the poetry of their conversations.

What was displayed from within the chemistry of this tragedy – of the loss of Rod Pierce – a fine man, father and professional law enforcement officer, was a form of true art. The display from these men and women, and the Pierce and Bolar families, were beyond our humble means to record and reveal. What was done, however, was to add new depth to the meaning of the word “dignity.” They also synchronized the terms of “loyalty” and “duty” with the word “beauty.”

As a long-time family friend I was privileged to be among the many to stand vigil out of respect and appreciation for the character and life of Rod Pierce. The best that we can do is to display the loyalty deserved by him and his family, recognizing that this is all that can be done within the emptiness that orchestrates an inner sense of deep loss.

Within the cadence of these motions and the fog of tears resides the clarity of vision of the essence of the character that Rod possessed and that he had artistically developed.

It is also from which he had earned the respect and love of all of those who knew him and worked with him.  He was a true “A-Rod” and his personal family as well as his family of officers at the Hayward Police Department reconfirmed that fact in how they addressed this tragedy.  They also revealed that they are made of the same strain of character that adorned Rod.

The “A” that is applied in this composition regarding Rod and his families is not restricted to that of a grade, for it is also about the “art of life,” which is most tested from within the realm of tragedy.

Rod and his personal family as well as his professional family provide the truest example possible of what we should all strive to be in life. With his passing, he passed to many others the trueness of the art of life and the richness it provides to those who stay the course.

As a man, father, husband, and a police officer he earned an A in life, making him the real A-Rod. It is also what resides with-in his band of brothers and sisters in the Hayward Police Department. In passing, he passed to many others the essence of the art of life.


Tom Lorentzen lives in Castro Valley. He fomerly served on the board of the Institute of Museum & Library Services and the Advisory Board to Southern Oregon University, and has served three Presidential Administrations.

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